The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO JANE WELSH CARLYLE ; 9 September 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520909-TC-JWC-01; CL 27: 273-275


Bonn, 9 Septr (Thursday) / 1852—

Dearest,—Tho' my hand is, as you see, in a very straggling condition, my table ricketty, and my eyes biliously uncertain, I will again write you a word,—especially as we are just about to move, and tomorrow evening my date must be a good way up the river from this. I wrote on Sunday last; which letter, together with a Newspaper sent before, I hope you have received. No letter from you, except the first, has arrived here, nor indeed has yet well time; but if anything do come, it will be duly forwarded by “Rosa's,”1 assiduous hand. Your Rotterdam letter, tho' written for as I announced, has not come; nor will it now, I suppose: so we must just let them keep it, and do ourselves without that complaisance of theirs,—sorrow on them!— If at the date of reading this, you have sent anything forward to Bonn, I say (as above) it will be forwarded; but if you have not written anything, then at once pray address me, “Poste Restante, Frankfurt a. Mayn”: if you write at once on getting this, I shall still be there to get it (till this day week or so), and a letter from my Jeannie will surely be one of the joyfullest occurrences that can befal me in these strange sleepless nervous and otherwise indescribable foreign parts! Oh my own dear little soul, would to God I were in our own little cabin again; even in sooty London, since not under the free sky anywhere, that wd be such a blessing;—and it seems to me I shall be rather unwilling to get upon the road again, were I once fairly home!— If you have written to Bonn, and are not quite ready to write to Frankfurt at once, then “Poste Restante, Dresden” will be the next safe address,—for perhaps a week longer. Do let me hear from thee; do, do! And that will suffice in regard to Post-Office matters at present.

Last Sunday when I ended we were just going to Rolandseck; a terrestrial paradise, and water-cure, whh Neuberg and the world recommended as every way eligible. Well, the little journey took effect (tho' under difficulties and mismanagements); but the “place”—it was beautiful exceedingly, but it was as little like sleeping in as Cremorne Gardens2 might be; and I turned back from it with horror. Home again therefore in the cool dusk; and next day, trial of a small sequestered village called “Honef” (I believe, Hundhof or the Hall of Hounds) at the foot of the Siebengebirge, on the other side of the River. Geo: Dawson (hastily sent home by the Dresden police) had in the meanwhile turned up here, and was a great accession to our liveliness at Honef,—where the good Neuberg left us smoking in the inn, and went to seek a lodging for me,—lodging in which human sleep might be possible; and, for a week, a man might have liberty to read a few simple books witht disturbance that were insupportable. Not entirely to distress the good N., I consented, tho' with shuddering reluctance, to try one of his eligiblest plans; and accordingly I packed on the morrow, Dawson and he still with me, and proceeded thither to take possession. What a nice long letter I purposed to write my poor Goody out of that strange place, the heart of a real German Dörflein [hamlet] in the lap of the Hills,—when once I shd have had a night's sleep!— Dawson returned to Bonn by the steamer of the Evg; Neuberg waited in the inn till next morning to see how I shd do. Ach Gott, of all the places ever discovered even in Germany that Hound-hof surely was the intolerablest for noise! A bed, as everywhere, in Germany, more like a butcher's-tray or a big washing-tub than a bed; with pillows shaped like a wedge 3 feet broad, and a deep pit for the middle of the body; witht vestige of curtains; the very windows curtainless, and needing to be kept wide open (for there is no fireplace or other hole at all) if you will have any air: there you have to sleep or die, go where you will in this country. Then for noises, loud gossip on the street, till towards midnight; tremendous peals of bells from the village Church (whh seems once to have been some Cathedral, such force of bells is in it) close by one's head; watchman's horn, of the loudness and tone of a jackass; and a general sanhedrim (apparently) of all the cats and dogs of nature. That was my nachtlager [night's resting place] on the night of tuesday,—where nevertheless I did get abt 3 hours sleep; did greatly admire and esteem the goodnatured faithful ways of the poor villagers; smoked 2 or 3 times out of my windows; and on the whole was not so unhappy at all,—and had thots of my loved ones far away, whh were pious rather than otherwise. Neuberg at meeting on the morrow agreed that we must instantly get off towards Homburg (which is near Frankfurt), perhaps towards Nassau, Ems &c but always ultimately thro' Frankfurt: at Homburg, if at no other of these places, a week's quiet reading mt be possible, and he cd send the Books back to Bonn. Accordingly we set out for home again,—over the crown of the Drachenfels, concerning which you shall hear enough one day;—and this day we were to have gone, up the River by the Steamer I left a week ago; only Ng. requests today at breakfast it may be put off till tomorrow; and I who have wäsche (linens at the wash) not yet come in, and wish to write letters withal, willingly consent. So stands it, then: tomorrow morning at 8 we sail; pass Coblenz, towards Frankfurt; one can get out and stay where one likes, and take any of the following boats till one's ticket is exhausted. In motion I shall be a little better than here in so-called rest. God grant we had done with it all, and were home at Cheyne Row to rest again!— But it will be got done; all is; and that is one's comfort here.

Dawson is off homeward like an arrow this morng; at whh I am not sorry tho' the man is a hearty kind of creature, and really worth something. Some “Professors” here come athwart me, more than I cd avoid,—“miserable creatures, lost in statistics”;—old Arndt, a sturdy old fellow of 83, with open face, loud voice, and the liveliest hazel eyes, is the only one I get even a momentary good of: “io non cerco nessuno [I am not looking for anyone]”; and find Gelehrten [the scholarly world] in particular less and less charming to me. The River is grand and broad; the country rather picturesque, and very fertile and pleasant, tho' the worst cultivated in creation (a Lothian farmer wd say); the people sonsy, industrious (in their stupid way), and agreeable to look on, tho' tending towards ugliness. Tobacco perpetually burning everywhere. Many Jews abroad; Travellers, if not English, are aptish to be rich Jews with their Jewesses, I think.— Neuberg is sensible, not bright; but full of kindness and solid sense. Let not my poor Goody fret herself about me: I am really wonderfully well, in spite of all these outer tribulations and dog-concerts; and doubtless I shall do my journey witht damage if I take care.— — Today I ought to write to Varnhagen, to Marshall (of Weimar), to—especially to John at Scotsbrig, who had nothing but a word, of the hastiest, from Rotterdam hitherto from me. Pity my eyes were so biliously given, my table so ricketty; I have time enough and might write at discretion.—

By all means pay that wretched shoemaker Grundy his 4/6 (which is fundamentally an extortion too), and have done with him forevermore!—

This is all the paper I dare take for being over-weight (half an English ounce is the weight for you too: mind that). Oh how I long to hear that all is right still; that Goody is well, and has a bed in her own house again. Spur that unhappy Morgan; spur him, spur him! The one good I can expect here is to get my journey done, and get rapidly home again. Regards to Nero, the wretch, and a bit of sugar.— God bless my dear Jeannie ever.

T. Carlyle