Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Emerson Commends a Friend

[Ralph Waldo Emerson to Thomas and Jane Carlyle]

Concord, 31 July, 1846

My Dear Friend,

. . . I send this letter by Margaret Fuller, of whose approach I believe I wrote you some word. There is no foretelling how you visited and crowded English will like our few educated men or women, and in your learned populace my luminaries may easily be overlooked. But of all the travellers whom you have so kindly received from me, I think of none, since Alcott went to England, whom I so much desired that you should see and like, as this dear old friend of mine. For two years now I have scarcely seen her, as she has been at New York, engaged by Horace Greeley as a literary editor of his Tribune newspaper. This employment was made acceptable to her by good pay, great local and personal conveniences of all kinds, and unbounded confidence and respect from Greeley himself, and all other parties connected with this influential journal (of 30,000 subscriber, I believe). And Margaret Fuller's work as critic of all new books, critic of the drama, of music, and good arts in New York, has been honorable to her. Still this employment is not satisfactory to me. She is full of all nobleness, and with the generosity native to her mind and character appears to me an exotic in New England, a foreigner from some more sultry and expansive climate. She is, I suppose, the earliest reader and lover of Goethe in this Country, and nobody here knows him so well. Her love too of whatever is good in French, and specially in Italian genius, give her the best title to travel. In short, she is our citizen of the world by quite special diploma. And I am heartily glad that she has an opportunity of going abroad that pleases her.

Mr. Spring, a merchant of great moral merits, (and, as I am informed, an assiduous reader of your books,) has grown rich, and resolves to see the world with his wife and son, and has wisely invited Miss Fuller to show it to him. Now, in the first place, I wish you to see Margaret when you are in special good humor, and have an hour of boundless leisure. And I entreat Jane Carlyle to abet and exalt and secure this satisfaction to me. I need not, and yet perhaps I need say, that M. F. is the safest of all possible persons who ever took pen in hand. Prince Metternich's closet not closer or half so honorable. In the next place, I should be glad if you can easily manage to show her the faces of Tennyson and of Browning. She has a sort of right to them both, not only because she likes their poetry, but because she has made their merits widely known among our young people. And be it known to my friend Jane Carlyle, whom, if I cannot see, I delight to name, that her visitor is an immense favorite in the parlor, as well as in the library, in all good houses where she is known. And so I commend her to you.

Yours affectionately,
R. W. Emerson

-from The Friendly Craft: A Collection of American Letters edited by Elizabeth Deering Hanscom (New York: Macmillan, 1908) p. 159-60.

No comments: