Ralph Waldo Emerson eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 304 pages of information about Ralph Waldo Emerson.

From Liverpool he proceeded immediately to Manchester, where Mr. Ireland received him at the Victoria station.  After spending a few hours with him, he went to Chelsea to visit Carlyle, and at the end of a week returned to Manchester to begin the series of lecturing engagements which had been arranged for him.  Mr. Ireland’s account of Emerson’s visits and the interviews between him and many distinguished persons is full of interest, but the interest largely relates to the persons visited by Emerson.  He lectured at Edinburgh, where his liberal way of thinking and talking made a great sensation in orthodox circles.  But he did not fail to find enthusiastic listeners.  A young student, Mr. George Cupples, wrote an article on these lectures from which, as quoted by Mr. Ireland, I borrow a single sentence,—­one only, but what could a critic say more?

Speaking of his personal character, as revealed through his writings, he says:  “In this respect, I take leave to think that Emerson is the most mark-worthy, the loftiest, and most heroic mere man that ever appeared.”  Emerson has a lecture on the superlative, to which he himself was never addicted.  But what would youth be without its extravagances,—­its preterpluperfect in the shape of adjectives, its unmeasured and unstinted admiration?

I need not enumerate the celebrated literary personages and other notabilities whom Emerson met in England and Scotland.  He thought “the two finest mannered literary men he met in England were Leigh Hunt and De Quincey.”  His diary might tell us more of the impressions made upon him by the distinguished people he met, but it is impossible to believe that he ever passed such inhuman judgments on the least desirable of his new acquaintances as his friend Carlyle has left as a bitter legacy behind him.  Carlyle’s merciless discourse about Coleridge and Charles Lamb, and Swinburne’s carnivorous lines, which take a barbarous vengeance on him for his offence, are on the level of political rhetoric rather than of scholarly criticism or characterization.  Emerson never forgot that he was dealing with human beings.  He could not have long endured the asperities of Carlyle, and that “loud shout of laughter,” which Mr. Ireland speaks of as one of his customary explosions, would have been discordant to Emerson’s ears, which were offended by such noisy manifestations.

During this visit Emerson made an excursion to Paris, which furnished him materials for a lecture on France delivered in Boston, in 1856, but never printed.

From the lectures delivered in England he selected a certain number for publication.  These make up the volume entitled “Representative Men,” which was published in 1850.  I will give very briefly an account of its contents.  The title was a happy one, and has passed into literature and conversation as an accepted and convenient phrase.  It would teach us a good deal merely to consider the names he has selected as typical, and the ground of

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Ralph Waldo Emerson from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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