January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO GOETHE; 15 November 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18301115-TC-G-01; CL 5:192-195.


Craigenputtoch, 15th November, 1830—

My Honoured Friend,

With the truest pleasure we received your Letter of the 17th October, some ten days ago; and, strangely enough, that same evening, by another conveyance, arrived the long-looked-for Hamburg Box, with all its precious contents in perfect order. Already, on the 23d of last Month, I had written to you, chiefly in regard to a former Letter, which I then feared might have been lost: now, however, by a certain phrase, I discover that such fear was groundless; that hitherto our Messages pass safely, over rough seas and tumultuous lands, and do not once miss their road. Among the many wonders of modern Society such a benefit is not the lea[st won]derful; and ought indeed, as you once remarked,1 to make amends for much that we could wish otherwise.

Not knowing the particular Address of our Berlin Friends, and thinking better, at all events, that you who had planted the seed of that relation should also witness its germinating, I have inclosed a few lines under this cover, and shall employ your kindness to forward them as you see fittest. I hope also that the footing you have procured me on the German soil will prove a l[ast]ing one, and pleasant to my neighbours: for me the remembrance of him whom I owe it [will] render the connexion doubly valuable.2

Concerning the Box and its Books, I must first mention that wonderful Life of Sc[hiller,] with its proud Introduction, fitter to have stood at the head of some Epic Poem of my writing than there. That I should see myself, before all the world, set forth as the Friend of Goethe is an honour of which, some few years ago, I could not, in my wildest flights, have dreamed; of which, I should still desire no better happiness than to feel myself worthy. For the rest, the Book is nearly the most beautiful I have ever seen; the Preface graceful, and pertinent, as well as highly flattering: these House-pictures themselves seem more appropriate than I could have fancied. On the whole, as one of our rhymers says, ‘it is distance that lends enchantment to the view’;3 had this Craigenputtoch Mansion stood among the Harz Mountains or the Vosges, this authentic image of it would have interested me as well as another. But that our remote Scottish Home should stand here faithfully represented by a German burin [engraving instrument], under your auspices, this is a fact which we shall never get to understand. The King's Palace of Holy-Rood was not dealt with so royally; and our rough-cast Dwelling, with its humble sycamores, and unfrequented hills, should have such preferment! We repeat often: a House, like a Prophet, save in its own country, is not without honour.4

For that matchless copy of your Poems, the more precious for the memorable Day it was inscribed on, my Wife whose gratification is of the highest, requests a little space here to thank you in her own words.5 The last Lieferung [serial part] I have already gone over; especially the Tag-und Jahres-Heft, in the like of which I could read without limit.— Here, however, let me mention an accident and omission, which as important to me, you will gladly rectify: namely, that the fore-last Lieferung was not sent; that from Volume 25 to Volume 31, of that beautiful Edition, there is a blank.— Let me trust also that your task is not yet finished; that from among your valuable Papers copious Selections, and Completions of many sorts, are yet in store for us.

My room here is exhausted, otherwise there were innumerable things to say. In No. 103 of the Edinburgh Review is a Criticism of Lord L. Gower's Translations,6 which, as wiping away a reproach from British Literature, I could not but welcome. The Critic who, I learn, is a man of forty, ‘a scholar, politician and philosopher,’ appears to understand nothing whatever of Faust, except that the Author is the first of contemporaneous minds, and that Lord Gower understands less than nothing of it. Even this however is something; and not long ago would have seemed surprising.— I myself am sometimes meditating a Translation of Faust, for which the English world is getting more and more prepared. But of all this, more at large by the next occasion. Might I beg for another word from you by your earliest convenience? The Winter will not shut up our thoughts, our wishes. May all Good be ever with you; may your days long be preserved in peace for the millions to whom they are precious!

T. Carlyle

[Postscript by JWC:]

I have requested a vacant corner of my Husband's sheet; that I might, in my own person, add a word of acknowledgement. But what my heart feels towards you finds no fit utterance in words; and seeks some mode of expression that were infinite: in action rather—in high endeavour would my love, my faith, my deep sense of your goodness express itself; and then only should these feelings become worthy of their exalted object.

Goethe's ‘friend’—‘dear friend!’ words more delightful than Great Queen so named[.]7 “I bear a charmed heart”: the fairy-like gift on which these words are written shall be my talisman to destroy unworthy influences. Judge then how I must value it! in the most secret place of my house I scarcely think it sufficiently safe; where I look at it from time to time with a mingled feeling of pride and reverence. Accept my heartfelt thanks for this & so many other tokens of your kindness; and still think of me as your affectionate friend and faithful disciple——

Jane W Ca[rlyle]