The Collected Letters, Volume 25


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 14 November 1850; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18501114-TC-RWE-01; CL 25: 279-281


Chelsea, 14 Novr, 1850—

Dear Emerson,

You are often enough present to my thoughts; but yesterday there came a little incident which has brought you rather vividly upon the scene for me. A certain Mr “S. E. Ward” from Boston sends us, yesterday morning by post, a Note of yours addressed to Mazzini,1 whom he cannot find; and indicates that he retains a similar one addressed to myself, and (in the most courteous, kindly and dignified manner, if Mercy prevent not) is about carrying it off with him again to America! To give Mercy a chance, I by the first opportunity get under way for Morley's Hôtel,2 the Address of Mr Ward; find there that Mr Ward, since morning, has been on the road towards Liverpool and America, and that the function of Mercy is quite extinct in this instance! My reflexions as I wandered home again were none of the pleasantest. Of this Mr Ward I had heard some tradition, as of an intelligent accomplished and superior man; such a man's acquaintance, of whatever complexion he be, is and was always a precious thing to me, well worth acquiring where possible; not to say that any friend of yours, whatever his qualities otherwise, carries with him an imperative key to all bolts and locks of mine, real or imaginary. In fact I felt punished;—and who knows, if the case were seen into, whether I deserve it? What “business” it was that deprived me of a call from Mr Ward, or of the possibility of calling on him, I know very well,—and Elizur Wright, the little dog, and others know!3 But the fact in that matter is very far different indeed from the superficial semblance; and I appeal to all the Gentlemen that are in America for a candid interpretation of the same. “Eighteen million bores.” good Heavens don't I know how many of that species we also have; and how, with us as with you, the difference between them and the Eighteen thousand noble-men and non-bores is immeasureable and inconceivable; and how, with us as with you, the latter small company, sons of the Empyrean, will have to fling the former huge one, sons of Mammon and Mud, into some kind of chains again, reduce them to some kind of silence again,—unless the old Mud-Demons are to rise and devour us all? Truly it is so I construe it: and if Elizur Wright and the Eighteen millions are well justified in their anger at me, E. S. Ward and the Eighteen thousand owe me thanks and new love. That is my decided opinion, in spite of you all! And so, along with Ward, probably in the same ship with him, there shall go my protest against the conduct of Ward; and the declaration that to the last I will protest! Which will wind up the matter (without any word of yours on it) at this time,— — For the rest, tho' Elizur sent me his Pamphlet,4 it is a fact I have not read a word of it, nor shall ever read. My Wife read it; but I was away, with far other things in my head; and it was “lent to various persons” till it died!— Enough and ten times more than enough of all that. Let me on this last slip of paper give you some response to the Letter I got in Scotland, under the silence of the bright autumn sun in my Mother's house, and read there.

You are bountiful abundantly in your reception of those L. D. Pamphlets; and right in all you say of them;—and yet withal you are not right, my Friend, but I am! Truly it does behove a man to know the immense resources of this universe, and, for the sake both of his peace and of his dignity, to possess his soul in patience,5 and look nothing doubting (nothing wincing even, if that be his humour) upon all things. For it is most indubitable there is good in all;—and if you even see an Oliver Cromwell assassinated, it is certain you may get a cartload of turnips from his carcase. Ah me, and I suppose we had too much forgotten all this, or there had not been a man like you sent to shew it us so emphatically! Let us well remember it; and yet remember too that it is not good always, or ever, to be “at ease in Zion”; good often to be in fierce rage in Zion; and that the vile Pythons of this Mud-world do verily require to have sun-arrows shot into them,6 and redhot pokers struck thro' them, according to occasion: wo to the man that carries either of these weapons, and does not use it in their presence! Here, at this moment, a miserable Italian organ-grinder has struck up the Marseillaise under my window, for example: was the Marseillaise fought out on a bed of down, or is it worth nothing when fought?7 On those wretched Pamphlets I set no value at all, or even less than none: to me their one benefit is, my own heart is clear of them (a benefit not to be despised, I assure you!)—and in the Public, athwart this storm of curses, and emptying of vessels of dishonour, I can already perceive that it is all well enough there too in reference to them; and the controversy of the Eighteen millions versus the Eighteen thousands, or Eighteen units, is going on very handsomely in that quarter of it, for aught I can see! And so, Peace to the brave that are departed; and, Tomorrow to fresh fields and pastures new!8

I was in Wales, as well as Scotland, during Autumn time; lived three weeks within wind of St Germanus's old “College”9 (1400 years of age or so) and also not far from Merthyr Tydvil Cyclops Hell, sootiest and horridest avatar of the Industrial Mammon I had ever anywhere seen;—went thro' the Severn Valley; at Bath stayed a night with Landor (a proud and high old man, who charged me with express remembrances for you); saw Tennyson too, in Cumberland, with his new Wife; and other beautiful recommendable and questionable things;—and was dreafully tossed about, and torn almost to tatters by the manifold brambles of my way: and so at length am here, a much-lamed man indeed! Oh my Friend, have tolerance for me, have sympathy with me; you know not quite (I imagine) what a burden mine is, or perhaps you would find this duty, whh you always do, a little easier done! Be happy, be busy beside your still waters,10 and think kindly of me there. My nerves, health I call them, are in a sad state of disorder: alas, that is nine-tenths of all the battle in this world. Courage, courage!— My Wife sends salutations to you and yours. Good be with you all always. Your affecte

T. Carlyle