Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Richard Garnett | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER II.

THE time when the young schoolmaster thus for a season retrograded into the pupilar condition was one of repose and yet of expectation, pregnant with the germs of great things to come. It was for long afterwards looked back upon with regret as "the era of good feeling." The last prominent statesman of America's heroic age was President; two, more illustrious still, were descending towards the grave in the sight of all; the atmosphere seemed suffused with their departing brightness, and faction stood for the moment abashed by the solemn euthanasia of an age of giants. Meanwhile new issues were silently maturing, new strifes preparing. The carrion instinct of Aaron Burr had truly scented the taint of the coming time when he indicated its coming man in Andrew Jackson, personally honest, but author of that watchword of corruption, "The spoils to the victors." An age was impending of selfish scrambling and shameless manœuvring at home, of offensive hectoring and audacious rapacity abroad; an age which might have seemed permitted to show to what a depth a free and enlightened people can descend, if it had not even more impressively demonstrated from what a depth such a people can recover itself. That America did recover was

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