Friday, April 13, 2012

To Scott from Von Goethe by way of Carlyle


On April 13, 1828, Thomas Carlyle wrote to Walter Scott to inform him that German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (left) had sent a gift for Scott, through Carlyle (below). 

Edinburgh, 21. Comley Bank Row, / 13th April, 1828.

Sir,

In February last, I had the honour to receive a Letter from von Goethe, announcing the speedy departure, from Weimar, of a Packet for me; in which, among other valuables, should be found “two Medals,” to be delivered, “mit verbindlichsten Grüssen” [“with most courteous greetings”], to Sir Walter Scott. By a slow enough conveyance, this Kästchen [little box], with its medals in perfect safety, has at length yesterday come to hand; and now lays on me the enviable duty of addressing you…

With regard to the Medals, which are as I expected the two well-known likenesses of Goethe himself, it could be no hard matter to dispose of them safely here, or transmit them to you, if you required it, without delay: but being in this curious fashion appointed as it were Ambassador between two Kings of Poetry, I would willingly discharge my mission with the solemnity that beseems such a business; and naturally it must flatter my vanity and love of the marvellous to think that by means of a Foreigner whom I have never seen, I might now have access to my native Sovereign whom I have so often seen in public, and so often wished that I had claim to see and know in private and near at hand. Till Whitsunday I continue to reside here; and shall hope that some time before that period I may have opportunity to wait on you, and as my commission bore, to hand you these memorials in person.

Meanwhile I abide your farther orders in this matter; and so with all the regard which belongs to one whom I in common with other millions owe so much, I have the honour to be,

Sir, / Most respectfully your servant, /

Thomas Carlyle.

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