The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO LYDIA EMERSON ; 21 February 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18410221-TC-LEM-01; CL 13: 40-43


Chelsea, London, 21 Feby, 1841—

Dear Mrs Emerson,

Your Husband's Letter1 shall have answer when some moment of leisure is granted me; he will wait till then, and must. But the beautiful utterance which you send over to me;2 melodious as the voice of flutes, of AEolean Harps borne on the rude wind so far,—this must have answer, some word or growl of answer, be there leisure or none! The Acadia, it seems, is to return from Liverpool the day after tomorrow I shove my paper-whirlpools aside for a little, and grumble in pleased response.

You are an enthusiast; make Arabian Nights out of dull foggy London Days; with your beautiful female imagination, shape burnished copper castles out of London Fog! It is very beautiful of you;—nay it is not foolish either, it is wise. I have a guess what of truth there may be in that; and you the fair Alchymist, are you not all the richer and better that you know the essential gold, and will not have it called pewter or splelter,3 tho in the shops it is only such? I honour such Alchymy, and love it; and have myself done something in that kind. Long may the talent abide with you; long may I abide to have it exercised on me!

Except the Annandale Farm where my good Mother still lives, there is no House in all this world which I should be gladder to see than the one at Concord. It seems to stand as only over the hill, in the next parish to me, familiar from boyhood. Alas, and wide waste Atlantics roll between; and I cannot walk over of an evening!— I never give up the hope of getting thither some time. Were I a little richer, were I a little healthier; were I this and that—!— One has no Fortunatus' “Time-annihilating” or even “Space-annihilating Hat”:4 it were a thing worth having in this world.

My Wife unites with me in all kindest acknowledgements: she is getting stronger these last two years; but is still such a sailor as the Island hardly parallels: had she the Space-annihilating Hat, she too were soon with you.

Your message shall reach Miss Martineau; my Dame will send it in her first Letter. The good Harriett is not well; but keeps a very courageous heart. She lives by the shore of the beautiful blue Northumbrian Sea; a “many-sounding” solitude which I often envy her.5 She writes unweariedly, has many friends visiting her. You saw her Toussaint L'ouverture:6 how she has made such a beautiful “black Washington” (or “Washington-Christ-Macready” as I have heard some7 call it,[)] of a rough-handed, hardheaded, semi-articulate gabbling Negro; and of the horriblest phasis that “Sansculottism” can exhibit, of a Black Sansculottism, a musical Opera or Oratorio in pink stockings! It is very beautiful. Beautiful as a child's heart,—and in so shrewd a head as that. She is now writing express Children's-Tales,8 which I calculate I shall find more perfect.

Some ten days there went from me to Liverpool, per[haps] there will arrive at Concord by this very Acadia, a bundle of Printed Sheets directed to your Husband: pray apprise the man of that. They are sheets of a volume called Lectures on Heroes; the Concord Hero gets them without direction or advice of any kind. I have got some four sheets more ready for him here; shall perhaps send them too, along with this. Some four again more will complete the thing. I know not what he will make of it;—perhaps wry faces at it?

Adieu, dear Mrs Emerson. We salute you from this house. May all good which the Heavens grant to a kind heart, and the good which they never refuse to one such, abide with you always. I commend myself to your and Emerson's good Mother, to the mischievous Boys and all the House-hold.9 Peace and fair spring-weather be there!

Yours with great regard, /

T. Carlyle