letters from dickinson to george h. gould

February 1850

Magnum bonum, "harum scarum," zounds et zounds, et war alarum, man reformam, life perfectum, mundum changum, all things flarum?

Sir, I desire an interview; meet me at sunrise, or sunset, or the new moon - the place is immaterial. In gold, or in purple, or sackcloth - I look not upon the raiment . With sword, or with pen, or with plough - the weapons are less than wielder. In coach, or in wagon, or walking, the equipage far from the man. With soul, or spirit, or body, they are all alike to me. With hose or alone, in sunshine or storm, in heaven or earth, some how or no how - I propose, sir, to see you.

And not to see merely, but a chat, sir, or a tete-a-tete, a confab, a mingling of opposite minds is what I propose to have. I feel sir that we shall agree. We will be David and Jonathan, or Damon and Pythias, or what is better than either, the United States of America. We will talk over what we have learned in our geographies, and listened to from the pulpit, the press and the Sabbath School.

This is strong language, sir, but none the less true. So hurrah for North Carolina, since we are on this point.

Our friendship sir, shall endure till sun and moon shall wane no more, till stars shall set, and victims rise to grace the final sacrifice. We'll be instant, in season, out of season, minister, take care of, cherish, sooth, watch, wait, doubt, refrain, reform, elevate, instruct. All choice spirits however distant are ours, ours theirs; there is a thrill of sympathy - a circulation of mutuality - cognationem inter nos! I am Judith the heroine of the Apocrypha, and you the orator of Ephesus.

That's what they call a metaphor in our country. Don't be afraid of it, sir, it won't bite. If it was my Carlo now! The Dog is the noblest work of Art, sir. I may safely say the noblest - his mistress's rights he doth defend - although it bring him to his end - although to death it doth him send!

But the world is sleeping in ignorance and error, sir, and we must be crowing cocks, and singing larks, and rising sun to awake her; or else we'll pull society up to the roots, and plant it in a different place. We'll build Alms-houses, and transcendetal State prisons, and scaffolds - we will blow out the sun, and the moon, and encourage invention. Alpha shall kiss Omega - we will ride up the hill of glory - Hallelujah, all hail!

Yours, truly,


thomas johnson's note on letter 34 | index to dickinson/gould letters

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Last updated on March 23, 2000