JWC TO W. E. FORSTER ; 28 October 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471028-JWC-WEF-01; CL 22: 141-142
JWC TO W. E. FORSTER
[28 October 1847] Times Newspaper
“If W. E. F who went by rail to Leeds on Saturday night will return to thehouse he started from; no questions will be asked & every exertion made to meet his views: If this appeal to his feelings fail to move him; let him send back to his afflicted friends the key of the linen chest.”
The above was written to send to the Times; but I bethink me, an advertisement will cost five & sixpence, a letter only a penny, & so I take the cheaper course. Why don't you write to me for God's sake? (that is not swearing is it?) I should hardly have looked for a letter from you in such a press of business & other things; had it not been for the fact of the key—but why dont you send back my key? I fancy there must be some new worry to have driven that out of your mind, not that I have wanted the key—anymore than if it had been the key of Blue Beard's closet1—but you did not know whether I should want it or not, & you are always so considerate. Pray write me two lines just to quieten my imagination which has a faculty of self tormenting that beats the world.
Emerson is here has been here since Monday night I have seen him “face to face & (over-) soul to (over-) soul” & (I may just as well “speak the truth & chance the Devil) I do not like him the least bit! C. says he is a “most polite & gentle creature—a man really of a quite seraphic nature”; & all that may be true, at all rates C has good cause to say it; for Emerson with a tact as laudable as prudent avoids all occasions of dispute, & when dragged into it, by the hair of his head, so to speak he receives the most provoking contradictions with the softness of a feather-bed—gives under them for the moment & so, no “dreadful collision” takes place, such as I was looking for. But with his politeness & tolerance, my approbation ends. The man has no “natur” about him, his geniality is of the head not the heart—a theoretic systematic geniality that (as Mazzini would say) “leaves me cold” In fact you can get no hold of him—nor yet feel held by him—his is neither impressive nor impressionable a sort of man I cannot get on with, that! His very face is two or rather ½ a dozen faces! that change into one another like “dissolving views,” he has one face—young refined almost beautiful, radiant with “virtue its own reward” and another that is old hatchet-like; A crotchety, inclusive, like an incarnation of one of his own poems. Whever way you take him he slips thro' your fingers, “like water that cannot be gathered—fine pure spring water, but water all the same C. & he will end I predict in disliking one another pretty well tho' C. under the first restraining grace of hospitality & a certain2 regard to consistency makes the best of him as yet, altho' the other (in confidence with me) calls C. “a good child(!) in spite of his love of the positive, the practical, wh must be very astonishing to all who have learnt to know him thro' his Books.” very astonishing indeed thou Americain Seraph! & you will find many things to astonish you on this side the atlantic “I guess”!— I never saw better come of men who wait upon what is called elevation.yr elevated man par excellence is always, as far as my experience goes a sort of moral reed—has run all to hight without taking breadth along with him— Oh give me Naetur Natur! nobody is loveable without that; however he may “strike the stars with his sublime head”3—nor turns to any good practical acct— I am rather satisfied that he is going away tomorrow night to commence his orations in the north— He will return to London when the town fills, to lecture here—but then I fancy he will go into lodgings— I hope you will decide for London; if it can be done without hurt to yourself, what a blessing you would be to me! Verily I feel quite SCHWESTERLICH [sisterly] towards you. That journey into Yorkshire was a modern version of Saul going out to meet his Father's asses & finding a Kingdom.4 I went to seek the picturesque & found you—& catch me losing you again!— Dear Wm Edwd you are worth a cartload of Emersons & so God bless you with calm & all good things
Ever yr true friend /