The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW ; 31 December 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401200-TC-HWL-01; CL 12: 379-380


CHELSEA, LONDON, [late] December, 1840.

MY DEAR SIR,—About two weeks ago arrived your letter. …1 From you, since the morning when we parted at the end of Leigh Hunt's Row, some fitful reports and notices have reached me; one in particular which, I remember, frightened us all,—the rumor that you were in that fatal steamer2 where so many perished! Happily, this was soon contradicted; and about the same time there came an indistinct message that a copy of your Poems had been left for me at Fraser, the bookseller's. It now beckons to me from one of my shelves, asking always, When wilt thou have a cheerful vacant day? …

Alas, my dear sir, what a wretched scrawl is this, with the worst of pens; time, composure, and all elements of social intercourse entirely denied me! It is a hideous, immeasurable treadmill, this smoky soul-confusing Babylon; I address one prayer to the heavens that I were well out of it, before it take the life from me! Happy you who sit in Cambridge, Old or New, with clear air around you, with liberty to commune with your own thoughts, not compulsion to commune with the infinite hubbub of Cockney thoughts and no-thoughts, which—mag der Teufel holen [may the Devil take]! But, patience! we must have patience, and shuffle the cards.

Adieu, dear sir, and Good be with you ever.

Yours most truly,