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tans, or if there be such a thing as a Puritan of the Puritans of the Puritans, he was exactly that. He was descended from a long line of dissenting clergymen, beginning with the original immigrant who had fled from persecution at the hands of Archbishop Laud. Being silenced for Non-conformity he had escaped to New England, and founded a church at Concord, the little village fifteen miles from Boston, which was to be Emerson's home for life.

Graduating at Harvard College at the age of 18, Emerson studied theology, and, under the influence of Dr. Channing, he became a Unitarian minister, a Protestant of the Protestants, and soon found himself the pastor of a church in Boston; but even the gentle trammels of that mild communion could not long contain his independent soul. He gave up the sacred office, and all the difficulties which it involved for his gentle spirit, and retired to his ancestral village of Concord, where for forty years he devoted himself to plain living and high thinking, to deep reading and writing and lecturing, by which he obtained his livelihood, for he had been born and bred in poverty and received nothing by inheritance.

To two successive generations of his countrymen, in his lectures, addresses and published writings, he gave, from time to time, the rich fruits of his reading, study, and contemplation. He read everything good, but Shakespeare, Plato, Plutarch, Goethe, Bacon, Swedenborg and Montaigne seem to have been his favorite authors.

He remembered what he read as few people do, and made notes of whatever impressed him, which furnished the material for those copious and apt illustrations of which his works are full.

Though he severed his connection with the (churches he certainly had a religion of his own which exalted and spiritualized him. Dr. Holmes, who knew him well and is one of his most appreciative biographers, says: "His creed was a brief one, but he carried it everywhere with him. In all he did, in all he said, and, so far as all outward signs could show, in all his thoughts, the indwelling spirit was his light and guide: through all nature he looked up to Nature's God; and if he did not worship the man Christ Jesus as the Churches of Christendom have done, he followed His footsteps so nearly that our good Methodist, Father Taylor, spoke of him as more like Christ than any man he had known."

The great influence which, by his wisdom and spotless life, he rapidly acquired and maintained to the end, certainly had a marked effect in mitigating the rigid tone of dogmatism from which he revolted. Dean Stanley, on his return from America, is said to have reported that "religion had there passed through an evolution from Edwards to Emerson, and that the genial atmosphere which Emerson had done so much to promote is shared by all the churches equally."

The same Father Taylor, a great apostle of Methodism, was so impressed by his pure and exalted spirit, that when some of his Methodist

friends took him to task for maintaining his friendship with Emerson, on the ground that, being a Unitarian, he must go to a place not to be mentioned in good society, he replied," It does look so, but I am sure of one thing; if Emerson does go to that place - he will change the climate there, and emigration will set that way."

Of his prose writings, how is it possible to say more than was said by Matthew Arnold, who judged him very critically, and cannot be said to have exaggerated anything in his favor? What he says is this:

"As Wordsworth's poetry is in my judgment the most important work done in verse in our language during the present century" (the nineteenth, of course), "so Emerson's Essays are, I think, the most important work done in prose."

His busy brain was never still, his driving pen was never idle, his eloquent voice, in lectures, and discourses, profound, entertaining and instructive, was heard by his countrymen with ever increasing delight and satisfaction. Self-reliance, absolute trust in his own conscience and convic tions, and a fearless following of these in conduct and action, wherever they might lead, were the constant guides of his own life; and he never failed to urge upon his hearers and readers to pursue the same path.

He appealed always to the higher, the highest, motives, instincts, passions of our nature, moral, intellectual and spiritual, and was never content

to discover and repeat what other men had said and thought on the subject in hand, except to illustrate his own thoughts and conclusions, which he evolved fearlessly from his own inner light, to which alone he looked for inspiration. The wide scope of subjects which he treated embraced the whole range of human life, conduct and aspirations. His mission was to arouse, to stimulate and elevate the public and private life of America to a higher and nobler plane.


He began to answer Sydney Smith's cynical question In the four quarters of the globe who reads an American book?" and led the way in rescuing American literature from the sluggish and torpid stream in which it had long been confined. He lived to see it flowing in a broad and ever widening current, which refreshed and animated the whole of our national life. It was his peculiar gift and function to stimulate and inspire those who labored with him or followed after him in the field of letters, and before he died the real question came to be "In the four quarters of the globe, who does not read American books and recognize American ideas?

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As time went on his books found many sympathetic and admiring readers among thoughtful men and women in England, and in foreign countries into whose many languages they were translated, and the Emerson cult became very widely spread. Herman Grimm wrote to him from Berlin: "Whenever I think of America I think of you," and I have no doubt that to many serious

and earnest souls in many lands, the name of our young Republic suggests first the image of this profound thinker and stimulating teacher.


I confess that of all the authors with whom I have become familiar, I turn always first to him for light and leading, and find him more suggestive, more instructive, more awakening than any other; there are but few subjects dealing with the conduct of life, or the duties of man, or the study of nature, of which he has not treated more or less directly; and anyone who has to take up such a subject for the first time, cannot begin better than by turning to his pages to see what he has said about it.

President Eliot, of Harvard, in a carefully prepared essay, quite worthy of Emerson himself, read in Boston on the centennial of his birth, has demonstrated that Mr. Emerson was far in advance of his time on many moral, social, and political questions, and that he indicated, with singular sagacity and foresight, the course of their future development as the same actually occurred so that although the ranks of the prophets are closed against him, we may well describe him as the forerunner of American thought.

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He rarely took part in any controversies, although many were raised in the path of his advancing progress, but left them to be fought out by others, while he kept the even tenor of his way, thinking and teaching still. He cherished with unfaltering hope and confidence the noblest aspirations for his country, and uniformly pre

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