The portion of the interview dealing with Emerson’s alleged indifference concerning the death of his five-yearold son, Waldo, and his incapacity “to feel for … another,” is misleading.
In Emerson’s letter to his aunt, Mary Moody Emerson, written January 28, 1842, he cries: “My boy, my boy is gone. He was taken ill of Scarlatina on Monday evening, and died last night. I can say nothing to you. My darling and the world’s wonderful child, for never in my own or another family have I seen any thing comparable, has fled out of my arms like a dream. He adorned the world for me like a morning star, and every particular of my daily life. …”
In his journal entry of January 30 in that same year he tenderly discusses the loss. He writes: “Sorrow makes us all children. The wisest knows nothing. It seems as if I ought to call upon the winds to describe my boy, my fast receding boy. A child so large & generous a nature, that I cannot paint him by specialties, as I might another.”
Emerson’s capacity for human feeling continues to touch me, and does so as well for countless other Emerson disciples.