candlestick

July 1847-March 1848


The Collected Letters, Volume 22


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JWC TO LADY HARRIET BARING ; 28 October 1847; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18471028-JWC-LHB-01; CL 22: 139-140


JWC TO LADY HARRIET BARING

Thursday [28 October 1847]

“Dearest” Lady.—“Oh no NO NO! for Heaven's sake!— I did not, could not have said that; or if I did,—forget it; it was a slip of the tongue!”

He is come then,—is here this Yankee-Seraph! We have seen him “face to face and (over-) soul to (over-) soul”!1 for two days I have lived on the manna of his speech, and now I have escaped to my bedroom to bathe my head in cold water, and report progress to you.

So far, all has gone better than you predicted; they do not hate one another yet; C still calls Emerson “a most polite and gentle creature! a man of really quite Seraphic nature! tho' on certain sides of him overlaid with mad rubbish”—and Emerson still (in confidence, to me) calls C “a good Child(!) in spite of all his deification of the Positive, the Practical—most astonishing for those who had first made acquaintance with him in his Books”!

Polite and Gentle, this Emeson certainly is; he avoids with a laudable tact, all occasions of dispute, and when dragged into it, by the hair of his head, (morally speaking) he gives, under the most provoking contradictions, with the softness of a feather-bed.

For the rest; I hardly know what to think of him, or whether I like him or not. The man has two faces to begin with which are continually changing into one another like ‘dissolving views,’2 the one young, refined, almost beautiful, radiant with—what shall I say?—“virtue its own reward”!3 the other decidedly old, hatchet-like, crotchety, inconclusive—like an incarnation of one of his own poems! In his speech he is not dogmatical the least in the world, nor anything like so fantastical as his letters give one to suppose; in fact; except for a few phrases consisting chiefly of odd applications, of the words ‘beauty’ and ‘child’; he speaks simply and clearly, but without any eloquence or warmth— What I should say he failed in is what the Yorkshire wool-cleaner called ‘natur’— He is genial, but it seems to be with his head rather than his heart—a sort of theoretic geniality that (as Mazzini would say) “leaves me cold.” He is perhaps the most elevated man I ever saw—but it is the elevation of a reed—run all to hight without taking breadth along with it. You will not I think dislike him as you expected, but neither will you like him— He is to breakfast with Rogers tomorrow morning under the escort of Mrs Bancroft,4 and goes to Liverpool I believe tomorrow night, to lecture “all about” When he returns to London, as a Lecturer, I fancy he will go into Lodgings—

I am sure C. is disappointed, thinks him, if he would “tell the truth, and shame the Devil”5 a man of no sort of significance—but he is still under the restraining grace of Hospitality, and of a certain regard to consistency: besides he has had no opportunity of unbosoming himself to me on the subject, as we have literally not been five minutes alone together since Emerson arrived: he (Emerson) sits up after me at nights and is down before me in the mornings. till I begin to feel as if I had got the measles or some such thing.6

I have not seen Fleming since his return—almost dread the thought of seeing him! of witnessing the progress of his emotions—

And now to my ‘woman's mission7 below—

Ever most truly / Yours

Jane Carlyle

I will send Geraldine's news of the Hastings visit Please burn the letter