FIRST EDITION, ASSOCIATION COPY, OF EMERSON'S LETTERS AND SOCIAL AIMS, THE COPY OF EMERSON'S NEIGHBOR, JEANIE M. LEBRUN, BEARING BOTH HER SIGNATURE AND RALPH WALDO EMERSON'S SIGNATURE
EMERSON, Ralph Waldo. Letters and Social Aims. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1876 [i.e. 1875]. Octavo, original terracotta cloth. Housed in a half morocco chemise and full morocco slipcase. $11,000.
First edition, first printing, association copy, of the last volume of essays published during Emerson's lifetime, bearing the ownership signature of Emerson's neighbor, Jeanie M. LeBrun, and additionally signed for her by Emerson and dated by him in the year of publication, "6 Jan 1876."
This was the last volume of essay published during Emerson's lifetime. By the 1870s, Emerson had faded and "gradually slipped into a serene senility in which his mind finally became a calm blank" (OCAL). "A longtime friend, James Elliot Cabot, was enlisted by the family to help put Emerson's literary manuscripts in order and prepare his lectures for delivery and his writings for publication… Cabot and Emerson's daughter Ellen put together a final volume of essays, Letters and Social Aims (1876), some reprinted ('The Comic,' 'Quotation and Originality,' and 'Persian Poetry') and others drawn from Emerson's manuscripts ('Poetry and Imagination,' 'Social Aims,' 'Eloquence,' 'Resources,' 'Progress of Culture,' 'Inspiration,' 'Greatness,' and 'Immortality')… Emerson died quietly in Concord and was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, close to the graves of the Alcotts, Hawthornes, and Thoreaus" (ANB). First printing, with "N" on page 209 and with "inviolate" and "choices" on page 308 (changed respectively in the second and third printings to "inviolable" and "choice"). Though this work is dated 1876, the first printing took place on December 16, 1875 and was first advertised on Christmas of that year in Publisher's Weekly. Myerson A43.1a. BAL 5272. This copy belonged to and bears the ownership signature of Jean M. LeBrun, a Concord neighbor of the Emersons, as well as the Thoreaus, Alcotts, and Hawthornes. LeBrun's signature is dated Christmas day, just days after publication, suggesting that this book may have been a gift to her—one that she embellished by securing Emerson's signature. LeBrun would later attain her own minor fame for a piece she wrote to the Boston Advertiser in 1883 (later separately published in booklet form) that responded to the 1882 first book-length biography of Thoreau. The biography was written by Frank B. Sanborn, yet another Concord neighbor who worked as a schoolteacher instructing the children of Emerson, Hawthorne, and James. Sanborn also proposed to Emerson's daughter, Edith, who rejected him. In his biography of Thoreau, Sanborn presented an unflattering and ungenerous portrait of Thoreau's mother. Jean LeBrun, in her piece for the Advertiser undertook to defend both Thoreau and his mother posthumously.
Interior with only a couple faint stains, light rubbing to extremities of binding. A near-fine copy.