January-July 1843

The Collected Letters, Volume 16


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 1 April 1843; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18430401-TC-RWE-01; CL 16: 106-108


Chelsea, 1 April, 1843—

My dear Emerson,

Along with this Letter there will go from Liverpool, on the 4th, inst, the promised Parcel, complete Copy of the Book called Past and Present, of which you already had two simultaneous announcements. The name of the Steam Packet, I understand, is the Britannia. I have addressed the Parcel to the care of “Messrs Little and Brown, Book-sellers, Boston,” with your name atop: I calculate, it will arrive safe enough.

About 100 pages of the Ms. Copy have proved superfluous, the text being there also in a printed shape; I had misestimated the Printer's velocity; I was anxious too that there should be no failure as to time. The Ms. is very indifferent in that section of it; the damage therefore is smaller: your press-correcter can acquaint himself with the hand &c, by means of it. A poor young governess, confined to a horizontal posture, and many sad thoughts, by a disease of the spine, was our artist in that part of the business: her writing is none of the distinctest; but it was a work of charity to give it her. I hope the thing is all as correct as I could make it. I do not bethink me of anything farther I have to add in the way of explanation.

In fact my prophecy rather is at present that Appleton the gibbetless thief at New York will beat us after all!1 Never mind if he do. To say truth, I myself shall almost be glad: there has been a botheration in this anxious arrangement of parts, correcting of scrawly manuscript copies of what you never wished to read more, and insane terror withal of having your own Ms. burnt or lost,—that has exceeded my computation. Not to speak of this trouble in which I involve you, my Friend; which, I truly declare, makes me ashamed! True, one is bound to resist the Devil in all shapes; if a man come to steal from you, you will put on what locks and padlocks are at hand, and not on the whole say, “Steal, then!” But if the locks prove insufficient, and the thief do break thro',—that side of the alternative also will suit you very well; and, with perhaps a faint prayer for gibbets where they are necessary, you will say to Appleton, next time, “Macte virtue,2 my man!”

All is in a whirl with me here today; no other topic but this very poor one can be entered upon.— I hope for a Letter from your own hand soon, and some news about still more interesting matters.

A young man, named Philips,3 I think, wrote to me from Nottinghamshire about two years ago, with a most absurd Manuscript, in flagrant imitation of my Chartism; a thing to be or not to be‘published,’ &c: I answered swiftly, “Not to be”; and the young man became silent. The other day there comes a new enthusiastic Letter from the same party, and a printed Paper this time, of very greatly improved quality,—and in flagrant imitation, this time, of Waldo Emerson! I wrote to the young man; Benissime [very well], Do as thou hast said!” for it is all about the greatness of the soul &c &c. Men are very strange. Thi[s] Philips seems to be of the schoolmaster profession; has really a sincere sound in him now;—and may perhaps be heard of again by and by.

Adieu my Friend; I feel still as if, in several senses, you stood alone with me under the sky at present!

[signature cut away]