August-December 1842

The Collected Letters, Volume 15


TC TO THOMAS BALLANTYNE ; 18 November 1842; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18421118-TC-TB-01; CL 15: 195


Chelsea, 18 Novr., 1842.

My dear Sir— … Emerson's Essay is capital; one of the best, or almost the very best, I have ever seen of his. I praise you greatly for getting it reprinted: everybody thinks it a favourable symptom of Lancashire Radicals that they have a sense for such ideas as these. A Letter came from Emerson along with yours; he is well, and contemplating some new Lectures, I think, for New York. I want to send him a copy of Man the Reformer in the Bolton type; but have none left here, and know not at once where to find them in London. Can you clap a stamp on one, and despatch it hither? Or indeed why not off to Concord direct! His address is: “R. Waldo Emerson, Esq., Concord, Massachusetts”: you wrap the Essay up like a Newspaper, open at the ends; I think our Postmasters take it in that state for 8d. by ship, for 12d. by steamer; and it travels, so wrapt, for a cent or two in America. Emerson now knows your name.

I find it was Alcott who first set the Essay afloat here; by way of basis for some crotchets or headlong Ultraism of his own, derived, and also perverted, from Emerson's way of thought. I was amused with Alcott's criticism of me!1 He is a good man, but a bore of the first magnitude; a “Potato Quixote,” as some named him here. He came along in Autumn to reform all England, by reducing us first of all to live exclusively on vegetables: all England, of course, was deaf as Ailsa Craig;2 and Alcott is home in a Highland rage at their stupidity. Long may he abide, and happy may he be! …