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Title: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Author: Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894
Language: English
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American Men of Letters



  "_Thou wert the morning star among the living,
    Ere thy fair light had fled:
  Now, having died, thou art as Hesperus, giving
    New splendor to the dead._"

American Men of Letters

       *       *       *       *       *






My thanks are due to the members of Mr. Emerson's family, and the other
friends who kindly assisted me by lending interesting letters and
furnishing valuable information.

The Index, carefully made by Mr. J.H. Wiggin, was revised and somewhat
abridged by myself.


BOSTON, November 25, 1884.


       *       *       *       *       *



1803-1823. To AET. 20.

Birthplace.--Boyhood.--College Life.


1823-1828. AET. 20-25.

Extract from a Letter to a Classmate.--School-Teaching.--Study of
Divinity.--"Approbated" to Preach.--Visit to the South.--Preaching in
Various Places.


1828-1833. AET. 25-30.

Settled as Colleague of Rev. Henry Ware.--Married to Ellen Louisa
Tucker.--Sermon at the Ordination of Rev. H.B. Goodwin.--His Pastoral
and Other Labors.--Emerson and Father Taylor.--Death of Mrs.
Emerson.--Difference of Opinion with some of his Parishioners.--Sermon
Explaining his Views.--Resignation of his Pastorate.


1833-1838. AET. 30-35.

Section I. Visit to Europe.--On his Return preaches in Different
Places.--Emerson in the Pulpit.--At Newton.--Fixes his Residence at
Concord.--The Old Manse.--Lectures in Boston.--Lectures on
Michael Angelo and on Milton published in the "North American
Review."--Beginning of the Correspondence with Carlyle.--Letters to the
Rev. James Freeman Clarke.--Republication of "Sartor Resartus."

Section 2. Emerson's Second Marriage.--His New Residence in
Concord.--Historical Address.--Course of Ten Lectures on English
Literature delivered in Boston.--The Concord Battle Hymn.--Preaching
in Concord and East Lexington.--Accounts of his Preaching by
Several Hearers.--A Course of Lectures on the Nature and Ends of
History.--Address on War.--Death of Edward Bliss Emerson.--Death of
Charles Chauncy Emerson.

Section 3. Publication of "Nature."--Outline of this Essay.--Its
Reception.--Address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society


1838-1843. AET. 35-40.

Section 1. Divinity School Address.--Correspondence.--Lectures on Human
Life.--Letters to James Freeman Clarke.--Dartmouth College Address:
Literary Ethics.--Waterville College Address: The Method of
Nature.--Other Addresses: Man the Reformer.--Lecture on the Times.--The
Conservative.--The Transcendentalist.--Boston "Transcendentalism."--"The
Dial."--Brook Farm.

Section 2. First Series of Essays published.--Contents: History,
Self-Reliance, Compensation, Spiritual Laws, Love, Friendship, Prudence,
Heroism, The Over-Soul, Circles, Intellect, Art.--Emerson's Account
of his Mode of Life in a Letter to Carlyle.--Death of Emerson's


1843-1848. AET. 40-45.

"The Young American."--Address on the Anniversary of the Emancipation
of the Negroes in the British West Indies.--Publication of the
Second Series of Essays.--Contents: The Poet.--Experience.
and Realist.--New England Reformers.--Publication of Poems.--Second
Visit to England


1848-1853. AET. 45-50.

The "Massachusetts Quarterly Review."--Visit to
Europe.--England.--Scotland.--France.--"Representative Men" published.
I. Lives of Great Men. II. Plato; or, the Philosopher; Plato; New
Readings. III. Swedenborg; or, the Mystic. IV. Montaigne; or, the
Skeptic. V. Shakespeare; or, the Poet. VI. Napoleon; or, the Man of the
World. VII. Goethe; or, the Writer.--Contribution to the "Memoirs of
Margaret Fuller Ossoli"


1853-1858. AET. 50-55.

Lectures in various Places.--Anti-Slavery Addresses.--Woman. A Lecture
read before the Woman's Rights Convention.--Samuel Hoar. Speech at
Concord.--Publication of "English Traits."--The "Atlantic Monthly."--The
"Saturday Club"


1858-1863. AET. 55-60.

Essay on Persian Poetry.--Speech at the Burns Centennial
Festival.--Letter from Emerson to a Lady.--Tributes to Theodore Parker
and to Thoreau.--Address on the Emancipation Proclamation.--Publication
of "The Conduct of Life." Contents: Fate; Power; Wealth; Culture;
Behavior; Considerations by the Way; Beauty; Illusions


1863-1868. AET. 60-65.

"Boston Hymn."--"Voluntaries."--Other Poems.--"May-Day and other
Pieces."--"Remarks at the Funeral Services of President Lincoln."--Essay
on Persian Poetry.--Address at a Meeting of the Free Religious
Association.--"Progress of Culture." Address before the Phi Beta
Kappa Society of Harvard University.--Course of Lectures in
Philadelphia.--The Degree of LL.D. conferred upon Emerson by Harvard


1868-1873. AET. 65-70.

Lectures on the Natural History of the Intellect.--Publication of
"Society and Solitude." Contents: Society and Solitude.
--Civilization.--Art.--Eloquence.--Domestic Life.--Farming.
--Works and Days.--Books.--Clubs.--Courage.--Success.--Old Age.--Other
Literary Labors.--Visit to California.--Burning of his House, and the
Story of its Rebuilding.--Third Visit to Europe.--His Reception at
Concord on his Return


1873-1878. AET. 70-75.

Publication of "Parnassus."--Emerson Nominated as Candidate for the
Office of Lord Rector of Glasgow University.--Publication of
"Letters and Social Aims." Contents: Poetry and Imagination.--Social
Aims.--Eloquence.--Resources.--The Comic.--Quotation and Originality.
--Progress of Culture.--Persian Poetry.--Inspiration.--Greatness.
--Immortality.--Address at the Unveiling of the Statue of "The
Minute-Man" at Concord.--Publication of Collected Poems


1878-1882. AET. 75-79.

Last Literary Labors.--Addresses and Essays.--"Lectures and Biographical


Emerson's Poems


Recollections of Emerson's Last Years.--Mr. Conway's Visits.--Extracts
from Mr. Whitman's Journal.--Dr. Le Baron Russell's Visit.--Dr. Edward
Emerson's Account.--Illness and Death.--Funeral Services



Personality and Habits of Life.--His Commission and Errand.--As a
Lecturer.--His Use of Authorities.--Resemblance to Other Writers.--As
influenced by Others.--His Place as a Thinker.--Idealism and
Intuition.--Mysticism.--His Attitude respecting Science.--As an
American.--His Fondness for Solitary Study.--His Patience and
Amiability.--Feeling with which he was regarded.--Emerson and
Burns.--His Religious Belief.--His Relations with Clergymen.--Future of
his Reputation.--His Life judged by the Ideal Standard


"I have the feeling that every man's biography is at his own expense. He
furnishes not only the facts, but the report. I mean that all biography
is autobiography. It is only what he tells of himself that comes to be
known and believed."

So writes the man whose life we are to pass in review, and it is
certainly as true of him as of any author we could name. He delineates
himself so perfectly in his various writings that the careful reader
sees his nature just as it was in all its essentials, and has little
more to learn than those human accidents which individualize him
in space and time. About all these accidents we have a natural and
pardonable curiosity. We wish to know of what race he came, what were
the conditions into which he was born, what educational and social
influences helped to mould his character, and what new elements Nature
added to make him Ralph Waldo Emerson.

He himself believes in the hereditary transmission of certain
characteristics. Though Nature appears capricious, he says, "Some
qualities she carefully fixes and transmits, but some, and those the
finer, she exhales with the breath of the individual, as too costly to
perpetuate. But I notice also that they may become fixed and permanent
in any stock, by painting and repainting them on every individual, until
at last Nature adopts them and bakes them in her porcelain."

       *       *       *       *       *

We have in New England a certain number of families who constitute what
may be called the Academic Races. Their names have been on college
catalogues for generation after generation. They have filled the learned
professions, more especially the ministry, from the old colonial days to
our own time. If aptitudes for the acquisition of knowledge can be
bred into a family as the qualities the sportsman wants in his dog are
developed in pointers and setters, we know what we may expect of a
descendant of one of the Academic Races. Other things being equal, he
will take more naturally, more easily, to his books. His features will
be more pliable, his voice will be more flexible, his whole nature more
plastic than those of the youth with less favoring antecedents. The
gift of genius is never to be reckoned upon beforehand, any more than
a choice new variety of pear or peach in a seedling; it is always a
surprise, but it is born with great advantages when the stock from which
it springs has been long under cultivation.

These thoughts suggest themselves in looking back at the striking record
of the family made historic by the birth of Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was
remarkable for the long succession of clergymen in its genealogy, and
for the large number of college graduates it counted on its rolls.

A genealogical table is very apt to illustrate the "survival of the
fittest,"--in the estimate of the descendants. It is inclined to
remember and record those ancestors who do most honor to the living
heirs of the family name and traditions. As every man may count two
grandfathers, four great-grandfathers, eight great-great-grandfathers,
and so on, a few generations give him a good chance for selection. If
he adds his distinguished grandmothers, he may double the number of
personages to choose from. The great-grandfathers of Mr. Emerson at the
sixth remove were thirty-two in number, unless the list was shortened by
intermarriage of relatives. One of these, from whom the name descended,
was Thomas Emerson of Ipswich, who furnished the staff of life to the
people of that wonderfully interesting old town and its neighborhood.

His son, the Reverend Joseph Emerson, minister of the town of Mendon,
Massachusetts, married Elizabeth, daughter of the Reverend Edward
Bulkeley, who succeeded his father, the Reverend Peter Bulkeley, as
Minister of Concord, Massachusetts.

Peter Bulkeley was therefore one of Emerson's sixty-four grandfathers
at the seventh remove. We know the tenacity of certain family
characteristics through long lines of descent, and it is not impossible
that any one of a hundred and twenty-eight grandparents, if indeed the
full number existed in spite of family admixtures, may have transmitted
his or her distinguishing traits through a series of lives that cover
more than two centuries, to our own contemporary. Inherited qualities
move along their several paths not unlike the pieces in the game of
chess. Sometimes the character of the son can be traced directly to that
of the father or of the mother, as the pawn's move carries him from one
square to the next. Sometimes a series of distinguished fathers follows
in a line, or a succession of superior mothers, as the black or white
bishop sweeps the board on his own color. Sometimes the distinguishing
characters pass from one sex to the other indifferently, as the castle
strides over the black and white squares. Sometimes an uncle or aunt
lives over again in a nephew or niece, as if the knight's move were
repeated on the squares of human individuality. It is not impossible,
then, that some of the qualities we mark in Emerson may have come from
the remote ancestor whose name figures with distinction in the early
history of New England.

The Reverend Peter Bulkeley is honorably commemorated among the worthies
consigned to immortality in that precious and entertaining medley of
fact and fancy, enlivened by a wilderness of quotations at first or
second hand, the _Magnolia Christi Americana_, of the Reverend Cotton
Mather. The old chronicler tells his story so much better than any one
can tell it for him that he must be allowed to speak for himself in a
few extracts, transferred with all their typographical idiosyncrasies
from the London-printed, folio of 1702.

    "He was descended of an Honourable Family in _Bedfordshire_.--He was
    born at _Woodhil_ (or _Odel_) in _Bedfordshire_, _January_ 31st,

    "His _Education_ was answerable unto his _Original_; it was
    _Learned_, it was _Genteel_, and, which was the top of all, it was
    very _Pious_: At length it made him a _Batchellor_ of _Divinity_,
    and a Fellow of Saint _John's_ Colledge in Cambridge.--

    "When he came abroad into the World, a good benefice befel him,
    added unto the estate of a Gentleman, left him by his Father; whom
    he succeeded in his Ministry, at the place of his Nativity: Which
    one would imagine _Temptations_ enough to keep him out of a

But he could not conscientiously conform to the ceremonies of the
English Church, and so,--

    "When Sir _Nathaniel Brent_ was Arch-Bishop _Laud's_ General, as
    Arch-Bishop _Laud_ was _another's_, Complaints were made against Mr.
    _Bulkly_, for his Non-Conformity, and he was therefore Silenced.

    "To _New-England_ he therefore came, in the Year 1635; and there
    having been for a while, at _Cambridge_, he carried a good Number of
    Planters with him, up further into the _Woods_, where they gathered
    the _Twelfth Church_, then formed in the Colony, and call'd the Town
    by the Name of _Concord_.

    "Here he _buried_ a great Estate, while he _raised_ one still,
    for almost every Person whom he employed in the Affairs of his

    "He was a most excellent _Scholar_, a very-_well read_ Person, and
    one, who in his advice to young Students, gave Demonstrations, that
    he knew what would go to make a _Scholar_. But it being essential
    unto a _Scholar_ to love a _Scholar_, so did he; and in Token
    thereof, endowed the Library of _Harvard_-Colledge with no small
    part of his own.

    "And he was therewithal a most exalted _Christian_--In his Ministry
    he was another _Farel, Quo nemo tonuit fortius_--And the observance
    which his own People had for him, was also paid him from all sorts
    of People throughout the Land; but especially from the Ministers of
    the Country, who would still address him as a _Father_, a _Prophet_,
    a _Counsellor_, on all occasions."

These extracts may not quite satisfy the exacting reader, who must be
referred to the old folio from which they were taken, where he will
receive the following counsel:--

"If then any Person would know what Mr. _Peter Bulkly_ was, let him read
his Judicious and Savory Treatise of the _Gospel Covenant_, which has
passed through several Editions, with much Acceptance among the People
of God." It must be added that "he had a competently good Stroke at
Latin Poetry; and even in his Old Age, affected sometimes to improve it.
Many of his Composure are yet in our Hands."

It is pleasant to believe that some of the qualities of this
distinguished scholar and Christian were reproduced in the descendant
whose life we are studying. At his death in 1659 he was succeeded, as
was mentioned, by his son Edward, whose daughter became the wife of the
Reverend Joseph Emerson, the minister of Mendon who, when that village
was destroyed by the Indians, removed to Concord, where he died in the
year 1680. This is the first connection of the name of Emerson with
Concord, with which it has since been so long associated.

Edward Emerson, son of the first and father of the second Reverend
Joseph Emerson, though not a minister, was the next thing to being one,
for on his gravestone he is thus recorded: "Mr. Edward Emerson, sometime
Deacon of the first church in Newbury." He was noted for the virtue of
patience, and it is a family tradition that he never complained but
once, when he said mildly to his daughter that her dumplings were
somewhat harder than needful,--"_but not often_." This same Edward was
the only break in the line of ministers who descended from Thomas of
Ipswich. He is remembered in the family as having been "a merchant in

Their son, the second Reverend Joseph Emerson, Minister of Malden for
nearly half a century, married Mary, the daughter of the Reverend Samuel
Moody,--Father Moody,--of York, Maine. Three of his sons were ministers,
and one of these, William, was pastor of the church at Concord at the
period of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.

As the successive generations narrow down towards the individual whose
life we are recalling, the character of his progenitors becomes more and
more important and interesting to the biographer. The Reverend William
Emerson, grandfather of Ralph Waldo, was an excellent and popular
preacher and an ardent and devoted patriot. He preached resistance to
tyrants from the pulpit, he encouraged his townsmen and their allies to
make a stand against the soldiers who had marched upon their peaceful
village, and would have taken a part in the Fight at the Bridge, which
he saw from his own house, had not the friends around him prevented
his quitting his doorstep. He left Concord in 1776 to join the army at
Ticonderoga, was taken with fever, was advised to return to Concord and
set out on the journey, but died on his way. His wife was the daughter
of the Reverend Daniel Bliss, his predecessor in the pulpit at Concord.
This was another very noticeable personage in the line of Emerson's
ancestors. His merits and abilities are described at great length on his
tombstone in the Concord burial-ground. There is no reason to doubt that
his epitaph was composed by one who knew him well. But the slabs
which record the excellences of our New England clergymen of the past
generations are so crowded with virtues that the reader can hardly help
inquiring whether a sharp bargain was not driven with the stonecutter,
like that which the good Vicar of Wakefield arranged with the
portrait-painter. He was to represent Sophia as a shepherdess, it will
be remembered, with as many sheep as he could afford to put in for

William Emerson left four children, a son bearing the same name, and
three daughters, one of whom, Mary Moody Emerson, is well remembered as
pictured for us by her nephew, Ralph Waldo. His widow became the wife
of the Reverend Ezra Ripley, Doctor of Divinity, and his successor as
Minister at Concord.

The Reverend William Emerson, the second of that name and profession,
and the father of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born in the year 1769, and
graduated at Harvard College in 1789. He was settled as Minister in the
town of Harvard in the year 1792, and in 1799 became Minister of the
First Church in Boston. In 1796 he married Ruth Haskins of Boston. He
died in 1811, leaving five sons, of whom Ralph Waldo was the second.

The interest which attaches itself to the immediate parentage of a man
like Emerson leads us to inquire particularly about the characteristics
of the Reverend William Emerson so far as we can learn them from his own
writings and from the record of his contemporaries.

The Reverend Dr. Sprague's valuable and well-known work, "Annals of the
American Pulpit," contains three letters from which we learn some of
his leading characteristics. Dr. Pierce of Brookline, the faithful
chronicler of his time, speaks of his pulpit talents as extraordinary,
but thinks there was not a perfect sympathy between him and the people
of the quiet little town of Harvard, while he was highly acceptable in
the pulpits of the metropolis. In personal appearance he was attractive;
his voice was melodious, his utterance distinct, his manner agreeable.
"He was a faithful and generous friend and knew how to forgive an
enemy.--In his theological views perhaps he went farther on the liberal
side than most of his brethren with whom he was associated.--He was,
however, perfectly tolerant towards those who differed from him most

Dr. Charles Lowell, another brother minister, says of him, "Mr. Emerson
was a handsome man, rather tall, with a fair complexion, his cheeks
slightly tinted, his motions easy, graceful, and gentlemanlike, his
manners bland and pleasant. He was an honest man, and expressed himself
decidedly and emphatically, but never bluntly or vulgarly.--Mr. Emerson
was a man of good sense. His conversation was edifying and useful; never
foolish or undignified.--In his theological opinions he was, to say the
least, far from having any sympathy with Calvinism. I have not supposed
that he was, like Dr. Freeman, a Humanitarian, though he may have been

There was no honester chronicler than our clerical Pepys, good, hearty,
sweet-souled, fact-loving Dr. John Pierce of Brookline, who knew the
dates of birth and death of the graduates of Harvard, starred and
unstarred, better, one is tempted to say (_Hibernice_), than they did
themselves. There was not a nobler gentleman in charge of any Boston
parish than Dr. Charles Lowell. But after the pulpit has said what it
thinks of the pulpit, it is well to listen to what the pews have to say
about it.

This is what the late Mr. George Ticknor said in an article in the
"Christian Examiner" for September, 1849.

"Mr. Emerson, transplanted to the First Church in Boston six years
before Mr. Buckminster's settlement, possessed, on the contrary, a
graceful and dignified style of speaking, which was by no means without
its attraction, but he lacked the fervor that could rouse the masses,
and the original resources that could command the few."

As to his religious beliefs, Emerson writes to Dr. Sprague as follows:
"I did not find in any manuscript or printed sermons that I looked
at, any very explicit statement of opinion on the question between
Calvinists and Socinians. He inclines obviously to what is ethical
and universal in Christianity; very little to the personal and
historical.--I think I observe in his writings, as in the writings of
Unitarians down to a recent date, a studied reserve on the subject of
the nature and offices of Jesus. They had not made up their own minds on
it. It was a mystery to them, and they let it remain so."

Mr. William Emerson left, published, fifteen Sermons and Discourses, an
Oration pronounced at Boston on the Fourth of July, 1802, a Collection
of Psalms and Hymns, an Historical Sketch of the First Church in Boston,
besides his contributions to the "Monthly Anthology," of which he was
the Editor.

Ruth Haskins, the wife of William and the mother of Ralph Waldo
Emerson, is spoken of by the late Dr. Frothingham, in an article in the
"Christian Examiner," as a woman "of great patience and fortitude, of
the serenest trust in God, of a discerning spirit, and a most courteous
bearing, one who knew how to guide the affairs of her own house, as long
as she was responsible for that, with the sweetest authority, and knew
how to give the least trouble and the greatest happiness after that
authority was resigned. Both her mind and her character were of a
superior order, and they set their stamp upon manners of peculiar
softness and natural grace and quiet dignity. Her sensible and kindly
speech was always as good as the best instruction; her smile, though it
was ever ready, was a reward."

The Reverend Dr. Furness of Philadelphia, who grew up with her son,
says, "Waldo bore a strong resemblance to his father; the other children
resembled their mother."

Such was the descent of Ralph Waldo Emerson. If the ideas of parents
survive as impressions or tendencies in their descendants, no man had
a better right to an inheritance of theological instincts than this
representative of a long line of ministers. The same trains of thought
and feeling might naturally gain in force from another association of
near family relationship, though not of blood. After the death of the
first William Emerson, the Concord minister, his widow, Mr. Emerson's
grandmother, married, as has been mentioned, his successor, Dr. Ezra
Ripley. The grandson spent much time in the family of Dr. Ripley, whose
character he has drawn with exquisite felicity in a sketch read before
The Social Circle of Concord, and published in the "Atlantic Monthly"
for November, 1883. Mr. Emerson says of him: "He was identified with the
ideas and forms of the New England Church, which expired about the same
time with him, so that he and his coevals seemed the rear guard of the
great camp and army of the Puritans, which, however in its last days
declining into formalism, in the heyday of its strength had planted and
liberated America.... The same faith made what was strong and what was
weak in Dr. Ripley." It would be hard to find a more perfect sketch of
character than Mr. Emerson's living picture of Dr. Ripley. I myself
remember him as a comely little old gentleman, but he was not so
communicative in a strange household as his clerical brethren, smiling
John Foster of Brighton and chatty Jonathan Homer of Newton. Mr. Emerson
says, "He was a natural gentleman; no dandy, but courtly, hospitable,
manly, and public-spirited; his nature social, his house open to all
men.--His brow was serene and open to his visitor, for he loved men, and
he had no studies, no occupations, which company could interrupt. His
friends were his study, and to see them loosened his talents and his
tongue. In his house dwelt order and prudence and plenty. There was
no waste and no stint. He was open-handed and just and generous.
Ingratitude and meanness in his beneficiaries did not wear out his
compassion; he bore the insult, and the next day his basket for the
beggar, his horse and chaise for the cripple, were at their door." How
like Goldsmith's good Dr. Primrose! I do not know any writing of
Mr. Emerson which brings out more fully his sense of humor,--of the
picturesque in character,--and as a piece of composition, continuous,
fluid, transparent, with a playful ripple here and there, it is
admirable and delightful.

Another of his early companionships must have exercised a still more
powerful influence on his character,--that of his aunt, Mary Moody
Emerson. He gave an account of her in a paper read before the Woman's
Club several years ago, and published in the "Atlantic Monthly" for
December, 1883. Far more of Mr. Emerson is to be found in this aunt of
his than in any other of his relations in the ascending series, with
whose history we are acquainted. Her story is an interesting one, but
for that I must refer the reader to the article mentioned. Her character
and intellectual traits are what we are most concerned with. "Her early
reading was Milton, Young, Akenside, Samuel Clarke, Jonathan Edwards,
and always the Bible. Later, Plato, Plotinus, Marcus Antoninus, Stewart,
Coleridge, Herder, Locke, Madam De Staël, Channing, Mackintosh, Byron.
Nobody can read in her manuscript, or recall the conversation of
old-school people, without seeing that Milton and Young had a religious
authority in their minds, and nowise the slight merely entertaining
quality of modern bards. And Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus,--how venerable
and organic as Nature they are in her mind!"

There are many sentences cited by Mr. Emerson which remind us very
strongly of his own writings. Such a passage as the following might have
come from his Essay, "Nature," but it was written when her nephew was
only four years old.

    "Malden, 1807, September.--The rapture of feeling I would part from
    for days devoted to higher discipline. But when Nature beams with
    such excess of beauty, when the heart thrills with hope in its
    Author,--feels it is related to Him more than by any ties of
    creation,--it exults, too fondly, perhaps, for a state of trial. But
    in dead of night, nearer morning, when the eastern stars glow, or
    appear to glow, with more indescribable lustre, a lustre which
    penetrates the spirits with wonder and curiosity,--then, however
    awed, who can fear?"--"A few pulsations of created beings, a few
    successions of acts, a few lamps held out in the firmament, enable
    us to talk of Time, make epochs, write histories,--to do more,--to
    date the revelations of God to man. But these lamps are held to
    measure out some of the moments of eternity, to divide the history
    of God's operations in the birth and death of nations, of worlds. It
    is a goodly name for our notions of breathing, suffering, enjoying,
    acting. We personify it. We call it by every name of fleeting,
    dreaming, vaporing imagery. Yet it is nothing. We exist in eternity.
    Dissolve the body and the night is gone; the stars are extinguished,
    and we measure duration by the number of our thoughts, by the
    activity of reason, the discovery of truths, the acquirement of
    virtue, the approval of God."

Miss Mary Emerson showed something of the same feeling towards natural
science which may be noted in her nephews Waldo and Charles. After
speaking of "the poor old earth's chaotic state, brought so near in its
long and gloomy transmutings by the geologist," she says:--

    "Yet its youthful charms, as decked by the hand of Moses'
    Cosmogony, will linger about the heart, while Poetry succumbs to
    science."--"And the bare bones of this poor embryo earth may give
    the idea of the Infinite, far, far better than when dignified with
    arts and industry; its oceans, when beating the symbols of countless
    ages, than when covered with cargoes of war and oppression. How
    grand its preparation for souls, souls who were to feel the
    Divinity, before Science had dissected the emotions and applied its
    steely analysis to that state of being which recognizes neither
    psychology nor element."--"Usefulness, if it requires action, seems
    less like existence than the desire of being absorbed in God,
    retaining consciousness.... Scorn trifles, lift your aims; do
    what you are afraid to do. Sublimity of character must come from
    sublimity of motive."

So far as hereditary and family influences can account for the character
and intellect of Ralph Waldo Emerson, we could hardly ask for a better
inborn inheritance, or better counsels and examples.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having traced some of the distinguishing traits which belong by descent
to Mr. Emerson to those who were before him, it is interesting to note
how far they showed themselves in those of his own generation, his
brothers. Of these I will mention two, one of whom I knew personally.

Edward Bliss Emerson, who graduated at Harvard College in 1824, three
years after Ralph Waldo, held the first place in his class. He began
the study of the law with Daniel Webster, but overworked himself and
suffered a temporary disturbance of his reason. After this he made
another attempt, but found his health unequal to the task and exiled
himself to Porto Rico, where, in 1834, he died. Two poems preserve his
memory, one that of Ralph Waldo, in which he addresses his memory,--

  "Ah, brother of the brief but blazing star,"

the other his own "Last Farewell," written in 1832, whilst sailing out
of Boston Harbor. The lines are unaffected and very touching, full of
that deep affection which united the brothers in the closest intimacy,
and of the tenderest love for the mother whom he was leaving to see no

I had in my early youth a key furnished me to some of the leading traits
which were in due time to develop themselves in Emerson's character and
intelligence. As on the wall of some great artist's studio one may find
unfinished sketches which he recognizes as the first growing conceptions
of pictures painted in after years, so we see that Nature often
sketches, as it were, a living portrait, which she leaves in its
rudimentary condition, perhaps for the reason that earth has no colors
which can worthily fill in an outline too perfect for humanity. The
sketch is left in its consummate incompleteness because this mortal life
is not rich enough to carry out the Divine idea.

Such an unfinished but unmatched outline is that which I find in the
long portrait-gallery of memory, recalled by the name of Charles Chauncy
Emerson. Save for a few brief glimpses of another, almost lost among my
life's early shadows, this youth was the most angelic adolescent my eyes
ever beheld. Remembering what well-filtered blood it was that ran in the
veins of the race from which he was descended, those who knew him in
life might well say with Dryden,--

  "If by traduction came thy mind
  Our wonder is the less to find
  A soul so charming from a stock so good."

His image is with me in its immortal youth as when, almost fifty years
ago, I spoke of him in these lines, which I may venture to quote from
myself, since others have quoted them before me.

  Thou calm, chaste scholar! I can see thee now,
  The first young laurels on thy pallid brow,
  O'er thy slight figure floating lightly down
  In graceful folds the academic gown,
  On thy curled lip the classic lines that taught
  How nice the mind that sculptured them with thought,
  And triumph glistening in the clear blue eye,
  Too bright to live,--but O, too fair to die.

Being about seven years younger than Waldo, he must have received much
of his intellectual and moral guidance at his elder brother's hands.
I told the story at a meeting of our Historical Society of Charles
Emerson's coming into my study,--this was probably in 1826 or
1827,--taking up Hazlitt's "British Poets" and turning at once to a poem
of Marvell's, which he read with his entrancing voice and manner. The
influence of this poet is plain to every reader in some of Emerson's
poems, and Charles' liking for him was very probably caught from Waldo.
When Charles was nearly through college, a periodical called "The
Harvard Register" was published by students and recent graduates. Three
articles were contributed by him to this periodical. Two of them have
the titles "Conversation," "Friendship." His quotations are from Horace
and Juvenal, Plato, Plutarch, Bacon, Jeremy Taylor, Shakespeare, and
Scott. There are passages in these Essays which remind one strongly of
his brother, the Lecturer of twenty-five or thirty years later. Take
this as an example:--

    "Men and mind are my studies. I need no observatory high in air to
    aid my perceptions or enlarge my prospect. I do not want a costly
    apparatus to give pomp to my pursuit or to disguise its inutility.
    I do not desire to travel and see foreign lands and learn all
    knowledge and speak with all tongues, before I am prepared for my
    employment. I have merely to go out of my door; nay, I may stay at
    home at my chambers, and I shall have enough to do and enjoy."

The feeling of this sentence shows itself constantly in Emerson's poems.
He finds his inspiration in the objects about him, the forest in which
he walks; the sheet of water which the hermit of a couple of seasons
made famous; the lazy Musketaquid; the titmouse that mocked his weakness
in the bitter cold winter's day; the mountain that rose in the horizon;
the lofty pines; the lowly flowers. All talked with him as brothers and
sisters, and he with them as of his own household.

The same lofty idea of friendship which we find in the man in his
maturity, we recognize in one of the Essays of the youth.

    "All men of gifted intellect and fine genius," says Charles Emerson,
    "must entertain a noble idea of friendship. Our reverence we are
    constrained to yield where it is due,--to rank, merit, talents. But
    our affections we give not thus easily.

      'The hand of Douglas is his own.'"

    --"I am willing to lose an hour in gossip with persons whom good
    men hold cheap. All this I will do out of regard to the decent
    conventions of polite life. But my friends I must know, and,
    knowing, I must love. There must be a daily beauty in their life
    that shall secure my constant attachment. I cannot stand upon the
    footing of ordinary acquaintance. Friendship is aristocratical--the
    affections which are prostituted to every suitor I will not accept."

Here are glimpses of what the youth was to be, of what the man who long
outlived him became. Here is the dignity which commands reverence,--a
dignity which, with all Ralph Waldo Emerson's sweetness of manner and
expression, rose almost to majesty in his serene presence. There was
something about Charles Emerson which lifted those he was with into
a lofty and pure region of thought and feeling. A vulgar soul stood
abashed in his presence. I could never think of him in the presence
of such, listening to a paltry sentiment or witnessing a mean action
without recalling Milton's line,

  "Back stepped those two fair angels half amazed,"

and thinking how he might well have been taken for a celestial

No doubt there is something of idealization in all these reminiscences,
and of that exaggeration which belongs to the _laudator temporis acti_.
But Charles Emerson was idolized in his own time by many in college and
out of college. George Stillman Hillard was his rival. Neck and neck
they ran the race for the enviable position of first scholar in the
class of 1828, and when Hillard was announced as having the first part
assigned to him, the excitement within the college walls, and to some
extent outside of them, was like that when the telegraph proclaims the
result of a Presidential election,--or the Winner of the Derby. But
Hillard honestly admired his brilliant rival. "Who has a part with ****
at this next exhibition?" I asked him one day, as I met him in the
college yard. "***** the Post," answered Hillard. "Why call him _the
Post_?" said I. "He is a wooden creature," said Hillard. "Hear him and
Charles Emerson translating from the Latin _Domus tota inflammata erat_.
The Post will render the words, 'The whole house was on fire.' Charles
Emerson will translate the sentence 'The entire edifice was wrapped in
flames.'" It was natural enough that a young admirer should prefer the
Bernini drapery of Charles Emerson's version to the simple nudity of
"the Post's" rendering.

       *       *       *       *       *

The nest is made ready long beforehand for the bird which is to be bred
in it and to fly from it. The intellectual atmosphere into which a
scholar is born, and from which he draws the breath of his early mental
life, must be studied if we would hope to understand him thoroughly.

When the present century began, the elements, thrown into confusion
by the long struggle for Independence, had not had time to arrange
themselves in new combinations. The active intellects of the country had
found enough to keep them busy in creating and organizing a new order of
political and social life. Whatever purely literary talent existed was
as yet in the nebular condition, a diffused luminous spot here and
there, waiting to form centres of condensation.

Such a nebular spot had been brightening in and about Boston for a
number of years, when, in the year 1804, a small cluster of names became
visible as representing a modest constellation of literary luminaries:
John Thornton Kirkland, afterwards President of Harvard University;
Joseph Stevens Buckminster; John Sylvester John Gardiner; William Tudor;
Samuel Cooper Thacher; William Emerson. These were the chief stars of
the new cluster, and their light reached the world, or a small part of
it, as reflected from the pages of "The Monthly Anthology," which very
soon came under the editorship of the Reverend William Emerson.

The father of Ralph Waldo Emerson may be judged of in good measure by
the associates with whom he was thus connected. A brief sketch of these
friends and fellow-workers of his may not be out of place, for these
men made the local sphere of thought into which Ralph Waldo Emerson was

John Thornton Kirkland should have been seen and heard as he is
remembered by old graduates of Harvard, sitting in the ancient
Presidential Chair, on Commencement Day, and calling in his penetrating
but musical accents: "_Expectatur Oratio in Lingua Latina_" or
"_Vernacula_," if the "First Scholar" was about to deliver the English
oration. It was a presence not to be forgotten. His "shining morning
face" was round as a baby's, and talked as pleasantly as his voice did,
with smiles for accents and dimples for punctuation. Mr. Ticknor speaks
of his sermons as "full of intellectual wealth and practical wisdom,
with sometimes a quaintness that bordered on humor." It was of him
that the story was always told,--it may be as old as the invention of
printing,--that he threw his sermons into a barrel, where they went to
pieces and got mixed up, and that when he was going to preach he fished
out what he thought would be about enough for a sermon, and patched the
leaves together as he best might. The Reverend Dr. Lowell says: "He
always found the right piece, and that was better than almost any of
his brethren could have found in what they had written with twice the
labor." Mr. Cabot, who knew all Emerson's literary habits, says he used
to fish out the number of leaves he wanted for a lecture in somewhat the
same way. Emerson's father, however, was very methodical, according
to Dr. Lowell, and had "a place for everything, and everything in its
place." Dr. Kirkland left little to be remembered by, and like many of
the most interesting personalities we have met with, has become a very
thin ghost to the grandchildren of his contemporaries.

Joseph Stevens Buckminster was the pulpit darling of his day, in Boston.
The beauty of his person, the perfection of his oratory, the finish of
his style, added to the sweetness of his character, made him one of
those living idols which seem to be as necessary to Protestantism as
images and pictures are to Romanism.

John Sylvester John Gardiner, once a pupil of the famous Dr. Parr, was
then the leading Episcopal clergyman of Boston. Him I reconstruct from
scattered hints I have met with as a scholarly, social man, with a
sanguine temperament and the cheerful ways of a wholesome English
parson, blest with a good constitution and a comfortable benefice. Mild
Orthodoxy, ripened in Unitarian sunshine, is a very agreeable aspect of
Christianity, and none was readier than Dr. Gardiner, if the voice of
tradition may be trusted, to fraternize with his brothers of the liberal
persuasion, and to make common cause with them in all that related to
the interests of learning.

William Tudor was a chief connecting link between the period of the
"Monthly Anthology," and that of the "North American Review," for he was
a frequent contributor to the first of these periodicals, and he was the
founder of the second. Edward Everett characterizes him, in speaking of
his "Letters on the Eastern States," as a scholar and a gentleman, an
impartial observer, a temperate champion, a liberal opponent, and a
correct writer. Daniel Webster bore similar testimony to his talents and

Samuel Cooper Thacher was hardly twenty years old when the "Anthology"
was founded, and died when he was only a little more than thirty. He
contributed largely to that periodical, besides publishing various
controversial sermons, and writing the "Memoir of Buckminster."

There was no more brilliant circle than this in any of our cities.
There was none where so much freedom of thought was united to so much
scholarship. The "Anthology" was the literary precursor of the "North
American Review," and the theological herald of the "Christian
Examiner." Like all first beginnings it showed many marks of immaturity.
It mingled extracts and original contributions, theology and medicine,
with all manner of literary chips and shavings. It had Magazine
ways that smacked of Sylvanus Urban; leading articles with balanced
paragraphs which recalled the marching tramp of Johnson; translations
that might have been signed with the name of Creech, and Odes to
Sensibility, and the like, which recalled the syrupy sweetness and
languid trickle of Laura Matilda's sentimentalities. It talked about
"the London Reviewers" with a kind of provincial deference. It printed
articles with quite too much of the license of Swift and Prior for the
Magazines of to-day. But it had opinions of its own, and would compare
well enough with the "Gentleman's Magazine," to say nothing of "My
Grandmother's Review, the British." A writer in the third volume (1806)
says: "A taste for the belles lettres is rapidly spreading in our
country. I believe that, fifty years ago, England had never seen a
Miscellany or a Review so well conducted as our 'Anthology,' however
superior such publications may now be in that kingdom."

It is well worth one's while to look over the volumes of the "Anthology"
to see what our fathers and grandfathers were thinking about, and how
they expressed themselves. The stiffness of Puritanism was pretty well
relaxed when a Magazine conducted by clergymen could say that "The
child,"--meaning the new periodical,--"shall not be destitute of the
manners of a gentleman, nor a stranger to genteel amusements. He shall
attend Theatres, Museums, Balls, and whatever polite diversions the town
shall furnish." The reader of the "Anthology" will find for his reward
an improving discourse on "Ambition," and a commendable schoolboy's
"theme" on "Inebriation." He will learn something which may be for his
advantage about the "Anjou Cabbage," and may profit by a "Remedy for
Asthma." A controversy respecting the merits of Sir Richard Blackmore
may prove too little exciting at the present time, and he can turn for
relief to the epistle "Studiosus" addresses to "Alcander." If the lines
of "The Minstrel" who hails, like Longfellow in later years, from "The
District of Main," fail to satisfy him, he cannot accuse "R.T. Paine,
Jr., Esq.," of tameness when he exclaims:--

  "Rise Columbia, brave and free,
  Poise the globe and bound the sea!"

But the writers did not confine themselves to native or even to English
literature, for there is a distinct mention of "Mr. Goethe's new novel,"
and an explicit reference to "Dante Aligheri, an Italian bard." But
let the smiling reader go a little farther and he will find Mr.
Buckminster's most interesting account of the destruction of Goldau.
And in one of these same volumes he will find the article, by Dr. Jacob
Bigelow, doubtless, which was the first hint of our rural cemeteries,
and foreshadowed that new era in our underground civilization which is
sweetening our atmospheric existence.

The late President Josiah Quincy, in his "History of the Boston
Athenaeum," pays a high tribute of respect to the memory and the
labors of the gentlemen who founded that institution and conducted the
"Anthology." A literary journal had already been published in Boston,
but very soon failed for want of patronage. An enterprising firm of
publishers, "being desirous that the work should be continued, applied
to the Reverend William Emerson, a clergyman of the place, distinguished
for energy and literary taste; and by his exertions several gentlemen
of Boston and its vicinity, conspicuous for talent and zealous for
literature, were induced to engage in conducting the work, and for this
purpose they formed themselves into a Society. This Society was not
completely organized until the year 1805, when Dr. Gardiner was elected
President, and William Emerson Vice-President. The Society thus formed
maintained its existence with reputation for about six years, and issued
ten octavo volumes from the press, constituting one of the most lasting
and honorable monuments of the literature of the period, and may be
considered as a true revival of polite learning in this country after
that decay and neglect which resulted from the distractions of the
Revolutionary War, and as forming an epoch in the intellectual history
of the United States. Its records yet remain, an evidence that it was a
pleasant, active, high-principled association of literary men, laboring
harmoniously to elevate the literary standard of the time, and with a
success which may well be regarded as remarkable, considering the little
sympathy they received from the community, and the many difficulties
with which they had to struggle."

The publication of the "Anthology" began in 1804, when Mr. William
Emerson was thirty-four years of age, and it ceased to be published in
the year of his death, 1811. Ralph Waldo Emerson was eight years old at
that time. His intellectual life began, we may say, while the somewhat
obscure afterglow of the "Anthology" was in the western horizon of the
New England sky.

The nebula which was to form a cluster about the "North American Review"
did not take definite shape until 1815. There is no such memorial of
the growth of American literature as is to be found in the first half
century of that periodical. It is easy to find fault with it for uniform
respectability and occasional dulness. But take the names of its
contributors during its first fifty years from the literary record of
that period, and we should have but a meagre list of mediocrities, saved
from absolute poverty by the genius of two or three writers like Irving
and Cooper. Strike out the names of Webster, Everett, Story, Sumner, and
Cushing; of Bryant, Dana, Longfellow, and Lowell; of Prescott, Ticknor,
Motley, Sparks, and Bancroft; of Verplanck, Hillard, and Whipple; of
Stuart and Robinson; of Norton, Palfrey, Peabody, and Bowen; and,
lastly, that of Emerson himself, and how much American classic
literature would be left for a new edition of "Miller's Retrospect"?

These were the writers who helped to make the "North American Review"
what it was during the period of Emerson's youth and early manhood.
These, and men like them, gave Boston its intellectual character. We
may count as symbols the three hills of "this darling town of ours,"
as Emerson called it, and say that each had its beacon. Civil liberty
lighted the torch on one summit, religious freedom caught the flame and
shone from the second, and the lamp of the scholar has burned steadily
on the third from the days when John Cotton preached his first sermon to
those in which we are living.

The social religious influences of the first part of the century
must not be forgotten. The two high-caste religions of that day were
white-handed Unitarianism and ruffled-shirt Episcopalianism. What called
itself "society" was chiefly distributed between them. Within less than
fifty years a social revolution has taken place which has somewhat
changed the relation between these and other worshipping bodies. This
movement is the general withdrawal of the native New Englanders of both
sexes from domestic service. A large part of the "hired help,"--for
the word servant was commonly repudiated,--worshipped, not with their
employers, but at churches where few or no well-appointed carriages
stood at the doors. The congregations that went chiefly from the
drawing-room and those which were largely made up of dwellers in the
culinary studio were naturally separated by a very distinct line of
social cleavage. A certain exclusiveness and fastidiousness, not
reminding us exactly of primitive Christianity, was the inevitable
result. This must always be remembered in judging the men and women
of that day and their immediate descendants, as much as the surviving
prejudices of those whose parents were born subjects of King George in
the days when loyalty to the crown was a virtue. The line of social
separation was more marked, probably, in Boston, the headquarters of
Unitarianism, than in the other large cities; and even at the present
day our Jerusalem and Samaria, though they by no means refuse dealing
with each other, do not exchange so many cards as they do checks and
dollars. The exodus of those children of Israel from the house of
bondage, as they chose to consider it, and their fusion with the mass of
independent citizens, got rid of a class distinction which was felt even
in the sanctuary. True religious equality is harder to establish than
civil liberty. No man has done more for spiritual republicanism than
Emerson, though he came from the daintiest sectarian circle of the time
in the whole country.

Such were Emerson's intellectual and moral parentage, nurture, and
environment; such was the atmosphere in which he grew up from youth to


Birthplace.--Boyhood.--College Life.

1803-1823. To _AET_. 20.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 25th of
May, 1803.

He was the second of five sons; William, R.W., Edward Bliss, Robert
Bulkeley, and Charles Chauncy.

His birthplace and that of our other illustrious Bostonian, Benjamin
Franklin, were within a kite-string's distance of each other. When
the baby philosopher of the last century was carried from Milk Street
through the narrow passage long known as Bishop's Alley, now Hawley
Street, he came out in Summer Street, very nearly opposite the spot
where, at the beginning of this century, stood the parsonage of the
First Church, the home of the Reverend William Emerson, its pastor, and
the birthplace of his son, Ralph Waldo. The oblong quadrangle between
Newbury, now Washington Street, Pond, now Bedford Street, Summer Street,
and the open space called Church Green, where the New South Church was
afterwards erected, is represented on Bonner's maps of 1722 and 1769 as
an almost blank area, not crossed or penetrated by a single passageway.

Even so late as less than half a century ago this region was still a
most attractive little _rus in urbe_. The sunny gardens of the late
Judge Charles Jackson and the late Mr. S.P. Gardner opened their flowers
and ripened their fruits in the places now occupied by great warehouses
and other massive edifices. The most aristocratic pears, the "Saint
Michael," the "Brown Bury," found their natural homes in these sheltered
enclosures. The fine old mansion of Judge William Prescott looked out
upon these gardens. Some of us can well remember the window of his
son's, the historian's, study, the light from which used every evening
to glimmer through the leaves of the pear-trees while "The Conquest of
Mexico" was achieving itself under difficulties hardly less formidable
than those encountered by Cortes. It was a charmed region in which
Emerson first drew his breath, and I am fortunate in having a
communication from one who knew it and him longer than almost any other
living person.

Mr. John Lowell Gardner, a college classmate and life-long friend of Mr.
Emerson, has favored me with a letter which contains matters of
interest concerning him never before given to the public. With his kind
permission I have made some extracts and borrowed such facts as seemed
especially worthy of note from his letter.

    "I may be said to have known Emerson from the very beginning. A very
    low fence divided my father's estate in Summer Street from the field
    in which I remember the old wooden parsonage to have existed,--but
    this field, when we were very young, was to be covered by Chauncy
    Place Church and by the brick houses on Summer Street. Where the
    family removed to I do not remember, but I always knew the boys,
    William, Ralph, and perhaps Edward, and I again associated with
    Ralph at the Latin School, where we were instructed by Master Gould
    from 1815 to 1817, entering College in the latter year.

    "... I have no recollection of his relative rank as a scholar, but it
    was undoubtedly high, though not the highest. He never was idle or a
    lounger, nor did he ever engage in frivolous pursuits. I should say
    that his conduct was absolutely faultless. It was impossible that
    there should be any feeling about him but of regard and affection.
    He had then the same manner and courtly hesitation in addressing you
    that you have known in him since. Still, he was not prominent in the
    class, and, but for what all the world has since known of him,
    his would not have been a conspicuous figure to his classmates in
    recalling College days.

    "The fact that we were almost the only Latin School fellows in the
    class, and the circumstance that he was slow during the Freshman
    year to form new acquaintances, brought us much together, and an
    intimacy arose which continued through our College life. We were in
    the habit of taking long strolls together, often stopping for repose
    at distant points, as at Mount Auburn, etc.... Emerson was not
    talkative; he never spoke for effect; his utterances were well
    weighed and very deliberately made, but there was a certain flash
    when he uttered anything that was more than usually worthy to be
    remembered. He was so universally amiable and complying that my
    evil spirit would sometimes instigate me to take advantage of his
    gentleness and forbearance, but nothing could disturb his
    equanimity. All that was wanting to render him an almost perfect
    character was a few harsher traits and perhaps more masculine vigor.

    "On leaving College our paths in life were so remote from each other
    that we met very infrequently. He soon became, as it were, public
    property, and I was engrossed for many years in my commercial
    undertakings. All his course of life is known to many survivors. I
    am inclined to believe he had a most liberal spirit. I remember that
    some years since, when it was known that our classmate ---- was
    reduced almost to absolute want by the war, in which he lost his two
    sons, Emerson exerted himself to raise a fund among his classmates
    for his relief, and, there being very few possible subscribers, made
    what I considered a noble contribution, and this you may be sure was
    not from any Southern sentiment on the part of Emerson. I send you
    herewith the two youthful productions of Emerson of which I spoke to
    you some time since."

The first of these is a prose Essay of four pages, written for a
discussion in which the Professions of Divinity, Medicine, and Law were
to be weighed against each other. Emerson had the Lawyer's side to
advocate. It is a fair and sensible paper, not of special originality or
brilliancy. His opening paragraph is worth citing, as showing the same
instinct for truth which displayed itself in all his after writings and
the conduct of his life.

    "It is usual in advocating a favorite subject to appropriate all
    possible excellence, and endeavor to concentrate every doubtful
    auxiliary, that we may fortify to the utmost the theme of our
    attention. Such a design should be utterly disdained, except as far
    as is consistent with fairness; and the sophistry of weak arguments
    being abandoned, a bold appeal should be made to the heart, for
    the tribute of honest conviction, with regard to the merits of the

From many boys this might sound like well-meaning commonplace, but in
the history of Mr. Emerson's life that "bold appeal to the heart," that
"tribute of honest conviction," were made eloquent and real. The
boy meant it when he said it. To carry out his law of sincerity and
self-trust the man had to sacrifice much that was dear to him, but he
did not flinch from his early principles.

It must not be supposed that the blameless youth was an ascetic in his
College days. The other old manuscript Mr. Gardner sends me is marked
"'Song for Knights of Square Table,' R.W.E."

There are twelve verses of this song, with a chorus of two lines. The
Muses and all the deities, not forgetting Bacchus, were duly invited to
the festival.

  "Let the doors of Olympus be open for all
  To descend and make merry in Chivalry's hall."
         *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Sanborn has kindly related to me several circumstances told him by
Emerson about his early years.

The parsonage was situated at the corner of Summer and what is now
Chauncy streets. It had a yard, and an orchard which Emerson said was as
large as Dr. Ripley's, which might have been some two or three acres.
Afterwards there was a brick house looking on Summer Street, in which
Emerson the father lived. It was separated, Emerson said, by a brick
wall from a garden in which _pears grew_ (a fact a boy is likely to
remember). Master Ralph Waldo used to _sit on this wall_,--but we cannot
believe he ever got off it on the wrong side, unless politely asked to
do so. On the occasion of some alarm the little boy was carried in his
nightgown to a neighboring house.

After Reverend William Emerson's death Mrs. Emerson removed to a house
in Beacon Street, where the Athenaeum Building now stands. She kept some
boarders,--among them Lemuel Shaw, afterwards Chief Justice of the State
of Massachusetts. It was but a short distance to the Common, and Waldo
and Charles used to drive their mother's cow there to pasture.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Reverend Doctor Rufus Ellis, the much respected living successor of
William Emerson as Minister of the First Church, says that R.W. Emerson
must have been born in the old parsonage, as his father (who died
when he was eight years old) lived but a very short time in "the new
parsonage," which was, doubtless, the "brick house" above referred to.

       *       *       *       *       *

We get a few glimpses of the boy from other sources. Mr. Cooke tells us
that he entered the public grammar school at the age of eight years, and
soon afterwards the Latin School. At the age of eleven he was turning
Virgil into very readable English heroics. He loved the study of Greek;
was fond of reading history and given to the frequent writing of verses.
But he thinks "the idle books under the bench at the Latin School" were
as profitable to him as his regular studies.

Another glimpse of him is that given us by Mr. Ireland from the "Boyhood
Memories" of Rufus Dawes. His old schoolmate speaks of him as "a
spiritual-looking boy in blue nankeen, who seems to be about ten years
old,--whose image more than any other is still deeply stamped upon my
mind, as I then saw him and loved him, I knew not why, and thought him
so angelic and remarkable." That "blue nankeen" sounds strangely, it may
be, to the readers of this later generation, but in the first quarter
of the century blue and yellow or buff-colored cotton from China were a
common summer clothing of children. The places where the factories and
streets of the cities of Lowell and Lawrence were to rise were then open
fields and farms. My recollection is that we did not think very highly
of ourselves when we were in blue nankeen,--a dull-colored fabric, too
nearly of the complexion of the slates on which we did our ciphering.

Emerson was not particularly distinguished in College. Having a near
connection in the same class as he, and being, as a Cambridge boy,
generally familiar with the names of the more noted young men in College
from the year when George Bancroft, Caleb Cushing, and Francis William
Winthrop graduated until after I myself left College, I might have
expected to hear something of a young man who afterwards became one of
the great writers of his time. I do not recollect hearing of him except
as keeping school for a short time in Cambridge, before he settled as a
minister. His classmate, Mr. Josiah Quincy, writes thus of his college

    "Two only of my classmates can be fairly said to have got into
    history, although one of them, Charles W. Upham [the connection of
    mine referred to above] has written history very acceptably. Ralph
    Waldo Emerson and Robert W. Barnwell, for widely different reasons,
    have caused their names to be known to well-informed Americans. Of
    Emerson, I regret to say, there are few notices in my journals. Here
    is the sort of way in which I speak of the man who was to make so
    profound an impression upon the thought of his time. 'I went to the
    chapel to hear Emerson's dissertation: a very good one, but rather
    too long to give much pleasure to the hearers.' The fault, I
    suspect, was in the hearers; and another fact which I have mentioned
    goes to confirm this belief. It seems that Emerson accepted the duty
    of delivering the Poem on Class Day, after seven others had been
    asked who positively, refused. So it appears that, in the opinion of
    this critical class, the author of the 'Woodnotes' and the 'Humble
    Bee' ranked about eighth in poetical ability. It can only be because
    the works of the other five [seven] have been 'heroically unwritten'
    that a different impression has come to prevail in the outside
    world. But if, according to the measurement of undergraduates,
    Emerson's ability as a poet was not conspicuous, it must also be
    admitted that, in the judgment of persons old enough to know better,
    he was not credited with that mastery of weighty prose which the
    world has since accorded him. In our senior year the higher classes
    competed for the Boylston prizes for English composition. Emerson
    and I sent in our essays with the rest and were fortunate enough to
    take the two prizes; but--Alas for the infallibility of academic
    decisions! Emerson received the second prize. I was of course much
    pleased with the award of this intelligent committee, and should
    have been still more gratified had they mentioned that the man who
    was to be the most original and influential writer born in America
    was my unsuccessful competitor. But Emerson, incubating over deeper
    matters than were dreamt of in the established philosophy of
    elegant letters, seems to have given no sign of the power that was
    fashioning itself for leadership in a new time. He was quiet,
    unobtrusive, and only a fair scholar according to the standard of
    the College authorities. And this is really all I have to say about
    my most distinguished classmate."

Barnwell, the first scholar in the class, delivered the Valedictory
Oration, and Emerson the Poem. Neither of these performances was highly
spoken of by Mr. Quincy.

I was surprised to find by one of the old Catalogues that Emerson
roomed during a part of his College course with a young man whom I well
remember, J.G.K. Gourdin. The two Gourdins, Robert and John Gaillard
Keith, were dashing young fellows as I recollect them, belonging to
Charleston, South Carolina. The "Southerners" were the reigning College
_elegans_ of that time, the _merveilleux_, the _mirliflores_, of their
day. Their swallow-tail coats tapered to an arrow-point angle, and the
prints of their little delicate calfskin boots in the snow were objects
of great admiration to the village boys of the period. I cannot help
wondering what brought Emerson and the showy, fascinating John Gourdin
together as room-mates.


1823-1828. AET. 20-25.

Extract from a Letter to a Classmate.--School-Teaching.--Study of
Divinity.--"Approbated" to Preach.--Visit to the South.--Preaching in
Various Places.

We get a few brief glimpses of Emerson during the years following his
graduation. He writes in 1823 to a classmate who had gone from Harvard
to Andover:--

    "I am delighted to hear there is such a profound studying of German
    and Hebrew, Parkhurst and Jahn, and such other names as the memory
    aches to think of, on foot at Andover. Meantime, Unitarianism will
    not hide her honors; as many hard names are taken, and as much
    theological mischief is planned, at Cambridge as at Andover. By the
    time this generation gets upon the stage, if the controversy will
    not have ceased, it will run such a tide that we shall hardly
    he able to speak to one another, and there will be a Guelf and
    Ghibelline quarrel, which cannot tell where the differences lie."

    "You can form no conception how much one grovelling in the city
    needs the excitement and impulse of literary example. The sight of
    broad vellum-bound quartos, the very mention of Greek and German
    names, the glimpse of a dusty, tugging scholar, will wake you up to
    emulation for a month."

After leaving College, and while studying Divinity, Emerson employed a
part of his time in giving instruction in several places successively.

Emerson's older brother William was teaching in Boston, and Ralph Waldo,
after graduating, joined him in that occupation. In the year 1825 or
1826, he taught school also in Chelmsford, a town of Middlesex County,
Massachusetts, a part of which helped to constitute the city of Lowell.
One of his pupils in that school, the Honorable Josiah Gardiner Abbott,
has favored me with the following account of his recollections:--

The school of which Mr. Emerson had the charge was an old-fashioned
country "Academy." Mr. Emerson was probably studying for the ministry
while teaching there. Judge Abbott remembers the impression he made
on the boys. He was very grave, quiet, and very impressive in his
appearance. There was something engaging, almost fascinating, about him;
he was never harsh or severe, always perfectly self-controlled, never
punished except with words, but exercised complete command over the
boys. His old pupil recalls the stately, measured way in which, for some
offence the little boy had committed, he turned on him, saying only
these two words: "Oh, sad!" That was enough, for he had the faculty of
making the boys love him. One of his modes of instruction was to give
the boys a piece of reading to carry home with them,--from some book
like Plutarch's Lives,--and the next day to examine them and find out
how much they retained from their reading. Judge Abbott remembers a
peculiar look in his eyes, as if he saw something beyond what seemed to
be in the field of vision. The whole impression left on this pupil's
mind was such as no other teacher had ever produced upon him.

Mr. Emerson also kept a school for a short time at Cambridge, and among
his pupils was Mr. John Holmes. His impressions seem to be very much
like those of Judge Abbott.

My brother speaks of Mr. Emerson thus:--

    "Calm, as not doubting the virtue residing in his sceptre. Rather
    stern in his very infrequent rebukes. Not inclined to win boys by a
    surface amiability, but kindly in explanation or advice. Every inch
    a king in his dominion. Looking back, he seems to me rather like a
    captive philosopher set to tending flocks; resigned to his destiny,
    but not amused with its incongruities. He once recommended the use
    of rhyme as a cohesive for historical items."

In 1823, two years after graduating, Emerson began studying for the
ministry. He studied under the direction of Dr. Charming, attending some
of the lectures in the Divinity School at Cambridge, though not enrolled
as one of its regular students.

The teachings of that day were such as would now be called
"old-fashioned Unitarianism." But no creed can be held to be a finality.
From Edwards to Mayhew, from Mayhew to Channing, from Channing to
Emerson, the passage is like that which leads from the highest lock of
a canal to the ocean level. It is impossible for human nature to remain
permanently shut up in the highest lock of Calvinism. If the gates are
not opened, the mere leakage of belief or unbelief will before long fill
the next compartment, and the freight of doctrine finds itself on
the lower level of Arminianism, or Pelagianism, or even subsides to
Arianism. From this level to that of Unitarianism the outlet is freer,
and the subsidence more rapid. And from Unitarianism to Christian
Theism, the passage is largely open for such as cannot accept the
evidence of the supernatural in the history of the church.

There were many shades of belief in the liberal churches. If De
Tocqueville's account of Unitarian preaching in Boston at the time of
his visit is true, the Savoyard Vicar of Rousseau would have preached
acceptably in some of our pulpits. In fact, the good Vicar might have
been thought too conservative by some of our unharnessed theologians.

At the period when Emerson reached manhood, Unitarianism was the
dominating form of belief in the more highly educated classes of both of
the two great New England centres, the town of Boston and the University
at Cambridge. President Kirkland was at the head of the College, Henry
Ware was Professor of Theology, Andrews Norton of Sacred Literature,
followed in 1830 by John Gorham Palfrey in the same office. James
Freeman, Charles Lowell, and William Ellery Channing were preaching in
Boston. I have mentioned already as a simple fact of local history, that
the more exclusive social circles of Boston and Cambridge were chiefly
connected with the Unitarian or Episcopalian churches. A Cambridge
graduate of ambition and ability found an opening far from undesirable
in a worldly point of view, in a profession which he was led to choose
by higher motives. It was in the Unitarian pulpit that the brilliant
talents of Buckminster and Everett had found a noble eminence from which
their light could shine before men.

Descended from a long line of ministers, a man of spiritual nature, a
reader of Plato, of Augustine, of Jeremy Taylor, full of hope for his
fellow-men, and longing to be of use to them, conscious, undoubtedly, of
a growing power of thought, it was natural that Emerson should turn from
the task of a school-master to the higher office of a preacher. It is
hard to conceive of Emerson in either of the other so-called learned
professions. His devotion to truth for its own sake and his feeling
about science would have kept him out of both those dusty highways. His
brother William had previously begun the study of Divinity, but found
his mind beset with doubts and difficulties, and had taken to the
profession of Law. It is not unlikely that Mr. Emerson was more or less
exercised with the same questionings. He has said, speaking of his
instructors: "If they had examined me, they probably would not have let
me preach at all." His eyes had given him trouble, so that he had not
taken notes of the lectures which he heard in the Divinity School, which
accounted for his being excused from examination. In 1826, after three
years' study, he was "approbated to preach" by the Middlesex Association
of Ministers. His health obliging him to seek a southern climate, he
went in the following winter to South Carolina and Florida. During this
absence he preached several times in Charleston and other places. On his
return from the South he preached in New Bedford, in Northampton, in
Concord, and in Boston. His attractiveness as a preacher, of which we
shall have sufficient evidence in a following chapter, led to his
being invited to share the duties of a much esteemed and honored city
clergyman, and the next position in which we find him is that of a
settled Minister in Boston.


1828-1833. AET. 25-30.

Settled as Colleague of Rev. Henry Ware.--Married to Ellen Louisa
Tucker.--Sermon at the Ordination of Rev. H.B. Goodwin.--His Pastoral
and Other Labors.--Emerson and Father Taylor.--Death of Mrs.
Emerson.--Difference of Opinion with some of his Parishioners.--Sermon
Explaining his Views.--Resignation of his Pastorate.

On the 11th of March, 1829, Emerson was ordained as colleague with
the Reverend Henry Ware, Minister of the Second Church in Boston. In
September of the same year he was married to Miss Ellen Louisa Tucker.
The resignation of his colleague soon after his settlement threw all the
pastoral duties upon the young minister, who seems to have performed
them diligently and acceptably. Mr. Conway gives the following brief
account of his labors, and tells in the same connection a story of
Father Taylor too good not to be repeated:--

    "Emerson took an active interest in the public affairs of Boston.
    He was on its School Board, and was chosen chaplain of the State
    Senate. He invited the anti-slavery lecturers into his church, and
    helped philanthropists of other denominations in their work. Father
    Taylor [the Methodist preacher to the sailors], to whom Dickens gave
    an English fame, found in him his most important supporter when
    establishing the Seaman's Mission in Boston. This was told me by
    Father Taylor himself in his old age. I happened to be in his
    company once, when he spoke rather sternly about my leaving the
    Methodist Church; but when I spoke of the part Emerson had in it, he
    softened at once, and spoke with emotion of his great friend. I have
    no doubt that if the good Father of Boston Seamen was proud of any
    personal thing, it was of the excellent answer he is said to have
    given to some Methodists who objected to his friendship for Emerson.
    Being a Unitarian, they insisted that he must go to"--[the place
    which a divine of Charles the Second's day said it was not good
    manners to mention in church].--"'It does look so,' said Father
    Taylor, 'but I am sure of one thing: if Emerson goes to'"--[that
    place]--"'he will change the climate there, and emigration will set
    that way.'"

In 1830, Emerson took part in the services at the ordination of the
Reverend H.B. Goodwin as Dr. Ripley's colleague. His address on giving
the right hand of fellowship was printed, but is not included among his
collected works.

The fair prospects with which Emerson began his life as a settled
minister were too soon darkened. In February, 1832, the wife of
his youth, who had been for some time in failing health, died of

He had become troubled with doubts respecting a portion of his duties,
and it was not in his nature to conceal these doubts from his people. On
the 9th of September, 1832, he preached a sermon on the Lord's Supper,
in which he announced unreservedly his conscientious scruples against
administering that ordinance, and the grounds upon which those scruples
were founded. This discourse, as his only printed sermon, and as one
which heralded a movement in New England theology which has never
stopped from that day to this, deserves some special notice. The sermon
is in no sense "Emersonian" except in its directness, its sweet temper,
and outspoken honesty. He argues from his comparison of texts in a
perfectly sober, old-fashioned way, as his ancestor Peter Bulkeley might
have done. It happened to that worthy forefather of Emerson that upon
his "pressing a piece of _Charity_ disagreeable to the will of the
_Ruling Elder_, there was occasioned an unhappy _Discord_ in the Church
of _Concord_; which yet was at last healed, by their calling in the help
of a _Council_ and the _Ruling Elder's_ Abdication." So says Cotton
Mather. Whether zeal had grown cooler or charity grown warmer in
Emerson's days we need not try to determine. The sermon was only a more
formal declaration of views respecting the Lord's Supper, which he had
previously made known in a conference with some of the most active
members of his church. As a committee of the parish reported resolutions
radically differing from his opinion on the subject, he preached this
sermon and at the same time resigned his office. There was no "discord,"
there was no need of a "council." Nothing could be more friendly, more
truly Christian, than the manner in which Mr. Emerson expressed himself
in this parting discourse. All the kindness of his nature warms it
throughout. He details the differences of opinion which have existed
in the church with regard to the ordinance. He then argues from the
language of the Evangelists that it was not intended to be a permanent
institution. He takes up the statement of Paul in the Epistle to the
Corinthians, which he thinks, all things considered, ought not to alter
our opinion derived from the Evangelists. He does not think that we are
to rely upon the opinions and practices of the primitive church. If that
church believed the institution to be permanent, their belief does not
settle the question for us. On every other subject, succeeding times
have learned to form a judgment more in accordance with the spirit of
Christianity than was the practice of the early ages.

"But, it is said, 'Admit that the rite was not designed to be
perpetual.' What harm doth it?"

He proceeds to give reasons which show it to be inexpedient to continue
the observance of the rite. It was treating that as authoritative which,
as he believed that he had shown from Scripture, was not so. It confused
the idea of God by transferring the worship of Him to Christ. Christ is
the Mediator only as the instructor of man. In the least petition to God
"the soul stands alone with God, and Jesus is no more present to your
mind than your brother or child." Again:--

    "The use of the elements, however suitable to the people and the
    modes of thought in the East, where it originated, is foreign and
    unsuited to affect us. The day of formal religion is past, and we
    are to seek our well-being in the formation of the soul. The Jewish
    was a religion of forms; it was all body, it had no life, and the
    Almighty God was pleased to qualify and send forth a man to teach
    men that they must serve him with the heart; that only that life was
    religious which was thoroughly good; that sacrifice was smoke and
    forms were shadows. This man lived and died true to that purpose;
    and with his blessed word and life before us, Christians must
    contend that it is a matter of vital importance,--really a duty to
    commemorate him by a certain form, whether that form be acceptable
    to their understanding or not. Is not this to make vain the gift of
    God? Is not this to turn back the hand on the dial?"

To these objections he adds the practical consideration that it brings
those who do not partake of the communion service into an unfavorable
relation with those who do.

The beautiful spirit of the man shows itself in all its noble sincerity
in these words at the close of his argument:--

    "Having said this, I have said all. I have no hostility to this
    institution; I am only stating my want of sympathy with it. Neither
    should I ever have obtruded this opinion upon other people, had I
    not been called by my office to administer it. That is the end of
    my opposition, that I am not interested in it. I am content that it
    stand to the end of the world if it please men and please Heaven,
    and I shall rejoice in all the good it produces."

He then announces that, as it is the prevailing opinion and feeling
in our religious community that it is a part of a pastor's duties to
administer this rite, he is about to resign the office which had been
confided to him.

This is the only sermon of Mr. Emerson's ever published. It was
impossible to hear or to read it without honoring the preacher for his
truthfulness, and recognizing the force of his statement and reasoning.
It was equally impossible that he could continue his ministrations
over a congregation which held to the ordinance he wished to give up
entirely. And thus it was, that with the most friendly feelings on
both sides, Mr. Emerson left the pulpit of the Second Church and found
himself obliged to make a beginning in a new career.


1833-1838. AET. 30-35.

Section 1. Visit to Europe.--On his Return preaches in Different
Places.--Emerson in the Pulpit.--At Newton.--Fixes his Residence at
Concord.--The Old Manse.--Lectures in Boston.--Lectures on
Michael Angelo and on Milton published in the "North American
Review."--Beginning of the Correspondence with Carlyle.--Letters to the
Rev. James Freeman Clarke.--Republication of "Sartor Resartus."

Section 2. Emerson's Second Marriage.--His New Residence in
Concord.--Historical Address.--Course of Ten Lectures on English
Literature delivered in Boston.--The Concord Battle Hymn.--Preaching
in Concord and East Lexington.--Accounts of his Preaching by
Several Hearers.--A Course of Lectures on the Nature and Ends of
History.--Address on War.--Death of Edward Bliss Emerson.--Death of
Charles Chauncy Emerson.

Section 3. Publication of "Nature."--Outline of this Essay.--Its
Reception.--Address before the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Section 1. In the year 1833 Mr. Emerson visited Europe for the first
time. A great change had come over his life, and he needed the relief
which a corresponding change of outward circumstances might afford
him. A brief account of this visit is prefixed to the volume entitled
"English Traits." He took a short tour, in which he visited Sicily,
Italy, and France, and, crossing from Boulogne, landed at the Tower
Stairs in London. He finds nothing in his Diary to publish concerning
visits to places. But he saw a number of distinguished persons, of whom
he gives pleasant accounts, so singularly different in tone from the
rough caricatures in which Carlyle vented his spleen and caprice, that
one marvels how the two men could have talked ten minutes together,
or would wonder, had not one been as imperturbable as the other was
explosive. Horatio Greenough and Walter Savage Landor are the chief
persons he speaks of as having met upon the Continent. Of these he
reports various opinions as delivered in conversation. He mentions
incidentally that he visited Professor Amici, who showed him his
microscopes "magnifying (it was said) two thousand diameters." Emerson
hardly knew his privilege; he may have been the first American to look
through an immersion lens with the famous Modena professor. Mr. Emerson
says that his narrow and desultory reading had inspired him with the
wish to see the faces of three or four writers, Coleridge, Wordsworth,
Landor, De Quincey, Carlyle. His accounts of his interviews with
these distinguished persons are too condensed to admit of further
abbreviation. Goethe and Scott, whom he would have liked to look upon,
were dead; Wellington he saw at Westminster Abbey, at the funeral of
Wilberforce. His impressions of each of the distinguished persons whom
he visited should be looked at in the light of the general remark which,

    "The young scholar fancies it happiness enough to live with people
    who can give an inside to the world; without reflecting that
    they are prisoners, too, of their own thought, and cannot apply
    themselves to yours. The conditions of literary success are almost
    destructive of the best social power, as they do not have that
    frolic liberty which only can encounter a companion on the best
    terms. It is probable you left some obscure comrade at a tavern, or
    in the farms, with right mother-wit, and equality to life, when you
    crossed sea and land to play bo-peep with celebrated scribes. I
    have, however, found writers superior to their books, and I cling to
    my first belief that a strong head will dispose fast enough of these
    impediments, and give one the satisfaction of reality, the sense of
    having been met, and a larger horizon."

Emerson carried a letter of introduction to a gentleman in Edinburgh,
who, being unable to pay him all the desired attention, handed him over
to Mr. Alexander Ireland, who has given a most interesting account of
him as he appeared during that first visit to Europe. Mr. Ireland's
presentation of Emerson as he heard him in the Scotch pulpit shows
that he was not less impressive and attractive before an audience of
strangers than among his own countrymen and countrywomen:--

"On Sunday, the 18th of August, 1833, I heard him deliver a discourse in
the Unitarian Chapel, Young Street, Edinburgh, and I remember distinctly
the effect which it produced on his hearers. It is almost needless to
say that nothing like it had ever been heard by them before, and many of
them did not know what to make of it. The originality of his thoughts,
the consummate beauty of the language in which they were clothed, the
calm dignity of his bearing, the absence of all oratorical effort, and
the singular directness and simplicity of his manner, free from the
least shadow of dogmatic assumption, made a deep impression on me. Not
long before this I had listened to a wonderful sermon by Dr. Chalmers,
whose force, and energy, and vehement, but rather turgid eloquence
carried, for the moment, all before them,--his audience becoming like
clay in the hands of the potter. But I must confess that the pregnant
thoughts and serene self-possession of the young Boston minister had a
greater charm for me than all the rhetorical splendors of Chalmers. His
voice was the sweetest, the most winning and penetrating of any I ever
heard; nothing like it have I listened to since.

  'That music in our hearts we bore
  Long after it was heard no more.'"

Mr. George Gilfillan speaks of "the solemnity of his manner, and the
earnest thought pervading his discourse."

As to the effect of his preaching on his American audiences, I find the
following evidence in Mr. Cooke's diligently gathered collections. Mr.
Sanborn says:--

    "His pulpit eloquence was singularly attractive, though by no means
    equally so to all persons. In 1829, before the two friends had met,
    Bronson Alcott heard him preach in Dr. Channing's church on 'The
    Universality of the Moral Sentiment,' and was struck, as he said,
    with the youth of the preacher, the beauty of his elocution and the
    direct and sincere manner in which he addressed his hearers."

Mr. Charles Congdon, of New Bedford, well known as a popular
writer, gives the following account of Emerson's preaching in his
"Reminiscences." I borrow the quotation from Mr. Conway:--

    "One day there came into our pulpit the most gracious of mortals,
    with a face all benignity, who gave out the first hymn and made the
    first prayer as an angel might have read and prayed. Our choir was
    a pretty good one, but its best was coarse and discordant after
    Emerson's voice. I remember of the sermon only that it had an
    indefinite charm of simplicity and wisdom, with occasional
    illustrations from nature, which were about the most delicate and
    dainty things of the kind which I had ever heard. I could understand
    them, if not the fresh philosophical novelties of the discourse."

Everywhere Emerson seems to have pleased his audiences. The Reverend Dr.
Morison, formerly the much respected Unitarian minister of New Bedford,
writes to me as follows:--

    "After Dr. Dewey left New Bedford, Mr. Emerson preached there
    several months, greatly to the satisfaction and delight of those who
    heard him. The Society would have been glad to settle him as their
    minister, and he would have accepted a call, had it not been for
    some difference of opinion, I think, in regard to the communion
    service. Judge Warren, who was particularly his friend, and had at
    that time a leading influence in the parish, with all his admiration
    for Mr. Emerson, did not think he could well be the pastor of a
    Christian church, and so the matter was settled between him and his
    friend, without any action by the Society."

All this shows well enough that his preaching was eminently acceptable.
But every one who has heard him lecture can form an idea of what he must
have been as a preacher. In fact, we have all listened, probably, to
many a passage from old sermons of his,--for he tells us he borrowed
from those old sermons for his lectures,--without ever thinking of the
pulpit from which they were first heard.

Among the stray glimpses we get of Emerson between the time when he
quitted the pulpit of his church and that when he came before the public
as a lecturer is this, which I owe to the kindness of Hon. Alexander H.
Rice. In 1832 or 1833, probably the latter year, he, then a boy, with
another boy, Thomas R. Gould, afterwards well known as a sculptor, being
at the Episcopal church in Newton, found that Mr. Emerson was sitting in
the pew behind them. Gould knew Mr. Emerson, and introduced young Rice
to him, and they walked down the street together. As they went along,
Emerson burst into a rhapsody over the Psalms of David, the sublimity of
thought, and the poetic beauty of expression of which they are full, and
spoke also with enthusiasm of the Te Deum as that grand old hymn which
had come down through the ages, voicing the praises of generation after

When they parted at the house of young Rice's father, Emerson invited
the boys to come and see him at the Allen farm, in the afternoon. They
came to a piece of woods, and, as they entered it, took their hats off.
"Boys," said Emerson, "here we recognize the presence of the Universal
Spirit. The breeze says to us in its own language, How d' ye do? How d'
ye do? and we have already taken our hats off and are answering it with
our own How d' ye do? How d' ye do? And all the waving branches of
the trees, and all the flowers, and the field of corn yonder, and the
singing brook, and the insect and the bird,--every living thing and
things we call inanimate feel the same divine universal impulse while
they join with us, and we with them, in the greeting which is the
salutation of the Universal Spirit."

We perceive the same feeling which pervades many of Emerson's earlier
Essays and much of his verse, in these long-treasured reminiscences
of the poetical improvisation with which the two boys were thus
unexpectedly favored. Governor Rice continues:--

    "You know what a captivating charm there always was in Emerson's
    presence, but I can never tell you how this line of thought then
    impressed a country boy. I do not remember anything about the
    remainder of that walk, nor of the after-incidents of that day,--I
    only remember that I went home wondering about that mystical dream
    of the Universal Spirit, and about what manner of man he was under
    whose influence I had for the first time come....

    "The interview left impressions that led me into new channels of
    thought which have been a life-long pleasure to me, and, I doubt
    not, taught me somewhat how to distinguish between mere theological
    dogma and genuine religion in the soul."

In the summer of 1834 Emerson became a resident of Concord,
Massachusetts, the town of his forefathers, and the place destined to
be his home for life. He first lived with his venerable connection, Dr.
Ripley, in the dwelling made famous by Hawthorne as the "Old Manse." It
is an old-fashioned gambrel-roofed house, standing close to the scene
of the Fight on the banks of the river. It was built for the Reverend
William Emerson, his grandfather. In one of the rooms of this house
Emerson wrote "Nature," and in the same room, some years later,
Hawthorne wrote "Mosses from an Old Manse."

The place in which Emerson passed the greater part of his life well
deserves a special notice. Concord might sit for its portrait as an
ideal New England town. If wanting in the variety of surface which
many other towns can boast of, it has at least a vision of the distant
summits of Monadnock and Wachusett. It has fine old woods, and noble
elms to give dignity to its open spaces. Beautiful ponds, as they
modestly call themselves,--one of which, Walden, is as well known in our
literature as Windermere in that of Old England,--lie quietly in their
clean basins. And through the green meadows runs, or rather lounges,
a gentle, unsalted stream, like an English river, licking its grassy
margin with a sort of bovine placidity and contentment. This is the
Musketaquid, or Meadow River, which, after being joined by the more
restless Assabet, still keeps its temper and flows peacefully along by
and through other towns, to lose itself in the broad Merrimac. The names
of these rivers tell us that Concord has an Indian history, and there is
evidence that it was a favorite residence of the race which preceded our
own. The native tribes knew as well as the white settlers where were
pleasant streams and sweet springs, where corn grew tall in the meadows
and fish bred fast in the unpolluted waters.

The place thus favored by nature can show a record worthy of its
physical attractions. Its settlement under the lead of Emerson's
ancestor, Peter Bulkeley, was effected in the midst of many
difficulties, which the enterprise and self-sacrifice of that noble
leader were successful in overcoming. On the banks of the Musketaquid
was fired the first fatal shot of the "rebel" farmers. Emerson appeals
to the Records of the town for two hundred years as illustrating the
working of our American institutions and the character of the men of

    "If the good counsel prevailed, the sneaking counsel did not fail to
    be suggested; freedom and virtue, if they triumphed, triumphed in a
    fair field. And so be it an everlasting testimony for them, and so
    much ground of assurance of man's capacity for self-government."

What names that plain New England town reckons in the roll of its
inhabitants! Stout Major Buttrick and his fellow-soldiers in the war of
Independence, and their worthy successors in the war of Freedom; lawyers
and statesmen like Samuel Hoar and his descendants; ministers like Peter
Bulkeley, Daniel Bliss, and William Emerson; and men of genius such as
the idealist and poet whose inspiration has kindled so many souls; as
the romancer who has given an atmosphere to the hard outlines of our
stern New England; as that unique individual, half college-graduate and
half Algonquin, the Robinson Crusoe of Walden Pond, who carried out a
school-boy whim to its full proportions, and told the story of Nature in
undress as only one who had hidden in her bedroom could have told it. I
need not lengthen the catalogue by speaking of the living, or mentioning
the women whose names have added to its distinction. It has long been an
intellectual centre such as no other country town of our own land, if of
any other, could boast. Its groves, its streams, its houses, are haunted
by undying memories, and its hillsides and hollows are made holy by the
dust that is covered by their turf.

Such was the place which the advent of Emerson made the Delphi of New
England and the resort of many pilgrims from far-off regions.

On his return from Europe in the winter of 1833-4, Mr. Emerson began to
appear before the public as a lecturer. His first subjects, "Water," and
the "Relation of Man to the Globe," were hardly such as we should have
expected from a scholar who had but a limited acquaintance with physical
and physiological science. They were probably chosen as of a popular
character, easily treated in such a way as to be intelligible and
entertaining, and thus answering the purpose of introducing him
pleasantly to the new career he was contemplating. These lectures are
not included in his published works, nor were they ever published, so
far as I know. He gave three lectures during the same winter, relating
the experiences of his recent tour in Europe. Having made himself at
home on the platform, he ventured upon subjects more congenial to his
taste and habits of thought than some of those earlier topics. In 1834
he lectured on Michael Angelo, Milton, Luther, George Fox, and Edmund
Burke. The first two of these lectures, though not included in his
collected works, may be found in the "North American Review" for 1837
and 1838. The germ of many of the thoughts which he has expanded in
prose and verse may be found in these Essays.

The _Cosmos_ of the Ancient Greeks, the _piu nel' uno_, "The Many in
One," appear in the Essay on Michael Angelo as they also appear in his
"Nature." The last thought takes wings to itself and rises in the little
poem entitled "Each and All." The "Rhodora," another brief poem, finds
itself foreshadowed in the inquiry, "What is Beauty?" and its answer,
"This great Whole the understanding cannot embrace. Beauty may be felt.
It may be produced. But it cannot be defined." And throughout this Essay
the feeling that truth and beauty and virtue are one, and that Nature is
the symbol which typifies it to the soul, is the inspiring sentiment.
_Noscitur a sociis_ applies as well to a man's dead as to his living
companions. A young friend of mine in his college days wrote an essay on
Plato. When he mentioned his subject to Mr. Emerson, he got the caution,
long remembered, "When you strike at a _King_, you must kill him."
He himself knew well with what kings of thought to measure his own
intelligence. What was grandest, loftiest, purest, in human character
chiefly interested him. He rarely meddles with what is petty or ignoble.
Like his "Humble Bee," the "yellow-breeched philosopher," whom he speaks
of as

  "Wiser far than human seer,"

and says of him,

  "Aught unsavory or unclean
  Hath my insect never seen,"

he goes through the world where coarser minds find so much that is
repulsive to dwell upon,

  "Seeing only what is fair,
  Sipping only what is sweet."

Why Emerson selected Michael Angelo as the subject of one of his
earliest lectures is shown clearly enough by the last sentence as
printed in the Essay.

    "He was not a citizen of any country; he belonged to the human race;
    he was a brother and a friend to all who acknowledged the beauty
    that beams in universal nature, and who seek by labor and
    self-denial to approach its source in perfect goodness."

Consciously or unconsciously men describe themselves in the characters
they draw. One must have the mordant in his own personality or he will
not take the color of his subject. He may force himself to picture that
which he dislikes or even detests; but when he loves the character he
delineates, it is his own, in some measure, at least, or one of which he
feels that its possibilities and tendencies belong to himself. Let us
try Emerson by this test in his "Essay on Milton:"--

    "It is the prerogative of this great man to stand at this hour
    foremost of all men in literary history, and so (shall we not say?)
    of all men, in the power to _inspire_. Virtue goes out of him into
    others." ... "He is identified in the mind with all select and holy
    images, with the supreme interests of the human race."--"Better than
    any other he has discharged the office of every great man, namely,
    to raise the idea of Man in the minds of his contemporaries and of
    posterity,--to draw after nature a life of man, exhibiting such a
    composition of grace, of strength, and of virtue as poet had not
    described nor hero lived. Human nature in these ages is indebted to
    him for its best portrait. Many philosophers in England, France, and
    Germany, have formally dedicated their study to this problem; and
    we think it impossible to recall one in those countries who
    communicates the same vibration of hope, of self-reverence, of
    piety, of delight in beauty, which the name of Milton awakes."

Emerson had the same lofty aim as Milton, "To raise the idea of man;"
he had "the power _to inspire_" in a preëminent degree. If ever a man
communicated those _vibrations_ he speaks of as characteristic of
Milton, it was Emerson. In elevation, purity, nobility of nature, he is
worthy to stand with the great poet and patriot, who began like him as a
school-master, and ended as the teacher in a school-house which had for
its walls the horizons of every region where English is spoken. The
similarity of their characters might be followed by the curious into
their fortunes. Both were turned away from the clerical office by a
revolt of conscience against the beliefs required of them; both lost
very dear objects of affection in early manhood, and mourned for them
in tender and mellifluous threnodies. It would be easy to trace many
parallelisms in their prose and poetry, but to have dared to name any
man whom we have known in our common life with the seraphic singer
of the Nativity and of Paradise is a tribute which seems to savor of
audacity. It is hard to conceive of Emerson as "an expert swordsman"
like Milton. It is impossible to think of him as an abusive
controversialist as Milton was in his controversy with Salmasius. But
though Emerson never betrayed it to the offence of others, he must have
been conscious, like Milton, of "a certain niceness of nature, an honest
haughtiness," which was as a shield about his inner nature. Charles
Emerson, the younger brother, who was of the same type, expresses the
feeling in his college essay on Friendship, where it is all summed up in
the line he quotes:--

  "The hand of Douglas is his own."

It must be that in writing this Essay on Milton Emerson felt that he was
listening in his own soul to whispers that seemed like echoes from that
of the divine singer.

       *       *       *       *       *

My friend, the Rev. James Freeman Clarke, a life-long friend of Emerson,
who understood him from the first, and was himself a great part in the
movement of which Emerson, more than any other man, was the leader, has
kindly allowed me to make use of the following letters:--


    PLYMOUTH, MASS., March 12, 1834.

    MY DEAR SIR,--As the day approaches when Mr. Lewis should leave
    Boston, I seize a few moments in a friendly house in the first of
    towns, to thank you heartily for your kindness in lending me the
    valued manuscripts which I return. The translations excited me much,
    and who can estimate the value of a good thought? I trust I am to
    learn much more from you hereafter of your German studies, and much
    I hope of your own. You asked in your note concerning Carlyle. My
    recollections of him are most pleasant, and I feel great confidence
    in his character. He understands and recognizes his mission. He is
    perfectly simple and affectionate in his manner, and frank, as he
    can well afford to be, in his communications. He expressed some
    impatience of his total solitude, and talked of Paris as a
    residence. I told him I hoped not; for I should always remember
    him with respect, meditating in the mountains of Nithsdale. He was
    cheered, as he ought to be, by learning that his papers were read
    with interest by young men unknown to him in this continent; and
    when I specified a piece which had attracted warm commendation from
    the New Jerusalem people here, his wife said that is always the way;
    whatever he has writ that he thinks has fallen dead, he hears of
    two or three years afterward.--He has many, many tokens of Goethe's
    regard, miniatures, medals, and many letters. If you should go to
    Scotland one day, you would gratify him, yourself, and me, by your
    visit to Craigenputtock, in the parish of Dunscore, near Dumfries.
    He told me he had a book which he thought to publish, but was in
    the purpose of dividing into a series of articles for "Fraser's
    Magazine." I therefore subscribed for that book, which he calls the
    "Mud Magazine," but have seen nothing of his workmanship in the two
    last numbers. The mail is going, so I shall finish my letter another

    Your obliged friend and servant,


    CONCORD, MASS., November 25, 1834.

    MY DEAR SIR,--Miss Peabody has kindly sent me your manuscript piece
    on Goethe and Carlyle. I have read it with great pleasure and a
    feeling of gratitude, at the same time with a serious regret that it
    was not published. I have forgotten what reason you assigned for not
    printing it; I cannot think of any sufficient one. Is it too late
    now? Why not change its form a little and annex to it some account
    of Carlyle's later pieces, to wit: "Diderot," and "Sartor Resartus."
    The last is complete, and he has sent it to me in a stitched
    pamphlet. Whilst I see its vices (relatively to the reading public)
    of style, I cannot but esteem it a noble philosophical poem,
    reflecting the ideas, institutions, men of this very hour. And it
    seems to me that it has so much wit and other secondary graces as
    must strike a class who would not care for its primary merit, that
    of being a sincere exhortation to seekers of truth. If you still
    retain your interest in his genius (as I see not how you can avoid,
    having understood it and cooperated with it so truly), you will be
    glad to know that he values his American readers very highly;
    that he does not defend this offensive style of his, but calls it
    questionable tentative; that he is trying other modes, and is about
    publishing a historical piece called "The Diamond Necklace," as a
    part of a great work which he meditates on the subject of the French
    Revolution. He says it is part of his creed that history is poetry,
    could we tell it right. He adds, moreover, in a letter I have
    recently received from him, that it has been an odd dream that he
    might end in the western woods. Shall we not bid him come, and be
    Poet and Teacher of a most scattered flock wanting a shepherd? Or,
    as I sometimes think, would it not be a new and worse chagrin to
    become acquainted with the extreme deadness of our community to
    spiritual influences of the higher kind? Have you read Sampson
    Reed's "Growth of the Mind"? I rejoice to be contemporary with that
    man, and cannot wholly despair of the society in which he lives;
    there must be some oxygen yet, and La Fayette is only just dead.

    Your friend, R. WALDO EMERSON.

    It occurs to me that 't is unfit to send any white paper so far as
    to your house, so you shall have a sentence from Carlyle's letter.

[This may be found in Carlyle's first letter, dated 12th August, 1834.]
Dr. Le Baron Russell, an intimate friend of Emerson for the greater part
of his life, gives me some particulars with reference to the publication
of "Sartor Resartus," which I will repeat in his own words:--

    "It was just before the time of which I am speaking [that of
    Emerson's marriage] that the 'Sartor Resartus' appeared in 'Fraser.'
    Emerson lent the numbers, or the collected sheets of 'Fraser,' to
    Miss Jackson, and we all had the reading of them. The excitement
    which the book caused among young persons interested in the
    literature of the day at that time you probably remember. I was
    quite carried away by it, and so anxious to own a copy, that I
    determined to publish an American edition. I consulted James Munroe
    & Co. on the subject. Munroe advised me to obtain a subscription to
    a sufficient number of copies to secure the cost of the publication.
    This, with the aid of some friends, particularly of my classmate,
    William Silsbee, I readily succeeded in doing. When this was
    accomplished, I wrote to Emerson, who up to this time had taken no
    part in the enterprise, asking him to write a preface. (This is the
    Preface which appears in the American edition, James Munroe & Co.,
    1836. It was omitted in the third American from the second London
    edition,[1] by the same publishers, 1840.) Before the first edition
    appeared, and after the subscription had been secured, Munroe & Co.
    offered to assume the whole responsibility of the publication, and
    to this I assented.

    [Footnote 1: Revised and corrected by the author.]

    "This American edition of 1836 was the first appearance of the
    'Sartor' in either country, as a distinct edition. Some copies of
    the sheets from 'Fraser,' it appears, were stitched together and sent
    to a few persons, but Carlyle could find no English publisher willing
    to take the responsibility of printing the book. This shows, I think,
    how much more interest was taken in Carlyle's writings in this country
    than in England."

On the 14th of May, 1834, Emerson wrote to Carlyle the first letter of
that correspondence which has since been given to the world under the
careful editorship of Mr. Charles Norton. This correspondence lasted
from the date mentioned to the 2d of April, 1872, when Carlyle wrote his
last letter to Emerson. The two writers reveal themselves as being in
strong sympathy with each other, in spite of a radical difference of
temperament and entirely opposite views of life. The hatred of unreality
was uppermost with Carlyle; the love of what is real and genuine with
Emerson. Those old moralists, the weeping and the laughing philosophers,
find their counterparts in every thinking community. Carlyle did not
weep, but he scolded; Emerson did not laugh, but in his gravest moments
there was a smile waiting for the cloud to pass from his forehead. The
Duet they chanted was a Miserere with a Te Deum for its Antiphon; a _De_
_Profundis_ answered by a _Sursum Corda_. "The ground of my existence
is black as death," says Carlyle. "Come and live with me a year," says
Emerson, "and if you do not like New England well enough to stay, one of
these years; (when the 'History' has passed its ten editions, and been
translated into as many languages) I will come and dwell with you."

Section 2. In September, 1835, Emerson was married to Miss Lydia
Jackson, of Plymouth, Massachusetts. The wedding took place in the fine
old mansion known as the Winslow House, Dr. Le Baron Russell and his
sister standing up with the bridegroom and his bride. After their
marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Emerson went to reside in the house in which
he passed the rest of his life, and in which Mrs. Emerson and their
daughter still reside. This is the "plain, square, wooden house," with
horse-chestnut trees in the front yard, and evergreens around it, which
has been so often described and figured. It is without pretensions, but
not without an air of quiet dignity. A full and well-illustrated account
of it and its arrangements and surroundings is given in "Poets' Homes,"
by Arthur Gilman and others, published by D. Lothrop & Company in 1879.

On the 12th of September, 1835, Emerson delivered an "Historical
Discourse, at Concord, on the Second Centennial Anniversary of
the Incorporation of the Town." There is no "mysticism," no
"transcendentalism" in this plain, straightforward Address. The facts
are collected and related with the patience and sobriety which became
the writer as one of the Dryasdusts of our very diligent, very useful,
very matter-of-fact, and for the most part judiciously unimaginative
Massachusetts Historical Society. It looks unlike anything else Emerson
ever wrote, in being provided with abundant foot-notes and an appendix.
One would almost as soon have expected to see Emerson equipped with
a musket and a knapsack as to find a discourse of his clogged with
annotations, and trailing a supplement after it. Oracles are brief and
final in their utterances. Delphi and Cumae are not expected to explain
what they say.

It is the habit of our New England towns to celebrate their own worthies
and their own deeds on occasions like this, with more or less of
rhetorical gratitude and self-felicitation. The discourses delivered
on these occasions are commonly worth reading, for there was never a
clearing made in the forest that did not let in the light on heroes and
heroines. Concord is on the whole the most interesting of all the inland
towns of New England. Emerson has told its story in as painstaking,
faithful a way as if he had been by nature an annalist. But with this
fidelity, we find also those bold generalizations and sharp picturesque
touches which reveal the poetic philosopher.

    "I have read with care," he says, "the town records themselves.
    They exhibit a pleasing picture of a community almost exclusively
    agricultural, where no man has much time for words, in his search
    after things; of a community of great simplicity of manners, and of
    a manifest love of justice. I find our annals marked with a uniform
    good sense.--The tone of the record rises with the dignity of the
    event. These soiled and musty books are luminous and electric
    within. The old town clerks did not spell very correctly, but
    they contrive to make intelligible the will of a free and just
    community." ... "The matters there debated (in town meetings) are
    such as to invite very small consideration. The ill-spelled pages
    of the town records contain the result. I shall be excused for
    confessing that I have set a value upon any symptom of meanness and
    private pique which I have met with in these antique books, as
    proof that justice was done; that if the results of our history are
    approved as wise and good, it was yet a free strife; if the
    good counsel prevailed, the sneaking counsel did not fail to be
    suggested; freedom and virtue, if they triumphed, triumphed in a
    fair field. And so be it an everlasting testimony for them, and so
    much ground of assurance of man's capacity for self-government."

There was nothing in this Address which the plainest of Concord's
citizens could not read understandingly and with pleasure. In fact Mr.
Emerson himself, besides being a poet and a philosopher, was also a
plain Concord citizen. His son tells me that he was a faithful attendant
upon town meetings, and, though he never spoke, was an interested and
careful listener to the debates on town matters. That respect for
"mother-wit" and for all the wholesome human qualities which reveals
itself all through his writings was bred from this kind of intercourse
with men of sense who had no pretensions to learning, and in whom, for
that very reason, the native qualities came out with less disguise in
their expression. He was surrounded by men who ran to extremes in their
idiosyncrasies; Alcott in speculations, which often led him into the
fourth dimension of mental space; Hawthorne, who brooded himself into
a dream--peopled solitude; Thoreau, the nullifier of civilization, who
insisted on nibbling his asparagus at the wrong end, to say nothing of
idolaters and echoes. He kept his balance among them all. It would
be hard to find a more candid and sober record of the result of
self-government in a small community than is contained in this simple
discourse, patient in detail, large in treatment, more effective than
any unsupported generalities about the natural rights of man, which
amount to very little unless men earn the right of asserting them by
attending fairly to their natural duties. So admirably is the working of
a town government, as it goes on in a well-disposed community, displayed
in the history of Concord's two hundred years of village life, that
one of its wisest citizens had portions of the address printed
for distribution, as an illustration of the American principle of

After settling in Concord, Emerson delivered courses of Lectures in
Boston during several successive winters; in 1835, ten Lectures on
English Literature; in 1836, twelve Lectures on the Philosophy of
History; in 1837, ten Lectures on Human Culture. Some of these lectures
may have appeared in print under their original titles; all of them
probably contributed to the Essays and Discourses which we find in his
published volumes.

On the 19th of April, 1836, a meeting was held to celebrate the
completion of the monument raised in commemoration of the Concord Fight.
For this occasion Emerson wrote the hymn made ever memorable by the

  Here once the embattled farmers stood,
  And fired the shot heard round the world.

The last line of this hymn quickens the heartbeats of every American,
and the whole hymn is admirable in thought and expression. Until the
autumn of 1838, Emerson preached twice on Sundays to the church at East
Lexington, which desired him to become its pastor. Mr. Cooke says that
when a lady of the society was asked why they did not settle a friend of
Emerson's whom he had urged them to invite to their pulpit, she replied:
"We are a very simple people, and can understand no one but Mr.
Emerson." He said of himself: "My pulpit is the Lyceum platform."
Knowing that he made his Sermons contribute to his Lectures, we need not
mourn over their not being reported.

In March, 1837, Emerson delivered in Boston a Lecture on War, afterwards
published in Miss Peabody's "Aesthetic Papers." He recognizes war as one
of the temporary necessities of a developing civilization, to disappear
with the advance of mankind:--

    "At a certain stage of his progress the man fights, if he be of a
    sound body and mind. At a certain high stage he makes no offensive
    demonstration, but is alert to repel injury, and of an unconquerable
    heart. At a still higher stage he comes into the region of holiness;
    passion has passed away from him; his warlike nature is all
    converted into an active medicinal principle; he sacrifices himself,
    and accepts with alacrity wearisome tasks of denial and charity;
    but being attacked, he bears it, and turns the other cheek, as one
    engaged, throughout his being, no longer to the service of an
    individual, but to the common good of all men."

In 1834 Emerson's brother Edward died, as already mentioned, in the West
India island where he had gone for his health. In his letter to Carlyle,
of November 12th of the same year, Emerson says: "Your letter, which
I received last week, made a bright light in a solitary and saddened
place. I had quite recently received the news of the death of a brother
in the island of Porto Rico, whose loss to me will be a lifelong
sorrow." It was of him that Emerson wrote the lines "In Memoriam," in
which he says,--

  "There is no record left on earth
  Save on tablets of the heart,
  Of the rich, inherent worth,
  Of the grace that on him shone
  Of eloquent lips, of joyful wit;
  He could not frame a word unfit,
  An act unworthy to be done."

Another bereavement was too soon to be recorded. On the 7th of October,
1835, he says in a letter to Carlyle:--

    "I was very glad to hear of the brother you describe, for I have one
    too, and know what it is to have presence in two places. Charles
    Chauncy Emerson is a lawyer now settled in this town, and, as I
    believe, no better Lord Hamlet was ever. He is our Doctor on
    all questions of taste, manners, or action. And one of the pure
    pleasures I promise myself in the months to come is to make you two
    gentlemen know each other."

Alas for human hopes and prospects! In less than a year from the date of
that letter, on the 17th of September, 1836, he writes to Carlyle:--

    "Your last letter, dated in April, found me a mourner, as did your
    first. I have lost out of this world my brother Charles, of whom I
    have spoken to you,--the friend and companion of many years, the
    inmate of my house, a man of a beautiful genius, born to speak well,
    and whose conversation for these last years has treated every grave
    question of humanity, and has been my daily bread. I have put so
    much dependence on his gifts, that we made but one man together; for
    I needed never to do what he could do by noble nature, much better
    than I. He was to have been married in this month, and at the time
    of his sickness and sudden death, I was adding apartments to my
    house for his permanent accommodation. I wish that you could have
    known him. At twenty-seven years the best life is only preparation.
    He built his foundation so large that it needed the full age of
    man to make evident the plan and proportions of his character. He
    postponed always a particular to a final and absolute success, so
    that his life was a silent appeal to the great and generous. But
    some time I shall see you and speak of him."

Section 3. In the year 1836 there was published in Boston a little book
of less than a hundred very small pages, entitled "Nature." It bore no
name on its title-page, but was at once attributed to its real author,
Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The Emersonian adept will pardon me for burdening this beautiful Essay
with a commentary which is worse than superfluous for him. For it has
proved for many,--I will not say a _pons asinorum_,--but a very narrow
bridge, which it made their heads swim to attempt crossing, and yet they
must cross it, or one domain of Emerson's intellect will not be reached.

It differed in some respects from anything he had hitherto written. It
talked a strange sort of philosophy in the language of poetry. Beginning
simply enough, it took more and more the character of a rhapsody, until,
as if lifted off his feet by the deepened and stronger undercurrent of
his thought, the writer dropped his personality and repeated the words
which "a certain poet sang" to him.

This little book met with a very unemotional reception. Its style was
peculiar,--almost as unlike that of his Essays as that of Carlyle's
"Sartor Resartus" was unlike the style of his "Life of Schiller." It was
vague, mystic, incomprehensible, to most of those who call themselves
common-sense people. Some of its expressions lent themselves easily to
travesty and ridicule. But the laugh could not be very loud or very
long, since it took twelve years, as Mr. Higginson tells us, to sell
five hundred copies. It was a good deal like Keats's

          "doubtful tale from fairy-land
  Hard for the non-elect to understand."

The same experience had been gone through by Wordsworth.

    "Whatever is too original," says De Quincey, "will be hated at the
    first. It must slowly mould a public for itself; and the resistance
    of the early thoughtless judgments must be overcome by a
    counter-resistance to itself, in a better audience slowly mustering
    against the first. Forty and seven years it is since William
    Wordsworth first appeared as an author. Twenty of these years he was
    the scoff of the world, and his poetry a by-word of scorn. Since
    then, and more than once, senates have rung with acclamations to the
    echo of his name."

No writer is more deeply imbued with the spirit of Wordsworth than
Emerson, as we cannot fail to see in turning the pages of "Nature," his
first thoroughly characteristic Essay. There is the same thought in the
Preface to "The Excursion" that we find in the Introduction to "Nature."

    "The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face;
    we through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original
    relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and
    philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by
    revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?"

                            "Paradise and groves
      Elysian, Fortunate Fields--like those of old
      Sought in the Atlantic Main, why should they be
      A history only of departed things,
      Or a mere fiction of what never was?"

"Nature" is a reflective prose poem. It is divided into eight chapters,
which might almost as well have been called cantos.

Never before had Mr. Emerson given free utterance to the passion with
which the aspects of nature inspired him. He had recently for the first
time been at once master of himself and in free communion with all the
planetary influences above, beneath, around him. The air of the country
intoxicated him. There are sentences in "Nature" which are as exalted
as the language of one who is just coming to himself after having been
etherized. Some of these expressions sounded to a considerable part of
his early readers like the vagaries of delirium. Yet underlying these
excited outbursts there was a general tone of serenity which reassured
the anxious. The gust passed over, the ripples smoothed themselves, and
the stars shone again in quiet reflection.

After a passionate outbreak, in which he sees all, is nothing, loses
himself in nature, in Universal Being, becomes "part or particle of
God," he considers briefly, in the chapter entitled _Commodity_, the
ministry of nature to the senses. A few picturesque glimpses in pleasing
and poetical phrases, with a touch of archaism, and reminiscences of
Hamlet and Jeremy Taylor, "the Shakspeare of divines," as he has
called him, are what we find in this chapter on Commodity, or natural

But "a nobler want of man is served by Nature, namely, the love
of _Beauty_" which is his next subject. There are some touches of
description here, vivid, high-colored, not so much pictures as hints and
impressions for pictures.

Many of the thoughts which run through all his prose and poetry may be
found here. Analogy is seen everywhere in the works of Nature. "What is
common to them all,--that perfectness and harmony, is beauty."--"Nothing
is quite beautiful alone: nothing but is beautiful in the whole."--"No
reason can be asked or given why the soul seeks beauty." How easily
these same ideas took on the robe of verse may be seen in the Poems,
"Each and All," and "The Rhodora." A good deal of his philosophy comes
out in these concluding sentences of the chapter:--

    "Beauty in its largest and profoundest sense is one expression for
    the universe; God is the all-fair. Truth and goodness and beauty are
    but different faces of the same All. But beauty in Nature is not
    ultimate. It is the herald of inward and eternal beauty, and is not
    alone a solid and satisfactory good. It must therefore stand as a
    part and not as yet the highest expression of the final cause of

In the "Rhodora" the flower is made to answer that

  "Beauty is its own excuse for being."

In this Essay the beauty of the flower is not enough, but it must excuse
itself for being, mainly as the symbol of something higher and deeper
than itself.

He passes next to a consideration of _Language_. Words are signs of
natural facts, particular material facts are symbols of particular
spiritual facts, and Nature is the symbol of spirit. Without going very
profoundly into the subject, he gives some hints as to the mode in
which languages are formed,--whence words are derived, how they become
transformed and worn out. But they come at first fresh from Nature.

    "A man conversing in earnest, if he watch his intellectual
    processes, will find that always a material image, more or less
    luminous, arises in his mind, contemporaneous with every thought,
    which furnishes the vestment of the thought. Hence good writing and
    brilliant discourse are perpetual allegories."

From this he argues that country life is a great advantage to a powerful
mind, inasmuch as it furnishes a greater number of these material
images. They cannot be summoned at will, but they present themselves
when great exigencies call for them.

    "The poet, the orator, bred in the woods, whose senses have been
    nourished by their fair and appeasing changes, year after year,
    without design and without heed,--shall not lose their lesson
    altogether, in the roar of cities or the broil of politics. Long
    hereafter, amidst agitations and terror in national councils,--in
    the hour of revolution,--these solemn images shall reappear in their
    morning lustre, as fit symbols and words of the thought which the
    passing events shall awaken. At the call of a noble sentiment, again
    the woods wave, the pines murmur, the river rolls and shines, and
    the cattle low upon the mountains, as he saw and heard them in his
    infancy. And with these forms the spells of persuasion, the keys of
    power, are put into his hands."

It is doing no wrong to this very eloquent and beautiful passage to say
that it reminds us of certain lines in one of the best known poems of

               "These beauteous forms,
  Through a long absence, have not been to me
  As is a landscape to a blind man's eye;
  But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
  Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
  In hours of weariness sensations sweet
  Felt in the blood and felt along the heart."

It is needless to quote the whole passage. The poetry of Wordsworth may
have suggested the prose of Emerson, but the prose loses nothing by the

In _Discipline_, which is his next subject, he treats of the influence
of Nature in educating the intellect, the moral sense, and the will.
Man is enlarged and the universe lessened and brought within his grasp,

    "Time and space relations vanish as laws are known."--"The moral
    law lies at the centre of Nature and radiates to the
    circumference."--"All things with which we deal preach to us.
    What is a farm but a mute gospel?"--"From the child's successive
    possession of his several senses up to the hour when he sayeth, 'Thy
    will be done!' he is learning the secret that he can reduce under
    his will, not only particular events, but great classes, nay, the
    whole series of events, and so conform all facts to his character."

The unity in variety which meets us everywhere is again referred to.
He alludes to the ministry of our friendships to our education. When a
friend has done for our education in the way of filling our minds with
sweet and solid wisdom "it is a sign to us that his office is closing,
and he is commonly withdrawn from our sight in a short time." This
thought was probably suggested by the death of his brother Charles,
which occurred a few months before "Nature" was published. He had
already spoken in the first chapter of this little book as if from some
recent experience of his own, doubtless the same bereavement. "To a man
laboring under calamity, the heat of his own fire hath sadness in it.
Then there is a kind of contempt of the landscape felt by him who has
just lost by death a dear friend. The sky is less grand as it shuts down
over less worth in the population." This was the first effect of the
loss; but after a time he recognizes a superintending power which orders
events for us in wisdom which we could not see at first.

The chapter on _Idealism_ must be read by all who believe themselves
capable of abstract thought, if they would not fall under the judgment
of Turgot, which Emerson quotes: "He that has never doubted the
existence of matter may be assured he has no aptitude for metaphysical
inquiries." The most essential statement is this:--

    "It is a sufficient account of that Appearance we call the World,
    that God will teach a human mind, and so makes it the receiver of a
    certain number of congruent sensations, which we call sun and moon,
    man and woman, house and trade. In my utter impotence to test
    the authenticity of the report of my senses, to know whether the
    impressions they make on me correspond with outlying objects, what
    difference does it make, whether Orion is up there in Heaven, or
    some god paints the image in the firmament of the Soul?"

We need not follow the thought through the argument from illusions, like
that when we look at the shore from a moving ship, and others which
cheat the senses by false appearances.

The poet animates Nature with his own thoughts, perceives the affinities
between Nature and the soul, with Beauty as his main end. The
philosopher pursues Truth, but, "not less than the poet, postpones
the apparent order and relation of things to the empire of thought."
Religion and ethics agree with all lower culture in degrading Nature
and suggesting its dependence on Spirit. "The devotee flouts
Nature."--"Plotinus was ashamed of his body."--"Michael Angelo said of
external beauty, 'it is the frail and weary weed, in which God dresses
the soul, which He has called into time.'" Emerson would not
undervalue Nature as looked at through the senses and "the unrenewed
understanding." "I have no hostility to Nature," he says, "but a
child's love of it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and
melons."--But, "seen in the light of thought, the world always is
phenomenal; and virtue subordinates it to the mind. Idealism sees the
world in God,"--as one vast picture, which God paints on the instant
eternity, for the contemplation of the soul.

The unimaginative reader is likely to find himself off soundings in the
next chapter, which has for its title _Spirit_.

Idealism only denies the existence of matter; it does not satisfy the
demands of the spirit. "It leaves God out of me."--Of these three
questions, What is matter? Whence is it? Where to? The ideal theory
answers the first only. The reply is that matter is a phenomenon, not a

    "But when we come to inquire Whence is matter? and Whereto? many
    truths arise to us out of the recesses of consciousness. We learn
    that the highest is present to the soul of man, that the dread
    universal essence, which is not wisdom, or love, or beauty, or
    power, but all in one, and each entirely, is that for which all
    things exist, and that by which they are; that spirit creates; that
    behind nature, throughout nature, spirit is present; that spirit is
    one and not compound; that spirit does not act upon us from
    without, that is, in space and time, but spiritually, or through
    ourselves."--"As a plant upon the earth, so a man rests upon the
    bosom of God; he is nourished by unfailing fountains, and draws, at
    his need, inexhaustible power."

Man may have access to the entire mind of the Creator, himself become a
"creator in the finite."

    "As we degenerate, the contrast between us and our house is more
    evident. We are as much strangers in nature as we are aliens from
    God. We do not understand the notes of birds. The fox and the deer
    run away from us; the bear and the tiger rend us."

All this has an Old Testament sound as of a lost Paradise. In the next
chapter he dreams of Paradise regained.

This next and last chapter is entitled _Prospects_. He begins with
a bold claim for the province of intuition as against induction,
undervaluing the "half sight of science" as against the "untaught
sallies of the spirit," the surmises and vaticinations of the mind,--the
"imperfect theories, and sentences which contain glimpses of truth." In
a word, he would have us leave the laboratory and its crucibles for
the sibyl's cave and its tripod. We can all--or most of us,
certainly--recognize something of truth, much of imagination, and more
of danger in speculations of this sort. They belong to visionaries and
to poets. Emerson feels distinctly enough that he is getting into the
realm of poetry. He quotes five beautiful verses from George Herbert's
"Poem on Man." Presently he is himself taken off his feet into the air
of song, and finishes his Essay with "some traditions of man and nature
which a certain poet sang to me."--"A man is a god in ruins."--"Man is
the dwarf of himself. Once he was permeated and dissolved by spirit. He
filled nature with his overflowing currents. Out from him sprang the
sun and moon; from man the sun, from woman the moon."--But he no longer
fills the mere shell he had made for himself; "he is shrunk to a drop."
Still something of elemental power remains to him. "It is instinct."
Such teachings he got from his "poet." It is a kind of New England
Genesis in place of the Old Testament one. We read in the Sermon on the
Mount: "Be ye therefore perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect."
The discourse which comes to us from the Trimount oracle commands us,
"Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to
the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions." The
seer of Patmos foretells a heavenly Jerusalem, of which he says, "There
shall in no wise enter into it anything which defileth." The sage of
Concord foresees a new heaven on earth. "A correspondent revolution in
things will attend the influx of the spirit. So fast will disagreeable
appearances, swine, spiders, snakes, pests, mad-houses, prisons,
enemies, vanish; they are temporary and shall be no more seen."

       *       *       *       *       *

It may be remembered that Calvin, in his Commentary on the New
Testament, stopped when he came to the book of the "Revelation." He
found it full of difficulties which he did not care to encounter. Yet,
considered only as a poem, the vision of St. John is full of noble
imagery and wonderful beauty. "Nature" is the Book of Revelation of our
Saint Radulphus. It has its obscurities, its extravagances, but as a
poem it is noble and inspiring. It was objected to on the score of its
pantheistic character, as Wordsworth's "Lines composed near Tintern
Abbey" had been long before. But here and there it found devout readers
who were captivated by its spiritual elevation and great poetical
beauty, among them one who wrote of it in the "Democratic Review" in
terms of enthusiastic admiration.

Mr. Bowen, the Professor of Natural Theology and Moral Philosophy
in Harvard University, treated this singular semi-philosophical,
semi-poetical little book in a long article in the "Christian Examiner,"
headed "Transcendentalism," and published in the January number for
1837. The acute and learned Professor meant to deal fairly with his
subject. But if one has ever seen a sagacious pointer making the
acquaintance of a box-tortoise, he will have an idea of the relations
between the reviewer and the reviewed as they appear in this article.
The professor turns the book over and over,--inspects it from plastron
to carapace, so to speak, and looks for openings everywhere, sometimes
successfully, sometimes in vain. He finds good writing and sound
philosophy, passages of great force and beauty of expression, marred by
obscurity, under assumptions and faults of style. He was not, any more
than the rest of us, acclimated to the Emersonian atmosphere, and after
some not unjust or unkind comments with which many readers will heartily
agree, confesses his bewilderment, saying:--

    "On reviewing what we have already said of this singular work, the
    criticism seems to be couched in contradictory terms; we can only
    allege in excuse the fact that the book is a contradiction in

Carlyle says in his letter of February 13, 1837:--

    "Your little azure-colored 'Nature' gave me true satisfaction. I
    read it, and then lent it about to all my acquaintances that had a
    sense for such things; from whom a similar verdict always came back.
    You say it is the first chapter of something greater. I call it
    rather the Foundation and Ground-plan on which you may build
    whatsoever of great and true has been given you to build. It is the
    true Apocalypse, this when the 'Open Secret' becomes revealed to a
    man. I rejoice much in the glad serenity of soul with which you look
    out on this wondrous Dwelling-place of yours and mine,--with an ear
    for the _Ewigen Melodien_, which pipe in the winds round us, and
    utter themselves forth in all sounds and sights and things; _not_ to
    be written down by gamut-machinery; but which all right writing is a
    kind of attempt to write down."

The first edition of "Nature" had prefixed to it the following words
from Plotinus: "Nature is but an image or imitation of wisdom, the last
thing of the soul; Nature being a thing which doth only do, but not
know." This is omitted in after editions, and in its place we read:--

  "A subtle chain of countless rings
  The next unto the farthest brings;
  The eye reads omens where it goes,
  And speaks all languages the rose;
  And striving to be man, the worm
  Mounts through all the spires of form."

The copy of "Nature" from which I take these lines, his own, of course,
like so many others which he prefixed to his different Essays, was
printed in the year 1849, ten years before the publication of Darwin's
"Origin of Species," twenty years and more before the publication of
"The Descent of Man." But the "Vestiges of Creation," published in 1844,
had already popularized the resuscitated theories of Lamarck. It seems
as if Emerson had a warning from the poetic instinct which, when it does
not precede the movement of the scientific intellect, is the first to
catch the hint of its discoveries. There is nothing more audacious in
the poet's conception of the worm looking up towards humanity, than
the naturalist's theory that the progenitor of the human race was an
acephalous mollusk. "I will not be sworn," says Benedick, "but love may
transform me to an oyster." For "love" read science.

Unity in variety, "_il piu nell uno_" symbolism of Nature and its
teachings, generation of phenomena,--appearances,--from spirit, to
which they correspond and which they obey; evolution of the best and
elimination of the worst as the law of being; all this and much more may
be found in the poetic utterances of this slender Essay. It fell like an
aerolite, unasked for, unaccounted for, unexpected, almost unwelcome,--a
stumbling-block to be got out of the well-trodden highway of New England
scholastic intelligence. But here and there it found a reader to whom it
was, to borrow, with slight changes, its own quotation,--

                   "The golden key
  Which opes the palace of eternity,"

inasmuch as it carried upon its face the highest certificate of truth,
because it animated them to create a new world for themselves through
the purification of their own souls.

Next to "Nature" in the series of his collected publications comes "The
American Scholar. An Oration delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society
at Cambridge, August 31, 1837."

The Society known by these three letters, long a mystery to the
uninitiated, but which, filled out and interpreted, signify that
philosophy is the guide of life, is one of long standing, the
annual meetings of which have called forth the best efforts of many
distinguished scholars and thinkers. Rarely has any one of the annual
addresses been listened to with such profound attention and interest.
Mr. Lowell says of it, that its delivery "was an event without any
former parallel in our literary annals, a scene to be always treasured
in the memory for its picturesqueness and its inspiration. What crowded
and breathless aisles, what windows clustering with eager heads, what
enthusiasm of approval, what grim silence of foregone dissent!"

Mr. Cooke says truly of this oration, that nearly all his leading ideas
found expression in it. This was to be expected in an address delivered
before such an audience. Every real thinker's world of thought has its
centre in a few formulae, about which they revolve as the planets circle
round the sun which cast them off. But those who lost themselves now and
then in the pages of "Nature" will find their way clearly enough through
those of "The American Scholar." It is a plea for generous culture;
for the development of all the faculties, many of which tend to become
atrophied by the exclusive pursuit of single objects of thought. It
begins with a note like a trumpet call.

    "Thus far," he says, "our holiday has been simply a friendly sign
    of the survival of the love of letters amongst a people too busy to
    give to letters any more. As such it is precious as the sign of an
    indestructible instinct. Perhaps the time is already come when
    it ought to be, and will be, something else; when the sluggard
    intellect of this continent will look from under its iron lids and
    fill the postponed expectations of the world with something better
    than the exertions of mechanical skill. Our day of dependence, our
    long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands, draws to a
    close. The millions that around us are rushing into life cannot
    always be fed on the sere remains of foreign harvests. Events,
    actions arise, that must be sung, that will sing themselves. Who can
    doubt that poetry will revive and lead in a new age, as the star in
    the constellation Harp, which now flames in our zenith, astronomers
    announce shall one day be the pole-star for a thousand years?"

Emerson finds his text in the old fable which tells that Man, as he was
in the beginning, was divided into men, as the hand was divided into
fingers, the better to answer the end of his being. The fable covers the
doctrine that there is One Man; present to individuals only in a partial
manner; and that we must take the whole of society to find the whole
man. Unfortunately the unit has been too minutely subdivided, and many
faculties are practically lost for want of use. "The state of society is
one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and
strut about so many walking monsters,--a good finger, a neck, a stomach,
an elbow, but never a man.... Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing,
into many things.... The priest becomes a form; the attorney a statute
book; the mechanic a machine; the sailor a rope of the ship."

This complaint is by no means a new one. Scaliger says, as quoted
by omnivorous old Burton: "_Nequaquam, nos homines sumus sed partes
hominis_." The old illustration of this used to be found in pin-making.
It took twenty different workmen to make a pin, beginning with drawing
the wire and ending with sticking in the paper. Each expert, skilled
in one small performance only, was reduced to a minute fraction of a
fraction of humanity. If the complaint was legitimate in Scaliger's
time, it was better founded half a century ago when Mr. Emerson found
cause for it. It has still more serious significance to-day, when
in every profession, in every branch of human knowledge, special
acquirements, special skill have greatly tended to limit the range of
men's thoughts and working faculties.

    "In this distribution of functions the scholar is the delegated
    intellect. In the right state he is _Man thinking_. In the
    degenerate state, when the victim of society, he tends to become a
    mere thinker, or still worse, the parrot of other men's thinking.
    In this view of him, as Man thinking, the theory of his office is
    continued. Him Nature solicits with all her placid, all her monitory
    pictures; him the past instructs; him the future invites."

Emerson proceeds to describe and illustrate the influences of nature
upon the mind, returning to the strain of thought with which his
previous Essay has made us familiar. He next considers the influence of
the past, and especially of books as the best type of that influence.
"Books are the best of things well used; abused among the worst." It is
hard to distil what is already a quintessence without loss of what is
just as good as the product of our labor. A sentence or two may serve to
give an impression of the epigrammatic wisdom of his counsel.

    "Each age must write its own books, or, rather, each generation
    for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit

When a book has gained a certain hold on the mind, it is liable to
become an object of idolatrous regard.

    "Instantly the book becomes noxious: the guide is a tyrant. The
    sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, slow to open to the
    incursions of reason, having once so opened, having received this
    book, stands upon it and makes an outcry if it is disparaged.
    Colleges are built on it. Books are written on it by thinkers, not
    by Man thinking; by men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set
    out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principle.
    Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to
    accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon have given;
    forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in
    libraries when they wrote these books.--One must he an inventor to
    read well. As the proverb says, 'He that would bring home the wealth
    of the Indies must carry out the wealth of the Indies.'--When the
    mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book
    we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is
    doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the

It is not enough that the scholar should be a student of nature and of
books. He must take a part in the affairs of the world about him.

    "Action is with the scholar subordinate, but it is essential.
    Without it he is not yet man. Without it thought can never ripen
    into truth.--The true scholar grudges every opportunity of action
    past by, as a loss of power. It is the raw material out of which the
    intellect moulds her splendid products. A strange process, too, this
    by which experience is converted into thought as a mulberry leaf is
    converted into satin. The manufacture goes forward at all hours."

Emerson does not use the words "unconscious cerebration," but these
last words describe the process in an unmistakable way. The beautiful
paragraph in which he pictures the transformation, the transfiguration
of experience, closes with a sentence so thoroughly characteristic, so
Emersonially Emersonian, that I fear some readers who thought they were
his disciples when they came to it went back and walked no more with
him, at least through the pages of this discourse. The reader shall have
the preceding sentence to prepare him for the one referred to.

    "There is no fact, no event in our private history, which shall not,
    sooner or later, lose its adhesive, inert form, and astonish us by
    soaring from our body into the empyrean.

    "Cradle and infancy, school and playground, the fear of boys, and
    dogs, and ferules, the love of little maids and berries, and many
    another fact that once filled the whole sky, are gone already;
    friend and relative, professions and party, town and country, nation
    and world must also soar and sing."

Having spoken of the education of the scholar by nature, by books, by
action, he speaks of the scholar's duties. "They may all," he says, "be
comprised in self-trust." We have to remember that the _self_ he means
is the highest self, that consciousness which he looks upon as open to
the influx of the divine essence from which it came, and towards which
all its upward tendencies lead, always aspiring, never resting; as he
sings in "The Sphinx ":--

      "The heavens that now draw him
        With sweetness untold,
      Once found,--for new heavens
        He spurneth the old."

    "First one, then another, we drain all cisterns, and waxing greater
    by all these supplies, we crave a better and more abundant food. The
    man has never lived that can feed us ever. The human mind cannot be
    enshrined in a person who shall set a barrier on any one side of
    this unbounded, unboundable empire. It is one central fire, which,
    flaming now out of the lips of Etna, lightens the Capes of Sicily,
    and now out of the throat of Vesuvius, illuminates the towers and
    vineyards of Naples. It is one light which beams out of a thousand
    stars. It is one soul which animates all men."

And so he comes to the special application of the principles he has laid
down to the American scholar of to-day. He does not spare his censure;
he is full of noble trust and manly courage. Very refreshing it is
to remember in this day of specialists, when the walking fraction of
humanity he speaks of would hardly include a whole finger, but rather
confine itself to the single joint of the finger, such words as these:--

    "The scholar is that man who must take up into himself all the
    ability of the time, all the contributions of the past, all the
    hopes of the future. He must he a university of knowledges.... We
    have listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe. The spirit of
    the American freeman is already suspected to be timid, imitative,
    tame.--The scholar is decent, indolent, complaisant.--The mind of
    this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself. There
    is no work for any but the decorous and the complaisant."

The young men of promise are discouraged and disgusted.

    "What is the remedy? They did not yet see, and thousands of young
    men as hopeful now crowding to the barriers for the career do not
    yet see, that if the single man plant himself indomitably on his
    instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him."

Each man must be a unit,--must yield that peculiar fruit which he was
created to bear.

   "We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands;
    we will speak our own minds.--A nation of men will for the first
    time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the
    Divine Soul which also inspires all men."

This grand Oration was our intellectual Declaration of Independence.
Nothing like it had been heard in the halls of Harvard since Samuel
Adams supported the affirmative of the question, "Whether it be lawful
to resist the chief magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot otherwise be
preserved." It was easy to find fault with an expression here and there.
The dignity, not to say the formality of an Academic assembly was
startled by the realism that looked for the infinite in "the meal in the
firkin; the milk in the pan." They could understand the deep thoughts
suggested by "the meanest flower that blows," but these domestic
illustrations had a kind of nursery homeliness about them which the
grave professors and sedate clergymen were unused to expect on so
stately an occasion. But the young men went out from it as if a prophet
had been proclaiming to them "Thus saith the Lord." No listener ever
forgot that Address, and among all the noble utterances of the speaker
it may be questioned if one ever contained more truth in language more
like that of immediate inspiration.


1838-1843. AET. 35-40.

Section 1. Divinity School Address.--Correspondence.--Lectures on Human
Life.--Letters to James Freeman Clarke.--Dartmouth College Address:
Literary Ethics.--Waterville College Address: The Method of
Nature.--Other Addresses: Man the Reformer.--Lecture on the Times.--The
Conservative.--The Transcendentalist.--Boston "Transcendentalism."--"The
Dial."--Brook Farm.

Section 2. First Series of Essays published.--Contents: History,
Self-Reliance, Compensation, Spiritual Laws, Love, Friendship, Prudence,
Heroism, The Oversoul, Circles, Intellect, Art.--Emerson's Account
of his Mode of Life in a Letter to Carlyle.--Death of Emerson's

Section 1. On Sunday evening, July 15, 1838, Emerson delivered an
Address before the Senior Class in Divinity College, Cambridge,
which caused a profound sensation in religious circles, and led to a
controversy, in which Emerson had little more than the part of Patroclus
when the Greeks and Trojans fought over his body. In its simplest
and broadest statement this discourse was a plea for the individual
consciousness as against all historical creeds, bibles, churches; for
the soul as the supreme judge in spiritual matters.

He begins with a beautiful picture which must be transferred without the
change of an expression:--

    "In this refulgent Summer, it has been a luxury to draw the breath
    of life. The grass grows, the buds burst, the meadow is spotted with
    fire and gold in the tint of flowers. The air is full of birds, and
    sweet with the breath of the pine, the balm of Gilead, and the new
    hay. Night brings no gloom to the heart with its welcome shade.
    Through the transparent darkness the stars pour their almost
    spiritual rays. Man under them seems a young child, and his huge
    globe a toy. The cool night bathes the world as with a river, and
    prepares his eyes again for the crimson dawn."

How softly the phrases of the gentle iconoclast steal upon the ear,
and how they must have hushed the questioning audience into pleased
attention! The "Song of Songs, which is Solomon's," could not have wooed
the listener more sweetly. "Thy lips drop as the honeycomb: honey and
milk are under thy tongue, and the smell of thy garments is like the
smell of Lebanon." And this was the prelude of a discourse which, when
it came to be printed, fared at the hands of many a theologian, who did
not think himself a bigot, as the roll which Baruch wrote with ink from
the words of Jeremiah fared at the hands of Jehoiakim, the King of
Judah. He listened while Jehudi read the opening passages. But "when
Jehudi had read three or four leaves he cut it with the penknife, and
cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was
consumed in the fire that was on the hearth." Such was probably the fate
of many a copy of this famous discourse.

It is reverential, but it is also revolutionary. The file-leaders of
Unitarianism drew back in dismay, and the ill names which had often been
applied to them were now heard from their own lips as befitting this
new heresy; if so mild a reproach as that of heresy belonged to this
alarming manifesto. And yet, so changed is the whole aspect of the
theological world since the time when that discourse was delivered that
it is read as calmly to-day as a common "Election Sermon," if such are
ever read at all. A few extracts, abstracts, and comments may give the
reader who has not the Address before him some idea of its contents and
its tendencies.

The material universe, which he has just pictured in its summer beauty,
deserves our admiration. But when the mind opens and reveals the laws
which govern the world of phenomena, it shrinks into a mere fable and
illustration of this mind. What am I? What is?--are questions always
asked, never fully answered. We would study and admire forever.

But above intellectual curiosity, there is the sentiment of virtue. Man
is born for the good, for the perfect, low as he now lies in evil and
weakness. "The sentiment of virtue is a reverence and delight in the
presence of certain divine laws.--These laws refuse to be adequately
stated.--They elude our persevering thought; yet we read them hourly in
each other's faces, in each other's actions, in our own remorse.--The
intuition of the moral sentiment is an insight of the perfection of
the laws of the soul. These laws execute themselves.--As we are, so we
associate. The good, by affinity, seek the good; the vile, by affinity,
the vile. Thus, of their own volition, souls proceed into heaven, into

These facts, Emerson says, have always suggested to man that the
world is the product not of manifold power, but of one will, of one
mind,--that one mind is everywhere active.--"All things proceed out of
the same spirit, and all things conspire with it." While a man seeks
good ends, nature helps him; when he seeks other ends, his being
shrinks, "he becomes less and less, a mote, a point, until absolute
badness is absolute death."--"When he says 'I ought;' when love warms
him; when he chooses, warned from on high, the good and great deed; then
deep melodies wander through his soul from Supreme Wisdom."

    "This sentiment lies at the foundation of society and successively
    creates all forms of worship.--This thought dwelled always deepest
    in the minds of men in the devout and contemplative East; not alone in
    Palestine, where it reached its purest expression, but in Egypt,
    in Persia, in India, in China. Europe has always owed to Oriental
    genius its divine impulses. What these holy bards said, all sane men
    found agreeable and true. And the unique impression of Jesus upon
    mankind, whose name is not so much written as ploughed into the
    history of this world, is proof of the subtle virtue of this

But this truth cannot be received at second hand; it is an intuition.
What another announces, I must find true in myself, or I must reject
it. If the word of another is taken instead of this primary faith, the
church, the state, art, letters, life, all suffer degradation,--"the
doctrine of inspiration is lost; the base doctrine of the majority of
voices usurps the place of the doctrine of the soul."

The following extract will show the view that he takes of Christianity
and its Founder, and sufficiently explain the antagonism called forth by
the discourse:--

    "Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with
    open eye the mystery of the soul. Drawn by its severe harmony,
    ravished with its beauty, he lived in it, and had his being there.
    Alone in all history he estimated the greatness of man. One man was
    true to what is in you and me. He saw that God incarnates himself in
    man, and evermore goes forth anew to take possession of his World.
    He said, in this jubilee of sublime emotion, 'I am Divine. Through
    me God acts; through me, speaks. Would you see God, see me; or see
    thee, when thou also thinkest as I now think.' But what a distortion
    did his doctrine and memory suffer in the same, in the next, and the
    following ages! There is no doctrine of the Reason which will bear
    to be taught by the Understanding. The understanding caught this
    high chant from the poet's lips, and said, in the next age, 'This
    was Jehovah come down out of heaven. I will kill you if you say
    he was a man.' The idioms of his language and the figures of his
    rhetoric have usurped the place of his truth; and churches are not
    built on his principles, but on his tropes. Christianity became a
    Mythus, as the poetic teaching of Greece and of Egypt, before. He
    spoke of Miracles; for he felt that man's life was a miracle, and
    all that man doth, and he knew that this miracle shines as the
    character ascends. But the word Miracle, as pronounced by Christian
    churches, gives a false impression; it is Monster. It is not one
    with the blowing clover and the falling rain."

He proceeds to point out what he considers the great defects of
historical Christianity. It has exaggerated the personal, the positive,
the ritual. It has wronged mankind by monopolizing all virtues for the
Christian name. It is only by his holy thoughts that Jesus serves us.
"To aim to convert a man by miracles is a profanation of the soul." The
preachers do a wrong to Jesus by removing him from our human sympathies;
they should not degrade his life and dialogues by insulation and

Another defect of the traditional and limited way of using the mind of
Christ is that the Moral Nature--the Law of Laws--is not explored as the
fountain of the established teaching in society. "Men have come to speak
of the revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were
dead."--"The soul is not preached. The church seems to totter to its
fall, almost all life extinct.--The stationariness of religion; the
assumption that the age of inspiration is past; that the Bible is
closed; the fear of degrading the character of Jesus by representing
him as a man; indicate with sufficient clearness the falsehood of our
theology. It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not
was; that he speaketh, not spake. The true Christianity--a faith like
Christ's in the infinitude of Man--is lost."

When Emerson came to what his earlier ancestors would have called the
"practical application," some of his young hearers must have been
startled at the style of his address.

    "Yourself a new--born bard of the Holy Ghost, cast behind you all
    conformity, and acquaint men at first hand with Deity. Look to it
    first and only, that fashion, custom, authority, pleasure, and
    money are nothing to you,--are not bandages over your eyes, that
    you cannot see,--but live with the privilege of the
    immeasurable mind."

Emerson recognizes two inestimable advantages as the gift of
Christianity; first the Sabbath,--hardly a Christian institution,--and
secondly the institution of preaching. He spoke not only eloquently, but
with every evidence of deep sincerity and conviction. He had sacrificed
an enviable position to that inner voice of duty which he now proclaimed
as the sovereign law over all written or spoken words. But he was
assailing the cherished beliefs of those before him, and of Christendom
generally; not with hard or bitter words, not with sarcasm or levity,
rather as one who felt himself charged with a message from the same
divinity who had inspired the prophets and evangelists of old with
whatever truth was in their messages. He might be wrong, but his words
carried the evidence of his own serene, unshaken confidence that the
spirit of all truth was with him. Some of his audience, at least, must
have felt the contrast between his utterances and the formal discourses
they had so long listened to, and said to themselves, "he speaks 'as one
having authority, and not as the Scribes.'"

Such teaching, however, could not be suffered to go unchallenged. Its
doctrines were repudiated in the "Christian Examiner," the leading organ
of the Unitarian denomination. The Rev. Henry Ware, greatly esteemed
and honored, whose colleague he had been, addressed a letter to him, in
which he expressed the feeling that some of the statements of Emerson's
discourse would tend to overthrow the authority and influence of
Christianity. To this note Emerson returned the following answer:--

    "What you say about the discourse at Divinity College is just what I
    might expect from your truth and charity, combined with your known
    opinions. I am not a stick or a stone, as one said in the old time,
    and could not but feel pain in saying some things in that place and
    presence which I supposed would meet with dissent, I may say, of
    dear friends and benefactors of mine. Yet, as my conviction is
    perfect in the substantial truth of the doctrines of this discourse,
    and is not very new, you will see at once that it must appear very
    important that it be spoken; and I thought I could not pay the
    nobleness of my friends so mean a compliment as to suppress my
    opposition to their supposed views, out of fear of offence. I would
    rather say to them, these things look thus to me, to you otherwise.
    Let us say our uttermost word, and let the all-pervading truth, as
    it surely will, judge between us. Either of us would, I doubt not,
    be willingly apprised of his error. Meantime, I shall be admonished
    by this expression of your thought, to revise with greater care the
    'address,' before it is printed (for the use of the class): and I
    heartily thank you for this expression of your tried toleration and

Dr. Ware followed up his note with a sermon, preached on the 23d of
September, in which he dwells especially on the necessity of adding the
idea of personality to the abstractions of Emerson's philosophy, and
sent it to him with a letter, the kindness and true Christian spirit of
which were only what were inseparable from all the thoughts and feelings
of that most excellent and truly apostolic man.

To this letter Emerson sent the following reply:--

    CONCORD, October 8, 1838.

    "MY DEAR SIR,--I ought sooner to have acknowledged your kind letter
    of last week, and the sermon it accompanied. The letter was right
    manly and noble. The sermon, too, I have read with attention. If it
    assails any doctrine of mine,--perhaps I am not so quick to see it
    as writers generally,--certainly I did not feel any disposition
    to depart from my habitual contentment, that you should say your
    thought, whilst I say mine. I believe I must tell you what I think
    of my new position. It strikes me very oddly that good and wise men
    at Cambridge and Boston should think of raising me into an object of
    criticism. I have always been--from my very incapacity of methodical
    writing--a 'chartered libertine,' free to worship and free to
    rail,--lucky when I could make myself understood, but never esteemed
    near enough to the institutions and mind of society to deserve the
    notice of the masters of literature and religion. I have appreciated
    fully the advantages of my position, for I well know there is no
    scholar less willing or less able than myself to be a polemic. I
    could not give an account of myself, if challenged. I could not
    possibly give you one of the 'arguments' you cruelly hint at, on
    which any doctrine of mine stands; for I do not know what arguments
    are in reference to any expression of a thought. I delight in
    telling what I think; but if you ask me how I dare say so, or why it
    is so, I am the most helpless of mortal men. I do not even see
    that either of these questions admits of an answer. So that in the
    present droll posture of my affairs, when I see myself suddenly
    raised to the importance of a heretic, I am very uneasy when I
    advert to the supposed duties of such a personage, who is to make
    good his thesis against all comers. I certainly shall do no such
    thing. I shall read what you and other good men write, as I have
    always done, glad when you speak my thoughts, and skipping the
    page that has nothing for me. I shall go on just as before, seeing
    whatever I can, and telling what I see; and, I suppose, with the
    same fortune that has hitherto attended me,--the joy of finding that
    my abler and better brothers, who work with the sympathy of society,
    loving and beloved, do now and then unexpectedly confirm my
    conceptions, and find my nonsense is only their own thought in
    motley,--and so I am your affectionate servant," etc.

The controversy which followed is a thing of the past; Emerson took no
part in it, and we need not return to the discussion. He knew his
office and has defined it in the clearest manner in the letter just
given,--"Seeing whatever I can, and telling what I see." But among his
listeners and readers was a man of very different mental constitution,
not more independent or fearless, but louder and more combative, whose
voice soon became heard and whose strength soon began to be felt in the
long battle between the traditional and immanent inspiration,--Theodore
Parker. If Emerson was the moving spirit, he was the right arm in the
conflict, which in one form or another has been waged up to the present

In the winter of 1838-39 Emerson delivered his usual winter course
of Lectures. He names them in a letter to Carlyle as follows: "Ten
Lectures: I. The Doctrine of the Soul; II. Home; III. The School; IV.
Love; V. Genius; VI. The Protest; VII. Tragedy; VIII. Comedy; IX. Duty;
X. Demonology. I designed to add two more, but my lungs played me false
with unseasonable inflammation, so I discoursed no more on Human Life."
Two or three of these titles only are prefixed to his published Lectures
or Essays; Love, in the first volume of Essays; Demonology in "Lectures
and Biographical Sketches;" and "The Comic" in "Letters and Social

       *       *       *       *       *

I owe the privilege of making use of the two following letters to my
kind and honored friend, James Freeman Clarke.

The first letter was accompanied by the Poem "The Humble-bee," which
was first published by Mr. Clarke in the "Western Messenger," from the
autograph copy, which begins "Fine humble-bee! fine humble-bee!" and has
a number of other variations from the poem as printed in his collected

    CONCORD, December 7, 1838.

    MY DEAR SIR,--Here are the verses. They have pleased some of my
    friends, and so may please some of your readers, and you asked me
    in the spring if I hadn't somewhat to contribute to your journal. I
    remember in your letter you mentioned the remark of some friend of
    yours that the verses, "Take, O take those lips away," were not
    Shakspeare's; I think they are. Beaumont, nor Fletcher, nor both
    together were ever, I think, visited by such a starry gleam as that
    stanza. I know it is in "Rollo," but it is in "Measure for Measure"
    also; and I remember noticing that the Malones, and Stevens, and
    critical gentry were about evenly divided, these for Shakspeare, and
    those for Beaumont and Fletcher. But the internal evidence is all
    for one, none for the other. If he did not write it, they did not,
    and we shall have some fourth unknown singer. What care we _who_
    sung this or that. It is we at last who sing. Your friend and
    servant, R.W. EMERSON.


    CONCORD, February 27, 1839.

    MY DEAR SIR,--I am very sorry to have made you wait so long for an
    answer to your flattering request for two such little poems. You are
    quite welcome to the lines "To the Rhodora;" but I think they need
    the superscription ["Lines on being asked 'Whence is the Flower?'"].
    Of the other verses ["Good-by proud world," etc] I send you a
    corrected copy, but I wonder so much at your wishing to print them
    that I think you must read them once again with your critical
    spectacles before they go further. They were written sixteen years
    ago, when I kept school in Boston, and lived in a corner of Roxbury
    called Canterbury. They have a slight misanthropy, a shade deeper
    than belongs to me; and as it seems nowadays I am a philosopher and
    am grown to have opinions, I think they must have an apologetic
    date, though I well know that poetry that needs a date is no poetry,
    and so you will wiselier suppress them. I heartily wish I had any
    verses which with a clear mind I could send you in lieu of these
    juvenilities. It is strange, seeing the delight we take in verses,
    that we can so seldom write them, and so are not ashamed to lay up
    old ones, say sixteen years, instead of improvising them as freely
    as the wind blows, whenever we and our brothers are attuned to
    music. I have heard of a citizen who made an annual joke. I believe
    I have in April or May an annual poetic _conatus_ rather than
    _afflatus_, experimenting to the length of thirty lines or so, if I
    may judge from the dates of the rhythmical scraps I detect among my
    MSS. I look upon this incontinence as merely the redundancy of
    a susceptibility to poetry which makes all the bards my daily
    treasures, and I can well run the risk of being ridiculous once a
    year for the benefit of happy reading all the other days. In regard
    to the Providence Discourse, I have no copy of it; and as far as I
    remember its contents, I have since used whatever is striking in it;
    but I will get the MS., if Margaret Fuller has it, and you shall
    have it if it will pass muster. I shall certainly avail myself
    of the good order you gave me for twelve copies of the "Carlyle
    Miscellanies," so soon as they appear. He, T.C., writes in excellent
    spirits of his American friends and readers.... A new book, he
    writes, is growing in him, though not to begin until his spring
    lectures are over (which begin in May). Your sister Sarah was kind
    enough to carry me the other day to see some pencil sketches done
    by Stuart Newton when in the Insane Hospital. They seemed to me to
    betray the richest invention, so rich as almost to say, why draw any
    line since you can draw all? Genius has given you the freedom of the
    universe, why then come within any walls? And this seems to be the
    old moral which we draw from our fable, read it how or where you
    will, that we cannot make one good stroke until we can make every
    possible stroke; and when we can one, every one seems superfluous. I
    heartily thank you for the good wishes you send me to open the year,
    and I say them back again to you. Your field is a world, and all men
    are your spectators, and all men respect the true and great-hearted
    service you render. And yet it is not spectator nor spectacle that
    concerns either you or me. The whole world is sick of that very ail,
    of being seen, and of seemliness. It belongs to the brave now to
    trust themselves infinitely, and to sit and hearken alone. I am glad
    to see William Channing is one of your coadjutors. Mrs. Jameson's
    new book, I should think, would bring a caravan of travellers,
    aesthetic, artistic, and what not, up your mighty stream, or along
    the lakes to Mackinaw. As I read I almost vowed an exploration, but
    I doubt if I ever get beyond the Hudson.

    Your affectionate servant, R.W. EMERSON.

On the 24th of July, 1838, a little more than a week after the delivery
of the Address before the Divinity School, Mr. Emerson delivered an
Oration before the Literary Societies of Dartmouth College. If any rumor
of the former discourse had reached Dartmouth, the audience must have
been prepared for a much more startling performance than that to
which they listened. The bold avowal which fluttered the dovecotes of
Cambridge would have sounded like the crash of doom to the cautious
old tenants of the Hanover aviary. If there were any drops of false or
questionable doctrine in the silver shower of eloquence under which
they had been sitting, the plumage of orthodoxy glistened with unctuous
repellents, and a shake or two on coming out of church left the sturdy
old dogmatists as dry as ever.

Those who remember the Dartmouth College of that day cannot help smiling
at the thought of the contrast in the way of thinking between the
speaker and the larger part, or at least the older part, of his
audience. President Lord was well known as the scriptural defender of
the institution of slavery. Not long before a controversy had arisen,
provoked by the setting up of the Episcopal form of worship by one of
the Professors, the most estimable and scholarly Dr. Daniel Oliver.
Perhaps, however, the extreme difference between the fundamental
conceptions of Mr. Emerson and the endemic orthodoxy of that place
and time was too great for any hostile feeling to be awakened by the
sweet-voiced and peaceful-mannered speaker. There is a kind of harmony
between boldly contrasted beliefs like that between complementary
colors. It is when two shades of the same color are brought side by side
that comparison makes them odious to each other. Mr. Emerson could go
anywhere and find willing listeners among those farthest in their belief
from the views he held. Such was his simplicity of speech and manner,
such his transparent sincerity, that it was next to impossible to
quarrel with the gentle image-breaker.

The subject of Mr. Emerson's Address is _Literary Ethics._ It is on the
same lofty plane of sentiment and in the same exalted tone of eloquence
as the Phi Beta Kappa Address. The word impassioned would seem
misplaced, if applied to any of Mr. Emerson's orations. But these
discourses were both written and delivered in the freshness of his
complete manhood. They were produced at a time when his mind had learned
its powers and the work to which it was called, in the struggle which
freed him from the constraint of stereotyped confessions of faith and
all peremptory external authority. It is not strange, therefore, to find
some of his paragraphs glowing with heat and sparkling with imaginative

"Neither years nor books," he says, "have yet availed to extirpate a
prejudice rooted in me, that a scholar is the favorite of Heaven and
earth, the excellency of his country, the happiest of men." And yet,
he confesses that the scholars of this country have not fulfilled
the reasonable expectation of mankind. "Men here, as elsewhere, are
indisposed to innovation and prefer any antiquity, any usage, any livery
productive of ease or profit, to the unproductive service of thought."
For all this he offers those correctives which in various forms underlie
all his teachings. "The resources of the scholar are proportioned to his
confidence in the attributes of the Intellect." New lessons of spiritual
independence, fresh examples and illustrations, are drawn from history
and biography. There is a passage here so true to nature that it permits
a half page of quotation and a line or two of comment:--

    "An intimation of these broad rights is familiar in the sense of
    injury which men feel in the assumption of any man to limit their
    possible progress. We resent all criticism which denies us anything
    that lies In our line of advance. Say to the man of letters, that
    he cannot paint a Transfiguration, or build a steamboat, or be a
    grand-marshal, and he will not seem to himself depreciated. But deny
    to him any quality of literary or metaphysical power, and he is
    piqued. Concede to him genius, which is a sort of stoical _plenum_
    annulling the comparative, and he is content; but concede him
    talents never so rare, denying him genius, and he is aggrieved."

But it ought to be added that if the pleasure of denying the genius of
their betters were denied to the mediocrities, their happiness would be
forever blighted.

From the resources of the American Scholar Mr. Emerson passes to his
tasks. Nature, as it seems to him, has never yet been truly studied.
"Poetry has scarcely chanted its first song. The perpetual admonition of
Nature to us is, 'The world is new, untried. Do not believe the past. I
give you the universe a virgin to-day.'" And in the same way he would
have the scholar look at history, at philosophy. The world belongs to
the student, but he must put himself into harmony with the constitution
of things. "He must embrace solitude as a bride." Not superstitiously,
but after having found out, as a little experience will teach him, all
that society can do for him with its foolish routine. I have spoken of
the exalted strain into which Mr. Emerson sometimes rises in the midst
of his general serenity. Here is an instance of it:--

    "You will hear every day the maxims of a low prudence. You will hear
    that the first duty is to get land and money, place and name. 'What
    is this truth you seek? What is this beauty?' men will ask, with
    derision. If, nevertheless, God have called any of you to explore
    truth and beauty, be bold, be firm, be true. When you shall say,
    'As others do, so will I: I renounce, I am sorry for it, my early
    visions: I must eat the good of the land, and let learning and
    romantic expectations go, until a more convenient season;'--then
    dies the man in you; then once more perish the buds of art, and
    poetry, and science, as they have died already in a thousand
    thousand men.--Bend to the persuasion which is flowing to you from
    every object in nature, to be its tongue to the heart of man, and to
    show the besotted world how passing fair is wisdom. Why should you
    renounce your right to traverse the starlit deserts of truth, for
    the premature comforts of an acre, house, and barn? Truth also has
    its roof and house and board. Make yourself necessary to the world,
    and mankind will give you bread; and if not store of it, yet such as
    shall not take away your property in all men's possessions, in all
    men's affections, in art, in nature, and in hope."

The next Address Emerson delivered was "The Method of Nature," before
the Society of the Adelphi, in Waterville College, Maine, August 11,

In writing to Carlyle on the 31st of July, he says: "As usual at this
season of the year, I, incorrigible spouting Yankee, am writing an
oration to deliver to the boys in one of our little country colleges
nine days hence.... My whole philosophy--which is very real--teaches
acquiescence and optimism. Only when I see how much work is to be done,
what room for a poet--for any spiritualist--in this great, intelligent,
sensual, and avaricious America, I lament my fumbling fingers and
stammering tongue." It may be remembered that Mr. Matthew Arnold quoted
the expression about America, which sounded more harshly as pronounced
in a public lecture than as read in a private letter.

The Oration shows the same vein of thought as the letter. Its title is
"The Method of Nature." He begins with congratulations on the enjoyments
and promises of this literary Anniversary.

    "The scholars are the priests of that thought which establishes the
    foundations of the castle."--"We hear too much of the results of
    machinery, commerce, and the useful arts. We are a puny and a fickle
    folk. Avarice, hesitation, and following are our diseases. The rapid
    wealth which hundreds in the community acquire in trade, or by the
    incessant expansion of our population and arts, enchants the eyes
    of all the rest; this luck of one is the hope of thousands, and the
    bribe acts like the neighborhood of a gold mine to impoverish the
    farm, the school, the church, the house, and the very body and
    feature of man."--"While the multitude of men degrade each other,
    and give currency to desponding doctrines, the scholar must be a
    bringer of hope, and must reinforce man against himself."

I think we may detect more of the manner of Carlyle in this Address than
in any of those which preceded it.

    "Why then goest thou as some Boswell or literary worshipper to this
    saint or to that? That is the only lese-majesty. Here art thou with
    whom so long the universe travailed in labor; darest thou think
    meanly of thyself whom the stalwart Fate brought forth to unite his
    ragged sides, to shoot the gulf, to reconcile the irreconcilable?"

That there is an "intimate divinity" which is the source of all true
wisdom, that the duty of man is to listen to its voice and to follow it,
that "the sanity of man needs the poise of this immanent force,"
that the rule is "Do what you know, and perception is converted into
character,"--all this is strongly enforced and richly illustrated in
this Oration. Just how easily it was followed by the audience, just how
far they were satisfied with its large principles wrought into a few
broad precepts, it would be easier at this time to ask than to learn.
We notice not so much the novelty of the ideas to be found in this
discourse on "The Method of Nature," as the pictorial beauty of
their expression. The deep reverence which underlies all Emerson's
speculations is well shown in this paragraph:--

    "We ought to celebrate this hour by expressions of manly joy. Not
    thanks nor prayer seem quite the highest or truest name for
    our communication with the infinite,--but glad and conspiring
    reception,--reception that becomes giving in its turn as the
    receiver is only the All-Giver in part and in infancy."--"It is God
    in us which checks the language of petition by grander thought. In
    the bottom of the heart it is said: 'I am, and by me, O child! this
    fair body and world of thine stands and grows. I am, all things are
    mine; and all mine are thine.'"

We must not quarrel with his peculiar expressions. He says, in this same
paragraph, "I cannot,--nor can any man,--speak precisely of things so
sublime; but it seems to me the wit of man, his strength, his grace, his
tendency, his art, is the grace and the presence of God. It is beyond

    "We can point nowhere to anything final but tendency; but tendency
    appears on all hands; planet, system, constellation, total nature is
    growing like a field of maize in July; is becoming something else;
    is in rapid metamorphosis. The embryo does not more strive to be
    man, than yonder burr of light we call a nebula tends to be a ring,
    a comet, a globe, and parent of new stars." "In short, the spirit
    and peculiarity of that impression nature makes on us is this, that
    it does not exist to any one, or to any number of particular ends,
    but to numberless and endless benefit; that there is in it no
    private will, no rebel leaf or limb, but the whole is oppressed by
    one superincumbent tendency, obeys that redundancy or excess of life
    which in conscious beings we call ecstasy."

Here is another of those almost lyrical passages which seem too long for
the music of rhythm and the resonance of rhyme.

    "The great Pan of old, who was clothed in a leopard skin to signify
    the beautiful variety of things, and the firmament, his coat of
    stars, was but the representative of thee, O rich and various Man!
    thou palace of sight and sound, carrying in thy senses the morning
    and the night and the unfathomable galaxy; in thy brain the geometry
    of the City of God; in thy heart the bower of love and the realms of
    right and wrong."

His feeling about the soul, which has shown itself in many of the
extracts already given, is summed up in the following sentence:--

    "We cannot describe the natural history of the soul, but we know
    that it is divine. I cannot tell if these wonderful qualities which
    house to-day in this mental home shall ever reassemble in equal
    activity in a similar frame, or whether they have before had a
    natural history like that of this body you see before you; but this
    one thing I know, that these qualities did not now begin to exist,
    cannot be sick with my sickness, nor buried in any grave; but that
    they circulate through the Universe: before the world was, they

It is hard to see the distinction between the omnipresent Deity
recognized in our formal confessions of faith and the "pantheism" which
is the object of dread to many of the faithful. But there are many
expressions in this Address which must have sounded strangely and
vaguely to his Christian audience. "Are there not moments in the history
of heaven when the human race was not counted by individuals, but was
only the Influenced; was God in distribution, God rushing into manifold
benefit?" It might be feared that the practical philanthropists would
feel that they lost by his counsels.

    "The reform whose fame now fills the land with Temperance,
    Anti-Slavery, Non-Resistance, No Government, Equal Labor, fair and
    generous as each appears, are poor bitter things when prosecuted for
    themselves as an end."--"I say to you plainly there is no end to
    which your practical faculty can aim so sacred or so large, that if
    pursued for itself, will not at last become carrion and an offence
    to the nostril. The imaginative faculty of the soul must be fed with
    objects immense and eternal. Your end should be one inapprehensible
    to the senses; then it will be a god, always approached,--never
    touched; always giving health."

Nothing is plainer than that it was Emerson's calling to supply impulses
and not methods. He was not an organizer, but a power behind many
organizers, inspiring them with lofty motive, giving breadth, to their
views, always tending to become narrow through concentration on their
special objects. The Oration we have been examining was delivered in
the interval between the delivery of two Addresses, one called "Man the
Reformer," and another called "Lecture on the Times." In the first he
preaches the dignity and virtue of manual labor; that "a man should have
a farm, or a mechanical craft for his culture."--That he cannot give up
labor without suffering some loss of power. "How can the man who has
learned but one art procure all the conveniences of life honestly? Shall
we say all we think?--Perhaps with his own hands.--Let us learn the
meaning of economy.--Parched corn eaten to-day that I may have roast
fowl to my dinner on Sunday is a baseness; but parched corn and a house
with one apartment, that I may be free of all perturbation, that I
may be serene and docile to what the mind shall speak, and quit and
road-ready for the lowest mission of knowledge or good will, is
frugality for gods and heroes."

This was what Emerson wrote in January, 1841. This "house with one
apartment" was what Thoreau built with his own hands in 1845. In April
of the former year, he went to live with Mr. Emerson, but had been on
intimate terms with him previously to that time. Whether it was from him
that Thoreau got the hint of the Walden cabin and the parched corn, or
whether this idea was working in Thoreau's mind and was suggested to
Emerson by him, is of no great consequence. Emerson, to whom he owed
so much, may well have adopted some of those fancies which Thoreau
entertained, and afterwards worked out in practice. He was at the
philanthropic centre of a good many movements which he watched others
carrying out, as a calm and kindly spectator, without losing his common
sense for a moment. It would never have occurred to him to leave all the
conveniences and comforts of life to go and dwell in a shanty, so as to
prove to himself that he could live like a savage, or like his friends
"Teague and his jade," as he called the man and brother and sister, more
commonly known nowadays as Pat, or Patrick, and his old woman.

"The Americans have many virtues," he says in this Address, "but they
have not Faith and Hope." Faith and Hope, Enthusiasm and Love, are the
burden of this Address. But he would regulate these qualities by "a
great prospective prudence," which shall mediate between the spiritual
and the actual world.

In the "Lecture on the Times" he shows very clearly the effect which a
nearer contact with the class of men and women who called themselves
Reformers had upon him.

    "The Reforms have their higher origin in an ideal justice,
    but they do not retain the purity of an idea. They are
    quickly organized in some low, inadequate form, and present no
    more poetic image to the mind than the evil tradition which they
    reprobated. They mix the fire of the moral sentiment with personal
    and party heats, with measureless exaggerations, and the blindness
    that prefers some darling measure to justice and truth. Those who
    are urging with most ardor what are called the greatest benefit of
    mankind are narrow, self-pleasing, conceited men, and affect us as
    the insane do. They bite us, and we run mad also. I think the work
    of the reformer as innocent as other work that is done around him;
    but when I have seen it near!--I do not like it better. It is done
    in the same way; it is done profanely, not piously; by management,
    by tactics and clamor."

All this, and much more like it, would hardly have been listened to by
the ardent advocates of the various reforms, if anybody but Mr. Emerson
had said it. He undervalued no sincere action except to suggest a wiser
and better one. He attacked no motive which had a good aim, except in
view of some larger and loftier principle. The charm of his imagination
and the music of his words took away all the sting from the thoughts
that penetrated to the very marrow of the entranced listeners. Sometimes
it was a splendid hyperbole that illuminated a statement which by the
dim light of common speech would have offended or repelled those who
sat before him. He knew the force of _felix audacia_ as well as any
rhetorician could have taught him. He addresses the reformer with one of
those daring images which defy the critics.

    "As the farmer casts into the ground the finest ears of his grain,
    the time will come when we too shall hold nothing back, but shall
    eagerly convert more than we possess into means and powers, when we
    shall be willing to sow the sun and the moon for seeds."

He said hard things to the reformer, especially to the Abolitionist, in
his "Lecture on the Times." It would have taken a long while to get
rid of slavery if some of Emerson's teachings in this lecture had been
accepted as the true gospel of liberty. But how much its last sentence
covers with its soothing tribute!

    "All the newspapers, all the tongues of today will of course defame
    what is noble; but you who hold not of to-day, not of the times, but
    of the Everlasting, are to stand for it; and the highest compliment
    man ever receives from Heaven is the sending to him its disguised
    and discredited angels."

The Lecture called "The Transcendentalist" will naturally be looked at
with peculiar interest, inasmuch as this term has been very commonly
applied to Emerson, and to many who were considered his disciples.
It has a proper philosophical meaning, and it has also a local and
accidental application to the individuals of a group which came together
very much as any literary club might collect about a teacher. All this
comes out clearly enough in the Lecture. In the first place, Emerson
explains that the "_new views_," as they are called, are the oldest of
thoughts cast in a new mould.

    "What is popularly called Transcendentalism among us is Idealism:
    Idealism as it appears in 1842. As thinkers, mankind have ever
    divided into two sects, Materialists and Idealists; the first class
    founding on experience, the second on consciousness; the first class
    beginning to think from the data of the senses, the second class
    perceive that the senses are not final, and say, the senses give us
    representations of things, but what are the things themselves, they
    cannot tell. The materialist insists on facts, on history, on the
    force of circumstances and the animal wants of man; the idealist on
    the power of Thought and of Will, on inspiration, on miracle, on
    individual culture."

    "The materialist takes his departure from the external world,
    and esteems a man as one product of that. The idealist takes his
    departure from his consciousness, and reckons the world an
    appearance.--His thought, that is the Universe."

The association of scholars and thinkers to which the name of
"Transcendentalists" was applied, and which made itself an organ in the
periodical known as "The Dial," has been written about by many who were
in the movement, and others who looked on or got their knowledge of
it at second hand. Emerson was closely associated with these "same
Transcendentalists," and a leading contributor to "The Dial," which was
their organ. The movement borrowed its inspiration more from him than
from any other source, and the periodical owed more to him than to any
other writer. So far as his own relation to the circle of illuminati and
the dial which they shone upon was concerned, he himself is the best

In his "Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England," he sketches
in a rapid way the series of intellectual movements which led to the
development of the "new views" above mentioned. "There are always two
parties," he says, "the party of the Past and the party of the Future;
the Establishment and the Movement."

About 1820, and in the twenty years which followed, an era of activity
manifested itself in the churches, in politics, in philanthropy, in
literature. In our own community the influence of Swedenborg and of the
genius and character of Dr. Channing were among the more immediate early
causes of the mental agitation. Emerson attributes a great importance
to the scholarship, the rhetoric, the eloquence, of Edward Everett, who
returned to Boston in 1820, after five years of study in Europe. Edward
Everett is already to a great extent a tradition, somewhat as Rufus
Choate is, a voice, a fading echo, as must be the memory of every great
orator. These wondrous personalities have their truest and warmest life
in a few old men's memories. It is therefore with delight that one who
remembers Everett in his robes of rhetorical splendor, who recalls his
full-blown, high-colored, double-flowered periods, the rich, resonant,
grave, far-reaching music of his speech, with just enough of nasal
vibration to give the vocal sounding-board its proper value in the
harmonies of utterance,--it is with delight that such a one reads the
glowing words of Emerson whenever he refers to Edward Everett. It is
enough if he himself caught inspiration from those eloquent lips; but
many a listener has had his youthful enthusiasm fired by that great
master of academic oratory.

Emerson follows out the train of influences which added themselves to
the impulse given by Mr. Everett. German scholarship, the growth of
science, the generalizations of Goethe, the idealism of Schelling, the
influence of Wordsworth, of Coleridge, of Carlyle, and in our immediate
community, the writings of Channing,--he left it to others to say of
Emerson,--all had their part in this intellectual, or if we may call it
so, spiritual revival. He describes with that exquisite sense of the
ridiculous which was a part of his mental ballast, the first attempt at
organizing an association of cultivated, thoughtful people. They came
together, the cultivated, thoughtful people, at Dr. John Collins
Warren's,--Dr. Channing, the great Dr. Channing, among the rest, full
of the great thoughts he wished to impart. The preliminaries went on
smoothly enough with the usual small talk,--

    "When a side-door opened, the whole company streamed in to an oyster
    supper, crowned by excellent wines [this must have been before
    Dr. Warren's temperance epoch], and so ended the first attempt to
    establish aesthetic society in Boston.

    "Some time afterwards Dr. Channing opened his mind to Mr. and Mrs.
    Ripley, and with some care they invited a limited party of ladies
    and gentlemen. I had the honor to be present.--Margaret Fuller,
    George Ripley, Dr. Convers Francis, Theodore Parker, Dr. Hedge, Mr.
    Brownson, James Freeman Clarke, William H. Channing, and many others
    gradually drew together, and from time to time spent an afternoon at
    each other's houses in a serious conversation."

With them was another, "a pure Idealist,--who read Plato as an
equal, and inspired his companions only in proportion as they were
intellectual." He refers, of course to Mr. Alcott. Emerson goes on to

    "I think there prevailed at that time a general belief in Boston
    that there was some concert of _doctrinaires_ to establish certain
    opinions, and inaugurate some movement in literature, philosophy,
    and religion, of which design the supposed conspirators were quite
    innocent; for there was no concert, and only here and there two or
    three men and women who read and wrote, each alone, with unusual
    vivacity. Perhaps they only agreed in having fallen upon Coleridge
    and Wordsworth and Goethe, then on Carlyle, with pleasure and
    sympathy. Otherwise their education and reading were not marked, but
    had the American superficialness, and their studies were solitary.
    I suppose all of them were surprised at this rumor of a school or
    sect, and certainly at the name of Transcendentalism, given, nobody
    knows by whom, or when it was applied."

Emerson's picture of some of these friends of his is so peculiar as to
suggest certain obvious and not too flattering comments.

    "In like manner, if there is anything grand and daring in human
    thought or virtue; any reliance on the vast, the unknown; any
    presentiment, any extravagance of faith, the Spiritualist adopts
    it as most in nature. The Oriental mind has always tended to this
    largeness. Buddhism is an expression of it. The Buddhist, who thanks
    no man, who says, 'Do not flatter your benefactors,' but who in his
    conviction that every good deed can by no possibility escape its
    reward, will not deceive the benefactor by pretending that he has
    done more than he should, is a Transcendentalist.

    "These exacting children advertise us of our wants. There is no
    compliment, no smooth speech with them; they pay you only this one
    compliment, of insatiable expectation; they aspire, they severely
    exact, and if they only stand fast in this watch-tower, and persist
    in demanding unto the end, and without end, then are they terrible
    friends, whereof poet and priest cannot choose but stand in awe; and
    what if they eat clouds, and drink wind, they have not been without
    service to the race of man."

The person who adopts "any presentiment, any extravagance as most in
nature," is not commonly called a Transcendentalist, but is known
colloquially as a "crank." The person who does not thank, by word or
look, the friend or stranger who has pulled him out of the fire or
water, is fortunate if he gets off with no harder name than that of a

Nothing was farther from Emerson himself than whimsical eccentricity or
churlish austerity. But there was occasionally an air of bravado in some
of his followers as if they had taken out a patent for some knowing
machine which was to give them a monopoly of its products. They claimed
more for each other than was reasonable,--so much occasionally that
their pretensions became ridiculous. One was tempted to ask: "What
forlorn hope have you led? What immortal book have you written? What
great discovery have you made? What heroic task of any kind have you
performed?" There was too much talk about earnestness and too little
real work done. Aspiration too frequently got as far as the alpenstock
and the brandy flask, but crossed no dangerous crevasse, and scaled
no arduous summit. In short, there was a kind of "Transcendentalist"
dilettanteism, which betrayed itself by a phraseology as distinctive as
that of the Della Cruscans of an earlier time.

In reading the following description of the "intelligent and religious
persons" who belonged to the "Transcendentalist" communion, the reader
must remember that it is Emerson who draws the portrait,--a friend and
not a scoffer:--

    "They are not good citizens, not good members of society:
    unwillingly they bear their part of the public and private burdens;
    they do not willingly share in the public charities, in the public
    religious rites, in the enterprise of education, of missions,
    foreign and domestic, in the abolition of the slave-trade, or in the
    temperance society. They do not even like to vote."

After arraigning the representatives of Transcendental or spiritual
beliefs in this way, he summons them to plead for themselves, and this
is what they have to say:--

    "'New, we confess, and by no means happy, is our condition: if you
    want the aid of our labor, we ourselves stand in greater want of the
    labor. We are miserable with inaction. We perish of rest and rust:
    but we do not like your work.'

    'Then,' says the world, 'show me your own.'

    'We have none.'

    'What will you do, then?' cries the world.

    'We will wait.'

    'How long?'

    'Until the Universe beckons and calls us to work.'

    'But whilst you wait you grow old and useless.'

    'Be it so: I can sit in a corner and _perish_ (as you call it), but
    I will not move until I have the highest command.'"

And so the dissatisfied tenant of this unhappy creation goes on with his
reasons for doing nothing.

It is easy to stay away from church and from town-meetings. It is
easy to keep out of the way of the contribution box and to let the
subscription paper go by us to the next door. The common duties of life
and the good offices society asks of us may be left to take care of
themselves while we contemplate the infinite. There is no safer fortress
for indolence than "the Everlasting No." The chimney-corner is the true
arena for this class of philosophers, and the pipe and mug furnish their
all-sufficient panoply. Emerson undoubtedly met with some of them among
his disciples. His wise counsel did not always find listeners in a
fitting condition to receive it. He was a sower who went forth to sow.
Some of the good seed fell among the thorns of criticism. Some fell on
the rocks of hardened conservatism. Some fell by the wayside and was
picked up by the idlers who went to the lecture-room to get rid of
themselves. But when it fell upon the right soil it bore a growth of
thought which ripened into a harvest of large and noble lives.

Emerson shows up the weakness of his young enthusiasts with that
delicate wit which warns its objects rather than wounds them. But he
makes it all up with the dreamers before he can let them go.

    "Society also has its duties in reference to this class, and must
    behold them with what charity it can. Possibly some benefit may yet
    accrue from them to the state. Besides our coarse implements, there
    must be some few finer instruments,--rain-gauges, thermometers, and
    telescopes; and in society, besides farmers, sailors, and weavers,
    there must be a few persons of purer fire kept specially as gauges
    and meters of character; persons of a fine, detecting instinct,
    who note the smallest accumulations of wit and feeling in the
    by-stander. Perhaps too there might be room for the exciters and
    monitors; collectors of the heavenly spark, with power to convey the
    electricity to others. Or, as the storm-tossed vessel at sea speaks
    the frigate or "line-packet" to learn its longitude, so it may not
    be without its advantage that we should now and then encounter rare
    and gifted men, to compare the points of our spiritual compass, and
    verify our bearings from superior chronometers."

It must be confessed that it is not a very captivating picture which
Emerson draws of some of his transcendental friends. Their faults were
naturally still more obvious to those outside of their charmed circle,
and some prejudice, very possibly, mingled with their critical
judgments. On the other hand we have the evidence of a visitor who knew
a good deal of the world as to the impression they produced upon him:--

    "There has sprung up in Boston," says Dickens, in his "American
    Notes," "a sect of philosophers known as Transcendentalists. On
    inquiring what this appellation might be supposed to signify, I
    was given to understand that whatever was unintelligible would be
    certainly Transcendental. Not deriving much comfort from this
    elucidation, I pursued the inquiry still further, and found that the
    Transcendentalists are followers of my friend Mr. Carlyle, or, I
    should rather say, of a follower of his, Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
    This gentleman has written a volume of Essays, in which, among much
    that is dreamy and fanciful (if he will pardon me for saying
    so), there is much more that is true and manly, honest and bold.
    Transcendentalism has its occasional vagaries (what school has
    not?), but it has good healthful qualities in spite of them; not
    least among the number a hearty disgust of Cant, and an aptitude to
    detect her in all the million varieties of her everlasting wardrobe.
    And therefore, if I were a Bostonian, I think I would be a

In December, 1841, Emerson delivered a Lecture entitled "The
Conservative." It was a time of great excitement among the members of
that circle of which he was the spiritual leader. Never did Emerson
show the perfect sanity which characterized his practical judgment more
beautifully than in this Lecture and in his whole course with reference
to the intellectual agitation of the period. He is as fair to the
conservative as to the reformer. He sees the fanaticism of the one as
well as that of the other. "Conservatism tends to universal seeming and
treachery; believes in a negative fate; believes that men's tempers
govern them; that for me it avails not to trust in principles, they will
fail me, I must bend a little; it distrusts Nature; it thinks there is a
general law without a particular application,--law for all that does
not include any one. Reform in its antagonism inclines to asinine
resistance, to kick with hoofs; it runs to egotism and bloated
self-conceit; it runs to a bodiless pretension, to unnatural refining
and elevation, which ends in hypocrisy and sensual reaction. And so,
whilst we do not go beyond general statements, it may be safely affirmed
of these two metaphysical antagonists that each is a good half, but an
impossible whole."

He has his beliefs, and, if you will, his prejudices, but he loves fair
play, and though he sides with the party of the future, he will not be
unjust to the present or the past.

We read in a letter from Emerson to Carlyle, dated March 12, 1835, that
Dr. Charming "lay awake all night, he told my friend last week, because
he had learned in the evening that some young men proposed to issue
a journal, to be called 'The Transcendentalist,' as the organ of a
spiritual philosophy." Again on the 30th of April of the same year, in
a letter in which he lays out a plan for a visit of Carlyle to this
country, Emerson says:--

    "It was suggested that if Mr. C. would undertake a journal of which
    we have talked much, but which we have never yet produced, he would
    do us great service, and we feel some confidence that it could be
    made to secure him a support. It is that project which I mentioned
    to you in a letter by Mr. Barnard,--a book to be called 'The
    Transcendentalist;' or, 'The Spiritual Inquirer,' or the like....
    Those who are most interested in it designed to make gratuitous
    contribution to its pages, until its success could be assured."

The idea of the grim Scotchman as editor of what we came in due time to
know as "The Dial!" A concert of singing mice with a savage and hungry
old grimalkin as leader of the orchestra! It was much safer to be
content with Carlyle's purring from his own side of the water, as

    "'The Boston Transcendentalist,' whatever the fate or merit of it
    may prove to be, is surely an interesting symptom. There must be
    things not dreamt of over in that _Transoceanic_ parish! I shall
    certainly wish well to this thing; and hail it as the sure
    forerunner of things better."

There were two notable products of the intellectual ferment of the
Transcendental period which deserve an incidental notice here, from the
close connection which Emerson had with one of them and the interest
which he took in the other, in which many of his friends were more
deeply concerned. These were the periodical just spoken of as a
possibility realized, and the industrial community known as Brook Farm.
They were to a certain extent synchronous,--the Magazine beginning in
July, 1840, and expiring in April, 1844; Brook Farm being organized in
1841, and breaking up in 1847.

"The Dial" was edited at first by Margaret Fuller, afterwards by
Emerson, who contributed more than forty articles in prose and verse,
among them "The Conservative," "The Transcendentalist," "Chardon Street
and Bible Convention," and some of his best and best known poems, "The
Problem," "Woodnotes," "The Sphinx," "Fate." The other principal writers
were Margaret Fuller, A. Bronson Alcott, George Ripley, James Freeman
Clarke, Theodore Parker, William H. Channing, Henry Thoreau, Eliot
Cabot, John S. Dwight, C.P. Cranch, William Ellery Channing, Mrs.
Ellen Hooper, and her sister Mrs. Caroline Tappan. Unequal as the
contributions are in merit, the periodical is of singular interest.
It was conceived and carried on in a spirit of boundless hope and
enthusiasm. Time and a narrowing subscription list proved too hard
a trial, and its four volumes remain stranded, like some rare and
curiously patterned shell which a storm of yesterday has left beyond
the reach of the receding waves. Thoreau wrote for nearly every number.
Margaret Fuller, less attractive in print than in conversation, did her
part as a contributor as well as editor. Theodore Parker came down with
his "trip-hammer" in its pages. Mrs. Ellen Hooper published a few poems
in its columns which remain, always beautiful, in many memories. Others,
whose literary lives have fulfilled their earlier promise, and who are
still with us, helped forward the new enterprise with their frequent
contributions. It is a pleasure to turn back to "The Dial," with all its
crudities. It should be looked through by the side of the "Anthology."
Both were April buds, opening before the frosts were over, but with the
pledge of a better season.

We get various hints touching the new Magazine in the correspondence
between Emerson and Carlyle. Emerson tells Carlyle, a few months before
the first number appeared, that it will give him a better knowledge
of our _young people_ than any he has had. It is true that unfledged
writers found a place to try their wings in it, and that makes it more
interesting. This was the time above all others when out of the mouth
of babes and sucklings was to come forth strength. The feeling that
intuition was discovering a new heaven and a new earth was the
inspiration of these "young people" to whom Emerson refers. He has to
apologize for the first number. "It is not yet much," he says; "indeed,
though no copy has come to me, I know it is far short of what it should
be, for they have suffered puffs and dulness to creep in for the sake
of the complement of pages, but it is better than anything we had.--The
Address of the Editors to the Readers is all the prose that is mine, and
whether they have printed a few verses for me I do not know." They did
print "The Problem." There were also some fragments of criticism from
the writings of his brother Charles, and the poem called "The Last
Farewell," by his brother Edward, which is to be found in Emerson's
"May-day and other Pieces."

On the 30th of August, after the periodical had been published a couple
of months, Emerson writes:--

    "Our community begin to stand in some terror of Transcendentalism;
    and the _Dial_, poor little thing, whose first number contains
    scarce anything considerable or even visible, is just now honored
    by attacks from almost every newspaper and magazine; which at least
    betrays the irritability and the instincts of the good public."

Carlyle finds the second number of "The Dial" better than the first, and
tosses his charitable recognition, as if into an alms-basket, with
his usual air of superiority. He distinguishes what is Emerson's
readily,--the rest he speaks of as the work of [Greek: oi polloi] for
the most part. "But it is all good and very good as a _soul;_ wants only
a body, which want means a great deal." And again, "'The Dial,' too, it
is all spirit like, aeri-form, aurora-borealis like. Will no _Angel_
body himself out of that; no stalwart Yankee _man_, with color in the
cheeks of him and a coat on his back?"

Emerson, writing to Carlyle in March, 1842, speaks of the "dubious
approbation on the part of you and other men," notwithstanding which he
found it with "a certain class of men and women, though few, an object
of tenderness and religion." So, when Margaret Fuller gave it up, at the
end of the second volume, Emerson consented to become its editor. "I
cannot bid you quit 'The Dial,'" says Carlyle, "though it, too, alas, is
Antinomian somewhat! _Perge, perge_, nevertheless."

In the next letter he says:--

    "I love your 'Dial,' and yet it is with a kind of shudder. You seem
    to me in danger of dividing yourselves from the Fact of this present
    Universe, in which alone, ugly as it is, can I find any anchorage,
    and soaring away after Ideas, Beliefs, Revelations and such
    like,--into perilous altitudes, as I think; beyond the curve of
    perpetual frost, for one thing. I know not how to utter what
    impression you give me; take the above as some stamping of the

A curious way of characterizing himself as a critic,--but he was not
always as well-mannered as the Houyhnhnms.

To all Carlyle's complaints of "The Dial's" short-comings Emerson did
not pretend to give any satisfactory answer, but his plea of guilty,
with extenuating circumstances, is very honest and definite.

    "For the _Dial_ and its sins, I have no defence to set up. We write
    as we can, and we know very little about it. If the direction of
    these speculations is to be deplored, it is yet a fact for literary
    history that all the bright boys and girls in New England, quite
    ignorant of each other, take the world so, and come and make
    confession to fathers and mothers,--the boys, that they do not wish
    to go into trade, the girls, that they do not like morning calls and
    evening parties. They are all religious, but hate the churches; they
    reject all the ways of living of other men, but have none to offer
    in their stead. Perhaps one of these days a great Yankee shall come,
    who will easily do the unknown deed."

"All the bright boys and girls in New England," and "'The Dial' dying of
inanition!" In October, 1840, Emerson writes to Carlyle:--

    "We are all a little wild here with numberless projects of social
    reform. Not a reading man but has a draft of a new community in his
    waistcoat pocket. I am gently mad myself, and am resolved to live
    cleanly. George Ripley is talking up a colony of agriculturists and
    scholars, with whom he threatens to take the field and the book.
    One man renounces the use of animal food; and another of coin; and
    another of domestic hired service; and another of the state; and on
    the whole we have a commendable share of reason and hope."

Mr. Ripley's project took shape in the West Roxbury Association, better
known under the name of Brook Farm. Emerson was not involved in this
undertaking. He looked upon it with curiosity and interest, as he would
have looked at a chemical experiment, but he seems to have had only a
moderate degree of faith in its practical working. "It was a noble and
generous movement in the projectors to try an experiment of better
living. One would say that impulse was the rule in the society, without
centripetal balance; perhaps it would not be severe to say, intellectual
sans-culottism, an impatience of the formal routinary character of our
educational, religious, social, and economical life in Massachusetts."
The reader will find a full detailed account of the Brook Farm
experiment in Mr. Frothingham's "Life of George Ripley," its founder,
and the first President of the Association. Emerson had only tangential
relations with the experiment, and tells its story in his "Historic
Notes" very kindly and respectfully, but with that sense of the
ridiculous in the aspect of some of its conditions which belongs to the
sagacious common-sense side of his nature. The married women, he
says, were against the community. "It was to them like the brassy and
lacquered life in hotels. The common school was well enough, but to
the common nursery they had grave objections. Eggs might be hatched in
ovens, but the hen on her own account much preferred the old way. A hen
without her chickens was but half a hen." Is not the inaudible, inward
laughter of Emerson more refreshing than the explosions of our noisiest

This is his benevolent summing up:--

    "The founders of Brook Farm should have this praise, that they made
    what all people try to make, an agreeable place to live in. All
    comers, even the most fastidious, found it the pleasantest of
    residences. It is certain, that freedom from household routine,
    variety of character and talent, variety of work, variety of means
    of thought and instruction, art, music, poetry, reading, masquerade,
    did not permit sluggishness or despondency; broke up routine.
    There is agreement in the testimony that it was, to most of the
    associates, education; to many, the most important period of their
    life, the birth of valued friendships, their first acquaintance with
    the riches of conversation, their training in behavior. The art of
    letter-writing, it is said, was immensely cultivated. Letters were
    always flying, not only from house to house, but from room to room.
    It was a perpetual picnic, a French Revolution in small, an Age of
    Reason in a patty-pan."

The public edifice called the "Phalanstery" was destroyed by fire
in 1846. The Association never recovered from this blow, and soon
afterwards it was dissolved.

Section 2. Emerson's first volume of his collected Essays was published
in 1841. In the reprint it contains the following Essays: History;
Self-Reliance; Compensation; Spiritual Laws; Love; Friendship; Prudence;
Heroism; The Over-Soul; Circles; Intellect; Art. "The Young American,"
which is now included in the volume, was not delivered until 1844.

Once accustomed to Emerson's larger formulae we can to a certain extent
project from our own minds his treatment of special subjects. But we
cannot anticipate the daring imagination, the subtle wit, the curious
illustrations, the felicitous language, which make the Lecture or the
Essay captivating as read, and almost entrancing as listened to by
the teachable disciple. The reader must be prepared for occasional
extravagances. Take the Essay on History, in the first series of Essays,
for instance. "Let it suffice that in the light of these two facts,
namely, that the mind is One, and that nature is its correlative,
history is to be read and written." When we come to the application,
in the same Essay, almost on the same page, what can we make of such
discourse as this? The sentences I quote do not follow immediately, one
upon the other, but their sense is continuous.

    "I hold an actual knowledge very cheap. Hear the rats in the wall,
    see the lizard on the fence, the fungus under foot, the lichen on
    the log. What do I know sympathetically, morally, of either of these
    worlds of life?--How many times we must say Rome and Paris, and
    Constantinople! What does Rome know of rat and lizard? What are
    Olympiads and Consulates to these neighboring systems of being?
    Nay, what food or experience or succor have they for the Esquimau
    seal-hunter, for the Kamchatcan in his canoe, for the fisherman, the
    stevedore, the porter?"

The connection of ideas is not obvious. One can hardly help being
reminded of a certain great man's Rochester speech as commonly reported
by the story-teller. "Rome in her proudest days never had a waterfall
a hundred and fifty feet high! Greece in her palmiest days never had a
waterfall a hundred and fifty feet high! Men of Rochester, go on! No
people ever lost their liberty who had a waterfall a hundred and fifty
feet high!"

We cannot help smiling, perhaps laughing, at the odd mixture of Rome
and rats, of Olympiads and Esquimaux. But the underlying idea of the
interdependence of all that exists in nature is far from ridiculous.
Emerson says, not absurdly or extravagantly, that "every history should
be written in a wisdom which divined the range of our affinities and
looked at facts as symbols."

We have become familiar with his doctrine of "Self-Reliance," which is
the subject of the second lecture of the series. We know that he
always and everywhere recognized that the divine voice which speaks
authoritatively in the soul of man is the source of all our wisdom.
It is a man's true self, so that it follows that absolute, supreme
self-reliance is the law of his being. But see how he guards his
proclamation of self-reliance as the guide of mankind.

    "Truly it demands something god-like in him who has cast off the
    common motives of humanity and has ventured to trust himself for a
    task-master. High be his heart, faithful his will, clear his sight,
    that he may in good earnest be doctrine, society, law, to himself,
    that a simple purpose may be to him as strong as iron necessity is
    to others!"

"Compensation" might be preached in a synagogue, and the Rabbi would be
praised for his performance. Emerson had been listening to a sermon from
a preacher esteemed for his orthodoxy, in which it was assumed that
judgment is not executed in this world, that the wicked are successful,
and the good are miserable. This last proposition agrees with John
Bunyan's view:--

  "A Christian man is never long at ease,
  When one fright's gone, another doth him seize."

Emerson shows up the "success" of the bad man and the failures and
trials of the good man in their true spiritual characters, with a noble
scorn of the preacher's low standard of happiness and misery, which
would have made him throw his sermon into the fire.

The Essay on "Spiritual Laws" is full of pithy sayings:--

    "As much virtue as there is, so much appears; as much goodness as
    there is, so much reverence it commands. All the devils respect
    virtue.--A man passes for that he is worth.--The ancestor of every
    action is a thought.--To think is to act.--Let a man believe in
    God, and not in names and places and persons. Let the great soul
    incarnated in some woman's form, poor and sad and single, in some
    Dolly or Joan, go out to service and sweep chambers and scour
    floors, and its effulgent day-beams cannot be hid, but to sweep and
    scour will instantly appear supreme and beautiful actions, the top
    and radiance of human life, and all people will get mops and brooms;
    until, lo! suddenly the great soul has enshrined itself in some
    other form and done some other deed, and that is now the flower and
    head of all living nature."

This is not any the worse for being the flowering out of a poetical bud
of George Herbert's. The Essay on "Love" is poetical, but the three
poems, "Initial," "Daemonic," and "Celestial Love" are more nearly equal
to his subject than his prose.

There is a passage in the Lecture on "Friendship" which suggests
some personal relation of Emerson's about which we cannot help being

    "It has seemed to me lately more possible than I knew, to carry a
    friendship greatly, on one side, without due correspondence on the
    other. Why should I cumber myself with regrets that the receiver is
    not capacious? It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall
    wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the
    reflecting planet. Let your greatness educate the crude and cold
    companion.... Yet these things may hardly be said without a sort of
    treachery to the relation. The essence of friendship is entireness,
    a total magnanimity and trust. It must not surmise or provide for
    infirmity. It treats its object as a god that it may deify both."

Was he thinking of his relations with Carlyle? It is a curious subject
of speculation what would have been the issue if Carlyle had come to
Concord and taken up his abode under Emerson's most hospitable roof.
"You shall not come nearer a man by getting into his house." How could
they have got on together? Emerson was well-bred, and Carlyle was
wanting in the social graces. "Come rest in this bosom" is a sweet air,
heard in the distance, too apt to be followed, after a protracted season
of close proximity, by that other strain,--

  "No, fly me, fly me, far as pole from pole!
  Rise Alps between us and whole oceans roll!"

But Emerson may have been thinking of some very different person,
perhaps some "crude and cold companion" among his disciples, who was not
equal to the demands of friendly intercourse.

He discourses wisely on "Prudence," a virtue which he does not claim for
himself, and nobly on "Heroism," which was a shining part of his own
moral and intellectual being.

The points which will be most likely to draw the reader's attention are
the remarks on the literature of heroism; the claim for our own America,
for Massachusetts and Connecticut River and Boston Bay, in spite of our
love for the names of foreign and classic topography; and most of all
one sentence which, coming from an optimist like Emerson, has a sound of
sad sincerity painful to recognize.

    "Who that sees the meanness of our politics but inly congratulates
    Washington that he is long already wrapped in his shroud, and
    forever safe; that he was laid sweet in his grave, the hope of
    humanity not yet subjugated in him. Who does not sometimes envy the
    good and brave who are no more to suffer from the tumults of the
    natural world, and await with curious complacency the speedy term of
    his own conversation with finite nature? And yet the love that
    will be annihilated sooner than treacherous has already made death
    impossible, and affirms itself no mortal, but a native of the deeps
    of absolute and inextinguishable being."

In the following Essay, "The Over-Soul," Emerson has attempted the
impossible. He is as fully conscious of this fact as the reader of his
rhapsody,--nay, he is more profoundly penetrated with it than any of his
readers. In speaking of the exalted condition the soul is capable of
reaching, he says,--

    "Every man's words, who speaks from that life, must sound vain to
    those who do not dwell in the same thought on their own part. I dare
    not speak for it. My words do not carry its august sense; they fall
    short and cold. Only itself can inspire whom it will, and behold!
    their speech shall be lyrical and sweet, and universal as the rising
    of the wind. Yet I desire, even by profane words, if I may not use
    sacred, to indicate the heaven of this deity, and to report what
    hints I have collected of the transcendent simplicity and energy of
    the Highest Law."

"The Over-Soul" might almost be called the Over-_flow_ of a spiritual
imagination. We cannot help thinking of the "pious, virtuous,
God-intoxicated" Spinoza. When one talks of the infinite in terms
borrowed from the finite, when one attempts to deal with the absolute
in the language of the relative, his words are not symbols, like those
applied to the objects of experience, but the shadows of symbols,
varying with the position and intensity of the light of the individual
intelligence. It is a curious amusement to trace many of these thoughts
and expressions to Plato, or Plotinus, or Proclus, or Porphyry, to
Spinoza or Schelling, but the same tune is a different thing according
to the instrument on which it is played. There are songs without words,
and there are states in which, in place of the trains of thought moving
in endless procession with ever-varying figures along the highway of
consciousness, the soul is possessed by a single all-absorbing idea,
which, in the highest state of spiritual exaltation, becomes a vision.
Both Plotinus and Porphyry believed they were privileged to look upon
Him whom "no man can see and live."

But Emerson states his own position so frankly in his Essay entitled
"Circles," that the reader cannot take issue with him as against
utterances which he will not defend. There can be no doubt that he would
have confessed as much with reference to "The Over-Soul" as he has
confessed with regard to "Circles," the Essay which follows "The

    "I am not careful to justify myself.... But lest I should mislead
    any when I have my own head and obey my whims, let me remind the
    reader that I am only an experimenter. Do not set the least value
    on what I do, or the least discredit on what I do not, as if I
    pretended to settle anything as true or false. I unsettle all
    things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply
    experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back."

Perhaps, after reading these transcendental essays of Emerson, we might
borrow Goethe's language about Spinoza, as expressing the feeling with
which we are left.

    "I am reading Spinoza with Frau von Stein. I feel myself very near
    to him, though his soul is much deeper and purer than mine.

    "I cannot say that I ever read Spinoza straight through, that at any
    time the complete architecture of his intellectual system has
    stood clear in view before me. But when I look into him I seem to
    understand him,--that is, he always appears to me consistent with
    himself, and I can always gather from him very salutary influences
    for my own way of feeling and acting."

Emerson would not have pretended that he was always "consistent with
himself," but these "salutary influences," restoring, enkindling,
vivifying, are felt by many of his readers who would have to confess,
like Dr. Walter Channing, that these thoughts, or thoughts like these,
as he listened to them in a lecture, "made his head ache."

The three essays which follow "The Over-Soul," "Circles," "Intellect,"
"Art," would furnish us a harvest of good sayings, some of which we
should recognize as parts of our own (borrowed) axiomatic wisdom.

    "Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then
    all things are at risk."

    "God enters by a private door into every individual."

    "God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take
    which you please,--you can never have both."

    "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must
    carry it with us, or we find it not."

But we cannot reconstruct the Hanging Gardens with a few bricks from

Emerson describes his mode of life in these years in a letter to
Carlyle, dated May 10, 1838.

    "I occupy, or improve, as we Yankees say, two acres only of God's
    earth; on which is my house, my kitchen-garden, my orchard of thirty
    young trees, my empty barn. My house is now a very good one for
    comfort, and abounding in room. Besides my house, I have, I believe,
    $22,000, whose income in ordinary years is six per cent. I have no
    other tithe or glebe except the income of my winter lectures, which
    was last winter $800. Well, with this income, here at home, I am a
    rich man. I stay at home and go abroad at my own instance. I have
    food, warmth, leisure, books, friends. Go away from home, I am rich
    no longer. I never have a dollar to spend on a fancy. As no wise
    man, I suppose, ever was rich in the sense of freedom to spend,
    because of the inundation of claims, so neither am I, who am not
    wise. But at home, I am rich,--rich enough for ten brothers. My wife
    Lidian is an incarnation of Christianity,--I call her Asia,--and
    keeps my philosophy from Antinomianism; my mother, whitest, mildest,
    most conservative of ladies, whose only exception to her universal
    preference for old things is her son; my boy, a piece of love and
    sunshine, well worth my watching from morning to night;--these, and
    three domestic women, who cook, and sew and run for us, make all my
    household. Here I sit and read and write, with very little system,
    and, as far as regards composition, with the most fragmentary
    result: paragraphs incompressible, each sentence an infinitely
    repellent particle."

A great sorrow visited Emerson and his household at this period of his
life. On the 30th of October, 1841, he wrote to Carlyle: "My little boy
is five years old to-day, and almost old enough to send you his love."

Three months later, on the 28th of February, 1842, he writes once

    "My dear friend, you should have had this letter and these messages
    by the last steamer; but when it sailed, my son, a perfect little
    boy of five years and three months, had ended his earthly life. You
    can never sympathize with me; you can never know how much of me such
    a young child can take away. A few weeks ago I accounted myself a
    very rich man, and now the poorest of all. What would it avail to
    tell you anecdotes of a sweet and wonderful boy, such as we solace
    and sadden ourselves with at home every morning and evening? From a
    perfect health and as happy a life and as happy influences as ever
    child enjoyed, he was hurried out of my arms in three short days by
    scarlatina. We have two babes yet, one girl of three years, and one
    girl of three months and a week, but a promise like that Boy's I
    shall never see. How often I have pleased myself that one day I
    should send to you this Morning Star of mine, and stay at home so
    gladly behind such a representative. I dare not fathom the Invisible
    and Untold to inquire what relations to my Departed ones I yet

This was the boy whose memory lives in the tenderest and most pathetic
of Emerson's poems, the "Threnody,"--a lament not unworthy of comparison
with Lycidas for dignity, but full of the simple pathos of Cowper's
well-remembered lines on the receipt of his mother's picture, in the
place of Milton's sonorous academic phrases.


1843-1848. AET. 40-45.

"The Young American."--Address on the Anniversary of the Emancipation
of the Negroes in the British West Indies.[1]--Publication of the Second
Series of Essays.--Contents: The Poet.--Experience.--Character.
--Manners.--Gifts.--Nature.--Politics.--Nominalist and Realist.--New
England Reformers.--Publication of Poems.--Second Visit to England.

[Footnote 1: These two addresses are to be found in the first and
eleventh volumes, respectively, of the last collective edition of
Emerson's works, namely, "Nature, Addresses, and Lectures," and

Emerson was American in aspect, temperament, way of thinking, and
feeling; American, with an atmosphere of Oriental idealism; American, so
far as he belonged to any limited part of the universe. He believed in
American institutions, he trusted the future of the American race. In
the address first mentioned in the contents, of this chapter, delivered
February 7, 1844, he claims for this country all that the most ardent
patriot could ask. Not a few of his fellow-countrymen will feel the
significance of the following contrast.

    "The English have many virtues, many advantages, and the proudest
    history in the world; but they need all and more than all the
    resources of the past to indemnify a heroic gentleman in that
    country for the mortifications prepared for him by the system of
    society, and which seem to impose the alternative to resist or to
    avoid it.... It is for Englishmen to consider, not for us; we only
    say, Let us live in America, too thankful for our want of feudal
    institutions.... If only the men are employed in conspiring with the
    designs of the Spirit who led us hither, and is leading us still, we
    shall quickly enough advance out of all hearing of others' censures,
    out of all regrets of our own, into a new and more excellent social
    state than history has recorded."

Thirty years have passed since the lecture from which these passages are
taken was delivered. The "Young American" of that day is the more than
middle-aged American of the present. The intellectual independence of
our country is far more solidly established than when this lecture was
written. But the social alliance between certain classes of Americans
and English is more and more closely cemented from year to year, as the
wealth of the new world burrows its way among the privileged classes
of the old world. It is a poor ambition for the possessor of suddenly
acquired wealth to have it appropriated as a feeder of the impaired
fortunes of a deteriorated household, with a family record of which
its representatives are unworthy. The plain and wholesome language of
Emerson is on the whole more needed now than it was when spoken. His
words have often been extolled for their stimulating quality; following
the same analogy, they are, as in this address, in a high degree tonic,
bracing, strengthening to the American, who requires to be reminded of
his privileges that he may know and find himself equal to his duties.

On the first day of August, 1844, Emerson delivered in Concord an
address on the Anniversary of the Emancipation of the Negroes in the
British West India Islands. This discourse would not have satisfied the
Abolitionists. It was too general in its propositions, full of humane
and generous sentiments, but not looking to their extreme and immediate
method of action.

       *       *       *       *       *

Emerson's second series of Essays was published in 1844. There are
many sayings in the Essay called "The Poet," which are meant for the
initiated, rather than for him who runs, to read:--

    "All that we call sacred history attests that the birth of a poet is
    the principal event in chronology."

Does this sound wild and extravagant? What were the political ups and
downs of the Hebrews,--what were the squabbles of the tribes with each
other, or with their neighbors, compared to the birth of that poet to
whom we owe the Psalms,--the sweet singer whose voice is still the
dearest of all that ever sang to the heart of mankind?

The poet finds his materials everywhere, as Emerson tells him in this
eloquent apostrophe:--

    "Thou true land-bird! sea-bird! air-bird! Wherever snow falls, or
    water flows, or birds fly, wherever day and night meet in twilight,
    wherever the blue heaven is hung by clouds, or sown with stars,
    wherever are forms with transparent boundaries, wherever are outlets
    into celestial space, wherever is danger and awe and love, there is
    Beauty, plenteous as rain, shed for thee, and though thou should'st
    walk the world over, thou shalt not be able to find a condition
    inopportune or ignoble."

"Experience" is, as he says himself, but a fragment. It bears marks of
having been written in a less tranquil state of mind than the other
essays. His most important confession is this:--

    "All writing comes by the grace of God, and all doing and having. I
    would gladly be moral and keep due metes and bounds, which I dearly
    love, and allow the most to the will of man; but I have set my
    heart on honesty in this chapter, and I can see nothing at last, in
    success or failure, than more or less of vital force supplied from
    the Eternal."

The Essay on "Character" requires no difficult study, but is well worth
the trouble of reading. A few sentences from it show the prevailing tone
and doctrine.

    "Character is Nature in the highest form. It is of no use to ape it,
    or to contend with it. Somewhat is possible of resistance and of
    persistence and of creation to this power, which will foil all

    "There is a class of men, individuals of which appear at long
    intervals, so eminently endowed with insight and virtue, that they
    have been unanimously saluted as _divine_, and who seem to be an
    accumulation of that power we consider.

    "The history of those gods and saints which the world has written,
    and then worshipped, are documents of character. The ages have
    exulted in the manners of a youth who owed nothing to fortune, and
    who was hanged at the Tyburn of his nation, who, by the pure quality
    of his nature, shed an epic splendor around the facts of his death
    which has transfigured every particular into an universal symbol
    for the eyes of mankind. This great defeat is hitherto our highest

In his Essay on "Manners," Emerson gives us his ideas of a gentleman:--

    "The gentleman is a man of truth, lord of his own actions and
    expressing that lordship in his behavior, not in any manner
    dependent and servile either on persons or opinions or possessions.
    Beyond this fact of truth and real force, the word denotes
    good-nature or benevolence: manhood first, and then
    gentleness.--Power first, or no leading class.--God knows that
    all sorts of gentlemen knock at the door: but whenever used in
    strictness, and with any emphasis, the name will be found to point
    at original energy.--The famous gentlemen of Europe have been of
    this strong type: Saladin, Sapor, the Cid, Julius Caesar, Scipio,
    Alexander, Pericles, and the lordliest personages. They sat very
    carelessly in their chairs, and were too excellent themselves to
    value any condition at a high rate.--I could better eat with one
    who did not respect the truth or the laws than with a sloven and
    unpresentable person.--The person who screams, or uses the
    superlative degree, or converses with heat, puts whole drawing-rooms
    to flight.--I esteem it a chief felicity of this country that it
    excels in woman."

So writes Emerson, and proceeds to speak of woman in language which
seems almost to pant for rhythm and rhyme.

This essay is plain enough for the least "transcendental" reader.
Franklin would have approved it, and was himself a happy illustration of
many of the qualities which go to the Emersonian ideal of good manners,
a typical American, equal to his position, always as much so in the
palaces and salons of Paris as in the Continental Congress, or the
society of Philadelphia.

"Gifts" is a dainty little Essay with some nice distinctions and some
hints which may help to give form to a generous impulse:--

    "The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me.
    Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the
    farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the
    painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing."

    "Flowers and fruits are always fit presents; flowers, because
    they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the
    utilities of the world.--Fruits are acceptable gifts, because they
    are the flower of commodities, and admit of fantastic values being
    attached to them."

    "It is a great happiness to get off without injury and heart-burning
    from one who has had the ill-luck to be served by you. It is a very
    onerous business, this of being served, and the debtor naturally
    wishes to give you a slap."

Emerson hates the superlative, but he does unquestionably love the
tingling effect of a witty over-statement.

We have recognized most of the thoughts in the Essay entitled "Nature,"
in the previous Essay by the same name, and others which we have passed
in review. But there are poetical passages which will give new pleasure.

    Here is a variation of the formula with which we are familiar:--
    "Nature is the incarnation of a thought, and turns to a thought
    again, as ice becomes water and gas. The world is mind precipitated,
    and the volatile essence is forever escaping again into the state of
    free thought."

And here is a quaint sentence with which we may take leave of this

    "They say that by electro-magnetism, your salad shall be grown from
    the seed, whilst your fowl is roasting for dinner: it is a symbol of
    our modern aims and endeavors,--of our condensation and acceleration
    of objects; but nothing is gained: nature cannot be cheated: man's
    life is but seventy salads long, grow they swift or grow they slow."

This is pretty and pleasant, but as to the literal value of the
prediction, M. Jules Verne would be the best authority to consult. Poets
are fond of that branch of science which, if the imaginative Frenchman
gave it a name, he would probably call _Onditologie_.

It is not to be supposed that the most sanguine optimist could be
satisfied with the condition of the American political world at the
present time, or when the Essay on "Politics" was written, some years
before the great war which changed the aspects of the country in so many
respects, still leaving the same party names, and many of the characters
of the old parties unchanged. This is Emerson's view of them as they
then were:--

    "Of the two great parties, which, at this hour, almost share
    the nation between them, I should say that one has the best
    cause, and the other contains the best men. The philosopher, the
    poet, or the religious man, will, of course, wish to cast his vote
    with the democrat, for free trade, for wide suffrage, for the
    abolition of legal cruelties in the penal code, and for facilitating
    in every manner the access of the young and the poor to the sources
    of wealth and power. But he can rarely accept the persons whom the
    so-called popular party propose to him as representatives of these
    liberties. They have not at heart the ends which give to the name of
    democracy what hope and virtue are in it. The spirit of our American
    radicalism is destructive and aimless; it is not loving; it has no
    ulterior and divine ends; but is destructive only out of hatred and
    selfishness. On the other side, the conservative party, composed of
    the most moderate, able, and cultivated part of the population, is
    timid, and merely defensive of property. It indicates no right, it
    aspires to no real good, it brands no crime, it proposes no generous
    policy, it does not build nor write, nor cherish the arts, nor
    foster religion, nor establish schools, nor encourage science, nor
    emancipate the slave, nor befriend the poor, or the Indian, or the
    immigrant. From neither party, when in power, has the world any
    benefit to expect in science, art, or humanity, at all commensurate
    with the resources of the nation."

The metaphysician who looks for a closely reasoned argument on the
famous old question which so divided the schoolmen of old will find
a very moderate satisfaction in the Essay entitled "Nominalism and
Realism." But there are many discursive remarks in it worth gathering
and considering. We have the complaint of the Cambridge "Phi Beta
Kappa Oration," reiterated, that there is no complete man, but only a
collection of fragmentary men.

As a Platonist and a poet there could not be any doubt on which side
were all his prejudices; but he takes his ground cautiously.

    "In the famous dispute with the Nominalists, the Realists had a good
    deal of reason. General ideas are essences. They are our gods: they
    round and ennoble the most practical and sordid way of living.

    "Though the uninspired man certainly finds persons a conveniency in
    household matters, the divine man does not respect them: he sees
    them as a rack of clouds, or a fleet of ripples which the wind
    drives over the surface of the water. But this is flat rebellion.
    Nature will not be Buddhist: she resents generalizing, and
    insults the philosopher in every moment with a million of fresh

_New England Reformers_.--Would any one venture to guess how Emerson
would treat this subject? With his unsparing, though amiable radicalism,
his excellent common sense, his delicate appreciation of the ridiculous,
too deep for laughter, as Wordsworth's thoughts were too deep for tears,
in the midst of a band of enthusiasts and not very remote from a throng
of fanatics, what are we to look for from our philosopher who unites
many characteristics of Berkeley and of Franklin?

We must remember when this lecture was written, for it was delivered on
a Sunday in the year 1844. The Brook Farm experiment was an index of the
state of mind among one section of the Reformers of whom he was writing.
To remodel society and the world into a "happy family" was the aim
of these enthusiasts. Some attacked one part of the old system, some
another; some would build a new temple, some would rebuild the old
church, some would worship in the fields and woods, if at all; one was
for a phalanstery, where all should live in common, and another was
meditating the plan and place of the wigwam where he was to dwell apart
in the proud independence of the woodchuck and the musquash. Emerson had
the largest and kindliest sympathy with their ideals and aims, but he
was too clear-eyed not to see through the whims and extravagances of the
unpractical experimenters who would construct a working world with the
lay figures they had put together, instead of flesh and blood men and
women and children with all their congenital and acquired perversities.
He describes these Reformers in his own good-naturedly half-satirical

    "They defied each other like a congress of kings; each of whom had a
    realm to rule, and a way of his own that made concert unprofitable.
    What a fertility of projects for the salvation of the world! One
    apostle thought all men should go to farming; and another that no
    man should buy or sell; that the use of money was the cardinal evil;
    another that the mischief was in our diet, that we eat and drink
    damnation. These made unleavened bread, and were foes to the death
    to fermentation. It was in vain urged by the housewife that God made
    yeast as well as dough, and loves fermentation just as dearly as he
    does vegetation; that fermentation develops the saccharine element
    in the grain, and makes it more palatable and more digestible. No,
    they wish the pure wheat, and will die but it shall not ferment.
    Stop, dear nature, these innocent advances of thine; let us
    scotch these ever-rolling wheels! Others attacked the system of
    agriculture, the use of animal manures in farming; and the tyranny
    of man over brute nature; these abuses polluted his food. The ox
    must be taken from the plough, and the horse from the cart, the
    hundred acres of the farm must be spaded, and the man must walk
    wherever boats and locomotives will not carry him. Even the insect
    world was to be defended,--that had been too long neglected, and a
    society for the protection of ground-worms, slugs, and mosquitoes
    was to be incorporated without delay. With these appeared the adepts
    of homoeopathy, of hydropathy, of mesmerism, of phrenology, and
    their wonderful theories of the Christian miracles!"

We have already seen the issue of the famous Brook Farm experiment,
which was a practical outcome of the reforming agitation.

Emerson has had the name of being a leader in many movements in which he
had very limited confidence, this among others to which the idealizing
impulse derived from him lent its force, but for the organization of
which he was in no sense responsible.

He says in the lecture we are considering:--

    "These new associations are composed of men and women of superior
    talents and sentiments; yet it may easily be questioned whether such
    a community will draw, except in its beginnings, the able and the
    good; whether these who have energy will not prefer their choice of
    superiority and power in the world to the humble certainties of the
    association; whether such a retreat does not promise to become an
    asylum to those who have tried and failed rather than a field to the
    strong; and whether the members will not necessarily be fractions of
    men, because each finds that he cannot enter into it without some

His sympathies were not allowed to mislead him; he knew human nature too
well to believe in a Noah's ark full of idealists.

All this time he was lecturing for his support, giving courses of
lectures in Boston and other cities, and before the country lyceums in
and out of New England.

His letters to Carlyle show how painstaking, how methodical, how
punctual he was in the business which interested his distant friend. He
was not fond of figures, and it must have cost him a great effort to
play the part of an accountant.

He speaks also of receiving a good deal of company in the summer, and
that some of this company exacted much time and attention,--more than he
could spare,--is made evident by his gentle complaints, especially in
his poems, which sometimes let out a truth he would hardly have uttered
in prose.

In 1846 Emerson's first volume of poems was published. Many of the poems
had been long before the public--some of the best, as we have seen,
having been printed in "The Dial." It is only their being brought
together for the first time which belongs especially to this period,
and we can leave them for the present, to be looked over by and by in
connection with a second volume of poems published in 1867, under the
title, "May-Day and other Pieces."

In October, 1847, he left Concord on a second visit to England, which
will be spoken of in the following chapter.


1848-1853. AET. 45-50.

The "Massachusetts Quarterly Review;" Visit to Europe.--England.
--Scotland.--France.--"Representative Men" published. I. Uses
of Great Men. II. Plato; or, the Philosopher; Plato; New
Readings. III. Swedenborg; or, the Mystic. IV. Montaigne; or, the
Skeptic. V. Shakespeare; or, the Poet. VI. Napoleon; or, the Man of the
World. VII. Goethe; or, the Writer.--Contribution to the "Memoirs of
Margaret Fuller Ossoli."

A new periodical publication was begun in Boston in 1847, under the name
of the "Massachusetts Quarterly Review." Emerson wrote the "Editor's
Address," but took no further active part in it, Theodore Parker being
the real editor. The last line of this address is characteristic: "We
rely on the truth for aid against ourselves."

On the 5th of October, 1847, Emerson sailed for Europe on his second
visit, reaching Liverpool on the 22d of that month. Many of his admirers
were desirous that he should visit England and deliver some courses of
lectures. Mr. Alexander Ireland, who had paid him friendly attentions
during his earlier visit, and whose impressions of him in the pulpit
have been given on a previous page, urged his coming. Mr. Conway
quotes passages from a letter of Emerson's which show that he had some
hesitation in accepting the invitation, not unmingled with a wish to be
heard by the English audiences favorably disposed towards him.

"I feel no call," he said, "to make a visit of literary propagandism in
England. All my impulses to work of that kind would rather employ me at
home." He does not like the idea of "coaxing" or advertising to get
him an audience. He would like to read lectures before institutions or
friendly persons who sympathize with his studies. He has had a good many
decisive tokens of interest from British men and women, but he doubts
whether he is much and favorably known in any one city, except perhaps
in London. It proved, however, that there was a very widespread desire
to hear him, and applications for lectures flowed in from all parts of
the kingdom.

From Liverpool he proceeded immediately to Manchester, where Mr. Ireland
received him at the Victoria station. After spending a few hours with
him, he went to Chelsea to visit Carlyle, and at the end of a week
returned to Manchester to begin the series of lecturing engagements
which had been arranged for him. Mr. Ireland's account of Emerson's
visits and the interviews between him and many distinguished persons
is full of interest, but the interest largely relates to the persons
visited by Emerson. He lectured at Edinburgh, where his liberal way of
thinking and talking made a great sensation in orthodox circles. But he
did not fail to find enthusiastic listeners. A young student, Mr. George
Cupples, wrote an article on these lectures from which, as quoted by Mr.
Ireland, I borrow a single sentence,--one only, but what could a critic
say more?

Speaking of his personal character, as revealed through his writings, he
says: "In this respect, I take leave to think that Emerson is the most
mark-worthy, the loftiest, and most heroic mere man that ever appeared."
Emerson has a lecture on the superlative, to which he himself was never
addicted. But what would youth be without its extravagances,--its
preterpluperfect in the shape of adjectives, its unmeasured and
unstinted admiration?

I need not enumerate the celebrated literary personages and other
notabilities whom Emerson met in England and Scotland. He thought "the
two finest mannered literary men he met in England were Leigh Hunt and
De Quincey." His diary might tell us more of the impressions made upon
him by the distinguished people he met, but it is impossible to believe
that he ever passed such inhuman judgments on the least desirable of
his new acquaintances as his friend Carlyle has left as a bitter legacy
behind him. Carlyle's merciless discourse about Coleridge and Charles
Lamb, and Swinburne's carnivorous lines, which take a barbarous
vengeance on him for his offence, are on the level of political rhetoric
rather than of scholarly criticism or characterization. Emerson never
forgot that he was dealing with human beings. He could not have long
endured the asperities of Carlyle, and that "loud shout of laughter,"
which Mr. Ireland speaks of as one of his customary explosions, would
have been discordant to Emerson's ears, which were offended by such
noisy manifestations.

During this visit Emerson made an excursion to Paris, which furnished
him materials for a lecture on France delivered in Boston, in 1856, but
never printed.

From the lectures delivered in England he selected a certain number for
publication. These make up the volume entitled "Representative Men,"
which was published in 1850. I will give very briefly an account of its
contents. The title was a happy one, and has passed into literature and
conversation as an accepted and convenient phrase. It would teach us a
good deal merely to consider the names he has selected as typical,
and the ground of their selection. We get his classification of men
considered as leaders in thought and in action. He shows his own
affinities and repulsions, and, as everywhere, writes his own biography,
no matter about whom or what he is talking. There is hardly any book of
his better worth study by those who wish to understand, not Plato, not
Plutarch, not Napoleon, but Emerson himself. All his great men interest
us for their own sake; but we know a good deal about most of them, and
Emerson holds the mirror up to them at just such an angle that we
see his own face as well as that of his hero, unintentionally,
unconsciously, no doubt, but by a necessity which he would be the first
to recognize.

Emerson swears by no master. He admires, but always with a reservation.
Plato comes nearest to being his idol, Shakespeare next. But he says of
all great men: "The power which they communicate is not theirs. When we
are exalted by ideas, we do not owe this to Plato, but to the idea, to
which also Plato was debtor."

Emerson loves power as much as Carlyle does; he likes "rough and
smooth," "scourges of God," and "darlings of the human race." He likes
Julius Caesar, Charles the Fifth, of Spain, Charles the Twelfth, of
Sweden, Richard Plantagenet, and Bonaparte.

    "I applaud," he says, "a sufficient man, an officer equal
    to his office; captains, ministers, senators. I like a master
    standing firm on legs of iron, well born, rich, handsome,
    eloquent, loaded with advantages, drawing all men by fascination
    into tributaries and supporters of his power. Sword and staff,
    or talents sword-like or staff-like, carry on the work of the
    world. But I find him greater when he can abolish himself and
    all heroes by letting in this element of reason, irrespective of
    persons, this subtilizer and irresistible upward force, into our
    thoughts, destroying individualism; the power is so great that the
    potentate is nothing.--

    "The genius of humanity is the right point of view of history. The
    qualities abide; the men who exhibit them have now more, now less,
    and pass away; the qualities remain on another brow.--All that
    respects the individual is temporary and prospective, like the
    individual himself, who is ascending out of his limits into a
    catholic existence."

No man can be an idol for one who looks in this way at all men. But
Plato takes the first place in Emerson's gallery of six great personages
whose portraits he has sketched. And of him he says:--

    "Among secular books Plato only is entitled to Omar's fanatical
    compliment to the Koran, when he said, 'Burn the libraries; for
    their value is in this book.' Out of Plato come all things that are
    still written and debated among men of thought."--

    "In proportion to the culture of men they become his
    scholars."--"How many great men Nature is incessantly sending up
    out of night to be _his men_!--His contemporaries tax him with
    plagiarism.--But the inventor only knows how to borrow. When we are
    praising Plato, it seems we are praising quotations from Solon and
    Sophron and Philolaus. Be it so. Every book is a quotation; and
    every house is a quotation out of all forests and mines and stone
    quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors."

The reader will, I hope, remember this last general statement when
he learns from what wide fields of authorship Emerson filled his

A few sentences from Emerson will show us the probable source of some of
the deepest thought of Plato and his disciples.

The conception of the fundamental Unity, he says, finds its highest
expression in the religious writings of the East, especially in the
Indian Scriptures. "'The whole world is but a manifestation of Vishnu,
who is identical with all things, and is to be regarded by the wise as
not differing from but as the same as themselves. I neither am going nor
coming; nor is my dwelling in any one place; nor art thou, thou; nor are
others, others; nor am I, I.' As if he had said, 'All is for the soul,
and the soul is Vishnu; and animals and stars are transient paintings;
and light is whitewash; and durations are deceptive; and form is
imprisonment; and heaven itself a decoy.'" All of which we see
reproduced in Emerson's poem "Brahma."--"The country of unity, of
immovable institutions, the seat of a philosophy delighting in
abstractions, of men faithful in doctrine and in practice to the idea of
a deaf, unimplorable, immense fate, is Asia; and it realizes this faith
in the social institution of caste. On the other side, the genius
of Europe is active and creative: it resists caste by culture; its
philosophy was a discipline; it is a land of arts, inventions, trade,
freedom."--"Plato came to join, and by contact to enhance, the energy of

But Emerson says,--and some will smile at hearing him say it of
another,--"The acutest German, the lovingest disciple, could never tell
what Platonism was; indeed, admirable texts can be quoted on both sides
of every great question from him."

The transcendent intellectual and moral superiorities of this "Euclid of
holiness," as Emerson calls him, with his "soliform eye and his boniform
soul,"--the two quaint adjectives being from the mint of Cudworth,--are
fully dilated upon in the addition to the original article called
"Plato: New Readings."

Few readers will be satisfied with the Essay entitled "Swedenborg; or,
the Mystic." The believers in his special communion as a revealer of
divine truth will find him reduced to the level of other seers. The
believers of the different creeds of Christianity will take offence
at the statement that "Swedenborg and Behmen both failed by attaching
themselves to the Christian symbol, instead of to the moral sentiment,
which carries innumerable christianities, humanities, divinities in
its bosom." The men of science will smile at the exorbitant claims
put forward in behalf of Swedenborg as a scientific discoverer.
"Philosophers" will not be pleased to be reminded that Swedenborg called
them "cockatrices," "asps," or "flying serpents;" "literary men" will
not agree that they are "conjurers and charlatans," and will not listen
with patience to the praises of a man who so called them. As for the
poets, they can take their choice of Emerson's poetical or prose
estimate of the great Mystic, but they cannot very well accept both. In
"The Test," the Muse says:--

  "I hung my verses in the wind,
  Time and tide their faults may find;
  All were winnowed through and through,
  Five lines lasted good and true ...
  Sunshine cannot bleach the snow,
  Nor time unmake what poets know.
  Have you eyes to find the five
  Which five hundred did survive?"

In the verses which follow we learn that the five immortal poets
referred to are Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, _Swedenborg_, and Goethe.

And now, in the Essay we have just been looking at, I find that "his
books have no melody, no emotion, no humor, no relief to the dead
prosaic level. We wander forlorn in a lack-lustre landscape. No bird
ever sang in these gardens of the dead. The entire want of poetry in so
transcendent a mind betokens the disease, and like a hoarse voice in a
beautiful person, is a kind of warning." Yet Emerson says of him that
"He lived to purpose: he gave a verdict. He elected goodness as the clue
to which the soul must cling in this labyrinth of nature."

Emerson seems to have admired Swedenborg at a distance, but seen nearer,
he liked Jacob Behmen a great deal better.

"Montaigne; or, the Skeptic," is easier reading than the last-mentioned
Essay. Emerson accounts for the personal regard which he has for
Montaigne by the story of his first acquaintance with him. But no other
reason was needed than that Montaigne was just what Emerson describes
him as being.

    "There have been men with deeper insight; but, one would say, never
    a man with such abundance of thought: he is never dull, never
    insincere, and has the genius to make the reader care for all that
    he cares for.

    "The sincerity and marrow of the man reaches to his sentences.
    I know not anywhere the book that seems less written. It is the
    language of conversation transferred to a book. Cut these words and
    they would bleed; they are vascular and alive.--

    "Montaigne talks with shrewdness, knows the world and books and
    himself, and uses the positive degree; never shrieks, or protests,
    or prays: no weakness, no convulsion, no superlative: does not wish
    to jump out of his skin, or play any antics, or annihilate space or
    time, but is stout and solid; tastes every moment of the day; likes
    pain because it makes him feel himself and realize things; as we
    pinch ourselves to know that we are awake. He keeps the plain; he
    rarely mounts or sinks; likes to feel solid ground and the stones
    underneath. His writing has no enthusiasms, no aspiration;
    contented, self-respecting, and keeping the middle of the road.
    There is but one exception,--in his love for Socrates. In speaking
    of him, for once his cheek flushes and his style rises to passion."

The writer who draws this portrait must have many of the same
characteristics. Much as Emerson loved his dreams and his dreamers, he
must have found a great relief in getting into "the middle of the road"
with Montaigne, after wandering in difficult by-paths which too often
led him round to the point from which he started.

As to his exposition of the true relations of skepticism to affirmative
and negative belief, the philosophical reader must be referred to the
Essay itself.

In writing of "Shakespeare; or, the Poet," Emerson naturally gives
expression to his leading ideas about the office of the poet and of

"Great men are more distinguished by range and extent than by
originality." A poet has "a heart in unison with his time and
country."--"There is nothing whimsical and fantastic in his production,
but sweet and sad earnest, freighted with the weightiest convictions,
and pointed with the most determined aim which any man or class knows of
in his times."

When Shakespeare was in his youth the drama was the popular means of
amusement. It was "ballad, epic, newspaper, caucus, lecture, Punch, and
library, at the same time. The best proof of its vitality is the crowd
of writers which suddenly broke into this field." Shakespeare found a
great mass of old plays existing in manuscript and reproduced from time
to time on the stage. He borrowed in all directions: "A great poet who
appears in illiterate times absorbs into his sphere all the light which
is anywhere radiating." Homer, Chaucer, Saadi, felt that all wit was
their wit. "Chaucer is a huge borrower." Emerson gives a list of authors
from whom he drew. This list is in many particulars erroneous, as I have
learned from a letter of Professor Lounsbury's which I have had the
privilege of reading, but this is a detail which need not delay us.

The reason why Emerson has so much to say on this subject of borrowing,
especially when treating of Plato and of Shakespeare, is obvious enough.
He was arguing in his own cause,--not defending himself, as if there
were some charge of plagiarism to be met, but making the proud claim
of eminent domain in behalf of the masters who knew how to use their

    "Shakespeare is the only biographer of Shakespeare; and even he can
    tell nothing except to the Shakespeare in us."--"Shakespeare is as
    much out of the category of eminent authors as he is out of the
    crowd. A good reader can in a sort nestle into Plato's brain and
    think from thence; but not into Shakespeare's. We are still out of

After all the homage which Emerson pays to the intellect of Shakespeare,
he weighs him with the rest of mankind, and finds that he shares "the
halfness and imperfection of humanity."

    "He converted the elements which waited on his command into
    entertainment. He was master of the revels to mankind."

And so, after this solemn verdict on Shakespeare, after looking at the
forlorn conclusions of our old and modern oracles, priest and prophet,
Israelite, German, and Swede, he says: "It must be conceded that these
are half views of half men. The world still wants its poet-priest, who
shall not trifle with Shakespeare the player, nor shall grope in graves
with Swedenborg the mourner; but who shall see, speak, and act with
equal inspiration."

It is not to be expected that Emerson should have much that is new to
say about "Napoleon; or, the Man of the World."

The stepping-stones of this Essay are easy to find:--

    "The instinct of brave, active, able men, throughout the middle
    class everywhere, has pointed out Napoleon as the incarnate

    "Napoleon is thoroughly modern, and at the highest point of his
    fortunes, has the very spirit of the newspapers." As Plato borrowed,
    as Shakespeare borrowed, as Mirabeau "plagiarized every good
    thought, every good word that was spoken in France," so Napoleon is
    not merely "representative, but a monopolizer and usurper of other

He was "a man of stone and iron,"--equipped for his work by nature as
Sallust describes Catiline as being. "He had a directness of action
never before combined with such comprehension. Here was a man who in
each moment and emergency knew what to do next. He saw only the object;
the obstacle must give way."

"When a natural king becomes a titular king everybody is pleased and

"I call Napoleon the agent or attorney of the middle class of modern
society.--He was the agitator, the destroyer of prescription, the
internal improver, the liberal, the radical, the inventor of means, the
opener of doors and markets, the subverter of monopoly and abuse."

But he was without generous sentiments, "a boundless liar," and
finishing in high colors the outline of his moral deformities, Emerson
gives us a climax in two sentences which render further condemnation

    "In short, when you have penetrated through all the circles of power
    and splendor, you were not dealing with a gentleman, at last, but
    with an impostor and rogue; and he fully deserves the epithet of
    Jupiter Scapin, or a sort of Scamp Jupiter.

    "So this exorbitant egotist narrowed, impoverished, and absorbed the
    power and existence of those who served him; and the universal cry
    of France and of Europe in 1814 was, Enough of him; '_Assez de

    It was to this feeling that the French poet Barbier, whose death
    we have but lately seen announced, gave expression in the terrible
    satire in which he pictured France as a fiery courser bestridden by
    her spurred rider, who drove her in a mad career over heaps of rocks
    and ruins.

    But after all, Carlyle's "_carrière ouverte aux talens_" is the
    expression for Napoleon's great message to mankind.

"Goethe; or, the Writer," is the last of the Representative Men who
are the subjects of this book of Essays. Emerson says he had read the
fifty-five volumes of Goethe, but no other German writers, at least in
the original. It must have been in fulfilment of some pious vow that
he did this. After all that Carlyle had written about Goethe, he could
hardly help studying him. But this Essay looks to me as if he had found
the reading of Goethe hard work. It flows rather languidly, toys with
side issues as a stream loiters round a nook in its margin, and finds
an excuse for play in every pebble. Still, he has praise enough for his
author. "He has clothed our modern existence with poetry."--"He has
said the best things about nature that ever were said.--He flung into
literature in his Mephistopheles the first organic figure that has
been added for some ages, and which will remain as long as the
Prometheus.--He is the type of culture, the amateur of all arts and
sciences and events; artistic, but not artist; spiritual, but not
spiritualist.--I join Napoleon with him, as being both representatives
of the impatience and reaction of nature against the morgue of
conventions,--two stern realists, who, with their scholars, have
severally set the axe at the root of the tree of cant and seeming, for
this time and for all time."

This must serve as an _ex pede_ guide to reconstruct the Essay which
finishes the volume.

In 1852 there was published a Memoir of Margaret Fuller Ossoli, in which
Emerson, James Freeman Clarke, and William Henry Channing each took
a part. Emerson's account of her conversation and extracts from
her letters and diaries, with his running commentaries and his
interpretation of her mind and character, are a most faithful and vivid
portraiture of a woman who is likely to live longer by what is written
of her than by anything she ever wrote herself.


1858-1858. AEt. 50-55.

Lectures in various Places.--Anti-Slavery Addresses.--Woman. A Lecture
read before the Woman's Rights Convention.--Samuel Hoar. Speech at
Concord.--Publication of "English Traits."--The "Atlantic Monthly."--The
"Saturday Club."

After Emerson's return from Europe he delivered lectures to different
audiences,--one on Poetry, afterwards published in "Letters and Social
Aims," a course of lectures in Freeman Place Chapel, Boston, some of
which have been published, one on the Anglo-Saxon Race, and many
others. In January, 1855, he gave one of the lectures in a course of
Anti-Slavery Addresses delivered in Tremont Temple, Boston. In the same
year he delivered an address before the Anti-Slavery party of New York.
His plan for the extirpation of slavery was to buy the slaves from the
planters, not conceding their right to ownership, but because "it is
the only practical course, and is innocent." It would cost two thousand
millions, he says, according to the present estimate, but "was there
ever any contribution that was so enthusiastically paid as this would

His optimism flowers out in all its innocent luxuriance in the paragraph
from which this is quoted. Of course with notions like these he could
not be hand in hand with the Abolitionists. He was classed with the Free
Soilers, but he seems to have formed a party by himself in his project
for buying up the negroes. He looked at the matter somewhat otherwise in
1863, when the settlement was taking place in a different currency,--in
steel and not in gold:--

  "Pay ransom to the owner,
    And fill the bag to the brim.
  Who is the owner? The slave is owner,
    And ever was. Pay him."

His sympathies were all and always with freedom. He spoke with
indignation of the outrage on Sumner; he took part in the meeting at
Concord expressive of sympathy with John Brown. But he was never in the
front rank of the aggressive Anti-Slavery men. In his singular "Ode
inscribed to W.H. Channing" there is a hint of a possible solution of
the slavery problem which implies a doubt as to the permanence of the
cause of all the trouble.

  "The over-god
  Who marries Right to Might,
  Who peoples, unpeoples,--
  He who exterminates
  Races by stronger races,
  Black by white faces,--
  Knows to bring honey
  Out of the lion."

Some doubts of this kind helped Emerson to justify himself when he
refused to leave his "honeyed thought" for the busy world where

  "Things are of the snake."

The time came when he could no longer sit quietly in his study, and, to
borrow Mr. Cooke's words, "As the agitation proceeded, and brave men
took part in it, and it rose to a spirit of moral grandeur, he gave a
heartier assent to the outward methods adopted."

       *       *       *       *       *

No woman could doubt the reverence of Emerson for womanhood. In a
lecture read to the "Woman's Rights Convention" in 1855, he takes bold,
and what would then have been considered somewhat advanced, ground in
the controversy then and since dividing the community. This is the way
in which he expresses himself:

    "I do not think it yet appears that women wish this equal share in
    public affairs. But it is they and not we that are to determine it.
    Let the laws he purged of every barbarous remainder, every barbarous
    impediment to women. Let the public donations for education be
    equally shared by them, let them enter a school as freely as a
    church, let them have and hold and give their property as men do
    theirs;--and in a few years it will easily appear whether they wish
    a voice in making the laws that are to govern them. If you do refuse
    them a vote, you will also refuse to tax them,--according to our
    Teutonic principle, No representation, no tax.--The new movement
    is only a tide shared by the spirits of man and woman; and you may
    proceed in the faith that whatever the woman's heart is prompted to
    desire, the man's mind is simultaneously prompted to accomplish."

Emerson was fortunate enough to have had for many years as a neighbor,
that true New England Roman, Samuel Hoar. He spoke of him in Concord
before his fellow-citizens, shortly after his death, in 1856. He
afterwards prepared a sketch of Mr. Hoar for "Putnam's Magazine," from
which I take one prose sentence and the verse with which the sketch

    "He was a model of those formal but reverend manners which make
    what is called a gentleman of the old school, so called under an
    impression that the style is passing away, but which, I suppose, is
    an optical illusion, as there are always a few more of the class
    remaining, and always a few young men to whom these manners are

The single verse I quote is compendious enough and descriptive enough
for an Elizabethan monumental inscription.

  "With beams December planets dart
  His cold eye truth and conduct scanned;
  July was in his sunny heart,
  October in his liberal hand."

Emerson's "English Traits," forming one volume of his works, was
published in 1856. It is a thoroughly fresh and original book. It is not
a tourist's guide, not a detailed description of sights which tired
the traveller in staring at them, and tire the reader who attacks the
wearying pages in which they are recorded. Shrewd observation there is
indeed, but its strength is in broad generalization and epigrammatic
characterizations. They are not to be received as in any sense final;
they are not like the verifiable facts of science; they are more or less
sagacious, more or less well founded opinions formed by a fair-minded,
sharp-witted, kind-hearted, open-souled philosopher, whose presence
made every one well-disposed towards him, and consequently left him
well-disposed to all the world.

A glance at the table of contents will give an idea of the objects which
Emerson proposed to himself in his tour, and which take up the principal
portion of his record. Only one _place_ is given as the heading of a
chapter,--_Stonehenge_. The other eighteen chapters have general titles,
_Land, Race, Ability, Manners_, and others of similar character.

He uses plain English in introducing us to the Pilgrim fathers of the
British Aristocracy:--

    "Twenty thousand thieves landed at Hastings. These founders of the
    House of Lords were greedy and ferocious dragoons, sons of greedy
    and ferocious pirates. They were all alike, they took everything
    they could carry; they burned, harried, violated, tortured, and
    killed, until everything English was brought to the verge of ruin.
    Such, however, is the illusion of antiquity and wealth, that decent
    and dignified men now existing boast their descent from these filthy
    thieves, who showed a far juster conviction of their own merits by
    assuming for their types the swine, goat, jackal, leopard, wolf, and
    snake, which they severally resembled."

The race preserves some of its better characteristics.

    "They have a vigorous health and last well into middle and old age.
    The old men are as red as roses, and still handsome. A clear skin,
    a peach-bloom complexion, and good teeth are found all over the

English "Manners" are characterized, according to Emerson, by pluck,
vigor, independence. "Every one of these islanders is an island himself,
safe, tranquil, incommunicable." They are positive, methodical, cleanly,
and formal, loving routine and conventional ways; loving truth and
religion, to be sure, but inexorable on points of form.

    "They keep their old customs, costumes, and pomps, their wig and
    mace, sceptre and crown. A severe decorum rules the court and the
    cottage. Pretension and vaporing are once for all distasteful. They
    hate nonsense, sentimentalism, and high-flown expressions; they use
    a studied plainness."

    "In an aristocratical country like England, not the Trial by Jury,
    but the dinner is the capital institution."

    "They confide in each other,--English believes in English."--"They
    require the same adherence, thorough conviction, and reality in
    public men."

    "As compared with the American, I think them cheerful and contented.
    Young people in this country are much more prone to melancholy."

Emerson's observation is in accordance with that of Cotton Mather nearly
two hundred years ago.

    "_New England_, a country where splenetic Maladies are prevailing
    and pernicious, perhaps above any other, hath afforded numberless
    instances, of even pious people, who have contracted those
    _Melancholy Indispositions_, which have unhinged them from all
    service or comfort; yea, not a few persons have been hurried thereby
    to lay _Violent Hands_ upon themselves at the last. These are among
    the _unsearchable Judgments_ of God."

If there is a little exaggeration about the following portrait of the
Englishman, it has truth enough to excuse its high coloring, and the
likeness will be smilingly recognized by every stout Briton.

    "They drink brandy like water, cannot expend their quantities of
    waste strength on riding, hunting, swimming, and fencing, and run
    into absurd follies with the gravity of the Eumenides. They stoutly
    carry into every nook and corner of the earth their turbulent sense;
    leaving no lie uncontradicted; no pretension unexamined. They chew
    hasheesh; cut themselves with poisoned creases, swing their hammock
    in the boughs of the Bohon Upas, taste every poison, buy every
    secret; at Naples, they put St. Januarius's blood in an alembic;
    they saw a hole into the head of the 'winking virgin' to know why
    she winks; measure with an English foot-rule every cell of the
    inquisition, every Turkish Caaba, every Holy of Holies; translate
    and send to Bentley the arcanum, bribed and bullied away from
    shuddering Bramins; and measure their own strength by the terror
    they cause."

This last audacious picture might be hung up as a prose pendant to
Marvell's poetical description of Holland and the Dutch.

    "A saving stupidity marks and protects their perception as the
    curtain of the eagle's eye. Our swifter Americans, when they first
    deal with English, pronounce them stupid; but, later, do them
    justice as people who wear well, or hide their strength.--High and
    low, they are of an unctuous texture.--Their daily feasts argue a
    savage vigor of body.--Half their strength they put not forth. The
    stability of England is the security of the modern world."

Perhaps nothing in any of his vigorous paragraphs is more striking than
the suggestion that "if hereafter the war of races often predicted,
and making itself a war of opinions also (a question of despotism
and liberty coming from Eastern Europe), should menace the English
civilization, these sea-kings may take once again to their floating
castles and find a new home and a second millennium of power in their

In reading some of Emerson's pages it seems as if another Arcadia, or
the new Atlantis, had emerged as the fortunate island of Great Britain,
or that he had reached a heaven on earth where neither moth nor rust
doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal,--or if
they do, never think of denying that they have done it. But this was a
generation ago, when the noun "shoddy," and the verb "to scamp," had not
grown such familiar terms to English ears as they are to-day. Emerson
saw the country on its best side. Each traveller makes his own England.
A Quaker sees chiefly broad brims, and the island looks to him like a
field of mushrooms.

The transplanted Church of England is rich and prosperous and
fashionable enough not to be disturbed by Emerson's flashes of light
that have not come through its stained windows.

    "The religion of England is part of good-breeding. When you see on
    the continent the well-dressed Englishman come into his ambassador's
    chapel, and put his face for silent prayer into his smooth-brushed
    hat, one cannot help feeling how much national pride prays with him,
    and the religion of a gentleman.

    "The church at this moment is much to be pitied. She has nothing
    left but possession. If a bishop meets an intelligent gentleman, and
    reads fatal interrogation in his eyes, he has no resource but to
    take wine with him."

Sydney Smith had a great reverence for a bishop,--so great that he told
a young lady that he used to roll a crumb of bread in his hand, from
nervousness, when he sat next one at a dinner-table,--and if next an
archbishop, used to roll crumbs with both hands,---but Sydney Smith
would have enjoyed the tingling felicity of this last stinging touch
of wit, left as lightly and gracefully as a _banderillero_ leaves his
little gayly ribboned dart in the shoulders of the bull with whose
unwieldy bulk he is playing.

Emerson handles the formalism and the half belief of the Established
Church very freely, but he closes his chapter on Religion with
soft-spoken words.

    "Yet if religion be the doing of all good, and for its sake
    the suffering of all evil, _souffrir de tout le monde,
    et ne faire souffrir personne,_ that divine secret has existed in
    England from the days of Alfred to those of Romilly, of Clarkson,
    and of Florence Nightingale, and in thousands who have no fame."

"English Traits" closes with Emerson's speech at Manchester, at the
annual banquet of the "Free Trade Athenaeum." This was merely an
occasional after-dinner reply to a toast which called him up, but it had
sentences in it which, if we can imagine Milton to have been called up
in the same way, he might well have spoken and done himself credit in
their utterance.

       *       *       *       *       *

The total impression left by the book is that Emerson was fascinated
by the charm of English society, filled with admiration of the people,
tempted to contrast his New Englanders in many respects unfavorably with
Old Englanders, mainly in their material and vital stamina; but with all
this not blinded for a moment to the thoroughly insular limitations
of the phlegmatic islander. He alternates between a turn of genuine
admiration and a smile as at a people that has not outgrown its
playthings. This is in truth the natural and genuine feeling of a
self-governing citizen of a commonwealth where thrones and wigs and
mitres seem like so many pieces of stage property. An American need not
be a philosopher to hold these things cheap. He cannot help it. Madame
Tussaud's exhibition, the Lord-Mayor's gilt coach, and a coronation, if
one happens to be in season, are all sights to be seen by an American
traveller, but the reverence which is born with the British subject went
up with the smoke of the gun that fired the long echoing shot at the
little bridge over the sleepy river which works its way along through
the wide-awake town of Concord.

In November, 1857, a new magazine was established in Boston, bearing
the name of "The Atlantic Monthly." Professor James Russell Lowell
was editor-in-chief, and Messrs. Phillips and Sampson, who were the
originators of the enterprise, were the publishers. Many of the old
contributors to "The Dial" wrote for the new magazine, among them
Emerson. He contributed twenty-eight articles in all, more than half of
them verse, to different numbers, from the first to the thirty-seventh
volume. Among them are several of his best known poems, such as "The
Romany Girl," "Days," "Brahma," "Waldeinsamkeit," "The Titmouse,"
"Boston Hymn," "Saadi," and "Terminus."

At about the same time there grew up in Boston a literary association,
which became at last well known as the "Saturday Club," the members
dining together on the last Saturday of every month.

The Magazine and the Club have existed and flourished to the present
day. They have often been erroneously thought to have some organic
connection, and the "Atlantic Club" has been spoken of as if there was
or had been such an institution, but it never existed.

Emerson was a member of the Saturday Club from the first; in reality
before it existed as an empirical fact, and when it was only a Platonic
idea. The Club seems to have shaped itself around him as a nucleus of
crystallization, two or three friends of his having first formed the
habit of meeting him at dinner at "Parker's," the "Will's Coffee-House"
of Boston. This little group gathered others to itself and grew into a
club as Rome grew into a city, almost without knowing how. During its
first decade the Saturday Club brought together, as members or as
visitors, many distinguished persons. At one end of the table sat
Longfellow, florid, quiet, benignant, soft-voiced, a most agreeable
rather than a brilliant talker, but a man upon whom it was always
pleasant to look,--whose silence was better than many another man's
conversation. At the other end of the table sat Agassiz, robust,
sanguine, animated, full of talk, boy-like in his laughter. The stranger
who should have asked who were the men ranged along the sides of the
table would have heard in answer the names of Hawthorne, Motley, Dana,
Lowell, Whipple, Peirce, the distinguished mathematician, Judge Hoar,
eminent at the bar and in the cabinet, Dwight, the leading musical
critic of Boston for a whole generation, Sumner, the academic champion
of freedom, Andrew, "the great War Governor" of Massachusetts, Dr. Howe,
the philanthropist, William Hunt, the painter, with others not unworthy
of such company. And with these, generally near the Longfellow end of
the table, sat Emerson, talking in low tones and carefully measured
utterances to his neighbor, or listening, and recording on his mental
phonograph any stray word worth remembering. Emerson was a very regular
attendant at the meetings of the Saturday Club, and continued to dine at
its table, until within a year or two of his death.

Unfortunately the Club had no Boswell, and its golden hours passed


1858-1863: AET. 55-60.

Essay on Persian Poetry.--Speech at the Burns Centennial
Festival--Letter from Emerson to a Lady.--Tributes to Theodore Parker
and to Thoreau.--Address on the Emancipation Proclamation.--Publication
of "The Conduct of Life." Contents: Fate; Power; Wealth; Culture;
Behavior; Worship; Considerations by the Way; Beauty; Illusions.

The Essay on Persian Poetry, published in the "Atlantic Monthly" in
1858, should be studied by all readers who are curious in tracing the
influence of Oriental poetry on Emerson's verse. In many of the shorter
poems and fragments published since "May-Day," as well as in the
"Quatrains" and others of the later poems in that volume, it is
sometimes hard to tell what is from the Persian from what is original.

On the 25th of January, 1859, Emerson attended the Burns Festival, held
at the Parker House in Boston, on the Centennial Anniversary of the
poet's birth. He spoke after the dinner to the great audience with such
beauty and eloquence that all who listened to him have remembered it as
one of the most delightful addresses they ever heard. Among his hearers
was Mr. Lowell, who says of it that "every word seemed to have just
dropped down to him from the clouds." Judge Hoar, who was another of his
hearers, says, that though he has heard many of the chief orators of his
time, he never witnessed such an effect of speech upon men. I was myself
present on that occasion, and underwent the same fascination that these
gentlemen and the varied audience before the speaker experienced. His
words had a passion in them not usual in the calm, pure flow most
natural to his uttered thoughts; white-hot iron we are familiar with,
but white-hot silver is what we do not often look upon, and his
inspiring address glowed like silver fresh from the cupel.

I am allowed the privilege of printing the following letter addressed
to a lady of high intellectual gifts, who was one of the earliest, most
devoted, and most faithful of his intimate friends:--

CONCORD, May 13, 1859.

Please, dear C., not to embark for home until I have despatched these
lines, which I will hasten to finish. Louis Napoleon will not bayonet
you the while,--keep him at the door. So long I have promised to
write! so long I have thanked your long suffering! I have let pass the
unreturning opportunity your visit to Germany gave to acquaint you with
Gisela von Arnim (Bettina's daughter), and Joachim the violinist, and
Hermann Grimm the scholar, her friends. Neither has E.,--wandering in
Europe with hope of meeting you,--yet met. This contumacy of mine I
shall regret as long as I live. How palsy creeps over us, with gossamer
first, and ropes afterwards! and the witch has the prisoner when
once she has put her eye on him, as securely as after the bolts are
drawn.--Yet I and all my little company watch every token from you, and
coax Mrs. H. to read us letters. I learned with satisfaction that you
did not like Germany. Where then did Goethe find his lovers? Do all the
women have bad noses and bad mouths? And will you stop in England, and
bring home the author of "Counterparts" with you? Or did----write the
novels and send them to London, as I fancied when I read them? How
strange that you and I alone to this day should have his secret! I think
our people will never allow genius, without it is alloyed by talent.
But----is paralyzed by his whims, that I have ceased to hope from him.
I could wish your experience of your friends were more animating than
mine, and that there were any horoscope you could not cast from the
first day. The faults of youth are never shed, no, nor the merits, and
creeping time convinces ever the more of our impotence, and of the
irresistibility of our bias. Still this is only science, and must remain
science. Our _praxis_ is never altered for that. We must forever hold
our companions responsible, or they are not companions but stall-fed.

I think, as we grow older, we decrease as individuals, and as if in an
immense audience who hear stirring music, none essays to offer a new
stave, but we only join emphatically in the chorus. We volunteer
no opinion, we despair of guiding people, but are confirmed in
our perception that Nature is all right, and that we have a good
understanding with it. We must shine to a few brothers, as palms or
pines or roses among common weeds, not from greater absolute value, but
from a more convenient nature. But 'tis almost chemistry at last, though
a meta-chemistry. I remember you were such an impatient blasphemer,
however musically, against the adamantine identities, in your youth,
that you should take your turn of resignation now, and be a preacher of
peace. But there is a little raising of the eyebrow, now and then, in
the most passive acceptance,--if of an intellectual turn. Here comes out
around me at this moment the new June,--the leaves say June, though the
calendar says May,--and we must needs hail our young relatives again,
though with something of the gravity of adult sons and daughters
receiving a late-born brother or sister. Nature herself seems a little
ashamed of a law so monstrous, billions of summers, and now the old game
again without a new bract or sepal. But you will think me incorrigible
with my generalities, and you so near, and will be here again this
summer; perhaps with A.W. and the other travellers. My children scan
curiously your E.'s drawings, as they have seen them.

The happiest winds fill the sails of you and yours!


In the year 1860, Theodore Parker died, and Emerson spoke
of his life and labors at the meeting held at the Music Hall to do honor
to his memory. Emerson delivered discourses on Sundays and week-days in
the Music Hall to Mr. Parker's society after his death. In 1862, he lost
his friend Thoreau, at whose funeral he delivered an address which was
published in the "Atlantic Monthly" for August of the same year. Thoreau
had many rare and admirable qualities, and Thoreau pictured by Emerson
is a more living personage than White of Selborne would have been on the
canvas of Sir Joshua Reynolds.

The Address on the Emancipation Proclamation was delivered in Boston
in September, 1862. The feeling that inspired it may be judged by the
following extract:--

    "Happy are the young, who find the pestilence cleansed out of the
    earth, leaving open to them an honest career. Happy the old, who see
    Nature purified before they depart. Do not let the dying die; hold
    them back to this world, until you have charged their ear and heart
    with this message to other spiritual societies, announcing the
    melioration of our planet:--

  "'Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
  And Peace proclaims olives of endless age.'"

The "Conduct of Life" was published in 1860. The chapter on "Fate" might
leave the reader with a feeling that what he is to do, as well as what
he is to be and to suffer, is so largely predetermined for him, that
his will, though formally asserted, has but a questionable fraction in
adjusting him to his conditions as a portion of the universe. But let
him hold fast to this reassuring statement:--

    "If we must accept Fate, we are not less compelled to affirm
    liberty, the significance of the individual, the grandeur of duty,
    the power of character.--We are sure, that, though we know not how,
    necessity does comport with liberty, the individual with the world,
    my polarity with the spirit of the times."

But the value of the Essay is not so much in any light it throws on the
mystery of volition, as on the striking and brilliant way in which the
limitations of the individual and the inexplicable rule of law are

    "Nature is no sentimentalist,--does not cosset or pamper us. We must
    see that the world is rough and surly, and will not mind drowning a
    man or a woman; but swallows your ship like a grain of dust.--The
    way of Providence is a little rude. The habit of snake and spider,
    the snap of the tiger and other leapers and bloody jumpers, the
    crackle of the bones of his prey in the coil of the anaconda,--these
    are in the system, and our habits are like theirs. You have just
    dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in
    the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity,--expensive
    races,--race living at the expense of race.--Let us not deny it up
    and down. Providence has a wild, rough, incalculable road to its
    end, and it is of no use to try to whitewash its huge, mixed
    instrumentalities, or to dress up that terrific benefactor in a
    clean shirt and white neckcloth of a student in divinity."

Emerson cautions his reader against the danger of the doctrines which he
believed in so fully:--

    "They who talk much of destiny, their birth-star, etc., are in a
    lower dangerous plane, and invite the evils they fear."

But certainly no physiologist, no cattle-breeder, no Calvinistic
predestinarian could put his view more vigorously than Emerson, who
dearly loves a picturesque statement, has given it in these words,
which have a dash of science, a flash of imagination, and a hint of the
delicate wit that is one of his characteristics:--

    "People are born with the moral or with the material bias;--uterine
    brothers with this diverging destination: and I suppose, with
    high magnifiers, Mr. Fraunhofer or Dr. Carpenter might come to
    distinguish in the embryo at the fourth day, this is a whig and that
    a free-soiler."

Let us see what Emerson has to say of "Power:"--

    "All successful men have agreed in one thing--they were
    _causationists_. They believed that things went not by luck, but by
    law; that there was not a weak or a cracked link in the chain that
    joins the first and the last of things.

    "The key to the age may be this, or that, or the other, as the young
    orators describe;--the key to all ages is,--Imbecility; imbecility
    in the vast majority of men at all times, and, even in heroes, in
    all but certain eminent moments; victims of gravity, custom, and
    fear. This gives force to the strong,--that the multitude have no
    habit of self-reliance or original action.--

    "We say that success is constitutional; depends on a _plus_
    condition of mind and body, on power of work, on courage; that is of
    main efficacy in carrying on the world, and though rarely found
    in the right state for an article of commerce, but oftener in the
    supernatural or excess, which makes it dangerous and destructive,
    yet it cannot be spared, and must be had in that form, and
    absorbents provided to take off its edge."

The "two economies which are the best _succedanea"_ for deficiency of
temperament are concentration and drill. This he illustrates by example,
and he also lays down some good, plain, practical rules which "Poor
Richard" would have cheerfully approved. He might have accepted also the
Essay on "Wealth" as having a good sense so like his own that he could
hardly tell the difference between them.

    "Wealth begins in a tight roof that keeps the rain and
    wind out; in a good pump that yields you plenty of sweet
    water; in two suits of clothes, so as to change your dress
    when you are wet; in dry sticks to burn; in a good double-wick
    lamp, and three meals; in a horse or locomotive to cross
    the land; in a boat to cross the sea; in tools to work with; in
    books to read; and so, in giving, on all sides, by tools and
    auxiliaries, the greatest possible extension to our powers, as if it
    added feet, and hands, and eyes, and blood, length to the day,
    and knowledge and good will. Wealth begins with these articles of

    "To be rich is to have a ticket of admission to the masterworks and
    chief men of each race.--

    "The pulpit and the press have many commonplaces denouncing the
    thirst for wealth; but if men should take these moralists at their
    word, and leave off aiming to be rich, the moralists would rush
    to rekindle at all hazards this love of power in the people, lest
    civilization should be undone."

Who can give better counsels on "Culture" than Emerson? But we must
borrow only a few sentences from his essay on that subject. All kinds of
secrets come out as we read these Essays of Emerson's. We know something
of his friends and disciples who gathered round him and sat at his feet.
It is not hard to believe that he was drawing one of those composite
portraits Mr. Galton has given us specimens of when he wrote as

    "The pest of society is egotism. This goitre of egotism
    is so frequent among notable persons that we must infer some strong
    necessity in nature which it subserves; such as we see in the sexual
    attraction. The preservation of the species was a point of such
    necessity that Nature has secured it at all hazards by immensely
    overloading the passion, at the risk of perpetual crime and
    disorder. So egotism has its root in the cardinal necessity by which
    each individual persists to be what he is.

    "The antidotes against this organic egotism are, the range and
    variety of attraction, as gained by acquaintance with the world,
    with men of merit, with classes of society, with travel, with
    eminent persons, and with the high resources of philosophy, art, and
    religion: books, travel, society, solitude."

    "We can ill spare the commanding social benefits of cities; they
    must be used; yet cautiously and haughtily,--and will yield their
    best values to him who can best do without them. Keep the town for
    occasions, but the habits should be formed to retirement. Solitude,
    the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the
    cold, obscure shelter, where moult the wings which will bear it
    farther than suns and stars."

We must remember, too, that "the calamities are our friends. Try the
rough water as well as the smooth. Rough water can teach lessons worth
knowing. Don't be so tender at making an enemy now and then. He who aims
high, must dread an easy home and popular manners."

Emerson cannot have had many enemies, if any, in his calm and noble
career. He can have cherished no enmity, on personal grounds at least.
But he refused his hand to one who had spoken ill of a friend whom he
respected. It was "the hand of Douglas" again,--the same feeling that
Charles Emerson expressed in the youthful essay mentioned in the
introduction to this volume.

Here are a few good sayings about "Behavior."

    "There is always a best way of doing everything, if it be to boil an
    egg. Manners are the happy ways of doing things; each once a stroke
    of genius or of love,--now repeated and hardened into usage."

Thus it is that Mr. Emerson speaks of "Manners" in his Essay under the
above title.

    "The basis of good manners is self-reliance.--Manners require time,
    as nothing is more vulgar than haste.--

    "Men take each other's measure, when they meet for the first
    time,--and every time they meet.--

    "It is not what talents or genius a man has, but how he is to his
    talents, that constitutes friendship and character. The man that
    stands by himself, the universe stands by him also."

In his Essay on "Worship," Emerson ventures the following prediction:--

    "The religion which is to guide and fulfil the present and coming
    ages, whatever else it be, must be intellectual. The scientific mind
    must have a faith which is science.--There will be a new church
    founded on moral science, at first cold and naked, a babe in a
    manger again, the algebra and mathematics of ethical law, the church
    of men to come, without shawms or psaltery or sackbut; but it will
    have heaven and earth for its beams and rafters; science for symbol
    and illustration; it will fast enough gather beauty, music, picture,

It is a bold prophecy, but who can doubt that all improbable and
unverifiable traditional knowledge of all kinds will make way for the
established facts of science and history when these last reach it in
their onward movement? It may be remarked that he now speaks of science
more respectfully than of old. I suppose this Essay was of later date
than "Beauty," or "Illusions." But accidental circumstances made such
confusion in the strata of Emerson's published thought that one is often
at a loss to know whether a sentence came from the older or the newer

We come to "Considerations by the Way." The common-sense side of
Emerson's mind has so much in common with the plain practical
intelligence of Franklin that it is a pleasure to find the philosopher
of the nineteenth century quoting the philosopher of the eighteenth.

    "Franklin said, 'Mankind are very superficial and dastardly: they
    begin upon a thing, but, meeting with a difficulty, they fly from it
    discouraged; but they have the means if they would employ them.'"

"Shall we judge a country by the majority, or by the minority? By the
minority, surely." Here we have the doctrine of the "saving remnant,"
which we have since recognized in Mr. Matthew Arnold's well-remembered
lecture. Our republican philosopher is clearly enough outspoken on this
matter of the _vox populi_. "Leave this hypocritical prating about the
masses. Masses are rude, lame, unmade, pernicious in their demands, and
need not to be flattered, but to be schooled. I wish not to concede
anything to them, but to tame, drill, divide, and break them up, and
draw individuals out of them."

Père Bouhours asked a question about the Germans which found its answer
in due time. After reading what Emerson says about "the masses," one is
tempted to ask whether a philosopher can ever have "a constituency" and
be elected to Congress? Certainly the essay just quoted from would not
make a very promising campaign document. Perhaps there was no great
necessity for Emerson's returning to the subject of "Beauty," to which
he had devoted a chapter of "Nature," and of which he had so often
discoursed incidentally. But he says so many things worth reading in the
Essay thus entitled in the "Conduct of Life" that we need not trouble
ourselves about repetitions. The Essay is satirical and poetical rather
than philosophical. Satirical when he speaks of science with something
of that old feeling betrayed by his brother Charles when he was writing
in 1828; poetical in the flight of imagination with which he enlivens,
entertains, stimulates, inspires,--or as some may prefer to say,--amuses
his listeners and readers.

The reader must decide which of these effects is produced by the
following passage:--

    "The feat of the imagination is in showing the convertibility of
    everything into every other thing. Facts which had never before left
    their stark common sense suddenly figure as Eleusinian mysteries. My
    boots and chair and candlestick are fairies in disguise, meteors,
    and constellations. All the facts in Nature are nouns of the
    intellect, and make the grammar of the eternal language. Every word
    has a double, treble, or centuple use and meaning. What! has my
    stove and pepper-pot a false bottom? I cry you mercy, good shoe-box!
    I did not know you were a jewel-case. Chaff and dust begin to
    sparkle, and are clothed about with immortality. And there is a joy
    in perceiving the representative or symbolic character of a fact,
    which no base fact or event can ever give. There are no days
    so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the

One is reminded of various things in reading this sentence. An ounce
of alcohol, or a few whiffs from an opium-pipe, may easily make a day
memorable by bringing on this imaginative delirium, which is apt, if
often repeated, to run into visions of rodents and reptiles. A
coarser satirist than Emerson indulged his fancy in "Meditations on a
Broomstick," which My Lady Berkeley heard seriously and to edification.
Meditations on a "Shoe-box" are less promising, but no doubt something
could be made of it. A poet must select, and if he stoops too low he
cannot lift the object he would fain idealize.

The habitual readers of Emerson do not mind an occasional
over-statement, extravagance, paradox, eccentricity; they find them
amusing and not misleading. But the accountants, for whom two and two
always make four, come upon one of these passages and shut the book up
as wanting in sanity. Without a certain sensibility to the humorous, no
one should venture upon Emerson. If he had seen the lecturer's smile
as he delivered one of his playful statements of a runaway truth, fact
unhorsed by imagination, sometimes by wit, or humor, he would have found
a meaning in his words which the featureless printed page could never
show him.

The Essay on "Illusions" has little which we have not met with, or shall
not find repeating itself in the Poems.

During this period Emerson contributed many articles in prose and
verse to the "Atlantic Monthly," and several to "The Dial," a second
periodical of that name published in Cincinnati. Some of these have
been, or will be, elsewhere referred to.


1863-1868. AET. 60-65.

"Boston Hymn."--"Voluntaries."--Other Poems.--"May-Day and other
Pieces."--"Remarks at the Funeral Services of Abraham Lincoln."--Essay
on Persian Poetry.--Address at a Meeting of the Free Religious
Association.--"Progress of Culture." Address before the Phi Beta
Kappa Society of Harvard University.--Course of Lectures in
Philadelphia.--The Degree of LL.D. conferred upon Emerson by Harvard

The "Boston Hymn" was read by Emerson in the Music Hall, on the first
day of January, 1863. It is a rough piece of verse, but noble from
beginning to end. One verse of it, beginning "Pay ransom to the owner,"
has been already quoted; these are the three that precede it:--

  "I cause from every creature
    His proper good to flow:
  As much as he is and doeth
    So much shall he bestow.

  "But laying hands on another
    To coin his labor and sweat,
  He goes in pawn to his victim
    For eternal years in debt.

  "To-day unbind the captive,
    So only are ye unbound:
  Lift up a people from the dust,
    Trump of their rescue, sound!"

"Voluntaries," published in the same year in the "Atlantic Monthly," is
more dithyrambic in its measure and of a more Pindaric elevation than
the plain song of the "Boston Hymn."

  "But best befriended of the God
  He who, in evil times,
  Warned by an inward voice,
  Heeds not the darkness and the dread,
  Biding by his rule and choice,
  Feeling only the fiery thread
  Leading over heroic ground,
  Walled with mortal terror round,
  To the aim which him allures,
  And the sweet heaven his deed secures.
  Peril around, all else appalling,
  Cannon in front and leaden rain
  Him duly through the clarion calling
  To the van called not in vain."

It is in this poem that we find the lines which, a moment after they
were written, seemed as if they had been carved on marble for a thousand

  "So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
  So near is God to man,
  When Duty whispers low, _Thou must_,
  The youth replies, _I can_."

"Saadi" was published in the "Atlantic Monthly" in 1864, "My Garden" in
1866, "Terminus" in 1867. In the same year these last poems with many
others were collected in a small volume, entitled "May-Day, and
Other Pieces." The general headings of these poems are as follows:
May-Day.--The Adirondacs.--Occasional and Miscellaneous Pieces.--Nature
and Life.--Elements.--Quatrains.--Translations.--Some of these poems,
which were written at long intervals, have been referred to in previous
pages. "The Adirondacs" is a pleasant narrative, but not to be compared
for its poetical character with "May-Day," one passage from which,

  "I saw the bud-crowned Spring go forth,"

is surpassingly imaginative and beautiful. In this volume will be found
"Brahma," "Days," and others which are well known to all readers of

Emerson's delineations of character are remarkable for high-relief and
sharp-cut lines. In his Remarks at the Funeral Services for Abraham
Lincoln, held in Concord, April 19, 1865, he drew the portrait of the
homespun-robed chief of the Republic with equal breadth and delicacy:--

    "Here was place for no holiday magistrate, no fair weather sailor;
    the new pilot was hurried to the helm in a tornado. In four
    years,--four years of battle-days,--his endurance, his fertility
    of resources, his magnanimity, were sorely tried and never found
    wanting. There, by his courage, his justice, his even temper, his
    fertile counsel, his humanity, he stood a heroic figure in the
    centre of a heroic epoch. He is the true history of the American
    people in his time. Step by step he walked before them; slow
    with their slowness, quickening his march by theirs, the true
    representative of this continent; an entirely public man; father of
    his country; the pulse of twenty millions throbbing in his heart,
    the thought of their minds articulated by his tongue."

In his "Remarks at the Organization of the Free Religious Association,"
Emerson stated his leading thought about religion in a very succinct and
sufficiently "transcendental" way: intelligibly for those who wish to
understand him; mystically to those who do not accept or wish to accept
the doctrine shadowed forth in his poem, "The Sphinx."

    --"As soon as every man is apprised of the Divine Presence within
    his own mind,--is apprised that the perfect law of duty corresponds
    with the laws of chemistry, of vegetation, of astronomy, as face to
    face in a glass; that the basis of duty, the order of society, the
    power of character, the wealth of culture, the perfection of taste,
    all draw their essence from this moral sentiment; then we have a
    religion that exalts, that commands all the social and all the
    private action."

Nothing could be more wholesome in a meeting of creed-killers than the
suggestive remark,--

    --"What I expected to find here was, some practical suggestions by
    which we were to reanimate and reorganize for ourselves the true
    Church, the pure worship. Pure doctrine always bears fruit in pure
    benefits. It is only by good works, it is only on the basis of
    active duty, that worship finds expression.--The interests that grow
    out of a meeting like this, should bind us with new strength to the
    old eternal duties."

    In a later address before the same association, Emerson says:--
    "I object, of course, to the claim of miraculous
    dispensation,--certainly not to the _doctrine_ of Christianity.--If
    you are childish and exhibit your saint as a worker of wonders, a
    thaumaturgist, I am repelled. That claim takes his teachings out of
    nature, and permits official and arbitrary senses to be grafted on
    the teachings."

The "Progress of Culture" was delivered as a Phi Beta Kappa oration just
thirty years after his first address before the same society. It is very
instructive to compare the two orations written at the interval of a
whole generation: one in 1837, at the age of thirty-four; the other in
1867, at the age of sixty-four. Both are hopeful, but the second is more
sanguine than the first. He recounts what he considers the recent gains
of the reforming movement:--

    "Observe the marked ethical quality of the innovations urged or
    adopted. The new claim of woman to a political status is itself an
    honorable testimony to the civilization which has given her a civil
    status new in history. Now that by the increased humanity of law she
    controls her property, she inevitably takes the next step to her
    share in power."

He enumerates many other gains, from the war or from the growth of
intelligence,--"All, one may say, in a high degree revolutionary,
teaching nations the taking of governments into their own hands, and
superseding kings."

He repeats some of his fundamental formulae.

    "The foundation of culture, as of character, is at last the moral

    "Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any
    material force, that thoughts rule the world.

    "Periodicity, reaction, are laws of mind as well as of matter."

And most encouraging it is to read in 1884 what was written in
1867,--especially in the view of future possibilities. "Bad kings and
governors help us, if only they are bad enough." _Non tali auxilio_, we
exclaim, with a shudder of remembrance, and are very glad to read these
concluding words: "I read the promise of better times and of greater

In the year 1866, Emerson reached the age which used to be spoken of as
the "grand climacteric." In that year Harvard University conferred upon
him the degree of Doctor of Laws, the highest honor in its gift.

In that same year, having left home on one of his last lecturing trips,
he met his son, Dr. Edward Waldo Emerson, at the Brevoort House, in New
York. Then, and in that place, he read to his son the poem afterwards
published in the "Atlantic Monthly," and in his second volume, under the
title "Terminus." This was the first time that Dr. Emerson recognized
the fact that his father felt himself growing old. The thought, which
must have been long shaping itself in the father's mind, had been so far
from betraying itself that it was a shock to the son to hear it plainly
avowed. The poem is one of his noblest; he could not fold his robes
about him with more of serene dignity than in these solemn lines. The
reader may remember that one passage from it has been quoted for a
particular purpose, but here is the whole poem:--


  It is time to be old,
  To take in sail:--
  The god of bounds,
  Who sets to seas a shore,
  Came to me in his fatal rounds,
  And said: "No more!
  No farther shoot
  Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
  Fancy departs: no more invent;
  Contract thy firmament
  To compass of a tent.
  There's not enough for this and that,
  Make thy option which of two;
  Economize the failing river,
  Not the less revere the Giver,
  Leave the many and hold the few,
  Timely wise accept the terms,
  Soften the fall with wary foot;
  A little while
  Still plan and smile,
  And,--fault of novel germs,--
  Mature the unfallen fruit.
  Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires,
  Bad husbands of their fires,
  Who when they gave thee breath,
  Failed to bequeath
  The needful sinew stark as once,
  The baresark marrow to thy bones,
  But left a legacy of ebbing veins,
  Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,--
  Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb,
  Amid the gladiators, halt and numb.

  "As the bird trims her to the gale
  I trim myself to the storm of time,
  I man the rudder, reef the sail,
  Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
  'Lowly faithful, banish fear,
  Right onward drive unharmed;
  The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
  And every wave is charmed.'"


1868-1873. AET. 65-70.

Lectures on the Natural History of the Intellect.--Publication
of "Society and Solitude." Contents: Society and Solitude.
--Civilization.--Art.--Eloquence.--Domestic Life.--Farming.
--Works and Days.--Books.--Clubs.--Courage.--Success.--Old Age.--Other
Literary Labors.--Visit to California.--Burning of his House, and the
Story of its Rebuilding.--Third Visit to Europe.--His Reception at
Concord on his Return.

During three successive years, 1868, 1869, 1870, Emerson delivered a
series of Lectures at Harvard University on the "Natural History of the
Intellect." These Lectures, as I am told by Dr. Emerson, cost him a
great deal of labor, but I am not aware that they have been collected or
reported. They will be referred to in the course of this chapter, in an
extract from Prof. Thayer's "Western Journey with Mr. Emerson." He is
there reported as saying that he cared very little for metaphysics.
It is very certain that he makes hardly any use of the ordinary terms
employed by metaphysicians. If he does not hold the words "subject and
object" with their adjectives, in the same contempt that Mr. Ruskin
shows for them, he very rarely employs either of these expressions.
Once he ventures on the _not me_, but in the main he uses plain English
handles for the few metaphysical tools he has occasion to employ.

"Society and Solitude" was published in 1870. The first Essay in the
volume bears the same name as the volume itself.

In this first Essay Emerson is very fair to the antagonistic claims
of solitary and social life. He recognizes the organic necessity of
solitude. We are driven "as with whips into the desert." But there is
danger in this seclusion. "Now and then a man exquisitely made can live
alone and must; but coop up most men and you undo them.--Here again, as
so often, Nature delights to put us between extreme antagonisms, and
our safety is in the skill with which we keep the diagonal line.--The
conditions are met, if we keep our independence yet do not lose our

The Essay on "Civilization" is pleasing, putting familiar facts in a
very agreeable way. The framed or stone-house in place of the cave or
the camp, the building of roads, the change from war, hunting,
and pasturage to agriculture, the division of labor, the skilful
combinations of civil government, the diffusion of knowledge through the
press, are well worn subjects which he treats agreeably, if not with
special brilliancy:--

    "Right position of woman in the State is another index.--Place the
    sexes in right relations of mutual respect, and a severe morality
    gives that essential charm to a woman which educates all that
    is delicate, poetic, and self-sacrificing; breeds courtesy and
    learning, conversation and wit, in her rough mate, so that I have
    thought a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of
    good women."

My attention was drawn to one paragraph for a reason which my reader
will readily understand, and I trust look upon good-naturedly:--

    "The ship, in its latest complete equipment, is an abridgment and
    compend of a nation's arts: the ship steered by compass and chart,
    longitude reckoned by lunar observation and by chronometer, driven
    by steam; and in wildest sea-mountains, at vast distances from

  "'The pulses of her iron heart
      Go beating through the storm.'"

I cannot be wrong, it seems to me, in supposing those two lines to be
an incorrect version of these two from a poem of my own called "The

  "The beating of her restless heart
    Still sounding through the storm."

It is never safe to quote poetry from memory, at least while the writer
lives, for he is ready to "cavil on the ninth part of a hair" where his
verses are concerned. But extreme accuracy was not one of Emerson's
special gifts, and vanity whispers to the misrepresented versifier that

    'tis better to be quoted wrong
  Than to be quoted not at all.

This Essay of Emerson's is irradiated by a single precept that is worthy
to stand by the side of that which Juvenal says came from heaven. How
could the man in whose thought such a meteoric expression suddenly
announced itself fail to recognize it as divine? It is not strange that
he repeats it on the page next the one where we first see it. Not having
any golden letters to print it in, I will underscore it for italics, and
doubly underscore it in the second extract for small capitals:--

    "Now that is the wisdom of a man, in every instance of his labor,
    to _hitch his wagon to a star_, and see his chore done by the gods

    "'It was a great instruction,' said a saint in Cromwell's war, 'that
    the best courages are but beams of the Almighty.' HITCH YOUR WAGON
    TO A STAR. Let us not fag in paltry works which serve our pot and
    bag alone. Let us not lie and steal. No god will help. We shall find
    all their teams going the other way,--Charles's Wain, Great Bear,
    Orion, Leo, Hercules: every god will leave us. Work rather for those
    interests which the divinities honor and promote,--justice, love,
    freedom, knowledge, utility."--

Charles's Wain and the Great Bear, he should have been reminded, are the
same constellation; the _Dipper_ is what our people often call it, and
the country folk all know "the pinters," which guide their eyes to the
North Star.

I find in the Essay on "Art" many of the thoughts with which we are
familiar in Emerson's poem, "The Problem." It will be enough to cite
these passages:--

    "We feel in seeing a noble building which rhymes well, as we do in
    hearing a perfect song, that it is spiritually organic; that it had
    a necessity in nature for being; was one of the possible forms in
    the Divine mind, and is now only discovered and executed by the
    artist, not arbitrarily composed by him. And so every genuine work
    of art has as much reason for being as the earth and the sun.--

    --"The Iliad of Homer, the songs of David, the odes of Pindar, the
    tragedies of Aeschylus, the Doric temples, the Gothic cathedrals,
    the plays of Shakspeare, all and each were made not for sport, but
    in grave earnest, in tears and smiles of suffering and loving men.--

    --"The Gothic cathedrals were built when the builder and the priest
    and the people were overpowered by their faith. Love and fear laid
    every stone.--

    "Our arts are happy hits. We are like the musician on the lake,
    whose melody is sweeter than he knows."

The discourse on "Eloquence" is more systematic, more professorial,
than many of the others. A few brief extracts will give the key to its
general purport:--

    "Eloquence must be grounded on the plainest narrative. Afterwards,
    it may warm itself until it exhales symbols of every kind and color,
    speaks only through the most poetic forms; but, first and last, it
    must still be at bottom a biblical statement of fact.--

    "He who will train himself to mastery in this science of persuasion
    must lay the emphasis of education, not on popular arts, but on
    character and insight.--

    --"The highest platform of eloquence is the moral sentiment.--

    --"Its great masters ... were grave men, who preferred their
    integrity to their talent, and esteemed that object for which they
    toiled, whether the prosperity of their country, or the laws, or a
    reformation, or liberty of speech, or of the press, or letters, or
    morals, as above the whole world and themselves also."

"Domestic Life" begins with a picture of childhood so charming that it
sweetens all the good counsel which follows like honey round the rim of
the goblet which holds some tonic draught:--

    "Welcome to the parents the puny struggler, strong in
    his weakness, his little arms more irresistible than the
    soldier's, his lips touched with persuasion which Chatham
    and Pericles in manhood had not. His unaffected lamentations
    when he lifts up his voice on high, or, more beautiful,
    the sobbing child,--the face all liquid grief, as he tries to
    swallow his vexation,--soften all hearts to pity, and to mirthful
    and clamorous compassion. The small despot asks so little that
    all reason and all nature are on his side. His ignorance is more
    charming than all knowledge, and his little sins more bewitching
    than any virtue. His flesh is angels' flesh, all alive.--All day,
    between his three or four sleeps, he coos like a pigeon-house,
    sputters and spurs and puts on his faces of importance; and when he
    fasts, the little Pharisee fails not to sound his trumpet before

Emerson has favored his audiences and readers with what he knew about
"Farming." Dr. Emerson tells me that this discourse was read as an
address before the "Middlesex Agricultural Society," and printed in the
"Transactions" of that association. He soon found out that the hoe and
the spade were not the tools he was meant to work with, but he had some
general ideas about farming which he expressed very happily:--

    "The farmer's office is precise and important, but you must not try
    to paint him in rose-color; you cannot make pretty compliments to
    fate and gravitation, whose minister he is.--This hard work will
    always be done by one kind of man; not by scheming speculators, nor
    by soldiers, nor professors, nor readers of Tennyson; but by men
    of endurance, deep-chested, long-winded, tough, slow and sure, and

Emerson's chemistry and physiology are not profound, but they are
correct enough to make a fine richly colored poetical picture in his
imaginative presentation. He tells the commonest facts so as to make
them almost a surprise:--

    "By drainage we went down to a subsoil we did not know, and have
    found there is a Concord under old Concord, which we are now getting
    the best crops from; a Middlesex under Middlesex; and, in fine, that
    Massachusetts has a basement story more valuable and that promises
    to pay a better rent than all the superstructure."

In "Works and Days" there is much good reading, but I will call
attention to one or two points only, as having a slight special interest
of their own. The first is the boldness of Emerson's assertions and
predictions in matters belonging to science and art. Thus, he speaks of
"the transfusion of the blood,--which, in Paris, it was claimed, enables
a man to change his blood as often as his linen!" And once more,

"We are to have the balloon yet, and the next war will be fought in the

Possibly; but it is perhaps as safe to predict that it will be fought on
wheels; the soldiers on bicycles, the officers on tricycles.

The other point I have marked is that we find in this Essay a prose
version of the fine poem, printed in "May-Day" under the title "Days." I
shall refer to this more particularly hereafter.

It is wronging the Essay on "Books" to make extracts from it. It is all
an extract, taken from years of thought in the lonely study and the
public libraries. If I commit the wrong I have spoken of, it is under
protest against myself. Every word of this Essay deserves careful
reading. But here are a few sentences I have selected for the reader's

    "There are books; and it is practicable to read them because they
    are so few.--

    "I visit occasionally the Cambridge Library, and I can seldom go
    there without renewing the conviction that the best of it all is
    already within the four walls of my study at home.--

    "The three practical rules which I have to offer are, 1. Never read
    any book that is not a year old. 2. Never read any but famed books.
    3. Never read any but what you like, or, in Shakspeare's phrase,--

      "'No profit goes where is no pleasure ta'en;
        In brief, Sir, study what you most affect.'"

Emerson has a good deal to say about conversation in his Essay on
"Clubs," but nothing very notable on the special subject of the Essay.
Perhaps his diary would have something of interest with reference to the
"Saturday Club," of which he was a member, which, in fact, formed itself
around him as a nucleus, and which he attended very regularly. But he
was not given to personalities, and among the men of genius and of
talent whom he met there no one was quieter, but none saw and heard and
remembered more. He was hardly what Dr. Johnson would have called a
"clubable" man, yet he enjoyed the meetings in his still way, or he
would never have come from Concord so regularly to attend them. He gives
two good reasons for the existence of a club like that of which I have
been speaking:--

    "I need only hint the value of the club for bringing masters in
    their several arts to compare and expand their views, to come to
    an understanding on these points, and so that their united opinion
    shall have its just influence on public questions of education and

    "A principal purpose also is the hospitality of the club, as a means
    of receiving a worthy foreigner with mutual advantage."

I do not think "public questions of education and politics" were very
prominent at the social meetings of the "Saturday Club," but "worthy
foreigners," and now and then one not so worthy, added variety to the
meetings of the company, which included a wide range of talents and

All that Emerson has to say about "Courage" is worth listening to, for
he was a truly brave man in that sphere of action where there are more
cowards than are found in the battle-field. He spoke his convictions
fearlessly; he carried the spear of Ithuriel, but he wore no breastplate
save that which protects him

  "Whose armor is his honest thought,
    And simple truth his utmost skill."

He mentions three qualities as attracting the wonder and reverence of
mankind: 1. Disinterestedness; 2. Practical Power; 3. Courage. "I need
not show how much it is esteemed, for the people give it the first rank.
They forgive everything to it. And any man who puts his life in peril in
a cause which is esteemed becomes the darling of all men."--There are
good and inspiriting lessons for young and old in this Essay or Lecture,
which closes with the spirited ballad of "George Nidiver," written "by a
lady to whom all the particulars of the fact are exactly known."

Men will read any essay or listen to any lecture which has for its
subject, like the one now before me, "Success." Emerson complains of the
same things in America which Carlyle groaned over in England:--

    "We countenance each other in this life of show, puffing
    advertisement, and manufacture of public opinion; and excellence is
    lost sight of in the hunger for sudden performance and praise.--

    "Now, though I am by no means sure that the reader will assent to
    all my propositions, yet I think we shall agree in my first rule for
    success,--that we shall drop the brag and the advertisement and take
    Michael Angelo's course, 'to confide in one's self and be something
    of worth and value.'"

Reading about "Success" is after all very much like reading in old books
of alchemy. "How not to do it," is the lesson of all the books and
treatises. Geber and Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon and Raymond Lully, and
the whole crew of "pauperes alcumistae," all give the most elaborate
directions showing their student how to fail in transmuting Saturn into
Luna and Sol and making a billionaire of himself. "Success" in its
vulgar sense,--the gaining of money and position,--is not to be reached
by following the rules of an instructor. Our "self-made men," who govern
the country by their wealth and influence, have found their place by
adapting themselves to the particular circumstances in which they were
placed, and not by studying the broad maxims of "Poor Richard," or any
other moralist or economist.--For such as these is meant the cheap
cynical saying quoted by Emerson, "_Rien ne réussit mieux que le

But this is not the aim and end of Emerson's teaching:--

    "I fear the popular notion of success stands in direct opposition
    in all points to the real and wholesome success. One adores public
    opinion, the other private opinion; one fame, the other desert; one
    feats, the other humility; one lucre, the other love; one monopoly,
    and the other hospitality of mind."

And so, though there is no alchemy in this Lecture, it is profitable
reading, assigning its true value to the sterling gold of character,
the gaining of which is true success, as against the brazen idol of the

The Essay on "Old Age" has a special value from its containing two
personal reminiscences: one of the venerable Josiah Quincy, a brief
mention; the other the detailed record of a visit in the year 1825,
Emerson being then twenty-two years old, to ex-President John Adams,
soon after the election of his son to the Presidency. It is enough to
allude to these, which every reader will naturally turn to first of all.

But many thoughts worth gathering are dropped along these pages. He
recounts the benefits of age; the perilous capes and shoals it has
weathered; the fact that a success more or less signifies little, so
that the old man may go below his own mark with impunity; the feeling
that he has found expression,--that his condition, in particular and in
general, allows the utterance of his mind; the pleasure of completing
his secular affairs, leaving all in the best posture for the future:--

    "When life has been well spent, age is a loss of what it can well
    spare, muscular strength, organic instincts, gross bulk, and works
    that belong to these. But the central wisdom which was old in
    infancy is young in fourscore years, and dropping off obstructions,
    leaves in happy subjects the mind purified and wise. I have heard
    that whoever loves is in no condition old. I have heard that
    whenever the name of man is spoken, the doctrine of immortality is
    announced; it cleaves to his constitution. The mode of it baffles
    our wit, and no whisper comes to us from the other side. But the
    inference from the working of intellect, hiving knowledge, hiving
    skill,--at the end of life just ready to be born,--affirms the
    inspirations of affection and of the moral sentiment."

Other literary labors of Emerson during this period were the
Introduction to "Plutarch's Morals" in 1870, and a Preface to William
Ellery Channing's Poem, "The Wanderer," in 1871. He made a speech at
Howard University, Washington, in 1872.

In the year 1871 Emerson made a visit to California with a very pleasant
company, concerning which Mr. John M. Forbes, one of whose sons married
Emerson's daughter Edith, writes to me as follows. Professor James B.
Thayer, to whom he refers, has more recently written and published an
account of this trip, from which some extracts will follow Mr. Forbes's

    BOSTON, February 6, 1884.

    MY DEAR DR.,--What little I can give will be of a very rambling

    One of the first memories of Emerson which comes up is my meeting
    him on the steamboat at returning from Detroit East. I persuaded him
    to stop over at Niagara, which he had never seen. We took a carriage
    and drove around the circuit. It was in early summer, perhaps in
    1848 or 1849. When we came to Table Rock on the British side, our
    driver took us down on the outer part of the rock in the carriage.
    We passed on by rail, and the next day's papers brought us the
    telegraphic news that Table Rock had fallen over; perhaps we were
    among the last persons on it!

    About 1871 I made up a party for California, including Mr. Emerson,
    his daughter Edith, and a number of gay young people. We drove with
    B----, the famous Vermont coachman, up to the Geysers, and then made
    the journey to the Yosemite Valley by wagon and on horseback. I wish
    I could give you more than a mere outline picture of the sage at
    this time. With the thermometer at 100 degrees he would sometimes
    drive with the buffalo robes drawn up over his knees, apparently
    indifferent to the weather, gazing on the new and grand scenes
    of mountain and valley through which we journeyed. I especially
    remember once, when riding down the steep side of a mountain, his
    reins hanging loose, the bit entirely out of the horse's mouth,
    without his being aware that this was an unusual method of riding
    Pegasus, so fixed was his gaze into space, and so unconscious was
    he, at the moment, of his surroundings.

    In San Francisco he visited with us the dens of the opium smokers,
    in damp cellars, with rows of shelves around, on which were
    deposited the stupefied Mongolians; perhaps the lowest haunts of
    humanity to be found in the world. The contrast between them and
    the serene eye and undisturbed brow of the sage was a sight for all

    When we reached Salt Lake City on our way home he made a point of
    calling on Brigham Young, then at the summit of his power. The
    Prophet, or whatever he was called, was a burly, bull-necked man of
    hard sense, really leading a great industrial army. He did not seem
    to appreciate who his visitor was, at any rate gave no sign of so
    doing, and the chief interest of the scene was the wide contrast
    between these leaders of spiritual and of material forces.

    I regret not having kept any notes of what was said on this and
    other occasions, but if by chance you could get hold of Professor
    J.B. Thayer, who was one of our party, he could no doubt give you
    some notes that would be valuable.

    Perhaps the latest picture that remains in my mind of our friend is
    his wandering along the beaches and under the trees at Naushon, no
    doubt carrying home large stealings from my domain there, which lost
    none of their value from being transferred to his pages. Next to
    his private readings which he gave us there, the most notable
    recollection is that of his intense amusement at some comical songs
    which our young people used to sing, developing a sense of humor
    which a superficial observer would hardly have discovered, but which
    you and I know he possessed in a marked degree.

    Yours always,

    J.M. FORBES.

Professor James B. Thayer's little book, "A Western Journey with Mr.
Emerson," is a very entertaining account of the same trip concerning
which Mr. Forbes wrote the letter just given. Professor Thayer kindly
read many of his notes to me before his account was published, and
allows me to make such use of the book as I see fit. Such liberty must
not be abused, and I will content myself with a few passages in which
Emerson has a part. No extract will interest the reader more than the

    "'How _can_ Mr. Emerson,' said one of the younger members of the
    party to me that day, 'be so agreeable, all the time, without
    getting tired!' It was the _naive_ expression of what we all had
    felt. There was never a more agreeable travelling companion; he was
    always accessible, cheerful, sympathetic, considerate, tolerant; and
    there was always that same respectful interest in those with whom
    he talked, even the humblest, which raised them in their own
    estimation. One thing particularly impressed me,--the sense that he
    seemed to have of a certain great amplitude of time and leisure. It
    was the behavior of one who really _believed_ in an immortal life,
    and had adjusted his conduct accordingly; so that, beautiful and
    grand as the natural objects were, among which our journey lay, they
    were matched by the sweet elevation of character, and the spiritual
    charm of our gracious friend. Years afterwards, on that memorable
    day of his funeral at Concord, I found that a sentence from his own
    Essay on Immortality haunted my mind, and kept repeating itself
    all the day long; it seemed to point to the sources of his power:
    'Meantime the true disciples saw through the letter the doctrine of
    eternity, which dissolved the poor corpse, and Nature also, and gave
    grandeur to the passing hour.'"

This extract will be appropriately followed by another alluding to the
same subject.

    "The next evening, Sunday, the twenty-third, Mr. Emerson read his
    address on 'Immortality,' at Dr. Stebbins's church. It was the first
    time that he had spoken on the Western coast; never did he speak
    better. It was, in the main, the same noble Essay that has since
    been printed.

    "At breakfast the next morning we had the newspaper, the 'Alta
    California.' It gave a meagre outline of the address, but praised it
    warmly, and closed with the following observations: 'All left the
    church feeling that an elegant tribute had been paid to the creative
    genius of the Great First Cause, and that a masterly use of the
    English language had contributed to that end.'"

The story used to be told that after the Reverend Horace Holley had
delivered a prayer on some public occasion, Major Ben. Russell, of ruddy
face and ruffled shirt memory, Editor of "The Columbian Centinel,"
spoke of it in his paper the next day as "the most eloquent prayer ever
addressed to a Boston audience."

The "Alta California's" "elegant tribute" is not quite up to this
rhetorical altitude.

    "'The minister,' said he, 'is in no danger of losing his position;
    he represents the moral sense and the humanities.' He spoke of his
    own reasons for leaving the pulpit, and added that 'some one had
    lately come to him whose conscience troubled him about retaining the
    name of Christian; he had replied that he himself had no difficulty
    about it. When he was called a Platonist, or a Christian, or a
    Republican, he welcomed it. It did not bind him to what he did
    not like. What is the use of going about and setting up a flag of

    "I made bold to ask him what he had in mind in naming his recent
    course of lectures at Cambridge, 'The Natural History of the
    Intellect.' This opened a very interesting conversation; but, alas!
    I could recall but little of it,--little more than the mere hintings
    of what he said. He cared very little for metaphysics. But he
    thought that as a man grows he observes certain facts about his own
    mind,--about memory, for example. These he had set down from time
    to time. As for making any methodical history, he did not undertake

Emerson met Brigham Young at Salt Lake City, as has been mentioned, but
neither seems to have made much impression upon the other. Emerson spoke
of the Mormons. Some one had said, "They impress the common people,
through their imagination, by Bible-names and imagery." "Yes," he said,
"it is an after-clap of Puritanism. But one would think that after this
Father Abraham could go no further."

The charm of Boswell's Life of Johnson is that it not merely records
his admirable conversation, but also gives us many of those lesser
peculiarities which are as necessary to a true biography as lights and
shades to a portrait on canvas. We are much obliged to Professor Thayer
therefore for the two following pleasant recollections which he has been
good-natured enough to preserve for us, and with which we will take
leave of his agreeable little volume:--

    "At breakfast we had, among other things, pie. This article at
    breakfast was one of Mr. Emerson's weaknesses. A pie stood before
    him now. He offered to help somebody from it, who declined; and
    then one or two others, who also declined; and then Mr.----; he too
    declined. 'But Mr.----!' Mr. Emerson remonstrated, with humorous
    emphasis, thrusting the knife under a piece of the pie, and putting
    the entire weight of his character into his manner,--'but Mr.----,
    _what is pie for_?'"

A near friend of mine, a lady, was once in the cars with Emerson, and
when they stopped for the refreshment of the passengers he was very
desirous of procuring something at the station for her solace. Presently
he advanced upon her with a cup of tea in one hand and a wedge of pie in
the other,--such a wedge! She could hardly have been more dismayed
if one of Caesar's _cunei_, or wedges of soldiers, had made a charge
against her.

Yet let me say here that pie, often foolishly abused, is a good
creature, at the right time and in angles of thirty or forty degrees. In
semicircles and quadrants it may sometimes prove too much for delicate
stomachs. But here was Emerson, a hopelessly confirmed pie-eater, never,
so far as I remember, complaining of dyspepsia; and there, on the other
side, was Carlyle, feeding largely on wholesome oatmeal, groaning with
indigestion all his days, and living with half his self-consciousness
habitually centred beneath his diaphragm.

Like his friend Carlyle and like Tennyson, Emerson had a liking for a
whiff of tobacco-smoke:--

    "When alone," he said, "he rarely cared to finish a whole cigar. But
    in company it was singular to see how different it was. To one who
    found it difficult to meet people, as he did, the effect of a cigar
    was agreeable; one who is smoking may be as silent as he likes, and
    yet be good company. And so Hawthorne used to say that he found it.
    On this journey Mr. Emerson generally smoked a single cigar after
    our mid-day dinner, or after tea, and occasionally after both. This
    was multiplying, several times over, anything that was usual with
    him at home."

Professor Thayer adds in a note:--

    "Like Milton, Mr. Emerson 'was extraordinary temperate in his Diet,'
    and he used even less tobacco. Milton's quiet day seems to have
    closed regularly with a pipe; he 'supped,' we are told, 'upon ...
    some light thing; and after a pipe of tobacco and a glass of water
    went to bed.'"

As Emerson's name has been connected with that of Milton in its nobler
aspects, it can do no harm to contemplate him, like Milton, indulging in
this semi-philosophical luxury.

One morning in July, 1872, Mr. and Mrs. Emerson woke to find their room
filled with smoke and fire coming through the floor of a closet in the
room over them. The alarm was given, and the neighbors gathered and did
their best to put out the flames, but the upper part of the house was
destroyed, and with it were burned many papers of value to Emerson,
including his father's sermons. Emerson got wet and chilled, and it
seems too probable that the shock hastened that gradual loss of memory
which came over his declining years.

His kind neighbors did all they could to save his property and relieve
his temporary needs. A study was made ready for him in the old Court
House, and the "Old Manse," which had sheltered his grandfather, and
others nearest to him, received him once more as its tenant.

On the 15th of October he spoke at a dinner given in New York in honor
of James Anthony Froude, the historian, and in the course of this same
month he set out on his third visit to Europe, accompanied by his
daughter Ellen. We have little to record of this visit, which was
suggested as a relief and recreation while his home was being refitted
for him. He went to Egypt, but so far as I have learned the Sphinx had
no message for him, and in the state of mind in which he found himself
upon the mysterious and dream-compelling Nile it may be suspected that
the landscape with its palms and pyramids was an unreal vision,--that,
as to his Humble-bee,

  "All was picture as he passed."

But while he was voyaging his friends had not forgotten him. The
sympathy with him in his misfortune was general and profound. It did not
confine itself to expressions of feeling, but a spontaneous movement
organized itself almost without effort. If any such had been needed, the
attached friend whose name is appended to the Address to the Subscribers
to the Fund for rebuilding Mr. Emerson's house would have been as
energetic in this new cause as he had been in the matter of procuring
the reprint of "Sartor Resartus." I have his kind permission to publish
the whole correspondence relating to the friendly project so happily
carried out.

    _To the Subscribers to the Fund for the Rebuilding of Mr. Emerson's
    House, after the Fire of July_ 24, 1872:

    The death of Mr. Emerson has removed any objection which may have
    before existed to the printing of the following correspondence. I
    have now caused this to be done, that each subscriber may have the
    satisfaction of possessing a copy of the touching and affectionate
    letters in which he expressed his delight in this, to him, most
    unexpected demonstration of personal regard and attachment, in the
    offer to restore for him his ruined home.

    No enterprise of the kind was ever more fortunate and successful in
    its purpose and in its results. The prompt and cordial response to
    the proposed subscription was most gratifying. No contribution was
    solicited from any one. The simple suggestion to a few friends of
    Mr. Emerson that an opportunity was now offered to be of service
    to him was all that was needed. From the first day on which it was
    made, the day after the fire, letters began to come in, with cheques
    for large and small amounts, so that in less than three weeks I
    was enabled to send to Judge Hoar the sum named in his letter as
    received by him on the 13th of August, and presented by him to Mr.
    Emerson the next morning, at the Old Manse, with fitting words.

    Other subscriptions were afterwards received, increasing the amount
    on my book to eleven thousand six hundred and twenty dollars. A part
    of this was handed directly to the builder at Concord. The balance
    was sent to Mr. Emerson October 7, and acknowledged by him in his
    letter of October 8, 1872.

    All the friends of Mr. Emerson who knew of the plan which was
    proposed to rebuild his house, seemed to feel that it was a
    privilege to be allowed to express in this way the love and
    veneration with which he was regarded, and the deep debt of
    gratitude which they owed to him, and there is no doubt that a much
    larger amount would have been readily and gladly offered, if it had
    been required, for the object in view.

    Those who have had the happiness to join in this friendly
    "conspiracy" may well take pleasure in the thought that what they
    have done has had the effect to lighten the load of care and anxiety
    which the calamity of the fire brought with it to Mr. Emerson, and
    thus perhaps to prolong for some precious years the serene and noble
    life that was so dear to all of us.

    My thanks are due to the friends who have made me the bearer of this
    message of good-will.


    BOSTON, May 8, 1882.

    BOSTON, August 13, 1872.


    It seems to have been the spontaneous desire of your friends, on
    hearing of the burning of your house, to be allowed the pleasure of
    rebuilding it.

    A few of them have united for this object, and now request your
    acceptance of the amount which I have to-day deposited to your order
    at the Concord Bank, through the kindness of our friend, Judge Hoar.
    They trust that you will receive it as an expression of sincere
    regard and affection from friends, who will, one and all, esteem it
    a great privilege to be permitted to assist in the restoration of
    your home.

    And if, in their eagerness to participate in so grateful a work,
    they may have exceeded the estimate of your architect as to what
    is required for that purpose, they beg that you will devote the
    remainder to such other objects as may be most convenient to you.

    Very sincerely yours,


    CONCORD, August 14, 1872.


    _Dear Sir_,--I received your letters, with the check for ten
    thousand dollars inclosed, from Mr. Barrett last evening. This
    morning I deposited it to Mr. Emerson's credit in the Concord
    National Bank, and took a bank book for him, with his little balance
    entered at the top, and this following, and carried it to him with
    your letter. I told him, by way of prelude, that some of his friends
    had made him treasurer of an association who wished him to go to
    England and examine Warwick Castle and other noted houses that
    had been recently injured by fire, in order to get the best ideas
    possible for restoration, and then to apply them to a house which
    the association was formed to restore in this neighborhood.

    When he understood the thing and had read your letter, he seemed
    very deeply moved. He said that he had been allowed so far in life
    to stand on his own feet, and that he hardly knew what to say,--that
    the kindness of his friends was very great. I said what I thought
    was best in reply, and told him that this was the spontaneous act of
    friends, who wished the privilege of expressing in this way their
    respect and affection, and was done only by those who thought it a
    privilege to do so. I mentioned Hillard as you desired, and also
    Mrs. Tappan, who, it seems, had written to him and offered any
    assistance he might need, to the extent of five thousand dollars,

    I think it is all right, but he said he must see the list of
    contributors, and would then say what he had to say about it. He
    told me that Mr. F.C. Lowell, who was his classmate and old friend,
    Mr. Bangs, Mrs. Gurney, and a few other friends, had already sent
    him five thousand dollars, which he seemed to think was as much as
    he could bear. This makes the whole a very gratifying result, and
    perhaps explains the absence of some names on your book.

    I am glad that Mr. Emerson, who is feeble and ill, can learn what a
    debt of obligation his friends feel to him, and thank you heartily
    for what you have done about it. Very truly yours,

    E.R. HOAR.

    CONCORD, August 16, 1872.


    I have wondered and melted over your letter and its accompaniments
    till it is high time that I should reply to it, if I can. My
    misfortunes, as I have lived along so far in this world, have been
    so few that I have never needed to ask direct aid of the host of
    good men and women who have cheered my life, though many a gift has
    come to me. And this late calamity, however rude and devastating,
    soon began to look more wonderful in its salvages than in its ruins,
    so that I can hardly feel any right to this munificent endowment
    with which you, and my other friends through you, have astonished
    me. But I cannot read your letter or think of its message without
    delight, that my companions and friends bear me so noble a
    good-will, nor without some new aspirations in the old heart toward
    a better deserving. Judge Hoar has, up to this time, withheld from
    me the names of my benefactors, but you may be sure that I shall not
    rest till I have learned them, every one, to repeat to myself at
    night and at morning.

    Your affectionate friend and debtor,



    CONCORD, October 8, 1872.


    I received last night your two notes, and the cheque, enclosed in
    one of them, for one thousand and twenty dollars.

    Are my friends bent on killing me with kindness? No, you will say,
    but to make me live longer. I thought myself sufficiently loaded
    with benefits already, and you add more and more. It appears that
    you all will rebuild my house and rejuvenate me by sending me in my
    old days abroad on a young man's excursion.

    I am a lover of men, but this recent wonderful experience of their
    tenderness surprises and occupies my thoughts day by day. Now that
    I have all or almost all the names of the men and women who have
    conspired in this kindness to me (some of whom I have never
    personally known), I please myself with the thought of meeting each
    and asking, Why have we not met before? Why have you not told me
    that we thought alike? Life is not so long, nor sympathy of thought
    so common, that we can spare the society of those with whom we best
    agree. Well, 'tis probably my own fault by sticking ever to my
    solitude. Perhaps it is not too late to learn of these friends a
    better lesson.

    Thank them for me whenever you meet them, and say to them that I am
    not wood or stone, if I have not yet trusted myself so far as to go
    to each one of them directly.

    My wife insists that I shall also send her acknowledgments to them
    and you.

    Yours and theirs affectionately,



The following are the names of the subscribers to the fund for
rebuilding Mr. Emerson's house:--

Mrs. Anne S. Hooper.
Miss Alice S. Hooper.
Mrs. Caroline Tappan.
Miss Ellen S. Tappan.
Miss Mary A. Tappan.
Mr. T.G. Appleton.
Mrs. Henry Edwards.
Miss Susan E. Dorr.
Misses Wigglesworth.
Mr. Edward Wigglesworth.
Mr. J. Elliot Cabot.
Mrs. Sarah S. Russell.
Friends in New York and Philadelphia, through Mr. Williams.
Mr. William Whiting.
Mr. Frederick Beck.
Mr. H.P. Kidder.
Mrs. Abel Adams.
Mrs. George Faulkner.
Hon. E.R. Hoar.
Mr. James B. Thayer.
Mr. John M. Forbes.
Mr. James H. Beal.
Mrs. Anna C. Lodge.
Mr. T. Jefferson Coolidge.
Mr. H.H. Hunnewell.
Mrs. S. Cabot.
Mr. James A. Dupee.
Mrs. Anna C. Lowell.
Mrs. M.F. Sayles.
Miss Helen L. Appleton.
J.R. Osgood & Co.
Mr. Richard Soule.
Mr. Francis Geo. Shaw.
Dr. R.W. Hooper.
Mr. William P. Mason.
Mr. William Gray.
Mr. Sam'l G. Ward.
Mr. J.I. Bowditch.
Mr. Geo. C. Ward.
Mrs. Luicia J. Briggs.
Mr. John E. Williams.
Dr. Le Baron Russell.

In May, 1873, Emerson returned to Concord. His friends and
fellow-citizens received him with every token of affection and
reverence. A set of signals was arranged to announce his arrival.
Carriages were in readiness for him and his family, a band greeted him
with music, and passing under a triumphal arch, he was driven to his
renewed old home amidst the welcomes and the blessings of his loving and
admiring friends and neighbors.


1873-1878. AET. 70-75.

Publication of "Parnassus."--Emerson Nominated as Candidate for the
Office of Lord Rector of Glasgow University.--Publication of
"Letters and Social Aims." Contents: Poetry and Imagination.--Social
Aims.--Eloquence.--Resources.--The Comic.--Quotation and
Originality.--Progress of Culture.--Persian Poetry.--Inspiration.--
Greatness.--Immortality.--Address at the Unveiling of the Statue of "The
Minute-Man" at Concord.--Publication of Collected Poems.

In December, 1874, Emerson published "Parnassus," a Collection of Poems
by British and American authors. Many readers may like to see his
subdivisions and arrangement of the pieces he has brought together.
They are as follows: "Nature."--"Human Life."--"Intellectual."
--"Contemplation."--"Moral and Religious."--"Heroic."--"Personal."
--"Pictures."--"Narrative Poems and Ballads."--"Songs."--"Dirges and
Pathetic Poems."--"Comic and Humorous."--"Poetry of Terror."--"Oracles
and Counsels."

I have borrowed so sparingly from the rich mine of Mr. George Willis
Cooke's "Ralph Waldo Emerson, His Life, Writings, and Philosophy," that
I am pleased to pay him the respectful tribute of taking a leaf from his
excellent work.

"This collection," he says,

    "was the result of his habit, pursued for many years, of copying
    into his commonplace book any poem which specially pleased him. Many
    of these favorites had been read to illustrate his lectures on
    the English poets. The book has no worthless selections, almost
    everything it contains bearing the stamp of genius and worth. Yet
    Emerson's personality is seen in its many intellectual and serious
    poems, and in the small number of its purely religious selections.
    With two or three exceptions he copies none of those devotional
    poems which have attracted devout souls.--His poetical sympathies
    are shown in the fact that one third of the selections are from the
    seventeenth century. Shakespeare is drawn on more largely than any
    other, no less than eighty-eight selections being made from him. The
    names of George Herbert, Herrick, Ben Jonson, and Milton frequently
    appear. Wordsworth appears forty-three times, and stands next to
    Shakespeare; while Burns, Byron, Scott, Tennyson, and Chaucer make
    up the list of favorites. Many little known pieces are included, and
    some whose merit is other than poetical.--This selection of poems
    is eminently that of a poet of keen intellectual tastes. I
    not popular in character, omitting many public favorites, and
    introducing very much which can never be acceptable to the general
    reader. The Preface is full of interest for its comments on many of
    the poems and poets appearing in these selections."

I will only add to Mr. Cooke's criticism these two remarks: First, that
I have found it impossible to know under which of his divisions to look
for many of the poems I was in search of; and as, in the earlier copies
at least, there was no paged index where each author's pieces were
collected together, one had to hunt up his fragments with no little loss
of time and patience, under various heads, "imitating the careful search
that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris." The other remark is that
each one of Emerson's American fellow-poets from whom he has quoted
would gladly have spared almost any of the extracts from the poems of
his brother-bards, if the editor would only have favored us with some
specimens of his own poetry, with a single line of which he has not seen
fit to indulge us.

In 1874 Emerson received the nomination by the independent party among
the students of Glasgow University for the office of Lord Rector. He
received five hundred votes against seven hundred for Disraeli, who was
elected. He says in a letter to Dr. J. Hutchinson Sterling:--

    "I count that vote as quite the fairest laurel that has ever fallen
    on me; and I cannot but feel deeply grateful to my young friends in
    the University, and to yourself, who have been my counsellor and my
    too partial advocate."

Mr. Cabot informs us in his Prefatory Note to "Letters and Social Aims,"
that the proof sheets of this volume, now forming the eighth of the
collected works, showed even before the burning of his house and the
illness which followed from the shock, that his loss of memory and of
mental grasp was such as to make it unlikely that he would in any case
have been able to accomplish what he had undertaken. Sentences, even
whole pages, were repeated, and there was a want of order beyond what
even he would have tolerated:--

    "There is nothing here that he did not write, and he gave his
    full approval to whatever was done in the way of selection and
    arrangement; but I cannot say that he applied his mind very closely
    to the matter."

This volume contains eleven Essays, the subjects of which, as just
enumerated, are very various. The longest and most elaborate paper is
that entitled "Poetry and Imagination." I have room for little more than
the enumeration of the different headings of this long Essay. By these
it will be seen how wide a ground it covers. They are "Introductory;"
"Poetry;" "Imagination;" "Veracity;" "Creation;" "Melody, Rhythm, Form;"
"Bards and Trouveurs;" "Morals;" "Transcendency." Many thoughts with
which we are familiar are reproduced, expanded, and illustrated in this
Essay. Unity in multiplicity, the symbolism of nature, and others of his
leading ideas appear in new phrases, not unwelcome, for they look fresh
in every restatement. It would be easy to select a score of pointed
sayings, striking images, large generalizations. Some of these we find
repeated in his verse. Thus:--

    "Michael Angelo is largely filled with the Creator that made and
    makes men. How much of the original craft remains in him, and he a
    mortal man!"

And so in the well remembered lines of "The Problem":--

  "Himself from God he could not free."

"He knows that he did not make his thought,--no, his thought made him,
and made the sun and stars."

  "Art might obey but not surpass.
  The passive Master lent his hand
  To the vast soul that o'er him planned."

Hope is at the bottom of every Essay of Emerson's as it was at the
bottom of Pandora's box:--

    "I never doubt the riches of nature, the gifts of the future, the
    immense wealth of the mind. O yes, poets we shall have, mythology,
    symbols, religion of our own.

    --"Sooner or later that which is now life shall be poetry, and every
    fair and manly trait shall add a richer strain to the song."

Under the title "Social Aims" he gives some wise counsel concerning
manners and conversation. One of these precepts will serve as a
specimen--if we have met with it before it is none the worse for wear:--

    "Shun the negative side. Never worry people with; your contritions,
    nor with dismal views of politics or society. Never name sickness;
    even if you could trust yourself on that perilous topic, beware of
    unmuzzling a valetudinarian, who will give you enough of it."

We have had one Essay on "Eloquence" already. One extract from this new
discourse on the same subject must serve our turn:--

    "These are ascending stairs,--a good voice, winning manners, plain
    speech, chastened, however, by the schools into correctness; but
    we must come to the main matter, of power of statement,--know your
    fact; hug your fact. For the essential thing is heat, and heat comes
    of sincerity. Speak what you know and believe; and are personally in
    it; and are answerable for every word. Eloquence is _the power to_
    _translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the
    person to whom you speak_."

The italics are Emerson's.

If our learned and excellent John Cotton used to sweeten his mouth
before going to bed with a bit of Calvin, we may as wisely sweeten and
strengthen our sense of existence with a morsel or two from Emerson's
Essay on "Resources":--

    "A Schopenhauer, with logic and learning and wit, teaching
    pessimism,--teaching that this is the worst of all possible worlds,
    and inferring that sleep is better than waking, and death than
    sleep,--all the talent in the world cannot save him from being
    odious. But if instead of these negatives you give me affirmatives;
    if you tell me that there is always life for the living; that what
    man has done man can do; that this world belongs to the energetic;
    that there is always a way to everything desirable; that every man
    is provided, in the new bias of his faculty, with a key to
    nature, and that man only rightly knows himself as far as he has
    experimented on things,--I am invigorated, put into genial and
    working temper; the horizon opens, and we are full of good-will and
    gratitude to the Cause of Causes."

The Essay or Lecture on "The Comic" may have formed a part of a series
he had contemplated on the intellectual processes. Two or three sayings
in it will show his view sufficiently:--

    "The essence of all jokes, of all comedy, seems to be an honest or
    well-intended halfness; a non-performance of what is pretended to
    be performed, at the same time that one is giving loud pledges of

    "If the essence of the Comic be the contrast in the intellect
    between the idea and the false performance, there is good reason why
    we should be affected by the exposure. We have no deeper interest
    than our integrity, and that we should be made aware by joke and by
    stroke of any lie we entertain. Besides, a perception of the comic
    seems to be a balance-wheel in our metaphysical structure. It
    appears to be an essential element in a fine character.--A rogue
    alive to the ludicrous is still convertible. If that sense is lost,
    his fellow-men can do little for him."

These and other sayings of like purport are illustrated by
well-preserved stories and anecdotes not for the most part of very
recent date.

"Quotation and Originality" furnishes the key to Emerson's workshop. He
believed in quotation, and borrowed from everybody and every book. Not
in any stealthy or shame-faced way, but proudly, royally, as a king
borrows from one of his attendants the coin that bears his own image and

    "All minds quote. Old and new make the warp and woof of every
    moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two
    strands.--We quote not only books and proverbs, but arts, sciences,
    religion, customs, and laws; nay, we quote temples and houses,
    tables and chairs by imitation.--

    "The borrowing is often honest enough and comes of magnanimity and
    stoutness. A great man quotes bravely, and will not draw on his
    invention when his memory serves him with a word as good.

    "Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of

--"The Progress of Culture," his second Phi Beta Kappa oration, has
already been mentioned.

--The lesson of self-reliance, which he is never tired of inculcating,
is repeated and enforced in the Essay on "Greatness."

    "There are certain points of identity in which these masters agree.
    Self-respect is the early form in which greatness appears.--Stick to
    your own; don't inculpate yourself in the local, social, or national
    crime, but follow the path your genius traces like the galaxy of
    heaven for you to walk in.

    "Every mind has a new compass, a new direction of its own,
    differencing its genius and aim from every other mind.--We call this
    specialty the _bias_ of each individual. And none of us will ever
    accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens
    to this whisper which is heard by him alone."

If to follow this native bias is the first rule, the second is
concentration.--To the bias of the individual mind must be added the
most catholic receptivity for the genius of others.

    "Shall I tell you the secret of the true scholar? It is this: Every
    man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of

    "The man whom we have not seen, in whom no regard of self degraded
    the adorer of the laws,--who by governing himself governed others;
    sportive in manner, but inexorable in act; who sees longevity in his
    cause; whose aim is always distinct to him; who is suffered to be
    himself in society; who carries fate in his eye;--he it is whom we
    seek, encouraged in every good hour that here or hereafter he shall
    he found."

What has Emerson to tell us of "Inspiration?"

    "I believe that nothing great or lasting can be done except by
    inspiration, by leaning on the secret augury.--

    "How many sources of inspiration can we count? As many as our
    affinities. But to a practical purpose we may reckon a few of

I will enumerate them briefly as he gives them, but not attempting to
reproduce his comments on each:--

1. Health. 2. The experience of writing letters. 3. The renewed
sensibility which comes after seasons of decay or eclipse of the
faculties. 4. The power of the will. 5. Atmospheric causes, especially
the influence of morning. 6. Solitary converse with nature. 7. Solitude
of itself, like that of a country inn in summer, and of a city hotel
in winter. 8. Conversation. 9. New poetry; by which, he says, he means
chiefly old poetry that is new to the reader.

    "Every book is good to read which sets the reader in a working

What can promise more than an Essay by Emerson on "Immortality"? It is
to be feared that many readers will transfer this note of interrogation
to the Essay itself. What is the definite belief of Emerson as expressed
in this discourse,--what does it mean? We must tack together such
sentences as we can find that will stand for an answer:--

    "I think all sound minds rest on a certain preliminary conviction,
    namely, that if it be best that conscious personal life shall
    continue, it will continue; if not best, then it will not; and we,
    if we saw the whole, should of course see that it was better so."

This is laying the table for a Barmecide feast of nonentity, with the
possibility of a real banquet to be provided for us. But he continues:--

    "Schiller said, 'What is so universal as death must be benefit.'"

He tells us what Michael Angelo said, how Plutarch felt, how Montesquieu
thought about the question, and then glances off from it to the terror
of the child at the thought of life without end, to the story of the two
skeptical statesmen whose unsatisfied inquiry through a long course of
years he holds to be a better affirmative evidence than their failure
to find a confirmation was negative. He argues from our delight in
permanence, from the delicate contrivances and adjustments of created
things, that the contriver cannot be forever hidden, and says at last

    "Everything is prospective, and man is to live hereafter. That the
    world is for his education is the only sane solution of the enigma."

But turn over a few pages and we may read:--

    "I confess that everything connected with our personality fails.
    Nature never spares the individual; we are always balked of a
    complete success; no prosperity is promised to our self-esteem. We
    have our indemnity only in the moral and intellectual reality to
    which we aspire. That is immortal, and we only through that. The
    soul stipulates for no private good. That which is private I see not
    to be good. 'If truth live, I live; if justice live, I live,'
    said one of the old saints, 'and these by any man's suffering are
    enlarged and enthroned.'"

Once more we get a dissolving view of Emerson's creed, if such a word
applies to a statement like the following:--

    --"I mean that I am a better believer, and all serious souls are
    better believers in the immortality than we can give grounds for.
    The real evidence is too subtle, or is higher than we can write down
    in propositions, and therefore Wordsworth's 'Ode' is the best modern
    essay on the subject."

Wordsworth's "Ode" is a noble and beautiful dream; is it anything more?
The reader who would finish this Essay, which I suspect to belong to an
early period of Emerson's development, must be prepared to plunge
into mysticism and lose himself at last in an Oriental apologue. The
eschatology which rests upon an English poem and an Indian fable belongs
to the realm of reverie and of imagination rather than the domain of

On the 19th of April, 1875, the hundredth anniversary of the "Fight at
the Bridge," Emerson delivered a short Address at the unveiling of the
statue of "The Minute-Man," erected at the place of the conflict, to
commemorate the event. This is the last Address he ever wrote, though he
delivered one or more after this date. From the manuscript which lies
before me I extract a single passage:--

    "In the year 1775 we had many enemies and many friends in England,
    but our one benefactor was King George the Third. The time had
    arrived for the political severance of America, that it might play
    its part in the history of this globe, and the inscrutable divine
    Providence gave an insane king to England. In the resistance of the
    Colonies, he alone was immovable on the question of force. England
    was so dear to us that the Colonies could only be absolutely
    disunited by violence from England, and only one man could compel
    the resort to violence. Parliament wavered, Lord North wavered, all
    the ministers wavered, but the king had the insanity of one idea; he
    was immovable, he insisted on the impossible, so the army was sent,
    America was instantly united, and the Nation born."

There is certainly no mark of mental failure in this paragraph, written
at a period when he had long ceased almost entirely from his literary

Emerson's collected "Poems" constitute the ninth volume of the recent
collected edition of his works. They will be considered in a following


1878-1882. AET. 75-79.

Last Literary Labors.--Addresses and Essays.--"Lectures and Biographical

The decline of Emerson's working faculties went on gently and gradually,
but he was not condemned to entire inactivity. His faithful daughter,
Ellen, followed him with assiduous, quiet, ever watchful care, aiding
his failing memory, bringing order into the chaos of his manuscript, an
echo before the voice whose words it was to shape for him when his mind
faltered and needed a momentary impulse.

With her helpful presence and support he ventured from time to time
to read a paper before a select audience. Thus, March 30, 1878, he
delivered a Lecture in the Old South Church,--"Fortune of the Republic."
On the 5th of May, 1879, he read a Lecture in the Chapel of Divinity
College, Harvard University,--"The Preacher." In 1881 he read a paper on
Carlyle before the Massachusetts Historical Society.--He also published
a paper in the "North American Review," in 1878,--"The Sovereignty of
Ethics," and one on "Superlatives," in "The Century" for February, 1882.

But in these years he was writing little or nothing. All these papers
were taken from among his manuscripts of different dates. The same
thing is true of the volumes published since his death; they were
only compilations from his stores of unpublished matter, and their
arrangement was the work of Mr. Emerson's friend and literary executor,
Mr. Cabot. These volumes cannot be considered as belonging to any single
period of his literary life.

Mr. Cabot prefixes to the tenth volume of Emerson's collected works,
which bears the title, "Lectures and Biographical Sketches," the


"Of the pieces included in this volume the following, namely, those from
'The Dial,' 'Character,' 'Plutarch,' and the biographical sketches of
Dr. Ripley, of Mr. Hoar, and of Henry Thoreau, were printed by Mr.
Emerson before I took any part in the arrangement of his papers. The
rest, except the sketch of Miss Mary Emerson, I got ready for his use
in readings to his friends, or to a limited public. He had given up
the regular practice of lecturing, but would sometimes, upon special
request, read a paper that had been prepared for him from his
manuscripts, in the manner described in the Preface to 'Letters and
Social Aims,'--some former lecture serving as a nucleus for the new.
Some of these papers he afterwards allowed to be printed; others,
namely, 'Aristocracy,' 'Education,' 'The Man of Letters,' 'The Scholar,'
'Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England,' 'Mary Moody
Emerson,' are now published for the first time."

Some of these papers I have already had occasion to refer to. From
several of the others I will make one or two extracts,--a difficult
task, so closely are the thoughts packed together.

From "Demonology":--

    "I say to the table-rappers

                                   'I will believe
      Thou wilt not utter what thou dost not know,'
      And so far will I trust thee, gentle Kate!"

    "Meantime far be from me the impatience which cannot brook the
    supernatural, the vast; far be from me the lust of explaining away
    all which appeals to the imagination, and the great presentiments
    which haunt us. Willingly I too say Hail! to the unknown, awful
    powers which transcend the ken of the understanding."

I will not quote anything from the Essay called "Aristocracy." But let
him who wishes to know what the word means to an American whose life has
come from New England soil, whose ancestors have breathed New England
air for many generations, read it, and he will find a new interpretation
of a very old and often greatly wronged appellation.

"Perpetual Forces" is one of those prose poems,--of his earlier epoch,
I have no doubt,--in which he plays with the facts of science with
singular grace and freedom.

What man could speak more fitly, with more authority of "Character,"
than Emerson? When he says, "If all things are taken away, I have
still all things in my relation to the Eternal," we feel that such an
utterance is as natural to his pure spirit as breathing to the frame in
which it was imprisoned.

We have had a glimpse of Emerson as a school-master, but behind and far
above the teaching drill-master's desk is the chair from which he speaks
to us of "Education." Compare the short and easy method of the wise man
of old,--"He that spareth his rod hateth his son," with this other, "Be
the companion of his thought, the friend of his friendship, the lover of
his virtue,--but no kinsman of his sin."

"The Superlative" will prove light and pleasant reading after these
graver essays. [Greek: Maedhen agan]--_ne quid nimis_,--nothing in
excess, was his precept as to adjectives.

Two sentences from "The Sovereignty of Ethics" will go far towards
reconciling elderly readers who have not forgotten the Westminster
Assembly's Catechism with this sweet-souled dealer in spiritual

    "Luther would cut his hand off sooner than write theses against the
    pope if he suspected that he was bringing on with all his might the
    pale negations of Boston Unitarianism.--

    "If I miss the inspiration of the saints of Calvinism, or of
    Platonism, or of Buddhism, our times are not up to theirs, or, more
    truly, have not yet their own legitimate force."

So, too, this from "The Preacher":--

    "All civil mankind have agreed in leaving one day for contemplation
    against six for practice. I hope that day will keep its honor and
    its use.--The Sabbath changes its forms from age to age, but the
    substantial benefit endures."

The special interest of the Address called "The Man of Letters" is, that
it was delivered during the war. He was no advocate for peace where
great principles were at the bottom of the conflict:--

    "War, seeking for the roots of strength, comes upon the moral
    aspects at once.--War ennobles the age.--Battle, with the sword,
    has cut many a Gordian knot in twain which all the wit of East and
    West, of Northern and Border statesmen could not untie."

"The Scholar" was delivered before two Societies at the University of
Virginia so late as the year 1876. If I must select any of its wise
words, I will choose the questions which he has himself italicized to
show his sense of their importance:--

    "For all men, all women, Time, your country, your condition, the
    invisible world are the interrogators: _Who are you? What do you?
    Can you obtain what you wish? Is there method in your consciousness?
    Can you see tendency in your life? Can you help any soul_?

    "Can he answer these questions? Can he dispose of them? Happy if you
    can answer them mutely in the order and disposition of your life!
    Happy for more than yourself, a benefactor of men, if you can answer
    them in works of wisdom, art, or poetry; bestowing on the general
    mind of men organic creations, to be the guidance and delight of all
    who know them."

The Essay on "Plutarch" has a peculiar value from the fact that Emerson
owes more to him than to any other author except Plato, who is one of
the only two writers quoted oftener than Plutarch. _Mutato nomine_, the
portrait which Emerson draws of the Greek moralist might stand for his

    "Whatever is eminent in fact or in fiction, in opinion, in
    character, in institutions, in science--natural, moral, or
    metaphysical, or in memorable sayings drew his attention and came to
    his pen with more or less fulness of record.

    "A poet in verse or prose must have a sensuous eye, but an
    intellectual co-perception. Plutarch's memory is full and his
    horizon wide. Nothing touches man but he feels to be his.

    "Plutarch had a religion which Montaigne wanted, and which defends
    him from wantonness; and though Plutarch is as plain spoken, his
    moral sentiment is always pure.--

    "I do not know where to find a book--to borrow a phrase of Ben
    Jonson's--'so rammed with life,' and this in chapters chiefly
    ethical, which are so prone to be heavy and sentimental.--His
    vivacity and abundance never leave him to loiter or pound on an

    "In his immense quotation and allusion we quickly cease to
    discriminate between what he quotes and what he invents.--'Tis all
    Plutarch, by right of eminent domain, and all property vests in this

    "It is in consequence of this poetic trait in his mind, that I
    confess that, in reading him, I embrace the particulars, and carry a
    faint memory of the argument or general design of the chapter; but
    he is not less welcome, and he leaves the reader with a relish and a
    necessity for completing his studies.

    "He is a pronounced idealist, who does not hesitate to say, like
    another Berkeley, 'Matter is itself privation.'--

    "Of philosophy he is more interested in the results than in the
    method. He has a just instinct of the presence of a master, and
    prefers to sit as a scholar with Plato than as a disputant.

    "His natural history is that of a lover and poet, and not of a

    "But though curious in the questions of the schools on the nature
    and genesis of things, his extreme interest in every trait of
    character, and his broad humanity, lead him constantly to Morals, to
    the study of the Beautiful and Good. Hence his love of heroes, his
    rule of life, and his clear convictions of the high destiny of the
    soul. La Harpe said that 'Plutarch is the genius the most naturally
    moral that ever existed.'

    "Plutarch thought 'truth to be the greatest good that man can
    receive, and the goodliest blessing that God can give.'

    "All his judgments are noble. He thought with Epicurus that it is
    more delightful to do than to receive a kindness.

    "Plutarch was well-born, well-conditioned--eminently social, he was
    a king in his own house, surrounded himself with select friends, and
    knew the high value of good conversation.--

    "He had that universal sympathy with genius which makes all its
    victories his own; though he never used verse, he had many qualities
    of the poet in the power of his imagination, the speed of his mental
    associations, and his sharp, objective eyes. But what specially
    marks him, he is a chief example of the illumination of the
    intellect by the force of morals."

How much, of all this would have been recognized as just and true if it
had been set down in an obituary notice of Emerson!

I have already made use of several of the other papers contained in this
volume, and will merely enumerate all that follow the "Plutarch." Some
of the titles will be sure to attract the reader. They are "Historic
Notes of Life and Letters in New England;" "The Chardon Street
Convention;" "Ezra Ripley, D.D.;" "Mary Moody Emerson;" "Samuel Hoar;"
"Thoreau;" "Carlyle."--

Mr. Cabot prefaces the eleventh and last volume of Emerson's writings
with the following "Note":--

    "The first five pieces in this volume, and the 'Editorial Address'
    from the 'Massachusetts Quarterly Review,' were published by Mr.
    Emerson long ago. The speeches at the John Brown, the Walter Scott,
    and the Free Religious Association meetings were published at the
    time, no doubt with his consent, but without any active co-operation
    on his part. The 'Fortune of the Republic' appeared separately in
    1879; the rest have never been published. In none was any change
    from the original form made by me, except in the 'Fortune of the
    Republic,' which was made up of several lectures for the occasion
    upon which it was read."

The volume of "Miscellanies" contains no less than twenty-three pieces
of very various lengths and relating to many different subjects. The
five referred to as having been previously published are, "The Lord's
Supper," the "Historical Discourse in Concord," the "Address at the
Dedication of the Soldiers' Monument in Concord," the "Address on
Emancipation in the British West Indies," and the Lecture or Essay on
"War,"--all of which have been already spoken of.

Next in order comes a Lecture on the "Fugitive Slave Law." Emerson says,
"I do not often speak on public questions.--My own habitual view is to
the well-being of scholars." But he leaves his studies to attack the
institution of slavery, from which he says he himself has never suffered
any inconvenience, and the "Law," which the abolitionists would always
call the "Fugitive Slave _Bill_." Emerson had a great admiration for
Mr. Webster, but he did not spare him as he recalled his speech of the
seventh of March, just four years before the delivery of this Lecture.
He warns against false leadership:--

    "To make good the cause of Freedom, you must draw off from all
    foolish trust in others.--He only who is able to stand alone is
    qualified for society. And that I understand to be the end for which
    a soul exists in this world,--to be himself the counter-balance of
    all falsehood and all wrong.--The Anglo-Saxon race is proud and
    strong and selfish.--England maintains trade, not liberty."

Cowper had said long before this:--

                    "doing good,
  Disinterested good, is not our trade."

And America found that England had not learned that trade when, fifteen
years after this discourse was delivered, the conflict between the free
and slave states threatened the ruin of the great Republic, and England
forgot her Anti-slavery in the prospect of the downfall of "a great
empire which threatens to overshadow the whole earth."

It must be remembered that Emerson had never been identified with the
abolitionists. But an individual act of wrong sometimes gives a sharp
point to a blunt dagger which has been kept in its sheath too long:--

    "The events of the last few years and months and days have taught us
    the lessons of centuries. I do not see how a barbarous community and
    a civilized community can constitute one State. I think we must get
    rid of slavery or we must get rid of freedom."

These were his words on the 26th of May, 1856, in his speech on "The
Assault upon Mr. Sumner." A few months later, in his "Speech on the
Affairs of Kansas," delivered almost five years before the first gun
was fired at Fort Sumter, he spoke the following fatally prophetic and
commanding words:--

    "The hour is coming when the strongest will not be strong enough.
    A harder task will the new revolution of the nineteenth century be
    than was the revolution of the eighteenth century. I think the
    American Revolution bought its glory cheap. If the problem was new,
    it was simple. If there were few people, they were united, and the
    enemy three thousand miles off. But now, vast property, gigantic
    interests, family connections, webs of party, cover the land with a
    net-work that immensely multiplies the dangers of war.

    "Fellow-citizens, in these times full of the fate of the Republic,
    I think the towns should hold town meetings, and resolve themselves
    into Committees of Safety, go into permanent sessions, adjourning
    from week to week, from month to month. I wish we could send the
    sergeant-at-arms to stop every American who is about to leave the
    country. Send home every one who is abroad, lest they should find no
    country to return to. Come home and stay at home while there is a
    country to save. When it is lost it will be time enough then for any
    who are luckless enough to remain alive to gather up their clothes
    and depart to some land where freedom exists."

Two short speeches follow, one delivered at a meeting for the relief of
the family of John Brown, on the 18th of November, 1859, the other after
his execution:--

    "Our blind statesmen," he says, "go up and down, with committees of
    vigilance and safety, hunting for the origin of this new heresy.
    They will need a very vigilant committee indeed to find its
    birthplace, and a very strong force to root it out. For the
    arch-Abolitionist, older than Brown, and older than the Shenandoah
    Mountains, is Love, whose other name is Justice, which was before
    Alfred, before Lycurgus, before Slavery, and will be after it."

From his "Discourse on Theodore Parker" I take the following vigorous

    "His commanding merit as a reformer is this, that he insisted beyond
    all men in pulpits,--I cannot think of one rival,--that the essence
    of Christianity is its practical morals; it is there for use, or
    it is nothing; and if you combine it with sharp trading, or with
    ordinary city ambitions to gloze over municipal corruptions, or
    private intemperance, or successful fraud, or immoral politics, or
    unjust wars, or the cheating of Indians, or the robbery of frontier
    nations, or leaving your principles at home to follow on the
    high seas or in Europe a supple complaisance to tyrants,--it is
    hypocrisy, and the truth is not in you; and no love of religious
    music, or of dreams of Swedenborg, or praise of John Wesley, or of
    Jeremy Taylor, can save you from the Satan which you are."

The Lecture on "American Civilization," made up from two Addresses, one
of which was delivered at Washington on the 31st of January, 1862, is,
as might be expected, full of anti-slavery. That on the "Emancipation
Proclamation," delivered in Boston in September, 1862, is as full of
"silent joy" at the advent of "a day which most of us dared not hope
to see,--an event worth the dreadful war, worth its costs and

From the "Remarks" at the funeral services for Abraham Lincoln, held
in Concord on the 19th of April, 1865, I extract this admirably drawn
character of the man:--

    "He is the true history of the American people in his time. Step by
    step he walked before them; slow with their slowness, quickening
    his march by theirs, the true representative of this continent; an
    entirely public man; father of his country, the pulse of twenty
    millions throbbing in his heart, the thought of their minds
    articulated by his tongue."

The following are the titles of the remaining contents of this volume:
"Harvard Commemoration Speech;" "Editor's Address: Massachusetts
Quarterly Review;" "Woman;" "Address to Kossuth;" "Robert Burns;"
"Walter Scott;" "Remarks at the Organization of the Free Religious
Association;" "Speech at the Annual Meeting of the Free Religious
Association;" "The Fortune of the Republic." In treating of the
"Woman Question," Emerson speaks temperately, delicately, with perfect
fairness, but leaves it in the hands of the women themselves to
determine whether they shall have an equal part in public affairs. "The
new movement," he says, "is only a tide shared by the spirits of man and
woman; and you may proceed in the faith that whatever the woman's heart
is prompted to desire, the man's mind is simultaneously prompted to

It is hard to turn a leaf in any book of Emerson's writing without
finding some pithy remark or some striking image or witty comment which
illuminates the page where we find it and tempts us to seize upon it for
an extract. But I must content myself with these few sentences from "The
Fortune of the Republic," the last address he ever delivered, in which
his belief in America and her institutions, and his trust in the
Providence which overrules all nations and all worlds, have found
fitting utterance:--

    "Let the passion for America cast out the passion for Europe. Here
    let there be what the earth waits for,--exalted manhood. What this
    country longs for is personalities, grand persons, to counteract its
    materialities. For it is the rule of the universe that corn shall
    serve man, and not man corn.

    "They who find America insipid,--they for whom London and Paris have
    spoiled their own homes, can be spared to return to those cities. I
    not only see a career at home for more genius than we have, but for
    more than there is in the world.

    "Our helm is given up to a better guidance than our own; the course
    of events is quite too strong for any helmsman, and our little
    wherry is taken in tow by the ship of the great Admiral which knows
    the way, and has the force to draw men and states and planets to
    their good."

With this expression of love and respect for his country and trust
in his country's God, we may take leave of Emerson's prose writings.



The following "Prefatory Note" by Mr. Cabot introduces the ninth volume
of the series of Emerson's collected works:--

    "This volume contains nearly all the pieces included in the POEMS
    and MAY-DAY of former editions. In 1876 Mr. Emerson published a
    selection from his poems, adding six new ones, and omitting many.
    Of those omitted, several are now restored, in accordance with the
    expressed wishes of many readers and lovers of them. Also some
    pieces never before published are here given in an Appendix, on
    various grounds. Some of them appear to have had Emerson's approval,
    but to have been withheld because they were unfinished. These it
    seemed best not to suppress, now that they can never receive their
    completion. Others, mostly of an early date, remained unpublished
    doubtless because of their personal and private nature. Some of
    these seem to have an autobiographic interest sufficient to justify
    their publication. Others again, often mere fragments, have been
    admitted as characteristic, or as expressing in poetic form thoughts
    found in the Essays.

    "In coming to a decision in these cases, it seemed on the whole
    preferable to take the risk of including too much rather than the
    opposite, and to leave the task of further winnowing to the hands of

    "As was stated in the Preface to the first volume of this edition of
    Mr. Emerson's writings, the readings adopted by him in the "Selected
    Poems" have not always been followed here, but in some cases
    preference has been given to corrections made by him when he was in
    fuller strength than at the time of the last revision.

    "A change in the arrangement of the stanzas of "May-Day," in the
    part representative of the march of Spring, received his sanction as
    bringing them more nearly in accordance with the events in Nature."

Emerson's verse has been a fertile source of discussion. Some have
called him a poet and nothing but a poet, and some have made so much of
the palpable defects of his verse that they have forgotten to recognize
its true claims. His prose is often highly poetical, but his verse is
something more than the most imaginative and rhetorical passages of his
prose. An illustration presently to be given will make this point clear.

Poetry is to prose what the so-called full dress of the ball-room is to
the plainer garments of the household and the street. Full dress, as
we call it, is so full of beauty that it cannot hold it all, and the
redundancy of nature overflows the narrowed margin of satin or velvet.

It reconciles us to its approach to nudity by the richness of its
drapery and ornaments. A pearl or diamond necklace or a blushing bouquet
excuses the liberal allowance of undisguised nature. We expect from the
fine lady in her brocades and laces a generosity of display which we
should reprimand with the virtuous severity of Tartuffe if ventured upon
by the waiting-maid in her calicoes. So the poet reveals himself under
the protection of his imaginative and melodious phrases,--the flowers
and jewels of his vocabulary.

Here is a prose sentence from Emerson's "Works and Days:"--

    "The days are ever divine as to the first Aryans. They come and go
    like muffled and veiled figures, sent from a distant friendly party;
    but they say nothing, and if we do not use the gifts they bring,
    they carry them as silently away."

Now see this thought in full dress, and then ask what is the difference
between prose and poetry:--


  "Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days,
  Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes,
  And marching single in an endless file,
  Bring diadems and fagots in their hands.
  To each they offer gifts after his will,
  Bread, kingdom, stars, and sky that holds them all.
  I, in my pleachéd garden watched the pomp,
  Forgot my morning wishes, hastily
  Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day
  Turned and departed silent. I too late
  Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn."

--Cinderella at the fireside, and Cinderella at the prince's ball! The
full dress version of the thought is glittering with new images like
bracelets and brooches and ear-rings, and fringed with fresh adjectives
like edges of embroidery. That one word _pleachéd,_ an heir-loom from
Queen Elizabeth's day, gives to the noble sonnet an antique dignity and
charm like the effect of an ancestral jewel. But mark that now the
poet reveals himself as he could not in the prosaic form of the first
extract. It is his own neglect of his great opportunity of which he
now speaks, and not merely the indolent indifference of others. It
is himself who is the object of scorn. Self-revelation of beauty
embellished by ornaments is the privilege of full dress; self-revelation
in the florid costume of verse is the divine right of the poet. Passion
that must express itself longs always for the freedom of rhythmic
utterance. And in spite of the exaggeration and extravagance which
shield themselves under the claim of poetic license, I venture to affirm
that "_In_ vino _veritas_" is not truer than _In_ carmine _veritas_.
As a further illustration of what has just been said of the
self-revelations to be looked for in verse, and in Emerson's verse more
especially, let the reader observe how freely he talks about his bodily
presence and infirmities in his poetry,--subjects he never referred to
in prose, except incidentally, in private letters.

Emerson is so essentially a poet that whole pages of his are like so
many litanies of alternating chants and recitations. His thoughts slip
on and off their light rhythmic robes just as the mood takes him, as was
shown in the passage I have quoted in prose and in verse. Many of the
metrical preludes to his lectures are a versified and condensed abstract
of the leading doctrine of the discourse. They are a curious instance of
survival; the lecturer, once a preacher, still wants his text; and finds
his scriptural motto in his own rhythmic inspiration.

Shall we rank Emerson among the great poets or not?

    "The great poets are judged by the frame of mind they induce; and to
    them, of all men, the severest criticism is due."

These are Emerson's words in the Preface to "Parnassus."

His own poems will stand this test as well as any in the language. They
lift the reader into a higher region of thought and feeling. This seems
to me a better test to apply to them than the one which Mr. Arnold cited
from Milton. The passage containing this must be taken, not alone, but
with the context. Milton had been speaking of "Logic" and of "Rhetoric,"
and spoke of poetry "as being less subtile and fine, but more simple,
sensuous, and passionate." This relative statement, it must not be
forgotten, is conditioned by what went before. If the terms are used
absolutely, and not comparatively, as Milton used them, they must be
very elastic if they would stretch widely enough to include all the
poems which the world recognizes as masterpieces, nay, to include some
of the best of Milton's own.

In spite of what he said about himself in his letter to Carlyle, Emerson
was not only a poet, but a very remarkable one. Whether a great poet
or not will depend on the scale we use and the meaning we affix to the
term. The heat at eighty degrees of Fahrenheit is one thing and the heat
at eighty degrees of Réaumur is a very different matter. The rank of
poets is a point of very unstable equilibrium. From the days of Homer to
our own, critics have been disputing about the place to be assigned to
this or that member of the poetic hierarchy. It is not the most popular
poet who is necessarily the greatest; Wordsworth never had half the
popularity of Scott or Moore. It is not the multitude of remembered
passages which settles the rank of a metrical composition as poetry.
Gray's "Elegy," it is true, is full of lines we all remember, and is a
great poem, if that term can be applied to any piece of verse of that
length. But what shall we say to the "Ars Poetica" of Horace? It is
crowded with lines worn smooth as old sesterces by constant quotation.
And yet we should rather call it a versified criticism than a poem in
the full sense of that word. And what shall we do with Pope's "Essay on
Man," which has furnished more familiar lines than "Paradise Lost" and
"Paradise Regained" both together? For all that, we know there is a
school of writers who will not allow that Pope deserves the name of

It takes a generation or two to find out what are the passages in
a great writer which are to become commonplaces in literature and
conversation. It is to be remembered that Emerson is one of those
authors whose popularity must diffuse itself from above downwards. And
after all, few will dare assert that "The Vanity of Human Wishes" is
greater as a poem than Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind," or Keats's "Ode
to a Nightingale," because no line in either of these poems is half so
often quoted as

  "To point a moral or adorn a tale."

We cannot do better than begin our consideration of Emerson's poetry
with Emerson's own self-estimate. He says in a fit of humility, writing
to Carlyle:--

    "I do not belong to the poets, but only to a low department of
    literature, the reporters, suburban men."

But Miss Peabody writes to Mr. Ireland:--

    "He once said to me, 'I am not a great poet--but whatever is of me
    _is a poet_.'"

These opposite feelings were the offspring of different moods and
different periods.

Here is a fragment, written at the age of twenty-eight, in which his
self-distrust and his consciousness of the "vision," if not "the
faculty, divine," are revealed with the brave nudity of the rhythmic

  "A dull uncertain brain,
  But gifted yet to know
  That God has cherubim who go
  Singing an immortal strain,
  Immortal here below.
  I know the mighty bards,
  I listen while they sing,
  And now I know
  The secret store
  Which these explore
  When they with torch of genius pierce
  The tenfold clouds that cover
  The riches of the universe
  From God's adoring lover.
  And if to me it is not given
  To fetch one ingot thence
  Of that unfading gold of Heaven
  His merchants may dispense,
  Yet well I know the royal mine
    And know the sparkle of its ore,
  Know Heaven's truth from lies that shine,--
    Explored, they teach us to explore."

These lines are from "The Poet," a series of fragments given in the
"Appendix," which, with his first volume, "Poems," his second, "May-Day,
and other Pieces," form the complete ninth volume of the new series.
These fragments contain some of the loftiest and noblest passages to be
found in his poetical works, and if the reader should doubt which of
Emerson's self-estimates in his two different moods spoken of above had
most truth in it, he could question no longer after reading "The Poet."

Emerson has the most exalted ideas of the true poetic function, as this
passage from "Merlin" sufficiently shows:--

  "Thy trivial harp will never please
  Or fill my craving ear;
  Its chords should ring as blows the breeze,
  Free, peremptory, clear.
  No jingling serenader's art
  Nor tinkling of piano-strings
  Can make the wild blood start
  In its mystic springs;
  The kingly bard
  Must smite the chords rudely and hard,
  As with hammer or with mace;
  That they may render back
  Artful thunder, which conveys
  Secrets of the solar track,
  Sparks of the supersolar blaze.

          *       *       *       *       *

  Great is the art,
  Great be the manners of the bard.
  He shall not his brain encumber
  With the coil of rhythm and number;
  But leaving rule and pale forethought
  He shall aye climb
  For his rhyme.
  'Pass in, pass in,' the angels say,
  'In to the upper doors,
  Nor count compartments of the floors,
  But mount to paradise
  By the stairway of surprise.'"

And here is another passage from "The Poet," mentioned in the quotation
before the last, in which the bard is spoken of as performing greater
miracles than those ascribed to Orpheus:--

  "A Brother of the world, his song
  Sounded like a tempest strong
  Which tore from oaks their branches broad,
  And stars from the ecliptic road.
  Time wore he as his clothing-weeds,
  He sowed the sun and moon for seeds.
  As melts the iceberg in the seas,
  As clouds give rain to the eastern breeze,
  As snow-banks thaw in April's beam,
  The solid kingdoms like a dream
  Resist in vain his motive strain,
  They totter now and float amain.
  For the Muse gave special charge
  His learning should be deep and large,
  And his training should not scant
  The deepest lore of wealth or want:
  His flesh should feel, his eyes should read
  Every maxim of dreadful Need;
  In its fulness he should taste
  Life's honeycomb, but not too fast;
  Full fed, but not intoxicated;
  He should be loved; he should be hated;
  A blooming child to children dear,
  His heart should palpitate with fear."

We look naturally to see what poets were Emerson's chief favorites. In
his poems "The Test" and "The Solution," we find that the five whom
he recognizes as defying the powers of destruction are Homer, Dante,
Shakespeare, Swedenborg, Goethe.

Here are a few of his poetical characterizations from "The Harp:"--

  "And this at least I dare affirm,
  Since genius too has bound and term,
  There is no bard in all the choir,
  Not Homer's self, the poet-sire,
  Wise Milton's odes of pensive pleasure,
  Or Shakespeare whom no mind can measure,
  Nor Collins' verse of tender pain,
  Nor Byron's clarion of disdain,
  Scott, the delight of generous boys,
  Or Wordsworth, Pan's recording voice,--
  Not one of all can put in verse,
  Or to this presence could rehearse
  The sights and voices ravishing
  The boy knew on the hills in spring."--

In the notice of "Parnassus" some of his preferences have been already

Comparisons between men of genius for the sake of aggrandizing the
one at the expense of the other are the staple of the meaner kinds of
criticism. No lover of art will clash a Venetian goblet against a Roman
amphora to see which is strongest; no lover of nature undervalues a
violet because it is not a rose. But comparisons used in the way of
description are not odious.

The difference between Emerson's poetry and that of the contemporaries
with whom he would naturally be compared is that of algebra and
arithmetic. He deals largely in general symbols, abstractions, and
infinite series. He is always seeing the universal in the particular.
The great multitude of mankind care more for two and two, something
definite, a fixed quantity, than for _a_ + _b's_ and _x^{2's}_,--symbols
used for undetermined amounts and indefinite possibilities. Emerson is
a citizen of the universe who has taken up his residence for a few days
and nights in this travelling caravansary between the two inns that
hang out the signs of Venus and Mars. This little planet could not
provincialize such a man. The multiplication-table is for the every day
use of every day earth-people, but the symbols he deals with are
too vast, sometimes, we must own, too vague, for the unilluminated
terrestrial and arithmetical intelligence. One cannot help feeling that
he might have dropped in upon us from some remote centre of spiritual
life, where, instead of addition and subtraction, children were taught
quaternions, and where the fourth dimension of space was as familiarly
known to everybody as a foot-measure or a yard-stick is to us. Not that
he himself dealt in the higher or the lower mathematics, but he saw the
hidden spiritual meaning of things as Professor Cayley or Professor
Sylvester see the meaning of their mysterious formulae. Without using
the Rosetta-stone of Swedenborg, Emerson finds in every phenomenon of
nature a hieroglyphic. Others measure and describe the monuments,--he
reads the sacred inscriptions. How alive he makes Monadnoc! Dinocrates
undertook to "hew Mount Athos to the shape of man" in the likeness of
Alexander the Great. Without the help of tools or workmen, Emerson makes
"Cheshire's haughty hill" stand before us an impersonation of kingly
humanity, and talk with us as a god from Olympus might have talked.

This is the fascination of Emerson's poetry; it moves in a world of
universal symbolism. The sense of the infinite fills it with its
majestic presence. It shows, also, that he has a keen delight in the
every-day aspects of nature. But he looks always with the eye of a poet,
never with that of the man of science. The law of association of ideas
is wholly different in the two. The scientific man connects objects in
sequences and series, and in so doing is guided by their collective
resemblances. His aim is to classify and index all that he sees and
contemplates so as to show the relations which unite, and learn the laws
that govern, the subjects of his study. The poet links the most remote
objects together by the slender filament of wit, the flowery chain of
fancy, or the living, pulsating cord of imagination, always guided by
his instinct for the beautiful. The man of science clings to his object,
as the marsupial embryo to its teat, until he has filled himself as full
as he can hold; the poet takes a sip of his dew-drop, throws his head
up like a chick, rolls his eyes around in contemplation of the heavens
above him and the universe in general, and never thinks of asking a
Linnaean question as to the flower that furnished him his dew-drop. The
poetical and scientific natures rarely coexist; Haller and Goethe are
examples which show that such a union may occur, but as a rule the poet
is contented with the colors of the rainbow and leaves the study of
Fraunhofer's lines to the man of science.

Though far from being a man of science, Emerson was a realist in the
best sense of that word. But his realities reached to the highest
heavens: like Milton,--

  "He passed the flaming bounds of place and time;
  The living throne, the sapphire blaze
  Where angels tremble while they gaze,
  HE SAW"--

Everywhere his poetry abounds in celestial imagery. If Galileo had been
a poet as well as an astronomer, he would hardly have sowed his verse
thicker with stars than we find them in the poems of Emerson.

Not less did Emerson clothe the common aspects of life with the colors
of his imagination. He was ready to see beauty everywhere:--

  "Thou can'st not wave thy staff in air,
  Or dip thy paddle in the lake,
  But it carves the bow of beauty there,
  And the ripples in rhyme the oar forsake."

He called upon the poet to

  "Tell men what they knew before;
  Paint the prospect from their door."

And his practice was like his counsel. He saw our plain New England life
with as honest New England eyes as ever looked at a huckleberry-bush or
into a milking-pail.

This noble quality of his had its dangerous side. In one of his exalted
moods he would have us

  "Give to barrows, trays and pans
  Grace and glimmer of romance."

But in his Lecture on "Poetry and Imagination," he says:--

    "What we once admired as poetry has long since come to be a sound
    of tin pans; and many of our later books we have outgrown. Perhaps
    Homer and Milton will be tin pans yet."

The "grace and glimmer of romance" which was to invest the tin pan are
forgotten, and he uses it as a belittling object for comparison. He
himself was not often betrayed into the mistake of confounding the
prosaic with the poetical, but his followers, so far as the "realists"
have taken their hint from him, have done it most thoroughly. Mr.
Whitman enumerates all the objects he happens to be looking at as if
they were equally suggestive to the poetical mind, furnishing his reader
a large assortment on which he may exercise the fullest freedom of
selection. It is only giving him the same liberty that Lord Timothy
Dexter allowed his readers in the matter of punctuation, by leaving all
stops out of his sentences, and printing at the end of his book a page
of commas, semicolons, colons, periods, notes of interrogation and
exclamation, with which the reader was expected to "pepper" the pages as
he might see fit.

French realism does not stop at the tin pan, but must deal with the
slop-pail and the wash-tub as if it were literally true that

  "In the mud and scum of things
  There alway, alway something sings."

Happy were it for the world if M. Zola and his tribe would stop even
there; but when they cross the borders of science into its infected
districts, leaving behind them the reserve and delicacy which the
genuine scientific observer never forgets to carry with him, they
disgust even those to whom the worst scenes they describe are too
wretchedly familiar. The true realist is such a man as Parent du
Chatelet; exploring all that most tries the senses and the sentiments,
and reporting all truthfully, but soberly, chastely, without needless
circumstance, or picturesque embellishment, for a useful end, and not
for a mere sensational effect.

What a range of subjects from "The Problem" and "Uriel" and
"Forerunners" to "The Humble-Bee" and "The Titmouse!" Nor let the reader
who thinks the poet must go far to find a fitting theme fail to read the
singularly impressive home-poem, "Hamatreya," beginning with the names
of the successive owners of a piece of land in Concord,--probably the
same he owned after the last of them:--

    "Bulkeley, Hunt, Willard, Hosmer, Meriam, Flint,"

and ending with the austere and solemn "Earth-Song."

Full of poetical feeling, and with a strong desire for poetical
expression, Emerson experienced a difficulty in the mechanical part
of metrical composition. His muse picked her way as his speech did in
conversation and in lecturing. He made desperate work now and then with
rhyme and rhythm, showing that though a born poet he was not a born
singer. Think of making "feeble" rhyme with "people," "abroad" with
"Lord," and contemplate the following couplet which one cannot make
rhyme without actual verbicide:--

  "Where feeds the moose, and walks the surly bear,
  And up the tall mast runs the woodpeck"-are!

And how could prose go on all-fours more unmetrically than this?

  "In Adirondac lakes
  At morn or noon the guide rows bare-headed."

It was surely not difficult to say--

  "At morn or noon bare-headed rows the guide."
And yet while we note these blemishes, many of us will confess that we
like his uncombed verse better, oftentimes, than if it were trimmed more
neatly and disposed more nicely. When he is at his best, his lines flow
with careless ease, as a mountain stream tumbles, sometimes rough and
sometimes smooth, but all the more interesting for the rocks it runs
against and the grating of the pebbles it rolls over.

There is one trick of verse which Emerson occasionally, not very often,
indulges in. This is the crowding of a redundant syllable into a line.
It is a liberty which is not to be abused by the poet. Shakespeare, the
supreme artist, and Milton, the "mighty-mouth'd inventor of harmonies,"
knew how to use it effectively. Shelley employed it freely. Bryant
indulged in it occasionally, and wrote an article in an early number of
the "North American Review" in defence of its use. Willis was fond of
it. As a relief to monotony it may be now and then allowed,--may even
have an agreeable effect in breaking the monotony of too formal verse.
But it may easily become a deformity and a cause of aversion. A humpback
may add picturesqueness to a procession, but if there are too many
humpbacks in line we turn away from the sight of them. Can any ear
reconcile itself to the last of these three lines of Emerson's?

  "Oh, what is Heaven but the fellowship
  Of minds that each can stand against the world
  By its own meek and incorruptible will?"

These lines that lift their backs up in the middle--span-worm lines, we
may call them--are not to be commended for common use because some great
poets have now and then admitted them. They have invaded some of our
recent poetry as the canker-worms gather on our elms in June. Emerson
has one or two of them here and there, but they never swarm on his
leaves so as to frighten us away from their neighborhood.

As for the violently artificial rhythms and rhymes which have reappeared
of late in English and American literature, Emerson would as soon have
tried to ride three horses at once in a circus as to shut himself up in
triolets, or attempt any cat's-cradle tricks of rhyming sleight of hand.

If we allow that Emerson is not a born singer, that he is a careless
versifier and rhymer, we must still recognize that there is something
in his verse which belongs, indissolubly, sacredly, to his thought. Who
would decant the wine of his poetry from its quaint and antique-looking
_lagena_?--Read his poem to the Aeolian harp ("The Harp") and his model
betrays itself:--

  "These syllables that Nature spoke,
  And the thoughts that in him woke
  Can adequately utter none
  Save to his ear the wind-harp lone.
  Therein I hear the Parcae reel
  The threads of man at their humming wheel,
  The threads of life and power and pain,
  So sweet and mournful falls the strain.
  And best can teach its Delphian chord
  How Nature to the soul is moored,
  If once again that silent string,
  As erst it wont, would thrill and ring."

There is no need of quoting any of the poems which have become familiar
to most true lovers of poetry. Emerson saw fit to imitate the Egyptians
by placing "The Sphinx" at the entrance of his temple of song. This poem
was not fitted to attract worshippers. It is not easy of comprehension,
not pleasing in movement. As at first written it had one verse in it
which sounded so much like a nursery rhyme that Emerson was prevailed
upon to omit it in the later versions. There are noble passages in it,
but they are for the adept and not for the beginner. A commonplace young
person taking up the volume and puzzling his or her way along will come
by and by to the verse:--

  "Have I a lover
    Who is noble and free?--
  I would he were nobler
    Than to love me."

The commonplace young person will be apt to say or think _c'est
magnifique, mais ce n'est pas_--_l'amour_.

The third poem in the volume, "The Problem," should have stood first in
order. This ranks among the finest of Emerson's poems. All his earlier
verse has a certain freshness which belongs to the first outburst
of song in a poetic nature. "Each and All," "The Humble-Bee," "The
Snow-Storm," should be read before "Uriel," "The World-Soul," or
"Mithridates." "Monadnoc" will be a good test of the reader's taste for
Emerson's poetry, and after this "Woodnotes."

In studying his poems we must not overlook the delicacy of many of their
descriptive portions. If in the flights of his imagination he is
like the strong-winged bird of passage, in his exquisite choice of
descriptive epithets he reminds me of the _tenui-rostrals._ His subtle
selective instinct penetrates the vocabulary for the one word he wants,
as the long, slender bill of those birds dives deep into the flower for
its drop of honey. Here is a passage showing admirably the two different
conditions: wings closed and the selective instinct picking out its
descriptive expressions; then suddenly wings flashing open and the
imagination in the firmament, where it is always at home. Follow the
pitiful inventory of insignificances of the forlorn being he describes
with a pathetic humor more likely to bring a sigh than a smile, and then
mark the grand hyperbole of the last two lines. The passage is from the
poem called "Destiny":--

  "Alas! that one is born in blight,
  Victim of perpetual slight:
  When thou lookest on his face,
  Thy heart saith 'Brother, go thy ways!
  None shall ask thee what thou doest,
  Or care a rush for what thou knowest.
  Or listen when thou repliest,
  Or remember where thou liest,
  Or how thy supper is sodden;'
  And another is born
  To make the sun forgotten."

Of all Emerson's poems the "Concord Hymn" is the most nearly complete
and faultless,--but it is not distinctively Emersonian. It is such a
poem as Collins might have written,--it has the very movement and
melody of the "Ode on the Death of Mr. Thomson," and of the "Dirge in
Cymbeline," with the same sweetness and tenderness of feeling. Its one
conspicuous line,

  "And fired the shot heard round the world,"

must not take to itself all the praise deserved by this perfect little
poem, a model for all of its kind. Compact, expressive, serene, solemn,
musical, in four brief stanzas it tells the story of the past, records
the commemorative act of the passing day, and invokes the higher Power
that governs the future to protect the Memorial-stone sacred to Freedom
and her martyrs.

These poems of Emerson's find the readers that must listen to them and
delight in them, as the "Ancient Mariner" fastened upon the man who must
hear him. If any doubter wishes to test his fitness for reading them,
and if the poems already mentioned are not enough to settle the
question, let him read the paragraph of "May-Day," beginning,--

  "I saw the bud-crowned Spring go forth,"

"Sea-shore," the fine fragments in the "Appendix" to his published
works, called, collectively, "The Poet," blocks bearing the mark of
poetic genius, but left lying round for want of the structural instinct,
and last of all, that which is, in many respects, first of all, the
"Threnody," a lament over the death of his first-born son. This poem has
the dignity of "Lycidas" without its refrigerating classicism, and with
all the tenderness of Cowper's lines on the receipt of his mother's
picture. It may well compare with others of the finest memorial poems in
the language,--with Shelley's "Adonais," and Matthew Arnold's "Thyrsis,"
leaving out of view Tennyson's "In Memoriam" as of wider scope and
larger pattern.

Many critics will concede that there is much truth in Mr. Arnold's
remark on the want of "evolution" in Emerson's poems. One is struck
with the fact that a great number of fragments lie about his poetical
workshop: poems begun and never finished; scraps of poems, chips of
poems, paving the floor with intentions never carried out. One cannot
help remembering Coleridge with his incomplete "Christabel," and his
"Abyssinian Maid," and her dulcimer which she never got a tune out of.
We all know there was good reason why Coleridge should have been infirm
of purpose. But when we look at that great unfinished picture over which
Allston labored with the hopeless ineffectiveness of Sisyphus; when we
go through a whole gallery of pictures by an American artist in which
the backgrounds are slighted as if our midsummer heats had taken away
half the artist's life and vigor; when we walk round whole rooms full of
sketches, impressions, effects, symphonies, invisibilities, and other
apologies for honest work, it would not be strange if it should suggest
a painful course of reflections as to the possibility that there may be
something in our climatic or other conditions which tends to scholastic
and artistic anaemia and insufficiency,--the opposite of what we find
showing itself in the full-blooded verse of poets like Browning and on
the flaming canvas of painters like Henri Regnault. Life seemed lustier
in Old England than in New England to Emerson, to Hawthorne, and to
that admirable observer, Mr. John Burroughs. Perhaps we require another
century or two of acclimation.

Emerson never grappled with any considerable metrical difficulties.
He wrote by preference in what I have ventured to call the normal
respiratory measure,--octosyllabic verse, in which one common expiration
is enough and not too much for the articulation of each line. The "fatal
facility" for which this verse is noted belongs to it as recited and
also as written, and it implies the need of only a minimum of skill and
labor. I doubt if Emerson would have written a verse of poetry if he had
been obliged to use the Spenserian stanza. In the simple measures he
habitually employed he found least hindrance to his thought.

Every true poet has an atmosphere as much as every great painter. The
golden sunshine of Claude and the pearly mist of Corot belonged to their
way of looking at nature as much as the color of their eyes and hair
belonged to their personalities. So with the poets; for Wordsworth the
air is always serene and clear, for Byron the sky is uncertain between
storm and sunshine. Emerson sees all nature in the same pearly mist
that wraps the willows and the streams of Corot. Without its own
characteristic atmosphere, illuminated by

    "The light that never was on sea or land,"

we may have good verse but no true poem. In his poetry there is not
merely this atmosphere, but there is always a mirage in the horizon.

Emerson's poetry is eminently subjective,--if Mr. Ruskin, who hates the
word, will pardon me for using it in connection with a reference to two
of his own chapters in his "Modern Painters." These are the chapter
on "The Pathetic Fallacy," and the one which follows it "On Classical
Landscape." In these he treats of the transfer of a writer's mental or
emotional conditions to the external nature which he contemplates. He
asks his readers to follow him in a long examination of what he calls by
the singular name mentioned, "the pathetic fallacy," because, he says,
"he will find it eminently characteristic of the modern mind; and in the
landscape, whether of literature or art, he will also find the modern
painter endeavoring to express something which he, as a living creature,
imagines in the lifeless object, while the classical and mediaeval
painters were content with expressing the unimaginary and actual
qualities of the object itself."

Illustrations of Mr. Ruskin's "pathetic fallacy" may be found almost
anywhere in Emerson's poems. Here is one which offers itself without

  "Daily the bending skies solicit man,
  The seasons chariot him from this exile,
  The rainbow hours bedeck his glowing wheels,
  The storm-winds urge the heavy weeks along,
  Suns haste to set, that so remoter lights
  Beckon the wanderer to his vaster home."

The expression employed by Ruskin gives the idea that he is dealing with
a defect. If he had called the state of mind to which he refers the
_sympathetic illusion_, his readers might have looked upon it more

It would be a pleasant and not a difficult task to trace the
resemblances between Emerson's poetry and that of other poets. Two or
three such resemblances have been incidentally referred to, a few others
may be mentioned.

In his contemplative study of Nature he reminds us of Wordsworth, at
least in certain brief passages, but he has not the staying power of
that long-breathed, not to say long-winded, lover of landscapes. Both
are on the most intimate terms with Nature, but Emerson contemplates
himself as belonging to her, while Wordsworth feels as if she belonged
to him.

  "Good-by, proud world,"

recalls Spenser and Raleigh. "The Humble-Bee" is strongly marked by the
manner and thought of Marvell. Marvell's

  "Annihilating all that's made
  To a green thought in a green shade,"

may well have suggested Emerson's

  "The green silence dost displace
  With thy mellow, breezy bass."

"The Snow-Storm" naturally enough brings to mind the descriptions of
Thomson and of Cowper, and fragment as it is, it will not suffer by
comparison with either.

"Woodnotes," one of his best poems, has passages that might have been
found in Milton's "Comus;" this, for instance:--

  "All constellations of the sky
  Shed their virtue through his eye.
  Him Nature giveth for defence
  His formidable innocence."

Of course his Persian and Indian models betray themselves in many of
his poems, some of which, called translations, sound as if they were

So we follow him from page to page and find him passing through many
moods, but with one pervading spirit:--

  "Melting matter into dreams,
  Panoramas which I saw,
  And whatever glows or seems
  Into substance, into Law."

We think in reading his "Poems" of these words of Sainte-Beuve:--

    "The greatest poet is not he who has done the best; it is he who
    suggests the most; he, not all of whose meaning is at first obvious,
    and who leaves you much to desire, to explain, to study; much to
    complete in your turn."

Just what he shows himself in his prose, Emerson shows himself in his
verse. Only when he gets into rhythm and rhyme he lets us see more of
his personality, he ventures upon more audacious imagery, his flight is
higher and swifter, his brief crystalline sentences have dissolved and
pour in continuous streams. Where they came from, or whither they flow
to empty themselves, we cannot always say,--it is enough to enjoy them
as they flow by us.

Incompleteness--want of beginning, middle, and end,--is their too common
fault. His pages are too much like those artists' studios all hung round
with sketches and "bits" of scenery. "The Snow-Storm" and "Sea-Shore"
are "bits" out of a landscape that was never painted, admirable, so far
as they go, but forcing us to ask, "Where is the painting for which
these scraps are studies?" or "Out of what great picture have these
pieces been cut?"

We do not want his fragments to be made wholes,--if we did, what hand
could be found equal to the task? We do not want his rhythms and rhymes
smoothed and made more melodious. They are as honest as Chaucer's,
and we like them as they are, not modernized or manipulated by any
versifying drill-sergeant,--if we wanted them reshaped whom could we
trust to meddle with them?

His poetry is elemental; it has the rock beneath it in the eternal laws
on which it rests; the roll of deep waters in its grander harmonies; its
air is full of Aeolian strains that waken and die away as the breeze
wanders over them; and through it shines the white starlight, and
from time to time flashes a meteor that startles us with its sudden

After all our criticisms, our selections, our analyses, our comparisons,
we have to recognize that there is a charm in Emerson's poems
which cannot be defined any more than the fragrance of a rose or a
hyacinth,--any more than the tone of a voice which we should know from
all others if all mankind were to pass before us, and each of its
articulating representatives should call us by name.

All our crucibles and alembics leave unaccounted for the great mystery
of _style_. "The style is of [a part of] the man himself," said Buffon,
and this saying has passed into the stronger phrase, "The style is the

The "personal equation" which differentiates two observers is not
confined to the tower of the astronomer. Every human being is
individualized by a new arrangement of elements. His mind is a safe with
a lock to which only certain letters are the key. His ideas follow in
an order of their own. His words group themselves together in special
sequences, in peculiar rhythms, in unlooked-for combinations, the
total effect of which is to stamp all that he says or writes with
his individuality. We may not be able to assign the reason of the
fascination the poet we have been considering exercises over us. But
this we can say, that he lives in the highest atmosphere of thought;
that he is always in the presence of the infinite, and ennobles the
accidents of human existence so that they partake of the absolute and
eternal while he is looking at them; that he unites a royal dignity
of manner with the simplicity of primitive nature; that his words and
phrases arrange themselves, as if by an elective affinity of their own,
with a _curiosa felicitas_ which captivates and enthrals the reader who
comes fully under its influence, and that through all he sings as in all
he says for us we recognize the same serene, high, pure intelligence and
moral nature, infinitely precious to us, not only in themselves, but as
a promise of what the transplanted life, the air and soil and breeding
of this western world may yet educe from their potential virtues,
shaping themselves, at length, in a literature as much its own as the
Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi.


Recollections of Emerson's Last Years.--Mr. Conway's Visits.--Extracts
from Mr. Whitman's Journal.--Dr. Le Baron Russell's Visit.--Dr. Edward
Emerson's Account.--Illness and Death.--Funeral Services.

Mr. Conway gives the following account of two visits to Emerson after
the decline of his faculties had begun to make itself obvious:--

    "In 1875, when I stayed at his house in Concord for a little time,
    it was sad enough to find him sitting as a listener before those
    who used to sit at his feet in silence. But when alone with him he
    conversed in the old way, and his faults of memory seemed at
    times to disappear. There was something striking in the kind of
    forgetfulness by which he suffered. He remembered the realities
    and uses of things when he could not recall their names. He would
    describe what he wanted or thought of; when he could not recall
    'chair' he could speak of that which supports the human frame, and
    'the implement that cultivates the soil' must do for plough.--

    "In 1880, when I was last in Concord, the trouble had made heavy
    strides. The intensity of his silent attention to every word that
    was said was painful, suggesting a concentration of his powers to
    break through the invisible walls closing around them. Yet his face
    was serene; he was even cheerful, and joined in our laughter at some
    letters his eldest daughter had preserved, from young girls, trying
    to coax autograph letters, and in one case asking for what price he
    would write a valedictory address she had to deliver at college. He
    was still able to joke about his 'naughty memory;' and no complaint
    came from him when he once rallied himself on living too long.
    Emerson appeared to me strangely beautiful at this time, and the
    sweetness of his voice, when he spoke of the love and providence at
    his side, is quite indescribable."--

One of the later glimpses we have of Emerson is that preserved in the
journal of Mr. Whitman, who visited Concord in the autumn of 1881. Mr.
Ireland gives a long extract from this journal, from which I take the

    "On entering he had spoken very briefly, easily and politely to
    several of the company, then settled himself in his chair, a trifle
    pushed back, and, though a listener and apparently an alert one,
    remained silent through the whole talk and discussion. And so, there
    Emerson sat, and I looking at him. A good color in his face, eyes
    clear, with the well-known expression of sweetness, and the old
    clear-peering aspect quite the same."

Mr. Whitman met him again the next day, Sunday, September 18th, and

    "As just said, a healthy color in the cheeks, and good light in the
    eyes, cheery expression, and just the amount of talking that best
    suited, namely, a word or short phrase only where needed, and almost
    always with a smile."

Dr. Le Baron Russell writes to me of Emerson at a still later period:--

    "One incident I will mention which occurred at my last visit
    to Emerson, only a few months before his death. I went by Mrs.
    Emerson's request to pass a Sunday at their house at Concord towards
    the end of June. His memory had been failing for some time, and his
    mind as you know was clouded, but the old charm of his voice and
    manner had never left him. On the morning after my arrival Mrs.
    Emerson took us into the garden to see the beautiful roses in which
    she took great delight. One red rose of most brilliant color she
    called our attention to especially; its 'hue' was so truly 'angry
    and brave' that I involuntarily repeated Herbert's line,--

      'Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,'--

    from the verses which Emerson had first repeated to me so long ago.
    Emerson looked at the rose admiringly, and then as if by a sudden
    impulse lifted his hat gently, and said with a low bow, 'I take off
    my hat to it.'"

Once a poet, always a poet. It was the same reverence for the beautiful
that he had shown in the same way in his younger days on entering the
wood, as Governor Rice has told us the story, given in an earlier

I do not remember Emerson's last time of attendance at the "Saturday
Club," but I recollect that he came after the trouble in finding words
had become well marked. "My memory hides itself," he said. The last time
I saw him, living, was at Longfellow's funeral. I was sitting opposite
to him when he rose, and going to the side of the coffin, looked
intently upon the face of the dead poet. A few minutes later he rose
again and looked once more on the familiar features, not apparently
remembering that he had just done so. Mr. Conway reports that he said to
a friend near him, "That gentleman was a sweet, beautiful soul, but I
have entirely forgotten his name."

Dr. Edward Emerson has very kindly furnished me, in reply to my request,
with information regarding his father's last years which will interest
every one who has followed his life through its morning and midday to
the hour of evening shadows.

"May-Day," which was published in 1867, was made up of the poems written
since his first volume appeared. After this he wrote no poems, but with
some difficulty fitted the refrain to the poem "Boston," which had
remained unfinished since the old Anti-slavery days. "Greatness," and
the "Phi Beta Kappa Oration" of 1867, were among his last pieces of
work. His College Lectures, "The Natural History of the Intellect,"
were merely notes recorded years before, and now gathered and welded
together. In 1876 he revised his poems, and made the selections from
them for the "Little Classic" edition of his works, then called
"Selected Poems." In that year he gave his "Address to the Students of
the University of Virginia." This was a paper written long before, and
its revision, with the aid of his daughter Ellen, was accomplished with
much difficulty.

The year 1867 was about the limit of his working life. During the last
five years he hardly answered a letter. Before this time it had become
increasingly hard for him to do so, and he always postponed and thought
he should feel more able the next day, until his daughter Ellen was
compelled to assume the correspondence. He did, however, write some
letters in 1876, as, for instance, the answer to the invitation of the
Virginia students.

Emerson left off going regularly to the "Saturday Club" probably in
1875. He used to depend on meeting Mr. Cabot there, but after Mr. Cabot
began to come regularly to work on "Letters and Social Aims," Emerson,
who relied on his friendly assistance, ceased attending the meetings.
The trouble he had in finding the word he wanted was a reason for his
staying away from all gatherings where he was called upon to take a
part in conversation, though he the more willingly went to lectures and
readings and to church. His hearing was very slightly impaired, and his
sight remained pretty good, though he sometimes said letters doubled,
and that "M's" and "N's" troubled him to read. He recognized the members
of his own family and his _old_ friends; but, as I infer from this
statement, he found a difficulty in remembering the faces of new
acquaintances, as is common with old persons.

He continued the habit of reading,--read through all his printed works
with much interest and surprise, went through all his manuscripts, and
endeavored, unsuccessfully, to index them. In these Dr. Emerson found
written "Examined 1877 or 1878," but he found no later date.

In the last year or two he read anything which he picked up on his
table, but he read the same things over, and whispered the words like a
child. He liked to look over the "Advertiser," and was interested in the
"Nation." He enjoyed pictures in books and showed them with delight to

All this with slight changes and omissions is from the letter of Dr.
Emerson in answer to my questions. The twilight of a long, bright day
of life may be saddening, but when the shadow falls so gently and
gradually, with so little that is painful and so much that is soothing
and comforting, we do not shrink from following the imprisoned spirit to
the very verge of its earthly existence.

But darker hours were in the order of nature very near at hand. From
these he was saved by his not untimely release from the imprisonment of
the worn-out bodily frame.

In April, 1882, Emerson took a severe cold, and became so hoarse that he
could hardly speak. When his son, Dr. Edward Emerson, called to see him,
he found him on the sofa, feverish, with more difficulty of expression
than usual, dull, but not uncomfortable. As he lay on his couch he
pointed out various objects, among others a portrait of Carlyle "the
good man,--my friend." His son told him that he had seen Carlyle, which
seemed to please him much. On the following day the unequivocal signs of
pneumonia showed themselves, and he failed rapidly. He still recognized
those around him, among the rest Judge Hoar, to whom he held out his
arms for a last embrace. A sharp pain coming on, ether was administered
with relief. And in a little time, surrounded by those who loved him
and whom he loved, he passed quietly away. He lived very nearly to the
completion of his seventy-ninth year, having been born May 25, 1803, and
his death occurring on the 27th of April, 1882.

Mr. Ireland has given a full account of the funeral, from which are, for
the most part, taken the following extracts:--

    "The last rites over the remains of Ralph Waldo Emerson took place
    at Concord on the 30th of April. A special train from Boston carried
    a large number of people. Many persons were on the street, attracted
    by the services, but were unable to gain admission to the church
    where the public ceremonies were held. Almost every building in town
    bore over its entrance-door a large black and white rosette with
    other sombre draperies. The public buildings were heavily draped,
    and even the homes of the very poor bore outward marks of grief at
    the loss of their friend and fellow-townsman.

    "The services at the house, which were strictly private, occurred
    at 2.30, and were conducted by Rev. W.H. Furness of Philadelphia, a
    kindred spirit and an almost life-long friend. They were simple in
    character, and only Dr. Furness took part in them. The body lay in
    the front northeast room, in which were gathered the family and
    close friends of the deceased. The only flowers were contained in
    three vases on the mantel, and were lilies of the valley, red and
    white roses, and arbutus. The adjoining room and hall were filled
    with friends and neighbors.

    "At the church many hundreds of persons were awaiting the arrival
    of the procession, and all the space, except the reserved pews, was
    packed. In front of the pulpit were simple decorations, boughs of
    pine covered the desk, and in their centre was a harp of yellow
    jonquils, the gift of Miss Louisa M. Alcott. Among the floral
    tributes was one from the teachers and scholars in the Emerson
    school. By the sides of the pulpit were white and scarlet geraniums
    and pine boughs, and high upon the wall a laurel wreath.

    "Before 3.30 the pall-bearers brought in the plain black walnut
    coffin, which was placed before the pulpit. The lid was turned back,
    and upon it was put a cluster of richly colored pansies and a small
    bouquet of roses. While the coffin was being carried in, 'Pleyel's
    Hymn' was rendered on the organ by request of the family of the
    deceased. Dr. James Freeman Clarke then entered the pulpit. Judge
    E. Rockwood Hoar remained by the coffin below, and when the
    congregation became quiet, made a brief and pathetic address, his
    voice many times trembling with emotion."

I subjoin this most impressive "Address" entire, from the manuscript
with which Judge Hoar has kindly favored me:--

    "The beauty of Israel is fallen in its high place! Mr. Emerson
    has died; and we, his friends and neighbors, with this sorrowing
    company, have turned aside the procession from his home to his
    grave,--to this temple of his fathers, that we may here unite in our
    parting tribute of memory and love.

    "There is nothing to mourn for him. That brave and manly life was
    rounded out to the full length of days. That dying pillow was
    softened by the sweetest domestic affection; and as he lay down to
    the sleep which the Lord giveth his beloved, his face was as the
    face of an angel, and his smile seemed to give a glimpse of the
    opening heavens.

    "Wherever the English language is spoken throughout the world his
    fame is established and secure. Throughout this great land and from
    beyond the sea will come innumerable voices of sorrow for this great
    public loss. But we, his neighbors and townsmen, feel that he was
    _ours_. He was descended from the founders of the town. He chose our
    village as the place where his lifelong work was to be done. It was
    to our fields and orchards that his presence gave such value; it was
    our streets in which the children looked up to him with love, and
    the elders with reverence. He was our ornament and pride.

                    "'He is gone--is dust,--
      He the more fortunate! Yea, he hath finished!
      For him there is no longer any future.
      His life is bright--bright without spot it was
      And cannot cease to be. No ominous hour
      Knocks at his door with tidings of mishap.
      Far off is he, above desire and fear;
      No more submitted to the change and chance
      Of the uncertain planets.--

      "'The bloom is vanished from my life,
      For, oh! he stood beside me like my youth;
      Transformed for me the real to a dream,
      Clothing the palpable and the familiar
      With golden exhalations of the dawn.
      Whatever fortunes wait my future toils,
      The _beautiful_ is vanished and returns not.'

    "That lofty brow, the home of all wise thoughts and high
    aspirations,--those lips of eloquent music,--that great soul, which
    trusted in God and never let go its hope of immortality,--that large
    heart, to which everything that belonged to man was welcome,--that
    hospitable nature, loving and tender and generous, having no
    repulsion or scorn for anything but meanness and baseness,--oh,
    friend, brother, father, lover, teacher, inspirer, guide! is there
    no more that we can do now than to give thee this our hail and

Judge Hoar's remarks were followed by the congregation singing the
hymns, "Thy will be done," "I will not fear the fate provided by Thy
love." The Rev. Dr. Furness then read selections from the Scriptures.

The Rev. James Freeman Clarke then delivered an "Address," from which I
extract two eloquent and inspiring passages, regretting to omit any
that fell from lips so used to noble utterances and warmed by their
subject,--for there is hardly a living person more competent to speak or
write of Emerson than this high-minded and brave-souled man, who did not
wait until he was famous to be his admirer and champion.

    "The saying of the Liturgy is true and wise, that 'in the midst of
    life we are in death.' But it is still more true that in the midst
    of death we are in life. Do we ever believe so much in immortality
    as when we look on such a dear and noble face, now so still, which a
    few hours ago was radiant with thought and love? 'He is not here:
    he is risen.' That power which we knew,--that soaring intelligence,
    that soul of fire, that ever-advancing spirit,--_that_ cannot have
    been suddenly annihilated with the decay of these earthly organs. It
    has left its darkened dust behind. It has outsoared the shadow of
    our night. God does not trifle with his creatures by bringing to
    nothing the ripe fruit of the ages by the lesion of a cerebral cell,
    or some bodily tissue. Life does not die, but matter dies off from
    it. The highest energy we know, the soul of man, the unit in which
    meet intelligence, imagination, memory, hope, love, purpose,
    insight,--this agent of immense resource and boundless power,--this
    has not been subdued by its instrument. When we think of such an one
    as he, we can only think of life, never of death.

    "Such was his own faith, as expressed in his paper on 'Immortality.'
    But he himself was the best argument for immortality. Like the
    greatest thinkers, he did not rely on logical proof, but on the
    higher evidence of universal instincts,--the vast streams of belief
    which flow through human thought like currents in the ocean; those
    shoreless rivers which forever roll along their paths in the
    Atlantic and Pacific, not restrained by banks, but guided by the
    revolutions of the globe and the attractions of the sun."

           *       *       *       *       *

    "Let us then ponder his words:--

          'Wilt thou not ope thy heart to know
          What rainbows teach and sunsets show?
          Voice of earth to earth returned,
          Prayers of saints that inly burned,
          Saying, _What is excellent
          As God lives, is permanent;
          Hearts are dust, hearts' loves remain;
          Hearts' love will meet thee again._

         *       *       *       *

          House and tenant go to ground
          Lost in God, in Godhead found.'"

After the above address a feeling prayer was offered by Rev. Howard M.
Brown, of Brookline, and the benediction closed the exercises in the
church. Immediately before the benediction, Mr. Alcott recited the
following sonnet, which he had written for the occasion:---

      "His harp is silent: shall successors rise,
      Touching with venturous hand the trembling string,
      Kindle glad raptures, visions of surprise,
      And wake to ecstasy each slumbering thing?
      Shall life and thought flash new in wondering eyes,
      As when the seer transcendent, sweet, and wise,
      World-wide his native melodies did sing,
      Flushed with fair hopes and ancient memories?
      Ah, no! That matchless lyre shall silent lie:
      None hath the vanished minstrel's wondrous skill
      To touch that instrument with art and will.
      With him, winged poesy doth droop and die;
      While our dull age, left voiceless, must lament
      The bard high heaven had for its service sent."

    "Over an hour was occupied by the passing files of neighbors,
    friends, and visitors looking for the last time upon the face of the
    dead poet. The body was robed completely in white, and the face bore
    a natural and peaceful expression. From the church the procession
    took its way to the cemetery. The grave was made beneath a tall
    pine-tree upon the hill-top of Sleepy Hollow, where lie the bodies
    of his friends Thoreau and Hawthorne, the upturned sod being
    concealed by strewings of pine boughs. A border of hemlock spray
    surrounded the grave and completely lined its sides. The services
    here were very brief, and the casket was soon lowered to its final

    "The Rev. Dr. Haskins, a cousin of the family, an Episcopal
    clergyman, read the Episcopal Burial Service, and closed with the
    Lord's Prayer, ending at the words, 'and deliver us from evil.'
    In this all the people joined. Dr. Haskins then pronounced the
    benediction. After it was over the grandchildren passed the open
    grave and threw flowers into it."

So vanished from human eyes the bodily presence of Ralph Waldo Emerson,
and his finished record belongs henceforth to memory.



Personality and Habits of Life.--His Commission and Errand.--As a
Lecturer.--His Use of Authorities.--Resemblance to Other Writers.--As
influenced by Others.--His Place as a Thinker.--Idealism and
Intuition.--Mysticism.--His Attitude respecting Science.--As an
American.--His Fondness for Solitary Study.--His Patience and
Amiability.--Feeling with which he was regarded.--Emerson and
Burns.--His Religious Belief.--His Relations with Clergymen.--Future of
his Reputation.--His Life judged by the Ideal Standard.

Emerson's earthly existence was in the estimate of his own philosophy so
slight an occurrence in his career of being that his relations to the
accidents of time and space seem quite secondary matters to one who has
been long living in the companionship of his thought. Still, he had to
be born, to take in his share of the atmosphere in which we are all
immersed, to have dealings with the world of phenomena, and at length to
let them all "soar and sing" as he left his earthly half-way house. It
is natural and pardonable that we should like to know the details of the
daily life which the men whom we admire have shared with common mortals,
ourselves among the rest. But Emerson has said truly "Great geniuses
have the shortest biographies. Their cousins can tell you nothing about
them. They lived in their writings, and so their home and street life
was trivial and commonplace."

The reader has had many extracts from Emerson's writings laid before
him. It was no easy task to choose them, for his paragraphs are
so condensed, so much in the nature of abstracts, that it is like
distilling absolute alcohol to attempt separating the spirit of what he
says from his undiluted thought. His books are all so full of his life
to their last syllable that we might letter every volume _Emersoniana_,
by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

From the numerous extracts I have given from Emerson's writings it may
be hoped that the reader will have formed an idea for himself of the man
and of the life which have been the subjects of these pages. But he may
probably expect something like a portrait of the poet and moralist from
the hand of his biographer, if the author of this Memoir may borrow the
name which will belong to a future and better equipped laborer in the
same field. He may not unreasonably look for some general estimate of
the life work of the scholar and thinker of whom he has been reading.
He will not be disposed to find fault with the writer of the Memoir
if he mentions many things which would seem very trivial but for the
interest they borrow from the individual to whom they relate.

Emerson's personal appearance was that of a scholar, the descendant of
scholars. He was tall and slender, with the complexion which is bred in
the alcove and not in the open air. He used to tell his son Edward that
he measured six feet in his shoes, but his son thinks he could hardly
have straightened himself to that height in his later years. He was very
light for a man of his stature. He got on the scales at Cheyenne, on
his trip to California, comparing his weight with that of a lady of
the party. A little while afterwards he asked of his fellow-traveller,
Professor Thayer, "How much did I weigh? A hundred and forty?" "A
hundred and forty and a half," was the answer. "Yes, yes, a hundred and
forty and a half! That _half_ I prize; it is an index of better things!"

Emerson's head was not such as Schopenhauer insists upon for a
philosopher. He wore a hat measuring six and seven eighths on the
_cephalometer_ used by hatters, which is equivalent to twenty-one inches
and a quarter of circumference. The average size is from seven to seven
and an eighth, so that his head was quite small in that dimension. It
was long and narrow, but lofty, almost symmetrical, and of more nearly
equal breadth in its anterior and posterior regions than many or most

His shoulders sloped so much as to be commented upon for this
peculiarity by Mr. Gilfillan, and like "Ammon's great son," he carried
one shoulder a little higher than the other. His face was thin, his nose
somewhat accipitrine, casting a broad shadow; his mouth rather wide,
well formed and well closed, carrying a question and an assertion in
its finely finished curves; the lower lip a little prominent, the chin
shapely and firm, as becomes the corner-stone of the countenance. His
expression was calm, sedate, kindly, with that look of refinement,
centring about the lips, which is rarely found in the male New
Englander, unless the family features have been for two or three
cultivated generations the battlefield and the playground of varied
thoughts and complex emotions as well as the sensuous and nutritive port
of entry. His whole look was irradiated by an ever active inquiring
intelligence. His manner was noble and gracious. Few of our
fellow-countrymen have had larger opportunities of seeing distinguished
personages than our present minister at the Court of St. James. In
a recent letter to myself, which I trust Mr. Lowell will pardon my
quoting, he says of Emerson:--

"There was a majesty about him beyond all other men I have known, and he
habitually dwelt in that ampler and diviner air to which most of us, if
ever, only rise in spurts."

From members of his own immediate family I have derived some particulars
relating to his personality and habits which are deserving of record.

His hair was brown, quite fine, and, till he was fifty, very thick.
His eyes were of the "strongest and brightest blue." The member of the
family who tells me this says:--

"My sister and I have looked for many years to see whether any one else
had such absolutely blue eyes, and have never found them except in
sea-captains. I have seen three sea-captains who had them."

He was not insensible to music, but his gift in that direction was very
limited, if we may judge from this family story. When he was in College,
and the singing-master was gathering his pupils, Emerson presented
himself, intending to learn to sing. The master received him, and when
his turn came, said to him, "Chord!" "What?" said Emerson. "Chord!
Chord! I tell you," repeated the master. "I don't know what you mean,"
said Emerson. "Why, sing! Sing a note." "So I made some kind of a noise,
and the singing-master said, 'That will do, sir. You need not come

Emerson's mode of living was very simple: coffee in the morning, tea in
the evening, animal food by choice only once a day, wine only when with
others using it, but always _pie_ at breakfast. "It stood before him and
was the first thing eaten." Ten o'clock was his bed-time, six his hour
of rising until the last ten years of his life, when he rose at seven.
Work or company sometimes led him to sit up late, and this he could
do night after night. He never was hungry,--could go any time from
breakfast to tea without food and not know it, but was always ready for
food when it was set before him.

He always walked from about four in the afternoon till tea-time, and
often longer when the day was fine, or he felt that he should work the

It is plain from his writings that Emerson was possessed all his life
long with the idea of his constitutional infirmity and insufficiency.
He hated invalidism, and had little patience with complaints about
ill-health, but in his poems, and once or twice in his letters to
Carlyle, he expresses himself with freedom about his own bodily
inheritance. In 1827, being then but twenty-four years old, he writes:--

  "I bear in youth the sad infirmities
  That use to undo the limb and sense of age."

Four years later:--

  "Has God on thee conferred
    A bodily presence mean as Paul's,
  Yet made thee bearer of a word
    Which sleepy nations as with trumpet calls?"

and again, in the same year:--

  "Leave me, Fear, thy throbs are base,
  Trembling for the body's sake."--

Almost forty years from the first of these dates we find him bewailing
in "Terminus" his inherited weakness of organization.

And in writing to Carlyle, he says:--

"You are of the Anakirn and know nothing of the debility and
postponement of the blonde constitution."

Again, "I am the victim of miscellany--miscellany of designs, vast
debility and procrastination."

He thought too much of his bodily insufficiencies, which, it will be
observed, he refers to only in his private correspondence, and in that
semi-nudity of self-revelation which is the privilege of poetry. His
presence was fine and impressive, and his muscular strength was enough
to make him a rapid and enduring walker.

Emerson's voice had a great charm in conversation, as in the
lecture-room. It was never loud, never shrill, but singularly
penetrating. He was apt to hesitate in the course of a sentence, so as
to be sure of the exact word he wanted; picking his way through
his vocabulary, to get at the best expression of his thought, as a
well-dressed woman crosses the muddy pavement to reach the opposite
sidewalk. It was this natural slight and not unpleasant semicolon
pausing of the memory which grew upon him in his years of decline, until
it rendered conversation laborious and painful to him.

He never laughed loudly. When he laughed it was under protest, as it
were, with closed doors, his mouth shut, so that the explosion had to
seek another respiratory channel, and found its way out quietly, while
his eyebrows and nostrils and all his features betrayed the "ground
swell," as Professor Thayer happily called it, of the half-suppressed
convulsion. He was averse to loud laughter in others, and objected to
Margaret Fuller that she made him laugh too much.

Emerson was not rich in some of those natural gifts which are considered
the birthright of the New Englander. He had not the mechanical turn of
the whittling Yankee. I once questioned him about his manual dexterity,
and he told me he could split a shingle four ways with one nail,
--which, as the intention is not to split it at all in fastening it
to the roof of a house or elsewhere, I took to be a confession of
inaptitude for mechanical works. He does not seem to have been very
accomplished in the handling of agricultural implements either, for it
is told in the family that his little son, Waldo, seeing him at work
with a spade, cried out, "Take care, papa,--you will dig your leg."

He used to regret that he had no ear for music. I have said enough about
his verse, which often jars on a sensitive ear, showing a want of the
nicest perception of harmonies and discords in the arrangement of the

There are stories which show that Emerson had a retentive memory in the
earlier part of his life. It is hard to say from his books whether he
had or not, for he jotted down such a multitude of things in his diary
that this was a kind of mechanical memory which supplied him with
endless materials of thought and subjects for his pen.

Lover and admirer of Plato as Emerson was, the doors of the academy,
over which was the inscription [Greek: maedeis hageometraetos
eseito]--Let no one unacquainted with geometry enter here,--would have
been closed to him. All the exact sciences found him an unwilling
learner. He says of himself that he cannot multiply seven by twelve with

In an unpublished manuscript kindly submitted to me by Mr. Frothingham,
Emerson is reported as saying, "God has given me the seeing eye, but not
the working hand." His gift was insight: he saw the germ through its
envelop; the particular in the light of the universal; the fact in
connection with the principle; the phenomenon as related to the law; all
this not by the slow and sure process of science, but by the sudden
and searching flashes of imaginative double vision. He had neither the
patience nor the method of the inductive reasoner; he passed from one
thought to another not by logical steps but by airy flights, which left
no footprints. This mode of intellectual action when found united with
natural sagacity becomes poetry, philosophy, wisdom, or prophecy in its
various forms of manifestation. Without that gift of natural sagacity
(_odoratio quaedam venatica_),--a good scent for truth and beauty,--it
appears as extravagance, whimsicality, eccentricity, or insanity,
according to its degree of aberration. Emerson was eminently sane for
an idealist. He carried the same sagacity into the ideal world that
Franklin showed in the affairs of common life.

He was constitutionally fastidious, and had to school himself to become
able to put up with the terrible inflictions of uncongenial fellowships.
We must go to his poems to get at his weaknesses. The clown of the first
edition of "Monadnoc" "with heart of cat and eyes of bug," disappears
in the after-thought of the later version of the poem, but the eye that
recognized him and the nature that recoiled from him were there still.
What must he not have endured from the persecutions of small-minded
worshippers who fastened upon him for the interminable period between
the incoming and the outgoing railroad train! He was a model of patience
and good temper. We might have feared that he lacked the sensibility to
make such intrusions and offences an annoyance. But when Mr. Frothingham
gratifies the public with those most interesting personal recollections
which I have had the privilege of looking over, it will be seen that his
equanimity, admirable as it was, was not incapable of being disturbed,
and that on rare occasions he could give way to the feeling which showed
itself of old in the doom pronounced on the barren fig-tree.

Of Emerson's affections his home-life, and those tender poems in memory
of his brothers and his son, give all the evidence that could be asked
or wished for. His friends were all who knew him, for none could be
his enemy; and his simple graciousness of manner, with the sincerity
apparent in every look and tone, hardly admitted indifference on the
part of any who met him were it but for a single hour. Even the little
children knew and loved him, and babes in arms returned his angelic
smile. Of the friends who were longest and most intimately associated
with him, it is needless to say much in this place. Of those who are
living, it is hardly time to speak; of those who are dead, much has
already been written. Margaret Fuller,--I must call my early schoolmate
as I best remember her,--leaves her life pictured in the mosaic of
five artists,--Emerson himself among the number; Thoreau is faithfully
commemorated in the loving memoir by Mr. Sanborn; Theodore Parker lives
in the story of his life told by the eloquent Mr. Weiss; Hawthorne
awaits his portrait from the master-hand of Mr. Lowell.

How nearly any friend, other than his brothers Edward and Charles, came
to him, I cannot say, indeed I can hardly guess. That "majesty" Mr.
Lowell speaks of always seemed to hedge him round like the divinity that
doth hedge a king. What man was he who would lay his hand familiarly
upon his shoulder and call him Waldo? No disciple of Father Mathew
would be likely to do such a thing. There may have been such irreverent
persons, but if any one had so ventured at the "Saturday Club," it would
have produced a sensation like Brummel's "George, ring the bell," to
the Prince Regent. His ideas of friendship, as of love, seem almost too
exalted for our earthly conditions, and suggest the thought as do many
others of his characteristics, that the spirit which animated his mortal
frame had missed its way on the shining path to some brighter and better
sphere of being.

Not so did Emerson appear among the plain working farmers of the village
in which he lived. He was a good, unpretending fellow-citizen who put on
no airs, who attended town-meetings, took his part in useful measures,
was no great hand at farming, but was esteemed and respected, and felt
to be a principal source of attraction to Concord, for strangers came
flocking to the place as if it held the tomb of Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *

What was the errand on which he visited our earth,--the message with
which he came commissioned from the Infinite source of all life?

Every human soul leaves its port with sealed orders. These may be opened
earlier or later on its voyage, but until they are opened no one can
tell what is to be his course or to what harbor he is bound.

Emerson inherited the traditions of the Boston pulpit, such as they
were, damaged, in the view of the prevailing sects of the country,
perhaps by too long contact with the "Sons of Liberty," and their
revolutionary notions. But the most "liberal" Boston pulpit still held
to many doctrines, forms, and phrases open to the challenge of any
independent thinker.

In the year 1832 this young priest, then a settled minister, "began," as
was said of another,--"to be about thirty years of age." He had opened
his sealed orders and had read therein:

Thou shalt not profess that which thou dost not believe.

Thou shalt not heed the voice of man when it agrees not with the voice
of God in thine own soul.

Thou shalt study and obey the laws of the Universe and they will be thy

Thou shalt speak the truth as thou seest it, without fear, in the spirit
of kindness to all thy fellow-creatures, dealing with the manifold
interests of life and the typical characters of history.

Nature shall be to thee as a symbol. The life of the soul, in conscious
union with the Infinite, shall be for thee the only real existence.

This pleasing show of an external world through which thou art passing
is given thee to interpret by the light which is in thee. Its least
appearance is not unworthy of thy study. Let thy soul be open and thine
eyes will reveal to thee beauty everywhere.

Go forth with thy message among thy fellow-creatures; teach them they
must trust themselves as guided by that inner light which dwells with
the pure in heart, to whom it was promised of old that they shall see

Teach them that each generation begins the world afresh, in perfect
freedom; that the present is not the prisoner of the past, but that
today holds captive all yesterdays, to compare, to judge, to accept, to
reject their teachings, as these are shown by its own morning's sun.

To thy fellow-countrymen thou shalt preach the gospel of the New World,
that here, here in our America, is the home of man; that here is the
promise of a new and more excellent social state than history has

Thy life shall be as thy teachings, brave, pure, truthful, beneficent,
hopeful, cheerful, hospitable to all honest belief, all sincere
thinkers, and active according to thy gifts and opportunities.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was true to the orders he had received. Through doubts, troubles,
privations, opposition, he would not

                              "bate a jot
  Of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer
  Right onward."

All through the writings of Emerson the spirit of these orders manifests
itself. His range of subjects is very wide, ascending to the highest
sphere of spiritual contemplation, bordering on that "intense inane"
where thought loses itself in breathless ecstasy, and stooping to the
homeliest maxims of prudence and the every-day lessons of good manners,
And all his work was done, not so much

  "As ever in his great Taskmaster's eye,"

as in the ever-present sense of divine companionship.

He was called to sacrifice his living, his position, his intimacies, to
a doubt, and he gave them all up without a murmur. He might have been an
idol, and he broke his own pedestal to attack the idolatry which he saw
all about him. He gave up a comparatively easy life for a toilsome and
trying one; he accepted a precarious employment, which hardly kept him
above poverty, rather than wear the golden padlock on his lips which has
held fast the conscience of so many pulpit Chrysostoms. Instead of a
volume or two of sermons, bridled with a text and harnessed with a
confession of faith, he bequeathed us a long series of Discourses and
Essays in which we know we have his honest thoughts, free from that
professional bias which tends to make the pulpit teaching of the
fairest-minded preacher follow a diagonal of two forces,--the promptings
of his personal and his ecclesiastical opinions.

Without a church or a pulpit, he soon had a congregation. It was largely
made up of young persons of both sexes, young by nature, if not
in years, who, tired of routine and formulae, and full of vague
aspirations, found in his utterances the oracles they sought. To them,
in the words of his friend and neighbor Mr. Alcott, he

  "Sang his full song of hope and lofty cheer."

Nor was it only for a few seasons that he drew his audiences of devout
listeners around him. Another poet, his Concord neighbor, Mr. Sanborn,
who listened to him many years after the first flush of novelty was
over, felt the same enchantment, and recognized the same inspiring life
in his words, which had thrilled the souls of those earlier listeners.

  "His was the task and his the lordly gift
  Our eyes, our hearts, bent earthward, to uplift."

This was his power,--to inspire others, to make life purer, loftier,
calmer, brighter. Optimism is what the young want, and he could no more
help taking the hopeful view of the universe and its future than Claude
could help flooding his landscapes with sunshine.

"Nature," published in 1836, "the first clear manifestation of his
genius," as Mr. Norton calls it, revealed him as an idealist and a
poet, with a tendency to mysticism. If he had been independent in
circumstances, he would doubtless have developed more freely in these
directions. But he had his living to get and a family to support, and
he must look about him for some paying occupation. The lecture-room
naturally presented itself to a scholar accustomed to speaking from
the pulpit. This medium of communicating thought was not as yet very
popular, and the rewards it offered were but moderate. Emerson was of a
very hopeful nature, however, and believed in its possibilities.

--"I am always haunted with brave dreams of what might be accomplished
in the lecture-room,--so free and so unpretending a platform,--a Delos
not yet made fast. I imagine an eloquence of infinite variety, rich as
conversation can be, with anecdote, joke, tragedy, epics and pindarics,
argument and confession." So writes Emerson to Carlyle in 1841.

It would be as unfair to overlook the special form in which Emerson gave
most of his thoughts to the world, as it would be to leave out of view
the calling of Shakespeare in judging his literary character. Emerson
was an essayist and a lecturer, as Shakespeare was a dramatist and a

The exigencies of the theatre account for much that is, as it were,
accidental in the writings of Shakespeare. The demands of the
lecture-room account for many peculiarities which are characteristic of
Emerson as an author. The play must be in five acts, each of a given
length. The lecture must fill an hour and not overrun it. Both play and
lecture must be vivid, varied, picturesque, stimulating, or the audience
would tire before the allotted time was over.

Both writers had this in common: they were poets and moralists.
They reproduced the conditions of life in the light of penetrative
observation and ideal contemplation; they illustrated its duties in
their breach and in their observance, by precepts and well-chosen
portraits of character. The particular form in which they wrote makes
little difference when we come upon the utterance of a noble truth or an
elevated sentiment.

It was not a simple matter of choice with the dramatist or the lecturer
in what direction they should turn their special gifts. The actor had
learned his business on the stage; the lecturer had gone through his
apprenticeship in the pulpit. Each had his bread to earn, and he must
work, and work hard, in the way open before him. For twenty years the
playwright wrote dramas, and retired before middle age with a good
estate to his native town. For forty years Emerson lectured and
published lectures, and established himself at length in competence in
the village where his ancestors had lived and died before him. He never
became rich, as Shakespeare did. He was never in easy circumstances
until he was nearly seventy years old. Lecturing was hard work, but he
was under the "base necessity," as he called it, of constant labor,
writing in summer, speaking everywhere east and west in the trying and
dangerous winter season.

He spoke in great cities to such cultivated audiences as no other man
could gather about him, and in remote villages where he addressed
plain people whose classics were the Bible and the "Farmer's Almanac."
Wherever he appeared in the lecture-room, he fascinated his listeners by
his voice and manner; the music of his speech pleased those who found
his thought too subtle for their dull wits to follow.

When the Lecture had served its purpose, it came before the public
in the shape of an Essay. But the Essay never lost the character it
borrowed from the conditions under which it was delivered; it was a
lay sermon,--_concio ad populum_. We must always remember what we are
dealing with. "Expect nothing more of my power of construction,--no
ship-building, no clipper, smack, nor skiff even, only boards and logs
tied together."--"Here I sit and read and write, with very little
system, and, as far as regards composition, with the most fragmentary
result: paragraphs incompressible, each sentence an infinitely repellent
particle." We have then a moralist and a poet appearing as a Lecturer
and an Essayist, and now and then writing in verse. He liked the freedom
of the platform. "I preach in the Lecture-room," he says, "and there it
tells, for there is no prescription. You may laugh, weep, reason, sing,
sneer, or pray, according to your genius." In England, he says, "I find
this lecturing a key which opens all doors." But he did not tend to
overvalue the calling which from "base necessity" he followed so
diligently. "Incorrigible spouting Yankee," he calls himself; and again,
"I peddle out all the wit I can gather from Time or from Nature, and
am pained at heart to see how thankfully that little is received."
Lecture-peddling was a hard business and a poorly paid one in the
earlier part of the time when Emerson was carrying his precious wares
about the country and offering them in competition with the cheapest
itinerants, with shilling concerts and negro-minstrel entertainments.
But one could get a kind of living out of it if he had invitations
enough. I remember Emerson's coming to my house to know if I could
fill his place at a certain Lyceum so that he might accept a very
advantageous invitation in another direction. I told him that I was
unfortunately engaged for the evening mentioned. He smiled serenely,
saying that then he supposed he must give up the new stove for that

No man would accuse Emerson of parsimony of ideas. He crams his pages
with the very marrow of his thought. But in weighing out a lecture he
was as punctilious as Portia about the pound of flesh. His utterance was
deliberate and spaced with not infrequent slight delays. Exactly at the
end of the hour the lecture stopped. Suddenly, abruptly, but quietly,
without peroration of any sort, always with "a gentle shock of mild
surprise" to the unprepared listener. He had weighed out the full
measure to his audience with perfect fairness.

  [Greek: oste thalanta gunhae cheruhaetis halaethaes
  Aetestathmhon hechon echousa kahi heirion hamphis hanhelkei
  Ishazous ina paishin haeikhea misthon haraetai,]

or, in Bryant's version,

  "as the scales
  Are held by some just woman, who maintains
  By spinning wool her household,--carefully
  She poises both the wool and weights, to make
  The balance even, that she may provide
  A pittance for her babes."--

As to the charm of his lectures all are agreed. It is needless to handle
this subject, for Mr. Lowell has written upon it. Of their effect on
his younger listeners he says, "To some of us that long past experience
remains the most marvellous and fruitful we have ever had. Emerson
awakened us, saved us from the body of this death. It is the sound of
the trumpet that the young soul longs for, careless of what breath may
fill it. Sidney heard it in the ballad of 'Chevy Chase,' and we in
Emerson. Nor did it blow retreat, but called us with assurance of

There was, besides these stirring notes, a sweet seriousness in
Emerson's voice that was infinitely soothing. So might "Peace, be
still," have sounded from the lips that silenced the storm. I remember
that in the dreadful war-time, on one of the days of anguish and terror,
I fell in with Governor Andrew, on his way to a lecture of Emerson's,
where he was going, he said, to relieve the strain upon his mind. An
hour passed in listening to that flow of thought, calm and clear as the
diamond drops that distil from a mountain rock, was a true nepenthe for
a careworn soul.

An author whose writings are like mosaics must have borrowed from many
quarries. Emerson had read more or less thoroughly through a very wide
range of authors. I shall presently show how extensive was his reading.
No doubt he had studied certain authors diligently, a few, it would
seem, thoroughly. But let no one be frightened away from his pages by
the terrible names of Plotinus and Proclus and Porphyry, of Behmen or
Spinoza, or of those modern German philosophers with whom it is not
pretended that he had any intimate acquaintance. Mr. George Ripley, a
man of erudition, a keen critic, a lover and admirer of Emerson, speaks
very plainly of his limitations as a scholar.

"As he confesses in the Essay on 'Books,' his learning is second hand;
but everything sticks which his mind can appropriate. He defends the use
of translations, and I doubt whether he has ever read ten pages of
his great authorities, Plato, Plutarch, Montaigne, or Goethe, in the
original. He is certainly no friend of profound study any more than
of philosophical speculation. Give him a few brilliant and suggestive
glimpses, and he is content."

One correction I must make to this statement. Emerson says he has
"contrived to read" almost every volume of Goethe, and that he has
fifty-five of them, but that he has read nothing else in German, and has
not looked into him for a long time. This was in 1840, in a letter to
Carlyle. It was up-hill work, it may be suspected, but he could not well
be ignorant of his friend's great idol, and his references to Goethe are
very frequent.

Emerson's quotations are like the miraculous draught of fishes. I hardly
know his rivals except Burton and Cotton Mather. But no one would accuse
him of pedantry. Burton quotes to amuse himself and his reader; Mather
quotes to show his learning, of which he had a vast conceit; Emerson
quotes to illustrate some original thought of his own, or because
another writer's way of thinking falls in with his own,--never with
a trivial purpose. Reading as he did, he must have unconsciously
appropriated a great number of thoughts from others. But he was profuse
in his references to those from whom he borrowed,--more profuse than
many of his readers would believe without taking the pains to count his
authorities. This I thought it worth while to have done, once for all,
and I will briefly present the results of the examination. The named
references, chiefly to authors, as given in the table before me, are
three thousand three hundred and ninety-three, relating to eight hundred
and sixty-eight different individuals. Of these, four hundred and eleven
are mentioned more than once; one hundred and fifty-five, five times
or more; sixty-nine, ten times or more; thirty-eight, fifteen times or
more; and twenty-seven, twenty times or more. These twenty-seven names
alone, the list of which is here given, furnish no less than one
thousand and sixty-five references.

  Authorities.  Number of times mentioned.
  Saint Paul.......24
  Shattuck (Hist. of
  Michael Angelo...20
  The name of Jesus occurs fifty-four times.

It is interesting to observe that Montaigne, Franklin, and Emerson all
show the same fondness for Plutarch.

Montaigne says, "I never settled myself to the reading of any book of
solid learning but Plutarch and Seneca."

Franklin says, speaking of the books in his father's library, "There was
among them Plutarch's Lives, which I read abundantly, and I still think
that time spent to great advantage."

Emerson says, "I must think we are more deeply indebted to him than to
all the ancient writers."

Studies of life and character were the delight of all these four
moralists. As a judge of character, Dr. Hedge, who knew Emerson well,
has spoken to me of his extraordinary gift, and no reader of "English
Traits" can have failed to mark the formidable penetration of the
intellect which looked through those calm cerulean eyes.

_Noscitur a sociis_ is as applicable to the books a man most affects as
well as to the companions he chooses. It is with the kings of
thought that Emerson most associates. As to borrowing from his royal
acquaintances his ideas are very simple and expressed without reserve.

"All minds quote. Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment.
There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By
necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote."

What Emerson says of Plutarch applies very nearly to himself.

"In his immense quotation and allusion we quickly cease to discriminate
between what he quotes and what he invents. We sail on his memory into
the ports of every nation, enter into every private property, and do not
stop to discriminate owners, but give him the praise of all."

Mr. Ruskin and Lord Tennyson have thought it worth their while to defend
themselves from the charge of plagiarism. Emerson would never have taken
the trouble to do such a thing. His mind was overflowing with thought as
a river in the season of flood, and was full of floating fragments from
an endless variety of sources. He drew ashore whatever he wanted that
would serve his purpose. He makes no secret of his mode of writing. "I
dot evermore in my endless journal, a line on every knowable in nature;
but the arrangement loiters long, and I get a brick-kiln instead of
a house." His journal is "full of disjointed dreams and audacities."
Writing by the aid of this, it is natural enough that he should speak of
his "lapidary style" and say "I build my house of boulders."

"It is to be remembered," says Mr. Ruskin, "that all men who have sense
and feeling are continually helped: they are taught by every person they
meet, and enriched by everything that falls in their way. The greatest
is he who has been oftenest aided; and if the attainments of all human
minds could be traced to their real sources, it would be found that the
world had been laid most under contribution by the men of most original
powers, and that every day of their existence deepened their debt to
their race, while it enlarged their gifts to it."

The reader may like to see a few coincidences between Emerson's words
and thoughts and those of others.

Some sayings seem to be a kind of family property. "Scorn trifles"
comes from Aunt Mary Moody Emerson, and reappears in her nephew, Ralph
Waldo.--"What right have you, Sir, to your virtue? Is virtue piecemeal?
This is a jewel among the rags of a beggar." So writes Ralph Waldo
Emerson in his Lecture "New England Reformers."--"Hiding the badges of
royalty beneath the gown of the mendicant, and ever on the watch lest
their rank be betrayed by the sparkle of a gem from under their rags."
Thus wrote Charles Chauncy Emerson in the "Harvard Register" nearly
twenty years before.

  "The hero is not fed on sweets,
  Daily his own heart he eats."

The image comes from Pythagoras _via_ Plutarch.

Now and then, but not with any questionable frequency, we find a
sentence which recalls Carlyle.

"The national temper, in the civil history, is not flashy or whiffling.
The slow, deep English mass smoulders with fire, which at last sets all
its borders in flame. The wrath of London is not French wrath, but has a
long memory, and in hottest heat a register and rule."

Compare this passage from "English Traits" with the following one from
Carlyle's "French Revolution":--

"So long this Gallic fire, through its successive changes of color and
character, will blaze over the face of Europe, and afflict and scorch
all men:--till it provoke all men, till it kindle another kind of fire,
the Teutonic kind, namely; and be swallowed up, so to speak, in a day!
For there is a fire comparable to the burning of dry jungle and grass;
most sudden, high-blazing: and another fire which we liken to the
burning of coal, or even of anthracite coal, but which no known thing
will put out."

  "O what are heroes, prophets, men
  But pipes through which the breath of man doth blow
  A momentary music."

The reader will find a similar image in one of Burns's letters, again in
one of Coleridge's poetical fragments, and long before any of them, in a
letter of Leibnitz.

  "He builded better than he knew"

is the most frequently quoted line of Emerson. The thought is constantly
recurring in our literature. It helps out the minister's sermon; and a
Fourth of July Oration which does not borrow it is like the "Address
without a Phoenix" among the Drury Lane mock poems. Can we find any
trace of this idea elsewhere?

In a little poem of Coleridge's, "William Tell," are these two lines:

  "On wind and wave the boy would toss
  Was great, nor knew how great he was."

The thought is fully worked out in the celebrated Essay of Carlyle
called "Characteristics." It reappears in Emerson's poem "Fate."

  "Unknown to Cromwell as to me
  Was Cromwell's measure and degree;
  Unknown to him as to his horse,
  If he than his groom is better or worse."

It is unnecessary to illustrate this point any further in this
connection. In dealing with his poetry other resemblances will suggest
themselves. All the best poetry the world has known is full of such
resemblances. If we find Emerson's wonderful picture, "Initial Love"
prefigured in the "Symposium" of Plato, we have only to look in the
"Phaedrus" and we we shall find an earlier sketch of Shakespeare's
famous group,--

  "The lunatic, the lover, and the poet."

Sometimes these resemblances are nothing more than accidental
coincidences; sometimes the similar passages are unconsciously borrowed
from another; sometimes they are paraphrases, variations, embellished
copies, _éditions de luxe_ of sayings that all the world knows are old,
but which it seems to the writer worth his while to say over again.
The more improved versions of the world's great thoughts we have, the
better, and we look to the great minds for them. The larger the river
the more streams flow into it. The wide flood of Emerson's discourse has
a hundred rivers and thousands of streamlets for its tributaries.

It was not from books only that he gathered food for thought and for his
lectures and essays. He was always on the lookout in conversation for
things to be remembered. He picked up facts one would not have expected
him to care for. He once corrected me in giving Flora Temple's time at
Kalamazoo. I made a mistake of a quarter of a second, and he set me
right. He was not always so exact in his memory, as I have already shown
in several instances. Another example is where he speaks of Quintus
Curtius, the historian, when he is thinking of Mettus Curtius, the
self-sacrificing equestrian. Little inaccuracies of this kind did not
concern him much; he was a wholesale dealer in illustrations, and could
not trouble himself about a trifling defect in this or that particular

Emerson was a man who influenced others more than others influenced him.
Outside of his family connections, the personalities which can be most
easily traced in his own are those of Carlyle, Mr. Alcott, and Thoreau.
Carlyle's harsh virility could not be without its effect on his
valid, but sensitive nature. Alcott's psychological and physiological
speculations interested him as an idealist. Thoreau lent him a new set
of organs of sense of wonderful delicacy. Emerson looked at nature as a
poet, and his natural history, if left to himself, would have been as
vague as that of Polonius. But Thoreau had a pair of eyes which, like
those of the Indian deity, could see the smallest emmet on the blackest
stone in the darkest night,--or come nearer to seeing it than those of
most mortals. Emerson's long intimacy with him taught him to give an
outline to many natural objects which would have been poetic nebulae to
him but for this companionship. A nicer analysis would detect many
alien elements mixed with his individuality, but the family traits
predominated over all the external influences, and the personality stood
out distinct from the common family qualities. Mr. Whipple has well
said: "Some traits of his mind and character may be traced back to his
ancestors, but what doctrine of heredity can give us the genesis of his
genius? Indeed the safest course to pursue is to quote his own words,
and despairingly confess that it is the nature of genius 'to spring,
like the rainbow daughter of Wonder, from the invisible, to abolish the
past and refuse all history.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Emerson's place as a thinker is somewhat difficult to fix. He cannot
properly be called a psychologist. He made notes and even delivered
lectures on the natural history of the intellect; but they seem to have
been made up, according to his own statement, of hints and fragments
rather than of the results of systematic study. He was a man of
intuition, of insight, a seer, a poet, with a tendency to mysticism.
This tendency renders him sometimes obscure, and once in a while almost,
if not quite, unintelligible. We can, for this reason, understand why
the great lawyer turned him over to his daughters, and Dr. Walter
Channing complained that his lecture made his head ache. But it is not
always a writer's fault that he is not understood. Many persons have
poor heads for abstractions; and as for mystics, if they understand
themselves it is quite as much as can be expected. But that which is
mysticism to a dull listener may be the highest and most inspiring
imaginative clairvoyance to a brighter one. It is to be hoped that no
reader will take offence at the following anecdote, which may be found
under the title "Diogenes," in the work of his namesake, Diogenes
Laertius. I translate from the Latin version.

"Plato was talking about ideas, and spoke of _mensality_ and _cyathity_
[_tableity_, and _gobletity_]. 'I can see a table and a goblet,' said
the cynic, 'but I can see no such things as tableity and gobletity.'
'Quite so,' answered Plato, 'because you have the eyes to see a goblet
and a table with, but you have not the brains to understand tableity and

This anecdote may be profitably borne in mind in following Emerson into
the spheres of intuition and mystical contemplation.

Emerson was an idealist in the Platonic sense of the word, a
spiritualist as opposed to a materialist. He believes, he says, "as
the wise Spenser teaches," that the soul makes its own body. This, of
course, involves the doctrine of preexistence; a doctrine older than
Spenser, older than Plato or Pythagoras, having its cradle in India,
fighting its way down through Greek philosophers and Christian fathers
and German professors, to our own time, when it has found Pierre Leroux,
Edward Beecher, and Brigham Young among its numerous advocates. Each has
his fancies on the subject. The geography of an undiscovered country and
the soundings of an ocean that has never been sailed over may belong to
romance and poetry, but they do not belong to the realm of knowledge.

That the organ of the mind brings with it inherited aptitudes is a
simple matter of observation. That it inherits truths is a different
proposition. The eye does not bring landscapes into the world on its
retina,--why should the brain bring thoughts? Poetry settles such
questions very simply by saying it is so.

The poet in Emerson never accurately differentiated itself from the
philosopher. He speaks of Wordsworth's Ode on the Intimations of
Immortality as the high-water mark of the poetry of this century. It
sometimes seems as if he had accepted the lofty rhapsodies of this noble
Ode as working truths.

     "Not in entire forgetfulness,
      And not in utter nakedness,
  But trailing clouds of glory do we come
      From God, who is our home."

In accordance with this statement of a divine inheritance from a
preexisting state, the poet addresses the infant:--

    "Mighty prophet! Seer blest!
     On whom those truths do rest
  Which we are toiling all our lives to find."--

These are beautiful fancies, but the philosopher will naturally ask the
poet what are the truths which the child has lost between its cradle and
the age of eight years, at which Wordsworth finds the little girl of
  whom he speaks in the lines,--

             "A simple child--
    That lightly draws its breath
  And feels its life in every limb,--
    What should it know of death?"

What should it, sure enough, or of any other of those great truths which
Time with its lessons, and the hardening of the pulpy brain can alone
render appreciable to the consciousness? Undoubtedly every brain has its
own set of moulds ready to shape all material of thought into its own
individual set of patterns. If the mind comes into consciousness with a
good set of moulds derived by "traduction," as Dryden called it, from a
good ancestry, it may be all very well to give the counsel to the youth
to plant himself on his instincts. But the individual to whom this
counsel is given probably has dangerous as well as wholesome instincts.
He has also a great deal besides the instincts to be considered. His
instincts are mixed up with innumerable acquired prejudices, erroneous
conclusions, deceptive experiences, partial truths, one-sided
tendencies. The clearest insight will often find it hard to decide what
is the real instinct, and whether the instinct itself is, in theological
language, from God or the devil. That which was a safe guide for Emerson
might not work well with Lacenaire or Jesse Pomeroy. The cloud of glory
which the babe brings with it into the world is a good set of instincts,
which dispose it to accept moral and intellectual truths,--not the
truths themselves. And too many children come into life trailing after
them clouds which are anything but clouds of glory.

It may well be imagined that when Emerson proclaimed the new
doctrine,--new to his young disciples,--of planting themselves on their
instincts, consulting their own spiritual light for guidance,--trusting
to intuition,--without reference to any other authority, he opened the
door to extravagances in any unbalanced minds, if such there were, which
listened to his teachings. Too much was expected out of the mouths of
babes and sucklings. The children shut up by Psammetichus got as far as
one word in their evolution of an original language, but _bekkos_ was a
very small contribution towards a complete vocabulary. "The Dial"
was well charged with intuitions, but there was too much vagueness,
incoherence, aspiration without energy, effort without inspiration, to
satisfy those who were looking for a new revelation.

The gospel of intuition proved to be practically nothing more or less
than this: a new manifesto of intellectual and spiritual independence.
It was no great discovery that we see many things as truths which we
cannot prove. But it was a great impulse to thought, a great advance
in the attitude of our thinking community, when the profoundly devout
religious free-thinker took the ground of the undevout and irreligious
free-thinker, and calmly asserted and peaceably established the right
and the duty of the individual to weigh the universe, its laws and its
legends, in his own balance, without fear of authority, or names, or

All this brought its dangers with it, like other movements of
emancipation. For the Fay _ce que voudras_ of the revellers of Medmenham
Abbey, was substituted the new motto, Pense _ce que voudras_. There was
an intoxication in this newly proclaimed evangel which took hold of some
susceptible natures and betrayed itself in prose and rhyme, occasionally
of the Bedlam sort. Emerson's disciples were never accused of falling
into the more perilous snares of antinomianism, but he himself
distinctly recognizes the danger of it, and the counterbalancing
effect of household life, with its curtain lectures and other benign
influences. Extravagances of opinion cure themselves. Time wore off the
effects of the harmless debauch, and restored the giddy revellers to the
regimen of sober thought, as reformed spiritual inebriates.

Such were some of the incidental effects of the Emersonian declaration
of independence. It was followed by a revolutionary war of opinion not
yet ended or at present like to be. A local outbreak, if you will, but
so was throwing the tea overboard. A provincial affair, if the Bohemian
press likes that term better, but so was the skirmish where the gun was
fired the echo of which is heard in every battle for freedom all over
the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

Too much has been made of Emerson's mysticism. He was an intellectual
rather than an emotional mystic, and withal a cautious one. He never let
go the string of his balloon. He never threw over all his ballast of
common sense so as to rise above an atmosphere in which a rational being
could breathe. I found in his library William Law's edition of Jacob
Behmen. There were all those wonderful diagrams over which the reader
may have grown dizzy,--just such as one finds on the walls of lunatic
asylums,--evidences to all sane minds of cerebral strabismus in the
contrivers of them. Emerson liked to lose himself for a little while in
the vagaries of this class of minds, the dangerous proximity of which to
insanity he knew and has spoken of. He played with the incommunicable,
the inconceivable, the absolute, the antinomies, as he would have played
with a bundle of jack-straws. "Brahma," the poem which so mystified
the readers of the "Atlantic Monthly," was one of his spiritual
divertisements. To the average Western mind it is the nearest approach
to a Torricellian vacuum of intelligibility that language can pump out
of itself. If "Rejected Addresses" had not been written half a century
before Emerson's poem, one would think these lines were certainly meant
to ridicule and parody it.

       "The song of Braham is an Irish howl;
       Thinking is but an idle waste of thought,
  And nought is everything and everything is nought."

Braham, Hazlitt might have said, is so obviously the anagram of Brahma
that dulness itself could not mistake the object intended.

Of course no one can hold Emerson responsible for the "Yoga" doctrine
of Brahmanism, which he has amused himself with putting in verse. The
oriental side of Emerson's nature delighted itself in these narcotic
dreams, born in the land of the poppy and of hashish. They lend a
peculiar charm to his poems, but it is not worth while to try to
construct a philosophy out of them. The knowledge, if knowledge it be,
of the mystic is not transmissible. It is not cumulative; it begins and
ends with the solitary dreamer, and the next who follows him has to
build his own cloud-castle as if it were the first aerial edifice that a
human soul had ever constructed.

Some passages of "Nature," "The Over-Soul," "The Sphinx," "Uriel,"
illustrate sufficiently this mood of spiritual exaltation. Emerson's
calm temperament never allowed it to reach the condition he sometimes
refers to,--that of ecstasy. The passage in "Nature" where he says "I
become a transparent eyeball" is about as near it as he ever came. This
was almost too much for some of his admirers and worshippers. One of his
most ardent and faithful followers, whose gifts as an artist are well
known, mounted the eyeball on legs, and with its cornea in front for
a countenance and its optic nerve projecting behind as a queue, the
spiritual cyclops was shown setting forth on his travels.

Emerson's reflections in the "transcendental" mood do beyond question
sometimes irresistibly suggest the close neighborhood of the sublime to
the ridiculous. But very near that precipitous border line there is a
charmed region where, if the statelier growths of philosophy die out and
disappear, the flowers of poetry next the very edge of the chasm have
a peculiar and mysterious beauty. "Uriel" is a poem which finds itself
perilously near to the gulf of unsounded obscurity, and has, I doubt
not, provoked the mirth of profane readers; but read in a lucid moment,
it is just obscure enough and just significant enough to give the
voltaic thrill which comes from the sudden contacts of the highest
imaginative conceptions.

Human personality presented itself to Emerson as a passing phase of
universal being. Born of the Infinite, to the Infinite it was to return.
Sometimes he treats his own personality as interchangeable with objects
in nature,--he would put it off like a garment and clothe himself in the
landscape. Here is a curious extract from "The Adirondacs," in which the
reader need not stop to notice the parallelism with Byron's--

  "The sky is changed,--and such a change! O night
  And storm and darkness, ye are wondrous strong."--

Now Emerson:--

  "And presently the sky is changed; O world!
  What pictures and what harmonies are thine!
  The clouds are rich and dark, the air serene,
  _So like the soul of me, what if't were me_?"

We find this idea of confused personal identity also in a brief poem
printed among the "Translations" in the Appendix to Emerson's Poems.
These are the last two lines of "The Flute, from Hilali":--

  "Saying, Sweetheart! the old mystery remains,
  If I am I; thou, thou, or thou art I?"

The same transfer of personality is hinted in the line of Shelley's "Ode
to the West Wind":

              "Be thou, Spirit fierce,
  My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!"

Once more, how fearfully near the abyss of the ridiculous! A few drops
of alcohol bring about a confusion of mind not unlike this poetical

The laird of Balnamoon had been at a dinner where they gave him
cherry-brandy instead of port wine. In driving home over a wild tract of
land called Munrimmon Moor his hat and wig blew off, and his servant got
out of the gig and brought them to him. The hat he recognized, but not
the wig. "It's no my wig, Hairy [Harry], lad; it's no my wig," and he
would not touch it. At last Harry lost his patience: "Ye'd better tak'
it, sir, for there's nae waile [choice] o' wigs on Munrimmon Moor."
And in our earlier days we used to read of the bewildered market-woman,
whose _Ego_ was so obscured when she awoke from her slumbers that she
had to leave the question of her personal identity to the instinct of
her four-footed companion:--

  "If it be I, he'll wag his little tail;
  And if it be not I, he'll loudly bark and wail."

I have not lost my reverence for Emerson in showing one of his fancies
for a moment in the distorting mirror of the ridiculous. He would
doubtless have smiled with me at the reflection, for he had a keen sense
of humor. But I take the opportunity to disclaim a jesting remark about
"a foresmell of the Infinite" which Mr. Conway has attributed to me, who
am innocent of all connection with it.

The mystic appeals to those only who have an ear for the celestial
concords, as the musician only appeals to those who have the special
endowment which enables them to understand his compositions. It is
not for organizations untuned to earthly music to criticise the great
composers, or for those who are deaf to spiritual harmonies to criticise
the higher natures which lose themselves in the strains of divine
contemplation. The bewildered reader must not forget that passage of
arms, previously mentioned, between Plato and Diogenes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Emerson looked rather askance at Science in his early days. I remember
that his brother Charles had something to say in the "Harvard Register"
(1828) about its disenchantments. I suspect the prejudice may have come
partly from Wordsworth. Compare this verse of his with the lines of
Emerson's which follow it.

  "Physician art thou, one all eyes;
  Philosopher, a fingering slave,
  One that would peep and botanize
  Upon his mother's grave?"

Emerson's lines are to be found near the end of the Appendix in the new
edition of his works.

  "Philosophers are lined with eyes within,
  And, being so, the sage unmakes the man.
  In love he cannot therefore cease his trade;
  Scarce the first blush has overspread his cheek,
  He feels it, introverts his learned eye
  To catch the unconscious heart in the very act.
  His mother died,--the only friend he had,--
  Some tears escaped, but his philosophy
  Couched like a cat, sat watching close behind
  And throttled all his passion. Is't not like
  That devil-spider that devours her mate
  Scarce freed from her embraces?"

The same feeling comes out in the Poem "Blight," where he says the
"young scholars who invade our hills"

  "Love not the flower they pluck, and know it not,
  And all their botany is Latin names;"

and in "The Walk," where the "learned men" with their glasses are
contrasted with the sons of Nature,--the poets are no doubt meant,--much
to the disadvantage of the microscopic observers. Emerson's mind
was very far from being of the scientific pattern. Science is
quantitative,--loves the foot-rule and the balance,--methodical,
exhaustive, indifferent to the beautiful as such. The poet is curious,
asks all manner of questions, and never thinks of waiting for the
answer, still less of torturing Nature to get at it. Emerson wonders,
for instance,--

  "Why Nature loves the number five,"

but leaves his note of interrogation without troubling himself any
farther. He must have picked up some wood-craft and a little botany
from Thoreau, and a few chemical notions from his brother-in-law, Dr.
Jackson, whose name is associated with the discovery of artificial
anaesthesia. It seems probable that the genial companionship of Agassiz,
who united with his scientific genius, learning, and renown, most
delightful social qualities, gave him a kinder feeling to men of science
and their pursuits than he had entertained before that great master came
among us. At any rate he avails himself of the facts drawn from their
specialties without scruple when they will serve his turn. But he loves
the poet always better than the scientific student of nature. In his
Preface to the Poems of Mr. W.E. Channing, he says:--

"Here is a naturalist who sees the flower and the bud with a poet's
curiosity and awe, and does not count the stamens in the aster, nor the
feathers in the wood-thrush, but rests in the surprise and affection
they awake."--

This was Emerson's own instinctive attitude to all the phenomena of

Emerson's style is epigrammatic, incisive, authoritative, sometimes
quaint, never obscure, except when he is handling nebulous subjects.
His paragraphs are full of brittle sentences that break apart and are
independent units, like the fragments of a coral colony. His imagery is
frequently daring, leaping from the concrete to the abstract, from the
special to the general and universal, and _vice versa_, with a bound
that is like a flight. Here are a few specimens of his pleasing

"There is plenty of wild azote and carbon unappropriated, but it is
naught till we have made it up into loaves and soup."--

"He arrives at the sea-shore and a sumptuous ship has floored and
carpeted for him the stormy Atlantic."--

"If we weave a yard of tape in all humility and as well as we can, long
hereafter we shall see it was no cotton tape at all but some galaxy
which we braided, and that the threads were Time and Nature."--

"Tapping the tempest for a little side wind."--

"The locomotive and the steamboat, like enormous shuttles, shoot
every day across the thousand various threads of national descent and
employment and bind them fast in one web."--

He is fond of certain archaisms and unusual phrases. He likes
the expression "mother-wit," which he finds in Spenser, Marlowe,
Shakespeare, and other old writers. He often uses the word "husband"
in its earlier sense of economist. His use of the word "haughty" is so
fitting, and it sounds so nobly from his lips, that we could wish its
employment were forbidden henceforth to voices which vulgarize it. But
his special, constitutional, word is "fine," meaning something like
dainty, as Shakespeare uses it,--"my dainty Ariel,"--"fine Ariel." It
belongs to his habit of mind and body as "faint" and "swoon" belong to
Keats. This word is one of the ear-marks by which Emerson's imitators
are easily recognized. "Melioration" is another favorite word of
Emerson's. A clairvoyant could spell out some of his most characteristic
traits by the aid of his use of these three words; his inborn
fastidiousness, subdued and kept out of sight by his large charity and
his good breeding, showed itself in his liking for the word "haughty;"
his exquisite delicacy by his fondness for the word "fine," with a
certain shade of meaning; his optimism in the frequent recurrence of the
word "melioration."

We must not find fault with his semi-detached sentences until we quarrel
with Solomon and criticise the Sermon on the Mount. The "point and
surprise" which he speaks of as characterizing the style of Plutarch
belong eminently to his own. His fertility of illustrative imagery is
very great. His images are noble, or, if borrowed from humble objects,
ennobled by his handling. He throws his royal robe over a milking-stool
and it becomes a throne. But chiefly he chooses objects of comparison
grand in themselves. He deals with the elements at first hand. Such
delicacy of treatment, with such breadth and force of effect, is hard to
match anywhere, and we know him by his style at sight. It is as when the
slight fingers of a girl touch the keys of some mighty and many-voiced
organ, and send its thunders rolling along the aisles and startling
the stained windows of a great cathedral. We have seen him as an
unpretending lecturer. We follow him round as he "peddles out all the
wit he can gather from Time or from Nature," and we find that "he has
changed his market cart into a chariot of the sun," and is carrying
about the morning light as merchandise.

       *       *       *       *       *

Emerson was as loyal an American, as thorough a New Englander, as
home-loving a citizen, as ever lived. He arraigned his countrymen
sharply for their faults. Mr. Arnold made one string of his epithets
familiar to all of us,--"This great, intelligent, sensual, and
avaricious America." This was from a private letter to Carlyle. In his
Essay, "Works and Days," he is quite as outspoken: "This mendicant
America, this curious, peering, itinerant, imitative America." "I
see plainly," he says, "that our society is as bigoted to the
respectabilities of religion and education as yours." "The war," he
says, "gave back integrity to this erring and immoral nation." All his
life long he recognized the faults and errors of the new civilization.
All his life long he labored diligently and lovingly to correct them.
To the dark prophecies of Carlyle, which came wailing to him across the
ocean, he answered with ever hopeful and cheerful anticipations. "Here,"
he said, in words I have already borrowed, "is the home of man--here is
the promise of a new and more excellent social state than history has

Such a man as Emerson belongs to no one town or province or continent;
he is the common property of mankind; and yet we love to think of him
as breathing the same air and treading the same soil that we and our
fathers and our children have breathed and trodden. So it pleases us
to think how fondly he remembered his birthplace; and by the side of
Franklin's bequest to his native city we treasure that golden verse of

  "A blessing through the ages thus
  Shield all thy roofs and towers,
  Thou darling town of ours!"

Emerson sympathized with all generous public movements, but he was not
fond of working in associations, though he liked well enough to attend
their meetings as a listener and looker-on. His study was his workshop,
and he preferred to labor in solitude. When he became famous he paid the
penalty of celebrity in frequent interruptions by those "devastators of
the day" who sought him in his quiet retreat. His courtesy and kindness
to his visitors were uniform and remarkable. Poets who come to recite
their verses and reformers who come to explain their projects are
among the most formidable of earthly visitations. Emerson accepted
his martyrdom with meek submission; it was a martyrdom in detail, but
collectively its petty tortures might have satisfied a reasonable
inquisitor as the punishment of a moderate heresy. Except in that one
phrase above quoted he never complained of his social oppressors, so far
as I remember, in his writings. His perfect amiability was one of his
most striking characteristics, and in a nature fastidious as was his in
its whole organization, it implied a self-command worthy of admiration.

       *       *       *       *       *

The natural purity and elevation of Emerson's character show themselves
in all that he writes. His life corresponded to the ideal we form of him
from his writings. This it was which made him invulnerable amidst all
the fierce conflicts his gentle words excited. His white shield was so
spotless that the least scrupulous combatants did not like to leave
their defacing marks upon it. One would think he was protected by some
superstition like that which Voltaire refers to as existing about

  "Ne disons pas mal de Nicolas,--cela porte malheur."

(Don't let us abuse Nicolas,--it brings ill luck.) The cooped-up
dogmatists whose very citadel of belief he was attacking, and who had
their hot water and boiling pitch and flaming brimstone ready for the
assailants of their outer defences, withheld their missiles from him,
and even sometimes, in a movement of involuntary human sympathy,
sprinkled him with rose-water. His position in our Puritan New England
was in some respects like that of Burns in Presbyterian Scotland. The
_dour_ Scotch ministers and elders could not cage their minstrel, and
they could not clip his wings; and so they let this morning lark rise
above their theological mists, and sing to them at heaven's gate, until
he had softened all their hearts and might nestle in their bosoms and
find his perch on "the big ha' bible," if he would,--and as he did. So
did the music of Emerson's words and life steal into the hearts of our
stern New England theologians, and soften them to a temper which would
have seemed treasonable weakness to their stiff-kneed forefathers. When
a man lives a life commended by all the Christian virtues, enlightened
persons are not so apt to cavil at his particular beliefs or unbeliefs
as in former generations. We do, however, wish to know what are the
convictions of any such persons in matters of highest interest about
which there is so much honest difference of opinion in this age of deep
and anxious and devout religious scepticism.

It was a very wise and a very prudent course which was taken by
Simonides, when he was asked by his imperial master to give him his
ideas about the Deity. He begged for a day to consider the question, but
when the time came for his answer he wanted two days more, and at the
end of these, four days. In short, the more he thought about it, the
more he found himself perplexed.

The name most frequently applied to Emerson's form of belief is
Pantheism. How many persons who shudder at the sound of this word can
tell the difference between that doctrine and their own professed belief
in the omnipresence of the Deity?

Theodore Parker explained Emerson's position, as he understood it, in an
article in the "Massachusetts Quarterly Review." I borrow this quotation
from Mr. Cooke:--

"He has an absolute confidence in God. He has been foolishly accused of
Pantheism, which sinks God in nature, but no man Is further from it.
He never sinks God in man; he does not stop with the law, in matter or
morals, but goes to the Law-giver; yet probably it would not be so easy
for him to give his definition of God, as it would be for most graduates
at Andover or Cambridge."

We read in his Essay, "Self-Reliance ": "This is the ultimate fact which
we so quickly reach on this, as on every topic, the resolution of all
into the ever-blessed ONE. Self-existence is the attribute of the
Supreme Cause, and it constitutes the measure of good by the degree in
which it enters into all lower forms."

The "ever-blessed ONE" of Emerson corresponds to the Father in the
doctrine of the Trinity. The "Over-Soul" of Emerson is that aspect of
Deity which is known to theology as the Holy Spirit. Jesus was for him a
divine manifestation, but only as other great human souls have been in
all ages and are to-day. He was willing to be called a Christian just as
he was willing to be called a Platonist.

Explanations are apt not to explain much in dealing with subjects like
this. "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the
Almighty unto perfection?" But on certain great points nothing could be
clearer than the teaching of Emerson. He believed in the doctrine of
spiritual influx as sincerely as any Calvinist or Swedenborgian. His
views as to fate, or the determining conditions of the character,
brought him near enough to the doctrine of predestination to make him
afraid of its consequences, and led him to enter a caveat against any
denial of the self-governing power of the will.

His creed was a brief one, but he carried it everywhere with him. In all
he did, in all he said, and so far as all outward signs could show, in
all his thoughts, the indwelling Spirit was his light and guide; through
all nature he looked up to nature's God; and if he did not worship the
"man Christ Jesus" as the churches of Christendom have done, he followed
his footsteps so nearly that our good Methodist, Father Taylor, spoke of
him as more like Christ than any man he had known.

Emerson was in friendly relations with many clergymen of the church
from which he had parted. Since he left the pulpit, the lesson, not
of tolerance, for that word is an insult as applied by one set of
well-behaved people to another, not of charity, for that implies an
impertinent assumption, but of good feeling on the part of divergent
sects and their ministers has been taught and learned as never before.
Their official Confessions of Faith make far less difference in their
human sentiments and relations than they did even half a century ago.
These ancient creeds are handed along down, to be kept in their phials
with their stoppers fast, as attar of rose is kept in its little
bottles; they are not to be opened and exposed to the atmosphere so long
as their perfume,--the odor of sanctity,--is diffused from the carefully
treasured receptacles,--perhaps even longer than that.

Out of the endless opinions as to the significance and final outcome of
Emerson's religious teachings I will select two as typical.

Dr. William Hague, long the honored minister of a Baptist church in
Boston, where I had the pleasure of friendly acquaintance with him, has
written a thoughtful, amiable paper on Emerson, which he read before the
New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. This Essay closes with
the following sentence:--

"Thus, to-day, while musing, as at the beginning, over the works of
Ralph Waldo Emerson, we recognize now as ever his imperial genius as one
of the greatest of writers; at the same time, his life work, as a whole,
tested by its supreme ideal, its method and its fruitage, shows also a
great waste of power, verifying the saying of Jesus touching the harvest

"But when Dean Stanley returned from America, it was to report," says
Mr. Conway "('Macmillan,' June, 1879), that religion had there passed
through an evolution from Edwards to Emerson, and that 'the genial
atmosphere which Emerson has done so much to promote is shared by all
the churches equally.'"

What is this "genial atmosphere" but the very spirit of Christianity?
The good Baptist minister's Essay is full of it. He comes asking what
has become of Emerson's "wasted power" and lamenting his lack of
"fruitage," and lo! he himself has so ripened and mellowed in that same
Emersonian air that the tree to which he belongs would hardly know him.
The close-communion clergyman handles the arch-heretic as tenderly as if
he were the nursing mother of a new infant Messiah. A few generations
ago this preacher of a new gospel would have been burned; a little later
he would been tried and imprisoned; less than fifty years ago he was
called infidel and atheist; names which are fast becoming relinquished
to the intellectual half-breeds who sometimes find their way into
pulpits and the so-called religious periodicals.

It is not within our best-fenced churches and creeds that the
self-governing American is like to find the religious freedom which the
Concord prophet asserted with the strength of Luther and the sweetness
of Melancthon, and which the sovereign in his shirt-sleeves will surely
claim. Milton was only the precursor of Emerson when he wrote:--

"Neither is God appointed and confined, where and out of what place
these his chosen shall be first heard to speak; for he sees not as man
sees, chooses not as man chooses, lest we should devote ourselves again
to set places and assemblies, and outward callings of men, planting our
faith one while in the old convocation house, and another while in the
Chapel at Westminster, when all the faith and religion that shall be
there canonized is not sufficient without plain convincement, and
the charity of patient instruction, to supple the least bruise of
conscience, to edify the meanest Christian who desires to walk in the
spirit and not in the letter of human trust, for all the number of
voices that can be there made; no, though Harry the Seventh himself
there, with all his liege tombs about him, should lend their voices from
the dead, to swell their number."

The best evidence of the effect produced by Emerson's writings and life
is to be found in the attention he has received from biographers and
critics. The ground upon which I have ventured was already occupied by
three considerable Memoirs. Mr. George Willis Cooke's elaborate work is
remarkable for its careful and thorough analysis of Emerson's teachings.
Mr. Moncure Daniel Conway's "Emerson at Home and Abroad" is a lively
picture of its subject by one long and well acquainted with him. Mr.
Alexander Ireland's "Biographical Sketch" brings together, from a great
variety of sources, as well as from his own recollections, the facts of
Emerson's history and the comments of those whose opinions were best
worth reproducing. I must refer to this volume for a bibliography of the
various works and Essays of which Emerson furnished the subject.

From the days when Mr. Whipple attracted the attention of our
intelligent, but unawakened reading community, by his discriminating and
appreciative criticisms of Emerson's Lectures, and Mr. Lowell drew the
portrait of the New England "Plotinus-Montaigne" in his brilliant "Fable
for Critics," to the recent essays of Mr. Matthew Arnold, Mr. John
Morley, Mr. Henry Norman, and Mr. Edmund Clarence Stedman, Emerson's
writings have furnished one of the most enduring _pièces de résistance_
at the critical tables of the old and the new world.

He early won the admiration of distinguished European thinkers and
writers: Carlyle accepted his friendship and his disinterested services;
Miss Martineau fully recognized his genius and sounded his praises; Miss
Bremer fixed her sharp eyes on him and pronounced him "a noble man."
Professor Tyndall found the inspiration of his life in Emerson's
fresh thought; and Mr. Arnold, who clipped his medals reverently but
unsparingly, confessed them to be of pure gold, even while he questioned
whether they would pass current with posterity. He found discerning
critics in France, Germany, and Holland. Better than all is the
testimony of those who knew him best. They who repeat the saying that
"a prophet is not without honor save in his own country," will find an
exception to its truth in the case of Emerson. Read the impressive words
spoken at his funeral by his fellow-townsman, Judge Hoar; read the
glowing tributes of three of Concord's poets,--Mr. Alcott, Mr. Channing,
and Mr. Sanborn,--and it will appear plainly enough that he, whose fame
had gone out into all the earth, was most of all believed in, honored,
beloved, lamented, in the little village circle that centred about his
own fireside.

It is a not uninteresting question whether Emerson has bequeathed to the
language any essay or poem which will resist the flow of time like "the
adamant of Shakespeare," and remain a classic like the Essays of Addison
or Gray's Elegy. It is a far more important question whether his thought
entered into the spirit of his day and generation, so that it modified
the higher intellectual, moral, and religious life of his time, and, as
a necessary consequence, those of succeeding ages. _Corpora non agunt
nisi soluta_, and ideas must be dissolved and taken up as well as
material substances before they can act. "That which thou sowest is not
quickened except it die," or rather lose the form with which it was
sown. Eight stanzas of four lines each have made the author of "The
Burial of Sir John Moore" an immortal, and endowed the language with a
classic, perfect as the most finished cameo. But what is the gift of a
mourning ring to the bequest of a perpetual annuity? How many lives
have melted into the history of their time, as the gold was lost
in Corinthian brass, leaving no separate monumental trace of their
influence, but adding weight and color and worth to the age of which
they formed a part and the generations that came after them! We can dare
to predict of Emerson, in the words of his old friend and disciple, Mr.

  "The wise will know thee and the good will love,
    The age to come will feel thy impress given
  In all that lifts the race a step above
    Itself, and stamps it with the seal of heaven."

It seems to us, to-day, that Emerson's best literary work in prose and
verse must live as long as the language lasts; but whether it live or
fade from memory, the influence of his great and noble life and
the spoken and written words which were its exponents, blends,
indestructible, with the enduring elements of civilization.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not irreverent, but eminently fitting, to compare any singularly
pure and virtuous life with that of the great exemplar in whose
footsteps Christendom professes to follow. The time was when the divine
authority of his gospel rested chiefly upon the miracles he is reported
to have wrought. As the faith in these exceptions to the general laws
of the universe diminished, the teachings of the Master, of whom it was
said that he spoke as never man spoke, were more largely relied upon
as evidence of his divine mission. Now, when a comparison of these
teachings with those of other religious leaders is thought by many to
have somewhat lessened the force of this argument, the life of the
sinless and self-devoted servant of God and friend of man is appealed to
as the last and convincing proof that he was an immediate manifestation
of the Divinity.

Judged by his life Emerson comes very near our best ideal of humanity.
He was born too late for the trial of the cross or the stake, or even
the jail. But the penalty of having an opinion of his own and expressing
it was a serious one, and he accepted it as cheerfully as any of Queen
Mary's martyrs accepted his fiery baptism. His faith was too large and
too deep for the formulae he found built into the pulpit, and he was too
honest to cover up his doubts under the flowing vestments of a sacred
calling. His writings, whether in prose or verse, are worthy of
admiration, but his manhood was the underlying quality which gave them
their true value. It was in virtue of this that his rare genius acted on
so many minds as a trumpet call to awaken them to the meaning and the
privileges of this earthly existence with all its infinite promise.
No matter of what he wrote or spoke, his words, his tones, his looks,
carried the evidence of a sincerity which pervaded them all and was to
his eloquence and poetry like the water of crystallization; without
which they would effloresce into mere rhetoric. He shaped an ideal for
the commonest life, he proposed an object to the humblest seeker after
truth. Look for beauty in the world around you, he said, and you shall
see it everywhere. Look within, with pure eyes and simple trust, and you
shall find the Deity mirrored in your own soul. Trust yourself because
you trust the voice of God in your inmost consciousness.

There are living organisms so transparent that we can see their hearts
beating and their blood flowing through their glassy tissues. So
transparent was the life of Emerson; so clearly did the true nature of
the man show through it. What he taught others to be, he was himself.
His deep and sweet humanity won him love and reverence everywhere
among those whose natures were capable of responding to the highest
manifestations of character. Here and there a narrow-eyed sectary may
have avoided or spoken ill of him; but if He who knew what was in man
had wandered from door to door in New England as of old in Palestine, we
can well believe that one of the thresholds which "those blessed feet"
would have crossed, to hallow and receive its welcome, would have been
that of the lovely and quiet home of Emerson.


[For many references, not found elsewhere, see under the general
headings of _Emerson's Books, Essays, Poems_.]

  Abbott, Josiah Gardiner, a pupil of Emerson, 49, 50.

  Academic Races, 2, 3. (See _Heredity_.)

  Action, subordinate, 112.

  Adams, John, old age, 261.

  Adams, Samuel, Harvard debate, 115.

  Addison, Joseph, classic, 416.

  Advertiser, The, Emerson's interest in, 348.

  Aeolian Harp, his model, 329, 340.
    (See _Emerson's Poems_,--Harp.)

  Aeschylus, tragedies, 253. (See _Greek_.)

  Agassiz, Louis:
    Saturday Club, 222;
    companionship, 403.

    in Anthology, 30;
    attacked, 190;
    not Emerson's field, 255, 256, 365.

  Akenside, Mark, allusion, 16.

  Alchemy, adepts, 260, 261.

  Alcott, A. Bronson:
    hearing Emerson, 66;
    speculations, 86;
    an idealist, 150;
    The Dial, 159;
    sonnet, 355;
    quoted, 373;
    personality traceable, 389.

  Alcott, Louisa M., funeral bouquet, 351.

  Alexander the Great:
    allusion, 184;
    mountain likeness, 322.

  Alfred the Great, 220, 306.

  Allston, Washington, unfinished picture, 334.
      (See _Pictures_.)

  Ambition, treated in Anthology, 30.

    room for a poet, 136, 137;
    virtues and defects, 143;
    faith in, 179;
    people compared with English, 216;
    things awry, 260;
    _aristocracy_, 296;
    in the Civil War, 304;
    Revolution, 305;
    Lincoln, the true history of his time, 307;
    passion for, 308, 309;
    artificial rhythm, 329;
    its own literary style, 342;
    home of man, 371;
    loyalty to, 406;
    epithets, 406, 407.
      (See _England, New England_, etc.)

  Amici, meeting Emerson, 63.
      (See _Italy_.)

  Amusements, in New England, 30.

  Anaemia, artistic, 334.

    in general, 1-3;
    Emerson's, 3 _et seq._
      (See _Heredity_.)

  Andover, Mass.:
    Theological School, 48;
    graduates, 411.

  Andrew, John Albion:
    War Governor, 223;
    hearing Emerson, 379.
      (See _South_.)

  Angelo. (See _Michael Angelo_.)

    in The Dial, 162;
    kept from, 177.
      (See _God, Religion_, etc.)

    in Emerson's pulpit, 57;
    the reform, 141, 145, 152;
    Emancipation address, 181;
    Boston and New York addresses, 210-212;
    Emancipation Proclamation, 228;
    Fugitive Slave Law, and other matters, 303-307.
      (See _South_.)

  Antoninus, Marcus, allusion, 16.

  Architecture, illustrations, 253.

  Arianism, 51.
      (See _Unitarianism_.)

    influence over Mary Emerson, 17;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Arminianism, 51.
      (See _Methodism, Religion_, etc.)

  Arnim, Gisela von, 225.

  Arnold, Matthew:
    quotation about America, 137:
    lecture, 236;
    on Milton, 315;
    his Thyrsis, 333;
    criticism, 334;
    string of Emerson's epithets, 406.

  Aryans, comparison, 312.

    a pet name, 176;
    immovable, 200.

  Assabet River, 70, 71.

    Harp illustration, 108;
    stars against wrong, 252, 253.
    (See _Galileo, Stars, Venus_, etc.)

  Atlantic Monthly:
    sketch of Dr. Ripley, 14, 15;
    of Mary Moody Emerson, 16;
    established, 221;
    supposititious club, 222;
    on Persian Poetry, 224;
    on Thoreau, 228;
    Emerson's contributions, 239, 241;
    Brahma, 296.

    effect on inspiration, 290;
    spiritual, 413, 414.

  Augustine, Emerson's study of, 52.

  Authors, quoted by Emerson, 381-383.
    (See _Plutarch_, etc.)

  Bacon, Francis:
    allusion, 22, 111;
    times quoted, 382.

  Bancroft, George:
    literary rank, 33;
    in college, 45.

  Barbier, Henri Auguste, on Napoleon, 208.

  Barnwell, Robert W.:
    in history, 45;
    in college, 47.

  Beaumont and Fletcher, disputed, line, 128, 129.

    its nature, 74, 94, 95;
    an end, 99, 135, 182;
    study, 301.

  Beecher, Edward, on preexistence, 391.
    (See _Preexistence_.)

  Behmen, Jacob:
    mysticism, 201, 202, 396;
    citation, 380.

  Berkeley, Bishop:
    characteristics, 189;
    matter, 300.

    Mary Emerson's study, 16;
    Mosaic cosmogony, 18;
    the Exodus, 35;
    the Lord's Supper, 58;
    Psalms, 68, 181, 182, 253;
    lost Paradise, 101;
    Genesis, Sermon on the Mount, 102;
    Seer of Patmos, 102, 103;
    Apocalypse, 105;
    Song of Songs, 117;
    Baruch's roll, 117, 118;
    not closed, 122;
    the Sower, 154;
    Noah's Ark, 191;
    Pharisee's trumpets, 255;
    names and imagery, 268;
    sparing the rod, 297;
    rhythmic mottoes, 314;
    beauty of Israel, 351;
    face of an angel, 352;
    barren fig-tree, 367;
    a classic, 376;
    body of death, "Peace be still!" 379;
    draught of fishes, 381;
    its semi-detached sentences, 405;
    Job quoted, 411;
    "the man Christ Jesus," 412;
    scattering abroad, 414.
    (See _Christ, God, Religion,_ etc.)

  Bigelow, Jacob, on rural cemeteries, 31.

  Biography, every man writes his own, 1.

  Blackmore, Sir Richard, controversy, 31.

  Bliss Family, 9.

  Bliss, Daniel, patriotism, 72.

  Blood, transfusion of, 256.

  Books, use and abuse, 110, 111.
    (See _Emerson's Essays_.)

  Boston, Mass.:
    First Church, 10, 12, 13;
    Woman's Club, 16;
    Harbor, 19;
    nebular spot, 25, 26;
    its pulpit darling, 27;
    Episcopacy, 28;
    Athenaeum, 31;
    magazines, 28-34;
    intellectual character, lights on its three hills, high caste
  religion, 34;
    Samaria and Jerusalem, 35;
    streets and squares, 37-39;
    Latin School, 39, 40, 43;
    new buildings, 42;
    Mrs. Emerson's boarding-house, the Common as a pasture, 43;
    Unitarian preaching, 51;
    a New England centre, 52;
    Emerson's settlement, 54;
    Second Church, 55-61;
    lectures, 87, 88, 191;
    Trimount Oracle, 102;
    stirred by the Divinity-School address, 126;
    school-keeping, Roxbury, 129;
    aesthetic society, 149;
    Transcendentalists, 155, 156;
    Bay, 172;
    Freeman Place Chapel, 210:
    Saturday Club, 221-223;
    Burns Centennial, 224, 225;
    Parker meeting, 228;
    letters, 263, 274, 275;
    Old South lecture, 294;
    Unitarianism, 298;
    Emancipation Proclamation, 307;
    special train, 350;
    Sons of Liberty, 369;
    birthplace, 407;
    Baptists, 413.

  Boswell, James:
    allusion, 138;
    one lacking, 223;
    Life of Johnson, 268.

  Botany, 403.
    (See _Science_.)

  Bowen, Francis: literary rank, 34;
    on Nature, 103, 104.

  Brook Farm, 159, 164-166, 189, 191.
    (See _Transcendentalism_, etc.)

  Brown, Howard N., prayer, 355.

  Brown, John, sympathy with, 211.
    (See _Anti-Slavery, South_.)

  Brownson, Orestes A., at a party, 149.

  Bryant, William Cullen:
    his literary rank, 33;
    redundant syllable, 328;
    his translation of Homer quoted, 378.

  Buckminster, Joseph Stevens:
    minister in Boston, 12, 26, 27, 52;
    Memoir, 29;
    destruction of Goldau, 31.

    like Transcendentalism, 151;
    Buddhist nature, 188;
    298. (See _Emerson's Poems_,--Brahma,
    --_India_, etc.)

  Buffon, on style, 341.

  Bulkeley Family, 4-7.

  Bulkeley, Peter:
    minister of Concord, 4-7, 71;
    comparison of sermons, 57;
    patriotism, 72;
    landowner, 327.

  Bunyan, John, quoted, 169.

  Burke, Edmund:
    essay, 73;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Burns, Robert:
    festival, 224, 225;
    rank, 281;
    image referred to, 386;
    religious position, 409. (See _Scotland_.)

  Burroughs, John, view of English life, 335.

  Burton, Robert, quotations, 109, 381.

  Buttrick, Major, in the Revolution, 71, 72.

  Byron, Lord:
    allusion, 16;
    rank, 281;
    disdain, 321;
    uncertain sky, 335;
    parallelism, 399.

    on Emerson's literary habits, 27;
    The Dial, 159;
    prefaces, 283, 302;
    Note, 295, 296;
    Prefatory Note, 310, 311;
    the last meetings, 347, 348.

  Caesar, Julius, 184,197.

  California, trip, 263-271, 359. (See _Thayer_.)

  Calvin, John:
    his Commentary, 103;
    used by Cotton, 286.

    William Emerson's want of sympathy with, 11, 12;
    outgrown, 51;
    predestination, 230;
    saints, 298;
    spiritual influx, 412.
    (See _God, Puritanism, Religion, Unitarianism.)_

  Cambridge, Mass.:
    Emerson teaching there, 50;
    exclusive circles, 52.
    (See _Harvard University_.)

  Cant, disgust with, 156.

  Carlyle, Thomas:
    meeting Emerson, 63;
    recollections of their relations, 78-80, 83;
    Sartor Resartus, 81, 82, 91;
    correspondence, 82, 83, 89, 90, 127, 176, 177, 192, 315, 317, 374,
         380, 381, 406, 407;
    Life of Schiller, 91;
    on Nature, 104, 105;
    Miscellanies, 130;
    the Waterville Address, 136-138;
    influence, 149, 150;
    on Transcendentalism, 156-158;
    The Dial, 160-163;
    Brook Farm, 164;
    friendship, 171;
    Chelsea visit, 194;
    bitter legacy, 196;
    love of power, 197;
    on Napoleon and Goethe, 208;
    grumblings, 260;
    tobacco, 270;
    Sartor reprinted, 272;
    paper on, 294;
    Emerson's dying friendship, 349;
    physique, 363;
    Gallic fire, 386;
    on Characteristics, 387;
    personality traceable, 389.

  Carpenter, William B., 230.

  Century, The, essay in, 295.

  Cerebration, unconscious, 112, 113.

  Chalmers, Thomas, preaching, 65.

  Channing, Walter, headache, 175, 390.

  Channing, William Ellery:
    allusion, 16;
    directing Emerson's studies, 51;
    preaching, 52;
    Emerson in his pulpit, 66;
    influence, 147, 149;
    kept awake, 157.

  Channing, William Ellery, the poet:
    his Wanderer, 263;
    Poems, 403.

  Channing, William Henry:
    allusions, 131, 149;
    in The Dial, 159;
    the Fuller Memoir, 209;
    Ode inscribed to, 211, 212.

  Charleston, S C, Emerson's preaching, 53. (See _South_.)

  Charlestown, Mass., Edward Emerson's residence, 8.

  Charles V., 197.

  Charles XII., 197.

  Chatelet, Parent du, a realist, 326.

  Chatham, Lord, 255.

  Chaucer, Geoffrey:
    borrowings, 205;
    rank, 281;
    honest rhymes, 340;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Chelmsford, Mass., Emerson teaching there, 49, 50.

  Chemistry, 403. (See _Science_.)

  Cheshire, its "haughty hill," 323.

  Choate, Rufus, oratory, 148.

    reserved expressions about, 13;
    mediatorship, 59;
    true office, 120-122;
    worship, 412. (See _Jesus, Religion_, etc.)

    its essentials, 13;
    primitive, 35;
    a mythus, defects, 121;
    the true, 122;
    two benefits, 123;
    authority, 124;
    incarnation of, 176;
    the essence, 306;
    Fathers, 391.

  Christian, Emerson a, 267.

  Christian Examiner, The:
    on William Emerson, 12;
    its literary predecessor, 29;
    on Nature, 103, 104;
    repudiates Divinity School Address, 124.

    activity in 1820, 147;
    avoidance of, 153;
    the true, 244;
    music, 306. (See _God, Jesus, Religion_, etc.)

  Cicero, allusion, 111.
  Cid, the, 184.

  Clarke, James Freeman:
    letters, 77-80, 128-131;
    transcendentalism, 149;
    The Dial, 159;
    Fuller Memoir, 209;
    Emerson's funeral, 351, 353-355.

  Clarke, Samuel, allusion, 16.

  Clarke, Sarah, sketches, 130.

  Clarkson, Thomas, 220.

    among Emerson's ancestry, 3-8;
    gravestones, 9. (See _Cotton, Heredity_, etc.)

  Coleridge, Samuel Taylor:
    allusion, 16;
    Emerson's account, 63;
    influence, 149, 150;
    Carlyle's criticism, 196;
    Ancient Mariner, 333;
    Christabel, Abyssinian Maid, 334;
    times mentioned, 382;
    an image quoted, 386;
    William Tell, 387.

  Collins, William:
    poetry, 321;
    Ode and Dirge, 332.

  Commodity, essay, 94.

  Concentration, 288.

  Concord, Mass.:
    Bulkeley's ministry, 4-7;
    first association with the Emerson name, 7;
    Joseph's descendants, 8;
    the Fight, 9; Dr. Ripley, 10;
    Social Club, 14;
    Emerson's preaching, 54;
    Goodwin's settlement, 56;
    discord, 57;
    Emerson's residence begun, 69, 70;
    a typical town, 70;
    settlement, 71;
    a Delphi, 72;
    Emerson home, 83;
    Second Centennial, 84, 85, 303;
    noted citizens, 86;
    town government, the, monument, 87;
    the Sage, 102;
    letters, 125-131, 225;
    supposition of Carlyle's life there, 171;
    Emancipation Address, 181;
    leaving, 192;
    John Brown meeting, 211;
    Samuel Hoar, 213;
    wide-awake, 221;
    Lincoln obsequies, 243, 307;
    an _under_-Concord, 256;
    fire, 271-279;
    letters, 275-279;
    return, 279;
    Minute Man unveiled, 292;
    Soldiers' Monument, 303;
    land-owners, 327;
    memorial stone, 333;
    Conway's visits, 343, 344;
    Whitman's, 344, 345;
    Russell's, 345; funeral, 350-356;
    founders, 352;
    Sleepy Hollow, 356;
    a strong attraction, 369;
    neighbors, 373;
    Prophet, 415.

  Congdon, Charles, his Reminiscences,

  Conservatism, fairly treated, 156,
  157. (See _Reformers, Religion,
  Transcendentalism,_ etc.)

    C.C. Emerson's essay, 22, 258;
    inspiration, 290.

  Conway, Moncure D.:
    account of Emerson, 55, 56, 66, 194;
    two visits, 343, 344;
    anecdote, 346;
    error, 401;
    on Stanley, 414.

  Cooke, George Willis:
    biography of Emerson, 43, 44, 66, 88;
    on American Scholar, 107, 108;
    on anti-slavery, 212;
    on Parnassus, 280-282;
    on pantheism, 411.

  Cooper, James Fenimore, 33.

  Corot, pearly mist, 335, 336. (See
  _Pictures_, etc.)

  Cotton, John:
    service to scholarship, 34;
    reading Calvin, 286.

  Counterparts, the story, 226.

  Cowper, William:
    Mother's Picture, 178;
    disinterested good, 304;
    tenderness, 333;
    verse, 338.

  Cranch, Christopher P.:
    The Dial, 159;
    poetic prediction, 416, 417.

  Cromwell, Oliver:
    saying by a war saint, 252;
    in poetry, 387.

  Cudworth, Ralph, epithets, 200.

  Cupples, George, on Emerson's lectures, 195.

  Curtius, Quintus for Mettus, 388.

  Cushing, Caleb:
    rank, 33;
    in college, 45.

  Dana, Richard Henry, his literary place, 33, 223.

    allusion in Anthology, 31;
    rank, 202, 320;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Dartmouth College, oration, 131-135.

  Darwin, Charles, Origin of Species, 105.

  Dawes, Rufus, Boyhood Memories, 44.

  Declaration of Independence, intellectual,
  115. (See _American_, etc.)

  Delirium, imaginative, easily produced,
  238. (See _Intuition_.)

  Delia Cruscans, allusion, 152. (See

  Delos, allusion, 374.

  Delphic Oracle:
    of New England, 72;
    illustration, 84.

  Democratic Review, The, on Nature, 103.

  De Profundis, illustrating Carlyle's spirit, 83.

  De Quincey, Thomas:
    Emerson's interview with, 63, 195;
    on originality, 92.

  De Staël, Mme., allusion, 16.

  De Tocqueville, account of Unitarianism, 51.
  Dewey, Orville, New Bedford ministry, 67.

  Dexter, Lord Timothy, punctuation, 325, 326.

  Dial, The:
    established, 147, 158;
    editors, 159;
    influence, 160-163;
    death, 164;
    poems, 192;
    old contributors, 221;
    papers, 295;
    intuitions, 394.

  Dial, The (second), in Cincinnati, 239.

  Dickens, Charles:
    on Father Taylor, 56;
    American Notes, 155.

  Diderot, Denis, essay, 79.

  Diogenes, story, 401. (See _Laertius_.)

  Disinterestedness, 259.

  Disraeli, Benjamin, the rectorship, 282.

  Dramas, their limitations, 375. (See _Shakespeare_.)

  Dress, illustration of poetry, 311, 312.

  Dryden, John, quotation, 20, 21.

  Dwight, John S.:
    in The Dial, 159;
    musical critic, 223.

  East Lexington, Mass., the Unitarian pulpit, 88.

  Economy, its meaning, 142.

  Edinburgh, Scotland:
    Emerson's visit and preaching, 64, 65;
    lecture, 195.

    through friendship, 97, 98;
    public questions, 258, 259.

  Edwards, Jonathan:
    allusions, 16, 51;
    the atmosphere changed, 414.
    (See _Calvinism, Puritanism, Unitarianism_, etc.)

  Egotism, a pest, 233.

    poetic teaching, 121;
    trip, 271, 272;
    Sphinx, 330. (See _Emerson's Poems_,--Sphinx.)

  Election Sermon, illustration, 112.

  Elizabeth, Queen, verbal heir-loom, 313. (See _Raleigh_, etc.)

  Ellis, Rufus, minister of the First Church, Boston, 43.

  Eloquence, defined, 285, 286.

  Emerson Family, 3 _et seq_.

  Emerson, Charles Chauncy, brother of Ralph Waldo:
    feeling towards natural science, 18, 237;
    memories, 19-25, 37, 43;
    character, 77;
    death, 89, 90;
    influence, 98;
    The Dial, 161;
    "the hand of Douglas," 234;
    nearness, 368;
    poetry, 385;
    Harvard Register, 401.

  Emerson, Edith, daughter of Ralph Waldo, 263.

  Emerson, Edward, of Newbury, 8.

  Emerson, Edward Bliss, brother of Ralph Waldo:
    allusions, 19, 20, 37, 38;
    death, 89;
    Last Farewell, poem, 161;
    nearness, 368.

  Emerson, Edward Waldo, son of Ralph Waldo:
    in New York, 246;
    on the Farming essay, 255;
    father's last days, 346-349;
    reminiscences, 359.

  Emerson, Ellen, daughter of Ralph Waldo:
    residence, 83;
    trip to Europe, 271;
    care of her father, 294;
    correspondence, 347.

  Emerson, Mrs. Ellen Louisa Tucker, first wife of Ralph Waldo, 55.

  Emerson, Joseph, minister of Mendon, 4, 7, 8.

  Emerson, Joseph, the second, minister of Malden, 8.

  Emerson, Mrs. Lydia Jackson, second wife of Ralph Waldo:
    marriage, 83;
    _Asia_, 176.

  Emerson, Mary Moody:
    influence over her nephew, 16-18;
    quoted, 385.

  Emerson, Robert Bulkeley, brother of Ralph Waldo, 37.

  Emerson, Ralph Waldo, His Life:
    moulding influences, 1;
    New England heredity, 2;
    ancestry, 3-10;
    parents, 10-16;
    Aunt Mary, 16-19;
    brothers, 19-25;
    the nest, 25;
    noted scholars, 26-36;
    birthplace, 37, 38;
    boyhood, 39, 40;
    early efforts, 41, 42;
    parsonages, 42;
    father's death, 43;
    boyish appearance, 44;
    college days, 45-47;
    letter, 48;
    teaching, 49, 50;
    studying theology, and preaching, 51-54;
    ordination, marriage, 55;
    benevolent efforts, wife's death, 56;
    withdrawal from his church, 57-61;
    first trip to Europe, 62-65;
    preaching in America, 66, 67;
    remembered conversations, 68, 69;
    residence in the Old Manse, 69-72;
    lecturing, essays in The North American, 73;
    poems, 74;
    portraying himself, 75;
    comparison with Milton, 76, 77;
    letters to Clarke, 78-80, 128-131;
    interest in Sartor Resartus, 81;
    first letter to Carlyle, 82;
    second marriage and Concord home, 83;
    Second Centennial, 84-87;
    Boston lectures, Concord Fight; 87;
    East Lexington church, War, 88;
    death of brothers, 89, 90;
    Nature published, 91;
    parallel with Wordsworth, 92;
    free utterance, 93;
    Beauty, poems,
    Language, 95-97;
    Discipline, 97, 98;
    Idealism, 98, 99;
    Illusions, 99, 100;
    Spirit and Matter, 100;
    Paradise regained, 101;
    the Bible spirit, 102;
    Revelations, 103;
    Bowen's criticism, 104;
    Evolution, 105, 106;
    Phi Beta Kappa oration, 107, 108;
    fable of the One Man, 109;
    man thinking, 110;
    Books, 111;
    unconscious cerebration, 112;
    a scholar's duties, 113;
    specialists, 114;
    a declaration of intellectual independence, 115;
    address at the Theological School, 116, 117;
    effect on Unitarians, 118;
    sentiment of duty, 119;
    Intuition, 120;
    Reason, 121;
    the Traditional Jesus, 122;
    Sabbath and Preaching, 123;
    correspondence with Ware, 124-127;
    ensuing controversy, 127;
    Ten Lectures, 128;
    Dartmouth Address, 131-136;
    Waterville Address, 136-140;
    reforms, 141-145;
    new views, 146;
    Past and Present, 147;
    on Everett, 148;
    assembly at Dr. Warren's, 149;
    Boston _doctrinaires_, 150;
    unwise followers, 151-156;
    Conservatives, 156, 157;
    two Transcendental products, 157-166;
    first volume of Essays, 166;
    History, 167, 168;
    Self-reliance, 168, 169;
    Compensation, 169;
    other essays, 170;
    Friendship, 170, 171;
    Heroism, 172;
    Over-Soul, 172-175;
    house and income, 176;
    son's death, 177, 178;
    American and Oriental qualities, 179;
    English virtues, 180;
    Emancipation addresses in 1844, 181;
    second series of Essays, 181-188;
    Reformers, 188-191;
    Carlyle's business, Poems published, 192;
    a second trip to Europe, 193-196;
    Representative Men, 196-209;
    lectures again, 210;
    Abolitionism, 211, 212;
    Woman's Rights, 212, 213;
    a New England Roman, 213, 214;
    English Traits, 214-221;
    a new magazine, 221;
    clubs, 222, 223;
    more poetry, 224;
    Burns Festival, 224;
    letter about various literary matters, 225-227;
    Parker's death, Lincoln's Proclamation, 228;
    Conduct of Life, 228-239;
    Boston Hymn, 240;
    "So nigh is grandeur to our dust," 241;
    Atlantic contributions, 242;
    Lincoln obsequies, 243;
    Free Religion, 243, 244;
    second Phi Beta Kappa oration, 244-246;
    poem read to his son, 246-248;
    Harvard Lectures, 249-255;
    agriculture and science, 255, 256;
    predictions, 257;
    Books, 258;
    Conversation, 258;
    elements of Courage, 259;
    Success, 260, 261;
    on old men, 261, 262;
    California trip, 263-268;
    eating, 269;
    smoking, 270;
    conflagration, loss of memory, Froude banquet, third trip abroad, 272;
    friendly gifts, 272-279;
    editing Parnassus, 280-282;
    failing powers, 283;
    Hope everywhere, 284;
    negations, 285;
    Eloquence, Pessimism, 286;
    Comedy, Plagiarism, 287;
    lessons repeated, 288;
    Sources of Inspiration, 289, 290;
    Future Life, 290-292;
    dissolving creed, 292;
    Concord Bridge, 292, 293;
    decline of faculties, Old South lecture, 294;
    papers, 294, 295;
    quiet pen, 295;
    posthumous works, 295 _et seq.;_
    the pedagogue, 297;
    University of Virginia, 299;
    indebtedness to Plutarch, 299-302;
    slavery questions, 303-308;
    Woman Question, 308;
    patriotism, 308, 309;
    nothing but a poet, 311;
    antique words, 313;
    self-revelation, 313, 314;
    a great poet? 314-316;
    humility, 317-319;
    poetic favorites, 320, 321;
    comparison with contemporaries, 321;
    citizen of the universe, 322;
    fascination of symbolism, 323;
    realism, science, imaginative coloring, 324;
    dangers of realistic poetry, 325;
    range of subjects, 326;
    bad rhymes, 327;
    a trick of verse, 328;
    one faultless poem, 332;
    spell-bound readers, 333;
    workshop, 334;
    octosyllabic verse, atmosphere, 335, 336;
    comparison with Wordsworth, 337;
    and others, 338;
    dissolving sentences, 339;
    incompleteness, 339, 340;
    personality, 341, 342;
    last visits received, 343-345;
    the red rose, 345;
    forgetfulness, 346;
    literary work of last years, 346, 347;
    letters unanswered, 347;
    hearing and sight, subjects that interested him, 348;
    later hours, death, 349;
    last rites, 350-356;
    portrayal, 357-419;
    atmosphere, 357;
    books, distilled alcohol, 358;
    physique, 359;
    demeanor, 360;
    hair and eyes, insensibility to music, 361;
    daily habits, 362;
    bodily infirmities, 362, 363;
    voice, 363;
    quiet laughter, want of manual dexterity, 364;
    spade anecdote, memory,
    ignorance of exact science, 305;
    intuition and natural sagacity united, fastidiousness, 366;
    impatience with small-minded worshippers, Frothingham's Biography, 367;
    intimates, familiarity not invited, 368;
    among fellow-townsmen, errand to earth, inherited traditions, 369;
    sealed orders, 370, 371;
    conscientious work, sacrifices for truth, essays instead of sermons,
    congregation at large, charm, optimism, 373;
    financially straitened, 374;
    lecture room limitations, 374, 375;
    a Shakespeare parallel, 375, 376;
    platform fascination, 376;
    constructive power, 376, 377;
    English experiences, lecture-peddling, 377;
    a stove relinquished, utterance, an hour's weight, 378;
    trumpet-sound, sweet seriousness, diamond drops, effect on Governor
      Andrew, 379;
    learning at second hand, 380;
    the study of Goethe, 380;
    a great quoter, no pedantry, 381;
    list of authors referred to, 381, 382;
    special indebtedness, 382;
    penetration, borrowing, 383;
    method of writing and its results, aided by others, 384;
    sayings that seem family property, 385;
    passages compared, 385-387;
    the tributary streams, 388;
    accuracy as to facts, 388;
    personalities traceable in him, 389;
    place as a thinker, 390;
    Platonic anecdote, 391;
    preëxistence, 391, 392;
    mind-moulds, 393;
    relying on instinct, 394;
    dangers of intuition, 395;
    mysticism, 396;
    Oriental side, 397;
    transcendental mood, 398;
    personal identity confused, 399;
    a distorting mirror, 400;
    distrust of science, 401-403;
    style illustrated, 403, 404;
    favorite words, 405;
    royal imagery, 406;
    comments on America, 406, 407;
    common property of mankind, 407;
    public spirit, solitary workshop, martyrdom from visitors, 408;
    white shield invulnerable, 409;
    religious attitude, 409-411;
    spiritual influx, creed, 412;
    clerical relations, 413;
    Dr. Hague's criticism, 413, 414;
    ameliorating religious influence, 414;
    freedom, 415;
    enduring verse and thought, 416, 417;
    comparison with Jesus, 417;
    sincere manhood, 418;
    transparency, 419.

  Emerson's Books:--
    Conduct of Life, 229, 237.
    English Traits:
      the first European trip, 62;
      published, 214;
      analysis, 214-220;
      penetration, 383;
      Teutonic fire, 386.
      Dickens's allusion, 156;
      collected, 166.
    Essays, second series, 183.
    Lectures and Biographical Sketches, 128, 295, 296, 347.
    Letters and Social Aims, 210, 283, 284, 296.
    May-day and Other Pieces, 161, 192, 224, 242, 257, 310, 318, 346.
    Memoir of Margaret Fuller, 209.
    Miscellanies, 302, 303.
    Nature, Addresses, and Lectures, 179.
      resemblance of extracts from Mary Moody Emerson, 17;
      where written, 70;
      the Many in One, 73;
      first published, 91, 92, 373;
      analysis, 93-107;
      obscure, 108;
      Beauty, 237.
      collected, 280;
      Preface, 314;
      allusion, 321.
    Poems, 293, 310, 318, 339.
    Representative Men, 196-209.
    Selected Poems, 311, 347.
    Society and Solitude, 250.

  Emerson's Essays, Lectures, Sermons, Speeches, etc.:--
    In general:
      essays, 73, 88, 91, 92, 310;
      income from lectures, 176, 191, 192;
      lectures in England, 194-196;
      long series, 372;
      lecture-room, 374;
      plays and lectures, 375;
      double duty, 376, 377;
      charm, 379.
      (See _Emerson's Life, Lyceum_, etc.)
    American Civilization, 307.
    American Scholar, The, 107-115, 133, 188.
    Anglo-Saxon Race, The, 210.
    Anti-Slavery Address, New York, 210-212.
    Anti-Slavery Lecture, Boston, 210, 211.
    Aristocracy, 296.
    Art, 166, 175, 253, 254.
    Beauty, 235-237.
    Behavior, 234.
    Books, 257, 380.
    Brown, John, 302, 305, 306.
    Burke, Edmund, 73.
    Burns, Robert, 224, 225, 307.
    Carlyle, Thomas, 294, 302, 317.
    Channing's Poem, preface, 262, 263, 403.
    Character, 183, 295, 297.
    Chardon Street and Bible Convention, 159, 302.
    Circles, 166, 174, 175.
    Civilization, 250-253.
    Clubs, 258.
    Comedy. 128.
    Comic, The, 286, 287.
    Commodity, 94.
    Compensation, 166, 169.
    Concord Fight, the anniversary speech, 292, 293.
    Concord, Second Centennial Discourse, 84-86.
    Conservative, The, 156, 157, 159.
    Considerations by the Way, 235.
    Courage, 259.
    Culture, 232, 233.
    Demonology, 128, 296.
    Discipline, 97, 98.
    Divinity School Address, 116-127, 131.
    Doctrine of the Soul, 127.
    Domestic Life, 254, 255.
    Duty, 128.
    Editorial Address, Mass. Quarterly Review, 193, 302, 307.
    Education, 296, 297.
    Eloquence, 254;
      second essay, 285, 286.
    Emancipation in the British West Indies, 181, 303.
    Emancipation Proclamation, 228, 307.
    Emerson, Mary Moody, 295, 296, 302.
    English Literature, 87.
    Experience, 182.
    Farming, 255, 256.
    Fate, 228-330.
    Fortune of the Republic, 294, 302, 307-309.
    Fox, George, 73.
    France, 196.
    Free Religious Association, 243, 302, 307.
    Friendship, 166, 170.
    Froude, James Anthony, after-dinner speech, 271.
    Fugitive Slave Law, 303, 304.
    Genius, 127.
    Gifts, 184, 185.
    Goethe, or the Writer, 208, 209.
    Greatness, 288, 346.
    Harvard Commemoration, 307.
    Heroism, 166, 172.
    Historical Discourse, at Concord, 303.
    Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England, 147, 165, 296, 302.
    History, 166, 167.
    Hoar, Samuel, 213, 214, 295, 302.
    Home, 127.
    Hope, 284, 285.
    Howard University, speech, 263.
    Human Culture, 87.
    Idealism, 98-100.
    Illusions, 235, 239.
    Immortality, 266, 290-292, 354.
    Inspiration, 289.
    Intellect, 166, 175.
    Kansas Affairs, 305.
    Kossuth, 307.
    Language, 95-97.
    Lincoln, Abraham, funeral remarks, 242, 243, 307.
    Literary Ethics, 131-136.
    Lord's Supper, 57-60, 303.
    Love, 127,128,166,170. (See _Emerson's Poems_.)
    Luther, 73.
    Manners, 183, 234.
    Man of Letters, The, 296, 298.
    Man the Reformer, 142, 143.
    Method of Nature, The, 136-141.
    Michael Angelo, 73, 75.
    Milton, 73, 75.
    Montaigne, or the Skeptic, 202-204.
    Napoleon, or the Man of the World, 206-209.
    Natural History of the Intellect, 249, 268, 347.
    Nature (the essay), 185, 186, 398.
    New England Reformers, 188-191, 385.
    Nominalism and Realism, 188.
    Old Age, 261, 262.
    Over-Soul, The, 166, 172-175, 398, 411.
    Parker, Theodore, 228, 306.
    Perpetual Forces, 297.
    Persian Poetry, 224.
    Phi Beta Kappa oration, 347.
    Philosophy of History, 87.
    Plato, 198-200;
      New Readings, 200.
    Plutarch, 295, 299-302.
    Plutarch's Morals, introduction, 262.
    Poet, The, 181, 182.
    Poetry, 210.
    Poetry and Imagination, 283;
      subdivisions: Bards and Trouveurs,
      Creation, Form, Imagination,
      Melody, Morals, Rhythm, Poetry,
      Transcendency, Veracity, 283, 284;
      quoted, 325.
    Politics, 186, 187.
    Power, 230, 231.
    Preacher, The, 294, 298.
    Professions of Divinity, Law, and Medicine, 41.
    Progress of Culture, The, 244, 288.
    Prospects, 101-103.
    Protest, The, 127.
    Providence Sermon, 130.
    Prudence, 166, 171, 172.
    Quotation and Originality, 287, 288.
    Relation of Man to the Globe, 73.
    Resources, 286.
    Right Hand of Fellowship, The, at Concord, 56.
    Ripley, Dr. Ezra, 295, 302.
    Scholar, The, 296, 299.
    School, The, 127.
    Scott, speech, 302, 307.
    Self-Reliance, 166, 168, 411.
    Shakespeare, or the Poet, 204-206.
    Social Aims, 285.
    Soldiers' Monument, at Concord, 303.
    Sovereignty of Ethics, The, 295, 297, 298.
    Spirit, 100, 101.
    Spiritual Laws, 166, 168.
    Success, 260, 261.
    Sumner Assault, 304.
    Superlatives, 295, 297.
    Swedenborg, or the Mystic, 201, 202, 206.
    Thoreau, Henry D., 228, 295, 302.
    Times, The, 142-145.
    Tragedy, 127.
    Transcendentalist, The, 145-155, 159.
    Universality of the Moral Sentiment, 66.
    University of Virginia, address, 347.
    War, 88, 303.
    Water, 73.
    Wealth, 231, 232.
    What is Beauty? 74, 94, 95.
    Woman, 307, 308.
    Woman's Rights, 212, 213.
    Work and Days, 256, 312, 406, 407.
    Worship, 235.
    Young American, The, 166, 180, 181.

  Emerson's Poems:--
    In general: inspiration from nature, 22, 96;
      poetic rank in college, 45, 46;
      prose-poetry and philosophy, 91, 93;
      annual _afflatus_, in America, 136, 137;
      first volume, 192;
      five immortal poets, 202;
      ideas repeated, 239;
      true position, 311 _et seq.; in carmine veritas_, 313;
      litanies, 314;
      arithmetic, 321, 322;
      fascination, 323;
      celestial imagery, 324;
      tin pans, 325;
      realism, 326;
      metrical difficulties, 327, 335;
      blemishes, 328;
      careless rhymes, 329;
      delicate descriptions, 331;
      pathos, 332;
      fascination, 333;
      unfinished, 334, 339, 340;
      atmosphere, 335;
      subjectivity, 336;
      sympathetic illusion, 337;
      resemblances, 337, 338;
      rhythms, 340;
      own order, 341, 342;
      always a poet, 346.
      (See _Emerson's Life, Milton, Poets_, etc.)
    Adirondacs, The, 242, 309, 327.
    Blight, 402.
    Boston, 346, 407, 408.
    Boston Hymn, 211, 221, 241, 242.
    Brahma, 221, 242, 396, 397.
    Celestial Love, 170. (Three Loves.)
    Class Day Poem, 45-47.
    Concord Hymn, 87, 332.
    Daemonic Love, 170. (Three Loves.)
    Days, 221, 242, 257, 312;
      _pleachéd_, 313.
    Destiny, 332.
    Each and All, 73, 74, 94, 331.
    Earth-Song, 327.
    Elements, 242.
    Fate, 159, 387.
    Flute, The, 399.
    Good-by, Proud World, 129, 130, 338.
    Hamatreya, 327.
    Harp, The, 320, 321, 329, 330. (See _Aeolian Harp_.)
    Hoar, Samuel, 213, 214.
    Humble Bee, 46, 74, 75, 128, 272, 326, 331, 338.
    Initial Love, 170, 387. (Three Loves.)
    In Memoriam, 19, 89.
    Latin Translations, 43.
    May Day, 242;
      changes, 311, 333.
    Merlin, 318, 319. (Merlin's Song.)
    Mithridates, 331.
    Monadnoc, 322, 331;
      alterations, 366.
    My Garden, 242.
    Nature and Life, 242.
    Occasional and Miscellaneous Pieces, 242.
    Ode inscribed to W.H. Channing, 211, 212.
    Poet, The, 317-320, 333.
    Preface to Nature, 105.
    Problem, The, 159, 161, 253, 284, 326, 337, 380.
    Quatrains, 223, 242.
    Rhodora, The, 74, 94, 95, 129.
    Romany Girl, The, 221.
    Saadi, 221, 242.
    Sea-Shore, 333, 339.
    Snow-Storm, 331, 338, 339.
    Solution, 320.
    Song for Knights of Square Table, 42.
    Sphinx, The, 113, 159, 243, 330, 398.
    Terminus, 221, 242;
      read to his son, 246-248, 363.
    Test, The, 201, 202, 320.
    Threnody, 178, 333.
    Titmouse, The, 221, 326.
    Translations, 242, 399.
    Uriel, 326, 331, 398.
    Voluntaries, 241.
    Waldeinsamkeit, 221.
    Walk, The, 402.
    Woodnotes, 46, 159, 331, 338.
    World-Soul, The, 331.

  Emersoniana, 358.

  Emerson, Thomas, of Ipswich, 38.

  Emerson, Waldo, child of Ralph Waldo:
    death, 177, 178;
    anecdote, 265.

  Emerson, William, grandfather of Ralph Waldo:
    minister of Concord, 8-10, 14;
    building the Manse, 70;
    patriotism, 72.

  Emerson, William, father of Ralph Waldo:
    minister, in Harvard and Boston, 10-14;
    editorship, 26, 32, 33;
    the parsonage, 37, 42;
    death, 43.

  Emerson, William, brother of Ralph Waldo, 37, 39, 49, 53.

    first visit, 62-65;
    Lake Windermere, 70;
    philosophers, 76;
    the virtues of the people, 179, 180;
    a second visit, 192 _et seq.;_
    notabilities 195;
    the lectures, 196;
    Stonehenge, 215;
    the aristocracy, 215;
    matters wrong, 260;
    Anglo-Saxon race, trade and liberty, 304;
    lustier life, 335;
    language, 352;
    lecturing, a key, 377;
    smouldering fire, 385. (See _America, Europe_, etc.)

    need of, 143;
    weakness, 154.

  Epicurus, agreement with, 301.

    in Boston, 28, 34, 52;
    church in Newton, 68;
    at Hanover, 132;
    quotation from liturgy, 354;
    burial service, 356. (See _Calvinism, Church, Religion_, etc.)

  Esquimau, allusion, 167.

  Establishment, party of the, 147. (See _Puritanism, Religion,
    Unitarianism_, etc.)

  Eternal, relations to the, 297. (See _God, Jesus, Religion_, etc.)

    Emerson's first visit, 62-65;
    return, 72;
    the Muses, 114;
    debt to the East, 120;
    famous gentlemen, 184;
    second visit, 193-196;
    weary of Napoleon, 207;
    return, 210;
    conflict possible, 218;
    third visit, 271-279;
    cast-out passion for, 308. (See _America, England, France_, etc.)

  Everett, Edward:
    on Tudor, 28;
    literary rank, 33;
    preaching, 52;
    influence, 148.

  Evolution, taught in "Nature," 105, 106.

  Eyeball, transparent, 398.

    lacking in America, 143,
    building cathedrals, 253. (See _God, Religion_, etc.)

  Fine, a characteristic expression, 405.

  Fire, illustration, 386. (See _England, France_, etc.)

  Forbes, John M., connected with the Emerson family, 263-265;
    his letter, 263.

  Foster, John, minister of Brighton, 15.

  Fourth-of-July, orations, 386. (See _America_, etc.)

  Fox, George, essay on, 73.

    Emerson's first visit, 62, 63;
    philosophers, 76;
    Revolution, 80;
    tired of Napoleon, 207, 208;
    realism, 326;
    wrath, 385, 386. (See _Carlyle, England, Europe_, etc.)

  Francis, Convers, at a party, 149.

  Franklin, Benjamin:
    birthplace, 37;
    allusion, 184;
    characteristics, 189;
    Poor Richard, 231;
    quoted, 236;
    maxims, 261;
    fondness for Plutarch, 382;
    bequest, 407.

  Fraunhofer, Joseph, optician, 230, 324.

  Frazer's Magazine:
    "The Mud," 79;
    Sartor Resartus, 81. (See _Carlyle_.)

  Freeman, James, minister of King's Chapel, 11, 12, 52.
  Free Trade, Athenaeum banquet, 220.

  Friendship, C.C. Emerson's essay, 22, 23, 77.

  Frothingham, Nathaniel L., account of Emerson's mother, 13.

  Frothingham, Octavius Brooks: Life of Ripley, 165;
    an unpublished manuscript, 365-367.

  Fuller, Margaret:
    borrowed sermon, 130;
    at a party, 149;
    The Dial, 159, 160, 162;
    Memoir, 209;
    causing laughter, 364;
    mosaic Biography, 368.

  Furness, William Henry:
    on the Emerson family, 14;
    Emerson's funeral, 350, 353.

  Future, party of the, 147.

  Galton, Francis, composite portraits, 232.

  Gardiner, John Sylvester John:
    allusion, 26;
    leadership in Boston, 28;
    Anthology Society, 32.
    (See _Episcopacy_.)

  Gardner, John Lowell, recollections of Emerson's boyhood, 38-42.

  Gardner, S.P., garden, 38.

  Genealogy, survival of the fittest, 3.
    (See _Heredity_.)

  Gentleman's Magazine, 30.

  Gentleman, the, 183.

  Geography, illustration, 391.

    study of, 48, 49, 78, 380;
    philosophers, 76;
    scholarship, 148;
    oracles, 206;
    writers unread, 208;
    philosophers, 380;
    professors, 391.

  Germany, a visit, 225, 226.
    (See _Europe, France, Goethe_, etc.)

  Gifts, 185.

  Gilfillan, George:
    on Emerson's preaching, 65;
    Emerson's physique, 360.

  Gilman, Arthur, on the Concord home, 83.

  Glasgow, the rectorship, 280.

    the universal spirit, 68, 69, 94;
    face to face, 92, 93;
    teaching the human mind, 98, 99;
    aliens from, 101;
    in us, 139-141;
    his thought, 146;
    belief, 170;
    seen by man, 174;
    divine offer, 176;
    writing by grace, 182;
    presence, 243;
    tribute to Great First Cause, 267;
    perplexity about, 410;
    ever-blessed One, 411;
    mirrored, 412.
    (See _Christianity, Religion_, etc.)

    called _Mr_., 31;
    dead, 63;
    Clarke's essay, 79;
    generalizations, 148;
    influence, 150;
    on Spinoza, 174, 175;
    rank as a poet, 202, 320;
    lovers, 226;
    rare union, 324;
    his books read, 380, 381;
    times quoted, 382.
    (See _German_, etc.)

  Goldsmith, Oliver, his Vicar of Wakefield, 9, 10, 15.

  Good, the study of, 301.

  Goodwin, H.B., Concord minister, 56.

  Gould, Master of Latin School, 39.

  Gould, Thomas R., sculptor, 68.

  Gourdin, John Gaillard Keith and Robert, in college, 47.

  Government, abolition of, 141.

  Grandmother's Review, 30.

  Gray, Thomas, Elegy often quoted, 316, 317, 416.

    poetic teaching, 121;
    allusion, 108.

    Emerson's love for, 43, 44;
    in Harvard, 49;
    poets, 253;
    moralist, 299;
    Bryant's translation, 378;
    philosophers, 391.
    (See _Homer_, etc.)

  Greenough, Horatio, meeting Emerson, 63.

  Grimm, Hermann, 226.

  Guelfs and Ghibellines, illustration, 47.

  Hafiz, times mentioned, 382.
    (See _Persia_.)

  Hague, William, essay, 413.

  Haller, Albert von, rare union, 324.

  Harvard, Mass., William Emerson's settlement, 10, 11.

  Harvard University:
    the Bulkeley gift, 6;
    William Emerson's graduation, 10;
    list of graduates, 12;
    Emerson's brothers, 19, 21;
    Register, 21, 24, 385, 401;
    Hillard, 24, 25;
    Kirkland's presidency, 26, 27;
    Gardner, 39-41;
    Emerson's connection, 44-49;
    the Boylston prizes, 46;
    Southern students, 47;
    graduates at Andover, 48;
    Divinity School, 51, 53;
    a New England centre, 52;
    Bowen's professorship, 103;
    Phi Beta Kappa oration, 107, 115, 133, 188, 244;
    Divinity School address, 116-132;
    degree conferred, 246;
    lectures, 249;
    library, 257;
    last Divinity address, 294;
    Commemoration, 307;
    singing class, 361;
    graduates, 411.
    (See _Cambridge_.)

  Haskins, David Green, at Emerson's funeral, 356.

  Haskins, Ruth (Emerson's mother), 10, 13, 14.
  Haughty, a characteristic expression, 405.

  Hawthorne, Nathaniel:
    his Mosses, 70;
    "dream-peopled solitude," 86;
    at the club, 223;
    view of English life, 335;
    grave, 356;
    biography, 368.

  Hazlitt, William:
    British Poets, 21.

  Health, inspiration, 289.

  Hebrew Language, study, 48. (See _Bible_.)

  Hedge, Frederic Henry:
    at a party, 149;
    quoted, 383.

  Henry VII., tombs, 415.

  Herbert, George:
    Poem on Man, 102;
    parallel, 170;
    poetry, 281;
    a line quoted, 345.

  Herder, Johann Gottfried, allusion, 16.

    Emerson's belief, 1, 2;
    in Emerson family, 4, 19;
    Whipple on, 389;
    Jonson, 393.

  Herrick, Robert, poetry, 281.

  Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. (See _Emerson's Books_,--Nature.)

  Hilali, The Flute, 399.

  Hillard, George Stillman:
    in college, 24, 25;
    his literary place, 33;
    aid, 276.

  Hindoo Scriptures, 199, 200. (See _Bible, India_, etc.)

  History, how it should be written, 168.

  Hoar, Ebenezer Rockwood:
    reference to, 223;
    on the Burns speech, 225;
    kindness, 273, 274, 276-279;
    at Emerson's death-bed, 349;
    funeral address, 351-353.

  Hoar, Samuel:
    statesman, 72;
    tribute, 213, 214.

  Holland, description of the Dutch, 217.

  Holley, Horace, prayer, 267.

  Holmes, John, a pupil of Emerson, 50.

  Holmes, Oliver Wendell:
    memories of Dr. Ripley, 15;
    of C.C. Emerson, 20, 21;
    familiarity with Cambridge and its college, 45;
    erroneous quotation from, 251, 252;
    jest erroneously attributed to, 400, 401.

  Holy Ghost, "a new born bard of the," 123. (See _Christ, God,
    Religion_, etc.)

    poetic rank, 202, 320;
    plagiarism, 205;
    Iliad, 253;
    allusion, 315;
    tin pans, 325;
    times quoted, 382. (See _Greek_, etc.)

  Homer, Jonathan, minister of Newton, 15.

  Hooper, Mrs. Ellen, The Dial, 159, 160.

    lacking in America, 143;
    in every essay, 284.

    allusion, 22;
    Ars Poetica, 316.

  Horses, Flora Temple's time, 388.

  Howard University, speech, 263.

  Howe, Samuel Gridley, the philanthropist, 223.

  Hunt, Leigh, meeting Emerson, 195.

  Hunt, William, the painter, 223.

  Idealism, 98-100, 146, 150.

    Ark full, 191;
    Platonic sense, 391.

    the faculty, 141;
    defined, 237, 238;
    essay, 283;
    coloring life, 324.

  Imbecility, 231.

  Immortality, 262. (See _God, Religion_, etc.)

  Incompleteness, in poetry, 339.

    poetic models, 338;
    idea of preëxistence, 391;
    Brahmanism, 397. (See _Emerson's Poems_,--Brahma.)

    in history of Concord, 71;
    Algonquins, 72.

  Inebriation, subject in Monthly Anthology, 30.

  Insects, defended, 190.

    of Nature, 22, 96, 141;
    urged, 146.

  Instinct, from God or Devil, 393.

  Intellect, confidence in, 134.

  Intuition, 394.

  Ipswich, Mass., 3, 4, 8.

  Ireland, Alexander:
    glimpses of Emerson, 44, 64, 65:
    reception, 193,194;
    on Carlyle, 196;
    letter from Miss Peabody, 317;
    quoting Whitman, 344;
    quoted, 350.

  Irving, Washington, 33.

    Emerson's first visit, 62, 63;
    Naples, 113.

  Jackson, Charles, garden, 38.

  Jackson, Dr. Charles Thomas, anaesthesia, 403.

  Jackson, Miss Lydia, reading Carlyle, 81. (See _Mrs. Emerson_.)

  Jahn, Johann, studied at Andover, 48.

  Jameson, Anna, new book, 131.

    times mentioned, 382;
    a divine manifestation, 411;
    followers, 417;
    and Emerson, 419. (See _Bible, Christ, Church, Religion_, etc.)
  Joachim, the violinist, 225, 226.

  Johnson, Samuel, literary style, 29.

  Jonson, Ben:
    poetic rank, 281;
    a phrase, 300;
    _traduction_, 393.
    (See _Heredity_, etc.)

  Journals, as a method of work, 384.

  Jupiter Scapin, 207.

  Jury Trial, and dinners, 216.

  Justice, the Arch Abolitionist, 306.

    allusion, 22;
    precept from heaven, 252.

  Kalamazoo, Mich., allusion, 388.

  Kamschatka, allusion, 167.

  Keats, John:
    quoted, 92;
    Ode to a Nightingale, 316;
    _faint, swoon_, 405.

  King, the, illustration, 74.

  Kirkland, John Thornton:
    Harvard presidency, 26, 52;
    memories, 27.

  Koran, allusion, 198.
    (See _Bible, God, Religion_, etc.)

    reform, 141;
    dignity, 142.

  Lacenaire, evil instinct, 392.

  Laertius, Diogenes, 390, 391.

  La Harpe, Jean Francois, on Plutarch, 301.

  Lamarck, theories, 166.

  Lamb, Charles, Carlyle's criticism, 196.

  Landor, Walter Savage, meeting Emerson, 63.

  Landscape, never painted, 339, 240.
    (See _Pictures, etc_.)

    its symbolism, 95-97;
    an original, 394.

    Peter Bulkeley's scholarship, 7;
    translation, 24, 25;
    Emerson's Translations, 43, 44.

  Laud, Archbishop, 6.

  Law, William, mysticism, 396.

  Lawrence, Mass., allusion, 44.

  Lecturing, given up, 295.
    (See _Emerson's Essays, Lectures_, etc.)

  Leibnitz, 386.

  Leroux, Pierre, preëxistance, 391.

  Letters, inspiration, 289.

  Lincoln, Abraham, character, 307.
    (See _Emerson's Essays_.)

  Linnaeus, illustration, 323, 324.

  Litanies, in Emerson, 314.
    (See _Episcopacy_.)

    aptitude for, 2, 3;
    activity in 1820, 147.

  Little Classics, edition, 347.

  Liverpool, Eng., a visit, 193, 194.
    (See _England, Europe, Scotland_, etc.)

  Locke, John, allusion, 16, 111.

  London, England.:
    Tower Stairs, 63;
    readers, 194;
    sights, 221;
    travellers, 308;
    wrath, 385.
    (See _England_, etc.)

  Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth:
    allusions, 31, 33;
    Saturday Club, 222, 223;
    burial, 346.

  Lord, Nathan, President of Dartmouth College, 132.

  Lord's Supper, Emerson's doubts, 57-61.

  Lothrop & Co., publishers, 83.

  Louisville, Ky., Dr. Clarke's residence, 78-80.

  Lounsbury, Professor, Chaucer letter, 205.

    in America, 143;
    the Arch Abolitionist, 306.
    (See _Emerson's Poems_.)

  Lowell, Charles:
    minister of the West Church, 11, 12, 52;
    on Kirkland, 27.

  Lowell, F.C., generosity, 276.

  Lowell, James Russell:
    an allusion, 33;
    on The American Scholar, 107;
    editorship, 221;
    club, 223;
    on the Burns speech, 225;
    on Emerson's bearing, 360, 361;
    Hawthorne biography, 368;
    on lectures, 379.

  Lowell, Mass., factories, 44.

  Luther, Martin:
    lecture, 73;
    his conservatism, 298;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Lyceum, the:
    a pulpit, 88;
    New England, 192;
    a sacrifice, 378.
    (See _Lecturing, Emerson's Lectures_, etc.)

  Lycurgus, 306. (See _Greece_.)

  Mackintosh, Sir James, an allusion, 16.

  Macmillan's Magazine, 414.

  Malden, Mass.:
    Joseph Emerson's ministry, 8;
    diary, 17.

    a fable about, 109, 110;
    faith in, 122;
    apostrophe, 140.

  Manchester, Eng.:
    visit, 194, 195;
    banquet, 220.
    (See _England_, etc.)

  Marlowe, Christopher, expressions, 404.

  Marvell, Andrew:
    reading by C.C. Emerson, 21;
    on the Dutch, 217;
    verse, 338.

  Mary, Queen, her martyrs, 418.

  Massachusetts Historical Society:
    tribute to C.C. Emerson, 21;
    quality of its literature, 84;
    on Carlyle, 294.

  Massachusetts Quarterly Review, 193, 302, 307, 411.
  Materialism, 146, 391.
    (See _Religion_.)

  Mather, Cotton:
    his Magnalia, 5-7;
    on Concord discord, 57;
    on New England Melancholy, 216;
    a borrower, 381.

  Mathew, Father, disciples, 368.

  Mayhew, Jonathan, Boston minister, 51.

  Melioration, a characteristic expression, 405.

  Mendon, Mass., Joseph Emerson's ministry, 4.

  Mephistopheles, Goethe's creation, 208.

  Merrimac River, 71.

  Metaphysics, indifference to, 249.

  Methodism, in Boston, 56.
    (See _Father Taylor_.)

  Michael Angelo:
    allusions, 73, 75;
    on external beauty, 99;
    course, 260;
    filled with God, 284;
    on immortality, 290;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Middlesex Agricultural Association, 235.
    (See _Agriculture, Emerson's Essays._)

  Middlesex Association, Emerson admitted, 53.

  Miller's Retrospect, 34.

  Milton, John:
    influence in New England, 16;
    quotation, 24;
    essay, 73, 75;
    compared with Emerson, 76, 77;
    Lycidas, 178;
    supposed speech, 220;
    diet, 270, 271;
    poetic rank, 281;
    Arnold's citation, Logic, Rhetoric, 315;
    popularity, 316;
    quoted, 324;
    tin pans, 325;
    inventor of harmonies, 328;
    Lycidas, 333;
    Comus, 338;
    times mentioned, 382;
    precursor, quotation, 415.

    false impression, 121, 122;
    and idealism, 146;
    theories, 191;
    St. Januarius, 217;
    objections, 244.
    (See _Bible, Christ, Religion_, etc.)

  Modena, Italy, Emerson's visit, 63.

  Monadnoc, Mount, 70.

    want of religion, 300;
    great authority, 380;
    times quoted, 382.

  Montesquieu, on immortality, 291.

  Monthly Anthology:
    Wm. Emerson's connection, 13, 26;
    precursor of North American Review, 28, 29;
    character, 30, 31;
    Quincy's tribute, 31;
    Society formed, 32;
    career, 33;
    compared with The Dial, 160.

  Moody Family, of York, Me., 8,10.

  Morals, in Plutarch, 301.

  Morison, John Hopkins, on Emerson's preaching, 67.

  Mormons, 264, 268.

  Mother-wit, a favorite expression, 404, 405.

  Motley, John Lothrop, 33, 223.

  Mount Auburn, strolls, 40.

  Movement, party of the, 147.

  Munroe & Co., publishers, 81.

    church, 306;
    inaptitude for, 361;
    great composers, 401.

  Musketaquid River, 22, 70, 71.

    unintelligible, 390;
    Emerson's, 396.

    allusion, 197;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Napoleon III., 225.

  Nation, The, Emerson's interest in, 348.

  Native Bias, 288.

    in undress, 72;
    solicitations, 110;
    not truly studied, 135;
    great men, 199;
    tortured, 402.
    (See _Emerson's Books, Emerson's Essays_, etc.)

  Negations, to be shunned, 285.

  New Bedford, Mass., Emerson's preaching, 52, 67.

  Newbury, Mass., Edward Emerson's deaconship, 8.

  New England:
    families, 2, 3, 5;
    Peter Bulkeley's coming, 6;
    clerical virtues, 9;
    Church, 14;
    literary sky, 33;
    domestic service, 34, 35;
    two centres, 52;
    an ideal town, 70, 71;
    the Delphi, 72;
    Carlyle invited, 83;
    anniversaries, 84;
    town records, 85;
    Genesis, 102;
    effect of Nature, 106;
    boys and girls, 163;
    Massachusetts, Connecticut River, 172;
    lyceums, 192;
    melancholy, 216;
    New Englanders and Old, 220;
    meaning of a word, 296, 297;
    eyes, 325;
    life, 325, 335;
    birthright, 364;
    a thorough New Englander, 406;
    Puritan, 409;
    theologians, 410;
    Jesus wandering in, 419.
    (See _America, England_, etc.)

    defaming the noble, 145;
    in Shakespeare's day, 204.

  Newton, Mass.:
    its minister, 15;
    Episcopal Church, 68.
    (See _Rice_.)

  Newton, Sir Isaac, times quoted, 382.

  Newton, Stuart, sketches, 130.

  New World, gospel, 371. (See _America_.)

  New York:
    Brevoort House, 246;
    Genealogical Society, 413.

  Niagara, visit, 263.

  Nidiver, George, ballad, 259.

  Nightingale, Florence, 220.

  Nithsdale, Eng., mountains, 78.

  Non-Resistance, 141.

  North American Review:
    its predecessor, 28, 29, 33;
    the writers, 34;
    Emerson's contributions, 73;
    Ethics, 294, 295;
    Bryant's article, 328.

  Northampton, Mass., Emerson's preaching, 53.

  Norton, Andrews:
    literary rank, 34;
    professorship, 52.

  Norton, Charles Eliot:
    editor of Correspondence, 82;
    on Emerson's genius, 373.

  Old Manse, The:
    allusion, 70;
    fire, 271-279.
    (See _Concord_.)

  Oliver, Daniel, in Dartmouth College, 132.

    in philosophy, 136;
    "innocent luxuriance," 211;
    wanted by the young, 373.

    genius, 120;
    spirit in Emerson, 179.

  Orpheus, allusion, 319.

  Paine, R.T., JR., quoted, 31.

  Palfrey, John Gorham:
    literary rank, 34;
    professorship, 52.

  Pan, the deity, 140.

    in Wordsworth and Nature, 103;
    dreaded, 141;
    Emerson's, 410, 411.

  Paris, Trance:
    as a residence, 78;
    allusion, 167;
    salons, 184;
    visit, 196, 308.

  Parker, Theodore:
    a right arm of freedom, 127;
    at a party, 149;
    The Dial, 159, 160;
    editorship, 193;
    death, 228;
    essence of Christianity, 306;
    biography, 368;
    on Emerson's position, 411.

  Parkhurst, John, studied at Andover, 48.

  Parr, Samuel, allusion, 28.

  Past, party of the, 147.

  Peabody, Andrew Preston, literary rank, 34.

  Peabody, Elizabeth Palmer:
    her Aesthetic Papers, 88;
    letter to Mr. Ireland, 317.

  Peirce, Benjamin, mathematician, 223.

  Pelagianisin, 51.
    (See _Religion_.)

  Pepys, Samuel, allusion, 12.

  Pericles, 184, 253.

  Persia, poetic models, 338.
    (See _Emerson's Poems, Saadi_).

  Pessimism, 286.
    (See _Optimism_).

  Philadelphia, Pa., society, 184.

  Philanthropy, activity in 1820, 147.

  Philolaus, 199.

  Pie, fondness for, 269.

  Pierce, John:
    the minister of Brookline, 11;
    "our clerical Pepys," 12.

  Pindar, odes, 253.
    (See _Greek, Homer_, etc.)

  Plagiarism, 205, 206, 287, 288, 384.
    (See _Quotations, Mather_, etc.)

    influence on Mary Emerson, 16, 17;
    over Emerson, 22, 52, 173, 188, 299, 301;
    youthful essay, 74;
    Alcott's study, 150;
    reading, 197;
    borrowed thought, 205, 206;
    Platonic idea, 222;
    a Platonist, 267;
    saints of Platonism, 298;
    academy inscription, 365;
    great authority, 380;
    times quoted, 382;
    Symposium and Phaedrus quoted, 387;
    _tableity_, preëxistence, 391;
    Diogenes dialogue, 401;
    a Platonist, 411.
    (See _Emerson's Books_, and _Essays, Greek_, etc.)

    influence over Mary Emerson, 16, 17;
    ashamed of his body, 99;
    motto, 105;
    opinions, 173, 174;
    studied, 380.

    allusion, 22;
    his Lives, 50;
    study, 197;
    on immortality, 291;
    influence over Emerson, 299 _et seq_.;
    his great authority, 380;
    times mentioned, 382;
    Emerson on, 383;
    imagery quoted, 385;
    style, 405.

  Plymouth, Mass.:
    letters written, 78, 79;
    marriage, 83.

    as an inspirer, 290;
    Milton on, 315.
    (See _Shakespeare_, etc.)

    list in Parnassus, 281;
    comparative popularity, 316, 317;
    consulting Emerson, 408.
    (See _Emerson's Poems_).

    activity in 1820, 147;
    in Saturday Club, 259.

  Pomeroy, Jesse, allusion, 393.

  Pope, Alexander, familiar lines, 316

    opinions, 173, 174;
    studied, 380.

  Porto Rico, E.B. Emerson's death, 19.

  Power, practical, 259.

    not enough, 138, 139;
    anecdotes, 267.
    (See _God, Religion_, etc.)

  Preaching, a Christian blessing, 123.
  Preëxistence, 391.

  Presbyterianism, in Scotland, 409.

  Prescott, William, the Judge's mansion, 38.

  Prescott, William Hickling:
    rank, 33;
    Conquest of Mexico, 38.

  Prior, Matthew, 30.

  Proclus, influence, 173, 380.

  Prometheus, 209.

  Prospects, for man, 101-103.
    (See _Emerson's Essays_.)

  Protestantism, its idols, 28.
    (See _Channing, Religion, Unitarianism_, etc.)

  Psammetichus, an original language, 394.
    (See _Heredity, Language_, etc.)

  Punch, London, 204.

  Puritans, rear guard, 15.
    (See _Calvinism_, etc.)

    relaxation from, 30;
    after-clap, 268;
    in New England, 409.
    (See _Unitarianism_.)

  Putnam's Magazine, on Samuel Hoar, 213, 214.

    imagery quoted, 385;
    preëxistence, 391.

  Quakers, seeing only broad-brims, 218.

  Quincy, Josiah:
    History of Boston Athenaeum, 31;
    tribute to the Anthology, 32, 33;
    memories of Emerson, 45-47;
    old age, 261.

  Quotations, 381-383.
    (See _Plagiarism_, etc.)

  Raleigh, Sir Walter, verse, 338.

  Raphael, his Transfiguration, 134.
    (See _Allston, Painters_, etc.)

  Rats, illustration, 167, 168.

  Reed, Sampson, his Growth of the Mind, 80.

  Reforms, in America, 141-145.

  Reformers, fairness towards, 156, 157, 188-192.
    (See _Anti-Slavery, John Brown_.)

    opinions of Wm. Emerson and others, 11-13;
    nature the symbol of spirit, 95;
    pleas for independence, 117;
    universal sentiment, 118-120;
    public rites, 152;
    Church of England, 219;
    of the future, 235;
    relative positions towards, 409, 410;
    Trinity, 411;
    Emerson's belief, 412-415;
    bigotry modified, 414.
    (See _Calvinism, Channing, Christ, Emerson's Life, Essays_,
    and _Poems, Episcopacy, God, Unitarianism_, etc.)

  Republicanism, spiritual, 36.

  Revolutionary War:
    Wm. Emerson's service, 8, 9;
    subsequent confusion, 25, 32;
    Concord's part, 71, 72, 292, 293.
    (See _America, New England_, etc.)

  Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 228.

  Rhythm, 328, 329, 340.
    (See _Emerson's Poems_, etc.)

  Rice, Alexander H., anecdote, 68, 69, 346.
    (See _Newton_.)

  Richard Plantagenet, 197.

  Ripley, Ezra:
    minister of Concord, 10;
    Emerson's sketch, 14-16;
    garden, 42;
    colleague, 56;
    residence, 70.

  Ripley, George:
    a party, 149;
    The Dial, 159;
    Brook Farm, 164-166;
    on Emerson's limitations, 380.

  Robinson, Edward, literary rank, 34.

  Rochester, N.Y., speech, 168.

    allusions, 167, 168;
    growth, 222;
    amphora, 321.
    (See _Latin_.)

  Romilly, Samuel, allusion, 220.

  Rose, anecdote, 345.
    (See _Flowers_.)

  Rousseau, Jean Jacques, his Savoyard Vicar, 51, 52.

  Ruskin, John:
    on metaphysics, 250;
    certain chapters, 336;
    pathetic fallacy, 337;
    plagiarism, 384.

  Russell, Ben., quoted, 267.

  Russell, Le Baron:
    on Sartor Resartus, 81, 82;
    groomsman, 83;
    aid in rebuilding the Old Manse, 272-279;
    Concord visit, 345.

  Saadi: a borrower, 205;
    times mentioned, 382.
    (See _Persia_.)

  Sabbath: a blessing of Christianity, 123, 298.

  Sainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin, on poetry, 339.

  Saint Paul, times mentioned, 382.
    (See _Bible_.)

  Saladin, 184.

  Sallust, on Catiline, 207.

  Sanborn, Frank B.:
    facts about Emerson, 42, 43, 66;
    Thoreau memoir, 368;
    old neighbor, 373.

  Sapor, 184.

  Satan, safety from, 306.
    (See _Mephistopheles, Religion_, etc.)

  Saturday Club:
    establishment, 221-223, 258;
    last visits, 346, 347;
    familiarity at, 368.

  Scaliger, quotation, 109, 110.

  Schelling, idealism, 148;
    influence 173.

  Schiller, on immortality, 290.

    a priesthood, 137;
    docility of, 289.

  School-teaching, 297.
    (See _Chelmsford_.)

  Schopenhauer, Arthur:
    his pessimism, 286;
    idea of a philosopher, 359.

    growth of, 148;
    Emerson inaccurate in, 256;
    attitude toward, 401, 402.
    (See _C.C. Emerson_.)

  Scipio, 184.

    Carlyle's haunts, 79;
    notabilities, 195, 196;
    Presbyterian, 409.

  Scott, Sir Walter:
    allusion, 22;
    quotations, 23, 77;
    dead, 63;
    "the hand of Douglas," 234;
    as a poet, 281;
    popularity, 316;
    poetic rank, 321.

    the highest, 113;
    respect for, 288, 289.

  Seneca, Montaigne's study, 382.

    allusion, 22;
    Hamlet, 90, 94;
    Benedick and love, 106;
    disputed line, 128, 129;
    an idol, 197;
    poetic rank, 202, 281, 320, 321;
    plagiarism, 204-206;
    on studies, 257, 258;
    supremacy, 328;
    a comparison, 374;
    a playwright, 375, 376;
    punctiliousness of Portia, 378;
    times mentioned, 382;
    lunatic, lover, poet, 387;
    Polonius, 389;
    _mother-wit_, 404;
    _fine_ Ariel, 405;
    adamant, 418.

  Shattuck, Lemuel, History of Concord, 382.

  Shaw, Lemuel, boarding-place, 43.

  Shelley, Percy Bysshe:
    Ode to the West Wind, 316, 399;
    redundant syllable, 328;
    Adonais, 333.

  Shenandoah Mountain, 306.

  Shingle, Emerson's jest, 364.

    illustration of longitude, 154;
    erroneous quotation, 251, 252;
    building illustration, 376, 377.

    Emerson's visit, 62;
    Etna, 113.

  Sidney, Sir Philip, Chevy Chace, 379.

  Silsbee, William, aid in publishing Carlyle, 81.

  Simonides, prudence, 410.

  Sisyphus, illustration, 334.

  Sleight-of-hand, illustration, 332.

  Smith, James and Horace, Rejected Addresses, 387, 397.

  Smith, Sydney, on bishops, 219.

    allusion, 203;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Solitude, sought, 135.

  Solomon, epigrammatic, 405.
    (See _Bible_.)

  Solon, 199.

  Sophron, 199.

  South, the:
    Emerson's preaching tour, 53;
    Rebellion, 305, 407.
    (See _America, Anti-Slavery_, etc.)

  Southerners, in college, 47.

  Sparks, Jared, literary rank, 33.

  Spenser, Edmund:
    stanza, 335, 338;
    soul making body, 391;
    _mother-wit_, 404.

  Spinoza, influence, 173, 380.

  Spirit and matter, 100, 101.
    (See _God, Religion, Spenser_, etc.)

  Spiritualism, 296.

  Sprague, William Buel, Annals of the American Pulpit, 10-12.

  Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn, on American religion, 414.

    "hitch your wagon to a star," 252, 253;
    stars in poetry, 324.

  Sterling, J. Hutchinson, letter to, 282, 283.

  Stewart, Dugald, allusion, 16.

  Story, Joseph, literary rank, 33.

  Stuart, Moses, literary rank, 33.

  Studio, illustration, 20.

  Summer, description, 117.

  Sumner, Charles:
    literary rank, 33:
    the outrage on, 211;
    Saturday Club, 223.

  Swedenborg, Emanuel:
    poetic rank, 202, 320;
    dreams, 306;
    Rosetta-Stone, 322;
    times mentioned, 382.

    liking for a paper of Carlyle's, 78;
    Reed's essay, 80;
    spiritual influx, 412.

  Swift, Jonathan:
    allusion, 30;
    the Houyhnhnms, 163;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Synagogue, illustration, 169.

  Tappan, Mrs. Caroline, The Dial, 159.

  Tartuffe, allusion, 312.

  Taylor, Father, relation to Emerson, 55, 56, 413.

  Taylor, Jeremy:
    allusion, 22;
    Emerson's study, 52;
    "the Shakespeare of divines," 94;
    praise for, 306.

  Teague, Irish name, 143.

  Te Deum:
    the hymn, 68;
    illustration, 82.

  Temperance, the reform, 141, 152.
    (See _Reforms_.)

  Tennyson, Alfred:
    readers, 256;
    tobacco, 270;
    poetic rank, 281;
    In Memoriam, 333;
    on plagiarism, 384.

  Thacher, Samuel Cooper:
    allusion, 26;
    death, 29.

  Thayer, James B.:
    Western Journey with Emerson, 249, 263, 265-271, 359;
    _ground swell_, 364.
    (See _California_.)

  Thinkers, let loose, 175.

  Thomson, James, descriptions, 338.

  Thoreau, Henry D.:
    allusion, 22;
    a Crusoe, 72;
    "nullifier of civilization," 86;
    one-apartment house, 142, 143;
    The Dial, 159, 160;
    death, 228;
    Emerson's burial-place, 356;
    biography, 368;
    personality traceable, 389;
    woodcraft, 403.

  Ticknor, George:
    on William Emerson, 12;
    on Kirkland, 27;
    literary rank, 33.

  Traduction, 393.
    (See _Heredity, Jonson_, etc.)

    Bowen's paper, 103, 104;
    idealism, 146;
    adherents, 150-152;
    dilettanteism, 152-155;
    a terror, 161.

  Transcendentalist, The, 157-159.

    as an end, 99;
    sought, 135.

  Tudor, William:
    allusion, 26;
    connecting literary link, 28, 29.

  Turgot, quoted, 98, 99.

  Tyburn, allusion, 183.

    Dr. Freeman's, 11, 12;
    nature of Jesus, 13;
    its sunshine, 28;
    white-handed, 34;
    headquarters, 35;
    lingual studies, 48, 49;
    transition, 51;
    domination, 52;
    pulpits, 53, 54;
    chapel in Edinburgh, 65;
    file-leaders, 118;
    its organ, 124;
    "pale negations," 298.
    (See _Religion, Trinity_, etc.)

  United States, intellectual history, 32.
    (See _America, New England_, etc.)

  Unity, in diversity, 73, 106, 284.

  Upham, Charles W., his History, 45.

  Verne, Jules, _onditologie_, 186.

  Verplanck, Gulian Crommelin, literary rank, 33.

  Virginia, University of, 299.

  Volcano, illustration, 113.

  Voltaire, 409.

  Voting, done reluctantly, 152, 153.

  Wachusett, Mount, 70.

  Walden Pond:
    allusion, 22, 70, 72;
    cabin, 142, 143.
    (See _Concord_.)

    outgrown, 88, 89;
    ennobling, 298.

  Ware, Henry, professorship, 52.
    (See _Harvard University_.)

  Ware, Henry, Jr.:
    Boston ministry, 55;
    correspondence, 124-127.
    (See _Unitarianism_, etc.)

  Warren, John Collins, Transcendentalism and Temperance, 149.

  Warren, Judge, of New Bedford, 67.

  Warwick Castle, fire, 275.

  Washington City, addresses, 307.
    (See _Anti-Slavery_, etc.)

  Waterville College, Adelphi Society, 135-142.

  Webster, Daniel:
    E.B. Emerson's association with, 19;
    on Tudor, 28, 29;
    literary rank, 33;
    Seventh-of-March Speech, 303;
    times mentioned, 382.

  Weiss, John, Parker biography, 368.

  Wellington, Lord, seen by Emerson, 63, 64.

  Wesley, John, praise of, 306.
    (See _Methodism_.)

  Western Messenger, poems in, 128.

  West India Islands, Edward B. Emerson's death, 89.

  Westminster Abbey, Emerson's visit, 63, 64.
    (See _Emerson's Books_,--English Traits,--_England_, etc.)

  Westminster Catechism, 298.
    (See _Calvinism, Religion_, etc.)

  Whipple, Edwin Percy:
    literary rank, 33;
    club, 223;
    on heredity, 389.

  White of Selborne, 228.

  Whitman, Walt:
    his enumerations, 325, 326;
    journal, 344, 346.

  Wilberforce, William, funeral, 64.

    inspiration of, 289;
    power of, 290.

  Windermere, Lake, 70.
    (See _England_.)

  Winthrop, Francis William, in college, 45.

  Wolfe, Charles, Burial of Moore, 416.

    her position, 212, 213, 251;
    crossing a street, 364.

  Woman's Club, 16.

  Words, Emerson's favorite, 404, 405.
    (See _Emerson's Poems_,--Days.)

  Wordsworth, William:
    Emerson's account, 63;
    early reception, Excursion, 92, 95;
    quoted, 96, 97;
    Tintern Abbey, 103;
    influence, 148, 150;
    poetic rank, 281, 321;
    on Immortality, 293, 392;
    popularity, 316;
    serenity, 335;
    study of nature, 337;
    times mentioned, 382;
    We are Seven, 393;
    prejudice against science, 401.

  Wotton, Sir Henry, quoted, 259.

    a spouting, 136;
    _improve_, 176;
    whittling, 364.
    (See _America, New England_, etc.)

  Yoga, Hindoo idea, 397.

  Young, Brigham:
    Utah, 264, 268;
    on preëxistence, 391.

  Young, Edward, influence in New England, 16, 17.

  Zola, Émile, offensive realism, 326.

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