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Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson   By: (1803-1882)

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First Page:

ESSAYS

BY

RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Merrill's English Texts

SELECTED AND EDITED, WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES, BY EDNA H.L. TURPIN, AUTHOR OF "STORIES FROM AMERICAN HISTORY," "CLASSIC FABLES," "FAMOUS PAINTERS," ETC.

NEW YORK

CHARLES E. MERRILL CO.

1907

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION LIFE OF EMERSON CRITICAL OPINIONS CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF PRINCIPAL WORKS

THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR

COMPENSATION

SELF RELIANCE

FRIENDSHIP

HEROISM

MANNERS

GIFTS

NATURE

SHAKESPEARE; OR, THE POET

PRUDENCE

CIRCLES

NOTES

PUBLISHERS' NOTE

Merrill's English Texts

This series of books will include in complete editions those masterpieces of English Literature that are best adapted for the use of schools and colleges. The editors of the several volumes will be chosen for their special qualifications in connection with the texts to be issued under their individual supervision, but familiarity with the practical needs of the classroom, no less than sound scholarship, will characterize the editing of every book in the series.

In connection with each text, a critical and historical introduction, including a sketch of the life of the author and his relation to the thought of his time, critical opinions of the work in question chosen from the great body of English criticism, and, where possible, a portrait of the author, will be given. Ample explanatory notes of such passages in the text as call for special attention will be supplied, but irrelevant annotation and explanations of the obvious will be rigidly excluded.

CHARLES E. MERRILL CO.

LIFE OF EMERSON

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, May 25, 1803. He was descended from a long line of New England ministers, men of refinement and education. As a school boy he was quiet and retiring, reading a great deal, but not paying much attention to his lessons. He entered Harvard at the early age of fourteen, but never attained a high rank there, although he took a prize for an essay on Socrates, and was made class poet after several others had declined. Next to his reserve and the faultless propriety of his conduct, his contemporaries at college seemed most impressed by the great maturity of his mind. Emerson appears never to have been really a boy. He was always serene and thoughtful, impressing all who knew him with that spirituality which was his most distinguishing characteristic.

After graduating from college he taught school for a time, and then entered the Harvard Divinity School under Dr. Channing, the great Unitarian preacher. Although he was not strong enough to attend all the lectures of the divinity course, the college authorities deemed the name Emerson sufficient passport to the ministry. He was accordingly "approbated to preach" by the Middlesex Association of Ministers on October 10, 1826. As a preacher, Emerson was interesting, though not particularly original. His talent seems to have been in giving new meaning to the old truths of religion. One of his hearers has said: "In looking back on his preaching I find he has impressed truths to which I always assented in such a manner as to make them appear new, like a clearer revelation." Although his sermons were always couched in scriptural language, they were touched with the light of that genius which avoids the conventional and commonplace. In his other pastoral duties Emerson was not quite so successful. It is characteristic of his deep humanity and his dislike for all fuss and commonplace that he appeared to least advantage at a funeral. A connoisseur in such matters, an old sexton, once remarked that on such occasions "he did not appear at ease at all. To tell the truth, in my opinion, that young man was not born to be a minister."

Emerson did not long remain a minister... Continue reading book >>




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