Young Emerson Speaks: Unpublished Discourses on Many Subjects

Young Emerson Speaks: Unpublished Discourses on Many Subjects

Young Emerson Speaks: Unpublished Discourses on Many Subjects

Young Emerson Speaks: Unpublished Discourses on Many Subjects

Excerpt

The mature Emerson ranks as one of the most familiar and influential figures in American culture. Emerson, the young preacher, on the other hand, is almost unknown. But it was in the pulpit that he first tried his wings. There he made his initial efforts to set free his own imprisoned thoughts, to find the proper vehicles for their expression, to practice the art of communication, and to deal at full length with the themes that were to 'character his brain' throughout his life.

Emerson began his career as a preacher. For years his ambition had been directed toward the ministry. When he reached the age of twenty he deliberately dedicated his time, his talents, and his hopes to the Church. He 'burns to speak.' The Journals contain a wealth of 'hints for a peculiar pursuit at the distance of the years.' Even in the intervals of illness which punctuated his youth he was 'moulding sermons for an hour which may never arrive.'

After being graduated from Harvard College in the class of 1821 Emerson turned to school-teaching to earn money to help his family and to pay for further education for himself. But he found time enough for private professional study, in part with the help of his pastor, William Ellery Channing, so that he was admitted in 1825 to the middle (second year) class of the recently established Harvard Divinity School. At this time . . .

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