August 1846-June 1847

The Collected Letters, Volume 21


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON; 18 May 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470518-TC-RWE-01; CL 21:212-215.


Chelsea 18 May, 1847—

Dear Emerson,—I have got a Letter from Clark, undertaking to act as I desired, nay indicating that he has already begun in some measure to act. A short response of heartfelt satisfaction goes for him by this Packet; and so, let us hope, for unlimited periods, this matter is set floating, on its own voyage, under its own captain, and will trouble us no more.

My time is nearly up today; but I write a word to acknowledge your last Letter (30 April), and various other things. For example, you must tell Mr Thoreau (is that the exact name? for I have lent away the printed pages) that his Philadelphia Magazine with the Lecture, in two pieces, was faithfully delivered here, about a fortnight ago;1 and carefully read, as beseemed, with due entertainment and recognition. A vigorous Mr Thoreau,—who has formed himself a good deal upon one Emerson, but does not want abundant fire and stamina of his own;—recognises us, and various other things, in a most admiring greathearted manner; for which, as for part of the confused voice from the jury-box (not yet summed into a verdict, nor likely to be summed till Doomsday, nor needful to sum), the poor prisoner at the bar may justly express himself thankful!— In plain prose, I like Mr Thoreau very well; and hope yet to hear good and better news of him—only let him not “turn to foolishness”;2 which seems to me to be terribly easy, at present, both in New England and Old! May the Lord deliver us all from Cant;3 may the Lord, whatever else he do or forbear, teach us to look Facts honestly in the face, and to beware (with a kind of shudder) of smearing them over with our despicable and damnable palaver, into irrecogniseability, and so falsifying the Lord's own Gospels to his unhappy blockheads of children, all staggering down to Gehenna4 and the everlasting Swine's-trough for want of Gospels—O Heaven, it is the most accursed sin of man; and done everywhere, at present, on the streets and high places, at noon-day! Very seriously I say, and pray as my chief orison, May the Lord deliver us from it.—— —

About a week ago there came your neighbour Hoar;5 a solid, sensible, effectual-looking man, of whom I hope to see much more. So soon as possible I got him under way for Oxford, where I suppose he was, last week;—both universities was too much for the limits of his time; so he preferred Oxford;—and now, this very day, I think, he was to set out for the Continent; not to return till the beginning of July, when he promises to call here again. There was something really pleasant to me in this Mr Hoar: and I had innumerable things to ask him about Concord, concerning which topic we had hardly got a word said when our first interview had to end. I sincerely hope he will not fail to keep his time in returning.

You do very well, my Friend, to plant orchards;6 and fair fruit shall they grow (if it please Heaven) for your grandchildren to pluck;—a beautiful occupation for the son of man, in all patriarchal and paternal times (which latter are patriarchal too)! But you are to understand withal that your coming hither to Lecture is taken as a settled point by all your friends here; and for my share I do not reckon upon the smallest doubt about the essential fact of it, simply on some calculation and adjustment about the circumstantials. Of Ireland, who I surmise is busy in the problem even now, you will hear by and by, probably in more definite terms:7 I did not see him again after my first notice of him to you; but there is no doubt concerning his determinations (for all manner of reasons) to get you to Lancashire, to England;—and in fact it is an adventure which I think you ought to contemplate as fixed,—say for this year and the beginning of next? Ireland will help you to fix the dates; and there is nothing else, I think, which should need fixing.— Unquestionably you would get an immense quantity of food for ideas, tho' perhaps not at all in the way you anticipate, in looking about among us: nay if you even thought us stupid, there is something in the godlike indifference with which London will accept and sanction even that verdict,—something highly instructive at least! And in short, for the truth must be told, London is properly your Mother City too,—verily you have about as much to do with it, in spite of Polk and Q. Victory,8 as I had! And you ought to come and look at it, beyond doubt;—and say to this Land, “Old Mother, how are you getting on at all?” To which the Mother will answer “Thankee, young son, and you?”—in a way useful to both parties! That is truth.

Adieu dear Emerson; good be with you always. Hoar gave me your American Poems:9 thanks. Vale et me ama [Farewell and love me].

T. Carlyle

Put that poor youth's sealed Note into the Post-Office. Your cover will not hold his Letter, or it would amuse you. An Orson of Tennessee!