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 day.
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 Aims.”
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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 works.
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.