Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Richard Garnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.

THE man in Emerson is easily pourtrayed, not so the author. Other thinkers on his level have usually been more or less systematic. They have, in Emersonian phrase, "hitched their waggons," not to a star, but to a formula, to which their thoughts converge, and around which these may be grouped. But Emerson's. want of system is the despair of the natural historian of philosophy, and if we place him rather upon the roll of poets, we are still unable to remove him from the roll of anomalies. Nor can the chronological method be applied to him. A literary activity extending over the third of a century usually implies development, modification, restatement and recantation, an earlier and a later manner. Emerson never sang a palinode, never made a new departure, took no old ideas back, and put no new ideas forward. He did indeed apply his principles more freely to politics and ordinary affairs; "chemic selection," moreover, gains more and more the upper hand of "flamboyant richness" in his later style. But with these abatements, and apart from the evidence of date occasionally afforded by historical allusions, he has left little that he might not have written at any time of his life.

-187-

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Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Note. 9
  • Life of Emerson 11
  • Chapter 1 11
  • Chapter II 36
  • Chapter III 57
  • Chapter IV 81
  • Chapter V 111
  • Chapter VI 137
  • Chapter VII 162
  • Chapter VIII 187
  • Index 201
  • Bibliography i
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