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My Dear Hawthorne, -- People think that if a man has undergone any hardship, he
should have a reward; but for my part, if I have done the hardest possible day's
work, and then come to sit down in a corner and eat my supper comfortably --
why, then I don't think I deserve any reward for my hard day's work -- for am I
not now at peace? Is not my supper good? My peace and my supper are my reward,
my dear Hawthorne. So your joy-giving and exultation-breeding letter is not
my reward for my ditcher's work with that book, but is the good goddess's
bonus over and above what was stipulated -- for for not one man in five
cycles, who is wise, will expect appreciative recognition from his fellows,
or any one of them. Appreciation! Recognition! Is Jove appreciated? Why,
ever since Adam, who has got to the meaning of this great allegory -- the
world? Then we pygmies must be content to have our paper allegories but ill
comprehended. I say your appreciation is my glorious gratuity. In my proud,
humble way, -- a shepherd-king, -- I was lord of a little vale in the
solitary Crimea; but you have now given me the crown of India. But on trying
it on my head, I found it fell down on my ears, notwithstanding their
asinine length -- for it's only such ears that sustain such crowns.
Your letter was handed me last night on the road going to Mr. Morewood's, and I
read it there. Had I been at home, I would have sat down at once and answered
it. In me divine maganimities are spontaneous and instantaneous -- catch them
while you can. The world goes round, and the other side comes up. So now I can't
write what I felt. But I felt pantheistic then -- your heart beat in my ribs and
mine in yours, and both in God's. A sense of unspeakable security is in me this
moment, on account of your having understood the book. I have written a wicked
book, and feel spotless as the lamb. Ineffable socialities are in me. I would
sit down and dine with you and all the gods in old Rome's Pantheon. It is a
strange feeling -- no hopefulness is in it, no despair. Content -- that is it;
and irresponsibility; but without licentious inclination. I speak now of my
profoundest sense of being, not of an incidental feeling.
Whence come you, Hawthorne? By what right do you drink from my flagon of life?
And when I put it to my lips -- lo, they are yours and not mine. I feel that the
Godhead is broken up like the bread at the Supper, and that we are the pieces.
Hence this infinite fraternity of feeling. Now, sympathizing with the paper, my
angel turns over another page. you did not care a penny for the book. But, now
and then as you read, you understood the pervading thought that impelled the
book -- and that you praised. Was it not so? You were archangel enough to
despise the imperfect body, and embrace the soul. Once you hugged the ugly
Socrates because you saw the flame in the mouth, and heard the rushing of the
demon, -- the familiar, -- and recognized the sound; for you have heard it in
your own solitudes.
My dear Hawthorne, the atmospheric skepticisms steal into me now, and make me
doubtful of my sanity in writing you thus. But, believe me, I am not mad, most
noble Festus! But truth is ever incoherent, and when the big hearts strike
together, the concussion is a little stunning. Farewell. Don't write a word
about the book. That would be robbing me of my miserly delight. I am heartily
sorry I ever wrote anything about you -- it was paltry. Lord, when shall we be
done growing? As long as we have anything more to do, we have done nothing.
So,now, let us add Moby Dick to our blessing, and step from that. Leviathan is
not the biggest fish; -- I have heard of Krakens.
This is a long letter, but you are not at all bound to answer it. Possibly, if
you do answer it, and direct it to Herman Melville, you will missend it -- for
the very fingers that now guide this pen are not precisely the same that just
took it up and put it on this paper. Lord, when shall we be done changing? Ah!
it's a long stage, and no inn in sight, and night coming, and the body cold. But
with you for a passenger, I am content and can be happy. I shall leave the
world, I feel, with more satisfaction for having come to know you. Knowing you
persuades me more than the Bible of our immortality.
What a pity, that, for your plain, bluff letter, you should get such gibberish!
Mention me to Mrs. Hawthorne and to the children, and so, good-by to you, with
my blessing.
P.S. I can't stop yet. If the world was entirely made up of Magians, I'll tell
you what I should do. I should have a paper-mill established at one end of the
house, and so have an endless riband of foolscap rolling in upon my desk; and
upon that endless riband I should write a thousand -- a million -- billion
thoughts, all under the form of a letter to you. The divine magnet is on you,
and my magnet responds. Which is the biggest? A foolish question -- they are
P.P.S. Don't think that by writing me a letter, you shall always be bored with
an immediate reply to it -- and so keep both of us delving over a writing-desk
eternally. No such thing! I sh'n't always answer your letters, and you may do
just as you please.