Ralph Waldo Emerson English Traits

ISBN 13: 9781537532882

English Traits

 
9781537532882: English Traits

The feudal system survives in the steep inequality of property and privilege, in the limited franchise, in the social barriers which confine patronage and promotion to a caste, and still more in the submissive ideas pervading these people. The fagging of the schools is repeated in the social classes. An Englishman shows no mercy to those below him in the social scale, as he looks for none from those above him; any forbearance from his superiors surprises him, and they suffer in his good opinion. But the feudal system can be seen with less pain on large historical grounds. It was pleaded in mitigation of the rotten borough, that it worked well, that substantial justice was done. Fox, Burke, Pitt, Erskine, Wilberforce, Sheridan, Romilly, or whatever national men, were by this means sent to Parliament, when their return by large constituencies would have been doubtful. So now we say, that the right measures of England are the men it bred; that it has yielded more able men in five hundred years than any other nation; and, though we must not play Providence, and balance the chances of producing ten great men against the comfort of ten thousand mean men, yet retrospectively we may strike the balance, and prefer one Alfred, one Shakspeare, one Milton, one Sidney, one Raleigh, one Wellington, to a million foolish democrats.

The American system is more democratic, more humane; yet the American people do not yield better or more able men, or more inventions or books or benefits, than the English. Congress is not wiser or better than Parliament. France has abolished its suffocating old régime , but is not recently marked by any more wisdom or virtue.

The power of performance has not been exceeded,--the creation of value. The English have given importance to individuals, a principal end and fruit of every society. Every man is allowed and encouraged to be what he is, and is guarded in the indulgence of his whim. "Magna Charta," said Rushworth, "is such a fellow that he will have no sovereign." By this general activity, and by this sacredness of individuals, they have in seven hundred years evolved the principles of freedom. It is the land of patriots, martyrs, sages, and bards, and if the ocean out of which it emerged should wash it away, it will be remembered as an island famous for immortal laws, for the announcements of original right which make the stone tables of liberty.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.--FIRST VISIT TO ENGLAND.

CHAPTER II.--VOYAGE TO ENGLAND.

CHAPTER III.--LAND.

CHAPTER IV.--RACE.

CHAPTER V.--ABILITY.

CHAPTER VI.--MANNERS.

CHAPTER VII.--TRUTH.

CHAPTER VIII.--CHARACTER.

CHAPTER IX. --COCKAYNE.

CHAPTER X.--WEALTH.

CHAPTER XI.--ARISTOCRACY.

CHAPTER XII.--UNIVERSITIES.

CHAPTER XIII.--RELIGION.

CHAPTER XIV.--LITERATURE.

CHAPTER XV.--THE "TIMES."

CHAPTER XVI.--STONEHENGE.

CHAPTER XVII.--PERSONAL.

CHAPTER XVIII.--RESULT.

CHAPTER XIX.--SPEECH AT MANCHESTER.

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From the Back Cover:

Before he was the "Sage of Concord" and a driving force behind the Transcendental Movement of the 19th century, American poet and philosopher RALPH WALDO EMERSON (1803-1882) journeyed to England as a young man, the first of two trips to the Sceptred Isle.

This delightful 1856 book is his examination of the British character gleaned from his travels in England, from the nature of their character to their love of humor, from their celebration of wealth and aristocracy to the grace of its religion.

Not just an intriguing look at the people and places of Britain in the 19th century but an illuminating look inside the mind of a writer who remains a major figure in American literature, this is must-reading for fans of Emerson and of England.

About the Author:

Ralph Waldo Emerson was the leading proponent of the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-nineteenth century. He was ordained as a Unitarian minister at Harvard Divinity School but served for only three years before developing his own spiritual philosophy based on individualism and intuition. His essay Nature" is arguably his best-known work and was both groundbreaking and highly controversial when it was first published. Emerson also wrote poetry and lectured widely across the US.

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