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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Already that day exists for us. . the porter? Broader and deeper we must write our annals. the Indian. 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. for the fisherman. from an influx of the ever new. How many times we must say Rome.—if we would trulier express our central and wide-related nature. the stevedore. the child and unschooled farmer’s boy stand nearer to the light by which nature is to be read. The idiot. I am ashamed to see what a shallow village tale our so-called History is. for the Kanaka in his canoe. and Paris.—from an ethical reformation.Emerson books show between the fifty or sixty chemical elements and the historical eras? Nay. shines 25 in on us at unawares. 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. instead of this old chronology of selfishness and pride to which we have too long lent our eyes. and Constantinople! What does Rome know of rat and lizard? What are Olympiads and Consulates to these neighboring systems of being? Nay. than the dissector or the antiquary. ever sanative conscience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

no man ever forgot the visitations of that power to his heart and brain. about Edgar and Jonas and Almira. and al92 though a beauty overpowering all analysis or comparison and putting us quite beside ourselves we can seldom see after thirty years. 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. to a parcel of accidental and trivial circumstances. it may seem to many men. what with their fun and their earnest. without being tempted to unsay. and very truly and heartily will he know where to find a sincere and sweet mate. But now I almost shrink at the remembrance of such disparaging words. and is a wreath of flowers on the oldest brows. and the most trivial circumstance associated with one form is . The girls may have little beauty. But be our experience in particulars what it may. aught derogatory to the social instincts. For persons are love’s world. poetry. 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 other nothings concerning which the parties cooed. without any risk such as Milton deplores as incident to scholars and great men. which was the dawn in him of music. and art. 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.Essays of woman flows out in this pretty gossip. surpassing the deep attraction of its own truth. as treasonable to nature. confiding relations. which created all things anew. and who danced at the dancing-school. when a single tone of one voice could make the heart bound. which made the face of nature radiant with purple light. the morning and the night varied enchantments. But here is a strange fact. For though the celestial rapture falling out of heaven seizes only upon those of tender age. yet plainly do they establish between them and the good boy the most agreeable. and who was invited to the party. and when the singing-school would begin. yet the remembrance of these visions outlasts all other remembrances. 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. By and by that boy wants a wife.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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