Emerson at Home and Abroad

By Moncure Daniel Conway | Go to book overview
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VIII. A SEA-CHANGE.

EMERSON'S nerves were a good deal strained by the trouble with his church. He had already formed friendships, in his high way, with individual hearts and minds in his congregation; and though his spiritual sword, with the fine edge of Saladin's, was able to cut even the silken thread of affection if it withheld him from his aim, it was not without the laceration of his sensibility in all such relations. His mother had received another blow to her hopes concerning her sons. William had abandoned the ministry because of sceptical opinions; Edward had been compelled to give up the Law and go south on the voyage from which he never returned; and now Ralph Waldo was severed from the traditional profession of the family. All this Emerson felt deeply. There had also come upon him a heavy bereavement. In the February of 1832, a few months before the difficulty with his church, his young wife had died of consumption. Under these troubles, and the sharp words of his disappointed fellow-ministers, his health suffered, and he resolved on an excursion to Europe. He had an ardent desire to converse with the English authors who had become important to him, especially Carlyle,

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