Barren Beginnings, Part 3
3 hours ago
Emerson's good sense was so strong that it always seemed to be specially awakened in the company of those who were most in sympathy with his loftiest thinking. Thus, when "the radical philosophers" were gathered one evening at his house, the conversation naturally turned on the various schemes of benevolent people to reform the world. Each person present had a panacea to cure all the distempers of society. For hours the talk ran on, and before bedtime came, all the sin and misery of the world had been apparently expelled from it, and our planet was reformed and transformed into an abode of human angels, and virtue and happiness were the lot of each human being. Emerson listened, but was sparing of speech. Probably he felt, with Lamennais, that if facts did not resist thoughts, the earth would in a short time become uninhabitable. At any rate, he closed the seance with the remark: "A few of us old codgers meet at the fireside on a pleasant evening, and in thought and hope career, balloonlike, over the whole universe of matter and mind, finding no resistance to our theories, because we have, in the sweet delirium of our thinking, none of those obstructive facts which are the practical reformer the moment he takes single forward step; then we go to bed; and the pity of it is we wake up in the morning feeling that we are the same poor old imbeciles we were before!"