EMERSON IN HIS
67. Photograph of Ralph Waldo and Lidian Emerson with
children and grandchildren, on the steps of Bush, 1879, from Emerson family
photograph album. Album from the estate of Amelia Forbes Emerson,
“A very good discourse on Marriage might be written by him who would preach on the nature of things. Let him teach how fast the frivolous external fancying fades out of the mind. Let him teach both husband & wife to mourn for the rapid ebb of inclination not one moment, to yield it no tear. As this fancy picture, these fata-Morgana, this cloud scenery fades forever the solid mountain chains whereupon the sky rests in the far perspective of the soul begin to appear. The parties discover every day the deep & permanent character each of the other as a rock foundation on which they may safely build their nuptial bower. They learn slowly that all other affection than that which rests upon what they are is superstitious & evanescent, that all concealment, all pretension is wholly Vain, that to the amiable & useful & heroic qualities which inhere in the other belong a certain portion of love, of pleasure, of veneration which is as exactly measured as the attraction of a pound of iron, that there is no luck nor witchcraft nor destiny nor divinity in marriage that can produce affection but only those qualities that by their nature extort it, that all love is mathematical.”—RWE, journal, September 28?, 1836
“He had love and tremendous tenderness for very small children, and his skill in taking and handling a baby was in remarkable contrast to his awkwardness with animals or tools. The monthly nurse, who drew back instinctively when he offered to take a new-born baby from her arms, saw in another moment that she had no cause to shudder, for nothing could be more delicate and skilful and confident than his manner of holding the small scrap of humanity as delighted and smiling he bore it up and down the room, making a charming and tender address to it. His little boy, the first-born of his family (two sons and two daughters), died at the age of five. His good friend Judge Hoar writes: ‘I think I was never more impressed with a human expression of agony than when Mr. Emerson led me into the room where little Waldo lay dead and said only, in reply to whatever I could say of sorrow or sympathy, “Oh that boy! That boy!” ’ ”—Edward Waldo Emerson, Emerson in Concord
“He had the grace to leave his children, after they began to grow up, the responsibility of deciding in more important questions concerning themselves, for which they cannot be too grateful to him; he did not command or forbid, but laid the principles and the facts before us and left the case in our hands.”—Edward Waldo Emerson, Emerson in Concord
“Nothing could be better than his manner to children and young people, affectionate and with a marked respect for their personality, as if perhaps their inspiration or ideal might be better than his own, yet dignified and elevating by his expectations. He was at ease with them and questioned them kindly, but as if expecting from them something better than had yet appeared, so that he always inspired affection and awe, but never fear. The beauty, the sincerity, the hopefulness of young people charmed him.”—Edward Waldo Emerson, Emerson in Concord.
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