candlestick

1839


The Collected Letters, Volume 11


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TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 13 April 1839; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18390413-TC-RWE-01; CL 11: 79-82


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Chelsea, London, 13th April, 1839—

My dear Emerson,

Has anything gone wrong with you? How is it that you do not write to me?1 These three or four weeks, I know not whether duly or not so long, I have been in daily hope of some sign from you; but none comes; not even a Newspaper,—open at the ends. The German Translator Mr Dwight mentioned, at the end of a Letter I had not long ago, that you had given a brilliant course of Lectures at Boston, but had been obliged to intermit it on account of illness.2 Bad news indeed, that latter clause; at the same time, it was thrown in so cursorily I would not let myself be much alarmed; and since that, various New England friends have assured me here that there was nothing of great moment in it, that the business was all well over now, and you safe at Concord again. Yet how is it that I do not hear? I will tell you my guess is that those Boston Carlylean “Miscellanies” are to blame. The Printer is slack and lazy as Printers are; and you do not wish to write till you can send some news of him? I will hope and believe that only this is it, till I hear worse.

I sent you a Dumfries Newspaper the other week, for a sign of my existence and anxiety. A certain Mr Ellis of Boston3 is this day packing up a very small memorial of me to your Wife; a poor Print rolled about a bit of wood: let her receive it graciously in defect of better. It comes under your address. Nay properly it is my Wife's memorial to your Wife. It is to be hung up in the Concord drawing room.4 The two Households, divided by wide seas, are to understand always that they are united nevertheless.

My special cause for writing this day rather than another is the old story, book business. You have brought that upon yourself, my friend; and must do the best you can with it. After all, why should not Letters be on business too? Many a kind thought, uniting man with man, in gratitude and helpfulness, is founded on business. The Speaker at Dartmouth College seems to think it ought to be so. Nor do I dissent.— But the case is this, Fraser and I are just about bargaining for a second edition of the Revolution. He will print 1500 for the English Market, in a somewhat closer style, and sell them here at 24 shillings a copy. His first edition is all gone but some handful; and the man is in haste, and has taken into a mood of hope,—for he is weak and aguish, alternating from hot to cold; otherwise, I find, a very accurate creature, and deals in his unjust trade as justly as any other will. He has settled with me; his half-profits amount to some £130, which by charging me for every presentation copy he cuts down to somewhere about £110; not the lion's share in the gross produce, yet a great share compared with an expectancy no higher than zero! We continue on the same system for this second adventure; I cannot go hawking about in search of new terms; I might go farther and fare worse. And now comes your part of the affair; in which I would fain have had your counsel; but must ask your help, proceeding with my own light alone. After Fraser's 1500 are printed off, the types remain standing, and I for my own behoof throw off 500 more, designed for your market. Whether 500 are too many or too few I can only guess: if too many we can retain them here and turn them to account; if too few there is no remedy. At all events, costing me only the paper and press-work, there is surely no Pirate in the Union that can undersell us! Nay, it seems they have a drawback on our taxed paper, sufficient or nearly so to land the cargo at Boston without more charge. You see therefore how it is. Can you find me a Bookseller, as for yourself; he and you can fix what price the ware will carry when you see it. Meanwhile I must have his Title page; I must have his directions (if any be needed); nay, for that matter, you might write a Preface if you liked,—tho' I see not what you have to say, and recommend silence rather! The book is to be in three volumes duodecimo, and we will take care it be fit to shew its face in your market.5 A few errors of the press; and one correction (about the sinking of the Vengeur, which I find lately to be an indisputable falsehood); these are all the changes.6 We are to have done printing, Fraser predicts, “in two months”;—say two and a half! I suppose you decipher the matter out of this plastering and smearing; and will do what is needful in it. “Great inquiry” is made for the Miscellanies, Fraser says; tho he suspects it may perhaps be but one or two men inquiring often,—the dog!

I am again upon the threshold of extempore lecturing: on “the Revolu[tions] of Modern Europe”; Protestantism, 2 lectures; Puritanism 2; French Revolution 2. I almost regret that I had undertaken the thing this year at all; for I am no longer driven by Poverty as heretofore, nay I am richer than I have been for ten years; and have a kind of prospect, for the first time this great while, of being allowed to subsist in this world for the future: a great blessing, perhaps the greatest, when it comes as a novelty! However, I thought it right to keep this Lecture business open, come what might. I care less about it than I did; it is not agony, and wretched trembling to the marrow of the bone, as it was the last two times. I believe, in spite of all my perpetual indigestions and nervous woes, I am actually getting into better health; the weary heart of me is quieter; I wait in silence for the new chapter,—feeling truly that we are at the end of one period here. I count it two in my autobiography: we shall see what the third is, third there be. But I am in small haste for a third. How true is that of the Old Prophets, “The word of the Lord came unto” such and such a one!7 When it does not come, both Prophet and Prosaist ought to be thankful (after a sort), and rigorously hold their tongue.— Lord Durham's people have come over with golden reports of the Americans, and their brotherly feelings. One Arthur Buller preaches to me, with emphasis, on a quite personal topic till one explodes in laughter to hear him, the good soul: That I, namely, am the most esteemed &c, and ought to go over and Lecture in all great towns of the union, and make &c &c! I really do begin to think of it in this interregnum that I am in. But then my Lectures must be written; but then I must become a hawker,—ach Gott!

The people are beginning to quote you here: tant pis pour eux [so much the worse for them]! I have found you in two Cambridge books.8 A certain Mr Richd M. Mylnes M.P. a beautiful little Tory dilettante poet and politician whom I love much, applied to me for Nature (the others he has) that he might write upon it. Somebody has stolen Nature from me, or may have thumbed it to pieces; I could not find a copy. Send me one, the first chance you have. And see Miss Martineau in the last Westr Review:9—these things you are old enough to stand? They are even of benefit? Emerson is not without a select public, the root of a select public on this side of the water too.— Popular Sumner is off to Italy, the most popular of men,—inoffensive, like a worn six-pence that has no physiognomy left. We preferred Coolidge to him in this circle; a square-cut iron man, yet with clear symptoms of a heart in him. Your people will come more and more to their maternal Babylon, will they not, by the Steamers?— Adieu my dear friend. My Wife joins me in all good prayers for you and yours

Thomas Carlyle