Essay on friendship by ralph waldo emerson


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Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes About Friendship | A-Z Quotes

This was the essay Nature , which was published in By its conception of external Nature as an incarnation of the Divine Mind it struck the fundamental principle of Emerson's religious belief. The essay had a very small circulation at first, though later it became widely known. In the winter of Emerson followed up his discourse on Nature by a course of twelve lectures on the "Philosophy of History," a considerable portion of which eventually became embodied in his essays.

This society, composed of the first twenty-five men in each class graduating from college, has annual meetings which have called forth the best efforts of many distinguished scholars and thinkers. Emerson's address was listened to with the most profound interest. It declared a sort of intellectual independence for America. Henceforth we were to be emancipated from clogging foreign influences, and a national literature was to expand under the fostering care of the Republic. These two discourses, Nature and The American Scholar , strike the keynote of Emerson's philosophical, poetical, and moral teachings.

In fact he had, as every great teacher has, only a limited number of principles and theories to teach.

These principles of life can all be enumerated in twenty words—self-reliance, culture, intellectual and moral independence, the divinity of nature and man, the necessity of labor, and high ideals. Emerson spent the latter part of his life in lecturing and in literary work. His son, Dr. Edward Emerson, gave an interesting account of how these lectures were constructed.

This book, he said, was his 'Savings Bank. They were religiously set down just as they came, in no order except chronological, but later they were grouped, enlarged or pruned, illustrated, worked into a lecture or discourse, and, after having in this capacity undergone repeated testing and rearranging, were finally carefully sifted and more rigidly pruned, and were printed as essays.

Besides his essays and lectures Emerson left some poetry in which is embodied those thoughts which were to him too deep for prose expression. Oliver Wendell Holmes in speaking of this says: "Emerson wrote occasionally in verse from his school-days until he had reached the age which used to be known as the grand climacteric, sixty-three His poems are not and hardly can become popular; they are not meant to be liked by the many, but to be dearly loved and cherished by the few His occasional lawlessness in technical construction, his somewhat fantastic expressions, his enigmatic obscurities hardly detract from the pleasant surprise his verses so often bring with them The poetic license which we allow in the verse of Emerson is more than excused by the noble spirit which makes us forget its occasional blemishes, sometimes to be pleased with them as characteristic of the writer.

Emerson was always a striking figure in the intellectual life of America. His discourses were above all things inspiring. Through them many were induced to strive for a higher self-culture. His influence can be discerned in all the literary movements of the time. He was the central figure of the so-called transcendental school which was so prominent fifty [9] years ago, although he always rather held aloof from any enthusiastic participation in the movement. Emerson lived a quiet life in Concord, Massachusetts. In English Traits he has recorded his impressions of what he saw of English life and manners.

Oliver Wendell Holmes has described him in this wise: "His personal appearance was that of the typical New Englander of college-bred ancestry. Tall, spare, slender, with sloping shoulders, slightly stooping in his later years, with light hair and eyes, the scholar's complexion, the prominent, somewhat arched nose which belongs to many of the New England sub-species, thin lips, suggestive of delicacy, but having nothing like primness, still less of the rigidity which is often noticeable in the generation succeeding next to that of the men in their shirt-sleeves, he would have been noticed anywhere as one evidently a scholarly thinker astray from the alcove or the study, which were his natural habitats.

His voice was very sweet, and penetrating without any loudness or mark of effort. His enunciation was beautifully clear, but he often hesitated as if waiting for the right word to present itself.

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His manner was very quiet, his smile was pleasant, but he did not like explosive laughter any better than Hawthorne did. None who met him can fail to recall that serene and kindly presence, in which there was mingled a certain spiritual remoteness with the most benignant human welcome to all who were privileged to enjoy his companionship. Emerson died April 27, , after a few days' illness from pneumonia. Garnett in his excellent biography says: "Seldom had 'the reaper whose name is Death' gathered such illustrious harvest as between December and April In the first month of this period George Eliot passed away, in the ensuing February Carlyle followed; in April Lord Beaconsfield died, deplored by his party, nor unregretted [10] by his country; in February of the following year Longfellow was carried to the tomb; in April Rossetti was laid to rest by the sea, and the pavement of Westminster Abbey was disturbed to receive the dust of Darwin.

And now Emerson lay down in death beside the painter of man and the searcher of nature, the English-Oriental statesman, the poet of the plain man and the poet of the artist, and the prophet whose name is indissolubly linked with his own.

All these men passed into eternity laden with the spoils of Time, but of none of them could it be said, as of Emerson, that the most shining intellectual glory and the most potent intellectual force of a continent had departed along with him. Matthew Arnold , in an address on Emerson delivered in Boston, gave an excellent estimate of the rank we should accord to him in the great hierarchy of letters.

Some, perhaps, will think that Arnold was unappreciative and cold, but dispassionate readers will be inclined to agree with his judgment of our great American. After a review of the poetical works of Emerson the English critic draws his conclusions as follows:.

But I go farther, and say that I do not place him among the great writers, the great men of letters. Who are the great men of letters? They are men like Cicero, Plato, Bacon, Pascal, Swift, Voltaire—writers with, in the first place, a genius and instinct for style Brilliant and powerful passages in a man's writings do not prove his possession of it.

Emerson has passages of noble and pathetic eloquence; he has passages of shrewd and felicitous wit; he has crisp epigram; he has passages of exquisitely touched observation of nature. Yet he is not a great writer Carlyle formulates perfectly the defects of his friend's poetic and literary productions when he says: 'For me it is too ethereal, speculative, theoretic; I will have all things condense themselves, take shape and body, if they are to have my sympathy. No man could see this clearer than Emerson himself.

I do not belong to the poets, but only to a low department of literature,—the reporters; suburban men. After all this unfavorable criticism Arnold begins to praise. Quoting passages from the Essays, he adds:. And let no one object that it is too general; that more practical, positive direction is what we want Yes, truly, his insight is admirable; his truth is precious.

Yet the secret of his effect is not even in these; it is in his temper. It is in the hopeful, serene, beautiful temper wherewith these, in Emerson, are indissolubly united; in which they work and have their being One can scarcely overrate the importance of holding fast to happiness and hope.

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Friendship: Souvenir Inspirational Series (Inspirational)

It gives to Emerson's work an invaluable virtue. As Wordsworth's poetry is, in my judgment, the most important done in verse, in our language, during the present century, so Emerson's Essays are, I think, the most important work done in prose But by his conviction that in the life of the spirit is happiness, and by his hope that this life of the spirit will come more and more to be sanely understood, and to prevail, and to work for happiness,—by this conviction and hope Emerson was great, and he will surely prove in the end to have been right in them You cannot prize him too much, nor heed him too diligently.

Herman Grimm , a German critic of great influence in his own country, did much to obtain a hearing for Emerson's works in Germany. At first the Germans could not understand the unusual English, the unaccustomed turns of phrase which are so characteristic of Emerson's style. But in Emerson's writings the broad turnpike is suddenly changed into a hazardous sandy foot-path.

His thoughts and his style are American.

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He is not writing for Berlin, but for the people of Massachusetts It is an art to rise above what we have been taught All great men are seen to possess this freedom. They derive their standard from their own natures, and their observations on [13] life are so natural and spontaneous that it would seem as if the most illiterate person with a scrap of common-sense would have made the same We become wiser with them, and know not how the difficult appears easy and the involved plain.

He inspires me with courage and confidence. He has read and seen but conceals the labor.

I meet in his works plenty of familiar facts, but he does not employ them to figure up anew the old worn-out problems: each stands on a new spot and serves for new combinations. From everything he sees the direct line issuing which connects it with the focus of life Emerson's theory is that of the 'sovereignty of the individual. He makes men self-reliant. He reveals to the eyes of the idealist the magnificent results of practical activity, and unfolds before the realist the grandeur of the ideal world of thought.

No man is to allow himself, through prejudice, to make a mistake in choosing the task to which he will devote his life. Emerson's essays are, as it were, printed sermons—all having this same text The wealth and harmony of his language overpowered and entranced me anew.


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But even now I cannot say wherein the secret of his influence lies. What he has written is like life itself—the unbroken thread ever lengthened through the addition of the small events which make up each day's experience. Froude in his famous "Life of Carlyle" gives an interesting description of Emerson's visit to the Carlyles in Scotland:.

Emerson, the younger of the two, had just broken his Unitarian fetters, and was looking out around him like a young eagle longing for light. He had read Carlyle's articles and had discerned with the instinct of genius that here was a voice speaking real and fiery convictions, and no longer echoes and conventionalisms. He had come to Europe to study its social and spiritual phenomena; and to the young Emerson as to the old Goethe, the most important of them appeared to be Carlyle The acquaintance then begun to their mutual pleasure ripened into a deep friendship, which has remained unclouded in spite of wide divergences of opinion throughout their working lives.

Of course, we could do no other than welcome him; the rather as he seemed to be one of the most lovable creatures in himself we had ever looked on. He stayed till next day with us, and talked and heard to his heart's content, and left us all really sad to part with him. In Carlyle wrote to John Sterling a few words apropos of the recent publication of Emerson's essays in England:. I consider it, in that sense, highly remarkable, rare, very rare, in these days of ours. Ach Gott!

It is frightful to live [15] among echoes. The few that read the book, I imagine, will get benefit of it. John Morley , the acute English critic, has made an analytic study of Emerson's style, which may reconcile the reader to some of its exasperating peculiarities.

Dislike of a sentence that drags made him unconscious of the quality that French critics name coulant. Everything is thrown in just as it comes, and sometimes the pell-mell is enough to persuade us that Pope did not exaggerate when he said that no one qualification is so likely to make a good writer as the power of rejecting his own thoughts Apart from his difficult staccato, Emerson is not free from secondary faults. He uses words that are not only odd, but vicious in construction; he is sometimes oblique and he is often clumsy; and there is a visible feeling after epigrams that do not always come.

When people say that Emerson's style must be good and admirable because it fits his thought, they forget that though it is well that a robe should fit, there is still something to be said about its cut and fashion Yet, as happens to all fine minds, there came to Emerson ways of expression deeply marked with character.

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