The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JOSEPH NEUBERG ; 2 February 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520202-TC-JN-01; CL 27: 25-28


Chelsea, 2 feby, 1852—

Dear Neuberg,

We got your kind Note, with great pleasure; and afterwards, in due course, read the letter in The Leader,1—the most rational and comfortable piece of writing I have seen there for some time. Larken, I hear, has got out of that Paper (with fingers burnt, I dare say), and some other person, some West-Country Squire if I recollect has got in: and so the vaporous predication goes on, much as before,—the Squire himself, a young man of cash and ambition, being “nominal Editor,” and Hunt, Lewes and Co the active partners,2—refreshed, doubtless, to the due degree, and their eyes enlightened, by this dipping of the staff in honey. Except Lewes once, a good while ago, I have seen none of them since before you left us: but, the other morning, there came to me a Printed Paper with “Larken's compliments,” proposing in emphatic eloquent style a “Testimonial (in money subscriptions) to Thornton Hunt”; for what heroisms done, I did not learn, having stopped reading at the reading.3 My tendency to Hero-worship is considerable, but this quite transcends it. Eheu, Eheu!

Ever since you went, I continue reading Books about Vater Fritz;4 gaining out of them, I am sorry to admit, little new love for the man and only very slowly here and there a glimpse of clearer acquaintance with him. Yet I persist; and design to do so, for a while; in my present indeterminate humour, nothing strongly solicits me elsewhither; and, tho' there seems no greater likelihood of my ever making a Book upon Friedrich, I may at least go on so long as it amuses me. I have just sent off to Williams and Norgate a considerable list of Books, contingent on the prices, procurability and so forth (Thielke, Nicolai, Garve, Zimmermann &c);5 and an express order for a large quantity of Reymann's Special-Karten,6—keeping my eye, too, on what your Note announced of your beneficence to me; on which latter point I am now to make some stricter inquiries.

The discovery of Reymann's Karten (procurable here at a shilling each, if you take 40 together) was quite a godsend to me the other day: I have read, for weeks, in the sorrowfullest irremediable twilight, irremediable by human skill without a shilling's worth of that ware! I instantly decided to have all Preussen (Königreich),7 all Sachsen [Saxony] (do), and all Hanover;—but it at once struck me as probable that these might be the very “maps” you had in store for me at Bonn; and that I ought to keep in view that possibility. Accordingly my order as yet includes only Sachsen, with Schlesien [Silesia] (and what part of Böhman [Bohemia] they have done,—from Frankfurt am Or. to Teschen);8 and I will order no more of the Prussian Dominions, till I hear from you. Schlesien, in reference to the Seven-Years War, has been a perpetual desideratum to me, and I had to decide on at once seizing it; for the remainder I can somewhat better wait. Thus therefore it stands: If you have not yet actually bought any maps for me, then I strictly charge you not to buy any, the whole being so procurable here,—“within a fortnight” at any time. But in the contrary case, to tell me what you have, to send them as you propose, and to buy no more. This will do for the maps.

As you are in the Prussian dominions, I will give you the chance of asking any good hand there may be, a question or two about Books. Preuss's Books (accurate flat-footed Preuss) I have long known; Friedrich's own I have here;9 Archenholz, Jomini, Lloyd Tempelhof (about the 7-years war);10 Thielke I understand to be on another side of the same subject,—and in general I very greatly want some human details about the inward structure and condition of Fr.'s Army in those terrible years; not finding hitherto, except in Archenholz here and there, almost anything to satisfy my wonder on that head. Private personal memoirs by actual soldiers of Fk wd be a grand acquisition to me: pray ask if there are such in print, or if there is any other resource for me, failing that or along with that.

Secondly, How best can I get well acquainted with the Silesian-Bohemian Country and the scenes of all those high feats of arms? Is Kölbe's a good Book,11 or what better is there? Quincy Adams (late Presidt of the U.S.) wrote the best volume I have yet seen, in his young days,—really shewing one here and there that curious Rübezahl Mountain country,—only it is very brief and slight, and quite misses the greater part.12 Is there not some volume of Büsching's Erdbeschreibung [geography] that treats expressly about Germany at large, and is to be had separate?13 That wd be a most hopeful acquisition to me. I wrote Büsching down among my “contingent List” to the Bookseller, but could not distinctly articulate any order upon it till after more inquiry and advice.— These are the two points I am interested upon. To see, inside and out, the Soldiers of Frk (if I could), and to inform myself about the scene where he danced his great Pyrrhic Dance14 in this world. I honour Fritz greatly for being a man of unsubduable healthy elasticity and shiftiness (“burning his own smoke” to a really great extent), and also of perfect veracity, which in spite of his foxlike cunning, and French-polished completely royal ways, I clearly perceive him to have been.

My Paper is done; all filled with my own affairs,—but you can excuse that. I hope to write again before very long. We are not dying of terror here, in expectation of a French Invasion! None but fools, and some Writers in the Times, go very deep into that hitherto. As for me I rather welcome the “Brummagen French Cromwell” (such as he may turn out), and thank him for stopping the “900 talking attorneys”) at any rate: one clearly useful thing (after 100 years trial) if he never do another!—

Yours always

T. Carlyle