July 1847-March 1848

The Collected Letters, Volume 22


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 31 August 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18470831-TC-RWE-01; CL 22: 47-50


Rawdon, near Leeds, Yorkshire31 Augt, 1847—

Dear Emerson,

Almost ever since your last Letter1 reached me, I have been wandering over the country, enveloped either in a restless whirl of locomotion, viewhunting &c, or sunk in the deepest torpor of total idleness and laziness—forgetting, and striving [to]2 forget, that there was any world but that of dreams;—and tho' at intervals the reproachful remembrance has arisen sharply enough on me, that I ought, on all accounts high and low, to have written you an answer, never till today have I been able to take pen in hand, and actually begin that operation! Such is the naked fact. My Wife is with me; we have no household behind us but a servant; the face of England, with its mad electioneerings, vacant tourist dilettanteings, with its shady woods, green-yellow harvestfields and dingy mill-chimnies, so new and old, so beautiful and ugly, every way so abstruse and unspeakable, invites to silence; the whole world, fruitful yet disgusting to this human soul of mine, invites me to silence; to sleep, and dreams, and stagnant indifference, as if for the time one had got into the country of the Lotos-Eaters,3 and it made no matter what became of anything and all things. In good truth, it is a wearied man, at least a dreadfully slothful and slumberous man, eager for sleep in any quantity, that now addresses you! Be thankful for a few half-dreaming words, till we awake again.

As to your visit to us, there is but one thing to be said and repeated: That a prophet's chamber is ready for you in Chelsea, and a brotherly and sisterly welcome, on whatever day at whatever hour you arrive: this, which is all of the Practical that I can properly take charge of, is to be considered a given quantity always. With regard to Lecturing &c, Ireland,4 with whom I suppose you to be in correspondence, seems to have awakened all this North Country into the fixed hope of hearing you,—and God knows they have need enough to hear a man with sense in his head;—it was but the other day I read in one of their Newspapers, “We understand that Mr Emerson the distinguished &c is certainly &c this winter,” all in due Newspaper phrase, and I think they settled your arrival for “October” next.5 May it prove so! But on the whole there is no doubt of your coming; that is a great fact. And if so, I should say, Why not come at once, even as the Editor surmises? You will evidently do no other considerable enterprise till this voyage to England is achieved. Come, therefore;—and we shall see; we shall hear and speak!6 I do not know another man in all the world to whom I can speak with clear hope of getting adequate response from him: if I speak to you, it will be a breaking of my silence for the last time perhaps,—perhaps for the first time, on some points! Allons [Forward]. I shall not always be so roadweary, lifeweary, sleepy and stony as at present. I can think there is yet another Book in me; “Exodus from Houndsditch” (I think it might be called), a peeling off of fetid Jewhood in every sense from myself and my poor bewildered brethren:7 one other Book; and, if it were a right one, rest after that, the deeper the better, for evermore. Ach Gott!—

Hedge is one of the sturdiest little fellows I have come across for many a day.8 A face like a rock; a voice like a howitzer; only his honest kind grey eyes reassure you a little. We have met only once; but hope (mutually, I flatter myself) it may be often by and by. That hardy little fellow too, what has he to do with “Semitic tradition” and the “dusthole of extinct Socinianism,”9 George-Sand-ism, and the Twaddle of a thousand magazines? Thor and his Hammer, even, seem to me a little more respectable; at least, “My dear Sir, endeavour to clear your mind of Cant.”10 Oh, we are all sunk, much deeper than any of us imagines. And our worship of “beautiful sentiments” &c &c is as contemptible a form of long-ears as any other, perhaps the most so of any. It is in fact damnable.— We will say no more of it at present. Hedge came to me with tall lank Chapman11 at his side,—an innocent flail of a creature, with considerable impetus in him: the two when they stood up together looked like a circle and tangent,—in more senses than one.

Jacobson, the Oxford Doctor, who welcomed your Concord Senator in that City, writes to me that he has received (with blushes &c) some grand “Gift for his Child” from that Traveller;12 whom I am accordingly to thank, and blush to,—Jacobson not knowing his Address at present. The “Address” of course is still more unknown to me at present: but we shall know it, and the man it indicates, I hope, again before long. So much for that.

And now, dear Emerson, Adieu. Will your next Letter tell us the When? O my Friend!— — We are here with Quakers or Ex-Quakers rather; a very curious people, “like water from the crystal well”;13 in a very curious country too, most beautiful and very ugly: but why write of it, or of anything more, while half asleep and lotos-eating! Adieu, my Friend; come soon, and let us meet again under this Sun. Yours

T. Carlyle