The Collected Letters, Volume 12


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 9 December 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401209-TC-RWE-01; CL 12: 353-356


Chelsea, 9 Decr, 1840—

Dear Emerson,

My answer,1 on this occasion, has been delayed above two weeks, by a rigorous searching investigation into the procedure of the hapless Book-conveyer Kennet, in reference to that copy of the Miscellanies.2 I was deceived by hopes of a conclusive response from day to day; not till yesterday did any come. My first step, taken long ago, was to address a new copy of the Book, not to you luckless man, but to Lydia Emerson the fortunate Wife; this copy Green now has lying by him, waiting for the January Steamer (we sail only once a month in this season): before the New Year has got out of infancy the Lady will be graciously pleased to make a few inches of room on her bookshelves for this celebrated performance. And now as to Kennet, take the brief outcome of some dozen visitations, judicial interrogatories, searches of documents and other piercing work on the part of methodic Fraser, attended with demurrers, pleadings, false denials, false affirmings on the part of innocent chaotic Kennet: namely that the said Kennet, so urged, did in the end of last week, fish up from his repositories your very identical Book directed to Monroe's3 care, duly booked, and engaged for, in May last, but left to repose itself in the Covent-Garden crypts ever since without disturbance from gods or men! Fraser has brought back the Book, and you have lost it;—and the Library of my native Village in Scotland is to get it, and not Kennett any more in the world, but Green ever henceforth is to be our Book Carrier.4 There is a history. Green, it seems, addresses also to Monroe; but the thing, I suppose, will now shift for itself without watching.

As to the bibliopolic accounts,5 my Friend!—we will trust them with a faith known only in the purer ages of Roman Catholicism,—when Papacy had indeed become a Dubiety, but was not yet a Quackery and Falsehood, was a thing as true as it could manage to be! That really may be the fact of this too. In any case what signifies it much? Money were still useful; but it is not now so indispensable. Booksellers by their knavery or their fidelity cannot kill us or cure us. Of the truth of Waldo Emerson's heart to me, there is, God be thanked for it, no doubt at all.

My Hero-Lectures lie still in Manuscript.6 Fraser offers no amount of cash adequate to be an outward motive; and inwardly there is as yet none altogether clear, tho' I rather feel of late as if it were clearing. To fly in the teeth of English Puseyism, and risk such shrill welcome as I am pretty sure of, is questionable: yet at bottom why not? Dost thou not as entirely reject this new distraction of a Puseyism as man can reject a thing; and couldst utterly abjure it, and even abhor it,—were the shadow of a cobweb ever likely to become momentous, the cobweb itself being beheaded,7 with axe and block on Tower Hill, two centuries ago? I think it were as well to tell Puseyism that it has something of good, but also much of bad and even worst. We shall see. If I print the thing, we shall surely take in America again; either by stereotype or in some other way. Fear not that!— Do you attend at all to this new Laudism of ours? It spreads far and wide among our Clergy in these days; a most notable symptom, very cheering to me many ways; whether or not one of the fatallest our poor Church of England has ever exhibited, and betokening swifter ruin to it than any other, I do not inquire. Thank God, men do discover at last that there is still a God present in their affairs, and must be, or their affairs are of the Devil, naught, and worthy of being sent to the Devil! This once given I find that all is given; daily History, in Kingdom and in Parish, is an experimentum crucis [a crucial experiment] to shew what is the Devil's and what not. But on the whole are we not the formallest people ever created under this Sun? Cased and overgrown with Formulas, like very lobsters with their shells, from birth upwards; so that in the man we see only his breeches, and believe and swear that wherever a pair of old breeches are there is a man! I declare I could both laugh and cry. These poor good men, merciful, zealous, with many sympathies and thoughts, there do they vehemently appeal to me, Et tu Brute?8 Brother, wilt thou too insist on the breeches being old; not ply a needle among us here?— To the naked Caliban,9 gigantic, for whom such breeches would not be a glove, who is stalking and groping there in search of new breeches and accoutrements, sure to get them, a[nd] to tread into nonentity whoever hinders him in the search,—they are blind a[s if] they had no eyes. Sartorial men; ninth-parts of a man:—enough of them.

The Second No of the Dial has also arrived some days ago. I like it decidedly better than the first; in fact it is right well worth being put on paper, and sent circulating;—I find only as before that it is still too much of a soul for circulating as it should. I wish you could in future contrive to mark at the end of each Article who writes it, or give me some general key for knowing. I recognise Emerson readily; the rest are οἱ πολλοί [the indistinguishable many] for most part.10 But it is all good and very good as a soul; wants only a body, which want means a great deal! Your Paper on Literature is incompar[a]bly the worthiest thing hitherto; a thing I read with delight. Speak out, my brave Emerson; there are many good men that listen! Even what you say of Goethe gratifies me; it is one of the few things yet spoken of him from personal insight, the sole kind of things that should be spoken! You call him actual not ideal;11 there is truth in that too; and yet at bottom is not the whole truth rather this: The actual well-seen is the ideal? The actual, what really is and exists: the past, the present, the future no less, do all Lie there! Ah yes, one day you will find that this sunny-looking, courtly Goethe held veiled in him a Prophetic Sorrow deep as Dante's,—all the nobler to me and to you, that he could so hold it. I believe this; no man can see as he sees, that has not suffered and striven as man seldom did.— A propos of this, Have you got Miss Martineau's Hour and Man! How curious it were to have the real History of the Negro Toussaint; and his black Sansculottism in Saint-Domingo; the most atrocious form Sansculottism could or can assume. This of a “black Wilberforce-Washington” as Sterling calls it, is decidedly something.— Adieu, dear Emerson: time presses, paper is done. Commend me to your good Wife, your good Mother, and love me as well as you can. Peace and health under clear winter skies be with you all.

T. Carlyle

My Wife rebukes me sharply that I have “forgot her love!” She is much better this winter than of old.

Having mentioned Sterling I should say that he is at Torquay (Devonshire) for the winter, meditating new publication of Poems. I work still in Cromwellism; all but desperate of any feasible issue worth naming.12 I “enjoy bad health” too,—considerably!