January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 11 March 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430311-TC-RWE-01; CL 16: 76-77


Chelsea, London, 11 March, 1843—

Dear Emerson,

I know not whose turn it is to write; tho' a suspicion has long attended me that it was yours,1 and above all an indisputable wish that you would do it: but this present is a cursory line, all on business,— and as usual all on business of my own.

I have finished a Book, and just set the Printer to it; one solid volume (rather bigger than one of the French-Revolution Volumes, as I compute): it is a somewhat fiery and questionable “Tract for the Times,” not by a Puseyite, which the horrible aspect of things here has forced from me,—I know not whether as preliminary to Oliver or not; but it had gradually grown to be the preliminary of anything possible for me: so there it is written; and I am a very sick, but withal a comparatively very free man. The Title of the thing is to be Past and Present: it is divided into Four Books, “Book I. Proem,” “Book II. The Ancient Monk.” “Book III. The Modern Worker”; and “Book IV. Horoscope” (or some such thing):—the size of it I guessed at above.

The practical business, accordingly, is: How to cut out that New-York scoundrel, who fancies that because there is no gallows it is permitted to steal?2 I have a distinct desire to do that;—altogether apart from the money to be gained thereby. A friend's goodness ought not to [be]3 frustrated by a scoundrel destitute of gallows.— You told me long since how to do the operation;4 and here, according to the best way I had of fitting your scheme into my materials, is my way of attempting it.

The Book will not be out here for six good weeks from this date; it could be kept back for a week or two longer, if that were indispensable: but I hope it may not. In three weeks, half of it will be printed; I, in the meanwhile, get a correct Ms. Copy of the later half made ready: joining the printed sheets and this Ms., your Bookseller5 will have a three-weeks start of any rival, if I instantly despatch the Parcel to him. Will this do? This with the announcement of the Title as given above. Pray write to me straightway, and say. Your answer will be here before we can publish; and the Packet of Proofsheets and Manuscript may go off whether there be word from you or none.— And so enough of Past and Present. And indeed enough of all things for my haste is excessive in these hours.

The last Dial came to me about three weeks ago as Post-Letter, charged something like a guinea of postage, if I remember; so it had to be rejected, and I have not yet seen that No;6 but will when my leeway is once brought up a little again. The two preceeding Nos were, to a marked extent, more like life than anything I had seen before of the Dial. There was not indeed anything, except the Emersonian Papers alone which I know by the first ring of them on the tympanum of the mind, that I properly speaking liked; but there was much that I did not dislike, and did half like;7 and I say, “I fausto pede [Go auspiciously];8 that will decidedly do better!”— By the bye, it were as well if you kept rather a strict outlook on Alcott and his English Tail,9—I mean so far as we here have any business with it. Bottomless imbecils ought not be seen in Company with R Waldo Emerson, who has already men listening to him on this side of the water. The “Tail” has an individual or two of that genus,—and the rest is mainly yet undecided. For example, I knew old Greaves myself; and can testify, if you will believe me, that few greater blockheads (if “blockhead” may mean “exasperated imbecil” and the ninth-part of a thinker) broke the world's bread in his day.10 Have a care of such! I say always to myself,—and to you, which you forgive me.

Adieu my dear Emerson. May a good Genius guide you; for you are alone, alone; and have a steep pilgrimage to make,—leading high, if you do not slip or stumble!

Ever your affectionate /

T. Carlyle