The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 19 July 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18500719-TC-RWE-01; CL 25: 119-121


Chelsea, 19 july, 1850—

My dear Emerson, my Friend, my Friend,—You behold before you a remorseful man! It is well nigh a year now since I despatched some hurried rag of paper to you out of Scotland, indicating doubtless that I would speedily follow it with a longer letter; and here, when grey Autumn is at hand again, I have still written nothing to you, heard nothing from you! It is miserable to think of:—and yet it is a fact, and there is no denying of it; and so we must let it by. If it please Heaven, the like shall not occur again. “Ohone Arooh!” as the Irish taught me to say, “Ohone Arooh!”

The fact is, my life has been black with care and toil,—labour above board and far worse labour below;—I have hardly had a heavier year (overloaded too with a kind of “health” which may be called frightful): to “burn my own smoke” in some measure, has really been all I was up to; and except on sheer immediate compulsion I have not written a word to any creature.— Yesternight I finished the last of these extraordinary Pamphlets; am about running off somewhither into the deserts, of Wales or Scotland, Scandinavia or still remoter deserts;—and my first signal of revived reminiscence is to you.

Nay I have not at any time forgotten you, be that justice done the unfortunate: and tho' I see well enough what a great deep cleft divides us, in our ways of practically looking at this world,—I see also (as probably you do yourself) where the rock-strata, miles deep, unite again; and the two poor souls are at one. Poor devils!— Nay if there were no point of agreement at all, and I were more intolerant of “ways of thinking” than I even am,—yet has not the man Emerson, from old years, been a Human Friend to me? Can I ever forget, or think otherwise than lovingly of the man Emerson?— — No more of this. Write to me in your first good hour; and say that there is still a brother-soul left to me alive in this world, and a kind thought surviving far over the sea!—

Chapman, with due punctuality at the time of publication, sent me the Representative Men; which I read in the becoming manner: you now get the Book offered you for a shilling, at all Railway stations; and indeed I perceive the word “representative man” (as applied to the late tragic loss we have had in Sir R. Peel) has been adopted by the Able-Editors, and circulates thro' Newspapers as an appropriate household word. Which is some compensation to you for the piracy you suffer from the Typographic Letter-of-marque men here. I found the Book a most finished clear and perfect set of Engravings in the line manner; portraitures full of likeness, and abounding in instruction and materials for reflexion to me: thanks always for such a Book; and Heaven send us many more of them. Plato, I think, tho' it is the most admired by many, did least for me: little save Socrates with his clogs and big ears remains alive with me from it. Swedenborg is excellent in likeness; excellent in many respects;—yet I said to myself, on reaching your general conclusion about the man and his struggles: “Missed the consummate flower and divine ultimate elixir of Philosophy, say you? By Heaven, in clutching at it, and ‘almost getting it,’ he has tumbled into Bedlam,—which is a terrible miss, if it were never so near! A miss fully as good as a mile, I shd say!”— — In fact, I generally dissented a little about the end of all these Essays; which was notable, and not without instructive interest to me, as I had so lustily shouted “Hear, hear!” all the way from the beginning up to that stage.— On the whole, let us have another Book with your earliest convenience: that is the modest request one makes of you on shutting this.

I know not what I am now going to set about: the horrible barking of the universal dog-kennel (awakened by these Pamphts) must still itself again; my poor nerves must recover themselves a little:—I have much more to say; and by Heaven's blessing must try to get it said in some way, if I live.— Bostonian Prescott is here, infinitely lionised by a mob of gentn;1 I have seen him in two places or three (but forbore speech):2 the Johnny-cake is good, the twopence worth of currants in it too are good;—but if you offer it as a bit of baked Ambrosia, Ach Gott!

Adieu, dear Emerson, forgive & love me a little.

Yours ever

T. Carlyle