Essays: Second Series (1844)

Essays first and second series by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Poet

The Poet By Ralph Waldo Emerson Those who are esteemed umpires of taste, are often persons knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, and have an inclination for whatever is elegant; but if you inquire whether they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual. Their cultivation is local, as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce fire, all the rest remaining cold. Key Points: Emerson urges his readers to follow their individual will instead of conforming to social expectations. Emerson emphasizes following one’s own voice rather…

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Experience

Experience By Ralph Waldo Emerson Where do we find ourselves? In a series of which we do not know the extremes, and believe that it has none. We wake and find ourselves on a stair; there are stairs below us, which we seem to have ascended; there are stairs above us, many a one, which go upward and out of sight. Key Points: Emerson urges his readers to follow their individual will instead of conforming to social expectations. Emerson emphasizes following one’s own voice rather than an intermediary’s, such as the church. Emerson encourages his readers to be honest in their relationships with others. Emerson…

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Character

Character By Ralph Waldo Emerson I have read that those who listened to Lord Chatham felt that there was something finer in the man, than anything which he said. It has been complained of our brilliant English historian of the French Revolution, that when he has told all his facts about Mirabeau, they do not justify his estimate of his genius. Key Points: Emerson urges his readers to follow their individual will instead of conforming to social expectations. Emerson emphasizes following one’s own voice rather than an intermediary’s, such as the church. Emerson encourages his readers to be honest in their relationships with others. Emerson…

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Manners

Manners By Ralph Waldo Emerson Half the world, it is said, knows not how the other half live. Our Exploring Expedition saw the Feejee islanders getting their dinner off human bones; and they are said to eat their own wives and children. The husbandry of the modern inhabitants of Gournou (west of old Thebes) is philosophical to a fault. Key Points: Emerson urges his readers to follow their individual will instead of conforming to social expectations. Emerson emphasizes following one’s own voice rather than an intermediary’s, such as the church. Emerson encourages his readers to be honest in their relationships with others. Emerson posits the…

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Gifts

Gifts By Ralph Waldo Emerson It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay, and ought to go into chancery, and be sold. I do not think this general insolvency, which involves in some sort all the population, to be the reason of the difficulty experienced at Christmas and New Year, and other times, in bestowing gifts; since it is always so pleasant to be generous, though very vexatious to pay debts. Key Points: Emerson urges his readers to follow their individual will instead of conforming to social expectations. Emerson…

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Nature

Nature By Ralph Waldo Emerson There are days which occur in this climate, at almost any season of the year, wherein the world reaches its perfection, when the air, the heavenly bodies, and the earth, make a harmony, as if nature would indulge her offspring; when, in these bleak upper sides of the planet, nothing is to desire that we have heard of the happiest latitudes, and we bask in the shining hours of Florida and Cuba; when everything that has life gives sign of satisfaction, and the cattle that lie on the ground seem to have great and tranquil thoughts. Key Points: Emerson urges…

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Politics

Politics By Ralph Waldo Emerson In dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institution are not aboriginal, though they existed before we were born: that they are not superior to the citizen: that every one of them was once the act of a single man: every law and usage was a man’s expedient to meet a particular case: that they all are imitable, all alterable; we may make as good; we may make better. Key Points: Emerson urges his readers to follow their individual will instead of conforming to social expectations. Emerson emphasizes following one’s own voice rather than an intermediary’s, such…

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Nominalist and Realist

Nominalist and Realist By Ralph Waldo Emerson I cannot often enough say, that a man is only a relative and representative nature. Each is a hint of the truth, but far enough from being that truth, which yet he quite newly and inevitably suggests to us. If I seek it in him, I shall not find it. Key Points: Emerson urges his readers to follow their individual will instead of conforming to social expectations. Emerson emphasizes following one’s own voice rather than an intermediary’s, such as the church. Emerson encourages his readers to be honest in their relationships with others. Emerson posits the effects of…

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New England Reformers

New England Reformers By Ralph Waldo Emerson Whoever has had opportunity of acquaintance with society in New England, during the last twenty-five years, with those middle and with those leading sections that may constitute any just representation of the character and aim of the community, will have been struck with the great activity of thought and experimenting. Key Points: Emerson urges his readers to follow their individual will instead of conforming to social expectations. Emerson emphasizes following one’s own voice rather than an intermediary’s, such as the church. Emerson encourages his readers to be honest in their relationships with others. Emerson posits the effects of…

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