The Collected Letters, Volume 13


TC TO JOHN STERLING ; 18 December 1841; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18411218-TC-JOST-01; CL 13: 321-322


Chelsea, 18 Decr, 1841—

My dear Sterling,

Several weeks ago there came four copies of a new Oration of Emerson's one of which copies I engaged to forward to you. They have all four been circulating about, from hand to hand, towards their final destination, which they have now all except this of yours attained. This of yours was borrowed by Forster; to whom I write today, requesting him to forward it, with the present Note inclosed: that is the secret of the unknown handwriting, which might otherwise occasion you a moment's surprise. Take it, and be thankful.

I should like to know in full your deliberate opinion about Emerson:1 he is becoming a phenomenon worth forming a theory about. Did you ever see any numbers of that strange magazine of his called the Dial. I have the greater part of it lying here; and could easily send it by any conveyance you saw good to appoint at any time. You will be far from entertained in reading there: it is to me the most wearisome of readable reading; shrill, incorporeal, spirit like,—I do not say ghastly, for that is the character of your Puseyism, Shelleyism &c; real ghosts of extinct obsolete Laudisms, Robespierrisms; to me extremely hideous at all times. This New-England business I rather liken to an unborn soul, that has yet got no body; not a pleasant neighbour either! We live in a most wondrous “new Era,” do we not?

Like a green islet in wide sandy wastes, these last two nights have been given to the Correspondence of Goethe and Zelter.2 How blessed in comparison to all I have read for many long months! Blessed as articulate human speech in the infinite chattering of apes, of infatuated or superannuated persons, the wrecks and caricatures of humanity! Patientia—saepius laesa fit furor.3— One of the beautifullest things in that Zelter correspondence, is the palpable fact of two elderly men falling in friendship, as it were falling in love with one another, and persisting in it crescendo till the lamp of life went altogether out for them, at the age of four-score and more. It is a blessed fact; the blessedest I have got my eye on, for a good while past.— Do you know anything about the “Herr Sterling,” mentioned there, who is said to have been the intermediary between Goethe and Byron, in those courteous passages of theirs?4

I can tell you nothing about my work. It is miserable, it looks fruitless, a mole's work, boring and digging blindly under-ground: my ow[n] inner man is sometimes very busy (too busy), but the rest is all silence. Sileamus [Let us be silent].

Perhaps you noticed in some Newspaper that there was a speculation of having me made Professor at Edinburgh? I yesterday quashed all that. It was the work of some zealous-hearted young men: a thing not to be acted upon, a thing almost to be wept at.— Adieu dear Sterling. There is no hope of seeing you; I send many a thought over to you

Yours ever /

T. Carlyle