Monday, March 11, 2019



Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals (January, 1825):
It is my own humor to despise pedigree. I was educated to prize it. The kind Aunt whose cares instructed my youth (& whom may God reward) told me oft the virtues of her & mine ancestors. They have been clergymen for many generations, & the piety of all & the eloquence of many is yet praised in the Churches. But the dead sleep in their moonless night; my business is with the living.
On the importance of pedigree, I side with Emerson's Aunt Mary, although we disagree on what constitutes good breeding stock. As Samuel Butler pointed out (The Way of All Flesh, chapter 26):
I have often thought that the Church of Rome does wisely in not allowing her priests to marry. Certainly it is a matter of common observation in England that the sons of clergymen are frequently unsatisfactory.
I find one blot on my escutcheon, a Methodist preacher a few generations back. Mostly I'm lucky in my forefathers, with lots of farmers and soldiers in the mix.

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