FIRST AMERICAN EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY, OF POEMS, INSCRIBED IN THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION BY EMERSON TO THE ADOPTED DAUGHTER OF ONE OF HIS CLOSEST FRIENDS, HIS LONGTIME CORRESPONDENT ABBY L. ADAMS
EMERSON, Ralph Waldo. Poems. Boston: James Munroe, 1847. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter brown morocco, raised bands. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $16,000.
First American edition, second issue, presentation copy, of Emerson's first collection of poems, inscribed in the year of publication to the adopted daughter of Abel Adams, one of Emerson's closest friends and most trusted advisors: "Abby L. Adams from R.W.C. 25 Dec. 1846."
Emerson's poetry was extremely influential in the development of American poetry and "inspired innumerable others, from Walt Whitman to Robert Frost" (Phillips, The Hand of the Poet, 58). According to Myerson there were three indistinguishable printings of this first edition; there were also two issues. The present copy is the second issue, with collation not including [i-viii]. The first English edition preceded the first American edition by a few weeks. Bound without half title or publisher's catalogue. Myerson A18.2.a. BAL 5211. This copy is inscribed to Abby L. Adams, the adopted daughter of Abel Adams, one of Emerson's closest friends. Emerson began a written correspondence with Abby during her childhood and continued until Emerson's death. The Adams family—and particularly its patriarch, Abel Adams—was uniquely important to Emerson. "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." Ex-libris Faulkner Hospital.
Front inner paper hinge split, interior generally quite clean, wear and toning to extremities of binding. An extremely good copy.