His comments outraged the establishment and the general Protestant community.
For this, he was denounced as an atheist, and a poisoner of young men's minds. Despite the roar of critics, he made no reply, leaving others to put forward a defense. He was not invited back to speak at Harvard for another thirty years. The Transcendental group began to publish its flagship journal, The Dial, in July They planned the journal as early as October , but work did not begin until the first week of George Ripley was its managing editor and Margaret Fuller was its first editor, having been hand-chosen by Emerson after several others had declined the role.
Fuller stayed on for about two years and Emerson took over, utilizing the journal to promote talented young writers including Ellery Channing and Thoreau. It was in that Emerson published Essays, his second book, which included the famous essay, "Self-Reliance". His aunt called it a "strange medley of atheism and false independence", but it gained favorable reviews in London and Paris. This book, and its popular reception, more than any of Emerson's contributions to date laid the groundwork for his international fame. In January Emerson's first son Waldo died from scarlet fever.
Emerson wrote of his grief in the poem "Threnody" "For this losing is true dying" , and the essay "Experience". That same month, William James was born, and Emerson agreed to be his godfather. Bronson Alcott announced his plans in November to find "a farm of a hundred acres in excellent condition with good buildings, a good orchard and grounds".
Charles Lane purchased a acre , m2 farm in Harvard, Massachusetts, in May for what would become Fruitlands, a community based on Utopian ideals inspired in part by Transcendentalism. The farm would run based on a communal effort, using no animals for labor; its participants would eat no meat and use no wool or leather. Emerson said he felt "sad at heart" for not engaging in the experiment himself.
Even so, he did not feel Fruitlands would be a success.
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Even Alcott admitted he was not prepared for the difficulty in operating Fruitlands. So we fell apart", he wrote. After its failure, Emerson helped buy a farm for Alcott's family in Concord which Alcott named "Hillside". The Dial ceased publication in April ; Horace Greeley reported it as an end to the "most original and thoughtful periodical ever published in this country". An unrelated magazine of the same name would be published in several periods through In , Emerson published his second collection of essays, entitled "Essays: Second Series.
Emerson made a living as a popular lecturer in New England and much of the rest of the country. He had begun lecturing in ; by the s he was giving as many as 80 per year. Emerson spoke on a wide variety of subjects and many of his essays grew out of his lectures.
This was more than his earnings from other sources.
He eventually gave some 1, lectures in his lifetime. His earnings allowed him to expand his property, buying 11 acres 45, m2 of land by Walden Pond and a few more acres in a neighboring pine grove. He wrote that he was "landlord and waterlord of 14 acres, more or less". Emerson was introduced to Indian philosophy when reading the works of French philosopher Victor Cousin. Emerson was strongly influenced by the Vedas, and much of his writing has strong shades of nondualism. We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE.
And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one.
We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul. From to , he toured England, Scotland, and Ireland. When he arrived, he saw the stumps where trees had been cut down to form barricades in the February riots. On May 21 he stood on the Champ de Mars in the midst of mass celebrations for concord, peace and labor. Within a week of her death, her New York editor Horace Greeley suggested to Emerson that a biography of Fuller, to be called Margaret and Her Friends, be prepared quickly "before the interest excited by her sad decease has passed away".
The three editors were not concerned about accuracy; they believed public interest in Fuller was temporary and that she would not survive as a historical figure.
Even so, for a time, it was the best-selling biography of the decade and went through thirteen editions before the end of the century. Walt Whitman published the innovative poetry collection Leaves of Grass in and sent a copy to Emerson for his opinion.
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Emerson responded positively, sending a flattering five-page letter as a response. Emerson's approval helped the first edition of Leaves of Grass stir up significant interest and convinced Whitman to issue a second edition shortly thereafter. This edition quoted a phrase from Emerson's letter, printed in gold leaf on the cover: "I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career". Emerson took offense that this letter was made public and later became more critical of the work.
Civil War years. Emerson was staunchly anti-slavery, but he did not appreciate being in the public limelight and was hesitant about lecturing on the subject. He did, however, give a number of lectures during the pre-Civil War years, beginning as early as November, A number of his friends and family members were more active abolitionists than he, at first, but from on, he took a more active role in opposing slavery. He gave a number of speeches and lectures, and notably welcomed John Brown to his home during Brown's visits to Concord.
He voted for Abraham Lincoln in , but Emerson was disappointed that Lincoln was more concerned about preserving the Union than eliminating slavery outright. Once the American Civil War broke out, Emerson made it clear that he believed in immediate emancipation of the slaves.
Around this time, in , Emerson published The Conduct of Life, his final original collection of essays. In this book, Emerson "grappled with some of the thorniest issues of the moment," and "his experience in the abolition ranks is a telling influence in his conclusions. In the book's opening essay, Fate, Emerson wrote, "The question of the times resolved itself into a practical question of the conduct of life. How shall I live? Emerson visited Washington, D. C, at the end of January, He gave a public lecture at the Smithsonian on January 31, , and declared: "The South calls slavery an institution I call it destitution Emancipation is the demand of civilization".
Lincoln was familiar with Emerson's work, having previously seen him lecture. Emerson's misgivings about Lincoln began to soften after this meeting. In , he spoke at a memorial service held for Lincoln in Concord: "Old as history is, and manifold as are its tragedies, I doubt if any death has caused so much pain as this has caused, or will have caused, on its announcement. Chase, the secretary of the treasury, Edward Bates, the attorney general, Edwin M. Stanton, the secretary of war, Gideon Welles, the secretary of the navy, and William Seward, the secretary of state.
Emerson would continuously refer to Thoreau as his best friend, despite a falling out that began in after Thoreau published A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Another friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne, died two years after Thoreau in Emerson served as one of the pallbearers as Hawthorne was buried in Concord, as Emerson wrote, "in a pomp of sunshine and verdure".
Final years and death. Starting in , Emerson's health began declining; he wrote much less in his journals. Beginning as early as the summer of or in the spring of , Emerson started having memory problems and suffered from aphasia. By the end of the decade, he forgot his own name at times and, when anyone asked how he felt, he responded, "Quite well; I have lost my mental faculties, but am perfectly well".
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Emerson's Concord home caught fire on July 24, ; Emerson called for help from neighbors and, giving up on putting out the flames, all attempted to save as many objects as possible. The fire was put out by Ephraim Bull, Jr. The fire marked an end to Emerson's serious lecturing career; from then on, he would lecture only on special occasions and only in front of familiar audiences. While the house was being rebuilt, Emerson took a trip to England, continental Europe, and Egypt. He left on October 23, , along with his daughter Ellen while his wife Lidian spent time at the Old Manse and with friends.
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Emerson's return to Concord was celebrated by the town and school was canceled that day. The anthology was originally prepared as early as the fall of but was delayed when the publishers asked for revisions. The problems with his memory had become embarrassing to Emerson and he ceased his public appearances by As Holmes wrote, "Emerson is afraid to trust himself in society much, on account of the failure of his memory and the great difficulty he finds in getting the words he wants.
It is painful to witness his embarrassment at times".