Today’s musings are in relation to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s House in Concord, MA. It sits diagonally across from The Concord Museum. If you are intrigued by Emerson and his contemporaries, it is a great first stop. Walking the grounds and interior of the home will give you a sense of where many of the conversations took place between the literary and philosophical notables of the 19th century in Concord.
He was in many ways the mentor and elder statesman of a group that included Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau, however his fame spread far beyond Concord during his lifetime. In fact, the esteem in which he was held is exemplified by the overwhelming response of Concordians of his day to a fire that had nearly consumed Emerson’s home. A collection was raised without his knowledge to have it rebuilt.
Emerson was a prolific writer and lecturer on what it meant to be alive, our relation to the natural world, our being. One of his most fascinating essays written in the mid 1850s was on Memory. Two quotes from Emerson’s notebooks that I find thought provoking are as follows: “For manners and for wise living, it is a vice to remember” and “imagination is the morning, memory the evening of the mind”. Both these excerpts are quoted in Emerson, The Mind on Fire by Robert Richardson. A highly readable, in-depth account of Emerson’s biographical life and his philosophy.