15 June 2011

Well Written Wednesdays: a little chilling to the social affections

The hilariously understated Ralph Waldo Emerson on his friend Henry Thoreau: 

It seemed as if his first instinct on hearing a proposition was to controvert it, so impatient was he of the limitations of our daily thought. This habit, of course, is a little chilling to the social affections; and though the companion would in the end acquit him of any malice or untruth, yet it mars conversation.

And something more laudatory: 

He saw as with microscope, heard as with ear-trumpet, and his memory was a photographic register of all he saw and heard. And yet none knew better than he that it is not the fact that imports, but the impression or effect of the fact on your mind. Every fact lay in glory in his mind, a type of the order and beauty of the whole.

Both excerpts from Emerson's introduction to Walden.

1 comment:

  1. Matthew Taylor16 June, 2011 23:30

    I've just realized: Emerson is Transcendentalism's Giuseppe Mazzini, and Thoreau is its Garibaldi, of the wars for Italian independence.