Ralph Waldo Emerson from the ‘Look Who’s Talking Series

Such an ado was made at my passing from this life. Surely people knew that I was ready for the journey. Near the end, my memory failed, and my mind was not as keen and agile as it had been. I no longer wrote, nor could I converse with a degree of competency. Time had taken its toll, but I had been ready and I knew I was about to embark on another journey.

It had been an easy life that I enjoyed during the early times. Life was not complex. I came from a respected family, was fortunate to receive a good education, and had the benefits of good friends of intelligence.

As a young man I aspired to become a minister. I achieved that goal, but in time I determined it was not the life for me. My philosophies were not readily acceptable to the clergy. When I left the ministry, I embarked on a trip to England where I had longed to go to meet with men of literature. In my youthful mind, I believed this young country of America had no literary masters.

In years to come, I would know men such as Carlyle, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Dickens, who would become friends. I was privileged to dine with Tenneyson, exchange ideas with Macaulay, admire the inventiveness of George Stephenson, and the mind of Thackeray.

As I grew older and wiser, I admired and respected my countrymen: Bronson; Alcott; Henry James: Margaret Fuller; Nathaniel Hawthorne, and my dearest friend, Henry David Thoreau, the young man I had taken into my home to assist me in my attempt at farming.

How grand and yet simple were his stories. His oneness with nature embellished all that he said and did. Well I recall helping to get him a scholarship to Harvard, and the joy I felt when he returned, still imbued with his love of nature, non plussed by the classic education.

What can I say of my life? That I enjoyed the company of all people? I was equally at home with the laborer as with the socially elite. I wrote my thoughts and feelings, and people invited me to speak them in public lectures. I was an admirer of the Plato philosophy, and a member of the Transcendentalist Society. My joy was exchanging ideas with anyone who cared to listen.

To be a poet of worth was my greatest aspiration, but it was not to be. My rhyme and verse were acceptable, but not of great literary value.

As a farmer I also failed. Hawthorne once wrote that my idea of farming was to lean on a hoe while Thoreau leaned upon a rake, and Alcott sat on the fence. It is somewhat true. We greatly enjoyed discourse over workhorse.

My thoughts and philosophies were not new. They had been the filtration of wisdoms from earlier times. I embraced the thoughs and beliefs of master before me, then reconciled them with my own intuitive spirit. In my essay, “Fate”, I wrote:

“No one can read history of astronomy
without perceiving that Corpernicus, Newton,
Laplace. are not new men, or a new kind of men,
but that Thales, Anaximenes, Hipparchus, Emp-
edocles, Aristarchus, Phythagora, OEnipodes,
had anticipated them;”

Did not Socrates and Plato come before Immanuel Kant? And before Moses, Confucius and Pythagoras? When people today speak of New Thought, compare it to ancient wisdoms, and you will find that nothing new exists under the sun that has not been envisioned by another.

How do I apprise myself as a writer? In my essay on beauty, I stated:

“It is proof of high culture to say the greatest matters in the simplest way,”
or,
“To clothe the fiery thought,
In simple words succeeds,
For still the craft of genius is
To mask a king in weeds.”

I believe that we could learn much from the laborers who work close to nature. Watch a man build a bridge, see a woman tend her garden, observe the tin maker crafting his
wares, and you see nature in her finest hours.

If we are true to our nature, open our minds to the voice of the universal spirit, allow the will of fate to guide our actions, break no law of nature, then we have lived to the fullest measure of our being. To that end, I hope I achieved a modicum of success.

Mary Bradley McCauley is a writer in no particular genre. Her articles, short stories, essays, poems, travel bits, and ‘thinking about’ series have been published and well received.