Place and Imprint: Boston: Published by Cummings and Hilliard [&] Joseph T. Buckingham, 1813-1818 [vols 1-6]; Boston: Wells and Lilly, 1819-1823 [vols 1-5, New Series].
Edition: First edition, all published.
Bibliographical References: Myerson E1; see Frank Luther Mott "The Christian Disciple and the Christian Examiner" in The New England Quarterly, April 1928; BAL does not generally record periodical contributions.
Condition: Bindings somewhat rubbed, but sound; some light to moderate foxing; very good set. Rare.
Book ID: 28114
Physical Description8 vols, 8vo, contemporary sheep, marbled and plain green paper boards, yellow and red leather spines labels, gilt rules and lettering.
CommentsA complete run of The Christian Disciple, a New England Unitarian review founded in 1813 to advocate the cause of Unitarianism and, with the outbreak of the War of 1812, peace. It founders included stalwart Unitarians Noah Worcester, Henry Ware, William Ellery Channing, and Joseph Tuckerman. In 1824 its name was changed to the Christian Examiner, and with the new name and numbering, the Christian Disciple was "almost forgotten" (Mott). However, the editors of the volume four, new series, in November 1822, published an essay by a 19-year-old Harvard Divinity School graduate that was signed with the acronym "H.O.N." 127 years later that essay was found to be the first published work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. The final initials of Emerson’s name are "H.O.N." Emerson’s “Thoughts on the Religion of the Middle Ages,” an approximately 3,500 word essay, is a clear harbinger of the Emerson who would emerge as an influential American intellect. He analyzes the “awful glories” of the Catholic Church in the 15th century, its “sanctimonious forms,” the aggrandizement of the clergy, and the corruption of its wealth. The essay is filled aphoristic moral sentiments that would become characteristic of Emerson’s later sermons and essays, such as “successful toil is attended by wealth, wealth induces luxury, and luxury, disease . . .” and “Men are accustomed to reason loosely.” At the conclusion he writes that there is yet hope because we can be “thankful that the voice of god is substituted for the earthly command of knaves and fools.” This first appearance in print by Emerson would be his last until 1829; it was unknown to Emerson scholars until Ralph L. Rusk wrote about it in his Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson (New York, 1949). Contemporary bookplate of the Ministerial Library, Wilton, N.H., on the front paste-downs.