May-Day and Other Pieces. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
May-Day and Other Pieces
May-Day and Other Pieces
May-Day and Other Pieces


May-Day and Other Pieces.

Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

First Edition. [i] - iv, [1] - 205 pp., blank leaf. 1 vols. 8vo. INSCRIBED, DELUXE ISSUE. Cream or white cloth binding, reportedly a special binding for presentation copies. : Some exterior abrasion and some slight darkening to the spine. Both hinges quite firm. About VG BAL 5250; Howe Library RWE 129; Myerson A28.1Riverrun. Item #319421

"To Arthur Helps, Esq/ with cordial regard of/ R. W. Emerson."
INSCRIBED by Emerson on the front flyleaf: "To Arthur Helps, Esq. With kindest regards of R. W. Emerson." Most of Emerson's presentation copies were inscribed "R.W.E." but in this, and other recorded presentation copies of May-Day, he used the long form.

Sir Arthur Helps’ anti-slavery writings had strongly influenced Emerson's thoughts on the subject. The two writers first met during Emerson's 1847 trip to England to visit Carlyle, with Helps arranging for a rainy Sunday tour of Winchester cathedral. The English writer, dean of the privy council, and early animal rights advocate wrote two key works that Emerson acknolwedged as influences: Helps' "A Letter on Uncle Tom's Cabin" led Emerson to read Stowe's landmark novel, but more important was Helps' extended work on the history of the slave trade 'The Conquerors of the New World and Their Bondmen' (London, 1848). "This revisionist history made a strong impression on Emerson. 'Columbus seems to have been the principal introducer of American slavery,' he wrote after reading it. Helps' crisply focused study also affected the way Emerson would treat New World 'discoverers' in 'English Traits'" (Robert D. Richardson Jr., 'Emerson: The Mind on Fire,' U of California Press, 1995, pp. 467, 510).

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