” ; he rated it a wholesome, vivifying force in our national thought and life.
reveals the essential soundness of his Americanism.
Though surrounded all his life by reformers, he was himself scarcely a reformer, save upon the single issue of anti-slavery.
Perhaps he was at bottom too much of a radical to be swept off his feet by any reform.
To our generation, of course, Emerson
presents himself as an author of books, and primarily as an essayist, rather than as a winning, entrancing speaker.
His essays have a greater variety of tone than is commonly recognized.
Many of them, like Manners, Farming, books, eloquence, Old age
, exhibit a shrewd prudential wisdom, a sort of Yankee instinct for “the milk in the pan,” that reminds one of Ben Franklin
Like most of the greater New England
writers, he could be, on occasion, an admirable local historian.
See his essays on Life and letters in New England, New England reformers, politics
, and the successive entries in his Journal
relating to Daniel Webster.
He had the happiest gift of portraiture, as is witnessed by his sketches of Montaigne
, of Napoleon
, of Socrates
(in the essay on Plato
), of his aunt Mary Moody
, of Thoreau
, and of various types of