The Pilgrimage of Henry James

The Pilgrimage of Henry James

The Pilgrimage of Henry James

The Pilgrimage of Henry James

Excerpt

On a certain morning in the year 1849, the philosopher Emerson received from a peripatetic friend a letter containing these oddly heretical words: "Considering with much pity our four stout boys, who have no playroom within doors and import shocking bad manners from the street, we gravely ponder whether it wouldn't be better to go abroad for a few years with them, allowing them to absorb French and German, and get such a sensuous education as they cannot get here." Heretical I say these words were, more truly heretical in a sense than any of Emerson's own, for they seemed to contradict the assumptions of the American religion of democracy. One asks oneself what Emerson must have thought as he read them. Perhaps it crossed his mind that if, to a fellow-American, a fellow-philosopher, the out-of-door world had ceased to be a school of manners and a "sensuous education" had become the chief desideratum for one's offspring, it must mean that the . . .

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