the painful scientific experiments of Alexander von Humboldt

15bac426-fc64-11e7-aa1c-071921b423364-467x600Maren Meinhardt at the TLS:

Humboldt’s subordination of himself does not always make comfortable reading, especially as it clearly wasn’t even particularly welcome: “Every day this love and affection increases, the expression of which is so often irritating to you”. Nonetheless, he suggested that Haeften retire from his regiment in the next few months, and that “all of us (including my brother) move to Italy for a few years . . . . We’d fit perfectly into one carriage, and my brother with wife and child would fill the other”. Naturally, all would be subject to Haeften’s whim and pleasure: “where and how you want to travel, how soon you’d like to leave Italy – I shall vouch for it with my character, as well as with the record of our relations thus far, that you can command over me as over your child, and will encounter obedience without so much as a grumble”. After their return from Italy, they would all settle down together – “it doesn’t matter where, best in a place where nature is friendly and where old ties won’t embarrass us. There’s a lot to be said for Cleves [Haeften’s home town]. . .”.

more here.