January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO ALEXANDER GILCHRIST ; 6 May 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560506-TC-AGI-01; CL 31: 83-85


Chelsea, 6 May, 1856—

My dear Sir,

I hope you succeeded with Parker:1 if you did not, please let me know, that we may think what other quarter to try in.

These are again Capital Books several of them; you surpass all people, of my experience, in the chase of Books!— Riesbeck (or Risbeck) the Traveller is a cleverish fellow by nature, and actually lived in many of the places he describes. An Advocate first or some kind of lawyer, about the Mentz region; he then took to Literature (Passau, Lintz, Vienna), then to Playacting; died (still under 40) as Newspaper Editor at Zürich, where he had translated Coxe &c.2 His Book is very like all that.3 Made a great noise in its day; and is still worth reading, especially by me.— The Lettres by main du Maitre, I soon found after you went, are also a decidedly authentic and curious Piece:Published by Fredk's Younger Brother,4 striving to vindicate himself agt the fierce condemnation Fredk had passed on his unlucky retreat (from Prag, after the Battle of Kolin) in 1757.— “If justice were done,” said he to the Generals & him, “your heads wd all lie there!” (fiercely pointing to the

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Thomas Carlyle. Oil painting by Robert Scott Tait, 1854. Carlyle House, Chelsea.

Reproduced by permission of the National Trust.


ground), and so turned his Mare's hips on them, and went off at a canter.5 The Brothers, I think, never met more; the younger (great-grandfather of the prest King of Prussia)6 demanded his demission, fell into worse and worse health, and died within 2 years.— — I wonder what Fredk wd have said, to certain gentn returning from the Crimea, with Panmure and “Doub” at the head of them!7 Such sight as that he was not condemned to.

I have not yet got into any of the other Pamphlets (except Loudons Life, whh is also good), but I have no doubt they are well worth their money to me. According to bargain, you must now tell me accurately what that same “money” is,—that, for this lot and for all subsequent, was to be the inflexible rule:—I shall then enjoy my conquest, achieved by you; I cannot otherwise. Please buy the Decker too; and I will settle when we next meet.

Do you chance to know anybody that could be depended on for correcting the Press, doing a good Index, and the like services? A good handwriting, some scholarship,—but above all things, exactitude faithfulness, what I call “mother-wit and mother-worth,” wd be indispensable qualities! There is a “Collective Edition” about to be set on foot, for which I should need such a man. Some are vaguely in my eye, nobody decisively; nor have I yet spoken of the matter to anybody.— Considerable sense wd be needed to index (reasonably well) such a set of Books. Only the Cromwell and Fh Revolution have as yet Indexes, but these, I believe (at least the Cromwell's) are excellent.— —

Hoping soon to see you again,

Yours always /

T. Carlyle