Ralph Waldo Emerson eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 304 pages of information about Ralph Waldo Emerson.
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 unrecorded.

CHAPTER IX.

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.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Ralph Waldo Emerson from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.