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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have seen in the sky a chain of summer lightning which at once showed to me that the Greeks drew from nature when they painted the thunderbolt in the hand of Jove. as we see how each people merely decorated its primitive abodes. when the barrenness of all other trees shows the low arch of the Saxons. In the woods in a winter afternoon one will see as readily the origin of the stained glass window. with all their boughs.Essays was undoubtedly the archetype of that familiar ornament. 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. in the colors of the western sky seen through the bare and crossing branches of the forest.” says Heeren in his Researches on the Ethiopians. In these caverns. The Doric temple preserves the semblance of the wooden cabin in which the Dorian dwelt. “determined very naturally the principal character of the Nubian Egyptian architecture to the colossal form which it assumed. or neat porches and wings have been. without feeling that the forest overpowered the mind of the builder. The Chinese pagoda is plainly a Tartar tent. What would statues of the usual size. without being struck with the architectural appearance of the grove. “The custom of making houses and tombs in the living rock. to a festal or solemn arcade. 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. and that his chisel. 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. By surrounding ourselves with the original circumstances we invent anew the orders and the ornaments of architecture. . so that when 14 art came to the assistance of nature it could not move on a small scale without degrading itself. especially in winter. the eye was accustomed to dwell on huge shapes and masses. with which the Gothic cathedrals are adorned. already prepared by nature. The Indian and Egyptian temples still betray the mounds and subterranean houses of their forefathers. No one can walk in a road cut through pine woods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you tax too high. a fish as a swimming man. a bird as a flying man. Under all governments the influence of character remains the same. Under the primeval despots of Egypt. ener- . 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 become a byword and a hissing. the pressure is resisted by an over-charge of energy in the citizen. Though no checks to a new evil appear. If the government is cruel. Has he all that the world loves and admires and covets?—he must cast behind him their admiration. If you make the criminal code sanguinary. by his fidelity to new revelations of the incessant soul. but part for part all the details. It is in vain to build or plot or combine against it. Every thing in nature contains all the powers of nature. and afflict them by faithfulness to his truth. If the law is too mild. the governor’s life is not safe. If the government is a terrific democracy. history honestly confesses that man must have been as free as culture could make him. With every influx of light comes new danger. private vengeance comes in. Res nolunt diu male administrari. and regards a horse as a running man. These appearances indicate the fact that the universe is represented in every one of its particles.Emerson to eat dust before the real masters who stand erect behind the throne. has the charges of that eminence. the revenue will yield nothing. He who by force of will or of thought is great and overlooks thousands. and will appear. wife and child. all the aims. the checks exist. hindrances. Each new form repeats not only the main character of the type. furtherances. juries 55 will not convict. and always outrun that sympathy which gives him such keen satisfaction. and life glows with a fiercer flame.—in Turkey and in New England about alike. a tree as a rooted man. Things refuse to be mismanaged long. as the naturalist sees one type under every metamorphosis. He must hate father and mother. Has he light? he must bear witness to the light. 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. Or.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Each of his “Lives” is a refutation to the despondency and cowardice of our religious and political theorists. and that the commonwealth and his own well-being require that he should not go dancing in the weeds of peace. let him take both reputation and life in his hand. but warned. Its rudest form is the contempt for safety and ease. The violations of the laws of nature by our predecessors and our contemporaries are punished in us also. and I must think we are more deeply indebted to him than to all the ancient writers. Life is a festival only to the wise. and has given that book its immense fame. To this military attitude of the soul we give the name of Heroism. self-collected and neither defying nor dreading the thunder. insanity that makes him eat grass. as it had its inlet by human crime. and often violation on violation to breed such compound misery. with perfect urbanity dare the gibbet and the mob by the absolute truth of his speech and the rectitude of his behavior. plague. which makes the attractiveness of war. cholera. which. Our culture therefore must not omit the arming of the man. shines in every anecdote. Let him hear in season that he is born into the state of war.Emerson Epaminondas. must have its outlet by human suffering. It is a self-trust which slights the restraints of prudence. and so made himself liable to a share in the expiation. hydrophobia that makes him bark at his wife and babes. A lock-jaw that bends a man’s head back to his heels. 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. and affirms his ability to cope single-handed with the infinite army of enemies. The disease and deformity around us certify the infraction of natural. A wild courage. in the plenitude of its energy and power to repair the harms it may suffer. famine. Towards all this external evil the man within the breast assumes a warlike attitude. and moral laws. indicate a certain ferocity in nature. We need books of this tart cathartic virtue more than books of political science or of private economy. Seen from the nook and chimney-side of prudence. intellectual. a Stoicism not of the schools but of the blood. the Scipio of old. war. and. 129 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The virtue of art lies in detachment. the plan of a temple. as much as an epic has done before. 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. in Byron. A squirrel leaping from bough to bough and making the Wood but one wide tree for his pleasure. of all native properties whatsoever. The infant lies in a pleasing trance. The power to detach and to magnify by detaching is the essence of rhetoric in the hands of the orator and the poet. These are the artists. or power to fix the momentary eminency of an object.—the painter and sculptor exhibit in color and in stone. and to make that for the time the deputy of the world. it is the only thing worth naming to do that. of a campaign. or of a voyage of discovery. in Carlyle. a statue.—be it a sonnet. or a litter of pigs. For every object has its roots in central nature. for example a well-laid garden. and water. of all genuine talents. the word. The power depends on the depth of the artist’s insight of that object he contemplates. the thought. contemplation. For the time. an opera. drawn by a master. A good ballad draws my ear and heart whilst I listen. Love and all the passions concentrate all existence around a single form. It is the habit of certain minds to give an all-excluding fulness to the object. to be for their moment the top of the world. as students of the mystery of Form. Therefore each work of genius is the tyrant of the hour And concentrates attention on itself. the orators. the leaders of society. and stands then and there for nature. Presently we pass to some other object. and earth. self-sufficing. Our happiness and unhappiness are unproductive. if I were not acquainted with air. This rhetoric. I should think fire the best thing in the world. a landscape. fills the eye not less than a lion. an oration. but no thought. For it is the right and property of all natural objects. which rounds itself into a whole as did the first.—is beautiful. and dealing with one at a time. there can be enjoyment. and may of course be so exhibited to us as to represent the world. in sequestering one object from the embarrassing variety. A dog.—so remarkable in Burke. they alight upon. 181 . but his individual character and his practical power depend on his daily progress in the separation of things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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