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  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

On this day (October 24) in the year 1841, Ralph Waldo Emerson made the following entry in his personal journal (marked "H"): ----------------------------------------------------------- Oct. 24. Life in Boston: A play in two acts, Youth & Age. Toys, dancing school, Sets, parties, picture galleries, sleighrides, Nahant, Saratoga Springs,. . . . . . . Were you ever Daguerrotyped, O immortal man? And did you look with all vigor at the lens of the camera or rather by the direction of the operator at the brass peg a little below it to give the picture the full benefit of your expanded & flashing eye? and in your zeal not to blur the image, did you keep every finger in its place with such energy that your hands became clenched as for fight or despair, & in your resolution to keep your face still, did you feel every muscle becoming every moment more rigid: the brows contracted into a Tartarean frown, and the eyes fixed as they are fixed in a fit, in madness, or in death; and when at last you are relieved of your dismal duties, did you find the curtain drawn perfectly, and the coat perfectly, & the hands true, clenched for combat, and the shape of the face & head? but unhappily the total expression escaped from the face and you held the portrait of a mask instead of a man. Could you not by grasping it very tight hold the stream of a river or of a small brook & prevent it from flowing? Cited from William H. Gilman and J. E. Parsons, edit. "The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson" (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1970) VIII: 114-117. ----------------------------------------------------------------- 10-24-95

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