Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

III
NEUBERG AND LARKIN, &c. (1850)

NEXT day, 24.12.50, Carlyle was writing to Varnhagen von Ense in Berlin1 describing his friend Neuberg. He had given Neuberg a card of introduction to von Ense, which was handsomely honoured in due course.

'Herr Neuberg,' the letter ran, 'is a man of unostentatious but truly superior character; a most pious, clear, resolute, modest and earnest man; with excellent insights and faculties; well acquainted both with our literature and yours, and indeed knows England and English affairs better probably than any stranger you have met. . . . He was twenty years a merchant in this country, and then, finding himself possessed of a competence and totally without enthusiasm for more, decided to give up business, and live henceforth among intellectual objects.'

On the same day Carlyle received a letter from Neuberg in Bonn, and answered it at once,2 telling about this letter to Von Ense, and going on:--'You seem to have found in Bonn all that you could reasonably expect. Whatever is wanting might gradually be added. . . . Employment . . . wherever you go will be a restless necessity for you. A man, in all countries, has to "wait at the pool"; to look out assiduously for opportunities and capabilities; snatching them up as they arise, and diligently paving for himself a way thro' the abyss by them. For it is an ever-fluctuating, madly boiling abyss, except so far as we can control it and subdue it, to one and all of us. . . .

'Your perfect knowledge of England and things English seems to offer you some specific possibilities of function among Germans at present. . . . Old Arndt, in your picture, looks charming; an excellent piece of old-German stuff. I am delighted to hear of his vigorous delving and

____________________
1
Last Words of Thomas Carlyle, 1892, pp. 237-61.
2
Letters perhaps unpublished.

-330-

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