The Collected Letters, Volume 27


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 7 May 1852; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18520507-TC-RWE-01; CL 27: 107-109


Chelsea, 7 May, 1852—

Dear Emerson,

I was delighted at the sight of your hand again.1 My manifold sins against you, involuntary all of them I may well say, are often enough present to my sad thought; and a kind of remorse is mixed with the other sorrow,—as if I could have helped growing to be, by aid of time and destiny, the grim Ishmaelite I am,2 and so shocking your serenity by my ferocities! I admit, you were like an angel to me, and absorbed in the beautifullest manner all thunderclouds into the depths of your immeasureable Aether;—and it is indubitable I love you very well, and have long done, and mean to do. And on the whole you will have to rally yourself into some kind of Correspondence with me again; I believe you will find that also to be a commanded duty by and by! To me at any rate, I can say, it is a great want, and adds perceptibly to the sternness of these years: deep as is my dissent from your Gymnosophist3 view of Heaven and Earth, I find an agreement that swallows up all conceivable dissents; in the whole world I hardly get, to my spoken human word, any other word of response which is authentically human. God help us, this is growing a very lonely place, this distracted dogkennel of a world! And it is no joy to me to see it about to have its throat cut for its immeasureable devilries; that is not a pleasant process to be concerned in either more or less,—considering above all how many centuries, bare and dismal all of them, it is like to take! Nevertheless marchons [let us go on],—and swift too, if we have any speed, for the sun is sinking.

I flatter myself I have managed poor Miss Fuller's Mss. with good success. Miss Gillies, except almost by name, was not known to me, and my first inquiries after her were not quite prosperous; however in a couple of days I easily got a sure hand to convey to her Mrs Fuller's Note inclosed in a civil one of mine; to which there came the answer here sent you (to be shewn to Mrs Fuller, by way of explaining Miss Gillies's sentiments and procedure in this business,—pray do not neglect that); and, in fine, by duly expediting matters I shall in few minutes have on the road a messenger to meet Miss Gillies at a given hour, and take delivery for me, with due “receipts” &c, of the ipsissimum Corpus [very substance] of the packet in question: and I hope to be able to tell you before the Post close (this being American Post-day) that it is actually in my possession here,—nay I am not quite certain but I might manage to get it delivered to Chapman, and have it safely put on the road to America by the same Steamer that goes today. This, however, owing to long distances and shortness of time, is by no means so certain: the rather as I am unable to stir in my own person, having the vilest dose of cold I can remember for many years back,—sad fruit of this withering east-wind, which is afflicting all Europe as well as me. Nay, on looking at my watch, I rather fear it is not now possible to get Chapman brought into play for this night: against next friday I shall engage to have the Packet, with due sureties and precautions, in his hand; and will write to you another Note then to that effect.

Poor Margaret,4 that is a strange tragedy that history of hers; and has many traits of the Heroic in it, tho' it is wild as the prophecy of a sybil. Such a predetermination to eat this big universe as her oyster5 or her egg, and to be absolute empress of all height and glory in it that her heart could conceive, I have not before seen in any human soul. Her “mountain me” indeed:6—but her courage too is high and clear, her chivalrous nobleness indeed is great; her veracity, in its deepest sense, à toute épreuve [unflinching].— Your copy of the Book came to me at last (to my joy): I had already read it; there was considerable notice taken of it here; and one half-volume of it (and I grieve to say only one, written by a man called Emerson) was completely approved by me and innumerable judges.7 The rest of the Book is not without considerable geniality and merits: but one wanted a clear concise Narrative beyond all other merits; and if you ask here (except in that half volume) about any fact, you are answered (so to speak) not in words, but by a symbolic tune on the bagpipe, symbolic burst of wind-music from the brass band;—which is not the plan at all!— — What can have become of Mazzini's Letter which he certainly did write and despatch to you is not easily conceivable. Still less in the case of Browning: for Browning & his Wife did also write; I myself in the end of last july having heard him talk kindly and well of poor Margt and her Husband, took the liberty on your behalf of asking him to put something down on paper; and he informed me, then and repeatedly since, he had already done it,—at the request of Mrs Story, I think.8 His Address at present is “No 138, Avenue des Champs Elysées, à Paris,” if yr American travellers still thot of inquiring.— Adieu, dear Emerson till next week.— Yours ever

T. Carlyle