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 Where they fail to reach the reader's heart, it is not because they are fundamentally disjointed, as if made up of sentences jostled together like so many mutually repellent particles; but because from the manner of his composition Emerson often missed what he might have learned from Plato's Phaedrus was the essence of good rhetoric, that is to say, the consciousness of his hearer's mind as well as of his own. We hear him, as it were, talking to himself, with no attempt to convince by argument or enlighten by analysis. If our dormant intuition answers to his, we are profoundly kindled and confirmed; otherwise his sentences may rattle ineffectually about our ears. Emerson's first published work was Nature (1836), which contains the gist of his transcendental attitude towards the phenomenal world, as a kind of beautiful symbol of the inner spiritual life, floating dreamlike before the eye, yet, it is to be noted, having discipline as one of its lessons for the attentive soul. The most characteristic and influential of his books are the two volumes of Essays, issued respectively in 1841 and 1844. In the former of these are those great discourses on Self-Reliance, Compensation, and The over-soul, into which was distilled the very quintessence of the volatile and heady liquid known as Emersonianism. Other volumes followed in due course. The latter publications, however, beginning with Letters and social aims (1875), are made up mainly of gleanings from the field already harvested, and were even gathered by hands not his own. Two of his addresses (now both included in the volume with Nature) deserve special notice for the attention they attracted at the time. The first of these is the oration before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard, in 1837, a high but scarcely practical appeal to the American scholar to raise himself above the dust of pedantries, even out of the routine of what is “decent, indolent, complaisant,” and to reach after the inspiration of “the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.” The other lecture was delivered the next year before the senior class in Divinity College, Cambridge, and held up to the prospective preacher about the same ideal as was presented to the scholar. Historical Christianity is condemned because “it is not the doctrine of the soul, but an exaggeration of the ”
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