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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa Croce and the Dome of St. quite accurately in the form of a cherub as painted over churches. The whole of heraldry and of chivalry is in courtesy. It has been said that “common souls pay with what they do. as every spine and tint in the sea-shell preexists in the secreting organs of the fish. nothing that does not interest us. as if the genii who inhabit them suspended their deeds until the wayfarer had passed onward. Peter’s are lame copies after a divine model. I remember one summer day in the fields my companion pointed out to me a broad cloud. A man of fine manners shall pro13 nounce your name with all the ornament that titles of nobility could ever add. —a round block in the centre.—the roots of all things are in man. the history of art and of literature. Strasburg Cathedral is a material counterpart of the soul of Erwin of Steinbach. by its very looks and manners. college. What appears once in the atmosphere may appear often. which might extend a quarter of a mile parallel to the horizon.” And why? Because a profound nature awakens in us by its actions and words. 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. tree. In the man. horse. the true ship is the ship-builder. There is nothing but is related to us. and it . The true poem is the poet’s mind. The man who has seen the rising moon break out of the clouds at midnight. a thought which poetry has celebrated in the dance of the fairies. has been present like an archangel at the creation of light and of the world. which it was easy to animate with eyes and mouth. or must remain words. 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. which breaks off on the approach of human feet. must be explained from individual history. A lady with whom I was riding in the forest said to me that the woods always seemed to her to wait.Emerson manual skills. nobler souls with that which they are. Civil and natural history. could we lay him open. supported on either side by wide-stretched symmetrical wings. the same power and beauty that a gallery of sculpture or of pictures addresses.—kingdom. or iron shoe.

to a festal or solemn arcade. with all their boughs. 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. The Indian and Egyptian temples still betray the mounds and subterranean houses of their forefathers. in the colors of the western sky seen through the bare and crossing branches of the forest. Nor can any lover of nature enter the old piles of Oxford and the English cathedrals. “The custom of making houses and tombs in the living rock. as the bands about the cleft pillars still indicate the green withes that tied them. as we see how each people merely decorated its primitive abodes. “determined very naturally the principal character of the Nubian Egyptian architecture to the colossal form which it assumed. In these caverns.” says Heeren in his Researches on the Ethiopians. No one can walk in a road cut through pine woods. without feeling that the forest overpowered the mind of the builder. the eye was accustomed to dwell on huge shapes and masses. especially in winter. In the woods in a winter afternoon one will see as readily the origin of the stained glass window. so that when 14 art came to the assistance of nature it could not move on a small scale without degrading itself. 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. 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. The Doric temple preserves the semblance of the wooden cabin in which the Dorian dwelt.Essays was undoubtedly the archetype of that familiar ornament. and that his chisel. . already prepared by nature. when the barrenness of all other trees shows the low arch of the Saxons. without being struck with the architectural appearance of the grove. By surrounding ourselves with the original circumstances we invent anew the orders and the ornaments of architecture. with which the Gothic cathedrals are adorned. or neat porches and wings have been. What would statues of the usual size.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Put Napoleon in an island prison. no Alps to climb. and temperable texture of metals. 23 Your roof were not sufficient to contain it. anticipate the laws of organization. complex interests and antagonist power. Newton and Laplace need myriads of age and thick-strewn celestial areas. let his faculties find no men to act on. bounded that is by such a profile and outline. whose flower and fruitage is the world. water. or the wings of an eagle in the egg presuppose air. to the centre of every province of the empire. lofty pitch.” Henry VI. 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. 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. as the fins of the fish foreshow that water exists. hard. 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. or has shared the throb of thousands in a na- . west. from childhood exploring the affinities and repulsions of particles. But were the whole frame here. is not the virtual Napoleon. Not less does the brain of Davy or of Gay-Lussac. Transport him to large countries. One may say a gravitating solar system is already prophesied in the nature of Newton’s mind. This is but Talbot’s shadow. dense population.Emerson east. A man is a bundle of relations. to reduce it under the dominion of man. and you shall see that the man Napoleon. For what you see is but the smallest part And least proportion of humanity. Columbus needs a planet to shape his course upon. Fulton. Whittemore. Who knows himself before he has been thrilled with indignation at an outrage. He cannot live without a world. no stake to play for. and he would beat the air. the properties of stone. a knot of roots. making each market-town of Persia. Arkwright. predict the fusible. and appear stupid. or has heard an eloquent tongue. 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. His faculties refer to natures out of him and predict the world he is to inhabit. It is of such a spacious.— “His substance is not here.

the calling of Abraham. and all the recorded benefits of heaven and earth.—these creatures have kept their counsel beside him. the discovery of new lands. namely. He shall walk. I hold our actual knowledge very cheap. in a robe painted all over with wonderful events and experiences. the Argonautic Expedition.Essays tional exultation or alarm? No man can antedate his experience. He shall be the priest of Pan. A man shall be the Temple of Fame. and there is no record of any word or sign that has passed from one to the other. in his childhood the Age of Gold. and bring with him into humble cottages the blessing of the morning stars. I shall 24 find in him the Foreworld. Thus in all ways does the soul concentrate and reproduce its treasures for each pupil. He shall collect into a focus the rays of nature. that the mind is One. Hear the rats in the wall. the lichen on the log. and that nature is its correlative. any more than he can draw to-day the face of a person whom he shall see to-morrow for the first time. or guess what faculty or feeling a new object shall unlock. the Reformation. He too shall pass through the whole cycle of experience. Dark Ages. You shall make me feel what periods you have lived. of either of these worlds of life? As old as the Caucasian man. morally.—perhaps older. the Advent of Christ. as the poets have described that goddess. the fungus under foot. You shall not tell me by languages and titles a catalogue of the volumes you have read. History no longer shall be a dull book. What do I know sympathetically. I will not now go behind the general statement to explore the reason of this correspondency. history is to be read and written. see the lizard on the fence.—his own form and features by their exalted intelligence shall be that variegated vest. the opening of new sciences and new regions in man. 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 building of the Temple. It shall walk incarnate in every just and wise man. What connection do the . Is there somewhat overweening in this claim? Then I reject all I have written. Let it suffice that in the light of these two facts. the Revival of Letters. the Apples of Knowledge.

—from an ethical reformation. the Indian. from an influx of the ever new. than the dissector or the antiquary. .—if we would trulier express our central and wide-related nature. Already that day exists for us. and Paris. for the Kanaka in his canoe. the porter? Broader and deeper we must write our annals. 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. what food or experience or succor have they for the Esquimaux seal-hunter. for the fisherman. How many times we must say Rome. The idiot. the child and unschooled farmer’s boy stand nearer to the light by which nature is to be read.Emerson books show between the fifty or sixty chemical elements and the historical eras? Nay. and Constantinople! What does Rome know of rat and lizard? What are Olympiads and Consulates to these neighboring systems of being? Nay. I am ashamed to see what a shallow village tale our so-called History is. ever sanative conscience. shines 25 in on us at unawares. the stevedore. but the path of science and of letters is not the way into nature.

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

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

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

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

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

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion. vote with a great party either for the government or against it. but as a parish minister? He is a retained attorney. spread your table like base housekeepers. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life. Do your work. but false in all particulars. A man must consider what a blindman’sbuff is this game of conformity. But do your work. and do not need for my own assurance or the assurance of my fellows any secondary testimony. Their two is not the real two. the permitted side. most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief. and you shall reinforce yourself. Few and mean as my gifts may be. If you maintain a dead church. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars. Well. I actually am. This rule. I anticipate your argument. may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. it is easy in solitude to live after our own. their four not the real four. Their every truth is not quite true.Emerson right. 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.—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. What I must do is all that concerns me. and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. and I shall know you. not what the people think. If I know your sect. so that every word they say chagrins us and we know not where . authors of a few lies. The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is that it scatters your force. I hear a preacher announce for his text and topic the expediency of one of the institutions of his church. and these airs of the bench are the emptiest affectation. not as a man. contribute to a dead Biblesociety. but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This requires rare gifts. No man need be perplexed in his speculations. 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. We love characters in proportion as they are impulsive and spontane- . For it is only the finite that has wrought and suffered. at the time of receiving a thought. “A few strong instincts and a few plain rules” suffice us.Emerson geration in the most patient and sorely ridden hack that ever was driven. And education often wastes its effort in attempts to thwart and balk this natural magnetism. These are the soul’s mumps and measles and whoopingcoughs. In like manner our moral nature is vitiated by any interference of our will. the infinite lies stretched in smiling repose. A simple mind will not know these enemies. Our young people are diseased with the theological problems of original sin. and the question is everywhere vexed when a noble nature is commended. Let him do and say what strictly belongs to him. and those who have not caught them cannot describe their health or prescribe the cure. which is sure to select what belongs to it.—never darkened across any man’s road who did not go out of his way to seek them. Yet without this self-knowl71 edge there may be a sylvan strength and integrity in that which he is. and though very ignorant of books. origin of evil. whether the man is not better who strives with temptation. his nature shall not yield him any intellectual obstructions and doubts. 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. My will never gave the images in my mind the rank they now take. The regular course of studies. What we do not call education is more precious than that which we call so. of its comparative value. But there is no merit in the matter. the years of academical and professional education have not yielded me better facts than some idle books under the bench at the Latin School. People represent virtue as a struggle. These never presented a practical difficulty to any man. We form no guess. and take to themselves great airs upon their attainments. Either God is there or he is not there. predestination and the like.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

as having none above it to court or conform unto. so much is this purer. and which even leaves the language of love suspicious and common. Happy is the house that shelters a friend! It might well be built. A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Sincerity is the luxury allowed. no reason why either should be first named. and second thought. to entertain him a single day. but all the speed in that contest depends on intrinsic nobleness and the contempt of trifles. only to the highest rank. each so sovereign that I can detect no superiority in either. all account of subordinate social benefit. are in the lists. 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. Before him I may think aloud. which men never put off. He proposes himself for contests where Time. Danger. to speak of that select and sacred relation which is a kind of absolute. At the entrance of a second person. 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. but with roughest courage. that being permitted to speak truth. and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness with which one chemical atom meets another. In one condemnation of folly stand the whole universe of men. 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. like diadems and authority. to the great games where the first-born of the world are the competitors. Want.Emerson and I leave. they are not glass threads or frostwork. 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. if he know the solemnity of that relation and honor its law! He who offers himself a candidate for that covenant comes up. Happier. courtesy. The gifts of fortune may be present or absent. but the solidest thing we know. One is truth. and nothing is so much divine. We parry 107 . after so many ages of experience. hypocrisy begins. like a festal bower or arch. like an Olympian. For now. When they are real. There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship. for the time. Every man alone is sincere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and part as though we parted not. dost soar and burn with the gods of the empyrean. no genius in my economy. Yet these things may hardly be said without a sort of treachery to the relation. And the articles of arts. Yet I love facts. to carry a friendship greatly. 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. But the great will see that true love cannot be unrequited. The essence of friendship is entireness. and when the poor interposed mask crumbles. It must not surmise or provide for infirmity. True love transcends the unworthy object and dwells and broods on the eternal. Grandeur of the perfect sphere Thanks the atoms that cohere. It has seemed to me lately more possible than I knew. and only a small part on the reflecting planet. and no longer a mate for frogs and worms. Then I have the same title to write on prudence that I have to write on poetry or holi- . but feels rid of so much earth and feels its independency the surer. that it may deify both. not in the inventing of means and methods. without due correspondence on the other. but thou art enlarged by thy own shining. and whoever sees my garden discovers that I must have some other garden. whereof I have Little. on one side. I have no skill to make money spend well. Scorn not thou the love of parts. PRUDENCE W 115 hat right have I to write on Prudence.Emerson met not. and hate lubricity and people without perception. Let your greatness educate the crude and cold companion. and that of the negative sort? My prudence consists in avoiding and going without. It treats its object as a god. not in gentle repairing. It is thought a disgrace to love unrequited. it is not sad. PRUDENCE Theme no poet gladly sung. VII. a total magnanimity and trust. If he is unequal he will presently pass away. not in adroit steering. Fair to old and foul to young.

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

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

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

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

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

and piety. yet grasping also at the pleasures of sense. Goethe’s Tasso is very likely to be a pretty fair historical portrait. Health or sound organization should be universal. and society is officered by men of parts. Genius should be the child of genius and every child should be inspired. but should announce and lead the civil code and the day’s work. nor the wish to reap where he had not sowed. It does not seem to me so genuine grief when some tyrannous Richard the Third oppresses and slays a score of innocent persons. and nowhere is it pure. genius. Genius is always ascetic. but no gifts can raise intemperance. without submitting to their law. the other fired with all divine sentiments. as they are properly called.Emerson this remains the dream of poets. as when Antonio and Tasso. by courtesy. wrong each other. a knot we cannot untie. we are surprised. His art never taught him lewdness. We have violated law upon law until we stand amidst ruins. and that is true tragedy. Poets should be lawgivers. He that despiseth small things will perish by little and little. These use their gifts to refine luxury. and less for every defect of common sense. not to abolish it. Tasso’s is no infrequent case in modern biography. We have found out fine names to cover our sensuality withal. That is a grief we all feel. and love. A man 121 . We call partial half-lights. and not by divine men. both apparently right. and when by chance we espy a coincidence between reason and the phenomena. But now the two things seem irreconcilably parted. as invariably as sensation. the scorned world wreaks its revenge. but now it is not to be predicted of any child. that is. On him who scorned the world as he said. but it is rare. Beauty should be the dowry of every man and woman. His art is less for every deduction from his holiness. Poetry and prudence should be coincident. One living after the maxims of this world and consistent and true to them. 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. talent which glitters to-day that it may dine and sleep well to-morrow. nor the love of wine. talent which converts itself to money. and they find beauty in rites and bounds that resist it. Appetite shows to the finer souls as a disease. the boldest lyric inspiration should not chide and insult.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

for a hundred years. Strangers may present themselves at any hour and in whatever number. arranging his toilet. What a disgrace is it to me to take note how many pairs of silk stockings thou hast. to the toilet. I asked the reason. Heroism. “Indeed. and was told that the house had not been shut. Yet the little man takes the great hoax so innocently. 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. night or day.” The magnanimous know very well that they who give time. When the spirit is not master of the world. the Arabian geographer. works in it so headlong and believing. describes a heroic extreme in the hospitality of Sogd. namely. and the sacrifice and the fire he will provide.—do. I will obey the God. or to bear the inventory of thy shirts. consider the inconvenience of receiving strangers at their fireside. the master has amply provided for the reception of the men and their animals. and one other for use!” Citizens. like Plotinus. as it were. compliments. made happy with a little gossip or a little praise. the soul of a better quality thrusts back the unseasonable economy into the vaults of life. In some way the time they seem to lose is re131 . or money. like a palace. as one for superfluity. and dies gray. quarrels. and is never happier than when they tarry for some time. the gates of which were open and fixed back to the wall with large nails. then it is its dupe. laying traps for sweet food and strong wine. setting his heart on a horse or a rifle. and says. What shall it say then to the sugar-plums and cats’-cradles. is almost ashamed of its body. Ibn Hankal. cards and custard. “When I was in Sogd I saw a great building. or shelter.Emerson wealth is the butt and merriment of heroism. Nothing of the kind have I seen in any other country. in Bukharia. put God under obligation to them. these and those that were the peach-colored ones. reckon narrowly the loss of time and the unusual display. thinking after the laws of arithmetic. these humble considerations make me out of love with greatness. is born red. that the great soul cannot choose but laugh at such earnest nonsense. attending on his own health. to the stranger. so perfect are the compensations of the universe.—so it be done for love and not for ostentation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

they are rest. intemperance. That central life is somewhat superior to creation. let them behold truth. none are profane. only as far as they 164 . Whilst the eternal generation of circles proceeds. Whilst we converse with what is above us. For ever it labors to create a life and thought as Large and excellent as itself. Infancy. This old age ought not to creep on a human mind. with religious eye looking upward. the past is always swallowed and forgotten. conservatism. insanity. they renounce aspiration. but grow young. appropriation. then. receptive. No truth so sublime but it may be trivial to-morrow in the light of new thoughts. and old age seems the only disease. aspiring. the coming only is sacred. I simply experiment. I unsettle all things. they are perfumed again with hope and power. Why should we import rags and relics into the new hour? Nature abhors the old. all others run into this one. we do not grow old. inertia. People wish to be settled. germinate and spring. No love can be bound by oath or covenant to secure it against a higher love. Thus there is no sleep. youth. not the way onward. as if I pretended to settle any thing as true or false. no pause. I see no need of it. or the least discredit on what I do not. their wrinkles smoothed. the eternal generator abides.Essays least value on what I do. and their eyes are uplifted. and contains all its circles. but in vain. No facts are to me sacred. We grizzle every day. not newness. stupidity and crime. superior to knowledge and thought. Let them. transition. In nature every moment is new. We call it by many names. they have outlived their hope. no preservation. they are all forms of old age. 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. Nothing is secure but life. accept the actual for the necessary and talk down to the young. an endless seeker with no Past at my back. for that which is made instructs how to make a better. let them be lovers. but all things renew.—fever. the energizing spirit. counts itself nothing and abandons itself to the instruction flowing from all sides. become organs of the Holy Ghost. But the man and woman of seventy assume to know all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The earth and the heavenly bodies. and doth the body make. being moved in conjunction with the unapparent periods of intellectual natures. all harmony.” 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. With cheerful grace and amiable sight.” said Proclus. For soul is form. So it the fairer body doth procure To habit in. in the whole. as the wise Spenser teaches:— “So every spirit.Emerson and affirming. which becomes a new and higher beauty when expressed. there where Being passes into Appearance and Unity into Variety. as if they were self-existent. Our science is sensual. and in every part. and it more fairly dight. “exhibits. The soul makes the body. in its transfigurations. namely by the beauty of things. is musical in the breeze. as the carpenter’s stretched cord. For. “are expressed through images. and should go very warily and reverently. Being used as a type. All form is an effect of character. of the quality of the life. we sensually treat. that bursts into appearance around it.” Therefore science always goes abreast with the just elevation of the man. if you hold your ear close enough. keeping step 195 . Nature offers all her creatures to him as a picture-language. “Things more excellent than every image. and there is no body without its spirit or genius. The beautiful rests on the foundations of the necessary. clear images of the splendor of intellectual perceptions. physics. “The mighty heaven. We stand before the secret of the world. and therefore superficial. and chemistry. as it is most pure. the body form doth take. of the soul. Wherever the life is. but these are the retinue of that Being we have. of health. a second wonderful value appears in the object. And hath in it the more of heavenly light. far better than its old value. The Universe is the externization of the soul. or proper only to the good. all condition. Every line we can draw in the sand has expression.” Things admit of being used as symbols because nature is a symbol.” says Jamblichus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. fables. like children. which. though carried to the darkest house betwixt this and the mount of Caucasus. upward. when Chaucer. will yet hold its natural office and burn as bright as if twenty thousand men did it behold. for. and that these incantations are beautiful reasons. which also have their tropes. the ruin of the world through evil. tells us that the soul is cured of its maladies by certain incantations. as George Chapman. in his praise of ‘Gentilesse. as when Aristotle defines space to be an immovable vessel in which things are contained. and found within their world another world. and. when Plato calls the world an animal. Poets are thus liberating gods. in the Apocalypse. but it is felt in every definition. from which temperance is generated in souls. and the stars fall from heaven as the figtree casteth her untimely fruit. This is the effect on us of tropes. following him. the metamorphosis once seen.” — when Orpheus speaks of hoariness as “that white flower which marks extreme old age. I will not now consider how much this makes the charm of algebra and the mathematics. or affirms a man to be a heavenly tree. and all poetic forms. or nest of worlds. oracles.Essays holder an emotion of joy. Men have really got a new sense.’ compares good blood in mean condition to fire. in Charmides. —or when Plato defines a line to be a flowing point. We seem to be touched by a wand which makes us dance and run about happily. and many the like. We are like persons who come out of a cave or cellar into the open air. The use of symbols has a certain power of emancipation and exhilaration for all men. whose nervie root Springs in his top. and Timaeus affirms that the plants also are animals. or figure to be a bound of solid. when Aesop reports the whole catalogue of common daily rela204 . which is his head. we divine that it does not stop. growing with his root. when John saw.— “So in our tree of man. When Socrates. writes.” when Proclus calls the universe the statue of the intellect.

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

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

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

the composer. and saw. our boats and our repudiations. our fisheries. but rest on the same foundations of wonder as the town of Troy and the temple of Delphi. its ample geography dazzles the imagination. We have yet had no genius in America. These are wits more than poets. which knew the value of our incomparable materials. But when we adhere to the ideal of the poet. the northern trade. the sculptor. the painter and sculptor before some impressive human figures. unless he come into the conditions. and the others in such scenes as each has found exciting to his intellect. in the barbarism and materialism of the times. Methodism and Unitarianism. then in Calvinism. and each presently feels 208 . the orator. and Homer too literal and historical. The paths or methods are ideal and eternal. the orator. Yet America is a poem in our eyes. into the assembly of the people. though there have been poets among them. or for a lifetime.Essays Dante’s praise is that he dared to write his autobiography in colossal cipher. and it will not wait long for metres. the epic rhapsodist. as. and are as swiftly passing away. the western clearing. Art is the path of the creator to his work. the wrath of rogues and the pusillanimity of honest men. all partake one desire. Milton is too literary. namely to express themselves symmetrically and abundantly. Banks and tariffs. Our logrolling. to discharge my errand from the muse to the poet concerning his art. The painter. not the artist himself for years. our Negroes and Indians. though few men ever see them. the newspaper and caucus. our stumps and their politics. and must use the old largeness a little longer. we have our difficulties even with Milton and Homer. another carnival of the same gods whose picture he so much admires in Homer. are yet unsung. then in the Middle Age. the southern planting. not dwarfishly and fragmentarily. Oregon and Texas. If I have not found that excellent combination of gifts in my countrymen which I seek. 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. or into universality. with tyrannous eye. They found or put themselves in certain conditions. But I am not wise enough for a national criticism. are flat and dull to dull people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truth is the summit of being. will the relative order of the ship’s company be the same? Is there nothing but rope and iron? Is there no love. and all nature cooperates with it. This natural force is no more to be withstood than any other natural force. as a material basis for his character. no reverence? Is there never a glimpse of right in a poor slave-captain’s mind. but. according to the purity of this element in them. at how long a curve soever. Time and space.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. so that he stands to all beholders like a 237 . justice is the application of it to affairs. liberty and necessity. all his regards return into his own good at last. An individual is an encloser. We can drive a stone upward for a moment into the air. and it is the privilege of truth to make itself believed. 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. All things exist in the man tinged with the manners of his soul. A healthy soul stands united with the Just and the True. The will of the pure runs down from them into other natures as water runs down from a higher into a lower vessel. like light and heat. are left at large no longer. and a theatre for action. Character is this moral order seen through the medium of an individual nature. Now. When they arrive at Cuba. He encloses the world. 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. under these swarthy masks he has a gang of Washingtons in chains. With what quality is in him he infuses all nature that he can reach. He animates all he can. and he sees only what he animates. and whatever instances can be quoted of unpunished theft. as the patriot does his country. the universe is a close or pound. nor does he tend to lose himself in vastness. let us fancy. or of a lie which somebody credited. justice must prevail. as the magnet arranges itself with the pole. All individual natures stand in a scale. truth and thought.

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

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

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

he is again on his road. and another trait is the notice of incessant growth. Therefore it was droll in the good Riemer. We have not yet served up to it. you shall not sit down to consider it. to Tischbein. 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. as. seems to purify the air and his house to adorn the landscape and strengthen the laws. and say it through. to make out a list of his donations and good deeds. when your friends say to you what you have done well.. We know who is benevolent. &c. still cheers and enriches. 241 . who has written memoirs of Goethe. he cannot therefore wait to unravel any man’s blunders. and the man. It is only low merits that can be enumerated. &c. so many hundred thalers given to Stilling. a post under the Grand Duke for Herder. These are properties of life. its granary emptied. and must suspend their judgment for years to come. They must also make us feel that they have a controlling happy future opening before them. and has doubled his power to serve you. The hero is misconceived and misreported. whilst it is only a thought and not a spirit that incites us. Fear. but when they stand with uncertain timid looks of respect and half-dislike. adding new powers and honors to his domain and new claims on your heart. A man is a poor creature if he is to be measured so. The longest list of specifications of benefit would look very short. you may begin to hope. 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 lucrative place found for Professor Voss.Emerson are entitled. by quite other means than the amount of subscription to soup-societies. New actions are the only apologies and explanations of old ones which the noble can bear to offer or to receive. whose early twilights already kindle in the passing hour. Love is inexhaustible. two professors recommended to foreign universities. Men should be intelligent and earnest. a pension for Meyer. and if its estate is wasted. to Hegel. and ere you can rise up again will burden you with blessings. If your friend has displeased you. though he sleep. People always recognize this difference. Those who live to the future must always appear selfish to those who live to the present.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fashion. Napoleon. 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. the most fantastic and frivolous. the happiest expressions of each. child of the revolution. and not a misunderstanding rises between the players. Fine manners show themselves formidable to the uncultivated man. but once matched by the skill of the other party.Emerson which puts them in fellowship with crowds. not triumphing. It usually sets its face against the great of this hour. doubtless with the feeling that fashion is a homage to men of his stamp. It is virtue gone to seed: it is a kind of posthumous honor. the most puissant. The strong men usually give some allowance even to the petulances of fashion. It does not often caress the great. they drop the point of the sword. —points and fences disappear. wherein life is a less troublesome game. they are absent in the field: they are working. never ceased to court the Faubourg St. an equivocal semblance. for that affinity they find in it. The association of these masters with each other and with men intelligent of their merits. Manners aim to facilitate life. They are a subtler science of defence to parry and intimidate. Thus grows up Fashion. are repeated and adopted. They aid our dealing and conversation as a railway aids travelling. to get rid of impediments and bring the man pure to energize. Germain. The good forms. and a fine sense of propriety is cultivated with the more heed that it becomes a badge of social and civil distinctions. Fashion is made up of 253 . The last are always filled or filling from the first. These forms very soon become fixed. By swift consent everything superfluous is dropped. though in a strange way. everything graceful is renewed. is mutually agreeable and stimulating. the most feared and followed. and makes their action popular. destroyer of the old noblesse. Great men are not commonly in its halls. represents all manly virtue. and which morals and violence assault in vain. The manners of this class are observed and caught with devotion by men of taste. and the youth finds himself in a more transparent atmosphere. There exists a strict relation between the class of power and the exclusive and polished circles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

some fool who had cut off his beard. yet was there never a poor outcast. and too bad for blessing. that they had a blur. Minerva said she hoped not. much more all Olympus. if you called them good. he said it had failed. in any attempt to settle its character.Essays afford to be so bountiful as the poor Osman who dwelt at his gate. as fast as the days succeeded each other. which would not puzzle her owl. that great heart lay there so sunny and hospitable in the centre of the country. eccentric. ‘talking of destroying the earth. Too good for banning. with this odd circumstance. they were all rogues and vixens. and much that is absurd. or who had been mutilated under a vow. and there was no one person or action among them. ‘I overheard Jove. it reminds us of a tradition of the pagan mythology. to know whether it was fundamentally bad or good. or indeterminate aspect. that what is called by distinction society and fashion has good laws as well as bad. that it seemed as if the instinct of all sufferers drew them to his side. one day. but fled at once to him. they would appear so. who went from bad to worse. has much that is necessary. 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. and talk of that which I do not well understand. 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. or had a pet madness in his brain. or insane man. they would appear so. they were only ridiculous little creatures. And the madness which he harbored he did not share.’ said Silenus.’ 268 . seen far or seen near. if you called them bad. It is easy to see.

Emerson GIFTS Gifts of one who loved me. not pets. Men use to tell us that we love flattery even though we are not deceived by it. flowers. to be the reason of the difficulty experienced at Christmas and New Year and other times. When he ceased to love me. GIFTS I t is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy. 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. XVII. For common gifts. because it shows that we are of importance enough to be courted. though very vexatious to pay debts. and ought to go into chancery and be sold. in bestowing gifts. But the impediment lies in the choosing.— ’T was high time they came. I do not think this general insolvency. 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. Time they stopped for shame. Something like that pleasure. I am puzzled what to give. which involves in some sort all the population. everything is dealt to us without fear or favor. Yet these delicate flowers look like the frolic and interference of love and beauty. If at any time it comes into my head that a present is due from me to somebody. and one is glad when an imperative 269 . I should think there was some proportion between the labor and the reward. 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. Flowers and fruits are always fit presents. we are children. because they are the flower of commodities. Nature does not cocker us. until the opportunity is gone. that the world owes the world more than the world can pay. and admit of fantastic values being attached to them. she is not fond. since it is always so pleasant to be generous. after severe universal laws.

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

and his to me. and is continually punished by the total insensibility of the obliged person. correspondent to my flowing unto him. opportunity. then my goods pass to him. if Jove to thee a present make. this of being served. when I rejoice or grieve at a gift. A golden text for these gentlemen is that which I so admire in the Buddhist.” We ask the whole. and not him. and who says. All his are mine. How can you give me this pot of oil or this flagon of wine when all your oil and wine is mine. and the debtor naturally wishes to give you a slap. He is a good man who can receive a gift well. For the expectation of gratitude is mean. besides earth and fire and water. I say to him. and objects of veneration. as all beneficiaries hate all Timons.—I rather sympathize with the beneficiary than with the anger of my lord Timon. I am sorry when my independence is invaded. must be the flowing of the giver unto me. to be true. 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. and so the act is not supported. for gifts. Take heed that from his hands thou nothing take. Some violence I think is done. This giving is flat usurpation.” The reason of these discords I conceive to be that there is no commensurability between a man and any gift. not useful things. and therefore when the beneficiary is ungrateful. and if the gift pleases me overmuch. We arraign society if it do not give us. It is a very onerous business. then I should be ashamed that the donor should read my heart. When the waters are at level. which belief of mine this gift seems to deny? Hence the fitness of beautiful. The gift. all mine his. Nothing less will content us. or when a gift comes from such as do not know my spirit. not at all considering the value of the gift but looking back to the greater store it was taken from. who never thanks. some degradation borne. love. After 271 . and see that I love his commodity. We are either glad or sorry at a gift. reverence.Emerson “Brother. and both emotions are unbecoming. You cannot give anything to a magnanimous person. “Do not flatter your benefactors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All those who have pretended this design have been partial reformers. of institutions of art and science can be answered. and pay unwilling tribute to governments founded on force. For. 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 revered. of commerce and the exchange of property. Much has been blind and discreditable. and the fruit of labor secured. It separates the individual from all party. but the nature of the revolution is not affected by the vices of the revolters. letters carried. 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. of the highway. for this is a purely moral force. 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. What is strange too. nor doubt that roads can be built. It promises a recognition of higher rights than those of personal freedom. a reliance on the moral sentiment and a sufficient belief in the unity of things. We live in a very low state of the world. and have admitted in 300 . to be loved. neither can be. according to the order of nature. or the security of property. as well as the solar system. which is quite superior to our will. there will always be a government of force where men are selfish. to be trusted. A man has a right to be employed. 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. or that the private citizen might be reasonable and a good neighbor. has never been tried.Essays been very marked in modern history. to persuade them that society can be maintained without artificial restraints. as the basis of a State. There is not. when the government of force is at an end. The power of love. among the most religious and instructed men of the most religious and civil nations. without the hint of a jail or a confiscation. it stands thus. let not the most conservative and timid fear anything from a premature surrender of the bayonet and the system of force. of museums and libraries. and unites him at the same time to the race.

Not the less does nature continue to fill the heart of youth with suggestions of this enthusiasm. If the individual who exhibits them dare to think them practicable. Each is a hint of the truth. Could any man conduct into me the pure stream of that which he pretends to be! . XX. I do not call to mind a single human being who has steadily denied the authority of the laws. and there are now men. or a pair of lovers. I have just been conversing with one man. Not less are summer-mornings dear To every child they wake. in the new-born millions. on the simple ground of his own moral nature. but far enough from being that truth which yet he quite newly and inevitably suggests to us.—if indeed I can speak in the plural number. NOMINALIST AND REALIST In countless upward-striving waves The moon-drawn tide-wave strives: In thousand far-transplanted grafts The parent fruit survives.—more exactly. If I seek it in him I shall not find it. and men of talent and women of superior sentiments cannot hide their contempt. are not entertained except avowedly as air-pictures. So. NONIMALIST AND REALIST I 301 cannot often enough say that a man is only a relative and representative nature. as well as a knot of friends. 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. Such designs. he disgusts scholars and churchmen. The perfect Adam lives. full of genius and full of fate as they are. I will say.Emerson some manner the supremacy of the bad State. And each with novel life his sphere Fills for his proper sake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and always will draw. Latin and Greek had a strict relation to all the science and culture there was in Europe. the pupil is parsing Greek and Latin. and the Mathematics had a momentary importance at some era of activity in physical science. as the manner of men is. the shock of the electric spark in the elbow. and as soon as he leaves the University. and Roman men. But in a hundred high schools and colleges this warfare against common sense still goes on. Once (say two centuries ago). Some thousands of young men are graduated at our colleges in this country every year. ‘Is that Greek and Latin some spell to conjure with. 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. that he might secure his subsistence at all events. I never met with ten. outvalues all the theories.’ And it seems as if a man should learn to plant. Greek. or to hunt. the lawyer. Four. The lessons of science should be experimental also. the divine. or six. The sight of the planet through a telescope is worth all the course on astronomy. Four or five persons I have seen who read Plato. One of the traits of the new spirit is the inquisition it fixed on our scholastic devotion to the dead languages. and though all men and boys were now drilled in Latin. still read Greek. as it is ludicrously called. certain likeminded men. or to fish. and not be painful to his friends and fellow-men. with great beauty of structure. I need never learn it to 319 . at forty years. but by a wonderful drowsiness of usage they had exacted the study of all men. or ten years.—in all countries. he shuts those books for the last time. can all be counted on your hand. But the Good Spirit never cared for the colleges. to their study. the taste of the nitrous oxide. contain wonderful remains of genius. The ancient languages. and the persons who. These things became stereotyped as education. and not words of reason? If the physician. and Mathematics. never use it to come at their ends. But is not this absurd. and was now creating and feeding other matters at other ends of the world. the firing of an artificial volcano. which draw. are better than volumes of chemistry.Emerson winter in the study. it had quite left these shells high and dry on the beach.—Greek men.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The disparities of power in men are superficial. that they were too much subjected to the reverence of the laws. apprises each of their radical unity. and we are the channels of its communications. “judged them to be great men every way. converse with the most commanding poetic genius. We would persuade our fellow to this or that. in which a man lays himself open to his brother. That which we keep back. I think it would appear that there was no inequality such as men fancy. that the net amount of man and man does not much vary.” And as a man is equal to the Church and equal to the State. or what a price of greatness the power of expression too often pays. that a perfect understanding. apprehensive mind. 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. I believe it is the conviction of the purest men. abolished differences. true virtue must abate very much of its original vigor. In vain we compose our faces and our words. between them. such as every man knows among his friends. Each seems to have some compensation yielded to him by his infirmity. the remark is sure to be made. a like receiving. which to second and authorize. and the poet would confess that his creative imagination gave him no deep advantage. excepting. When two persons sit and converse in a thoroughly good understanding. another self within our eyes dissuades him. and every hindrance operates as a concentration of his force. and he answers civilly to us. it holds uncontrollable communication with the enemy. See how we have disputed about words! Let a clear. Each is incomparably superior to his companion in some faculty. and all frank and searching conversation. so he is equal to every other man.Emerson Pythagoras and Diogenes read. His want of skill in other directions has added to his fitness for his own work. this reveals. that his advantage was a knack. a like perceiving. There is power over and behind us. which might impose on indolent men but could not impose on lovers of truth. 331 . and over our head some spirit sits which contradicts what we say. but only the superficial one that he could express himself and the other could not. We seek to say thus and so.

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

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

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

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