• THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR.

  • This address was delivered at Cambridge in 1837, before the Harvard Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, a college fraternity composed of the first twenty-five men in each graduating class.

  • The society has annual meetings, which have been the occasion for addresses from the most distinguished scholars and thinkers of the day.

  • Ralph Waldo Emmerson

    Mr. President and Gentlemen,

    Profile Picture of Ralph Waldo Emmerson in The American Scholar
  • I greet you on the recommencement of our literary year.

  • Our anniversary is one of hope, and, perhaps, not enough of labor.

  • We do not meet for games of strength or skill, for the recitation of histories, tragedies, and odes, like the ancient Greeks;

  • Ralph Waldo Emmerson

    for parliaments of love and poesy, like the Troubadours;

    Profile Picture of Ralph Waldo Emmerson in The American Scholar
  • nor for the advancement of science, like our co-temporaries in the British and European capitals.

  • Thus far, our holiday has been simply a friendly sign of the survival of the love of letters amongst a people too busy to give to letters any more.

  • As such it is precious as the sign of an indestructible instinct.

  • Perhaps the time is already come when it ought to be, and will be, something else;

  • when the sluggard intellect of this continent will look from under its iron lids and fill the postponed expectation of the world with something better than the exertions of mechanical skill.

  • Ralph Waldo Emmerson

    Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands, draws to a close.

    Profile Picture of Ralph Waldo Emmerson in The American Scholar
  • The millions that around us are rushing into life cannot always be fed on the sere remains of foreign harvests.

  • Events, actions arise that must be sung, that will sing themselves.

  • Who can doubt that poetry will revive and lead in a new age, as the star in the constellation Harp, which now flames in our zenith, astronomers announce, shall one day be the pole-star for a thousand years?

  • In the light of this hope I accept the topic which not only usage but the nature of our association seem to prescribe to this day,—

  • the American Scholar.

  • Ralph Waldo Emmerson

    Year by year we come up hither to read one more chapter of his biography.

    Profile Picture of Ralph Waldo Emmerson in The American Scholar