A Morning with William James

categories: Cocktail Hour


It’s been a busy summer and it has flown by. Tomorrow is our last day in Cambridge and, despite the last-minute busyness and grading, I finally did something this morning that I have wanted to do all summer.  I headed over to Houghton Library and spent a little time with the papers of my new-old friend, William James.


One of the nice surprises of going through his letters and notes was to find that many were spotted with caricatures. The first file I opened, after it had risen from the bowels of Houghton in the elevator (signally its arrival by the hum and the click of the elevator) contained this drawing of a meeting at a shoe stand between James and Emerson:



And that was just the beginning of the fun. Among other things, I got to read a questionnaire on religion that WJ filled out, that included this answer to the question “What do you mean by religious experience?”: “Any moment of life that brings the reality of spiritual things more ‘home’ to one.”

Here is a copy of the questionnaire from Houghton:





  1. Tommy writes:

    Nice hat!! And whadaya know, he was a cartoonist also!

  2. nina writes:

    This makes me happy.