Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson online

. (page 20 of 31)
Online LibraryRalph Waldo EmersonJournals of Ralph Waldo Emerson → online text (page 20 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

— unclouded summer on the Nile to Assuan
and back, and have required the awning to be
spread over us on the deck from 10 a. m. till
late in the afternoon.

In Egypt the sandstone or limestone in-
structs men how to build, — stands in square
blocks, and they have only to make a square
door for tombs, and the shore Is a pair or a series
of steps or stairs. The lateen sail is the shadow
of a pyramid ; and the pyramid is the simplest
copy of a mountain, or of the form which a pile
of sand or earth takes when dropped from a cart.

— I saw a crocodile in the Nile at a distance.

We arrived at Thebes 19th January; Esne (?),
24th; and at Assuan, 28th January; visited
Philae, on Wednesday, 29th January ; arrived
in Cairo Thursday, 13th February, making 38
days for our expedition and return.

The magnet Is the mystery which I would
fain have explained to me, though I doubt if
there be any teachers. It is the wonder of the
child and not less of the philosopher.' Goethe

I Mr. Charles Eliot Norton said that on the return voy-
age from England, in the following May, Mr. Emerson, as


says, " The magnet is a primary phenomenon,
which we must only express in order to have it
explained. Thereby is it then also a symbol for
all besides for which we use to speak no word
or name."

See Plutarch, Morals, vol. i, p. 156, old copy
[edition] .

Tuesday, January 28.

Met Mr. George L. Owen at Assuan, our
party and his exchanging visits. I found him
a very intelligent and agreeable companion. In
the dahabeah in which we found him on the
Nile, he shared the cabin with only one com-
panion, Mr. Ralph Elliot.

[This meeting with Mr. Owen (also a second,
soon after, in going down the Nile) was a very
agreeable episode. Mr. Emerson's health was
steadily improving, and with it his enjoyment.

At Cairo, Mr. Emerson and his daughter
parted from their friendly travelling compan-
ions, took ship for Italy — in passing he en-
joyed the sight of Crete, and its mountains,
birthplace of Zeus, and after landing hastened
on to Rome. They had little time for sight-

they walked the deck and spoke of the steersman, took from
his own pocket his little compass, saying, " I like to hold the
god in my hands."


seeing in eleven days, but received constant
visits and kind attentions. Mr. Marsh, the
American Minister, and his wife were very kind,
and they saw their friends the Von HofFmans ;
also the Storys, the Howitts, Lady Ashburton,
Mr. Tilton the artist. Miss Sarah Clarke, and
Dr. Wister, of Philadelphia.]

In Florence, I hoped to find Herman Grimm,
who, as I had heard, was residing there to com-
plete his Life of Raffaelle. Immediately on my
arrival, I sent Curnex [the travelling servant]
to the German bookstores to inquire his ad-
dress. Neither of these knew of his presence in
the city. In the street, I met Mr. Bigelow, our
American Minister at Paris, and asked him for
news of Grimm. He did not know that he was
here. On my return to the Hotel du Nord, I
found Mr. Bigelow's card saying that, imme-
diately after leaving me, he had met Grimm in
the street, and learned his address which he had
written out for me on his card : and Grimm had
also called and left his own. I went at once
to Grimm, and was received and introduced to
Gisela his wife, and invited them to dine with
us that evening, which they did, to the great
satisfaction of Ellen and me. He speaks Eng-

412 JOURNAL [Age 69

lish very well, and Gisela, who does not, talked
with Ellen in German,

[Mr. Emerson had never met Grimm, al-
though he and his wife (daughter of Bettine
[Brentano] von Arnim) had corresponded with
him occasionally for years. The meeting was
very pleasant and fortunate, as Mr. Emerson
and his daughter were to set out for Paris the
next morning.

In Herman Grimm's Essays is a very inter-
esting account of how he first became acquainted
with Emerson's writings.

Grimm's comments to Miss Emerson on her
father's appearance are interesting as showing
not only the benefit of the Egyptian voyage,
but what a wholesome looking man he was,
even to the time of his last illness, and how
much certain pictures belied him. His daughter,
writing home from Florence, said, "Herman
now began telling me of his pleasure in behold-
ing Father, and said every photograph did him
great injustice; — 'they all represent a feeble
old man of seventy ; he looks a strong man of
fifty. They look as if he were made of iron,
of copper. He looks as if he were made of
steel. He has a fine, sharp, manly face ; and such
bright colouring, which is all lost, of course, in
the photographs.' "]

1873] JOY OF A NEW CITY 413

{March 16 to Jpril.']
In the Hotel de Lorraine, Rue de Beaune,
Paris, where Ellen and I took rooms for some
weeks during both our visits to Paris, we lived
with James R. Lowell and his wife, and John
Holmes, to our great satisfaction. There also
I received, one evening, a long and happy visit
from Mr, James Cotter Morison, who is writ-
ing the Life of Comte. At the house of Mr.
Laugel, I was introduced to Ernest Renan ; to
Henri Taine ; to Elie de Beaumont ; and to
some other noted gentlemen. M. Taine sent
me, the next day, his Litt'erature anglaise, in
five volumes.

The enjoyment of travel is in the arrival at
a new city, as Paris, or Florence, or Rome, —
the feeling of free adventure, you have no duties,
— nobody knows you, nobody has claims, you
are like a boy on his first visit to the Common
on Election Day. Old Civilization ofi^ers to you
alone this huge city, all its wonders, architecture,
gardens, ornaments, galleries, which had never
cost you so much as a thought. For the first
time for many years you wake master of the
bright day, in a bright world without a claim
on you; — only leave to enjoy. This drop-

414 JOURNAL [Age 69

ping, for the first time, the doleful bundle of
Duty creates, day after day, a health as of new

In Paris, your mere passport admits you to
the vast and costly public galleries on days on
which the natives of the city cannot pass the
doors. Household cares you have none: you
take your dinner, lunch, or supper where and
when you will : cheap cabs wait for you at every
corner, — guides at every door, magazines of
sumptuous goods and attractive fairings, un-
known hitherto, solicit your eyes. Your health
mends every day. Every word spoken to you is
a wonderful and agreeable riddle which it is a
pleasure to solve, — a pleasure and a pride.
Every experience of the day is important, and
furnishes conversation to you who were so silent
at home,

[Mr, Emerson now, as witnessed above, was
greatly improved in health, and his memory
and power of finding the right word in conver-
sation had so far returned towards the normal
that he no longer shrank from going into so-

He and his daughter arrived in London
on Saturday, April 5, and went to comfortable


lodgings. They remained in the city three
weeks. On their previous stay, London had
been comparatively empty of persons whom they
would naturally have seen, but now friends and
visitors were most attentive and they had little
time for sight-seeing, as they had daily invita-
tions to lunches and dinners. Of course the
meeting with his oldest and best friend in Eng-
land was what was foremost in Mr. Emerson's
mind. Of the call on Carlyle Miss Emerson
wrote, "He was in more amiable and cheerful
humour than he had been a few days before
when Father walked with him, and Father has
been very happy in the remembrance of this
call." Just before leaving London, she writes,
" Father, after breakfast with Mr. Gladstone,
spent the forenoon with Mr. Carlyle with real
comfort, bade him good-bye, and then went to
the Howards' and lunched with Mrs. Lewes."]

In London, I saw Fergusson the architect ;
Browning the poet;' John Stuart Mill; Sir

1 Miss Emerson writes of her father's "breakfasting at
Lady Amberley's where he met Mr. Browning and was well
pleased. They disagreed about Poetry: Mr. Browning praised
Shelley." Mr. Emerson would never admit the claims of

4i6 JOURNAL [Age 69

Henry Holland; Huxley; Tyndall; Lord
Houghton; Mr. Gladstone; Dean Stanley;
Lecky ; Froude ; Thomas Hughes ; Lyon Play-
fair; Sir Arthur Helps; the Duke of Argyle;
the Duke of Cleveland ; the Duke of Bedford ;
Sir Frederick Pollock ; Charles Reade ; Mr.
Dasent ; — with the Amberleys I paid a visit to
Lord Russell at his house, and lunched there.
I failed to see Garth Wilkinson, though I
called on him twice, and he left his card twice
at my door, in my absence. William H. Chan-
ning was, as always, the kindest of friends.
Moncure Conway was incessant in his atten-
tions, and William Allingham gave us excellent
aid. George Howard, who will one day, I hope,
be Earl of Carlisle, was the most attentive and
generous of friends.

Mr. Thomas Hughes introduced me to the
Cosmopolitan Club, which meets every Sunday
and Wednesday night at 10 o'clock, and there
I saw on two evenings very agreeable gentle-
men. Sir Frederick Pollock, Fergusson, Lord
Houghton, William Story, and others. Pro-
fessor Tyndall procured me the privileges of
the Athenaeum, which is still the best of the
great London Clubs; and also of the Royal

Shelley, except in the case of "The Skylark" and perhaps
one or two more.

1873] DAYS lisr OXFORD 417

Institution, in Albemarle Street, where he pre-
sides since the death of Faraday.

Visited John Forster at his own house. Pal-
ace Gate House, Kensington, West.

[From London Mr. Emerson and his
daughter went to Chester for a day or two, the
guests of Lord and Lady Amberley, who showed
them Tintern Abbey, and thence they went to
Cyfarthra Castle to visit Mr. and Mrs. Craw-

At Oxford [April 30 to May 3] I was the
guest of Professor Max Mviller,' and was in-
troduced to Jowett and to Ruskin and to Mr.
Dodgson, author of Alice in Wonderland, and
to many of the University dignitaries. Prince
Leopold was a student, and came home from
Max Miiller's lecture to lunch with us, and then
invited Ellen and me to go to his house, and
there showed us his pictures and his album, and
there we drank tea. The next day I heard Rus-
kin's lecture, and we then went home with
Ruskin to his chambers, where he showed us
his pictures, and told us his doleful opinions

I This visit was much enjoyed. Professor Miiller had in-
vited Mr. Emerson to give two lectures, but he was not pre-
pared to do so.

41 8 JOURNAL [Age 70

of modern society.' In the evening we dined
with Vice-Chancellor LIddell and a large com-

[On May 3, the Emersons left Oxford for
Warwick, where, after seeing the castle, they
were met by Mr. E. F. Flower, an old friend,
who took them to his home at Stratford-upon-
Avon, where they spent ten days.

On Sunday, at the door of the church, they
were met by the Clerk, who led them to seats
in the chancel near Shakspeare's tomb.

Before sailing for home they made a short
visit to Edinburgh, but no record appears in
Journal or letters.

The presence of Mr. Norton and his family
helped to make the homeward voyage pleasant.
On the morning of Mr. Emerson's seventieth
birthday his friend met him on deck and put
into his hands the following verses.]

To R. W. Emerson

Blest of the highest gods are they who die
Ere youth is fled. For them their mother Fate,

I With Mr. Ruskin's constant jeremiades on the state of
the world, and especially of England, Mr. Emerson was an-
noyed and displeased to such a point that he roundly rebuked


Clasping from happy earth to happier sky,
Frees life, and joy, and love from dread of date.
But thee, revered of men, the gods have blest
With fruitful years. And yet for thee, in sooth,
They have reserved of all their gifts the best ; —
And, thou, though full of days, shalt die in youth.
May 25, 1873. Charles E. Norton.

[Mr. Emerson landed in Boston, May 27.
Before sailing, his home in Concord had been
burned, and now from the steamer he looked on
his native city, which since his departure had
been devastated by fire even to his birthplace,
which was where the great establishment of
C. F. Hovey & Co. now stands. That was in
the autumn, and now the statelier building was
rapidly advancing.

When he and his daughter got out of the
cars at Concord, to their astonishment they
found a large part of the population assembled
there to greet them. They welcomed the two
returned travellers with a cheer, echoed from the
passengers in the train as it moved on. Then,
as the reunited family entered the carriages, the
local band played, and, escorted by the children
of all the schools and many friends and neigh-
bors, they drove home, passing under a wel-
coming triumphal arch. There stood the house

420 JOURNAL [Age 70

among the trees, except for its freshness looking
without and within as if nothing had ever hap-
pened. Mr. Emerson entered and saw ; then
turned, rapidly walked to the gate and said such
words of joy and gratitude as his emotion would
allow. The smiling crowd dispersed and he re-
entered his home to realize its restoration and
greet his nearer friends.]

Egypt. Mrs. Helen Bell,' it seems, was asked,
" What do yiu think the Sphinx said to Mr.
Emerson?" "Why," replied Mrs. Bell, " the
Sphinx probably said to him, 'You're an-
other.' "

For the writers on Religion, — none should
speak on this matter polemically : it is the Gai
Science and only to be chanted by troubadours.

Professor Max Miiller has dedicated his new
book to me, and sent me a copy. I have read
it, and though I am too dull a scholar to judge
of the correctness of his courageous deductions
from resembling names, or to relish this as I
did his earlier books, I respect and thank his
erudition and its results.

I Daughter of Rufus Choate.


[Mr. Emerson was invited to make the Ad-
dress at the opening of the Concord Free Pub-
lic Library, in September, built and given to
the town by one of its sons, William Munroe.
The following paragraphs were written while he
was preparing for this occasion. The Address
is printed in Miscellanies. '\

Be a little careful about your Library. Do
you foresee what you will do with it ? Very
little, to be sure. But the real question is. What
it will do with you ? You will come here and
get books that will open your eyes, and your
ears, and your curiosity, and turn you inside
out or outside in. You will find a book here
that will tell you such news of what has been
seen lately at the observatories in the sun and
the other stars that you will not rest until you
find a telescope to see the eclipse with your own
eyes. 'T is only the other day that they found
out what the stars are made of: what chemical
elements, identical with those that are in our
planet, are found in Saturn ; what in the sun ;
and that human life could not exist in the moon.

They have just learned that Italy had people
before the Romans, before the Etruscans, who
made just such arrow-heads aswe find in Concord,

422 JOURNAL [Age 70

and all their tools were stone : Mr. Marsh told
me he picked them up in Africa as in Vermont ;
and they find these all over the world, — and the
world, instead of being six thousand years old,
has had men on it a hundred thousand years.

All the new facts of science are not only in-
teresting for themselves, but their best value is
the rare effect on the mind, the electric shock;
each new law of Nature speaks to a related fact
in our thought : for every law of Chemistry has
some analogon in the soul, and however skilful
the chemist may be, and how much soever he
may push and multiply his researches, he is a
superficial trifler in the presence of the student
who sees the strict analogy of the experiment
to the laws of thought and of morals.

We read a line, a word, that lifts us : we rise
into a succession of thoughts that is better than
the book. The old saying of Montluc, that
"one man is worth a hundred, and a hundred
are not worth one," is quite as true of books.

Our reading sometimes seems guided. I open
a book which happens to be near me, — a book
I had not thought of before, — and, seeing the
name of a known writer, I sit down to read the
chapter, which presently fixes my attention as if
it were an important message directly sent to me.


Darwin's Origin of Species was published in
1859, but Stallo, in 1849, writes, "animals are
but foetal forms of man."

Stallo quotes Liebig as saying, " The secret
of all those who make discoveries is that they
regard nothing as impossible." "The lines of
our ancestry run into all the phenomena of the
material world." — Stallo.

Tbeologic mysteries. Our theology ignores the
identity of the worshipper ; he has fallen in
another, he rises in another. Can identity be
claimed for a being whose life is so often vica-
rious, or belonging to an age or generation?

Harvard College. My new term as overseer
begun at the close of Commencement Day,
1873, and ends at the close of Commencement
Day, 1879.

Life. "We do not take into account what
life is in the concrete, — the agreeable habit of
working and doing, as Goethe names it, — the
steadily engaging, incessant in-streaming of sen-
sations into the bodily comfortableness." —
Hegel, apud Varnhagen.

424 JOURNAL [Age 70

[The latter half of the year was quietly passed
in Concord by Mr. Emerson, except for a visit
to his daughter Mrs. Forbes and her husband
at Naushon. As the English publisher with
whom he had had dealings, and, as it were, an
enforced arrangement about a new volume (only
suspended by his illness), had died, that matter
was not troubling him.

On December 16, the Centennial Anniversary
of the " Boston Tea Party," Mr. Emerson com-
pleted his poem " Boston," so long meditated,
and, by request, read it at the celebration in
Faneuil Hall.]

Authors or Books quoted or referred to
IN Journal for 1873

[The greater part of the authors mentioned
in this list are included because Mr. Emerson
met them upon his recent journey, principally
in England.]

Kalevala of the Finns ; Edward, Lord Her-
bert, Autobiography ; Heeren, Ancient World,
Egypt; Hegel; Stendhal (M. H. Bayle) ;

Sir Henry Holland ; Elie de Beaumont ;
Thomas Carlyle ; Earl Russell ; George Ban-
croft ; Richard Owen ; Liebig ; Francis W.

1873] READING 425

Newman ; J. S. Mill ; James Fergusson ; R. M.
Milnes ; Gladstone ; Charles Darwin ; Vice-
Chancellor Liddell ; Dean Church ;'

Robert Browning ; J. J. Garth Wilkinson ;
Dr. W. B. Carpenter ; Charles Reade ; Daniel
Kirkwood, Comets and Meteors ; Dean Stanley ;
Henry Lewes and Mrs. Lewes (George Eliot) ;
Sir Arthur Helps ; Jowett ;

Dasent; TurgeniefF; Froude ; William W.
Story ; Lyon Playfair ; Ruskin ; J. R. Lowell ;
Alexander C. Eraser ; Thomas Hughes ; Max
Miiller; Stallo ; Duke of Argyle ; Sir Frederick
Pollock ; Dr. Hinton ; Ernest Renan ;

Charles G. Leland ; Huxley, Lay Sermons;
Charles E. Norton ; William Allingham ; Mon-
cure D. Conway ; Herman Grimm ; Taine ;
Canon Liddon ; Charles Flower; Professor
Lecky ; Smalley.









(From Journal ST)

[No longer pledged to far-away lecture engage-
ments, but at home with his family, Mr. Emer-
son passed his days in his study looking over
the sheets of manuscript still unprinted, which
might or might not have done duty in lectures
or occasional speeches, selecting and planning
for their use, but making little progress, for ar-
rangement of sibylline leaves, always difficult,
was now almost impossible. He hardly realized
this, but was under no pressure, and so undis-
turbed. He took pleasure in reading; he kept
up his afternoon solitary walk, and enjoyed the
monthly meeting with his friends at the dinner
of the Saturday Club.

The Journal was almost entirely neglected.
The following entry is the first, and must have
been in latter March, after receiving the letter
from Judge Hoar which follows it.]

Charles Sumner. For Sumner's merit, go back

430 JOURNAL [Age 70

to the dark times of 1850 and see the position
of Boston and its eminent men.

Washington, March 11, 1874.
My dear Mr. Emerson : —

Sumner is dead, as the telegraph will have
told you before you receive this. He died at
thirteen minutes before three this afternoon. I
held his hand when he died ; and, except his sec-
retary and the attending physician, was the only
one of his near friends who was in the room.

His last words (except to say " Sit down " to
Mr. Hooper, who came to his bedside, but had
gone out before his death) were these: "Judge,
tell Emerson how much I love and revere him."
I replied, " He said of you once that he never
knew so white a soul."

During the morning, he had repeated to sev-
eral persons, to me among the rest, " You must
take care of The Civil Rights Bill." That was
his last public thought.

Very sorrowfully and affectionately yours,
, E. R. Hoar.

[Mr. Emerson, being asked for some lines
that would be appropriate to be read or printed
with regard to Senator Sumner, took these from


his poem in memory of his own brother Edward
Bliss Emerson. (See "In Memoriam E. B. E.,"

All inborn power that could
Consist with homage to the good
Flamed from his martial eye; . . .
Fronting foes of God and man,
Frowning down the evil-doer,
Battling for the weak and poor.
His from youth the leader's look
Gave the law which others took.
And never poor beseeching glance
Shamed that sculptured countenance.

[Two notices of valued and early friends who
died about this time follow. Mr. Abel Adams,
of the firm of Barnard and Adams, was Mr.
Emerson's parishioner, and neighbor in his
Chardon Street housekeeping. He was also his
business adviser, and was so troubled that the
venture in Vermont and Canada Railroad stock
turned out ill that he insisted on assuming the
expenses of Edward Emerson in college, a great
help to Mr. Emerson in the hard times of the

I ought to have many notes of my pleasant
memories of Abel Adams, one of the best of my

432 JOURNAL [Age 71

friends, whose hospitable house was always open
to me by day or by night for so many years in
Boston, Lynn, or West Roxbury. His experi-
ences as a merchant were always interesting to
me. I think I must have somewhere recorded
the fact, which I recall to-day, that he told me
that he and two or three merchants had been
counting up, in the Globe Bank, out of a hun-
dred Boston merchants how many had not once
failed, and they could only count three. Abel
Adams was the benefactor of Edward W. E. in
College, and of all of us in his last will.

September {?).
The death of Francis Cabot Lowell is a great
loss to me. Now for fifty-seven years since we
entered college together, we have been friends,
meeting sometimes rarely, sometimes often ; sel-
dom living in the same town, we have always
met gladly on the old simple terms. He was a
conservative, I always of a speculative habit; and
often in the wayward politics of former years,
we had to compare our different opinions. He
was a native gentleman, thoroughly true, and of
decided opinions, always frank, considerate, and
kind. On all questions his opinions were his
own, and deliberately formed. One day he came


to Concord to read to me some opinions he had
written out in regard to the education now given
at Cambridge. He did not leave the paper with
me and I regret that I cannot recall its substance.
However you might differ from him, he always
inspired respect and love. I have never known
a man of more simplicity and truth.

I heard gladly, long since, from Dr. Hobbs,
of Waltham, what I had never heard from him-
self, — the story of Lowell's relation to the
Chemical Mills in Waltham. His father, Mr.
Frank Lowell, Senior, had founded them, and
his son inherited in them an important interest.
From whatever causes, the property had sadly
depreciated. But Mr. Lowell undertook the
charge of them himself, studied chemistry with
direct reference to the work done in this mill,
made himself master of all the processes required ;
corrected the mistakes ; and against all advice
stayed therein until its depreciated shares came
up to par ; then he sold his shares in the property
and retired. A man of a quiet inward life, silent

Online LibraryRalph Waldo EmersonJournals of Ralph Waldo Emerson → online text (page 20 of 31)