August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO AN UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT ; 27 October 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421027-TC-UC-01; CL 15: 150


Chelsea, 27 Octr, 1842—

Dear Sir,

Thanks for your gift of Emerson's Lecture. Mr Ballantyne had already sent me two copies; that was my first sight of the performance. It is an excellent Discourse, greatly wanted on both sides of the Atlantic, and cannot be too widely circulated. While men worship Mammon as their Supreme Divinity, it is of no use trying to ‘reform’ either themselves or their affairs. Mammon was long ago recognized to be no Divinity but a Devil, and even a very contemptible species of Devil; and they that follow his guidance do very naturally go to the Devil in all senses, and even cannot go elsewhither!

Probably you are not aware that in New England a certain set of persons, grounding themselves on these ideas of Emerson's, are already about renouncing this miserable humbug of a world altogether, and retiring into the rural wilderness, to live there exclusively upon vegetables raised by their own digging! Three hours daily work, they say, will produce a man vegetables sufficient, with grey hodden garment sufficient; and he can live there according to his own mind, leaving the world to live according to its. An American man was here lately, as our express Missionary of all that;1 seeking for recruits, for proselytes;—naturally finding none. I was obliged to express my total, deep irreclaimable dissent from the whole vegetable concern,—not without great offence to the Missionary; and that perhaps is the reason why he sent me no American Copy of this Lecture. Emerson does not yet go into vegetables, into rural Hermitships; and we may hope, never will.

I remain / Yours very truly

T. Carlyle