January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO AN EDITOR; January 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18300100-TC-E-01; CL 5:52-53.


[January 1830]

[The first part of the letter is missing.] … the unusual claw attached to the other. In the third place, when thaw comes, it is1 an awkward shoe, and has to be removed again. Then figure a frosty sleet returning after three days! In short it is a bad method, an absurd method, and worthy of all condemnation.

But what are we to do? Growling at the weather, besides its impiety, profits nothing; Frost walks his stern rounds, and fiercer than2 Attila's hoof, where his footstep lights there is no grass but only glass, let us say what we will. In these circumstances I have done a wiser thing: invented (devised) an [a] more perfect manner of roughening; which manner it is now my humble purpose, relying &, to describe. I construct four sufficient shoes, of the usual fashion, save that each, in the heels of it, has two screw-holes (¼ inch in diameter) the use of which holes will presently appear. For each of these I have a small wedge steel in the point or face, and with a screw growing perpendicularly out of its back; which screw fitted into the corresponding matrix, and tightly wrenched home, fixes my wedge on the face of the shoe as firmly as if it were welded there; and then my eight wedge-headed nails once in—I ride fearlessly on the slipperiest path; nay for that matter, I would ride over a Swiss glacier, had I need. Then consider, in the stable, I unscrew these little wedges, and the horses leg stands easier, remains untorn. When they grow blunt, I sharpen them on the anvil or the grindingstone, and the shoe is unshifted. If the shoe wear too thin, insert [a] piece of leather. When the frost passes, I lay them by for another winter: nay, if it should be my lot to shoe and ride next year, I will have my December shoes made beforehand with such holes, that I may fit in my wedges, and roughen at five minutes notice.

This dear Mr Editor is my humble invention, which having now commu[nicated,] I make haste to retire; my right station being the [word obscured]. If any surgeon, man-midwife,3 or other express-riding character, profit by my device, if through the thick scull of any working Blacksmith I can penetrate to conviction and enlightenment with the light of it, and so do even a little good to the Universe in this frosty time, I shall not have written in vain.

Yours and the world's / Warmly[,] I may say glowingly, /