The Collected Letters, Volume 28


TC TO JOHN FORSTER ; 11 June 1853; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18530611-TC-JF-01; CL 28: 167-169


Chelsea, 11 june, [1853]1

Dear Forster,

Emerson has sent me from Yankee-Land a female Enthusiast for Shakspeare,—who has discovered (in her own head chiefly, I doubt) an entirely “new Biography of Shakspeare, ” thinks his Plays, so thrice-miraculous are they, were not written by him, but by—the Lord knows whom:—and, in brief, has come to England with the hope of supporting that sublime notion by investigations in the old Country! For the rest, rather a clever Damsel,—of mature age, probably 40; of good manners, tho' with the most amazing Yankee Drawl; and on the whole, shrewd and veracious, notwithstanding this in[con]ceivable2 hypothesis of hers. Name, “Miss Delia L.3 Bacon”; lodges at Chapman's 142. Strand. We saw her here last night; and Spedding, to whom Emerson had especially recommended that I should apply on her behalf, assisted in the solemnity. Spedding and we were struck with astonishment; but for the rest, gave our ready offer (for Miss Delia is really an excellent soul, and almost pretty,—if we consider “what an odds 40 year makes of a girl!”)—our offer, I say, to be of any help in our power towards elucidating this sublime mystery

Miss Delia did not seem to want much help; did however admit at last that she shd like to “see Mr Collyer once.”4 Spedding does not know Mr C., nor do I; but S. thinks and I that you do.5 And this is the goal and winning post towards which all this long story has been hitching and halting, not being able to gallop (tho', or almost because my hurry is so great)!— — Collier, it seems, is out of Town too; but perhaps you know, or can form some guess, when he will return? Nay that is not quite necessary. All that is essential will be (if you do know Collier, and can write such a thing), that you write a single line of introduction for this Miss Delia L. Bacon to the learned Editor of Shakespeare [(]putting his Town-Address, upon it), and send the said Note to me, who will duly forward it to Miss Delia; by whom again &c &c. In short, dear Forster, there is the whole matter:—and if you don't (for any reason) like writing to Colr on that score, then never mind at all: this Delia-Shakspeare business, I fear, verges terribly upon moonshine throughout;6 and in case of extremity, I suppose I may write to Cr myself.— In the name of the Prophet, Figs!—

We hear you are out at Hampstead; which is a wise movement. May these balmy summer airs go into your very bones, and set you up again firm on the same: that is, as I can certify, a right hearty prayer in this house, dear F.!— At any rate, you stand to it like a man, and won't be beaten; which is itself almost better than not having to fight! Nevertheless get well again as fast as possible,—we can't do without our Forster long! And send us word at any rate how you are, and when we are to see you again.

Yours ever truly, dear F. /

T. Carlyle—