Excerpt from letter written by Louisa May Alcott to Maggie Lukens, February 14, 1884.
"I think immortality is the passing of a soul through many lives or experiences, & such as are truly lived, used and learned help on to the next, each growing richer, happier and higher, carrying with it only the real memories of what has gone before. If in my present life I love one person truly, no matter who it is, I believe that we meet somewhere again, though where or how I don’t know or care, for genuine love is immortal. So is real wisdom, virtue, heroism &c. & these noble attributes lift humble lives into the next experience, & prepare them to go on with greater power & happiness.
I seem to remember former states before this, & feel that in them I have learned some of the lessons that have never since been mine here, & in my next step I hope to leave behind many of the trials that I have struggled to bear here and begin to find lightened as I go on. This accounts for the genius and great virtue some show here. They have done well in many phases of this great school and bring into our class the virtue or the gifts that make them great or good. We don't remember the lesser things. They slip away as childish trifles, and we carry on only the real experiences."RALPH WALDO EMERSON - (1803-1882) - Born in Boston, MA. He was one of five sons born to William Emerson II and Ruth Haskins Emerson. His ancestry went back for generations in Concord. It was his grandparents, William and Phoebe Emerson who were living at the Old Manse, near the North Bridge in Concord the day the fighting broke out there in April 1875. He attended Boston Latin School and later Harvard Divinity School and, following a long line of ministers in his family, he was ordained as a minister in the Unitarian church in Boston in 1829. That same year he married his first wife Ellen Tucker, who died just over a year later. Ellen's death sent him into a period of reflection and for the next few years he traveled in Europe, met Coleridge, Wordsworth and Carlyle and began to formulate his ideas for what would become the transcendentalists manifesto, his essay Nature (1836). He returned to Concord in 1834 and moved into his ancestral home, The Old Manse, now owned by his step-grandfather, the Reverend Ezra Ripley. There he wrote Nature. A year later he married Lydia Jackson from Plymouth, MA, changed her name to Lidian and they moved into their home on the Turnpike Road. Emerson spent his life writing and lecturing on his transcendental beliefs.
Ralph Waldo Emerson - written upon return from Europe - 1833 - " Man begins to hear a voice that fills the heavens and the earth, saying that God is within him; that there is the celestial host. I find this amazing revelation of my immediate relation to God, a solution of all the doubts that oppressed me. I recognize the distinction of the outer and the inner self; the double consciousness that within this erring, passionate, mortal self sits a supreme, calm, immortal mind, whose powers I do not know; but it is stronger than I; it is wiser than I; it never approved me in any wrong; I seek counsel of it in my doubts; I repair to it in my dangers; I pray to it in my undertakings. It seems to me the face which the Creator uncovers to his child."