Translation of Ludwig Leichhardt's letter to his friend Mr J.

Nicholson, Tubingen, Wurtemberg dated Paris 25th January 1839, the original German letter being the property of the Johnsonian Cub Brisbane. Ernst Marwedel Toowoomba June 11th 1887 (Courtesy, Queensland State Library)

My most valued friend Since we have waited so long with pains for a letter from you, I begin to fear, that you perhaps never received William's last letter. But since it was I who carried the letter to the post office, my first care is to know whether the letter really reached the good town Tubingen. Is it in your hands, all the better then, I will at least assist to shake the tree and try whether a small friendly note or a long heavy letter drops down for us. Let us be sincere, not unlike a pair of solitary/lonely/octopi------extend hopefully our feelers in order to close them merryly----ever over a little prey from you. Let us therefore soon hear from you, since in your small (house) domestic and statelife, in the struggle for Gar, many developments-----------------are promised by brightness. Mark was the last who sent us some news from beyond the strait. He is in good health and fairly hopeful. Poor William is not quite so well, he has been working here during the last 6 months like the --- chief of a German university and since inclement weather, unfriendly, sent cold temperature and fire without warmth or heat combine together, no wonder, if intellectual foggy days, dejection, depression and discomfort make their appearance. Consider that a letter from you will do a good deal to clear this foggy sky. Like a pair of chilly dormice we sit stooping before a smouldering fire, not wood, a heap of ash as though there is no post yet Ardently we look forward to the spring like a dear bride full of plans to be developed in emulation with young nature. The Parisians are at present full of politics, the debates more in the reply to the address and a battle for life and death between the Ministry Mole and the Opposition.This was a coalition since the Doctrinaires (Guizot) the left (la gauche) the opposition propre Odilon Barrot and Thiers had united to overthrow the Ministry. They have carried the day, the opposition forces sing songs of victory, while those organs of the Ministry are in mourning. You can imagine, that such an event creates amongst the noisy Frenchmen unheard of excitement. The new Ministry is yet unknown. Since the Picture Gallery in the Louvre is intended to be closed for from 3 to 4 months, we have employed the last fortnight, to inspect the most important pieces of the Dutch and Italian School. We have at least discovered, that later on this will be a source of rich enjoyment for us and that the poetry of colors is intimately united with the poetry of words. Thus we attract gradually one orb after the other, to observe it more seriously, in order to say with Goethe, to animate each circumference with a precise intuition and to say with Odysseus, to give speech to the shadows of the lower regions through blood, or to the shadowlike ideas, the children of the book and the parlour, through real natural impressions. We have seen nothing of Captain Louis since William could hear at his hotel nothing about him, expect his being still at Nantes. May we later on at least meet him in Cuba.

In Paris it is at present the fashion of lovers to commit suicide conjointly; mostly however are those intentions only half carried out since fate is so gallant as to preserve the female half. Thus a young lover threw himself from the spire of Notre Dame, embracing his girl in order to drag her down, but she got hold of a pillar and saved herself. Another jumped in a like manner out of a window, 62 feet high, the girl was likewise saved. Other cases ended less fortunate. But what does all that say? The heartless Frenchmen do not love after all less sincerely than we Germans, still one ought to fancy that such attempt for death ought to presuppose strength of mind. I do not remember having heard during my time in Germany anything similar. That the lover or the girl kill themselves singly occurs often enough. They prefer death to the non satisfaction of their most ardent desire, but if this desire is fulfilled? Here everything is a matter of fashion, at one time they selected suffocation by the fumes of charcoal. I have visited several churches in order to ascertain their attendance. I found on weekdays in some churches a respectable number of old women and girls but only few men. Last Sunday I went to the Notre Dame attending the Great or chief Mass. The number of the really devout was but scanty. It is a singularly careless service, there is a coming and leaving, a staring and standing that one has a difficulty to distinguish the curious from the pious. Young men or men whose appearance would show some education are perhaps as scarce as white sparrows. It has appeared to me, that servant girls, fresh from the country, attend for some time regularly in order to drawl the unintelligible Pater noster and Ave Marias. I went direct from the R. Catholic Metropolitan into the Protestant Church. It is not large but has a look of respectability, every space is occupied with chairs, which were filled quietly and when the service commenced an apple would hardly fall on the ground. There were almost more men than women and one could see at a glance, that they were people who thought about what they heard. The whole congregation sang with the organ, the full tone brought back to my mind sweet recollections; however they sang too quick, almost without interludes, - the pastor told a sermon about one of the sayings of St. Paul, he spoke exceedingly beautiful, though for my part too declamatory but corresponding with the vivacity of the Frenchmen. At the finish of the sermon there was more singing. When leaving the church, I found that the whole street was filled with aristocratic carriages. Thus the people of distinction were here the churchgoers. That was all right and good; still I could not free myself of an unpleasant thought. How, I thought, if attending the Pt. church is after all merely a matter of fashion, senseless, soulless fashion on the cold barren soil of which even the freshest plumpest seed ----- go to destruction. - I do not know it! Now comes the burden (refrain) of my song, the A and the O. Please write soon. Make mine and Williams compliments two fold to your dear wife and the young ladies and keep in good remembrance. Your sincere friend Ludwig Leichhardt

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