In 1846 Emerson’s first volume of poems was published. Many of the poems had been long before the public—some of the best, as we have seen, having been printed in “The Dial.” It is only their being brought together for the first time which belongs especially to this period, and we can leave them for the present, to be looked over by and by in connection with a second volume of poems published in 1867, under the title, “May-Day and other Pieces.”
In October, 1847, he left Concord on a second visit to England, which will be spoken of in the following chapter.
1848-1853. AET. 45-50.
The “Massachusetts Quarterly Review;” Visit to Europe.—England. —Scotland.—France.—“Representative Men” published. I. Uses of Great Men. II. Plato; or, the Philosopher; Plato; New Readings. III. Swedenborg; or, the Mystic. IV. Montaigne; or, the Skeptic. V. Shakespeare; or, the Poet. VI. Napoleon; or, the Man of the World. VII. Goethe; or, the Writer.—Contribution to the “Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli.”
A new periodical publication was begun in Boston in 1847, under the name of the “Massachusetts Quarterly Review.” Emerson wrote the “Editor’s Address,” but took no further active part in it, Theodore Parker being the real editor. The last line of this address is characteristic: “We rely on the truth for aid against ourselves.”
On the 5th of October, 1847, Emerson sailed for Europe on his second visit, reaching Liverpool on the 22d of that month. Many of his admirers were desirous that he should visit England and deliver some courses of lectures. Mr. Alexander Ireland, who had paid him friendly attentions during his earlier visit, and whose impressions of him in the pulpit have been given on a previous page, urged his coming. Mr. Conway quotes passages from a letter of Emerson’s which show that he had some hesitation in accepting the invitation, not unmingled with a wish to be heard by the English audiences favorably disposed towards him.
“I feel no call,” he said, “to make a visit of literary propagandism in England. All my impulses to work of that kind would rather employ me at home.” He does not like the idea of “coaxing” or advertising to get him an audience. He would like to read lectures before institutions or friendly persons who sympathize with his studies. He has had a good many decisive tokens of interest from British men and women, but he doubts whether he is much and favorably known in any one city, except perhaps in London. It proved, however, that there was a very widespread desire to hear him, and applications for lectures flowed in from all parts of the kingdom.