The American Scholar

“The orator distrusts at first the fitness of his frank confessions, — his want of knowledge of the persons he addresses,  until he finds that he is the complement of his hearers; — that they drink his words because he fulfils for them their own nature; the deeper he dives into his privatest, secretest presentiment, to his wonder he finds, this is the most acceptable, most public, and universally true.”

I found this sentence difficult because I didn’t quite understand the parts of the sentence and how they fit together.  I felt like Emerson was deliberately trying to make this sentence long and complicated. But after rereading it again and again, I think I found what Emerson meant. He meant that the orator, although in a position to make bold statements, isn’t sure he should until he discovers his listeners want to hear him. Then the further he dives into himself and his own mind, he realizes that what was inside is the truth. This sentence relates to others in the essay because it is essentially what Emerson’s whole theme is. Throughout the entire essay, he tells us that “self” and “nature” are one.


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