Emerson, the Wisest American

Emerson, the Wisest American

Emerson, the Wisest American

Emerson, the Wisest American

Excerpt

It happened to be Emerson's fifty-ninth birthday, part of which he spent pottering around the barnyard with his son Edward. Before he returned to the house, he decided to put the calf into its stall. The calf, a big heifer, resisted with that calm obstinacy which has often filled otherwise kindly owners of animals with vindictive red thoughts. The son grasped an ear, the father pushed diligently from behind, and together they tried to propel the animal into the barn. Emerson hated being heated like this; he often complained that outdoor activities drugged a scholar and unfitted him for his proper tasks; but he was not the man to forsake an undertaking once begun, and again he put his weight behind the animal. The heifer remained firm, rolling the whites of her eyes and breathing out through her moist nostrils a milky but stubborn odor.

Emerson paused and gazed upon the animal in bewilderment. The situation was unprecedented. He had read the philosophy of Plato and Plotinus, the science of Newton and Bacon, the poetry of Hafiz and Herbert, the teachings of Buddha and Confucius, the histories of Plutarch and the Sieur de Joinville, the memoirs of Goethe and Napoleon; only recently he had been through the Études de la Nature ofSaint-Pierre; but none of them had said anything about . . .

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