Essays

by

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A PENN STATE ELECTRONIC CLASSICS SERIES PUBLICATION

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Contents
I. HISTORY .................................................................................................................................................................. 5 SELF-RELIANCE ...................................................................................................................................................... 26 II. SELF-RELIANCE ................................................................................................................................................. 26 COMPENSATION ..................................................................................................................................................... 50 III. COMPENSATION ............................................................................................................................................... 51 SPIRITUAL LAWS .................................................................................................................................................... 70 IV SPIRITUAL LAWS ............................................................................................................................................... 70 LOVE ........................................................................................................................................................................... 89 V. LOVE ...................................................................................................................................................................... 89 FRIENDSHIP ............................................................................................................................................................. 101 VI. FRIENDSHIP ..................................................................................................................................................... 101 PRUDENCE ............................................................................................................................................................... 115 VII. PRUDENCE ...................................................................................................................................................... 115 HEROISM ................................................................................................................................................................. 126 VIII. HEROISM ....................................................................................................................................................... 127 THE OVER-SOUL ................................................................................................................................................... 137 IX. THE OVER-SOUL ............................................................................................................................................ 138 CIRCLES .................................................................................................................................................................. 154

X. CIRCLES.............................................................................................................................................................. 154 INTELLECT ............................................................................................................................................................. 166 XI. INTELLECT ...................................................................................................................................................... 166 ART ............................................................................................................................................................................ 178 THE POET ................................................................................................................................................................ 189 XIII. THE POET ...................................................................................................................................................... 189 EXPERIENCE .......................................................................................................................................................... 211 XIV. EXPERIENCE ................................................................................................................................................. 211 CHARACTER .......................................................................................................................................................... 233 XV. CHARACTER ................................................................................................................................................... 234 MANNERS ................................................................................................................................................................ 248 XVI. MANNERS ....................................................................................................................................................... 249 GIFTS ........................................................................................................................................................................ 269 XVII. GIFTS ............................................................................................................................................................. 269 NATURE .................................................................................................................................................................... 273 XVIII. NATURE ....................................................................................................................................................... 273 POLITICS ................................................................................................................................................................. 288 XIX. POLITICS ........................................................................................................................................................ 289 NOMINALIST AND REALIST .............................................................................................................................. 301 XX. NONIMALIST AND REALIST ...................................................................................................................... 301 NEW ENGLAND REFORMERS ........................................................................................................................... 315 NEW ENGLAND REFORMERS ........................................................................................................................... 315

Emerson

Essays
by

I. HISTORY

T

Ralph Waldo Emerson
HISTORY There is no great and no small To the Soul that maketh all: And where it cometh, all things are And it cometh everywhere. I am owner of the sphere, Of the seven stars and the solar year, Of Caesar’s hand, and Plato’s brain, Of Lord Christ’s heart, and Shakspeare’s strain.

here is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand. Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent. Of the works of this mind history is the record. Its genius is illustrated by the entire series of days. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it, in appropriate events. But the thought is always prior to the fact; all the facts of history preexist in the mind as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of nature give power to but one at a time. A man is the 5

Essays whole encyclopaedia of facts. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of his manifold spirit to the manifold world. This human mind wrote history, and this must read it. The Sphinx must solve her own riddle. If the whole of history is in one man, it is all to be explained from individual experience. There is a relation between the hours of our life and the centuries of time. As the air I breathe is drawn from the great repositories of nature, as the light on my book is yielded by a star a hundred millions of miles distant, as the poise of my body depends on the equilibrium of centrifugal and centripetal forces, so the hours should be instructed by the ages and the ages explained by the hours. Of the universal mind each individual man is one more incarnation. All its properties consist in him. Each new fact in his private experience flashes a light on what great bodies of men have done, and the crises of his life refer to national crises. Every 6 revolution was first a thought in one man’s mind, and when the same thought occurs to another man, it is the key to that era. Every reform was once a private opinion, and when it shall be a private opinion again it will solve the problem of the age. The fact narrated must correspond to something in me to be credible or intelligible. We, as we read, must become Greeks, Romans, Turks, priest and king, martyr and executioner; must fasten these images to some reality in our secret experience, or we shall learn nothing rightly. What befell Asdrubal or Caesar Borgia is as much an illustration of the mind’s powers and depravations as what has befallen us. Each new law and political movement has meaning for you. Stand before each of its tablets and say, ‘Under this mask did my Proteus nature hide itself.’ This remedies the defect of our too great nearness to ourselves. This throws our actions into perspective; and as crabs, goats, scorpions, the balance and the waterpot lose their meanness when hung as signs in the zodiac, so I can see my own vices without heat in the distant persons of Solomon, Alcibiades, and Catiline. It is the universal nature which gives worth to particu-

are portraits in which he finds the lineaments he is forming. but rather is it true that in their grandest strokes we feel most at home. Books. the great prosperities of men. in the great discoveries. proper to us. Human life. do not in their stateliest pictures. describes his unattained but attainable self. conversation. All laws derive hence their ultimate reason. not of himself. The obscure consciousness of this fact is the light of all our day. monuments. power. So all that is said of the wise man by Stoic or Oriental or modern essayist. anywhere make us feel that we intrude.Emerson lar men and things.— anywhere lose our ear. is mysterious and inviolable. All that Shakspeare says of the king. for us. and grace which we feel to be proper to man. the foundation of friendship and love and of the heroism and grandeur which belong to acts of self-reliance. as containing this. All literature writes the character of the wise man. all express more or less distinctly some command of this supreme. for justice. Property also holds of the soul. as we ourselves in that place would have done or applauded. illimitable essence. Universal history. for charity. —in the sacerdotal. the romancers. He hears the commendation. the claim of claims. of that character he seeks. the great resistances. the plea for education. covers great spiritual facts. in the triumphs of will or of genius. in every word that is said con- .—because there law was enacted. We 7 sympathize in the great moments of history. A true aspirant therefore never needs look for allusions personal and laudatory in discourse. and instinctively we at first hold to it with swords and laws and wide and complex combinations. The silent and the eloquent praise him and accost him. and we hedge it round with penalties and laws. We honor the rich because they have externally the freedom. the land was found. We have the same interest in condition and character. It is remarkable that involuntarily we always read as superior beings. the sea was searched. and he is stimulated wherever he moves. pictures. that this is for better men. the imperial palaces. or the blow was struck. yonder slip of a boy that reads in the corner feels to be true of himself. the poets. but. more sweet. describes to each reader his own idea. as by personal allusions.

The world exists for the education of each man. The Garden of Eden. No anchor. is poetry thenceforward to all nations. Praise is looked. Time dissipates to shining ether the solid angularity of facts. no fences avail to keep a fact a fact. if not. and books the commentary. love flows. to himself. yea further in every fact and circumstance. and not suffer himself to be bullied by 8 kings or empires. from the mountains and the lights of the firmament. when we have made a constellation of it to hang in heaven an immortal sign? London and Paris and New York must go the same way. as never to those who do not respect themselves. let them for ever be silent. no cable. Who cares what the fact was. “What is history. The student is to read history actively and not passively. He must sit solidly at home. Tyre. The instinct of the mind. Thus compelled. and poetry and annals are alike. has any deeper sense than what he is doing to-day. the sun standing still in Gibeon. he must transfer the point of view from which history is commonly read. Troy. I have no expectation that any man will read history aright who thinks that what was done in a remote age. and even early Rome are passing already into fiction. Palestine. to esteem his own life the text. He should see that he can live all history in his own person. from Rome and Athens and London. “but a fable agreed upon?” This life of ours is stuck round with . let us use in broad day. homage tendered. but know that he is greater than all the geography and all the government of the world. and not deny his conviction that he is the court. These hints. dropped as it were from sleep and night. from mute nature. betrays itself in the use we make of the signal narrations of history. and if England or Egypt have any thing to say to him he will try the case. the purpose of nature.—in the running river and the rustling corn.Essays cerning character. the Muse of history will utter oracles. Every thing tends in a wonderful manner to abbreviate itself and yield its own virtue to him.” said Napoleon. There is no age or state of society or mode of action in history to which there is not somewhat corresponding in his life. Babylon. by men whose names have resounded far. He must attain and maintain that lofty sight where facts yield their secret sense.

and introduce in its place the Here and the Now. before a fanatic Revival and the Animal Magnetism in Paris. Mexico. only biography. before a victory of Napoleon. All history becomes subjective. All inquiry into antiquity. before a martyrdom of Sir Thomas More. Italy. —the genius and creative principle of each and of all eras.—is the desire to do away this wild. Gaul. Every law which the state enacts indicates a fact in human nature. What the former age has epitomized into a formula or rule for manipular convenience. before a French Reign of Terror. Stonehenge. We assume that we under like influence should be alike affected. I will not make more account of them. all curiosity respecting the Pyramids. until he can see the end of the difference between the monstrous work and himself. We are always coming up with the emphatic facts of history in our private experience and verifying them here. Belzoni digs and measures in the mummy-pits and pyramids of Thebes.Emerson Egypt. Greece. and should achieve the like. Every mind must know the whole lesson for itself. Colonization. Spain and the Islands. as with so many flowers and wild ornaments grave and gay. in my own mind. War. Ferguson discovered many things in astronomy which had long been known. what it does not live. the Ohio Circles. Court and Commerce. Church. When he has satisfied himself. it will lose all the good of verifying for itself. So stand before every public and private work. or in Providence. and preposterous There or Then. Asia.—see how it could and must be. the excavated cities. it will demand and find compensation for that loss. and we aim to master intellectually the steps and reach the same height or the same degradation that our fellow. Somewhere. I believe in Eternity. in general and in detail. I can find Greece.—must go over the whole ground. in other words there is properly no history. of Sidney. History must be this or it is nothing. England. sometime. The better for him. We must in ourselves see the necessary reason of every fact. before an oration of Burke. and a Salem hanging of witches. that is 9 all. What it does not see. our proxy has done. by means of the wall of that rule. savage. of Marmaduke Robinson. that it was made by such a . by doing the work itself. it will not know. Memphis.

to the philosopher. and slights the circumstance. The progress of the intellect is to the clearer vision of causes. or are now. Upborne and surrounded as we are by this all-creating nature. and far back in the womb of things sees the rays parting from one orb. every animal in its growth. the adherence to the first type. all men divine. its Saints’ days and image-worship. others by intrinsic likeness. its music. every plant. Surely it was by man. For the eye is fastened on the life. the value which is given to wood by carving led to the carving over the whole mountain of stone of a cathedral. its cross. all things are friendly and sacred.Essays person as he. and added thereto the Catholic Church. and they live again to the mind. soft and fluid as a cloud or the air. But we apply ourselves to the history of its production. When we have gone through this process. or of figure? The soul knows them not. which neglects surface differences. his thought lives along the whole line of temples and sphinxes and catacombs. Every chemical substance. the variety of appearance. The difference between men is in their principle of association. knows how to play with them as a young child plays with graybeards and in churches. We put ourselves into the place and state of the builder. by infinite diameters. A Gothic cathedral affirms that it was done by us and not done by us. and magnify a few forms? Why should we make account of time. obeying its law. and the decoration of it as the wealth of the nation increased. but we find it not in our man. We have the sufficient reason. passes through them all with satisfaction. we have seen how it could and must be. so armed and so motived. or of magnitude. We remember the forest-dwellers. all days holy. we have as it were been the man that made the minster. and to ends to which he himself should also have worked. To the poet. and genius. the problem is solved. ere they fall. teaches the unity of cause. Genius watches the monad through all his masks as he performs the metempsychosis of na- . that diverge. Genius studies the causal thought. its processions. why should we be such hard pedants. all events profitable. or by the relation of cause and effect. to the saint. the first temples. Some men classify objects by color and size 10 and other accidents of appearance.

a beautiful woman with nothing of the metamorphosis left but the lunar horns as the splendid ornament of her brows! 11 The identity of history is equally intrinsic. through the caterpillar. infinite variety of things. Xenophon. a very complete form. Thucydides. Through the bruteness and toughness of matter. The adamant streams into soft but precise form before it. like votaries performing some religious dance before the gods. though in convulsive pain or mortal combat. yet never does it quite deny itself. and philosophy. Then we have it once again in sculpture. never daring to break the figure and decorum of their dance. in epic and lyric poems. as Herodotus. How many are the acts of one man in which we recognize the same character! Observe the sources of our information in respect to the Greek genius. She casts the same thought into troops of forms. but how changed when as Isis in Egypt she meets Osiris-Jove. a beauty as of temperance itself. as a poet makes twenty fables with one moral. Nothing is so fleeting as form.Emerson ture. at the surface. offends the imagination. Then we have it once more in their architecture. the constant individual. as Io. transformed to a cow.” a multitude of forms in the utmost freedom of action and never transgressing the ideal serenity. Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same. through the egg. In man we still trace the remains or hints of all that we esteem badges of servitude in the lower races. Genius detects through the fly. through the grub. and whilst I look at it its outline and texture are changed again. yet in him they enhance his nobleness and grace. limited to the straight line and the square. There is. We have the civil history of that people. drama. through many species the genus. a very sufficient account of what manner of persons they were and what they did. in Aeschylus. and Plutarch have given it. at the centre there is simplicity of cause. through countless individuals the fixed species. and. —a builded geometry. a subtle spirit bends all things to its own will. the “tongue on the balance of expression. We have the same national mind expressed for us again in their literature. Thus of the genius of . through all the kingdoms of organized life the eternal unity. the diversity equally obvious. through all genera the steadfast type.

make a like impression on the beholder.Essays one remarkable people we have a fourfold representation: and to the senses what more unlike than an ode of Pindar. and not primarily by a painful acquisition of many . In a certain state of thought is the common origin of very diverse works. or draw a child by studying the outlines of its form merely. will yet superinduce the same sentiment as some wild mountain walk. if it do not awaken the same train of images. What is Guido’s Rospigliosi Aurora but a morning thought. There are men whose manners have the same essential splendor as the 12 simple and awful sculpture on the friezes of the Parthenon and the remains of the earliest Greek art. I have seen the head of an old sachem of the forest which at once reminded the eye of a bald mountain summit. the painter enters into his nature and can then draw him at will in every attitude. and the last actions of Phocion? Every one must have observed faces and forms which. but is occult and out of the reach of the understanding. and the furrows of the brow suggested the strata of the rock.” I knew a draughtsman employed in a public survey who found that he could not sketch the rocks until their geological structure was first explained to him. A painter told me that nobody could draw a tree without in some sort becoming a tree. as the horses in it are only a morning cloud? If any one will but take pains to observe the variety of actions to which he is equally inclined in certain moods of mind. the peristyle of the Parthenon. Nature is an endless combination and repetition of a very few laws. Nature is full of a sublime family likeness throughout her works. without any resembling feature. And there are compositions of the same strain to be found in the books of all ages. a marble centaur. By a deeper apprehension. although the resemblance is nowise obvious to the senses. It is the spirit and not the fact that is identical. A particular picture or copy of verses. She hums the old well-known air through innumerable variations. So Roos “entered into the inmost nature of a sheep. and delights in startling us with resemblances in the most unexpected quarters. he will see how deep is the chain of affinity.—but. and those to which he is averse. by watching for a time his motions and plays.

The man who has seen the rising moon break out of the clouds at midnight. The trivial experience of every day is always verifying some old prediction to us and converting into things the words and signs which we had heard and seen without heed. A man of fine manners shall pro13 nounce your name with all the ornament that titles of nobility could ever add. as if the genii who inhabit them suspended their deeds until the wayfarer had passed onward. nothing that does not interest us. nobler souls with that which they are. There is nothing but is related to us. the true ship is the ship-builder. I remember one summer day in the fields my companion pointed out to me a broad cloud. we should see the reason for the last flourish and tendril of his work. the artist attains the power of awakening other souls to a given activity. —a round block in the centre. must be explained from individual history. quite accurately in the form of a cherub as painted over churches. has been present like an archangel at the creation of light and of the world. Peter’s are lame copies after a divine model. The whole of heraldry and of chivalry is in courtesy. the same power and beauty that a gallery of sculpture or of pictures addresses. or iron shoe. by its very looks and manners. which breaks off on the approach of human feet. or must remain words. The true poem is the poet’s mind. could we lay him open. and it . A lady with whom I was riding in the forest said to me that the woods always seemed to her to wait. horse. the history of art and of literature. as every spine and tint in the sea-shell preexists in the secreting organs of the fish. It has been said that “common souls pay with what they do.” And why? Because a profound nature awakens in us by its actions and words. What appears once in the atmosphere may appear often. college.—the roots of all things are in man.—kingdom. Strasburg Cathedral is a material counterpart of the soul of Erwin of Steinbach. Santa Croce and the Dome of St. Civil and natural history. a thought which poetry has celebrated in the dance of the fairies. In the man. supported on either side by wide-stretched symmetrical wings. which it was easy to animate with eyes and mouth. tree. which might extend a quarter of a mile parallel to the horizon.Emerson manual skills.

as we see how each people merely decorated its primitive abodes. “The custom of making houses and tombs in the living rock. . to a festal or solemn arcade.” says Heeren in his Researches on the Ethiopians. in the colors of the western sky seen through the bare and crossing branches of the forest. I have seen in the sky a chain of summer lightning which at once showed to me that the Greeks drew from nature when they painted the thunderbolt in the hand of Jove. as the bands about the cleft pillars still indicate the green withes that tied them. associated with those gigantic halls before which only Colossi could sit as watchmen or lean on the pillars of the interior?” The Gothic church plainly originated in a rude adaptation of the forest trees. The Chinese pagoda is plainly a Tartar tent. No one can walk in a road cut through pine woods. The Doric temple preserves the semblance of the wooden cabin in which the Dorian dwelt.Essays was undoubtedly the archetype of that familiar ornament. especially in winter. In the woods in a winter afternoon one will see as readily the origin of the stained glass window. without being struck with the architectural appearance of the grove. already prepared by nature. so that when 14 art came to the assistance of nature it could not move on a small scale without degrading itself. and that his chisel. In these caverns. or neat porches and wings have been. I have seen a snow-drift along the sides of the stone wall which obviously gave the idea of the common architectural scroll to abut a tower. with all their boughs. without feeling that the forest overpowered the mind of the builder. “determined very naturally the principal character of the Nubian Egyptian architecture to the colossal form which it assumed. By surrounding ourselves with the original circumstances we invent anew the orders and the ornaments of architecture. when the barrenness of all other trees shows the low arch of the Saxons. The Indian and Egyptian temples still betray the mounds and subterranean houses of their forefathers. What would statues of the usual size. Nor can any lover of nature enter the old piles of Oxford and the English cathedrals. with which the Gothic cathedrals are adorned. the eye was accustomed to dwell on huge shapes and masses.

Emerson his saw and plane still reproduced its ferns. to which a periodical religious pilgrimage was enjoined. but travelled from Ecbatana. all private facts are to be generalized. were the check on the old rovers. and so compels the tribe to emigrate in the rainy season and to drive off the cattle to the higher sandy regions. Then at once History becomes fluid and true. its locust. elm. certainly. As the Persian imitated in the slender shafts and capitals of his architecture the stem and flower of the lotus and palm. oak. In like manner all public facts are to be individualized. Sacred cities. In America and Europe the nomadism is of trade and curiosity. Nomadism and Agriculture are the two antagonist facts. a progress. And in these late and civil countries of England and America these propensities still fight out the old battle. which drives the cattle mad. The mountain of granite blooms into an eternal flower. or stringent laws and customs. But the nomads were the terror of all those whom the soil or the advantages of a market had induced to build towns. The nomads of Asia follow the pasturage from month to month. where the spring was spent. The nomads of Africa were constrained to wander. in the nation and in the individual. so the Persian court in its magnificent era never gave over the nomadism of its barbarous tribes. its spikes of flowers. In the early history of Asia and Africa. to Susa in summer and to Babylon for the winter. A man of rude health and flowing spirits has the faculty of rapid domes- . as the love of adventure or the love of repose happens to predominate. The geography of Asia and of Africa necessitated a nomadic life. and the cumulative values of long residence are the restraints on the itineracy of the present day. with the lightness and delicate finish as well as the aerial proportions and perspective of vegetable beauty. pine. Ag15 riculture therefore was a religious injunction. fir and spruce. The antagonism of the two tendencies is not less active in individuals. from the gad-fly of Astaboras to the Anglo and Italomania of Boston Bay. because of the perils of the state from nomadism. by the attacks of the gad-fly. The Gothic cathedral is a blossoming in stone subdued by the insatiable demand of harmony in man. tending to invigorate the national bond. and Biography deep and sublime.

but composed of incorrupt. or in the snow. as his onward thinking leads him into the truth to which that fact or series belongs. The manners of that period are plain and fierce. not like the forms abounding in the streets of modern cities. art.Essays tication. What is the foundation of that interest all men feel in Greek history. libraries. . The Grecian state is the era of the bodily nature. In it existed those human forms which supplied the sculptor with his models of Hercules. sharply defined and symmetrical features. the perfection of the senses.—of the spiritual nature unfolded in strict unity with the body. but they must turn the whole head. At sea. courage. and this intellectual nomadism. justice.—the Fore-World. lives in his wagon and roams through all latitudes as easily as a Calmuc. that every man passes personally through a Grecian period. is that continence or content which finds all the elements of life in its own soil. swiftness. if not stimulated by foreign infusions. as the Germans say. on the other hand. strength. Or perhaps his facility is deeper seated. in its excess. Phoebus. or in the forest. and the broken reliefs and torsos of ruined villas. whose eye-sockets are so formed that it would be impossible for such eyes to squint and take furtive glances on this side and on that. a loud voice. Every thing the individual sees without him corresponds to his states of mind. and every thing is in turn intelligible to him. he sleeps as warm. dines with as good appetite. address. and Jove. four or five centuries later? What but this. bankrupts the mind through the dissipation of power on a miscellany of objects. The reverence exhibited is for personal qualities. letters. The primeval world. The home-keeping wit. in the increased range of his faculties of observation. and associates as happily as beside his own chimneys. self-command. The pastoral nations were needy and hungry to desperation. which yield him points of interest wherever fresh objects meet his eyes. in all its periods from the Heroic or Homeric age down to the domestic life of the Athenians and Spartans. and which has its own perils of monotony and deterioration. wherein the face is a confused blur of features. —I can dive to it in myself as well as grope for it 16 with researching fingers in catacombs. and poetry.

Such things have continued to be made in all ages. and taking an axe. but of the natural. mountains and waves. and are known to every man in virtue of his being once a child. wherever a healthy physique exists.Emerson a broad chest. Who does not see that this is a gang of great boys. A sparse population and want make every man his own valet. Such are the Agamemnon and Diomed of Homer. and indeed of all the old literature. there fell much snow.—that is. as a class. cook. and not far different is the picture Xenophon gives of himself and his compatriots in the Retreat of the Ten Thousand. A person of childlike genius and inborn energy is still a Greek. and the troops lay miserably on the ground covered with it. such as healthy senses should. but. besides that there are always individuals who retain these characteristics. “After the army had crossed the river Teleboas in Armenia.” Throughout his army exists a boundless liberty of speech. I feel time passing away as . and so gives as good as he gets. and Xenophon is as sharp-tongued as any and sharper-tongued than most. They quarrel for plunder. The Greeks are not reflective. they wrangle with the generals on each new order. They combine the energy of manhood with the engaging unconsciousness of childhood. from their superior organization. rocks. Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old. tragedies. to the stars.— speak as persons who have great good sense without 17 knowing it. whereupon others rose and did the like. they have surpassed all. began to split wood. before yet the reflective habit has become the predominant habit of the mind. butcher and soldier. with such a code of honor and such lax discipline as great boys have? The costly charm of the ancient tragedy. I admire the love of nature in the Philoctetes. is that the persons speak simply. and revives our love of the Muse of Hellas. But Xenophon arose naked. They made vases. with the finest physical organization in the world. Adults acted with the simplicity and grace of children. but perfect in their senses and in their health. and statues. In reading those fine apostrophes to sleep. Luxury and elegance are not known. The attraction of these manners is that they belong to man. and the habit of supplying his own needs educates the body to wonderful performances. and are now. in good taste.

every word. The Greek had it seems the same fellowbeings as I. why should I measure degrees of latitude. 18 Rare. between Classic and Romantic schools. of Zoroaster. Then the vaunted distinction between Greek and English. seems superficial and pedantic.Essays an ebbing sea. When a thought of Plato becomes a thought to me. I have seen the first monks and anchorets. and do as it were run into one. a prayer of his youth. I cannot find any antiquity in them. he then pierces to the truth through all the confusion of tradition and the caricature of institutions. When the voice of a prophet out of the deeps of antiquity merely echoes to him a sentiment of his infancy. and the days of maritime adventure and circumnavigation by quite parallel miniature experiences of his own. extravagant spirits come by us at intervals. I feel the eternity of man. the identity of his thought. domesticate themselves in the mind. the Thebais. the priest. How easily these old worships of Moses. met his heart precisely as they meet mine. without crossing seas or centuries.—when a truth that fired the soul of Pindar fires mine. Jesus astonishes and overpowers sensual people. To the sacred history of the world he has the same key. time is no more. who disclose to us new facts in nature. and the first Capuchins. why should I count Egyptian years? The student interprets the age of chivalry by his own age of chivalry. They are mine as much as theirs. More than once some individual has appeared to me with such negligence of labor and such commanding contemplation. They cannot unite him to history. as made good to the nineteenth century Simeon the Stylite. of Menu. The sun and moon. a haughty beneficiary begging in the name of God. of Socrates. or reconcile him with themselves. . water and fire. When I feel that we two meet in a perception. I see that men of God have from time to time walked among men and made their commission felt in the heart and soul of the commonest hearer. the priestess inspired by the divine afflatus. their own piety explains every fact. As they come to revere their intuitions and aspire to live holily. Hence evidently the tripod. that our two souls are tinged with the same hue.

one day. and even much sympathy with the tyranny. A great licentiousness treads on the heels of a reformation. are universal verities. and verifies them with his own head and hands. and that without producing indignation. is expounded in the individual’s private life. How many times in the history of the world has the Luther of the day had to lament the decay of piety in his own household! “Doctor. only by seeing that the oppressor of his youth is himself a child tyrannized over by those names and words and forms of whose influence he was merely the organ to the youth. whilst now we pray with the utmost coldness and very seldom?” The advancing man discovers how deep a property he has in literature. “how is it that whilst subject to papacy we prayed so often and with such fervor. He finds that the poet was no odd fellow who described strange and impossible situations. being proper creations of the imagination and not of the fancy. in that protest which each considerate person makes against the superstition of his times. Again. in repressing his spirits and courage. paralyzing the understanding. and in the search after truth finds. like them. new perils to virtue. The beautiful fables of the Greeks. of Chaucer. Druid. He learns again what moral vigor is needed to supply the girdle of 19 a superstition.—in all fable as well as in all history. The fact teaches him how Belus was worshipped and how the Pyramids were built. he repeats step for step the part of old reformers. He finds Assyria and the Mounds of Cholula at his door. What a range of meanings and what per- . of the Magian. Brahmin.” said his wife to Martin Luther. better than the discovery by Champollion of the names of all the workmen and the cost of every tile. of Homer. of Scott. dotted down before he was born. and himself has laid the courses. of Ariosto. One after another he comes up in his private adventures with every fable of Aesop.Emerson The priestcraft of the East and West. of Hafiz. His own secret biography he finds in lines wonderfully intelligible to him. The cramping influence of a hard formalist on a young child. but only fear and obedience. explained to the child when he becomes a man.—is a familiar fact. but that universal man wrote by his pen a confession true for one and true for all. and Inca.

interprets the riddle of Orpheus. When the gods come among men. objective form. and live apart from him and independent of him. (the mythology thinly veiling authentic facts. The transmigration of souls is no fable. the invention of the mechanic arts and the migration of colonies. Tantalus is but a name for you and me. stands between the unjust “justice” of the Eternal Father and the race of mortals. namely a discontent with the believed fact that a God exists. and in all his weakness both his body and his mind are invigorated by habits of conversation with nature.Essays petual pertinence has the story of Prometheus! Beside its primary value as the first chapter of the history of Europe. and readily suffers all things on their account.) it gives the history of religion. It would steal if it could the fire of the Creator. But where it departs from the Calvinistic Christianity and exhibits him as the defier of Jove. with some closeness to the faith of later ages. Man is the broken giant. What else am I who laughed or wept yesterday. the power of poetry. because every creature is man agent or patient. of any fact. Every . The philosophical perception of identity through endless mutations of form makes him know the Proteus. and this morning stood and ran? And what see I on any side but the transmigrations of Proteus? I can symbolize my thought by using the name of any creature. I would it were. and which seems the self-defence of man against this untruth. it represents a state of mind which readily appears wherever the doctrine of Theism is taught in a crude. to unfix and as it were clap wings to solid nature. Prometheus is the Jesus of the old mythology. Jesus was not. they are not known. The Prometheus Vinctus is the romance of skepticism. and a feeling that the obligation of reverence is onerous. but every time he touched his mother earth his strength was renewed. The power of music. Apollo kept the flocks of Admetus. Socrates and Shakspeare were not. He is the friend of man. said the 20 poets. Antaeus was suffocated by the gripe of Hercules. Not less true to all time are the details of that stately apologue. but men and women are only half human. Tantalus means the impossibility of drinking the waters of thought which are always gleaming and waving within sight of the soul. who slept last night like a corpse.

The universal nature. Phorkyas. Ah! brother. Those men who cannot answer by a superior wisdom these facts or questions of time. he would say. are somewhat. the men of sense. the issue is an exact allegory. So far then are they eternal entities. If the man could not answer.—awakens the reader’s invention and fancy by the wild freedom of the design. —ebbing downward into the forms into whose habits thou hast now for many years slid. heaven-facing speakers. of the earth and of the waters that are under the earth. As near and proper to us is also that old fable of the Sphinx. too strong for the petty nature of the bard. If he could solve the riddle. all putting questions to the human spirit. and the meanest of them glorifies him. stop the ebb of thy soul. 21 remains fast by the soul and sees the principle. who was said to sit in the road-side and put riddles to every passenger. so that when he seems to vent a mere caprice and wild romance. Hence Plato said . And although that poem be as vague and fantastic as a dream. and gives them body to his own imagination. for the reason that it operates a wonderful relief to the mind from the routine of customary images. she swallowed him alive. serve them. sits on his neck and writes through his hand. Griffins. Much revolving them he writes out freely his humor. then the facts fall aptly and supple into their places. These figures. they know their master. the field and the forest. yet is it much more attractive than the more regular dramatic pieces of the same author. has contrived to get a footing and to leave the print of its features and form in some one or other of these upright. in whom a literal obedience to facts has extinguished every spark of that light by which man is truly man. as real to-day as in the first Olympiad. Facts encumber them. Helen and Leda. these Chirons. tyrannize over them. But if the man is true to his better instincts or sentiments. and by the unceasing succession of brisk shocks of surprise. and refuses the dominion of facts. and make the men of routine. See in Goethe’s Helena the same desire that every word should be a thing.Emerson animal of the barn-yard. the Sphinx was slain. What is our life but an endless flight of winged facts or events? In splendid variety these changes come. and do exert a specific influence on the mind. as one that comes of a higher race.

We may all shoot a wild bull that would toss the good and beautiful. and the like. The preternatural prowess of the hero. another history goes daily forward.—in which he is not less strictly implicated.Essays that “poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand. His power consists in the multitude of his affinities. are the obscure efforts of the mind in a right direction. south. and fade on the brow of the inconstant. In old Rome the public roads beginning at the Forum proceeded north. the sword of sharpness. which is always beautiful and always liable to calamity in this world. Ravenswood Castle a fine name for proud poverty. and the like.— that the fairies do not like to be named.” All the fictions of the Middle Age explain themselves as a masked or frolic expression of that which in grave earnest the mind of that period toiled to achieve. But along with the civil and metaphysical history of man. the power of subduing the elements.—that of the external world. Sir William Ashton is a mask for a vulgar temptation.—I find true in Concord. of understanding the voices of birds.” In Perceforest and Amadis de Gaul a garland and a rose bloom on the head of her who is faithful. Is it otherwise in the newest romance? I read the Bride of Lammermoor. in the fact that his life is intertwined with the whole chain of organic and inorganic being. that who seeks a 22 treasure must not speak. that their gifts are capricious and not to be trusted. and the foreign mission of state only a Bunyan disguise for honest industry. Lucy Ashton is another name for fidelity. He is the compend of time. . he is also the correlative of nature. by fighting down the unjust and sensual. of using the secret virtues of minerals. the gift of perpetual youth. and indeed all the postulates of elfin annals. are alike the endeavour of the human spirit “to bend the shows of things to the desires of the mind. however they might be in Cornwall or Bretagne. The shoes of swiftness. Magic and all that is ascribed to it is a deep presentiment of the powers of science. In the story of the Boy and the Mantle even a mature reader may be surprised with a glow of virtuous pleasure at the triumph of the gentle Venelas.

Whittemore. whose flower and fruitage is the world.Emerson east. no stake to play for. Put Napoleon in an island prison. making each market-town of Persia. But were the whole frame here. His faculties refer to natures out of him and predict the world he is to inhabit. Who knows himself before he has been thrilled with indignation at an outrage. One may say a gravitating solar system is already prophesied in the nature of Newton’s mind. and he would beat the air. A mind might ponder its thought for ages and not gain so much self-knowledge as the passion of love shall teach it in a day. as the fins of the fish foreshow that water exists. and wood? Do not the lovely attributes of the maiden child predict the refinements and decorations of civil society? Here also we are reminded of the action of man on man. let his faculties find no men to act on. Newton and Laplace need myriads of age and thick-strewn celestial areas. water. or the wings of an eagle in the egg presuppose air. Does not the eye of the human embryo predict the light? the ear of Handel predict the witchcraft of harmonic sound? Do not the constructive fingers of Watt. west. to reduce it under the dominion of man. from childhood exploring the affinities and repulsions of particles. and you shall see that the man Napoleon. He cannot live without a world. It is of such a spacious. For what you see is but the smallest part And least proportion of humanity. anticipate the laws of organization. dense population. A man is a bundle of relations. is not the virtual Napoleon. and appear stupid. predict the fusible. and temperable texture of metals.” Henry VI. Arkwright. or has shared the throb of thousands in a na- . 23 Your roof were not sufficient to contain it. Not less does the brain of Davy or of Gay-Lussac. bounded that is by such a profile and outline. lofty pitch. This is but Talbot’s shadow. Transport him to large countries. Fulton. Columbus needs a planet to shape his course upon. the properties of stone. no Alps to climb.— “His substance is not here. hard. or has heard an eloquent tongue. Spain and Britain pervious to the soldiers of the capital: so out of the human heart go as it were highways to the heart of every object in nature. complex interests and antagonist power. to the centre of every province of the empire. a knot of roots.

Let it suffice that in the light of these two facts. and that nature is its correlative. the fungus under foot. see the lizard on the fence.—his own form and features by their exalted intelligence shall be that variegated vest. the Apples of Knowledge. A man shall be the Temple of Fame. as the poets have described that goddess. You shall not tell me by languages and titles a catalogue of the volumes you have read. the lichen on the log. He shall be the priest of Pan. in a robe painted all over with wonderful events and experiences. namely. history is to be read and written. for what is the use of pretending to know what we know not? But it is the fault of our rhetoric that we cannot strongly state one fact without seeming to belie some other. the Revival of Letters. I hold our actual knowledge very cheap. of either of these worlds of life? As old as the Caucasian man. It shall walk incarnate in every just and wise man. the opening of new sciences and new regions in man. the Advent of Christ.—these creatures have kept their counsel beside him. History no longer shall be a dull book. the calling of Abraham. the Argonautic Expedition. What do I know sympathetically. and bring with him into humble cottages the blessing of the morning stars. Is there somewhat overweening in this claim? Then I reject all I have written. and all the recorded benefits of heaven and earth. any more than he can draw to-day the face of a person whom he shall see to-morrow for the first time. What connection do the . He shall walk. or guess what faculty or feeling a new object shall unlock. He too shall pass through the whole cycle of experience. I shall 24 find in him the Foreworld. You shall make me feel what periods you have lived. Dark Ages. the Reformation. in his childhood the Age of Gold. morally. and there is no record of any word or sign that has passed from one to the other. I will not now go behind the general statement to explore the reason of this correspondency. Hear the rats in the wall.Essays tional exultation or alarm? No man can antedate his experience. the discovery of new lands. Thus in all ways does the soul concentrate and reproduce its treasures for each pupil. that the mind is One. He shall collect into a focus the rays of nature. the building of the Temple.—perhaps older.

How many times we must say Rome. I am ashamed to see what a shallow village tale our so-called History is. shines 25 in on us at unawares. what food or experience or succor have they for the Esquimaux seal-hunter. the child and unschooled farmer’s boy stand nearer to the light by which nature is to be read. ever sanative conscience. and Constantinople! What does Rome know of rat and lizard? What are Olympiads and Consulates to these neighboring systems of being? Nay.—from an ethical reformation. from an influx of the ever new. Already that day exists for us. the Indian. than the dissector or the antiquary. and Paris. The idiot.Emerson books show between the fifty or sixty chemical elements and the historical eras? Nay. but the path of science and of letters is not the way into nature. for the fisherman. the stevedore. what does history yet record of the metaphysical annals of man? What light does it shed on those mysteries which we hide under the names Death and Immortality? Yet every history should be written in a wisdom which divined the range of our affinities and looked at facts as symbols. instead of this old chronology of selfishness and pride to which we have too long lent our eyes. the porter? Broader and deeper we must write our annals.—if we would trulier express our central and wide-related nature. . for the Kanaka in his canoe.

and spoke not what men. Our acts our angels are. and the soul that can Render an honest and a perfect man. the highest merit we ascribe to Moses. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within.” “Man is his own star. Power and speed be hands and feet. Commands all light. Suckle him with the she-wolf’s teat. In every work of genius we 26 . Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought.” Epilogue to Beaumont and Fletcher’s Honest Man’s Fortune. To believe your own thought. let the subject be what it may. all influence. Cast the bantling on the rocks. because it is his. SELF-RELIANCE I read the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which were original and not conventional. all fate. The soul always hears an admonition in such lines. Speak your latent conviction.Essays SELF-RELIANCE “Ne te quaesiveris extra. Plato and Milton is that they set at naught books and traditions. to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men. and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Wintered with the hawk and fox. Our fatal shadows that walk by us still. for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost. or good or ill. more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.— that is genius. The sentiment they instil is of more value than any thought they may contain. II. Nothing to him falls early or too late. but what they thought. and it shall be the universal sense.

that it might testify of that particular ray. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you. that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues. but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. Else to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time. The 27 eye was placed where one ray should fall. The power which resides in him is new in nature. no hope. and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny. and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age. no muse befriends. In the attempt his genius deserts him.Emerson recognize our own rejected thoughts. and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another. Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart. and another none. that though the wide universe is full of good. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with goodhumored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. the connection of events. one fact. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. predominating in all their being. working through their hands. Great men have always done so. There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance. one character. so it be faithfully imparted. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best. that imitation is suicide. the society of your contemporaries. no invention. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. makes much impression on him. This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. And we are now men. and not minors and invalids in a protected cor- . nor does he know until he has tried. We but half express ourselves. Not for nothing one face. but what he has said or done otherwise shall give him no peace. they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. and none but he knows what that is which he can do.

in the swift. watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds. summary way of boys. that he could pass again into his neutrality! Who can thus avoid all pledges and. A boy is in the parlor what the pit is in the playhouse. He would utter opinions on all passing affairs. and even brutes! That divided and rebel mind. as good. so that one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults who prattle and play to it. Hark! in the next room his voice is sufficiently clear and emphatic. he does not court you. Infancy conforms to nobody. observe again from the same unaffected. having observed. unaffrighted innocence. and when we look in their faces we are disconcerted. if it will stand by itself. and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one. whose affections must now enter into his account.—must always be formidable. interesting. irresponsible. But the man is as it were clapped into jail by his consciousness. 28 The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner. because he cannot speak to you and me. looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by. bad. He cumbers himself never about consequences. these have not. and made it enviable and gracious and its claims not to be put by. Their mind being whole. Ah.Essays ner. that distrust of a sentiment because our arithmetic has computed the strength and means opposed to our purpose. about interests. redeemers and benefactors. silly. he gives an independent. he tries and sentences them on their merits. obeying the Almighty effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark. but guides. is the healthy attitude of human nature. he will know how to make us seniors very unnecessary. troublesome. So God has armed youth and puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm. unbiased. It seems he knows how to speak to his contemporaries. genuine verdict. not cowards fleeing before a revolution. unbribable. independent. which being seen to be . There is no Lethe for this. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat he is a committed person. eloquent. their eye is as yet unconquered. Do not think the youth has no force. What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text in the face and behavior of children. Bashful or bold then. You must court him. babes. all conform to it.

shall that pass? If an angry bigot assumes this bountiful cause of Abolition. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this. must be a nonconformist. why should I not say to him. for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder. and comes to me with his last news from Barbadoes. but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. love thy wood-chopper. and speak the rude truth in all ways. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. Society is a joint-stock company. Self-reliance is its aversion. if I live wholly from 29 within?” my friend suggested. On my saying. the only wrong what is against it. The virtue in most request is conformity. If malice and vanity wear the coat of philanthropy. to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.Emerson not private but necessary. but if I am the Devil’s child.—”But these impulses may be from below. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness. Whoso would be a man. to large societies and dead institutions. the only right is what is after my constitution. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. ‘Go love thy infant. It loves not realities and creators. These are the voices which we hear in solitude. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. have that grace. but names and customs. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names. not from above. Absolve you to yourself. I ought to go upright and vital. and you shall have the suffrage of the world. be good-natured and modest. I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.” I replied. and never varnish your hard. uncharitable ambition with this incredible tenderness for black folk a thou- . in which the members agree. but must explore if it be goodness. “They do not seem to me to be such. would sink like darts into the ear of men and put them in fear. I will live then from the Devil. “What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions.” No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature.

I know that for myself it makes no difference whether I do or forbear those actions which are reckoned excellent. Their virtues are penances. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. but to live. Expect me not to show cause why I seek or why I exclude company. I ask primary evidence that you are a man. *Whim*. I would write on the lintels of the door-post. it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold. Then again. and not to need diet and bleeding. the cent. There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold. Thy love afar is spite at home. but your miscellaneous popular charities. I hope it is somewhat better than whim at last. I cannot consent to pay for a privilege where I have intrinsic . of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Your goodness must have some edge to it. than that it should be glittering and unsteady. and refuse this appeal from the man to his actions. so it be genuine and equal. Are they my poor? I tell thee thou foolish philanthropist that I grudge the dollar. but truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. for them I will go to prison if need be. but we cannot spend the day in explanation. as a good man did to-day. as the counteraction of the doctrine of love. There is the man and his virtues. alms to 30 sots. much as they would pay a fine in expiation of daily non-appearance on parade. do not tell me.Essays sand miles off. as some piece of courage or charity.’ Rough and graceless would be such greeting. I do not wish to expiate. rather the exception than the rule. I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. when that pules and whines. and the thousand-fold Relief Societies. Men do what is called a good action. Their works are done as an apology or extenuation of their living in the world. I wish it to be sound and sweet. The doctrine of hatred must be preached. Virtues are.—else it is none.— as invalids and the insane pay a high board. the building of meetinghouses to the vain end to which many now stand. the education at college of fools.—though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar. in the popular estimate. the dime. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain. I shun father and mother and wife and brother when my genius calls me.

vote with a great party either for the government or against it. authors of a few lies. What I must do is all that concerns me. and do not need for my own assurance or the assurance of my fellows any secondary testimony. If you maintain a dead church. But do your work. their four not the real four. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars. not as a man. A man must consider what a blindman’sbuff is this game of conformity. Do your work. contribute to a dead Biblesociety. Their two is not the real two. Well. Their every truth is not quite true. Few and mean as my gifts may be. it is easy in solitude to live after our own. but as a parish minister? He is a retained attorney. and you shall reinforce yourself. I actually am. I hear a preacher announce for his text and topic the expediency of one of the institutions of his church.Emerson right. and I shall know you. This rule. but false in all particulars. I anticipate your argument. but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is that it scatters your force. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion. equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life. Do I not know beforehand that not possibly can he say a new and spontaneous word? Do I not know that with all this ostentation of examining the grounds of the institution he will do no such thing? Do I not know that he is pledged to himself not to look but at one side. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. If I know your sect. most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief. spread your table like base housekeepers. the permitted side. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. so that every word they say chagrins us and we know not where . and these airs of the bench are the emptiest affectation.—under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are: and of course so much 31 force is withdrawn from your proper life. not what the people think. and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion.

which does not fail to wreak itself also in the general history. have no deep cause. The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency. it needs the habit of magnanimity and religion to treat it godlike as a trifle of no concernment. when the unintelligent brute force that lies at the bottom of society is made to growl and mow. grow tight about the outline of the face with the most disagreeable sensation. for they are timid. when the ignorant and the poor are aroused. It is easy enough for a firm man who knows the world to brook the rage of the cultivated classes. as being very vulnerable themselves. a reverence for our past act or word because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts. I mean “the foolish face of praise. But when to their feminine rage the indignation of the people is added. lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself. scarcely even in acts of pure memory. If this aversation had its origin in contempt and resistance like his own he might well go home with a sad countenance. but to bring the past for judgment into the thousand-eyed . For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. and acquire by degrees the gentlest asinine expression. The by-standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend’s parlor. But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory. but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs. not spontaneously moved but moved by a low usurping wilfulness.” the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease in answer to conversation which does not interest us. Their rage is decorous and prudent. We come to wear one cut of face and figure. like their sweet faces. Yet is the discontent of the multitude more formi32 dable than that of the senate and the college. Meantime nature is not slow to equip us in the prison-uniform of the party to which we adhere. The muscles. but the sour faces of the multitude.Essays to begin to set them right. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. what then? It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on your memory alone. and we are loath to disappoint them. There is a mortifying experience in particular.

’—Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood. and flee. I suppose no man can violate his nature. though it contradict every thing you said to-day. as the inequalities of Andes and Himmaleh are insignificant in 33 the curve of the sphere. or across. Leave your theory. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. For of one will. so they be each honest and natural in their hour. and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. To be great is to be misunderstood. Nor does it matter how you gauge and try him. and live ever in a new day.—read it forward. and Luther. it will be found symmetrical. and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. One tendency unites them all. at a little height of thought. adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. In your metaphysics you have denied personality to the Deity. and. though I mean it not and see it not. In this pleasing contrite wood-life which God allows me. Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions. let me record day by day my honest thought without prospect or retrospect. so you shall be sure to be misunderstood. yet when the devout motions of the soul come. as Joseph his coat in the hand of the harlot. All the sallies of his will are rounded in by the law of his being. My book should smell of pines and resound with the hum of insects.—’Ah. These varieties are lost sight of at a little distance.Emerson present. Speak what you think now in hard words and tomorrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again. and Newton. the actions will be harmonious. and Jesus. I cannot doubt. however unlike they seem. We pass for what we are. There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions. The swallow over my window should interweave that thread or straw he carries in his bill into my web also. A character is like an acrostic or Alexandrian stanza. and Galileo. and Socrates. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. Character teaches above our wills. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. yield to them heart and life. though they should clothe God with shape and color. it still spells the same thing. and Copernicus. backward. See the line from a suffi- .

Ordinarily. A great man is coming to eat at my house. Let us affront and reprimand the smooth mediocrity and squalid contentment of the times. but is the centre of things. and though I would make it kind. All the foregone days of virtue work their health into this. He measures you and all men and all events. Where he is. self-derived. It is always ancient virtue. He is attended as by a visible escort of angels. the fact which is the upshot of all history. Your conformity explains nothing. The man must be so . We worship it to-day because it is not of to-day. and what you have already done singly will justify you now. or of some other person. that a true man belongs to no other time or place.Essays cient distance. it takes place of the whole creation. Character. I wish that he should wish to please me. I do not wish to please him. and it straightens itself to the average tendency. let us hear a whistle from the Spartan fife. reality. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right and scorn eyes. do right now. What makes the majesty of the heroes of the senate and the field. The force of character is cumulative. even if shown in a young person. Instead of the gong for dinner. every body in society reminds us of somewhat else. and hurl in the face of custom and trade and office. Let the words be gazetted and ridiculous henceforward. I will stand here for humanity. and America into Adams’s eye. and dignity into Washington’s port. Let us never bow and apologize more. That is it which throws thunder into Chatham’s voice. and therefore of an old immaculate pedigree. Act singly. We love it and pay it homage because it is not a trap for our love and homage. Honor is venerable to us because it is no ephemera. which so fills the imagination? The consciousness of a train of great days and victories behind. there is nature. They shed an united light on the advancing actor. I would make it true. Greatness appeals to the future. Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions. 34 but is self-dependent. reminds you of nothing else. Always scorn appearances and you always may. I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. that there is a great responsible Thinker and Actor working wherever a man works. Be it how it will. I hope in these days we have heard the last of conformity and consistency.

To him a palace. Scipio. Kingdom and lordship. but I am to settle its claims to praise. the sum total of both is the same. the Reformation. treated with all obsequious ceremony like the duke. Let him not peep or steal. of the Hermit Antony. of Clarkson. Abolition. An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man. and seem to say like that. The picture waits for my verdict. Christ is born. on his waking. and. Methodism. Our reading is mendicant and sycophantic. ‘Who are you. power and estate. owes its popularity to the fact that it symbolizes so well the state of man. In history our imagination plays us false. of Wesley. feels poor when he looks on these. but the things of life are the same to both. it is not to command me. and an age. Sir?’ Yet they all are his. washed and dressed and laid in the duke’s bed. and millions of minds so grow and cleave to his genius that he is confounded with virtue and the possible of man. Quakerism. Every true man is a cause. as. petitioners to his faculties that they will come out and take possession. Why all this deference to Alfred . finding no worth in himself which corresponds to the force which built a tower or sculptured a marble god. exercises his reason and finds himself a true prince. Let a man then know his worth. But the man in the street. A man Caesar is born. much like a gay equipage. or skulk up and down with the air of a charity-boy. a 35 statue. or an interloper in the world which exists for him. who is in the world a sort of sot. and for ages after we have a Roman Empire. of Luther. requires infinite spaces and numbers and time fully to accomplish his design. carried to the duke’s house.—and posterity seem to follow his steps as a train of clients. and assured that he had been insane. a country. suitors for his notice. or a costly book have an alien and forbidding air. are a gaudier vocabulary than private John and Edward in a small house and common day’s work. and all history Resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons.Emerson much that he must make all circumstances indifferent. but now and then wakes up. of Fox. a bastard. and keep things under his feet. Monachism. That popular fable of the sot who was picked up dead drunk in the street. Milton called “the height of Rome”.

from man. pay for benefits not with money but with honor. the noble. The joyful loyalty with which men have everywhere suffered the king. which we call Spontaneity or Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition. Here is the fountain of action and of thought. without parallax. and represent the law in his person. which shoots a ray of beauty even into trivial and impure actions. of virtue. on which a universal reliance may be grounded? What is the nature and 36 power of that science-baffling star. In that deep force. all things find their common origin. as followed their public and renowned steps. did they wear out virtue? As great a stake depends on your private act to-day. we know not how. The world has been instructed by its kings. is not diverse from things. Who is the Trustee? What is the aboriginal Self. For the sense of being which in calm hours rises. from light. from space. the last fact behind which analysis cannot go. The magnetism which all original action exerts is explained when we inquire the reason of self-trust. and of life. We lie in the lap of immense intelligence. but one with them and proceeds obviously from the same source whence their life and being also proceed. We first share the life by which things exist and afterwards see them as appearances in nature and forget that we have shared their cause. When private men shall act with original views. in the soul. who have so magnetized the eyes of nations. . was the hieroglyphic by which they obscurely signified their consciousness of their own right and comeliness. whilst all later teachings are tuitions. Here are the lungs of that inspiration which giveth man wisdom and which cannot be denied without impiety and atheism. make his own scale of men and things and reverse theirs. from time.Essays and Scanderbeg and Gustavus? Suppose they were virtuous. the right of every man. It has been taught by this colossal symbol the mutual reverence that is due from man to man. which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity. the lustre will be transferred from the actions of kings to those of gentlemen. at once the essence of genius. or the great proprietor to walk among them by a law of his own. if the least mark of independence appear? The inquiry leads us to that source. without calculable elements.

old things pass away. If I see a trait. My wilful actions and acquisitions are but roving. teachers. or rather much more readily. not to be disputed. Thoughtless people contradict as readily the statement of perceptions as of opinions.—the idlest reverie. it lives now.—means.—although it may chance that no one has seen it before me. and new date and new create the whole. command my curiosity and respect. All things are made sacred by relation to it. He may err in the expression of them. believe him not. and knows that to his involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due. when we discern truth. All things are dissolved to their centre by their cause. not one thing. They fancy that I choose to see this or that thing. like day and night. but all things. should scatter forth light. and absorbs past and future into the present hour. we do nothing of ourselves. but he knows that these things are so. souls. nature. Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his mind and his involuntary perceptions. For my perception of it is as much a fact as the sun. time. all philosophy is at fault. temples fall. the faintest native emotion. Its presence or its absence is all we can affirm.Emerson When we discern justice. in another world. If therefore a man claims to know and speak of God and carries you backward to the phraseology of some old mouldered nation in another country. if we seek to pry into the soul that causes. . my children will see it after me. but fatal. and in course of time all mankind. 37 The relations of the soul to the divine spirit are so pure that it is profane to seek to interpose helps. and in the universal miracle petty and particular miracles disappear.—one as much as another. from the centre of the present thought. Whenever a mind is simple and receives a divine wisdom. Is the acorn better than the oak which is its fulness and completion? Is the parent better than the child into whom he has cast his ripened being? Whence then this worship of the past? The centuries are conspirators against the sanity and authority of the soul. but allow a passage to its beams. should fill the world with his voice. It must be that when God speaketh he should communicate. for they do not distinguish between perception and notion. If we ask whence this comes. But perception is not whimsical. texts.

heedless of the riches that surround him. he does not live in the present. We shall not always set so great a price on a few texts. of the men of talents and character they chance to see. is night. above time. If we live truly. afterwards. And now at last the highest truth on this subject remains unsaid. or. When we have new perception. on a few lives.’ but quotes some saint or sage. There is no time to them. we shall see truly. it is perfect in every moment of its existence. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present. stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. Man is timid and apologetic. When a man lives with God. We are like children who repeat by rote the sentences of grandames and tutors.Essays Time and space are but physiological colors which the eye makes. Before a leaf-bud has burst. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. There is simply the rose. That . its whole life acts. in the leafless root there is no less. for all that we say is the far-off remembering of the intuition. But man postpones or remembers. 38 This should be plain enough. is day. we shall gladly disburden the memory of its hoarded treasures as old rubbish. they understand them and are willing to let the words go. and history is an impertinence and an injury if it be any thing more than a cheerful apologue or parable of my being and becoming. when they come into the point of view which those had who uttered these sayings. for at any time they can use words as good when occasion comes. Its nature is satisfied and it satisfies nature in all moments alike. he dares not say ‘I think. and. probably cannot be said.—painfully recollecting the exact words they spoke. Yet see what strong intellects dare not yet hear God himself unless he speak the phraseology of I know not what David. as they grow older.’ ‘I am. It is as easy for the strong man to be strong. where it was. but the soul is light: where it is. or Jeremiah. in the full-blown flower there is no more. he is no longer upright. they exist with God to-day. they are for what they are. or Paul. his voice shall be as sweet as the murmur of the brook and the rustle of the corn. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones. but with reverted eye laments the past. as it is for the weak to be weak.

nations. Why then do we prate of selfreliance? Inasmuch as the soul is present there will be power not confident but agent. rich men. in the darting to an aim. it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state. There is somewhat low even in hope. plastic and permeable to principles.Emerson thought by what I can now nearest approach to say it. and calms itself with knowing that all things go well. the thought. nor properly joy. as on every topic. who are not. This is the ultimate fact which we so quickly reach on this. turns all riches to poverty. Self-existence is the attribute of the Su- . you shall not hear any name. are of no account. you shall not see the face of man. years. long intervals of time. poets. Speak rather of that which relies because it works and is. This which I think and feel underlay every former state of life and circumstances. and that a man or a company of men. shoves Jesus and Judas equally aside. We fancy it rhetoric when we speak of eminent virtue. as it does underlie my present. This one fact the world hates. It shall exclude example and experience. not to man. We do not yet see that virtue is Height. the good shall be wholly strange and new. though he should not raise his finger. that the soul becomes. confounds the saint with the rogue. To talk of reliance is a poor external way of speaking. Power ceases in 39 the instant of repose. Vast spaces of nature. All persons that ever existed are its forgotten ministers.—the way. the South Sea. Who has more obedience than I masters me. the Atlantic Ocean. The soul raised over passion beholds identity and eternal causation. in the shooting of the gulf. Round him I must revolve by the gravitation of spirits. In the hour of vision there is nothing that can be called gratitude. it is not by any known or accustomed way. by the law of nature must overpower and ride all cities. not the having lived. all reputation to a shame. kings. Life only avails. When good is near you. Fear and hope are alike beneath it. when you have life in yourself. and what is called life. for that for ever degrades the past. is this. you shall not discern the footprints of any other. and what is called death. centuries. the resolution of all into the everblessed one. You take the way from man. perceives the selfexistence of Truth and Right.

sickness. war. eloquence. but it goes abroad to beg a cup of water of the urns of other men. Let our simplicity judge them. Why should we assume the faults of our friend. I see the same law working in nature for conservation and growth. its poise and orbit. Not for that will I adopt their petulance or folly. Friend. The power men possess to annoy me I give them by a weak . charity. the bended tree recovering itself from the strong wind. that is. whaling. But your isolation must not be mechanical. fear. or child. Power is. We must go alone. to put itself in communication with the internal ocean. nor is his genius admonished to stay at home.Essays preme Cause. and our docility to our own law demonstrate the poverty of nature and fortune beside 40 our native riches. personal weight. But now we are a mob. hunting. or father. or wife. client. even to the extent of being ashamed of it. come not into their confusion. begirt each one with a precinct or sanctuary! So let us always sit. At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. are demonstrations of the self-sufficing and therefore self-relying soul. how cool. How far off. in nature. Let us stun and astonish the intruding rabble of men and books and institutions. Commerce. Nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which cannot help itself. I like the silent church before the service begins. Bid the invaders take the shoes from off their feet. are somewhat. Thus all concentrates: let us not rove. must be elevation. or are said to have the same blood? All men have my blood and I have all men’s. by a simple declaration of the divine fact. and it constitutes the measure of good by the degree in which it enters into all lower forms. let us sit at home with the cause. child.—’Come out unto us. for God is here within. and engage my respect as examples of its presence and impure action. the vital resources of every animal and vegetable. Man does not stand in awe of man. The genesis and maturation of a planet. husbandry. how chaste the persons look. the essential measure of right.’ But keep thy state. better than any preaching. but spiritual. all knock at once at thy closet door and say. All things real are so by so much virtue as they contain. want. because they sit around our hearth.

or you. I will have no covenants but proximities. to support my family. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine. to live in truth. O mother. This is to be done in our smooth times by speaking the truth. O friend. however long we have dwelt in lies.” If we cannot at once rise to the sanctities of obedience and faith. O wife. and the bold sensualist will use the name . cleave to your companions. I appeal from your customs. in our Saxon breasts. then will they justify me and do the same thing. I shall endeavour to nourish my parents. but not in the same truth with me. I have lived with you after appearances hitherto. let us at least resist our temptations. It is alike your interest. Yes. Besides. to be the chaste husband of one wife. I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me and the heart appoints. but by desire we bereave ourselves of the love. “What we love that we have. If 41 you cannot. I do this not selfishly but humbly and truly. If you can love me for what I am. Say to them. courage and constancy. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I cannot break myself any longer for you. If you are true. and mere antinomianism.Emerson curiosity. I will so trust that what is deep is holy. we shall be the happier. and mine.— but these relations I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. and all men’s. If you are noble. to save their sensibility. Henceforward I am the truth’s. when they look out into the region of absolute truth. No man can come near me but through my act. all persons have their moments of reason. O brother. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law. I will still seek to deserve that you should. Check this lying hospitality and lying affection.’—But so may you give these friends pain. Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse. but I cannot sell my liberty and my power. The populace think that your rejection of popular standards is a rejection of all standard. I will seek my own. and if we follow the truth it will bring us out safe at last. let us enter into the state of war and wake Thor and Woden. I must be myself. ‘O father. I will love you: if you are not.

have an ambition out of all proportion to their practical force and do lean and beg day and night continually. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York. or in the reflex way. to himself. Our housekeeping is mendicant. it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened and in complaining the rest of his . men say he is ruined. There are two confessionals. clear his sight. If any one imagines that this law is lax. our marriages. You may fulfil your round of duties by clearing yourself in the direct. cousin.Essays of philosophy to gild his crimes. faithful his will. cat. And truly it demands something godlike in him who has cast off the common motives of humanity and has ventured to trust himself for a taskmaster. We shun the rugged battle of fate. It denies the name of duty to many offices that are called duties. that he may in good earnest be doctrine. and dog. whether any of these can upbraid you. afraid of death and afraid of each other. I have my own stern claims and perfect circle. We want men and women who shall renovate life and our social state. town. afraid of fortune. that a simple purpose may be to him as strong as iron necessity is to others! If any man consider the present aspects of what is called 42 by distinction society. We are parlor soldiers. and we are become timorous. High be his heart. but society has chosen for us. mother. But I may also neglect this reflex standard and absolve me to myself. But if I can discharge its debts it enables me to dispense with the popular code. let him keep its commandment one day. But the law of consciousness abides. The sinew and heart of man seem to be drawn out. our religion we have not chosen. neighbor. society. our occupations. If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails. he will see the need of these ethics. cannot satisfy their own wants. Consider whether you have satisfied your relations to father. our arts. law. We are afraid of truth. in one or the other of which we must be shriven. but we see that most natures are insolvent. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. where strength is born. desponding whimperers.

Prayer that craves a particular commodity. It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. edits a newspaper. their modes of living. that a man is the word made flesh. It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good. He has not one chance. preaches. 1. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont. He walks abreast with his days and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession. Let a Stoic open the resources of man and tell men they are not leaning willows. Caratach. and so forth. but lives already. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft. the books. Prayer looks abroad and asks for some foreign addition to come through some foreign virtue. though for cheap ends. in their property. who in turn tries all the professions. he will not beg. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. in their pursuits.’ for he does not postpone his life. is vicious. In what prayers do men allow themselves! That which they call a holy office is not so much as brave and manly. goes to Congress. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. in successive years. any thing less than all good.—and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendor and make his name dear to all history. peddles.Emerson life. It is easy to see that a greater self-reliance must work a revolution in all the offices and relations of men. idolatries and customs out of the window. is worth a hundred of these city dolls. and that the moment he acts from himself. and mediatorial and miraculous. tossing the laws. farms it. that he should be ashamed of our compassion. the prayer of the rower kneeling with the stroke of his oar. and always like a cat falls on his feet. in Fletcher’s . their association. in 43 their religion. but can and must detach themselves. buys a township. who teams it. that with the exercise of self-trust. new powers shall appear. and loses itself in endless mazes of natural and supernatural. are true prayers heard throughout nature. He will then see prayer in all action. As soon as the man is at one with God. but a hundred chances. we pity him no more but thank and revere him. The prayer of the farmer kneeling in his field to weed it. keeps a school. in their speculative views. in their education. born to shed healing to the nations.

is his complacency. lest we die. when admonished to inquire the mind of the god Audate. or his brother’s brother’s God. a Locke. The pupil takes the same delight in . Our love goes out to him and embraces him because he did not need it. putting them once more in communication with their own reason. Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will.” Another sort of false prayers are our regrets. If it prove a mind of uncommon activity and power. Our sympathy is just as base. a Fourier.’ Everywhere I am hindered of meeting God in my brother. We come to them who weep foolishly and sit down and cry for company. “To the persevering mortal. if not. and man’s relation to the Highest.Essays Bonduca. ‘Let not God speak to us. a Bentham. Such is Calvinism. so are their creeds a disease of the intellect. and lo! a new system. Regret calamities if you can thereby help the sufferer. Every new mind is a new classification. attend your own work and already the evil begins to be repaired. instead of imparting to them truth and health in rough electric shocks.” said Zoroaster. We solicitously and apologetically caress and celebrate him because he held on his 44 way and scorned our disapprobation. him all tongues greet.” As men’s prayers are a disease of the will. Our valors are our best gods. In proportion to the depth of the thought. For him all doors are flung wide. and so to the number of the objects it touches and brings within reach of the pupil. all honors crown. and we will obey. a Lavoisier. a Hutton. speak any man with us. because he has shut his own temple doors and recites fables merely of his brother’s. replies. They say with those foolish Israelites. Swedenborgism. Welcome evermore to gods and men is the self-helping man. which are also classifications of some powerful mind acting on the elemental thought of duty. The gods love him because men hated him. The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. Speak thou. But chiefly is this apparent in creeds and churches. Quakerism. it imposes its classification on other men.— “His hidden meaning lies in our endeavors. “the blessed Immortals are swift. all eyes follow with desire.

the wise man stays at home. will break into any cabin. million-colored. will lean. or does not go abroad with the hope of finding somewhat greater than he knows. will rot and vanish. But in all unbalanced minds the classification is idolized. presently their neat new pinfold will be too strait and low. Italy.’ They do not yet perceive that light. the luminaries of heaven seem to them hung on the arch their master built. he is at home still and shall make men sensible by the expression of his countenance that he goes. ‘It must be somehow that you stole the light from us. Let them chirp awhile and call it their own. whose idols are Italy. travels away from himself. indomitable. 2. all young and joyful. million-orbed. Egypt. They who made England. like an axis of the earth. or Greece venerable in the imagination did so by sticking fast where they were. and visits cities and men like a sovereign and not like an interloper or a valet. his duties. of study.—how you can see. and grows old even in youth among old things. It is for want of self-culture that the superstition of 45 Travelling. will crack. will beam over the universe as on the first morning. If they are honest and do well. and the immortal light. so that the man is first domesticated. and benevolence. the missionary of wisdom and virtue. on any occasion call him from his house. In Thebes. He carries ruins to ruins. I have no churlish objection to the circumnavigation of the globe for the purposes of art. He who travels to be amused. in Palmyra. or to get somewhat which he does not carry. retains its fascination for all educated Americans. They cannot imagine how you aliens have any right to see. England.Emerson subordinating every thing to the new terminology as a girl who has just learned botany in seeing a new earth and new seasons thereby. or into foreign lands. unsystematic. It will happen for a time that the pupil will find his intellectual power has grown by the study of his master’s mind. even into theirs. so that the walls of the system blend to their eye in the remote horizon with the walls of the universe. . In manly hours we feel that duty is our place. passes for the end and not for a speedily exhaustible means. his will and mind have become old and dilapidated as they. and when his necessities. The soul is no traveller.

No man yet knows what it is. and follow the Past and the Distant. our tastes. and our system of education fosters restlessness. identical. the soil. and there beside me is the stern fact. The soul created the arts wherever they have flourished. My giant goes with me wherever I go. At home I dream that at Naples. embrace my friends. he will create a house in which all these will find themselves fitted. the habit and form of the government. our faculties. And why need we copy the Doric or the Gothic model? Beauty. at Rome. Insist on yourself. unrelenting. or Newton? Every great man is a unique. and taste and sentiment will be satisfied also. The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation. our shelves are garnished with foreign ornaments. considering the climate. or Washington. It was in his own mind that the artist sought his model. that I fled from. convenience. 3. and what is imitation but the travelling of the mind? Our houses are built with foreign taste.Essays Travelling is a fool’s paradise. but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession. I seek the Vatican and the palaces. Shakspeare . lean. embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples. till that person has exhibited it. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions. Where is the master who could have taught Shakspeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin. That which each can do best. It was an applica46 tion of his own thought to the thing to be done and the conditions to be observed. The intellect is vagabond. our opinions. none but his Maker can teach him. grandeur of thought and quaint expression are as near to us as to any. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. I pack my trunk. never imitate. the length of the day. and if the American artist will study with hope and love the precise thing to be done by him. We imitate. but I am not intoxicated. Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home. the wants of the people. the sad self. I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. or Bacon. But the rage of travelling is a symptom of a deeper unsoundness affecting the whole intellectual action. nor can.

His note-books impair his memory. There is at this moment for you an utterance brave and grand as that of the colossal chisel of Phidias. and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. Not possibly will the soul. it is christianized. a mat and an undivided twentieth of a shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men and you shall see that the white man has lost his aboriginal strength. or trowel of the Egyptians. whose property is a club. The civilized man has built a coach. and no man improves. Do that which is assigned you. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has. Society never advances. with thousand-cloven tongue.Emerson will never be made by the study of Shakspeare. our Education. it is rich. all eloquent. all rich. but lacks so much support of muscle. it is civilized. and the same blow shall send the white to his grave. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. a pencil and a bill of exchange in his pocket. and the naked New Zealander. it is barbarous. it is scientific. strike the savage with a broad axe and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch. for the ear and the tongue are two organs of one nature. but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the sun. 4. but different from all these. reading. obey thy heart and thou shalt reproduce the Foreworld again. and so being sure of the information when he wants it. surely you can reply to them in the same pitch of voice. He has a fine Geneva watch. Society 47 acquires new arts and loses old instincts. He is supported on crutches. Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life. If the traveller tell us truly. so does our spirit of society. and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. deign to repeat itself. the equinox he knows as little. but if you can hear what these patriarchs say. For every thing that is given something is taken. As our Religion. with a watch. thinking American. but this change is not amelioration. the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. What a contrast between the well-clad. his libraries overload his . or the pen of Moses or Dante. The solstice he does not observe. but has lost the use of his feet. a spear. It undergoes continual changes. our Art look abroad. writing. All men plume themselves on the improvement of society.

with an opera-glass. It is curious to see the periodical disuse and perishing of means and machinery which were introduced with loud laudation a few years or centuries before. The same particle does not rise from the valley to the ridge.Essays wit. For every Stoic was a Stoic. The arts and inventions of each period are only its costume and do not invigorate men. Phocion. art. but will be his own man. No greater men are now than ever were. magazines. “without abolishing our arms. Socrates. The persons who make up a nation . Galileo. the soldier should receive his supply of corn. We reckoned the improvements of the art of war among the triumphs of science. discovered a more splendid series of celestial phenomena than any one since. Anaxagoras. but they leave no class. The Emperor held it impossible to make a perfect army. are great men. three or four and twenty centuries ago. says Las Cases. Columbus found the New World in an undecked boat. but the water of which it is composed does not. He who is really of their class will not be called by their name. and philosophy of the nineteenth century avail to educate greater men than Plutarch’s heroes. but in Christendom where is the Christian? There is no more deviation in the moral standard than in the standard of height or bulk. commissaries and carriages. whether we have not lost by refinement some energy. which consisted of falling back on naked valor and disencumbering it of all aids. and yet Napoleon conquered Europe by the bivouac. The great genius returns to essential man. nor can all the science. by a Christianity entrenched in establishments and forms some vigor of wild virtue. until. the insurance-office increases the number of accidents. and in his turn the founder of a sect. The harm of the improved machinery may compensate its good. religion. Not in time is the race progressive. and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber. Diogenes. A singular equality may be observed between the great men of the first and of the last ages.” Society is a wave. grind it in his hand-mill. Its unity is only phenomenal. The wave moves onward. whose equipment exhausted the resources of science and art. and bake his bread himself. in imitation of the Roman custom. Hudson and Behring accomplished so much in their fish48 ing-boats as to astonish Parry and Franklin.

Emerson to-day. and what the man acquires is living property. But a cultivated man becomes ashamed of his property. the greater the concourse and with each new uproar of announcement. The political parties meet in numerous conventions. thou only firm column must presently appear the upholder of all that surrounds thee. which does not wait the beck of rulers.” Our dependence on these foreign goods leads us to our slavish respect for numbers.” said the Caliph Ali. . instantly rights himself. out of new respect for his nature. He is weaker by every recruit to his banner. or mobs. The delegation from Essex! The Democrats from New Hampshire! The Whigs of Maine! the young patriot feels himself stronger than before by a new thousand of eyes and arms. or fire. or storm. next year die. and not by what each is. and their experience with them.—came to him by inheritance. in the endless mutation. “Thy lot or portion of life. and so perceiving. or crime. it does not belong to him. has no root in him and merely lies there because no revolution or no robber takes it away. 49 “is seeking after thee. O friends! will the God deign to enter and inhabit you. or gift. and they deprecate assaults on these. is the want of selfreliance. In like manner the reformers summon conventions and vote and resolve in multitude. including the reliance on governments which protect it. but perpetually renews itself wherever the man breathes. but by a method precisely the reverse. or revolutions. Especially he hates what he has if he see that it is accidental. Not so. Is not a man better than a town? Ask nothing of men. therefore be at rest from seeking after it. then he feels that it is not having. Men have looked away from themselves and at things so long that they have come to esteem the religious. throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought. And so the reliance on Property. learned and civil institutions as guards of property. or bankruptcies. and. But that which a man is. does always by necessity acquire. He who knows that power is inborn. It is only as a man puts off all foreign support and stands alone that I see him to be strong and to prevail. They measure their esteem of each other by what each has. that he is weak because he has looked for good out of him and elsewhere. because they feel them to be assaults on property.

COMPENSATION The wings of Time are black and white. Or compensatory spark. or some other favorable event raises your spirits. as her wheel rolls. Pied with morning and with night. In the Will work and acquire. Mountain tall and ocean deep Trembling balance duly keep. 50 . and gain all. the chancellors of God. A makeweight flying to the void. Man’s the elm. Glows the feud of Want and Have. Most men gamble with her. and shalt sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations. commands his limbs. Stanch and strong the tendrils twine: Though the frail ringlets thee deceive. So use all that is called Fortune. Supplemental asteroid. Gauge of more and less through space Electric star and pencil plays. and lose all. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance. and you think good days are preparing for you. In changing moon. and deal with Cause and Effect. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. But do thou leave as unlawful these winnings. The lonely Earth amid the balls That hurry through the eternal halls. the recovery of your sick or the return of your absent friend. A political victory. Do not believe it. Shoots across the neutral Dark. a rise of rents. just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head.Essays stands in the erect position. None from its stock that vine can reave. and Wealth the vine. works miracles. in tidal wave.

the farm and the dwelling-house. like thy shadow. COMPENSATION E ver since I was a boy I have wished to write a discourse on Compensation. and so the heart of man might be bathed by an inundation of eternal love. the transactions of the street. conversing with that which he knows was always and always must be.Emerson Fear not. the nature and endowment of all men. greetings. clean from all vestige of tradition. relations. because it really is now. Hast not thy share? On winged feet. Laurel crowns cleave to deserts And power to him who power exerts. Floating in air or pent in stone. and lay always before me. It seemed to me also that in it might be shown men a ray of divinity. III. And all that Nature made thy own. the influence of character. There’s no god dare wrong a worm. then. debts and credits. for it seemed to me when very young that on this subject life was ahead of theology and the people knew more than the preachers taught. even in sleep. Lo! it rushes thee to meet. the present action of the soul of this world. The documents too from which the doctrine is to be drawn. charmed my fancy by their endless variety. the bread in our basket. follow thee. thou child infirm. Will rive the hills and swim the sea And. It appeared moreover that if this doctrine could be stated in terms with any resemblance to those bright intuitions in which this truth 51 . for they are the tools in our hands.

that they can do now. wine. whilst the saints are poor and despised. and so establishing the standard of good and ill. unfolded in the ordinary manner the doctrine of the Last Judgment. the omnipotence of the will. we would sin now.—or. of success and falsehood. are had by unprincipled men. I was lately confirmed in these desires by hearing a sermon at church. we shall sin by and by. offices. instead of confronting and convicting the world from the truth. to push it to its extreme import. The legitimate inference the disciple would draw was. Yet what was the import of this teaching? What did the preacher mean by saying that the good are miserable in the present life? Was it that houses and lands. I think that our popular theology has gained in decorum. He assumed that judgment is not executed in this world. The preacher.—bank-stock and 52 doubloons. by giving them the like gratifications another day. venison and champagne? This must be the compensation intended. dress. The blindness of the preacher consisted in deferring to the base estimate of the market of what constitutes a manly success. I find a similar base tone in the popular religious works of the day and the same doctrines assumed by the literary men when occasionally they treat the related topics. that the wicked are successful. that the good are miserable.’ The fallacy lay in the immense concession that the bad are successful. if we could. we expect our revenge to-morrow. and that a compensation is to be made to these last hereafter. that justice is not done now.Essays is sometimes revealed to us. a man esteemed for his orthodoxy.—’You sin now. . it would be a star in many dark hours and crooked passages in our journey. for what else? Is it that they are to have leave to pray and praise? to love and serve men? Why. No offence appeared to be taken by the congregation at this doctrine. and then urged from reason and from Scripture a compensation to be made to both parties in the next life. As far as I could observe when the meeting broke up they separated without remark on the sermon. horses.—’We are to have such a good time as the sinners have now’. that would not suffer us to lose our way. luxury. not being successful. announcing the presence of the soul.

so grand in the elements. Whilst the world is thus dual. but his incapacity to make his own statement. the opposite magnetism takes place at the other end. Polarity. we meet in every part of nature. rest. and of sound. For men are wiser than they know. An inevitable dualism bisects nature. man and woman. in the undulations of fluids. day and night. in a kernel of corn. yea. There is somewhat that resembles the ebb and flow of the sea. If the south attracts. in heat and cold. as. is repeated within these small boundaries. For example. in male and female. in the ebb and flow of waters. in the equa53 tion of quantity and quality in the fluids of the animal body. so is every one of its parts. and suggests another thing to make it whole. subjective. odd. Every ingenuous and aspiring soul leaves the doctrine behind him in his own experience. To empty here. but a certain . upper. motion. woman. nay. spirit. If a man dogmatize in a mixed company on Providence and the divine laws. But men are better than their theology. out. That which they hear in schools and pulpits without afterthought. under. so that each thing is a half. in a single needle of the pine. in electricity. objective. he is answered by a silence which conveys well enough to an observer the dissatisfaction of the hearer. I shall attempt in this and the following chapter to record some facts that indicate the path of the law of Compensation. man. Their daily life gives it the lie. in the centrifugal and centripetal gravity. in the systole and diastole of the heart. over the superstitions it has displaced. and chemical affinity. if said in conversation would probably be questioned in silence. galvanism. even. and all men feel sometimes the falsehood which they cannot demonstrate. The reaction. matter. in.Emerson and not in principle. in each individual of every animal tribe. the north repels. or action and reaction. Superinduce magnetism at one end of a needle. in the inspiration and expiration of plants and animals. The entire system of things gets represented in every particle. in the animal kingdom the physiologist has observed that no creatures are favorites. happy beyond my expectation if I shall truly draw the smallest arc of this circle. in darkness and light. you must condense there.

Essays compensation balances every gift and every defect. For every thing you have missed. The influences of climate and soil in political history are another. you have gained something else. The cold climate invigorates. the rich. Every faculty which is a receiver of pleasure has an equal penalty put on its abuse. substantially on the same ground with all others. he is content . Every excess causes a defect. For every grain of wit there is a grain of folly. There is always some levelling circumstance that puts down the overbearing. with a dash of the pirate in him?—Nature sends him a troop of pretty sons and daughters who are getting along in the dame’s classes at the village school. the strong. crocodiles. and the best of his manly attributes. takes the boar out and puts the lamb in and keeps her balance true. If the head and neck are enlarged. The same dualism underlies the nature and condition of man. If riches increase. Thus she contrives to intenerate the granite and felspar. the fortunate. every defect an excess. What we gain in power is lost in time. and for every thing you gain. Every sweet hath its sour. The periodic or compensating errors of the planets is another instance. It has commonly cost him all his peace.—a morose ruffian. The waves of the sea do not more speedily seek a level from their loftiest tossing than the varieties of condition tend to equalize themselves. A surplusage given to one part is paid out of a reduction from another part of the same creature. The farmer imagines power and place are fine things. The barren soil does not breed fevers. It is to answer for its moderation with its life. tigers or scorpions. The theory of the mechanic forces is another example. and love and fear for them smooths his grim scowl to courtesy. you lose something. Nature takes out 54 of the man what she puts into his chest. swells the estate. If the gatherer gathers too much. they are increased that use them. Nature hates monopolies and exceptions. every evil its good. but kills the owner. To preserve for a short time so conspicuous an appearance before the world. the trunk and extremities are cut short. and the converse. Is a man too strong and fierce for society and by temper and position a bad citizen. But the President has paid dear for his White House.

If you make the criminal code sanguinary. He must hate father and mother. Under all governments the influence of character remains the same. The true life and satisfactions of man seem to elude the utmost rigors or felicities of condition and to establish themselves with great indifferency under all varieties of circumstances. Under the primeval despots of Egypt. history honestly confesses that man must have been as free as culture could make him. hindrances. Res nolunt diu male administrari. Or. the revenue will yield nothing. With every influx of light comes new danger. juries 55 will not convict. This law writes the laws of cities and nations. the checks exist. a fish as a swimming man. a bird as a flying man. Has he light? he must bear witness to the light. private vengeance comes in.—in Turkey and in New England about alike. the pressure is resisted by an over-charge of energy in the citizen. If the law is too mild. and afflict them by faithfulness to his truth. It is in vain to build or plot or combine against it. the governor’s life is not safe. These appearances indicate the fact that the universe is represented in every one of its particles. Things refuse to be mismanaged long. wife and child. He who by force of will or of thought is great and overlooks thousands. but part for part all the details. and life glows with a fiercer flame. do men desire the more substantial and permanent grandeur of genius? Neither has this an immunity. by his fidelity to new revelations of the incessant soul. furtherances. If the government is a terrific democracy. and will appear. a tree as a rooted man. If you tax too high. Every thing in nature contains all the powers of nature. has the charges of that eminence. as the naturalist sees one type under every metamorphosis. Each new form repeats not only the main character of the type. all the aims. Every thing is made of one hidden stuff.Emerson to eat dust before the real masters who stand erect behind the throne. and regards a horse as a running man. Though no checks to a new evil appear. ener- . Has he all that the world loves and admires and covets?—he must cast behind him their admiration. If the government is cruel. and become a byword and a hissing. and always outrun that sympathy which gives him such keen satisfaction.

which. Each one is an entire emblem of human life. its trials. If you see a hand or a limb. if the force. All things are moral. it is inseparable from the thing. appetite.—The dice of God are always loaded. every crime is punished. outside of us is a law. The causal retribution is in the thing and is seen by the soul. smell. art. Thus is the universe alive. Take what figure you will. of its good and ill. “It is in the world. if the affinity. there must be fire. in other words integrates itself. The world globes itself in a drop of dew. so the limitation. What we call retribution is the universal necessity by which the whole appears wherever a part appears. The retribution in the circumstance is seen by the understanding. but is often spread over a long time and so does not become distinct . transaction. its enemies. out there in history we can see its fatal strength. turn it how you will. and secondly in the circumstance. in a twofold manner. and organs of reproduction that take hold on eternity.” Justice is not postponed. or in real nature.Essays gies and whole system of every other. its course and its end. or a mathematical equation. If you see smoke. first in the thing. its exact value. Every occupation. And each one must somehow accommodate the whole man and recite all his destiny. balances itself. Men call the circumstance the retribution. resistance. Every secret is told. so is the evil. and the world 56 was made by it.—all find room to consist in the small creature. or in apparent nature. Eyes. So do we put our life into every act. or. The value of the universe contrives to throw itself into every point. taste. in silence and certainty. That soul which within us is a sentiment. every wrong redressed. still returns to you. The microscope cannot find the animalcule which is less perfect for being little. you know that the trunk to which it belongs is there behind. Hoi kuboi Dios aei eupiptousi. We feel its inspiration. The world looks like a multiplication-table. The true doctrine of omnipresence is that God reappears with all his parts in every moss and cobweb. motion. Every act rewards itself. ears. is a compend of the world and a correlative of every other. every virtue rewarded. so the repulsion. If the good is there. A perfect equity adjusts its balance in all parts of life. nor more nor less. trade.

to contrive to cut clean off this upper surface so thin as to leave it bottomless. The soul strives amain to live and work through all things. to dress that he may be dressed. ‘The man and woman shall be one flesh and one soul. The ingenuity of man has always been dedicated to the solution of one problem. seed and fruit. in particulars. the moral fair.—to gratify the senses we sever the pleasure of the senses from the needs of the character. ‘Have dominion over all things to the ends of virtue.—the sweet. to sunder. Men seek to be great. cannot be severed. by itself. Crime and punishment grow out of one stem. we seek to act partially. the fruit in the seed. wealth. ‘Eat. to appropriate. for example. Whilst thus the world will be whole and refuses to be disparted. the end preexists in the means. The parted water reunites behind our hand. It would be the only fact.’ the body would have the power over things to its own ends. The specific stripes may follow late after the offence. to eat that he may eat. the moral deep. We can no more halve things and get the sensual good. without the other side. without an other end. and. as soon as we seek to separate them from the whole.—how to detach the sensual sweet. pleasure. profit out of profitable things.—power. Up to this day it must be owned no projector has had the smallest success. power. to set up for himself..Emerson until after many years. they would have offices. but they follow because they accompany it. the sensual bright. The soul says. for the effect already blooms in the cause. etc. again. the bitter.’ the body would join the flesh only. Pleasure is taken out of pleasant things. The particular man aims to be somebody. that is. The 57 soul says.’ the body would feast. knowledge. and to govern. . beauty. All things shall be added unto it. from the moral sweet. They think that to be great is to possess one side of nature. power out of strong things. means and ends. Punishment is a fruit that unsuspected ripens within the flower of the pleasure which concealed it. to ride that he may ride. to get a one end. to truck and higgle for a private good. Cause and effect. the sensual strong. that he may be seen. and fame. The soul says. This dividing and detaching is steadily counteracted.

If he escapes them in one part they attack him in another more vital part. “How 58 secret art thou who dwellest in the highest heavens in silence. Prometheus knows one secret which Jove must bargain for. I only know the keys That ope the solid doors within whose vaults His thunders sleep. which one and another brags that he does not know. the intellect is at once infected.—but the brag is on his lips. she comes running back. . B. It finds a tongue in literature unawares. O thou only great God. which the unwise seek to dodge. so that the man ceases to see God whole in each object. or a light without a shadow. they involuntarily made amends to reason by tying up the hands of so bad a god. another.—but for the circumstance. of law. and the retribution is so much death. that they do not touch him. it is because he has resisted his life and fled from himself. Supreme Mind. I.Essays than we can get an inside that shall have no outside. the conditions are in his soul. So signal is the failure of all attempts to make this separation of the good from the tax. that the experiment would not be tried. of proverbs. of rebellion and separation. that when the disease began in the will. Minerva keeps the key of them:— “Of all the gods. but having traditionally ascribed to him many base actions. and thinks he can cut off that which he would have from that which he would not have. Minerva. he sees the mermaid’s head but not the dragon’s tail. of conversation. He is made as helpless as a king of England. If he has escaped them in form and in the appearance. He cannot get his own thunders.—since to try it is to be mad. Augustine. Thus the Greeks called Jupiter. Confessions. sprinkling with an unwearied providence certain penal blindnesses upon such as have unbridled desires!”* The human soul is true to these facts in the painting of fable. but is able to see the sensual allurement of an object and not see the sensual hurt.” A plain confession of the in-working of the All and of *St. “Drive out Nature with a fork. of history.” Life invests itself with inevitable conditions.

They recorded that when the Thasians erected a statue to Theagenes. that which flowed out of his constitution and not from his too active invention. one of his rivals went to it by night and endeavored to throw it down by repeated blows. The poets related that stone walls and iron swords and leathern thongs had an occult sympathy with the wrongs of their owners. — this back-stroke. in the Nibelungen. but the work of man in that early Hellenic world that I would know. The name and circumstance of Phidias. It would seem there is always this vindictive circumstance stealing in at unawares even into the wild poesy in which the human fancy attempted to make bold holiday and to shake itself free of the old laws. that the belt which Ajax gave Hector dragged the Trojan hero over the field at the wheels of the car of Achilles. until at last he moved it from its pedestal and was crushed to death beneath its fall. who keeps watch in the universe and lets no offence go unchastised. a victor in the games. and though Tithonus is immortal. Siegfried. Phidias it is not. and it would seem impossible for any fable to be invented and get any currency which was not moral. that in nature nothing can be given. that which he does not know. The Furies they said are attendants on justice. the sacred waters did not wash the heel by which Thetis held him. but in the study of many you would abstract as the spirit of them all. and if the sun in heaven should transgress his path they would pun59 ish him. Aurora forgot to ask youth for her lover. It came from thought above the will of the writer. This is that ancient doctrine of Nemesis.Emerson its moral aim. certifying that the law is fatal. There is a crack in every thing God has made. Achilles is not quite invulnerable. is not quite immortal. and the sword which Hector gave Ajax was that on whose point Ajax fell. That is the best part of each writer which has nothing private in it. This voice of fable has in it somewhat divine. all things are sold. he is old. for a leaf fell on his back whilst he was bathing in the dragon’s blood. The Indian mythology ends in the same ethics. that which in the study of a single artist you might not easily find. this kick of the gun. however convenient . and that spot which it covered is mortal. And so it must be.

Our action is overmastered and characterized above our will by the law of nature. the senate and the college deny. embarrass when we come to the highest criticism. It is a thread-ball thrown at a mark. one against another. It is thus written. and. are the sanctuary of the intuitions. or the statements of an absolute truth without qualification. We are to see that which man was tending to do in a given period. a tooth for a tooth. a coil of cord in the boat.— What will you have? quoth God. whose teaching is as true and as omnipresent as that of birds and flies. no more. is hourly preached in all markets and workshops by flights of proverbs. Or rather it is a harpoon hurled at the whale. pay for it and take it.— Nothing venture.—Tit for tat. love for love. modified in doing. —The Devil is an ass. by the interfering volitions of Phidias. chained to appearances. Still more striking is the expression of this fact in the proverbs of all nations. harm catch. like the sacred books of each nation. nothing have. it will suffer him to say in proverbs without contradiction.—Harm watch. but our act arranges itself by irresistible magnetism in a line with the poles of the world. the other end fastens itself around your own. which are always the literature of reason.—Give and it shall be 60 given you. will not allow the realist to say in his own words. And this law of laws. measure for measure. if you will. the organ whereby man at the moment wrought. as it flies. and was hindered. A man cannot speak but he judges himself. —Curses always recoil on the head of him who imprecates them. of Dante.—If you put a chain around the neck of a slave. if the harpoon is not . All things are double.—He that watereth shall be watered himself. an eye for an eye. Proverbs. or.—Thou shalt be paid exactly for what thou hast done. but the other end remains in the thrower’s bag.—Who doth not work shall not eat. unwinding. We aim at a petty end quite aside from the public good. Every opinion reacts on him who utters it. which the pulpit. of Shakspeare. blood for blood. because it is thus in life.— Bad counsel confounds the adviser.Essays for history. With his will or against his will he draws his portrait to the eye of his companions by every word. no less. That which the droning world.

in striving to shut out others. That obscene bird is not there for nothing. Fear is an instructor of great sagacity and the herald of all revolutions. of women. it will go nigh to cut the steersman in twain or to sink the boat. The vulgar proverb. The terror of cloudless noon. They are punished by fear. all unjust accumulations of property and power. and though you see not well what he hovers for. or as two currents of air mix. universal and particular. He is a carrion crow. Treat men as pawns and ninepins and you shall suffer as well as they. Fear for ages has boded and mowed and gibbered over government and property. he shrinks from me as far as I have shrunk from him. All infractions of love and equity in our social relations are speedily punished. are avenged in the same manner. that there is rottenness where he appears. Our property is timid. Whilst I stand in simple relations to my fellow-man. the emerald of Polycrates. But as soon as there is any departure from simplicity.” said Burke. Of the like nature is that expectation of change which instantly follows the suspension of our voluntary activity. “I will get it from his purse or get it from his skin. or 61 good for me that is not good for him. there is hate in him and fear in me. my neighbor feels the wrong. You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong.” is sound philosophy. or not well thrown. One thing he teaches. The exclusionist in religion does not see that he shuts the door of heaven on himself. The senses would make things of all persons. in the attempt to appropriate it. He indicates great wrongs which must be revised. the instinct which leads every generous soul to impose on itself tasks of a noble asceticism and vicarious virtue. there is death somewhere. of the poor. If you leave out their heart. his eyes no longer seek mine. and attempt at halfness. our cultivated classes are timid. “No man had ever a point of pride that was not injurious to him. All the old abuses in society. I have no displeasure in meeting him. We meet as water meets water. are the tremblings of the balance of . The exclusive in fashionable life does not see that he excludes himself from enjoyment. with perfect diffusion and interpenetration of nature. of children.Emerson good. you shall lose your own. the awe of prosperity. there is war between us. our laws are timid.

Benefit is the end of nature. cent for cent. or to buy good sense applied to gardening. in your sailor. Pay it away quickly in some sort. In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them. in the house. serving. and know that it is the part of prudence to face every claimant and pay every just demand on your time. for first or last you must pay your entire debt. Always pay. that is. of superiority and inferiority. or horses. The borrower runs in his own debt. He may soon come to see that he had better have broken his own bones than to have ridden in his neighbor’s coach. your talents. good sense applied to navigation. good sense applied to ac- . Experienced men of the world know very well that it is best to pay scot and lot as they go along.” A wise man will extend this lesson to all parts of life. He is base. Labor is watched over by the same pitiless laws. and every new transaction alters according to its nature their relation to each other. say the prudent. Has a man gained any thing who has received a hundred favors and rendered none? Has he gained by borrowing. line for line. Persons and events may stand 62 for a time between you and justice. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again. but it is only a postponement. or only seldom. deed for deed. It will fast corrupt and worm worms. He is great who confers the most benefits. You must pay at last your own debt. a wagon. and that “the highest price he can pay for a thing is to ask for it. to somebody. or money? There arises on the deed the instant acknowledgment of benefit on the one part and of debt on the other. Cheapest. his neighbor’s wares. Beware of too much good staying in your hand. sewing. and that a man often pays dear for a small frugality. a tax is levied.—and that is the one base thing in the universe. What we buy in a broom. The transaction remains in the memory of himself and his neighbor. good sense applied to cooking. is some application of good sense to a common want. If you are wise you will dread a prosperity which only loads you with more. a knife. or your heart. a mat.Essays justice through the heart and mind of man. in your agent.—to receive favors and render none. It is best to pay in your land a skilful gardener. But for every benefit which you receive. is the dearest labor. through indolence or cunning.

is one immense illustration of the perfect compensation of the universe. The absolute balance of Give and Take. but that which they represent. may be counterfeited or stolen. cannot be counterfeited or stolen. So do you multiply your presence. Commit a crime. the defaulter. But because of the dual constitution of things. and though seldom named. or spread yourself throughout your estate. in all the action and reaction of nature. These ends of labor cannot be answered but by real exertions of the mind. not that thing but something else is obtained. through all its forms. which are measured out by his plumb and foot-rule. The thief steals from himself. but there is no den in the wide world to hide a rogue. in labor as in life there can be no cheating. The league between virtue and nature engages all things to assume a hostile front to vice. whereof wealth and credit are signs.—is not less sublime in the columns of a leger than in the budgets of states. Do the thing. You cannot recall the spo- . The swindler swindles himself. the stern ethics which sparkle on his chisel-edge. He finds that things are arranged for truth and benefit. but they who do not the thing have not the power. and the earth is made of glass. from the sharpening of a stake to the construction of a city or an epic. The cheat. For the real price of labor is knowledge and virtue. I cannot doubt that the high laws which each man sees implicated in those processes with which he is conversant. cannot extort the knowledge of material and moral nature which his honest care and pains yield to the operative. in the laws of light and darkness. The law of nature is. the doctrine that every thing has its price. like paper money. exalt his business to his imagination. and you shall have the Power. namely. and in obedience to pure motives. Human labor. such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole. and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground.Emerson counts and affairs.—do recommend to him his trade. and that it is impossible to get any thing without its price. Commit a crime. which stand as manifest in the footing of the shop-bill as in the history of a state.—and if that price 63 is not paid. the gambler. The beautiful laws and substances of the world persecute and whip the traitor. These signs. knowledge and virtue.

but when the hunter came. so disasters of all kinds. caught in the thicket. Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults. Yet in themselves are nothing. so that you cannot do him any harm. wind. Love. Has he a defect of temper that unfits him to live in society? Thereby he is driven to entertain himself alone and acquire habits of self-help.—become penalties to the thief. The stag in the fable admired his horns and blamed his feet. as sickness. which like fire turns every thing to its own nature. you cannot wipe out the foot-track. Our strength grows out of our weakness. tormented. and thus. All love is mathematically just. offence.—water. Some damning circumstance always transpires. but as the royal armies sent against Napoleon. so no man has a thorough acquaintance with the hindrances or talents of men until he has suffered from the one and seen the triumph of the other over his own want of the same. and power and deity. On the other hand the law holds with equal sureness for all right action. The good man has absolute good. prove benefactors:— “Winds blow and waters roll Strength to the brave. when he approached cast down their colors and from enemies became friends. gravitation. As no man thoroughly understands a truth until he has contended against it. as much as the two sides of an algebraic equation. like the wounded oyster. you cannot draw up the ladder. defeated. Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages. poverty. snow. When he is pushed. so as to leave no inlet or clew. he has a chance to learn .” The good are befriended even by weakness and defect. and you shall be loved. his feet saved him. The indignation which arms itself with secret forces does not awaken until we are pricked and stung and sorely assailed. A great man is always willing to be little. and afterwards. his horns destroyed him.Essays ken word. he goes to sleep. so no man had ever a defect that was not somewhere made useful to him. 64 As no man had ever a point of pride that was not injurious to him. The laws and substances of nature. he mends his shell with pearl.

Its actions are insane like its whole constitution. The wound cicatrizes and falls off from him like a dead skin and when they would triumph. The mob is man voluntarily descending to the nature of the beast. as for a thing to be and not to be at the same time. The wise man throws himself on the side of his assailants.Emerson something. it would tar and feather justice. so that honest service cannot come to loss. Bolts and bars are not the best of our institutions. The history of persecution is a history of endeavors to cheat nature. But as soon as honeyed words of praise are spoken for me I feel as one that lies unprotected before his enemies. by inflicting fire and outrage upon . The same guards which protect us from disaster. he has gained facts. I hate to be defended in a newspaper. defect. Blame is safer than praise. Its fit hour of activity is night. he has been put on his wits. Put God in your debt. the better for you. learns his ignorance. defend us. It is more his interest than it is theirs to find his weak point. The nature and soul of things takes on itself the guaranty of the fulfilment of every contract. has got moderation and real skill. to make water run up hill. In general. so we gain the strength of the temptation we resist. As long as all that is said is said against me. to twist a rope of sand. if we will. A mob is a society of bodies voluntarily bereaving themselves of reason and traversing its work. and enmity. every evil to which we do not succumb is a benefactor. on his manhood. It makes no difference whether the actors be many or one. I feel a certain assurance of success. But it is as impossible for a man to be cheated by any one but himself. lo! he has passed on invulnerable. is cured of the insanity of conceit. nor is shrewdness in trade a mark of wisdom. Men suffer all their life long under the foolish superstition 65 that they can be cheated. Every stroke shall be repaid. from selfishness and fraud. If you serve an ungrateful master. for compound interest on compound interest is the rate and usage of this exchequer. serve him the more. It persecutes a principle. As the Sandwich Islander believes that the strength and valor of the enemy he kills passes into himself. it would whip a right. The longer The payment is withholden. There is a third silent party to all our bargains. a tyrant or a mob.

I learn to be content. It cannot work any good. its own nature. a good and an evil.Essays the houses and persons of those who have these. is not a relation or a part. There is a deeper fact in the soul than compensation. it cannot work. Nothing. are the influx from thence. But the doctrine of compensation is not the doctrine of indifferency. Falsehood. when the truth is seen and the martyrs are justified. and swallowing up all relations. every burned book or house enlightens the world. Vice is the absence or departure of the same. Being is the vast affirmative. every prison. The thoughtless say. The soul is not a compensation. 66 to wit. a more illustrious abode. who run with fire-engines to put out the ruddy aurora streaming to the stars. lies the aboriginal abyss of real Being. The man is all. Under all this running sea of circumstance. as to individuals. for it is not. but a life. virtue. Every thing has two sides. The inviolate spirit turns their spite against the wrongdoers. truth. parts and times within itself. excluding negation. because the criminal adheres to his vice and contumacy and does not come to a crisis or judgment anywhere in visible nature. if I lose any good I gain some other. every suppressed or expunged word reverberates through the earth from side to side. There is no stunning confutation of his nonsense before men and angels. We feel defrauded of the retribution due to evil acts. self-balanced. It resembles the prank of boys. but no fact is begotten by it. all actions are indifferent. or God. whose waters ebb and flow with perfect balance. but the whole.—What boots it to do well? there is one event to good and evil. Nature. on hearing these representations. may indeed stand as the great Night or shade on which as a background the living universe paints itself forth. The soul is. The martyr cannot be dishonored. In some . Essence. if I gain any good I must pay for it. Hours of sanity and consideration are always arriving to communities. Thus do all things preach the indifferency of circumstances. it cannot work any harm. Every lash inflicted is a tongue of fame. Every advantage has its tax. It is harm inasmuch as it is worse not to be than to be. Has he therefore outwitted the law? Inasmuch as he carries the malignity and the lie with him he so far deceases from nature.

and the next wind will blow it away. none to knowledge. that is. Material good has its tax. and if it came without desert or sweat. His life is a progress. There can be no excess to love. There is no penalty to virtue. and always affirms an Optimism. when these attributes are considered in the purest sense. The radical tragedy of nature seems to be the distinction of More and Less. and never am a real sufferer but by my own fault.—”Nothing can work me damage except myself. the harm that I sustain I carry about with me. and not of its absence. for example to find a pot of buried gold. or 67 absolute existence. nor honors. than the fool and knave. I no longer wish to meet a good I do not earn. Neither can it be said. nor powers. I plant into deserts conquered from Chaos and Nothing and see the darkness receding on the limits of the horizon. this deadly deduction makes square the eternal account. and not a station. for that is the incoming of God himself. of the presence of the soul. Bernard. no penalty to wisdom. and may be had if paid for in nature’s lawful coin. I learn the wisdom of St. should we not see it. nor persons. the wise. without any comparative. Herein I rejoice with a serene eternal peace. the true. His instinct is trust. In a virtuous action I properly am. is more a man and not less. they are proper additions of being. in a virtuous act I add to the world. by labor which the heart and the head allow. I contract the boundaries of possible mischief. the tax is certain. none to beauty. I do not wish more external goods. How can . But there is no tax on the knowledge that the compensation exists and that it is not desirable to dig up treasure. on the other hand. never a Pessimism. but.Emerson manner there will be a demonstration of the wrong to the understanding also. that the gain of rectitude must be bought by any loss. has no root in me.—neither possessions. knowing that it brings with it new burdens. Our instinct uses “more” and “less” in application to man. But all the good of nature is the soul’s. the brave man is greater than the coward. There is no tax on the good of virtue.” In the nature of the soul is the compensation for the inequalities of condition. the benevolent. The gain is apparent. The soul refuses limits.

resting. a putting off of dead circumstances day by day. And such should be the outward biography of man in time. this bitterness of His and Mine ceases. It is the nature of the soul to appropriate all things. acting for me with the friendliest designs. In proportion to the vigor of the individual these revolutions are frequent. and slowly forms a new house. because it no longer admits of its growth. as in most men. until in some happier mind they are incessant and all worldly relations hang very loosely about him. Love reduces them as the sun melts the iceberg in the sea. its friends and home and laws and faith. and the man of to-day scarcely recognizes the man of yesterday. in which the man is imprisoned. .—is not that mine? His wit. in our lapsed estate. becoming as it were a transparent fluid membrane through which the living form is seen. and the estate I so admired and envied is my own. he fears they will upbraid God. how not feel indignation or malevolence towards More? Look at those who have less faculty. as he renews his raiment day by day. But to us. I can yet love. His virtue. an indurated heterogeneous fabric of many dates and of no settled character. and one feels sad and knows not well what to make of it. not cooperating with the divine expansion. The changes 68 which break up at short intervals the prosperity of men are advertisements of a nature whose law is growth. Then there can be enlargement. The heart and soul of all men being one.Essays Less not feel the pain. Jesus and Shakspeare are fragments of the soul. and he that loveth maketh his own the grandeur he loves. it is not wit. as the shell-fish crawls out of its beautiful but stony case. this growth comes by shocks. What should they do? It seems a great injustice. Such also is the natural history of calamity. I can still receive. If I feel overshadowed and outdone by great neighbors. His is mine. I am my brother and my brother is me. and by love I conquer and incorporate them in my own conscious domain. and not. resisting. He almost shuns their eye.—if it cannot be made mine. But see the facts nearly and these mountainous inequalities vanish. Thereby I make the discovery that my brother is my guardian. Every soul is by this intrinsic necessity quitting its whole system of things. not advancing.

a mutilation. or a household. somewhat later assumes the aspect of a guide or genius. But we sit and weep in vain. ‘Up and onward for evermore!’ We cannot stay amid the ruins. We are idolaters of the old. seems at the moment unpaid loss. for it commonly operates revolutions in our way of life. We cannot again find aught so dear. The voice of the Almighty saith. with no room for its roots and too much sunshine for its head. We linger in the ruins of the old tent where once we had bread and shelter and organs. a loss of wealth. so sweet. And yet the compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also. in its proper eternity and omnipresence. after long intervals of time. We cannot let our angels go. nor believe that the spirit can feed. wife. We do not believe in the riches of the soul. and unpayable. yielding shade and fruit to wide neighborhoods of men. A fever. and the man or woman who would have remained a sunny garden-flower. breaks up a wonted occupation. or style of living. We do not believe there is any force in to-day to rival or recreate that beautiful yesterday. lover. a loss of friends. and so we walk ever with reverted eyes. The death of a dear friend. which seemed nothing 69 but privation. It permits or constrains the formation of new acquaintances and the reception of new influences that prove of the first importance to the next years. and allows the formation of new ones more friendly to the growth of character. like those monsters who look backwards. cover. by the falling of the walls and the neglect of the gardener is made the banian of the forest. terminates an epoch of infancy or of youth which was waiting to be closed. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in.Emerson We cannot part with our friends. and nerve us again. so graceful. But the sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts. brother. Neither will we rely on the new. a cruel disappointment. .

House at once and architect. The silver seat of Innocence. the weed at the water-side. the universe remains to the heart unhurt. have a grace in the past. when we look at ourselves in the light of thought. Neither vexations nor calamities abate our trust. but even the tragic and terrible are comely as they take their place in the pictures of memory. The soul will not know either deformity or pain. All loss. Even the corpse that has lain in the chambers has added a solemn ornament to the house. as clouds do far off. we should say that we had never made a sacrifice. IV SPIRITUAL LAWS W hen the act of reflection takes place in the mind.Essays SPIRITUAL LAWS The living Heaven thy prayers respect. Grows by decays. the old house. Not only things familiar and stale. If in the hours of clear reason we should speak the severest truth. Forging. Allow for exag70 . The riverbank. we discover that our life is embosomed in beauty. all things assume pleasing forms. the foolish person. and ice to boil. Quarrying man’s rejected hours. Builds therewith eternal towers. by the famous might that lurks In reaction and recoil. as we go. is particular. In these hours the mind seems so great that nothing can be taken from us that seems much. all pain. No man ever stated his griefs as lightly as he might. Fears not undermining days. And. Sole and self-commanded works. through swart arms of Offence. however neglected in the passing. Makes flame to freeze. Behind us.

origin of evil. What we do not call education is more precious than that which we call so. Our young people are diseased with the theological problems of original sin. which is sure to select what belongs to it. No man need be perplexed in his speculations. whether the man is not better who strives with temptation. We love characters in proportion as they are impulsive and spontane- . In like manner our moral nature is vitiated by any interference of our will. “A few strong instincts and a few plain rules” suffice us. But there is no merit in the matter.—never darkened across any man’s road who did not go out of his way to seek them. My will never gave the images in my mind the rank they now take. his nature shall not yield him any intellectual obstructions and doubts. It is quite another thing that he should be able to give account of his faith and expound to another the theory of his self-union and freedom. The regular course of studies.Emerson geration in the most patient and sorely ridden hack that ever was driven. Either God is there or he is not there. These never presented a practical difficulty to any man. and those who have not caught them cannot describe their health or prescribe the cure. People represent virtue as a struggle. and take to themselves great airs upon their attainments. Yet without this self-knowl71 edge there may be a sylvan strength and integrity in that which he is. The intellectual life may be kept clean and healthful if man will live the life of nature and not import into his mind difficulties which are none of his. We form no guess. the infinite lies stretched in smiling repose. and though very ignorant of books. Let him do and say what strictly belongs to him. predestination and the like. of its comparative value. These are the soul’s mumps and measles and whoopingcoughs. A simple mind will not know these enemies. at the time of receiving a thought. and the question is everywhere vexed when a noble nature is commended. And education often wastes its effort in attempts to thwart and balk this natural magnetism. the years of academical and professional education have not yielded me better facts than some idle books under the bench at the Latin School. This requires rare gifts. For it is only the finite that has wrought and suffered.

The less a man thinks or knows about his virtues the better we like him. Men of an extraordinary success. not in them. that the world might be a happier place than it is. There is less intention in history than we ascribe to it. We interfere with the optimism of nature. or to St. When we see a soul whose acts are all regal.’ According to the faith of their times they have built altars to Fortune. and not turn sourly on the angel and say ‘Crump is a better man with his grunting resistance to all his native devils. in their honest moments. or of a wiser mind in the present. .Essays ous. That which externally seemed will and immovableness was willingness and self-annihilation. The face of external nature teaches the same lesson. Their success lay in their parallelism to the course of thought.’ Not less conspicuous is the preponderance of nature over will in all practical life. of the wringing of the hands and the gnashing of the teeth. but the best of their power was in nature. which ran and flowed like Homer’s verses. and the wonders of which they were the visible conductors seemed to the eye their deed. as the virtue of a pipe is to be smooth and hollow. for whenever we get this vantage-ground of the past. that there is no need of struggles. Did the wires generate the galvanism? It is even true 72 that there was less in them on which they could reflect than in another. we must thank God that such things can be and are. We impute deep-laid farsighted plans to Caesar and Napoleon. Could Shakspeare give a theory of Shakspeare? Could ever a man of prodigious mathematical genius convey to others any insight into his methods? If he could communicate that secret it would instantly lose its exaggerated value. Plutarch said. Timoleon’s victories are the best victories. or to Destiny. blending with the daylight and the vital energy the power to stand and to go. that we miscreate our own evils. which found in them an unobstructed channel. ‘Not unto us. The lesson is forcibly taught by these observations that our life might be much easier and simpler than we make it. not unto us. convulsions. we are able to discern that we are begirt with laws which execute themselves. Julian. have always sung. graceful and pleasant as roses. and despairs.

Our society is encumbered by ponderous machinery. Let us draw a lesson from nature. And why drag this dead weight of a Sunday-school over the whole Christendom? It is natu73 ral and beautiful that childhood should inquire and maturity should teach. but our benevolence is unhappy. We have not dollars. It is a graduated. the leaf falls. digging. Our Sunday-schools and churches and pauper-societies are yokes to the neck.Emerson Nature will not have us fret and fume. women will sew. poets will sing.’ We are full of mechanical actions. merchants have. or the bank. richly appointed empire. the children will bring flowers. let them give them. We pain ourselves to please nobody. Do not shut up the young people against their will in a pew and force the children to ask them questions for an hour against their will. which always works by short ways. If we look wider. or the Temperance-meeting. laws and letters and creeds and modes of living seem a travesty of truth. We must needs intermeddle and have things in our own way. and we do not think any good will come of it. titled. or the Abolition-convention. All our manual labor and works of strength. It is a standing army. but it is time enough to answer questions when they are asked. rowing and so forth. it falls. or the Transcendental club into the fields and woods. but do not arrive. not so good as a peace. The walking of man and all animals is a falling forward. When the fruit is despatched. Farmers will give corn. she says to us. which resembles the endless aqueducts which the Romans built over hill and dale and which are superseded by the discovery of the law that water rises to the level of its source. splitting. It is a Chinese wall which any nimble Tartar can leap over. things are all alike. She does not like our benevolence or our learning much better than she likes our frauds and wars. When we come out of the caucus. Love should make joy. ‘So hot? my little Sir. There are natural ways of arriving at the same ends at which these aim. quite superfluous when town-meetings are found to answer just as well. When the fruit is ripe. laborers will lend a hand. Why should all virtue work in one and the same way? Why should all give dollars? It is very inconvenient to us country folk. The circuit of the waters is mere falling. as prying. . until the sacrifices and virtues of society are odious.

He hears and feels what you say of the seraphim. moon. Belief and love. that only in our easy. The simplicity of nature is not that which may easily be read. We pass in the world for sects and schools. but is inexhaustible. There is guidance for each of us. and of the tin-peddler. The last analysis can no wise be made. he is altogether ignorant. fall for ever and ever. so that none of us can wrong the universe. he is young. and shall be again. and when we struggle to wound its creatures our hands are glued to our sides. sun. or they beat our own breasts. against the coward and the robber. but we have been ourselves that coward and robber. and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word. Why need you choose so painfully your place and occu- .—not in the low circumstance. It has so infused its strong enchantment into nature that we prosper when we accept its advice. There is a soul at the centre of nature and over the will of every man. and we are all the time jejune babes. He who sees moral nature out and out and thoroughly knows how knowledge is acquired and character formed. There is no permanent wise man except in the figment of the Stoics. is a pedant. The simplicity of the universe is very different from the simplicity of a machine. A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us that a higher law than that of our will regulates events. but in comparison with the grandeurs possible to the soul. simple. spontaneous action are we strong. for erudition and piety. One sees very well how Pyrrhonism grew up. He is old. God exists. We need only obey. comet. he is very wise. The wild fertility of nature is felt in comparing our rigid names and reputations with our fluid consciousness. and the globe.Essays are done by dint of continual falling. We side with the 74 hero. earth. knowing that the perception of the inexhaustibleness of nature is an immortal youth. The whole course of things goes to teach us faith. and by contenting ourselves with obedience we become divine. as we read or paint. Every man sees that he is that middle point whereof every thing may be affirmed and denied with equal reason. O my brothers. We judge of a man’s wisdom by his hope. star. that our painful labors are unnecessary and fruitless.—a believing love will relieve us of a vast load of care.

as do now the rose and the air and the sun. and that which I call heaven. What business has he with an evil trade? Has he not a calling in his character? Each man has his own vocation. letters. Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats. He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion. would organize itself. This talent and this call depend on his organization. he runs against obstructions on every side but one. of the appetites. to right and a perfect contentment. The talent is the call. but that is a figure of speech by which I would distinguish what is commonly called choice among men. of beauty. and the heaven predicted from the beginning of the world. and the action which I in all my years tend to do.Emerson pation and associates and modes of action and of entertainment? Certainly there is a possible right for you that precludes the need of balance and wilful election. the more difference will his work exhibit from the work of any other. religion of men would go on far better than now. If we will not be mar-plots with our miserable interferences. 75 and inwardly aspire after. of the eyes. and which is a partial act. He has no rival. . He inclines to do something which is easy to him and good when it is done. the society. arts. the measure of right. is the work for my faculties. He is like a ship in a river. of truth. is the state or circumstance desirable to my constitution. Then you are the world. a fit place and congenial duties. Then you put all gainsayers in the wrong. For you there is a reality. is the choice of my constitution. It is not an excuse any longer for his deeds that they are the custom of his trade. For the more truly he consults his own powers. science. I say. and not a whole act of the man. the work. But that which I call right or goodness. and you are without effort impelled to truth. do not choose. There is one direction in which all space is open to him. or the mode in which the general soul incarnates itself in him. but which no other man can do. and still predicted from the bottom of the heart. on that side all obstruction is taken away and he sweeps serenely over a deepening channel into an infinite sea. We must hold a man amenable to reason for the choice of his daily craft or profession. the choice of the hands.

and Eulenstein from a jews-harp. let him by his thinking and character make it liberal. and not in the roll of common men. We think greatness entailed or organized in some places or duties. Until he can manage to communicate himself to others in his full stature and proportion. Then is he a part of the machine he moves. By doing his own work he unfolds himself.Essays His ambition is exactly proportioned to his powers. Somewhere. The pretence that he has another call. so that he may justify his work to their eyes. in certain offices or occasions. he does not yet find his vocation. should find or make a frank and hearty expression of what force and meaning is in him. and the hero out of the pitiful habitation and company in which he was hidden.” is fanaticism. He must find in that an outlet for his character. that let him communicate. The height of the pinnacle is determined by the breadth of the base. and do not see that Paganini can extract rapture from a catgut. and creates the taste by which he is enjoyed. We like only such actions as have already long had the praise of men. Foolish. and a nimble-fingered lad out of shreds of paper with his scissors. and no respect of persons therein. and Landseer out of swine. whenever you take the meanness and formality of that thing you do. instead of converting it into the obedient spiracle of your character and aims. and tends it as a dog turns a spit. The common experience is that the man fits himself as well as he can to the customary details of that work or trade he falls into. If the labor is mean. the man is 76 lost. a summons by name and personal election and outward “signs that mark him extraordinary. and no man has any other call. It is the vice of our public speaking that it has not abandonment. By doing his work he makes the need felt which he can supply. whatever in his apprehension is worth doing. Whatever he knows and thinks. and betrays obtuseness to perceive that there is one mind in all the individuals. or men will never know and honor him aright. Every man has this call of the power to do somewhat unique. not only every orator but every man should let out all the length of all the reins. What we call obscure condition or vulgar society is . and do not perceive that any thing man can do may be divinely done.

the rejection of what is unfit. Those facts. He is like one of those booms which are set out from the shore on rivers to catch drift-wood. as I will go to the man who knocks at my door. persons. and a royal mind will. a selecting principle. royalty makes its own estimate of. the impressiveness of death. and a thousand other things. It is enough that these particulars speak to me. determines for him the character of the universe. remain because they have a relation to him not less real for being as yet unapprehended.— that is elevation. whilst a thousand persons as worthy go by it. gathering his 77 like to him wherever he goes. They relate to your gift. the quality that differences him from every other. Let them have their weight. The goods of fortune may come and go like summer leaves. A man is a method. A man’s genius. or like the loadstone amongst splinters of steel. have an emphasis in your memory out of all proportion to their apparent significance if you measure them by the ordinary standards. the selection of what is fit for him. but which you shall presently make as enviable and renowned as any. words. What has he to do with hope or fear? In himself is his might. let him scatter them on every wind as the momentary signs of his infinite productiveness. and do not reject them and cast about for illustration and facts more usual in literature. To make habitually a new estimate. a few traits of character. a few incidents. which dwell in his memory without his being able to say why. He takes only his own out of the multiplicity that sweeps and circles round him. In our estimates let us take a lesson from kings. the connection of families. The parts of hospitality. manners. What attracts my attention shall have it. to whom I give no regard. the susceptibility to one class of influences. What your . that he has. He may have his own.Emerson that condition and society whose poetry is not yet written. They are symbols of value to him as they can interpret parts of his consciousness which he would vainly seek words for in the conventional images of books and other minds. Let him regard no good as solid but that which is in his nature and which must grow out of him as long as he exists. a progressive arrangement. A few anecdotes. face. What a man does.

constitutes a sort of free-masonry. 78 Nothing seems so easy as to speak and to be understood. de Narbonne. Yet a man may come to find that the strongest of defences and of ties. A man cannot bury his meanings so deep in his book but time and like-minded men will find them. I will pour it only into this or that.—that he has been understood. one of the old noblesse. But Napoleon sent to Vienna M. This is a law which statesmen use in practice. and he who has received an opinion may come to find it the most inconvenient of bonds. nor can he take any thing else though all doors were open. in fact.Essays heart thinks great is great. All the secrets of that state of mind he can compel. It is vain to attempt to keep a secret from one who has a right to know it. All the terrors of the French Republic. The soul’s emphasis is always right. Plato had a secret doctrine. nor can all the force of men hinder him from taking so much. M. de Narbonne in less than a fortnight penetrated all the secrets of the imperial cabinet. which held Austria in awe.” . “They are published and not published. with the morals. and a good mathematician will find out the whole figure. It will tell itself. it is vain to say. manners and name of that interest. We are always reasoning from the seen to the unseen. If a teacher have any opinion which he wishes to conceal. That mood into which a friend can bring us is his dominion over us. his pupils will become as fully indoctrinated into that as into any which he publishes. Hence the perfect intelligence that subsists between wise men of remote ages. saying that it was indispensable to send to the old aristocracy of Europe men of the same connection. which. were unable to command her diplomacy.—it will find its level in all. Everywhere he may take what belongs to his spiritual estate. Over all things that are agreeable to his nature and genius the man has the highest right. Aristotle said of his works. had he? What secret can he conceal from the eyes of Bacon? of Montaigne? of Kant? Therefore. If you pour water into a vessel twisted into coils and angles. Men feel and act the consequences of your doctrine without being able to show how they follow. Show us an arc of the curve. To the thoughts of that state of mind he has a right.

Emerson No man can learn what he has not preparation for learning, however near to his eyes is the object. A chemist may tell his most precious secrets to a carpenter, and he shall be never the wiser,—the secrets he would not utter to a chemist for an estate. God screens us evermore from premature ideas. Our eyes are holden that we cannot see things that stare us in the face, until the hour arrives when the mind is ripened; then we behold them, and the time when we saw them not is like a dream. Not in nature but in man is all the beauty and worth he sees. The world is very empty, and is indebted to this gilding, exalting soul for all its pride. “Earth fills her lap with splendors” not her own. The vale of Tempe, Tivoli and Rome are earth and water, rocks and sky. There are as good earth and water in a thousand places, yet how unaffecting! People are not the better for the sun and moon, the horizon and the trees; as it is not observed that the keepers of Roman galleries or the valets of painters have any elevation of thought, or that librarians are wiser men than others. There are graces in the demeanor of a pol79 ished and noble person which are lost upon the eye of a churl. These are like the stars whose light has not yet reached us. He may see what he maketh. Our dreams are the sequel of our waking knowledge. The visions of the night bear some proportion to the visions of the day. Hideous dreams are exaggerations of the sins of the day. We see our evil affections embodied in bad physiognomies. On the Alps the traveller sometimes beholds his own shadow magnified to a giant, so that every gesture of his hand is terrific. “My children,” said an old man to his boys scared by a figure in the dark entry, “my children, you will never see any thing worse than yourselves.” As in dreams, so in the scarcely less fluid events of the world every man sees himself in colossal, without knowing that it is himself. The good, compared to the evil which he sees, is as his own good to his own evil. Every quality of his mind is magnified in some one acquaintance, and every emotion of his heart in some one. He is like a quincunx of trees, which counts five,—east, west, north, or south; or an initial, medial, and terminal acrostic. And why not? He

Essays cleaves to one person and avoids another, according to their likeness or unlikeness to himself, truly seeking himself in his associates and moreover in his trade and habits and gestures and meats and drinks, and comes at last to be faithfully represented by every view you take of his circumstances. He may read what he writes. What can we see or acquire but what we are? You have observed a skilful man reading Virgil. Well, that author is a thousand books to a thousand persons. Take the book into your two hands and read your eyes out, you will never find what I find. If any ingenious reader would have a monopoly of the wisdom or delight he gets, he is as secure now the book is Englished, as if it were imprisoned in the Pelews’ tongue. It is with a good book as it is with good company. Introduce a base person among gentlemen, it is all to no purpose; he is not their fellow. Every society protects itself. The company is perfectly safe, and he is not one of them, though his body is in the room. What avails it to fight with the eternal laws of mind, which adjust the relation of all persons to each other by 80 the mathematical measure of their havings and beings? Gertrude is enamored of Guy; how high, how aristocratic, how Roman his mien and manners! to live with him were life indeed, and no purchase is too great; and heaven and earth are moved to that end. Well, Gertrude has Guy; but what now avails how high, how aristocratic, how Roman his mien and manners, if his heart and aims are in the senate, in the theatre and in the billiard-room, and she has no aims, no conversation that can enchant her graceful lord? He shall have his own society. We can love nothing but nature. The most wonderful talents, the most meritorious exertions really avail very little with us; but nearness or likeness of nature,—how beautiful is the ease of its victory! Persons approach us, famous for their beauty, for their accomplishments, worthy of all wonder for their charms and gifts; they dedicate their whole skill to the hour and the company,—with very imperfect result. To be sure it would be ungrateful in us not to praise them loudly. Then, when all is done, a person of related mind, a brother or sister by nature, comes to us so softly and

Emerson easily, so nearly and intimately, as if it were the blood in our proper veins, that we feel as if some one was gone, instead of another having come; we are utterly relieved and refreshed; it is a sort of joyful solitude. We foolishly think in our days of sin that we must court friends by compliance to the customs of society, to its dress, its breeding, and its estimates. But only that soul can be my friend which I encounter on the line of my own march, that soul to which I do not decline and which does not decline to me, but, native of the same celestial latitude, repeats in its own all my experience. The scholar forgets himself and apes the customs and costumes of the man of the world to deserve the smile of beauty, and follows some giddy girl, not yet taught by religious passion to know the noble woman with all that is serene, oracular and beautiful in her soul. Let him be great, and love shall follow him. Nothing is more deeply punished than the neglect of the affinities by which alone society should be formed, and the insane levity of choosing associates by others’ eyes. He may set his own rate. It is a maxim worthy of all 81 acceptation that a man may have that allowance he takes. Take the place and attitude which belong to you, and all men acquiesce. The world must be just. It leaves every man, with profound unconcern, to set his own rate. Hero or driveller, it meddles not in the matter. It will certainly accept your own measure of your doing and being, whether you sneak about and deny your own name, or whether you see your work produced to the concave sphere of the heavens, one with the revolution of the stars. The same reality pervades all teaching. The man may teach by doing, and not otherwise. If he can communicate himself he can teach, but not by words. He teaches who gives, and he learns who receives. There is no teaching until the pupil is brought into the same state or principle in which you are; a transfusion takes place; he is you and you are he; then is a teaching, and by no unfriendly chance or bad company can he ever quite lose the benefit. But your propositions run out of one ear as they ran in at the other. We see it advertised that Mr. Grand will deliver an oration on the Fourth of July, and Mr. Hand before the Mechanics’ Association, and we do

Essays not go thither, because we know that these gentlemen will not communicate their own character and experience to the company. If we had reason to expect such a confidence we should go through all inconvenience and opposition. The sick would be carried in litters. But a public oration is an escapade, a non-committal, an apology, a gag, and not a communication, not a speech, not a man. A like Nemesis presides over all intellectual works. We have yet to learn that the thing uttered in words is not therefore affirmed. It must affirm itself, or no forms of logic or of oath can give it evidence. The sentence must also contain its own apology for being spoken. The effect of any writing on the public mind is mathematically measurable by its depth of thought. How much water does it draw? If it awaken you to think, if it lift you from your feet with the great voice of eloquence, then the effect is to be wide, slow, permanent, over the minds of men; if the pages instruct you not, they will die like flies in the hour. The way to speak and write what shall not go out of fashion is to speak and write sincerely. The argument which has not power to reach my 82 own practice, I may well doubt will fail to reach yours. But take Sidney’s maxim:—”Look in thy heart, and write.” He that writes to himself writes to an eternal public. That statement only is fit to be made public which you have come at in attempting to satisfy your own curiosity. The writer who takes his subject from his ear and not from his heart, should know that he has lost as much as he seems to have gained, and when the empty book has gathered all its praise, and half the people say, ‘What poetry! what genius!’ it still needs fuel to make fire. That only profits which is profitable. Life alone can impart life; and though we should burst we can only be valued as we make ourselves valuable. There is no luck in literary reputation. They who make up the final verdict upon every book are not the partial and noisy readers of the hour when it appears, but a court as of angels, a public not to be bribed, not to be entreated and not to be overawed, decides upon every man’s title to fame. Only those books come down which deserve to last. Gilt edges, vellum and morocco, and presentation-copies to all the libraries will not preserve a book in circulation beyond its intrinsic

Emerson date. It must go with all Walpole’s Noble and Royal Authors to its fate. Blackmore, Kotzebue, or Pollok may endure for a night, but Moses and Homer stand for ever. There are not in the world at any one time more than a dozen persons who read and understand Plato,—never enough to pay for an edition of his works; yet to every generation these come duly down, for the sake of those few persons, as if God brought them in his hand. “No book,” said Bentley, “was ever written down by any but itself.” The permanence of all books is fixed by no effort, friendly or hostile, but by their own specific gravity, or the intrinsic importance of their contents to the constant mind of man. “Do not trouble yourself too much about the light on your statue,” said Michael Angelo to the young sculptor; “the light of the public square will test its value.” In like manner the effect of every action is measured by the depth of the sentiment from which it proceeds. The great man knew not that he was great. It took a century or two for that fact to appear. What he did, he did because he must; it was the most natural thing in the 83 world, and grew out of the circumstances of the moment. But now, every thing he did, even to the lifting of his finger or the eating of bread, looks large, all-related, and is called an institution. These are the demonstrations in a few particulars of the genius of nature; they show the direction of the stream. But the stream is blood; every drop is alive. Truth has not single victories; all things are its organs,—not only dust and stones, but errors and lies. The laws of disease, physicians say, are as beautiful as the laws of health. Our philosophy is affirmative and readily accepts the testimony of negative facts, as every shadow points to the sun. By a divine necessity every fact in nature is constrained to offer its testimony. Human character evermore publishes itself. The most fugitive deed and word, the mere air of doing a thing, the intimated purpose, expresses character. If you act you show character; if you sit still, if you sleep, you show it. You think because you have spoken nothing when others spoke, and have given no opinion on the times, on the church, on slavery, on marriage, on socialism, on se-

Essays cret societies, on the college, on parties and persons, that your verdict is still expected with curiosity as a reserved wisdom. Far otherwise; your silence answers very loud. You have no oracle to utter, and your fellow-men have learned that you cannot help them; for oracles speak. Doth not Wisdom cry and Understanding put forth her voice? Dreadful limits are set in nature to the powers of dissimulation. Truth tyrannizes over the unwilling members of the body. Faces never lie, it is said. No man need be deceived who will study the changes of expression. When a man speaks the truth in the spirit of truth, his eye is as clear as the heavens. When he has base ends and speaks falsely, the eye is muddy and sometimes asquint. I have heard an experienced counsellor say that he never feared the effect upon a jury of a lawyer who does not believe in his heart that his client ought to have a verdict. If he does not believe it his unbelief will appear to the jury, despite all his protestations, and will become their unbelief. This is that law whereby a work of art, of whatever kind, sets us in the same state of mind wherein the artist was when he made it. That which we do not 84 believe we cannot adequately say, though we may repeat the words never so often. It was this conviction which Swedenborg expressed when he described a group of persons in the spiritual world endeavoring in vain to articulate a proposition which they did not believe; but they could not, though they twisted and folded their lips even to indignation. A man passes for that he is worth. Very idle is all curiosity concerning other people’s estimate of us, and all fear of remaining unknown is not less so. If a man know that he can do any thing,—that he can do it better than any one else,—he has a pledge of the acknowledgment of that fact by all persons. The world is full of judgmentdays, and into every assembly that a man enters, in every action he attempts, he is gauged and stamped. In every troop of boys that whoop and run in each yard and square, a new-comer is as well and accurately weighed in the course of a few days and stamped with his right number, as if he had undergone a formal trial of his strength, speed and temper. A stranger comes from a distant school, with better dress, with trinkets in his pockets, with airs

Concealment avails him nothing. ‘It’s of no use. Men know not why they do not trust him. pinches the nose.’ ‘What has he done?’ is the divine question which searches men and transpierces every false reputation. never do it. Never was a sincere word utterly lost. There is confes85 sion in the glances of our eyes. nor drove back Xerxes. He may be a solitary eater. in letters of light. All the devils respect virtue. but cannot act. Can a cook. A broken complexion. — and is pledged by it to sweetness of peace and to nobleness of aim which will prove in the end a better procla- . What he is engraves itself on his face. but every grain of sand shall seem to see. His sin bedaubs him. Pretension may sit still. One knows it. so much reverence it commands. an Iachimo be mistaken for Zeno or Paul? Confucius exclaimed.—himself. A fop may sit in any chair of the world nor be distinguished for his hour from Homer and Washington. the hero fears not that if he withhold the avowal of a just and brave act it will go unwitnessed and unloved. we shall find him out to-morrow. the generous. mars all his good impression. A man may play the fool in the drifts of a desert. His vice glasses his eye. an older boy says to himself. in our smiles.—”How can a man be concealed? How can a man be concealed?” On the other hand. but there is some heart to greet and accept it unexpectedly. so much appears. in salutations. Pretension never feigned an act of real greatness. As much virtue as there is. as much goodness as there is. The high. and writes O fool! fool! on the forehead of a king. If you would not be known to do any thing. nor christianized the world. and the grasp of hands. A man passes for that he is worth. but he cannot keep his foolish counsel. Pretension never wrote an Iliad. the self-devoted sect will always instruct and command mankind. boasting nothing. Never a magnanimity fell to the ground. a swinish look. on his form.—all blab. sets the mark of the beast on the back of the head. ungenerous acts and the want of due knowledge. a Chiffinch. but they do not trust him. on his fortunes. but there need never be any doubt concerning the respective ability of human beings.Emerson and pretensions. nor abolished slavery. cuts lines of mean expression in his cheek.

his house. in thee its lowest organ. reaches through our lifetime. The epochs of our life are not in the visible facts of our choice of a calling. is to make daylight shine through him. whether it be his diet. his society. The lesson which these observations convey is. and waste his time and deface your own act? Visit him now. why need you apologize for not having visited him. but in a silent thought by the way-side as we walk. Common men are apologies for men. Or why need you torment yourself and friend by secret selfreproaches that you have not assisted him or complimented him with gifts and salutations heretofore? Be a gift and a benediction.—’Thus hast thou done. Now he is .’ And all our after years. Let us lie low in the Lord’s power and learn that truth alone makes rich and great. which. and the nature of things makes it prevalent. If you visit your friend. and the like. We adore an institution. Let us unlearn our wisdom of the world. I am. Shine with real light and not with the borrowed reflection of gifts. the aim of these moments. The object of the man. our marriage. But real action is in silent moments. and according to their ability execute its will. serve and wait on this. Let us take our bloated nothingness out of the path of the divine circuits. our acquisition of an office. We call the poet inactive. because he is not a president. and with sublime propriety God is described as saying. as a tendency. Let us acquiesce. a merchant. his opposition. or a porter. Be. We are full of these superstitions of sense. they bow the head.Essays mation of it than the relating of the incident. and accumulate appearances because 86 the substance is not. in a thought which revises our entire manner of life and says. like menials. excuse themselves with prolix reasons. and not seem. so that on what point soever of his doing your eye falls it shall report truly of his character. to suffer the law to traverse his whole being without obstruction. Virtue is the adherence in action to the nature of things. but it were better thus. his vote. This revisal or correction is a constant force. his religious forms. his mirth. and do not see that it is founded on a thought which we have. Let him feel that the highest love has come to see him. the worship of magnitude. It consists in a perpetual substitution of being for seeming.

The poor mind does not seem to itself to be any thing unless it have an outside badge. To think is to act. and the ray does not traverse. if I am true. or a high office. there are no thorough lights. The rich mind lies in the sun and sleeps. or a great donation. Why should we be busybodies and superserviceable? Action and inaction are alike to the true. would have sat still with joy and peace. I will not meanly decline the immensity of good. and sitting still to be also good. without any reasoning on the matter. or Quaker coat. if his lot had been mine. One piece of the tree is cut for a weathercock and one for the sleeper of a bridge. the virtue of the wood is apparent in both. Nor can you. The good soul nourishes me and unlocks new magazines of power and enjoyment to me every day.Emerson not homogeneous. I desire not to disgrace the soul. or Calvinistic prayer-meeting. I have no discontent. The fact that I am 87 here certainly shows me that the soul had need of an organ here. Shall I not assume the post? Shall I skulk and dodge and duck with my unseasonable apologies and vain modesty and imagine my being here impertinent? less pertinent than Epaminondas or Homer being there? and that the soul did not know its own needs? Besides. if he was the man I take him for. any how.—no more. and affords space for all modes of love and fortitude. . excite me to the least uneasiness by saying. detecting many unlike tendencies and a life not yet at one. Epaminondas. Why should we make it a point with our false modesty to disparage that man we are and that form of being assigned to us? A good man is contented. but the eye of the beholder is puzzled. why should we be cowed by the name of Action? ’Tis a trick of the senses. some wild contrasting action to testify that it is somewhat. ‘He acted and thou sittest still. or philanthropic society. I hold it more just to love the world of this hour than the world of his hour.—some Gentoo diet. or. but I do not wish to be Epaminondas. because I have heard that it has come to others in another shape. when the need is. Heaven is large. and is Nature. Besides. but heterogeneous. We know that the ancestor of every action is a thought.’ I see action to be good. I love and honor Epaminondas.

emotion as pure.— “He knew not what to say. if we must have great actions. This over-estimate of the possibilities of Paul and Pericles. money. the painter uses the conventional story of the Virgin Mary. comes from a neglect of the fact of an identical nature. and so he swore. the good astronomer. Rather let me do my work so well that other idlers if they choose may compare my texture with the texture of these and find it identical with the best. of Tamerlane. which on the waves of its love and hope can uplift all that is reckoned solid and precious in the world. and a heart as great. self-sufficing. Why need I go gadding into the scenes and philosophy of Greek and Italian history before I have justified myself to my benefactors? How dare I read Washington’s campaigns when I have not answered the letters of my own correspondents? Is not that a just objection to much of our reading? It is a pusillanimous desertion of our work to gaze after our neighbors. Let us seek one peace by fidelity. The poet uses the names of Caesar. He does not therefore defer to the nature of these accidental men. then the selfsame strain of thought. or to General Washington. and the least admits of being inflated with the celestial air until it eclipses the sun and moon. kingdoms. the good player.—my facts.Essays Let us. wit as subtle. and so he read. Byron says of Jack Bunting. 88 as good as theirs. My time should be as good as their time. of Bonduca. then he is Caesar. motions as swift.—marking its own incomparable . and not the player of Caesar. Bonaparte knew but one merit. of Paul. If the poet write a true drama. or to General Schuyler. Let me heed my duties. my net of relations. of these stock heroes. of Belisarius. or either of theirs. this under-estimate of our own. dauntless. It is peeping. and rewarded in one and the same way the good soldier. make our own so. mounting.—palaces.” I may say it of our preposterous use of books. gardens. and I find the Life of Brant.—He knew not what to do. I can think of nothing to fill my time with. extravagant. the good poet. of Peter. It is a very extravagant compliment to pay to Brant. All action is of an infinite elasticity. navies.

unites him to his race.” Koran . flowing. Me my burning ray revealed. we the irritable goldleaf and tinfoil that measure the accumulations of the subtle element. Love “I was as a gem concealed. but to sweep and scour will instantly appear supreme and beautiful actions. opens the imagination. and all people will get mops and brooms. We are the photometers. Love E very promise of the soul has innumerable fulfilments.Emerson worth by the slight it casts on these gauds of men. carries him with new sympathy into nature. We know the authentic effects of the true fire through every one of its million disguises. the top and radiance of human life. Let the great soul incarnated in some woman’s form. seizes on man at one period and works a revolution in his mind and body. like a certain divine rage and enthusiasm. and not in names and places and persons. lo! suddenly the great soul has enshrined itself in some other form and done some other deed. uncontainable. go out to service. in the first sentiment of kindness anticipates already a benevolence which shall lose all particular regards in its general light. each of its joys ripens into a new want. V. Nature. forelooking. enhances the power of the senses. in some Dolly or Joan.— these all are his. which. and by the power of these he rouses the nations. and its effulgent daybeams cannot be muffled or hid. and that is now the flower and head of all living nature. and sweep chambers and scour floors. pledges him to the domestic and civic relations. adds to his character he89 . until. Let a man believe in God. poor and sad and single. which is the enchantment of human life. The introduction to this felicity is in a private and tender relation of one to one.

and so lights up the whole world and all nature with its generous flames. one must not be too old. as chilling with age and pedantry their purple bloom. or at eighty years. For it is to be considered that this passion of which we speak. But from these formidable censors I shall appeal to my seniors. though it begin with the young. which every youth and maid should confess to be true to their throbbing experience. Let any man go back to those delicious relations which make the beauty of his life. caught from a wandering spark out of another private heart. though in a different and nobler sort. And therefore I know I incur the imputation of unnecessary hardness and stoicism from those who compose the Court and Parliament of Love. For each man sees his own life defaced and disfigured. For it is a fire that kindling its first embers in the narrow nook of a private bosom. to his imagination. upon the universal heart of all. at thirty. he will shrink and moan. establishes marriage. or rather suffers no one who is truly its servant to grow old. as the life of man is not. at whatever angle beholden. It matters not therefore whether we attempt to describe the passion at twenty. . The natural association of the sentiment of love with the heyday of the blood seems to require that in order to portray it in vivid tints. The delicious fancies of youth reject the least savor of a mature philosophy. that we must leave a too close and lingering adherence to facts. but makes the aged participators of it not less than the tender maiden. he who paints it at the last. glows and enlarges until it warms and beams upon 90 multitudes of men and women. which have given him sincerest instruction and nourishment. He who paints it at the first period will lose some of its later. and study the sentiment as it appeared in hope and not in history.Essays roic and sacred attributes. Alas! I know not why. whilst that of other men looks fair and ideal. Only it is to be hoped that by patience and the Muses’ aid we may attain to that inward view of the law which shall describe a truth ever young and beautiful. some of its earlier traits. And the first condition is. yet forsakes not the old. and gives permanence to human society. Each man sees over his own experience a certain stain of error. so central that it shall commend itself to the eye.

In the actual world—the painful kingdom of time and place— dwell care. The earliest demonstrations of complacency and kindness are nature’s most winning pictures. and meets one fair child disposing her satchel. With thought. The strong bent of nature is seen in the proportion which this topic of personal relations usurps in the conversation of society. and persons. The rude village boy teases the girls about the school-house door. which love delights in. like any passage betraying affection between two parties? Perhaps we never saw them before. good-natured shop-boy. and talk half an hour about nothing with the broad-faced. and these two little neighbors. Every thing is beautiful seen from the point of the intellect. and take the warmest interest in the development of the romance. In the village they are on a perfect equality. It is the dawn of civility and grace in the coarse and rustic. Round it all the Muses sing. and canker. he holds her books to help her. and was a sacred precinct. and never shall meet them again.—but to-day he comes running into the entry. is immortal hilarity. the rose of joy. half-artful. have learned to respect each other’s personality. Or who can avert his eyes from the engaging. that were so close just now. and the partial interests of to-day and yesterday. and fear. We understand them. and instantly it seems to him as if she removed herself from him infinitely. when the story is told with any spark of truth and nature! And what fastens attention. if seen as experience. but one alone distances him. with the ideal. Among the throng of girls he runs rudely enough. But we see them exchange a 91 glance. But grief cleaves to names. the plan is seemly and noble. What do we wish to know of any worthy person so much. or as truth. half-artless ways of school-girls who go into the country shops to buy a skein of silk or a sheet of paper. or betray a deep emotion. as how he has sped in the history of this sentiment? What books in the circulating libraries circulate? How we glow over these novels of passion. But all is sour. affectionate nature . in the intercourse of life. Details are melancholy.Emerson but infinite compunctions embitter in mature life the remembrances of budding joy and cover every beloved name. and we are no longer strangers. All mankind love a lover. and without any coquetry the happy.

For persons are love’s world. the morning and the night varied enchantments. which was the dawn in him of music. and other nothings concerning which the parties cooed. in revising their experience. without being tempted to unsay. without any risk such as Milton deplores as incident to scholars and great men. and art. that they have no fairer page in their life’s book than the delicious memory of some passages wherein affection contrived to give a witchcraft. yet plainly do they establish between them and the good boy the most agreeable. But be our experience in particulars what it may. which made the face of nature radiant with purple light. and al92 though a beauty overpowering all analysis or comparison and putting us quite beside ourselves we can seldom see after thirty years. when a single tone of one voice could make the heart bound. aught derogatory to the social instincts. what with their fun and their earnest. no man ever forgot the visitations of that power to his heart and brain. and who was invited to the party. By and by that boy wants a wife. as treasonable to nature. and when the singing-school would begin. to a parcel of accidental and trivial circumstances. and who danced at the dancing-school.Essays of woman flows out in this pretty gossip. and very truly and heartily will he know where to find a sincere and sweet mate. poetry. The girls may have little beauty. In looking backward they may find that several things which were not the charm have more reality to this groping memory than the charm itself which embalmed them. yet the remembrance of these visions outlasts all other remembrances. confiding relations. But here is a strange fact. surpassing the deep attraction of its own truth. I have been told that in some public discourses of mine my reverence for the intellect has made me unjustly cold to the personal relations. and the most trivial circumstance associated with one form is . For though the celestial rapture falling out of heaven seizes only upon those of tender age. But now I almost shrink at the remembrance of such disparaging words. it may seem to many men. about Edgar and Jonas and Almira. and is a wreath of flowers on the oldest brows. which created all things anew. and the coldest philosopher cannot recount the debt of the young soul wandering here in nature to the power of love.

The trees of the forest. but. Every bird on the boughs of the tree sings now to his heart and soul. as Plutarch said.” In the noon and the afternoon of life we still throb at the recollection of days when happiness was not happy enough.” and make the study of midnight:— “Thou art not gone being gone. where’er thou art. for he touched the secret of the matter who said of love. when the head boiled all night on the pillow with the generous deed it resolved on. and he almost fears to trust them with the secret which they seem to invite. a ribbon. The passion rebuilds the world for the youth.Emerson put in the amber of memory. “enamelled in fire. when all business seemed an impertinence. The clouds have faces as he looks on them. when he became all eye when one was present. in him thy loving heart. Thou leav’st in him thy watchful eyes. The notes are almost articulate. In the green solitude he finds a dearer home than with men:— . Yet nature soothes and sympathizes. mere pictures. Nature grows conscious. and all the men and women running to and fro in the streets. for the figures. and all memory when one was gone. or the wheels of a carriage. when the moonlight was a pleasing fever and the stars were letters and the flowers ciphers and the air was coined into song.— 93 “All other pleasures are not worth its pains:” and when the day was not long enough. though best and purest. the motions. when the youth becomes a watcher of windows and studious of a glove. the words of the beloved object are not like other images written in water. for him who has richer company and sweeter conversation in his new thoughts than any old friends. the waving grass and the peeping flowers have grown intelligent. but the night too must be consumed in keen recollections. when no place is too solitary and none too silent. but must be drugged with the relish of pain and fear. can give him. It makes all things alive and significant. a veil.

Places which pale passion loves. Beauty. he walks with arms akimbo. He does not longer appertain to his family and society. he is somewhat. the clover and the lily in his veins. Like a tree in flower. welcome as the sun wherever it pleases to shine.Essays “Fountain-heads and pathless groves. budding. that men have written good verses under the inspiration of passion. she indemnifies him by carrying out her own being into somewhat . The heats that have opened his perceptions of natural beauty have made him love music and verse.” Behold there in the wood the fine madman! He is a palace of sweet sounds and sights. Into the most pitiful and abject it will infuse a heart and courage to defy the world. and a religious solemnity of character and aims. It expands the sentiment. he is twice a man. Her existence makes the world rich. so only it have the countenance of the beloved object. informing loveliness is society for itself. A midnight bell. so much soft. a passing groan. and he talks with the brook that wets his foot. it makes the clown gentle and 94 gives the coward heart. And here let us examine a little nearer the nature of that influence which is thus potent over the human youth. he is a soul. seems sufficient to itself. Moonlight walks. He is a new man. when all the fowls Are safely housed. and she teaches his eye why Beauty was pictured with Loves and Graces attending her steps.— These are the sounds we feed upon. The lover cannot paint his maiden to his fancy poor and solitary. In giving him to another it still more gives him to himself. with new perceptions. The like force has the passion over all his nature. It is a fact often observed. save bats and owls. he dilates. he is a person. new and keener purposes. who cannot write well under any other circumstances. he feels the blood of the violet. he soliloquizes. whose revelation to man we now celebrate. Though she extrudes all other persons from his attention as cheap and unworthy. which pleases everybody with it and with themselves. he accosts the grass and the trees.

when it . Concerning it Landor inquires “whether it is not to be referred to some purer state of sensation and existence. and shall not find. as it seems to me. to relations of transcendent delicacy and sweetness. points. so that the maiden stands to him for a representative of all select things and virtues. His friends find in her a likeness to her mother.” In like manner. The god or hero of the sculptor is always represented in a transition from that which is representable to the senses. Who can analyze the nameless charm which glances from one and another face and form? We are touched with emotions of tenderness and complacency. but. which all have this rainbow character. The statue is then beautiful when it begins to be incomprehensible. or to persons not of her blood. but demands an active imagination to go with it and to say what it is in the act of doing. It is destroyed for the imagination by any attempt to refer it to organization. but we cannot find whereat this dainty emotion. For that reason the lover never sees personal resemblances in his mistress to her kindred or to others. And of poetry the success is not attained when it lulls and satisfies. large. hovering and evanescent. to that which is not. Nor does it point to any relations of friendship or love known and described in society. The same remark holds of painting. to rainbows and the song of birds. to what roses and violets hint and foreshow. personal beauty is then first charming and itself when it dissatisfies us with any end. but when it astonishes and fires us with new endeavors after the unattainable.” The same fluency may be observed in every work of the plastic arts. Then first it ceases to be a stone. when he said to music. Herein it resembles 95 the most excellent things. The ancients called beauty the flowering of virtue. this wandering gleam. to a quite other and unattainable sphere. or her sisters. We cannot approach beauty.Emerson impersonal. Its nature is like opaline doves’neck lustres. What else did Jean Paul Richter signify. The lover sees no resemblance except to summer evenings and diamond mornings. defying all attempts at appropriation and use. mundane. when it is passing out of criticism and can no longer be defined by compass and measuring-wand. “Away! away! thou speakest to me of things which in all my endless life I have not found.

the soul passes through the body and falls to admire strokes of character. the soul was gross. when it makes the beholder feel his unworthiness. and by this love extinguishing the base affection. and misplaced its satisfaction in the body. Hence arose the saying. for they said that the soul of man. and the cause of the beauty. they become pure and hallowed. but above it. embodied here on earth. when he cannot feel his right to it. and unable to see any other objects than those of this world. but was soon stupefied by the light of the natural sun. but if. and the man beholding such a person in the female sex runs to her and finds the highest joy in contemplating the form. the lover comes to a warmer love of these nobilities. It is not you. it reaped nothing but sorrow. and just. movement. By conversation with that which is in itself excellent. when it suggests gleams and visions and not earthly satisfactions. but your radiance. that it may avail itself of beautiful bodies as aids to its recollection of the celestial good and 96 fair. then they pass to the true palace of beauty. accepting the hint of these visions and suggestions which beauty makes to his mind. magnanimous. as the sun puts out the fire by shining on the hearth. and intelligence of this person. body being unable to fulfil the promise which beauty holds out. which are but shadows of real things.Essays becomes a story without an end. This agrees well with that high philosophy of Beauty which the ancient writers delighted in. what is that to you?” We say so because we feel that what we love is not in your will. more and more inflame their love of it. “If I love you. lowly. and a quicker apprehension of them. Then he passes from loving them . If however. and the lovers contemplate one another in their discourses and their actions. because it suggests to him the presence of that which indeed is within the beauty. though he were Caesar. Therefore the Deity sends the glory of youth before the soul. from too much conversing with material objects. went roaming up and down in quest of that other world of its own out of which it came into this. he cannot feel more right to it than to the firmament and the splendors of a sunset. It is that which you know not in yourself and can never know.

predominate later. But things are ever grouping themselves according to higher or more interior laws. and the step backward from the higher to the lower relations is . If Plato. and withers the hope and affection of human nature by teaching that marriage signifies nothing but a housewife’s thrift. though beautiful. the longing for harmony between the soul and the circumstance.Emerson in one to loving them in all. lose by degrees their power over us. so that its grav97 est discourse has a savor of hams and powdering-tubs. But this dream of love. habits. idealizing instinct. on the house and yard and passengers. In the procession of the soul from within outward. Somewhat like this have the truly wise told us of love in all ages. size. Angelo and Milton. on the circle of household acquaintance. Neighborhood. and that woman’s life has no other aim. the progressive. real affinities. The rays of the soul alight first on things nearest. on politics and geography and history. on nurses and domestics. or the light proceeding from an orb. And beholding in many souls the traits of the divine beauty. so have Petrarch. to the love and knowledge of the Divinity. when this sensualism intrudes into the education of young women. numbers. on every utensil and toy. any taint which her beauty has contracted from this world. persons. Cause and effect. and is able to point it out. to indicate blemishes and hindrances in each other. Worst. In the particular society of his mate he attains a clearer sight of any spot. it enlarges its circles ever. like the pebble thrown into the pond. It awaits a truer unfolding in opposition and rebuke to that subterranean prudence which presides at marriages with words that take hold of the upper world. and so is the one beautiful soul only the door through which he enters to the society of all true and pure souls. the lover ascends to the highest beauty. and separating in each soul that which is divine from the taint which it has contracted in the world. Plutarch and Apuleius taught it. and give to each all help and comfort in curing the same. The doctrine is not old. without offence. whilst one eye is prowling in the cellar. is only one scene in our play. nor is it new. by steps on this ladder of created souls. and this with mutual joy that they are now able.

Thus even love. in avowals of love. Passion beholds its object as a perfect unit. joyfully. The union which is thus effected and which adds a new value to every atom in nature—for it transmutes every thread throughout the whole web of relation into a golden ray. as to all. asks no more. that now delight me? They try and weigh their affection. in this soul which is all form. Does that other see the same star. When alone. Little think the youth and maiden who are glancing at each other across crowded rooms with eyes so full of mutual intelligence. of gallantry. with this pair. properties. sorrow.—than Romeo. and bathes the soul in a new and sweeter element—is yet a temporary state. pearls. in comparisons of their regards. they solace themselves with the remembered image of the other. religion. opportunities. friends. quite external stimulus. if dead. to plighting troth and marriage.” Romeo. the same melting cloud. exult in discovering that willingly. It arouses . they would give all as a ransom for the beautiful. content the awful soul that dwells in clay. the beloved head. feel the same emotion. read the same book. and adding up costly advantages. That one might almost say her body thought. not one hair of which shall be harmed. than Juliet. which is the deification of persons. and the body is wholly ensouled:— “Her pure and eloquent blood Spoke in her cheeks. and pain arrive to them. The work of vegetation begins first in the irritability of the bark and leaf-buds. should be cut up into little stars to make the heavens fine. Not always can flowers. The soul is wholly embodied. they advance to acts of courtesy.Essays impossible. and so distinctly wrought. must become more impersonal every day. has no other aim. of the precious fruit long hereafter to proceed from this new. nor even home in another heart. Night. studies. Of this at first it gives no hint. It makes covenants with Eternal Power in behalf of this dear mate. Danger. Love prays. From exchanging glances. protestations. then to fiery passion. day. poetry. kingdoms. are all contained in 98 this form full of soul. The lovers delight in endearments. But the lot of humanity is on these children. talents. Life.

like the scaffolding by which the house was built. Looking at these aims with . however eclipsed. which is or ought to be known. has the taste of all in it. and the gnomes and vices also. but the regard changes. as toys. and these virtues are there. craving a perfect beatitude. and wholly above their consciousness. it becomes a thorough good understanding. Like manna. If there be virtue. detects incongruities. that they should represent the human race to each other. of woman:— “The person love does to us fit. For it is the nature and end of this relation. all the vices are known as such. expostulation and pain. it proves a game of permutation and combination of all possible positions of the parties. They resign each other without complaint to the good offices which man and woman are severally appointed to discharge in time. that magical play of charms. All that is in the world.” 99 The world rolls. The soul which is in the soul of each. The angels that inhabit this temple of the body appear at the windows. By all the virtues they are united. and exchange the passion which once could not lose sight of its object. disengaged furtherance. and losing in violence what it gains in extent. Meantime. quits the sign and attaches to the substance. Their once flaming regard is sobered by time in either breast. They appear and reappear and continue to attract. foreseen and prepared from the first. Hence arise surprise. to employ all the resources of each and acquaint each with the strength and weakness of the other. Yet that which drew them to each other was signs of loveliness.—was deciduous. defects and disproportion in the behavior of the other. as life wears on. and the purification of the intellect and the heart from year to year is the real marriage. had a prospective end. for a cheerful.—those once sacred features. whether present or absent. the circumstances vary every hour. signs of virtue. they confess and flee. At last they discover that all which at first drew them together.Emerson itself at last from these endearments. of each other’s designs. and puts on the harness and aspires to vast and universal aims. is cunningly wrought into the texture of man. This repairs the wounded affection.

. nor person. Though slowly and with pain. and thereby learners. are shut up in one house to spend in the nuptial society forty or fifty years. That which is so beautiful and attractive as these relations. We are by nature observers. but which seeks virtue and wisdom everywhere. and the warm loves and fears that swept over us 100 as clouds must lose their finite character and blend with God. But in health the mind is presently seen again. But we are often made to feel that our affections are but tents of a night. bright with galaxies of immutable lights. a man and a woman. and nature and intellect and art emulate each other in the gifts and the melody they bring to the epithalamium. But we need not fear that we can lose any thing by the progress of the soul. the objects of the affections change. I do not wonder at the emphasis with which the heart prophesies this crisis from early infancy. as the objects of thought do.— its overarching vault. so variously and correlatively gifted. to the end of increasing virtue and wisdom. and so on for ever. to attain their own perfection. That is our permanent state. must be succeeded and supplanted only by what is more beautiful. nor partiality. There are moments when the affections rule and absorb the man and make his happiness dependent on a person or persons. Thus are we put in training for a love which knows not sex.Essays which two persons. at the profuse beauty with which the instincts deck the nuptial bower. The soul may be trusted to the end.

FRIENDSHIP W e have a great deal more kindness than is ever spoken. My careful heart was free again. Glowed unexhausted kindliness Like daily sunrise there. All things through thee take nobler form And look beyond the earth. my bosom said. The mill-round of our fate appears A sun-path in thy worth. In poetry and in common speech. more active. and who honor us! How many we see in the street. The world uncertain comes and goes. whom yet we honor.Emerson FRIENDSHIP A ruddy drop of manly blood The surging sea outweighs.— O friend. more cheering. whom. so swift. whom we scarcely speak to. The effect of the indulgence of this human affection is a certain cordial exhilaration. The fountains of my hidden life Are through thy friendship fair. The heart knoweth. Through thee the rose is red. Our intellectual and active powers increase with our 101 . the emotions of benevolence and complacency which are felt towards others are likened to the material effects of fire. Maugre all the selfishness that chills like east winds the world. From the highest degree of passionate love to the lowest degree of good-will. after many a year. Through thee alone the sky is arched. the whole human family is bathed with an element of love like a fine ether. or sit with in church. I fancied he was fled. And. we warmly rejoice to be with! Read the language of these wandering eye-beams. or much more swift. The lover rooted stays. are these fine inward irradiations. Me too thy nobleness has taught To master my despair. they make the sweetness of life. How many persons we meet in houses. VI. though silently.

only the good report is told by others. The scholar sits down to write. and they must get up a dinner if they can. we ask how we should stand related in conversation and action with such a man. Vulgarity. rich communications. and an uneasiness betwixt pleasure and pain invades all the hearts of a household. there is no winter and no night. The same idea exalts conversation with him. all things fly into their places. in any house where virtue and self-respect abide. ignorance. he may get the order.—but the throbbing of the heart and the communications of the soul. He is no stranger now. Of a commended stranger. so that they who sit by. all ennuis vanish. a richer memory. Now. on their approach to this beating heart. on every hand. A commended stranger is expected and announced. his definitions. and our dumb devil has taken leave for the time. graceful.Essays affection. when he comes. only the good and new is heard by us.—all duties even. the dress and the dinner. in a feeling? How beautiful. no more. For long hours we can continue a series of sincere. the earth is metamorphosed. Having imagined and invested him. We have the nimblest fancy. But as soon as the stranger begins to intrude his partialities. of our own kinsfolk and acquaintance. the old coat is exchanged for the new. What is so pleasant as these jets of affection which make a young world for me again? What so delicious as a just and firm encounter of two. the palpitation which the approach of a stranger causes. He stands to us for humanity. and are uneasy with fear. The house is dusted. shall feel a lively surprise at our unusual powers. misapprehension are old acquaintances. He has heard the first. His arrival almost brings fear to the good hearts that would welcome him. He is what we wish. it is all over. and all his years of meditation do not furnish him with one good thought or happy expression. the last and best he will ever hear from us. in a thought. nothing fills the pro102 . drawn from the oldest. secretest experience. into the conversation. the steps and forms of the gifted and the true! The moment we indulge our affections. his defects. with chosen words. all tragedies. We talk better than we are wont. See.—and forthwith troops of gentle thoughts invest themselves. but it is necessary to write a letter to a friend.

but I fear it not. Will these too separate themselves from me again. relation.—poetry without stop. and now makes many one. and enlarge the meaning of all my thoughts. and thus we weave social threads of our own. who understands me.Emerson ceeding eternity but the forms all radiant of beloved persons. age. Who hears me. and the Genius of my life being thus social. by the divine affinity of virtue with itself. but the joy ends in the day. The great God gave them to me. as from time to time they pass my gate. and yet I am not so ungrateful as not to see the wise. or rather not I but the Deity in me and in them derides and cancels the thick walls of individual character. I embrace solitude. we shall by and by stand in a new world of our own creation. as many thoughts in succession substantiate themselves. or some of them? I know not. By oldest right.—a possession for all time. circumstance. I confess to an extreme tenderness of nature on this point.—hymn. Nor is Nature so poor but she gives me this joy several times. Apollo and the Muses chanting still. at which he usually connives. Thought is not born of it. and it would be content and cheerful alone for a thousand years. my action is very little modified. Let the soul be assured that somewhere in the universe it should rejoin its friend. High thanks I owe you. sex. excellent lovers. It is almost dangerous to me to “crush the sweet poison of misused wine” of the affections. becomes mine. These are new poetry of the first Bard. that we hold by simple affinity. for my relation to them is so pure. A new person is to me a great event and hinders me from sleep. a new web of relations. and. ode and epic. and no longer strangers and pilgrims in a traditionary globe. I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends. I must feel pride in my friend’s accomplish103 . who daily showeth himself so to me in his gifts? I chide society. the old and the new. wherever I may be. the lovely and the noble-minded. the same affinity will exert its energy on whomsoever is as noble as these men and women. poetry still flowing. I have often had fine fancies about persons which have given me delicious hours. Shall I not call God the Beautiful. I find them. My friends have come to me unsought. who carry out the world for me to new and noble depths. it yields no fruit.

In strict science all persons underlie the same condition of an infinite remoteness. I cannot make your consciousness tantamount to mine. Their essence is not less beautiful than their appearance. beholding his maiden. The lover.Essays ments as if they were mine. even though bought by uniform particular failures. His goodness seems better than our goodness. the soul does not respect men as it respects itself.—his name. Only the star dazzles. unless he is at last a poor Greek like me. no gold or force. He is conscious of a universal success. and in the golden hour of friendship we are surprised with shades of suspicion and unbelief. can be any match for him. And I must hazard the production of the bald fact amidst these pleasing reveries. but I see well that for all his purple cloaks I shall not like him. The root of the plant is not unsightly to science. half knows that she is not verily that which he worships. I hear what you say of the admirable parts and tried temper of the party you praise. is too good to be believed. his temptations less. books and instruments. and a property in his virtues. like the immortality of the soul. I cannot deny it. his form. I cannot choose but rely on my own poverty more than on your wealth. his dress. his nature finer. O friend. Shall we fear to cool our love by mining for the metaphysical foundation of this Elysian temple? Shall I not be as real as the things I see? If I am. A man who stands united with his thought conceives magnificently of himself. the planet has a faint. In strictness. moonlike ray. that the vast shadow of the Phenomenal includes thee 104 . We over-estimate the conscience of our friend. though it needs finer organs for its apprehension. no powers. Our own thought sounds new and larger from his mouth. We doubt that we bestow on our hero the virtues in which he shines. though for chaplets and festoons we cut the stem short. No advantages. Yet the systole and diastole of the heart are not without their analogy in the ebb and flow of love. though it should prove an Egyptian skull at our banquet. I feel as warmly when he is praised. I shall not fear to know them for what they are. Friendship. as the lover when he hears applause of his engaged maiden. and afterwards worship the form to which we have ascribed this divine inhabitation.—fancy enhances. Every thing that is his.

and not cloth. but a picture and effigy of that. and so thou art to me a delicious torment. Thus every man passes his life in the search after friendship. Thine ever. and presently. and already thou art seizing thy hat and cloak. But we have aimed at a swift and petty benefit. We snatch at the slowest fruit in the whole garden of God.—thee also. he might write a letter like this to each new candidate for his love:— Dear Friend. it is to me as yet unfathomed. Each electrical state superinduces the opposite. Thou hast come to me lately. and I respect thy genius. my moods are quite attainable. This method betrays itself along the whole history of our personal relations. The laws of friendship are austere and eternal. and it goes alone for a season. which many summers and many winters must ripen. by the germination of new buds. as Truth is. They are not to be indulged. of one web with the laws of nature and of morals.Emerson also in its pied and painted immensity.—thou art not my soul. Yet these uneasy pleasures and fine pains are for curiosity and not for life. Thou art not Being. compared with whom all else is shadow. I am not very wise. If I was sure of thee. yet dare I not presume in thee a perfect intelligence of me. The soul environs itself with friends that it may enter into a grander self-acquaintance or solitude. This is to weave cobweb. instead of the tough fibre of the human heart. that it may exalt its conversation or society. as Justice is. Our friendships hurry to short and poor conclusions. sure to match my mood with thine. We seek our friend not sacredly. I should never think again of trifles in relation to thy comings and goings. or never. extrudes the old leaf? The law of nature is alternation for evermore. to suck a sudden sweetness. but with an adulterate passion which would 105 . The instinct of affection revives the hope of union with our mates. and if he should record his true sentiment. Is it not that the soul puts forth friends as the tree puts forth leaves. because we have made them a texture of wine and dreams. sure of thy capacity. and the returning sense of insulation recalls us from the chase.

Almost all people descend to meet.” Our impatience is thus sharply rebuked. I should hate myself. the very flower and aroma of the flower of each of the beautiful natures disappears as they approach each other. The attractions of this subject are not to be resisted. impossible to be overturned. What a perpetual disappointment is actual society. even of the virtuous and gifted! After interviews have been compassed with long foresight we must be tormented presently by baffled blows. It makes no difference how many friends I have and what content I can find in conversing with each. and both parties are relieved by solitude.Essays appropriate him to ourselves. I ought to be equal to every relation. Let us not have this childish luxury in our regards. if there be one to whom I am not equal. Bashfulness and apathy are a tough husk in which a delicate organization is protected from premature ripening. and. And all the rest forgot for which he toiled. if then I made my other friends my asylum:— “The valiant warrior famoused for fight. Love. The good spirit of our life has no heaven which is the price of rashness. All association must be a compromise. Is from the book of honor razed quite. 106 . In vain. which. in the breadth. once foiled. the joy I find in all the rest becomes mean and cowardly. as soon as we meet. by epilepsies of wit and of animal spirits. of his foundations. but the austerest worth. which is the essence of God. It would be lost if it knew itself before any of the best souls were yet ripe enough to know and own it. and translate all poetry into stale prose. by sudden. Respect the naturlangsamkeit which hardens the ruby in a million years. After a hundred victories. unseasonable apathies. is not for levity. what is worst. begin to play. If I have shrunk unequal from one contest. We are armed all over with subtle antagonisms. but for the total worth of man. let us approach our friend with an audacious trust in the truth of his heart. and works in duration in which Alps and Andes come and go as rainbows. in the heyday of friendship and thought. Our faculties do not play us true.

to speak of that select and sacred relation which is a kind of absolute. and which even leaves the language of love suspicious and common. Danger. Happy is the house that shelters a friend! It might well be built. that being permitted to speak truth. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. and second thought. But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace which I draw from this alliance with my brother’s soul is the nut itself whereof all nature and all thought is but the husk and shell. At the entrance of a second person. One is truth. and he alone is victor who has truth enough in his constitution to preserve the delicacy of his beauty from the wear and tear of all these. I do not wish to treat friendships daintily. what do we know of nature or of ourselves? Not one step has man taken toward the solution of the problem of his destiny. are in the lists.Emerson and I leave. A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. hypocrisy begins. Want. but all the speed in that contest depends on intrinsic nobleness and the contempt of trifles. to entertain him a single day. He proposes himself for contests where Time. but the solidest thing we know. The gifts of fortune may be present or absent. Every man alone is sincere. after so many ages of experience. and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness with which one chemical atom meets another. each so sovereign that I can detect no superiority in either. if he know the solemnity of that relation and honor its law! He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up. like a festal bower or arch. no reason why either should be first named. but with roughest courage. like diadems and authority. Before him I may think aloud. which men never put off. all account of subordinate social benefit. Happier. for the time. I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation. When they are real. courtesy. so much is this purer. as having none above it to court or conform unto. only to the highest rank. Sincerity is the luxury allowed. like an Olympian. to the great games where the first-born of the world are the competitors. For now. they are not glass threads or frostwork. There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship. and nothing is so much divine. We parry 107 .

by lust. A friend therefore is a sort of paradox in nature. by hate. what symbol of truth he had. To stand in true relations with men in a false age is worth a fit of insanity. some whim of religion or philanthropy in his head that is not to be questioned. by every circumstance and badge and trifle. by hope. and that with great insight and beauty. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds. by blood. and curiosity. At first he was resisted. so that a friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.Essays and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments. he has some fame. spoke to the conscience of every person he encountered. I find very little written directly to the heart of this matter in books. by affairs. My friend gives me entertainment without requiring any stipulation on my part. what poetry. by lucre. by pride. but me. by fear. But every man was constrained by so much sincerity to the like plaindealing. We are holden to men by every sort of tie. and what love of nature. but its side and its back. behold now the semblance of my being. by admiration. I who see nothing in nature whose existence I can affirm with equal evidence to my own. and all men agreed he was mad. variety. he did certainly show him. I who alone am. Almost every man we meet requires some civility. or of putting him off with any chat of markets or reading-rooms. is it not? We can seldom go erect. —but we can scarce believe that so much character can subsist in another as to draw us by love. Can another be so blessed and we so pure that we can offer him tenderness? When a man becomes dear to me I have touched the goal of fortune. And yet I have one text which I 108 . by gossip. No man would think of speaking falsely with him. But to most of us society shows not its face and eye. he attained to the advantage of bringing every man of his acquaintance into true relations with him.—requires to be humored. and which spoils all conversation with him. in all its height. I knew a man who under a certain religious frenzy cast off this drapery. and omitting all compliment and commonplace. some talent. reiterated in a foreign form. by amusements. But persisting—as indeed he could not help doing—for some time in this course. But a friend is a sane man who exercises not my ingenuity. The other element of friendship is tenderness.

it holds the pall at the funeral. yet on the other hand we cannot forgive the poet if he spins his thread too fine and does not substantiate his romance by the municipal virtues of justice. —”I offer myself faintly and bluntly to those whose I effectually am. I wish it to be a little of a citizen. and quite loses sight of the delicacies and nobility of the relation. each so well tempered and so happily adapted. My author says. that its satisfaction can very seldom be assured. wisdom and unity. It cannot subsist in its perfection.” I wish that friendship should have feet. But though we cannot find the god under this disguise of a sutler. say some of those who are learned in this warm lore of the heart. it is good neighborhood. and embellish it by courage. by rides in a curricle and dinners at the best taverns. and withal so circumstanced (for even in that particular. It should never fall into something usual and settled. It is for aid and comfort through all the relations and passages of life and death. It is fit for serene days and graceful gifts and country rambles. It keeps company with the sallies of the wit and the trances of religion. before it is quite a cherub. but also for rough roads and hard fare. Friendship may be said to require natures so rare and costly. fidelity and pity. and persecution.Emerson cannot choose but remember. I am not quite so strict in my terms. perhaps 109 . shipwreck. it watches with the sick. It must plant itself on the ground. poverty. but should be alert and inventive and add rhyme and reason to what was drudgery. punctuality. betwixt more than two. It is an exchange of gifts. before it vaults over the moon. We chide the citizen because he makes love a commodity. I hate the prostitution of the name of friendship to signify modish and worldly alliances. I much prefer the company of ploughboys and tin-peddlers to the silken and perfumed amity which celebrates its days of encounter by a frivolous display. and tender myself least to him to whom I am the most devoted. more strict than any of which we have experience. The end of friendship is a commerce the most strict and homely that can be joined. We are to dignify to each other the daily needs and offices of man’s life. a poet says. as well as eyes and eloquence. love demands that the parties be altogether paired). of useful loans.

by a word or a look. Now this convention. Conversation is an evanescent relation. No two men but being left alone with each other enter into simpler relations. for all that. In good company the individuals merge their egotism into a social soul exactly co-extensive with the several consciousnesses there present. Two may talk and one may hear. You shall have very useful and cheering discourse at several times with two several men. but quite otherwise. of wife to husband. In the sun it will mark the hour. But I find this law of one to one peremptory for conversation. are there pertinent. across the table. Yet it is affinity that determines which two shall converse. his real sympathy. as takes place when you leave them alone. Among those who enjoy his thought he will regain his tongue. Only he may then speak who can sail on the common thought of the party. I am equally 110 .—no more. Unrelated men give little joy to each other.Essays because I have never known so high a fellowship as others. We talk sometimes of a great talent for conversation. which is the practice and consummation of friendship. he cannot. but three cannot take part in a conversation of the most sincere and searching sort. destroys the high freedom of great conversation. rather than that my friend should overstep. as if it were a permanent property in some individuals. which good sense demands. and not poorly limited to his own. I please my imagination more with a circle of godlike men and women variously related to each other and between whom subsists a lofty intelligence. Do not mix waters too much. will never suspect the latent powers of each. No partialities of friend to friend. The best mix as ill as good and bad. no fondnesses of brother to sister. Let me be alone to the end of the world. A man is reputed to have thought and eloquence. In good company there is never such discourse between two. They accuse his silence with as much reason as they would blame the insignificance of a dial in the shade. but let all three of you come together and you shall not have one new and hearty word. Friendship requires that rare mean betwixt likeness and unlikeness that piques each with the presence of power and of consent in the other party. which requires an absolute running of two souls into one. say a word to his cousin or his uncle.

before yet they recognize the deep identity which. The condition which high friendship demands is ability to do without it. a thought. nor expect to accelerate the births of the eternal. Treat your friend as a spectacle. I want. and that you cannot honor if you must needs hold him close to your person. There must be very two. that he may come near in the holiest ground. formidable natures. and to suck a short and allconfounding pleasure. I hate. beneath these disparities. a sincerity. A message. Leave to the diamond its ages to grow. a glance from him. That high office requires great and sublime parts. but friends are self-elected. The only joy I have in his being mine. Why should we desecrate noble and beautiful souls by intruding on them? Why insist on rash personal relations with your friend? Why go to his house. who is not swift to intermeddle with his fortunes. or of his thought? To a great heart he will still be a stranger in a thousand particulars. Let him not intermeddle with this. where I looked for a manly furtherance. Leave it to girls and boys to regard a friend as property. Should not the society of my friend be to me poetic. Reverence is a great part of it. or know his mother and brother and sisters? Why be visited by him at your own? Are these things material to our covenant? Leave this touching and clawing. We talk of choosing our friends. before there can be very one. Friendship demands a religious treatment. Let him be to me a spirit. He only is fit for this society who is magnanimous. give those merits room. mutually feared. Let it be an alliance of two large. Of course he has merits that are not yours. nor pottage. Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo. Stand aside. mutually beheld. to find a mush of concession.Emerson balked by antagonism and by compliance. who is sure that greatness and goodness are always economy. instead of the noblest benefit. let them mount and expand. universal and great as nature itself? Ought I to feel that our tie is profane in comparison with yonder 111 . but not news. I can get politics and chat and neighborly conveniences from cheaper companions. unites them. Let us buy our entrance to this guild by a long probation. Are you the friend of your friend’s buttons. pure. Let him not cease an instant to be himself. is that the not mine is mine. or at least a manly resistance.

In these warm lines the heart will trust itself. and not a trivial conveniency to be soon outgrown and cast aside. It suffices me. The hues of the opal. or that clump of waving grass that divides the brook? Let us not vilify. according to the Latin proverb. but raise it to that standard. There are innumerable degrees of folly and wisdom. Wait. but hoard and tell them all. are not to be seen if the eye is too near. until day and night avail themselves of your lips. but rather fortify and enhance. Let us not interfere. until in their dialogue each stands for the whole world. It is a spiritual gift worthy of him to give and of me to receive. That seems to you a little. at first we cannot. Respect so far the holy laws of this fellowship as not to prejudice its perfect flower by your impatience for its opening. To those whom we admire and love.—so we may hear the whisper of the gods. the light of the diamond. that scornful beauty of his mien and action. and pour out the prophecy of a godlier existence than all the annals of heroism have yet made good. or how to say any thing to such? No matter how ingenious.—you can speak to your accomplice on even terms. The only reward of virtue is virtue. aequat. do not pique yourself on reducing. in my judgment. let us carry with what grandeur of spirit we can. no matter how graceful and bland. There is at least this satisfaction in crime. To my friend I write a letter and from him I receive a letter. We must be our own before we can be another’s. If unlike. as it will not to the tongue. wish him not less by a thought. Wait until the necessary and everlasting overpowers you. You shall not come nearer a man by getting into his house. Guard him as thy counterpart. and thy heart shall speak. the only way to have a friend is to be one. Crimen quos inquinat.Essays bar of cloud that sleeps on the horizon. his soul only flees the 112 . It profanes nobody. devoutly revered. There can never be deep peace between two spirits. the entire relation. untamable. Who set you to cast about what you should say to the select souls. Worship his superiorities. and for you to say aught is to be frivolous. Yet the least defect of self-possession vitiates. What is so great as friendship. Let us be silent. Let him be to thee for ever a sort of beautiful enemy. That great defying eye. never mutual respect.

and though it seem to rob us of some joy.Emerson faster from you. and you shall never catch a true glance of his eye. or we pursue 113 . Let us feel if we will the absolute insulation of man. we shall not want them. where no friendship can be. It is foolish to be afraid of making our ties too spiritual. that elsewhere. of course the less easy to establish it with flesh and blood. By persisting in your path. why should we intrude? Late. But a sublime hope cheers ever the faithful heart. as if they would signify that in their friend each loved his own soul. of blunders and of shame. will repay us with a greater. in other regions of the universal power.—those rare pilgrims whereof only one or two wander in nature at once. We see the noble afar off and they repel us. The higher the style we demand of friendship. We walk alone in the world. though you forfeit the little you gain the great.—but solely the uprise of nature in us to the same degree it is in them.—we perceive that no arrangements. which can love us and which we can love. and if we should not meet them then. Our impatience betrays us into rash and foolish alliances which no god attends. no introductions. nature will be sure to bear us out in. You demonstrate yourself. Men have sometimes exchanged names with their friends. souls are now acting. In the last analysis. is passed in solitude. Friends such as we desire are dreams and fables. We go to Europe. Only be admonished by what you already see. for we are already they. no consuetudes or habits of society would be of any avail to establish us in such relations with them as we desire. then shall we meet as water with water. so as to put yourself out of the reach of false relations. and you draw to you the first-born of the world. and daring.—very late. enduring. of follies. not to strike leagues of friendship with cheap persons. and before whom the vulgar great show as spectres and shadows merely. love is only the reflection of a man’s own worthiness from other men. We may congratulate ourselves that the period of nonage. as if so we could lose any genuine love. We are sure that we have all in us. and when we are finished men we shall grasp heroic hands in heroic hands. Whatever correction of our popular views we make from insight.

We must have society on our own terms. the Europe. presentiments hover before me in the firmament. Then. I cannot afford to speak much with my friend. ‘Who are you? Unhand me: I will be dependent no more. They shall give me that which properly they cannot give. but then I know well I shall mourn always the vanishing of my mighty gods. The persons are such as we. and only be more each other’s because we are more our own? A friend is Janus-faced. I ought then to dedicate myself to them. and I shall not be able any more than now to converse with you. not with yourself but with your lustres. and the harbinger of a greater friend. He is the child of all my foregoing hours. but I seldom use them. then I shall regret the lost literature of your mind.’ Ah! seest thou not. saying. he looks to the past and the future. and come down to warm sympathies with you. Beggars all. but which emanates from them. So I will owe to my friends this evanescent intercourse. It would indeed give me a certain household joy to quit this lofty seeking. and defy them. I cannot afford to talk with them and study their visions. perhaps you will fill my mind only with new visions. I fear only that I may lose them receding into the sky in which now they are only a patch of brighter light. and wish you were by my side again. Let us even bid our dearest friends farewell. I go in that I may seize them. an old faded garment of dead persons. It is true. this spiritual astronomy or search of stars. the prophet of those to come. in the instinctive faith that these will call it out and reveal us to ourselves. We will meet as though we 114 . or we read books. lest I lose my own. But they shall not hold me by any relations less subtile and pure. the books. I will receive from them not what they have but what they are. and admit or exclude it on the slightest cause. But if you come. O brother. I do then with my friends as I do with my books. In the great days. I go out that I may seize them. that thus we part only to meet again on a higher platform. Let us drop this idolatry. when I can well afford to occupy myself with foreign objects. If he is great he makes me so great that I cannot descend to converse. next week I shall have languid moods. though I prize my friends. I would have them where I can find them. Let us give over this mendicancy.Essays persons. their ghosts.

but thou art enlarged by thy own shining. If he is unequal he will presently pass away. The essence of friendship is entireness. But the great will see that true love cannot be unrequited. It must not surmise or provide for infirmity. It treats its object as a god. but feels rid of so much earth and feels its independency the surer. not in adroit steering. and that of the negative sort? My prudence consists in avoiding and going without. It has seemed to me lately more possible than I knew. without due correspondence on the other. Why should I cumber myself with regrets that the receiver is not capacious? It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall wide and vain into ungrateful space. PRUDENCE W 115 hat right have I to write on Prudence. VII. and when the poor interposed mask crumbles. and no longer a mate for frogs and worms. True love transcends the unworthy object and dwells and broods on the eternal. And the articles of arts. and only a small part on the reflecting planet. on one side. not in the inventing of means and methods. that it may deify both. it is not sad.Emerson met not. and whoever sees my garden discovers that I must have some other garden. not in gentle repairing. and part as though we parted not. Let your greatness educate the crude and cold companion. PRUDENCE Theme no poet gladly sung. Yet these things may hardly be said without a sort of treachery to the relation. to carry a friendship greatly. dost soar and burn with the gods of the empyrean. a total magnanimity and trust. Yet I love facts. no genius in my economy. Scorn not thou the love of parts. Grandeur of the perfect sphere Thanks the atoms that cohere. Fair to old and foul to young. Then I have the same title to write on prudence that I have to write on poetry or holi- . whereof I have Little. and hate lubricity and people without perception. I have no skill to make money spend well. It is thought a disgrace to love unrequited.

Essays ness. It is the science of appearances. it does not exist for itself. and lastly. The poet admires the man of energy and tactics. not to own it in passing. One class live to the utility of the symbol. does not offer to build houses and barns thereon. Another class live above this mark to the beauty of the symbol. a man traverses the whole scale. and whilst my debt to my senses is real and constant. and a true prudence or law of shows recognizes the co-presence of other laws and knows that its own office is subaltern. The world of the senses is a world of shows. It is God taking thought for oxen. It is sufficient to our present purpose to indicate three. It is legitimate when it is the Natural History of the soul incarnate. Prudence is false when detached. We write from aspiration and antagonism. as the poet and artist and the naturalist and man of science. but has a symbolic character. the merchant breeds his son for the church or the bar. and health of mind by the laws of the intellect. as well as from experience. Once in a long time. There are all degrees of proficiency in knowledge of the world. It is content to seek health of body by complying with physical conditions. and sees and enjoys the symbol solidly. Prudence is the virtue of the senses. whilst he pitches his tent on this sacred volcanic isle of nature.—reverencing the splendor of the God which he sees bursting through each chink and cranny. A third class live above the beauty of the symbol to the beauty of the thing signified. It moves matter after the laws of matter. and the third. when it unfolds the beauty of laws within the narrow scope of the senses. which is a devotion to mat116 . esteeming health and wealth a final good. these are wise men. and where a man is not vain and egotistic you shall find what he has not by his praise. spiritual perception. We paint those qualities which we do not possess. the second. knows that it is surface and not centre where it works. The first class have common sense. It is the outmost action of the inward life. then also has a clear eye for its beauty. Moreover it would be hardly honest in me not to balance these fine lyric words of Love and Friendship with words of coarser sound. The world is filled with the proverbs and acts and winkings of a base prudence. taste.

making the senses final. so alive to social good and evil. thus apparently attached in nature to the sun and the returning moon and the periods which they mark. It respects space and time. Prudence does not go behind nature and ask whence it is. the eye and ear. the sun and moon. a prudence which adores the Rule of Three. the achievement of a civil or social measure. but a name for wisdom and virtue conversing with the body and its wants. It takes the laws of the world whereby man’s being is conditioned. But culture.Emerson ter. to give bound and period to his being on all sides. pierced and 117 . want. being studied with the co-perception of their subordinate place. and therefore literature’s. For our existence. growth and death. so fond of splendor and so tender to hunger and cold and debt. as if we possessed no other faculties than the palate. into means. but he is not a cultivated man. as they are. as health and bodily life.—so susceptible to climate and to country. degrades every thing else. which seldom lends. great personal influence. which never gives.—Will it bake bread? This is a disease like a thickening of the skin until the vital organs are destroyed. he may be a good wheel or pin. as if a great fortune. had their value as proofs of the energy of the spirit. It sees prudence not to be a several faculty. and asks but one question of any project. a graceful and commanding address. If a man lose his balance and immerse himself in any trades or pleasures for their own sake. and keeps these laws that it may enjoy their proper good. the nose. and will not swerve from its chemical routine. Here is a planted globe. the touch. Cultivated men always feel and speak so. climate. It is nature’s joke. sleep. will reward any degree of attention. the order of the world and the distribution of affairs and times. which never subscribes. The spurious prudence.—reads all its primary lessons out of these books. This recognition once made. is the god of sots and cowards. the great formalists in the sky: here lies stubborn matter. The true prudence limits this sensualism by admitting the knowledge of an internal and real world. the law of polarity. and is the subject of all comedy. revealing the high origin of the apparent world and aiming at the perfection of the man as the end. There revolve.

summer will have its flies. Some wisdom comes out of every natural and innocent action. indivisible and divine in its coming. is slit and peddled into trifles and tatters. then the tax. salt and preserve his food. if eyes. the less is he willing to spare any one. and an affair to be transacted with a man without heart or brains. We are instructed by these petty experiences which usurp the hours and years. Let him have accurate perceptions.—these eat up the hours. which shows so vacant. or meal or salt. Time is always bringing the occasions that disclose their value. We eat of the bread which grows in the field. measure and discriminate. The islander may ramble all day at will. or I have a headache. I want wood or oil. spread a table for his morning meal. and pile wood and coal. but still we regard the clouds and the rain. the more he has. if he have hands. Do what we can. and as nature is inexhaustibly significant. We live by the air which blows around us and we are poisoned by the air that is too cold or too hot. handle. natural history and economics. a lock to be repaired. we often resolve to give up the care of the weather. Time. the inhabitants of these climates have always excelled the southerner in force. bake. At night he may sleep on a mat under the moon.Essays belted with natural laws and fenced and distributed externally with civil partitions and properties which impose new restraints on the young inhabitant. Then climate is a great impediment to idle persons. without a prayer even. Such is the value of these matters that a man who knows other things can never know too much of these. and wherever a wild date-tree grows. if we walk in the woods we must feed mosquitos. The domestic man. A door is to be painted. let him accept and hive every fact of chemistry. The northerner is perforce a householder. and the stinging recollection of an injurious or very awkward word. if we go a-fishing we must expect a wet coat. who loves no music so well as 118 . Let him. the house smokes. He must brew. The hard soil and four months of snow make the inhabitant of the northern temperate zone wiser and abler than his fellow who enjoys the fixed smile of the tropics. nature has. too dry or too wet. But as it happens that not one stroke can labor lay to without some new acquaintance with nature.

obey their law. or gets his tool-box set in the corner of the barn-chamber. A gay and pleasant sound is the whetting of the scythe in the mornings of June. do not clutch at sensual sweetness before it is ripe on the slow tree of cause and effect. and stored with nails. If you think the senses final. —”If the child says he looked out of this window. instead of honey it will yield us bees. presses and corn-chambers. and of the conveniences of long housekeeping. Our words and actions to be fair must be timely.” Our American character is marked by a more than average delight in accurate perception. “No mistake. when he looked out of that.—any law. The beautiful laws of time and space. Johnson is reported to have said. The application of means to ends insures victory and the songs of victory not less in a farm or a shop than in the tactics of party or of war. of inattention to the wants of to-morrow. One might find argument for optimism in the abundant flow of this saccharine element of pleasure in every suburb and extremity of the good world. If you believe in the soul. the cat-like love of garrets. gimlet. In the rainy day he builds a work-bench. yet what is more lonesome and sad than the sound of a whetstone or mower’s rifle when it is too late in the season to make hay? Scat119 . Herein he tastes an old joy of youth and childhood. On the other hand.” But the discomfort of unpunctuality. The good husband finds method as efficient in the packing of firewood in a shed or in the harvesting of fruits in the cellar. nature punishes any neglect of prudence.—and his way will be strown with satisfactions. pincers.—whip him. are holes and dens. which is shown by the currency of the byword. is of no nation. If the hive be disturbed by rash and stupid hands. Let a man keep the law. has solaces which others never dream of. His garden or his poultry-yard tells him many pleasant anecdotes. once dislocated by our inaptitude. Dr. There is more difference in the quality of our pleasures than in the amount. screwdriver and chisel. of confusion of thought about facts. It is vinegar to the eyes to deal with men of loose and imperfect perception. as in Peninsular campaigns or the files of the Department of State.Emerson his kitchen clock and the airs which the logs sing to him as they burn on the hearth.

Let them discriminate between what they remember and what they dreamed. how much a certain property contributes to the effect which gives life to the figures. Let us know where to find them.Essays ter-brained and “afternoon” men spoil much more than their own affair in spoiling the temper of those who deal with them. of which I am reminded when I see the shiftless and unhappy men who are not true to their senses. it awakens a deeper impression than the contortions of ten crucified martyrs. The last Grand Duke of Weimar. a man of superior understanding. a couple of saints who worship the Virgin and Child. call a spade a spade. said.—”I have sometimes remarked in the presence of great works of art. as vessels and stools—let them be drawn ever so correctly—lose all effect so soon as they lack the resting upon their centre of gravity. and to the life an irresistible truth. This property is the hitting. But what man shall dare tax another with imprudence? Who is prudent? The men we call greatest are least in this kingdom. and ask why health and beauty and genius should now be the exception rather than the rule of human nature? We do not know the properties of plants and animals and the laws of nature. Even lifeless figures. and fastening the eyes on the spot where they should look. making the hands grasp. the right centre of gravity. The Raphael in the Dresden gallery (the only greatly affecting picture which I have seen) is the quietest and most passionless piece you can imagine.” This perpendicularity we demand of all the figures in this picture of life. distorting our modes of living and making every law our enemy. I mean the placing the figures firm upon their feet. I have seen a criticism on some paintings. and have a certain swimming and oscillating appearance. give us facts. through our sympathy with the same. For beside all the resistless beauty of form. and just now especially in Dresden. it possesses in the highest degree the property of the perpendicularity of all the figures. and honor their own senses with trust. There is a certain fatal dislocation in our relation to nature. Let them stand on their feet. Nevertheless. and not float and swing. but 120 . We must call the highest prudence to counsel. in all the figures we draw. which seems at last to have aroused all the wit and virtue in the world to ponder the question of Reform.

as invariably as sensation. On him who scorned the world as he said. Health or sound organization should be universal. the scorned world wreaks its revenge. One living after the maxims of this world and consistent and true to them. and piety. talent which glitters to-day that it may dine and sleep well to-morrow. But now the two things seem irreconcilably parted. talent which converts itself to money. genius. Goethe’s Tasso is very likely to be a pretty fair historical portrait. Tasso’s is no infrequent case in modern biography. a knot we cannot untie. Genius should be the child of genius and every child should be inspired. and less for every defect of common sense. It does not seem to me so genuine grief when some tyrannous Richard the Third oppresses and slays a score of innocent persons. That is a grief we all feel. and not by divine men. we are surprised. both apparently right. Genius is always ascetic. We call partial half-lights. Appetite shows to the finer souls as a disease. yet grasping also at the pleasures of sense. as they are properly called.Emerson this remains the dream of poets. the boldest lyric inspiration should not chide and insult. and they find beauty in rites and bounds that resist it. but should announce and lead the civil code and the day’s work. without submitting to their law. The man of talent affects to call his transgressions of the laws of the senses trivial and to count them nothing considered with his devotion to his art. and when by chance we espy a coincidence between reason and the phenomena. and society is officered by men of parts. Beauty should be the dowry of every man and woman. that is. wrong each other. but now it is not to be predicted of any child. His art is less for every deduction from his holiness. but no gifts can raise intemperance. by courtesy. These use their gifts to refine luxury. Poetry and prudence should be coincident. Poets should be lawgivers. nor the love of wine. as when Antonio and Tasso. and love. We have found out fine names to cover our sensuality withal. We have violated law upon law until we stand amidst ruins. not to abolish it. and nowhere is it pure. the other fired with all divine sentiments. and that is true tragedy. nor the wish to reap where he had not sowed. A man 121 . He that despiseth small things will perish by little and little. His art never taught him lewdness. but it is rare.

at last sinking. Let him make the night night. radiant with the light of an ideal world in which he lives. of an ardent temperament. he is an encumbrance. There is nothing he will not be the better for knowing. self-indulgent. and now oppressed by wants and by sickness. or the thrift of the agriculturist. because it will grow whilst he sleeps. for which he must thank himself. have their importance. Yesterday. Yesterday. The scholar shames us by his bifold life. Caesar was not so great. and as much wisdom may be drawn from it. when common sense is wanted. Let him see that as much wisdom may be expended on a private economy as on an empire. if kept 122 . Iron. little portions of time. or the prudence which consists in husbanding little strokes of the tool. The eye of prudence may never shut. He resembles the pitiful drivellers whom travellers describe as frequenting the bazaars of Constantinople. particles of stock and small gains. exhausted and fruitless. and he will give them their due.” a thorn to himself and to others. who skulk about all day. and the day day. the felon at the gallows’ foot is not more miserable. ragged. as hints that he must expect no other good than the just fruit of his own labor and self-denial? Health. Let him control the habit of expense.Essays of genius. and at evening. to-day. he is admirable. were it only the wisdom of Poor Richard. a “discomfortable cousin. swallow their morsel and become tranquil and glorified seers. social position. chilled. Whilst something higher than prudence is active. reckless of physical laws. becomes presently unfortunate. yellow. sneaking. when the bazaars are open. bread. The laws of the world are written out for him on every piece of money in his hand. And who has not seen the tragedy of imprudent genius struggling for years with paltry pecuniary difficulties. the first of men. to stick a tree between whiles. which nature is not slack in sending him. climate. Let him esteem Nature a perpetual counsellor. or the StateStreet prudence of buying by the acre to sell by the foot. and her perfections the exact measure of our deviations. like a giant slaughtered by pins? Is it not better that a man should accept the first pains and mortifications of this sort. emaciated. slink to the opium-shop. querulous.

timber of ships will rot at sea. good. How much of human life is lost in waiting! let him not make his fellow-creatures wait. When he sees a folded and sealed scrap of paper float round the globe in a pine ship and come safe to the eye for which it was written. but is symmetrical. Iron cannot rust. nor timber rot. nor calicoes go out of fashion. will strain. looking at that only. if invested. nor money stocks depreciate. and the cart as nigh the rake. as nigh the scythe as you can. We must not try to write the laws of any one virtue. the iron is white. if not brewed in the right state of the atmosphere. and. Human nature loves no contradictions. and that what he sows he reaps. Prudence concerns the present 123 . The prudence which secures an outward well-being is not to be studied by one set of men. says the smith. nor beer sour. ragged. yields no rent and is liable to loss. says the haymaker. go by law and not by luck. Strike.Emerson at the ironmonger’s. even motes and feathers. if kept by us. Let him learn a prudence of a higher strain. distances and accidents that drive us hither and thither. that he may not stand in bitter and false relations to other men. make the paltry force of one man reappear to redeem its pledge after months and years in the most distant climates. money. but they are reconcilable. By diligence and self-command let him put the bread he eats at his own disposal. Let him learn that every thing in nature. amidst a swarming population. for the best good of wealth is freedom. or if laid up high and dry. is liable to depreciation of the particular kind of stock. beer. It takes bank-notes. Our Yankee trade is reputed to be very much on the extreme of this prudence. let him likewise feel the admonition to integrate his being across all these distracting forces. will sour. will rust. How many words and promises are promises of conversation! Let his be words of fate. keep the rake. bad. clean. warp and dry-rot. In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed. by persistency. and keep a slender human word among the storms. whilst heroism and holiness are studied by another. and saves itself by the speed with which it passes them off. Let him practise the minor virtues. in the few swift moments in which the Yankee suffers any one of them to remain in his possession.

one is afraid. Examples are cited by soldiers of men who have seen the cannon pointed and the fire given to it. and his health renews itself at as vigorous a pulse under the sleet as under the sun of June. The Latin proverb says. To himself he seems weak. treat them greatly and they will show themselves great. though they make an exception in your favor to all their rules of trade. and if the soul were changed. and his stoutness will commonly make his fear groundless. prudence does not consist in evasion or in flight. The terrors of the storm are chiefly confined to the parlor and the cabin. In the occurrence of unpleasant things among neighbors. the sailor. formidable. On the most profitable lie the course of events presently lays a destructive tax. uneasy at his illwill. property and existing forms. But as every fact hath its roots in the soul.—the proper administration of outward things will always rest on a just apprehension of their cause and origin. and the other dares 124 . You are afraid of Grim. but Grim also is afraid of you. You are solicitous of the good-will of the meanest person. and who have stepped aside from the path of the ball. that is. Every man is actually weak and apparently strong.Essays time. He who wishes to walk in the most peaceful parts of life with any serenity must screw himself up to resolution. So. persons. puts the parties on a convenient footing and makes their business a friendship. in regard to disagreeable and formidable things. The drover. But the sturdiest offender of your peace and of the neighborhood. and the single-hearted the politic man. Let him front the object of his worst apprehension. Trust men and they will be true to you.” Entire self-possession may make a battle very little more dangerous to life than a match at foils or at football. or would become some other thing. as children say. fear comes readily to heart and magnifies the consequence of the other party. whilst frankness invites frankness. buffets it all day. because. would cease to be. but in courage. Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar. but it is a bad counsellor. “In battles the eye is first overcome. if you rip up his claims. and the peace of society is often kept. but is a stab at the health of human society. to others. the good man will be the wise man. is as thin and timid as any.

assume that you are saying precisely that which all think. But whence and when? To-morrow will be like to-day. Life wastes itself whilst we are preparing to live. love is not a hood. the area will widen very fast. and ere you know it.Emerson not. approaching us. but bears extorted. If you meet a sectary or a hostile partisan. Saint Paul will lie and Saint John will hate. So neither should you put yourself in a false position with your contemporaries by indulging a vein of hostility and bitterness. since really and underneath their external diversities. So at least shall you get an adequate deliverance. Though your views are in straight antagonism to theirs. The thought is not then taken hold of by the right handle. as if we waited for some better sympathy and intimacy to come. and half witness. Love is fabled to be blind. but meet on what common ground remains. new women.—if only that the sun shines and the rain rains for both. with not the infirmity of a doubt. We are too old to regard fashion. We refuse sympathy and intimacy with people. too 125 . assume an identity of sentiment. but kindness is necessary to perception. Scarcely can we say we see new men. hypocritical people an argument on religion will make of the pure and chosen souls! They will shuffle and crow. paltry. crook and hide. feign to confess here. Our friends and fellow-workers die off from us. hoarse. never recognize the dividing lines. Wisdom will never let us stand with any man or men on an unfriendly footing. does not show itself proportioned and in its true bearings. or hope. but calculation might come to value love for its profit. all men are of one heart and mind. But assume a consent and it shall presently be granted. It is a proverb that ‘courtesy costs nothing’. modesty. poor. What low. and they are a feeble folk. bully and threaten. The natural motions of the soul are so much better than the voluntary ones that you will never do yourself justice in dispute. If they set out to contend. but an eye-water. only that they may brag and conquer there. men swell. and not an emotion of bravery. and in the flow of wit and love roll out your paradoxes in solid column. the boundary mountains on which the eye had fastened have melted into air. Far off. and not a thought has enriched either party. bring them hand to hand.

Sugar spends to fatten slaves. love. at last. their virtue escapes. But if you cannot have them on good mutual terms. humility and all the virtues range themselves on the side of prudence. Rose and vine-leaf deck buffoons. The hero is not fed on sweets. And head-winds right for royal sails. HEROISM “Paradise is under the shadow of swords. Drooping oft in wreaths of dread Lightning-knotted round his head. courage.Essays old to expect patronage of any greater or more powerful. I do not know if all matter will be found to be made of one element. Thus truth. and begin where we will we are pretty sure in a short space to be mumbling our ten commandments. Undoubtedly we can easily pick faults in our company. and that tickle the fancy more. as oxygen or hydrogen. Let us suck the sweetness of those affections and consuetudes that grow near us. These old shoes are easy to the feet. Ruby wine is drunk by knaves. can easily whisper names prouder. but the world of manners and actions is wrought of one stuff. you cannot have them. Thunderclouds are Jove’s festoons. Daily his own heart he eats. Chambers of the great are jails. or the art of securing a present well-being. Every man’s imagination hath its friends. and life would be dearer with such companions. as strawberries lose their flavor in garden-beds. If not the Deity but our ambition hews and shapes the new relations. frankness. 126 .” Mahomet.

And prove thy fortitude what then ‘t will do. rises naturally into poetry. triumphs. Sophocles. Martius. The beauty of the latter inflames Martius. the Double Marriage. So. When any Rodrigo. the duke of Athens. Bid thy wife farewell. No. My Dorigen. Dor. And lose her gentler sexed humanity. therefore.—and proffers civilities without end. to die Is to begin to live. Sophocles. And. but all the rest are slag and refuse. I will take no leave. But art not grieved nor vexed to leave thy life thus? 127 . the duke or governor exclaims.—wherein the speaker is so earnest and cordial and on such deep grounds of character. ‘bout Ariadne’s crown. and he seeks to save her husband. stale. weary work. and to commence A newer and a better. haste. and mainly in the plays Of Beaumont and Fletcher. In harmony with this delight in personal advantages there is in their plays a certain heroic cast of character and dialogue.—with this tie up my sight. although assured that a word will save him. Soph_. above. HEROISM I n the elder English dramatists. Prithee. on the slightest additional incident in the plot. and the execution of both proceeds:— Valerius. ’Tis to leave Deceitful knaves for the society Of gods and goodness. though he be a stranger. ’tis well. Among many texts take the following. Stay. My spirit shall hover for thee. Yonder. that the dialogue. now teach the Romans how to die.—all but the invincible spirits of Sophocles. there is a constant recognition of gentility. not what ’tis to live. but Sophocles will not ask his life. Let not soft nature so transformed be. To make me see my lord bleed. Dost know what ‘t is to die? Soph. Pedro or Valerio enters. Val. Thou thyself must part At last from all thy garlands. The Roman Martius has conquered Athens. Never one object underneath the sun Will I behold before my Sophocles: Farewell. Mar. Thou dost not. —as in Bonduca.Emerson VIII. It is to end An old. the Mad Lover. pleasures. and Dorigen. his wife. as if a noble behavior were as easily marked in the society of their age as color is in our American population. ‘This is a gentleman.

O love! thou doubly hast afflicted me With virtue and with beauty. who is its Doctor and historian.” I do not readily remember any poem. And live with all the freedom you were wont. the 128 . We have a great many flutes and flageolets. Valerius. But if we explore the literature of Heroism we shall quickly come to Plutarch. Strike. And Simon Ockley’s History of the Saracens recounts the prodigies of individual valor. Val. sermon. Why should I grieve or vex for being sent To them I ever loved best? Now I’ll kneel. Thomas Carlyle. the Dion. or oration that our press vents in the last few years. Yet. novel. This is a man. Then we have vanquished nothing. Valerius. he is all soul. with his natural taste for what is manly and daring in character. has suffered no heroic trait in his favorites to drop from his biographical and historical pictures. play. he is free. Dor. My hand shall cast thee quick into my urn. Wordsworth’s “Laodamia. What ails my brother? Soph. In the Harleian Miscellanies there is an account of the battle of Lutzen which deserves to be read.” and some sonnets. Earlier. which goes to the same tune. O Martius. Mar.” and the ode of “Dion. Kiss thy lord. Thou now hast found a way to conquer me. have a certain noble music. strike. Ere thou transgress this knot of piety. and Scott will sometimes draw a stroke like the portrait of Lord Evandale given by Balfour of Burley. Martius. He hath no flesh.Essays Soph. Captived himself. I think. His soul hath subjugated Martius’ soul. ’tis the last duty This trunk can do the gods. Treacherous heart. with admiration all the more evident on the part of the narrator that he seems to think that his place in Christian Oxford requires of him some proper protestations of abhorrence. and spirit cannot be gyved. a woman. With his disdain of fortune and of death. This admirable duke. To him we owe the Brasidas. And though my arm hath ta’en his body here. has captivated me. But with my back toward thee. O star of Rome! what gratitude can speak Fit words to follow such a deed as this? Mar. but not often the sound of any fife. By Romulus. Robert Burns has given us a song or two. And Martius walks now in captivity. Or Martius’ heart will leap out at his mouth.

Our culture therefore must not omit the arming of the man. shines in every anecdote. We need books of this tart cathartic virtue more than books of political science or of private economy. and that the commonwealth and his own well-being require that he should not go dancing in the weeds of peace. indicate a certain ferocity in nature. famine.Emerson Epaminondas. and. Life is a festival only to the wise. The disease and deformity around us certify the infraction of natural. and so made himself liable to a share in the expiation. and affirms his ability to cope single-handed with the infinite army of enemies. plague. Its rudest form is the contempt for safety and ease. let him take both reputation and life in his hand. as it had its inlet by human crime. Let him hear in season that he is born into the state of war. which makes the attractiveness of war. A lock-jaw that bends a man’s head back to his heels. war. Seen from the nook and chimney-side of prudence. Unhappily no man exists who has not in his own person become to some amount a stockholder in the sin. intellectual. self-collected and neither defying nor dreading the thunder. insanity that makes him eat grass. The violations of the laws of nature by our predecessors and our contemporaries are punished in us also. hydrophobia that makes him bark at his wife and babes. Towards all this external evil the man within the breast assumes a warlike attitude. it wears a ragged and dangerous front. must have its outlet by human suffering. with perfect urbanity dare the gibbet and the mob by the absolute truth of his speech and the rectitude of his behavior. the Scipio of old. It is a self-trust which slights the restraints of prudence. Each of his “Lives” is a refutation to the despondency and cowardice of our religious and political theorists. but warned. cholera. in the plenitude of its energy and power to repair the harms it may suffer. 129 . and I must think we are more deeply indebted to him than to all the ancient writers. A wild courage. To this military attitude of the soul we give the name of Heroism. a Stoicism not of the schools but of the blood. and has given that book its immense fame. and often violation on violation to breed such compound misery. and moral laws. which.

It is the avowal of the unschooled man that he finds a quality in him that is negligent of expense. Self-trust is the essence of heroism. of hatred. alike in frightful alarms and in the tipsy mirth of universal dissoluteness. it has pride. generous. it seems not to know that other souls are of one texture with it. and its ultimate objects are the last defiance of falsehood and wrong. to the voice of the great and good. There is somewhat not philosophical in heroism. and is not open to the censure of philosophers or divines. scornful of petty calculations and scornful of being scorned. of life. until after some little time be past: then they see it to be in unison with their acts.Essays The hero is a mind of such balance that no disturbances can shake his will. and knows that his will is higher and more excellent than all actual and all possible antagonists. Heroism is an obedience to a secret impulse of an individual’s character. Therefore just and wise men take umbrage at his act. Heroism feels and never reasons. hospitable. for a time. It speaks the truth and it is just. and therefore is always right. That false prudence which dotes on health and 130 . Nevertheless we must profoundly revere it. There is somewhat in great actions which does not allow us to go behind them. Heroism works in contradiction to the voice of mankind and in contradiction. yet for the hero that thing he does is the highest deed. temperate. Its jest is the littleness of common life. It persists. it is of an undaunted boldness and of a fortitude not to be wearied out. it is the extreme of individual nature. for every man must be supposed to see a little farther on his own proper path than any one else. Now to no other man can its wisdom appear as it does to him. different religion and greater intellectual activity would have modified or even reversed the particular action. of reproach. but pleasantly and as it were merrily he advances to his own music. there is somewhat not holy in it. of health. It is the state of the soul at war. and then the prudent also extol. and the power to bear all that can be inflicted by evil agents. All prudent men see that the action is clean contrary to a sensual prosperity. for every heroic act measures itself by its contempt of some external good. and although a different breeding. But it finds its own success at last. of danger.

in Bukharia. and one other for use!” Citizens. or to bear the inventory of thy shirts. the soul of a better quality thrusts back the unseasonable economy into the vaults of life. arranging his toilet. then it is its dupe. to the stranger. these humble considerations make me out of love with greatness. and dies gray. put God under obligation to them. or shelter. like a palace. I asked the reason. Yet the little man takes the great hoax so innocently. that the great soul cannot choose but laugh at such earnest nonsense. and was told that the house had not been shut. quarrels. Heroism. as one for superfluity. When the spirit is not master of the world. the gates of which were open and fixed back to the wall with large nails. to the toilet. which rack the wit of all society? What joys has kind nature provided for us dear creatures! There seems to be no interval between greatness and meanness. and says. and the sacrifice and the fire he will provide. attending on his own health. Strangers may present themselves at any hour and in whatever number.—so it be done for love and not for ostentation. the master has amply provided for the reception of the men and their animals. In some way the time they seem to lose is re131 . laying traps for sweet food and strong wine. and is never happier than when they tarry for some time. consider the inconvenience of receiving strangers at their fireside. thinking after the laws of arithmetic. “When I was in Sogd I saw a great building. these and those that were the peach-colored ones. or money. so perfect are the compensations of the universe. the Arabian geographer. night or day. Ibn Hankal. “Indeed. setting his heart on a horse or a rifle. compliments. reckon narrowly the loss of time and the unusual display. works in it so headlong and believing. as it were. is born red. made happy with a little gossip or a little praise. like Plotinus. Nothing of the kind have I seen in any other country.—do. What a disgrace is it to me to take note how many pairs of silk stockings thou hast. for a hundred years.Emerson wealth is the butt and merriment of heroism. cards and custard. namely. is almost ashamed of its body. I will obey the God. describes a heroic extreme in the hospitality of Sogd. What shall it say then to the sugar-plums and cats’-cradles.” The magnanimous know very well that they who give time.

but without railing or precision his living is natural and poetic. It gives what it hath. how he dresses. at the peril of their lives. though he had the scroll of 132 . But these rare souls set opinion. generous liquor and we should be humbly thankful for it. success. The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough.—”It is a noble. the Indian Apostle. Scipio. drank water. he quoted a line of Euripides. who poured out on the ground unto the Lord the water which three of his warriors had brought him to drink. It does not ask to dine nicely and to sleep warm. and can very well abide its loss. as I remember. But that which takes my fancy most in the heroic class. But hospitality must be for service and not for show. not for its austerity. The temperance of the hero proceeds from the same wish to do no dishonor to the worthiness he has. The brave soul rates itself too high to value itself by the splendor of its table and draperies. and said of wine. or the show of sorrow. is the good-humor and hilarity they exhibit. the use of tobacco. or tea.” Better still is the temperance of King David. But he loves it for its elegancy.—”O Virtue! I have followed thee through life.Essays deemed and the pains they seem to take remunerate themselves. or opium. but its own majesty can lend a better grace to bannocks and fair water than belong to city feasts. that when he fell on his sword after the battle of Philippi. These men fan the flame of human love and raise the standard of civil virtue among mankind. but wear their own habitual greatness. or silk. It is told of Brutus. charged with peculation. water was made before it. or gold. and all it hath. and life at so cheap a rate that they will not soothe their enemies by petitions.” I doubt not the hero is slandered by this report. and I find thee at last but a shade. The heroic soul does not sell its justice and its nobleness. but. Poverty is its ornament. refuses to do himself so great a disgrace as to wait for justification. to suffer and to dare with solemnity. or it pulls down the host. It does not need plenty. A great man scarcely knows how he dines. John Eliot. It seems not worth his while to be solemn and denounce with bitterness flesh-eating or wine-drinking. It is a height to which common duty can very well attain.

But here we are.Emerson his accounts in his hands. our delight in the hero. ’Tis in our powers. the power of a romance over the boy who grasps the forbidden book under his bench at school. and play their own game in innocent defiance of the Blue-Laws of the world. and art and na133 . the Roman pride. though it were the building of cities or the eradication of old and foolish churches and nations which have cumbered the earth long thousands of years. but tears it to pieces before the tribunes. All these great and transcendent properties are ours. and. slaves. Massachusetts. See to it only that thyself is here. Why should these words. and the ear loves names of foreign and classic topography. and Sir Thomas More’s playfulness at the scaffold. and not in any geography of fame. so tingle in the ear? Where the heart is. with number and size. though to the eyes of mankind at large they wear a stately and solemn garb of works and influences. Sport is the bloom and glow of a perfect health. The great will not condescend to take any thing seriously. and such would appear. then. to be hanged. like little children frolicking together.— Jul. Why. The first step of worthiness will be to disabuse us of our superstitious associations with places and times.” Juletta tells the stout captain and his company. is the main fact to our purpose. there the muses. all must be as gay as the song of a canary. These replies are sound and whole. In Beaumont and Fletcher’s “Sea Voyage. during his life. we may come to learn that here is best. Asia and England. Let us find room for this great guest in our small houses. if we will tarry a little. there the gods sojourn. Connecticut River and Boston Bay you think paltry places. Master. The interest these fine stories have for us. are of the same strain. Very likely. Athenian. Roman. Socrates’s condemnation of himself to be maintained in all honor in the Prytaneum. Simple hearts put all the history and customs of this world behind them. If we dilate in beholding the Greek energy. could we see the human race assembled in vision. it is that we are already domesticating the same sentiment. ’tis in our power to hang ye. and scorn ye.

brave and affectionate. and act on principles that should interest man and nature in the length of our days. A great man makes his climate genial in the imagination of men. nor the Syrian sunshine. walk serenely on her way. search in turn all the objects that solicit her eye. by the depth of our living. That country is the fairest which is inhabited by the noblest minds. and a better valor and a purer truth shall one day organize their belief. that she may 134 . accept the hint of each new experience. Epaminondas.Essays ture. or De Stael. We have seen or heard of many extraordinary young men who never ripened. that we. or the cloistered souls who have had genius and cultivation do not satisfy the imagination and the serene Themis. Bayard. Hampden. and think. or Sevigne. or whose performance in actual life was not extraordinary. The Jerseys were handsome ground enough for Washington to tread. theirs is the tone of a youthful giant who is sent to work revolutions. they seem to throw contempt on our entire polity and social state. They found no example and no companion. Or why should a woman liken herself to any historical woman. we admire their superiority. with erect soul. The magic they used was the ideal tendencies. which always make the Actual ridiculous. and their heart fainted. when we hear them speak of society. does not seem to us to need Olympus to die upon. of religion. Let the maiden. and its air the beloved element of all delicate spirits. because Sappho. and London streets for the feet of Milton. The pictures which fill the imagination in reading the actions of Pericles.—certainly not she? Why not? She has a new and unattempted problem to solve. Sidney. He lies very well where he is. Columbus. of books. hope and fate. When we see their air and mien. angels and the Supreme Being shall not be absent from the chamber where thou sittest. friends. but the tough world had its revenge the moment they put their horses of the sun to plough in its furrow. perchance that of the happiest nature that ever bloomed. teach us how needlessly mean our life is. But they enter an active profession and the forming Colossus shrinks to the common size of man. Xenophon. What then? The lesson they gave in their first aspirations is yet true. should deck it with more than regal or national splendor. none can.

to live with some rigor of temperance. nor the common the heroic. fits and starts of generosity. as you discover when another man recites his charities. so careless of pleasing. The fair girl who repels interference by a decided and proud choice of influences.Emerson learn the power and the charm of her new-born being. O friend. Yet we have the weakness to expect the sympathy of people in those actions whose excellence is that they outrun sympathy and appeal to a tardy justice. part of my relation and office to my fellowcreature. which is the kindling of a new dawn in the recesses of space. Not in vain you live. never make a ridiculous figure? Let us be generous of our dignity as well as of our money. never strike sail to a fear! Come into port greatly. All men have wandering impulses. or some extremes of gen135 . Greatness once and for ever has done with opinion. do not take back your words when you find that prudent people do not commend you. because it is fit for you to serve him. There is no weakness or exposure for which we cannot find consolation in the thought—this is a part of my constitution. Adhere to your own act. But when you have chosen your part. even with some austerity. The silent heart encourages her. or sail with God the seas. so wilful and lofty. The characteristic of heroism is its persistency. We tell our charities.” A simple manly character need never make an apology. and do not weakly try to reconcile yourself with the world. inspires every beholder with somewhat of her own nobleness. but for our justification.—”Always do what you are afraid to do. for every passing eye is cheered and refined by the vision. not because we wish to be praised for them. when he admitted that the event of the battle was happy. abide by it. To speak the truth. It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person. yet did not regret his dissuasion from the battle. not because we think they have great merit. It is a capital blunder. Has nature covenanted with me that I should never appear to disadvantage. but should regard its past action with the calmness of Phocion. The heroic cannot be the common. and congratulate yourself if you have done something strange and extravagant and broken the monotony of a decorous age. If you would serve your brother.

Human virtue demands her champions and martyrs. Whatever outrages have happened to men may befall a man again. I see not any road of perfect peace which a man can walk. More freedom exists for culture. for the rights of free speech and opinion. Times of heroism are generally times of terror. It is but the other day that the brave Lovejoy gave his breast to the bullets of a mob. whenever it may please the next newspaper and a sufficient number of his neighbors to pronounce his opinions incendiary. The unremitting retention of simple and high sentiments in obscure duties is hardening the character to that temper which will work with honor.—but it behooves the wise man to look with a bold eye into those rarer dangers which sometimes invade men. and died when it was better not to live. fire. of unpopularity. of solitude. in sign that they feel a brotherhood with the great multitude of suffering men. we say. and inquire how fast he can fix his sense of duty. and the vision of violent death. and the trial of persecution always proceeds. But whoso is heroic will always find crises to try his edge. are historically somewhat better in this country and at this hour than perhaps ever before. if there appear any signs of a decay of religion. tar and feathers and the gibbet. and very easily in a republic. We rapidly approach 136 . of debt. The circumstances of man. It will not now run against an axe at the first step out of the beaten track of opinion. and stablish himself in those courses he approves. and to familiarize himself with disgusting forms of disease. or on the scaffold. seems to be an asceticism which common goodnature would appoint to those who are at ease and in plenty. with sounds of execration. but the day never shines in which this element may not work. braving such penalties. Let him quit too much association. And not only need we breathe and exercise the soul by assuming the penalties of abstinence. Coarse slander. let him go home much. the youth may freely bring home to his mind and with what sweetness of temper he can. It may calm the apprehension of calamity in the most susceptible heart to see how quick a bound Nature has set to the utmost infliction of malice.Essays erosity. but after the counsel of his own bosom. if need be in the tumult.

Emerson a brink over which no enemy can follow us:— “Let them rave: Thou art quiet in thy grave.” In the gloom of our ignorance of what shall be, in the hour when we are deaf to the higher voices, who does not envy those who have seen safely to an end their manful endeavor? Who that sees the meanness of our politics but inly congratulates Washington that he is long already wrapped in his shroud, and for ever safe; that he was laid sweet in his grave, the hope of humanity not yet subjugated in him? Who does not sometimes envy the good and brave who are no more to suffer from the tumults of the natural world, and await with curious complacency the speedy term of his own conversation with finite nature? And yet the love that will be annihilated sooner than treacherous has already made death impossible, and affirms itself no mortal but a native of the deeps of absolute and inextinguishable being.

THE OVER-SOUL
“But souls that of his own good life partake, He loves as his own self; dear as his eye They are to Him: He’ll never them forsake: When they shall die, then God himself shall die: They live, they live in blest eternity.” Henry More. Space is ample, east and west, But two cannot go abreast, Cannot travel in it two: Yonder masterful cuckoo Crowds every egg out of the nest, Quick or dead, except its own; A spell is laid on sod and stone, Night and Day ‘ve been tampered with, Every quality and pith Surcharged and sultry with a power That works its will on age and hour.

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Essays

IX. THE OVER-SOUL

T

here is a difference between one and another hour of life in their authority and subsequent effect. Our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual. Yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences. For this reason the argument which is always forthcoming to silence those who conceive extraordinary hopes of man, namely the appeal to experience, is for ever invalid and vain. We give up the past to the objector, and yet we hope. He must explain this hope. We grant that human life is mean, but how did we find out that it was mean? What is the ground of this uneasiness of ours; of this old discontent? What is the universal sense of want and ignorance, but the fine innuendo by which the soul makes its enormous claim? Why do men feel that the natural history of man has never been written, but he is always leaving behind what you have said of him, and it becomes old, and books of metaphysics worthless? The philosophy of six thousand years has not

searched the chambers and magazines of the soul. In its experiments there has always remained, in the last analysis, a residuum it could not resolve. Man is a stream whose source is hidden. Our being is descending into us from we know not whence. The most exact calculator has no prescience that somewhat incalculable may not balk the very next moment. I am constrained every moment to acknowledge a higher origin for events than the will I call mine. As with events, so is it with thoughts. When I watch that flowing river, which, out of regions I see not, pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am a pensioner; not a cause, but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water; that I desire and look up and put myself in the attitude of reception, but from some alien energy the visions come. The Supreme Critic on the errors of the past and the present, and the only prophet of that which must be, is that great nature in which we rest as the earth lies in the soft arms of the atmosphere; that Unity, that Over-soul, within which every man’s particular being is contained 138

Emerson and made one with all other; that common heart of which all sincere conversation is the worship, to which all right action is submission; that overpowering reality which confutes our tricks and talents, and constrains every one to pass for what he is, and to speak from his character and not from his tongue, and which evermore tends to pass into our thought and hand and become wisdom and virtue and power and beauty. We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. Only by the vision of that Wisdom can the horoscope of the ages be read, and by falling back on our better thoughts, by yielding to the spirit of prophecy which is innate in every man, we can know what it saith. Every man’s words who speaks from that life must sound vain to those who do not dwell in the same thought on their own part. I dare not speak for it. My words do not carry its august sense; they fall short and cold. Only itself can inspire whom it will, and behold! their speech shall be lyrical, and sweet, and universal as the rising of the wind. Yet I desire, even by profane words, if I may not use sacred, to indicate the heaven of this deity and to report what hints I have collected of the transcendent simplicity and energy of the Highest Law. If we consider what happens in conversation, in reveries, in remorse, in times of passion, in surprises, in the instructions of dreams, wherein often we see ourselves in masquerade,—the droll disguises only magnifying and enhancing a real element and forcing it on our distinct notice,—we shall catch many hints that will broaden and lighten into knowledge of the secret of nature. All goes to show that the soul in man is not an organ, but animates and exercises all the organs; is not a function, like the power of memory, of calculation, of comparison, but 139

Essays uses these as hands and feet; is not a faculty, but a light; is not the intellect or the will, but the master of the intellect and the will; is the background of our being, in which they lie,—an immensity not possessed and that cannot be possessed. From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all. A man is the facade of a temple wherein all wisdom and all good abide. What we commonly call man, the eating, drinking, planting, counting man, does not, as we know him, represent himself, but misrepresents himself. Him we do not respect, but the soul, whose organ he is, would he let it appear through his action, would make our knees bend. When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection, it is love. And the blindness of the intellect begins when it would be something of itself. The weakness of the will begins when the individual would be something of himself. All reform aims in some one particular to let the soul have its way through us; in other words, to engage us to obey. Of this pure nature every man is at some time sensible. Language cannot paint it with his colors. It is too subtile. It is undefinable, unmeasurable; but we know that it pervades and contains us. We know that all spiritual being is in man. A wise old proverb says, “God comes to see us without bell;” that is, as there is no screen or ceiling between our heads and the infinite heavens, so is there no bar or wall in the soul where man, the effect, ceases, and God, the cause, begins. The walls are taken away. We lie open on one side to the deeps of spiritual nature, to the attributes of God. Justice we see and know, Love, Freedom, Power. These natures no man ever got above, but they tower over us, and most in the moment when our interests tempt us to wound them. The sovereignty of this nature whereof we speak is made known by its independency of those limitations which circumscribe us on every hand. The soul circumscribes all things. As I have said, it contradicts all experience. In like manner it abolishes time and space. The influence of the senses has in most men overpowered the mind to that degree that the walls of time and space have come 140

Emerson to look real and insurmountable; and to speak with levity of these limits is, in the world, the sign of insanity. Yet time and space are but inverse measures of the force of the soul. The spirit sports with time,— “Can crowd eternity into an hour, Or stretch an hour to eternity.” We are often made to feel that there is another youth and age than that which is measured from the year of our natural birth. Some thoughts always find us young, and keep us so. Such a thought is the love of the universal and eternal beauty. Every man parts from that contemplation with the feeling that it rather belongs to ages than to mortal life. The least activity of the intellectual powers redeems us in a degree from the conditions of time. In sickness, in languor, give us a strain of poetry or a profound sentence, and we are refreshed; or produce a volume of Plato or Shakspeare, or remind us of their names, and instantly we come into a feeling of longevity. See how the deep divine thought reduces centuries and millenniums and makes itself present through all ages. Is the teaching of Christ less effective now than it was when first his mouth was opened? The emphasis of facts and persons in my thought has nothing to do with time. And so always the soul’s scale is one, the scale of the senses and the understanding is another. Before the revelations of the soul, Time, Space and Nature shrink away. In common speech we refer all things to time, as we habitually refer the immensely sundered stars to one concave sphere. And so we say that the Judgment is distant or near, that the Millennium approaches, that a day of certain political, moral, social reforms is at hand, and the like, when we mean that in the nature of things one of the facts we contemplate is external and fugitive, and the other is permanent and connate with the soul. The things we now esteem fixed shall, one by one, detach themselves like ripe fruit from our experience, and fall. The wind shall blow them none knows whither. The landscape, the figures, Boston, London, are facts as fugitive as any institution past, or any whiff of mist or smoke, and so is society, and so is the world. The soul looketh steadily for141

Essays wards, creating a world before her, leaving worlds behind her. She has no dates, nor rites, nor persons, nor specialties nor men. The soul knows only the soul; the web of events is the flowing robe in which she is clothed. After its own law and not by arithmetic is the rate of its progress to be computed. The soul’s advances are not made by gradation, such as can be represented by motion in a straight line, but rather by ascension of state, such as can be represented by metamorphosis,—from the egg to the worm, from the worm to the fly. The growths of genius are of a certain total character, that does not advance the elect individual first over John, then Adam, then Richard, and give to each the pain of discovered inferiority,—but by every throe of growth the man expands there where he works, passing, at each pulsation, classes, populations, of men. With each divine impulse the mind rends the thin rinds of the visible and finite, and comes out into eternity, and inspires and expires its air. It converses with truths that have always been spoken in the world, and becomes conscious of a closer sympathy with Zeno and Arrian than with persons in the house. This is the law of moral and of mental gain. The simple rise as by specific levity not into a particular virtue, but into the region of all the virtues. They are in the spirit which contains them all. The soul requires purity, but purity is not it; requires justice, but justice is not that; requires beneficence, but is somewhat better; so that there is a kind of descent and accommodation felt when we leave speaking of moral nature to urge a virtue which it enjoins. To the well-born child all the virtues are natural, and not painfully acquired. Speak to his heart, and the man becomes suddenly virtuous. Within the same sentiment is the germ of intellectual growth, which obeys the same law. Those who are capable of humility, of justice, of love, of aspiration, stand already on a platform that commands the sciences and arts, speech and poetry, action and grace. For whoso dwells in this moral beatitude already anticipates those special powers which men prize so highly. The lover has no talent, no skill, which passes for quite nothing with his enamoured maiden, however little she may possess of related faculty; and the heart which abandons itself to 142

They all become wiser than they were. for it is theirs long beforehand. It shines for all. pity. But the larger experience of man discovers the identical nature appearing through them all. admiration. think much less of property in truth. this unity of thought in which every heart beats with nobler sense of power and duty. and will travel a royal road to particular knowledges and powers. The mind is one. It arches over them like a temple. and from eternity. They accept it thankfully everywhere. of love. I am certified of a common nature. like my own. and these other souls. They stir in me the new emotions we call passion. and do not label or stamp it with any man’s name. or express a certain obedience to the great instincts to which I live. to a common nature. it is impersonal. There is a certain wisdom of humanity which is common to the greatest men with the lowest. draw me as nothing else can. as in the closet of God. And so in groups where debate is earnest. and especially on high questions. fear. I live in society. Childhood and youth see all the world in them. with persons who answer to thoughts in my own mind. where. as well as the sayer. In youth we are mad for persons. and the best minds.Emerson the Supreme Mind finds itself related to all its works. these separated selves. as to a third party. Persons are supplementary to the primary teaching of the soul. that all have a spiritual property in what was said. persuasion. One mode of the divine teaching is the incarnation of the spirit in a form. cities and war. Persons themselves acquaint us with the impersonal. who love truth for its own sake. In all conversation between two persons tacit reference is made. That third party or common nature is not social. we see causes. The learned and the 143 . which is but a slow effect. I see its presence to them. and which our ordinary education often labors to silence and obstruct. and thinks and acts with unusual solemnity. the company become aware that the thought rises to an equal level in all bosoms.—in forms. is God. All are conscious of attaining to a higher self-possession. hatred. In ascending to this primary and aboriginal sentiment we have come from our remote station on the circumference instantaneously to the centre of the world. thence come conversation. competition. and anticipate the universe.

—”It is no proof of a man’s understanding to be able to confirm whatever he pleases. and who say the thing without effort which we want and have long been hunting in vain. my accomplishments and my money stead me nothing. and they unconsciously seek for it in each other. and Jove nods to Jove from behind each of us. one for one. and we know at the same time that we are much more. As it is present in all persons. We owe many valuable observations to people who are not very acute or profound. my Latin and Greek. We know better than we do. out of his young eyes looks the same soul. ‘How do you know it is truth. setting that up as umpire between us two. they resemble those Arabian sheiks who dwell in mean houses and affect an external poverty. that somewhat higher in each of us overlooks this by-play. It was a grand sentence of Emanuel Swedenborg. which would alone indicate the greatness of that man’s perception. let skeptic and scoffer say what they choose. when you have spoken what they do not wish to hear. and leaves me. In their habitual and mean service to the world. It is adult already in the infant man. to escape the rapacity of the Pacha.Essays studious of thought have no monopoly of wisdom. the degradation of beating him by my superiority of strength. Men descend to meet.—this is the mark and charac144 . he reveres and loves with me. The action of the soul is oftener in that which is felt and left unsaid than in that which is said in any conversation. he sets his will against mine. We do not yet possess ourselves. It broods over every society. Their violence of direction in some degree disqualifies them to think truly. from opinion. and not an error of your own?’ We know truth when we see it. for which they forsake their native nobleness. as we know when we are awake that we are awake. In my dealing with my child. and that what is false is false. The soul is the perceiver and revealer of truth. Foolish people ask you. but as much soul as I have avails. but to be able to discern that what is true is true. so it is in every period of life. We know truth when we see it. I feel the same truth how often in my trivial conversation with my neighbors. if I please. But if I renounce my will and act for the soul. If I am wilful. and reserve all their display of wealth for their interior and guarded retirements.

loftier strain of that advent. and makes society possible. It is an ebb of the individual rivulet before the flowing surges of the sea of life. Every moment when the individual feels himself invaded by it is memorable. And here we should seek to reinforce ourselves by its very presence. it takes him to itself.” In the book I read. We are wiser than we know. as every truth will. but it gives itself. since it then does not give somewhat from itself. and lops it away. and every thing. we know the particular thing. or. or see how the thing stands in God. In these communications the power to see is not separated from the will to do. its manifestations of its own nature. If we will not interfere with our thought. like our household fires. A certain tendency to insanity 145 .Emerson ter of intelligence. and the obedience proceeds from a joyful perception. in which form it warms. and to speak with a worthier. all the families and associations of men. A thrill passes through all men at the reception of new truth. which comes out of the heart of nature.—to the faintest glow of virtuous emotion. For the Maker of all things and all persons stands behind us and casts his dread omniscience through us over things. by the term Revelation. it also reveals truth. The character and duration of this enthusiasm varies with the state of the individual. By the necessity of our constitution a certain enthusiasm attends the individual’s consciousness of that divine presence. from an ecstasy and trance and prophetic inspiration. separating sword. the good thought returns to me. the image of the whole soul. Every distinct apprehension of this central commandment agitates men with awe and delight. or passes into and becomes that man whom it enlightens. the same soul becomes a discerning. For the soul’s communication of truth is the highest event in nature. or at the performance of a great action.— which is its rarer appearance. These are always attended by the emotion of the sublime. in proportion to that truth he receives. and every man. For this communication is an influx of the Divine mind into our mind. But beyond this recognition of its own in particular passages of the individual’s experience. To the bad thought which I find in it. We distinguish the announcements of the soul. but the insight proceeds from obedience. but will act entirely.

the attributes of the soul. The soul answers never by words. in innumerable instances in common life. We must check this low curiosity. they are perceptions of the absolute law. Do not require a description of the countries towards which you sail. the illumination of Swedenborg. Revelation is the disclosure of the soul. Men ask concerning the immortality of the soul. are of this kind. Everywhere the history of religion betrays a tendency to enthusiasm. and undertakes to tell from God how long men shall exist. and tomorrow you arrive there and know them by inhabiting them. the convulsions of George Fox and his Quakers. but by the thing itself that is inquired after. In past oracles of the soul the understanding seeks to find answers to sensual questions. The popular notion of a revelation is that it is a telling of fortunes. To truth. An answer in words is delusive. love. the aurora of Behmen. They are solutions of the soul’s own questions. are varying forms of that shudder of awe and delight with which the individual soul always mingles with the universal soul. has. justice. heedless of sensual fortunes. the “union” of Plotinus. But we must pick no locks. adding names and dates and places.” The trances of Socrates. been exhibited in less striking manner. the experiences of the Methodists. it is really no answer to the questions you ask. the state of the sinner. They even dream that Jesus has left replies to precisely these interrogatories. The rapture of the Moravian and Quietist. what their hands shall do and who shall be their company. in the language of the New Jerusalem Church. Jesus. the revival of the Calvinistic churches. heeding only the manifestations of these.Essays has always attended the opening of the religious sense in men. the conversion of Paul. The description does not describe them to you. the vision of Porphyry. never made the separation of 146 . as if they had been “blasted with excess of light. The nature of these revelations is the same. living in these moral sentiments. and so forth. the opening of the internal sense of the Word. They do not answer the questions which the understanding asks. What was in the case of these remarkable persons a ravishment. the employments of heaven. the idea of immutableness is essentially associated. Never a moment did that sublime spirit speak in their patois.

—which of us has been just to himself and whether that which we teach or behold is only an aspiration or is our honest effort also. In that other. It was left to his disciples to sever duration from the moral elements. work and live. there is no question of continuance. The only mode of obtaining an answer to these questions of the senses is to forego all low curiosity. and the question and the answer are one. he put no trust. We are all discerners of spirits. The moment the doctrine of the immortality is separately taught. No answer in words can reply to a question of things. and the man in whom it is shed abroad cannot wander from the present. That diagnosis lies aloft in our life or unconscious power. for the soul will not have us read any other cipher than that of cause and effect. consecrating. celestial. No inspired man ever asks this question or condescends to these evidences. that a veil shuts down on the facts of to-morrow. to a future which would be finite.” but in the nature of man. Who can tell the grounds of his knowledge of the character of the several individuals in his circle of friends? No man. These questions which we lust to ask about the future are a confession of sin. By this veil which curtains events it instructs the children of men to live in to-day. and. which is infinite. in the adoration of humility. The intercourse of soci147 . In that man. we see and know each other.Emerson the idea of duration from the essence of these attributes. God has no answer for them. vital. Yet their acts and words do not disappoint him. In the flowing of love. man is already fallen. It is not in an arbitrary “decree of God. and all unawares the advancing soul has built and forged for itself a new condition. work and live. which burns until it shall dissolve all things into the waves and surges of an ocean of light. We know each other very well. accepting the tide of being which floats us into the secret of nature. authentic signs had yet passed. By the same fire. For the soul is true to itself. though they had seldom met. to signify that he might be trusted as one who had an interest in his own character. nor uttered a syllable concerning the duration of the soul. and what spirit each is of. though he knew no ill of him. and maintain it by evidences. and to teach the immortality of the soul as a doctrine.

and thoughts go out of our minds through avenues which we never voluntarily opened. or perhaps as acquainted with the fact on the evidence of third persons. I 148 . or from experience. and philosophers like Locke. In full court. But who judges? and what? Not our understanding. Against their will they exhibit those decisive trifles by which character is read. Kant and Coleridge. private will is overpowered.Essays ety. maugre our efforts or our imperfections. It is of no use to preach to me from without. and here and there a fervent mystic.— between philosophers like Spinoza. The tone of seeking is one. or confronted face to face. If he have not found his home in God. its trade. of ungenial temperament. Neither his age. No. let him brave it out how he will. and mine from me. we shall teach. Paley. the turn of his sentences.—between men of the world who are reckoned accomplished talkers. nor all together can hinder him from being deferential to a higher spirit than his own. its quarrels. Character teaches over our head. men offer themselves to be judged. the build. and poets like Pope.—is that one class speak from within. We do not read them by learning or craft. of all his opinions will involuntarily confess it. he lets them judge themselves and merely reads and records their own verdict. shall I say. his forms of speech. of unfavorable circumstance. If he have found his centre. as spectators merely. nor actions. nor books. nor talents. nor company. not voluntarily but involuntarily. That which we are. prophesying half insane under the infinitude of his thought. as parties and possessors of the fact. Thoughts come into our minds by avenues which we never left open. that he does not judge them. and the other class from without. Mackintosh and Stewart. The infallible index of true progress is found in the tone the man takes. the wisdom of the wise man consists herein.—between poets like Herbert. is one wide. your genius will speak from you. and the tone of having is another. or in small committee. through all the disguises of ignorance. his manners. nor his breeding. judicial investigation of character. By virtue of this inevitable nature. accuser and accused. The great distinction between teachers sacred or literary. and. its friendships. the Deity will shine through him. its religion.

but almost of vice. the partisan. where the word is one with that it tells of. some overgrown member. take no stron149 . they have a light and know not whence it comes and call it their own.Emerson can do that too easily myself. in Chaucer. and the most illuminated class of men are no doubt superior to literary fame. and then we think less of his compositions. in Milton. Much of the wisdom of the world is not wisdom. we feel no hallowing presence. But genius is religious. The soul is superior to its knowledge. It is a larger imbibing of the common heart. in Shakspeare. let him lowly confess it. Humanity shines in Homer. so that their strength is a disease. and which in other hours we extol as a sort of self-existent poetry. The great poet makes us feel our own wealth. and in a degree that transcends all others. In these instances the intellectual gifts do not make the impression of virtue. I believe beforehand that it ought so to be. the wit. and are not writers. There is in all great poets a wisdom of humanity which is superior to any talents they exercise. and we then feel that the splendid works which he has created. their talent is some exaggerated faculty. But if a man do not speak from within the veil. Shakspeare carries us to such a lofty strain of intelligent activity as to suggest a wealth which beggars his own. They seem frigid and phlegmatic to those who have been spiced with the frantic passion and violent coloring of inferior but popular writers. His best communication to our mind is to teach us to despise all he has done. and makes what we call genius. we are sensible of a knack and skill rather than of inspiration. wiser than any of its works. It is not anomalous. The author. and we feel that a man’s talents stand in the way of his advancement in truth. In that is the miracle. does not take place of the man. The same Omniscience flows into the intellect. All men stand continually in the expectation of the appearance of such a teacher. in Spenser. but more like and not less like other men. Among the multitude of scholars and authors. the fine gentleman. For they are poets by the free course which they allow to the informing soul. They use the positive degree. Jesus speaks always from within. They are content with truth. which through their eyes beholds again and blesses the things which it hath made.

—the visit to Rome. and dealing man to man in naked truth. From that inspiration the man comes back with a changed tone. it comes as serenity and grandeur. Converse with a mind that is grandly simple. The simplest utterances are worthiest to be written. when the whole earth and the whole atmosphere are ours.—and so seek to throw a romantic color over their life. as if we had not the soul from which they fell as syllables from the tongue? This energy does not descend into individual life on any other condition than entire possession. 150 . It requires of us to be plain and true. and preserve their cards and compliments. and omniscient affirmation.Essays ger hold of real nature than the shadow of a passing traveller on the rock. no adventures. does not want admiration. But the soul that ascends to worship the great God is plain and true. we are apprised of new degrees of greatness. dwells in the hour that now is. The vain traveller attempts to embellish his life by quoting my lord and the prince and the countess. it comes as insight. yet are they so cheap and so things of course. He tries them. cull out the pleasing.—by reason of the present moment and the mere trifle having become porous to thought and bibulous of the sea of light. but the casting aside your trappings. He does not talk with men with an eye to their opinion. The more cultivated. it comes to whomsoever will put off what is foreign and proud. still further on perhaps the gorgeous landscape. the brilliant friend They know. that in the infinite riches of the soul it is like gathering a few pebbles off the ground. plain confession. no chivalry. or bottling a little air in a phial. and literature looks like word-catching. in their account of their own experience. the mountain thoughts they enjoyed yesterday. no fine friends. the man of genius they saw. poetic circumstance. The ambitious vulgar show you their spoons and brooches and rings. Nothing can pass there. It comes to the lowly and simple. in the earnest experience of the common day. When we see those whom it inhabits. who thus said or did to him. or make you one of the circle. has no rose-color. Why then should I make account of Hamlet and Lear. the mountain lights. The inspiration which uttered itself in Hamlet and Lear could utter things as good from day to day for ever.

arises the idea of God. in their own elevation. that the best is the true. Their “highest praising. He is sure that his welfare is dear to the heart of being. and adjourn to the sure revelation of time the solution of his private riddles. for your virtue they own as their proper blood. But what rebuke their plain fraternal bearing casts on the mutual flattery with which authors solace each other and wound themselves! These flatter not. without ducking or concession. but the sight.—say rather your act of duty. for they confront them. walk as gods in the earth. and must feel the servile tone of conversation in the world. and over-royal. the infinite enlargement of the heart with a power of growth to a new infinity on every side. accepting without any admiration your wit. the fellows of kings. of even companionship and of new ideas.Emerson Souls such as these treat you as gods would. Souls like these make us feel that sincerity is more excellent than flattery.” said Milton. effacing the scars of our mistakes and disappointments! When we have broken our god of tradition and ceased from our god of rhetoric. They must always be a godsend to princes. “is not flattery. of plain humanity. your virtue even. royal as themselves. and give a high nature the refreshment and satisfaction of resistance. It inspires in man an infallible trust. I do not wonder that these men go to see Cromwell and Christina and Charles the Second and James the First and the Grand Turk. It is the doubling of the heart itself. They leave them wiser and superior men. then may God fire the heart with his presence. yet for ever and ever the influx of this better and universal self is new and unsearchable.” Ineffable is the union of man and God in every act of the soul. and may in that thought easily dismiss all particular uncertainties and fears. It inspires awe and astonishment. becomes God. how soothing to man. He has not the conviction. and the father of the gods. How dear. peopling the lonely place. Deal so plainly with man and woman as to constrain the utmost sincerity and destroy all hope of trifling with you. a king to a king. For they are. In the presence of law to 151 . It is the highest compliment you can pay. and their plainest advice is a kind of praising. nay. your bounty. The simplest person who in his integrity worships God.

Whenever the appeal is made. will you not acquiesce that it is best you should not find him? for there is a power. Even their prayers are hurtful to him. shall surely come home through open or winding passages. You are running to seek your friend. but your mind need not. that the Highest dwells with him. If you do not find him. truly seen. Has it not occurred to you that you have no right to go. this. is in him also. not a valve. Every friend whom not thy fantastic will but the great and tender heart in thee craveth. proclamation is then and there made that religion is not. but one blood rolls uninterruptedly an endless circulation through all men. But if he would know what the great God speaketh. not an intersection is there anywhere in nature. the love of men and the hope of fame. withdrawing himself from all the accents of other men’s devotion. which thou oughtest to hear. not a wall. He believes that he cannot escape from his good. believe. every byword that belongs to thee for aid or comfort.’ as Jesus said. he must ‘go into his closet and shut the door. shall lock thee in his embrace. as it is in you. Let man then learn the revelation of all nature and all thought to his heart. and. And this because the heart in thee is the heart of all. who shall dare to 152 . as thou livest. namely. You are preparing with eagerness to go and render a service to which your talent and your taste invite you. as the water of the globe is all one sea. will vibrate on thine ear! Every proverb. its tide is one. and could therefore very well bring you together. He must greatly listen to himself. unless you are equally willing to be prevented from going? O. until he have made his own. When I sit in that presence. that the sources of nature are in his own mind. if it were for the best. Let your feet run.— no matter how indirectly. which. that every sound that is spoken over the round world. Our religion vulgarly stands on numbers of believers. The things that are really for thee gravitate to thee.Essays his mind he is overflowed with a reliance so universal that it sweeps away all cherished hopes and the most stable projects of mortal condition in its flood. every book. He that finds God a sweet enveloping thought to him never counts his company. God will not make himself manifest to cowards.—to numbers. if the sentiment of duty is there.

what can Calvin or Swedenborg say? It makes no difference whether the appeal is to numbers or to one. So come I to live in thoughts and act with energies which are immortal. and be less 153 . it never appeals from itself. on that condition. absolutely speaking. Before the immense possibilities of man all mere experience. but. that “its beauty is immense. It is not wise. It is no flatterer. Before that heaven which our presentiments foreshow us. shrinks away. it is no follower. The faith that stands on authority is not faith. Original and Pure. and plain. that we have no history. the withdrawal of the soul. the imperfect. leads and speaks through it. It believes in itself. Great is the soul. Thus revering the soul. Though in our lonely hours we draw a new strength out of their memory. More and more the surges of everlasting nature enter into me. adore my own Perfect. however spotless and sainted.” man will come to see that the world is the perennial miracle which the soul worketh. and thereby I do Overlook the sun and the stars and feel them to be the fair accidents and effects which change and pass. It calls the light its own. now for many centuries of history. pressed on our attention. but it is innocent. gladly inhabits. It cannot alter the eternal facts. original and pure. We not only affirm that we have few great men. I. and feels that the grass grows and the stone falls by a law inferior to. Behold. its nature. that we have none. who. It characterizes themselves. we cannot easily praise any form of life we have seen or read of. The position men have given to Jesus. no record of any character or mode of living that entirely contents us. all past biography. alone. and I become public and human in my regards and actions. when I burn with pure love. and learning. It is not called religious. The soul gives itself. they fatigue and invade. as they are by the thoughtless and customary. and dependent on. young and nimble. The saints and demigods whom history worships we are constrained to accept with a grain of allowance. The reliance on authority measures the decline of religion. yet. it saith. but it sees through all things.Emerson come in? When I rest in perfect humility. as the ancient said. I am born into the great. I am somehow receptive of the great soul. the universal mind. Then is it glad. to the Lonely. is a position of authority.

Augustine described the nature of God as a circle whose centre was everywhere and its circumference nowhere. One moral we have already deduced. He will weave no longer a spotted life of shreds and patches. X. Scan the profile of the sphere. St. And her proud ephemerals. that every ac- . Knew they what that signified. he will learn that there is no profane history. Fast to surface and outside. CIRCLES Nature centres into balls. It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world. CIRCLES T 154 he eye is the first circle. that the universe is represented in an atom.Essays astonished at particular wonders. in a moment of time. the horizon which it forms is the second. in considering the circular or compensatory character of every human action. Another analogy we shall now trace. and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end. A new genesis were here. He will calmly front the morrow in the negligency of that trust which carries God with it and so hath already the whole future in the bottom of the heart. that all history is sacred. He will cease from what is base and frivolous in his life and be content with all places and with any service he can render. but he will live with a divine unity. We are all our lifetime reading the copious sense of this first of forms.

may conveniently serve us to connect many illustrations of human power in every department. weathering the hurts of so many ages. as far as it symbolizes the moral fact of the Unattainable. by gunpowder. This fact. to a merchant. The Greek letters last a little longer. Our globe seen by God is a transparent law. behind the coarse effect. Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn. There are no fixtures in nature. is a fine cause. here and there a solitary figure or fragment remaining. that there is no end in nature. but every end is a beginning. the new races fed out of the decomposition of the foregoing.Emerson tion admits of being outdone. Every thing looks permanent until its secret is known. 155 . and under every deep a lower deep opens. being narrowly seen. which. is itself the effect of a finer cause. You admire this tower of granite. Let us rise into another idea: they will disappear. The new continents are built out of the ruins of an old planet. around which the hands of man can never meet. by railways. The universe is fluid and volatile. by steam. at once the inspirer and the condemner of every success. Better than the hand and nimbler was the invisible thought which wrought through it. steam by electricity. New arts destroy the old. The law dissolves the fact and holds it fluid. Our culture is the predominance of an idea which draws after it this train of cities and institutions. not a mass of facts. See the investment of capital in aqueducts made useless by hydraulics. The Greek sculpture is all melted away. that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon. sails. fortifications. and thus ever. Yet a little waving hand built this huge wall. A rich estate appears to women a firm and lasting fact. The hand that built can topple it down much faster. as we see flecks and scraps of snow left in cold dells and mountain clefts in June and July. the flying Perfect. and that which builds is better than that which is built. For the genius that created it creates now somewhat else. Permanence is but a word of degrees. as if it had been statues of ice. but are already passing under the same sentence and tumbling into the inevitable pit which the creation of new thought opens for all that is old. roads and canals.

And so men do by themselves. seem a fixture. The result of to-day. good grounds.—as for instance an empire. wheel without wheel. no inclosing wall. or a river.Essays one easily created out of any materials. it already tends outward with a vast force and to immense and innumerable expansions. There is no outside. The life of man is a self-evolving circle. Lo! on the other side rises also a man and draws a circle around the circle we had just pronounced the outline of the sphere. rules of an art. and that without end. rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles. Moons are no more bounds to spiritual power than bat-balls. which is the idea after which all his facts are classified. But if the soul is quick and strong it bursts over that boundary on all sides and expands another orbit on the great deep. The extent to which this generation of circles. depends on the force or truth of the individual soul. which haunts the mind and cannot 156 . but it has a cause like all the rest.—to heap itself on that ridge and to solidify and hem in the life. he has a helm which he obeys. to a citizen. a religious rite. An orchard. which also runs up into a high wave. from a ring imperceptibly small. which.—how good! how final! how it puts a new face on all things! He fills the sky. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own. no circumference to us. good tillage. a local usage. will go. Every thing is medial. in its first and narrowest pulses. having formed itself into a circular wave of circumstance. Sturdy and defying though he look. For it is the inert effort of each thought. and when once I comprehend that. these leaves hang so individually considerable? Permanence is a word of degrees. with attempt again to stop and to bind. The man finishes his story. But the heart refuses to be imprisoned. will these fields stretch so immovably wide. Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series. Then already is our first speaker not man. Every general law only a particular fact of some more general law presently to disclose itself. like a gold mine. not much more fixed than the state of the crop. but to a large farmer. Nature looks provokingly stable and secular. The key to every man is his thought. and easily lost. but only a first speaker. His only redress is forthwith to draw a circle outside of his antagonist.

unanalyzable. That is. I see no reason why I should not have the same thought. Every one seems to be contradicted by the new. then its innocency and benefit appear. There are no fixtures to men. there is always a residuum unknown. he must feel was never opened. will presently be abridged into a word. all its energy spent. Fear not the new generalization. whilst I write it. seems the most natural thing in the world. and the principle that seemed to explain nature will itself be included as one example of a bolder generalization. I see not how it can be otherwise. to-morrow. The new statement is always hated by the old. I shall wonder who he was that wrote so many continuous pages. if he rests at last on the divine soul. But the eye soon gets wonted to it. Our moods do not believe in each other. if we appeal to consciousness. and. all the literatures of the nations.Emerson be escaped. it pales and dwindles before the revelation of the new hour. Every man supposes himself not to be fully understood. Men walk as prophecies of the next age. To-day I am full of thoughts and can write what I please. the last closet. the same power of expression. The last chamber. Every man is not so much a workman in the world as he is a suggestion of that he should be. Alas for this infirm faith. I doubt not. Every several result is threatened and judged by that which follows. it is only limited by the new. to those dwelling in the old. all the creeds. and presently. I am a 157 . but yesterday I saw a dreary vacuity in this direction in which now I see so much. What I write. it goes to refine and raise thy theory of matter just as much. this will not strenuous. the new prospect is power. this vast ebb of a vast flow! I am God in nature. Does the fact look crass and material. every man believes that he has a greater possibility. In the thought of to-morrow there is a power to upheave all thy creed. comes like an abyss of scepticism. and a month hence. and if there is any truth in him. Step by step we scale this mysterious ladder: the steps are actions. and marshal thee to a heaven which no epic dream has yet depicted. threatening to degrade thy theory of spirit? Resist it not. for the eye and it are effects of one cause.

why should I play with them this game of idolatry? I know and see too well. a great hope. Rich. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a great city. to work a pitch above his last height. Infinitely alluring and attractive was he to you yesterday. noble and great they are by the liberality of our speech. now. The 158 . or where it will end. and you care not if you never see it again. when not voluntarily blind. they are not thou! Every personal consideration that we allow costs us heavenly state. there is not any literary reputation. The sweet of nature is love. We sell the thrones of angels for a short and turbulent pleasure. For every friend whom he loses for truth. Then all things are at risk. you have found his shores.Essays weed by the wall. How often must we learn this lesson? Men cease to interest us when we find their limitations. The only sin is limitation. and no man knows what is safe. A wise man will see that Aristotle platonizes. If he were high enough to slight me. The continual effort to raise himself above himself. if I have a friend I am tormented by my imperfections. By going one step farther back in thought. As soon as you once come up with a man’s limitations. Has he talents? has he enterprise? has he knowledge? It boots not. There is not a piece of science but its flank may be turned to-morrow. but truth is sad. the speedy limits of persons called high and worthy. as expressions of one law. O blessed Spirit. not the so-called eternal names of fame. We thirst for approbation. Each new step we take in thought reconciles twenty seemingly discordant facts. The love of me accuses the other party. then could I love him. Aristotle and Plato are reckoned the respective heads of two schools. and we can never go so far back as to preclude a still higher vision. Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. that may not be revised and condemned. A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends. and rise by my affection to new heights. I thought as I walked in the woods and mused on my friends. a sea to swim in. whom I forsake for these. betrays itself in a man’s relations. yet cannot forgive the approver. discordant opinions are reconciled by being seen to be two extremes of one principle. it is all over with him. yet. he gains a better. found it a pond.

Much more obviously is history and the state of the world at any one time directly dependent on the intellectual classification then existing in the minds of men.Emerson very hopes of man. his Christianity. The idealism of Berkeley is only a crude statement of the idealism of Jesus. cannot be outgeneralled. Hence the thrill that attends it. the intrepid conviction that his laws. We learn that God is. as a tree bears its apples. and we see that it must be true. Yet let us enjoy the cloven flame whilst it glows on our walls. A new degree of culture would instantly revolutionize the entire system of human pursuits. When each new speaker strikes a new light. It now shows itself ethical and practical. so that a man cannot have his flank turned. To-morrow they will have receded from this highwater mark. Then its countenance waxes stern and grand. may at any time be superseded and decease. Conversation is a game of circles. Valor consists in the power of self-recovery. and which cause the present order of things. and that again is a crude statement of the fact that all nature is the rapid efflux of goodness executing and organizing itself. to oppress us with the greatness and exclu159 . as the magnet was once a toy. that it is true in gleams and fragments. To-morrow you shall find them stooping under the old pack-saddles. that he is in me. the manners and morals of mankind are all at the mercy of a new generalization. his relations to society. The things which are dear to men at this hour are so on account of the ideas which have emerged on their mental horizon. Generalization is always a new influx of the divinity into the mind. the religion of nations. the thoughts of his heart. but put him where you will. his world. he stands. and that all things are shadows of him. There are degrees in idealism. and his alert acceptance of it from whatever quarter. The parties are not to be judged by the spirit they partake and even express under this Pentecost. We learn first to play with it academically. emancipates us from the oppression of the last speaker. In conversation we pluck up the termini which bound the common of silence on every side. This can only be by his preferring truth to his past apprehension of truth. Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true.

install ourselves the best we can in Greek. in the 160 . in Roman houses. of chair and clock and tester. In like manner we see literature best from the midst of wild nature. Therefore we value the poet. a purchase by which we may move it. breeding. no words would be suffered. Then cometh the god and converts the statues into fiery men.— property. The use of literature is to afford us a platform whence we may command a view of our present life. to become men. and the meaning of the very furniture. If they were at a perfect understanding in any part. and by a flash of his eye burns up the veil which shrouded all things. we seem to recover our rights. All the argument and all the wisdom is not in the encyclopaedia. climates. in Punic. is manifest. that we can be full. but prose and trivial toys. The field cannot be well seen from within the field. possibly. The facts which loomed so large in the fogs of yesterday. religions. climate. are supposed in the announcement of every truth! In common hours. surrounded by mighty symbols which are not symbols to us. cities. leave their foundations and dance before our eyes.Essays siveness of his own thought. what truths profound and executable only in ages and orbs. All that we reckoned settled shakes and rattles. no words would be necessary thereon. The length of the discourse indicates the distance of thought betwixt the speaker and the hearer. empty. then yields us to another redeemer. only that we may wiselier see French. and literatures. Literature is a point outside of our hodiernal circle through which a new one may be described. or from a high religion. or the treatise on metaphysics. silence is better. And yet here again see the swift circumspection! Good as is discourse. and shames it. of cup and saucer. society sits cold and statuesque. or from the din of affairs. If at one in all parts. In my daily work I incline to repeat my old steps. The astronomer must have his diameter of the earth’s orbit as a base to find the parallax of any star. We fill ourselves with ancient learning. English and American houses and modes of living. or the Body of Divinity. but in the sonnet or the play.—knowing. personal beauty and the like. We all stand waiting. have strangely changed their proportions. O. and do not believe in remedial force.

He smites and arouses me with his shrill tones. yet was there never a young philosopher whose breeding had fallen into the Christian church by whom that brave text of Paul’s was not specially prized:—”Then shall also the Son be subject unto Him who put all things under him. these metals and animals. that God may be all in all. and I am capable once more of choosing a straight path in theory and practice. and that the goods which belong to you gravitate to you and need not be pursued with pains and cost? Yet is that statement approximate also. Not through subtle subterranean channels need friend and fact be drawn to their counterpart. Has the naturalist or chemist learned his craft. Christianity is rightly dear to the best of mankind. which seem to stand there for their own sake. These manifold tenacious qualities. are means and methods only. and I open my eye on my own possibilities. But some Petrarch or Ariosto.—are words of God. we may chance to cast a right glance back upon biography. We can never see Christianity from the catechism:—from the pastures. The natural world may be conceived of as a system of concentric circles. from amidst the songs of wood-birds we possibly may. this chemistry and vegetation. the instinct of man presses eagerly onward to the impersonal and illimitable. who has explored the gravity of atoms and the elective affinities. writes me an ode or a brisk romance. full of daring thought and action. Cleansed by the elemental light and wind. Omnipresence is a higher fact. from a boat in the pond.Emerson power of change and reform. who has not yet discerned the deeper law whereof this is only a partial or approximate statement. He claps wings to the sides of all the solid old lumber of the world.” Let the claims and virtues of persons be never so great and welcome. filled with the new wine of his imagination. and as fugitive as other words. namely that like draws to like. breaks up my whole chain of habits. but sliding. steeped in the sea of beautiful forms which the field offers us. 161 . and not final. and we now and then detect in nature slight dislocations which apprise us that this surface on which we now stand is not fixed. We have the same need to command a view of the religion of the world. and gladly arms itself against the dogmatism of bigots with this generous word out of the book itself.

Is this too sudden a rushing from the centre to the verge of our orbit? Think how many times we shall fall back into pitiful calculations before we take up our rest in the great sentiment. faith. these are sacred. or the debt of thought to mankind. and has no measure in his abhorrence of another who is very remiss in this duty and makes the creditor wait tediously. commerce is of trivial import. or the debt to the poor? the debt of money. to what god he devotes it. like you. he had better be prudent still. asks himself Which debt must I pay first. rightly considered. love. But it behooves each to see. I suppose that the highest prudence is the lowest prudence. that his feet may be safer from the bite of snakes. these things proceed from the eternal generation of the soul. from all other duties. The great man will not be prudent in the popular sense. The same law of eternal procession ranges all that we call the virtues. there is no other principle but arithmetic.Essays but. and 162 . the better they are” are proverbs which express the transcendentalism of common life. if to a great trust. the aspiration of man. one man’s wisdom another’s folly. Aaron never thinks of such a peril. your bravest sentiment is familiar to the humblest men. Geoffrey draws on his boots to go through the woods. as one beholds the same objects from a higher point. or make the verge of to-day the new centre. if to ease and pleasure. One man thinks justice consists in paying debts. But that second man has his own way of looking at things. One man’s justice is another’s injustice. and extinguishes each in the light of a better. one man’s beauty another’s ugliness. “Blessed be nothing” and “The worse things are. truth of character. In many years neither is harmed by such an accident. Yet it seems to me that with every precaution you take against such an evil you put yourself into the power of the evil. the debt to the rich. For me. O broker. when he sacrifices prudence. nor can I detach one duty. he can well spare his mule and panniers who has a winged chariot instead. The poor and the low have their way of expressing the last facts of philosophy as well as you. of genius to nature? For you. Cause and effect are two sides of one fact. all his prudence will be so much deduction from his grandeur. Besides.

for these moments confer a sort of omnipresence and omnipotence which asks nothing of duration. you shall find that. The terror of reform is the discovery that we must cast away our virtues. though slower. O circular philosopher. but sees that the energy of the mind is commensurate with the work to be done. so that no evil is pure. and would fain teach us that if we are true. nor hell itself without its extreme satisfactions. half converts to the right. I own I am gladdened by seeing the predominance of the saccharine principle throughout vegetable nature. I accuse myself of sloth and unprofitableness day by day. but when these waves of God flow into me I no longer reckon lost time. all are initial. at an equivalence and indifferency of all actions. without time. I hear some reader exclaim. and not less by beholding in morals that unrestrained inundation of the principle of good into every chink and hole that selfishness has left open. The virtues of society are vices of the saint. Those smaller faults. into the same pit that has consumed our grosser vices:— “Forgive his crimes. Let me live onward. forgive his virtues too. the progress of my character will liquidate all these debts without injustice to higher claims. And thus.” It is the highest power of divine moments that they abolish our contritions also. forsooth. Do not set the 163 . let me remind the reader that I am only an experimenter. would not this be injustice? Does he owe no debt but money? And are all claims on him to be postponed to a landlord’s or a banker’s? There is no virtue which is final. I no longer poorly compute my possible achievement by what remains to me of the month or the year.Emerson concentrate my forces mechanically on the payment of moneys. or what we have always esteemed such. you have arrived at a fine Pyrrhonism. If a man should dedicate himself to the payment of notes. yea into selfishness and sin itself. our crimes may be lively stones out of which we shall construct the temple of the true God! I am not careful to justify myself. But lest I should mislead any when I have my own head and obey my whims.

Infancy. and their eyes are uplifted. We call it by many names. No love can be bound by oath or covenant to secure it against a higher love. they are all forms of old age. let them be lovers. receptive. not newness. No facts are to me sacred. for that which is made instructs how to make a better. we do not grow old. with religious eye looking upward. not the way onward. the past is always swallowed and forgotten. I simply experiment. their wrinkles smoothed. That central life is somewhat superior to creation.Essays least value on what I do. This old age ought not to creep on a human mind. superior to knowledge and thought. they are rest. no preservation. Whilst we converse with what is above us. no pause. conservatism. intemperance. they are perfumed again with hope and power. Nothing is secure but life. but in vain. Let them. they renounce aspiration. the coming only is sacred. We grizzle every day. the eternal generator abides. germinate and spring. appropriation.—fever. I unsettle all things. In nature every moment is new. only as far as they 164 . No truth so sublime but it may be trivial to-morrow in the light of new thoughts. Why should we import rags and relics into the new hour? Nature abhors the old. Yet this incessant movement and progression which all things partake could never become sensible to us but by contrast to some principle of fixture or stability in the soul. aspiring. stupidity and crime. inertia. as if I pretended to settle any thing as true or false. let them behold truth. I see no need of it. Thus there is no sleep. But the man and woman of seventy assume to know all. but all things renew. transition. Whilst the eternal generation of circles proceeds. or the least discredit on what I do not. insanity. counts itself nothing and abandons itself to the instruction flowing from all sides. all others run into this one. and old age seems the only disease. none are profane. youth. accept the actual for the necessary and talk down to the young. For ever it labors to create a life and thought as Large and excellent as itself. an endless seeker with no Past at my back. become organs of the Holy Ghost. they have outlived their hope. then. but grow young. and contains all its circles. People wish to be settled. the energizing spirit.

Of lower states. when we are building up our being.Emerson are unsettled is there any hope for them. to lose our sempiternal memory and to do something without knowing how or why. in short to draw a new circle. The simplest words. People say sometimes. The difference between talents and character is adroitness to keep the old and trodden round. the total growths and universal movements of the soul. yet is itself an exhalation of the morning. and power and courage to make a new road to new and better goals. Character makes an overpowering present.’ Not if they still remind me of the black event. The great moments of history are the facilities of performance 165 . The new position of the advancing man has all the powers of the old. It was easy to him. determined hour. see how cheerful I am. Now. Life is a series of surprises. see how completely I have triumphed over these black events. I cast away in this new moment all my once hoarded knowledge. the pleasure. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. We see that we had exaggerated the difficulty. Character dulls the impression of particular events. When we see the conqueror we do not think much of any one battle or success.—we do not know what they mean except when we love and aspire. yet has them all new. The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves. The great man is not convulsible or tormentable. as vacant and vain. I can know that truth is divine and helpful. True conquest is the causing the calamity to fade and disappear as an early cloud of insignificant result in a history so large and advancing. they are incalculable. ‘See what I have overcome. events pass over him without much impression. to be surprised out of our propriety. which fortifies all the company by making them see that much is possible and excellent that was not thought of. of acts of routine and sense. we can tell somewhat. but the masterpieces of God. it is by abandonment. for the first time seem I to know any thing rightly. for so to be is the sole inlet of so to know. a cheerful. We do not guess to-day the mood. the power of to-morrow. he hideth. It carries in its bosom all the energies of the past. but how it shall help me I can have no guess. The way of life is wonderful.

but the intellect dissolves fire. and the subtlest unnamed relations of nature in its resistless menstruum. Water dissolves wood and iron and salt. to ape in some manner these flames and generosities of the heart. electric fire dissolves air. air dissolves water. INTELLECT Go. “A man” said Oliver Cromwell “never rises so high as when he knows not whither he is going. For the like reason they ask the aid of wild passions. and hence their dangerous attraction for men. but what man has yet been able to mark the steps and boundaries of that transparent essence? The first ques166 . The wheat thou strew’st be souls.” Dreams and drunkenness. which is intellect constructive. XI.— The sower scatters broad his seed. Gladly would I unfold in calm degrees a natural history of the intellect.Essays through the strength of ideas. Intellect lies behind genius. INTELLECT E very substance is negatively electric to that which stands above it in the chemical tables. laws. speed the stars of Thought On to their shining goals. gravity. positively to that which stands below it. method. as the works of genius and religion. as in gaming and war. the use of opium and alcohol are the semblance and counterfeit of this oracular genius. Intellect is the simple power anterior to all action or construction.

The making a fact the subject of thought raises it. The considerations of time and place.Emerson tions are always to be asked. lies open to the mercy of coming events. come within the power of fortune. cool and disengaged. of you and me. This the intellect always ponders. In the fog of good and evil affections it is hard for man to walk forward in a straight line. but embalmed. of its works. But a truth. detects intrinsic likeness between remote things and reduces all things into a few principles. and the wisest doctor is gravelled by the inquisitiveness of a child. from all local and personal reference. And so any fact in our life. Itself alone is. knowledge into act? Each becomes the other. to fear. Intellect and intellection signify to the common ear consideration of abstract truth. It is offered for science. but is union with the things known. Heraclitus looked upon the affections as dense and colored mists. they constitute the circumstance of daily life. or any record of our fancies or reflections. Nature shows all things formed and bound. How can we speak of the action of the mind under any divisions. from you. they are subject to change. as of its knowledge. As a ship aground is battered by the waves. A better art than that of Egypt has taken fear and corruption out of it. and so forth. so man. imprisoned in mortal life. He who is immersed in what concerns person or place cannot see the problem of existence. Every man beholds his human condition with a degree of melancholy. of its ethics. Intellect separates the fact considered. becomes an object impersonal and immortal. and hope. of profit and hurt tyrannize over most men’s minds. It is the past restored. overleaps the wall. Intellect is void of affection and sees an object as it stands in the light of science. is no longer a subject of destiny. All that mass of mental and moral phenomena which we do not make objects of voluntary thought. What 167 . The intellect goes out of the individual. and not as I and mine. and regards it as a fact. Its vision is not like the vision of the eye. It is eviscerated of care. and discerns it as if it existed for its own sake. since it melts will into perception. separated by the intellect. The intellect pierces the form. floats over its own personality. disentangled from the web of our unconsciousness. We behold it as a god upraised above care and fear.

this connection of events. What am I? What has my will done to make me that I am? Nothing. the mode of that spontaneity. The mind that grows could not predict the times. by secret currents of might and mind. They catch us up for moments into their heaven and so fully engage us that we take no thought for the morrow. We have little control over our thoughts. But the moment we cease to report 168 . Long prior to the age of reflection is the thinking of the mind. unforeseen. unimaginable. We only open our senses. whilst you rise from your bed. bethink us where we have been. Whatever any mind doth or saith is after a law. the greatest part is incalculable by him. and this native law remains over it after it has come to reflection or conscious thought. pedantic. introverted self-tormenter’s life. By and by we fall out of that rapture. As far as we can recall these ecstasies we carry away in the ineffaceable memory the result. and repeat as truly as we can what we have beheld. Our thinking is a pious reception. The growth of the intellect is spontaneous in every expansion. It is called Truth. We are the prisoners of ideas. what we have seen. or walk abroad in the morning after meditating the matter before sleep on the previous night. You cannot with your best deliberation and heed come so close to any question as your spontaneous glance shall bring you. this hour.Essays is addressed to us for contemplation does not threaten us but makes us intellectual beings. In the most worn. and must be. have not aided to an appreciable degree. as by too great negligence. God enters by a private door into every individual. and my ingenuity and wilfulness have not thwarted. until he can take himself up by his own ears. and suffer the intellect to see. I have been floated into this thought. Our spontaneous action is always the best. the means. clear away as we can all obstruction from the fact. without an effort to make them our own. In the period of infancy it accepted and disposed of all impressions from the surrounding creation after its own way. Out of darkness it came insensibly into the marvellous light of to-day. We do not determine what we will think. gaze like children. and all men and all the ages confirm it. Our truth of thought is therefore vitiated as much by too violent direction given by our will.

Emerson and attempt to correct and contrive, it is not truth. If we consider what persons have stimulated and profited us, we shall perceive the superiority of the spontaneous or intuitive principle over the arithmetical or logical. The first contains the second, but virtual and latent. We want in every man a long logic; we cannot pardon the absence of it, but it must not be spoken. Logic is the procession or proportionate unfolding of the intuition; but its virtue is as silent method; the moment it would appear as propositions and have a separate value it is worthless. In every man’s mind, some images, words and facts remain, without effort on his part to imprint them, which others forget, and afterwards these illustrate to him important laws. All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. It is vain to hurry it. By trusting it to the end, it shall ripen into truth and you shall know why you believe. Each mind has its own method. A true man never acquires after college rules. What you have aggregated in a natural manner surprises and delights when it is produced. For we cannot oversee each other’s secret. And hence the differences between men in natural endowment are insignificant in comparison with their common wealth. Do you think the porter and the cook have no anecdotes, no experiences, no wonders for you? Every body knows as much as the savant. The walls of rude minds are scrawled all over with facts, with thoughts. They shall one day bring a lantern and read the inscriptions. Every man, in the degree in which he has wit and culture, finds his curiosity inflamed concerning the modes of living and thinking of other men, and especially of those classes whose minds have not been subdued by the drill of school education. This instinctive action never ceases in a healthy mind, but becomes richer and more frequent in its informations through all states of culture. At last comes the era of reflection, when we not only observe, but take pains to observe; when we of set purpose sit down to consider an abstract truth; when we keep the mind’s eye open whilst we converse, whilst we read, whilst we act, intent to learn the secret law of some class of facts. 169

Essays What is the hardest task in the world? To think. I would put myself in the attitude to look in the eye an abstract truth, and I cannot. I blench and withdraw on this side and on that. I seem to know what he meant who said, No man can see God face to face and live. For example, a man explores the basis of civil government. Let him intend his mind without respite, without rest, in one direction. His best heed long time avails him nothing. Yet thoughts are flitting before him. We all but apprehend, we dimly forebode the truth. We say I will walk abroad, and the truth will take form and clearness to me. We go forth, but cannot find it. It seems as if we needed only the stillness and composed attitude of the library to seize the thought. But we come in, and are as far from it as at first. Then, in a moment, and unannounced, the truth appears. A certain wandering light appears, and is the distinction, the principle, we wanted. But the oracle comes because we had previously laid siege to the shrine. It seems as if the law of the intellect resembled that law of nature by which we now inspire, now expire the breath; by which the heart now draws in, then hurls out the blood,—the law of undulation. So now you must labor with your brains, and now you must forbear your activity and see what the great Soul showeth. The immortality of man is as legitimately preached from the intellections as from the moral volitions. Every intellection is mainly prospective. Its present value is its least. Inspect what delights you in Plutarch, in Shakspeare, in Cervantes. Each truth that a writer acquires is a lantern, which he turns full on what facts and thoughts lay already in his mind, and behold, all the mats and rubbish which had littered his garret become precious. Every trivial fact in his private biography becomes an illustration of this new principle, revisits the day, and delights all men by its piquancy and new charm. Men say, Where did he get this? and think there was something divine in his life. But no; they have myriads of facts just as good, would they only get a lamp to ransack their attics withal. We are all wise. The difference between persons is not in wisdom but in art. I knew, in an academical club, a person who always deferred to me; who, seeing my whim for writing, fancied that my experiences had somewhat 170

Emerson superior; whilst I saw that his experiences were as good as mine. Give them to me and I would make the same use of them. He held the old; he holds the new; I had the habit of tacking together the old and the new which he did not use to exercise. This may hold in the great examples. Perhaps if we should meet Shakspeare we should not be conscious of any steep inferiority; no, but of a great equality,—only that he possessed a strange skill of using, of classifying, his facts, which we lacked. For notwithstanding our utter incapacity to produce anything like Hamlet and Othello, see the perfect reception this wit and immense knowledge of life and liquid eloquence find in us all. If you gather apples in the sunshine, or make hay, or hoe corn, and then retire within doors and shut your eyes and press them with your hand, you shall still see apples hanging in the bright light with boughs and leaves thereto, or the tasselled grass, or the corn-flags, and this for five or six hours afterwards. There lie the impressions on the retentive organ, though you knew it not. So lies the whole series of natural images with which your life has made you acquainted, in your memory, though you know it not; and a thrill of passion flashes light on their dark chamber, and the active power seizes instantly the fit image, as the word of its momentary thought. It is long ere we discover how rich we are. Our history, we are sure, is quite tame: we have nothing to write, nothing to infer. But our wiser years still run back to the despised recollections of childhood, and always we are fishing up some wonderful article out of that pond; until by and by we begin to suspect that the biography of the one foolish person we know is, in reality, nothing less than the miniature paraphrase of the hundred volumes of the Universal History. In the intellect constructive, which we popularly designate by the word Genius, we observe the same balance of two elements as in intellect receptive. The constructive intellect produces thoughts, sentences, poems, plans, designs, systems. It is the generation of the mind, the marriage of thought with nature. To genius must always go two gifts, the thought and the publication. The first is revelation, always a miracle, which no frequency of oc171

Essays currence or incessant study can ever familiarize, but which must always leave the inquirer stupid with wonder. It is the advent of truth into the world, a form of thought now for the first time bursting into the universe, a child of the old eternal soul, a piece of genuine and immeasurable greatness. It seems, for the time, to inherit all that has yet existed and to dictate to the unborn. It affects every thought of man and goes to fashion every institution. But to make it available it needs a vehicle or art by which it is conveyed to men. To be communicable it must become picture or sensible object. We must learn the language of facts. The most wonderful inspirations die with their subject if he has no hand to paint them to the senses. The ray of light passes invisible through space and only when it falls on an object is it seen. When the spiritual energy is directed on something outward, then it is a thought. The relation between it and you first makes you, the value of you, apparent to me. The rich inventive genius of the painter must be smothered and lost for want of the power of drawing, and in our happy hours we should be inexhaustible poets if once we could break through the silence into adequate rhyme. As all men have some access to primary truth, so all have some art or power of communication in their head, but only in the artist does it descend into the hand. There is an inequality, whose laws we do not yet know, between two men and between two moments of the same man, in respect to this faculty. In common hours we have the same facts as in the uncommon or inspired, but they do not sit for their portraits; they are not detached, but lie in a web. The thought of genius is spontaneous; but the power of picture or expression, in the most enriched and flowing nature, implies a mixture of will, a certain control over the spontaneous states, without which no production is possible. It is a conversion of all nature into the rhetoric of thought, under the eye of judgment, with a strenuous exercise of choice. And yet the imaginative vocabulary seems to be spontaneous also. It does not flow from experience only or mainly, but from a richer source. Not by any conscious imitation of particular forms are the grand strokes of the painter executed, but by repairing to the fountain-head of all forms in his mind. 172

Emerson Who is the first drawing-master? Without instruction we know very well the ideal of the human form. A child knows if an arm or a leg be distorted in a picture; if the attitude be natural or grand or mean; though he has never received any instruction in drawing or heard any conversation on the subject, nor can himself draw with correctness a single feature. A good form strikes all eyes pleasantly, long before they have any science on the subject, and a beautiful face sets twenty hearts in palpitation, prior to all consideration of the mechanical proportions of the features and head. We may owe to dreams some light on the fountain of this skill; for as soon as we let our will go and let the unconscious states ensue, see what cunning draughtsmen we are! We entertain ourselves with wonderful forms of men, of women, of animals, of gardens, of woods and of monsters, and the mystic pencil wherewith we then draw has no awkwardness or inexperience, no meagreness or poverty; it can design well and group well; its composition is full of art, its colors are well laid on and the whole canvas which it paints is lifelike and apt to touch us with terror, with tenderness, with desire and with grief. Neither are the artist’s copies from experience ever mere copies, but always touched and softened by tints from this ideal domain. The conditions essential to a constructive mind do not appear to be so often combined but that a good sentence or verse remains fresh and memorable for a long time. Yet when we write with ease and come out into the free air of thought, we seem to be assured that nothing is easier than to continue this communication at pleasure. Up, down, around, the kingdom of thought has no inclosures, but the Muse makes us free of her city. Well, the world has a million writers. One would think then that good thought would be as familiar as air and water, and the gifts of each new hour would exclude the last. Yet we can count all our good books; nay, I remember any beautiful verse for twenty years. It is true that the discerning intellect of the world is always much in advance of the creative, so that there are many competent judges of the best book, and few writers of the best books. But some of the conditions of intellectual construction are of rare occurrence. The intellect is a whole and demands integ173

Essays rity in every work. This is resisted equally by a man’s devotion to a single thought and by his ambition to combine too many. Truth is our element of life, yet if a man fasten his attention on a single aspect of truth and apply himself to that alone for a long time, the truth becomes distorted and not itself but falsehood; herein resembling the air, which is our natural element, and the breath of our nostrils, but if a stream of the same be directed on the body for a time, it causes cold, fever, and even death. How wearisome the grammarian, the phrenologist, the political or religious fanatic, or indeed any possessed mortal whose balance is lost by the exaggeration of a single topic. It is incipient insanity. Every thought is a prison also. I cannot see what you see, because I am caught up by a strong wind and blown so far in one direction that I am out of the hoop of your horizon. Is it any better if the student, to avoid this offence, and to liberalize himself, aims to make a mechanical whole of history, or science, or philosophy, by a numerical addition of all the facts that fall within his vision? The world refuses to be analyzed by addition and subtraction. When we are young we spend much time and pains in filling our note-books with all definitions of Religion, Love, Poetry, Politics, Art, in the hope that in the course of a few years we shall have condensed into our encyclopaedia the net value of all the theories at which the world has yet arrived. But year after year our tables get no completeness, and at last we discover that our curve is a parabola, whose arcs will never meet. Neither by detachment neither by aggregation is the integrity of the intellect transmitted to its works, but by a vigilance which brings the intellect in its greatness and best state to operate every moment. It must have the same wholeness which nature has. Although no diligence can rebuild the universe in a model by the best accumulation or disposition of details, yet does the world reappear in miniature in every event, so that all the laws of nature may be read in the smallest fact. The intellect must have the like perfection in its apprehension and in its works. For this reason, an index or mercury of intellectual proficiency is the perception of identity. We talk 174

and though we make it our own we instantly crave another. For the truth was in us before it was reflected to us from natural objects. yet every man is a receiver of this descending holy ghost. Take which you please. But if the constructive powers are rare and it is given to few men to be poets. He submits to the inconvenience of suspense and imperfect opinion. But the poet. as a pendulum. and forego all things for that. man oscillates. the world is only their lodging and table. Exactly parallel is the whole rule of intellectual duty to the rule of moral duty. have nothing of them. and respects the highest law of his being. He feels a strict consanguinity. and detects more likeness than variety in all her changes. so that his treasure in thought is thereby augmented. the turf. the bird are not theirs. is one whom Nature cannot deceive. and may well study the laws of its influx. He in whom the love of truth predominates will keep himself aloof from all moorings. but he is a candidate for truth. but when we receive a new thought it is only the old thought with a new face. He gets rest. He must worship truth.— most likely his father’s. He will abstain from dogmatism. and recognize all the opposite negations between which.—you can never have both. God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. The cloud. whatsoever face of strangeness she may put on. We are stung by the desire for new thought. Happy is the hearing man. his being is swung. commodity. A self-denial no less austere than the saint’s is demanded of the scholar. and reputation. the tree. 175 . the first political party he meets. and choose defeat and pain. and the profound genius will cast the likeness of all creatures into every product of his wit.Emerson with accomplished persons who appear to be strangers in nature. Between these. He shall then know that there is somewhat more blessed and great in hearing than in speaking. the first philosophy. but he shuts the door of truth. as walls. and afloat. whose verses are to be spheral and complete. He in whom the love of repose predominates will accept the first creed. The circle of the green earth he must measure with his shoes to find the man who can yield him truth. we are not really enriched. as the other is not.

such has Hegel or his interpreter Cousin seemed to many young men in this country. whatsoever fame and authority may attend it. and they will be no longer an alarming meteor. he is to refuse himself to that which draws him not.Essays unhappy the speaking man. it seems something the less to reside. The suggestions are thousandfold that I hear and see. Lysis and Menexenus are afflicted by no shame that they do not speak. Because a true and natural man contains and is the same truth which an eloquent man articulates. Exhaust them. But whilst he gives himself up unreservedly to that which draws him. Take thankfully and heartily all they can give. loves them. He likewise defers to them. Silence is a solvent that destroys personality. let them not go until their blessing be won. I confine and am less. as a capillary column of water is a balance for the sea. and after a short season the dismay will be overpast. because that is his own. because it is not his own. for so are the gods. whilst he speaks. Entire self-reliance belongs to the intellect. house and lands. tastes. and manner of living. but in the eloquent man. The waters of the great deep have ingress and egress to the soul. Every man’s progress is through a succession of teachers. A new doctrine seems at first a subversion of all our opinions. wrestle with them. Let us be silent. Each new mind we approach seems to require an abdication of all our past and present possessions. mother. Jesus says. One soul is a counterpoise of all souls. but one more bright star shining serenely in your heaven and blending its light with all your day. When Socrates speaks. such has Coleridge. This is as true intellectually as morally. and follow me. and he turns to these silent beautiful with the more inclination and respect. The ancient sentence said. Who leaves all. and gives us leave to be great and universal. because he can articulate it. As long as I hear truth I am bathed by a beautiful element and am not conscious of any limits to my nature. each of whom seems at the time to have a superlative influence. the excess of influence withdrawn. such has Kant. It must treat things and books 176 . But if I speak. Leave father. but it at last gives place to a new. Such has Swedenborg. receives more. I define. They also are good. Frankly let him accept it all.

you will find it is no recondite. even thus rudely. so primary in their thinking.” The gods shall settle their own quarrels. Especially take the same ground in regard to abstract truth. I shall not presume to interfere in the old politics of the skies. but necessity is in intellect. Olympiodorus. have somewhat so vast in their logic. or whosoever propounds to you a philosophy of the mind. but a simple. I will not. that he has not succeeded in rendering back to you your consciousness. instead of too timidly poring into his obscure sense. common state which the writer restores to you. the science of the mind. I were a fool not to sacrifice a thousand Aeschyluses to my intellectual integrity.—dwelling in a worship which makes the sanctities of Christianity look parvenues and popular. perhaps Spinoza will. though the subject might provoke it. is only a more or less awkward translator of things in your consciousness which you have also your way of seeing. If Plato cannot.—”The cherubim know most. the seraphim love most. Schelling. perhaps of denominating. Synesius and the rest. wonderful seems the calm and grand air of these few. Plotinus. natural. When at long intervals we turn over their abstruse pages. without remembering that lofty and sequestered class of men who have been its prophets and oracles. these great spiritual lords who have walked in the world. Heraclitus.” This band of grandees. when at last it is done. The Bacon. But I cannot recite. Empedocles. the Trismegisti. Proclus. all his fame shall avail him nothing with me. But let us end these didactics. Hermes. laws of the intellect. then perhaps Kant. he has not yet done his office when he has educated the learned of Europe for a thousand years. that it seems antecedent to all the ordinary distinctions 177 . Anyhow. Say then.—these of the old religion.Emerson and sovereign genius as itself also a sovereign. Plato. the Hume. If he cannot do that. for “persuasion is in soul. the Spinoza. now let another try. He is now to approve himself a master of delight to me also. Kant. speak to the open question between Truth and Love. If Spinoza cannot. the expounders of the principles of thought from age to age. He has not succeeded. the high-priesthood of the pure reason. If Aeschylus be that man he is taken for.

Let statue. park and hall. I am present at the sowing of the seed of the world. Ballad. On the city’s paved street Plant gardens lined with lilac sweet. His fathers shining in bright fables. who do not comprehend their plainest argument. Bring the moonlight into noon Hid in gleaming piles of stone. is the innocent serenity with which these babe-like Jupiters sit in their clouds. The truth and grandeur of their thought is proved by its scope and applicability. picture. Skirts of angels. whether there be any who understand it or not. ’Tis the privilege of Art . But what marks its elevation and has even a comic look to us.Essays of rhetoric and literature. the day adorn And make each morrow a new morn So shall the drudge in dusty frock Spy behind the city clock Retinues of airy kings. 178 ART Give to barrows trays and pans Grace and glimmer of romance. but speak their own. nor testify the least displeasure or petulance at the dulness of their amazed auditory. and to be at once poetry and music and dancing and astronomy and mathematics. nor do they ever relent so much as to insert a popular or explaining sentence. for it commands the entire schedule and inventory of things for its illustration. Well assured that their speech is intelligible and the most natural thing in the world. The past restore. without a moment’s heed of the universal astonishment of the human race below. flag and festival. His children fed at heavenly tables. The angels are so enamored of the language that is spoken in heaven that they will not distort their lips with the hissing and unmusical dialects of men. Singing in the sun-baked square. and from age to age prattle to each other and to no contemporary. they add thesis to thesis. starry wings. Let spouting fountains cool the air. With a geometry of sunbeams the soul lays the foundations of nature.

Thus in our fine arts. love of nature.Emerson Thus to play its cheerful part. In landscapes the painter should give the suggestion of a fairer creation than we know. but itself the creative impulse? for it is the inlet of that higher illumination which teaches to convey a larger sense by simpler symbols. He should know that the landscape has beauty for his eye because it expresses a thought which is to him good. the prose of nature he should omit and . but in every act attempts the production of a new and fairer whole. He will give the gloom of gloom and the sunshine of sunshine. What is a man but nature’s finer success in self-explication? What is a man but a finer and compacter landscape than the horizon figures. and must esteem the man who sits to him as himself only an imperfect picture or likeness of the aspiring original within. and so exalt in his copy the features that please him. —all the weary miles and tons of space and bulk left out. In a portrait he must inscribe the character and not the features. Man in Earth to acclimate And bend the exile to his fate. give us only the spirit and splendor. Whilst upper life the slender rill Of human sense doth overfill. What is that abridgment and selection we observe in all spiritual activity. Teach him on these as stairs to climb And live on even terms with Time. The details. and the spirit or moral of it contracted 179 XII. his love of painting. And. This appears in works both of the useful and the fine arts. and this because the same power which sees through his eyes is seen in that spectacle. ART B ecause the soul is progressive.—nature’s eclecticism? and what is his speech. it never quite repeats itself. and he will come to value the expression of nature and not nature itself. but a still finer success. moulded of one element With the days and firmament. not imitation but creation is the aim. if we employ the popular distinction of works according to their aim either at use or beauty.

They denote the height of the human soul in that hour. perfect and beautiful. This circumstance gives a value to the Egyptian hieroglyphics. to assist and lead the dormant taste. to the Indian. The Genius of the Hour sets his ineffaceable seal on the work and gives it an inexpressible charm for the imagination. the religion. the Divine. however gross and shapeless. The very avoidance betrays the usage he avoids. but our eyes have no clear vision. As far as the spiritual character of the period overpowers the artist and finds expression in his work. but sprung from a necessity as deep as the world. It needs. or we behold what is 180 . by the exhibition of single traits. No man can quite emancipate himself from his age and country. never so wilful and fantastic. to share the manner of his times. Shall I now add that the whole extant product of the plastic arts has herein its highest value. Chinese and Mexican idols. so far it will retain a certain grandeur. and were not fantastic. or produce a model in which the education. without knowing what that manner is. No man can quite exclude this element of Necessity from his labor. or the most cunning stroke of the pencil? But the artist must employ the symbols in use in his day and nation to convey his enlarged sense to his fellow-men. the politics. Thus the new in art is always formed out of the old. We are immersed in beauty. Now that which is inevitable in the work has a higher charm than individual talent can ever give. according to whose ordinations all beings advance to their beatitude? Thus. as a stroke drawn in the portrait of that fate. historically viewed. the Inevitable. and will represent to future beholders the Unknown. as history. it has been the office of art to educate the perception of beauty. Though he were never so original. We carve and paint.Essays into a musical word. he cannot wipe out of his work every trace of the thoughts amidst which it grew. Above his will and out of his sight he is necessitated by the air he breathes and the idea on which he and his contemporaries live and toil. inasmuch as the artist’s pen or chisel seems to have been held and guided by a gigantic hand to inscribe a line in the history of the human race. usages and arts of his times shall have no share.

fills the eye not less than a lion. 181 . to be for their moment the top of the world. drawn by a master. A good ballad draws my ear and heart whilst I listen. the plan of a temple. of all genuine talents. it is the only thing worth naming to do that. a statue. Love and all the passions concentrate all existence around a single form. as much as an epic has done before. but his individual character and his practical power depend on his daily progress in the separation of things. or of a voyage of discovery.Emerson carved and painted. Until one thing comes out from the connection of things. as students of the mystery of Form. but no thought. the word. for example a well-laid garden. or a litter of pigs. an oration. These are the artists.—the painter and sculptor exhibit in color and in stone. and stands then and there for nature. The infant lies in a pleasing trance. A squirrel leaping from bough to bough and making the Wood but one wide tree for his pleasure. The virtue of art lies in detachment. self-sufficing. which rounds itself into a whole as did the first. The power depends on the depth of the artist’s insight of that object he contemplates. Presently we pass to some other object. the thought. It is the habit of certain minds to give an all-excluding fulness to the object. in Byron. Our happiness and unhappiness are unproductive. Therefore each work of genius is the tyrant of the hour And concentrates attention on itself. For it is the right and property of all natural objects. in Carlyle. and may of course be so exhibited to us as to represent the world. I should think fire the best thing in the world. contemplation. the leaders of society. a landscape. an opera. The power to detach and to magnify by detaching is the essence of rhetoric in the hands of the orator and the poet. there can be enjoyment. the orators. of a campaign. in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety. For the time. and nothing seems worth doing but the laying out of gardens. and water. For every object has its roots in central nature. of all native properties whatsoever. A dog. and to make that for the time the deputy of the world. This rhetoric.—is beautiful. they alight upon.—be it a sonnet. and dealing with one at a time.—so remarkable in Burke. if I were not acquainted with air. and earth. or power to fix the momentary eminency of an object.

Essays satisfies and is a reality not less than the frescoes of Angelo. But I also learn that what astonished and fascinated me in the first work astonished me in the second work also. Now one thought strikes him. Painting seems to be to the eye what dancing is to the limbs. its training to the niceties and curiosities of its function. expanded. What a gallery of art have I here! No mannerist made these varied groups and diverse original single figures. all men look like giants. of perpetual variety. grim and glad. at his block. and as I see many pictures and higher genius in the art. If he can draw every thing. grizzled. giant. with his infinite advantage over all ideal sculpture.— capped and based by heaven. When that has educated the frame to selfpossession. There is no statue like this living man. why draw any thing? and then is my eye opened to the eternal picture which nature paints in the street. attitude and expression of his clay. the steps of the dancing-master are better forgotten. A gallery of sculpture teaches more austerely the same lesson. so painting teaches me the splendor of color and the expression of form. “When I have been reading Homer. white-faced. dwarf. earth and sea.” I too see that painting and sculpture are gymnastics of the eye. the indifferency in which the artist stands free to choose out of the possible forms. I understand well what he meant who said. so sculpture the anatomy of form. to nimbleness. elfish. to grace. When I have seen fine statues and afterwards enter a public assembly. beggars and fine ladies. The office of painting and sculpture seems to be merely initial. wrinkled. the opulence of human nature. long-haired. As picture teaches the coloring. The best pictures can easily tell us their last secret. now another. which can run out to infinitude in any direction. with moving men and children. and with each moment he alters the whole air. draped in red and green and blue and gray. that excellence of all things is one. From this succession of excellent objects we learn at last the immensity of the world. The best pictures are rude draughts of a few of the miraculous dots and lines and dyes which make up the ever-changing “landscape with figures” amidst which we dwell. I see the boundless opulence of the pencil. Here is the artist himself improvising. black-faced. 182 .

—a wonderful expression through stone. in outlines. a jet of pure light. nature appears to us one with art. the same we bring back more fairly illustrated in the memory. and hope. That which we carry to them. The reference of all production at last to an aboriginal Power explains the traits common to all works of the highest art. or canvas. sarcophagi and candelabra. that they are the contributions of many ages and many countries. In the sculptures of the Greeks. of purity.Emerson Away with your nonsense of oil and easels. who toiled perhaps in ignorance of the existence of other sculpture. or we find it not. of the deepest and simplest attributes of our nature. created his work without other model 183 . In happy hours. and in the pictures of the Tuscan and Venetian masters. except to open your eyes to the masteries of eternal art. He studies the technical rules on these wonderful remains. that each came out of the solitary workshop of one artist. And the individual. it should produce a similar impression to that made by natural objects. Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful. that they restore to us the simplest states of mind. in whom simple tastes and susceptibility to all the great human influences overpower the accidents of a local and special culture. art perfected. is the best critic of art. we must carry it with us. through all forms of beauty cut in the richest materials. The traveller who visits the Vatican. vases. they are hypocritical rubbish. —the work of genius. A confession of moral nature. the highest charm is the universal language they speak. but forgets that these works were not always thus constellated.—that they are universally intelligible. The best of beauty is a finer charm than skill in surfaces. and therefore most intelligible at last to those souls which have these attributes. namely a radiation from the work of art of human character. and passes from chamber to chamber through galleries of statues. and that they had their origin from thoughts and laws in his own breast. Since what skill is therein shown is the reappearance of the original soul. or musical sound. of marble and chisels. or rules of art can ever teach. love. in the masonry of the Romans. breathes from them all. is in danger of forgetting the simplicity of the principles out of which they all sprung. and are religious.

I fancied the great pictures would be great strangers.Essays save life. a foreign wonder. that it was the plain you and me I knew so well. or in the log-hut of the backwoods. will serve as well as any other condition as the symbol of a thought which pours itself indifferently through all. and the sweet and smart of personal relations. I had the same experience already in a church at Naples. in his full stature and proportion. like the spontoons and standards of the militia. household life. eternal fact I had met already in so many forms. There I saw that nothing was changed with me but the place. on the corner of a New Hampshire farm. He need not cumber himself with a conventional nature and culture. nor ask what is the mode in Rome or in Paris. of beating hearts. or in the narrow lodging where he has endured the constraints and seeming of a city poverty. barbaric pearl and gold. hast thou come out hither. the artist will find in his work an outlet for his proper character. in the gray unpainted wood cabin. that it was familiar and sincere.—had left at home in so many conversations. He must not be in any manner pinched or hindered by his material. In proportion to his force. which play such pranks in the eyes and imaginations of school-boys. and will allow an adequate communication of himself. I remember when in my younger days I had heard of the wonders of Italian painting. over four thousand miles of salt water.—unto which I lived. in the chambers of sculpture. and meeting eyes. I was to see and acquire I knew not what. but that house and weather and manner of living which poverty and the fate of birth have made at once so odious and so dear. These were his inspirations. to find that which was perfect to thee there at home?’ That fact I saw again in the Academmia at Naples. of poverty and necessity and hope and fear. but through his necessity of imparting himself the adamant will be wax in his hands. When I came at last to Rome and saw with eyes the pictures. and said to myself—’Thou foolish child. I found that genius left to novices the gay and fantastic and ostentatious. and these are the effects he carries home to your heart and mind. and yet again when I came to Rome 184 . that it was the old. some surprising combination of color and form. and itself pierced directly to the simple and true.

and again at Milan and at Paris. yet how it disappoints all florid expectations! This familiar. and all great pictures are. Art has not yet come to its maturity if it do not put itself abreast with the most potent influences of the world. I now require this of all pictures. such as all pictures 185 . not that they dazzle me. tokens of the everlasting effort to produce. He has conceived meanly of the resources of man. home-speaking countenance is as if one should meet a friend. The real value of the Iliad or the Transfiguration is as signs of power. Our best praise is given to what they aimed and promised. and Leonardo da Vinci. Sacchi. and of making cripples and monsters. if it is not practical and moral. but listen not to their criticism when your heart is touched by genius. that they domesticate me. They are abortive births of an imperfect or vitiated instinct. that the arts. by Raphael. and goes directly to the heart. simple. “What. The sweet and sublime face of Jesus is beyond praise. immense and universal. Titian. as we know them.Emerson and to the paintings of Raphael. billows or ripples they are of the stream of tendency. it is impatient of working with lame or tied hands. not to the actual result. It seems almost to call you by name. who believes that the best age of production is past. and made all travelling ridiculous as a treadmill. Pictures must not be too picturesque. Art is the need to create. it was painted for you. It was not painted for them. if it do not stand in connection with the conscience. Angelo. A calm benignant beauty shines over all this picture. old mole! workest thou in the earth so fast?” It had travelled by my side. There is higher work for Art than the arts. Nothing astonishes men so much as common-sense and plain dealing. The Transfiguration. are but initial. we must end with a frank confession. which even in its worst estate the soul betrays. if it do not make the poor and uncultivated feel that it addresses them with a voice of lofty cheer. for such as had eyes capable of being touched by simplicity and lofty emotions. but in its essence. is an eminent example of this peculiar merit. that which I fancied I had left in Boston was here in the Vatican. The knowledge of picture-dealers has its value. Yet when we have said all our fine things about the arts. All great actions have been simple.

and throw down the walls of circumstance on every side. All works of art should not be detached. and among a people possessed of a wonderful perception of form this childish carving was refined to the utmost splendor of effect. but always flowing. Picture and sculpture are the celebrations and festivities of form. truth. Nature transcends all our moods of thought. Under an oak-tree loaded with leaves and nuts. to the sun. and its highest effect is to make new artists. Art should exhilarate. But the statue will look cold and false before that new activity which needs to roll through all things. and there is a moment when it becomes frivolous. I cannot hide from myself that there is a certain appearance of paltriness. The sweetest music is not in the oratorio. Nothing less than the creation of man and nature is its end. I do not wonder that Newton. but in the works of our plastic arts and especially of sculpture. creation is driven into a corner. should have wondered what the Earl of Pembroke found to admire in “stone dolls. and is impatient of counterfeits and things not alive. under a sky full of eternal eyes. awakening in the beholder the same sense of universal relation and power which the work evinced in the artist. as of toys and the trumpery of a theatre. but in the human voice when it speaks from its instant life tones of tenderness.Essays and statues are. or courage. The art of sculpture is long ago perished to any real effect. He may paint and carve only as long as he can do that. But true art is never fixed. with an attention habitually engaged on the paths of planets and suns. a mode of writing. and its secret we do not yet find. Already History is old enough to witness the old age and disappearance of particular arts. It was originally a useful art. 186 . and not the manly labor of a wise and spiritual nation. I stand in a thoroughfare. But the gallery stands at the mercy of our moods. But it is the game of a rude and youthful people.” Sculpture may serve to teach the pupil how deep is the secret of form. A man should find in it an outlet for his whole energy. in sculpture. but that persuading voice is in tune with these. and the earth. The oratorio has already lost its relation to the morning. a savage’s record of gratitude or devotion. how purely the spirit can translate its meanings into that eloquent dialect.

A popular novel. and destroy its separate and contrasted existence. sickly beauty. without dignity. These solaces and compensations. and. a statue. and they go to make a statue which shall be. it degrades the seeker. or a ball-room makes us feel that we are all paupers in the alms-house of this world. and console themselves with color-bags and blocks of marble.Emerson but extempore performances. A beautiful woman is a picture which drives all beholders nobly mad. the laws of nature do not permit. The fountains of invention and beauty in modern society are all but dried up. prudent. this division of beauty from use. and they flee to art. High beauty is no longer attainable by him in canvas or in stone. would carry art up into the kingdom of nature. which lowers on the brows even of the Venuses and the Cupids of the antique. Art must not be a superficial talent.—no longer dignifies the chisel or the pencil. The art that thus separates is itself first separated. which is not beauty. that they were inevitable. Art makes the same effort which a sensual prosperity makes. But the artist and the connoisseur now seek in art the exhibition of their talent. As soon as beauty is sought. They 187 . a theatre. if a man were found worthy to declare it. without skill or industry. as well as a poem or a romance. an effeminate. Now men do not see nature to be beautiful. is all that can be formed. to do up the work as unavoidable. but must begin farther back in man. Men are not well pleased with the figure they make in their own imaginations. hating it. and which vented itself in these fine extravagances. in sound. and furnishes the sole apology for the intrusion of such anomalous figures into nature. or in lyrical construction. Art is as poor and low. or an asylum from the evils of life. or a picture. Life may be lyric or epic. A great man is a new statue in every attitude and action. not from religion and love but for pleasure. A true announcement of the law of creation. and inconvertible. They abhor men as tasteless. and convey their better sense in an oratorio. for the hand can never execute any thing higher than the character can inspire. that the artist was drunk with a passion for form which he could not resist.—namely. The old tragic Necessity. dull. pass on to enjoyment. namely to detach the beautiful from the useful.

which plies along the Lena by magnetism. needs little to make it sublime. in the field and road-side. all is useful. nor will it repeat in England or America its history in Greece. Petersburg. and its powers are wielded by love. and create a death which they call poetic. Thus is art vilified. railways. In nature. it is its instinct to find beauty and holiness in new and necessary facts. all is beautiful. reproductive. It is in vain that we look for genius to reiterate its miracles in the old arts. in the shop and mill. and spring up between the feet of brave and earnest men. and fly to voluptuous reveries. it stands in the imagination as somewhat contrary to nature. our primary assemblies. It will come. to mills. the galvanic battery. a steamboat bridging the Atlantic between Old and New England and arriving at its ports with the punctuality of a planet. If history were truly told. it is therefore useful because it is symmetrical and fair. our commerce. as always. the electric jar. and machinery. They eat and drink. The boat at St. Beauty will not come at the call of a legislature. in drawing the breath. Proceeding from a religious heart it will raise to a divine use the railroad. and the chemist’s retort. Would it not be better to begin higher up. moving. They despatch the day’s weary chores. and the distinction between the fine and the useful arts be forgotten. our law.Essays reject life as prosaic. they will appear the supplements and continuations of the material creation. that they may afterwards execute the ideal. if life were nobly spent. unannounced. is a step of man into harmony with nature. the insurance office. it would be no longer easy or possible to distinguish the one from the other. the prism. It is therefore beautiful because it is alive. and in the functions of life? Beauty must come back to the useful arts. When science is learned in love. the effect of the mercenary impulses which these works obey? When its errands are noble and adequate. 188 . and struck with death from the first. to serve the ideal in eating and drinking. the joint-stock company.—to serve the ideal before they eat and drink. the name conveys to the mind its secondary and bad senses. in which we seek now only an economical use. Is not the selfish and even cruel aspect which belongs to our great mechanical works.

We were put into our bodies. much less is the latter the germination of the former. but there is no accurate adjustment between the spirit and the organ. and pairing rhymes. but if you inquire whether they are beautiful souls. as fire is put into a pan to be carried about. Which chose. as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce fire. and terms. XIII. and sea. It is a proof of the shallowness of the doctrine of beauty as it lies in the minds of our amateurs. like meteors. which is exercised for amusement or for show. that men seem to have lost the perception of the instant dependence of form upon soul. Olympian bards who sung Divine ideas below. Searched with Apollo’s privilege. And always keep us so. Which always find us young. Through man. and times Saw musical order. Through worlds. their way. or some limited judgment of color or form. and have an inclination for whatever is elegant. There is no doctrine of forms in our philosophy. and races. THE POET T hose who are esteemed umpires of taste are often persons who have acquired some knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures. and star Saw the dance of nature forward far. and whether their own acts are like fair pictures. Their cultivation is local. you learn that they are selfish and sensual.Emerson THE POET A moody child and wildly wise Pursued the game with joyful eyes. And rived the dark with private ray: They overleapt the horizon’s edge. all the rest remaining cold. and woman. So in 189 . Their knowledge of the fine arts is some study of rules and particulars.

I know not how it is that we need an interpreter. And this hidden truth. draws us to the consideration of the nature and functions of the Poet. In love. to the means and materials he uses. but of the common wealth. in avarice. The young man reveres men of genius. but they more. and poetry. Orpheus. that the fountains whence all this river of Time and its creatures floweth are intrinsically ideal and beautiful. Plato. to the eye of loving men. Plutarch. we study to utter our painful secret. and only the same divinity transmuted and at two or three removes.Essays regard to other forms. but with this consolation in his pursuits. to speak truly. when we know least about it. Empedocles. made of it. because. For we are not pans and barrows. the intellectual men do not believe in any essential dependence of the material world on thought and volition. in games. but they prefer to come again to the solid ground of historical evidence. But the highest minds of the world have never ceased to explore the double meaning. The breadth of the problem is great. Dante. in labor. of every sensuous fact. of a city or a contract. at a safe distance from their own experience. adequate expression is rare. Notwithstanding this necessity to be published. but children of the fire. Nature enhances her beauty. Theologians think it a pretty air-castle to talk of the Spiritual meaning of a ship or a cloud. picture. the other half is his expression. The man is only half himself. For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. He is isolated among his contemporaries by truth and by his art. nor even porters of the fire and torch-bearers. in art. or the man of Beauty. and the masters of sculpture. for the poet is representative. or shall I say the quadruple or the centuple or much more manifold meaning. but the great majority of men seem 190 . that they will draw all men sooner or later. and even the poets are contented with a civil and conformed manner of living. Heraclitus. Swedenborg. They receive of the soul as he also receives. in politics. and to the general aspect of the art in the present time. they are more himself than he is. and apprises us not of his wealth. and to write poems from the fancy. from their belief that the poet is beholding her shows at the same time. He stands among partial men for the complete man.

There is no man who does not anticipate a supersensual utility in the sun and stars. whether they be called cause. namely poets. which does not suffer them to yield the due effect. But there is some obstruction or some excess of phlegm in our constitution. and effect. the namer. in virtue of being the largest power to receive and to impart. Every touch should thrill. the rays or appulses have sufficient force to arrive at the senses. The poet is the sayer. which reappear under different names in every system of thought. and each of these three has the power of the others latent in him. Pluto. the Father. the Doer. He is a sovereign. more poetically. These three are equal. traverses the whole scale of experience.Emerson to be minors. or. but is from the beginning beautiful. and the Sayer. but Beauty is the creator of the universe. and is representative of man. operation. in our experience. but which we will call here the Knower. These stand respectively for the love of truth. 191 . For the world is not painted or adorned. and the Son. or. Each is that which he is essentially. so that he cannot be surmounted or analyzed. but not enough to reach the quick and compel the reproduction of themselves in speech. which assumes that manual skill and activity is the first merit of all men. who cannot report the conversation they have had with nature. for the love of good. who sees and handles that which others dream of. who have not yet come into possession of their own. and stands on the centre. and for the love of beauty. but is emperor in his own right. Jove. the Spirit. For the Universe has three children. or mutes. the man without impediment. overlooking the fact that some men. earth and water. Yet. Every man should be so much an artist that he could report in conversation what had befallen him. born at one time. Therefore the poet is not any permissive potentate. theologically. Neptune. and disparages such as say and do not. These stand and wait to render him a peculiar service. Criticism is infested with a cant of materialism. and represents beauty. and his own. and God has not made some beautiful things. patent. Too feeble fall the impressions of nature on us to make us artists. The poet is the person in whom these powers are in balance.

For we do not speak now of men of poetical talents. The poet does not wait for the hero or the sage. but we lose ever and anon a word or a verse and substitute something of our own. he knows and tells. sent into the world to the end of expression. But Homer’s words are as costly and admirable to Homer as Agamemnon’s victories are to Agamemnon. but of the true poet. he is the only teller of news. we hear those primal warblings and attempt to write them down. Words are also actions. whose head appeared to be a music-box of delicate tunes and rhythms. or be known. but. though imperfect. not an eternal man. running up from the torrid Base through all the climates of the globe. with belts of the herbage of every 192 . yet. Words and deeds are quite indifferent modes of the divine energy. and thus miswrite the poem. though primaries also. become the songs of the nations. and whose skill and command of language. for he was present and privy to the appearance which he describes. and actions are a kind of words. reckoning the others. For nature is as truly beautiful as it is good. as sitters or models in the studio of a painter. He is a beholder of ideas and an utterer of the necessary and causal. as they act and think primarily. secondaries and servants. and must as much appear as it must be done. He does not stand out of our low limitations. I took part in a conversation the other day concerning a recent writer of lyrics. we were obliged to confess that he is plainly a contemporary. and whenever we are so finely organized that we can penetrate into that region where the air is music. For poetry was all written before time was. and these transcripts. The men of more delicate ear write down these cadences more faithfully. or of industry and skill in metre.Essays are natural sayers. so he writes primarily what will and must be spoken. we could not sufficiently praise. in respect to him. like a Chimborazo under the line. and confounds them with those whose province is action but who quit it to imitate the sayers. He is the true and only doctor. The sign and credentials of the poet are that he announces that which no man foretold. But when the question arose whether he was not only a lyrist but a poet. or as it is reasonable. a man of subtle mind. or as assistants who bring building materials to an architect.

How gladly we listened! how credulous! Society seemed to be compromised. and had written hundreds of lines. these fine auroras have been streaming.—a thought so passionate and alive that like the spirit of a plant or an animal it has an architecture of its own. from every pore. It is much to know that poetry has been written this very day. and not the children of music. the finish of the verses is primary. We hear. with well-bred men and women standing and sitting in the walks and terraces. he could tell nothing but that all was changed. The thought and the form are equal in the order of time. and adorns nature with a new thing. but who or what shall be our interpreter. For the experience of each new age requires a new confession. We sat in the aurora of a sunrise which was to put out all the stars. but could not tell whether that which was in him was therein told. We know that the secret of the world is profound. by your side. under this very roof. beast.—what was Rome? Plutarch and Shakspeare were in the yellow leaf. Rome. and behold! all night.— man. we 193 . adorned with fountains and statues. Every one has some interest in the advent of the poet. and no one knows how much it may concern him. Our poets are men of talents who sing. the ground-tone of conventional life. and Homer no more should be heard of. he will tell us how it was with him. and nature had spent her fires. through all the varied music.Emerson latitude on its high and mottled sides. or was much farther than that. and the world seems always waiting for its poet. and all men will be the richer in his fortune. earth and sea. What! that wonderful spirit has not expired! These stony moments are still sparkling and animated! I had fancied that the oracles were all silent. For it is not metres. he has a whole new experience to unfold. He had left his work and gone rambling none knew whither. The poet has a new thought. but in the order of genesis the thought is prior to the form. The argument is secondary. but a metre-making argument that makes a poem. I remember when I was young how much I was moved one morning by tidings that genius had appeared in a youth who sat near me at table. heaven. Boston seemed to be at twice the distance it had the night before. but this genius is the landscape-garden of a modern house.

and know the signs by which they may be discerned from fools and satans.—opaque. may put the key into our hands. but the all-piercing. a new style of face. I tumble down again soon into my old nooks. I shall mount above these clouds and opaque airs in which I live. and is merely bent that I should admire his skill to rise like a fowl or a flying fish. to see trifles animated by a tendency. but the fruition is postponed. and the phrase will be the fittest. Of course the value of genius to us is in the veracity of its report. am slow in perceiving that he does not know the way into the heavens. and ocular air of heaven that man shall never inhabit. With what joy I begin to read a poem which I confide in as an inspiration! And now my chains are to be broken. and to know what I am doing. observe how nature. now I am invited into the science of the real. Such is the hope. Life will no more be a noise. now I shall see men and women. That will reconcile me to life and renovate nature. never so often deceived. genius realizes and adds. that the foremost watchman on the peak announces his news. But. and lead the life of exaggerations as before. then leaps and frisks about with me as it were from cloud to cloud. and the unerring voice of the world for that time. It is the truest word ever spoken. —and from the heaven of truth I shall see and comprehend my relations. A mountain ramble. All that we call sacred history attests that the birth of a poet is the principal event in chronology. Mankind in good earnest have availed so far in understanding themselves and their work. let us. whirls me into mists. and I. Man. and have lost my faith in the possibility of any guide who can lead me thither where I would be. a little way from the ground or the water. has ensured the poet’s fidelity to his office of announcement 194 .Essays know not. a new person. who will carry me into the heaven. still watches for the arrival of a brother who can hold him steady to a truth until he has made it his own. Oftener it falls that this winged man. This day shall be better than my birthday: then I became an animal. still affirming that he is bound heavenward. all-feeding. being myself a novice. leaving these victims of vanity. with new hope. though they seem transparent. by worthier impulses. Talent may frolic and juggle. most musical.

and it more fairly dight. of the soul. physics.” said Proclus. clear images of the splendor of intellectual perceptions. of health. all harmony. namely by the beauty of things. is musical in the breeze. being moved in conjunction with the unapparent periods of intellectual natures. as it is most pure. which becomes a new and higher beauty when expressed. The Universe is the externization of the soul. The soul makes the body. of the quality of the life. and in every part. Our science is sensual. keeping step 195 . as if they were self-existent. there where Being passes into Appearance and Unity into Variety. The beautiful rests on the foundations of the necessary. and therefore superficial. “exhibits. that bursts into appearance around it. The earth and the heavenly bodies. Being used as a type. in the whole. We stand before the secret of the world. “are expressed through images. and chemistry. and should go very warily and reverently. For soul is form. the body form doth take. as the wise Spenser teaches:— “So every spirit.Emerson and affirming.” says Jamblichus. we sensually treat. “The mighty heaven.” Things admit of being used as symbols because nature is a symbol. in its transfigurations. Every line we can draw in the sand has expression. far better than its old value. With cheerful grace and amiable sight. but these are the retinue of that Being we have. if you hold your ear close enough. Nature offers all her creatures to him as a picture-language.” Therefore science always goes abreast with the just elevation of the man. “Things more excellent than every image. So it the fairer body doth procure To habit in. or proper only to the good. For.” Here we find ourselves suddenly not in a critical speculation but in a holy place. and for this reason a perception of beauty should be sympathetic. All form is an effect of character. Wherever the life is. and doth the body make. and there is no body without its spirit or genius. a second wonderful value appears in the object. as the carpenter’s stretched cord. And hath in it the more of heavenly light. all condition.

His worship is sympathetic. See the power of national emblems. in horses and dogs. The beauty of the fable proves the importance of the sense. and butchers. and Salem in a ship. to the poet. Since everything in nature answers to a moral power. Who loves nature? Who does not? Is it only poets. by the living power which he feels to be there present. See the great ball which they roll from Baltimore to Bunker hill! In the political processions. and men of leisure and cultivation. who live with her? No. though they express their affection in their choice of life and not in their choice of words. Lowell goes in a loom. It is nature the symbol. and iron. an eagle. if these waters be so deep. or the state of science is an index of our self-knowledge. of rain. leopards. he has no definitions. and to all others. and wood. farmers.Essays with religion and metaphysics. grooms. I find that the fascination resides in the symbol. No imitation or playing of these things would content him. In our political parties. No wonder then. the hickory-stick. if you please. for all men have the thoughts whereof the universe is the celebration. if any phenomenon remains brute and dark it is that the corresponding faculty in the observer is not yet active. that we hover over them with a religious regard. of stone. the palmetto. and all the cognizances of party. A beauty not explicable is dearer than a beauty which we can see to the end of. compute the power of badges and emblems. a crescent. nature certifying the supernatural. Witness the cider-barrel. The inwardness and mystery of this attachment drives men of every class to the use of emblems. The schools of poets and philosophers are not more intoxicated with their symbols than the populace with theirs. or. or other figure which came into credit God knows how. on an old rag of bunting. and Lynn in a shoe. he loves the earnest of the north wind. The writer wonders what the coachman or the hunter values in riding. When you talk with him he holds these at as slight a rate as you. a lion. Some stars. lilies. body overflowed by life which he worships with coarse but sincere rites. the log-cabin. every man is so far a poet as to be susceptible of these enchantments of nature. but he is commanded in nature. blowing 196 . It is not superficial qualities. but also hunters.

What would be base. mythologists observe. and the distinctions which we make in events and in affairs. pictures. 197 . and they are all poets and mystics! Beyond this universality of the symbolic language. spoken in a new connexion of thought. Every new relation is a new word. house and garden. In the old mythology. The piety of the Hebrew prophets purges their grossness. The people fancy they hate poetry. shall make the blood tingle under the rudest or the most conventional exterior. so expressing our sense that the evils of the world are such only to the evil eye. becomes illustrious. The vocabulary of an omniscient man would embrace words and images excluded from polite conversation. and the more lasting in the memories of men: just as we choose the smallest box or case in which any needful utensil can be carried. The circumcision is an example of the power of poetry to raise the low and offensive. as it is related of Lord Chatham that he was accustomed to read in Bailey’s Dictionary when he was preparing to speak in Parliament. The poorest experience is rich enough for all the purposes of expressing thought. a few books. Bare lists of words are found suggestive to an imaginative and excited mind. the more pungent it is. Why covet a knowledge of new facts? Day and night. serve us as well as would all trades and all spectacles. as lameness to Vulcan. We are far from having exhausted the significance of the few symbols we use. and commandments of the Deity. —to signify exuberances. and the like. to the obscene. Small and mean things serve as well as great symbols. The meaner the type by which a law is expressed. Every word was once a poem. defects are ascribed to divine natures. blindness to Cupid. we are apprised of the divineness of this superior use of things. or even obscene. We can come to use them yet with a terrible simplicity.—in this. disappear when nature is used as a symbol. a few actions. Thought makes everything fit for use. whereby the world is a temple whose walls are covered with emblems. that there is no fact in nature which does not carry the whole sense of nature. of low and high. Also we use defects and deformities to a sacred purpose. It does not need that a poem should be long. honest and base.Emerson in the wind on a fort at the ends of the earth.

but the poet sees them fall within the great Order not less than the beehive or the spider’s geometrical web. by an ulterior intellectual perception. and absorbs. but we sympathize with the symbols. the stability of the thought. gives them a power which makes their old use forgotten. by a deeper insight. but he disposes of them as easily as the poet finds place for the railway.—re-attaching even artificial things and violations of nature. We are symbols and inhabit symbols. The poet. Nature adopts them very fast into her vital circles. work. for these works of art are not yet consecrated in their reading. The spiritual fact remains unalterable. who re-attaches things to nature and the Whole. and never so surprising. It is not that he does not see all the fine houses and know that he never saw such before.Essays For as it is dislocation and detachment from the life of God that makes things ugly. as no mountain is of any appreciable height to break the curve of the sphere. He perceives the independence of the thought on the symbol. yet they cannot originally use them. to nature. For though life is great. all are emblems. Readers of poetry see the factory-village and the railway. birth and death. the poet is he who can articulate it. and being infatuated with the economical uses of things. the accidency and fugacity of the symbol. The world being thus put under the mind for verb and noun. and to which the belt of wampum and the commerce of America are alike. in a centred mind. it signifies nothing how many mechanical inventions you exhibit. the fact of mechanics has not gained a grain’s weight. and the complacent citizen is not satisfied with his little wonder. which can dwarf any and every circumstance. workmen. and fancy that the poetry of the landscape is broken up by these. by many or by few particulars. and tools. we do not know that they are thoughts.—disposes very easily of the most disagreeable facts. the poet. and the gliding train of cars she loves like her own. Besides. The chief value of the new fact is to enhance the great and constant fact of Life. words and things. As the eyes of 198 . A shrewd country-boy goes to the city for the first time. and though all men are intelligent of the symbols through which it is named. Though you add millions. and fascinates. and puts eyes and a tongue into every dumb and inanimate object.

The etymologist finds the deadest word to have been once a brilliant picture. and shows us all things in their right series and procession. and therefore language is the archives of history. vegetation and animation. sometimes after their essence. why the great deep is adorned with animals. Language is fossil poetry. and giving to every one its own name and not another’s. naming things sometimes after their appearance. so the poet turns the world to glass. perceives that thought is multiform. which delights in detachment or boundary. The poet alone knows astronomy. and obtained currency because for the moment it symbolized the world to the first speaker and to the hearer. for he does not stop at these facts. and sees the flowing or metamorphosis. nutriment. a sort of tomb of the muses. with men. By virtue of this science the poet is the Namer or Language-maker. uses the forms which express that life. that within the form of every creature is a force impelling it to ascend into a higher form. and. But the poet names the thing because he sees it. thereby rejoicing the intellect. or comes one step nearer to it than any other. sex. as a leaf out of a tree. so language is made up of images or tropes. gestation. birth. for in every word he speaks he rides on them as the horses of thought. chemistry. are symbols of the passage of the world into the soul of man. if we must say it. which now. and following with his eyes the life. growth. All the facts of the animal economy. The poets made all the words. He uses forms according to the life. This is true science. and not according to the form. but employs them as signs. What we call 199 . This expression or naming is not art. grown out of the first. have long ceased to remind us of their poetic origin. For though the origin of most of our words is forgotten.Emerson Lyncaeus were said to see through the earth. For through that better perception he stands one step nearer to things. to suffer there a change and reappear a new and higher fact. but a second nature. He knows why the plain or meadow of space was strewn with these flowers we call suns and moons and stars. in their secondary use. and gods. As the limestone of the continent consists of infinite masses of the shells of animalcules. each word was at first a stroke of genius. and so his speech flows with the flowing of nature.

and nature does all things by her own hands. thus flying immortal from their mortal parent. I remember that a certain poet described it to me thus: Genius is the activity which repairs the decays of things. as I remember. Nature. deathless progeny. using his freer speech. so she shakes down from the gills of one agaric countless spores. in the production of New individuals. clad with wings (such was the virtue of the soul out of which they came) which carry them fast and far. He was. But the melodies of the poet ascend and leap and pierce into the deeps of infinite time. She makes a man. that the kind may be safe from accidents to which the individual is exposed. But nature has a higher end.—a fearless. what made him happy or unhappy. and having brought him to ripe age. namely ascension. vivacious offspring. So when the soul of the poet has come to ripeness of thought. having received from the souls out of which they came no beautiful wings. being preserved. she will no longer run the risk of losing this wonder at a blow. and does not leave another to baptize her but baptizes herself. and this through the metamorphosis again. unable to tell directly. At the end of a very short leap they fall plump down and rot. a fearless. The songs. which is not exposed to the accidents of the weary kingdom of time. and infix them irrecoverably into the hearts of men. insures herself. This atom of seed is thrown into a new place. whether wholly or partly of a material and finite kind. but she detaches from him a new self. So far the bard taught me. through all her kingdoms. not subject to the accidents which destroyed its parent two rods off. 200 . which swarm in far greater numbers and threaten to devour them. or the passage of the soul into higher forms. than security.Essays nature is a certain self-regulated motion or change. I knew in my younger days the sculptor who made the statue of the youth which stands in the public garden. any one of which. but these last are not winged. These wings are the beauty of the poet’s soul. transmits new billions of spores to-morrow or next day. she detaches and sends away from it its poems or songs. sleepless. The new agaric of this hour has a chance which the old one had not. Nobody cares for planting the poor fungus. are pursued by clamorous flights of censures.

in the mind’s faith that the poems are a corrupt version of some text in nature with which they ought to be made to tally. grand as the eternity out of which it came. he strove to express this tranquillity. The poet also resigns himself to his mood. Why should not the symmetry and truth that modulate these. As. The pairing of the birds is an idyl. and so making them translucid to others.Emerson but by wonderful indirections he could tell. Like the metamorphosis of things into higher organic forms is their change into melodies. and stored. and when any man goes by with an ear sufficiently fine. and every flower-bed. as the form of the thing is reflected by the eye. a tempest is a rough ode. in pre-cantations. in the sun. or the new type which things themselves take when liberated. which expresses itself by what is called Imagination. Over everything stands its daemon or soul. is a very high sort of seeing. and for many days after. before the dawn. tend to paint a far more delicate copy of their essence in his mind. Phosphorus. He rose one day. not tedious as our idyls are. with its harvest sown. or the resembling difference of a group of flowers. A rhyme in one of our sonnets should not be less pleasing than the iterated nodes of a sea-shell. objects paint their images on the retina of the eye. pre-exist. glide into our spirits. and that thought which agitated him is expressed. and we participate the invention of nature? This insight. according to his habit. whose aspect is such that it is said all persons who look on it become silent. subordinating how many admirably executed parts. Niagara. by sharing the path or circuit of things through forms. in a manner totally new. he overhears them and endeavors to write down the notes without diluting or depraving them. The path of things is silent. without falsehood or rant. which does not come by study. a summer. the mountain-ridge. is an epic song. and. The sea. and saw the morning break. And herein is the legitimation of criticism. but alter idem. and lo! his chisel had fashioned out of marble the form of a beautiful youth. which sail like odors in the air. or super-exist. but by the intellect being where and what it sees. so the soul of the thing is reflected by a melody. sharing the aspiration of the whole universe. The expression is organic. so they. Will they suffer a speaker to 201 . reaped.

Essays go with them? A spy they will not suffer. the fumes of sandal -wood and tobacco.” not with the intellect used as an organ. a lover. sculpture. and accompanying that. so must we do with the divine animal who carries us through this world. For if in any manner we can stimulate this instinct. politics. war. and the metamorphosis is possible. opium. theatres. his speech is thunder. is the transcendency of their own nature. fires. his thought is law.—which are several coarser or finer quasi-mechanical substitutes for the true nectar. to add this extraordinary power to their normal powers. It is a secret which every intellectual man quickly learns. pictures. by abandonment to the nature of things. dancing. This is the reason why bards love wine. or as the ancients were wont to express themselves. a poet. The condition of true naming. then he is caught up into the life of the Universe. travelling. and to this end they prize conversation. narcotics. the mind flows into and through things hardest and highest. or. beyond the energy of his possessed and conscious intellect he is capable of a new energy (as of an intellect doubled on itself).—him they will suffer. and his words are universally intelligible as the plants and animals. at all risks. tea. is his resigning himself to the divine aura which breathes through forms. on the poet’s part. by unlocking. or love. which is the ravishment of the intellect by coming nearer to the fact. but with the intellect released from all service and suffered to take its direction from its celestial life. there is a great public power on which he can draw. that. These are auxiliaries to the centrifugal tendency of a man. new passages are opened for us into nature. The poet knows that he speaks adequately then only when he speaks somewhat wildly. not with intellect alone but with the intellect inebriated by nectar. his human doors. to 202 . mobs. that beside his privacy of power as an individual man. or science. “with the flower of the mind. and suffering the ethereal tides to roll and circulate through him. As the traveller who has lost his way throws his reins on his horse’s neck and trusts to the instinct of the animal to find his road. All men avail themselves of such means as they can. or whatever other procurers of animal exhilaration. gaming. coffee. music. or animal intoxication. mead.

must drink water out of a wooden bowl. which should be their toys. It is with this as it is with toys. Hence a great number of such as were professionally expressers of Beauty. Milton says that the lyric poet may drink wine and live generously. which we owe to narcotics. If thou fill thy brain with Boston and New York. and. the air should suffice for his inspiration. withdrawing their eyes from the plain face and sufficing objects of nature. but some counterfeit excitement and fury. and they help him to escape the custody of that body in which he is pent up. comes forth to the poor and hungry. The spirit of the world. and moon. he who shall sing of the gods and their descent unto men. and wilt stimulate thy jaded senses with wine and French coffee. and stones. they were punished for that advantage they won. as it was an emancipation not into the heavens but into the freedom of baser places. thou shalt find no radiance of wisdom in the lonely waste of the pinewoods. musicians. But never can any advantage be taken of nature by a trick. the great calm presence of the Creator. have been more than others wont to lead a life of pleasure and indulgence. the water. and he should be tipsy with water. That is not an inspiration. by a dissipation and deterioration. but the epic poet. For poetry is not ‘Devil’s wine. and such as are of simple taste. The metamorphosis excites in the be203 . If the imagination intoxicates the poet. comes not forth to the sorceries of opium or of wine. with fashion and covetousness. and horses. and actors. as it was a spurious mode of attaining freedom. as painters. the sun. His cheerfulness should be the gift of the sunlight.Emerson his passage out into free space. The sublime vision comes to the pure and simple soul in a clean and chaste body.’ but God’s wine. drums. We fill the hands and nurseries of our children with all manner of dolls. poets. and of that jail-yard of individual relations in which he is enclosed. all but the few who received the true nectar. That spirit which suffices quiet hearts. the animals. which seems to come forth to such from every dry knoll of sere grass. from every pine-stump and half-imbedded stone on which the dull March sun shines. So the poet’s habit of living should be set on a key so low that the common influences should delight him. it is not inactive in other men.

and many the like. and found within their world another world. and all poetic forms. fables. The use of symbols has a certain power of emancipation and exhilaration for all men. but it is felt in every definition. upward. whose nervie root Springs in his top. though carried to the darkest house betwixt this and the mount of Caucasus. we divine that it does not stop. the metamorphosis once seen. Men have really got a new sense. when Plato calls the world an animal.Essays holder an emotion of joy. from which temperance is generated in souls. tells us that the soul is cured of its maladies by certain incantations.— “So in our tree of man. following him. oracles. which is his head. as George Chapman. We seem to be touched by a wand which makes us dance and run about happily. the ruin of the world through evil. When Socrates. —or when Plato defines a line to be a flowing point. Poets are thus liberating gods. which also have their tropes. and that these incantations are beautiful reasons. in Charmides. writes. in his praise of ‘Gentilesse. like children. for. in the Apocalypse. and.’ compares good blood in mean condition to fire.” — when Orpheus speaks of hoariness as “that white flower which marks extreme old age. as when Aristotle defines space to be an immovable vessel in which things are contained. and Timaeus affirms that the plants also are animals. What a joyful sense of freedom we have when Vitruvius announces the old opinion of artists that no architect can build any house well who does not know something of anatomy. which. I will not now consider how much this makes the charm of algebra and the mathematics. growing with his root. when John saw. and the stars fall from heaven as the figtree casteth her untimely fruit. will yet hold its natural office and burn as bright as if twenty thousand men did it behold. We are like persons who come out of a cave or cellar into the open air. when Aesop reports the whole catalogue of common daily rela204 . or figure to be a bound of solid. or affirms a man to be a heavenly tree. This is the effect on us of tropes. or nest of worlds.” when Proclus calls the universe the statue of the intellect. when Chaucer.

the magic of liberty. how great the perspective! nations. The fate of the poor shepherd. or any other who introduces questionable facts into his cosmogony. our religion. The ancient British bards had for the title of their order. you are as remote when you are nearest as when you are farthest. Therefore we love the poet. how mean to study. our philosophy. systems. enter and disappear like threads in tapestry of large figure and many colors. blinded and lost in the snow-storm. and they make free. and you may have all the arguments and histories and criticism. Kepler. as when the gypsies say “it is in vain to hang them. perishes in a drift within a few feet of his cottage door. All the value which attaches to Pythagoras. palmistry. “Those Who are free throughout the world. who. That also is the best success in conversation. as angels. magic. let me read his paper. is wonderful. Swedenborg. and so on. dream delivers us to dream. astrology. and that here is a new witness. than afterward when we arrive at the precise sense of the author. times.—we take the cheerful hint of the immortality of our essence and its versatile habit and escapes. and while the drunkenness lasts we will sell our bed. An imaginative book renders us much more service at first. What if you come near to it.” They are free.” The poets are thus liberating gods. they cannot die. mesmerism. Schelling. devils. There is good reason why we should prize this liberation. Every thought is also a prison. Oken. On the brink of the waters of life and truth. in our opulence. The inaccessibleness of every thought but that we are in. which puts the world like a ball in our hands. to that degree that he forgets the authors and the public and heeds only this one dream which holds him like an insanity. If a man is inflamed and carried away by his thought. we are miserably dying. is an emblem of the state of man. Cardan. every heaven is also a prison.Emerson tions through the masquerade of birds and beasts. Paracelsus. How cheap even the liberty then seems. the 205 . is the certificate we have of departure from routine. I think nothing is of any value in books excepting the transcendental and extraordinary. by stimulating us through its tropes. when an emotion communicates to the intellect the power to sap and upheave nature. Cornelius Agrippa.

that the last nails a symbol to one sense. The history of hierarchies seems to show that all religious error consisted in making the symbol too stark and solid.—and we shall both be gainers. But the quality of the imagination is to flow. instead of these village symbols. Let us have a little algebra. Therefore all books of the imagination endure. which was a true sense for a moment. he believes. are equally good to the person to whom they are significant. and not to freeze. but soon becomes old and false. This emancipation is dear to all men. and the power to impart it. Every verse or sentence possessing this virtue will take care of its own immortality. whether in an ode or in an action or in looks and behavior has yielded us a new thought. And the mystic must be steadily told. or a gardener and his bulb. Mysticism consists in the mistake of an accidental and individual symbol for an universal one. and. all language is vehicular and transitive. 206 . is a measure of intellect. and uses it as his exponent. Here is the difference betwixt the poet and the mystic. Either of these. as ferries and horses are. or a jeweller polishing a gem. should stand for the same realities to every reader. all which ascend to that truth that the writer sees nature beneath him. as it must come from greater depth and scope of thought. and be very willingly translated into the equivalent terms which others use. The poet did not stop at the color or the form. for homestead. The morning-redness happens to be the favorite meteor to the eyes of Jacob Behmen.—All that you say is just as true without the tedious use of that symbol as with it. instead of this trite rhetoric. The religions of the world are the ejaculations of a few imaginative men.Essays inventor. For all symbols are fluxional. or of a myriad more. neither may he rest in this meaning. not as farms and houses are. but he makes the same objects exponents of his new thought. and is good. and comes to stand to him for truth and faith. He unlocks our chains and admits us to a new scene.—universal signs. for conveyance. But the first reader prefers as naturally the symbol of a mother and child. Only they must be held lightly. and was at last nothing but an excess of the organ of language. but read their meaning. who in any form.

Time and nature yield us many gifts. He is the poet and shall draw us with love and terror. the laurel twig which they held blossomed in their hands. If we filled the day with bravery. and many the like misappearances. and when the light from heaven shone into their cabin. those dogs in the yard. and if any poet has witnessed the transformation he doubtless found it in harmony with various experiences. namely that the same man or society of men may wear one aspect to themselves and their companions. the new religion. We do not with sufficient plainness or sufficient profoundness address ourselves to life. yonder oxen in the pasture. There was this perception in him which makes the poet or seer an object of awe and terror. The figs become grapes whilst he eats them. but not yet the timely man. and perchance to themselves appear upright men. and seemed in darkness. oxen. or only so appear to me. Certain priests. and can declare it. The men in one of his visions. obeys the impulses of moral nature. stands eminently for the translator of nature into thought. and dogs. Everything on which his eye rests. The Bramins and Pythagoras propounded the same question. they complained of the darkness.Emerson Swedenborg. nor dare we chaunt our own times and social circumstance. and whether I appear as a man to all eyes. 207 . I look in vain for the poet whom I describe. appeared like dragons. are immutably fishes. like dead horses. We have all seen changes as considerable in wheat and caterpillars. on coming nearer was found to be the voice of disputants. And instantly the mind inquires whether these fishes under the bridge. of all men in the recent ages. and were compelled to shut the window that they might see. but to each other they appeared as men. whom all things await. I do not know the man in history to whom things stood so uniformly for words. The noise which at a distance appeared like gnashing and thumping. Before him the metamorphosis continually plays. seen in heavenly light. and a different aspect to higher intelligences. the reconciler. we should not shrink from celebrating it. whom he describes as conversing very learnedly together. who sees through the flowing vest the firm nature. appeared to the children who were at some distance. When some of his angels affirmed a truth.

or into universality. We have yet had no genius in America. Milton is too literary. If I have not found that excellent combination of gifts in my countrymen which I seek. and it will not wait long for metres. with tyrannous eye. are flat and dull to dull people.Essays Dante’s praise is that he dared to write his autobiography in colossal cipher. all partake one desire. Yet America is a poem in our eyes. our Negroes and Indians. namely to express themselves symmetrically and abundantly. and are as swiftly passing away. Our logrolling. which knew the value of our incomparable materials. our boats and our repudiations. the epic rhapsodist. Banks and tariffs. not dwarfishly and fragmentarily. we have our difficulties even with Milton and Homer. the southern planting. But I am not wise enough for a national criticism. Methodism and Unitarianism. though there have been poets among them. the orator. to discharge my errand from the muse to the poet concerning his art. as. and each presently feels 208 . These are wits more than poets. are yet unsung. The paths or methods are ideal and eternal. the newspaper and caucus. the wrath of rogues and the pusillanimity of honest men. the painter and sculptor before some impressive human figures. our fisheries. into the assembly of the people. but rest on the same foundations of wonder as the town of Troy and the temple of Delphi. and Homer too literal and historical. The painter. and must use the old largeness a little longer. the orator. But when we adhere to the ideal of the poet. another carnival of the same gods whose picture he so much admires in Homer. Art is the path of the creator to his work. then in Calvinism. though few men ever see them. its ample geography dazzles the imagination. then in the Middle Age. neither could I aid myself to fix the idea of the poet by reading now and then in Chalmers’s collection of five centuries of English poets. They found or put themselves in certain conditions. the sculptor. in the barbarism and materialism of the times. the composer. the northern trade. or for a lifetime. unless he come into the conditions. and the others in such scenes as each has found exciting to his intellect. not the artist himself for years. Oregon and Texas. the western clearing. and saw. our stumps and their politics.

stand and strive. Shakspeare. that it is as strange and beautiful to him as to you. or creeps. stuttering and stammering. his genius is no longer exhaustible. which must not in turn arise and walk before him as exponent of his meaning. In our way of talking we say ‘That is yours. Then he is apprised. This is like the stock of air for our respiration or for the combustion of our fireplace. to the end namely that thought may be ejaculated as Logos. but persist. which flies before him. He would say nothing else but such things. All the creatures by pairs and by tribes pour into his mind as into a Noah’s ark. ready to render an im209 . or Word. What a little of all we know is said! What drops of all the sea of our science are baled up! and by what accident it is that these are exposed.’ but the poet knows well that it is not his.Emerson the new desire. Say ‘It is in me. Nothing walks. he would fain hear the like eloquence at length. and resemble a mirror carried through the street. Chaucer. and as an admirable creative power exists in these intellections. at the door of the assembly. no doubt. this is mine. He can no more rest. or exists. as Homer. a power transcending all limit and privacy. what herds of daemons hem him in. it is in me and must go forth of me. not a measure of gallons. he cannot have enough of it. with wonder. hence these throbs and heart-beatings in the orator. with the old painter.’ Stand there. it is of the last importance that these things get spoken. and by virtue of which a man is the conductor of the whole river of electricity. And therefore the rich poets. Most of the things he says are conventional. O poet. The poet pours out verses in every solitude. Comes he to that power. hissed and hooted. but the entire atmosphere if wanted. or grows. Once having tasted this immortal ichor. have obviously no limits to their works except the limits of their lifetime. when so many secrets sleep in nature! Hence the necessity of speech and song. he says. but by and by he says something which is original and beautiful. and Raphael. He hears a voice. balked and dumb.” He pursues a beauty. he sees a beckoning. and shall out. Doubt not. until at last rage draw out of thee that dream-power which every night shows thee is thine own. to come forth again to people a new world. “By God. That charms him. half seen.

Thou shalt not know any longer the times.—there is Beauty. plenteous as rain. the woods and the rivers thou shalt own. wherever day and night meet in twilight. politics. and this is thine: thou must pass for a fool and a churl for a long season. and thou shalt possess that wherein others are only tenants and boarders. and canst not be afforded to the Capitol or the Exchange. wherever are outlets into celestial space. graces. and awe. customs. and though thou shouldest walk the world over. For the time of towns is tolled from the world by funereal chimes. to thy invulnerable essence. And thou shalt not be able to rehearse the names of thy friends in thy verse. and love. wherever the blue heaven is hung by clouds or sown with stars. but shalt take all from the muse. and know the muse only. The world is full of renunciations and apprenticeships. others shall do the great and resounding actions also. the sea for thy bath and navigation. And this is the reward. but equal. The conditions are hard. and not in castles or by the sword-blade any longer. shed for thee. Others shall be thy gentlemen and shall represent all courtesy and worldly life for thee. wherever are forms with transparent boundaries. thou shalt not be able to find a condition inopportune or ignoble. and they shall console thee with tenderest love. O poet! a new nobility is conferred in groves and pastures. that the ideal shall be real to thee. and by growth of joy on joy. copious. and that thou be content that others speak for thee. Thou true land-lord! sea-lord! air-lord! Wherever snow falls or water flows or birds fly. for an old shame before the holy ideal. Thou shalt lie close hid with nature. and thou shalt be known only to thine own. without tax and without envy. and the impressions of the actual world shall fall like summer rain. 210 . God wills also that thou abdicate a manifold and duplex life. but not troublesome.Essays age of every created thing. or opinions of men. wherever is danger. Thou shalt leave the world. Thou shalt have the whole land for thy park and manor. This is the screen and sheath in which Pan has protected his well-beloved flower. but in nature the universal hours are counted by succeeding tribes of animals and plants.

— Some to see. Like and unlike. and believe that it has none. and should not know our place again. which go upward and out of sight. Portly and grim. Sleep lingers all our lifetime about our eyes. Among the legs of his guardians tall. mixed the cup too strongly. In their own guise.— I saw them pass. Did our birth fall in some fit of indigence and frugality in nature. They marched from east to west: Little man. Walked about with puzzled look:— Him by the hand dear Nature took. We wake and find ourselves on a stair. that she was so sparing of her 211 . strong and kind. and we cannot shake off the lethargy now at noonday. ‘Darling. which we seem to have ascended. Dearest Nature. and spectral Wrong. the lords of life. EXPERIENCE W here do we find ourselves? In a series of which we do not know the extremes. some to be guessed. least of all. Use and Surprise. Ghostlike we glide through nature. The founder thou! these are thy race!’ XIV. that we may tell no tales. Whispered. as night hovers all day in the boughs of the fir-tree. many a one.Emerson EXPERIENCE The lords of life. And the inventor of the game Omnipresent without name. Temperament without a tongue. never mind! Tomorrow they will wear another face. Succession swift. Surface and Dream. and gives us the lethe to drink. All things swim and glitter. there are stairs above us. Our life is not so much threatened as our perception. But the Genius which according to the old belief stands at the door by which we enter. there are stairs below us.

so much is routine. and quotes me. Every roof is agreeable to the eye until it is lifted. and the romance quits our vessel and hangs on every other sail in the horizon. and so much retrospect. The history of literature—take the net result of Tiraboschi. ’Tis the trick of nature thus to degrade to-day. ‘What’s the news?’ as if the old were so bad. In times when we thought ourselves indolent. but my field. unluckily that other withdraws himself in the same way. Every ship is a romantic object. when the factories above them have exhausted the water. like those that Hermes won with dice of the Moon. All our days are so unprofitable while they pass. but not an ounce to impart or to invest. yet we have no superfluity of spirit for new creation? We have enough to live and bring the year about. and somewhere a result slipped magically in. a good deal of buzz. poetry. and the men ask. that Osiris might be born. How many individuals can we count in society? how many actions? how many opinions? So much of our time is preparation.Essays fire and so liberal of her earth that it appears to us that we lack the affirmative principle. then we find tragedy and moaning women and hard-eyed husbands and deluges of lethe. or where we are going. If any of us knew what we were doing. except that we sail in. and much was begun in us. we have afterwards discovered that much was accomplished. and we shun to record it. that ’tis wonderful where or when we ever got anything of this which we call wisdom. Embark. and my neighbor has fertile meadow. then when we think we best know! We do not know to-day whether we are busy or idle. ‘only holds the world together. It is said all martyrdoms looked mean when they were suffered. that the pith of each man’s genius contracts itself to a very few hours. 212 . and though we have health and reason. ‘Yonder uplands are rich pasturage. We never got it on any dated calendar day.’ says the querulous farmer. Ah that our Genius were a little more of a genius! We are like millers on the lower levels of a stream. virtue. Some heavenly days must have been intercalated somewhere.’ I quote another man’s saying. Our life looks trivial. We too fancy that the upper people must have raised their dams. Men seem to have learned of the horizon the art of perpetual retreating and reference.

With tender feet treading so soft. So in this great society wide lying around us. plays about the surface. but it would leave me as it found me. There are even few opinions. or Schlegel. but the most slippery sliding surfaces. There are moods in which we court suffering. for many years. Was it Boscovich who found out that bodies never come in contact? Well. nor carry me one step into real nature. souls never touch their objects. That. sharp peaks and edges of truth. We fall soft on a thought. But it turns out to be scene-painting and counterfeit.—is a sum of very few ideas and of very few original tales. and do not disturb the universal necessity. now more than two years ago. which could not be torn away without tearing me nor enlarged without enriching me. in the hope that here at least we shall find reality. but there is at last no rough rasping friction. It is almost all custom and gross sense.— “Over men’s heads walking aloft. something which I fancied was a part of me.” People grieve and bemoan themselves. Ate Dea is gentle. for contact with which we would even pay the costly price of sons and lovers. So is it with this calamity: it does not touch me. If to-morrow I should be informed of the bankruptcy of my principal debtors. like all the rest. nor water 213 . and these seem organic in the speakers. Grief too will make us idealists. but it is not half so bad with them as they say. What opium is instilled into all disaster! It shows formidable as we approach it. I seem to have lost a beautiful estate. The only thing grief has taught me is to know how shallow it is. the loss of my property would be a great inconvenience to me. falls off from me and leaves no scar. I cannot get it nearer to me.—no more.Emerson Warton. a critical analysis would find very few spontaneous actions. The Indian who was laid under a curse that the wind should not blow on him. In the death of my son.—neither better nor worse. and never introduces me into the reality. perhaps. It was caducous. An innavigable sea washes with silent waves between us and the things we aim at and converse with. I grieve that grief can teach me nothing. all the rest being variation of these.

Direct strokes she never gave us power to make. and we the Para coats that shed every drop. which lets them slip through our fingers then when we clutch hardest. is a type of us all. and there is always genius. It depends on the mood of the man whether he shall see the sunset or the fine poem. too irritable by pleasure and pain. all our blows glance. if the organ is too convex or too concave and cannot find a focal distance within the actual horizon of human life? Of what use. but not a berry for our philosophy. and hold him up in it? or if the web is too finely woven. but only a few hours so serene that we can relish nature or criticism. Temperament is the iron wire on which the beads are strung.Essays flow to him. saying There at least is reality that will not dodge us. and there is no end to illusion. nor fire burn him. and each shows only what lies in its focus. Nothing is left us now but death. Nature does not like to be observed. and likes that we should be her fools and playmates. if the brain is too cold or too hot. We animate what we can. to be the most unhandsome part of our condition. Dream delivers us to dream. The more or less depends on structure or temperament. The dearest events are summer-rain. We may have the sphere for our cricket-ball. all our hits are accidents. I take this evanescence and lubricity of all objects. Our relations to each other are oblique and casual. There are always sunsets. and as we pass through them they prove to be manycolored lenses which paint the world their own hue. so that life stagnates from too much reception without due outlet? Of what use to make heroic vows of amendment. if he falls asleep in his chair? or if he laugh and giggle? or if he apologize? or is infected with egotism? or thinks of his dollar? or cannot go by food? or has gotten a child in his boyhood? Of what use is genius. if the same old law214 . and the man does not care enough for results to stimulate him to experiment. and we see only what we animate. Of what use is fortune or talent to a cold and defective nature? Who cares what sensibility or discrimination a man has at some time shown. From the mountain you see the mountain. We look to that with a grim satisfaction. Life is a train of moods like a string of beads. Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.

and we presume there is impulse in them. whose boundaries they will never pass: but we look at them. which will appear in a given character.Emerson breaker is to keep them? What cheer can the religious sentiment yield. and condition. they die young and dodge the account. Theoretic kidnappers and slave-drivers. In the moment it seems impulse. On the platform of physics we cannot resist the contracting influences of so-called science. In truth they are all creatures of given temperament. Temperament also enters fully into the system of illusions and shuts us in a prison of glass which we cannot see. and if that organ was sound. or if they live they lose themselves in the crowd. Men resist the conclusion in the morning. I hear the chuckle of the phrenologists. the man became a Calvinist. so readily and lavishly they promise. he became a Unitarian. I know the mental proclivity of physicians. and is inconsumable in the flames of religion. I thus express the law as it is read from the platform of ordinary life. and used to affirm that if there was disease in the liver. but they never acquit the debt. who winds him round his finger by knowing the law of his being. in the lifetime. but the individual texture holds its dominion. that temper prevails over everything of time. yet to fix the measure of activity and of enjoyment. We see young men who owe us a new world. they esteem each man the victim of another. they seem alive. it turns out to be a certain uniform tune which the revolving barrel of the music-box must play. if not to bias the moral judgments. but adopt it as the evening wears on. but must not leave it without noticing the capital exception. reads 215 . when that is suspected to be secretly dependent on the seasons of the year and the state of the blood? I knew a witty physician who found the creed in the biliary duct. There is an optical illusion about every person we meet. Very mortifying is the reluctant experience that some unfriendly excess or imbecility neutralizes the promise of genius. Some modifications the moral sentiment avails to impose. Temperament puts all divinity to rout. in the year. place. and by such cheap signboards as the color of his beard or the slope of his occiput. For temperament is a power which no man willingly hears any one praise but himself.

—’But. The secret of the illusoriness is in the necessity of a succession of moods or objects. and cannot again contract ourselves to so base a state. temperament is final. Into every intelligence there is a door which is never closed. any escape for the man from the links of the chain of physical necessity. We hurl it into its own hell. I see not. and at one whisper of these high powers we awake from ineffectual struggles with this nightmare. in the fact that I never know. Given such an embryo. in addressing myself to a new individual. I carry the keys of my castle in my hand. Shall I preclude my future by taking a high seat and kindly adapting my conversation to the shape of heads? When I come to that. sir. what may befall me.Essays the inventory of his fortunes and character. but they are:—Spirit is matter reduced to an extreme thinness: O so thin!—But the definition of spiritual should be. such a history must follow. but absurdly offered as a bar to original equity. and give them the occasion to profane them. I know he is in the neighborhood hidden among vagabonds. The intellect. Gladly we would anchor. if one be once caught in this trap of so-called sciences. I saw a gracious gentleman who adapts his conversation to the form of the head of the man he talks with! I had fancied that the value of life lay in its inscrutable possibilities. very justly applied to restrain an opposite excess in the constitution. whenever and in what disguise soever he shall appear. What notions do they attach to love! what to religion! One would not willingly pronounce these words in their hearing. When virtue is in presence. 216 . and would soon come to suicide. On this platform one lives in a sty of sensualism. the report to the Institute. through which the creator passes. On its own level. intervenes for our succor. all subordinate powers sleep. the doctors shall buy me for a cent. medical history. that which is its own evidence. or the heart. Temperament is the veto or limitation-power in the constitution. seeker of absolute truth. But it is impossible that the creative power should exclude itself. The physicians say they are not materialists. the proven facts!’ —I distrust the facts and the inferences. The grossest ignorance does not disgust like this impudent knowingness. or in view of nature. ready to throw them at the feet of my lord. lover of absolute good.

but health of body consists in circulation. that I thought I should not need any other book. A deduction must be made from the opinion which even the wise express of a new book or occurrence. you shall never see it again. to friendship and love. but they never take the single step that would bring them there. but now I turn the pages of either of them languidly. How strongly I have felt of pictures that when you have seen one well. and must humor them. and some vague guess at the new fact. Their opinion gives me tidings of their mood. We need change of objects. which has no lustre as you turn it in your hand 217 . Dedication to one thought is quickly odious. at one time in Bacon. So with pictures. whilst I still cherish their genius. then in Plotinus. I have had good lessons from pictures which I have since seen without emotion or remark. each will bear an emphasis of attention once. Because thou wert born to a whole and this story is a particular? The reason of the pain this discovery causes us (and we make it late in respect to works of art and intellect).Emerson but the anchorage is quicksand. But will it answer thy question to say. There is no power of expansion in men. They stand on the brink of the ocean of thought and power. and sanity of mind in variety or facility of association. Our friends early appear to us as representatives of certain ideas which they never pass or exceed. even in Bettine. before that. in Shakspeare. though we fain would continue to be pleased in that manner. we find with more pain in the artist. This onward trick of nature is too strong for us: Pero si muove. A man is like a bit of Labrador spar. I seem stationary. then conversation dies out. and they to hurry. That immobility and absence of elasticity which we find in the arts. which it cannot retain. When at night I look at the moon and stars. afterwards in Goethe. is the plaint of tragedy which murmurs from it in regard to persons. ‘Mamma. Once I took such delight in Montaigne. but is nowise to be trusted as the lasting relation between that intellect and that thing. We house with the insane. you must take your leave of it. Our love of the real draws us to permanence. The child asks. then in Plutarch. why don’t I like the story as well as when you told it me yesterday?’ Alas! child it is even so with the oldest cherubim of knowledge.

but for a moment speaks from this one. but hops perpetually from bough to bough. At Education-Farm. we are always of the gaining party.Essays until you come to a particular angle. I think. Intellectual tasting of life will not supersede muscular activity. and so with the history of every man’s bread. We do what we must. It would not rake or pitch a ton of hay. have had lessons enough of the futility of criticism. the noblest theory of life sat on the noblest figures of young men and maidens. Something is earned too by conversing with so much folly and defect. government. it would not rub down a horse. There is no adaptation or universal applicability in men. and call it by the best names we can. and the mastery of successful men consists in adroitly keeping themselves where and when that turn shall be oftenest to be practised. but soon became narrow 218 . The party-colored wheel must revolve very fast to appear white. But is not this pitiful? Life is not worth the taking. and for another moment from that one. Like a bird which alights nowhere. A political orator wittily compared our party promises to western roads. in these times. neither the world nor themselves have got on a step. Divinity is behind our failures and follies also. The plays of children are nonsense. but each has his special talent. marriage. and for all that they have written. If a man should consider the nicety of the passage of a piece of bread down his throat. then it shows deep and beautiful colors. whoever loses. and would fain have the praise of having intended the result which ensues. Of course it needs the whole society to give the symmetry we seek. But what help from these fineries or pedantries? What help from thought? Life is not dialectics. to do tricks in. with planted trees on either side to tempt the traveller. and the men and maidens it left pale and hungry. but very educative nonsense. and the ways by which he is to come by it. is the Power which abides in no man and in no woman. which opened stately enough. with commerce. quite powerless and melancholy. We. church. In fine. So it is with the largest and solemnest things. he would starve. Our young people have thought and written much on labor and reform. I cannot recall any form of man who is not superfluous sometimes.

Let us treat the men and women well. Do not craze yourself with thinking. and the practical wisdom infers an indifferency. and say no more of it. He can take hold anywhere. Under the oldest mouldiest conventions a man of native force prospers just as well as in the newest world. amidst this vertigo of shows and politics. today. and our mothers speak her very sense when they say. perhaps they are. Life is not intellectual or critical. without question. It is not the part of men. from the omnipresence of objection. So does culture with us. Without any shadow of doubt. treat them as if they were real. it is not worth caring whether for so short a duration we were sprawling in want or sitting high. We live amid surfaces. “Children. “There is now no longer any right course of action nor any self-devotion left among the Iranis. Unspeakably sad and barren does life look to those who a few months ago were dazzled with the splendor of the promise of the times. but sturdy. or of mathematicians if you will.” To fill the hour. It is a tempest of fancies. I settle myself ever the firmer in the creed that we should not postpone and refer and wish. and the true art of life is to skate well on them.—that is happiness. Men live in their fancy. Five minutes of today are worth as much to me as five minutes in the next millennium. and that by skill of handling and treatment. and the only ballast I know is a respect to the present hour. Let us be poised. The whole frame of things preaches indifferency. Since our office is with moments. and will not bear the least excess of either. and wise. Nature hates peeping. like drunkards whose hands are too soft and tremulous for successful labor. but of fanatics. to find the journey’s end in every step of the road. To finish the moment.” Objections and criticism we have had our fill of. and our own. to say that the shortness of life considered. Life itself is a mixture of power and form. to live the greatest number of good hours. to fill the hour and leave no crevice for a repentance or an approval. but do broad 219 . it ends in headache. Its chief good is for well-mixed people who can enjoy what they find. eat your victuals.Emerson and narrower and ended in a squirrel-track and ran up a tree. but go about your business anywhere. There are objections to every course of life and action. let us husband them. is wisdom.

or sink into that of sensation. however humble or odious as the mystic officials to whom the universe has delegated its whole pleasure for us. The great gifts are not got by analysis. In the morning I awake and find the old world. and in such as with me are free from dyspepsia. but leave me alone and I should relish every hour and what it brought me. and honor it in their blind capricious way with sincere homage. is a more satisfying echo to the heart than the voice of poets and the casual sympathy of admirable persons. I am grown by sympathy a little eager and sentimental. but in me. wife.Essays justice where we are. The middle region of our being is the temperate zone. The coarse and frivolous have an instinct of superiority. I compared notes with one of my friends who expects everything of the universe and is disappointed when anything is less than the best. Moreover. by whomsoever we deal with.—a narrow belt. Everything good is on the highway. We may climb into the thin and cold realm of pure geometry and lifeless science. of spirit. asking no questions. and I found that I begin at the other extreme. accepting our actual companions and circumstances. we shall have heaping measures. I accept the clangor and jangle of contrary tendencies. and am always full of thanks for moderate goods. I find my account in sots and bores also. They give a reality to the circumjacent picture which such a vanishing meteorous appearance can ill spare. which is the last victory of justice. as heartily as the oldest gossip in the bar-room. and to whom a day is a sound and solid good. in popular experience everything good is on 220 . The fine young people despise life. expecting nothing. the dear old spiritual world and even the dear old devil not far off. I think that however a thoughtful man may suffer from the defects and absurdities of his company. Concord and Boston. if they have not a sympathy. If we will take the good we find. he cannot without affectation deny to any set of men and women a sensibility to extraordinary merit. babes. the potluck of the day. and mother. I am thankful for small mercies. If these are mean and malignant. Between these extremes is the equator of life. of poetry. it is a great excess of politeness to look scornful and to cry for company. their contentment. of thought.

Homer. are on the walls of the Vatican. The imagination delights in the woodcraft of Indians. past or to come. and not so intimately domesticated in the planet as the wild man and the wild beast and bird. the Last Judgment. in London. Then we are impatient of so public a life and planet. borrowed too from the consciences of other nations. If we will be strong with her strength we must not harbor such disconsolate consciences. pending their settlement. Jerome. We fancy that we are strangers. reaches the climbing. The lights of the church. nor punctually keep the commandments.Emerson the highway. So many things are unsettled which it is of the first importance to settle. it has no inside. The mid-world is best. Shakspeare. have no more root in the deep world than man. and run hither and thither for nooks and secrets.—the Bible. when nearly seen. we will do as we do. are not children of our law. is no saint. Whilst the debate goes for221 . for one hundred and fifty-seven guineas. the Communion of St. but the Transfiguration. I think I will never read any but the commonest books. A collector peeps into all the picture-shops of Europe for a landscape of Poussin. of sunsets and sunrises every day. a crayon-sketch of Salvator. and are just such superficial tenants of the globe. Then the new molecular philosophy shows astronomical interspaces betwixt atom and atom. an autograph of Shakspeare. the ascetics. We must set up the strong present tense against all the rumors of wrath. or the Louvre. do not come out of the Sunday School. feathered and four-footed man. and corn-eaters. Her darlings. the strong. Fox and woodchuck. to say nothing of Nature’s pictures in every street. shows that the world is all outside. the beautiful. nor weigh their food. where every footman may see them. but for nothing a schoolboy can read Hamlet and can detect secrets of highest concernment yet unpublished therein. A collector recently bought at public auction. the great. hawk and snipe and bittern.—and. trappers. and what are as transcendent as these. as we know her. and bee-hunters. Nature. gliding. and the sculpture of the human body never absent. Gentoos. flying. She comes eating and drinking and sinning. But the exclusion reaches them also. Dante. and Milton. she does not distinguish by any favor. the Uffizii.

nature causes each man’s peculiarity to superabound. stay there in thy closet and toil until the rest are agreed what to do about it.—conclude very reasonably that these arts are not for man. lawfulness of writing down a thought. every good quality is noxious if unmixed. and the universe. every day. Irresistible nature made men such. You love the boy reading in a book. Expediency of literature. and the proportion must be invariably kept if we would have it sweet and sound. Everything runs to excess. and will not be closed for a century or two. the poet. and a sleep within a sleep. which holds thee dear. thou. Right to hold land. a tent for a night. reason of literature. not heroes. Law of copyright and international copyright is to be discussed. we adduce the scholars as examples of this treachery. there are enough of them. gazing at a drawing. and themselves victims of partiality. and the conventions convene. thou wilt not be missed in the scorning and skepticism. and do thou. and as much more as they will. power and form.—but thou. and thy puny habit require that thou do this or avoid that. dearest scholar. and before the vote is taken. right of property. Each of these elements in excess makes a mischief as hurtful as its defect. and find their life no more excellent than that of mechanics or farmers. but shalt not be worse. but quacks. is questioned. dig away in your garden. and in the interim we will sell our books for the most we can. Human life is made up of the two elements. and between whiles add a line. is disputed. much is to say on both sides. but are disease. yet 222 . Grant it. shall be the better. while the fight waxes hot. and. and. Here. God’s darling! heed thy private dream. but know that thy life is a flitting state. Life itself is a bubble and a skepticism. finish that stint. add a line every hour.Essays ward on the equity of commerce. New and Old England may keep shop. Yet nature will not bear you out. and makes legions more of such. very hollow and haggard. the orator. too near. to carry the danger to the edge of ruin. and spend your earnings as a waif or godsend to all serene and beautiful purposes. Thou art sick. or a cast. They are nature’s victims of expression. You who see the artist. stick to thy foolish task. sick or well. they say. and pronounce them failures. among the farms. Thy sickness.

if fate would suffer it. come from a spontaneity which forgets usages and makes the moment great. and the chemical and ethereal agents are undulatory and alternate. ‘You will not remember. The wise through excess of wisdom is made a fool. And if one remembers how innocently he began to be an artist. once for all. Power keeps quite another road than the turnpikes of choice and will. and hide from us the past and the future. and another behind us of purest sky. In the street and in the newspapers. and they will seize the pen and chisel. Our chief experiences have been casual. but incipient writers and sculptors? Add a little more of that quality which now reads and sees. her methods are saltatory and impulsive. with its angel-whispering. God delights to isolate us every day. and action. and would not be worth taking or keeping if it were not. How easily. We would look about us. and the mind goes antagonizing on. he who should do his business on this understanding would be quickly bankrupt. It is ridiculous that we are diplomatists.’ All good conversation. and experience is hands and feet to every enterprise. Man lives by pulses. or is it only a half-hour.—is the basis of genius. manners. A man is a golden impossibility. life appears so plain a business that manly resolution and adherence to the multiplication-table through all weathers will insure success. we might keep forever these beautiful limits.Emerson what are these millions who read and behold. our organic movements are such. We thrive by casualties. —which discomfits the conclusions of nations and of years! Tomorrow again everything looks real and angular. But ah! presently comes a day. he perceives that nature joined with his enemy. and doctors. `and you will not expect. and considerate people: there are no dupes like these. Nature hates calculators. The most attrac223 . Life is a series of surprises. and never prospers but by fits. but with grand politeness he draws down before us an impenetrable screen of purest sky. and adjust ourselves.’ he seems to say.—and yet. common sense is as rare as genius. to the perfect calculation of the kingdom of known cause and effect. the habitual standards are reinstated. The line he must walk is a hair’s breadth. namely the subterranean and invisible tunnels and channels of life.

and come and go. but the universe is warm with the latency of the same fire. The ancients.—that all is of God. converse. which glitters truly at one point. and all doing and having. struck with this irreducibleness of the elements of human life to calculation.—that nothing is of us or our works. In the thought of genius there is always a surprise.” In like manner.—”the kingdom that cometh without observation.” for it is never other. in success or failure. but that is to stay too long at the spark. It turns out somewhat new and very unlike what he promised himself. all are a little advanced. which I dearly love. and design and execute many things. All writing comes by the grace of God. and the moral sentiment is well called “the newness. but the individual is always mistaken. so that though it is done before you. The results of life are uncalculated and uncalculable. Every man is an impossibility until he is born. I would gladly be moral and keep due metes and bounds. A man will not be observed in doing that which he can do best. and something is done.Essays tive class of people are those who are powerful obliquely and not by the direct stroke. The individual is always mistaken. than more or less of vital force supplied from the Eternal. you wist not of it. blundered much. but I have set my heart on honesty in this chapter. for practical success. exalted Chance into a divinity. quarrelled with some or all. but not yet accredited. men of genius. The years teach much which the days never know. every thing impossible until we see a success. and not of art. and allow the most to the will of man. The ardors of piety agree at last with the coldest skepticism. There is a certain magic about his properest action which stupefies your powers of observation. Nature will not spare us the smallest leaf of laurel. The persons who compose our company. as new to the oldest intelligence as to the young child. The miracle of life which will not be expounded but will remain a miracle. and will not be exposed. one gets the cheer of their light without paying too great a tax. and drew in other persons as coadjutors. and somewhat comes of it all. and I can see nothing at last. He designed many things. Theirs is the beauty of the bird or the morning light. intro224 . but an unlookedfor result. there must not be too much design. The art of life has a pudency.

with this coetaneous growth of the parts. That which proceeds in succession might be remembered. the sunbright Mecca of the desert. on that secret cause. is a musical perfection. I drink water. Sir Everard Home I think noticed that the evolution was not from one central point. whereon flocks graze and shepherds pipe and dance. and behold what was there already. I arrive there. now skeptical or without unity. whilst in the reception of spiritual law. or go to the fire. the Ideal journeying always with us. they nail our attention and hope. young with the life of life. being cold. Underneath the inharmonious and trivial particulars. no! but I am at first apprised of my vicinity to a new and excellent region of life. On that one will. being thirsty. By persisting to read or to think. this region gives further sign of itself. I make! O no! I clap my hands in infantine joy and amazement before the first opening to me of this august magnificence. and promises a sequel. Do but observe the mode of our illumination. So is it with us. or if at any time being alone I have good thoughts. because immersed in forms and effects all seeming to be of equal yet hostile value. And what a future it opens! I feel a new heart beating with the love of the new beauty. but coactive from three or more points. knows not its own tendency. as it were in flashes of light. I do not make it. as when. with the tranquil eternal meadows spread at their base. the heaven without rent or seam. in sudden discoveries of its profound beauty and repose. as if the clouds that covered it parted at intervals and showed the approaching traveller the inland mountains. Bear with these distractions. I am ready to die out of nature and be born again into this new yet unapproachable America I have found in the West:— 225 . In the growth of the embryo. Life has no memory.Emerson duces a new element. and now religious. old with the love and homage of innumerable ages. But every insight from this realm of thought is felt as initial. I do not at once arrive at satisfactions. they will one day be members. or ejaculated from a deeper cause. Life is hereby melted into an expectation or a religion. When I converse with a profound mind. as yet far from being conscious. and obey one will. but that which is coexistent.

not for the affairs on which it is wasted. nor yet can A man be found who their first entrance knew. in particulars.” replied Mencius. which every fine genius has essayed to represent by some emphatic symbol. Muse. not what you have done or forborne. This vigor is supremely great. “and nourish well my vastflowing vigor. and thereby confess that we have arrived as far as we can go. Fortune. Suffice it for the joy of the universe that we have not arrived at a wall. and in the highest degree unbending. but at interminable oceans. 226 . Minerva. Our life seems not present so much as prospective.” If I have described life as a flux of moods. The baffled intellect must still kneel before this cause. and leaves no hunger. Anaximenes by air.Essays “Since neither now nor yesterday began These thoughts. So. as. Thales by water. The sentiment from which it sprung determines the dignity of any deed. I must now add that there is that in us which changes not and which ranks all sensations and states of mind. and the question ever is.—these are quaint names. “is difficult.—ineffable cause. “I fully understand language. Nourish it correctly and do it no injury. which have been ever. which refuses to be named. “The explanation. information is given us not to sell ourselves cheap. Anaxagoras by (Nous) thought. The consciousness in each man is a sliding scale. This vigor accords with and assists justice and reason. Holy Ghost. in infinite degrees.”—In our more correct writing we give to this generalization the name of Being. Zoroaster by fire. that we are very great. but as a hint of this vast-flowing vigor. but at whose command you have done or forborne it. and now with the flesh of his body. our greatness is always in a tendency or direction. and the metaphor of each has become a national religion. Jesus and the moderns by love.” he said. Most of life seems to be mere advertisement of faculty. too narrow to cover this unbounded substance.”—”I beg to ask what you call vast-flowing vigor?”—said his companion. life above life. and it will fill up the vacancy between heaven and earth. The Chinese Mencius has not been the least successful in his generalization. which identifies him now with the First Cause.

Shall we describe this cause as that which works directly? The spirit is not helpless or needful of mediate organs. the discovery we have made that we exist. No man ever came to an experience which was satiating. Therefore all just persons are satisfied with their own praise. That discovery is called the Fall of Man. as would be my presence in that place. They refuse to explain themselves. Why should I fret myself because a circumstance has occurred which hinders my presence where I was expected? If I am not at the meeting. It has plentiful powers and direct effects. and where I am not. They believe that we communicate without speech and above speech. just as much as it must include the oldest beliefs. So in accepting the leading of the sentiments. and are content that new actions should do them that office. It is very unhappy. and the new philosophy must take them in and make affirmations outside of them. but his good is tidings of a better.Emerson not in an action. the elements already exist in many minds around you of a doctrine of life which shall transcend any written record we have. it never was known to fall into the rear. We have learned that we do not see directly. For skepticisms are not gratuitous or lawless. I exert the same quality of power in all places. that is the material circumstance and is the principal fact in the history of the globe. Ever afterwards we suspect our instruments. and that no right action of ours is quite unaffecting to our friends. Thus journeys the mighty Ideal before us. and out of unbeliefs a creed shall be formed. but the universal impulse to believe. but too late to be helped. The noble are thus known from the ignoble. at whatever distance. Onward and onward! In liberated moments we know that a new picture of life and duty is already possible. but mediately. I am felt without acting. I am explained without explaining. my presence where I am should be as useful to the commonwealth of friendship and wisdom. it is not what we believe concerning the immortality of the soul or the like. but are limitations of the affirmative statement. It is for us to believe in the rule. for the influence of action is not to be measured by miles. not in the exception. The new statement will comprise the skepticisms as well as the faiths of society. and that we have no means of correcting 227 .

supplants all relative existence and ruins the kingdom of mortal friendship and love. the rapaciousness of this new power. yet by presence. All private sympathy is partial. By love on one part and by forbearance to press objection on the other part. which threatens to absorb all things. ’Tis the same with our idolatries. or of computing the amount of their errors. The street is full of humiliations to the proud. Though not in energy. now. nor can any force of intellect attribute to the object the proper deity which sleeps or wakes forever in every subject. every evil and every good thing is a shadow which we cast. so the chagrins which the bad heart gives off as bubbles. The great and crescive self. Nature and literature are subjective phenomena. The universe is the bride of the soul. engages us. objects.” is a good man on whom many people are agreed that these optical laws shall take effect. religions. Never can love make consciousness and ascription equal in force. and God is but one of its ideas. with the name of hero or saint. and the rounding mind’s eye which makes this or that man a type or representative of humanity. successively tumble in. shopmen or bar-keepers in hotels. Jesus. at once take form as ladies and gentlemen in the street. The subject is the receiver of Godhead. There will be the same gulf between every me and thee as between the original and the picture. perhaps there are no objects.Essays these colored and distorting lenses which we are. letters. this magazine of substance cannot be otherwise than felt. because of the inequality between every subject and every object. Marriage (in what is called the spiritual world) is impossible. Nature. and threaten or insult whatever is threatenable and insultable in us. rooted in absolute nature. and at every comparison must feel his being enhanced by that cryptic might. But the longest love or aversion has a speedy term. and ascribe to him the properties that will attach to any man so seen. People forget that it is the eye which makes the horizon. Perhaps these subject-lenses have a creative power. persons. that we will look at him in the centre of the horizon. it is for a time settled. the “providential man. Once we lived in what we saw. art. Two 228 . As the fop contrived to dress his bailiffs in his livery and make them wait on his guests at table.

” said Napoleon. We believe in ourselves as we do not believe in others. but cannot be divided nor doubled. No man at last believes that he can be lost. their turn must also come. and whilst they remain in contact. every act betrays the ill-concealed deity. from the point of view of the conscience. the world is a problem in mathematics or the science of quantity. all other points of each of the spheres are inert. nor that the crime in him is as black as in the felon. and the longer a particular union lasts the more energy of appetency the parts not in union acquire. To it. The intellect names it shade. in its quality and in its consequences. it is an act quite easy to be contemplated. We permit all things to ourselves. it is pravity or bad. because they behold sin (even when they speculate). Every day. it does not unsettle him or fright him from his ordinary notice of trifles. All stealing is comparative. pray who does not steal? Saints are sad. and not of the intellect. Because the intellect qualifies in our own case the moral judgments. speaking the language of the intellect. Murder in the murderer is no such ruinous thought as poets and romancers will have it. The act looks very differently on the inside and on the outside. Life will be imaged. The soul is not twin-born but the only begotten. For there is no crime to the intellect. but in its sequel it turns out to be a horrible jangle and confounding of all relations.Emerson human beings are like globes. It is an instance of our faith in ourselves that men never speak of crime as lightly as they think. and that which we call sin in others is experiment for us. If you come to absolutes. Any invasion of its unity would be chaos. absence 229 . Sin. but when acted are found destructive of society. is a diminution. Especially the crimes that spring from love seem right and fair from the actor’s point of view. and it leaves out praise and blame and all weak emotions. seen from the thought. child in appearance. and judges law as well as fact. or every man thinks a latitude safe for himself which is nowise to be indulged to another. a confusion of thought. or less: seen from the conscience or will. That is antinomian or hypernomian. “It is worse than a crime. is of a fatal and universal power. which can touch only in a point. admitting no co-life. it is a blunder. and though revealing itself as child in time.

Essays of light. We must hold hard to this poverty. after the sallies of action. The conscience must feel it as essence. long conversations. Bonaparte. But every other part of knowledge is to be pushed to the same extravagance. As I am. Columbus. a reader and his book. ere the soul attains her due sphericity. possess our axis more firmly. The life of truth is cold and so far mournful. we can never say anything but what we are. Columbus and America. use what language we will. or saturated with our humors. How long before our masquerade will end its noise of tambourines. That need makes in morals the capital virtue of self-trust. but magnitude adds nothing. contritions and perturba230 . Newton.— and meantime it is only puss and her tail. Thus inevitably does the universe wear our color. all things sooner or later fall into place. Cadmus. or puss with her tail? It is true that all the muses and love and religion hate these developments. so I see. and no essence. and by more vigorous selfrecoveries. in our brush pasture. and every object fall successively into the subject itself. And we cannot say too little of our constitutional necessity of seeing things under private aspects. and will find a way to punish the chemist who publishes in the parlor the secrets of the laboratory. This it is not. many ups and downs of fate. but no subjective. Hermes. it has an objective existence. with tragic and comic issues. let us treat the new comer like a travelling geologist who passes through our estate and shows us good slate. And yet is the God the native of these bleak rocks. or anthracite. Instead of feeling a poverty when we encounter a great man. laughter.—it takes so much to make the galvanic circuit complete. essential evil. What imports it whether it is Kepler and the sphere. the subject enlarges. but it is not the slave of tears. The subject exists. Do you see that kitten chasing so prettily her own tail? If you could look with her eyes you might see her surrounded with hundreds of figures performing complex dramas. however scandalous. are the mind’s ministers. and shouting. and we shall find it was a solitary performance? A subject and an object. The partial action of each strong mind in one direction is a telescope for the objects on which it is pointed. or limestone. many characters.

an attention. A wonderful time I have lived 231 . He is born into other politics. The man at his feet asks for his interest in turmoils of the earth. Charity would be wasted on this poor waiting on the symptoms. This is a divine answer. and this is a fragment of me. Surprise. but is calm with the conviction of the irreconcilableness of the two spheres. A man should not be able to look other than directly and forthright. nor adopt another’s facts. into the eternal and beautiful. It is a main lesson of wisdom to know your own from another’s. I have seen many fair pictures not in vain. Temperament. Subjectiveness. A sympathetic person is placed in the dilemma of a swimmer among drowning men. whilst the Furies sleep on the threshold. against all their denials. Orestes supplicates Apollo. They wish to be saved from the mischiefs of their vices. and if he give so much as a leg or a finger they will drown him. In Flaxman’s drawing of the Eumenides of Aeschylus. It does not attempt another’s work. and to an aim which makes their wants frivolous. Illusion. The god is surcharged with his divine destiny. Reality. A wise and hardy physician will say. I dare not assume to give their order.—these are threads on the loom of time. In this our talking America we are ruined by our good nature and listening on all sides. I have learned that I cannot dispose of other people’s facts. who all catch at him. The face of the god expresses a shade of regret and compassion. I am a fragment. these are the lords of life. that they also have a key to theirs. which throws itself into relief and form. into which his nature cannot enter. A preoccupied attention is the only answer to the importunate frivolity of other people. I know better than to claim any completeness for my picture. and leaves no appeal and no hard thoughts. but I name them as I find them in my way. but not from their vices. Surface. but I possess such a key to my own as persuades me. And the Eumenides there lying express pictorially this disparity. Come out of that. as the first condition of advice. but I am too young yet by some ages to compile a code. Succession. I can very confidently announce one or another law.Emerson tions. This compliance takes away the power of being greatly useful. I gossip for my hour concerning the eternal politics.

But I have not found that much was gained by manipular attempts to realize the world of thought. I do not macerate my body to make the account square. When I receive a new gift. People disparage knowing and the intellectual life. and urge doing. That is an august entertainment. It is but a choice between soft and turbulent dreams. I observe that in the history of mankind there is never a solitary example of 232 .” I know that the world I converse with in the city and in the farms. This is a fruit.—that I should not ask for a rash effect from meditations. if he will pardon the proverb. It works on periods in which mortal lifetime is lost. I am very content with knowing. and shall observe it. In for a mill. for if I should die I could not make the account square. and would suffice me a great while. I should feel it pitiful to demand a result on this town and county. Also that hankering after an overt or practical effect seems to me an apostasy. Let who will ask Where is the fruit? I find a private fruit sufficient. nor yet seven years ago. I am not the novice I was fourteen. The benefit overran the merit the first day. I observe that difference. They acquire democratic manners. they hate and deny. The merit itself. Life wears to me a visionary face.Essays in. To know a little would be worth the expense of this world. and has overrun the merit ever since. and make themselves ridiculous. and when I have fancied I had gotten anything. Hardest roughest action is visionary also. should be safe from harm until another period. My reception has been so large. so-called. I say to the Genius. in for a million. if only I could know. Worse. “that every soul which had acquired any truth. I worship with wonder the great Fortune. an overt effect on the instant month and year. I found I did not. I hear always the law of Adrastia. they foam at the mouth. I am and I have: but I do not get. All I know is reception. The effect is deep and secular as the cause. I reckon part of the receiving. counsels and the hiving of truths. One day I shall know the value and law of this discrepance. In good earnest I am willing to spare this most unnecessary deal of doing. is not the world I think. Many eager persons successively make an experiment in this way. that I am not annoyed by receiving this or that superabundantly.

It takes a good deal of time to eat or to sleep. He spoke. in the solitude to which every man is always returning. Patience and patience. old heart!—it seems to say. we shall win at the last. As unrepenting Nature leaves Her every act. up again.—taking their own tests of success. We must be very suspicious of the deceptions of the element of time. and words more soft than rain Brought the Age of Gold again: His action won such reverence sweet. eat our dinners. but set not his hope: Stars rose. never mind the defeat. and these things make no impression. 233 . Never mind the ridicule. Work of his hand He nor commends nor grieves Pleads for itself the fact. or in reply to the inquiry. are forgotten next week. As hid all measure of the feat.—since there never was a right endeavor but it succeeded. he has a sanity and revelations which in his passage into new worlds he will carry with him.—there is victory yet for all justice. but. Deeper and older seemed his eye: And matched his sufferance sublime The taciturnity of time. We dress our garden. discuss the household with our wives. I say this polemically. his faith was earlier up: Fixed on the enormous galaxy. Why not realize your world? But far be from me the despair which prejudges the law by a paltry empiricism. and the true romance which the world exists to realize will be the transformation of genius into practical power.Emerson success. CHARACTER The sun set. and a very little time to entertain a hope and an insight which becomes the light of our life. or to earn a hundred dollars.

but Hercules did not wait for a contest.” answered Iole. This is that which we call Character. “I was content the moment my eyes fell on him. do not in the record of facts equal their own fame. which is company for him. and not by crossing of bayonets. but somewhat resided in these men which begot an expectation that outran all their performance. and others of Plutarch’s heroes. the Earl of Essex. The authority of the name of Schiller is too great for his books. The largest part of their power was latent. It is conceived of as a certain undemonstrable force. or if they chance to be social. a Familiar or Genius. they do not justify his estimate of his genius. or at least guide his horses in the chariot-race. “Half his strength he put not forth. are men of great figure and of few deeds.—a reserved force which acts directly by presence. Cleomenes. and that 234 .” His victories are by demonstration of superiority. He conquers because his arrival alters the face of affairs. What others effect by talent or by eloquence. at another time small. I desired that I might see him offer battle. It has been complained of our brilliant English historian of the French Revolution that when he has told all his facts about Mirabeau. do not need society but can entertain themselves very well alone. only half attached. “O Iole! how did you know that Hercules was a god?” “Because. he conquered whether he stood. Sir Philip Sidney. CHARACTER I have read that those who listened to Lord Chatham felt that there was something finer in the man than any thing which he said. We cannot find the smallest part of the personal weight of Washington in the narrative of his exploits. by whose impulses the man is guided but whose counsels he cannot impart. The purest literary talent appears at one time great. this man accomplishes by some magnetism. Agis. and without means. or whatever thing he did.Essays XV. Sir Walter Raleigh. This inequality of the reputation to the works or the anecdotes is not accounted for by saying that the reverberation is longer than the thunder-clap.” Man. When I beheld Theseus. or walked. but character is of a stellar and undiminishable greatness. so that such men are often solitary. ordinarily a pendant to events. or sat. The Gracchi.

In the new objects we recognize the old game. There are geniuses in trade. you would comprehend his fortune. See him and you will know as easily why he succeeds. to the world he lives in. or the State. I observe that in our political elections. but are themselves the country which they represent. dresses its own. or whether the hand can pass through him. watches the color of their cheek. as well as in war. and like to know whether the New Englander is a substantial man. The constituency at home hearkens to their words. and fluent speaker. we sufficiently understand its incomparable rate. that is all anybody can tell you about it. namely the power to make his talent trusted. But to use a more modest illustration and nearer home. The same motive force appears in trade. numbers and quantities. and the reason why this or that man is fortunate is not to be told. if it appears at all. His natural probity combines with his insight into the 235 . and to be an expression of the same laws which control the tides and the sun.Emerson awkwardly. was appointed by Almighty God to stand for a fact. Our public assemblies are pretty good tests of manly force. if he be not one who. as soon as you see the natural merchant. before he was appointed by the people to represent them. It lies in the man. through the perceptions of somebody else. as in a glass. The people know that they need in their representative much more than talent. in these examples appears to share the life of things. They cannot come at their ends by sending to Congress a learned. as. if you see Napoleon. where this element.—invincibly persuaded of that fact in himself. acute. who appears not so much a private agent as her factor and Minister of Commerce. or letters. the Habit of fronting the fact. Our frank countrymen of the west and south have a taste for character. The men who carry their points do not need to inquire of their constituents what they should say. can only occur in its coarsest form. and therein. and not dealing with it at second hand. namely faith in a fact. nowhere are its emotions or opinions so instant and true as in them. nowhere so pure from a selfish infusion.— so that the most confident and the most violent persons learn that here is resistance on which both impudence and terror are wasted. Nature seems to authorize trade.

like an Ohio or Danube. a torrent of strong sad light. How often has the influence of a true master realized all the tales of magic! A river of command seemed to run down from his eyes into all those who beheld him. and offer no resistance. it benumbs it. The faculties are locked up. The excess of physical strength is paralyzed by it. and nobody in the universe can make his place good. This immensely stretched trade. He too believes that none can supply him. Perhaps that is the universal law. which pervaded them with his thoughts and colored all events with the hue of his mind. Men exert on each other a similar occult power. It works with most energy in the smallest companies and in private relations. and that a man must be born to trade or he cannot learn it. In his parlor I see very well that he has been at hard work this morning.Essays fabric of society to put him above tricks. and the answer was.” 236 . centres in his brain only. “Only that influence which every strong mind has over a weak one. Higher natures overpower lower ones by affecting them with a certain sleep. The habit of his mind is a reference to standards of natural equity and public advantage. when others would have uttered ruinous yeas. with the pride of art and skill of masterly arithmetic and power of remote combination. the consciousness of being an agent and playfellow of the original laws of the world. and he communicates to all his own faith that contracts are of no private interpretation. I see plainly how many firm acts have been done. which makes the capes of the Southern Ocean his wharves. This virtue draws the mind more when it appears in action to ends not so mixed. and he inspires respect and the wish to deal with him. how many valiant noes have this day been spoken. “What means did you employ?” was the question asked of the wife of Concini. and the Atlantic Sea his familiar port. I see. In all cases it is an extraordinary and incomputable agent. and for the intellectual pastime which the spectacle of so much ability affords. with that knitted brow and that settled humor. in regard to her treatment of Mary of Medici. When the high cannot bring up the low to itself. both for the quiet spirit of honor which attends him. which all his desire to be courteous cannot shake off. as man charms down the resistance of the lower animals.

Time and space. Truth is the summit of being. A healthy soul stands united with the Just and the True. will the relative order of the ship’s company be the same? Is there nothing but rope and iron? Is there no love. but it is yet true that all stones will forever fall. The reason why we feel one man’s presence and do not feel another’s is as simple as gravity. as the patriot does his country. He encloses the world. or of a lie which somebody credited. We can drive a stone upward for a moment into the air. justice is the application of it to affairs. at how long a curve soever. according to the purity of this element in them. and all nature cooperates with it. justice must prevail. and whatever instances can be quoted of unpunished theft. let us fancy. The will of the pure runs down from them into other natures as water runs down from a higher into a lower vessel. liberty and necessity. the universe is a close or pound. Character is this moral order seen through the medium of an individual nature. With what quality is in him he infuses all nature that he can reach. All individual natures stand in a scale. All things exist in the man tinged with the manners of his soul. all his regards return into his own good at last. and a theatre for action. When they arrive at Cuba. An individual is an encloser. nor does he tend to lose himself in vastness. truth and thought. as the magnet arranges itself with the pole. Now. under these swarthy masks he has a gang of Washingtons in chains. He animates all he can. but. as a material basis for his character.Emerson Cannot Caesar in irons shuffle off the irons and transfer them to the person of Hippo or Thraso the turnkey? Is an iron handcuff so immutable a bond? Suppose a slaver on the coast of Guinea should take on board a gang of negroes which should contain persons of the stamp of Toussaint L’Ouverture: or. and cannot these be supposed available to break or elude or in any manner overmatch the tension of an inch or two of iron ring? This is a natural power. are left at large no longer. so that he stands to all beholders like a 237 . like light and heat. and he sees only what he animates. This natural force is no more to be withstood than any other natural force. and it is the privilege of truth to make itself believed. no reverence? Is there never a glimpse of right in a poor slave-captain’s mind.

and they will ask no more. secure to them a fact. but to be loved.—if I quake at opinion. or of murder? If I quake. that I no longer immolate a bull to Jove or to Neptune. action the south pole. No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character. The natural measure of this power is the resistance of circumstances. They look at the profit or hurt of the action. and persons. the soul of goodness escapes from any set of circumstances. or poverty. a connection. or a mouse to Hecate. events. Yet its moral element preexisted in the actor. Impure men consider life as it is reflected in opinions. journeys towards that person. and its quality as right or wrong it was easy to predict. men of character are the conscience of the society to which they belong. A given order of events has no power to secure to him the satisfaction which the imagination attaches to it. The hero sees that the event is ancillary. What have I gained. or the Calvinistic Judgment-day. or bad neighbors. Will is the north. the public opinion. what matters it what I quake at? Our proper vice 238 . but if we have broken any idols it is through a transfer of the idolatry. into any order of events. Character may be ranked as having its natural place in the north. that I do not tremble before the Eumenides. They never behold a principle until it is lodged in a person. He is thus the medium of the highest influence to all who are not on the same level. There is a male and a female. as we call it. they worship events. The feeble souls are drawn to the south or negative pole. a north and a south. Spirit is the positive. or at the threat of assault. or has a positive and negative pole. or contumely. or the Catholic Purgatory. They cannot see the action until it is done. the event is the negative. a certain chain of circumstances. It shares the magnetic currents of the system. the other class do not like to hear of faults. a spirit and a fact. Everything in nature is bipolar.Essays transparent object betwixt them and the sun. and whoso journeys towards the sun. We boast our emancipation from many superstitions. whilst prosperity belongs to a certain mind. and will introduce that power and victory which is its natural fruit. or at the rumor of revolution. Men of character like to hear of their faults. or mutilation. it must follow him. They do not wish to be lovely. Thus.

will readily find terrors. or a client.Emerson takes form in one or another shape. and shreds its day into scraps. so that I cannot think of him as alone. is my own. but it helps little. or unhappy. if we are capable of fear. Our houses ring with laughter and personal and critical gossip. he is satisfied to read in the quotations of the market that his stocks have risen. or temperament of the person. in the first place. according to the sex. That nonconformity will remain a goad and remembrancer. unavailable man. I revere the person who is riches. and every inquirer will have to dispose of him. The covetousness or the malignity which saddens me when I ascribe it to society. benefactor. On the other part. and does already command those events I desire. rectitude is a perpetual victory. rather he shall stand stoutly in his place and let me apprehend if it were only his resistance. The face which character wears to me is selfsufficingness. and beatified man. But the uncivil. That exultation is only to be checked by the foresight of an order of things so excellent as to throw all our prosperities into the deepest shade. celebrated not by cries of joy but by serenity. its conversation into ceremonies and escapes. know that I have encountered a new and positive quality. which is joy fixed or habitual. I must learn to taste purer in the perception that my position is every hour meliorated. who is a problem and a threat to society.—great refreshment for both of us. The same transport which the occurrence of the best events in the best order would occasion me. Society is frivolous. The capitalist does not run every hour to the broker to coin his advantages into current money of the realm. the impossibility of being displaced or overset. I am always environed by myself. It is much that he does not accept the conventional opinions and practices. or poor.—and to whom all parties 239 . A man should give us a sense of mass. But if I go to see an ingenious man I shall think myself poorly entertained if he give me nimble pieces of benevolence and etiquette. age. Character is centrality. It is disgraceful to fly to events for confirmation of our truth and worth. and. but as perpetual patron. There is nothing real or useful that is not a seat of war. whom it cannot let pass in silence but must either worship or hate. or exiled.

It is only on reality that any power of action can be based. He adopted it by ear and by the understanding from the books he had been reading.’ by illuminating the untried and unknown. and could not inspire enthusiasm. the absorbed. Had there been something latent in the man. We shall still postpone our existence. a high-water mark in military history. a piece of the city carried out into the fields. yet I was never able to find in him the enterprise of love he took in hand.” Xenophon and his Ten Thousand were quite equal to what they attempted. he must have the Treasury.—he helps. for these announce the instant presence of supreme power.—they are good. and did it. except man only. both the leaders of opinion and the obscure and eccentric. the self-moved. nor take the ground to which we 240 . I read in a book of English memoirs. No institution will be better than the institutor. The wise man not only leaves out of his thought the many. In nature. All things work exactly according to their quality and according to their quantity. He has pretension. heads which are not clear. but leaves out the few. so equal. let us eat and drink. before they can comprehend the plan of it. and would have it. and not been equal to it. the commander because he is commanded. there are no false valuations. Yet there stands that fact unrepeated. indicate infirm faith. the assured. Many have attempted it since. and no new fact. “Mr. a terrible undemonstrated genius agitating and embarrassing his demeanor. the primary. I knew an amiable and accomplished person who undertook a practical reform. we had watched for its advent. Fountains. A pound of water in the ocean-tempest has no more gravity than in a midsummer pond. ‘man is a doll. he puts America and Europe in the wrong. and destroys the skepticism which says. and was the city still. he wishes and attempts things beyond his force. that it was not suspected to be a grand and inimitable exploit. he had served up to it. Acquiescence in the establishment and appeal to the public. Our action should rest mathematically on our substance. Fox (afterwards Lord Holland) said.Essays feel related. All his action was tentative. attempt nothing they cannot do. It is not enough that the intellect should see the evils and their remedy. and which must see a house built. ’tis the best we can do.

We have not yet served up to it.. It is only low merits that can be enumerated. We know who is benevolent. you may begin to hope. and the man. to Tischbein. &c. he cannot therefore wait to unravel any man’s blunders. a lucrative place found for Professor Voss. so many hundred thalers given to Stilling. as. These are properties of life. whilst it is only a thought and not a spirit that incites us. to Hegel. If your friend has displeased you. Those who live to the future must always appear selfish to those who live to the present. for he has already lost all memory of the passage. We have no pleasure in thinking of a benevolence that is only measured by its works. which will bankrupt you if you have loitered about the old things and have not kept your relation to him by adding to your wealth. a post under the Grand Duke for Herder. though he sleep. Fear. The longest list of specifications of benefit would look very short. seems to purify the air and his house to adorn the landscape and strengthen the laws. A man is a poor creature if he is to be measured so. he is again on his road. still cheers and enriches. and must suspend their judgment for years to come. &c. but when they stand with uncertain timid looks of respect and half-dislike. and another trait is the notice of incessant growth. Men should be intelligent and earnest. you shall not sit down to consider it. adding new powers and honors to his domain and new claims on your heart. to make out a list of his donations and good deeds. and has doubled his power to serve you. by quite other means than the amount of subscription to soup-societies. Love is inexhaustible. Therefore it was droll in the good Riemer.Emerson are entitled. whose early twilights already kindle in the passing hour. and say it through. and if its estate is wasted. New actions are the only apologies and explanations of old ones which the noble can bear to offer or to receive. People always recognize this difference. its granary emptied. two professors recommended to foreign universities. The hero is misconceived and misreported. and ere you can rise up again will burden you with blessings. when your friends say to you what you have done well. who has written memoirs of Goethe. They must also make us feel that they have a controlling happy future opening before them. a pension for Meyer. 241 .

very young children of the most high God. I surrender at discretion. where I thought myself poor. the fortune I inherited.’ And nature advertises me in such persons that in democratic America 242 . but in these long nights and vacations I like to console myself so. to be again rebuked by some new exhibition of character. Two persons lately. A word warm from the heart enriches me. I find.—is pure of that. ‘From my nonconformity. my salary and the large income derived from my writings for fifty years back. I own it is but poor chat and gossip to go to enumerate traits of this simple and rapid power. Half a million of my own money. and wasted my time. I have besides seen. hence this sweetness. have given me occasion for thought. I never listened to your people’s law.Essays For all these of course are exceptions. with no thousand-eyed Athens to watch and blazon every new thought. every blushing emotion of young genius. it seemed as if each answered. Character is nature in the highest form. This masterpiece is best where no hands but nature’s have been laid on it. Eckermann of the way in which he had spent his fortune. Care is taken that the greatly-destined shall slip up into life in the shade. and the rule and hodiernal life of a good man is benefaction. How death-cold is literary genius before this fire of life! These are the touches that reanimate my heavy soul and give it eyes to pierce the dark of nature. is published so. I was content with the simple rural poverty of my own. and of persistence. yet excites it. Somewhat is possible of resistance. to this power. and we are painting the lightning with charcoal. It is of no use to ape it or to contend with it. and of creation. “Each bon-mot of mine has cost a purse of gold. When I explored the source of their sanctity and charm for the imagination. Nothing but itself can copy it. or to what they call their gospel. there was I most rich. which will foil all emulation. Strange alternation of attraction and repulsion! Character repudiates intellect. Thence comes a new intellectual exaltation. my work never reminds you of that. and then is ashamed before new flashes of moral worth.” &c. and character passes into thought. The true charity of Goethe is to be inferred from the account he gave Dr. have been expended to instruct me in what I now know.

but they can afford to smile. Dante. Shakspeare. She makes very light of gospels and prophets. Could they dream on still. the Patmos of thought from which he writes. touches them. and who seem to be an accumulation of that power we consider. and teach that the laws fashion the citizen. they are victory organized. There is a class of men. answer me this. and wherever the vein of thought reaches down into the profound. there is no danger from vanity. or. and not wake to comparisons. was. and however pertly our sermons and disciplines would divide some share of credit. in unconsciousness of any eyes that shall ever read this writing. They are a relief from literature. who touches that. as feeling that they have a stake in that book.Emerson she will not be democratized. they are very natural. the first lines of written prose and verse of a nation.—’My friend. ‘Are you victimizable?’ As I have said.’ But forgive the counsels.—and especially the total solitude of the critic. prior to that. as one who has a great many more to produce and no excess of time to spare on any one. Nature keeps these sovereignties in her own hands. Have you been victimized in being brought hither?—or. Solemn friends will warn them of the danger of the head’s being turned by the flourish of trumpets. Divine persons are character born. because they 243 .—these fresh draughts from the sources of thought and sentiment. individuals of which appear at long intervals. so eminently endowed with insight and virtue that they have been unanimously saluted as divine. she goes her own gait and puts the wisest in the wrong. They are usually received with ill-will. in an age of polish and criticism. I remember the indignation of an eloquent Methodist at the kind admonitions of a Doctor of Divinity. How cloistered and constitutionally sequestered from the market and from scandal! It was only this morning that I sent away some wild flowers of these wood-gods. a man can neither be praised nor insulted. or Scott. whether Aeschylus. and to be flattered! Yet some natures are too good to be spoiled by praise. as we read. as angels. to borrow a phrase from Napoleon. How captivating is their devotion to their favorite books. I remember the thought which occurred to me when some ingenious and spiritual foreigners came to America.

” I should think myself very unhappy in my associates if I could not credit the best things in history. and we should not require rash explanation. the prophet Zertusht. advanced into the midst of the assembly. must not be crowded on by persons nor be judged from glimpses got in the press of affairs or on few occasions. It needs perspective. Character wants room. or on our own. the Persians tell us. We have seen many counterfeits. that it should deserve to be recorded that he arose. When the Yunani sage arrived at Balkh.” says Milton. Gushtasp appointed a day on which the Mobeds of every country should assemble. nor makes two men alike. as a great building. a result which he is sure to disappoint. but we are born believers in great men. and nothing but truth can proceed from them. on seeing that chief. so that not on 244 . probably does not. Every trait which the artist recorded in stone he had seen in life.Essays are new and because they set a bound to the exaggeration that has been made of the personality of the last divine person. from whom the fasces are not to depart with the year. as happened to the eastern magian who was sent to test the merits of Zertusht or Zoroaster. None will ever solve the problem of his character according to our prejudice.” Plato said it was impossible not to believe in the children of the gods. “John Bradshaw. We require that a man should be so large and columnar in the landscape. The Yunani sage. and predict the sequel of his character and fortune. The most credible pictures are those of majestic men who prevailed at their entrance. It may not. of its action. “appears like a consul. Then the beloved of Yezdam. “though they should speak without probable or necessary arguments. either on the popular ethics. I look on Sculpture as history. “This form and this gait cannot lie. and departed to such a place. When we see a great man we fancy a resemblance to some historical person. said. but only in his own high unprecedented way. form relations rapidly. and convinced the senses. How easily we read in old books. of the smallest action of the patriarchs. and better than his copy. I do not think the Apollo and the Jove impossible in flesh and blood. Nature never rhymes her children. and a golden chair was placed for the Yunani sage. when men were few. and girded up his loins.

it should be the festival of nature which all things announce. and kindled another life in his bosom. For when men shall meet as they ought.—another. that one man should know heaven. One man fastens an eye on him and the graves of the memory render up their dead. when they spring from this deep root? The sufficient reply to the skeptic who doubts the power and the furniture of man. love in the sexes is the first symbol. the secrets that make him wretched either to keep or to betray must be yielded. boldness. and eloquence to him. clothed with thoughts. and there are persons he cannot choose but remember. He is a dull observer whose experience has not taught him the reality and force of magic. as all other things are symbols of love. He who confronts the gods. “The virtuous prince confronts the gods. he who waits a hundred ages until a sage comes.Emerson the tribunal only. Hence the virtuous prince moves. a shower of stars.” But there is no need to seek remote examples. and the bones of his body seem to lose their cartilages. as well as of chemistry. without any misgiving. and makes politics. we reckoned the ro245 . and churches. but throughout his life. since it is anterior information.” I find it more credible. What is so excellent as strict relations of amity. and does not doubt. you would regard him as sitting in judgment upon kings. which makes the faith and practice of all reasonable men. each a benefactor. between two virtuous men. without doubting. and he cannot speak. I know nothing which life has to offer so satisfying as the profound good understanding which can subsist after much exchange of good offices. as the Chinese say. and commerce. It is a happiness which postpones all other gratifications. who gave a transcendent expansion to his thought. is in that possibility of joyful intercourse with persons. The coldest precisian cannot go abroad without encountering inexplicable influences. Those relations to the best men. with accomplishments. cheap. at one time. Of such friendship. He waits a hundred ages till a sage comes. with deeds. and for ages shows empire the way. which. without any misgiving. the entrance of a friend adds grace. knows men. than that so many men should know the world. each of whom is sure of himself and sure of his friend. knows heaven.

though made up of the best. and cannot otherwise:— When each the other shall avoid. All force is the shadow or symbol of that. and content us with compelling them through the virtue of the eldest laws! Could we not deal with a few persons. Our beatitude waits for the fulfilment of these two in one. degrading jangle. now possession is required. and as they can instal themselves by seniority divine. our heat and hurry look foolish enough. The ages are opening this moral force. as if the Olympians should meet to exchange snuff-boxes. from asking their praise. or help. If it were possible to live in right relations with men!— if we could abstain from asking anything of them. 246 . But if suddenly we encounter a friend. The moment is all. now pause. We chase some flying scheme.” Friends also follow the laws of divine necessity. of forbearing? Need we be so eager to seek him? If we are related. of silence. or pity. a friend is the hope of the heart. and the power to swell the moment from the resources of the heart. we pause. Their relation is not made.— “The Gods are to each other not unknown. Life goes headlong. All the greatness of each is kept back and every foible in painful activity. but allowed. and there is a Greek verse which runs. The gods must seat themselves without seneschal in our Olympus. the most solid enjoyment. Shall each by each be most enjoyed. they gravitate to each other. and make an experiment of their efficacy? Could we not pay our friend the compliment of truth.Essays mances of youth. it is a mischievous.—with one person. And if it be not society. become. in all noble relations. or we are hunted by some fear or command behind us. low. we shall meet. It was a tradition of the ancient world that no metamorphosis could hide a god from a god.—after the unwritten statutes. in the progress of the character. Society is spoiled if pains are taken. if the associates are brought a mile to meet. A divine person is the prophecy of the mind.

But the mind requires a victory to the senses. argues a vulgarity that seems to shut the doors of heaven. of winds. and of moral agents. When at last that which we have always longed for is arrived and shines on us with glad rays out of that far celestial land. Men write their names on the world as they are filled with this. jury. This is confusion. then to be critical and treat such a visitant with the jabber and suspicion of the streets. then to be coarse. and king. soldier. shed an epic splendor around the facts of his death which has transfigured every particular into an universal symbol for the eyes of mankind. of the 247 . of rivers. our nations have been mobs. which will rule animal and mineral virtues. at least let us do them homage. by the pure quality of his nature. I see it. I do not forgive in my friends the failure to know a fine character and to entertain it with thankful hospitality.Emerson Poetry is joyful and strong as it draws its inspiration thence. its religion. this the right insanity. and who was hanged at the Tyburn of his nation. I am aware. high advantages are set down to the possessor as disadvantages. The ages have exulted in the manners of a youth who owed nothing to fortune. but only the dream and prophecy of such: we do not know the majestic manners which belong to him. if I alone. who. The history of those gods and saints which the world has written and then worshipped. to know that wherever in the wide desert of being the holy sentiment we cherish has opened into a flower. are documents of character. It requires the more wariness in our private estimates. which appease and exalt the beholder. nor where its allegiance. This great defeat is hitherto our highest fact. Is there any religion but this. History has been mean. If we cannot attain at a bound to these grandeurs. We shall one day see that the most private is the most public energy. it blooms for me? if none sees it. of stars. In society. that quality atones for quantity. when the soul no longer knows its own. and grandeur of character acts in the dark. are due. we have never seen a man: that divine form we do not yet know. a force of character which will convert judge. and blend with the courses of sap. What greatness has yet appeared is beginnings and encouragements to us in this direction. and succors them who never saw it.

” Ben Jonson 248 . Instructed by the heightening sense Of dignity and reverence In their true motions found. that Proportion Or Color can disclose. I will keep sabbath or holy time. and suspend my gloom and my folly and jokes. That if those silent arts were lost. And now put all the aptness on Of Figure. MANNERS “How near to good is what is fair! Which we no sooner see. Whilst it blooms. which has vowed to itself that it will be a wretch and also a fool in this world sooner than soil its white hands by any compliances. there are many that can discern Genius on his starry track. and the only compliment they can pay it is to own it. all-abstaining. they might boast From you a newer ground. though the mob is incapable.Essays greatness of the fact. but when that love which is all-suffering. Again yourselves compose. Design and Picture. There are many eyes that can detect and honor the prudent and household virtues. Nature is indulged by the presence of this guest. all-aspiring.—only the pure and aspiring can know its face. comes into our streets and houses. But with the lines and outward air Our senses taken be.

a selfconstituted aristocracy. it is said. and contrives to execute his will through the hands of many nations. is ready without rent or taxes. and a mat which is the bed. stone. Again. namely a tomb. thickness. What fact more conspicuous in modern history than the creation of the gentleman? Chivalry is that. Our Exploring Expedition saw the Feejee islanders getting their dinner off human bones. knows not how the other half live. “It is somewhat singular. The house. and loyalty 249 . the ivory. they walk out and enter another.” In the deserts of Borgoo the rock-Tibboos still dwell in caves. especially. writes laws. perpetuates itself. which. If the house do not please them. To set up their housekeeping nothing is requisite but two or three earthen pots. and. as there is nothing to lose. among the corpses and rags of an ancient nation which they know nothing of. to whom we owe this account. running through all the countries of intelligent men. for which these horrible regions are visited. like cliffswallows. and wool. countries where man serves himself with metals. gum. and the language of these negroes is compared by their neighbors to the shrieking of bats and to the whistling of birds. for there is no want of one.” adds Belzoni. MANNERS H alf the world. without written law or exact usage of any kind. or fraternity of the best. and have nicknames merely. a stone to grind meal. or other accidental quality. establishes a select society. cotton. glass. and the gold. the Bornoos have no proper names. silk. and they are said to eat their own wives and children. find their way into countries where the purchaser and consumer can hardly be ranked in one race with these cannibals and man-stealers. The husbandry of the modern inhabitants of Gournou (west of old Thebes) is philosophical to a fault.Emerson XVI. the dates. But the salt. individuals are called after their height. honors himself with architecture. No rain can pass through the roof. colonizes every new-planted island and adopts and makes its own whatever personal beauty or extraordinary native endowment anywhere appears. “to talk of happiness among people who live in sepulchres. as there are several hundreds at their command. wood. and there is no door.

must be respected. as the atmosphere is a permanent composition. wit. The word gentleman. which. and power. namely virtue. from Sir Philip Sidney to Sir Walter Scott. The word gentleman has not any correlative abstract to express the quality. but must be an average result of the character and faculties universally found in men. not the grain of the tree. and the heroic character which the gentleman imports. and all the novels. must hereafter characterize the present and the few preceding centuries by the importance attached to it. is the Frenchman’s description of good Society: as we must be.Essays is that. and the last effect is assumed by the senses as the cause. Gentility is mean. more than of the talent of men. It seems a certain permanent average. who take the lead in the world of this hour. and is a compound result into which every great force enters as an ingredient. half the drama. An element which unites all the most forcible persons of every country. is a homage to personal and incommunicable properties. and. whilst so many gases are combined only to be decompounded. like the word Christian. however. and gentilesse is obsolete. It is made of the spirit. The usual words. beauty. but the steady interest of mankind in it must be attributed to the valuable properties which it designates. paint this figure. It is a spontaneous fruit of talents and feelings of precisely that class who have most vigor. and the like. is as good as the whole society permits it to be. are contemplated. is that the flower and fruit. makes them intelligible and agreeable to each other. in English literature. chivalry. as courtesy. a word of narrow and often sinister meaning. It is beauty 250 . But we must keep alive in the vernacular the distinction between fashion. far from constituting the gladdest and highest tone of human feeling. and though far from pure. they will be found to contain the root of the matter. Frivolous and fantastic additions have got associated with the name. because the quantities are fluxional. wealth. There is something equivocal in all the words in use to express the excellence of manners and social cultivation. and is somewhat so precise that it is at once felt if an individual lack the masonic sign.—cannot be any casual product. Comme il faut. The point of distinction in all this class of names. fashion.

at least to the extent of yielding the incomparable advantage of animal spirits. and then gentleness. Power first. God knows that all sorts of gentlemen knock at the door. not in any manner dependent and servile. In times of violence. the word denotes good-nature or benevolence: manhood first. or a sea-fight. In politics and in trade. the name will be found to point at original energy. but the personal force appears readily enough in these new arenas. in their friendly and festive meetings. In a good lord there must first be a good animal. The competition is transferred from war to politics and trade. but whenever used in strictness and with any emphasis. and not worth. or no leading class. The intellect relies on memory to make some supplies to face these extemporaneous squadrons. That is still paramount to-day. bruisers and pirates are of better promise than talkers and clerks. but that is a natural result of personal force and love. therefore every man’s name that emerged at all from the mass in the feudal ages. giving in every company the sense of power. The result is now in question. The courage which girls exhibit is like a battle of Lundy’s Lane. and expressing that lordship in his behavior. The gentleman is a man of truth. either on persons. But personal force never goes out of fashion. lord of his own actions. The popular notion certainly adds a condition of ease and fortune. which makes things easy to be done which daunt the wise. every eminent person must fall in with many opportunities to approve his stoutness and worth. Beyond this fact of truth and real force. rattles in our ear like a flourish of trumpets.Emerson which is the aim this time. but they must have these. The rulers of society must be up to the 251 . But memory is a base mendicant with basket and badge. It describes a man standing in his own right and working after untaught methods. or possessions. The ruling class must have more. is full of courage and of attempts which intimidate the pale scholar. and in the moving crowd of good society the men of valor and reality are known and rise to their natural place. The society of the energetic class. or opinions. although our words intimate well enough the popular feeling that the appearance supposes a substance. that they should possess and dispense the goods of the world. in the presence of these sudden masters.

to value any condition at a high rate. Julius Caesar. Sapor. Money is not essential. Scipio. he will never be a leader in fashion. and a broad sympathy 252 . since a bold fellow will go through the cunningest forms”). who have great range of affinity. and the trade of every town. and equal to their versatile office: men of the right Caesarian pattern. They sat very carelessly in their chairs. he will outpray saints in chapel. who have invention to take the lead. Alexander. and it is a material deputy which walks through the dance which the first has led. he has the private entrance to all minds. Fortune will not supply to every generation one of these well-appointed knights. he is not to be feared. I am far from believing the timid maxim of Lord Falkland (“that for ceremony there must go two to it. I use these old names. and outshine all courtesy in the hall. My gentleman gives the law where he is. but the men I speak of are my contemporaries. A plentiful fortune is reckoned necessary. but this wide affinity is. the Cid. and I could as easily exclude myself. are controlled by these hardy and irresponsible doers. and if the man of the people cannot speak on equal terms with the gentleman. which transcends the habits of clique and caste and makes itself felt by men of all classes. and only that plenteous nature is rightful master which is the complement of whatever person it converses with. and the lordliest personages. to the completion of this man of the world. Socrates. and Epaminondas. He is good company for pirates and good with academicians. outgeneral veterans in the field. and am of opinion that the gentleman is the bold fellow whose forms are not to be broken through. but every collection of men furnishes some example of the class. are gentlemen of the best blood who have chosen the condition of poverty when that of wealth was equally open to them. as him. and were too excellent themselves.Essays work of the world. so that the gentleman shall perceive that he is already really of his own order. in the popular judgment. Saladin. so that it is useless to fortify yourself against him. Pericles. If the aristocrat is only valid in fashionable circles and not with truckmen. The famous gentlemen of Asia and Europe have been of this strong type. Diogenes. and the politics of this country.

Germain. It is virtue gone to seed: it is a kind of posthumous honor. —points and fences disappear. never ceased to court the Faubourg St. The good forms. Great men are not commonly in its halls. It usually sets its face against the great of this hour. They aid our dealing and conversation as a railway aids travelling. and which morals and violence assault in vain. doubtless with the feeling that fashion is a homage to men of his stamp. and makes their action popular. These forms very soon become fixed. Fine manners show themselves formidable to the uncultivated man. represents all manly virtue. not triumphing. They are a subtler science of defence to parry and intimidate. By swift consent everything superfluous is dropped. everything graceful is renewed. The association of these masters with each other and with men intelligent of their merits. but once matched by the skill of the other party. The manners of this class are observed and caught with devotion by men of taste. the most feared and followed. are repeated and adopted. There exists a strict relation between the class of power and the exclusive and polished circles. destroyer of the old noblesse. Napoleon. an equivocal semblance. wherein life is a less troublesome game. though in a strange way. the most puissant. for that affinity they find in it. Manners aim to facilitate life. and not a misunderstanding rises between the players. the happiest expressions of each. The strong men usually give some allowance even to the petulances of fashion. but the children of the great: it is a hall of the Past. by getting rid of all avoidable obstructions of the road and leaving nothing to be conquered but pure space. they drop the point of the sword.Emerson which puts them in fellowship with crowds. is mutually agreeable and stimulating. they are absent in the field: they are working. the most fantastic and frivolous. and a fine sense of propriety is cultivated with the more heed that it becomes a badge of social and civil distinctions. to get rid of impediments and bring the man pure to energize. child of the revolution. Fashion is made up of 253 . Fashion. The last are always filled or filling from the first. Thus grows up Fashion. and the youth finds himself in a more transparent atmosphere. It does not often caress the great.

They are the sowers. We think all other distinctions and ties will be slight and fugitive. If they provoke anger in the least favored class. You may keep this minority out of sight and out of mind. as a patriotic. and is one of the estates of the realm. It respects the administration of such unimportant matters. the Napoleon. and Trafalgar beaten out thin. It is only country which came to town day before yesterday that is city and court today. and feel that the moral sentiment rules man and nature.Essays their children. the Nelson. but that it was reinforced from the fields. a religious movement. that fashion is funded talent. but it is tenacious of life. must yield the possession of the harvest to new competitors with keener eyes and stronger frames. is Mexico. have acquired lustre to their name. The class of power. a literary. I am the more struck with this tenacity. their sons shall be the reapers. marks of distinction. The city would have died out. and their sons. until two men only were left. fifty or sixty years ago. the working heroes. if not the highest power to work. when I see its work. The city is recruited from the country. that the brilliant names of fashion run back to just such busy names as their own. In the year 1805. Aristocracy and fashion are certain inevitable results. long ago. We sometimes meet men under some strong moral influence. the Cortez. see that this is the festivity and permanent celebration of such as they. in their physical organization a certain health and excellence which secures to them. it is said. and exploded. These mutual selections are indestructible. as certainly as cream rises in a bowl of milk: and if the people should destroy class after class. rotted. of those who through the value and virtue of somebody. at once a new class finds itself at the top. and. yet high power to enjoy. means of cultivation and generosity. this of caste or fashion for example. that we should not look for any durability in its rule. Marengo. in this Boston or New York 254 . every legitimate monarch in Europe was imbecile. and the excluded majority revenge themselves on the excluding minority by the strong hand and kill them. yet come from year to year and see how permanent that is. one of these would be the leader and would be involuntarily served and copied by the other. in the ordinary course of things.

good-breeding and personal superiority of whatever country readily fraternize with those of every other. if it will. believes that there is a ritual according to which 255 . a college class. a political. a meeting of merchants. but the nature of this union and selection can be neither frivolous nor accidental. Not in Egypt or in India a firmer or more impassable line. Here are associations whose ties go over and under and through it. and earthen earthen. a fireclub. and will keep the oldest patrician out who has lost his intrinsic rank.—the persons seem to draw inseparably near. A sainted soul is always elegant. Its doors unbar instantaneously to a natural claim of their own kind. Fashion understands itself. To say what good of fashion we can. by the purity of their tournure. There is almost no kind of self-reliance. a religious convention. as long as his head is not giddy with the new circumstance.Emerson life of man. yet. it rests on reality. in some crisis that brings him thither. A natural gentleman finds his way in. The chiefs of savage tribes have distinguished themselves in London and Paris. The objects of fashion may be frivolous. a military corps. and find favor. the country-man at a city dinner. For there is nothing settled in manners. its members will not in the year meet again. and hates nothing so much as pretenders. porcelain remains porcelain. The maiden at her first ball. passes unchallenged into the most guarded ring. which fashion does not occasionally adopt and give it the freedom of its saloons. a professional association. where too it has not the least countenance from the law of the land. constitutes the foundation of all chivalry. Each returns to his degree in the scale of good society. so it be sane and proportioned. or fashion may be objectless.’ is its delight. But so will Jock the teamster pass. and. Each man’s rank in that perfect graduation depends on some symmetry in his structure or some agreement in his structure to the symmetry of society. but the laws of behavior yield to the energy of the individual. We contemn in turn every other gift of men of the world. that assembly once dispersed. and the iron shoes do not wish to dance in waltzes and cotillons. but the habit even in little and the least matters of not appealing to any but our own sense of propriety. to exclude and mystify pretenders and send them into everlasting ‘Coventry.

These are the chamberlains of the lesser gods. or any man’s good opinion. All that fashion demands is composure and self-content. stay or go. in a new and aboriginal way. then severed as disgrace. or imagine that a fop can be the dispenser of honor and shame. or the failing party must be cast out of this presence. and speak or abstain. take wine or refuse it. for how can they otherwise. If the fashionist have not this quality. or what else soever. But any deference to some eminent man or woman of the world. let who will be unfashionable.—not bodily. which asks no leave to be.Essays every act and compliment must be performed. and allow them all their privilege. But do not measure the importance of this class by their pretension. of mine. Accept their coldness as an omen of grace with the loftier deities. but atmospherically. I will speak with his master. Later they learn that good sense and character make their own forms every moment. nor could they be thus formidable without their own merits. A circle of men perfectly well-bred would be a company of sensible persons in which every man’s native manners and character appeared. “If you could see Vich Ian Vohr with his tail on!—” But Vich Ian Vohr must always carry his belongings in some fashion. and whose glance will at any time determine for the curious their standing in the world. We are such lovers of self-reliance that we excuse in a man many sins if he will show us a complete satisfaction in his position. in circles which exist as a sort of herald’s office for the sifting of character? 256 . He is an underling: I have nothing to do with him. sit in a chair or sprawl with children on the floor. forfeits all privilege of nobility. There will always be in society certain persons who are mercuries of its approbation. They pass also at their just rate. and that strong will is always in fashion. the whole circle of his friends. or stand on their head. and will be an orphan in the merriest club. A man should not go where he cannot carry his whole sphere or society with him. They are clear in their office. if not added as honor. He should preserve in a new company the same attitude of mind and reality of relation which his daily associates draw him to. he is nothing. else he is shorn of his best beams.

I know. No house. pictures. and this is Gregory. Every body we know surrounds himself with a fine house. should not leave his roof. elusive nature. whether the guest is too great or too little. to identify and signalize each other. and hide ourselves as Adam at the voice of the Lord God in the garden. Napoleon remarked them. they grasp each other’s hand. fine books. though it were of his sovereign. A gentleman never dodges. equipage and all manner of toys. but should wait his arrival at the door of his house. before whose eye we have no care to stand. then again we run to our curtain. first of all. It is a great satisfaction. For what is it that we seek.—they look each other in the eye. in so many visits and hospitalities? Is it your draperies. defended himself from the glances of Napoleon by an immense pair of green spectacles. It was therefore a very natural point of old feudal etiquette that a gentleman who received a visit. Know you before all heaven and earth. or by luxuries and ornaments we amuse the young people. quite to abolish the use of these screens. Does it not seem as if man was of a very sly. luxury.Emerson As the first thing man requires of man is reality. We call together many friends who keep each other in play. and yet not encounter there any Amphitryon who shall subordinate these appendages. and taste. conservatory. gardens. and fronts me accordingly. and he assures the other party. Was a man in the house? I may easily go into a great household where there is much substance. and by name. his eyes look straight forward. introduce the parties to each other. excellent provision for comfort. though it were the Tuileries or the Escurial. Cardinal Caprara. is good for anything without a master. and speedily managed to rally them 257 . and decorations? Or do we not insatiably ask. and guard our retirement. Or if perchance a searching realist comes to our gate. And yet we are not often gratified by this hospitality. I may go into a cottage. which are of eminent convenience. that he has been met. the Pope’s legate at Paris. We pointedly. that this is Andrew. so that appears in all the forms of society. and find a farmer who feels that he is the man I have come to see. and dreaded nothing so much as a full rencontre front to front with his fellow? It were unmerciful. as screens to interpose between himself and his guest.

Hazlitt’s translation. If they forgive too much. is an event of some consequence. No degree of affection need invade this religion. as all the world knows from Madame de Stael. as was the custom of gentlemen. in Mr. in his turn. but coolness and absence of heat and 258 . is deference. talking from peak to peak all round Olympus. to discharge his face of all expression. I would have a man enter his house through a hall filled with heroic and sacred sculptures. and that of all the points of good breeding I most require and insist upon. We should meet each morning as from foreign countries. as into foreign countries. Let us sit apart as the gods. No rentroll nor army-list can dignify skulking and dissimulation. and. that he might not want the hint of tranquillity and self-poise. as really all the forms of good-breeding point that way. I prefer a tendency to stateliness to an excess of fellowship. Montaigne’s account of his journey into Italy. I have just been reading. Let us not be too much acquainted. It is easy to push this deference to a Chinese etiquette. when he found himself observed. was wont. he causes his arms to be painted and hung up as a perpetual sign to the house. But emperors and rich men are by no means the most skilful masters of good manners. all slides into confusion and meanness. as a duty to himself and to civilization. His arrival in each place. This is myrrh and rosemary to keep the other sweet. and. the arrival of a gentleman of France. When he leaves any house in which he has lodged for a few weeks. to face a pair of freeborn eyes. I like that every chair should be a throne. Let the incommunicable objects of nature and the metaphysical isolation of man teach us independence. and hold a king. The complement of this graceful self-respect. and the first point of courtesy must always be truth. In all things I would have the island of a man inviolate. should depart at night. but fenced himself with etiquette and within triple barriers of reserve.Essays off: and yet Napoleon. and am struck with nothing more agreeably than the self-respecting fashions of the time. spending the day together. Wherever he goes he pays a visit to whatever prince or gentleman of note resides upon his road. Lovers Should guard their strangeness. was not great enough with eight hundred thousand troops at his back.

puts whole drawing-rooms to flight. it respects everything which tends to unite men. if with less rigor. You must have genius or a prodigious usefulness if you will hide the 259 . I could better eat with one who did not respect the truth or the laws than with a sloven and unpresentable person. The average spirit of the energetic class is good sense. into all parts of life. Not less I dislike a low sympathy of each with his neighbor’s needs. The flower of courtesy does not very well bide handling. and if he wishes for sassafras or arsenic. the brain as well as the flesh and the heart must furnish a proportion. but if we dare to open another leaf and explore what parts go to its conformation. to ask me for them. The compliments and ceremonies of our breeding should signify. Defect in manners is usually the defect of fine perceptions. If you wish to be loved. or uses the superlative degree. and not to hold out his plate as if I knew already. the recollection of the grandeur of our destiny. Men are too coarsely made for the delicacy of beautiful carriage and customs. To the leaders of men. I pray my companion. The same discrimination of fit and fair runs out. A gentleman makes no noise. Other virtues are in request in the field and workyard. We imperatively require a perception of. Social in its nature. we shall find also an intellectual quality. to secure some paltry convenience. Must we have a good understanding with one another’s palates? as foolish people who have lived long together know when each wants salt or sugar. but at short distances the senses are despotic. if he wishes for bread. It entertains every natural gift. Every natural function can be dignified by deliberation and privacy. The person who screams. however remotely. a union of kindness and independence.Emerson haste indicate fine qualities. a lady is serene. The love of beauty is mainly the love of measure or proportion. It is not quite sufficient to good-breeding. love measure. It delights in measure. or converses with heat. to ask me for bread. Let us leave hurry to slaves. and a homage to beauty in our companions. Moral qualities rule the world. but a certain degree of taste is not to be spared in those we sit with. Proportionate is our disgust at those invaders who fill a studious house with blast and running. acting under certain limitations and to certain ends.

but good sense entertaining company. which it significantly terms good-nature. not good sense private. which does not see the annoyances. and quick perceptions to politeness. society demands in its patrician class another element already intimated. And besides the general infusion of wit to heighten civility. perhaps because such a person seems to reserve himself for the best of the game. it loves what is conventional. solitary. shifts. but intellect is selfish and barren.Essays want of measure. namely what helps or hinders fellowship. hates whatever can interfere with total blending of parties. but. hates quarrelsome. or what belongs to coming together. egotistical. grace and good-will: the air of drowsy strength. One may be too punctual and too precise. Therefore besides personal force and so much perception as constitutes unerring taste. being in its nature a convention. from the lowest willingness and faculty to oblige. Insight we must have. Accuracy is essential to beauty. an ignoring eye. but relative. Society will pardon much to genius and special gifts. but it must be tempered and shaded. but not too quick perceptions.—expressing all degrees of generosity. which can consist with good fellowship. and sleepy languishing manners. The dry light must shine in to adorn our festival. or that will also offend. He must leave the omniscience of business at the door. It hates corners and sharp points of character. or we shall run against one another and miss the way to our food. so that they cover sense. the direct splendor of intellectual power is ever welcome in fine society as the costliest addition to its rule and its credit. up to the heights of magnanimity and love. This perception comes in to polish and perfect the parts of the social instrument. which disarms criticism. whilst it values all peculiarities as in the highest degree refreshing. and inconveniences that cloud the brow and smother the voice of the sensitive. A man who is not happy in the company cannot find any word in his memory that 260 . The secret of success in society is a certain heartiness and sympathy. when he comes into the palace of beauty. For fashion is not good sense absolute. and not spend himself on surfaces. and gloomy people. Society loves creole natures. That makes the good and bad of manners.

if we can. and what it calls whole souls. at a marriage or a funeral. and Sheridan must wait. when Fox urged on his old friend the claims of old friendship with such tenderness that the house was moved to tears. are able men and of more spirit than wit.” “Then. in all men’s experience. “I owe this money to Sheridan. Fox. Fox will always hold the first place in an assembly at the Tuileries. The favorites of society. and Napoleon said of him on the occasion of his visit to Paris. and demanded payment: —”No. A man who is happy there. “I change my debt into a debt of honor. friend of the African slave. A tradesman who had long dunned him for a note of three hundred guineas. The painted phantasm Fashion rises to cast a species of derision on what we say.Emerson will fit the occasion. which affects to be honor. but who exactly fill the hour and the company. finds in every turn of the conversation equally lucky occasions for the introduction of that which he has to say.” said Fox. is often. “Mr. But I will neither be driven from some allowance to Fashion as a symbolic institution. he possessed a great personal popularity. saying. it is a debt of honor. Parliamentary history has few better passages than the debate in which Burke and Fox separated in the House of Commons. a good model of that genius which the world loves. Yet 261 . in 1805. a ball or a jury. only a ballroom-code. in Mr. he has nothing to show. which is rich in gentlemen.” Lover of liberty.” said the creditor. “his debt was of older standing. furnished. that I must hazard the story.” and tore the note in pieces. Life owes much of its spirit to these sharp contrasts. nor from the belief that love is the basis of courtesy. if an accident should happen to me. friend of the Hindoo. whenever we insist on benevolence as its foundation. found him one day counting gold. Fashion. Another anecdote is so close to my matter. We must obtain that.” We may easily seem ridiculous in our eulogy of courtesy. England. who have no uncomfortable egotism. a water-party or a shooting-match. contented and contenting. All his information is a little impertinent. who added to his great abilities the most social disposition and real love of men. in the beginning of the present century. but by all means we must affirm this. Fox thanked the man for his confidence and paid him.

Monarchs and heroes. The artist. and not the best alone. who has converted the whole torrid zone in his Sunday school. from the interior of the earth. Another mode is to pass through all the degrees. Spahi. and dined. —but less claims will pass for the time. There is not only the right of conquest. and points like Circe to her horned company. somewhat on this footing of conquest. from Cape Turnagain. and that is my Lord Ride. Hobnail. for in these rooms every chair is waited for. Michael’s Square. the reformer. betray the universality of the love of cultivated manners. Yet these fineries may have grace and wit. if we should enter the acknowledged ‘first circles’ and apply these terrific standards of justice. and to-morrow will be dismissed to their holes and dens. and properly grounded in all the biography and politics and anecdotes of the boudoirs. and. who came yesterday from Bagdat. which genius pretends. the clerisy. these gallants are not. Let there be grotesque sculpture about the gates and offices of temples.Essays so long as it is the highest circle in the imagination of the best heads on the planet. and the respect which these mysteries inspire in the most rude and sylvan characters. whose saddle is the new moon. and perfumed. for Fashion loves lions. beauty. and benefit to the individuals actually found there. and Tul Wil Shan. Mr.— But these are monsters of one day. wins their way up into these places and get represented here. and Captain Symmes. for it is not to be supposed that men have agreed to be the dupes of anything preposterous. and Signor Torre del Greco. in general. and Monsieur Jovaire. spending a year and a day in St. and introduced. who extinguished Vesuvius by pouring into it the Bay of Naples. sages and lovers. Fashion has many classes and many rules of probation and admission. here is Captain Friese.—the individual demonstrating his natural aristocracy best of the best. I know that a comic disparity would be felt. there is something necessary and excellent in it. the scholar. Let the creed and commandments even have the saucy 262 . the exiled nabob of Nepaul. being steeped in Cologne water. and the curiosity with which details of high life are read. and Reverend Jul Bat. who came down this morning in a balloon. the Persian ambassador. This gentleman is this afternoon arrived from Denmark.

What if they are in the mouths of selfish men. nor is it to be concealed that living blood and a passion of kindness does at last distinguish God’s gentleman from Fashion’s. drew after it his whole body. his hand paid for: what his servants robbed.Emerson homage of parody. who do not know their sovereign when he appears. The forms of politeness universally express benevolence in superlative degrees. Yet that is the infirmity of the seneschals. which is an attempt to organize beauty of behavior. in the theory. he supported her in pain: he never forgot his children. standing on the wharf. It divines afar off 263 . These are the creators of Fashion. some friend of Poland. he restored: if a woman gave him pleasure. some just man happy in an ill fame. All generosity is not merely French and sentimental. as the chemical energy of the spectrum is found to be greatest just outside of the spectrum. there is still some absurd inventor of charities. The beautiful and the generous are. There is still ever some admirable person in plain clothes. and Washington. who jumps in to rescue a drowning man. some youth ashamed of the favors of fortune and impatiently casting them on other shoulders. some well-concealed piety. And these are the centres of society. and orchards when he is grown old. and Sir Philip Sidney. The theory of society supposes the existence and sovereignty of these. The persons who constitute the natural aristocracy are not found in the actual aristocracy. the doctors and apostles of this church: Scipio. The epitaph of Sir Jenkin Grout is not wholly unintelligible to the present age: “Here lies Sir Jenkin Grout. some fanatic who plants shade-trees for the second and third generation. who loved his friend and persuaded his enemy: what his mouth ate. on which it returns for fresh impulses. and also to make them feel excluded? Real service will not lose its nobleness. or only on its edge. some guide and comforter of runaway slaves.” Even the line of heroes is not utterly extinct. and whoso touched his finger. some Philhellene. and every pure and valiant heart who worshipped Beauty by word and by deed. and used as means of selfishness? What if the false gentleman almost bows the true out Of the world? What if the false gentleman contrives so to address his companion as civilly to exclude all others from his discourse. and the Cid.

That first in beauty shall be first in might. should pass in review. but courtesy. And fated to excel us. In Shakspeare alone 264 . as to its inner and imperial court. ’tis the eternal law. There must be romance of character. born of us. as we pass In glory that old Darkness: — for. If the individuals who compose the purest circles of aristocracy in Europe. and the power to embellish the passing day. though once chiefs. for although excellent specimens of courtesy and high-breeding would gratify us in the assemblage. but the dialogue is in costume. but neither does Scott’s dialogue bear criticism. So. had some right to complain of the absurdity that had been put in their mouths before the days of Waverley. nobles and great ladies. And as we show beyond that Heaven and Earth. more strong in beauty. in such manner as that we could at leisure and critically inspect their behavior. to which there is always a tacit appeal of pride and reference. His lords brave each other in smart epigramatic speeches. or the most fastidious exclusion of impertinencies will not avail. concentration of its light. Because elegance comes of no breeding. And this is constituted of those persons in whom heroic dispositions are native. A power. It says with the elder gods. in the particulars we should detect offence. with the love of beauty. on our heels a fresh perfection treads. It must be genius which takes that direction: it must be not courteous. the delight in society. High behavior is as rare in fiction as it is in fact.— “As Heaven and Earth are fairer far Than Chaos and blank Darkness. Scott is praised for the fidelity with which he painted the demeanor and conversation of the superior classes. and flower of courtesy. but of birth. we might find no gentleman and no lady. kings and queens.Essays their coming. the parliament of love and chivalry.” Therefore. the guarded blood of centuries. In form and shape compact and beautiful. within the ethnical circle of good society there is a narrower and higher circle. and does not please on the second reading: it is not warm with life. Certainly.

A man is but a little thing in the midst of the objects of nature. or. it is the finest of the fine arts. Our American institutions have been friendly to her. were never learned there. a beautiful behavior is better than a beautiful form: it gives a higher pleasure than statues or pictures. if need be. the dialogue is easily great. that I believe only herself can show us how she shall be served. and at this moment I esteem it a chief felicity of this country. and he adds to so many titles that of being the best-bred man in England and in Christendom. instantly detects in man a love of trifles. I have seen an individual whose manners. spirited bearing. A beautiful form is better than a beautiful face. but I confide so entirely in her inspiring and musical nature. good-natured and free as Robin Hood. in the presence of a man or woman who have no bar in their nature.Emerson the speakers do not strut and bridle. flowing. and magnanimous deportment which is indispensable as an exterior in the hall. any coldness or imbecility. that it excels in women. one who did not need the aid of a court-suit. A certain awkward consciousness of inferiority in the men may give rise to the new chivalry in behalf of Woman’s Rights. in short. let him yield or divide the sceptre at the door of the house. but carried the holiday in his eye. who shook off the captivity of etiquette. who exhilarated the fancy by flinging wide the doors of new modes of existence. yet. the street and public chambers are the places where Man executes his will. Once or twice in a lifetime we are permitted to enjoy the charm of noble manners. with her instinct of behavior. but were original and commanding and held out protection and prosperity. and fit to stand the gaze of millions. but whose character emanates freely in their word and gesture. Certainly let her be as much better placed in the laws and in social forms as the most zealous reformer can ask. any want of that large. The open air and the fields. serious.—calm. and in his manners equal the majesty of the world. The wonderful generosity of her sentiments raises her at 265 . yet with the port of an emperor. though wholly within the conventions of elegant society. with happy. by the moral quality radiating from his countenance he may abolish all considerations of magnitude. Woman.

and astonished me by her amount of life. or Polymnia. Was it Hafiz or Firdousi that said of his Persian Lilla. as she did. and by the firmness with which she treads her upward path. who unloose our tongues and we speak. believing. She was a solvent powerful to reconcile all heterogeneous persons into one society: like air or water. an element of such a great range of affinities that it combines readily with a thousand substances. but all the poems of the seven seemed to be written upon her. warming them by her sentiments. so that whatsoever she did. who anoint our eyes and we see? We say things we never thought to have said. in these influences. Where she is present all others will be more than they are wont. are there not women who fill our vase with wine and roses to the brim. so that the wine runs over and fills the house with perfume. all would show themselves noble. and verifies the pictures of Minerva. for once. which seems so fair and picturesque to those who look at the contemporary facts for science or for entertainment. Juno. that by dealing nobly with all. became her. She was a unit and whole. She had too much sympathy and desire to please. yet was she so perfect in her own nature as to meet intellectual persons by the fulness of her heart. Steep us. The constitu266 . yet no princess could surpass her clear and erect demeanor on each occasion. I know that this Byzantine pile of chivalry or Fashion. she convinces the coarsest calculators that another road exists than that which their feet know. we cried. For though the bias of her nature was not to thought. nor the books of the seven poets. But besides those who make good in our imagination the place of muses and of Delphic Sibyls. for weeks. She was an elemental force. and we shall be sunny poets and will write out in many-colored words the romance that you are. than that you could say her manners were marked with dignity. when I saw her day after day radiating. for days. we were children playing with children in a wide field of flowers. She did not study the Persian grammar. our walls of habitual reserve vanished and left us at large. who inspire us with courtesy. every instant.Essays times into heroical and godlike regions. redundant joy and grace on all around her. is not equally pleasant to all spectators. but to sympathy.

Everything that is called fashion and courtesy humbles itself before the cause and fountain of honor. but to allow it. For the present distress. however. But we have lingered long enough in these painted courts. in the heaven of thought or virtue. its proudest gates will fly open at the approach of their courage and virtue. and whom it has excluded from its coveted honors and privileges.Emerson tion of our society makes it a giant’s castle to the ambitious youth who have not found their names enrolled in its Golden Book. of those who are predisposed to suffer from the tyrannies of this caprice. at sea. in the market. there are easy remedies. in the literary or scientific circle. The king of Schiraz could not 267 . They have yet to learn that its seeming grandeur is shadowy and relative: it is great by their allowance. in the nuptial society. suffering no grandeur but its own. this the fire. and give their heart and yours one holiday from the national caution? Without the rich heart. in the forest. or at most four. Out of this precinct they go for nothing. To remove your residence a couple of miles. wealth is an ugly beggar. will work after its kind and conquer and expand all that approaches it. in friendship. will commonly relieve the most extreme susceptibility. creator of titles and dignities. to make such feel that they were greeted with a voice which made them both remember and hope? What is vulgar but to refuse the claim on acute and conclusive reasons? What is gentle. For the advantages which fashion values are plants which thrive in very confined localities. which. in a few streets namely. the lame pauper hunted by overseers from town to town. the itinerant with his consul’s paper which commends him “To the charitable.” the swarthy Italian with his few broken words of English. even the poor insane or besotted wreck of man or woman. in all countries and contingencies. This is the royal blood. feel the noble exception of your presence and your house from the general bleakness and stoniness. What is rich? Are you rich enough to help anybody? to succor the unfashionable and the eccentric? rich enough to make the Canadian in his wagon. are of no use in the farm. This gives new meanings to every fact. in war. The worth of the thing signified must vindicate our taste for the emblem. namely the heart of love. This impoverishes the rich.

but fled at once to him. some fool who had cut off his beard. with this odd circumstance. and there was no one person or action among them. or indeterminate aspect. in any attempt to settle its character. and much that is absurd. Too good for banning.’ said Silenus. if you called them bad.’ 268 . ‘I overheard Jove. they were all rogues and vixens. seen far or seen near. if you called them good. or had a pet madness in his brain. that great heart lay there so sunny and hospitable in the centre of the country. and too bad for blessing. Osman had a humanity so broad and deep that although his speech was so bold and free with the Koran as to disgust all the dervishes. that they had a blur. Is not this to be rich? this only to be rightly rich? But I shall hear without pain that I play the courtier very ill. that it seemed as if the instinct of all sufferers drew them to his side. one day. yet was there never a poor outcast. that what is called by distinction society and fashion has good laws as well as bad. it reminds us of a tradition of the pagan mythology. much more all Olympus. they were only ridiculous little creatures. as fast as the days succeeded each other. It is easy to see. they would appear so. they would appear so. which would not puzzle her owl. to know whether it was fundamentally bad or good.Essays afford to be so bountiful as the poor Osman who dwelt at his gate. And the madness which he harbored he did not share. or who had been mutilated under a vow. Minerva said she hoped not. ‘talking of destroying the earth. and talk of that which I do not well understand. eccentric. who went from bad to worse. has much that is necessary. he said it had failed. or insane man.

Yet these delicate flowers look like the frolic and interference of love and beauty. to be the reason of the difficulty experienced at Christmas and New Year and other times. and admit of fantastic values being attached to them. though very vexatious to pay debts. For common gifts. the flowers give us: what am I to whom these sweet hints are addressed? Fruits are acceptable gifts. because they are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. If a man should send to me to come a hundred miles to visit him and should set before me a basket of fine summer-fruit. But the impediment lies in the choosing. I do not think this general insolvency. we are children. XVII.Emerson GIFTS Gifts of one who loved me. Men use to tell us that we love flattery even though we are not deceived by it. Nature does not cocker us. If at any time it comes into my head that a present is due from me to somebody. she is not fond. since it is always so pleasant to be generous.— ’T was high time they came. I should think there was some proportion between the labor and the reward. flowers. When he ceased to love me. after severe universal laws. Something like that pleasure. until the opportunity is gone. and ought to go into chancery and be sold. everything is dealt to us without fear or favor. GIFTS I t is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy. I am puzzled what to give. which involves in some sort all the population. These gay natures contrast with the somewhat stern countenance of ordinary nature: they are like music heard out of a work-house. necessity makes pertinences and beauty every day. that the world owes the world more than the world can pay. not pets. Time they stopped for shame. Flowers and fruits are always fit presents. and one is glad when an imperative 269 . because it shows that we are of importance enough to be courted. in bestowing gifts. because they are the flower of commodities.

to make presents of gold and silver stuffs. and rich men who represent kings. If it be a fantastic desire. a handkerchief of her own sewing. The law of benefits is a difficult channel. is that we might convey to some person that which properly belonged to his character. But it is a cold lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy me something which does not represent your life and talent. The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten. which one of my friends prescribed. Therefore the poet brings his poem. How dare you give them? We wish to be self-sustained. But our tokens of compliment and love are for the most part barbarous. since if the man at the door have no shoes. it is better to leave to others the office of punishing him. This is fit for kings. the girl. the painter. which requires careful sailing. but not from any one who assumes to bestow. or rude boats. but apologies for gifts. when a man’s biography is conveyed in his gift. for it restores society in so far to its primary basis. The only gift is a portion of thyself. the rule for a gift. the farmer. This is right and pleasing. but a goldsmith’s. for that is a way of receiving it from ourselves. or drink water. We do not quite forgive a giver. It is not the office of a man to receive gifts. the shepherd. as a kind of symbolical sin-offering.Essays leaves him no option. and every man’s wealth is an index of his merit. Rings and other jewels are not gifts. his picture. I can think of many parts I should prefer playing to that of the Furies. his lamb. and a false state of property. though at great inconvenience. Necessity does everything well. and to give all that is asked. And as it is always pleasing to see a man eat bread. a gem. because there seems something of degrading dependence in living by it:— 270 . Next to things of necessity. in the house or out of doors. We sometimes hate the meat which we eat. the sailor. so it is always a great satisfaction to supply these first wants. the miner. corn. We can receive anything from love. coral and shells. and was easily associated with him in thought. Thou must bleed for me. you have not to consider whether you could procure him a paint-box. or payment of black-mail. In our condition of universal dependence it seems heroic to let the petitioner be the judge of his necessity.

not useful things. when I rejoice or grieve at a gift. if Jove to thee a present make. besides earth and fire and water. this of being served.” The reason of these discords I conceive to be that there is no commensurability between a man and any gift. and the debtor naturally wishes to give you a slap. or when a gift comes from such as do not know my spirit. and both emotions are unbecoming. You cannot give anything to a magnanimous person. Take heed that from his hands thou nothing take. It is a very onerous business. to be true. For the expectation of gratitude is mean. When the waters are at level. correspondent to my flowing unto him. must be the flowing of the giver unto me. and see that I love his commodity. He is a good man who can receive a gift well. not at all considering the value of the gift but looking back to the greater store it was taken from. We are either glad or sorry at a gift. and so the act is not supported. The gift. “Do not flatter your benefactors. All his are mine. I am sorry when my independence is invaded. Nothing less will content us. Some violence I think is done. love. as all beneficiaries hate all Timons. and who says. and his to me. and if the gift pleases me overmuch. reverence. which belief of mine this gift seems to deny? Hence the fitness of beautiful.” We ask the whole. After 271 . for gifts. opportunity. I say to him. How can you give me this pot of oil or this flagon of wine when all your oil and wine is mine. and not him. then I should be ashamed that the donor should read my heart.Emerson “Brother. and objects of veneration.—I rather sympathize with the beneficiary than with the anger of my lord Timon. all mine his. some degradation borne. This giving is flat usurpation. who never thanks. and is continually punished by the total insensibility of the obliged person. A golden text for these gentlemen is that which I so admire in the Buddhist. It is a great happiness to get off without injury and heart-burning from one who has had the ill-luck to be served by you. We arraign society if it do not give us. then my goods pass to him. and therefore when the beneficiary is ungrateful.

you do not feel me. For the rest. They eat your service like apples. without some shame and humiliation. we seldom have the satisfaction of yielding a direct benefit which is directly received. 272 . but in fate. I like to see that we cannot be bought and sold. Besides. and receives with wonder the thanks of all people. This is prerogative. When I have attempted to join myself to others by services. but only likeness. There are persons from whom we always expect fairy-tokens. and not to be limited by our municipal rules. I fear to breathe any treason against the majesty of love. but must be content with an oblique one. our action on each other. No services are of any value. We can rarely strike a direct stroke. is so incidental and at random that we can seldom hear the acknowledgments of any person who would thank us for a benefit. The best of hospitality and of generosity is also not in the will. the benefit it is in my power to render him seems small. alike before he had begun to serve his friend. though you proffer me house and lands. Let him give kingdoms or flower-leaves indifferently.Essays you have served him he at once puts you in debt by his magnanimity. I find that I am not much to you. you do not need me. But rectitude scatters favors on every side without knowing it. let us not cease to expect them. The service a man renders his friend is trivial and selfish compared with the service he knows his friend stood in readiness to yield him. which is the genius and god of gifts. and leave you out. Compared with that good-will I bear my friend.—no more. good as well as evil. it proved an intellectual trick. then am I thrust out of doors. and now also. But love them. and they feel you and delight in you all the time. and to whom we must not affect to prescribe.

Nine times folded in mystery: Though baffled seers cannot impart The secret of its laboring heart. At the gates of the forest. the heavenly bodies and the earth. when. To have lived through all its sunny hours. in these bleak upper sides of the planet. The day. NATURE T here are days which occur in this climate. seems longevity enough. We have crept out of our close and crowded houses into the night and morning. when the air. immeasurably long. and we see what majestic beauties daily wrap us in their bosom. nothing is to desire that we have heard of the happiest latitudes.Emerson NATURE The rounded world is fair to see. The solitary places do not seem quite lonely. And all is clear from east to west. Here we find Nature to be the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance. at almost any season of the year. as if nature would indulge her offspring. and judges like a god all men that come to her. make a harmony. and reality which discredits our heroes. and we bask in the shining hours of Florida and Cuba. wherein the world reaches its perfection. the surprised man of the world is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small. And hints the future which it owes. XVIII. These halcyons may be looked for with a little more assurance in that pure October weather which we distinguish by the name of the Indian summer. Spirit that lurks each form within Beckons to spirit of its kin. sleeps over the broad hills and warm wide fields. The knapsack of custom falls off his back with the first step he makes into these precincts. Throb thine with Nature’s throbbing breast. when everything that has life gives sign of satisfaction. Here is sanctity which shames our religions. Self-kindled every atom glows. wise and foolish. and the cattle that lie on the ground seem to have great and tranquil thoughts. How willingly we would escape the barriers which 273 .

Cities give not the human senses room enough. kindly and native to us. These enchantments are medicinal. It is firm water. up to her dearest and gravest ministrations to the imagination and the soul. all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present. There are all degrees of natural influence. escape the sophistication and second thought. the wood-fire to which the chilled traveller rushes for safety. they sober and heal us. The blue zenith is the point in which romance and reality meet. it is cold flame. ever like a dear friend and brother when we chat affectedly with strangers. and draw our living as parasites from her roots and grains.— and there is the sublime moral of autumn and of noon. and should converse with Gabriel and Uriel. The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning. so is the rock. The anciently reported spells of these places creep on us. I think if we should be rapt away into all that we dream of heaven. and require so much scope. and quit our life of solemn trifles. We come to our own. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them. comes in this honest face. How easily we might walk onward into the opening landscape. We never can part with it. absorbed by new pictures and by thoughts fast succeeding each other. and oaks almost gleam like iron on the excited eye. Here no history. and we receive glances from the heavenly bodies. We nestle in nature. the mind loves its old home: as water to our thirst. We go out daily and nightly to feed the eyes on the horizon. which call us to solitude and foretell the remotest future. to our eyes and hands and feet. or church. and is stimulating and heroic. which the ambitious chatter of the schools would persuade us to despise. the upper sky would be all 274 . just as we need water for our bath. and takes a grave liberty with us. and we were led in triumph by nature. the ground. what affinity! Ever an old friend. and suffer nature to intrance us. hemlocks. and shames us out of our nonsense. or state. from these quarantine powers of nature. until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out of the mind. and make friends with matter. There is the bucket of cold water from the spring. is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year. what health.Essays render them comparatively impotent. These are plain pleasures. The stems of pines.

It seems as if the day was not wholly profane in which we have given heed to some natural object. I am grown expensive and sophisticated. can they reach the height of magnificence. the ugliness of towns and palaces. our eyes are bathed in these lights and forms.Emerson that would remain of our furniture. which yield glory to the walls and faces in the sittingroom. A holiday. the heavens. I am taught the poorness of our invention. these delicately emerging stars. the waters. but a countryman shall be my master of revels. signify it and proffer it. The fall of snowflakes in a still air. the waving ryefield. the reflections of trees and flowers in glassy lakes. We penetrate bodily this incredible beauty. we dip our hands in this painted element. My house stands in low land. too bright almost for spotted man to enter without novitiate and probation. villas. the crackling and spurting of hemlock in the flames. whose innumerable florets whiten and ripple before the eye. power and taste. I cannot go back to toys. This is the meaning of their hanging-gardens. with limited outlook. the proudest. Only as far as the masters of the world have called in nature to their aid. preserving to each crystal its perfect form. He who knows the most. the musical steaming odorous south wind. he who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground. which converts all trees to windharps. and the world of villages and personalities behind. and pass into a delicate realm of sunset and moonlight. These sunset clouds. But I go with my friend to the shore of our little river. and with one stroke of the paddle I leave the village politics and personalities. and over plains. most heart-rejoicing festival that valor and beauty. Art and luxury have early learned that they must work as enhancement and sequel to this original beauty. with their private and ineffable glances. the blowing of sleet over a wide sheet of water.—is the rich and royal man. I can no longer live without elegance. the plants. and how to come at these enchantments. establishes itself on the instant. or of pine logs. ever decked and enjoyed. a villeggiatura. I am overinstructed for my return. and on the skirt of the village. Henceforth I shall be hard to please. a royal revel. the mimic waving of acres of houstonia.—these are the music and pictures of the most ancient religion. garden275 . yes.

Indeed.—a certain haughty favor. Can a musical note be so lofty. thus fabulous is his picture of society. not men. to back their faulty personality with these strong accessories. or Paphos. and clouds. it is the magical lights of the horizon and the blue sky for the background which save all our works of art. parks and preserves. but the provocation and point of the invitation came out of these beguiling stars. The moral sensibility which makes Edens and Tempes so 276 . We heard what the rich man said. I do not wonder that the landed interest should be invincible in the State with these dangerous auxiliaries.Essays houses.— these make the groundwork from which he has delineated estates of romance. These bribe and invite. on imaginative minds.—and this supernatural tiralira restores to him the Dorian mythology. that they live in larger and better-garnished saloons than he has visited. In their soft glances I see what men strove to realize in some Versailles. which converts the mountains into an Aeolian harp. and go in coaches. if they were not rich! That they have some high-fenced grove which they call a park. his grove. islands. to watering-places and to distant cities. as if from patrician genii to patricians. and all divine hunters and huntresses. not kings. he is loyal. eloquent of secret promises. and forests that skirt the road. for example. in the Notch Mountains. but these tender and poetic stars. they should consider the effect of men reputed to be the possessors of nature. how poor his fancy would be. not palaces. we knew of his villa. a kind of aristocracy in nature. Apollo. Diana. or Ctesiphon. he respects the rich. When the rich tax the poor with servility and obsequiousness. keeping only the society of the elegant. compared with which their actual possessions are shanties and paddocks. so haughtily beautiful! To the poor young poet. He hears the echoes of a horn in a hill country. Ah! if the rich were rich as the poor fancy riches! A boy hears a military band play on the field at night. they are rich for the sake of his imagination. his wine and his company. and enhances the gifts of wealth and well-born beauty by a radiation out of the air. which were otherwise bawbles. The muse herself betrays her son. and he has kings and queens and famous chivalry palpably before him. a prince of the power of the air. not women.

A dilettantism in nature is barren and unworthy. But it is very easy to outrun the sympathy of readers on this topic. Beauty breaks in everywhere. or to look at the crops. but there is great difference in the beholders. and I suppose that such a gazetteer as wood-cutters and Indians should furnish facts for. I would not be frivolous before the admirable reserve and prudence of time. The multitude of false 277 . yet I cannot renounce the right of returning often to this old topic. whether we are too clumsy for so subtle a topic. The fop of fields is no better than his brother of Broadway. or on the marble deserts of Egypt. yet ordinarily. The uprolled clouds and the colors of morning and evening will transfigure maples and alders. which schoolmen called natura naturata. homeliest common with all the spiritual magnificence which they shed on the Campagna.” A susceptible person does not like to indulge his tastes in this kind without the apology of some trivial necessity: he goes to see a wood-lot. In every landscape the point of astonishment is the meeting of the sky and the earth. We can find these enchantments without visiting the Como Lake. Frivolity is a most unfit tribute to Pan. may not be always found. they fall into euphuism. as soon as men begin to write on nature. or he carries a fowling-piece or a fishing-rod. One can hardly speak directly of it without excess. It is as easy to broach in mixed companies what is called “the subject of religion. Men are naturally hunters and inquisitive of wood-craft. I suppose this shame must have a good reason. The difference between landscape and landscape is small. or the Madeira Islands. but the material landscape is never far off. There is nothing so wonderful in any particular landscape as the necessity of being beautiful under which every landscape lies. The stars at night stoop down over the brownest. and that is seen from the first hillock as well as from the top of the Alleghanies. or to fetch a plant or a mineral from a remote locality. or from whatever cause.Emerson easily. We exaggerate the praises of local scenery. would take place in the most sumptuous drawing-rooms of all the “Wreaths” and “Flora’s chaplets” of the bookshops. Nature cannot be surprised in undress. or nature passive. who ought to be represented in the mythology as the most continent of gods.

natura naturans. a shepherd.Essays churches accredits the true religion. detecting the presence or absence of the divine sentiment in man. Literature. is all that 278 . It is loved as the city of God. must consider that our hunting of the picturesque is inseparable from our protest against false society. We see the foaming brook with compunction: if our own life flowed with the right energy. and leaving many things unsaid on this topic. its works driven before it in flocks and multitudes. that is a little motion. If the king is in the palace. nature is erect. and the house is filled with grooms and gazers. but when we are convalescent. The stream of zeal sparkles with real fire. until the landscape has human figures that are as good as itself. Nature is loved by what is best in us. science are the homage of man to this unfathomed secret. nature will look up to us. poetry. itself secret. Man is fallen. that we turn from the people to find relief in the majestic men that are suggested by the pictures and the architecture. and serves as a differential thermometer. although.) and in undescribable variety. Astronomy to the selfish becomes astrology. reaching from particles and spiculae through transformation on transformation to the highest symmetries. and anatomy and physiology become phrenology and palmistry. let us not longer omit our homage to the Efficient Nature. Nature may be as selfishly studied as trade. And the beauty of nature must always seem unreal and mocking. the quick cause before which all forms flee as the driven snows. The critics who complain of the sickly separation of the beauty of nature from the thing to be done. (as the ancient represented nature by Proteus. mesmerism (with intent to show where our spoons are gone). But taking timely warning. concerning which no sane man can affect an indifference or incuriosity. there would never be this rapture in nature. or rather because there is no citizen. and not with reflex rays of sun and moon. we should shame the brook. It publishes itself in creatures. It is when he is gone. psychology. nobody looks at the walls. If there were good men. By fault of our dulness and selfishness we are looking up to nature. arriving at consummate results without a shock or a leap. The sunset is unlike anything that is underneath it: it wants men. A little heat.

It is a long way from granite to the oyster. Fauna. and opened the door for the remote Flora. that from the beginning to the end of the universe she has but one stuff. and exchange our Mosaic and Ptolemaic schemes for her large style. Geology has initiated us into the secularity of nature. Motion or change and identity or rest are the first and second secrets of nature:—Motion and Rest. Compound it how she will. and the first lichen race has disintegrated the thinnest external plate into soil. and at the same time she arms and equips another animal to destroy it. but by clothing the sides of a bird with a few feathers she gives him a petty omnipresence. by reason of the two cardinal conditions of boundless space and boundless time. arrives at last at the most complex forms. the addition of matter from year to year. Yet all must come. The whirling bubble on the surface of a brook admits us to the secret of the mechanics of the sky. All changes pass without violence.Emerson differences the bald. fire. and taught us to disuse our dame-school measures. She keeps her laws. farther yet to Plato and the preaching of the immortality of the soul. sand. The whole code of her laws may be written on the thumbnail. and Pomona to come in. — but one stuff with its two ends. and seems to transcend them. and then race after race of men. it is still one stuff. or the signet of a ring. but the artist still goes back for materials and begins again with the first 279 . as surely as the first atom has two sides. Every shell on the beach is a key to it. dazzling white and deadly cold poles of the earth from the prolific tropical climates. to serve up all her dream-like variety. man. water. A little water made to rotate in a cup explains the formation of the simpler shells. She arms and equips an animal to find its place and living in the earth. How far off yet is the trilobite! how far the quadruped! how inconceivably remote is man! All duly arrive. and yet so poor is nature with all her craft. star. The direction is forever onward. though she feigns to contravene her own laws. We knew nothing rightly. Space exists to divide creatures. for want of perspective. and betrays the same properties. Ceres. Now we learn what patient periods must round themselves before the rock is formed. tree. Nature is always consistent. then before the rock is broken.

and reduces to nothing great intervals on our customary scale. who made the mason. rude and aboriginal as a white bear. to Himmaleh mountain-chains and the axis of the globe. The flowers jilt us. rooted in the ground. we need not be superstitious about towns. Flowers so strictly belong to youth that we adult men soon come to feel that their beautiful generations concern not us: we have had our day. The smoothest curled courtier in the boudoirs of a palace has an animal nature. and we think we shall be as grand as they if we camp out and eat roots. Things are so strictly related. and characterizes every law. We talk of deviations from natural life. and is directly related. If we look at her work. The animal is the novice and probationer of a more advanced order. that according to the skill of the eye. but they grope ever upward towards consciousness. and seem to bemoan their imprisonment. a bit of stone from the city wall would certify us of the necessity that man must exist. The cool disengaged air of natural objects makes them enviable to us. though young. Nature. The men. there amid essences and billetsdoux. chafed and irritable creatures with red faces. and fashion cities. If we consider how much we are nature’s. the trees are imperfect men. are already dissipated: the maples and ferns are still uncorrupt. vessels of health and vigor. That identity makes us all one. If we had eyes to see it. Man 280 . now let the children have theirs. though we sit in chairs of ivory on carpets of silk. as readily as the city.Essays elements on the most advanced stage: otherwise all goes to ruin. but let us be men instead of woodchucks and the oak and the elm shall gladly serve us. and we are old bachelors with our ridiculous tenderness. from any one object the parts and properties of any other may be predicted. as if that terrific or benefic force did not find us there also. yet no doubt when they come to consciousness they too will curse and swear. made the house. We may easily hear too much of rural influences. having tasted the first drop from the cup of thought. This guiding identity runs through all the surprises and contrasts of the piece. as if artificial life were not also natural. we seem to catch a glance of a system in transition. omnipotent to its own ends. Plants are the young of the world.

Emerson carries the world in his head, the whole astronomy and chemistry suspended in a thought. Because the history of nature is charactered in his brain, therefore is he the prophet and discoverer of her secrets. Every known fact in natural science was divined by the presentiment of somebody, before it was actually verified. A man does not tie his shoe without recognizing laws which bind the farthest regions of nature: moon, plant, gas, crystal, are concrete geometry and numbers. Common sense knows its own, and recognizes the fact at first sight in chemical experiment. The common sense of Franklin, Dalton, Davy and Black, is the same common sense which made the arrangements which now it discovers. If the identity expresses organized rest, the counter action runs also into organization. The astronomers said, ‘Give us matter and a little motion and we will construct the universe. It is not enough that we should have matter, we must also have a single impulse, one shove to launch the mass and generate the harmony of the centrifugal and centripetal forces. Once heave the ball from the hand, and we can show how all this mighty order grew.’—’A very unreasonable postulate,’ said the metaphysicians, ‘and a plain begging of the question. Could you not prevail to know the genesis of projection, as well as the continuation of it?’ Nature, meanwhile, had not waited for the discussion, but, right or wrong, bestowed the impulse, and the balls rolled. It was no great affair, a mere push, but the astronomers were right in making much of it, for there is no end to the consequences of the act. That famous aboriginal push propagates itself through all the balls of the system, and through every atom of every ball; through all the races of creatures, and through the history and performances of every individual. Exaggeration is in the course of things. Nature sends no creature, no man into the world without adding a small excess of his proper quality. Given the planet, it is still necessary to add the impulse; so to every creature nature added a little violence of direction in its proper path, a shove to put it on its way; in every instance a slight generosity, a drop too much. Without electricity the air would rot, and without this violence of direction which men and women have, without a spice of bigot and fa281

Essays natic, no excitement, no efficiency. We aim above the mark to hit the mark. Every act hath some falsehood of exaggeration in it. And when now and then comes along some sad, sharp-eyed man, who sees how paltry a game is played, and refuses to play, but blabs the secret;—how then? Is the bird flown? O no, the wary Nature sends a new troop of fairer forms, of lordlier youths, with a little more excess of direction to hold them fast to their several aim; makes them a little wrongheaded in that direction in which they are rightest, and on goes the game again with new whirl, for a generation or two more. The child with his sweet pranks, the fool of his senses, commanded by every sight and sound, without any power to compare and rank his sensations, abandoned to a whistle or a painted chip, to a lead dragoon or a gingerbreaddog, individualizing everything, generalizing nothing, delighted with every new thing, lies down at night overpowered by the fatigue which this day of continual pretty madness has incurred. But Nature has answered her purpose with the curly, dimpled lunatic. She has tasked every faculty, and has secured the symmetrical growth of the bodily frame by all these attitudes and exertions,— an end of the first importance, which could not be trusted to any care less perfect than her own. This glitter, this opaline lustre plays round the top of every toy to his eye to insure his fidelity, and he is deceived to his good. We are made alive and kept alive by the same arts. Let the stoics say what they please, we do not eat for the good of living, but because the meat is savory and the appetite is keen. The vegetable life does not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds, that, if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves; that hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity; that at least one may replace the parent. All things betray the same calculated profusion. The excess of fear with which the animal frame is hedged round, shrinking from cold, starting at sight of a snake, or at a sudden noise, protects us, through a multitude of groundless alarms, from some one real danger at last. The lover seeks in marriage his private felicity and perfection, with no prospective end; and nature hides in his happiness 282

Emerson her own end, namely, progeny, or the perpetuity of the race. But the craft with which the world is made, runs also into the mind and character of men. No man is quite sane; each has a vein of folly in his composition, a slight determination of blood to the head, to make sure of holding him hard to some one point which nature had taken to heart. Great causes are never tried on their merits; but the cause is reduced to particulars to suit the size of the partisans, and the contention is ever hottest on minor matters. Not less remarkable is the overfaith of each man in the importance of what he has to do or say. The poet, the prophet, has a higher value for what he utters than any hearer, and therefore it gets spoken. The strong, selfcomplacent Luther declares with an emphasis not to be mistaken, that “God himself cannot do without wise men.” Jacob Behmen and George Fox betray their egotism in the pertinacity of their controversial tracts, and James Naylor once suffered himself to be worshipped as the Christ. Each prophet comes presently to identify himself with his thought, and to esteem his hat and shoes sacred. However this may discredit such persons with the judicious, it helps them with the people, as it gives heat, pungency, and publicity to their words. A similar experience is not infrequent in private life. Each young and ardent person writes a diary, in which, when the hours of prayer and penitence arrive, he inscribes his soul. The pages thus written are to him burning and fragrant; he reads them on his knees by midnight and by the morning star; he wets them with his tears; they are sacred; too good for the world, and hardly yet to be shown to the dearest friend. This is the man-child that is born to the soul, and her life still circulates in the babe. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. After some time has elapsed, he begins to wish to admit his friend to this hallowed experience, and with hesitation, yet with firmness, exposes the pages to his eye. Will they not burn his eyes? The friend coldly turns them over, and passes from the writing to conversation, with easy transition, which strikes the other party with astonishment and vexation. He cannot suspect the writing itself. Days and nights of fervid life, of communion with angels of darkness and of light 283

Essays have engraved their shadowy characters on that tearstained book. He suspects the intelligence or the heart of his friend. Is there then no friend? He cannot yet credit that one may have impressive experience and yet may not know how to put his private fact into literature; and perhaps the discovery that wisdom has other tongues and ministers than we, that though we should hold our peace the truth would not the less be spoken, might check injuriously the flames of our zeal. A man can only speak so long as he does not feel his speech to be partial and inadequate. It is partial, but he does not see it to be so whilst he utters it. As soon as he is released from the instinctive and particular and sees its partiality, he shuts his mouth in disgust. For no man can write anything who does not think that what he writes is for the time the history of the world; or do anything well who does not esteem his work to be of importance. My work may be of none, but I must not think it of none, or I shall not do it with impunity. In like manner, there is throughout nature something mocking, something that leads us on and on, but arrives nowhere; keeps no faith with us. All promise outruns the performance. We live in a system of approximations. Every end is prospective of some other end, which is also temporary; a round and final success nowhere. We are encamped in nature, not domesticated. Hunger and thirst lead us on to eat and to drink; but bread and wine, mix and cook them how you will, leave us hungry and thirsty, after the stomach is full. It is the same with all our arts and performances. Our music, our poetry, our language itself are not satisfactions, but suggestions. The hunger for wealth, which reduces the planet to a garden, fools the eager pursuer. What is the end sought? Plainly to secure the ends of good sense and beauty, from the intrusion of deformity or vulgarity of any kind. But what an operose method! What a train of means to secure a little conversation! This palace of brick and stone, these servants, this kitchen, these stables, horses and equipage, this bank-stock and file of mortgages; trade to all the world, country-house and cottage by the waterside, all for a little conversation, high, clear, and spiritual! Could it not be had as well by beggars on the highway? No, all 284

Emerson these things came from successive efforts of these beggars to remove friction from the wheels of life, and give opportunity. Conversation, character, were the avowed ends; wealth was good as it appeased the animal cravings, cured the smoky chimney, silenced the creaking door, brought friends together in a warm and quiet room, and kept the children and the dinner-table in a different apartment. Thought, virtue, beauty, were the ends; but it was known that men of thought and virtue sometimes had the headache, or wet feet, or could lose good time whilst the room was getting warm in winter days. Unluckily, in the exertions necessary to remove these inconveniences, the main attention has been diverted to this object; the old aims have been lost sight of, and to remove friction has come to be the end. That is the ridicule of rich men, and Boston, London, Vienna, and now the governments generally of the world are cities and governments of the rich; and the masses are not men, but poor men, that is, men who would be rich; this is the ridicule of the class, that they arrive with pains and sweat and fury nowhere; when all is done, it is for nothing. They are like one who has interrupted the conversation of a company to make his speech, and now has forgotten what he went to say. The appearance strikes the eye everywhere of an aimless society, of aimless nations. Were the ends of nature so great and cogent as to exact this immense sacrifice of men? Quite analogous to the deceits in life, there is, as might be expected, a similar effect on the eye from the face of external nature. There is in woods and waters a certain enticement and flattery, together with a failure to yield a present satisfaction. This disappointment is felt in every landscape. I have seen the softness and beauty of the summer clouds floating feathery overhead, enjoying, as it seemed, their height and privilege of motion, whilst yet they appeared not so much the drapery of this place and hour, as forelooking to some pavilions and gardens of festivity beyond. It is an odd jealousy, but the poet finds himself not near enough to his object. The pinetree, the river, the bank of flowers before him, does not seem to be nature. Nature is still elsewhere. This or this is but outskirt and far-off reflection and echo of the triumph that has passed by and is now at its glancing splen-

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Essays dor and heyday, perchance in the neighboring fields, or, if you stand in the field, then in the adjacent woods. The present object shall give you this sense of stillness that follows a pageant which has just gone by. What splendid distance, what recesses of ineffable pomp and loveliness in the sunset! But who can go where they are, or lay his hand or plant his foot thereon? Off they fall from the round world forever and ever. It is the same among the men and women as among the silent trees; always a referred existence, an absence, never a presence and satisfaction. Is it that beauty can never be grasped? in persons and in landscape is equally inaccessible? The accepted and betrothed lover has lost the wildest charm of his maiden in her acceptance of him. She was heaven whilst he pursued her as a star: she cannot be heaven if she stoops to such a one as he. What shall we say of this omnipresent appearance of that first projectile impulse, of this flattery and balking of so many well-meaning creatures? Must we not suppose somewhere in the universe a slight treachery and derision? Are we not engaged to a serious resentment of this use that is made of us? Are we tickled trout, and fools of nature? One look at the face of heaven and earth lays all petulance at rest, and soothes us to wiser convictions. To the intelligent, nature converts itself into a vast promise, and will not be rashly explained. Her secret is untold. Many and many an Oedipus arrives; he has the whole mystery teeming in his brain. Alas! the same sorcery has spoiled his skill; no syllable can he shape on his lips. Her mighty orbit vaults like the fresh rainbow into the deep, but no archangel’s wing was yet strong enough to follow it and report of the return of the curve. But it also appears that our actions are seconded and disposed to greater conclusions than we designed. We are escorted on every hand through life by spiritual agents, and a beneficent purpose lies in wait for us. We cannot bandy words with Nature, or deal with her as we deal with persons. If we measure our individual forces against hers we may easily feel as if we were the sport of an insuperable destiny. But if, instead of identifying ourselves with the work, we feel that the soul of the workman streams through us, we shall find the peace of the morning dwell286

lends that sublime lustre to death. namely. from the centre to the poles of nature. We anticipate a new era from the invention of a locomotive. the Rest or Identity insinuates its compensation. of life. stand around us in nature forever embodied.Emerson ing first in our hearts. In these checks and impossibilities however we find our advantage. man’s life is but seventy salads long. Let the victory fall where it will. we are on that side. whether inor287 . as ice becomes water and gas. The uneasiness which the thought of our helplessness in the chain of causes occasions us. The divine circulations never rest nor linger. and have some stake in every possibility. And the knowledge that we traverse the whole scale of being. over them. the new engine brings with it the old checks. Here is no ruin. it is a symbol of our modern aims and endeavors. But the drag is never taken from the wheel. no discontinuity. and though we are always engaged with particulars. or a balloon. Nature is the incarnation of a thought. After every foolish day we sleep off the fumes and furies of its hours. Our servitude to particulars betrays into a hundred foolish expectations. no spent ball. a present sanity to expose and cure the insanity of men. They say that by electromagnetism your salad shall be grown from the seed whilst your fowl is roasting for dinner. Hence the virtue and pungency of the influence on the mind of natural objects. All over the wide fields of earth grows the prunella or self-heal. preexisting within us in their highest form. The world is mind precipitated. and often enslaved to them. Wherever the impulse exceeds. The reality is more excellent than the report. and the volatile essence is forever escaping again into the state of free thought. of our condensation and acceleration of objects. and the fathomless powers of gravity and chemistry. results from looking too much at one condition of nature. not less than in the impulses. and turns to a thought again. These. and. which philosophy and religion have too outwardly and literally striven to express in the popular doctrine of the immortality of the soul. Motion. while they exist in the mind as ideas.—but nothing is gained. we bring with us to every experiment the innate universal laws. nature cannot be cheated. grow they swift or grow they slow.

it enveloped us in dull. All earth’s fleece and food For their like are sold.— Nor kind nor coinage buys Aught above its rate. That power which does not respect quantity.Essays ganic or organized. Out of dust to build What is more than dust. or in days of cheerful labor. speaks to man impersonated. delegates its smile to the morning. Fear. it convulsed us as pain. Craft. man crystallized. By green orchard boughs 288 . and distils its essence into every drop of rain. It has been poured into us as blood. When the Muses nine With the Virtues meet. Man imprisoned. Every moment instructs. Boded Merlin wise. Find to their design An Atlantic seat. it slid into us as pleasure. Proved Napoleon great. we did not guess its essence until after a long time. man vegetative.— Walls Amphion piled Phoebus stablish must. melancholy days. POLITICS Gold and iron are good To buy iron and gold. and every object: for wisdom is infused into every form. which makes the whole and the particle its equal channel. and Avarice Cannot rear a State.

like Plato or Paul. with certain names. But the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand which perishes in the twisting. When the Church is social worth. that they are not superior to the citizen. we may make better. the strongest usurper is quickly got rid of. who believe that the laws make the city. and that any measure. and cannot be treated with levity. every law and usage was a man’s expedient to meet a particular case. and they only who build on Ideas. and every man of truth. that grave modifications of the policy and modes of living and employments of the population. But politics rest on necessary foundations. may be voted in or out. Society is an illusion to the young citizen. POLITICS I n dealing with the State we ought to remember that its institution are not aboriginal. . and religion. When the state-house is the hearth. Republics abound in young civilians. may be imposed on a people if only you can get sufficient voices to make it a law. round which all arrange themselves the best they can. does forever. though it were absurd. there are no such roots and centres.Emerson Fended from the heat. Where the statesman ploughs Furrow for the wheat. like Pisistratus. It lies before him in rigid repose. all alterable. that commerce. The republican at home. but any particle may suddenly become the centre of the movement and compel the system to gyrate round it. does for a time. men and institutions rooted like oak-trees to the centre. that they all are imitable. we may make as good. or Cromwell. education. and that the form of government which prevails is the expression of what cultivation exists in the population which permits 289 XIX. that the State must follow and not lead the character and progress of the citizen. that every one of them was once the act of a single man. build for eternity. Then the perfect State is come. though they existed before we were born. as every man of strong will. But the old statesman knows that society is fluid.

shall presently be the resolutions of public bodies. wishes them looked after by an officer on the frontiers. and prays. and follows at a distance the delicacy of culture and of aspiration. falls unequally. and must be made to. and then shall be triumphant law and establishment for a hundred years. and which they have expressed the best they could in their laws and in their revolutions. considers persons and property as the two objects for whose protection government exists. and another owns a county. until it gives place in turn to new prayers and pictures. Personal rights. The statute stands there to say. of which there is every degree. in virtue of being identical in nature. and its rights of course are unequal. property demands a government framed on the ratio of owners and of owning. We are superstitious. their rights in property are very unequal. nor limited-monarchical. The reveries of the true and simple are prophetic.Essays it. but how feel ye this article to-day? Our statute is a currency which we stamp with our own portrait: it soon becomes unrecognizable. and as fast as the public mind is opened to more intelligence. then shall be carried as grievance and bill of rights through conflict and war. the code is seen to be brute and stammering. Of persons. and paints to-day. The law is only a memorandum. Whilst the rights of all as persons are equal. depending primarily on the skill and virtue of the parties. and secondarily on patrimony. What the tender poetic youth dreams. but despotic. and will not be fooled or abated of any jot of her authority by the pertest of her sons. universally the same. Meantime the education of the general mind never stops. all have equal rights. This accident. but shuns the ridicule of saying aloud. Laban. It speaks not articulately. The history of the State sketches in coarse outline the progress of thought. who has flocks and herds. in virtue of their access to reason. demand a government framed on the ratio of the census. One man owns his clothes. Yesterday we agreed so and so. This interest of course with its whole power demands a democracy. and esteem the statute somewhat: so much life as it has in the character of living men is its force. The theory of politics which has possessed the mind of men. Nature is not democratic. 290 . and in process of time will return to the mint.

than Jacob. and so long as it comes to the owners in the direct way.Emerson lest the Midianites shall drive them off. must not Laban and Isaac. because doubts have arisen whether too much weight had not been allowed in the laws to property. It was not however found easy to embody the readily admitted principle that property should make law for property. but mainly because there is an instinctive sense. that truly the only interest for the consideration of the State is persons. and its influence on persons deteriorating and degrading. just. and with more right. And if question arise whether additional officers or watch-towers should be provided. Jacob has no flocks or herds and no fear of the Midianites. who. Gift. It seemed fit that Laban and Jacob should have equal rights to elect the officer who is to defend their persons. and to keep them poor. of patrimony. and pays a tax to that end. on the Spartan principle of “calling that which is just. judge better of this. that property will 291 . and persons for persons. on its present tenures. the law makes an ownership which will be valid in each man’s view according to the estimate which he sets on the public tranquillity. and pays no tax to the officer. makes it as really the new owner’s. eats their bread and not his own? In the earliest society the proprietors made their own wealth. that the whole constitution of property. because he is a youth and a traveller. is injurious. no other opinion would arise in any equitable community than that property should make the law for property. But property passes through donation or inheritance to those who do not create it. not that which is equal. but that Laban and not Jacob should elect the officer who is to guard the sheep and cattle. equal. and those who must sell part of their herds to buy protection for the rest. and such a structure given to our usages as allowed the rich to encroach on the poor. however obscure and yet inarticulate.” That principle no longer looks so self-evident as it appeared in former times. since persons and property mixed themselves in every transaction. partly. and persons the law for persons. in one case. as labor made it the first owner’s: in the other case. At last it seemed settled that the rightful distinction was that the proprietors should have more elective franchise than non-proprietors.

or by might. then poisonously. the peril is less when we take note of our natural defences. the Americans. as well as men. and achieve extravagant actions. A nation of men unanimously bent on freedom or conquest can easily confound the arithmetic of statists. but that there are limitations beyond which the folly and ambition of governors cannot go. Under the dominion of an idea which possesses the minds of multitudes. 292 . or the religious sentiment. will exercise. if not wholesomely. with right. out of all proportion to their means. it will always weigh a pound. then covertly. but the farmer will not plant or hoe it unless the chances are a hundred to one that he will cut and harvest it. We are kept by better guards than the vigilance of such magistrates as we commonly elect. and the French have done. it will always attract and resist other matter by the full virtue of one pound weight:—and the attributes of a person. as civil freedom. and if men can be educated.Essays always follow persons. as the Greeks. who have seen through the hypocrisy of courts and statesmen. the Swiss. the powers of persons are no longer subjects of calculation. Property will be protected. if not for the law. Under any forms. melt it to liquid. Corn will not grow unless it is planted and manured. With such an ignorant and deceivable majority. as their fathers did at their age. Society always consists in greatest part of young and foolish persons. as steadily as matter its attraction. Things have their laws. die and leave no wisdom to their sons. Cover up a pound of earth never so cunningly. The boundaries of personal influence it is impossible to fix. divide and subdivide it. The old. that the highest end of government is the culture of men. the Saracens. and things refuse to be trifled with. persons and property must and will have their just sway. the institutions will share their improvement and the moral sentiment will write the law of the land. States would soon run to ruin.—if not overtly. their proper force. If it be not easy to settle the equity of this question. under any law or extinguishing tyranny. his wit and his moral energy. then against it. They believe their own newspaper. convert it to gas. They exert their power. as persons are organs of moral or supernatural force.

year after year. which. though in coincidence with the spirit of the age. The same necessity which secures the rights of person and property against the malignity or folly of the magistrate. as frequently happens. have not any exemption from the practical defects which have discredited other forms. not merely of the great estates. The law may do what it will with the owner of property. because the religious sentiment of the present time accords better with it. A cent is the representative of a certain quantity of corn or other commodity. that they sprung. When the rich are outvoted. it is the joint treasury of the poor which exceeds their accumulations. the whole power of property will do. Democracy is better for us. we are nowise qualified to judge of monarchy.Emerson In like manner to every particle of property belongs its own attraction. and so has that property to dispose of. Its value is in the necessities of the animal man. or a wheel-barrow. either through the law or else in defiance of it. Born democrats. which are proper to each nation and to its habit of thought. so much bread. Every man owns something. or his arms. determines the form and methods of governing. It is so much warmth. In this country we are very vain of our political institutions. We may be wise in asserting the advantage in modern times of the democratic form. Every actual State is corrupt. they shall have no vote. The non-proprietor will be the scribe of the proprietor. They are not better. But our institutions. Good men must not obey the laws too well.—and we ostentatiously prefer them to any other in history. in which religion consecrated the monarchical. by a higher law. The law may in a mad freak say that all shall have power except the owners of property. was also relatively right. What the owners wish to do. to our fathers living in the monarchical idea. but only fitter for us. and nowise transferable to other states of society. the property will. from the character and condition of the people. write every statute that respects property. within the memory of living men. if it is only a cow. What 293 . Nevertheless. which are singular in this. so much land. so much water. that and not this was expedient. Of course I speak of all the property. but to other states of society. which they still express with sufficient fidelity. its just power will still attach to the cent.

parties which are identical in their moral character. They reap the rewards of the docility and zeal of the masses which they direct.—degenerate into personalities. or the party of free-trade. They have nothing perverse in their origin. as the planting interest in conflict with the commercial. or the religious 294 . as. of universal suffrage. and have better guides to their own humble aims than the sagacity of their leaders. Our quarrel with them begins when they quit this deep natural ground at the bidding of some leader. of abolition of capital punishment. and which can easily change ground with each other in the support of many of their measures. We might as wisely reprove the east wind or the frost. and the other contains the best men.Essays satire on government can equal the severity of censure conveyed in the word politic. Parties are also founded on instincts. the poet. The philosopher. but rudely mark some real and lasting relation. religious sects. which now for ages has signified cunning. or would inspire enthusiasm. whose members. into which each State divides itself. as a political party. we cannot extend the same charity to their leaders. Parties of principle. The vice of our leading parties in this country (which may be cited as a fair specimen of these societies of opinion) is that they do not plant themselves on the deep and necessary grounds to which they are respectively entitled. intimating that the State is a trick? The same benign necessity and the same practical abuse appear in the parties. but lash themselves to fury in the carrying of some local and momentary measure. I should say that one has the best cause. for the most part. could give no account of their position. nowise useful to the commonwealth. but stand for the defence of those interests in which they find themselves. of abolition of slavery. the party of capitalists and that of operatives. throw themselves into the maintenance and defence of points nowise belonging to their system. Of the two great parties which at this hour almost share the nation between them. A party is perpetually corrupted by personality. and not of principle. Whilst we absolve the association from dishonesty. and obeying personal considerations. of opponents and defenders of the administration of the government. Ordinarily our parties are parties of circumstance.

as the children of the convicts at Botany Bay are found to have as healthy a moral sentiment as other children. which would never sink. It vindicates no right. and another thinks he has found it in our Calvinism. But he can rarely accept the persons whom the so-called popular party propose to him as representatives of these liberalities. it proposes no generous policy. nor foster religion. Citizens of feudal states are alarmed at our democratic institutions lapsing into anarchy. for wide suffrage. whilst a republic is a raft. for the abolition of legal cruelties in the penal code. but will sometimes strike on a rock and go to the bottom. nor emancipate the slave. and merely defensive of property. human nature always finds itself cherished. and the older and more cautious among ourselves are learning from Europeans to look with some terror at our turbulent freedom. but is destructive only out of hatred and selfishness. saying that a monarchy is a merchantman. On the other side. nor establish schools. and one foreign observer thinks he has found the safeguard in the sanctity of Marriage among us. able. which sails well. We are not at the mercy of any waves of chance. it brands no crime. and in the despotism of public opinion. I do not for these defects despair of our republic. or the immigrant. or humanity. is timid. but then your feet are 295 . when he compared a monarchy and a republic. nor encourage science. and for facilitating in every manner the access of the young and the poor to the sources of wealth and power. nor befriend the poor. or the Indian. From neither party. the conservative party. at all commensurate with the resources of the nation. It is said that in our license of construing the Constitution. They have not at heart the ends which give to the name of democracy what hope and virtue are in it. for free-trade. has the world any benefit to expect in science. it aspires to no real good. it has no ulterior and divine ends. Fisher Ames expressed the popular security more wisely. composed of the most moderate. when in power. nor cherish the arts.Emerson man will of course wish to cast his vote with the democrat. In the strife of ferocious parties. it does not build. The spirit of our American radicalism is destructive and aimless: it is not loving. art. nor write. we have no anchor. and cultivated part of the population.

is universal. The fact of two poles. centripetal and centrifugal. Every man finds a sanction for his simplest claims and deeds in decisions of his own mind. Human nature expresses itself in them as characteristically as in statues. as by causing the entire people to give their voices on every measure. or songs. by a selection of the best citi296 . Reason for one is seen to be reason for another. by strengthening law and decorum. not in what is good to eat.Essays always in water. The idea after which each community is aiming to make and mend its law. No forms can have any dangerous importance whilst we are befriended by the laws of things. be they never so many or so resolute for their own. and each force by its own activity develops the other. and for every other. It makes no difference how many tons weight of atmosphere presses on our heads. every government is an impure theocracy. Augment the mass a thousand fold. Wild liberty develops iron conscience. Yet absolute right is the first governor. it cannot begin to crush us. or railroads. ‘Lynch-law’ prevails only where there is greater hardihood and selfsubsistency in the leaders. of two forces. Want of liberty. good to wear. The wise man it cannot find in nature. which he calls Truth and Holiness. so long as the same pressure resists it within the lungs. There is a middle measure which satisfies all parties. Their first endeavors. good use of time. is the will of the wise man. We must trust infinitely to the beneficent necessity which shines through all laws. the protection of life and property. are very awkward. or. A mob cannot be a permanency. as long as reaction is equal to action. or by a double choice to get the representation of the whole. stupefies conscience. and only in these. and it makes awkward but earnest efforts to secure his government by contrivance. and an abstract of the codes of nations would be a transcript of the common conscience. or. or what amount of land or of public aid. each is entitled to claim. the apportionment of service. and only justice satisfies all. This truth and justice men presently endeavor to make application of to the measuring of land. Governments have their origin in the moral identity of men. In these decisions all the citizens find a perfect agreement. everybody’s interest requires that it should not exist. no doubt.

perfect where two men exist. taxes me. It is the same thing in numbers. I can see well enough a great difference between my setting myself down to a self-control.—not as I. and. both act. All forms of government symbolize an immortal government. looking from afar at me ordains that a part of my labor shall go to this or that whimsical end. and work together for a time to one end. A man who cannot be acquainted with me. This undertaking for another is the blunder which stands in colossal ugliness in the governments of the world. or to secure the advantages of efficiency and internal peace by confiding the government to one. Therefore all public ends look vague and quixotic beside private ones. he will never obey me. namely by force. but it is a lie. My right and my wrong is their right and their wrong. But whenever I find my dominion over myself not sufficient for me. only not quite so intelligible. and come into false relations to him.—one man does something which is to bind another. If I put myself in the place of my child. We are both there. I may have so much more skill or strength than he that he cannot express adequately his sense of wrong. and we stand in one thought and see that things are thus or thus. and hurts like a lie both him and me. But if. but as he happens to fancy. I may be too much disturbed by the circumstances to see so clearly the absurdity of their command.Emerson zens. I look over into his plot. who may himself select his agents. Behold the consequence. it must be executed by a practical lie. I overstep the truth. Love and nature cannot maintain the assumption. but when a quarter of the human race assume to tell me what I must do. For any laws but those which men make for themselves. without carrying him into the thought. This is the history of governments. and undertake the direction of him also. as in a pair. ordain this or that. Whilst I do what is fit for me. perfect where there is only one man. and abstain from what is unfit. and my going to make somebody else act after my views. common to all dynasties and independent of numbers. are laughable. guessing how it is with him. Of all debts men are least will297 . Every man’s nature is a sufficient advertisement to him of the character of his fellows. my neighbor and I shall often agree in our means. that perception is law for him and me.

no road. the Queen’s Speech. and yet it is never nothing. or navy. To educate the wise man the State exists. to draw friends to him. He needs no library. Every thought which genius and piety throw into the world.Essays ing to pay the taxes. his memory is myrrh to them. no experience. His relation to men is angelic. the appearance of the principal to supersede the proxy. as the rightful lord who is to tumble all rulers from their chairs. through all their frocks of force and simulation. no favorable circumstance. —he loves men too well. frankincense and flowers. no statute book. his presence. alters the world. it must be owned. for he has not done thinking. The gladiators in the lists of power feel. We think our civilization near its meridian. He needs no army. He has no personal friends. that is the end of Nature. no vantage ground. Malthus and Ricardo quite omit it. have not mentioned it. for he has the lawgiver. or palace. intercourse. of whom the existing government is. no money. for he is a prophet. the growth of the Individual. The appearance of character makes the State unnecessary. but we are yet only at the cock-crowing and the morning star. The antidote to this abuse of formal Government is the influence of private character. the 298 . for he who has the spell to draw the prayer and piety of all men unto him needs not husband and educate a few to share with him a select and poetic life. cultivation. its presence is hardly yet suspected. As a political power. That which all things tend to educe. in the Conversations’ Lexicon it is not set down. In our barbarous society the influence of character is in its infancy. is character. for the life of the creator shoots through him. for he is value. and with the appearance of the wise man the State expires. revolutions. The wise man is the State. no church. What a satire is this on government! Everywhere they think they get their money’s worth. and looks from his eyes. or feast. but a shabby imitation. the President’s Message. the appearance of the wise man. no bribe. which freedom. the Annual Register is silent. for he is at home where he is. and the less confided power.—the fewer laws. go to form and deliver. except for these. fort. Hence the less government we have the better. to reach unto this coronation of her king.

but does not smooth our own brow. But each of us has some talent.Emerson presence of worth. Our talent is a sort of expiation. The tendencies of the times favor the idea of self-government. a fair expression of our permanent energy. they have nothing but a prehensile tail. Most persons of ability meet in society with a kind of tacit appeal. hard nature. could he afford to circumvent the favor of the caucus and the press. I think the very strife of trade and ambition are confession of this divinity. I find the like unwilling homage in all quarters. cold. They must do what they can. Each seems to say. as an apology to others and to ourselves for not reaching the mark of a good and equal life. whilst we thrust it on the notice of our companions. the fig-leaf with which the shamed soul attempts to hide its nakedness. climb they must. and to vindicate their manhood in our eyes. We are haunted by a conscience of this right to grandeur of character. which work with more energy than we believe whilst we depend on artificial restraints. and successes in those fields are the poor amends. But it does not satisfy us. or give us the tranquillity of the strong when we walk abroad. The movement in this direction has 299 . Like one class of forest animals. and leave the individual. or lucrative. or graceful. and not as one act of many acts. as somewhat too fine. or formidable. to the rewards and penalties of his own constitution. This conspicuous chair is their compensation to themselves for being of a poor. If a man found himself so rich-natured that he could enter into strict relations with the best persons and make life serene around him by the dignity and sweetness of his behavior. and are false to it. not because they think the place specially agreeable. It may throw dust in their eyes. That we do. ‘I am not all here.’ Senators and presidents have climbed so high with pain enough. It is because we know how much is due from us that we are impatient to show some petty talent as a substitute for worth. and we are constrained to reflect on our splendid moment with a certain humiliation. We do penance as we go. and covet relations so hollow and pompous as those of a politician? Surely nobody would be a charlatan who could afford to be sincere. or crawl. can do somewhat useful. for all code. but as an apology for real worth. or amusing.

to persuade them that society can be maintained without artificial restraints. nor doubt that roads can be built. or the security of property. There is not. We must not imagine that all things are lapsing into confusion if every tender protestant be not compelled to bear his part in certain social conventions. to be trusted. A man has a right to be employed. All those who have pretended this design have been partial reformers. but the nature of the revolution is not affected by the vices of the revolters. Are our methods now so excellent that all competition is hopeless? could not a nation of friends even devise better ways? On the other hand. letters carried. which is quite superior to our will. of commerce and the exchange of property. It separates the individual from all party. of the highway. of institutions of art and science can be answered. It promises a recognition of higher rights than those of personal freedom. when the government of force is at an end. as the basis of a State. has never been tried. as well as the solar system. among the most religious and instructed men of the most religious and civil nations. Much has been blind and discreditable. and unites him at the same time to the race. The power of love. there never was in any man sufficient faith in the power of rectitude to inspire him with the broad design of renovating the State on the principle of right and love. or that the private citizen might be reasonable and a good neighbor. and pay unwilling tribute to governments founded on force. to be revered. to be loved. It was never adopted by any party in history. and when they are pure enough to abjure the code of force they will be wise enough to see how these public ends of the post-office. What is strange too.Essays been very marked in modern history. a reliance on the moral sentiment and a sufficient belief in the unity of things. neither can be. there will always be a government of force where men are selfish. according to the order of nature. without the hint of a jail or a confiscation. and the fruit of labor secured. let not the most conservative and timid fear anything from a premature surrender of the bayonet and the system of force. For. it stands thus. of museums and libraries. and have admitted in 300 . for this is a purely moral force. We live in a very low state of the world.

and there are now men. XX. NOMINALIST AND REALIST In countless upward-striving waves The moon-drawn tide-wave strives: In thousand far-transplanted grafts The parent fruit survives. If the individual who exhibits them dare to think them practicable. or a pair of lovers. And each with novel life his sphere Fills for his proper sake. he disgusts scholars and churchmen. full of genius and full of fate as they are. If I seek it in him I shall not find it. So. Each is a hint of the truth. Not less are summer-mornings dear To every child they wake. as well as a knot of friends. but far enough from being that truth which yet he quite newly and inevitably suggests to us. NONIMALIST AND REALIST I 301 cannot often enough say that a man is only a relative and representative nature. are not entertained except avowedly as air-pictures. I will say. on the simple ground of his own moral nature. Not the less does nature continue to fill the heart of youth with suggestions of this enthusiasm. I have just been conversing with one man. to whom no weight of adverse experience will make it for a moment appear impossible that thousands of human beings might exercise towards each other the grandest and simplest sentiments. I do not call to mind a single human being who has steadily denied the authority of the laws.—if indeed I can speak in the plural number.—more exactly. Could any man conduct into me the pure stream of that which he pretends to be! . Such designs.Emerson some manner the supremacy of the bad State. The perfect Adam lives. in the new-born millions. and men of talent and women of superior sentiments cannot hide their contempt.

but symmetrical men never. When I meet a pure intellectual force or a generosity of affection. All our poets. We have such exorbitant eyes that on seeing the smallest arc we complete the curve. who have only to hear and not to speak.Essays Long afterwards I find that quality elsewhere which he promised me. The genius of the Platonists is intoxicating to the student. and conclude thence the perfection of his private character. I observe a person who makes a good public appearance. but not in them. All persons exist to society by some shining trait of beauty or utility which they have. but he has no private character. on which this is based. I believe here then is man. we are vexed to find that no more was drawn than just that fragment of an arc which we first beheld. for example. That is in nature. That happens in the world. and the audience. no one of them hears much that another says. yet how few particulars of it can I detach from all their books. The least hint sets us on the pursuit of a character which no man realizes. judge very wisely and superiorly how wrongheaded and unskilful is each of the debaters to his own affair. Great men or men of great gifts you shall easily find. which is false. for the rest of his body is small or deformed. but separate them and there is no gentleman and no lady in the group. and am presently mortified by the discovery that this individual is no more available to his own or to the general ends than his companions. heroes. The man momentarily stands for the thought. and 302 . because the power which drew my respect is not supported by the total symphony of his talents. We borrow the proportions of the man from that one fine feature. chivalry or beauty of manners. and finish the portrait symmetrically. they will not do. but that which we inferred from their nature and inception. He is a graceful cloak or lay-figure for holidays. and when the curtain is lifted from the diagram which it seemed to veil. but will not bear examination. which we often witness in a public debate. Each of the speakers expresses himself imperfectly. Exactly what the parties have already done they shall do again. such is the preoccupation of mind of each. We are greatly too liberal in our construction of each other’s faculty and promise. and a society of men will cursorily represent well enough a certain quality and culture.

’ Whilst we speak the loadstone is withdrawn. as we grow older we value total powers and effects.Emerson saints.—it is his system: we do not try a solitary word or act. down falls our filing in a heap with the rest. or do some precious atrocity. or by satire. A personal influence is an ignis fatuus. the men are steel-filings. but he cannot come near without appearing a cripple. or by courtesy. but it is worse that no man is fit for society who has fine traits. since they are departures from his faith. nor Washington. not for the needles. Young people admire talents or particular excellences. he would eat too much gingerbread. But there are no such men as we fable. Human life and its persons are poor empirical pretensions. fail to draw our spontaneous interest. Our native love of reality joins with this experience to teach us a little reserve. for the magnetism. and to dissuade a too sudden surrender to the brilliant qualities of persons. as the impression. but his habit. The acts which you praise. and we continue our mummery to the wretched shaving. The magnetism which arranges tribes and races in one polarity is alone to be respected. The genius is all. and say. It is bad enough that our geniuses cannot do anything useful. it is 303 . Let us go for universals. I verily believe if an angel should come to chant the chorus of the moral law. or take liberties with private letters. but they want either love or selfreliance. nor Caesar. the quality. nor Pericles. the spirit of men and things. There is none without his foible. The man. I praise not. such as we have made. We consecrate a great deal of nonsense because it was allowed by great men. or by an acid worldly manner. The men of fine parts protect themselves by solitude. nor Angelo. and so leave us without any hope of realization but in our own future. He is admired at a distance. ‘O steel-filing number one! what heart-drawings I feel to thee! what prodigious virtues are these of thine! how constitutional to thee. Our exaggeration of all fine characters arises from the fact that we identify each in turn with the soul. each concealing as he best can his incapacity for useful association. fail utterly in some one or in many parts to satisfy our idea. Yet we unjustly select a particle. and are mere compliances. no Jesus. and incommunicable. If they say it is great.

having two sets of faculties. where. if they say it is small.—and not anywhere the Englishman who made the good speeches. or six. the German genius. punctual. and you see it not. In any controversy concerning morals. There is a genius of a nation. which is a sort of monument to which each forcible individual in a course of many hundred years has contributed a stone. vanishes if you go too far. We are practically skilful in detecting elements for which we have no place in our theory. proud men. an appeal may be made with safety to the sentiments which the language 304 . weaponed for two elements. practical. We are amphibious creatures. and did the bold and nervous deeds. It is even worse in America. conventional.Essays great. Who can tell if Washington be a great man or no? Who can tell if Franklin be? Yes. We conceive distinctly enough the French. the Spanish. it borrows all its size from the momentary estimation of the speakers: the Will-of-thewisp vanishes if you go too near. or three great gods of fame? And they too loom and fade before the eternal. We infer the spirit of the nation in great measure from the language. it is small. you see it. well-spoken England I should not find if I should go to the island to seek it. which cannot be debauched. at dinner-tables. and sweep the heavens as easily as we pick out a single figure in the terrestrial landscape. in the play-house. the genius of the country is more splendid in its promise and more slight in its performance. And. strong. universally. We adjust our instrument for general observation. and no name. which is not to be found in the numerical citizens. combined the accurate engines. book-read. from the intellectual quickness of the race. and only blazes at one angle. a good example of this social force is the veracity of language.—many old women. England. but which characterizes the society. and it is not the less real that perhaps we should not meet in either of those nations a single individual who corresponded with the type. the particular and the catholic. by turns. In the parliament. Thus we are very sensible of an atmospheric influence in men and in bodies of men. Webster cannot do the work of Webster. not accounted for in an arithmetical addition of all their measurable properties. or any but the twelve. I might see a great number of rich. ignorant.

the wisdom. show that there always were seeing and knowing men in the planet. geometry. which represents the prose of life. and the completeness of the municipal system is considered! Nothing is left out. Money. Property keeps the accounts of the world. the Greek sculpture. as if the editor of a journal planted his body of reporters in different parts of the field of action. a wit like your own has been before you. of inspection of provisions. and has realized its thought. and (the whole life-time considered. His measures are the hours. with the compensations) in the individual also. They are our gods: they round and ennoble the most partial and sordid way of living. How wise the world appears. morning and night. In the famous dispute with the Nominalists.Emerson of the people expresses. but there is such equality and identity both of judgment and point of view in the narrative that it is plainly the work of one all-seeing. words. The world is full of masonic ties. that of scholars. If you go into the markets and the custom-houses. of secret and public legions of honor.—it will appear as if one man had made it all. the Egyptian architecture. General ideas are essences. and which is hardly spoken of in parlors without an apology. fraternizing with the upper class of every country and every culture. and grammarinflections convey the public sense with more purity and precision than the wisest individual. I am very much struck in literature by the appearance that one person wrote all the books. in its effects and laws. and the virtue have been in nations. and that of gentlemen. astronomy and all the lovely accidents of nature play through his mind. The property will be found where the labor. for example. in classes. solstice and equinox. of guilds. Proverbs. yet he is saturated with the laws of the world. The day-laborer is reckoned as standing at the foot of the social scale. the Realists had a good deal of reason. and relieved some by others from time to time. the offices of sealers of weights and measures. and is always moral. Wherever you go. the insurers’ and notaries’ offices. all-hearing gentle305 . as beautiful as roses. is. the Indian astronomy. The Eleusinian mysteries. when the laws and usages of nations are largely detailed. Our proclivity to details cannot quite degrade our life and divest it of poetry.

’Tis not Proclus. Shakspeare’s passages of passion (for example. There is no one who does not exaggerate. The eye must not lose sight for a moment of the purpose. the artist works here and there and at all points. is proportion. Beautiful details we must have. in the artist. I find the most pleasure in reading a book in a manner least flattering to the author. or no artist. but a piece of nature and fate that I explore. In modern sculpture. I read Proclus. so it was easy to observe what efforts nature was making. they respect the argument. Lively boys write to their ear and eye. picture. I looked into Pope’s Odyssey yesterday: it is as correct and elegant after our canon of to-day as if it were newly written. and sometimes Plato. where I went to hear Handel’s Messiah. adding and adding. Proportion is almost impossible to human beings. to produce beautiful voices. instead of unfolding the unit of his thought. As the master overpowered the littleness and incapableness of the performers and made them conductors of his electricity. but they must be means and never other. for its rich colors. Art. The genius of nature was paramount at the oratorio. what is ill done I reck not of. and imperfect persons. men are encumbered with personality. And the wonder and charm of it is the sanity in insanity which it denotes. which is found in all superior minds. as I might read a dictionary. through so many hoarse. This preference of the genius to the parts is the secret of that deification of art. A higher pleasure of the same kind I found lately at a concert.Essays man. than himself. for a mechanical help to the fancy and the imagination. or a habitual respect to the whole by an eye loving beauty in details. 306 . and poetry. and the cool reader finds nothing but sweet jingles in it. It is a greater joy to see the author’s author. wooden. the beauty is miscellaneous. fluid and soul-guided men and women. as if one should use a fine picture in a chromatic experiment. The modernness of all good books seems to give me an existence as wide as man. and talk too much. When they grow older. I am faithful again to the whole over the members in my use of books. What is well done I feel as if I did. In conversation. in Lear and Hamlet) are in the very dialect of the present year. I read for the lustres.

with sleep. and with crimes. They are good indications. but sometimes I must pinch myself to keep awake and preserve the due decorum. or aesthetical. or civil feat. and it needs an effort to treat them as individuals. You are one thing. You have not got rid of parts by denying them. which we can well afford to let pass. It seems not worth while to execute with too much pains some one intellectual. or a fleet of ripples which the wind drives over the surface of the water. and it were partial not to see it. the divine man does not respect them. and the Millennial Church. For these abnormal insights of the adepts ought to be normal. Swedenborgism. but Nature is one thing and the other thing. with eating. and preaching of the day. Anomalous facts. he sees them as a rack of clouds. but of great value as criticism on the hygeia or medical practice of the time. All things show us that on every side we are very near to the best. in the same 307 .Emerson We obey the same intellectual integrity when we study in exceptions the law of the world. are of ideal use. when presently the dream will scatter. philosophy. but are the more partial. Nature will not be Buddhist: she resents generalizing. Whilst we are waiting we beguile the time with jokes. Though the uninspired man certainly finds persons a conveniency in household matters. Homoeopathy is insignificant as an art of healing. What you say in your pompous distribution only distributes you into your class and section. Fourierism. But this is flat rebellion. but good criticism on the science. that all the agents with which we deal are subalterns. and we shall burst into universal power. It is all idle talking: as much as a man is a whole. So with Mesmerism. they are poor pretensions enough. as the never quite obsolete rumors of magic and demonology. and the new allegations of phrenologists and neurologists. I wish to speak with all respect of persons. The reason of idleness and of crime is the deferring of our hopes. They melt so fast into each other that they are like grass and trees. so is he also a part. Thus we settle it in our cool libraries. and insults the philosopher in every moment with a million of fresh particulars. and life will be simpler when we live at the centre and flout the surfaces. and things of course.

and are the victims of these details. and the sanity of society is a balance of a thousand insanities. but rushes into persons. and by many persons incarnates again a sort of whole. and once in a fortnight we arrive perhaps at a rational moment. there will be somebody else.Essays moment. and get our clothes and shoes made and mended. She punishes abstractionists. if we saw the real from hour to hour. and when each person. and these are her hands. She will not remain orbed in a thought. work it how he may. coarser or finer according to its stuff. and poultry shall pick the crumbs. but should have been burned or frozen long ago. They relieve and recommend each other. plants an eye wherever a new ray of light can fall. If we were not thus infatuated. she raises up against him another person. Nick Bottom cannot play all the parts. and gathering up into some man every property in the universe.—so our economical mother dispatches a new genius and habit of mind into every district and condition of existence. But she does not go unprovided. she has hellebore at the 308 . run about all day among the shops and markets. and a groom who is part of his horse. if she suffered admirable Crichtons and universal geniuses. She loves better a wheelwright who dreams all night of wheels. we should not be here to write and to read. that all this wash and waste of power may be imparted and exchanged. and swine shall eat the waste of his house. and hence Nature has her maligners. We like to come to a height of land and see the landscape. Great dangers undoubtedly accrue from this incarnation and distribution of the godhead. would conquer all things to his poor crotchet. and Alphonso of Castille fancied he could have given useful advice. establishes thousandfold occult mutual attractions among her offspring. She would never get anything done. and the world will be round. We fetch fire and water. But it is not the intention of Nature that we should live by general views. for she is full of work. as if she were Circe. and will only forgive an induction which is rare and casual. She will have all. just as we value a general remark in conversation. inflamed to a fury of personality. As the frugal farmer takes care that his cattle shall eat down the rowen. Everything must have its flower or effort at the beautiful.

who abhors mannerism. But he goes into a mob. The recluse thinks of men as having his manner. and it is so much easier to do what one has done before than to do a new thing. that there is a perpetual tendency to a set mode. could not have seen. Jesus would absorb the race. he is delighted with his success. reaches to every gift of man. with ordinary opportunity and not hurled into aphelion by hatred. If John was perfect. The rotation which whirls every leaf and pebble to the meridian. Hence the immense benefit of party in politics. Each man too is a tyrant in tendency. Solitude would ripen a plentiful crop of despots. into a camp. let him fight for his own. as it reveals faults of character in a chief. In his childhood and youth he has had many checks and censures. there is a certain trick. and as having degrees of it. Since we are all so stupid. which may be soon learned by an acute person and then that particular style continued indefinitely. and runs to anarchy. into a mechanic’s shop. When afterwards he comes to unfold it in propitious circumstance. has set her heart on breaking up all styles and tricks. but Tom Paine or the coarsest blasphemer helps humanity by resisting this exuberance of power. and in each new place he is no better than an idiot. or as not having his manner. other talents take place. but in the State and in the schools it is indispensable to resist the consolidation of all men into a few men. more and less. why are you and I alive? As long as any man exists. into a banking house. even the highest. and accounts himself already the fellow of the great. what benefit that there should be two stupidities! It is like that brute advantage so essential to astronomy. and in their way admirable. A new 309 . because he would impose his idea on others. and rule the hour.Emerson bottom of the cup. of having the diameter of the earth’s orbit for a base of its triangles. it seems the only talent. into a mill. there is some need of him. For Nature. and we all take turns at the top. But when he comes into a public assembly he sees that men have very different manners from his own. into a ship. and their trick is their natural defence. which the intellectual force of the persons. into a laboratory. In every conversation. and thinks modestly enough of his own endowment. Democracy is morose.

and share the power of the cards. yet in the contest we are now considering. and instead of the poet. which. We want the great genius only for joy. as he wishes to occupy us. and make it impossible to arrive at any general statement. The statesman looks at many. though they were never so skilful. not for corn. For rightly every man is a channel through which heaven floweth. and allows them all their room. and my business with him is to find my own. a new character approached us.—when we have insisted on the imperfection of individuals. our affections and our experience urge that every individual is entitled to honor. my bride!” To embroil the confusion. and not thousands? Every man is wanted. But he thinks we wish to belong to him. for one tree more in our grove. For there is somewhat spheral and infinite in every man. of Northampton: why so impatient to baptize them Essenes. or by any known and effete name? Let it be a new way of living. and compares the few habitually with others. of Skeneateles. or Port-Royalists. the players are also the game. why should we refuse to eat bread until we have found his regiment and section in our old army-files? Why not a new man? Here is a new enterprise of Brook Farm. though it were only to melt him down into an epithet or an image for daily use:— “Into paint will I grind thee. Yet are they not entitled to this generosity of reception? and is not munificence the means of insight? For though gamesters say that the cards beat all the players. they spread themselves at large. I think I have done well if I have acquired a new word from a good author. He greatly mistakes us. Why have only two or three ways of life. for one star more in our constellation. are censuring your own caricature of him. sports with all your limitations. the odds are that you are out of your reckoning. if you can come very near him. We came this time for condiments. and these look less. and whilst I fan310 . If you criticise a fine genius. A recluse sees only two or three persons. especially in every genius.Essays poet has appeared. or Shakers. and no man is wanted much. and a very generous treatment is sure to be repaid.

Emerson cied I was criticising him. Really. and we are made aware of their presence one at a time. now the excluded attributes burst in on us with the more brightness that they have been excluded. yet this is only whilst the soul does not see them. and many more than we see. but takes another way. When he has 311 . If we were not kept among surfaces. Therefore. and by the speed of rotation a new whole is formed. artificial. Whatever does not concern us is concealed from us. After taxing Goethe as a courtier. my turn next. it stops before that object. As the ancient said. all things and persons are related to us. All persons. and no longer attempts to pass through it. and found him an Indian of the wilderness. and if we saw all things that really surround us we should be imprisoned and unable to move. Nature keeps herself whole and her representation complete in the experience of each mind. a piece of pure nature like an apple or an oak. She suffers no seat to be vacant in her college. It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. “Your turn now. As soon as the soul sees any object. As soon as he needs a new object. For though nothing is impassable to the soul. conceals all the furniture and all the persons that do not concern a particular soul. from the senses of that individual. comes in the secondary form of all sides. large as morning or night. I was censuring or rather terminating my own soul. the divine Providence which keeps the universe open in every direction to the soul. the world is a plenum or solid. the world is full. as we say. or dies. every thing would be large and universal. Through solidest eternal things the man finds his road as if they did not subsist. worldly. But care is taken that the whole tune shall be played. The universality being hindered in its primary form. suddenly he beholds it. he is concealed.” is the rule of the game. and does not once suspect their being. but according to our nature they act on us not at once but in succession. the points come in succession to the meridian. unbelieving. are here present.—I took up this book of Helena. but all things are pervious to it and like highways. and virtuous as a brier-rose. all things which we have known. As soon as a person is no longer related to our present well-being.

by disclosing to me in my friend a hidden wealth. but their discord and their concord introduce wild absurdities into our thinking and speech. If we cannot make voluntary and conscious steps in the admirable science of universals. Very fitly therefore I assert that every man is a partialist. and now further assert. It is commonly said by farmers that a good pear or apple costs no more time or pains to rear than a poor one. that nature secures him as an instrument by self-conceit. preventing the tendencies to religion and science. and though still in his immediate neighborhood. every atom has a sphere of repulsion. there is but one thing. he is very well alive: nor John. All the universe over. creator-creature. sound and well. silence is better than speech. nor Aristotle. of which any proposition may be affirmed or denied. We must reconcile the contradictions as we can. he does not suspect its presence. and the only way in which we can be just. and I infer an equal depth of good in every other direction. each man’s genius being nearly and 312 . Nothing is dead: men feign themselves dead. The end and the means. or action.—and the like. no speech. and there they stand looking out of the window. nor Paul. or friend. Speech is better than silence. but the best. and could easily tell the names under which they go. the gamester and the game. or thought. so I would have no work of art. that object is withdrawn from his observation. — life is made up of the intermixture and reaction of these two amicable powers. as each denies and tends to abolish the other. is by giving ourselves the lie. Love shows me the opulence of nature. and are not. No sentence will hold the whole truth. in some new and strange disguise. let us see the parts wisely. at times we believe we have seen them all. and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries.— Things are. nor Mahomet. right-wrong.—All things are in contact. Jesus is not dead. mind-matter. that. this old Two-Face. and infer the genius of nature from the best particulars with a becoming charity. at the same time. whose marriage appears beforehand monstrous.Essays exhausted for the time the nourishment to be drawn from any one person or thing. What is best in each kind is an index of what should be the average of that thing.

If we could have any security against moods! If the profoundest prophet could be holden to his words. as his nature is found to be immense. but it appears at all points. or care!’ insinuating a treachery and contempt for all we had so long loved and wrought in ourselves and others. he would be damned but he would begin as agitator. shall in a few weeks be coldly set aside by the same speaker. and making the commonest offices beautiful by the energy and heart with which she does them. and the hearer who is ready to sell all and join the crusade could have any certificate that tomorrow his prophet shall not unsay his testimony! But the Truth sits veiled there on the Bench. though as it were under a disguise. and say. so the least of its rational children.” We hide this universality if we can.”—and the same immeasurable credulity demanded for new audacities. We fancy men are individuals. There is nothing we cherish and strive to draw to us but in some hour we turn and rend it. and seeing this we admire and love her and them. so are pumpkins. gay and happy. he must be conservative the remainder of his days. not dissipated or too early ripened by books. Lord Eldon said in his old age that “if he were to begin life again. “I thought I was right. the universal problem. perchance. as morbid. We keep a running fire of sarcasm at ignorance and the life of the senses. philosophy. society. and unless he can resist the sun. We are as ungrateful as children. he is justified in his individuality. and now I add that every man is a universalist also. If we were not of all opinions! if we did not in 313 . as soon as he is senator and rich man. whilst it spins on its own axis.Emerson affectionately explored. but I was not. then goes by. and the most sincere and revolutionary doctrine. has ripened beyond possibility of sincere radicalism. a piece of life. spins all the time around the sun through the celestial spaces. the most dedicated to his private affair. works out. ‘Lo! a genuine creature of the fair earth. The rabid democrat. but every pumpkin in the field goes through every point of pumpkin history. and. religion. and never interposes an adamantine syllable. a fair girl. and planted there for the succor of the world. put as if the ark of God were carried forward some furlongs. as our earth.

for any claim I felt on them. and himself a universalist? I talked yesterday with a pair of philosophers. and look and speak from another! if there could be any regulation.’ that a man should never leave his point of view without sound of trumpet. . out of my poverty of life and thought. and we go on from explanation to explanation until all is said which words can. and could well consent to their living in Oregon. that I was 314 glad of men of every gift and nobility. that I loved man. How sincere and confidential we can be. yet. from the incapacity of the parties to know each other. and we leave matters just as they were at first. I am always insincere. that I revered saints. I endeavored to show my good men that I love everything by turns and nothing long. but would not live in their arms. if men seemed to me mice and rats.Essays any moment shift the platform on which we stand.—it would be a great satisfaction. that I loved the centre. but woke up glad that the old pagan world stood its ground and died hard. but doated on the superficies. as always knowing there are other moods. saying all that lies in the mind. Could they but once understand that I loved to know that they existed. and heartily wished them Godspeed. because of that vicious assumption. and yet go away feeling that all is yet unsaid. although they use the same words! My companion assumes to know my mood and habit of thought. Is it that every man believes every other to be an incurable partialist. had no word or welcome for them when they came to see me. any ‘one-hour-rule.

Emerson NEW ENGLAND REFORMERS In the suburb. will have been struck with the great activity of thought and experimenting. in movements of abolitionists and of socialists. is falling from the Church nominal. like a congress of kings. each of whom had a realm to rule. in the square. Beauty for his sinful weeks. For the angel Hope aye makes Him an angel whom she leads. March 3. What a fertility of projects for the salvation of the world! One apostle thought all 315 . They defied each other. and a way of his own that made concert unprofitable. and in very significant assemblies called Sabbath and Bible Conventions. and their impatience of the methods whereby they were working. W hoever has had opportunity of acquaintance with society in New England during the last twentyfive years. NEW ENGLAND REFORMERS A Lecture Read before the Society in Amory Hall. to declare their discontent with these Conventions. with those middle and with those leading sections that may constitute any just representation of the character and aim of the community. of seekers. The spirit of protest and of detachment drove the members of these Conventions to bear testimony against the Church. composed of ultraists. Came a beam of goodness down Doubling daylight everywhere: Peace now each for malice takes. in the town. their independence of their colleagues. and meeting to call in question the authority of the Sabbath. on Sunday. On the railway. and is appearing in temperance and non-resistance societies. of all the soul of the soldiery of dissent. 1844. and immediately afterward. or religious party. His attention must be commanded by the signs that the Church. and of the Church. In these movements nothing was more remarkable than the discontent they begot in the movers. of the priesthood.

the use of animal manures in farming. as well as dough. These made unleavened bread. and the man must walk. wherever boats and locomotives will not carry him. Even the insect world was to be defended. another that the mischief was in our diet. as that of the lawyer. and a society for the protection of ground-worms. of the scholar. they wish the pure wheat. The ox must be taken from the plough and the horse from the cart. these abuses polluted his food. and mosquitos was to be incorporated without delay. Others attacked the institution of marriage as the fountain of social evils. Thus it was directly in the 316 . and loves fermentation just as dearly as he loves vegetation. there was sincere protesting against existing evils. that of the merchant. of the clergyman. With these appeared the adepts of homoeopathy. these incessant advances of thine. a tendency to the adoption of simpler methods. It was in vain urged by the housewife that God made yeast. and the tyranny of man over brute nature. and cases of backsliding might occur. and their wonderful theories of the Christian miracles! Others assailed particular vocations. Others devoted themselves to the worrying of churches and meetings for public worship. and another that no man should buy or sell. and makes it more palatable and more digestible. and an assertion of the sufficiency of the private man. and there were changes of employment dictated by conscience. of phrenology. No doubt there was plentiful vaporing. of mesmerism. No. slugs. With this din of opinion and debate there was a keener scrutiny of institutions and domestic life than any we had known. that fermentation develops the saccharine element in the grain.—that had been too long neglected. Stop. But in each of these movements emerged a good result. the hundred acres of the farm must be spaded. that the use of money was the cardinal evil. of the manufacturer. let us scotch these everrolling wheels! Others attacked the system of agriculture. dear nature. and will die but it shall not ferment. of hydropathy. and the fertile forms of antinomianism among the elder puritans seemed to have their match in the plenty of the new harvest of reform.Essays men should go to farming. and were foes to the death to fermentation. that we eat and drink damnation.

‘I will take this coat. There is observable throughout. the motto of the Globe newspaper is so attractive to me that I can seldom find much appetite to read what is below it in its columns: “The world is governed too much. but we are very easily disposed to resist the same generosity of speech when we miss originality and truth to character in it. in the face of what appear incontestable facts. I confess. is good when it is the dictate of a man’s genius and constitution. There was in all the practical activities of New England for the last quarter of a century. no matter how violent and surprising. solitary nullifiers. or this book. the contest between mechanical and spiritual methods. who reply to the assessor and to the clerk of court that they do not know the 317 . what happened in one instance when a church censured and threatened to excommunicate one of its members on account of the somewhat hostile part to the church which his conscience led him to take in the anti-slavery business.” So the country is frequently affording solitary examples of resistance to the government. but with a steady tendency of the thoughtful and virtuous to a deeper belief and reliance on spiritual facts. In politics for example it is easy to see the progress of dissent. The country is full of rebellion. who have reserved all their rights. the threatened individual immediately excommunicated the church in a public and formal process. for then that taking will have a giving as free and divine. but of course loses all value when it is copied. and to flow from the whole spirit and faith of him. a gradual withdrawal of tender consciences from the social organizations. and the willingness to try that experiment. but very dull and suspicious when adopted from another. nay. the country is full of kings. Hands off! let there be no control and no interference in the administration of the affairs of this kingdom of me.’—in whom we see the act to be original. It is right and beautiful in any man to say. Hence the growth of the doctrine and of the party of Free Trade. This has been several times repeated: it was excellent when it was done the first time. Every project in the history of reform.Emerson spirit and genius of the age. who throw themselves on their reserved rights. or this measure of corn of yours.

and domestic society. Am I not too protected a person? is there not a wide disparity between the lot of me and the lot of thee. and embarrass the courts of law by non-juring and the commander-in-chief of the militia by non-resistance. nor the hour of the day by the sun. and do not know a thing. though treated with all this courtesy and luxury. festive. The popular education has been taxed with a want of truth and nature. we cannot tell our course by the stars. or our eyes. and colleges. The old English rule was. We cannot use our hands. and man would be a benefactor to man. We do not know an edible root in the woods. I should be put on my good behavior in all companies. of a snake. and recitation-rooms. We are afraid of a horse. as being himself his only certificate that he had a right to those aids and services which each asked of the other. It was complained that an education to things was not given. ‘All summer in the field. of a dog. The Roman rule was to teach a boy nothing that he could not learn standing. whereas if I had not that commodity. or our arms. The same disposition to scrutiny and dissent appeared in civil. conscientious criticism broke out in unexpected quarters. a memory of words. and come out at last with a bag of wind. inasmuch as I am prone to count myself relieved of any responsibility to behave well and nobly to that person whom I pay with money. We are students of words: we are shut up in schools. or our legs. I do not like the close air of saloons. of a spider. It is well if we can swim and skate. of a cow. A restless. for ten or fifteen years. and all 318 . The same insatiable criticism may be traced in the efforts for the reform of Education. prying. I pay a destructive tax in my conformity.Essays State. as it constitutes false relations between men. my poor brother. neighborly. I begin to suspect myself to be a prisoner. Who gave me the money with which I bought my coat? Why should professional labor and that of the counting-house be paid so disproportionately to the labor of the porter and woodsawyer? This whole business of Trade gives me to pause and think. my poor sister? Am I not defrauded of my best culture in the loss of those gymnastics which manual labor and the emergencies of poverty constitute? I find nothing healthful or exalting in the smooth conventions of society.

which draw. he shuts those books for the last time. the shock of the electric spark in the elbow.—in all countries.’ And it seems as if a man should learn to plant. and not words of reason? If the physician. and the persons who. Greek. and Roman men. and was now creating and feeding other matters at other ends of the world. and always will draw. But is not this absurd. contain wonderful remains of genius. One of the traits of the new spirit is the inquisition it fixed on our scholastic devotion to the dead languages. or six. Four or five persons I have seen who read Plato. that the whole liberal talent of this country should be directed in its best years on studies which lead to nothing? What was the consequence? Some intelligent persons said or thought. as the manner of men is. that he might secure his subsistence at all events. certain likeminded men. outvalues all the theories. Four. with great beauty of structure. the divine. the pupil is parsing Greek and Latin. as it is ludicrously called. and though all men and boys were now drilled in Latin. or ten years. the lawyer. are better than volumes of chemistry. and not be painful to his friends and fellow-men. at forty years. Once (say two centuries ago). The lessons of science should be experimental also. to their study. I never met with ten. I need never learn it to 319 . or to hunt. the firing of an artificial volcano. and as soon as he leaves the University. The ancient languages. it had quite left these shells high and dry on the beach. Some thousands of young men are graduated at our colleges in this country every year. But the Good Spirit never cared for the colleges.Emerson winter in the study. and the Mathematics had a momentary importance at some era of activity in physical science.—Greek men. the taste of the nitrous oxide. never use it to come at their ends. can all be counted on your hand. or to fish. ‘Is that Greek and Latin some spell to conjure with. But in a hundred high schools and colleges this warfare against common sense still goes on. These things became stereotyped as education. and Mathematics. but by a wonderful drowsiness of usage they had exacted the study of all men. Latin and Greek had a strict relation to all the science and culture there was in Europe. still read Greek. The sight of the planet through a telescope is worth all the course on astronomy.

without it. to be the affirmative principle of the recent philosophy. attempts to renovate things around him: he has become tediously good in some particular but negligent or narrow in the rest. and lose their sanity and power of benefit. that society gains nothing whilst a man. not himself renovated. or sermons. and that man is more often injured than helped by the means he uses. To the astonishment of all. Many a reformer perishes in his removal of rubbish. One tendency appears alike in the philosophical speculation and in the rudest democratical movements. as in every period of intellectual activity. in the assault on the kingdom of darkness they expend all their energy on some accidental evil. by an intuition that the human spirit is equal to all emergencies. has made one thing plain. they are not equal to the work they pretend. and that makes the offensiveness of the class. and that it is feeling its own profound truth and is reaching forward at this very hour to the happiest conclusions. The criticism and attack on institutions. medicine. and in a few months the most conservative circles of Boston and New York had quite forgotten who of their gownsmen was college-bred. to cast aside the superfluous and arrive at short methods. but of much that the man be in his senses. before they could begin to affirm and to construct. through all the petulance and all the puerility. alone. It is of little moment that one or two or twenty errors of our social system be corrected. They lose their way. the selfmade men took even ground at once with the oldest of the regular graduates. much was to be resisted. much was to be got rid of by those who were reared in the old. the wish. and read law. and hypocrisy and vanity are often the disgusting result. They are partial. and the indication of growing trust in the private self-supplied powers of the individual. urged. and go straight to affairs. Conjuring is gone out of fashion. I readily concede that in this. there has been a noise of denial and protest. I conceive this gradual casting off of material aids.Essays come at mine. and I will omit this conjugating. and who was not. namely. 320 . which we have witnessed.’ So they jumped the Greek and Latin. as I suppose.

which he must give who will reform it. Can we not play the game of life with these counters. than to make a sally against evil by some single improvement. Only Love. But why come out? the street is as false as the church. in the aisles of false churches. namely. or to my manners. we feel like asking him. What right have you. our trade. or to my speech. and by the new quality of character it shall put forth it shall abrogate that old condition. without supporting it by a total regeneration. In the midst of abuses. and property will be universality. you must make me feel that you are aloof from it. a just and heroic soul finds itself. I cannot afford to be irritable and captious. sir. our social customs. I have not got away from the lie. Do you think there is only one? Alas! my good friend. as well as out of it? Let into it the new and renewing principle of love. only an Idea. When we see an eager assailant of one of these wrongs. and when I get to my house. as well as with those? in the institution of property.—wherever. alike in one place and in another. Now all men are on one side. It makes no difference what you say. law or school in which it stands.Emerson It is handsomer to remain in the establishment better than the establishment. to your one virtue? Is virtue piecemeal? This is a jewel amidst the rags of a beggar. our diet. is against property as we hold it. nor to waste all my time in attacks. by your natural and supernatural advantages do easily see to the end of it. No one gives the impression of superiority to the institution. a special reformer. Do you complain of our Marriage? Our marriage is no worse than our education. in the heart of cities. All our things are right and wrong together. No man deserves to be heard against property. Do you complain of the laws of Property? It is a pedantry to give such importance to them. If I should go out of church whenever I hear a false sentiment I could never stay there five minutes. 321 . Do not be so vain of your one objection.—do see how man can do without it. before the law of its own mind. In another way the right will be vindicated. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike. there it will do what is next at hand. and conduct that in the best manner. there is no part of society or of life better than any other part.

on the same amount of property. the spirit of aristocracy. three communities have already been formed in Massachusetts on kindred plans. he dwarfs himself below the stature of one. and of Owen. but perhaps together we shall not fail. concert appears the sole specific of strength. I have failed. These new associations are composed of men and women of superior talents and sentiments. without some compromise.Essays If partiality was one fault of the movement party. banded for some catholic object. Doubts such as those I have intimated drove many good persons to agitate the questions of social reform. whether such a retreat does not promise to become an asylum to those who have tried and failed. But the revolt against the spirit of commerce. rather than a field to the strong. but remember that no society can ever be so large as one man. in his friendship. yes. The scheme offers. and many more in the country at large. doubles or multiplies himself. the other defect was their reliance on Association. except in its beginnings. yet it may easily be questioned whether such a community will draw. They aim to give every member a share in the manual labor. and you have failed. Simon. excellent. in separate families. did not appear possible to individuals. He. and a grand phalanx of the best of the human race. that. But the men of less faith could not thus believe. and whether the members will not necessarily be fractions of men. Our housekeeping is not satisfactory to 322 . and to such. to give an equal reward to labor and to talent. by the economies of associated labor and expense. and the inveterate abuses of cities. to make every member rich. and to do battle against numbers they armed themselves with numbers. Friendship and association are very fine things. the able and the good. whether those who have energy will not prefer their chance of superiority and power in the world. to the humble certainties of the association. would leave every member poor. but in the hour in which he mortgages himself to two or ten or twenty. and to unite a liberal culture with an education to labor. because each finds that he cannot enter it. and against concert they relied on new concert. in his natural and momentary associations. of Fourier. Following or advancing beyond the ideas of St.

any more than one man can. Thus concert was the specific in all cases. cannot make a drop of blood.Emerson us. but he will be honest in the Senate. and not one of covenants. then is concert for the first time possible. when his will. what concert can be? I do not wonder at the interest these projects inspire. when his thoughts look one way and his actions another. or an ecclesiastical council might. and these experiments show what it is thinking of. four persons lift a heavy man from the ground by the little finger only. and govern. a community. When the individual is not individual. where there is no concert in one. as in a celebrated experiment. by expiration and respiration exactly together. But this union must be inward. might be. All the men in the world cannot make a statue walk and speak. It is the union of friends who live in different streets or towns. but possibly a college. but perhaps a phalanx. to disuse the traffic or the potation of brandy. But concert is neither better nor worse. and plough. when once they are united. when with one hand he rows and with the other backs water. but perhaps a pledge of total abstinence might effectually restrain us. It is and will be magic. But let there be one man. The union is only perfect when all the uniters are isolated. because the force which moves the world is a new quality. and we could find no man who could make the truth plain. and without sense of weight. but is dual. What is the use of the concert of the false and the disunited? There can be no concert in two. The candidate my party votes for is not to be trusted with a dollar. if he attempts to join himself to others. and reap. and the stricter 323 . let there be truth in two men. for we can bring public opinion to bear on him. neither more nor less potent than individual force. The world is awaking to the idea of union. Each man. in ten men. as by added ethereal power. and can never be furnished by adding whatever quantities of a different kind. enlightened by reason. and is to be reached by a reverse of the methods they use. or a blade of grass. I have not been able either to persuade my brother or to prevail on myself. is on all sides cramped and diminished of his proportion. Men will live and communicate. when his faith is traversed by his habits. Many of us have differed in opinion. is warped by his sense.

The union must be ideal in actual individualism. his tongue with languages. I spoke of the deadness of its details. Having settled ourselves into this infidelity. and. and we do not try. A man of good sense but of little faith. and comes from the same origin as the maxim of the tyrant. opiates. Is it strange that society should be devoured by a secret melancholy 324 . his body with inoffensive and comely manners. whose compassion seemed to lead him to church as often as he went there. which the heart is preaching to us in these days. the work will be done with concert. We renounce all high aims.Essays the union the smaller and the more pitiful he is. and which engages the more regard. and other public amusements go on. Government will be adamantine without any governor. though no man spoke. In alluding just now to our system of education. Men do not believe in a power of education. We believe that the defects of so many perverse and so many frivolous people who make up society. any influence of genius. and fairs. We do not think we can speak to divine sentiments in man. from the consideration that the speculations of one generation are the history of the next following. But it is open to graver criticism than the palsy of its members: it is a system of despair. The disease with which the human mind now labors is want of faith.” I notice too that the ground on which eminent public servants urge the claims of popular education is fear. But leave him alone. So have we cunningly hid the tragedy of limitation and inner death we cannot avert. said to me that “he liked to have concerts. diversion. and you must educate them to keep them from our throats. he will go up and down doing the works of a true member. I pass to the indication in some particulars of that faith in man. to recognize in every hour and place the secret soul. our skill is expended to procure alleviations. and churches.’ We do not believe that any education. and society is a hospital of incurables. you must keep it amused. to the astonishment of all. any system of philosophy. We adorn the victim with manual skill.” I am afraid the remark is too honest. ‘This country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters. are organic. “If you would rule the world quietly. will ever give depth of insight to a superficial mind.

according to the 325 . the whole aspect of things changes. It gave the scholar certain powers of expression. but it did not bring him to peace or to beneficence. but used them to selfish ends. and not to his own sustenance and growth. that is. Unhappily too the doubt comes from scholars. A canine appetite for knowledge was generated. which must still be fed but was never satisfied. beside the class of the good and the wise.Emerson which breaks through all its smiles and all its gayety and games? But even one step farther our infidelity has gone. it is not strange that society should be disheartened and sensualized by unbelief. as any single organ can be invigorated. in Philip drunk and Philip sober. We must go up to a higher platform. I think. asked to whom she appealed: the woman replied. He was a profane person. to which we are always invited to ascend. I do not recognize. and the result was monstrous. a permanent class of skeptics. or a class of conservatives.” The text will suit me very well. of literary art. It appears that some doubt is felt by good and wise men whether really the happiness and probity of men is increased by the culture of the mind in those disciplines to which we give the name of education. and this knowledge. from persons who have tried these methods. there. blessing those whom it entered. In their experience the scholar was not raised by the sacred thoughts amongst which he dwelt. I resist the skepticism of our education and of our educated men. the power of speech. but in man in two moods. humane truth. turning his gifts to a marketable use. When the literary class betray a destitution of faith. I do not believe in two classes. or of malignants. I believe not in two classes of men. I do not believe that the differences of opinion and character in men are organic. “From Philip drunk to Philip sober. “I appeal:” the king. never took the character of substantial. not being directed on action. or of materialists. and became a showman. It was found that the intellect could be independently developed. in separation from the man. What remedy? Life must be lived on a higher plane. astonished. the power of poetry. You remember the story of the poor woman who importuned King Philip of Macedon to grant her justice. which Philip refused: the woman exclaimed.

Old or New. when they are ended. though the praises of the world attend them. which degrades all it has done? Genius counts all its miracles poor and short. With silent joy he sees himself to be capable of a beauty that eclipses all which his hands have done. that we are not so wedded to our paltry performances of every kind but that every man has at intervals the grace to scorn his performances. when they hear music. these haters will begin to love. the Doric column. these immovable statues will begin to spin and re326 . The soul lets no man go without some visitations and holydays of a diviner presence. the German anthem. a man of great heart and mind. the master casts behind him. the children of virtue. listening gladly to what they say of him. The Iliad. —that he puts himself on the side of his enemies. they are radicals. From the triumphs of his art he turns with desire to this greater defeat. How sinks the song in the waves of melody which the universe pours over his soul! Before that gracious Infinite out of which he drew these few strokes.Essays good-hearted word of Plato. Its own idea it never executed. or when they are most luxurious. we are all the children of genius. What is it men love in Genius. no man is but by a supposed necessity which he tolerates by shortness or torpidity of sight. these hopeless will begin to hope. the Hamlet.—and feel their inspirations in our happier hours. Well. in comparing them with his belief of what he should do. and accusing himself of the same things. how mean they look. by a narrow scanning of any man’s biography. let a powerful and stimulating intellect. Let those admire who will. Is not every man sometimes a radical in politics? Men are conservatives when they are least vigorous. They are conservatives after dinner. act on them. or before taking their rest. miser. It would be easy to show. or aged: in the morning. or when they read poetry. all which human hands have ever done. but its infinite hope. the Roman arch.” Iron conservative. In the circle of the rankest tories that could be collected in England. the Gothic minster. when they are sick. or when their intellect or their conscience has been aroused. “Unwillingly the soul is deprived of truth. and very quickly these frozen conservators will yield to the friendly influence. or thief.

have treated life and fortune as a game to be well and skilfully played. Mirabeau. Cimon. Caesar. They know the speed with which they come straight through the thin masquerade. they will thank you for it always. Napoleon.Emerson volve. to be shamed out of our nonsense of all kinds. “Lord Bathurst told me that the members of the Scriblerus club being met at his house at dinner. Byron. and. and tread the floors of hell. Alcibiades. but they know the truth for their own. in the violence of living to forget its illusion: they would know the worst. after some pause. just before the battle of Pharsalia. ‘Let us set out with him immediately. begged to be heard in his turn.’” Men in all ways are better than they seem. and displayed his plan with such an astonishing and animating force of eloquence and enthusiasm. but the stake not to be so valued but that any time it could be held as a trifle light as air. Alexander. but to be convicted and exposed. that they were struck dumb. It is a foolish cowardice which keeps us from trusting them and speaking to them rude truth. though it come in strokes of pain.—those excesses and errors into which souls of great vigor. We are weary of gliding ghostlike through the world. they agreed to rally Berkeley. discourses with the Egyptian priest concerning the fountains of the Nile. Charles Fox. who drive their steeds so hard. I explain so. Berkeley. but not equal insight. exclaiming. What is it we heartily wish of each other? Is it to be pleased and flattered? No. when he was preparing to leave England with his plan of planting the gospel among the American savages. instead of ghosts and phantoms. and thrown up.—by this manlike love of truth. Themistocles. They like flattery for the moment. and made men of. They resent your honesty for an instant. on his scheme at Bermudas. rose up all together with earnestness. often fall. Caesar. having listened to the many lively things they had to say. —and I could easily add names nearer home. of raging riders. who was also his guest. I cannot help recalling the fine anecdote which Warton relates of Bishop Berkeley. and conceive a disgust at the indigence of nature: Rousseau. We crave a sense of reality. which is itself so slight and unreal. They feel the poverty at the bottom of all the seeming affluence of the world. and of327 . The heroes of ancient and modern fame.

high and unmatchable in the presence of any man. somewhat purer. namely. to acquit himself in all men’s sight as a man. of a noted merchant. and Cleopatra. to dispossess himself of what he has acquired. the empire. The consideration of an eminent citizen. His constitution will not mislead him. in the preference.—it is time to undervalue what he has valued. his voice is husky. the empire. the acknowledgment of eminent merit. and say. —have this lustre for each candidate that they enable him to walk erect and unashamed in the presence of some persons before whom he felt himself inferior. until he shall know why his eye sinks. if you will show me the fountains of the Nile. of a man of mark in his profession. All that a man has will he give for right relations with his mates. All that he has will he give for an erect demeanor in every company and on each occasion. woo and embrace this his humiliation and mortification. and. somewhat grander. he will cast all behind him and seek their society only. a general’s commission. which each man gives to the society of superiors over that of his equals.Essays fers to quit the army. and with Caesar to take in his hand the army. having established his equality with class after class of those with whom he would live well. “All these will I relinquish. anyhow procured. The same magnanimity shows itself in our social relations. the swift moments we spend with them are 328 . he still finds certain others before whom he cannot possess himself. Is his ambition pure? then will his laurels and his possessions seem worthless: instead of avoiding these men who make his fine gold dim. and his brilliant talents are paralyzed in this presence. If it cannot carry itself as it ought. a marshal’s baton. and Cleopatra. a ducal coronet. because they have somewhat fairer. He aims at such things as his neighbors prize. to strike a good stroke. which extorts homage of him. his talents and his heart. the laurel of poets.” Dear to us are those who love us. a naval and military honor. Having raised himself to this rank. and gives his days and nights. He is sure that the soul which gives the lie to all things will tell none. if the secret oracles whose whisper makes the sweetness and dignity of his life do here withdraw and accompany him no longer. if he will show him those mysterious sources.

and surely the greatest good fortune that could befall me is precisely to be so moved by you that I should say. If therefore we start objections to your project. we hold on to our little properties. As every man at heart wishes the best and not inferior society. and we would force you to impart it to us. house and land. We wish to hear ourselves confuted. his custom may be broken up like fragments of ice. melted and carried away in the great stream of good will. but should penetrate his will or active power. Nothing shall warp me from the belief that every man is a lover of truth. and use me and mine freely to your ends’! for I could not say it otherwise than because a great enlargement had come to my heart and mind. We desire to be made great. they enlarge our life. which made me superior to my fortunes. and make our existence a benefit. We are haunted with a belief that you have a secret which it would highliest advantage us to learn. office and money.—so he wishes that the same healing should not stop in his thought.—but dearer are those who reject us as unworthy. his coldness. though it should bring us to prison. The selfish man suffers more from his selfishness than he from whom that selfishness withholds some important benefit. or to worse extremity. or friend of the poor. we desire to be touched with that fire which shall command this ice to stream. There is no pure lie. Here we are paralyzed with fear. and urge us to new and unattempted performances. O friend of the slave. although we confess that our being does not flow through them. ‘Take me and all mine. for they add another life: they build a heaven before us whereof we had not dreamed. or of the race. for the bread which they have in our experience yielded us. wishes to be convicted of his error and to come to himself. I wish more to be a benefactor and servant than you wish to be served by me. understand well that it is because we wish to drive you to drive us into your measures. so that his fear. Do you ask my aid? I also wish to be a benefactor. What he most wishes is to be lifted to some higher platform. that he may see beyond his present fear the transalpine good. and thereby supply to us new powers out of the recesses of the spirit.Emerson a compensation for a great deal of misery. no pure malignity 329 .

looking at the masses of men in their blameless and in their equivocal actions. or his aid to your benevolent design. and of his equality to every other man. remarked. or Swedenborg is not irritated by wanting the sanction of the Church. on either side. mean to vote right. Fox. it would be easy to adduce illustration in particulars of a man’s equality to the Church. There is no skepticism. I think the complaint was confession: a religious church would not complain. 330 . I remember standing at the polls one day when the anger of the political contest gave a certain grimness to the faces of the independent electors. he feels that you have it not. though you think you have it. “I am satisfied that the largest part of these men.” I suppose considerate observers. The wise Dandamis.Essays in nature. because. the general purpose in the great number of persons is fidelity. If it were worth while to run into details this general doctrine of the latent but ever soliciting Spirit. is in you: he refuses to accept you as a bringer of truth. looking on the people. A religious man like Behmen. has a power which society cannot choose but feel. The entertainment of the proposition of depravity is the last profligacy and profanation. will assent. but each man’s innocence and his real liking of his neighbor have kept it a dead letter. no atheism but that. It has had a name to live in some dogmatic theology. It only needs that a just man should walk in our streets to make it appear how pitiful and inartificial a contrivance is our legislation. The man whose part is taken and who does not wait for society in anything. You have not given him the authentic sign. is a symbol of the relation of one man to the whole family of men. on hearing the lives of Socrates. The reason why any one refuses his assent to your opinion. suicide would unpeople the planet. the liberal churches complained that the Calvinistic church denied to them the name of Christian. The familiar experiment called the hydrostatic paradox. of his equality to the State. but the Church feels the accusation of his presence and belief. Could it be received into common belief. and a good man at my side. It is yet in all men’s memory that. a few years ago. that in spite of selfishness and frivolity. in which a capillary column of water balances the ocean.

Each is incomparably superior to his companion in some faculty. The disparities of power in men are superficial. between them. or what a price of greatness the power of expression too often pays. There is power over and behind us. and he answers civilly to us. I think it would appear that there was no inequality such as men fancy. a like receiving. so he is equal to every other man. apprehensive mind.Emerson Pythagoras and Diogenes read.” And as a man is equal to the Church and equal to the State. In vain we compose our faces and our words. it holds uncontrollable communication with the enemy. “judged them to be great men every way. and the poet would confess that his creative imagination gave him no deep advantage. excepting. and all frank and searching conversation. in which a man lays himself open to his brother. that a perfect understanding. When two persons sit and converse in a thoroughly good understanding. converse with the most commanding poetic genius. I believe it is the conviction of the purest men. That which we keep back. Each seems to have some compensation yielded to him by his infirmity. which to second and authorize. that his advantage was a knack. apprises each of their radical unity. His want of skill in other directions has added to his fitness for his own work. See how we have disputed about words! Let a clear. 331 . a like perceiving. this reveals. the remark is sure to be made. and over our head some spirit sits which contradicts what we say. These and the like experiences intimate that man stands in strict connection with a higher fact never yet manifested. for they know the tax of talent. which might impose on indolent men but could not impose on lovers of truth. and every hindrance operates as a concentration of his force. We seek to say thus and so. another self within our eyes dissuades him. that they were too much subjected to the reverence of the laws. such as every man knows among his friends. true virtue must abate very much of its original vigor. We would persuade our fellow to this or that. and we are the channels of its communications. abolished differences. that the net amount of man and man does not much vary. but only the superficial one that he could express himself and the other could not.

or chaos would come. whose advent men and events prepare and foreshow. present. Pitiless. What if I cannot answer your questions? I am not pained that I cannot frame a reply to the question. so quiet. We exclaim. This open channel to the highest life is the first and last reality. and although I have never heard the expression of it from any other. that every stone 332 . paid or unpaid. we have the fact. you are born to victory. and of our ruin when we contravene it. ‘Work.Essays but believes the spirit. so subtle. see only that thou work. he settles himself into serenity. He can already rely on the laws of gravity. Men are all secret believers in it.’ it saith to man. so only it be honest work. done to thine own approbation. whilst it abides for contemplation forever. is one who shall enjoy his connection with a higher life. omnipresent. else the word justice would have no meaning: they believe that the best is the true. ‘in every hour.’ As soon as a man is wonted to look beyond surfaces. it avails itself of our success when we obey it. and I am the traitor. that although I have never expressed the truth. the man who shall be born. I know that the whole truth is here for me. shall destroy distrust by his trust. What is the operation we call Providence? There lies the unspoken thing. Every time we converse we seek to translate it into speech. ‘There’s a traitor in the house!’ but at last it appears that he is the true man. Every discourse is an approximate answer: but it is of small consequence that we do not get it into verbs and nouns. but whether we hit or whether we miss. planting corn or writing epics. If the auguries of the prophesying heart shall make themselves good in time. and thou canst not escape the reward: whether thy work be fine or coarse. yet so tenacious. is to have done it. it shall earn a reward to the senses as well as to the thought: no matter how often defeated. but shall rely on the Law alive and beautiful which works over our heads and under our feet. with the man within man. and not after the design of the agent. that right is done at last. and to see how this high will prevails without an exception or an interval. It rewards actions after their nature. shall use his native but forgotten methods. shall not take counsel of flesh and blood. The reward of a thing well done.

and listen to the Soul that has guided it so gently and taught it so much. we need not interfere to help it on: and he will learn one day the mild lesson they teach. that it does not occur to them that it is just as wonderful that he should see with them. It is so wonderful to our neurologists that a man can see without his eyes. All around us what powers are wrapped up under the coarse mattings of custom.Emerson will fall where it is due. only by obedience to his genius. and he will have demonstrated his insufficiency to all men’s eyes. and will certainly succeed. that our own orbit is all our task. does an angel seem to arise before a man and lead him by the hand out of all the wards of the prison. trust the Power by which it lives? May it not quit other leadings. That which befits us. Suppress for a few days your criticism on the insufficiency of this or that teacher or experimenter. and he is enlarged. and we need not assist the administration of the universe. Shall not the heart which has received so much. and the endeavor to realize our aspirations. we go to jail: it is all in vain. we refuse the laws. Do not be so impatient to set the town right concerning the unfounded pretensions and the false reputation of certain men of standing. and carries us securely through the celestial spaces. only by the freest activity in the way constitutional to him. and that is ever the difference between the wise and the unwise: the latter wonders at what is unusual. embosomed in beauty and wonder as we are. secure that the future will be worthy of the past? 333 . They are laboring harder to set the town right concerning themselves. which when it is valiantly conducted will yield the imagination a higher joy than any fiction. is cheerfulness and courage. we drink water. anxious or resigned. we eat grass. We wish to escape from subjection and a sense of inferiority. the wise man wonders at the usual. let a man fall into the divine circuits. and we make self-denying ordinances. Obedience to his genius is the only liberating influence. The life of man is the true romance. In like manner. the good globe is faithful. and all wonder prevented.

edu/faculty/jmanis/jimspdf.psu. go to http://www. go to http://www.htm .edu/faculty/jmanis/rwemerson.htm To return to the Ralph Waldo Emerson page.hn.hn.To return to the Electronic Classics Series.psu.

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