October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 11 November 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18451111-TC-RWE-01; CL 20: 52-54


Chelsea, 11 Novr, 1845—

My dear Emerson,

I have had two Letters from you since I wrote any; the latest of them was lying here for me when I returned, about three weeks ago; the other I had received in Scotland: it was only the last that demanded a special answer;— which, alas, I meant faithfully to give it, but did not succeed!1 With meet despatch I made the Bookseller get ready for you a Copy of the unpublished Cromwell Book; hardly complete as yet, it was nevertheless put together, and even some kind of odious rudiments of a Portrait were bound up with it; and the Packet inscribed with your address was put into Wiley and Putnam's2 hands in time for the Mail Steamer;—and I hope has duly arrived? If it have not, pray set the Booksellers a-hunting. Wiley and Putnam was the Carrier's name; this is all the indication I can give, but this, I hope, if indeed any prove needful, will be enough. One may hope you have the Book already in your hands, a fortnight before this reaches you, a month before any other Copy can reach America. In which case the Parcel, without any Letter, must have seemed a little enigmatic to you! The reason was this: I miscounted the day of the month, unlucky that I was. Sitting down one morning with full purpose to write at large, and all my tools round me, I discover that it is no longer the third of November; that it is already the fourth, and the American Mail-Packet has already lifted anchor! Irrevocable, irremediable! Nothing remained but to wait for the 18th;—and now, as you see, to take Time by the forelock,—queue [tail], as we all know, he has none.3

My visit to Scotland was wholesome for me; tho' full of sadness, as the like always is. Thirty Years mows away a Generation of Men. The old Hills the old Brooks and Houses are still there; but the Population has marched away, almost all; it is not there any more. I cannot enter into light talk with the survivors and successors; I withdraw into silence, and converse with the old dumb crags rather, in a melancholy and abstruse manner.— Thank God, my good old Mother is still there; old and frail, but still young of heart; as young and strong there, I think, as ever. It is beautiful to see affection survive where all else is submitting to decay; the altar with its sacred fire still burning when the outer walls are all slowly crumbling; material Fate saying, “They are mine”!— I read some insignificant Books; smoked a great deal of tobacco; and went moping about among the hills and hollow water-courses, somewhat like a shade in Hades. The Gospel which this World of Fact does preach to one differs considerably from the sugary twaddle one gets the offer of in Exeter-Hall4 and other Spouting-places! Of which, in fact, I am getting more and more weary; sometimes really impatient. It seems to me the reign of Cant and Spoonyism has about lasted long enough. Alas, in many respects, in this England I too often feel myself sorrowfully in a “minority of one”;5—if in the whole world, it amount to a minority of two, that is something! These words of Goethe often come into my mind, “Verachtung ja Nicht-achtung.”6 Lancashire, with Titanic Industries, with its smoke and dirt, and brutal stupor to all but money and the five mechanical Powers, did not excite much admiration in me; considerably less, I think than ever! Patience, and shuffle the cards!7

The Book on Cromwell is not to come out till the 22d of this month. For many weeks it has been a real weariness to me; my hope, always disappointed, that now is the last time I shall have any trade with it. Even since I began writing, there has been an Engraver here, requiring new indoctrination,—poor fellow! Nay in about ten days it must be over: let us not complain. I feel it well to be worth nothing, except for the little fractions or intermittent fits of pious industry there really were in it; and my one wish is that the human species would be pleased to take it off my hands, and honestly let me hear no more about it! If it please Heaven, I will rest a while still, and then try something better.

In three days hence, my Wife and I are off to the Hampshire Coast for a winter visit to kind friends there, if in such a place it will prosper long with us. The climate there is greatly better than ours; they are excellent people, well affected to us; and can be lived with, tho' of high temper and ways! They are the Lord-Ashburtons, in fact; more properly the younger stratum of that house; partly a kind of American people,8—who know Waldo Emerson, among other fine things, very well! I think we are to stay some three weeks: the bustle of moving is already begun

You promise us a new Book soon?9 Let it be soon, then. There are many persons here that will welcome it now. To one man here it is ever as an articulate voice amid the infinite cackling and cawing. That remains my best definition of the effect it has on me. Adieu, my Friend. Good be with you and your Household always. Vale [Farewell]— T. C.