August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO JOHN STERLING ; 29 August 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18420829-TC-JOST-01; CL 15: 55-56


Chelsea, 29 Augt, 1842—

My dear Sterling,

This Letter from Emerson, along with one for myself, has just arrived. Three others, from various hands, for Alcott “the Potatoe Quixote,” have reached me by the same ship, and been already sent voyaging towards Richmond or some Elsewhere. The Potatoe Quixote and I have come a sheer rupture, after our third interview; on my asking him, “when shall I see you again?” his answer was, “Never, I guess!” A worthy man; but one of the absurdest I have ever seen. They tell me Emerson furnishes his expenses to this Country;1 a very notable fact; significant of several things in the new country! No unlikelier missionary, since that Quaker that walked off direct to the Pope and told him the Lord's Message,2 has come athwart my field of vision—good and better luck to him!

Your friend Owen the Naturalist came down to me one evening; staid two hours: I returned his call, yesterday with my Brother, and went over his Museum. He is a man of real talent and worth, an extremely rare kind of man. Hardly twice in London have I met with any articulate-speaking biped who told me a thirtieth-part so many things I knew not and wanted to know. It was almost like to make me cry, to hear articulate human speech once more conveying real information to me,—not dancing on airy tiptoes, nowhence and nowhither, as the manner of the Cockney dialect is! God's forgiveness to all Cockney “men of wit”: they know not what death and Gehenna does lurk in that laborious inanity of theirs: inane speech, the pretence to be saying something when you really are saying nothing but only counterfeits of things, is the beginning and basis of all other inanities whatsoever! Wherewith the Earth and England is now sick; almost unto death.— Thank Heaven and your stars, I have no more paper at present!

Tomorrow or next day I am off for Mrs Buller's in Suffolk, to bring home my Wife; who has been there about a fortnight; with some improvement, I think. Cannot I run over to Ely, to St Ives, Huntingdon and Hinchinbrooke? Ah, me!

My hurry, however, is so great at present, I took this mere scrap of paper for you; and must now end it. Adieu, dear Sterling; Vale et me ama [Farewell and love me].

T. Carlyle