The Collected Letters, Volume 11


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 24 June 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390624-TC-RWE-01; CL 11: 140-143


Chelsea, London, 24th June, 1839—

Dear Friend,

Two Letters from you were brought hither by Miss Sedgwick last week.1 The series of post letters is a little embroiled in my head; but I have a conviction that all hitherto due have arrived; that up to the date of my last despatch (a Proofsheet and a Letter) which ought to be getting into your hands in these very days, our correspondence is clear. That Letter and Proofsheet, two separate pieces, were sent to Liverpool some three weeks ago, to be despatched by the first conveyance thence; as I say, they are probably in Boston about this time. The Proofsheet was one of the Forty-seven such, which the new F. Revn is to consist of: with this, as with a correct sample, you were to act upon some Boston Bookseller, and make a bargain for me,—or at worst report that none was to be made. A bad bargain will content me now, my hopes are not at all high.

For the present, I am to announce on the part of Bookseller Fraser that the First Portion of our celebrated “Miscellanies” have been hovering about on these coasts for several weeks, have lain safe “in the River” for some two weeks, and ought at last to be safe in Fraser's shop today or else tomorrow. I will ask there, and verify, before this Letter go. The reason of these “two weeks in the river” is that the packages were addressed “John Fraser, London,” and the people had tried all the Frasers in London before they attempted the right individual, James, of 215. Regent Street. Of course, the like mistake in the second case will be avoided. A Letter, put ashore at Falmouth, and properly addressed, but without any signature, had first of all announced that the thing was at the Door; and so with this “John Fraser” it has been knocking ever since, finding difficult admission. In the present instance such delay has done no ill, for Fraser will not sell till the Second Portion come; and with this the mistake will be avoided. What has shocked poor James much more is a circumstance which your Boston Booksellers have no power to avoid: the “enormousness” of the charges in our Port here! He sends me the account of them last Saturday, with eyes—such as drew Priam's curtains:2 £31 and odd silver, whereof £28 as duty on Books at £5 per cwt. is charged by the rapacious Customhouse alone! What help, O James? I answer: we cannot bombard the British Customhouse, and sack it, and explode it; we must yield, and pay it the money; thankful for what is still left.— On the whole, one has to learn by trying. This notable finance-expedient, of printing in the one country what is to be sold in the other, did not take Vandalic customhouses into view, which nevertheless do seem to exist. We must persist in it for the present reciprocal pair of times, having started in it for these: but on future occasions always, we can ask the past; and see whether it be not better to let each side of the water stand on its own basis. As for your “accounts,” my Friend, I find them clear as day, verifiable to the uttermost farthing. You are a good man to conquer your horror of arithmetic; and, like hydrophobic Peter of Russia making himself a sailor, become an Accountant for my sake.3 But now will you forgive me if I never do verify this same account, or look at it more in this world except as a memento of affection, its arithmetical ciphers so many hierograms, really sacred to me! A reflexion I cannot but make is that at bottom this money was all yours; not a penny of it belonged to me by any law except that of helpful Friendship. I feel as if I could not examine it without a kind of crime. For the rest, you may rejoice to think that, thanks to you and the Books, and to Heaven over all, I am for the present no longer poor; but have a reasonable prospect of existing, which, as I calculate, is literally the most that money can do for a man. Not for these twelve years, never since I had a house to maintain with money, have I had as much money in my possession as even now. Allah kerim [God is generous]! We will hope all that is good on that side. And herewith enough of it.

You tell me you are but “a reporter”: I like you for thinking so.4 And you will never know that it is not true, till you have tried. Meanwhile, far be it from me to urge you to a trial before your time come. Ah, it will come and soon enough; much better perhaps if it never came! A man has “such a baptism to be baptised withal,” no easy baptism; and is “straitened till it be accomplished.”5 As for me I honour peace before all things; the silence of a great soul is to me greater than anything it will ever say, it ever can say. Be tranquil, my friend; utter no word till you cannot help it;—and think yourself a “reporter,” till you find (not with any great joy) that you are not altogether that!

We have not yet seen Miss Sedgwick: your Letters with her card were sent hither by post; we went up next day, but she was out; no meeting could be arranged earlier than tomorrow evening when we look for her here.6 Her reception, I have no doubt, will be abundantly flattering in this England. American Notabilities are daily becoming notabler a[mong] us; the ties of the two Parishes, Mother and Daughter, getting closer and closer knit. Indissoluble ties:—I reckon that this huge smoky Wen7 may, for some centuries yet, be the best Mycale for our Saxon Panionnium,8 a yearly meeting-place of “All the Saxons,” from beyond the Atlantic, from the Antipodes or wherever the restless wanderers dwell and toil. After centuries, if Boston, if New York have become the most convenient “All-Saxondom,” we will right cheerfully go thither to hold such festival, and leave the Wen.— Not many days ago I saw at breakfast the notablest of all your Notabilities, Daniel Webster. He is a magnificent specimen; you might say to all the world, This is your Yankee Englishman, such limbs we make in Yankeeland! As a Logic-fencer, Advocate, or Parliamentary Hercules, one would incline to back him at first right against all the extant world. The tanned complexion, that amorphous crag-like face; the dull black eyes under their precipice of brows, like dull anthracite furnaces, needing only to be blown; the mastiff-mouth, accurately closed:— I have not traced as much of silent Berserkir-rage, that I remember of, in any other man. “I guess I should not like to be your nigger!”— Webster is not loquacious, but he is pertinent, conclusive; a dignified, perfectly bred man, tho' not English in breeding: a man worthy of the best reception from us; and meeting such, I understand. He did not speak much with me that morning, but seemed not at all to dislike me: I meditate whether it is fit or not fit that I should seek out his residence, and leave my card too, before I go? Probably not; for the man is political, seemingly altogether; has been at the Queen's levee &c &c: it is simply as a mastiff-mouthed man that he is interesting to me, and not otherwise at all.

In about seven days hence we go to Scotland till the July heats be over. That is our resolution after all. Our address there, probably till the end of August, is “Templand, Thornhill, Dumfries N.B.”—the residence of my Mother-in-law, within a day's drive of my Mother's. Any Letter of yours sent by the old constant address (Cheyne Row, Chelsea) will still find me there; but the other, for that time, will be a day or two shorter. We all go, servant and all. I am bent on writing something; but have no faith that I shall be able. I must try. There is a thing of mine in Fraser for July, of no account, about the “sinking of the Vengeur,” as you will see. The F. Rn printing is not to stop; two thirds of it are done, at this present rate it ought to finish, and the whole be ready, within three weeks hence. A Letter will be here from you about that time, I think: I will print no titlepage for the 500 till it do come. “Published by Fraser and Little” would, I suppose, be unobjectionable,—tho' Fraser is the most nervous of creatures: but why put him in it at all; since these 500 copies are wholly Little's and yours?— Adieu my Friend. Our blessings are with you and your house. My wife grows better with the hot weather; I always worse.— Yours ever— T. Carlyle

I say not a word about America or Lecturing, at present; because I mean to consider it intently in Scotland, and there to decide. My Brother is to be at Ischl (not far from Salzburg) during summer: he was anxious to have me there, and I to have gone; but—but— Adieu.

Fraser's shop. Books not yet come, but known to be safe, and expected soon. Nay the dextrous Fraser has argued away £15 of the duty, he says! All is right therefore. N.B. he says, you are to send the 2nd Portion in sheets, the weight will be less. This if it be still time.9Basta [enough].