April 1848-March 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 23


TC TO JOHANN PETER ECKERMANN; 5 January 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490105-TC-JPE-01; CL 23: 195-196


Chelsea, 5 jany, 1849—

Dear Eckermann,

At last, after repeated applications, I have obtained a Letter from the Prussian Ambassador; which gives me to know that the affair of your Goethe Manuscript has been satisfactorily settled.1 Thank Heaven! There has been more canvassing and negociating than so small a matter needed. Let me hope, however, that you have now received the due sum of money; and that the business has finished itself, at length, according to your anticipation. I observe the Ritter Bunsen says you are to draw for “fifty ducats“: I hope this is mere wit, and that he means much better than so! The sum covenanted for between him and me, as he ought to remember well, was fifty pounds sterling:2 and if that is not the sum he has sent authority for, I would have you, before drawing or touching any money at all, write to him, and on my testimony, claim that! For it is yours, according to bargain. But I hope there is no mistake, after all; only a piece of dramatic wit, and “pounds” to be read practically instead of “ducats.” The Chevalier, as you see, is on the way to Frankfort, or Berlin at least, and has great things in the wind. Quod faustum sit [May it turn out favorably]. “Das schöne heilige Röm'sche Reich, wie hält's noch nur zusammen?”3 That really is a question now!

I have a reasonable little Copy of White's Natl History of Selborne; which I will send to the Bookseller Nutt,4 this day, with request to have it forwarded to you by the shortest route he has. I shall rejoice to hear that it arrives soon and safe; some sympathy in reading it I dare anticipate from you; and if by example it kindle you into doing the like for Weimar and the Environs, truly it will be a Copy of a Book well bestowed! White was a peaceable Country Clergyman; his Parish Selborne is in Hampshire on the South Coast of this Island,—in that same region where William Rufus, the “Red King”5 whom you may have heard of, was shot, hunting, long ago. Of all the Books of Natural History I have ever read, White's, in his healthy genial limitation, pleases me most. Go and do likewise!6

I have been at Weimar often of late, as Marshal will tell you.7 I cannot yet tell completely what to make of the Frau von Stein and her affairs; but take with welcome any insight into the history and ways of Goethe, from what quarter soever. Schöll I find extremely solemn; and these his blowings of the Gospel-trumpet over this new questionable Song of Songs, to verge towards the absurd occasionally!

Say to Dr Weissenborn, with many thanks, that I will keep his kind commission in my eye; but that I hardly know here any so serious reader of Schiller as to deserve such a relic.— My own “Literature,” as Marshal may report, is in a very backgoing way just now! But a day will come, perhaps, notwithstanding. Adieu, dear Eckermann: write to me when these matters finish. Yours always T. Carlyle