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Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Autograph Centenary Edition

12 volumes

Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press. 1903

Set Number 236 of 600

Bound into Volume I is a draft page in Emerson’s hand from his famed work ENGLISH TRAITS.


The set is in Very Good Condition. Brown cloth with paper labels all in very good shape.  Bindings are all tight and there are many uncut pages.  Some very minor age-related signs of shelfwear, such as minor wear to the tops of several spines that are likely from people taking the books off the shelf.  Most books have a prior owners bookplate on the inside cover.  The bookplate reads: "The George W. Taylor Library.  Bequeathed to the Scottish Rite Bodies in the Valley of Barrie by Illustrious Brother George W. Taylor 33 of Burlington. 1931."  All volumes are in protective mylar. 


About Set No. 236 and its draft page from ENGLISH TRAITS


Writer and Philsopher Ralph Waldo Emerson was the descendant of Puritan Minister and Concord Founder Peter Bulkeley, who had been driven out of England for his religious beliefs, and grandson of Concord's Revolutionary Minister William Emerson, Sr. who preached freedom from England. Following the death of his first wife Ellen Louise Tucker in 1833, Ralph Waldo Emerson traveled to his ancestors' homeland, journeying throughout England and Scotland. There, he visited writers and transcendentalists Thomas Carlyle, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, and others. Inspired and renewed by his trip and their thoughts on Transcendentalism, Emerson returned to Concord, Massachusetts, began writing NATURE, and helped found the American Transcendental movement.


In 1848, Emerson returned to England on a lecture tour, once again visiting places and people including Thomas Carlyle. Based on his experiences in Great Britain, as well as drawing on his vast reading of British history, Emerson wrote ENGLISH TRAITS. Published in 1856, the book was an American's viewpoint on the history, culture, and landscape of England and the English people.


Some of Emerson's draft pages for ENGLISH TRAITS eventually made their way into publisher Houghton Mifflin's hands and were bound into one of 600 Autograph Centenary Edition sets of the the Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transcription of the draft page bound into this set follows (as transcribed by Barrow Bookstore):


"Yet, as soon as we leave extreme cases, one claps thrdes [?] in to another for imperceptibly, that it becomes difficult to distinguish race from race. Thus the British race is now very well marked as the leading race. The British Anatomically or by metaphysical by a race, preeminently called British, held the land, when the Romans came, which , along there in the farthern parts took very fast the ideas manners of their conquerors. Then came first and last from central Asia Saxon Dane northerners."


The second half of the transcription has slashes through it, presumed to be made by Emerson during the draft process.


Barrow Bookstore’s best guess is that the draft page in Set 236 ended up being partially used in ENGLISH TRAITS published final version's Chapter 4 (Race) and Chapter XVIII (Result).


From published version:

Chapter 4, Race: The individuals at the extremes of divergence in one race of men are as unlike as the wolf to the lapdog. Yet each variety shades down imperceptibly into the next, and you cannot draw the line where a race begins or ends.

Who can discriminate them anatomically, or metaphysically?


Chapter XVIII: Result: They are well marked and differing from other leading races.

Full Paragraph: England is the best of actual nations. It is no ideal framework, it is an old pile built in different ages, with repairs, additions, and makeshifts; but you see the poor best you have got. London is the epitome of our times, and the Rome of to-day. Broad-fronted, broad-bottomed Teutons, they stand in solid phalanx foursquare to the points of compass; they constitute the modern world, they have earned their vantage-ground, and held it through ages of adverse possession. They are well marked and differing from other leading races



12 Volume Autograph Centenary Edition of Emerson’s

Volume I – Nature, Addresses & Lectures

Volume II – Essays I

Volume III – Essays II

Volume IV – Representative Men

Volume V – English Traits
Volume VI – Conduct of Life

Volume VII – Society and Solitude

Volume VIII – Letters and Social Aims

Volume IX – Poems
Volume X – Lectures and Biographical Sketches

Volume XI – Miscellanies

Volume XII – Natural History of the Intellect and Other Paper


Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Autograph Centenary Edition

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