July 1836-December 1837

The Collected Letters, Volume 9


TC TO JOHANN PETER ECKERMANN; 9 June 1837; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18370609-TC-JPE-01; CL 9:229-224.


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, / 9th June, 1837—

My dear Dr Eckermann,

A good many months ago I received a very kind Letter1 from you, which till now has never been answered. It contained a message for Mrs Austin about some business of Madam Bettina von Arnheim's;2 which message I remember walking off to deliver, with great punctuality, that very morning; the private afflictions and destinies which you recorded for me were read, and have been often thought of here, with true interest and sympathy: but there the matter rested; in words I answered nothing. It was very wrong; nevertheless I doubt not you can forgive me. My time has been overcrowded with toils here; my heart overloaded with cares: for a long while I gave up writing to all persons, except my Mother and a Brother I have in Rome. This literally is the first slake in my bottle; which I make use of to recal myself to your remembrance.

The great thing I have been doing, under sad enough circumstances, is a History of the French Revolution; a Copy of which I will this day despatch to Weimar for your friendly perusal. The mode of conveyance is not very certain as to time and conditions: my Bookseller will entrust the Book to a Mr Black Importer of German Books here, whose representative at Leipzig is Herr Herbig, thro' which latter the Packet will come to you.3 One would think you should have it in a few weeks. It is the same vehicle by which Sartor Resartus reached you safely enough. If any unusual delay occur I will thank you to apply to Herr Herbig; or, should that yield nothing, to give me warning here, and I will see into it.— As to the Book itself, they say it is likely to make a noise, to be abused, lamented, praised &c: you, on looking into it, will easily judge that my blessedness is in good part independent of that; the blessedness of a man who has ended and shaken off from him a thing that was like to take his life with it! For in addition to all, I lost my First Volume when it was finished, by a Friend's inattention and his housemaid's stupidity:4 the First Volume was all burnt, and I had to write it over again; a thing I would never try to do a second time, nor advise any man to try. God be thanked—therefore that is off my hands, I say always! Let it make noise, of what sort it likes, or of no sort but die in eternal silence: that is not my concern but other men's.

Of you I have heard more than once since you wrote. A Mrs Jameson,5 who lived long at Weimar, in your circle came here into ours, and had much to tell. I listened with interest one afternoon to many things about you and Madam von Goethe and a place and Society that can never become indifferent to me. Mrs Jameson was clearly a loving reporter; but I saw thro' her eyes more directly than I had done into the condition of several things. With Madam von Goethe she appeared to be really almost what one can call in love. Will you, pray, offer my affectionate remembrances to that Lady, joined cordially with my Wife's. Her Semainaire,6 the work of her fingers, hangs on the wall here and many a graceful memorial of her. May all good always be with her and hers.

A still more direct glimpse of you we had thro' the Book of Gespräche.7 I succeeded early in borrowing a Copy of that Book, and read it with what zeal you can fancy. I know not what they said in Germany; but here all voices were unanimously favourable. The picture you unconsciously and with fore thought give of yourself caught all heads by the favourable side. I know nothing better in that kind than that Jugendgeschichte [youth tale]: there is the simplicity of genuine goodness, the calmness and cheerfulness of real strength, victorious after great obstacles. And then the view we get of our Goethe in his household environment; our World-Poet conditioned down into a Weimar Burgher, what he says, what he does, how he looks and lives in that capacity: it was attractive to me beyond all Poems, being indeed the best of Poems. For finally, as Mrs Jameson remarked, and as even a stranger may discover and believe, all accurately true: if at any time the Author, his colloquy being ended, records that “the summer dawn was streaming up over the heights,” one knows that such dawn was actually there, and it may continue streaming up in our imaginations safely forevermore. I predict that your Book will endure thro' long centuries. I had but one regret over it: [th]at it was not four times as l[ar]ge a Book.8

We go on learning German at a very considerable rate still in this Country. My own views have been turned quite elsewhither of late years; but the fire is kindled which will not go out again. Nay we are beginning to discover now, not without amazement, that we also are Germans; that it is a credit to belong to such a kindred!— I know not if you have chanced to hear that some Friends set me up in this huge Babylon in these late weeks to lecture on the subject. It was actually so; and went off, despite all drawbacks, in a surprisingly handsome manner. My audience I understand (for I durst hardly look at them, speaking extempore was so ticklish for me) consisted of mere quality and notabilities, male and female; the flower of London: they sat, and listened as silent as possible; learnt from me that the characteristic of Teutschen [Germanic] and Teutons was what Goethe called it, Tapferkeit [valor] and all that goes along with that noble word; that Luther, Këpler,9 Milton, Franklin10 were properly valiant men; all of one kindred; a great kindred, which did seem as if it were destined to subdue all things before it, and one day rule over the whole circuit of the world. Our last Lecture was on Goethe.11 German Literature has not before exhibited itself in so decisive a manner anywhere in this country.

Being literally quite worn out with one thing and another, I am now about running into Scotland for two months of rest. My Wife continues here with her Mother. She suffered greatly from that Influenza last winter; so much that at one time we were in real fright, and her mother hastened up to us. All is now better. She sends you her affectionate regards and wishes. Adieu my worthy Friend. I beg you always to believe me—most faithfully yours

T. Carlyle

I may note on this margin a thing you can perhaps do for me. Of the Nachgelassene Werke [Posthumous Works] I have two Lieferungen [instalments] which you sent me:12 the third and last is still wanting and not to be had here. Half a year ago, Mr Black applied, by my earnest order, to the German Buchhandlung [book dealers], but without any result; they cannot sell a separate Lieferung. Perhaps you could ask about it, and send me guidance.