Letter from William Ellery Channing
to Henry David Thoreau
|New York, March 5, 45
My dear Thoreau,
The hand-writing of your letter is so miserable that I am not sure I have made it out. If I have it seems to me you are the same old sixpence you used to be, rather rusty, but a genius piece.
I see nothing for you in this earth but that field which I once christened "Briars"; go out upon that, build yourself a hut, & there begin the grand process of devouring yourself alive. I see no alternative, no other hope for you. Eat yourself up; you will eat nobody else, nor anything else.
Concord is just as good a place as any other; there are indeed, more people in the streets of that village, than in the streets of this. This is a singularly muddy town; muddy, solitary, & silent.
They tell us, it is March; it has been all March in this place, since I came. It is much warmer now, than it was last, November, foggy, rainy, [?]faetive weather indeed.
In your line, I have not done a great deal since I arrived here; I do not mean the Perceil line, but the Staten Island line, having been there once, to walk on a beach by the Telegraph, but did not visit the scene of your dominical duties. Staten Island is very distant from No. 30 Ann St.
That Gaken, - Hecker, who used to live on two crackers a day I have not seen, nor Black,nor Vathek, nor Davedaz, nor Rynders, or any of Emerson's old cronies, excepting James, a little fat, rosy Swedaborgian amateur, with the look of a Groker, & the brains & hearts of a Pascal. - Wm Channing I see nothing of him; he is the [?] good feelings & I have all-too-many of these now.
I have seen something of your friends, Waldo and Tappan, & I have also seen our good man "Mr Kearn", the Keeper of that striped place the "Mercantile Library." I have been able to find there no book which I should like to read.
Respecting the country about this city theme , there is a walk at Brooklyn rather pleasing, to ascend upon the high ground, & look at the distant Ocean. This is a very agreeable sight. I have been four mile, up the island in addition, where I saw the bay; it looked very well, and appeared to be in good spirits.
I hear occasionally from the World; everything seems to be promising in that quarter, business is flourishing, & the people are in good spirits. I feel convinced that the Earth has less claims to our regard than formerly; these wild writers deserve reassurance. But I am well aware that the Earth will talk about the necessity of routine, taxes, & e. On the whole, in silent not to complain, without necessity.
Mumbo Jumbo is recovering from his attack of sore eyes, & will soon be act, in a pair of canvas trousers, scarlet jackets, & cocked hat. I understand he intends to demolish all the remaining species of Fetishisms at a meal; I think it is probable he will vomit them. I am sorry to say, that Roly-Poly has received intelligence of the death of his only daughter, Marion; this will be a terrible wound to this paternal heart.
I saw Teufelsdrock [Thomas Carlyle] a few days since; he is wretchedly poor, has an attack of the colic, & expects to get better immediately. He said a few words to me about you. Says he, that fellow Thoreau might be something, if he could only take a Journey through the "Everlastin', No," [?] for the North Pole.
"By God," said the old clothes-bag "warming up", I should like to take that fellow out into the Everlasting No, & explode him like a bomb-shell; he would make a loud report. He needs the Blumerine flower business; that would be his salvation. He is too dry, too caprised[?], too chalky, too coverete[?]. I want to get him out of every fungen. It would be fun to see him pick himself up." I "camped" the old fellow in a majestic style.
Does that excrable compound of Sawdust & Stagnation Alcott still prose about nothing, and that nutmeg-grater of a Hosmer yet shriek about nothing, - does anybody still think of coming to Concord to live, near new people? If they do, let them beware of your philosophers.
Ever yours my dear Thoreau,