Monday, August 21, 2006

slouched in a tilted chair, reading: Emerson 8/21/1820

August 21st.
In the H[arvard] C[ollege] Athenæum I enjoyed a very pleasant hour reading the life of Marlborough in the "Quarterly Review." I was a little troubled there by vexatious trains of thought; but once found myself stopping entirely from my reading and occupied in throwing guesses into futurity while I was asking myself if, when, ten or a dozen years hence, I am gone far on the bitter, perplexing roads of life, when I shall then recollect these moments, now thought so miserable, shall I not fervently wish the possibility of their return, and to find myself again thrown awkwardly on the tilted chair in the Athenæum study with my book in my hand; the snuffers and lamps and shelves around; and Motte I coughing over his newspaper near me, and ready myself to saunter out into gaiety and Commons when that variously-meaning bell shall lift up his tongue.
"Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempus."

This comes from the Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was 20 when he wrote this. Though it's summer, the college term was only now coming to an close and he was about to end his junior year at Harvard.


I don't have information about a Harvard College Athenæum. He may have meant the reading room of Hollis, his residence hall. The Boston Athenæum was established in 1807. {I got the photo of Hollis from wikipedia.}

About the Quarterly Review, Schoolnet says:
The Quarterly Review was established by John Murray in 1809 as a Tory rival to the Whig supporting Edinburgh Review. The idea for the journal came from Sir Walter Scott, a Tory who had previously worked for Francis Jeffrey's Edinburgh Review. The first editor was William Gifford and contributors included Robert Southey and Tory politicians George Canning, and the Marquis of Salisbury.

The Quarterly Review stood politically for preserving the status quo. The journal was very hostile to the work of writers in favour of political reform. Writers such as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Leigh Hunt, William Hazlitt, Thomas Babington Macaulay and Charles Dickens all received hostile reviews in the journal, whereas the work of Jane Austin and Sir Walter Scott was warmly praised. It was alleged that John Wilson Croker's savage review of John Keat's Endymion contributed to the poet's early death. The Quarterly Review ceased publication in 1967.

Motte was a classmate, Mellish Irving Motte, a Southern boy (Charleston, SC). After graduating he became minister of a Boston Congregational church.

Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus means, "But it flees in the meantime: irretrievable time flees". Wikipedia says: "The expression was first used in the verse Georgica written by Roman poet Virgil"

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