The Daguerreian Society


On this day (October 24) in the year 1841, Ralph Waldo Emerson made the 
following entry in his personal journal (marked "H"):
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Oct. 24. Life in Boston: A play in two acts, Youth & Age. Toys, dancing 
school, Sets, parties, picture galleries, sleighrides, Nahant, Saratoga 
Springs,. . . .

. . . Were you ever Daguerrotyped, O immortal man? And did you look with 
all vigor at the lens of the camera or rather by the direction of the 
operator at the brass peg a little below it to give the picture the full 
benefit of your expanded & flashing eye? and in your zeal not to blur 
the image, did you keep every finger in its place with such energy that 
your hands became clenched as for fight or despair, & in your resolution 
to keep your face still, did you feel every muscle becoming every moment 
more rigid: the brows contracted into a Tartarean frown, and the eyes 
fixed as they are fixed in a fit, in madness, or in death; and when at 
last you are relieved of your dismal duties, did you find the curtain 
drawn perfectly, and the coat perfectly, & the hands true, clenched for 
combat, and the shape of the face & head? but unhappily the total 
expression escaped from the face and you held the portrait of a mask 
instead of a man.  Could you not by grasping it very tight hold the 
stream of a river or of a small brook & prevent it from flowing?


Cited from  William H. Gilman and J. E. Parsons, edit. "The Journals and 
Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson" (Cambridge: The Belknap 
Press of Harvard University Press, 1970) VIII: 114-117.

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Posted for your enjoyment.      Gary W. Ewer       
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10-24-95


Return to: DagNews 1995

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