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[122]

But as a scheme of life for Ralph Waldo Emerson this vocation would not satisfy. The sexton of the Second Church thought that the young man was not at his best at funerals. Father Taylor, the eccentric Methodist, whom Emerson assisted at a sailor's Bethel near Long Wharf, considered him “one of the sweetest souls God ever made,” but as ignorant of the principles of the New Testament as Balaam's ass was of Hebrew grammar. By and by came an open difference with his congregation over the question of administering the Communion. “I am not interested in it,” Emerson admitted, and he wrote in his Journal the noble words: “It is my desire, in the office of a Christian minister, to do nothing which I cannot do with my whole heart.” His resignation was accepted in 1832. His young wife had died of consumption in the same year. He now sailed for Italy, France, and England, a memorable journey which gave him an acquaintance with Landor, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Carlyle, but which was even more significant in sending him, as he says, back to himself, to the resources of his own nature. “When shows break up,” wrote Whitman afterward, “what but oneself is sure?” In 1834 and 1835 we find Emerson occupying a room

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