candlestick

1853


The Collected Letters, Volume 28


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TC TO K. E. VEHSE ; 11 October 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18531011-TC-KEV-01; CL 28: 282-284


TC TO K. E. VEHSE

5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London: Octr. 11, 1853.

My dear Sir,—Since I saw you last year in Dresden, I have been reading a great many of your books; finding in them, as all the world does, abundant entertainment, and endless matter for reflexion. It is very surprising to me how you have contrived to amass such a quantity of floating information on things seldom formally recorded; and how correct it all is; at least how correct our British part of it is, which I naturally take as a sample of the whole. You do often name your authorities, which is a great satisfaction to every careful reader; if you had in all cases done so, it would among other advantages have saved you the trouble of this Note, which I had long had it in view to venture upon writing to you, containing the two following inquiries:—

1. Can you tell me, in what book or books that account of George the First's Death is to be found,—with all the tragic particulars between Velden1 and Osnabrück;—and in general what is the chief book for the secret history of George the First? In English I remember only Horace Walpole, and Coxe;2 in German I have got the Herzogin von Ahlden,3 which you often refer to, and Aurora von Königsmark:4 but, I think, you must have had some better book than any of these.

2. In one of your Histories,—I think that of the Prussian Hof,5 but have unfortunately mislaid all reference to it,—you quote from the ambassador Mitchell a sentence which I never can forget; to the effect: ‘If the English would give up talking (in their Parliaments, &c.) and were led on by such a man (as Friedrich the Great), what might they not accomplish!’ These are not the words; but that is the sense; and I am extremely anxious, and shall indeed thank you much, if you can have the goodness to tell me where in Mitchell the passage is to be found. As was said, I can now find no reference to it in any of my Notebooks; I did not find it in our English book of the ‘Mitchell Papers, ’6 nor is it in Raumer7 that I can see; nor did I yesterday succeed in hunting it up out of your own book on the Prussian Court: at the same time I have the liveliest remembrance of reading it in one of your books; so that, being really anxious to get hold of the thing, I am obliged to send my question to you in this vague shape (not quite so bad as Nebuchadnezzar's dream,8 but too like that celebrated production of the human mind!)—and must appeal to your charity to summon out your own better remembrance, on my behalf. I think the words must certainly be in the ‘Preussische Hof,’ or, failing that, there is only the ‘Hannoverische’9 to be looked to. Please discover for me, if you possibly can.

It is only this second question that I am essentially concerned in; but if you can answer the first also, it will of course be welcome,—tho' in that case, who knows if it will be the last I may ask of you in the progress of my reading!

Believe me, Dear Sir, sincerely yours,

THOMAS CARLYLE.