Happy is the house that shelters a friend!

Ralph Waldo Emerson's house

Ralph Waldo Emerson's house

I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frostwork, but the solidest thing we know. For now, after so many ages of experience, what do we know of nature, or of ourselves? Not one step has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his destiny. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace, which I draw from this alliance with my brother’s soul, is the nut itself, whereof all nature and all thought is but the husk and shell. Happy is the house that shelters a friend! It might well be built, like a festal bower or arch, to entertain him a single day. Happier, if he know the solemnity of that relation, and honor its law! He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up, like an Olympian, to the great games, where the first-born of the world are the competitors…

by Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882)
from Essays, Friendship, 1841
image – Boston Public Library

Emerson’s Home

On September 6th, this day in 1847, Henry David Thoreau moved from the shack he built on Walden pond to the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson and his wife Lydia. This was the second time the Emersons welcomed Thoreau into their home for an extended stay.

Emerson bought his house meaning to fill it with friends. In a journal entry he wrote, “It is in a mean place and cannot be fine until trees and flowers give it a character of its own. But we shall crowd so many books and papers and, if possible, wise friends into it, that we shall have as much wit as it can carry.”

Though Emerson died in 1882, his house continued to shelter friends and relatives until 1948. Today his ancestors open it to the public as a museum.

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