August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO KARL AUGUST VARNHAGEN VON ENSE; 16 December 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18461216-TC-KAVE-01; CL 21:111-112.


Chelsea, London, 16 Decr 1846—

My dear Sir,

Yesterday there went from Mr Nutt's shop, imbedded, I suppose, in a soft mass of English Literature,—a small Box bearing your address; which I hope may reach you safely, in time for a New-year's remembrance of me. It is a model of the Tomb of Shakespeare, done by an ingenious little artist here; which may perhaps interest you or some of your friends, for a moment. I understand the likeness in all respects to be nearly perfect,—which indeed is the sole merit of such a thing;—a perfect copy of the old monument, as it stands within Stratford Church for these two centuries and more:—only with regard to that part of the Inscription, “Sweet friends, for Jesus’ sake” &c to these lines, which in the model have found room for themselves directly under the Figure of Shakespeare, you are to understand that, in the original, they lie on the floor of the Church, some three feet in advance of the Figure; in fact, covering the dust of the Poet; the Figure itself standing, at the head of the grave, against the wall.— And so enough of it; and may the poor little Package arrive safe, and kindly bring me before you again!—

I have been silent this long while, only hearing of you from third parties;1 the more is the pity for me. In fact, I have not been well; travelling too, in Scotland, in Ireland; much tumbled about by manifold confusions outward and inward;—and have, on the whole, been silent to all the world; silent till clearer days should come. I have still no fixed work; nothing in the dark chaos that it could seem beautiful to conquer and do;—no work to write at; and as for reading, alas that has become, and is ever more becoming, a most sorry business for me; and often enough I feel as if Caliph Omar, long ago, was pretty much in the right after all;2 as if there might be worse feats than burning whole continents of rhetorical, logical, historical, philosophical jangle, and insincere obsolete rubbish, out of one's way; and leaving some living God's-message, real Koran or “Thing worth reading,” in its stead! These are my heterodoxies, my paradoxes,—of which too I try to know the limits. But in very deed I do expect from the region of Silence some salvation for myself and others, not from the region of Speech, of written or Oral Babblement, unless that latter very much alter soon! Cant has filled the whole universe,—from Nadir up to Zenith,— God deliver us!

Preuss's Friedrich has not yet reached hither,3 except thro' private channels; but I mean to make an effort for sight of it by and by. I have the old Oeuvres de Fréderic beside me here; but without chronology and perpetual commentary they are entirely illegible.4Zinzendorf received long since, and read: thanks!5 Yours ever truly

T. Carlyle