The magnificent dreamer, brooding as ever on the renewal or reedification of the social fabric after ideal law, heedless that he had been uniformly rejected by every class to whom he has addressed himself and just as sanguine and vast as ever;—the most cogent example of the drop too much which nature adds of each man’s peculiarity.
—Emerson on Amos Bronson Alcott

I was much taken with the image of the young Ralph Waldo Emerson, convalescing in Florida in the winter of 1827, playing “a kind of poor man’s golf by propelling green oranges with his stick along the beach at St. Augustine.” Equally surprising was the verbal snapshot of the elderly Emerson, in his seventies, wrapped in a shawl on a cool evening, enjoying conversation and remarking “the singular comfort” of a good cigar. Somehow such pastimes seem much too human, material, and commonplace for...


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