The Collected Letters, Volume 10


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 15 June 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380615-TC-RWE-01; CL 10: 102-106


Chelsea, London, 15th June, 1838—

My dear Emerson,

Our correspondence has fallen into a ravelled state; which would doubtless clear itself could I afford to wait for your next Letter, probably tumbling over the Atlantic brine about this very moment: but I cannot afford to wait; I must write straightway. Your answer to this will bring matters round again. I have had two irregular Notes of your writing, or perhaps three; two dated March, one by Mr Bancroft's Parcel, bringing Twelve Orations withal;1 then some ten days later, just in this very time, another Note by Mr Sumner, whom I have not yet succeeded in seeing, tho' I have attempted it, and hope soon to do it.2 The Letter he forwarded me from Paris was acknowledged already, I think.3 And now if the Atlantic will but float me in safe that other promised Letter!

I got your American French Revolution a good while ago. It seems to me a very pretty Book indeed, wonderfully so for the money; neither does it seem what we can call incorrectly printed so far as I have seen; compared with the last Sartor it is correctness itself. Many thanks to you, my Friend, and much good may it do us all! Should there be any more reprinting, I will request you to rectify at least the three following errors, copied out of the English text indeed; nay mark them in your own New English Copy, whether there be reprinting or not: Vol. I. p. 81 last paragraph, for September read August; Vol. II. p. 344, first line, for book of prayer read look of prayer; p. 357, for blank read black (2nd paragraph, “all black”).4 And so basta. And let us be well content about this F.R. on both sides of the water, yours as well as mine.

“Too many cooks!” the Proverb says: it is pity if this new apparition of a Mr Loring should spoil the broth.5 But I calculate you will adjust it well and smoothly between you, some way or other. How you shall adjust it, or have adjusted it, is what I am practically anxious to learn. For you are to understand that our English Edition has come to depend partly on yours. After long higgling with the foolish Fraser, I have quitted him, quite quietly, and given “Saunders and Otley, Conduit Street,” the privilege of printing a small edition of Teufelsdröckh (500 copies), with a prospect of the “Miscellaneous writings” soon following.6 Saunders and Otley are at least more reputable persons, they are useful to me also in the business of Lecturing. Teufelsk is at Press, to be out very soon; I will send you a correct copy, the only one in America I fancy. The enterprise here too is on the “half-profits” plan, which I compute generally to mean equal partition of the oyster-shells, and a net result of zero.7 But the thing will be economically useful to me otherwise; as a publication of the “Miscellaneous” also would be; which latter however I confess myself extremely unwilling to undertake the trouble of for nothing. To me they are grown or fast growing obsolete, these Miscellanies, for most part; if money lie not in them, what does lie for me? Now it strikes me you will infallibly edit these things at least as well as I, and are doing it at any rate;8 your printing too would, seem to be cheaper than ours: I said to Saunders and Otley, Why not have 200 or 300 of this American Edition struck off with “London: Saunders & Otley Conduit Street” on the title-page,9 and sent over hither in sheets at what price they have cost my friends yonder? Saunders of course threw cold water on this project, but was obliged to admit that there would be some profit in it, and that for me it would be far easier. The grand profit for me is that people would understand better what I mean, and come better about me if I lectured again, which seems the only way of getting any wages at all for me here at present. Pray meditate my project if it be not already too late, hear what your Booksellers say about it; and understand that I will not in any case set to printing till I hear from you in answer to this.10

How my sheet is filling, with dull talk about mere economics! I must still add that the Lecturing I talked of, last time, is verily over now; and well over. The superfine people listened to the rough utterance with patience, with favour, increasing to the last. I sent you a Newspaper once, to indicate that it was in progress. I know not yet what the money result is; but I suppose it will enable us to exist here thriftily another year; not without hope of at worst doing the like again when the time comes. It is a great novelty in my lot; felt as a very considerable blessing; and really it has arrived, if it have arrived, in due time, for I had begun to get quite impatient of the other method. Poverty and youth may do; Poverty and Age go badly together.— For the rest, I feel fretted to fiddlestrings; my head and heart all heated, sick,—ah me! The question as ever is: Rest. But then where? My Brother invites us to come to Rome for the winter; my poor sick Wife might perhaps profit by it; as for me, Natty Leatherstocking's Lodge in the Western Wood,11 I think, were welcomer still. I have a great mind too to run off and see my Mother, by the new railways— What we shall do, whether not stay quietly here, must remain uncertain for a week or two. Write you always hither, till you hear otherwise.

The Orations were right welcome; my Madeira one, returned thence with Sterling, was circulating over the West of England. Sterling and Harriet stretched out the right hand with wreathed smiles.12 I have read, a second or third time. Robert Southey has got a copy, for his own behoof and that of Lakeland: if he keep his word as to me, he may do as much for you or more. Copies are at Cambridge, among the Oxonians too; I have with stingy discretion distributed all my Copies but two. Old Rogers, a grim old Dilettante, full of sardonic sense, was heard saying, “It is German Poetry given out in American Prose.” Friend Emerson ought to be content;—and has now above all things, as I said, to be in no haste. Slow fire does make sweet malt:13 how true, how true! Also his next work ought to be a concrete thing; not theory any longer but deed: Let him “live it,” as he says; that is the way to come to “painting of it.”14 Geometry and the art of design being once well over, take the brush, and andar con dios [go with God]!— Mrs Child has sent me a Book Philothea, and a most magnanimous epistle.15 I have answered as I could. The Book is beautiful, but of a hectic beauty; to me not pleasant, even fatal-looking. Such things grow not in the ground, on Mother Earth's honest bosom, but in hothouses,—sentimental-Calvinist fire traceable underneath! Bancroft also is of the hothouse partly: I have a Note to send him by Summer;16 do you thank him meanwhile, and say nothing about hothouses! But, on the whole, men ought in New England too to “swallow their formulas”;17 there is no freedom till then: yet hitherto I find only one man there who seems fairly on the way towards that, or arrived at that. Good Speed to him. I had to send my Wife's love: she is not dangerously ill, but always feeble, and has to struggle to keep erect; the summer always improves her, and this summer too. Adieu, dear Friend; may Good always be with you and yours.

T. Carlyle