October 1856-July 1857

The Collected Letters, Volume 32


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 2 December 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18561202-TC-RWE-01; CL 32: 39-41


Chelsea, 2 decr 1856—

Dear Emerson,

I am really grieved to have hurt the feelings of Mr Phillips;1 a gentleman to whom I, on my side, had no feelings but those of respect and good will! I pray you smooth him down again, by all wise methods, into at least good-natured indifference to me. He may depend upon it I could not mean to irritate him; there lay no gain for me in that! Nor is there anything of business left now between us. It is doubly and trebly evident those Stereotype Plates are not to him worth their prime-cost here,—still less, their prime-cost plus any vestige of definite motive for me to concern myself in them:—whereupon the Project falls on its face, & vanishes forever, with apologies all round.2 For as to that other method, that is a game I never thought, and never should think, of playing at!—3

You may also tell him this little Biographical fact, if you think it will any way help. Some ten or more years ago, I made a similar Bargain with a New-York House4 (known to you, and now I believe extinct): “10” or something “per cent,” of selling price on the Copies Printed, was to be my return—not for 4 or £500 money laid out, but for various things I did, which gratis would by no means have been done; in fine it was their own Offer, made and accepted in due form: “10 percent on the copies printed.” And how many were “printed,” thinks Mr Phillips? I saw one set; dreadfully ugly Books, errors in every page:—and to this hour I have never heard tell of any other! The account re-mains zero net;—and it would appear there was simply one Copy “printed,” the ugly one sent to myself, whh I instantly despatched again somewhither!— — On second thoughts perhaps you had better not tell Mr P. this story, at least not in this way. His integrity I would not even question by insinuation; nor need I, at the point where we now are. I perceive he sees in extraordinary brilliancy of illumination his own side of the bargain; and thinks me ignorant of several things which I am well enough informed about. In brief, make a perfect peace between us, O friend, and man of peace; and let the wampums be all wrapped up, and especially the tomahawks entirely buried, and the thing end forever!— To you also I owe apologies; but not to you do I pay them, knowing from of old what you are to me. Enough, enough!

I got your Book by post in the Highlands;5 and had such a day over it as falls rarely to my lot! Not for seven years and more have I got hold of such a Book;—Book by a real man, with eyes in his head; nobleness, wisdom, humour and many other things in the heart of him. Such Books do not turn up often in the decade, in the century. In fact I believe it to be worth all the Books ever written by New England upon Old. Franklin6 might have written such a thing (in his own way); no other since!— We do very well with it here, and the wise part of us best. That Chapter on the Church is inimitable; “The Bishop asking a troublesome gentn to take wine,"7—you shd see the kind of grin it awakens here on our best kind of faces. Excellent the manner of that, and the matter too dreadfully true in every part. I do not much seize your idea in regard to “Literature,” tho’ I do details of it, and will try again.8 Glad of that too, even in its half state, not “sorry” at any part of it,—you Sceptic! On the whole, write again, and ever again at greater length: there lies your only fault to me. And yet I know, that also is a right noble one, and rare in our day.— Oh my friend, save always for me some corner in yr memory: I am very lonely in these months and years,—sunk to the centre of the Earth, like to be throttled by the Pythons and Mudgods9 in my old days;—but shall get out again, too; and be a better boy! No “hurry” equals mine, and it is in permanence.

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle