August 1843-March 1844

The Collected Letters, Volume 17


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 31 January 1844; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18440131-TC-RWE-01; CL 17: 254-256


Chelsea, 31 jany, 1844—

Dear Emerson,—Some ten days ago came your Letter with a new Draft of £32 and odd money in it:1 all safe; the Draft now gone into the City to ripen into gold and silver, the Letter to be acknowledged by some hasty response now and here. America, I say to myself looking at these money drafts, is a strange place; the highest comes out of it and the lowest! Sydney Smith is singing dolefully about doleful American repudiation ‘disowning of the soft impeachment’;2—and here on the other hand is an American man in virtue of whom America America3 has become definable withal as a place from which fall heavenly manna-showers upon certain men, at certain seasons of history, when perhaps manna showers were not the unneedfullest things!— We will take the good and the evil, here as elsewhere, and heartily bless Heaven.

But now for the Draft at the top of this leaf. One Coleman, a kind of Agricultural Missionary, much in vogue here at present, has given it me; it is Emerson's, the net produce hitherto (all but 2 cents) of Emerson's Essays.4 I inclose *5 farther the Bookseller's hiëroglyph papers; unintelligible as all such are; but sent over to you for scrutiny by the expert.6 I gather only that there are some 500 and odd of the dear-priced edition sold, some 200 and odd still to sell, which the Bookseller says are (in spite of pirates) slowly selling;—and that the half profit upon the whole adventure up to this date has been £24.15.11 sterling,—equal, as I am taught, at 4.88 dollars per pound sterling, to 121.02 dollars; for which, all but the cents, here is a draft on Boston, payable at sight. Pray have yourself straightway paid; that if there be any mistake or delay I may satisfy it while time yet is.——— I add, for the intelligence of the Bookseller Papers, that Fraser with whom the bargain originally stood was succeeded by Nickisson; these are the names of the parties. And so dear Friend accept this munificent sum of money; and expect a blessing with it if good wishes from the heart of man can give one. So much for that.

Did you receive a Dumfries Newspaper with a criticism in it? The Author is one Gilfillan a young dissenting Minister in Dundee; a person of great talent, ingenuousness, enthusiasm and other virtue; whose position as a Preacher of bare old Calvinism under penalty of death, sometimes makes me tremble for him. He has written in that same Newspaper about all the notablest men of his time; Godwin, Corn-Law Elliot and I know not all whom: if he publish the Book, I will take care to send it you.7 I saw the man for the first time last autumn at Dumfries; as I said, his being a Calvinist Dissenting Minister, economically fixed, and spiritually with such germinations in him, forces me to be very reserved to him.

John Sterling's Dial shall be forwarded to Ventnor in the Isle of Wight, whenever it arrives.8 He was here, as probably I told you, about two months ago, the old unresting brilliantly radiating man. He is now much richer in money than he was, and poorer by the loss of a good Mother and good wife: I understand he is building himself a brave house, and also busy writing a poem.9 He flings too much “sheet-lightening” and unrest into me when we meet in these low moods of mine; and yet one always longs for him back again: “no doing with him or without him,” the dog!

My thrice unfortunate Book on Cromwell,—it is a real descent to Hades, to Golgotha and Chaos! I feel oftenest as if it were possibler to die oneself than to bring it into life. Besides my health is in general altogether despicable, my “spirits” equal to those of the ninth-part of a dyspeptic tailor! One needs to be able to go on in all kinds of spirits, in climate sunny or sunless, or it will never do. The Planet Earth, says Voss—take four hexameters from Voss:

Journeys this Earth, her eye on a Sun, thro' the heavenly spaces;

Joyous in radiance, or joyless by fits and swallowed in tempests;

Falters not, alters not, equal advancing, home at the due hour:

So thou, weatherproof, constant, way equal with day, march!10


I have not a moment more tonight;—and besides am inclined to write unprofitables if I persist. Adieu my friend; all blessings be with you always.

Yours ever truly /

T. Carlyle