January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE ; 22 April 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560422-TC-JAC-01; CL 31: 69-70


Chelsea, 22 Augt [April], 1856—

My dear Brother,—Your first Note did come on friday morng,1 and the Book-parcel in the course of the day; but somehow I had got it into my head that there could no answer reach you till after monday; and on that entirely hollow ground I proceeded (being dreadfully bothered and occupied with Voltaire's Jew2 &c &c) nothing doubting, till your second Note came, of which there was notice sent yesterday.

The Seckendorf3 is precisely the Book, all right, and a welcome sight to me; Fuge4 is now binding it, and I shall get a hearty examination instituted after that operation is performed,—about a week hence. Archenholtz also is welcome,5 after such waiting and inquiring; all the welcomer that it does not need Fuge's help. I have known the Book well for 36 years; and read it again in these late times, but had not liberty to mark upon it, nor free scope to keep it, lying idle when not wanted, & ready for use when a new demand might arise. It is by no means a bad Book,—on the contrary it is good, and even unique of its kind, being autobiographic withal;—but it is not set up to be a military History. Poor Az was put out of the Army for gambling, and had to live by miscellaneous literary methods, never getting to any science or authority in soldiering. None of his compilations are without worth; and this has partly the superior character of a Book drawn from himself and his own experiences.

The “Contemporary History” of the 7-years war I never heard of before.6 I had no need of its Plans, having already 5 separate Atlases of that kind (two of them of superlative authority); but I shall in all likelihood get a good pennyworth out of the Book nevertheless,—I see here and there Newspaper notices &c &c, which I had not seen elsewhere. It is but a poor Book, treating of your subject at all, which will not far outweigh a few shillings in such an Enterprise as this unheard-of one I am now sunk in!— Tell me what the Books cost in all, and I will pay you at once and have done with it.

Nothing whatever in the form of novelty has fallen out since you went. Jane's cold is about gone; but she complains of immense “weakness,” has lost all her talent for walking.7 Everybody is weak, I think; in all my days I never felt more helpless, utterly unequal to the hideous job I have in hand. I must get it done, or perish under it,—that is certain: in fact Life has in it no prize for me equal to that humble one of getting fairly out of such a thrice-accursed quagmire, and being honestly as I was before getting in! The Book will (as commonly appears certain to me) never be worth twopence; too true, that,—but the Author of the Book will be unspeakably thankful to have it off his hand to all Eternity!— — Neuberg never came back till last Sunday Evg; and then I had to get out,—took him up with me along Piccadilly: a rather heavy brother-man of the seed of Abraham.8 Fitzgerald came himself generally instead; and that was still worse.— I had determined to be out next time!

The Craigenputtoch affair will do admirably.9— I have almost a notion to come up thither this summer, and lie hidden for 3 months: alas, alas!— — Make my excuses to Jean when you go across; I feel I shd have written long long ago: she knows me, and what the reason is. My kindest regards to Jamie, to Isabella, to all the Household of poor old Scotsbrig, a place and a people that must be forever dear and memorable to me.

You wd be astonished could you see how I have lost all this day again (by no will of mine); the clock is now striking me out.

Ever your affecte /

T. Carlyle

The Köhler I was on the point of forgetting! This Edition of mine has 22 voll., date of the last vol. is Nurnberg 1750 first is 1725;—after which there are two other Quartos, of the same size, by way of Index; done by some other person (who is named John Gottfred Bernhold), printed Nürnberg1785. An excellent Index; greatly increasing the value of the Köhler,—can, I conclude, be bought separately.10— You will have a “Negociation” with Wms & Norgate;11 whh I wish I cd spare you!