By Michael T. Gilmore
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Extra info for American Romanticism and the Marketplace
The structure of the essay reveals Emerson's strategy in this respect. 12In other words, Emerson will attempt to salvage the world as commodity by infusing it with the Soul. To be sure, Emerson does not formulate his undertaking in Nature in exactly these terms. The task he assigns himself in the introductory section, to reconcile the visible universe and the Soul, is as old as philosophy itself. " H e suggests that nineteenth-century man has already approached reconciliation with the creation through technology and commerce.
Oegger, whose True Messiah he had read in a manuscript translation: "'Material objects are necessarily kinds of scoriae of the substantial thoughts of the Creator, which must always preserve an exact relation to their first origin; in other words, visible nature must have a spiritual and moral side"' (CW I :22-23). Scoriae are the slag thrown off from metals in the process of smelting; the word derives from the Greek for feces and has scatological overtones of which Emerson, as a classical scholar, would surely have been aware.
In Jefferson's own formulation from the Notes on the State of Virginia, commerce is productive of subservience, and the independent husbandman uniquely capable of civic ~ i r t u e . ~ Thoreau, writing some sixty years after Jefferson, shows a similar antipathy to exchange but entertains no illusions about either the present-day husbandman or the benefits conferred by real property. Several pages into Walden appears his well-known indictment of the various forms of ingratiation and venality practiced by his neighbors in order to make money-an indictment that applies to the farmer as much as to the tradesman.
American Romanticism and the Marketplace by Michael T. Gilmore