August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO E. P. CLARK; 18 March 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470318-TC-EPC-01; CL 21:183-185.


5. Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London 18 March, 1847—

My dear Sir,

Tho' I have long known you, in a very kind manner, thro' Mr Emerson and otherwise, and have even made use of you as a practical Friend, our relation, very genuine in itself, has been hitherto a silent one. But now, it would appear, the time for speech too has come. I have a piece of real business to entrust you with; and I must ask you, as a very necessary favour, to take it up in the shape of business, (if you will be so good) to transact and articulately report accordingly.

Last year, as you are aware, in a Contract made with the Messrs Wiley & Putnam Booksellers of New-York, of which Contract my portion is now in your hands, I took the liberty to nominate you as my representative with them in all pecuniary matters that were to arise in consequence.1 The Contract is sufficiently explicit: Corrected Copies of my Book with exclusive sanction to print the same; this on my side was the thing promised: on theirs was to be paid a Twentieth-part (I think it is) of the Selling-price of all the copies sold by them; and, what was a very special condition, particularly insisted on as the preliminary of all,—an account as well, and fully payment on the same terms, of all the Copies already sold (from the very first, as well as henceforth) of my Book on Cromwell, concerning which, owing to mistakes between my London Bookseller and them, there had not till then been any bargain between us. These conditions I think you will find clearly set forth in the written Papers, drawn up by Mr Putnam here and signed by both him and me, of which you now hold one, and Mr Wiley (I suppose) the other precisely of the same import.— I have, on my side, a good many months ago, furnished Copies of all the Books, with due corrections &c, with an Index to one of them (which was a more considerable improvement); and most of them, I suppose, are now on sale as Printed Books in the United States. On the Messrs Wiley & Putnam's side I have yet had no results, no money or accounts, or distinct intimation of such:—solely, about a month ago, Mr Putnam here (whom I hardly ever have occasion to see), writing to me on some incidental matter, mentioned vaguely (if I remember) that a time of settlement was coming, in the “month of June” which is now approaching us.2 This is the state of the Bargain: all performed on my side, and brought into the preterite tense; on their side, al[l] still waited for (very naturally, I suppose), and to be demanded with due rigour of inspection from the future tenses.

Of Messrs W. & P.'s intention to keep these terms, as regular merchants and honourable men, I have no reason to entertain the smallest doubt. But it becomes important for me, as you will perceive,—apart even from the probably very considerable pecuniary interests involved in the business,—to ascertain for myself, with the completest possible assurance, that the terms are accurately kept; that no portion of the concern which is really mine in this matter be in any way huddled into twilight and confusion, but that it be all really seen into, managed, and made the best of,—as it beseems all the concerns of a reasonable man, in this exact world, to be. The thing I want, and ought to want, in such circumstances, is very clear to you.

Now if you, as a real man of business, will undertake this charge for me, I shall, at all times, with the completest satisfaction I could have in it, be able to assure myself that it is actually getting itself done; that I personally need give myself no more trouble about it. The function to be performed is this simple one: To ascertain in some way that will be convincing to you, How many Copies of my several Books the Messrs Wiley & Putnam do print (for which they zealously promise all manner of facilities, access to their Printers, Papermakers, to their Accounts &c &c); and then at the due term to exact payment for the same. In this country it is not difficult to ascertain in a convincing manner how many copies a Bookseller prints; but it is a thing, too, which cannot be done without trouble, without exertion, scrutiny and locomotion; in fact the whole charge I am struggling to put upon you is founded on work, on trouble.

For which reason, and according to an old principle of mine, I find it altogether indispensable that the man who undertakes this service for me must exact and receive his due professional wages. This is the grand, indeed this is the one condition I shall require of you; if you concede this, I shall full surely understand with myself that this includes all: but, for the same reason, this I say is indispensable. Tell me you undertake the business professionally, for due wages, then the matter is already settled, and you are fully installed and authorized, and I shall be free of care thence-forth;—and over above all wages, you will have done me a favour which I shall deeply acknowledge. About all which, I should hope, there need be no difficulty. But if, for whatever reason, you cannot accept the charge on these terms, then I will request you to consult with Mr Emerson and fix upon a man for me that will; to whom I may straightway consign it in due form: and so, in some good way, be fairly rid of the affair.— This is all I have leave to say for the present; except that (with many real regards and wishes) I am—Yours always truly

T. Carlyle