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 Babylon.
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 more:—