Skip to main content

Emerson And Individualism

April 2024
1min read

The portion of the interview dealing with Emerson’s alleged indifference concerning the death of his five-yearold son, Waldo, and his incapacity “to feel for … another,” is misleading.

In Emerson’s letter to his aunt, Mary Moody Emerson, written January 28, 1842, he cries: “My boy, my boy is gone. He was taken ill of Scarlatina on Monday evening, and died last night. I can say nothing to you. My darling and the world’s wonderful child, for never in my own or another family have I seen any thing comparable, has fled out of my arms like a dream. He adorned the world for me like a morning star, and every particular of my daily life. …”

In his journal entry of January 30 in that same year he tenderly discusses the loss. He writes: “Sorrow makes us all children. The wisest knows nothing. It seems as if I ought to call upon the winds to describe my boy, my fast receding boy. A child so large & generous a nature, that I cannot paint him by specialties, as I might another.”

Emerson’s capacity for human feeling continues to touch me, and does so as well for countless other Emerson disciples.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate