Ralph Waldo Emerson eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 403 pages of information about Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“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 following:—­

“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 records:—­

“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:—­

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Ralph Waldo Emerson from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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