For some time there had been a gradual relaxation of Emerson's hold on life. Though always an approachable man and fond of conversation, there was in him a certain lack of human warmth, of “bottom,” to use his own word, which he recognized and deplored. Commenting in his Journal (24 May, 1864) on the burial of Hawthorne, he notes the statement of James Freeman Clarke that the novelist had “shown a sympathy with the crime in our nature,” and adds: “I thought there was a tragic element in the event, that might be more fully rendered,--in the painful solitude of the man, which, I suppose, could not longer be endured, and he died of it.” A touch of this romantic isolation, though never morose or “painful,” there was in himself, a failure to knit himself strongly into the bonds of society. “I have felt sure of him,” he says of Hawthorne in the same passage, “in his neighbourhood, and in his necessities of sympathy and intelligence,that I could well wait his time,--his unwillingness and caprice, --and might one day conquer a friendship. . . . Now it appears that I waited too long.” Eighteen years later, standing by the body of Longfellow, he was heard to say: “That gentleman was a sweet, beautiful soul, but I have entirely forgotten his name.” Such forgetfulness, like a serene and hazy cloud, hovered over Emerson's brain in his closing years. A month afterwards, on 27 April, 1882, he himself faded away peacefully. To one who examines the events of Emerson's quiet life with a view to their spiritual bearing it will appear that his most decisive act was the surrender of his pulpit in 1832. Nearly a century earlier, in 1750, the greatest of American theologians had suffered what now befell the purest of American seers; and though the manner of their parting was different (Jonathan Edwards had been unwillingly ejected, whereas Emerson left with good will on both sides), yet there is significance in the fact that the cause of separation in both cases was the administration of the Lord's Supper. Nor is there less significance in the altered attitude of the later man towards this vital question. Both in a way turned from the ritualistic
 between right and wrong, and to excuse guilt on the plea of good intentions or good nature.Letters of Charles Eliot Norton, vol. I, pp. 503 and 506.
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