Ohio History Journal

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A New Emerson Letter1


by N. C. DAVIS

Graduate Assistant in English, Ohio State University

The following excerpt is from the editorial columns of the

Cleveland Herald for March 2, 1852:


Writes from Concord, Feb. 26th, to one of our citizens who had written

to him when recently in Buffalo, to come here and lecture:

"Your letter I found on my road, but it offered me fruit which I could

not eat, however fair. All my days were promised, for the Lyceums along

the Albany and Buffalo road now act in concert, and when they send to us,

eastern demagogues, arrange a series of engagements for us. Yet I was glad

to be asked-glad to be remembered."

Our Ohio Institutions at Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, must

"arrange a series of engagements" for this brilliant Lecturer, next winter.

We are happy to know that the Cleveland Library Association intends acting

in season in this matter, and that the providing of a good course, especially

as to Eastern lecturers, is in charge of Mr. H. M. Chapin,2 of this city, whose

enterprize and experience had in such matters East, ensure us the best

material to be got from that quarter.

This letter, written nearly two years after Emerson's first, and

nearly a year before his second, lecture tour in Ohio,3 is perhaps

his first letter to a Cleveland correspondent concerning his lectures.

The earliest letter recorded by Rusk was written in May 1852 to

Charles Herrick,4 corresponding secretary of the Cleveland Mercan-

tile Library Association. The letter quoted above cannot be sim-


1 This letter was included by Carl David Mead in an unpublished dissertation,

Eastern Lecturers in Ohio, 1850-1870 (Ohio State University, 1947), 62.

2 H. M. Chapin came to Cleveland in 1848 at the age of twenty-four. He was

a partner of Charles Bradburn in the wholesale grocery business until 1852 when he

formed another partnership and entered the beef and pork packing business. He was

president of the Cleveland Library Association in 1854. See Cleveland, Past and

Present, published by Maurice Joblin (Cleveland, 1869), 71-74.

3 For full information on Emerson's lecture tours in Ohio, see Mead, Eastern

Lecturers in Ohio, passim.

4 Ralph L. Rusk, ed., The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson (6 vols., New York,

1939), IV, 293.