TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON; 8 July 1851; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18510708-TC-RWE-01; CL 26: 103-106
TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Chelsea, 8 july, 1851—
Don't you still remember very well that there is such a man? I know you do, and will do. But it is a ruinously long while since we have heard a word from each other;—a state of matters that ought immediately to cease. It was your turn, I think, to write? It was somebody's turn! Nay I heard lately you complained of bad eyes; and were grown abstinent of writing. Pray contradict me this. I cannot do without some regard from you while we are both here. Spite of your many sins, you are among the most human of all the beings I now know in the world;—who are a very select set, and are growing ever more so, I can inform you!
In late months, feeling greatly broken and without heart for anything weighty, I have been upon a Life of John Sterling; which will not be good for much, but will as usual gratify me by taking itself off my hands: it was one of the things I felt a kind of obligation to do, and so am thankful to have done. Here is a patch of it lying by me, if you will look at a specimen. There are 400 or more pages (prophesies the Printer), a good many Letters and Excerpts in the latter portion of the volume. Already half printed, wholly written; but not to come out for a couple of months yet,—all trade being at a stand till this sublime “Crystal Palace” go its ways again.— And now since we are upon the business, I wish you wd mention it to E. P. Clark (is not that the name?) next time you go to Boston: if that friendly clear-eyed man have anything to say in reference to it and American Booksellers, let him say and do; he may have a Copy for anybody in about a month: if he have nothing to say, then let there be nothing anywhere said. For, mark O Philosopher, I expressly and with emphasis prohibit you at this stage of our history, and henceforth, unless I grow poor again. Indeed, indeed, the commercial mandate of the thing (Nature's little order on that behalf) being once fulfilled (by speaking to Clark), I do not care a snuff of tobacco how it goes, and will prefer, here as elsewhere, my night's rest to any amount of superfluous money.
This summer, as you may conjecture, has been very noisy with us, and productive of little,—the “Wind-dust-ry of all Nations” involving everything in one inane tornado. The very shopkeepers complain that there is no trade. Such a sanhedrin of windy fools from all countries of the Globe were surely never gathered in one city before. But they will go their ways again, they surely will! One sits quiet in that faith;—nay looks abroad with a kind of pathetic grandfatherly feeling over this universal Children's Ball, which the British Nation in these extraordinary circumstances is giving itself! Silence above all, silence is very behoveful!—
I read lately a small old brown French duodecimo, which I mean to send you by the first chance there is. The writer is a Capitaine Bossu; the production a Journal of his experiences in “La Louisiane,” “Oyo” (Ohio) and those regions,1 which looks very genuine, and has a strange interest to me, like some practical Odyssey or better. Only a hundred years ago, and the Mississippi has changed as never Valley did: in 1751, older and stranger, looked at from its present date, than Balbec or Nineveh!2 Say what we will, Jonathan3 is doing miracles (of a sort) under the sun in these times now passing.— Do you know Bartram's Travels?4 This is of the Seventies (1770) or so; treats of Florida chiefly, has a wondrous kind of floundering eloquence in it; and has also grown immeasureably old. All American Libraries ought to provide themselves with that kind of Book; and keep them as a kind of future biblical article.— Finally on this head, can you tell me of any good Book on California? Good: I have read several bad. But that too is worthy of some wonder; that too, like the old Bucaniers, hungers and thirsts (in ingenuous minds) to have some true record and description given of it.
And poor Miss Fuller, was there any Life ever published of her; or is any competent hand engaged on it?5 Poor Margaret, I often remember her; and think how she is asleep now under the surges of the sea. Mazzini, as you perhaps know, is with us this summer; comes across once in the week or so, and tells me or at least my wife all his news. The Roman revolution has made a man of him,—quite brightened up ever since;—and the best friend he ever saw, I believe, was that same Quack-President of France, who relieved him while it was still time.6— My Brother is in Annandale, working hard over Dante at last; talks of coming up hither shortly. I am myself very ill and miserable in the liver regions; very tough otherwise,—tho' I have now got spectacles for small print in the twilight. Eheu fugaces,7—and yet why Eheu? In fact it is better to be silent.— Adieu, dear Emerson; I expect to get a great deal brisker by and by,—and in the first place to have a Missive from Boston again. My Wife sends you many regards. I am as ever,—affectionately yours