July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO G. H. LEWES ; 3 November 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551103-TC-GHL-01; CL 30: 101-103


Chelsea, 3 Novr, 1855—

Dear Lewes,

I am sorry to hear you still complain of health; bad health is a very miserable adjunct to one's burden, tho' not an uncommon one to poor wretches of this craft! Festina lentè [make haste, slowly],1 don't work too much (which proves always too little by and by): that is the one way of procuring some abatement, if abolition of the misery is not possible.

I trace your clean finger in The Leader weekly as heretofore;2 one of the few writing fingers of this epoch which are not dog's paws, or cloven hoofs of mere human swine. Pah!—

Furthermore I got the Goethe the other night,3 almost at the same time with your Note. Every night since, in my reading hours, I am dashing athwart it in every direction; truanting; for I yet wait a time to read the work with such deliberation as I well see it deserves. My conviction is, we have here got an excellent Biography,—altogether transcendently so, as Biographies are done in this country. Candid, well-informed, clear, free-flowing, it will certainly throw a large flood of light over Goethe's Life, and over many German things which multitudes in England have been curious about, to little purpose, for a long while. It ought to have a large circulation, if one can predict or anticipate in regard to such matters. On the whole, I say Euge [well done], and that heartily,—tho' dissenting here and there. I ought also to be thankful, and am, for the fine manful words you have seen good to say about my poor self:4 good words go about too, as well as evil;—and all words go to nothing except they be the copies of things:

Denn geschwätzig sind die Zeiten
Und sie sind auch wieder stumm5

Ach Gott ja, most dumb indeed;—and we read with pain, in M. Thiers and the like,6 femme alors celèbre, homme alors [a woman once celebrated, a man once]7 &c

I returned from my wanderings, which never went very wide, some three or four weeks ago; and am here in my Garret again, up to the chin in Brandenburg marine-stores; uncertain whether I shall not sink dead, and be buried under them, one day; but struggling to hope not.

Once more, Well-done, and thanks; and let me see you soon.

Yours always truly /

T. Carlyle