Essays: Second Series

Ralph Waldo EMERSON

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Item#: 110922 price:$17,500.00

Essays: Second Series
Essays: Second Series


EMERSON, Ralph Waldo. Essays: Second Series. Boston: James Munroe, 1844. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown morocco, raised bands. Housed in a custom chemise and clamshell box. $17,500.

First edition, presentation copy, of the second series of Emerson's essays including such important works as "Experience," "The Poet," and "Nature," usual mixed first and second printing but composed almost entirely of first printing sheets, inscribed in the year of publication to his close friend and trusted adviser: "Abel Adams from his friend, R.W.E. 15 October, 1844."

"Timeless, and without a trace of 'dating,' these essays are as readable, and to a considerable extent as much read, today as a hundred years ago. 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, 100 American 47). "The durability of Emerson for the general reader is one measure of his genius… In the American soil, and in the common sense of his own mind, he 'domesticated' the richest experience of many lands and cultures; he is indeed the 'transparent eyeball' through which the best light of the ages is brought to a focus of usefulness for the present day" (Bradley, 1037-39). "Copies composed exclusively of first or second printing sheets are scarce" (Myerson A16.1.b). In fact, Myerson notes only one copy with exclusively first printing sheets, while noting two with second printing sheets. This copy, however, has an unusually large number of first printing sheets (19 verified first printing points), with the only divergent second printing points found at 60.23 ("I turn"); 309.5 ("'There's a"); and 313.4 ("and"). This copy also bears the following reading at 200.4-5: "continua-'[blank]", noted by Myerson in some copies, but not linked to either printing. Myerson A16.1.a-b. BAL 5198. This copy is inscribed by Emerson to Abel Adams, one of Emerson's closest friends. "At the time of his first marriage and during the few years of his ministry in Boston, Mr. Emerson and his young wife found a home in Chardon Street with his parishioner, Mr. Abel Adams, a merchant of integrity and success. All through his life Mr. Adams was a valued and helpful friend and adviser" (Rusk, The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 93, note 1). Not only was Adams Emerson's financial adviser for many years, but when he steered Emerson towards a bad investment in railroad stock, he assumed the college expenses of Emerson's son. He also included the Emerson family in his will. After Adams' death, Emerson wrote that Adams was: "[o]ne of the best of my friends, whose hospitable house was always open to me by day or night for so many years… I had given him, first and last, a good deal of trouble, in his counsels & anxieties about my different pieces of property which he looked after… We cannot love him better than we did, but it is certain that in this house, when the ear hearth of him then it shall bless him."

Occasional foxing, inner paper hinges split, wear to binding. A very good copy.

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