I vowed that I would never buy another book on sale at Audible.com, but here I was, once again, bought something just because of the discount. I knew I don’t like Emerson very much–his English is a little too archaic for my non-native ears–but I couldn’t resist the temptation of a sale. So I bought this 14-hour “Essays” and have been listening to it when running errands or doing chores. It is better than I thought–either my taste has changed or my English has improved since the day–many years ago–when I first tried to read him. He doesn’t talk about women much, which is probably why I haven’t found too much to disagree with him.
Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds. I knew a man who under a certain religious frenzy cast off this drapery, and omitting all compliment and commonplace, spoke to the conscience of every person he encountered, and that with great insight and beauty. At first he was resisted, and all men agreed he was mad. But persisting– as indeed he could not help doing–for some time in this course, he attained to the advantage of bringing every man of his acquaintance into true relations with him.
“Friendship” By Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wisdom will never let us stand with any man or men on an unfriendly footing. We refuse sympathy and intimacy with people, as if we waited for some better sympathy and intimacy to come. But whence and when? To-morrow will be like to-day. Life wastes itself whilst we are preparing to live. Our friends and fellow-workers die off from us. Scarcely can we say we see new men, new women, approaching us. We are too old to regard fashion, too old to expect patronage of any greater or more powerful… Undoubtedly we can easily pick faults in our company, can easily whisper names prouder and that tickle the fancy more. Every man’s imagination hath its friends; and pleasant would life be with such companions. But if you cannot have them on good mutual terms, you cannot have them.
“Prudence” By Ralph Waldo Emerson
…who … is heroic will always find crises to try his edge. Human virtue demands her champions and martyrs, and the trial of persecution always proceeds. It is but the other day that the brave Lovejoy gave his breast to the bullets of a mob, for the rights of free speech and opinion, and died when it was better not to live.
“Heroism” By Ralph Waldo Emerson
The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory and to do something without knowing how or why; in short to draw a new circle. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful. It is by abandonment.
“Circle” By Ralph Waldo Emerson
The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression.
“Second Series” By Ralph Waldo Emerson