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scendental philosophy. That it was indigenous to New England appears to be the sounder view. According to a high authority,' 'Emerson's tran'scendentalism was native to his mind. . . It 'had been in the life and thought of his family for 'generations.' He was certainly regarded as the heresiarch.
Like most complex movements Transcendentalism had a grotesque side. The enthusiasts, in their anxiety to be emancipated from old formulas, fell victims to the vice of the age, the pro'pensity to exaggerate the importance of visible ' and tangible facts.' Emerson laughs at them a little: They promise the establishment of the 'kingdom of heaven and end with champing un'leavened bread or dedicating themselves to the ' nourishment of a beard.'
The movement had an organ,' a quarterly magazine called 'The Dial,' the first number of which appeared in July, 1840. George Ripley was the business manager, Margaret Fuller the editor. It came under Emerson's care two years later, and in 1844 was abandoned. An audience large enough to support the organ could not be found.
Transcendentalism coincided chronologically with several plans for bettering the condition of the world. We are a little wild here with num
1 G. W. Cooke: An Historical and Biographical Introduction to accompany THE DIAL as reprinted in numbers for The Rowfant Club [Cleveland], 1902.
'berless projects of social reform. Not a reading man but has his draft of a new community in his 'waistcoat pocket. I am gently mad myself.' '
Emerson was sympathetic with the community experiments at 'Brook Farm' and 'Fruitlands,' but not to the extent of joining them. He approved every wild action of the experimenters, nevertheless he had a work of his own.
The work consisted in bringing his thought to his public by means of lectures. He was not overfond of the medium of communication. 'Are 'not lectures a kind of Peter Parley's story of 'Uncle Plato, and a puppet show of the Eleusinian mysteries?' he asks. It is not recorded what he thought of that kind of lecturing which may best be described in Byron's phrase 'to giggle ' and make giggle.' He frankly (but unenviously) admired the speaker who could produce instantaneous effects, moving the audience to laughter or tears. His own gifts were of another sort. When 'the stout Illinoisian' after a short trial walked out of the hall Emerson's sympathies were with him: 'Shakespeare, or Franklin, or Esop, coming to 'Illinois, would say, I must give my wisdom a 'comic form,
Urged thereto by his generous friend Alexander Ireland of the Manchester Examiner,' who took on himself all the business responsibilities, Emerson (in 1847) made a lecturing trip to England. Emerson to Carlyle, Oct. 30, 1840.
He spoke in Manchester, Edinburgh, London, and elsewhere. The lectures were attacked by the 'clergymen,' and the attacks met with 'pale though 'brave defences' by Emerson's friends. After a few weeks in Paris, then in the throes of the revolution, the lecturer returned by way of England to America.
The crisis in the anti-slavery conflict was approaching. Emerson, in spite of his philosophical attitude towards reformers, became more and more identified with the Abolitionists. During a political speech at Cambridge he was repeatedly hissed by students. According to an eye-witness, he 'seemed absolutely to enjoy it.' As late as 1861 he was received with marked hostility by the audience which gathered at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. The Mob 'roared whenever I attempted to speak, and after 'several beginnings I withdrew.' The breaking out of the war in a way relieved him. Now people knew where they stood.
His chief source of income was cut off for a time. The public was not in the mood for lectures such as his. Later he found it possible to resume his courses, and he continued to lecture effectively until within a few years of his death.
Emerson's principal books are: Nature, 1836; Essays, 1841; Essays, 'second series,' 1844; Poems, 1847; Miscellanies, 1849 (lectures and addresses, together with a reprint of Nature); Representative
Men, 1850; English Traits, 1856; Conduct of Life, 1860; May-Day and Other Pieces, 1867; Society and Solitude, 1870; Letters and Social Aims, 1876; Lectures and Biographical Sketches, 1884; and Natural History of Intellect, 1893. He edited a number of Carlyle’s books, contributed several chapters to the Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli and compiled a poetic anthology, Parnassus, 1875. The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson (edited by C. E. Norton), 1883, contains two hundred of Emerson's letters.
In 1863 Emerson was one of the visitors' to the Military Academy at West Point. In 1866 he was Phi Beta Kappa orator at Harvard, and the following year received from his college the degree of LL. D.
From 1867 to 1879 he was an overseer of Harvard. In 1870, before a little audience of students from the advanced classes, he gave a course on the ‘Natural History of Intellect,' the subject in the handling of which he had hoped to write his master work. One of the surprises of his later life was his nomination for the office of Lord Rector of Glasgow University by the independent party (1874). There were two other candidates. Emerson polled five hundred votes. Disraeli was victor with seven hundred votes. Emerson's memory failed gradu
failed gradually, but the defect was not much noticed until after the shock consequent on the burning of his house (1872).
A trip to Egypt did much to restore his health and he never lost the 'royal trait of cheerfulness.' He died, after a brief illness, on April 27, 1882.
THE praise which Emerson gives to character at the expense of luxurious surroundings was sincere. His own tastes were very simple. Can anything 'be so elegant as to have few wants and to serve 'them one's self, so as to have something left to 'give, instead of being always prompt to grab?' Acknowledging himself enmeshed in the conventionalities of civilized' life and no more responsible than his fellow victims, he nevertheless did what he could to follow out his theory. He would at least not be one of the infirm people of society, who, if they miss any one of their comforts, 're'present themselves as the most wronged and most 'wretched persons on earth.' Emerson did not live in the woods on twenty-seven cents a week, but he had no objection to a friend's living that way if the friend found it profitable. For himself he would not be 'absurd and pedantic in reform.' No characteristic is more marked than his spirit of tolerance. It was not of a smooth, purring sort, growing out of eagerness to please or unwill