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-

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

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

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

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

Genius detects through the fly. in epic and lyric poems. never daring to break the figure and decorum of their dance. through countless individuals the fixed species. through all the kingdoms of organized life the eternal unity. We have the civil history of that people. —a builded geometry. limited to the straight line and the square. transformed to a cow. through many species the genus. offends the imagination. 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. the constant individual. Thus of the genius of .Emerson ture. In man we still trace the remains or hints of all that we esteem badges of servitude in the lower races. She casts the same thought into troops of forms. and whilst I look at it its outline and texture are changed again. Through the bruteness and toughness of matter. Then we have it once again in sculpture. Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same. and. There is. and Plutarch have given it. and philosophy. yet never does it quite deny itself. a beautiful woman with nothing of the metamorphosis left but the lunar horns as the splendid ornament of her brows! 11 The identity of history is equally intrinsic. through the caterpillar. in Aeschylus. through the grub. a very complete form. Thucydides. at the centre there is simplicity of cause. through all genera the steadfast type.” a multitude of forms in the utmost freedom of action and never transgressing the ideal serenity. through the egg. infinite variety of things. a beauty as of temperance itself. a very sufficient account of what manner of persons they were and what they did. as Herodotus. Nothing is so fleeting as form. Xenophon. the diversity equally obvious. at the surface. but how changed when as Isis in Egypt she meets Osiris-Jove. like votaries performing some religious dance before the gods. We have the same national mind expressed for us again in their literature. The adamant streams into soft but precise form before it. the “tongue on the balance of expression. as Io. Then we have it once more in their architecture. as a poet makes twenty fables with one moral. yet in him they enhance his nobleness and grace. drama. a subtle spirit bends all things to its own will. though in convulsive pain or mortal combat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. but false in all particulars. Their two is not the real two. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars. so that every word they say chagrins us and we know not where . I anticipate your argument. it is easy in solitude to live after our own. But do your work. I hear a preacher announce for his text and topic the expediency of one of the institutions of his church. spread your table like base housekeepers. and do not need for my own assurance or the assurance of my fellows any secondary testimony. Well. A man must consider what a blindman’sbuff is this game of conformity. the permitted side. but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. but as a parish minister? He is a retained attorney. not what the people think. and these airs of the bench are the emptiest affectation. and you shall reinforce yourself. Few and mean as my gifts may be. authors of a few lies. The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is that it scatters your force. Do your work. equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life. and I shall know you. If I know your sect. their four not the real four. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. What I must do is all that concerns me. Do I not know beforehand that not possibly can he say a new and spontaneous word? Do I not know that with all this ostentation of examining the grounds of the institution he will do no such thing? Do I not know that he is pledged to himself not to look but at one side. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion. vote with a great party either for the government or against it.—under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are: and of course so much 31 force is withdrawn from your proper life. If you maintain a dead church. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief. contribute to a dead Biblesociety.Emerson right. may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. Their every truth is not quite true. This rule. I actually am. not as a man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a few books. as lameness to Vulcan. The poorest experience is rich enough for all the purposes of expressing thought. house and garden. or even obscene. The circumcision is an example of the power of poetry to raise the low and offensive. honest and base. becomes illustrious. and the distinctions which we make in events and in affairs. the more pungent it is. What would be base. Small and mean things serve as well as great symbols. —to signify exuberances. Every word was once a poem.—in this. Also we use defects and deformities to a sacred purpose. 197 . and they are all poets and mystics! Beyond this universality of the symbolic language. The piety of the Hebrew prophets purges their grossness. defects are ascribed to divine natures. Thought makes everything fit for use. 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. of low and high. blindness to Cupid. spoken in a new connexion of thought. 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. The vocabulary of an omniscient man would embrace words and images excluded from polite conversation. Why covet a knowledge of new facts? Day and night. It does not need that a poem should be long. shall make the blood tingle under the rudest or the most conventional exterior. a few actions. to the obscene. 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. whereby the world is a temple whose walls are covered with emblems. and the like. We can come to use them yet with a terrible simplicity. pictures. Bare lists of words are found suggestive to an imaginative and excited mind. In the old mythology. serve us as well as would all trades and all spectacles.Emerson in the wind on a fort at the ends of the earth. we are apprised of the divineness of this superior use of things. disappear when nature is used as a symbol. We are far from having exhausted the significance of the few symbols we use. and commandments of the Deity. so expressing our sense that the evils of the world are such only to the evil eye. The meaner the type by which a law is expressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life has no memory. and behold what was there already. as it were in flashes of light. with this coetaneous growth of the parts. on that secret cause. By persisting to read or to think. In the growth of the embryo. as when. young with the life of life. or if at any time being alone I have good thoughts. with the tranquil eternal meadows spread at their base. the Ideal journeying always with us. but that which is coexistent. no! but I am at first apprised of my vicinity to a new and excellent region of life. they will one day be members. Bear with these distractions. old with the love and homage of innumerable ages. the heaven without rent or seam. I drink water. Underneath the inharmonious and trivial particulars. this region gives further sign of itself. as if the clouds that covered it parted at intervals and showed the approaching traveller the inland mountains. I make! O no! I clap my hands in infantine joy and amazement before the first opening to me of this august magnificence. That which proceeds in succession might be remembered. When I converse with a profound mind. But every insight from this realm of thought is felt as initial. On that one will. and obey one will. they nail our attention and hope. I do not at once arrive at satisfactions. whilst in the reception of spiritual law. I am ready to die out of nature and be born again into this new yet unapproachable America I have found in the West:— 225 . being thirsty. So is it with us. whereon flocks graze and shepherds pipe and dance. and promises a sequel.Emerson duces a new element. Sir Everard Home I think noticed that the evolution was not from one central point. in sudden discoveries of its profound beauty and repose. or ejaculated from a deeper cause. is a musical perfection. I do not make it. knows not its own tendency. and now religious. the sunbright Mecca of the desert. because immersed in forms and effects all seeming to be of equal yet hostile value. now skeptical or without unity. as yet far from being conscious. being cold. And what a future it opens! I feel a new heart beating with the love of the new beauty. or go to the fire. Life is hereby melted into an expectation or a religion. Do but observe the mode of our illumination. but coactive from three or more points. I arrive there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

as fast as the days succeeded each other. 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. yet was there never a poor outcast. And the madness which he harbored he did not share. Minerva said she hoped not. much more all Olympus. with this odd circumstance.’ 268 . Too good for banning. or insane man. they would appear so. or had a pet madness in his brain. who went from bad to worse. some fool who had cut off his beard. or indeterminate aspect. that they had a blur.’ said Silenus. that what is called by distinction society and fashion has good laws as well as bad. and too bad for blessing. and there was no one person or action among them. and talk of that which I do not well understand. but fled at once to him. to know whether it was fundamentally bad or good. seen far or seen near. and much that is absurd. if you called them good. has much that is necessary. that great heart lay there so sunny and hospitable in the centre of the country. they would appear so. it reminds us of a tradition of the pagan mythology. Is not this to be rich? this only to be rightly rich? But I shall hear without pain that I play the courtier very ill. ‘I overheard Jove. they were only ridiculous little creatures. eccentric. It is easy to see. ‘talking of destroying the earth. one day. or who had been mutilated under a vow. in any attempt to settle its character. if you called them bad. he said it had failed. that it seemed as if the instinct of all sufferers drew them to his side. they were all rogues and vixens. which would not puzzle her owl.Essays afford to be so bountiful as the poor Osman who dwelt at his gate.

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

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

or when a gift comes from such as do not know my spirit.—I rather sympathize with the beneficiary than with the anger of my lord Timon.” We ask the whole.Emerson “Brother. and see that I love his commodity. love. all mine his. and if the gift pleases me overmuch.” The reason of these discords I conceive to be that there is no commensurability between a man and any gift. then my goods pass to him. “Do not flatter your benefactors. and so the act is not supported. All his are mine. besides earth and fire and water. and both emotions are unbecoming. not at all considering the value of the gift but looking back to the greater store it was taken from. to be true. if Jove to thee a present make. when I rejoice or grieve at a gift. This giving is flat usurpation. I am sorry when my independence is invaded. You cannot give anything to a magnanimous person. and the debtor naturally wishes to give you a slap. who never thanks. He is a good man who can receive a gift well. It is a great happiness to get off without injury and heart-burning from one who has had the ill-luck to be served by you. and not him. I say to him. Nothing less will content us. and is continually punished by the total insensibility of the obliged person. not useful things. A golden text for these gentlemen is that which I so admire in the Buddhist. We arraign society if it do not give us. this of being served. then I should be ashamed that the donor should read my heart. When the waters are at level. as all beneficiaries hate all Timons. and objects of veneration. and who says. It is a very onerous business. some degradation borne. After 271 . For the expectation of gratitude is mean. opportunity. reverence. The gift. which belief of mine this gift seems to deny? Hence the fitness of beautiful. Some violence I think is done. Take heed that from his hands thou nothing take. must be the flowing of the giver unto me. and his to me. correspondent to my flowing unto him. We are either glad or sorry at a gift. and therefore when the beneficiary is ungrateful. How can you give me this pot of oil or this flagon of wine when all your oil and wine is mine. for gifts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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