TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 25 September 1838; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18380925-TC-RWE-01; CL 10: 185-188
TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Scotsbrig, Ecclefechan (Annandale, 25th Septr 1838—
My dear Emerson,
There cannot any right answer be written you here and now; yet I must write, such answer as I can. You said, “by steam-ship”; and it strikes me with a kind of remorse, on this my first day of leisure and composure, that I have delayed so long. For you must know, this is my Mother's house,—a place to me unutterable as Hades and the Land of Spectres were; likewise that my Brother is just home from Italy, and on the wing thitherward or somewhither swiftly again; in a word, that all is confusion and flutter with me here,—fit only for silence! My Wife sent me off hitherward, very sickly and unhappy, out of the London dust, several weeks ago; I lingered in Fifeshire, I was in Edinburgh, in Roxburghshire; have some calls to Cumberland, which I believe I must refuse; and prepare to creep homeward again, refreshed in health, but with a head and heart all seething and tumbling (as the wont is, in such cases), and averse to pens beyond all earthly implements. But my Brother is off for Dumfries this morning; you before all others deserve an hour of my solitude. I will abide by business; one must write about that.
Your Bill and duplicate of a Bill for £50, with the two Letters that accompanied them, you are to know then, did duly arrive at Chelsea; and the larger Letter (of the 6th August) was forwarded to me hither some two weeks ago. I had also, long before that, one of the friendliest of Letters from you with a clear and most inviting description of the Concord Household, its inmates and appurtenances; and the announcement, evidently authentic, that an apartment and heart's welcome was ready there for my Wife and me; that we were to come quickly, and stay for a twelvemonth. Surely no man has such friends as I. We ought to say, May the Heavens give us thankful hearts! For in truth there are blessings which do, like sun-gleams in wild weather, make this rough life beautiful with rainbows here and there. Indicating, I suppose, that there is a Sun, and general Heart of Goodness, behind all that;—for which, as I say again, let us be thankful evermore.
My Wife says she received your American Bill of so many pounds sterling for the Revolution Book, with a “pathetic feeling,” which brought “tears” to her eyes.1 From beyond the waters there is a hand held out; beyond the waters too live brothers. I would only the Book were an Epic, a Dante or undying thing, that New England might boast in aftertimes of this feat of hers, and put stupid poundless and penniless Old England to the blush about it! But after all, that is no matter; the feebler the well-meant Book is, the more “pathetic” is the whole transaction: and so we will go on, fuller than ever of “desperate hope”2 (if you know what that is), with a feeling one would not give and could not get for several money-bags; and say or think, Long live true friends and Emerson,—and (in Scotch phrase) “may ne'er waur [worse] be amang us”!— I will buy something permanent, I think, out of this £50, and call it either Ebenezer3 or Yankee-doodle-doo.4 May good be repaid you manifold, my Kind Brother; may good be ever with you, my Kind Friends all!
But now as to this edition of the Miscellanies (poor things), I really think my Wife is wisest, who says I ought to leave you altogether to your own resources with it, America having an art of making money out of my Books, which England is unfortunately altogether without.5 Besides till I once see the Two Volumes now under way, and can let a Bookseller see them, there could no bargain be made on the subject. We will let it rest there, therefore. Go on with your second Two Volumes6 as if there were no England extant, according to your own good judgement. When I get to London, I will consult some of the blockheads, with the Book in my hand: if we do want 200 copies, you can give us them with a trifling loss. It is possible they may make some better proposal about an Edition here: that depends on the fate of Sartor here, at present trying itself; which I have not in the least ascertained. For the present, thank as is meet all friends in your world that have interested themselves for me. Alas, I have nothing to give them but thanks. Henry Macklean [sic],7 Charles Wheeler,8 Convers Francis:9 these Names shall, if it please Heaven, become Persons for me, one day. Well!— But I will say nothing more. That too is of the things on which all Words are poor to Silence. Good to the Good and Kind!—
A Letter from me must have crossed that descriptive Concord one, on the Ocean, I think. Our correspondence is now standing on its feet. I will write to you again, whether I hear from you or not, so soon as my hand finds its cunning ag[ain]10 in London,—so soon as I can see there what is to be done or said. All goes decidedly better, I think. My Wife was and is much healthier than last year, than in any late year. I myself get visibly quieter: my preternatural Meditation in Hades apropos of this Annandale of mine are calm compared with those of last year. By another Course of Lectures I have a fair prospect of living for another season; nay people call it a “new profession” I have devised for myself, and say I may live by it as many years as I like. This too is partly the fruit of my poor Book; one should not say that it was worth nothing to me even in money. Last year I fancied my Audience mainly the readers of it; drawn round me, in spite of many things, by force of it. Let us be content. I have Jesuits, Swedenborgians, old Quakeresses,11 omne cum Proteus,12—God help me, no man ever had so confused a public!— I salute you, my dear Friend and your hospitable circle. May blessings be on your kind household, on your kind hearts.
A copy of the English Teufelsdröckh has lain with your name on it these two months in Chelsea; waiting an opportunity. It is worth nothing to you: a dingy ill-managed edition; but correct or nearly correct as to printing; it is right that such should be in your hands in case of need. The New England Pamphlets will be greedily expected.13 More than one inquires of me, Has that Emerson of yours written nothing else? And I have lent them the little Book Nature till it is nearly thumbed to pieces. Sterling is gone to Italy for the winter since I left town; swift as a flash! I cannot teach him the great art of sitting still; his fine qualities are really like to waste for want of that.
I read your paragraph to Miss Martineau; she received it, as she was bound, with a good grace.14 But I doubt, I doubt, O Ralph Waldo Emerson, thou that hast not been sufficiently ecstatic about her—thou, graceless exception, confirmatory of a rule! In truth there are bores, of the first and of all lower magnitudes. Patience and shuffle the cards.15———