January-September 1856

The Collected Letters, Volume 31


TC TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON ; 28 August 1856; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18560828-TC-RWE-01; CL 31: 197-199


The Gill, Cummertrees, Annan N.B. 28 Augt, 1856—

Dear Emerson,

Your Letter1 alighted here yesterday, like a winged Mercury, bringing “airs from Heaven”2 (in a sense) along with his news. I understand very well your indisposition to write; we must conform to it, as to the Law of Chronos3 (oldest of the gods); but I will murmur always, “It is such a pity as of almost no other man!”— You are citizen of a “Republic,” and perhaps fancy yourself republican in an eminent degree: nevertheless I have remarked there is no man of whom I am so certain always to get something Kingly—and whenever your huge inarticulate America gets settled into Kingdoms, of the New Model, fit for these Ages which are all upon the Moult just now, and dreadfully like going to the Devil in the interim,—then will America, and all nations thro' her, owe the man Emerson a debt, far greater than either they or he are in the least aware of at present! That, I consider (for myself) to be an ascertained fact. For which I myself at least am thankful and have long been.

It pleases me much to know that this English, so long twinkling in our expectations and always drawn back again, is at last visibly to appear:4 I wish I could get hold of my Copy; there is no Book that would suit me better just now. But we must wait for four weeks till we get back to Chelsea,—unless I can find some trusty hand to extract it from the rubbish that will have accumulated there, and forward it by post. You speak as if there were something dreadful said of my own sacred self in that Book:5 Courage, my friend, it will be a most miraculous occurrence to meet with any said by you that does me ill; whether the immediate task of it be sweet or bitter, I will take it with gratitude, you may depend,—nay even with pleasure, what perhaps is still more incredible. But an old man, deluged for half a century with the brutally nonsensical vocables of his fellow-creatures (which he grows to regard soon as rain, “rain of frogs”6 or the like, and lifts his umbrella agt with indifference,—such an old gentn, I assure you, is grateful for a word that he can recognise perennial sense in; as in this case is his sure hope. And so be the little Book thrice welcome; and let all England understand (as some choice portion of England will) that there has not been a man talking about us these very many years whose words are worth the least attention in comparison.

“Post passing!” I must end, in mid course; so much still untouched upon. Thanks for Sampson & Co, and let them go their course upon me.7 If I can see Mrs Ward “about the end of Septr8 or after, I shall be right glad:—but I fear she will have fled before that?—

I am here in my native Country, riding, sea-bathing, living on country diet,—uttering no word,—now into the 5th week; have had such a “Retreat” as no La Trappe hardly could have offered me. A “Retreat” witht Cilices, thistle-matrasses; and with silent devotions (if any) instead of blockhead spoken ones to the Virgin and others!—There is still an Excursion to the Highlands ahead, whh cannot be avoided;—then home again to peine forte et dure [hard and severe punishment].—9 Good be with you always, dear friend.

T. Carlyle