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Optimism of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Quite a large audience assembled in Sever 6 last evening, to listen to the reading of Mr. Dana's dissertation. To appreciate Emerson's position in the world of modern thought, it is necessary to study the philosophical attitude of his contemporaries. The nineteenth century is characterized by pessimism, and it is chiefly through the abandonment of faith in the revelation of the bible, that such men as Voltaire, Byron, Tennyson, Swinburne, Goethe and DeMusset, were lead into this line of thought. Poets are quoted as examples, for more than all other men they give expression to the thought of their times.

Into this circle of pessimists was born Ralph Waldo Emerson, a man gifted with a large cheerful nature, ready to face the great questions of the day, but never made despondent by them. Although he was not contented with the age he lived in, he firmly believed that it was better than all that had preceded it. As for the future, his firm faith was that it would be better than the present. Utterances of Carlyle, George Eliot, and many other writers show with what delight his pure hopeful philosophy was welcomed by the intellectual world. He had many traits in common with Wordsworth; but he was a much broader man. He taught the nineteeeth century to hope, and for this lesson we cannot be too thankful.

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