Ralph Waldo Emerson eBook

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

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, follows:—­

“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
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Ralph Waldo Emerson from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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