Magazine

Examiner

Ralph Waldo Emerson, by the numbers

Let’s give literary thanks to the author of “Self-Reliance,” born May 25, 1803, and buried in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow cemetery.

circa 1870: American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) who was among the leaders of the transcendental movement in Boston. (Photo by Otto Herschan/Getty Images) Library Tag 03062011 Ideas
Otto Herschan/Getty Images
“The passive master lent his hand to the vast soul that o’er him planned.” — Emerson’s epitaph, from his poem “The Problem”

> 1835 — Year Emerson moved into Bush, the house in Concord where he lived until his death in 1882, and wrote most of his major works

> 47 — Years that Emerson, “The Sage of Concord,” lived in Bush, now a National Historic Landmark

“And fired the shot heard round the world” — The best-known line of Emerson’s poem “Concord Hymn,” commemorating the first battle of the Revolutionary War

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> 1836 — Year Emerson published “Nature,” a paean to the Transcendentalist movement

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> 1845 — Year Emerson let Henry David Thoreau build a small cabin on his land near Walden Pond

> 14 — Emerson’s age when he entered Harvard College in 1817; he was the youngest in his class

> 30 — Number of years Emerson wasn’t invited back to Harvard Divinity School after his 1838 commencement speech denying biblical miracles and that Jesus was God

> 2006 — Year that HDS established the Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Professorship of Divinity

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Erin: “But wouldn’t you say that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds?”

Alan: “Well, actually, it’s ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.’ That’s Ralph Waldo Emerson.”

– Hope Davis as Erin castleton and Alan Gelfant as Alan Monteiro in Next Stop Wonderland (1998)

Sources: National Park Services; encyclopedia.com; Biography.com; History.com; IMDb; American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century Volume One; PBS; Harvard University; Harvard Divinity School; the Thoreau Society