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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sentiment they instil is of more value than any thought they may contain. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each. more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.— that is genius. Suckle him with the she-wolf’s teat. and it shall be the universal sense.Essays SELF-RELIANCE “Ne te quaesiveris extra. all influence.” “Man is his own star. and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Speak your latent conviction. Cast the bantling on the rocks. The soul always hears an admonition in such lines. let the subject be what it may. Plato and Milton is that they set at naught books and traditions. to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men.” Epilogue to Beaumont and Fletcher’s Honest Man’s Fortune. the highest merit we ascribe to Moses. Our acts our angels are. Commands all light. II. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought. because it is his. and the soul that can Render an honest and a perfect man. 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. In every work of genius we 26 . Power and speed be hands and feet. Wintered with the hawk and fox. Our fatal shadows that walk by us still. and spoke not what men. but what they thought. for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost. To believe your own thought. or good or ill. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within. all fate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

which held Austria in awe. To the thoughts of that state of mind he has a right. Yet a man may come to find that the strongest of defences and of ties. All the terrors of the French Republic. it is vain to say. All the secrets of that state of mind he can compel. The soul’s emphasis is always right. were unable to command her diplomacy. had he? What secret can he conceal from the eyes of Bacon? of Montaigne? of Kant? Therefore. Everywhere he may take what belongs to his spiritual estate. de Narbonne. Hence the perfect intelligence that subsists between wise men of remote ages.Essays heart thinks great is great. If a teacher have any opinion which he wishes to conceal. It will tell itself. nor can he take any thing else though all doors were open. and he who has received an opinion may come to find it the most inconvenient of bonds. But Napoleon sent to Vienna M.” . A man cannot bury his meanings so deep in his book but time and like-minded men will find them. de Narbonne in less than a fortnight penetrated all the secrets of the imperial cabinet. It is vain to attempt to keep a secret from one who has a right to know it. nor can all the force of men hinder him from taking so much. 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. 78 Nothing seems so easy as to speak and to be understood.—that he has been understood. Show us an arc of the curve. Aristotle said of his works. which. This is a law which statesmen use in practice. manners and name of that interest. and a good mathematician will find out the whole figure. We are always reasoning from the seen to the unseen. M. saying that it was indispensable to send to the old aristocracy of Europe men of the same connection. Over all things that are agreeable to his nature and genius the man has the highest right.—it will find its level in all. That mood into which a friend can bring us is his dominion over us. in fact. with the morals. constitutes a sort of free-masonry. one of the old noblesse. his pupils will become as fully indoctrinated into that as into any which he publishes. Plato had a secret doctrine. I will pour it only into this or that. “They are published and not published.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

or money. namely. Yet the little man takes the great hoax so innocently. put God under obligation to them.Emerson wealth is the butt and merriment of heroism. Nothing of the kind have I seen in any other country. “Indeed. What a disgrace is it to me to take note how many pairs of silk stockings thou hast. setting his heart on a horse or a rifle. and says. like Plotinus. made happy with a little gossip or a little praise. so perfect are the compensations of the universe. 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. in Bukharia. night or day. and was told that the house had not been shut.—so it be done for love and not for ostentation. In some way the time they seem to lose is re131 . the Arabian geographer. these humble considerations make me out of love with greatness. thinking after the laws of arithmetic. these and those that were the peach-colored ones. to the toilet. reckon narrowly the loss of time and the unusual display. cards and custard. Strangers may present themselves at any hour and in whatever number. What shall it say then to the sugar-plums and cats’-cradles. I will obey the God. as it were. quarrels. “When I was in Sogd I saw a great building.—do. that the great soul cannot choose but laugh at such earnest nonsense. the soul of a better quality thrusts back the unseasonable economy into the vaults of life. like a palace. compliments. and dies gray. to the stranger. or shelter. works in it so headlong and believing. is almost ashamed of its body. as one for superfluity. Ibn Hankal. the master has amply provided for the reception of the men and their animals. and one other for use!” Citizens. and the sacrifice and the fire he will provide. describes a heroic extreme in the hospitality of Sogd. When the spirit is not master of the world. Heroism. attending on his own health.” The magnanimous know very well that they who give time. for a hundred years. consider the inconvenience of receiving strangers at their fireside. 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. arranging his toilet. I asked the reason. or to bear the inventory of thy shirts. is born red. then it is its dupe. laying traps for sweet food and strong wine.

who poured out on the ground unto the Lord the water which three of his warriors had brought him to drink. The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough. But hospitality must be for service and not for show. refuses to do himself so great a disgrace as to wait for justification.” Better still is the temperance of King David. But he loves it for its elegancy. charged with peculation. and can very well abide its loss. or it pulls down the host. or opium. and all it hath. that when he fell on his sword after the battle of Philippi. how he dresses. It gives what it hath. to suffer and to dare with solemnity. and I find thee at last but a shade. or silk. It is a height to which common duty can very well attain. or gold. 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. the use of tobacco. It does not ask to dine nicely and to sleep warm. It seems not worth his while to be solemn and denounce with bitterness flesh-eating or wine-drinking. It is told of Brutus. generous liquor and we should be humbly thankful for it. But these rare souls set opinion. These men fan the flame of human love and raise the standard of civil virtue among mankind. Scipio. but its own majesty can lend a better grace to bannocks and fair water than belong to city feasts. but without railing or precision his living is natural and poetic. The heroic soul does not sell its justice and its nobleness. The brave soul rates itself too high to value itself by the splendor of its table and draperies. at the peril of their lives.Essays deemed and the pains they seem to take remunerate themselves. success. though he had the scroll of 132 . A great man scarcely knows how he dines. he quoted a line of Euripides. But that which takes my fancy most in the heroic class. Poverty is its ornament. not for its austerity. but wear their own habitual greatness. as I remember. the Indian Apostle. or the show of sorrow.—”It is a noble. It does not need plenty. water was made before it. and said of wine. or tea. John Eliot.” I doubt not the hero is slandered by this report.—”O Virtue! I have followed thee through life. but. drank water. and life at so cheap a rate that they will not soothe their enemies by petitions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

he had better be prudent still. One man thinks justice consists in paying debts. from all other duties. or make the verge of to-day the new centre. as one beholds the same objects from a higher point.Essays but. if to a great trust. to what god he devotes it. that his feet may be safer from the bite of snakes. The great man will not be prudent in the popular sense. and 162 . One man’s justice is another’s injustice. Besides. and extinguishes each in the light of a better. Cause and effect are two sides of one fact. The same law of eternal procession ranges all that we call the virtues. like you. if to ease and pleasure. But it behooves each to see. one man’s beauty another’s ugliness. of genius to nature? For you. Aaron never thinks of such a peril. the debt to the rich. the better they are” are proverbs which express the transcendentalism of common life. truth of character. asks himself Which debt must I pay first. I suppose that the highest prudence is the lowest prudence. or the debt of thought to mankind. faith. the aspiration of man. rightly considered. 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. these are sacred. For me. nor can I detach one duty. O broker. your bravest sentiment is familiar to the humblest men. he can well spare his mule and panniers who has a winged chariot instead. love. all his prudence will be so much deduction from his grandeur. these things proceed from the eternal generation of the soul. when he sacrifices prudence. one man’s wisdom another’s folly. “Blessed be nothing” and “The worse things are. commerce is of trivial import. or the debt to the poor? the debt of money. The poor and the low have their way of expressing the last facts of philosophy as well as you. Geoffrey draws on his boots to go through the woods. 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 that second man has his own way of looking at things. there is no other principle but arithmetic. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self-kindled every atom glows. 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. And all is clear from east to west. and reality which discredits our heroes. sleeps over the broad hills and warm wide fields. Spirit that lurks each form within Beckons to spirit of its kin. in these bleak upper sides of the planet. make a harmony. The solitary places do not seem quite lonely.Emerson NATURE The rounded world is fair to see. when. At the gates of the forest. and the cattle that lie on the ground seem to have great and tranquil thoughts. How willingly we would escape the barriers which 273 . XVIII. Here we find Nature to be the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance. at almost any season of the year. To have lived through all its sunny hours. and we bask in the shining hours of Florida and Cuba. as if nature would indulge her offspring. the heavenly bodies and the earth. Here is sanctity which shames our religions. nothing is to desire that we have heard of the happiest latitudes. Nine times folded in mystery: Though baffled seers cannot impart The secret of its laboring heart. immeasurably long. seems longevity enough. when everything that has life gives sign of satisfaction. We have crept out of our close and crowded houses into the night and morning. wise and foolish. and judges like a god all men that come to her. Throb thine with Nature’s throbbing breast. wherein the world reaches its perfection. NATURE T here are days which occur in this climate. and we see what majestic beauties daily wrap us in their bosom. the surprised man of the world is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small. when the air. The day. 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 mind loves its old home: as water to our thirst. the wood-fire to which the chilled traveller rushes for safety. and takes a grave liberty with us. and shames us out of our nonsense. what affinity! Ever an old friend. so is the rock. We never can part with it. escape the sophistication and second thought. is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year. kindly and native to us. I think if we should be rapt away into all that we dream of heaven. We nestle in nature. The blue zenith is the point in which romance and reality meet. until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out of the mind. and we were led in triumph by nature. the ground. from these quarantine powers of nature. hemlocks. comes in this honest face. and require so much scope. all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present. ever like a dear friend and brother when we chat affectedly with strangers. or state. and make friends with matter. which the ambitious chatter of the schools would persuade us to despise. and is stimulating and heroic. up to her dearest and gravest ministrations to the imagination and the soul. We come to our own. There is the bucket of cold water from the spring. These are plain pleasures. The anciently reported spells of these places creep on us. and we receive glances from the heavenly bodies. to our eyes and hands and feet. The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them. they sober and heal us. There are all degrees of natural influence. the upper sky would be all 274 . We go out daily and nightly to feed the eyes on the horizon. which call us to solitude and foretell the remotest future. absorbed by new pictures and by thoughts fast succeeding each other. These enchantments are medicinal. It is firm water. How easily we might walk onward into the opening landscape. Cities give not the human senses room enough. The stems of pines.Essays render them comparatively impotent.— and there is the sublime moral of autumn and of noon. and suffer nature to intrance us. and draw our living as parasites from her roots and grains. Here no history. and quit our life of solemn trifles. and oaks almost gleam like iron on the excited eye. just as we need water for our bath. or church. it is cold flame. what health. and should converse with Gabriel and Uriel.

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

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

they fall into euphuism. would take place in the most sumptuous drawing-rooms of all the “Wreaths” and “Flora’s chaplets” of the bookshops. We can find these enchantments without visiting the Como Lake.Emerson easily. or from whatever cause. or to fetch a plant or a mineral from a remote locality. One can hardly speak directly of it without excess. or to look at the crops. Nature cannot be surprised in undress. yet I cannot renounce the right of returning often to this old topic. But it is very easy to outrun the sympathy of readers on this topic. We exaggerate the praises of local scenery. Beauty breaks in everywhere. may not be always found. which schoolmen called natura naturata. or the Madeira Islands. whether we are too clumsy for so subtle a topic. or nature passive. I suppose this shame must have a good reason.” 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. but there is great difference in the beholders. yet ordinarily. The stars at night stoop down over the brownest. A dilettantism in nature is barren and unworthy. Frivolity is a most unfit tribute to Pan. The uprolled clouds and the colors of morning and evening will transfigure maples and alders. or on the marble deserts of Egypt. It is as easy to broach in mixed companies what is called “the subject of religion. and I suppose that such a gazetteer as wood-cutters and Indians should furnish facts for. and that is seen from the first hillock as well as from the top of the Alleghanies. The difference between landscape and landscape is small. I would not be frivolous before the admirable reserve and prudence of time. or he carries a fowling-piece or a fishing-rod. Men are naturally hunters and inquisitive of wood-craft. 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. In every landscape the point of astonishment is the meeting of the sky and the earth. homeliest common with all the spiritual magnificence which they shed on the Campagna. as soon as men begin to write on nature. There is nothing so wonderful in any particular landscape as the necessity of being beautiful under which every landscape lies. but the material landscape is never far off. The multitude of false 277 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and successes in those fields are the poor amends. We do penance as we go. but does not smooth our own brow. Our talent is a sort of expiation. a fair expression of our permanent energy. climb they must. We are haunted by a conscience of this right to grandeur of character. 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. to the rewards and penalties of his own constitution. or crawl. or graceful. I find the like unwilling homage in all quarters. or formidable. 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. not because they think the place specially agreeable. Each seems to say. and we are constrained to reflect on our splendid moment with a certain humiliation. This conspicuous chair is their compensation to themselves for being of a poor. but as an apology for real worth. or lucrative. hard nature. Most persons of ability meet in society with a kind of tacit appeal. could he afford to circumvent the favor of the caucus and the press. or amusing. It may throw dust in their eyes. But it does not satisfy us. and leave the individual. the fig-leaf with which the shamed soul attempts to hide its nakedness. They must do what they can.Emerson presence of worth. and not as one act of many acts. I think the very strife of trade and ambition are confession of this divinity. But each of us has some talent. as somewhat too fine. Like one class of forest animals. whilst we thrust it on the notice of our companions. for all code. 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. or give us the tranquillity of the strong when we walk abroad. That we do. and are false to it. they have nothing but a prehensile tail. ‘I am not all here. which work with more energy than we believe whilst we depend on artificial restraints. cold. The tendencies of the times favor the idea of self-government.’ Senators and presidents have climbed so high with pain enough. The movement in this direction has 299 . can do somewhat useful. as an apology to others and to ourselves for not reaching the mark of a good and equal life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the country is full of kings. I confess. but of course loses all value when it is copied. but we are very easily disposed to resist the same generosity of speech when we miss originality and truth to character in it. This has been several times repeated: it was excellent when it was done the first time. It is right and beautiful in any man to say. the threatened individual immediately excommunicated the church in a public and formal process. Hence the growth of the doctrine and of the party of Free Trade. 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.” So the country is frequently affording solitary examples of resistance to the government. solitary nullifiers.’—in whom we see the act to be original. ‘I will take this coat. There was in all the practical activities of New England for the last quarter of a century. no matter how violent and surprising. Hands off! let there be no control and no interference in the administration of the affairs of this kingdom of me. or this book. the contest between mechanical and spiritual methods. 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. is good when it is the dictate of a man’s genius and constitution. The country is full of rebellion. and to flow from the whole spirit and faith of him. or this measure of corn of yours. nay. and the willingness to try that experiment. but with a steady tendency of the thoughtful and virtuous to a deeper belief and reliance on spiritual facts. who have reserved all their rights. 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. Every project in the history of reform. There is observable throughout. for then that taking will have a giving as free and divine. who throw themselves on their reserved rights. a gradual withdrawal of tender consciences from the social organizations. In politics for example it is easy to see the progress of dissent.Emerson spirit and genius of the age. in the face of what appear incontestable facts.

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

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

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

But why come out? the street is as false as the church. alike in one place and in another. to your one virtue? Is virtue piecemeal? This is a jewel amidst the rags of a beggar. as well as out of it? Let into it the new and renewing principle of love. Do you complain of our Marriage? Our marriage is no worse than our education. before the law of its own mind. only an Idea.Emerson It is handsomer to remain in the establishment better than the establishment. All our things are right and wrong together. and when I get to my house. namely. there is no part of society or of life better than any other part. in the heart of cities. 321 . Now all men are on one side. In another way the right will be vindicated. a special reformer. our social customs. than to make a sally against evil by some single improvement. as well as with those? in the institution of property. Do not be so vain of your one objection. or to my speech. and property will be universality. there it will do what is next at hand. No one gives the impression of superiority to the institution. in the aisles of false churches. and by the new quality of character it shall put forth it shall abrogate that old condition. Only Love. our diet. What right have you. nor to waste all my time in attacks. Can we not play the game of life with these counters. When we see an eager assailant of one of these wrongs.—do see how man can do without it. which he must give who will reform it. you must make me feel that you are aloof from it. I have not got away from the lie. without supporting it by a total regeneration. It makes no difference what you say. or to my manners. is against property as we hold it. Do you think there is only one? Alas! my good friend. we feel like asking him. a just and heroic soul finds itself. by your natural and supernatural advantages do easily see to the end of it. and conduct that in the best manner. I cannot afford to be irritable and captious. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike. No man deserves to be heard against property.—wherever. our trade. 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. law or school in which it stands. Do you complain of the laws of Property? It is a pedantry to give such importance to them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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