Ralph Waldo Emerson


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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





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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions. he will create a house in which all these will find themselves fitted. That which each can do best. nor can. identical. embrace my friends. our tastes. I pack my trunk. We imitate. our faculties. The soul created the arts wherever they have flourished. Insist on yourself. Where is the master who could have taught Shakspeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin. our opinions. and what is imitation but the travelling of the mind? Our houses are built with foreign taste. and there beside me is the stern fact. It was in his own mind that the artist sought his model. No man yet knows what it is. convenience. and our system of education fosters restlessness. lean. embark on the sea and at last wake up in Naples. and if the American artist will study with hope and love the precise thing to be done by him. and taste and sentiment will be satisfied also. or Washington. 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. our shelves are garnished with foreign ornaments. But the rage of travelling is a symptom of a deeper unsoundness affecting the whole intellectual action. the length of the day.Essays Travelling is a fool’s paradise. My giant goes with me wherever I go. And why need we copy the Doric or the Gothic model? Beauty. At home I dream that at Naples. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. considering the climate. I seek the Vatican and the palaces. I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. but I am not intoxicated. 3. that I fled from. never imitate. Shakspeare . unrelenting. and follow the Past and the Distant. grandeur of thought and quaint expression are as near to us as to any. or Newton? Every great man is a unique. till that person has exhibited it. the soil. at Rome. It was an applica46 tion of his own thought to the thing to be done and the conditions to be observed. Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home. the habit and form of the government. but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession. the sad self. The intellect is vagabond. or Bacon. the wants of the people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then first it ceases to be a stone. “Away! away! thou speakest to me of things which in all my endless life I have not found. We cannot approach beauty. Nor does it point to any relations of friendship or love known and described in society. Its nature is like opaline doves’neck lustres. personal beauty is then first charming and itself when it dissatisfies us with any end. when he said to music. to rainbows and the song of birds. to what roses and violets hint and foreshow. His friends find in her a likeness to her mother.” In like manner. defying all attempts at appropriation and use. to a quite other and unattainable sphere. to relations of transcendent delicacy and sweetness.” The same fluency may be observed in every work of the plastic arts. The god or hero of the sculptor is always represented in a transition from that which is representable to the senses. but. It is destroyed for the imagination by any attempt to refer it to organization. points. which all have this rainbow character. but demands an active imagination to go with it and to say what it is in the act of doing. when it is passing out of criticism and can no longer be defined by compass and measuring-wand. The statue is then beautiful when it begins to be incomprehensible. What else did Jean Paul Richter signify. Concerning it Landor inquires “whether it is not to be referred to some purer state of sensation and existence. hovering and evanescent. or her sisters. The same remark holds of painting. mundane. and shall not find. this wandering gleam. but we cannot find whereat this dainty emotion. 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 lover sees no resemblance except to summer evenings and diamond mornings. Herein it resembles 95 the most excellent things. large. as it seems to me.Emerson impersonal. so that the maiden stands to him for a representative of all select things and virtues. but when it astonishes and fires us with new endeavors after the unattainable. or to persons not of her blood. The ancients called beauty the flowering of virtue. Who can analyze the nameless charm which glances from one and another face and form? We are touched with emotions of tenderness and complacency. to that which is not. when it .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genius is always ascetic. Poetry and prudence should be coincident. Beauty should be the dowry of every man and woman. We have violated law upon law until we stand amidst ruins. and love. Health or sound organization should be universal. talent which glitters to-day that it may dine and sleep well to-morrow. Tasso’s is no infrequent case in modern biography. and society is officered by men of parts. as invariably as sensation. A man 121 . We have found out fine names to cover our sensuality withal. but should announce and lead the civil code and the day’s work. Goethe’s Tasso is very likely to be a pretty fair historical portrait. and nowhere is it pure. He that despiseth small things will perish by little and little. nor the love of wine. wrong each other. These use their gifts to refine luxury. genius. we are surprised. nor the wish to reap where he had not sowed. His art is less for every deduction from his holiness. without submitting to their law. But now the two things seem irreconcilably parted.Emerson this remains the dream of poets. a knot we cannot untie. but no gifts can raise intemperance. both apparently right. One living after the maxims of this world and consistent and true to them. and not by divine men. the boldest lyric inspiration should not chide and insult. but it is rare. as they are properly called. Appetite shows to the finer souls as a disease. and piety. but now it is not to be predicted of any child. not to abolish it. Genius should be the child of genius and every child should be inspired. We call partial half-lights. the scorned world wreaks its revenge. His art never taught him lewdness. by courtesy. yet grasping also at the pleasures of sense. talent which converts itself to money. That is a grief we all feel. Poets should be lawgivers. It does not seem to me so genuine grief when some tyrannous Richard the Third oppresses and slays a score of innocent persons. and that is true tragedy. that is. and less for every defect of common sense. the other fired with all divine sentiments. and when by chance we espy a coincidence between reason and the phenomena. The man of talent affects to call his transgressions of the laws of the senses trivial and to count them nothing considered with his devotion to his art. On him who scorned the world as he said. as when Antonio and Tasso. and they find beauty in rites and bounds that resist it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

“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.





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nor testify the least displeasure or petulance at the dulness of their amazed auditory. With a geometry of sunbeams the soul lays the foundations of nature. His children fed at heavenly tables. But what marks its elevation and has even a comic look to us. 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. Let spouting fountains cool the air. Let statue. 178 ART Give to barrows trays and pans Grace and glimmer of romance. they add thesis to thesis.Essays of rhetoric and literature. picture. for it commands the entire schedule and inventory of things for its illustration. ’Tis the privilege of Art . 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. His fathers shining in bright fables. is the innocent serenity with which these babe-like Jupiters sit in their clouds. and to be at once poetry and music and dancing and astronomy and mathematics. but speak their own. On the city’s paved street Plant gardens lined with lilac sweet. flag and festival. park and hall. without a moment’s heed of the universal astonishment of the human race below. who do not comprehend their plainest argument. whether there be any who understand it or not. Skirts of angels. I am present at the sowing of the seed of the world. Well assured that their speech is intelligible and the most natural thing in the world. Bring the moonlight into noon Hid in gleaming piles of stone. The truth and grandeur of their thought is proved by its scope and applicability. Singing in the sun-baked square. starry wings. Ballad. nor do they ever relent so much as to insert a popular or explaining sentence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I say to him. After 271 . and objects of veneration. correspondent to my flowing unto him. for gifts. and the debtor naturally wishes to give you a slap. love.” We ask the whole. and so the act is not supported. or when a gift comes from such as do not know my spirit. Some violence I think is done.Emerson “Brother. and is continually punished by the total insensibility of the obliged person. must be the flowing of the giver unto me. Nothing less will content us. and who says.—I rather sympathize with the beneficiary than with the anger of my lord Timon. This giving is flat usurpation. “Do not flatter your benefactors.” 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. When the waters are at level. and his to me. not at all considering the value of the gift but looking back to the greater store it was taken from. He is a good man who can receive a gift well. It is a very onerous business. reverence. this of being served. The gift. all mine his. if Jove to thee a present make. then I should be ashamed that the donor should read my heart. and both emotions are unbecoming. when I rejoice or grieve at a gift. which belief of mine this gift seems to deny? Hence the fitness of beautiful. For the expectation of gratitude is mean. as all beneficiaries hate all Timons. A golden text for these gentlemen is that which I so admire in the Buddhist. I am sorry when my independence is invaded. and therefore when the beneficiary is ungrateful. and see that I love his commodity. Take heed that from his hands thou nothing take. 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. opportunity. How can you give me this pot of oil or this flagon of wine when all your oil and wine is mine. and not him. All his are mine. not useful things. besides earth and fire and water. You cannot give anything to a magnanimous person. some degradation borne. and if the gift pleases me overmuch. We are either glad or sorry at a gift. who never thanks. to be true. We arraign society if it do not give us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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-


Essays dor and heyday, perchance in the neighboring fields, or, if you stand in the field, then in the adjacent woods. The present object shall give you this sense of stillness that follows a pageant which has just gone by. What splendid distance, what recesses of ineffable pomp and loveliness in the sunset! But who can go where they are, or lay his hand or plant his foot thereon? Off they fall from the round world forever and ever. It is the same among the men and women as among the silent trees; always a referred existence, an absence, never a presence and satisfaction. Is it that beauty can never be grasped? in persons and in landscape is equally inaccessible? The accepted and betrothed lover has lost the wildest charm of his maiden in her acceptance of him. She was heaven whilst he pursued her as a star: she cannot be heaven if she stoops to such a one as he. What shall we say of this omnipresent appearance of that first projectile impulse, of this flattery and balking of so many well-meaning creatures? Must we not suppose somewhere in the universe a slight treachery and derision? Are we not engaged to a serious resentment of this use that is made of us? Are we tickled trout, and fools of nature? One look at the face of heaven and earth lays all petulance at rest, and soothes us to wiser convictions. To the intelligent, nature converts itself into a vast promise, and will not be rashly explained. Her secret is untold. Many and many an Oedipus arrives; he has the whole mystery teeming in his brain. Alas! the same sorcery has spoiled his skill; no syllable can he shape on his lips. Her mighty orbit vaults like the fresh rainbow into the deep, but no archangel’s wing was yet strong enough to follow it and report of the return of the curve. But it also appears that our actions are seconded and disposed to greater conclusions than we designed. We are escorted on every hand through life by spiritual agents, and a beneficent purpose lies in wait for us. We cannot bandy words with Nature, or deal with her as we deal with persons. If we measure our individual forces against hers we may easily feel as if we were the sport of an insuperable destiny. But if, instead of identifying ourselves with the work, we feel that the soul of the workman streams through us, we shall find the peace of the morning dwell286

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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