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Mr. Emerson's Revolution

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Jean McClure Mudge

Emerson's Evolving Emphases

4. Actively Entering Old Age, 1865-1882

Jean McClure Mudge

Texte intégral

Within, I do not find wrinkles & used heart, but unspent youth.
Emerson, Journal, June 1864

4.1 Emerson at 64, 1867.

1Emerson’s capacities after the Civil War, often seen as diminishing, in fact gained a surprising new life.

2He carried on with multiple tasks at an amazing level, considering his gradual loss of memory, possible mini-strokes, and even Alzheimer-like symptoms. Until his very last years, he maintained his ability to reason. This he put to good work, vigorously bringing his pre-war thinking to bear upon his post-war purpose and activities. His thought-in-action illustrates how fully he continued to make Transcendentalism a social tool of great practical worth in his seventeen remaining years after Appomattox.

3In this period, too, he evidently reached an almost complete resolution of the lifetime tension between principle and prejudice he had felt concerning blacks and women. From nature’s given moral law, he sincerely believed that both groups were due freedom and just treatment. But as a privileged white male, he had long carried on an inner debate about the given mental capacity of all but exceptional blacks and about the natural social and political place of women. Pro and con private conversations could mire him in hesitant ambivalence. Even as he spoke publicly and passionately for emancipating blacks and for new privileges for women, his private biases about both groups persisted. And though he knew each party needed outside help, he was hoping they themselves would exhibit the evident truths he sought and thus persuade him en masse of both their capabilities and desires. In fact, as both groups largely adopted his ideas about self-reliance, this eventually happened. Until such time as that liberation occurred, however, his self-questioning on these issues could not stop. Some might find this incessant debate a mark of his integrity.

  • 1 The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 16 vols., eds. William H. Gilman, (...)

4Emerson was nearly sixty-two when the Civil War ended and arguably at the pinnacle of his career. Never a man of rest or resignation, he continued to extend his understanding of oppression and freedom beyond his own class and gender. In May 1865, he made a list of projects Americans should be doing: “... break down prisons, capital punishment, slavery, tariff, disfranchisement, caste... abolish laws against atheism... [and] be just to women, in property, in votes, in personal rights.”1 With considerable remaining vitality, Emerson followed his own counsel, helping set a course for the continuing civil rights and feminist movements still with us today.

Continuing an Energetic Agenda

  • 2 Edward Emerson, Emerson in Concord: A Memoir (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1889), 183.
  • 3 Albert J. von Frank, An Emerson Chronology (New York: G. K. Hall, 1994), 426; Robert D.

5A sense of life’s swiftness and unpredictable end had long been a hallmark of Emerson’s daily consciousness, only heightened in his sixties and seventies. At twenty-three, recuperating from tuberculosis in St. Augustine, Florida, he had mused about the best use of his last days, even then accepting death’s imminent reality as part of life’s natural evolution. Forty years later, in 1866, Emerson read his poem “Terminus” to Edward, who later remembered that his father, “so healthy, so full of life and young in spirit,” had startled him with “his deliberate acknowledgment of failing forces and his trusting and serene acquiescence.” Edward added, “I think he smiled as he read.”2 Emerson had cultivated that serenity for decades. Though he did not publish “Terminus” until 1867, he had begun drafting it in his forties.3 Before then, he had survived the deaths of numerous close family members: his father, two brothers, his first wife, and his firstborn child. Keeping his own terminus in sight had always helped Emerson direct his aims and energy.

  • 4 Von Frank, Chronology, 481, 486.
  • 5 Ellen Emerson, The Letters of Ellen Tucker Emerson, 2 vols., ed. Edith E. W. Gregg (Kent, OH: Kent (...)
  • 6 The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10 vols., eds. Robert E. Spiller, et al. (Cambridge, Ma (...)
  • 7 JMN 16: 145, 172.

6Such an attitude was invaluable as aging brought physical and mental challenges. In addition to relatively minor hearing and dental problems,4 he began to suffer in the late 1860s from obsessive behavioral symptoms similar to early Alzheimer’s disease as well as progressive aphasia and memory loss. These suddenly worsened after a fire nearly destroyed his home in July 1872. Shortly afterward, Ellen vividly captured his change, writing to Edith, “Poor man how he struggles for words! The simplest escape him.”5 The fire, according to Ronald Bosco, “while not fatal to Emerson, was effectively so.”6 Afterward, his speech seemed more limited, his memory issues more pronounced. Possibly he had suffered a series of strokes. Whatever his medical condition, Emerson’s expression was more affected than his comprehension, and with Ellen’s assistance, he was able to continue reading his lectures until the year before he died. In 1869, he complained in his journal that “Memory... volunteers or refuses its informations at its will, not at mine,” though a few months later he noted some “compensation” for its failures in “increased power & means of generalization.”7

  • 8 Ibid., 15: 416.

7In the mid-1860s, Emerson plunged himself into a heavy schedule of effective participation in the major matters of his day, continuing to write, lecture and speak out for reform. He was riding on the sense of high energy he had felt in June 1864, “Within, I do not find wrinkles & used heart, but unspent youth.”8 That wellspring propelled him through his last years of new writing and publications, busy lecture schedules, and teaching at Harvard as well as travel to California, Europe, and Egypt. He steadily published new articles, poems, and four books: May-Day and Other Pieces (1867), Society and Solitude (1870), a poetry collection with Edith (Parnassus, 1874), and, with Ellen and his close friend James Elliot Cabot as editors, Letters and Social Aims (1876).

8In fact, Emerson’s lecturing career reached an apex only after the war, a record made possible in part by his habit always reading his lectures, and also because he either repeated his favorites or the most popular ones. In 1865, he spoke seventy-seven times as far west as Milwaukee, a remarkable effort especially in the winter months. Two years later, he excelled that record by three lectures, this time reaching Kansas.

4.2 Emerson’s Lecturing Peak, 1865 and 1867.

  • 9 Von Frank, Chronology, 401-13, 427-39, 478.

9These strenuous western tours had to be suspended in 1868, but that same year he lectured extensively throughout New York and New England. And in November and December 1871, refreshed by his trip to California that spring, he pressed himself to travel west again to lecture in Illinois and Iowa.9 From the next year onward, however, after embarrassing Ellen by twice reading the same page during a lecture, Emerson increasingly relied on her help when he spoke.

4.3 Ellen Tucker Emerson at 21, 1860.

  • 10 Letters of ETE 1: 658; 2: 212. See also, John McAleer’s “The Virginia Immolation,” Ralph Waldo Emer (...)

10In 1876, for his first and only foray into the South, the two travelled to Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia. Abolitionism had hardly won him many Southern supporters, so his reception was unsurprisingly mixed, when not decidedly negative. Still, despite his weak voice and a noisy inattentive audience, some listeners took his words as “a sign of re-union,” Ellen reported to Lidian, adding — no doubt to hearten her mother — that one had avowed, “It was fit that Virginia should hear the Sage of the North.” As late as 1879, he delivered selections from his essay “Memory” when his own had greatly diminished. And a year before he died, in February 1881, Emerson was able to read remarks about his friend Carlyle to the Massachusetts Historical Society.10

11Besides lecturing to the very end, Emerson took on a brand-new occupation as a Harvard academic soon after the war. Though the college had shunned him for nearly thirty years, it could no longer ignore his stature in America and abroad. In 1866, it awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and the next year elected him to the Board of Overseers.

4.4 Emerson at 65-66, c. 1868-1869, with grandson, Ralph Waldo Forbes, and the boy’s paternal grandfather, John Forbes.

4.5 Emerson at about 73, c. 1876 with son Edward and Edward’s son.

  • 11 Richardson, 536.

12He also served on several committees, examined students in Greek, and, in 1870 and 1871, prepared and delivered a new lecture series for a philosophy course entitled “Natural History of Intellect,” a subject that had long interested him. By this time, his philosophical odyssey toward emphasizing the complete unity of matter and mind — the basis of his pragmatic Transcendentalism — was clear in a statement from his second lecture, “The Transcendency of Physics”: “I think no metaphysical fact of any value which does not rest on a physical fact, and no physical fact important except as resting on metaphysical truth.”11

  • 12 The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 12 vols., ed. Edward Waldo Emerson (Boston, Mass.: Hough (...)
  • 13 The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10 vols., eds. Ralph Rusk and Eleanor Tilton (New York: Columbi (...)

13From Harvard’s prestigious platform, Emerson also directed continuing attention to the war’s significance. Even before becoming officially linked to the faculty, he had given an address at the college’s Commemoration Day in 1865, stressing that the conflict’s moral meaning “gave back integrity to this erring and immoral nation.”12 One of his postwar priorities was to memorialize that lesson on campus. For nine years he raised funds, helped plan the construction of Memorial Hall, and attended its dedication in June 1874. That same year, as proof that his reputation as an educator was now widely established in the English-speaking world, the University of Glasgow invited him to be a candidate for its rectorship.13

  • 14 L 6: 152.
  • 15 JMN 16: 237.

14To be sure, teaching combined with aphasia took its toll. By early 1871, Emerson’s Harvard course had exhausted him, and he accepted the invitation of John Forbes (daughter Edith’s father-in-law) to travel to California on the new transcontinental railroad. On arrival, he was overwhelmed by the climate and landscape. He wrote to Lidian, “... if we were all young, — as some of us are not,— we might each of us claim his quarter-section of the Government, & plant grapes & oranges, & never come back to your east winds & cold summers.”14 San Francisco’s spectacular bay even inspired him to write exuberant, Whitman-like lines: “Golden Gate: named of old from its flowers./Asia at your doors & S. America./Inflamed expectation haunting men.”15 He traveled from the coast to Yosemite, where he rode and hiked with one of the west’s most promising young naturalists and writers, John Muir.

4.6 Redwood “Samoset,” Mariposa Grove, Yosemite, 1871 or after, John Muir drawing.

4.7 Emerson house leather fire bucket, 1794.

  • 16 Letters of ETE 2: 10-87; JMN 16: 284-92.
  • 17 JMN 16: 292.
  • 18 Letters of ETE 2: 18.

15The fire at “Bush” the next year prompted another recuperative trip, this time to Europe and Egypt with Ellen. From October to May, they traveled through England, France, Italy, and Egypt, then back again. Although Emerson declined invitations to lecture, he enjoyed the privileges of international renown, greeting old friends Carlyle and Herman Grimm and meeting new ones, among whom were John Stuart Mill, Robert Browning, John Ruskin, William Gladstone, and Max Müller.16 Rejuvenated, he exulted in his journal, “... the feeling of free adventure, you have no duties, — nobody knows you, nobody has claims, you are like a boy.... For the first time for many years you wake master of the bright day, in a bright world without a claim on you;— only leave to enjoy.”17 Ellen sometimes fretted that Emerson “would rather sit quite still in the parlour”18 than go sightseeing. But these quiet intervals doubtless encouraged his genuine eagerness to meet new people.

4.8 Emerson’s Trip to Great Britain, Europe, and Egypt, 1872-1873.

Revising Ideas for Postwar Action

  • 19 JMN 16: 271.

16A fundamental factor keeping Emerson active as he aged was his expectation that he would continue to change. In 1872, he noted, “Our first view is only a guess”; inevitably, we must “give the greater heed.”19 This comment, hardly surprising for one long attuned to nature’s constant metamorphoses, came as he was adjusting his ideas about blacks and women. They were finding their own voices, in part by adopting his argument for self-reliance, and were adding to America’s diversity, ever greater as waves of immigration increased in those years. The country was pointed firmly in the direction of a more democratic society. In Chapter 3, Len Gougeon showed Emerson’s steady progress in becoming a leader in this change. Nevertheless, he was still plagued by certain biases, a public-private divide going back to his youth, and a penchant for remaining his own type of reformer.

  • 20 Lawrence Buell, Emerson (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 14 (...)
  • 21 JMN 2: 49, 42.
  • 22 Ibid., 12: 152.
  • 23 Ibid., 16: 19.
  • 24 Ibid., 16: 55.

17Despite his commitment to human freedom, Emerson had lagged behind close family members in becoming an active abolitionist.20 In the early 1820s, he had posed to himself two opposing natural facts: on the one hand, “... all men are born unequal in personal powers,” and on the other, slavery was an unnatural “hydra” that must be “knock[ed] down.”21 Despite advocating justice for all, he conflated racial difference with racial inferiority, as did many of his peers. He wrote in a journal entry of the late 1830s, “I think it cannot be maintained by any candid person that the African race have ever occupied or do promise ever to occupy any very high place in the human family.”22 This conflict between principle and prejudice sporadically erupted, even while he was becoming one of the country’s most prominent voices against slavery. After the war, traces of it remained. One 1866 journal entry reads, “The way to wash the negro white is to educate him in the white man’s useful & fine Arts, & his ethics.”23 But publicly and privately, he was adamant about voting rights for freedmen and insightful about the reasons for obstacles to blacks occupying a “very high place.” Nor did he spare himself among those who might fail to think otherwise. In 1867, addressing the white establishment of which he was so solidly a part, he wrote in his journal, “You complain that the negroes are a base class. Who makes & keeps them so... but you, who exclude them from the rights which others enjoy?”24

  • 25 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, “Woman,” The Later Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1843-1872, eds. Ronald A. (...)
  • 26 Richardson, 266; von Frank, Chronology, 126.
  • 27 Megan Marshall, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 201 (...)

18Before the war, Emerson was similarly ambivalent about what was natural to women, his private opinions evident in his public lectures. Though he had supported a host of rights for women in 1855, including the vote, he felt that women in general had not yet expressed a preference to work outside the home, stating, “[I do] not think it yet appears that women wish this equal share in public affairs.”25 This concern continued despite his having promoted women for inclusion in the all-male Transcendental Club eighteen years before. In 1837, only the second year of the club’s existence, he had invited Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Hoar, and Sarah Ripley to dinner before the club was to meet at his house. Correctly, it turned out, he thought their ethical influence and intellectual conversation would lead to their swift acceptance into the club. Soon other women were included.26 Three years later, he encouraged Fuller to be the first editor of The Dial and to sign her lead article for the premier issue with her own name.27 Yet not until after the war did Emerson begin to worry less about public life diminishing women’s invaluable civilizing power.

  • 28 Lidian Jackson Emerson, The Selected Letters of Lidian Jackson Emerson, ed. Delores Bird Carpenter (...)
  • 29 Buell, 243. JMN 9: 134; JMN 9: 102. Sandra H. Petrulionis, To Set This World Right: The Antislavery (...)
  • 30 JMN 9: 120.
  • 31 W 11: 247, as quoted in Len Gougeon, Virtue’s Hero: Emerson, Antislavery and Reform (Athens, GA Uni (...)
  • 32 JMN 14: 166.
  • 33 Ibid., 197.

19Emerson’s well-known wariness of certain types of reformers also lingered long after he had entered the abolitionist fray. In 1839, Lidian observed that she “scarce ever saw the person upon whom the suffering of others made so real [an] impression.”28 But his struggle to find the best, most honest response to that suffering spawned a complex, prolonged inner dialogue. Lawrence Buell suggests that he repeatedly refused to join reformist groups because he felt “himself... unusually susceptible to peer pressure” and feared endangering his self-reliance.29 That may have been true, but he was equally torn by the spectrum of quality among reformers. In an 1844 journal entry, he had labeled “the abolitionists with their holy cause... an altogether odious set of people,” while simultaneously finding Wendell Phillips, Frederick Douglass, and William Lloyd Garrison quite worthy of his public support.30 Such inconsistencies continued well into the 1850s. In Concord in 1856, just days after Charles Sumner’s beating at his Senate desk, he had declared, “I think we must get rid of slavery, or we must get rid of freedom.”31 Yet the very next year he could privately note that narrow-minded abolitionists, while “logically right,” were “bitter sterile people” and “not better men for their zeal.”32 Notably, he excluded from this group the violently resolute abolitionist John Brown, whom he heralded as a true Transcendentalist, while backing him with fiery fundraising speeches and hard cash. Perhaps he had made up his mind in 1858, when he denounced Massachusetts politics as “cowardly” and demanded to know, “Why do we not say, We are abolitionists of the most absolute abolition, as every man that is a man must be?”33 But as the private comments previously quoted demonstrated, he questioned the native abilities of blacks.

  • 34 CW 10: 325.
  • 35 Christina Zwarg, Feminist Conversations: Fuller, Emerson, and the Play of Reading (Ithaca, NY: Corn (...)

20Emerson, too, had always wondered whether advocating the freedom of others was either appropriate or effective. In his 1844 address “On the Anniversary of the Emancipation of the Negroes in the British West Indies,” he had described “the anti-slavery of the whole world” as “dust in the balance” before this uprising of “their race,” led by the Haitian slave Toussaint L’Ouverture. He had urged his audience to the same sort of start in self-reliance: “I say to you, you must save yourself, black or white, man or woman.”34 In other settings, this insight made him quick to praise and support the able who rose to leadership, but reticent to speak for them. As a nascent feminist and privileged white male, he knew the irony of self-displacement in his argument.35

  • 36 CW 3: 34, 49.
  • 37 Ibid., 1: 10, 27.
  • 38 Ibid., 59.
  • 39 Ibid., 3: 34.
  • 40 Ibid., 1: 27.
  • 41 Ibid., 3: 35.

21The conflict between Emerson’s basic values and his unsettled attitudes on race and gender had gradually eased with his increased emphasis on concrete action. In “Experience” (1844), he announced his intent to turn from the “intellectual tasting of life” to “muscular activity.” He ended the essay by declaring that “... the true romance which the world exists to realize, will be the transformation of genius into practical power.”36 Eight years before in Nature, he had described that romance in more personal terms: he was a “lover” who sought “intimate Unity” with nature.37 This solo emphasis continued in his “American Scholar” address (1837), in which the lover of truth is one for whom “action is “essential” but “subordinate.”38 In contrast, “Experience” dismissed the “pedantries” of thought in favor of action. The romance had become more collective.39 Nature had sought “unity in variety” for the single soul,40 while “Experience” committed him to be nature’s agent in making that goal a social fact. Emerson thus affirmed that he would “settle myself ever the firmer in the creed, that we should not postpone and refer and wish, but do broad justice where we are, by whomsoever we deal with.”41 Such a heartfelt pledge had emerged from his deep and prolonged mourning for the swift death of young Waldo in 1842, as described in Chapter 2. His son’s death jolted Emerson afresh into making his ideals reality. But he knew this change would take time and require a more mature blend of perseverance, calm, and conviction.

  • 42 Ibid., 48-49.
  • 43 Ibid., 6: 1.

22In “Experience,” he urged himself as much as anyone else: “Patience and patience... we shall win at the last... there is victory yet for all justice.”42 In a parallel demonstration of patience, this watershed work of 1844 did not lead to an immediate reversal of Emerson’s arch individualism, his private social biases, or his aversion to joining certain reformers whom he found “odious.” It would take the Compromise of 1850 with its Fugitive Slave Act to make him furious over what the South’s slave power was doing to the North and to accelerate his public statements as an abolitionist. Ten years later, in the spring of 1860, he even joined the crowd of Concord neighbors who fended off U. S. Senate deputies sent to arrest his friend Frank Sanborn, John Brown’s fervent supporter. For years, prominent feminists had eagerly solicited him to speak at their conventions, and as noted, by 1855 he began to accept their invitations. Against this background of increasing reform activity, in 1851 he had begun a new series of lectures that focused on the “practical question of the conduct of life.”43 Delivered over the next nine years, these lectures became the essays he titled The Conduct of Life (1860).

4.9 The Conduct of Life, title page, revised edition, 1889.

  • 44 Pendleton King, “Notes of Conversations with Emerson” (1884), eds. Ronald Bosco and Joel Myerson, E (...)

23In 1870, twenty years after first giving this lecture series and five years into Reconstruction, Emerson commented to a friend, “In my works I like the articles ‘Fate’ and ‘Worship’ in my ‘Conduct of Life’ very well.”44 It is not difficult to see why. At that moment, he was preparing a course at Harvard with the title, “Natural History of Intellect” (1870-1871). The intellect had been a major theme of “Fate” in its argument for freedom. (“So far as man thinks, he is free.”) More broadly, in 1870 Emerson thought the country was in great need of spiritual renovation. In “Worship,” he had explored a fresh definition of authentic belief, motivated by the churches’ predominant failure to oppose slavery in the 1850s and by his desire to restore an educated basis for belief in a scientific age. Despite his own fascination with science, in this essay he had argued that empirical investigation had its limits. As always, he believed that felt knowledge was the deepest avenue to coming as close as we might to ultimate truth.

  • 45 Barbara Packer, Historical Introduction, CW 6: xvii.
  • 46 Without a doubt, Conduct’s essays were selected and arranged as assiduously as had been Essays II ( (...)

24All of Conduct’s essays reflect his mid-career shift toward making his philosophy count in practice. But in “Fate” and “Worship” especially, Emerson married familiar ideals with his urgent need to find realistic solutions to the dramatic social, political, and religious upheavals of the 1850s.45 As was his custom, he had doubtless deliberately ordered the essays’ arrangement in Conduct.46 “Fate” he put first and “Worship” sixth, even though the latter had pre-dated the former as a lecture. Apparently, when he collected his lectures, Emerson judged that intervening chapters on the worldly topics of power, wealth, culture, and behavior were necessary to prepare readers for “Worship.” Both “Fate” and “Worship” also frequently mention a core Emersonian topic: character, a subject that had been of primary importance to him for some time. His first “Character” had appeared in Essays II (1844). His second essay with the same title, much more than a revision of the original, was written in 1865 and published the next year. Comparing the two “Characters” once again reveals Emerson’s evolution toward pragmatic Transcendentalism, the second essay drawing on themes explored in “Faith” and “Worship.” These three essays coalesce Emerson’s first concerns in his later years: freedom, faith, and moral law, together making a virtual platform for his thought and action from the war’s end to his own.

  • 47 Von Frank, CW 9: lxxii, lxxxiii-lxxxv.

25Close reading of each essay is essential to understanding Emerson’s meanings, so often expressed in the allusive language of the heart. His preference for this impressionistic style had only strengthened after the 1840s. It was then that he was first drawn to Eastern mysticism, becoming fascinated by the Persian Sufi poets, especially Hafiz and Saadi. By 1864, he was applauding their “inconsecutiveness” and lack of unity. These virtues matched his long-sought goal in writing: to reflect nature’s constant change, irregularities and mysteries. In addition, both of Emerson’s expressed strengths — imagination and intuition — and his Romantic philosophy made him share the Persians’ suspicion of pure reasoning and logic, and its authoritative result, religious orthodoxy. For similar reasons, he had criticized Unitarianism. Quite readily, then, he found a stylistic home in “the loose and irrecoverable ramble of the Oriental bards.”47 Emerson may have deliberately imitated their style — discursive, sometimes illogical, and often allusive. Nevertheless, his major concepts in “Faith,” “Worship,” and the two versions of “Character” together reveal a loose package of pragmatic idealism that defined his post-Civil War active life.

  • 48 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, “The Present State of Ethical Philosophy,” in Edward Everett Hale, Ralph Wald (...)
  • 49 Von Frank, Chronology, 265.
  • 50 CW 6: 23.

26Both “Fate” and “Worship” deal with morality and ethics, long Emersonian subjects but now applied directly to contemporary issues. At eighteen, his prize-winning essay at Harvard, “The Present State of Ethical Philosophy,” had brought the weight of historical ethics to bear on reforming the self.48 In college, too, he had already decried the “plague spot of slavery,”49 though he had taken no action against it. Years later, frustrated by the apparent futility of public protest against the Fugitive Slave Act (1850), the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), and slavery’s swift extension into the northwest territories (1850s), he had begun exploring new ways to meld the ideal with the actual, emphasizing national reform, “performance,”50 in short, practical results.

  • 51 Ibid., 120.
  • 52 Von Frank, Chronology, 265.
  • 53 CW 6: xli.
  • 54 Ibid., xlv.

27Never a man to force his ideas on others, he had nevertheless become convinced that, as he states in “Worship,” “To make our word or act sublime, we must make it real.”51 Emerson had delivered “Worship” for the first time in Pittsburgh on 1 April 1851,52 coincidentally only two days before the seventeen-year-old Thomas Sims was arrested in Boston under the Fugitive Slave Law.53 In late December, months after official Boston had ordered Sims’ forced return to Georgia, Emerson made “Fate” a standard part of this lecture series.54 While not a direct attack on slavery, his argument in this essay nevertheless allows for only one conclusion: enslavement anywhere is unnatural because it denies freedom. A free humanity has the power, even the duty, to end it.

  • 55 Ibid., 119.
  • 56 Ibid., 1.

28Given its national context, the mere title “Fate” hints of Emerson’s sense of impasse in effecting peaceful reform and his fear of impending civil war. Could there be any way to redirect America from an imminent North-South conflict? Always taking the largest view possible, Emerson’s true hope was clear in “Worship,” where he had argued, “... the real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.”55 But now, at the beginning of “Fate,” he makes public a question that in 1833 he had only asked of himself, “How shall I live?”56 With only a few strokes, he broadly outlines his argument to come: within the “irresistible dictation” of fate, there is also “liberty, the significance of the individual, the grandeur of duty, the power of character.”

  • 57 Ibid., 2.
  • 58 Ibid., 3-11.
  • 59 Ibid., 11-12.

29Another question propels him forward, “What to do?”57 He frames an answer with a silent nod to the classic debate of determinism vs. free will, and as always, with nature as his touchstone. But in contrast to Nature fifteen years before, he no longer extols creation’s beauty and beneficence. Rather, he emphasizes the rough, rude, totally unsentimental ways of “Providence,” repetitively highlighting its disasters — from diseases to earthquakes, volcanoes to climate change — that coolly, indiscriminately sweep humanity aside. Genetics, too, he finds, limits humanity’s range of face, physique, temperament, and character. Emerson illustrates this determinism with reference to familiar persons, political events, and new fields of inquiry — such as statistics.58 Fate’s apparent hegemony in everything —“matter, mind, and morals” (even high and low justice appear fixed) — appears a “limitation... impassable by any insight of man....”59 Then he turns the tables on “Providence.”

30Fate, Emerson declares, also has “its lord,” its limit. Power is its opposing force: “If Fate follows and limits power, power attends and antagonizes Fate.” This force that contests fate, he says, is nothing less than humanity’s capacity to rise above its physical nature and become “a stupendous antagonism, a dragging together of the poles of the Universe.” In creating us as we are, nature has given us the power to challenge it. We share in its great “lightning,” the generating energy of the whole cosmos. More precisely, Emerson argues that human thought, “the spirit which composes and decomposes nature” for good or ill, allows us to challenge the tangible world — from “sandstone... to sea and shore....” The union of thought and free will makes this possible.

  • 60 Ibid., 12-13.
  • 61 Ibid., 16.

31Emerson then unfurls his simple but arresting paradox: “... freedom is necessary.” He elaborates: “... a part of Fate is the freedom of man. Forever wells up the impulse of choosing and acting in the soul. Intellect annuls Fate. So far as man thinks, he is free.”60 To pit humanity against its creator, nature itself, inspires “a fatal courage,” he acknowledges, but we can supersede such conflict by our creativity, a parallel to nature’s. This is possible in moments when “the inward eye opens to the Unity in things, to the omnipresence of [moral] law....” Then, “We are as lawgivers; we speak for Nature, we prophesy and divine.” Repeating himself, but in fresh ways, Emerson wends his way to state that thought and will “must always have coexisted.” And the will he describes is “not mine or thine, but the will of all mind.” He likens it to a great wind that blows through the soul releasing it from selfishness into a “universe of souls” driven by “the Right and Necessary.” And “Right,” universally applied, also makes us free. In fact, Emerson insists, “Whoever has had experience of the moral sentiment cannot chose but believe in unlimited power. Each pulse from that heart is an oath from the Most High.” What is more, “the inward eye” of insight must fuse with “the moral sentiment” of affection to propel the will. Lacking men of such will, he notes, “... the world wants saviours and religions.”61

  • 62 Ibid., 18-19.

32Yet again thought can come to the rescue, Emerson argues, since “... every jet of chaos which threatens to exterminate us, is convertible in intellect into wholesome force. Fate is [simply] unpenetrated causes.” For proof, he turns first to man’s accomplishments in science and then to the humanities. Steam, he points out, once a powerful physical threat, was converted to useful energy in the hands of Watt and Fulton. Their counterparts in politics have harnessed “higher kinds of steam” to come up with justice, a version of controlled power. Justice, as a leveling principle, satisfies everyone, he asserts, replacing a mountain of hierarchical might with “the most harmless and energetic form of a State”— a clear allusion to democracy.62

  • 63 Ibid., 23.
  • 64 Ibid., 25.

33Emerson then elaborates on “how fate slides into freedom, and freedom into fate,” while optimistically connecting fate with inevitable progress and pointing to its most efficient instruments: great men. He gives a long list of such models from Goethe to Adams to Rothschild. Such figures lead Emerson naturally to character, where, in essence, he announces that a man’s destiny or “fortune” depends on his allotted degrees of thought, will, and moral sentiment. Momentarily conflating thought and morality, he uses a homespun metaphor to state: “History is the action and reaction of these two, Nature and Thought,— two boys pushing each other on the curb-stone of the pavement. Everything is pusher or pushed: and matter and mind are in perpetual tilt and balance, so.”63 Later, he returns to the same paradox, using fate and freedom as alternative names for nature and thought. Experienced simultaneously, the two are a “double-consciousness.” A familiar circus act illustrates his point: “A man must ride alternately on the horses of his private and his public nature, as the equestrians in the circus throw themselves nimbly from horse to horse....”64 This duality of the determined with the free in us is what Emerson means by “the Blessed Unity,” or its identical twin, “the Beautiful Necessity.”

  • 65 Ibid., 4.
  • 66 Ibid., 8-9.

34Again, Emerson does not preach abolitionism head on. Unlike the average reformer, his apology for free will’s coexistence with nature’s inevitability gives his argument the largest possible framework. Early on in “Fate,” he obliquely criticizes slavery, mentioning “... — expensive races — race living at the expense of race.”65 Nor does Emerson hide his prejudices. His “scale of races” puts Anglo-Saxons at the top, while he approves of English, French, and German colonization, and commiserates with the plight of “Jew,” “Indian,” and “Negro” He also affirms two statements by an author, whom he finds otherwise objectionable, but who has produced “charged” and “pungent” truths: first, “Nature respects race, and not hybrids”; second, “Detach a colony from the race, and it deteriorates to the crab.” To illustrate the latter point, Emerson asserts that German, Irish, and Negro immigrants have “a great deal of guano in their destiny.”66

  • 67 Ibid., 11.
  • 68 Ibid., 19.
  • 69 CW 5: 27.

35Emerson lapses into bias, but he is speaking of the present. Looking ahead, he announces that “soon or late” fate will inevitably strike to bring about justice, hinting of future radical change.67 And after he has established human power as a partial check to destiny, he delights in the progress of the races as a major example of nature’s constant improvement. Eight years before Darwin’s Origin of the Species, Emerson is, in effect, publicly arguing for evolution. (He had glimpsed the idea in Paris in 1833, when comparing classified museum specimens displayed at the King’s Garden.) Now he writes, “The first and worst races are dead. The second and imperfect races are dying out, or remain for the maturing of higher. In the latest race, in man, every generosity, every new perception, the love and praise he extorts from his fellows, are certificates of advance out of fate into freedom.”68 In 1856, in English Traits, Emerson had already noted that pure races were a myth, and that many people were of obvious mixed ancestry. He had even remarked, “The best nations are those most widely related; and navigation, as effecting a world-wide mixture, is the most potent advancer of nations.”69

  • 70 CW 6: 106.

36“Worship,” in contrast to “Fate,” takes up slavery in its opening poem. Emerson sings of an unidentified man who “to captivity was sold,/But him no prison-bars would hold....” Only at the poem’s end is the man revealed as “Jove”— the Romans’ supreme god. Emerson’s last lines allude to the essay’s overarching blend of ideal and tangible worlds: “Draw, if thou canst, the mystic line,/Severing rightly his from thine,/Which is human, which divine.”70 Though “Worship” was written before “Fate,” Emerson reverses their chronology in The Conduct of Life. Evidently drawing on actual reactions gleaned in the ten years he had been reading both essays as lectures, he describes “Worship” as a response to the claims of “some friends” that “Fate” and two other essays in Conduct, “Power” and “Wealth,” had overly reflected “the evil of the times,” and possibly even encouraged atheism.

  • 71 Ibid., 107.

37Emerson essentially refutes such charges as nonsense. If he needs to play “devil’s attorney” to argue points, he will. Then, he unequivocally declares, “I have no infirmity of faith... Nor do I fear skepticism for any good soul.” He would “dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I am not afraid of falling into my inkpot.” In short, he feels no danger in becoming tainted by exploring any evil. Using a multitude of “I’s” and “we’s” to affirm that he speaks of himself and such resources, Emerson admits to holding “different opinions at different hours,” but states that ultimately and always, he stands “at heart on the side of truth.” In effect, he commands, bring on doubt and questioning: “We may well give skepticism as much line as we can. The spirit will return, and fill us. It drives the drivers. It counterbalances any accumulations of power.” To emphasize this superiority of higher truth over human criticism, Emerson makes a single paragraph of a line from Edward Young’s religious meditation, Night Thoughts: “‘Heaven kindly gave our blood a moral flow.’”71

  • 72 Ibid., 123.
  • 73 Ibid., 107-08.

38Once again, this grounding ethical thread in “Worship” typifies Emerson’s post-“Experience” direction: to emphasize the interpenetration of unseen and seen worlds, spirit and matter, soul and body, belief and science. It is their intricate and intimate marriage that allows him to use scientific evidence to support the spiritual life. “We are born loyal,” he announces. That is, we are made to be communal, a natural human pattern that he found epitomized by the Shakers. Equally, he insists, “We are born believing.” Despite the rise and fall of particular religions, supposedly necessary to the health of their cultures, humanity continues to go on bearing beliefs, he says, “as a tree bears apples.” So foundational is faith, as revealed by personal “self-poise” and “rectitude,” that these qualities permeate “every particle” of creation. Later, Emerson will refer to this phenomenon as “the intimacy of Divinit... in the atoms.”72 At this moment, he presents the natural givenness of belief as a ringing aphorism, “God builds his temple in the heart on the ruins of churches and religions.”73

39From the empirical evidence of the birth and decline of religions that he has just documented, Emerson offers a definition of true religion, or worship, as the “flowering and completion” of culture. From cannibals to crusaders, Indians to Pacific Islanders, he illustrates the universal link between faith and culture, colorfully making his point by featuring the Norse King Olaf’s forced conversion of hapless Eyvind by putting a pan of bursting coals on his stomach. Turning to the present, he replaces this semi-whimsy with dead seriousness. In this “transition period,” when faiths that once “made nations” are expiring, he finds “the religions of men... either childish and insignificant, or unmanly and effeminating.” In sum, he charges that the churches have separated religion from morality.

  • 74 Ibid., 109-11.

40Emerson’s critique follows on the many months of turmoil in Boston and its environs, described earlier, when citizens had been bitterly divided over Webster’s role in the Compromise of 1850 and the enforcement of its Fugitive Slave Law in Massachusetts. By the time of its publication in 1860, “Worship” included much more evidence of the North’s inner frictions over slavery than was available when he first wrote it. Not surprisingly, then, he puts “slave-holding and slave-trading religions” near the top of the churches’ failures, only third behind know-nothingness and “scortatory” (lewd) behavior. He extends his critique into other religious practices then current, lambasting “peacock ritualism, the retrogression of Popery... the squalor of Mesmerism, the deliration of rappings [seances, in which even Lidian was participating]... thumps in table drawers [superstition], and black art.” With no “religious genius” to “offset the immense material activity,” [true] religion, he laments, “is gone.” Soon afterward he asks, “What proof of infidelity, like the toleration and propagandism of slavery?”74

  • 75 Ibid., 113-14.
  • 76 Ibid., 118.

41Yet despite this deluge of decay, Emerson re-introduces his earlier apology for humanity’s persistent “moral sense.” It is a principle, he says, an “undescribable [sic] presence, dwelling very peacefully in us, our rightful lord: we are not... to work, but to be worked upon; and to this homage there is a consent of all thoughtful and just men in all ages and conditions.” The benefit, Emerson expansively states, will be “vast and sudden enlargements of power.” To activate this moral sentiment, ethics rather than theology, the simple exercise of “motherwit” (immediate moral perception) is a more reliable and lasting guide. Before, he admits to having “groped” to explain the spiritual as something invisible. Now he insists, “The true meaning of spiritual is real; that law which executes itself, which works without means, and which cannot be conceived as not existing [his emphases].” Emerson dares his audiences to turn from sentimentalism to realism, allowing the “simple and terrible laws,” visible or invisible, to be released throughout nature and rule.75 Further on, he argues that this reality, inescapable and tangible, is like pervasive, natural electricity: the world is “a battery,” and every atom is “a magnet” where God’s divinity (power) appears in “every particle.”76

42These references to science are not accidental. Emerson wanted to assimilate the leading intellectual pursuit of his day, one he had long avidly followed, into his celebration of human thought and universal moral law. But for him, science — knowledge of the physical world — could never be the highest authority. Beyond empirical fact, Emerson argues, the spiritual actually exists as an ideal model, for which he had given a cornucopia of names over the years: God, Over-Soul or World-Soul, the Infinite, Universal or Higher Law — or even Higher Fact. In “Worship,” that model becomes Questioner, Giver, untitled Thought or Power, and superpersonal Heart. In pursuing this spiritual unity, Emerson anticipates C. P. Snow’s mid-twentieth-century, strict separation of science and religion, with which he would have quite disagreed. His disagreement would be all the more emphatic because he foresaw the “scientism” of our day, the absolutist claim that the scientific method, instead of being one avenue to knowledge, is the exclusive route to all truth — a belief held as firmly in some secular circles as any religious fundamentalism.

  • 77 Ibid., 116-17.

43In this vein, Emerson critiques his era’s faith in an array of material improvements — from chemistry to the steam-engine, galvanic battery, and sewing machine — but “not in divine causes.” It is “short sight,” he says, to “limit our faith in laws” to those of gravity, chemistry, botany, etc. He argues that they “do not stop where our eyes lose them,” and advises his readers to “push the same geometry and chemistry up into the invisible plane of social and rational life, so that... in a boy’s game or in the strifes of races, a perfect reaction, a perpetual judgment keeps watch and ward.” Once again, he alludes to slavery, when he insists that moral law supersedes injustice.77

  • 78 At twenty-three, Emerson had noted humanity’s untrustworthiness, including reason (corruptible by p (...)

44In this way, Emerson has been carefully preparing for his conclusion, a full-blooded call from the heart to imbue science with moral character. Earlier he had quoted Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth-century French mathematical prodigy, who at nineteen had invented the mechanical calculator and was simultaneously a physicist and devout Christian. Emerson discovered Pascal in college and afterward always highly praised him.78 Apparently quoting from memory, he misstates Pascal’s exact words when he writes, “The heart has its arguments, with which the understanding is not acquainted.” Pascal’s original in Provincial Letters (1656-1657) had punned on the word “reasons”: “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.”

  • 79 JMN 2: 238.
  • 80 Ibid., 4: 45.
  • 81 CW 6: 128.

45Emerson’s error in quoting Pascal probably arose from his familiarity for some twenty years with Coleridge’s famous distinction of “Reason” and “Understanding.” Coleridge — somewhat confusingly for readers today — had defined reason as the higher faculty of imagination, intuition, and sympathy to contrast with understanding, the lower faculty of observation and analysis. But as early as 1824, when twenty-one-year-old Emerson had newly decided on the ministry, he was substituting “heart” for Coleridge’s intuitive “reason,” and reading his analytic “understanding” as the “reason” to which Pascal refers. In his journal, Emerson noted, “... the highest species of reasoning upon divine subjects is rather the fruit of a sort of moral imagination, than of the ‘Reasoning Machines’ such as Locke & Clarke & David Hume.”79 Just weeks after delivering his “Lord’s Supper Sermon” and soon to resign from his pastorate, he must have had Pascal in mind when he favored his own authority over Christ’s and even God’s, asking himself, “Why then shall I not go to my own heart at first?”80 As he ends “Worship,” Emerson uses “knowledge” in Pascal’s sense of the heart’s wisdom, surpassing logic: “When [a man’s] mind is illuminated, when his heart is kind, he throws himself joyfully into the sublime order, and does, with knowledge, what the stones do by structure.”81

  • 82 Ibid.
  • 83 “The Fugitive Slave Law,” Emerson’s Antislavery Writings, eds. Len Gougeon and Joel Myerson (New Ha (...)

46Emerson believes he has described “a faith which is science,” because he has united mind and matter within every atom. Spirit and the world are, in effect, one reality. He had envisioned this unity in Nature. But in “Worship,” that unity is tighter and more complete; the two realms are essentially identical. And their combination, he finds, has another virtue: it will discourage false religious poses. (Universalizing this point, he quotes Muhammad: “There are two things which I abhor; the learned in his infidelities and the fool in his devotions.”) The “new church founded on moral science,” Emerson writes, will return humanity to its “central solitude,” with only “the nameless Thought, the nameless Power, the superpersonal Heart” as company.82 This is not a throwback to individualism. At the essay’s start, he had taken man’s social nature as given. And as he said in 1854, “... surely our education is... to know... that self-reliance, the height and perfection of man, is reliance on God.”83 Now he assumes that character may parallel the unity of spirit and matter in atoms, and, through exceptional individuals, infuse society with “superpersonal Heart.”

  • 84 CW 3: 34.

47The theme of character so courses through both “Fate” and “Worship” that his revised version of “Character” (1865) makes it a natural third party to them. In this essay’s first version (1844), he had written from a lofty perspective above everyday conflict, abstractly defining character as “an extraordinary and incomputable agent” that draws men toward the natural and universal “moral order.” He had further defined character as a solely individual matter: “Character is nature in the highest form,” true to itself and shunning social convention. His brief reference to religion also stressed private experience: “... it [is] more credible,” he had written, “that one man should know heaven... than that so many men should know the world.’84 Emerson’s first “Character” was decidedly transcendental and addressed to the single soul.

48In contrast, the second “Character,” written at the height of his lecturing career in 1865, is more concrete and communal. Communality, in fact, grounds his aim: to focus on the moral sentiment as the worldwide source of true faith. Painstakingly and at length, he unpacks its evident nature, its pervading presence in all humanity, and its relationship to character. Emerson might have entitled the essay “The Moral Sentiment” instead of “Character,” if he had not wanted to show that ethically-motivated, self-confident and gifted men are the essential means to accomplishing authentic good in the world.

  • 85 CW 10: 447. Bentham’s basic Utilitarian axiom is, “... the greatest happiness of the greatest numbe (...)
  • 86 Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. Lewis White Beck (Berlin: 1902-1938 (...)
  • 87 CW 10: 448.

49With this intent, Emerson explores the meaning of faith, described in “Worship” as a scientific phenomenon occurring in all times and cultures, but now clarified in its social context. He begins with a trumpet-like declaration: “Morals respects what men call goodness... [what] they agree to honor as justice, truth-speaking, good-will, and good works.” Rather than focus on the single soul, he writes of associations of men, who jointly arrive at the urge to right action and thereby “recommend themselves to each other.” Immediately, he applies the concept of mutual benefit to politics, slightly misquoting Jeremy Bentham’s dictum: “... the object of the state is the greatest good of the greatest number.”85 As he had in “Fate,” Emerson notes the centrality of free will to morals, then cautions against undue private exercise of this liberty should it infringe on others’ rights. He invokes Kant’s moral imperative, based on what the German philosopher had called the “universal laws of nature.” Kant had written, “Always act according to that maxim whose universality as a law you can at the same time will” and which is the “only condition under which a will can never come into conflict with itself....”86 This rule, Emerson goes on to say, is the work of “universal mind,” a “sense of Right and Wrong” that belongs to everyone. Dormant in bad men, it is still there in all. For him, as for Kant, it is simply “the reason of things,” or nature’s gift.87

  • 88 Ibid., 449
  • 89 Ibid., 450.

50Such thinking expands our loyalties and desires, Emerson argues. Beyond personal satisfaction, we feel a wider commitment to others. “No one is accomplished whilst any one is incomplete. Weal does not exist for one, with the woe of any other.”88 In this way, the moral sentiment centers men “at the heart of Nature... where all the wires terminate which hold the world in magnetic unity, — and so converts us into universal beings.” Echoing “Worship,” Emerson combines scientific and religious language as he suggests that this encompassing ethical sense is intimately related to the mind, determining its sanity as well as its greatness. Equivalent to Truth, Power, Goodness, and Beauty, the moral sentiment uses us, he argues, as mere “passing agents” of its superior illumination.89

  • 90 Ibid.

51Once more, Emerson calls upon history to support his argument, listing the terms past generations have given this powerful force: “the light, the seed, the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Daemon, the still, small voice, etc....” Such witnesses to its presence lead Emerson to yet another delicious paradox: the moral sense “creates a faith which the contradiction of all mankind cannot shake, and which the consent of all mankind cannot confirm.” At once acknowledging morality’s mystery and its calm existence “above all mediation,” Emerson cites its declaration-as-command, “I am” [his emphasis], as a “revelation” to consciousness made known to all men in every generation.90

  • 91 Ibid., 451.
  • 92 Ibid., 452.
  • 93 Ibid., 453.

52At last Emerson closes in on his title theme by insisting that “you and I and all souls” do not receive this “Eternal [Truth]” so much as live in it [my emphases].” That indwelling, in fact, defines our humanity, and specifies how we participate in effecting morality: “The soul of God is poured into the world through the thoughts of men.”91 The better the men, the better their ideas, thus their acknowledged leadership. Here Emerson calls on his notion of a few great men, born with “no weakness of self” nor “impediment to the Divine Spirit” to become “the apparition of gods among men....”92 A political allusion makes his point concrete: “Great men serve us as insurrections do in bad governments,” giants above “a whole nation of underlings.” Finally, well into his essay, he introduces the topic of character per se, defining it as steadfastness, self-knowledge, and balance, all inspired by “a will built on the reason of things.”93

  • 94 Ibid., 454.

53No longer appealing to the single soul, Emerson asserts that such admirable men will go beyond “pure vision” to model morality in action for the rest of mankind. He further states that the “private or social practices” developed to honor that sentiment, “... we call religion.”94 In brief, religion is the moral sense on which we found our faith institutions with their laws, creeds, and beliefs. Over time, however, they may become corrupt and perverse through the influence of fallible men. Religions that might have once been true, thus inevitably become false. Emerson surveys this decline from purity, ending with special attention to Christianity. At first a protest movement, the church has morphed into a hierarchical tradition encrusted with dogmas and rituals. Emerson traces this hindrance to truth in various historical national religions through the Reformation, up to and including even liberal Unitarianism. Over and against this historical development were individuals — perhaps especially notable atheists, such as Voltaire — who in their forthrightness became morality’s true torchbearers.

  • 95 Ibid., 455-59.
  • 96 Ibid., 457-58, 460.
  • 97 Ibid., 462; von Frank, Chronology, 401; JMN 15: 301.

54But the future, not the past, is Emerson’s interest, and he foresees unknown “religious revolutions” on the horizon upsetting longstanding accepted theologies. Such changes are expected and do not worry him: “All the victories of religion belong to the moral sentiment.”95 He has already praised atheist and pagan ethicists, from Socrates to Voltaire, for being suggestive guides to right living in contrast to Christianity’s clerics, whom he accuses of demanding allegiance to their dogmas and creeds. For him, these ancient pagans and modern atheists excel the churches of his day in being exemplars of Jesus’s protest movement for justice. His high hope is that humanity will return to the same enduring “pure morals... not subject to doubtful interpretation, with no sale of indulgences, no massacre of heretics, no female slaves, no disfranchisement of woman, no stigma on race.”96 In these words, perhaps to soften his message for predominantly Protestant readers, Emerson alludes to the Reformation’s brave sixteenth-century rebels. He even goes on to allow that the churches, so blind to slavery before the war, have since promoted a host of practical reforms: helping society’s outcasts, educating the ignorant, and supporting government-sponsored nursing and teaching programs in Washington, D. C. Shortly after the war ended in 1865, Emerson joined the First Unitarian Church of Concord for the fellowship, perhaps, and for its awakening social activism. As far as belief was concerned, he remained resolutely removed, describing himself in an 1870 journal entry: “... in this republic... every citizen has a religion of his own — is a church by himself —& worships & speculates in a quite independent fashion.”97

  • 98 JMN 15: 301.
  • 99 CW 10: 464.
  • 100 Von Frank, Chronology, 419.

55Character remained such a vital topic to Emerson in 1865 because of its lynchpin role, rising above all legislation, in reconstructing a nation where all men and women might be free. If America were to be born anew after the war, he thought, it would have to substantially amend its Constitution to disallow slavery. As early as 1862, long before the surrender at Appomattox, he had anticipated the need for such sweeping changes, writing in his journal, “All our action now is new & unconstitutional, & necessarily so.”98 Three years later in the revised “Character,” he acknowledged the dangers of such radical change, observing that a person of character does “not ask... even for the assurance of continued life.” He had also broadly resolved the opening frustration of “Fate” over the failures of individual and collective reformers. Now, even as he faced Reconstruction and its uncertainties, he took strength in this thought: “To a well principled man existence [itself] is victory,” because “he feels the immensity of the chain whose last link he holds in his hand, and is led by it.” That chain is, of course, moral sentiment, so sure and trustworthy a guide for men of character that they should put no other value — praise, happiness, even life itself — before this “spirit” that has “all.”99 Despite Emerson’s nod to the churches’ wartime and postwar return to ethical service, this new “Character” was too controversial in its praise of pagan wisdom and its critique of the churches for even the liberal Atlantic Monthly, which he had helped found. But sure of his argument, he delivered this lecture five times on his 1865 lecture tour, and published it the following year in the North American Review.100

Exercising a Pragmatic Idealism

  • 101 William James Potter, The Free Religious Association: Its Twenty-Five Years and Their Meaning: An A (...)
  • 102 Richard A. Kellaway, “The Free Religious Association,” Unitarian Universalist Collegium: An Associa (...)
  • 103 David Robinson, “The Free Religion Movement,” The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism, ed. Joel My (...)

56“Fate,” “Worship,” and Emerson’s second “Character” together cover the essential concepts of his later thought that prompted his leadership in two organizations started soon after the war’s end: the Free Religious Association (FRA) and the Radical Club. In 1867, at the inaugural meeting of the FRA, he spoke as a founding member, and the same year, was among the first to join the Radical Club. Active in both groups until just three years before his death, he served multiple terms as a vice-president of the FRA and regularly took part in the club’s conversations. Both association and club, formed to include non-Christians and Christians alike and to connect spirituality to active reform, naturally sought out a person of Emerson’s cultural and reform stature to join them. In turn, their calmness of tone appealed to him. William James Potter, president of the FRA, described its “chief function” to be “a voice without a hand,” which “puts us in most honorable company,” naming Socrates, Jesus, and then “our own Emerson.”101 Beyond Emerson, the two organizations shared a number of other members, including Octavius Brooks Frothingham, James Freeman Clarke, John Weiss, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and David Wasson.102 Youth had always been Emerson’s first audience, and many members in both groups were young Unitarian ministers, such as Frothingham and Clarke, who had long admired him. Like Emerson, they were seeking a “naturalized, post-Christian, and universal understanding of human spirituality.” They also urged that religious institutions prioritize social change.103

  • 104 David Robinson, The Unitarians and the Universalists (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985), 107.
  • 105 Cyrus A. Bartol, “Radicalism,” Radical Problems (Boston, Mass.: Roberts Brothers, 1872), 98-118, 11 (...)
  • 106 Mary Sargent, Sketches and Reminiscences of the Radical Club of Chestnut Street, Boston (Boston, Ma (...)
  • 107 Potter, Free, 21, x.

57The FRA and the Radical Club crystallized in the aftermath of a rift that had divided the 1866 National Conference of Unitarianism (which Emerson did not attend). Within this already liberal community, a splinter group of radicals had proposed that Unitarianism “declare itself a thoroughly nonsectarian organization... thereby explicitly affirming the right of many member congregations to identify themselves outside the Christian fold.”104 After this proposal failed to carry, the disappointed radicals formed the two groups the following year. Cyrus Bartol, a founding member of the FRA and the club, described them as inevitable outcomes of the convention, noting that the Radicals ultimately opposed “any final wording” in favor of free and open investigation of spiritual experience.105 The club’s historian, Mary Sargent, who with her husband John Turner Sargent hosted many meetings in their home, wrote that a common desire was “for larger liberty of faith, fellowship, and communion.”106 Similarly, Potter described the FRA as a reform effort aimed at “the utmost liberty for thought in matters of religion.” Both groups affirmed, in Potter’s words, “the human mind itself as the seat of ultimate authority in the discovery and holding of truth.”107 Emerson’s insistence in “Worship” on the heart’s reasons — a felt measure exceeding logic — would have led him to qualify any full endorsement of this statement.

58The larger FRA pursued actual reforms more intently than the Radical Club. Potter named “one of the most obviously practical interests of religion” to be “working not only for the alleviation of misery, but for the prevention and cure of moral evil, the removal of oppressive burdens, and the opening to each and all of free opportunity for the best use of their faculties and life.” Many members, such as Frank Sanborn and Julia Ward Howe (sister of Emerson’s younger friend, Sam Ward), had been abolitionists and particularly wanted to see the status and rights of blacks assured during Reconstruction.

4.10 Julia Ward Howe at 42, 1861.

  • 108 Ibid., 6, 7, 22.

59On the FRA’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 1892, Potter noted its roots in the war and in establishing the Freedmen’s Aid and Educational Societies. He also commented on the close ties between abolition and women’s freedom, all evidence of a wider “great awakening of rational thought and of the higher moral sentiments and humane activities” in the postwar period.108 The FRA also did more public outreach and education than the club. It published a newspaper called The Index, held large public meetings, and supported the efforts of the Freedmen’s Aid Society to advance the literacy of freed blacks.

  • 109 According to Julia Ward Howe, “Mr. Emerson objected strongly to newspaper reports of the sittings o (...)
  • 110 David Pettee, “John Turner Sargent,” Unitarian Universalist Association, 16 July 2013, http://www25 (...)
  • 111 Sargent, Sketches, 4.
  • 112 Howe, Reminiscences, chapter 13.
  • 113 Sargent, Sketches, 7-20.

60In contrast, the Radical Club, like the Transcendental Club of over twenty years before, was a small circle that met in members’ homes for private, more academic discussions.109 Themes of pre-war Transcendentalism entered their free-ranging talk. That emphasis could diminish the importance of religious reform issues dear to certain members who also belonged to the FRA, such as prewar activist John Turner Sargent.110 The Radical Club instead focused on comparative religion, science, and culture. Emerson began the first meeting with remarks on religion. He stressed the agreement of the world’s leading sacred writings about the cosmos, and specifically praised the insights of Eastern religions.111 In the following discussion, however, some members questioned this celebration of Eastern texts. With clear consternation, Julia Ward Howe remarked on “the anti-Christian twist that prevailed in the Radical Club.”112 Nevertheless, this first debate, ranging widely over history, culture, and reform, was lively and friendly.113 And Howe continued to attend later meetings.

4.11 View of Boston, July 4, 1870.

  • 114 W 11: 479, 480.

61Religion was also Emerson’s subject at the FRA’s first meeting in 1867, when he encouraged this diverse group to rouse the church from its “checked, cribbed, confined” torpor. Once again, he noted “... worship finds expression” in “good works... only on the basis of active duty.” For him, the Civil War was such a good work: “The soul of our late war... was, first, the desire to abolish slavery in this country, and secondly, to abolish the mischief of the war itself, by healing and saving the sick and wounded soldiers” through the “sacred bands of the Sanitary Commission.”114

  • 115 Ibid., 485, 486.

62In 1869, he addressed the FRA again, glad that “a more realistic church” was emerging, one aligned with a science accepting “Divinity in the atoms” instead of resorting to supernatural theism. This was the modern, scientifically informed church he had called for in “Worship,” giving him an opportunity to reaffirm that “... the moral sentiment speaks to every man the law after which the Universe was made.”115

Assessing Reconstruction

  • 116 JMN 15: 77-78, 459.

63Emerson felt that the Union’s triumph in 1865 had irrevocably rid the nation of slavery, writing in his journal, “This victory... will stay put.” Further, he was glad “that the rebels have been pounded instead of negociated [sic] into a peace.” Yet he was well aware of the hurdles to enacting and enforcing emancipation: “The problems that now remain to be solved are very intricate & perplexing, & men are very much at a loss as to the right action.” Only six months after the war’s official end, he also worried about achieving his vision of national transformation: “We hoped that in the Peace, after such a war, a great expansion would follow in the mind of the country; grand views in every direction,— true freedom in politics, in religion, in social science, in thought. But the energy of the nation seems to have expended itself... and every interest is found as sectional as before.” His list of indictments spared no one: “The Episcopal church is baser than ever,... the Democrat as false & truckling; the Union party as timid & compromising, the scholars pale & expectant, never affirmative.”116

  • 117 Ibid., 65, 458, 459, 471-72.

64More positively and closer to home, his journal now showed little trace of his former ambivalence about the capabilities of blacks. He wrote with forceful clarity, “The obvious remedy is to give the negro his vote.” In fact, he had more confidence that “the negro will learn to write & read” to qualify for voting “before the [poor and uneducated] white will.” Furthermore, he doubted the moral potential of any class of white southerner. Their wartime “cruelty & malignity” repulsed him. On a mild rampage, he charged them not only “with starving prisoners of war... massacring surrendered men,” and “burning cities,” but also with biological warfare in “attempts to import the yellow fever into New York” and with such barbaric practices as “cutting up the bones of our soldiers to make ornaments, & drinking-cups of their skulls.” Northerners were in another category of concern: “If we let the southern States in to Congress, the Northern democrats will join them in thwarting the will of the government.”117

  • 118 Constitution of the United States, Amendments XIII, XIV, XV, http://www.archives.gov
  • 119 Gougeon, Virtue’s Hero, 320.

65Nevertheless, two months before Lincoln’s assassination, on February 1, 1865, Congress had passed the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, and the states ratified it on December 18 of that year. The Fourteenth Amendment, granting due process and equal protection under the law to former slaves, followed in 1866, and the Fifteenth Amendment, giving voting rights to all men regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” came three years later.118 The last two amendments, ratified in 1868 and 1870 respectively, meant that all three became law within only five years, remarkably fast given the fierce controversy they evoked. These liberal reforms were first threatened by a trio of pivotal events in April 1865: Lee’s surrender five days before Lincoln’s assassination and Andrew Johnson’s succession to the presidency. Johnson was a southern Democrat hostile to the agenda of universal suffrage. When southern states rushed to block the amendments and to pass the first Jim Crow laws, a virtual war broke out between the president and the combined forces of radicals and abolitionists.119

  • 120 JMN 16: 27; L 5: 477.
  • 121 JMN 16: 115, 142.

66In quick order, Emerson deplored Johnson’s leadership as a “disastrous mistake” and hoped his fellow New Englanders would “go to the polls, to put a check on our mad President.”120 Early in 1868, Johnson, having narrowly escaped impeachment, remained in office to oppose the Fourteenth Amendment. In June that same year, Emerson privately made his position clear: “The Negro should say to the government, your principle is, no tax without representation; but as long as you do not protect me at home & abroad, you do not give me the value for which I have paid.” Only with Grant’s election to the presidency a few months later did the agenda for Reconstruction seem assured. Emerson counted Grant among “the few stout & sincere persons... that encourage your heart from day to day.”121

  • 122 L 6: 195.
  • 123 Lidian Emerson, Selected Letters, 286-87.

67By deft management of his infirmities during this time, Emerson remained involved in affairs near and far. From Baltimore in January 1871, he wrote Lidian of his visits to “General Howard’s Freedmen’s Institute, an important college for colored men” (now Howard University) where he was eagerly pressed into an impromptu address.122 In his absence, Lidian collected a constant stream of fan letters as well as requests for articles. In 1872, she wrote him in Europe, “Letters keep coming for you — mostly for autographs. The ‘drummer’ of the ‘Index,’ [the FRA’s newspaper] wishes you to send him instead of the money... an article for that wise paper. The Independent wants one.”123 Before that, he had kept in touch with friends at memorials, funerals, and special events.

  • 124 W 11: 307, 308, 311-12.
  • 125 CW 10: 468.

68Emerson’s testimonies on these occasions enlarge the record of his postwar thinking and attitudes. In his speech at the Concord service for Lincoln on April 19, 1865, the town’s annual date to commemorate the Revolution, he described the president’s assassination as singularly tragic and globally significant. With cosmic overtones, he likened Lincoln’s murder to “an uncalculated eclipse over the planet... because of the mysterious hopes and fears which, in the present day, are connected with the name and institutions of America.” Still, he saw Lincoln’s achievements as cause for “a song of triumph, which even tears for his death cannot keep down.” Projecting his own feelings about responsible self-reform, he praised Lincoln as a man who “grew according to the need.”124 Two years later, at the funeral for his friend George Luther Stearns, Emerson recounted the personal sacrifices Stearns had made for the abolitionist cause, often working at a pace that “so effectually banished him from his own house, that his children asked their mother who this man was that came there on a visit.”125

69Five days after Stearns’ funeral in 1867, again on April 19, Concord’s hallowed commemoration day, Emerson stood on the common to dedicate a thirty-foot granite obelisk, the Soldier’s Monument, to forty-four Concord men who had died in the war and helped bring about what he claimed was the country’s second Revolution.

4.12 Civil War Memorial, Monument Square, Concord, Mass., 1867.

  • 126 Ibid., 471, 472, 473, 475, 483-84; yankeeancestry. tripod. com/concordcwm. html.

70This patriotic note prefaced a much deeper call for the moral reconstruction he had outlined in “Faith,” “Worship,” and “Character.” Addressing the whole nation, in effect, he admitted that the North’s “own theory and practice of liberty had got sadly out of gear.” Nevertheless, he called the Union soldiers “as much missionaries to the mind of the country, as they were carriers of material force.” He singled out George L. Prescott, who “had grown up in this village from a boy,” and who in three years of service had risen from lieutenant of Concord’s company G of the 5th Regiment to colonel of the 32nd Massachusetts Volunteers. He then movingly quoted from letters, notes, and battle reports of rank-and-file Concord recruits to honor their aborted youthful sweetness, tender feelings, homesickness, and suffering. He shared the “gloom” of his neighbors, especially those “who can hardly read the names on yonder bronze tablet, the mist so gathers in their eyes.” He noted as well that “three of the names are of sons of one family,” Asa, John, and Samuel Melvin. Concluding, Emerson did not forget those survivors, unnamed on the obelisk, who “put just as much at hazard as those who died.”126

  • 127 Ralph L. Rusk, The Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson (New York: Charles Scribners’Sons, 1949), 490. JMN 1 (...)
  • 128 JMN 15: 76; 16: 478.

71By the mid-seventies, Emerson was making few such public addresses. But in the spring of 1874, he served as pallbearer at the funeral of his close friend Charles Sumner. This death led him to reminisce in his journal, “For Sumner’s merit, go back to the dark times of 1850 & see the position of Boston & its eminent men.”127 Earlier, in 1865, he had remembered his friend’s energetic response to Webster’s betrayal in 1850-1851: “Sumner & his valiant young contemporaries” made “their views not only clear but prevailing... & drove Mr Webster out of the world.” Four years later, he had been pleased that Sumner was assembling his papers, believing they would form “the history of the republic for the last 25 years, as told by a brave, perfectly honest & Well instructed man.”128 Sumner had been Emerson’s political alter ego, a prime candidate to epitomize the contemporary ethical leader envisaged in “Character” (1865).

4.13 Charles Sumner in his 50s, photograph, c. 1860s.

  • 129 Julia Ward Howe and Ednah Dow Cheney, “Reminiscences,” in Bosco and Myerson, Emerson in His Own Tim (...)

72Posthumous tributes to Emerson, generally ignored by his biographers, measure the long and wide shadow of his influence. A few months after his death in 1882, Julia Ward Howe, speaking at the Concord School of Philosophy, recalled her changing estimate of Emerson. Early on, he had seemed to be “a more charming personification of Satan... universally laughed at... in high society.” Later, she saw something else: “He had a look of power that did not show itself in the garb of power. Who can give us that look of inward meaning again?” On this same occasion, Ednah Dow Cheney noted that at Sumner’s funeral Emerson had forgotten the “brave words” he had spoken about the senator’s notorious beating in the Senate in 1856. But she noted that a black man in South Carolina “had remembered them as they were reported in the newspapers of the time,” saying “how they had been an inspiration and a strength to him ever afterward.”129

  • 130 The Genius and Character of Emerson: Lectures at the Concord School of Philosophy, ed. Frank Sanbor (...)

73Two years later, the school again sponsored an occasion of formal tributes to Emerson, published as The Genius and Character of Emerson (1885). Speakers included FRA and Radical Club members, abolitionists, and feminists who heralded Emerson’s long-term legacy to both history and politics. Among them, Julia Ward Howe once more perceptively noted that Emerson’s “great sensitiveness to the rights and claims of others, sometimes made him a waiter where others dashed headlong into the fight.” She particularly applauded “his indignation... at the great wrongs which have disgraced our social and political history” and the power of his response: “... a single shaft from his bow flew far and hit the mark.” George Willis Cooke exuberantly connected Emerson’s literary and reform careers, naming him “the literary interpreter of [an] America” that “brings together the races of the world as no nation or time ever did before.” Cooke also argued, “If the anticipations of Emerson were in any degree correct, the literature representing America will have in it the spirit of freedom and equal rights.”130

  • 131 “Speech of Moorfield Storey,” The Centenary of the Birth of Emerson as observed in Concord, May 25, (...)

74In May 1903, Concord’s leading men’s club, the Social Circle, of which Emerson had been a venerable member, celebrated the centenary of his birth. At this event, Moorfield Storey, Edward Emerson’s Harvard classmate and an old family friend, honored Emerson for his “most valuable lessons” about human dignity, namely “that every man,... white, brown or black, had his right to his chance of success, and it followed that no other man had a right to take that chance.”131 Such lessons were more influential than Emerson could have known: in 1909, Storey, a white man, became the first president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

  • 132 “The Emerson Centennial Memorial School at Concord and Boston, July 13-31, 1903” (Boston, Mass.: Fr (...)
  • 133 Gougeon, Virtue’s Hero, 344, 345. In light of the notebook’s discovery, Emerson’s antislavery recor (...)
  • 134 “A Tender Tribute Fittingly Paid by Anna Garlin Spencer,” Boston Evening Transcript, 16 July 1903.

75Within weeks of the Social Circle’s event, the FRA sponsored the Emerson Memorial School, held in Concord and Boston from July 13-31. It was one of the most lengthy and influential posthumous tributes to Emerson, unique in focusing solely on his reform work. For eighteen days, lectures by thirty scholars and activists were so scheduled that hundreds of educators from many parts of the country, already in Boston for a conference of the National Educational Association, could also attend. Emerson’s abolitionism was a prominent topic, surveyed by William Lloyd Garrison’s lecture, “Emerson and the Anti-Slavery Movement” and Moorfield Storey’s “Emerson and the Civil War.”132 To prepare his remarks, Storey had borrowed Emerson’s “Liberty” notebook, a collection of his notes on slavery and abolition. Unreturned to the family, this revealing manuscript was effectively lost in his own papers until it was rediscovered in 1964, years after their deposit in the Library of Congress.133 The Memorial School lectures also documented Emerson’s work for women’s rights. Anna Garlin Spencer, daughter of the abolitionist Nancy Garlin and a prominent activist for women, lectured on “The American Woman’s Debt to Emerson.” Spencer praised Emerson’s liberal support “without regard to distinctions of sex... race, or inheritance” and also “the strongly radical position” he had taken on women’s rights in 1855.134

Adding to Women’s Rights

  • 135 See fuller discussion, Ch. 2, Part 2.

76In late 1839, thirty-six-year-old Emerson revealed to his journal a tightly kept secret. His mask of cool deliberation hid just the opposite: a tender “ woman’s heart” (his emphasis).135 At first he projected this perceived vulnerability onto an imagined “Rob” and so kept it at a distance. Even after owning up to it, however, Emerson was baffled: he was thoroughly male and already the father of two children. But this clandestine, feminine side of Emerson helps to shed more light on his announced preference for study and lecturing over the reformer’s platform. It also illuminates an aspect of the tension he felt between his principles and biases, especially concerning women’s rights, and the near resolution of that inner debate after the war.

  • 136 Petrulionis, 15-19.
  • 137 JMN 5: 382.

77It is true that Emerson and Margaret Fuller, following Goethe’s idea of genius as androgynous, had flattered themselves that their psyches exhibited both masculine and feminine traits. But that was aesthetic, mutual congratulation among friends. The world into which Emerson threw himself as a lecturer during the 1830s and 40s was a male-dominated society with women secondary at all levels. He could not afford to be identified with females, however he admired them as friends, who were so stringently marginalized outside the home. That state of affairs was why he pitied women in general, criticized people whom he considered “effeminate,” and so often extolled “manly” virtues. Living in Concord since the 1830s, Emerson had been surrounded by family and neighbors who were abolitionist leaders and activists, most of whom were women.136 Many, in his view, were overly sentimental and too singularly focused on abolition, including his wife Lidian.137 Though he entirely agreed with their antislavery position, he did not want to be linked to what he saw as their defects and those of certain others, especially one-note, sometimes self-aggrandizing reformers — nor did he want to expose his tender feminine heart.

  • 138 “Address at the Women’s Rights Convention, 20 September 1855,” LL 2: 26.

78Although Emerson’s 1844 Concord address on slavery announced his entry into the abolitionists’ cause and alluded to women’s self-reliance, it was not until the South’s virtual march North to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that he fully responded to the call of abolitionists and women. In his view, Daniel Webster, New England’s greatest politician and orator, had disgraced himself. Male issues — sectional rivalry, political power, pride, and honor — now combined with women’s high moral concerns to dominate the daily news. Emerson could express his “woman’s heart” and all its sympathetic passion with less fear of a feminized taint. And in 1855, at the Woman’s Rights Convention in Boston, he began to do so, extending his work to abolition’s natural corollary — women’s rights. In fact, at this early date, among many other privileges for women, he openly endorsed female enfranchisement, with a sly reference to its potential benefit to his own interests: “... certainly all my points would be sooner carried in the state, if women voted.”138

  • 139 CW 10: 464. James had earlier remarked on Emerson’s feminine side. See Ch. 5, 37; Henry James, Sr., (...)

79Emerson had had one proviso about those rights: that women should not operate in the public sphere lest their crucial civilizing influence be lost. This restraint was partly based on his view of the given nature of females, but it also arguably reflected his need to protect his “woman’s heart” by being a scholar-critic above the hurly-burly of politics. After the war, that protection was increasingly unnecessary. In “Character” (1865), he built upon Goethe’s belief “‘that pure loveliness and right good-will are the highest manly prerogatives, before which all energetic heroism... must recede,’” by swiftly attributing these “manly” virtues to women. And he added, “In perfect accord with this, Henry James [Sr.] affirms, that ‘ to give the feminine element in life its hard-earned but eternal supremacy over the masculine has been the secret inspiration of all past history.’”139 Such high judgment by a respected friend whose gaze covered, as he put it, “all past history,” allowed Emerson to accept his hidden heart, completing this important aspect of his private revolution. An aging man, his inner life no longer a society liability urging him to restraint, he was freed from convention and from himself to promote the rights that women wanted, and for the reason they gave: because they wanted it.

80Emerson’s psychological release coincided with his wider recognition of women’s impressive public record during the war. By 1865, they had proven their indispensable effectiveness as nurses, educators, vital volunteers, and leaders in activist organizations. In 1862, he had seen his young neighbor Louisa May Alcott volunteer to nurse the wounded in Washington D. C., an experience fictionalized in her Hospital Sketches (1863). He also admired Lucretia Mott, the pioneering Quaker abolitionist who in 1840, ignoring prohibitions against women, had attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. With domestic help, Mott had successfully integrated motherhood and family life with her public career. With Emerson, she, too, helped found the FRA after the war. In addition, Lidian’s influence as a reformer — lessening Emerson’s sense of her excessive sentimentality — was both powerful and constant.

  • 140 CW 10: 397; T. Gregory Garvey, The Emerson Dilemma: Essays on Emerson and Social Reform (Athens GA: (...)
  • 141 JMN 16: 90, 94, 259, 274.

81Emerson’s opinions about women and their public and private roles were now moving toward more complete alignment. In 1862, his “American Civilization” address at the Smithsonian repeated his point in “Woman” of seven years before: the influence of good women was at the root of civilization. Only three years later, when the New England Women’s Club formed, it immediately offered him honorary membership. (At this club, he would read the first draft of his essay about Mary Moody Emerson.)140 In 1865, too, he privately critiqued Hawthorne for the “dismal mask” he had cast over Fuller’s “rich & brilliant genius” in his novel The Blithedale Romance (1852), based on Brook Farm. In other journal entries from 1866 onward, Emerson reassessed his relationships with Margaret Fuller and Mary Moody Emerson while also reexamining the public importance of their works. He asked himself, “What could [Charles Elliot] Norton mean in saying that the only great men of the American past were Franklin & Edwards? We have had Adams, & Channing, Washington, & the prophetic authors of the Federalist, Madison & Hamilton, and, if he had known it, Aunt Mary.” He added both women to “my own list of thinkers & friends,” noting “MME’s journals shine with genius, & Margaret Fuller’s Conversation did.” In May 1872, he reported reading his aunt’s manuscripts “to Hedge & Bartol on Friday evening... nearly a hundred years since she was born.”141

  • 142 CW 8: 108.
  • 143 LL 2: 16-18.

82Beyond these two closest female intellectuals in his life, Emerson reappraised the general contribution of contemporary women to the public good. In 1867, in his Phi Beta Kappa address at Harvard on “The Progress of Culture,” he listed first “the new claim of woman to a political status” among post-war “ethical... innovations [his emphasis].”142 Two years later in Boston, Emerson gave an untitled address, a revision of “Woman,” on the anniversary of the New England Woman’s Suffrage Association, at which time he became one of its vice-presidents. Another post-war address similar to these two, “Discours Manqué. Woman,” was perhaps never delivered. But Emerson’s choice of title, connoting a lack or failure, reveals his sense that the vote and other rights for women had failed to receive adequate attention.143

83In this period of renewed interest in women’s rights, Emerson met the eighteen-year-old poet Emma Lazarus at Sam and Anna Ward’s home in New York in February 1868.

4.14 Emma Lazarus at 38.

  • 144 Von Frank, Chronology, 440-41; L 6: 7; Letters of ETE 2: 228; Letters 5: 143, 144. Emerson kept any (...)

84She gave him a signed copy of her Poems and Translations (1867) and sought his advice. He warmly welcomed her. Though younger than any woman who had approached him, he no doubt saw her as yet another potential genuine American voice. Most of his protégés — with the exception of Whitman — had been local and part of his own Transcendental literary culture. Lazarus, from a prominent and wealthy Jewish family of New York City, represented a socially foreign world to Emerson. But in featuring non-Christian religious texts in The Dial over twenty years before, he had proved himself open to other faiths. A decade before meeting Lazarus, on Anna Ward’s conversion to Catholicism, he had assured her, “To old eyes, how supremely unimportant the form under which we celebrate the Justice, Love, & Truth,— the attributes of the Deity & the Soul!”144 That Lazarus was a Jew would not be an issue for him.

  • 145 L 6: 6-7, 11, 21, 114.

85Emerson and Lazarus began a correspondence that lasted until his death. He soon wrote her to encourage but also criticize certain verses as “too youthful, & some words & some rhymes inadmissible.” In addition, he found fault with her “tragic & painful” endings. Two months later, he was a more impressed mentor, simultaneously self-deprecating and playfully arrogant as well as open to her criticism. He called himself “a shut up dilatory correspondent,” but one who, “appointed your professor,... should be very stern & exigeant, & insist on large readings & writings, & from haughty points of view.” By habit, he referred to the “true lover of poetry” as male and relied “on your being docile.” But typically, he asked Lazurus to think for herself, wishing to see her “own results.” This advice he paired with his other favorite caution: avoid excessive book-learning. “Books,” he wrote to her in June, were “introductory only”— better to hear what “you have found therein,... or still better if you have found what I have never found, & yet is admirable to me also.” In April 1870 he included his own work, chiding her “overestimate of the little book of ‘Society & c” (Society and Solitude, 1870).145 Rather, he invited parity between them, his requirement for serious discussions of poetry.

  • 146 Ibid., 6: 75, 83, 90, 144.
  • 147 Letters of ETE 2: 225.

86Educated in Greek and Latin classics and familiar with current Continental writers, Lazarus had the intellectual background for that equality. She also had stamina to match Emerson’s, responding to his frank criticism with diligent revision. She did so twice in 1869, reworking her poem “Admetus” after Emerson judged its “feeble lines & feeble words” inadequate for a promised submission to the Atlantic. And he declined to allow her to dedicate it to him, arguing that would prejudice his promotion of it. Though Lazarus never won his approval, she featured the poem in her collection Admetus and Other Poems, free there to dedicate it to Emerson (for which he thanked her).146 Eight years after they had met, in August 1876, he invited Lazarus to spend a week in Concord with the family. By then, his conversation and memory were sharply limited, but her company energized him. Ellen described the two as “a novel spectacle... she got answers out of him that I should have declared he wouldn’t give.”147

  • 148 Genius and Character, 215. Lazarus’s most famous sonnet, “The New Colossus,” was written a year aft (...)
  • 149 Genius and Character, 309.

87Lazarus was the first and youngest of four poets who honored Emerson at the Concord School of Philosophy in 1884. The sonnet she wrote for the occasion draws the obvious parallel to their relationship: “As, when a father dies... so do we gather round thy vacant chair... for the love we bear,/Not for thy fame’s sake.”148 On the same occasion, Julia Ward Howe applauded Emerson’s independence in speaking out “for Woman Suffrage more than once with sober weight and earnestness,” and in recognizing the “character and intelligence of the women” who had asked him for public support: “Mr. Emerson considered these women as of a rank to commend any views concerning their own sex which they might adopt.”149

88Other women also benefited from Emerson’s warm support. At the Concord School of Philosophy in 1880, Emerson overheard Elizabeth Peabody chide young student Kate Douglas Wiggin for her wind-tossed hair, advising that to “be a real student” she should wear it “drawn back smoothly.” Despite his aphasia, Emerson quipped, “‘I have seen smoother heads with less in them.’”150 On larger matters, Wellesley College president Caroline Hazard, speaking at Emerson’s centennial in 1903, extolled his feminist advocacy and expressed “the affection and gratitude which I have — which all women must have — for the work which Mr. Emerson did for women.” She also praised “his splendid message of the dignity of the person,” applied to the young generally, as having “an especial force to the young women of to-day.”151 A full generation after his death, Hazard’s testimony indicates Emerson’s lasting influence in encouraging female self-confidence and rights. Such support had been a major factor, with New England women leaders at the cutting edge, in the founding of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890. In turn, the association’s efforts led to the Nineteenth Amendment, ratified in 1920, sixty-five years after Emerson’s “Woman” had advocated the right it guaranteed: female enfranchisement.152

Answering Terminus

4.15 Emerson at 70, 1873.

4.16 Marble bust of Emerson at 76, 1879.

  • 153 CW 8: 1-2, quoted in von Frank CW 9: l-li.
  • 154 Emerson’s Poetry Notebook, quoted in von Frank, CW 9: li.

89Emerson’s repeatedly-stated belief in nature’s flux shaped his view of death, including his own: “... early hints are given that we are not to stay here, that we must be making ready to go;— a warning that this magnificent hotel and conveniency we call Nature is not final. First innuendoes, then broad hints, then smart taps, are given, suggesting nothing stands still in nature; that the creation is on wheels, in transit, always passing into something else, streaming into something higher; that matter is not what it appears.”153 This sort of thinking and his admiration of the Persian poets made him conceive of his poetry as a “Chasing with words fast-flowing things.”154 From this perspective, the final version of his “Terminus” (1867) should be read.

It is time to be old,
To take in sail:—
The god of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: ‘No more!
No farther shoot
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent,
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
……………

  • 155 Parts of Emerson’s first lines date from his journal entry in 1846 (“I grow old”) and from an 1847 (...)

90Emerson’s youthful awareness of a final limit to his days meant that for over a lifetime he had been thinking about the poem that finally became “Terminus.” The record shows that writing it took him at least twenty years.155 Such a long genesis helps explain his crisp opening of three swiftly rendered lines: “It is time to be old,/To take in sail: —”: Emerson is face-to-face with Fate, “the god of bounds.” With a thundering “No more!” this god issues a cascade of commands, first cancelling Emerson’s chief incentives, ambition and imagination, then prescribing what he must now do: “Contract thy firmament/To compass of a tent.” He must also ration energy’s “failing river,” and, still honoring “the Giver,” focus his remaining days on maturing “unfallen fruit”— projects undertaken but not yet completed. This deity of limit then allows Emerson ten full lines to “curse, if thou wilt, thy sires.” He does indeed, blaming them for being among poets “deaf and dumb” and among “gladiators”— front-line reformers —“halt and numb.” Yet as he had said in “Fate,” “... freedom is necessary.” Fated to give a ready yes to this god’s “if thou wilt,” Emerson has already escaped its power, and flies forward even more freely.

  • 156 Young William Dean Howell’s appreciation of “Terminus” in the Atlantic Monthly (1867) gives the poe (...)

91Proclaiming “As the bird trims her to the gale,/I trim myself to the storm of time/I man the rudder, reef the sail,” he pledges that he will above all, “Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime.” Unmistakably, this is obedience to the “Ought” announced in Nature thirty years before, now become the voice of free will in “Fate” and the moral sentiment of “Worship” and “Character.” The voice had told him then and continues to say, “‘ Lowly faithful, banish fear,/Right onward drive unharmed;/The port, well worth the cruise, is near,/And every wave is charmed.’”156

  • 157 CW 3: 35.

92Emerson’s choice of a poem as the means of facing his own mortality might have been predicted. Encouraged by Mary Moody Emerson, he had long envisioned becoming a prophetic poet. Certain poems realize that ambitious hope. The best lines in “Terminus” alone contradict his sense of being a poetic failure. In addition, his essay “The Poet” of twenty-three years before had been a uniquely inspirational analysis of what makes a modern poet, and his lectures often championed the scholar-poet as a “liberating god.” Emerson was this scholar-poet par excellence. But ironically, it was his avid followers — Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, Stevens, and others — who surpassed him in quantity and quality of poems and in the convention-breaking style he advocated. Then and now, Emerson’s deepest and widest success lies in having made his revolutionary thinking permeate the world in prose infused with poetry. His lasting aphorisms succinctly capture that gift. One such saying in “Experience” (1844) anticipates his final arrival in “Terminus”: “To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.”157

4.17 Emerson at 76 with family on east side of “Bush,” 1879.

Notes

1 The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 16 vols., eds. William H. Gilman, et al. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960-1982) 15: 469. Hereafter JMN.

2 Edward Emerson, Emerson in Concord: A Memoir (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1889), 183.

3 Albert J. von Frank, An Emerson Chronology (New York: G. K. Hall, 1994), 426; Robert D.

Richardson Jr., Emerson: The Mind on Fire (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995), 554.

4 Von Frank, Chronology, 481, 486.

5 Ellen Emerson, The Letters of Ellen Tucker Emerson, 2 vols., ed. Edith E. W. Gregg (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1982), 1: 691.

6 The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10 vols., eds. Robert E. Spiller, et al. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971-2013) 8: clx, xl. Hereafter CW. See also A. B. Paulson’s “Emerson and Aphasia,” Language and Style: An International Journal, 1: 1 (Winter 1968): 155-71.

7 JMN 16: 145, 172.

8 Ibid., 15: 416.

9 Von Frank, Chronology, 401-13, 427-39, 478.

10 Letters of ETE 1: 658; 2: 212. See also, John McAleer’s “The Virginia Immolation,” Ralph Waldo Emerson: Days of Encounter (Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown & Co., 1984), 633-39; von Frank, Chronology, 524, 530.

11 Richardson, 536.

12 The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 12 vols., ed. Edward Waldo Emerson (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1903-1904), 11: 320. Hereafter W.

13 The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10 vols., eds. Ralph Rusk and Eleanor Tilton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939-1994), 6: 258-60. Hereafter L.

14 L 6: 152.

15 JMN 16: 237.

16 Letters of ETE 2: 10-87; JMN 16: 284-92.

17 JMN 16: 292.

18 Letters of ETE 2: 18.

19 JMN 16: 271.

20 Lawrence Buell, Emerson (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 148.

21 JMN 2: 49, 42.

22 Ibid., 12: 152.

23 Ibid., 16: 19.

24 Ibid., 16: 55.

25 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, “Woman,” The Later Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1843-1872, eds. Ronald A. Bosco and Joel Myerson, vol. 2 (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2001), 28.

26 Richardson, 266; von Frank, Chronology, 126.

27 Megan Marshall, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), 151.

28 Lidian Jackson Emerson, The Selected Letters of Lidian Jackson Emerson, ed. Delores Bird Carpenter (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1987), 82.

29 Buell, 243. JMN 9: 134; JMN 9: 102. Sandra H. Petrulionis, To Set This World Right: The Antislavery Movement in Thoreau’s Concord (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006), 42.

30 JMN 9: 120.

31 W 11: 247, as quoted in Len Gougeon, Virtue’s Hero: Emerson, Antislavery and Reform (Athens, GA University of Georgia Press), 221.

32 JMN 14: 166.

33 Ibid., 197.

34 CW 10: 325.

35 Christina Zwarg, Feminist Conversations: Fuller, Emerson, and the Play of Reading (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995), 259.

36 CW 3: 34, 49.

37 Ibid., 1: 10, 27.

38 Ibid., 59.

39 Ibid., 3: 34.

40 Ibid., 1: 27.

41 Ibid., 3: 35.

42 Ibid., 48-49.

43 Ibid., 6: 1.

44 Pendleton King, “Notes of Conversations with Emerson” (1884), eds. Ronald Bosco and Joel Myerson, Emerson in His Own Time (Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2003), 132.

45 Barbara Packer, Historical Introduction, CW 6: xvii.

46 Without a doubt, Conduct’s essays were selected and arranged as assiduously as had been Essays II (1844) and his two collections of poems (1847 and 1867). Joseph Slater refers to Emerson making four “organizational outlines” for Essays II, Historical Introduction, CW 3: xxvii; for his detailed attention to the order of his published poems, see von Frank, CW 9: xc.

47 Von Frank, CW 9: lxxii, lxxxiii-lxxxv.

48 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, “The Present State of Ethical Philosophy,” in Edward Everett Hale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Together with Two Early Essays of Emerson (Boston, Mass.: American Unitarian Association, 1902), 97-135, 131.

49 Von Frank, Chronology, 265.

50 CW 6: 23.

51 Ibid., 120.

52 Von Frank, Chronology, 265.

53 CW 6: xli.

54 Ibid., xlv.

55 Ibid., 119.

56 Ibid., 1.

57 Ibid., 2.

58 Ibid., 3-11.

59 Ibid., 11-12.

60 Ibid., 12-13.

61 Ibid., 16.

62 Ibid., 18-19.

63 Ibid., 23.

64 Ibid., 25.

65 Ibid., 4.

66 Ibid., 8-9.

67 Ibid., 11.

68 Ibid., 19.

69 CW 5: 27.

70 CW 6: 106.

71 Ibid., 107.

72 Ibid., 123.

73 Ibid., 107-08.

74 Ibid., 109-11.

75 Ibid., 113-14.

76 Ibid., 118.

77 Ibid., 116-17.

78 At twenty-three, Emerson had noted humanity’s untrustworthiness, including reason (corruptible by pride). Then he wrote, “It is the leading idea of Pascal’s Religious Meditations to contrast what is grand & pitiful in human nature.” This practice, evidently already Emerson’s habit, arose from his need to treat “the whole of Man,” who being “a lopsided thing,” could only be justly viewed by weighing his two sides (JMN 2: 390). In Spring (?) 1859, he remarked, “Now & then, rarely comes a stout man like Luther, Montaigne, Pascal, Herbert, who utters a thought or feeling in a virile manner, and it is unforgettable” (JMN 14: 277). Then again, in April-May 1864, “We said, that ours was the recuperative age. Pascal is one of its recoveries, not only the essay on Love, but the pure text of the Pensees” (JMN 15: 52).

79 JMN 2: 238.

80 Ibid., 4: 45.

81 CW 6: 128.

82 Ibid.

83 “The Fugitive Slave Law,” Emerson’s Antislavery Writings, eds. Len Gougeon and Joel Myerson (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995), 84.

84 CW 3: 34.

85 CW 10: 447. Bentham’s basic Utilitarian axiom is, “... the greatest happiness of the greatest number” measures “right and wrong.” Jeremy Betham, Preface, A Fragment on Government (1776), 2nd paragraph.

86 Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. Lewis White Beck (Berlin: 1902-1938), 437.

87 CW 10: 448.

88 Ibid., 449

89 Ibid., 450.

90 Ibid.

91 Ibid., 451.

92 Ibid., 452.

93 Ibid., 453.

94 Ibid., 454.

95 Ibid., 455-59.

96 Ibid., 457-58, 460.

97 Ibid., 462; von Frank, Chronology, 401; JMN 15: 301.

98 JMN 15: 301.

99 CW 10: 464.

100 Von Frank, Chronology, 419.

101 William James Potter, The Free Religious Association: Its Twenty-Five Years and Their Meaning: An Address for the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Association, at Tremont Temple, Boston, May 27th, 1892 (Boston, Mass.: Free Religious Association of America, 1892), 19.

102 Richard A. Kellaway, “The Free Religious Association,” Unitarian Universalist Collegium: An Association for Liberal Religious Studies. 22 July 2013, http://www.uucollegium.org, p. 8; Julia Ward Howe, Reminiscences: 1819-1899, chapter 13, 18 July 2013, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu

103 David Robinson, “The Free Religion Movement,” The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism, ed. Joel Myerson, Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, Laura Dassow Walls (New York, Oxford University Press, 2010), 617.

104 David Robinson, The Unitarians and the Universalists (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985), 107.

105 Cyrus A. Bartol, “Radicalism,” Radical Problems (Boston, Mass.: Roberts Brothers, 1872), 98-118, 110.

106 Mary Sargent, Sketches and Reminiscences of the Radical Club of Chestnut Street, Boston (Boston, Mass.: James R. Osgood & Co., 1880), x.

107 Potter, Free, 21, x.

108 Ibid., 6, 7, 22.

109 According to Julia Ward Howe, “Mr. Emerson objected strongly to newspaper reports of the sittings of the Radical Club... sent to the New York Tribune by Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton” on the grounds that they “interfered with the freedom of the occasion.” Reminiscences, 290.

110 David Pettee, “John Turner Sargent,” Unitarian Universalist Association, 16 July 2013, http://www25.uua.org

111 Sargent, Sketches, 4.

112 Howe, Reminiscences, chapter 13.

113 Sargent, Sketches, 7-20.

114 W 11: 479, 480.

115 Ibid., 485, 486.

116 JMN 15: 77-78, 459.

117 Ibid., 65, 458, 459, 471-72.

118 Constitution of the United States, Amendments XIII, XIV, XV, http://www.archives.gov

119 Gougeon, Virtue’s Hero, 320.

120 JMN 16: 27; L 5: 477.

121 JMN 16: 115, 142.

122 L 6: 195.

123 Lidian Emerson, Selected Letters, 286-87.

124 W 11: 307, 308, 311-12.

125 CW 10: 468.

126 Ibid., 471, 472, 473, 475, 483-84; yankeeancestry. tripod. com/concordcwm. html.

127 Ralph L. Rusk, The Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson (New York: Charles Scribners’Sons, 1949), 490. JMN 16: 300.

128 JMN 15: 76; 16: 478.

129 Julia Ward Howe and Ednah Dow Cheney, “Reminiscences,” in Bosco and Myerson, Emerson in His Own Time, 113-14.

130 The Genius and Character of Emerson: Lectures at the Concord School of Philosophy, ed. Frank Sanborn (Boston, Mass.: James R. Osgood & Co., 1885), 133, 292, 299, 313, 332, 333.

131 “Speech of Moorfield Storey,” The Centenary of the Birth of Emerson as observed in Concord, May 25, 1903, http://www.archive.org

132 “The Emerson Centennial Memorial School at Concord and Boston, July 13-31, 1903” (Boston, Mass.: Free Religious Association, 1903).

133 Gougeon, Virtue’s Hero, 344, 345. In light of the notebook’s discovery, Emerson’s antislavery record came to full light for the first time. See JMN 14: 373 and John C. Broderick, “Emerson and Moorfield Storey: A Lost Journal Found,” American Literature 38: 2 (May 1966): 177-86.

134 “A Tender Tribute Fittingly Paid by Anna Garlin Spencer,” Boston Evening Transcript, 16 July 1903.

135 See fuller discussion, Ch. 2, Part 2.

136 Petrulionis, 15-19.

137 JMN 5: 382.

138 “Address at the Women’s Rights Convention, 20 September 1855,” LL 2: 26.

139 CW 10: 464. James had earlier remarked on Emerson’s feminine side. See Ch. 5, 37; Henry James, Sr., “Emerson,” Atlantic Monthly 94 (1904), 743.

140 CW 10: 397; T. Gregory Garvey, The Emerson Dilemma: Essays on Emerson and Social Reform (Athens GA: University of Georgia Press, 2001), 107, 113 n. 20.

141 JMN 16: 90, 94, 259, 274.

142 CW 8: 108.

143 LL 2: 16-18.

144 Von Frank, Chronology, 440-41; L 6: 7; Letters of ETE 2: 228; Letters 5: 143, 144. Emerson kept any misgivings to himself, omitting from his letter to Anna: “I must lament the chance-wind that has made a foreigner of you, whirled you from the forehead of the morning into the medievals, again.”

145 L 6: 6-7, 11, 21, 114.

146 Ibid., 6: 75, 83, 90, 144.

147 Letters of ETE 2: 225.

148 Genius and Character, 215. Lazarus’s most famous sonnet, “The New Colossus,” was written a year after Emerson’s death, and was not placed on the base of the Statue of Liberty until 1903, sixteen years after her own death. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/liberty/lazarus.html

149 Genius and Character, 309.

150 Kate D. Wiggins, Autobiography, Bosco and Myerson, Emerson in His Own Time, 246.

151 “Speech of Carol Hazard,” ibid., 221-22.

152 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Woman_Suffrage_Association; http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=63

153 CW 8: 1-2, quoted in von Frank CW 9: l-li.

154 Emerson’s Poetry Notebook, quoted in von Frank, CW 9: li.

155 Parts of Emerson’s first lines date from his journal entry in 1846 (“I grow old”) and from an 1847 letter (“to live within bounds” and to take “in sail”) (von Frank, CW 9: xci). In the 1850s, he wrote a short fragment entitled “Terminus”: “For thought & not praise;/Thought is the wages/For which I sell days,/Will gladly sell ages,/And willing grow old, Deaf, & dumb, & blind, & cold,/Melting matter into dreams, Panoramas which I saw/And whatever glows or seems/Into substance into Law [.]” See “Terminus,” Emerson: Collected Poems and Translations, eds. Harold Bloom and Paul Kane (New York: Library of America, 1994), 419. Emerson’s third collection, Selected Poems (1876), assembled with much help from others, contained no newly written poems. Von Frank, CW 9: xciv.

156 Young William Dean Howell’s appreciation of “Terminus” in the Atlantic Monthly (1867) gives the poem an enduring and perceptive reading: “‘Terminus’ has a wonderful didactic charm, and must be valued as one of the noblest introspective poems in the language. The poet touches the reader by his acceptance of fate and age, and his serene trust of the future, yet is not moved by his own pathos” (von Frank, CW 9: xciii).

157 CW 3: 35.

Table des illustrations

Légende 4.1 Emerson at 64, 1867.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-1.jpg
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Légende 4.2 Emerson’s Lecturing Peak, 1865 and 1867.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-2.jpg
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Légende 4.3 Ellen Tucker Emerson at 21, 1860.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-3.jpg
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Légende 4.4 Emerson at 65-66, c. 1868-1869, with grandson, Ralph Waldo Forbes, and the boy’s paternal grandfather, John Forbes.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-4.jpg
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Légende 4.5 Emerson at about 73, c. 1876 with son Edward and Edward’s son.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-5.jpg
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Légende 4.6 Redwood “Samoset,” Mariposa Grove, Yosemite, 1871 or after, John Muir drawing.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-6.jpg
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Légende 4.7 Emerson house leather fire bucket, 1794.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-7.jpg
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Légende 4.8 Emerson’s Trip to Great Britain, Europe, and Egypt, 1872-1873.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-8.jpg
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Légende 4.9 The Conduct of Life, title page, revised edition, 1889.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-9.jpg
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Légende 4.10 Julia Ward Howe at 42, 1861.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-10.jpg
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Légende 4.11 View of Boston, July 4, 1870.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-11.jpg
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Légende 4.12 Civil War Memorial, Monument Square, Concord, Mass., 1867.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-12.jpg
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Légende 4.13 Charles Sumner in his 50s, photograph, c. 1860s.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-13.jpg
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Légende 4.14 Emma Lazarus at 38.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-14.jpg
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Légende 4.15 Emerson at 70, 1873.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-15.jpg
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Légende 4.16 Marble bust of Emerson at 76, 1879.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-16.jpg
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Légende 4.17 Emerson at 76 with family on east side of “Bush,” 1879.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2298/img-17.jpg
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