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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Essays

IX. THE OVER-SOUL

T

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and makes politics. “The virtuous prince confronts the gods. it should be the festival of nature which all things announce. He waits a hundred ages till a sage comes. and there are persons he cannot choose but remember. you would regard him as sitting in judgment upon kings. and churches.—another. He is a dull observer whose experience has not taught him the reality and force of magic. without any misgiving. that one man should know heaven. without any misgiving. and does not doubt. he who waits a hundred ages until a sage comes. is in that possibility of joyful intercourse with persons. each of whom is sure of himself and sure of his friend. and eloquence to him. boldness. The coldest precisian cannot go abroad without encountering inexplicable influences. who gave a transcendent expansion to his thought. For when men shall meet as they ought. but throughout his life. 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. the secrets that make him wretched either to keep or to betray must be yielded. the entrance of a friend adds grace. clothed with thoughts. knows men. which.” I find it more credible.” But there is no need to seek remote examples. between two virtuous men. He who confronts the gods. Those relations to the best men. with deeds. and the bones of his body seem to lose their cartilages. and kindled another life in his bosom. with accomplishments. at one time. What is so excellent as strict relations of amity. when they spring from this deep root? The sufficient reply to the skeptic who doubts the power and the furniture of man. than that so many men should know the world. a shower of stars. love in the sexes is the first symbol. and commerce. we reckoned the ro245 . without doubting. knows heaven. which makes the faith and practice of all reasonable men. Of such friendship. and for ages shows empire the way. cheap. as all other things are symbols of love. Hence the virtuous prince moves. each a benefactor.Emerson the tribunal only. as well as of chemistry. as the Chinese say. It is a happiness which postpones all other gratifications. and he cannot speak. since it is anterior information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

which schoolmen called natura naturata. Frivolity is a most unfit tribute to Pan. Beauty breaks in everywhere. A dilettantism in nature is barren and unworthy. may not be always found.” 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. We exaggerate the praises of local scenery. I suppose this shame must have a good reason. The stars at night stoop down over the brownest. homeliest common with all the spiritual magnificence which they shed on the Campagna. Nature cannot be surprised in undress. Men are naturally hunters and inquisitive of wood-craft. would take place in the most sumptuous drawing-rooms of all the “Wreaths” and “Flora’s chaplets” of the bookshops. I would not be frivolous before the admirable reserve and prudence of time. as soon as men begin to write on nature.Emerson easily. One can hardly speak directly of it without excess. and I suppose that such a gazetteer as wood-cutters and Indians should furnish facts for. The multitude of false 277 . but there is great difference in the beholders. or to look at the crops. who ought to be represented in the mythology as the most continent of gods. 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. But it is very easy to outrun the sympathy of readers on this topic. or to fetch a plant or a mineral from a remote locality. yet I cannot renounce the right of returning often to this old topic. or nature passive. It is as easy to broach in mixed companies what is called “the subject of religion. and that is seen from the first hillock as well as from the top of the Alleghanies. whether we are too clumsy for so subtle a topic. In every landscape the point of astonishment is the meeting of the sky and the earth. We can find these enchantments without visiting the Como Lake. The uprolled clouds and the colors of morning and evening will transfigure maples and alders. they fall into euphuism. The fop of fields is no better than his brother of Broadway. or the Madeira Islands. yet ordinarily. The difference between landscape and landscape is small. or from whatever cause. or he carries a fowling-piece or a fishing-rod. or on the marble deserts of Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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