"STEAM IS ALMOST AN ENGLISHMAN. I DO NOT KNOW BUT THEY WILL SEND HIM TO PARLIAMENT NEXT": EMERSON’S ILLUSTRATED COMPLETE WORKS, WITH FINE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT LEAF
EMERSON, Ralph Waldo. Complete Works. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1903-04. Twelve volumes. Octavo, original full burgundy morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated boards and spines, raised bands, marbled endpapers, uncut and partly unopened. $13,000.
“Autograph Centenary” edition, number 32 of 600 copies, illustrated with 56 photogravures, with original manuscript leaf in Emerson’s hand discussing English industry in Volume I, beautifully bound.
This edition includes all of Emerson's poems, lectures, biographical sketches and letters, as well as his famous essays, several of which here see print for the first time. Their "ethical inspiration and stimulation, their occasional startling phrase, their individualistic idealism, which stirred renascent Yankee New England to its depths, speaks with the same simple power and force in the midst of modern complexities" (Grolier, American 100 47).
The manuscript leaf. measuring eight by ten inches, is almost identical to a section from "Ability" in English Traits, and can be found on pages 95-96 in Volume V of this set. It reads in full: "…the aid of steam to agriculture. Steam is almost an Englishman. I do not know but they will send him to Parliament next, to make laws. He weaves forges saws pounds fans and now he must pump grind dig and plough for the farmer. The markets created by the manufacturing population have erected agriculture into a special industry and warranted a vast expenditure of capital by professional farmers. This artificial character runs through all departments of the state. The value of the houses in Great Britain is equal to the value of the soil. Artificial aids of all kinds are cheaper than the natural resources. No man can afford to walk, when the Parliamentary-train carries him for a penny a mile. Gas burners are cheaper than daylight in numberless floors in the cities. All the houses in London buy their water. The English trade does not exist for the exportation of native…" Illustrated with 56 engravings and photogravures.