October 1845-July 1846

The Collected Letters, Volume 20


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 30 April 1846; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18460430-TC-RWE-01; CL 20: 183-185


Chelsea, 30 April, 1846—

Dear Emerson,

Here is the Photograph going off for you by Bookseller Munroe of Boston;1

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Frontispiece, CL Volume 20

Daguerrotype of Thomas Carlyle, April 1846, mailed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, 30 April 1846.

Reproduced by permission of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Memorial Association and the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

the Sheets of Cromwell, all the Second and part of the Last volume, are to go direct to New York: both Parcels by the Putnam conveyance. For Putnam has been here since I wrote, making large confirmations of what you conveyed to me; and large Proposals of an ulterior scope,—which will involve you in new trouble for me. But it is trouble you will not grudge, inasmuch as it promises to have some issue of moment; at all events the negociation is laid entirely into your hands: therefore I must with all despatch explain to you the essentials of it, that you may know what Wiley says when he writes to you from New York.2

Mr Putnam, really a very intelligent, modest and reputable-looking little fellow, got at last to sight of me about a week ago;—explained with much earnestness how the whole origin of the mistake about the First Edition of Cromwell had lain with Chapman my own Bookseller (which in fact I had already perceived to be the case);3 and farther set forth, what was much more important, that he and his Partner were, and had been, ready and desirous to make good said mistake, in the amplest most satisfactory manner,—by the ready method of paying me now ten percent on the selling-price of all the Copies of Cromwell sent into the market by them; and had (as I knew already) covenanted with you to do so, in a clear, bonâfide, and to you satisfactory manner, in regard to that First Edition: in consequence of which you had made a bargain with them of like tenor in regard to the Second. To all which I could only answer, That such conduct was that of men of honour, and would, in all manner of respects be satisfactory to me.— Wherefore the new Sheets of Cromwell should now go by his Package direct to New York, and the other little Parcel for you, he could send to Munroe:—that as one consequence? “Yes, surely,” intimated he; but there were other consequences, of more moment behind that.

Namely that they wanted (the Wiley & Putnam house did) to publish certain other Books of mine, the List of which I do not now recollect; under similar conditions: viz that I was to certify in a line or two prefixable to each Book, That I had read it over in preparation for their Printer, and did authorize them to print and sell it;—in return for which ten per cent on the sale-price (and all manner of facilities, volunteered to convince even Clark of Boston, the Lynx-eyed Friend now busy for me looking thro' millstones, that all was straight, and said Ten percent actually paid on every copy sold): This was Putnam's Offer, stated with all transparency, and in a way not to be misunderstood by either of us.

To which I answered that the terms seemed clear and square and everyway good, and such as I could comply with heartily,—so far as I was at liberty, but not farther. Not farther: for example there was Hart of Philadelphia (I think the Wileys do not want the Miscellanies) there were Munroe, Little and Browne &c;—in short there was R. W. Emerson, who knew in all ways how far I was free and not free, and who would take care of my integrity and interest at once, and do what was just and prudent; and to him I would refer the whole question, and whatever he engaged for that and no other than that I would do. So that you see how it is, and what a coil you have again got into! Mr Putnam would have had some “Letter,” some “exchange of Letters,” to the effect above-stated: but I answered “It was better we did not write at all till the matter was clear and liquid with you, and then we could very swiftly write,—and act. I would apprise you how the matter stood, and expect your answer, and bid you covenant with Mr Wiley what you found good, prompt I to fulfil whatever you undertook for me.”— This is a true picture of the Affair, the very truest I can write in haste; and so I leave it with you—ach Gott!

If your Photograph succeed as well as mine, I shall be almost tragically glad of it. This of me is far beyond all pictures; really very like: I got Laurence the Painter to go with me, and he would not let the people off till they had actually made a likeness. My Wife has got another, which she asserts to be much “more amiable-looking,” and even liker! O my Friend, it is a strange Phantasmagory of a Fact, this huge tremendous World of ours, Life of ours!— Do you bethink you of Craigenputtoch, and the still evening there?4 I could burst into tears, if I had that habit: but it is of no use The Cromwell business will be ended about the end of May,—I do hope!

You say not a word of your own Affairs: I have vaguely been taught to look for some Book shortly;—what of it? We are well, or tolerably well, and the Summer is come: adieu. Blessings on you and yours.

T. C.