candlestick

1854-June 1855


The Collected Letters, Volume 29


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TC TO DELIA BACON; 7 June 1855; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18550607-TC-DB-01; CL 29: 327-329


TC TO DELIA BACON

CHELSEA, 7 June, 1855.

DEAR MISS BACON,—I am very glad you have got done with your Book, and are secure of an American Publisher on reasonable terms.1 These are two great points; and we ought to be very thankful for these.

As to an English Publisher, in the present posture of affairs,—at least as to getting any pecuniary profit out of an English Publisher,—I confess I foresee difficulty, and (in my bilious mood) am not without misgivings. This too, however, is part of the problem; this too you must resolutely attempt, and solve to the extent possible.

Of our Publishers here Longman & Co. (Paternoster Row) are probably the richest; perfectly respectable men, who publish a great many Books, but have not to my knowledge excelled their contemporaries in detecting genius in MSS. Murray (Albemarle Street) is also a great Publisher, son of the Murray you used to hear of; I find him often connected with scientific, didactic “Serials,” as they are called; Travellers' Handbooks, railway readings, and the like. Chapman (Chapman & Hall, 193 Piccadilly), he and Parker are the only two Publishers I have even a slight acquaintance with, who seem likely for you.— On the whole, all, or very nearly all, our English Publishers will, if they undertake, behave with perfect (shopkeeper) accuracy to you in fulfilment of their bargain; but beyond the high shopkeeper spirit I do not know any of them that rises very decisively. I have, in late years, had less and less to do with and all of them; they will believe that Paper that I have written by way of testimony—or at least believe it better than they would most men's writing (knowing the nature of the beast, that he does not lie if he can help it); but that is really pretty much all I can do; that and Emerson's letter (with some formal Note of Introduction by anybody acquainted with a Publisher) will pretty much put the man in possession of the case, and enable him to decide with his eyes open; which is all we can reasonably want of the poor man. As to the formal “Notes of Introduction,” except in the cases of Parker and Chapman, it seems to be probable you are acquainted with persons who can do that more appropriately than I,—though certainly I too can do it, after a sort, and will cheerfully if you find it needful.2

In conclusion, I will wish you well through this final unpleasant part of the business; and shall be very anxious to hear how you get along in it.

I have been sunk in bottomless “vortexes of Prussian dust” these many months, my very senses almost choked out of me with that and other manifold confusions,—bodily health too in general by no means above par. Hardly once have I been in any direction as far as your street,3—and never once there (as is too plain!) though my wife has been often urging. She is in distress about an umbrella of yours which was left here; I could have found your street and house with the eye, but the name of it I could not communicate to the most urgent Helpmate, having forgotten the name!

The sooner you come down, through the fine Summer weather, and see my wife and self again, it will be the better, on several accounts. Except Sunday she is not certain to be at home after 1 P.M.; but in the evening almost always, or before that time in the early day.—Believe me always, Dear Miss Bacon, Yours sincerely,

T. CARLYLE.

[Enclosure.]

Miss Delia Bacon, an American lady, of much worth and earnestness of mind, has devoted a great deal of serious study to Shakspere; and believes herself to have made a singular and important discovery in regard to the history or origin of his works. To perfect this discovery, she came over to England about two years ago, introduced and recommended by some of the best people in America; and here she has been ever since, working in the most earnest unwearied manner to demonstrate her idea as to Shakspere's works; and has now completed, after much care and labour, what she had to say on that subject.

An American Publisher has engaged the volume for America; and Miss B., whose residence gives her copyright here, wishes to find a Publisher for England.

I have not myself examined or seen Miss B.'s present MS.; but I can freely bear witness in general that she writes in a clear, elegant, ingenious and highly readable manner; that she is a person of definite ideas, of conscientious veracity in thought as well as word, and that probably no Book written among us during these two years has been more seriously elaborated, and in all ways made the best of, than this of hers.

T. CARLYLE.

5 GT. CHEYNE ROW, CHELSEA, 7 June, 1855.