July-December 1855

The Collected Letters, Volume 30


TC TO ALEXANDER GILCHRIST ; 28 November 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18551128-TC-AGI-01; CL 30: 123-125


Chelsea, 28 Novr, 1855

My dear Sir,

Last night your messenger brought down the Pictures framed,—four new ones among the lot; besides the 3 Fredericks:—thanks for your singular and useful goodness to me. One of these new Pictures, Lascy (Irish Lacy)1 is extremely good; indeed they seem all good,— except Loudon,2 whom I know otherwise with a better physiognomy extremely Scotch. This Garret will become quite a Gallery, were all these Portraits hung in their places here; my wife, skilful in such things, has undertaken that part of the business;—and indeed is now actually engaged in the preliminary parts of it.

But there is one thing you must do straightway: solve me this couple of Enigmas, the two Prints, Lady and Old Gentn who have no name! No name the remarkable old gentn (whom I could wish to prove Anhalt-Dessau,3 whose other portraits he does slightly resemble,—but no, no, Anhalt has always whiskers);—and the Lady almost worse than no name, for her signature seems to be written in Persic or Arabic: who on Earth is she? Not the Czarina Elizabeth surely? And she does not resemble Maria Theresa,4 to my understanding, hardly at all.

Of the Frederick Books I have read three; all of them worth looking at; one of them a conspicuously excellent Piece, whh I had never seen before, his Instructions Militaires, extremely physiognomic of the man, and in all ways demanding to be read.5 I think the Prussians must still keep it secret,—or I know not what they do with it? No trace of it hitherto in any of the Collections of his Works; nor did I know it had ever been translated into English. Were I Commander in Chief I would study that Book to the last fibre of meaning in it; and make all my Officers, down to the lowest Corporal who had sense in his head, read it and again read it.— Alas, I fear if our “Commander-in-Chief,”6 so-called, did read it till he really understood it,—the first effect wd be, said Comr in Chief would go distracted, and do himself a mischief, with rope or otherwise! It is certain our highest War-Secretary, Duke of Newcastle or whoever he might be,7 if he applied to Fredk to be made a Drummer, would not even be allowed to drum: “Go first and learn it, then apply to me!”— — But enough of all that. Please solve me the enigma at once, for I shall be unhappy till then, more or less!

Ruskin took my Copy of Etty8 with him; hopes to make your acquaintance before long.— It seems we go out of Town on the 17th decr and till 17th jany: which dates observe.9

Yours with many kind thanks

T. Carlyle