Volume VI in this series contains quotation books and miscellaneous notebooks that Ralph Waldo Emerson kept between 1824 and 1838, and to which he added occasionally as late as the 1860s. With some attempt at a systematic listing, but more often at random, he set down an enormous variety of entries from Burke, Montaigne, Madame de Staël, Bacon, Plutarch, Jeremy Taylor, and a host of other writers both famous and obscure, with frequent comments of his own.
One book contains Emerson’s lengthy translations of Goethe, while another is devoted to his brother Charles, who died in 1836, and includes, among other items, excerpts from Charles’s letters to his fiancée. A third contains an interview with a survivor of the battle of Concord and household accounts from the fall and winter of 1835, just after Emerson’s marriage to Lydia Jackson.
Frequent annotations show that Emerson referred to several of these books in composing the sermons he began to give late in 1826, and that many of the entries found their way into his public lectures, into Nature, and into Essays: First Series. These pages are a fascinating indication of the sources on which Emerson drew steadily in his writing and thinking, and reflect clearly, although indirectly, his own characteristic philosophy.