October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 18 April 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460418-TC-RWE-01; CL 20: 172-174


Chelsea, 18 April, 1846—

Dear Emerson,

Your two Letters have both come to hand, the last of them only three days ago. One word in answer before the Packet sail; one very hasty word, rather than none.

You have made the best of Bargains for me; once again, with the freest contempt of trouble on my behalf; which I cannot sufficiently wonder at! Apparently it is a fixed-idea of yours that the Bibliopolic Genus shall not cheat me; and you are decided to make it good. Very well: let it be so, in as far as the Fates will.1

Certainly I will conform in all points to this Wiley-and-Putnam Treaty, and faithfully observe the same. The London Wileys have not yet sent me any tidings; but when they do, I will say Your terms on the other side of the sea are the Law to us, and it is a finished thing.— No Sheets, I think, will go by this mid-month Packet, the Printer and Bookseller were bidden not mind that: but by the Packet of May 3d, I hope the Second Volume will go complete; and, if the Printers make speed, almost the whole remainder may go by the June one. There is to be a “Supplement to the First Edition,” containing all the new matter that is separable: of this too the Wileys shall have their due Copy to reprint: it is what I could do to keep my faith with purchasers of the First Edition here; but, on the whole, there will be no emulating of the Second Edition except by a reprint of the whole of it; changes great and small have had to introduce themselves everywhere, as these new Letters were woven in.— — I hope before May 3d, I shall have ascertained whether it will not be the simplest way (as with my present light it clearly appears) to give the Sheets direct to the Wiley and Putnam here, and let them send them? In any case, the cargo shall come one way or other.

Furthermore,—yes, you shall have that Sun-shadow, a Daguerrotype likeness, as the sun shall please to paint it: there has often been talk of getting me to that establishment, but I never yet could go. If it be possible, we will have this also ready for the 3d of May.2. Provided you, as you promise, go and do likewise! A strange moment that, when I look upon your dead shadow again; instead of the living face, which remains unchanged within me, enveloped in beautiful clouds, and emerging now and then into strange clearness! Has your head grown greyish? On me are “grey hairs here and there,”—and I do “know it.” I have lived half a century in this world, fifty years complete on the 4th of December last: that is a solemn fact for me! Few and evil have been the days of the years of thy servant,3—few for any good that was ever done in them. Ay de mi!

Within late weeks I have got my Horse again; go riding thro' the loud torrent of vehiculatory discords, till I get into the fields, into the green lanes; which is intrinsically a great medicine to me. Most comfortless riding it is, with a horse of such Kangeroo disposition, till I do get to the sight of my old ever-young green-mantled Mother again; but for an hour there, it is a real blessing to me. I have company sometimes, but generally prefer solitude, and a dialogue with the trees and clouds. Alas, the speech of men, especially the witty-speech of man, is oftentimes afflictive to me: “in the wide Earth,” I say sometimes with a sigh, “there is none but Emerson that responds to me with a voice wholly human!” All “Literature” too is become I cannot tell you how contemptible to me. On the whole one's blessedness is to do as Oliver: Work while the sun is up; work well as if Eternities depended on it; and then sleep,—if under the guano-mountains of Human Stupor, if handsomely forgotten all at once, that latter is the handsome thing! I have often thought what W. Shakspeare would say, were he to sit one night in a “Shakspeare Society,” and listen to the empty twaddle and other long-eared melody about him there!—Adieu, my Friend. I fear I have forgotten many things: at all events, I have forgotten the inexorable Flight of the Minutes, which are numbered out to me at present. Ever yours

T. Carlyle

I think I recognise the Inspector of Wild-beasts, in the little Boston Newspaper you send! A small hatchet-faced grey-eyed goodhumoured Inspector, who came with a Translated Lafontaine, and took his survey not without satisfaction?4 Comfortable too how rapidly he fathomed the animal, having just poked him up a little. Ach Gott! Man is forever interesting to man;—and all men, even hatchetfaces, are globular and complete!