October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO GEORGE STRACHEY ; 5 June 1857; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18570605-TC-GS-01; CL 32: 158-159


Chelsea, London: 5 June, 1857.

I got a very pleasant letter from Stuttgard a long while ago,1 giving pleasant intimations of the scene round you in that old Würtemberg metropolis. … One thing is very certain to me: If you are as well off as my wishes for you indicate, there will be nothing to complain of. I will hope not only that you are happy for the present time; but that you are daily gathering new culture, experience, solidity, and not only knowledge but wisdom —daily new ability to do your work in this world well—which by-and-by may amount to something far better than being ‘happy.’— Oremus, speremus [Let us pray, let us hope].

I can send you no news of England, nor any even of myself—life with me, for these twelve or twice twelve months past, having been but a dark and indeed almost deadly struggle in the abyss of German historical stupor—endeavouring (with almost no success at all) to extract some human record of Frederick ‘the Great,’ as he is called, out of that alarming element. Never in nature had I the notion before of such a task as this proves to me, in this place, at this time of day, in these circumstances generally! But I may get it done (ill since well is impossible); done on any terms if so much life be allowed me. And, indeed, that is pretty much the one hope I have left—that of getting rid of this intolerable torment—that has made my life black (as it were—yes, and even base, as it were) for five or six years past! The cause of my writing at present is that same business: to get a little light from you perhaps, about a point of Würtemberg history which will come to concern me by-and-by. …

I know the Pfaffs, the Spittlers,2 the &c. &c.: Ach Gott! the only human book I ever read on him (a certain Duke of Würtemberg) (and that by no means a first-rate one) is Strauss's Life of Schubart;3 and he does not touch on any subject at all. … Judge if I want to know the particulars, which no Prussian block-head will say one word of to me! … What does Stuttgard say, especially what do its Antiquar [second-hand] bookshops say of all this? In fact, what am I to say, or think? If there is any knowledge procurable, I ought to try fairly for it; if there is none, I shall in that case know what to say. In short, turn over this matter well in your head (there is no hurry about it); and see gradually whether you cannot pick up an old book or two, &c. &c., or in some way help me. And so adieu for this time.

Yours always truly,