The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 25 June 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410625-TC-RWE-01; CL 13: 162-164


Chelsea, London, 25 june, 1841—

Dear Emerson,

Now that there begins again to be some program possible of my future motions for some time, I hastily despatch you some needful outline of the same.

After infinite confused uncertainty, I learn yesternight that there has been a kind of country-house got for us, at a place called Annan, on the north shore of the Solway Frith, in my native county of Dumfries. You passed thro' the little Burgh, I suppose, in your way homeward from Craigenputtoch: it stands about midway, on the great road, between Dumfries and Carlisle. It is the place where I got my schooling;—consider what a preternatural significance such a scene has now got for me! It is within eight miles of my aged Mother's dwelling-place; within riding distance, in fact, of almost all the kindred I have in the world.——— The house, which is built since my time, and was never yet seen by me, is said to be a reasonable kind of house. We get it for a small sum in proportion to its value (thanks to kind accident); the 300 miles of travel, very hateful to me, will at least entirely obliterate all traces of this Dust-Babel; the place too being naturally almost ugly, as far as a green leafy place in sight of sea and mountains can be so nicknamed, the whole gang of picturesque Tourists, Cockney friends of Nature &c &c, who penetrate now by steam, in shoals every autum,1 into the very centre of the Scotch Highlands,—will be safe over the horizon! In short, we are all bound thitherward in few days; must cobble up some kind of gypsey establishment; and bless Heaven for solitude, for the sight of green fields, heathy moors; for a silent sky over one's head, and air to breathe which does not consist of coal-smoke, finely powdered flint, and other beautiful etceteras of that kind among others! God knows I have need enough to be left altogether alone for some considerable while (forever, as it at present seems to me), to get my inner world, and my poor bodily nerves, both all torn to pieces, set in order a little again! After much vain reluctance therefore; disregarding many considerations,—disregarding finance in the front of these,—I am off; and calculate on staying till I am heartily sated with country, till at least the last gleam of summer weather has departed. My way of life has all along hitherto been a resolute staying at home: I find now however that I must alter my habits, cost what it may; that I cannot live all the year round in London, under pain of dying or going rabid;—that I must, in fact, learn to travel, as others do, and be hanged to me! Wherefore, in brief, my Friend, our address for the next two or three months is “Newington Lodge, Annan, Scotland,”—when a letter from Emerson will be a right pleasant visitor! Faustum sit [May it turn out well].

My second piece of news, not less interesting I hope, is that Emerson's Essays, the Book so-called, is to be reprinted here; nay, I think, is even now at press,—in the hands of that invaluable Printer, Robson, who did the Miscellanies. Fraser undertakes it, “on half-profits”; T. Carlyle writing a Preface,—which accordingly he did (in rather sullen humour,—not with you!) last night and the foregoing days.2 Robson will stand by the text to the very utmost; and I also am to read the Proof-sheets. The edition is of 750; which Fraser thinks he will sell. With what joy shall I then sack up the small £10 sterling perhaps of “Half-profits” and remit them to the man Emerson; saying: There, man! Tit for [tat] the reciprocity not all on one side!——— I ought to say, moreover, that this was a volunteer scheme of Fraser's; the risk is all his, the origin of it was with him: I advised him to have it reviewed, as being a really noteworthy Book; “write you a Preface,” said he, “and I will reprint it”;—to which, after due delay and meditation, I consented. Let me add only, on this subject, the story of a certain Rio, a French Breton, with long, distracted, black hair. He found your Book at Richard Milnes's, a borrowed copy, and could not borrow it; whereupon he appeals passionately to me; carries off my wife's copy, this distracted Rio; and is to “read it four times” during this current autumn, at Quimperle in his native Celtdom!3 The man withal is a Catholic, eats fish on friday;—a great lion here when he visits us; one of the naivest men in the world: concerning whom nevertheless, among fashionables, there is a controversy, “Whether he is an Angel, or partially a Windbag and Humbug?” Such is the lot of loveliness in the world! A truer man I never saw; how windless, how windy, I will not compute at present. Me he likes greatly (in spite of my unspeakable contempt for his fish on friday); likes,—but withal is apt to bore.

Enough, dear Emerson; and more than enough for a day so hurried. Our Island is all in a ferment electioneering: Tories to come in;—perhaps not to come in; at all events not to stay long, without altering their figure much! I sometimes ask myself rather earnestly, What is the duty of a Citizen? To be, as I have been hitherto, a pacific alien? That is the easiest, with my humour!— Our brave Dame here, just rallying for the remove, sends loving salutations. Good be with you always. Adieu, dear E.

T. Carlyle

Appleton's Book of Hero-worship has come; for which pray thank Mr Munroe for me:4 It is smart on the surface; but printed altogether scandalously!—