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Cornell University Library

PS 1600.F03a V.3

The complete works

of Ralph

Waldo Emerso

3 1924 020 761 023


\L>bO

V.3


The tine

original of

tliis

book

is in

Cornell University Library.

There are no known copyright

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the United States on the use of the

text.

http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924020761023


Concorb €tiition

THE COMPLETE WORKS OF RALPH WALDO EMERSON WITH A BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY

EDWARD WALDO EMERSON AND A GENERAL INDEX

ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAVURES

VOLUME

III


m.9.


Ralph Waldo Emerson

in

183^


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\\


ESSAYS BY

RALPH WALDO EMERSON SECOND

SERIES

BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY

1904 f^


COPYRIGHT, 1876

BY RALPH WALDO EMERSON COPYRIGHT, 1883 AND

1903,

BY

EDWARD

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

fjfi

6S^o

W. EMERSON


CONTENTS I.


LIST

OF ILLUSTRATIONS

RALPH WALDO EMERSON From

Frontispiece

a daguerreotype taken in

1859,

in the pos-

session of the family

CENTRAL PART OF CONCORD, Drawn by Downes for

J.

W.

Barber's

Barber,

"

200

1839

and engraved by

Historical Collections

"

J.


I

THE POET A

MOODY

child

and wildly wise

Pursued the game with joyful eyes.

Which chose, Kke meteors, their way. And rived the dark with private ray: They overleapt the horizon's edge. Searched with Apollo's privilege;

Through man, and woman, and

Saw

Through worlds, and

Saw

sea,

and

star

the dance of nature forward far; races,

and terms, and times

musical order, and pairing rhymes.


Olympian bards who sung Divine ideas below.

Which always

And

find us

young.

always keep us

so.


THE POET THOSE who

are esteemed umpires of taste

are often persons

knowledge of admired and have an inclination but

if

souls,

you

who have pictures for

acquired

some

or sculptures,

whatever

is

elegant

inquire whether they are beautiful

and whether

you

their

own

acts are like fair

and sensual. Their cultivation is local, as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce Their knowfire, all the rest remaining cold. ledge of the fine arts is some study of rules and particulars, or some limited judgment of color or form, which is exercised for amusement or for show. It is a proof of the shallowness of the doctrine of beauty as it lies in the minds pictures,

learn that they are selfish

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. as fire

is

there

is

spirit

We

were put into our bodies,

put into a pan to be carried about ; but no accurate adjustment between the

and the organ, much

less is the latter the

germination of the former. So in regard to other forms, the intellectual

men do

not beheve in


THE POET

4

dependence of the material world on thought and volition. Theologians think it

any

essential

a pretty air-castle to talk of the spiritual

mean-

ing of a ship or a cloud, of a city or a contract,

but they prefer to come again to the solid ground

of

evidence

historical

contented with a living,

and

civil

and even the poets are and conformed manner of ;

poems from the fancy, at a from their own experience.' But

to write

safe distance

the highest minds of the world

have never

ceased to explore the double meaning, or shall I

say the quadruple or the centuple or

more manifold meaning, of every sensuous

much fact;

^

Orpheus, Empedocles, Heraclitus, Plato, Plutarch, Dante, Swedenborg, and the masters of sculpture, picture

and poetry.

For we

are not

pans and barrows, nor even porters of the

fire

and torch-bearers, but children of the fire, made of it, and only the same divinity transmuted and least

two or three removes, when we know about it.' And this hidden truth, that the

at

fountains whence

all this

river of

Time and

its

creatures floweth are intrinsically ideal

and beaudraws us to the consideration of the nature and functions of the Poet, or the man of Beauty tiful,

;

to the

means and materials he

uses,

and

to the

general aspect of the art in the present time.


THE POET The

5

breadth of the problem

is

great, for the

poet

is

representative.

He stands among partial

men

for the complete

man, and apprises us not

common wealth. The men of genius, because, to

of his wealth, but of the

young man

reveres

speak truly, they are more himself than he

They

is.

receive of the soul as he also receives,

but they more.

Nature enhances her beauty, to the eye of loving men, from their belief that the poet is beholding her shows at the same time. He is isolated among his contemporaries by truth and by his art, but with this consolation in his pursuits, that they will draw all men sooner or later. For all men live by truth and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in

games, we study

to utter our painful secret.

The man

half himself, the other half

his expression.

Notwithstanding

this

is

is

only

be pub-

necessity to

know not

lished, adequate expression

is

how

interpreter, but the

it

is

that

we need an

great majority of

men seem

rare.

I

to be minors,

who

have not yet come into possession of their own, or mutes,

who cannot

report the conversation

they have had with nature.

who

There

is

no man

does not anticipate a supersensual utihty

in the

sun and

stars, earth

and water. These


THE POET

6

stand and wait to render him a peculiar service.

But there

is

of phlegm suffer fall

us

them

in

some obstruction or some

excess

our constitution, which does not

to yield the

due

Too

effect.

feeble

make

the impressions of nature on us to artists.

man should

Every touch should be so

much an

thrill.'

Every

he could

artist that

report in conversation what had befallen him.

Yet, in our experience, the rays or appulses have sufficient force to arrive at the senses,

enough

to reach the quick

and compel the

The

production of themselves in speech. is

the person in

whom

but not re-

poet

these powers are in bal-

ance,^ the man without impediment, who sees and handles that which others dream of, traverses the whole scale of experience, and is representative of man, in virtue of being the largest power to receive and to impart. For the Universe has three children, born at one time, which reappear under different names in every system of thought, whether they

be called cause, operation and poetically, Jove, Pluto,

effect

Neptune

;

;

or,

more

or, theologi-

and the Son; but which we will call here the Knower, the Doer and the Sayer. These stand respectively for the cally, the Father, the Spirit

love of truth, for the love of good, and for


THE POET

7

the love of beauty. These three are equal. Each is

that which he

is,

essentially, so that he

cannot

be surmounted or analyzed, and each of these three has the

power of the others

and

patent.'

his

The

own, poet

him

the sayer, the namer, and repre-

is

sents beauty.

latent in

He

is

a sovereign,

and stands on

For the world is not painted or is from the beginning beautiful and God has not made some beautiful things, but Beauty is the creator of the universe. There-

the centre.

adorned, but

fore the poet

but

is

is

emperor

not any permissive potentate,

in his

own

right.'

Criticism

is

infested with a cant of materialism, which as-

sumes that manual skill and activity is the first merit of all men, and disparages such as say and do not, overlooking the fact that some men, namely poets, are natural sayers, sent into the world to the end of expression, and confounds them with those whose province is action but who quit it to imitate the sayers. But Homer's words are as

as costly

Agamemnon's

The

and admirable to

victories are to

Homer

Agamemnon.

poet does not wait for the hero or the sage,

and think primarily, so he writes and must be spoken, reckprimarily what oning the others, though primaries also, yet. but, as they act

will


THE POET

8

in respect to him, secondaries sitters

and servants

;

as

or models in the studio of a painter, or

as assistants

who

bring building-materials to an

architect.

For poetry was and whenever we

we

written before time was,

can penetrate into that region where the music,'

is

all

are so finely organized that air

we hear those primal warblings and

attempt to write them down, but we lose ever

and anon

a

word or

a verse

and substitute some-

thing of our own, and thus miswrite the poem.'

The men

of more delicate ear write

down

these

cadences more faithfully, and these transcripts,

though imperfect, become the songs of the na-

For nature

tions.

is

as truly beautiful as

it is

must as much appear as it must be done, or be known. Words and deeds are quite indifferent modes of the divine energy. Words are also actions, and actions are good, or as

a

it

is

reasonable, and

kind of words.

The

sign and credentials of the poet are that

he announces that which no is

the true and only doctor

he

is

;

man

foretold.

he knows and

He tells

the only teller of news, for he was present

and privy to the appearance which he describes. He is a beholder of ideas and an utterer of the necessary and causal. For we do not speak now


THE POET of men of poetical skill in

9

of industry and

talents, or

metre, but of the true poet.

in a conversation the other

cent writer of lyrics, a

man

I

took part

day concerning a

head appeared to be a music-box of tunes and rhythms, and whose

mand of praise.

re-

of subtle mind, whose

skill

delicate

and com-

language we could not sufficiently

But when the question arose whether he lyrist but a poet, we were obliged

was not only a

to confess that he

is

an eternal man.'

He

plainly a contemporary, not

does not stand out of our

low limitations, like a Chimborazo under the line,

running up from a torrid base through

all

the climates of the globe, with belts of the herb-

age of every latitude on sides

;

but

this genius

its

is

high and mottled

the landscape-garden

of a modern house, adorned with fountains and statues, with well-bred

men and women

stand-

ing and sitting in the walks and terraces. hear, through

all

tone of conventional talents

who

sing,

The argument verses

is

life.

Our

poets are

men

of

and not the children of music. secondary, the finish of the

primary.

For argument it

is

We

the varied music, the ground-

is

not metres, but a metre-making

that

makes

a

poem,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

a

thought so

passionate and alive that like the spirit of a plant


THE POET

10

or an animal

and

has an architecture of

it

new

nature with a

adorns

Its

own,

The

thing.

thought and the form are equal in the order of time, but in the order of genesis the thought

The poet

prior to the form."

has a

he has a whole new experience to unfold us

will tell

how

it

was with him, and

be the richer in his fortune.

is

new thought all

;

he

men will

For the experience

of each new age requires a new confession, and the world seems always waiting for

its

poet,

I

remember when I was young how much I was moved one morning by tidings that genius had appeared in a youth

He

had

knew

tell

was therein told

;

was changed,

and lous

sat near

me

at table.

whither, and had written hundreds of lines,

but could not

all

who

work and gone rambling none

left his

sea. !

How

whether that which was he could

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; man,

gladly

we

tell

in

him

nothing but that

beast, heaven, earth

listened

!

how

credu-

Society seemed to be compromised.

We

sat in the aurora

of a sunrise which was to put

out

Boston seemed to be

all

the stars.

the distance

it

at twice

had the night before, or was much

farther than that.

Rome,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; what was

Rome?

Plutarch and Shakspeare were in the yellow

and

Homer

much

to

no more should be heard

know that

of.

leaf,

It is

poetry has been written this


THE POET

II

very day, under this very roof, by your side.

What

that wonderful spirit has not expired

!

!

These stony moments are still sparkling and animated I had fancied that the oracles were !

all

and nature had spent her

silent,

behold

all

!

night,

;

and

from every pore, these

fine

fires

Every one has some interest in the advent of the poet, and no one knows how much it may concern him. We

auroras have been streaming.

know that the secret of the world is profound, but who or what shall be our interpreter, we know not. A mountain ramble, a new style of face, a new person, may put the key into our

Of

hands.

course the value of genius to us

in the veracity

and juggle in

good

;

of

its

report.

Talent

genius realizes and adds.

is

may frolic Mankind

earnest have availed so far in under-

standing themselves and their work, that the

foremost watchman on the peak announces his news.. It

is

word ever spoken, and be the fittest, most musical, and

the truest

the phrase will

the unerring voice of the world for that time.

All that we birth of a poet logy.'

call is

sacred history attests that the

the principal event in chrono-

Man, never so often deceived, still watches who can hold him he has made it his own. to a truth until

for the arrival of a brother

steady


THE POET

12

With what joy

confide in as an inspiration are to be

poem which I And now my chains mount above these

begin to read a

I

broken

I

;

clouds and opaque

!

shall

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; opaque, â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and from

which

airs in

I live,

though they seem transparent,

the

and comprehend my relations. That will reconcile me to life and renovate nature, to see trifles animated by a tendency, and to know what I am doing. Life will no more be a noise now I shall see men and women, and know the signs by which they may be discerned from fools and satans. This heaven of truth

see

shall

I

;

day

shall

be better than

became an animal; now science of the real. Such fruition

is

postponed.

winged man, who

my I

birthday

am

is

then

it falls

me into

me into mists, then leaps and me as it were from cloud to

that this

the heaven,

whirls

frisks

with

cloud,

affirming that he

is

bound heavenward

being myself a novice, that he does not

and

is

know

am

the

merely bent that

skill to rise

way from

;

about still

and

I,

slow in perceiving

way I

I

the hope, but the

Oftener

will carry

:

invited into the

into the heavens,

should admire his

like a fowl or a flying fish, a little

ground or the water but the alland ocular air of heaven that man shall never inhabit. I tumble down the

piercing, all-feeding

;


THE POET again soon into

my

of exaggerations

old nooks, and lead the

thither

where

and have

as before,

faith in the possibility

me

I

13

of any gilide

would

who

lost

be.

new hope, observe how

nature,

let us,

by worthier

impulses, has insured the poet's fidelity to office

my

can lead

But, leaving these victims of vanity, with

life

his

of announcement and affirming, namely

by the beauty of things, which becomes a new and higher beauty when expressed.' Nature offers all her creatures to him as a picture-language. Being used as a type, a second wonderful

value appears in the object, far better than

its

old value

;

as the carpenter's stretched cord,

you hold your ear close enough, is musical in the breeze. " Things more excellent than every if

image," says Jamblichus,^ "are expressed through

Things admit of being used

images."

bols because nature

and

is

without

its spirit

of character ;

sym-

Every line we can draw in and there is no body or genius. All form is an effect

in every part.

the sand has expression

life

as

a symbol, in the whole,

all

;

all

;

condition, of the quality of the

harmony, of health

;

and

for this rea-

son a perception of beauty should be sympathetic, or tiful rests

proper only to the good.

The

beau-

on the foundations of the necessary.


THE POET

14

The

teaches

:

as the wise

makes the body,

soul

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

"So

every

spirit, as it is

And

hath in

So

the fairer

it

To

habit in,

With

it

the

Here we

light.

body doth procure

and

it

more

fairly dight.

and amiable

For, of the soul, the is

more pure.

more of heavenly

cheerful grace

For soul

Spenser

sight.

body form doth

take.

form, and doth the body make."

find ourselves suddenly not in a criti-

cal speculation

but In a holy place, and should

go very warily and reverently. We stand before the secret of the world, there where Being passes into

Appearance and Unity into Variety. is the externization of the

The Universe Wherever

the

life is,

soul.

that bursts into appearance

Our science is sensual, and therefore superficial. The earth and the heavenly bodies, physics and chemistry, we sensually treat, as if around

it.

they were self-existent

;

but these are the retinue

of that Being we have. " The mighty heaven," said Proclus,'' " exhibits, in its transfigurations, clear

images

perceptions

;

of the being

splendor

moved

of intellectual

in conjunction with

the unapparent periods of intellectual natures."

Therefore science always goes abreast with the just elevation of the

man, keeping step with


THE POET and metaphysics

religion

15

or the state of science

;

an index of our self-knowledge. Since every thing in nature answers to a moral power, if any

is

phenomenon remains brute and dark it is because the corresponding faculty in the observer is not yet active.

No that

wonder then, if these waters be so deep, we hover over them with a religious regard.

The

beauty of the fable proves the importance

of the sense if

you

;

to the poet,

please, every

man

and to is

all

others

;

or,

so far a poet as to

be susceptible of these enchantments of nature for

men have

all

universe

is

the

thoughts whereof the

the celebration.

I

find that the fas-

Who

cination resides in the symbol.

ture?

Who does not?

Is

it

;

loves na-

only poets, and

of leisure and cultivation, who

No

;

live

men

with her?

but also hunters, farmers, grooms and butch-

though they express their affection in their choice of life and not in their choice of words. The writer wonders what the coachman or the hunter values in riding, in horses and dogs. It ers,

is

not superficial qualities.

him he holds His worship nitions,

living

When

you

talk with

these at as slight a rate as you. is

but he

sympathetic; he has no defiis

commanded

power which he

feels to

in nature

by the

be there present.

i

1


THE POET

i6

No

would

imitation or playing of these things

content him

;

he loves the earnest of the north

wind, of rain, of stone and

beauty not explicable

is

wood and

iron."

A

dearer than a beauty

which we can see to the end

of.

It

is

nature

the symbol, nature certifying the supernatural,

body overflowed by coarse but sincere

The

life

which he worships with

rites.

inwardness and mystery of this attach-

drive men of every class to the use of emblems. The schools of poets and philoso-

ment

phers are not more intoxicated with their symthan the populace with

bols

political parties,

theirs.

In our

compute the power of badges

and emblems. See the great ball which they roll from Baltimore to Bunker Hill ^ In the polit!

ical

processions, Lowell goes in a loom,

Lynn

in a shoe,

and Salem

in a ship.

and

Witness

the cider-barrel, the log-cabin, the hickory-stick, the palmetto, and

all

the cognizances of party.

See the power of national emblems. lilies,

Some

stars,

leopards, a crescent, a lion, an eagle, or

other figure which came into credit

God knows

how, on an old rag of bunting, blowing in the wind on a fort at the ends of the earth, shall make the blood tingle under the rudest or the most conventional exterior. The people fancy


THE POET

17

they hate poetry, and they are

all

poets and

mystics

Beyond

this universality

of the symbolic lan-

guage, we are apprised of the divineness of this superior use of things, whereby the world

is

a

temple whose walls are covered with emblems, pictures and

commandments of

in this, that there

is

no

fact in

the Deity,

nature which does

not carry the whole sense of nature distinctions affairs,

which we make

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

;

in events

and the and

in

of low and high, honest and base, disap-

when nature is used as a symbol. Thought makes everything fit for use. The vocabulary of an omniscient man would embrace words pear

and images excluded from polite conversation. What would be base, or even obscene, to the obscene, becomes illustrious, spoken in a new

The

connection of thought.

HeThe cir-

piety of the

brew prophets purges their grossness. cumcision is an example of the power of poetry to raise the low and offensive. Small and mean things serve as well as great symbols.

The

meaner the type by which a law is expressed, the more pungent it is, and the more lasting in the memories of men just as we choose the smallest box or case in which any needful utenBare lists of words are found sil can be carried. ;


THE POET

1

and excited mind as related of Lord Chatham that he was accustomed to read in Bailey's Dictionary when suggestive to an imaginative it

is

he was preparing to speak poorest experience

is

rich

enough

purposes of expressing thought.

knowledge of new and garden,

facts

?

The

in Parliament.

for all

Why

Day and

the

covet a

night, house

a few books, a few actions, serve us

would all trades and all spectacles. from having exhausted the signiWe can ficance of the few symbols we use. come to use them yet with a terrible simplicity. as well as

We

are far

It does

not need that a

poem should be

long.

Every word was once a poem. Every new relais a new word. Also we use defects and de-

tion

formities to a sacred purpose, so expressing our

sense that the evils of the world are such only to the evil eye.'

In the old mythology, mytho-

logists observe, defects are

natures, as

Cupid, and the

For

as

ascribed to divine

lameness to Vulcan, blindness to

it is

like,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

to signify exuberances.

dislocation

God

and detachment from

makes things ugly, the poet, and the Whole, re-attaching even artificial things and violation of nature, to nature, by a deeper insight, disposes very easily of the most disagreeable the

life

who

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

of

that

re-attaches things to nature


THE POET facts.

19

Readers of poetry see the factory -village

and the

and fancy that the poetry of

railway,

the landscape

is

broken up by these

works of

art are

reading

but the poet sees them

;

for these

;

not yet consecrated in their fall

within the

great Order not less than the beehive or the spider's geometrical web.

Nature adopts them

and the gliding

very

fast into

train

of cars she loves like her own.'

in a centred

her vital

mind,

circles,

signifies

it

Besides,

how many Though you

nothing

mechanical inventions you exhibit.

add millions, and never so surprising, the

fact

of mechanics has not gained a grain's weight.

The

spiritual fact

remains unalterable, by

or by few particulars

;

as

no mountain

is

many

of any

appreciable height to break the curve of the sphere. for the

A shrewd first

country-boy goes to the

city

time, and the complacent citizen

not satisfied with his that he does not see

all

little

wonder.

It

the fine houses and

is

is

not

know

that he never saw such before, but he disposes

of them as easily as the poet finds place for the railway.

The

chief value of the

enhance the great and constant

new

fact is

fact

to

of Life,

which can dwarf any and every circumstance,

and to which the belt of wampum and the commerce of America are alike.


THE POET

20

The

world being thus put under the mind

who

for verb

and noun, the poet

ulate

For though life is great, and fascinates and though all men are intelligent

it.

and absorbs

is

he

can artic-

;

of the symbols through which

it is

named

We

;

yet

symbols and inhabit symbols workmen, work, and tools, words and things, birth and death, all are emblems but we sympathize with the symbols, and being infatuated with the economical uses of things, we do not know that they are thoughts. The poet, by an ulterior intellectual perception, gives them a power which makes their old use forgotten, and puts eyes and a tongue into every dumb and inanimate object. He perceives the independence of the thought on the symbol, they cannot originally use them.

are

;

;

the stability of the thought, the accidency and. fugacity of the symbol.

As

the eyes of Lyncseus

were said to see through the earth, so the poet turns the world to glass, and shows us in their right series

all

things

and procession. For through

that better perception he stands

one step nearer and sees the flowing or metamorphosis perceives that thought is multiform that within the form of every creature is a force impelHng it to ascend into a higher form and to things, ;

;

;

following with his eyes the

life,

uses the forms


THE POET which express that

life,

21

and so

with the flowing of nature.

speech flows

his

All the facts of the

animal economy, sex, nutriment, gestation, birth, growth, are symbols of the passage of the world

man, to suflfer there a change and reappear a new and higher fact. He uses forms according to the life, and not according to the form. This is true science. The poet alone knows astronomy, chemistry, vegetation and animation, for he does not stop at these facts, but employs them as signs. He knows

into the soul of

why

meadow of

the plain or

with these flowers stars

;

why

we

call

the great deep

mals, with men, and gods

space was strown

moons and

suns and is

adorned with anifor in every

;

word

he speaks he rides on them as the horses of thought.'

By

virtue of this science the poet

is

the

Namer

or Language-maker, naming things sometimes after their appearance,

sence,

and

and giving

one

after their es-

its

own name

not another's, thereby rejoicing the intellect,

which delights poets is

sometimes

to every

made

all

in

detachment or boundary.

The

the words, and therefore language

the archives of history, and,

a sort of

tomb of

origin of

most of our words

we must say it, For though the

if

the muses. is

forgotten, each


THE POET

22

word was

at first a stroke

currency because for the the world to the

The

first

of genius, and obtained

moment

symbolized

speaker and to the hearer.'

etymologist finds the deadest word to have

!been once a brilliant picture.

As

poetry.

sil

it

Language

is

fos-

the limestone of the continent

consists of infinite masses of the shells of ani-

malcules, so language

is

made up of images

or

tropes, which now, in their secondary use, have

long ceased to remind us of their poetic origin.

But the poet names the thing because he sees it, or comes one step nearer to it than any other. This expression or naming is not art, but a second nature, grown out of the first, as a leaf out of a tree. What we call nature is a certain self-regulated motion or change " and nature does all things by her own hands, and does not ;

leave another to baptize her but baptizes herself; I

and

this

remember

me

thus

:

Genius

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is

through the metamorphosis again.

that a certain

poet described

it

to

the activity which repairs the decays

of things, whether wholly or partly of a material

and

finite

kind.

Nature, through

all

her king-

doms, insures herself Nobody cares for planting the poor fungus so she shakes down from ;


THE POET the

gills

23

of one agaric countless spores, any one

of which, being preserved, transmits new

bil-

to-morrow or next day. The hour has a chance which the old one had not. This atom of seed is thrown

lions of spores

new

agaric of this

into a

new

place, not subject to the accidents

which destroyed

makes

a

man

;

its parent two rods off. She and having brought him to ripe

no longer run the risk of losing wonder at a blow, but she detaches from him a new self, that the kind may be safe from age, she will

this

accidents to which the individual

when

the soul of the poet has

is

exposed. So

come

to ripeness

of thought, she detaches and sends away from it

its

poems

or songs,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

deathless progeny, which accidents of the weary less,

a fearless,

is

sleepless,

not exposed to the

kingdom of time

;

a fear-

vivacious offspring, clad with wings (such

was the virtue of the soul out of which they came) which carry them fast and far, and infix

them irrecoverably into the hearts of men.' These wings are the beauty of the poet's soul. The songs, thus flying immortal from their mortal

parent, are pursued

censures, which

swarm

by clamorous in far greater

and threaten to devour them not winged. At the end of

;

flights

of

numbers

but these

last are

a very short

leap


THE POET

24 they

plump down and

fall

rot,

having received

from the souls out of which they came no beauti-

But the melodies of the poet ascend and leap and pierce into the deeps of infinite time. ful wings.

So

far

the bard taught me, using his freer

But nature has

speech.

a higher end, in the

production of new individuals, than security,

namely

ascension, or the passage I knew who made the

my

of the soul into

younger days the youth which

higher forms.

in

sculptor

statue of the

stands in the public garden.

He

was, as I re-

member, unable to tell directly what made him happy or unhappy, but by wonderful indirections he could

tell.

He

rose one day, according to

his habit, before the

dawn, and saw the morning

break, grand as the eternity out of which

and

for

many

days

this tranquillity,

and

after,

lo

!

it

came,

he strove to express

his chisel

had fashioned

out of marble the form of a beautiful youth.

Phosphorus, whose aspect

who look on

is

such that

it is

said

become silent.' The poet also resigns himself to his mood, and that thought which agitated him is expressed, but alter idem, in a manner totally new. The expression is organic, or the new type which things themselves take when liberated. As, in the all

persons

it


THE POET

,

25

sun, objects paint their images on the retina of

the eye, so they, sharing the aspiration of the

whole universe, tend cate

to paint a far

more deH-

copy of their essence in his mind.

Like

the metamorphosis of things into higher organic forms

is

change into melodies. Over

their

everything stands

daemon or

its

soul, and, as

by the eye, so the soul of the thing is reflected by a melody. The sea, the mountain-ridge, Niagara, and every

the form of the thing

is

reflected

flower-bed, pre-exist, or super-exist, in pre-cantations,

which

sail

like odors

the

in

when any man goes by with an ear fine,

air,

and

sufficiently

he overhears them and endeavors to write

down them.'

the notes without diluting or depraving

And

herein

the legitimation of

is

cism, in the mind's faith that the

poems

criti-

are a

corrupt version of some text in nature with

which they ought to be made to tally. in one of our sonnets should not be

A rhyme less pleas-

ing than the iterated nodes of a seashell, or the

resembling difference of a group of flowers. pairing of the birds

our idyls are

;

an

is

a tempest

out falsehood or rant

;

a

is

idyl,

not tedious as

a rough ode, with-

summer, with

vest sown, reaped and stored,

subordinating

The

is

its

har-

an epic song,

how many admirably

executed


THE POET

26

Why sljould

parts.

not the symmetry and truth

that modulate these, glide into our spirits, and

we

participate the invention of nature

This is

which expresses

insight,

called Imagination,

?

itself

by what

a very high sort of see-

is

which does not come by study, but by the

ing,

being where and what

intellect

it

sees

;

by shar-

ing the path or circuit of things through forms,

and so making them translucid path of things

suffer their

;

a lover, a poet,

own

nature,

A

?

is

The

Will they suffer a

silent.

is

speaker to go with them

to others.'

spy they

will

not

the transcendency of

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; him they

will suffer.

The

condition of true naming, on the poet's part, his resigning himself to the divine

is

aura which

breathes through forms, and accompanying that. It

a secret

is

which every

intellectual

man

quickly learns, that beyond the energy of his

possessed and conscious intellect he

of a new energy itself),

(as

of an

by abandonment

intellect

capable

is

doubled on

to the nature of things

;

power as an individual great public power on which he

that beside his privacy of

man, there

is

a

can draw, by unlocking, at

all

risks, his

human

doors, and suffering the ethereal tides to roll and circulate

the

life

through him

;

then he

is

caught up into

of the Universe, his speech

is

thunder,


THE POET his

thought

is

law,

and

intelligible as the plants

knows

his

27

words

are universally

and animals. The poet

that he speaks adequately then only

when

he speaks somewhat wildly, or " with the flower of the mind " not with the intellect used as an ;

organ, but with the intellect released from

and suffered

service

its celestial life

;

to take

its

direction

all

from

wont

or as the ancients were

to

express themselves, not with intellect alone but

As

with the intellect inebriated by nectar.

who

traveller

on

his horse's

has lost his

way throws

the

his reins

neck and trusts to the instinct of

the animal to find his road, so must the divine animal

who

carries us

we do with

through

this

if in any manner we can stimulate new passages are opened for us into nature the mind flows into and through things hardest and highest, and the metamorphosis is

For

world.

this instinct, ;

possible.

This

is

the reason

why

bards love wine, mead,

opium, the fumes of sandalor whatever other procurers wood and tobacco, narcotics, coffee, tea,

of animal exhilaration. All

men

avail

of such means as they can, to add

themselves

this extraor-

dinary power to their normal powers this

end they prize conversation, music,

;

and

to

pictures,

sculpture, dancing, theatres, travelling, war, mobs.


THE POET

28

gaming,

fires,

politics,

animal intoxication,

or love, or science, or

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which

are several coarser

or finer guasi-mecha.nica.1 substitutes for the true

which

nectar,

is

the ravishment of the intellect

by coming nearer iliaries

These

to the fact."

to the centrifugal tendency of a

his passage out into free space,

him he

to escape the custody of that

is

are aux-

man,

and they help body in which

pent up, and of that jail-yard of individual

relations in

which he

number of such

as

is

Hence

enclosed.

a great

were professionally express-

ers of Beauty, as painters, poets, musicians actors,

a

life

few

to

and

have been more than others wont to lead of pleasure and indulgence;

who

a spurious

mode of

all

but the

and, as

it

was

attaining freedom, as

it

was

received the true nectar

;

an emancipation not into the heavens but into the freedom of baser places, they were punished

won, by a dissipation and deterioration. But never can any advantage for that advantage they

be taket^ of nature by a

trick.

The spirit

of the

world, the great calm presence of the Creator,

comes not forth wine.

The

to the sorceries of

opium

or of

sublime vision comes to the pure

and simple soul in a clean and chaste body. That is not an inspiration, which we owe to narcotics,

but some counterfeit excitement and fury.


THE POET Milton says and

that the lyric poet

may

drink wine

but the epic poet, he

live generously,

shall sing of the

29

who

gods and their descent unto

men, must drink water out of a wooden bowl.' For poetry is not Devil's wine,' but God's '

We

fill

the hands and nurseries of our children with

all

wine.

It is

manner of

with this as

it is

with toys.

drums and horses

dolls,

;

withdraw-

ing their eyes from the plain face and sufficing objects of nature, the sun

and moon, the animals,

the water and stones, which should be their toys.

So the poet's habit of living should be set on a key so low that the common influences should delight him. His cheerfulness should be the gift

of the sunlight; the

his

inspiration,

water.

That

which seems

air

should

suffice for

and he should be tipsy with

spirit

which

come

quiet hearts,

suffices

from every from every pine stump and half-imbedded stone on which the dull March sun shines, comes forth to the poor and to

forth to such

dry" knoll of sere grass,

hungry, and such fill

as are

of simple

thy brain with Boston and

taste.

New

If thou

York, with

fashion and covetousness, and wilt stimulate thy

jaded senses with wine and French shalt find

no radiance of wisdom

waste of the pine woods.

coffee,

thou

in the lonely


THE POET

30

If the imagination intoxicates the poet,

is

The metamorphosis The

not inactive in other men. excites in the beholder

it

an emotion of joy.

use of symbols has a certain power of emancipation and exhilaration for

men.

all

We

seem

to be touched by a wand which makes us dance and run about happily, like children. We are like persons who come out of a cave or cellar into the open air. This is the effect on us of tropes, fables, oracles and all poetic forms. Poets are

Men

thus Hberating gods."

new

sense,

and found within

world, or nest of worlds sis

world another

the

metamorpho-

for,

;

once seen, we divine that

now

have really got a their

it

does not stop.

I

how much

this makes the charm of algebra and the mathematics, which will

not

also

have their tropes, but

nition

as

;

consider

when

it is felt

in every, defi-

Aristotle defines space to be

an immovable vessel in which things are contained

;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

or

flowing point

;

defines a line to be a

or figure to be a

bound of solid

What a joyful sense of freehave when Vitruvius announces the old

and many the

dom we

when Plato

opinion of

like.

artists that

no architect can build any

house well who does not know something of anatomy. When Socrates, in Charmides, tells us that the soul

is

cured of

its

maladies by certain


THE POET

31

and that these incantations

incantations,

reasons, from which temperance

tiful

in souls

;

when Plato

and Timaeus mals

;

is

generated

the world an animal,

affirms that the plants also are ani-

or affirms a

growing with

calls

are beau-

man

his root,

to be a heavenly tree,

which

is

his head,

upward;

and, as George Chapman, following him, writes, •'

So

in our tree of

Springs in his top

man, whose nervie root ;

"

'

when Orpheus speaks of hoarinessas "

that white

flower which marks extreme old age

;

Proclus lect

calls

when Chaucer,

;

when

"

the universe the statue of the intelin his praise of ' Gentilesse,'

compares good blood in mean condition to fire, which, though carried to the darkest house betwixt this and the

hold if

its

mount of Caucasus,

natural office and burn as bright as

twenty thousand men did

John

will yet

it

behold;^ when

saw, in the Apocalypse, the ruin of the

world through

evil,

and the

stars fall

from heaven

as the fig tree casteth her untimely fruit

;

when

iEsop reports the whole catalogue of common daily relations through the masquerade of birds

and beasts

— we take

;

the cheerful hint of the

immortality of our essence and

and

escapes, as

selves " die."

it is

when

in vain to

its

versatile habit

the gypsies say of them-

hang them, they cannot


THE POET

32

The

The

poets are thus liberating gods.

ancient British bards had for the order, "

Those who

world."

They

are free

are free,

and they make

imaginative book renders us at first,

when we

sense of the author."

I

free.

much more

by stimulating us through

than afterward

of their

title

throughout the

arrive

An

service

its

tropes,

at the

precise

think nothing

is

of any

value in books excepting the transcendental and extraordinary.

away by

his

If a

man

is

inflamed and carried

thought, to that degree that

he

and the public and heeds only this one dream which holds him like an insanity, let me read his paper, and you may have all the arguments and histories and critiforgets the authors

cism.

All the value which attaches to Pytha-

goras, Paracelsus, Cornelius Agrippa, Cardan,

Kepler, Swedenborg, Schelling, Oken, or any

other

who

introduces questionable facts into his

cosmogony,

as angels, devils, magic, astrology,

palmistry, mesmerism, and so on,

is

the

certifi-

we have of departure from routine, and that here is a new witness. That also is the best succate

cess in conversation, the

magic of

liberty,

puts the world like a ball in our hands.

cheap even the liberty then seems study,

;

which

How

how mean

when an emotion communicates

to

to the


THE POET intellect the

how

power

33

and upheave nature

to sap

great the perspective

!

nations, times, sys-

tems, enter and disappear like threads in tapestry

of large figure and many colors

;

dream

delivers

us to dream, and while the drunkenness

lasts

we

reli-

will sell

our bed, our philosophy, our

gion, in our opulence.

There

is

good reason why we should

The

this liberation.

who, blinded and

fate

prize

of the poor shepherd,

lost in the

snow-storm, perishes

in a drift within a few feet of his cottage door,

an emblem of the state of man. of the waters of dying.

The

life

and

truth,

we

On

is

the brink

are miserably

inaccessibleness of every thought

but that we are

What

you come near to it you are as remote when you are nearest as when you are farthest. Every thought is also a prison every heaven is also a prison. Therefore we love the poet, the inin. Is

wonderful.

if

;

;

ventor, in

who

in

any form, whether

in an

ode or

an action or in looks and behavior, has yielded

us a new thought.

admits us to a

new

He

unlocks our chains and

scene.'

This emancipation is dear to all men, and the power to impart it, as It must come from greater depth and scope of thought, Is a measure of intellect. Therefore all books of the imagination


THE POET

34

endure,

all

which ascend to thdt truth that the

and uses it as Every verse or sentence possesswill take care of its own immor-

writer sees nature beneath him, his

exponent.

ing this virtue tality.

The

rehgions of the world are the ejacu-

lations of a few imaginative

men.

But the quality of the imagination is to flow, and not to freeze. The poet did not stop at the color or the form, but read their meaning

may he

neither

rest in

this

meaning, but he

makes the same objects exponents of his new Here is the difference betwixt the poet and the mystic, that the last nails a symthought.

bol

'

to

one sense, which was a true sense for a

moment, but soon becomes old and all

symbols are fluxional

ular

and

transitive,

and

;

is

all

language

good, as

For

false. is

vehic-

ferries

and

horses are, for conveyance, not as farms and

houses

homestead.

Mysticism consists in the mistake of an accidental and individual symbol for an universal one. The morningare, for

redness happens to be the favorite meteor to the eyes of Jacob to

him

for truth

should stand for reader.

But the

Behmen, and comes and faith and, he the same realities

first

;

to stand believes,

to

every

reader prefers as naturally

the symbol of a mother and child, or a gardener


THE POET and

35

bulb, or a jeweller polishing a gem.

his

Either of these, or of a myriad more, are equally

good to the person to whom they are significant. Only they must be held lightly, and be very willingly translated into

And

which others use. steadily told,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

the equivalent terms

the mystic must be

All that you say

just as true

is

without the tedious use of that symbol it.

Let us have

trite rhetoric,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

village symbols,

The all

as

with

of this

a little algebra, instead

universal signs, instead of these

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and we

shall

both be gainers.

show that making the sym-

history of hierarchies seems to

religious error consisted in

bol too stark and solid, and was at last nothing

but an excess of the organ of language.

Swedenborg, of

all

men

in

the recent ages,

stands eminently for the translator of nature into

thought.

whom

I

do not know the man

things

in history to

stood so uniformly for words.

Before him the metamorphosis continually plays.

Everything on which

his

eye

impulses of moral nature. grapes whilst he eats them.

rests,

The

obeys the

figs

become

When some

of his

angels affirmed a truth, the laurel twig which

they held blossomed

which

at a distance

in their hands.

The

noise

appeared like gnashing and

thumping, on coming nearer was found

to

be


THE POET

36

the voice of disputants.

The men

visions, seen in heavenly

dragons, and seemed in darkness

in

one of

his

appeared like

light,

;

but to each

other they appeared as men, and when the light from heaven shone into their cabin, they complained of the darkness, and were compelled to

shut the window that they might see.

There was

this perception in

him which makes

the poet or seer an object of awe and terror,

namely

same man or

that the

may wear one

men

aspect to themselves and their

companions, and telligences.

society of

a different aspect to

higher in-

Certain priests, whom he describes as

conversing very learnedly together, appeared to the children

horses

;

who were

at

some

distance, like dead

and many the like misappearances.

instantly the

mind

And

inquires whether these fishes

under the bridge, yonder oxen

in the pasture,

those dogs in the yard, are immutably fishes,

oxen and dogs, or only so appear to me, and perchance to themselves appear upright men;

and whether

I

appear as a

The Brahmins and

man

to

same question, and

if

eyes.

any poet has witnessed

the transformation he doubtless found

mony

all

Pythagoras propounded the

with various experiences.

We

it

in har-

have

all

seen changes as considerable in wheat and cater-


THE POET pillars.

He

is

37

the poet and shall draw us with

love and terror,

who

sees

through the flowing

vest the firm nature, and can declare I

We

look in vain for the poet

do not with

whom

it.'

I

describe.

sufficient plainness or sufficient

profoundness address ourselves to

life,

nor dare

we chaunt our own times and social circumstance. If we filled the day with bravery, we should not shrink from celebrating it. Time and nature yield us many gifts, but not yet the timely man, the new religion, the reconciler, whom all things await.

Dante's praise

is

that he dared to

write his autobiography in colossal cipher, or into universality. in

We

have yet had no genius

America, with tyrannous eye, which knew the

value of our incomparable materials, and saw, in the barbarism and materialism of the times, an-

other carnival of the same gods whose picture he

much admires in Homer then in the Middle Age then in Calvinism. Banks and tariflFs, the so

;

;

newspaper and caucus, Methodism and Unitarianism, are flat and dull to dull people, but rest on the same foundations of wonder as the town of

Troy and

the temple of Delphi, and are as swiftly

passing away.

Our

their politics, our fisheries,

dians, our boats

stumps and our Negroes and In-

log-rolling, our

and our repudiations, the wrath


THE POET

38

of rogues and the pusillanimity of honest men, the northern trade, the southern planting, the

western clearing, Oregon and Texas, are yet

Yet America is a poem in our eyes ample geography dazzles the imagination,

unsung. its

and

it

will

not wait long for metres.

If I have

not found that excellent combination of

my

countrymen which

I

seek, neither could

aid myself to fix the idea of the poet

ing

now and then

five centuries

more than

gifts in I

by read-

Chalmers's collection of

in

These

of English poets.

are wits

though there have been poets among them. But when we adhere to the ideal of the poet, we have our difficulties even with Milton and Homer. Milton is too literary and Homer too literal and historical. But I am not wise enough for a national criticism, and must use the old largeness a little poets,

longer, to discharge

my

errand from the muse

to the poet concerning his art.

Art

The

is

the path of the creator to his work.

paths or methods are ideal and eternal,

though few men ever see them

;

not the

artist

himself for years, or for a lifetime, unless he

come

into

the

conditions.

The

painter, the

sculptor, the composer, the epic rhapsodist, the orator, all partake

one

desire,

namely to express


THE POET

39

themselves symmetrically and abundantly, not

They found

dwarfishly and fragmentarily.

put themselves

in

painter and sculptor

human

figures

;

conditions, as,

certain

or the

some impressive

before

the orator into the assembly

of the people; and the others in such scenes as each has found exciting to his intellect

each presently feels the new desire. a voice, he sees a beckoning. prised, with wonder,

him

in.

He

Then

he

and

;

hears is

ap-

what herds of daemons hem

can no more rest

the old painter, "

He

By God

it is

he says, with

;

me

in

and must

go forth of me." He pursues a beauty, half seen, which flies before him. The poet pours out verses

in

Most

every solitude.

of the things

he says are conventional, no doubt but by and by he says something which is original and beauHe would say nothing tiful. That charms him. else but such things. In our way of talking we but the poet say That is yours, this is mine knows well that it is not his that it is as strange and beautiful to him as to you he would fain ;

;

'

'

;

;

hear the like eloquence at length.

Once hav-

ing tasted this immortal ichor, he cannot have

enough of it, and

as

an admirable creative power

exists in these intellections,

it is

of the

portance that these things get spoken.'

last

im-

What


THE POET

40 a

of

of

little

we know

all

is

said

What

!

by what accident

when

so

many

it

is

drops

up

the sea of our science are baled

all

!

and

that these are exposed,

secrets sleep in nature

the necessity of speech and song

;

Hence

!

hence these

throbs and heart-beatings in the orator, at the

door of the assembly, to the end namely that

may be ejaculated as Logos, or Word. Doubt not, O poet, but persist. Say It is

thought

'

Stand there, balked and and stammering, hissed and hooted, stand and strive, until at last rage draw out of thee that dream-power which every night shows thee is thine own a power transcending all limit and privacy, and by virtue of which a man is the conductor of the whole river of electricity. Nothing walks, or creeps, or grows, or exists, which must not in turn arise and walk in

me, and

dumb,

shall out.'

stuttering

;

before

him

as

exponent of

his

he to that power, his genius

tribes

pour into

come

This

is

is

no longer ex-

All the creatures by. pairs and by

haustible.

to

Comes

meaning.

his

mind

as into a

forth again to, people a

like the stock

of

air for

Noah's

new

ark,

world.

our respiration

or for the combustion of our fireplace

;

not a

measure of gallons, but the entire atmosphere if

wanted.

And

therefore

the rich poets, as


THE POET Homer, Chaucer,

41

Shakspeare,

have obviously no limits to

their

and Raphael, works except

the limits of their lifetime, and resemble a mirror carried through the street, ready to render

an image of every created thing.

O poet

!

new

a

nobility

and pastures, and not blade any longer.

Thou

equal.

the

is

conferred in groves

in castles or

The

by the sword-

conditions are hard, but

shalt leave the world,

muse only. Thou

shalt not

and know

know any longer

the times, custom's, graces, politics, or opinions

of men, but shalt take the time of towns funereal

all

from the muse. For

tolled

is

from the world by

chimes, but in nature the universal

hours are counted by succeeding tribes of ani-

mals and plants, and by growth of joy on joy.

God

thou abdicate a manifold and that thou be content that

wills also that

and duplex

life,

others speak for thee.

gentlemen and worldly

life

Others shall be thy

shall represent all courtesy

for thee

;

and

others shall do the great

and resounding actions also. Thou shalt lie close hid with nature, and canst not be afforded to the Capitol or the Exchange.

The

world

of renunciations and apprenticeships, and

is full

this

is

thine thou must pass for a fool and a churl for*^ a long season. This is the screen and sheath in ;


THE POET

42

which Pan has protected his well-beloved flower, and thou shalt be known only to thine own,

and they shall console thee with tenderest love. And thou shalt not be able to rehearse the names of thy friends in thy verse, for an old shame before the holy ideal.' And this is the reward that the ideal shall be real to thee, and the impressions of the actual world shall fall ;

summer

rain, copious,

but not troublesome

to thy invulnerable essence.

Thou shalt have the

like

whole land for thy park and manor, the sea

for

thy bath and navigation, without tax and without

envy

;

woods and the

the

and thou

rivers

shalt possess that

only tenants and boarders. sea-lord

!

air-lord

!

water flows or birds

meet

in twilight,

hung by clouds

or

thou shalt own,

wherein others are

Thou

true land-lord

Wherever snow fly,

falls

or

wherever day and night

wherever the blue heaven

sown with

stars,

is

wherever are

forms with transparent boundaries, wherever are

outlets

into

celestial

danger, and awe, and love,

space, wherever

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

there

is

is

Beauty,

plenteous as rain, shed for thee, and though

thou shouldst walk the world over, thou shalt not be able to find a condition inopportune or ignoble.


II

EXPERIENCE The I

lords of

saw them

In

their

the lords of

life,

life,

pass.

own

guise.

Like and unlike. Portly and grim.

Use and

Surprise,

Surface and

Dream,

Wrong,

Succession swift, and spectral

Temperament without

And

a tongue.

the inventor of the

game

Omnipresent without name

Some to see, some to be They marched from east Little

man,

Among

least

of

to

west

the legs of his guardians

the

:

all.

Walked about with puzzled

Him by

;

guessed.

tall.

look

:

hand dear Nature took

;

Dearest Nature, strong and kind.

mind

Whispered,

'

To-morrow

they will wear another face.

The

Darling, never

founder thou

!

!

these are thy race

!


EXPERIENCE

WHERE

do we find ourselves ? In a series of which we do not know the extremes,

and believe that it has none. We wake and find ourselves on a stair there are stairs below us, which we seem to have ascended there are stairs above us, many a one, which go upward and out of sight. But the Genius which accord;

;

ing to the old belief stands at the door by which

we enter, and gives us the lethe to drink, that we may tell no tales, mixed the cup too strongly, and we cannot shake off the lethargy now at noonday. Sleep lingers eyes, as night hovers

the

not so

our lifetime about our

day

in the

All things swim and

fir-tree.'

life is

all

all

much

boughs of

glitter.

Our

threatened as our perception.

Ghostlike we glide through nature, and should

not

know our

some

fit

place again.

Did our

of indigence and frugality

that she was so sparing of her

of her earth that

it

fire

birth in

and so

fall

in

nature, liberal

appears to us that we lack

the affirmative principle, and though health and reason, yet

we have no

we have

superfluity of

new creation ? We have enough to live and bring the year about, but not an ounce to spirit for


EXPERIENCE

46

impart or to invest.

more of

little

Ah

a genius

that our Genius were a

We

!

the lower levels of a stream,

are like millers

when

on

the factories

We

above them have exhausted the water.

too

fancy that the upper people must have raised their dams.'

knew what we were

If any of us

doing, or

where we are going, then when we think we best

know

We

!

busy or

do not know to-day whether we are In times when we thought our-

idle.

selves indolent,

we have

afterwards discovered

much was accomplished and much was

that

begun

in us.^

All our days are so unprofitable

while they pass, that

when we

't

is

wonderful where or

ever got anything of this which

wisdom, poetry,

We never got

we

call

on any dated calendar day. Some heavenly days must have been intercalated somewhere, like those virtue.

Hermes won

that

Osiris

with dice of the

might be born.'

It is said all

it

Moon,

that

martyrdoms

looked mean when they were suffered. Every ship is a romantic object, except that we sail in.

Embark, and

the romance quits our vessel and

hangs on every other life

looks

seem

to

trivial,

sail

Our

in the horizon.

and we shun

to record

it.

Men

have learned of the horizon the

of perpetual retreating and reference.

'

art

Yonder


EXPERIENCE uplands are rich pasturage, and fertile

meadow, but my

farmer,

'

field,'

47

my

neighbor has

says the querulous

only holds the world together.'

another man's saying

draws himself

;

in the

I

quote

unluckily that other with-

same way, and quotes me.

'T is the trick of nature thus to degrade to-day; a good deal of buzz, and somewhere a result slipped magically in. Every roof is agreeable to the eye until it is lifted then we find tragedy women moaning and hard-eyed husbands andand deluges of lethe,and the men ask, What 's ;

'

the old were so

the news?' as

if

many many

how many

individuals can actions

of our time

?

is

we count

in society

opinions? So

preparation, so

How

bad.

much

is

?

how much

routine,

and so much retrospect, that the pith of each man's genius contracts itself to a very few hours.

The

history of literature

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

take the net result

of Tiraboschi, Warton, or Schlegel

'

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

is

of very few id^as and of very few original all

the rest being variation of these.

So

a

sum

tales

in this

great society wide lying around us, a critical analysis

would

find very few spontaneous ac-

almost

custom and gross sense.

tions.

It

There

are even few opinions,

is

all

and these seem

organic in the speakers, and do not disturb the universal necessity.


EXPERIENCE

48

What opium

is

instilled into all disaster

shows formidable as we approach is

at

no rough rasping

last

most

;

Ate Dea

" Over With

;

gentle,

is

we

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

men's heads walking

but the

fall

soft

'

hope

in

which we court suffering,

we

that here at least

shall

in the

find reality,

sharp peaks and edges of truth. But

it

turns out

The know how

to be scene-painting and counterfeit.

me

thing grief has taught

low

it is.

surface,

That, like

is

to

it is

There

not half so bad with them as they say.

moods

on

aloft.

tender feet treading so soft."

People grieve and bemoan themselves, but are

It

!

but there

friction,

slippery sliding surfaces

a thought

it,

only shal-

the rest, plays about the

all

and never introduces me into the reality, we would even pay the

for contact with which

costly price of sons

vich

'

lovers.

Bosco-

come

in

at

and converse

make us idealists. In the now more than two years ago,

Grief too will

with.

death of

seem

more.^

row

it

innavigable sea washes with silent waves be-

tween us and the things we aim

I

Was

that bodies never

Well, souls never toucli their objects.

contact?

An

and

who found out

I

my

son,

to have lost a beautiful I

cannot get

it

nearer to me.

estate,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; no

If to-mor-

should be informed of the bankruptcy of


EXPERIENCE

my

principal debtors, the loss of

would be for

49

a great inconvenience to

many

found me,

years

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

but

;

property

me, perhaps,

would leave me

neither better nor worse.

with this calamity thing which

it

my

I

;

it

me

does not touch

;

as

it

So is it some-

fancied was a part of me, which

me nor off from me

could not be torn away without tearing enlarged without enriching me,

and leaves no

scar.

that grief can teach

one step into laid

under

falls

was caducous.

It

me

grieve

I

nothing, nor carry

The

real nature.

a curse that the

Indian

'

wind should not blow

on him, nor water flow

to him, nor fire

him,

The

is

a type of us

all.

me

who was burn

dearest events are

summer-rain, and we the Para coats that shed every drop.

We

Nothing

is

left

look to that with a grim

There

at least

I take this

jects,

which

is

now but

us

death.

satisfaction, saying.

reality that will

not dodge us.

evanescence and lubricity of all oblets

them

slip

through our fingers

then when we clutch hardest, to be the most

unhandsome

part

of our condition.

Nature

does not like to be observed, and likes that we

should be her fools and playmates.

We

have the sphere for our

but not a

cricket-ball,

berry for our philosophy.

never gave us power to III

may

Direct strokes she

make

;

all

our blows


EXPERIENCE

50 glance,

all

our

hits are accidents.

to each other are

Dream end to

oblique and

delivers us to dream,

illusion.'

Life

is

Our

relations

casual.

and there

moods

a train of

is

no

like

and as we pass through them they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus. From the mountain you see the mountain. We animate what we can, and we see only what we animate. Nature and books belong to the eyes that see a string of beads,

them.

It

depends on the

whether he

shall

poem. There always genius

see

mood

man

the sunset or the fine

are always sunsets, ;

of the

and there

is

but only a few hours so serene

that

we can

more

or less depends

relish

nature or criticism.

The

on structure or temperament. Temperament is the iron wire on which the beads are strung. 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 he falls asleep in his chair ? or if he laugh and giggle ? or if he apologize

? ^

or

infected with egotism

is

of his dollar

?

gotten a child in his

?

or thinks

by food ? or has boyhood ? Of what use

or cannot go


EXPERIENCE is

genius, if the organ

is

51

too convex or too con-

cave and cannot find a focal distance within the

Of what

use,

too cold or too hot, and the

man

human

actual horizon of if

the brain

is

life

?

'

does not care enough for results to stimulate

him if

to experiment,

the

web

and hold him up

pleasure and pain, so that

too

much

in

it ?

or

too finely woven, too irritable by

is

life

stagnates from

reception without due outlet

?

Of

what use to make heroic vows of amendment, if the same old law-breaker is to keep them ?

What when

cheer can the religious sentiment yield, 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, and used to affirm that if there was disease in the liver, the

man

became a Calvinist, and if that organ was sound, he became a Unitarian. Very mortifying is the reluctant experience that some unfriendly excess or imbecility neutralizes the promise of genius.

We

see

young men who owe us

a

new world,

so readily and lavishly they promise, but they

never acquit the debt; they die young and dodge the account

;

or

if

they live they lose themselves

in the crowd.

Temperament

also enters fully into the sys-


EXPERIENCE

52

tem of

illusions

and shuts us

which we cannot

There

see.

sion about every person are

all

aries

of glass

an optical

is

we meet. In

illu-

truth they

creatures of given temperament, which

appear

will

in a prison

they

they seem

given character, whose bound-

in a

will

never pass ; but we look at them,

alive,

and we presume there

pulse in them. In the

in the year, in the lifetime,

certain uniform tune

is

im-

moment it seems impulse; it

turns out to be a

which the revolving

Men

of the music-box must play.

barrel

resist the

conclusion in the morning, but adopt

it

as the

evening wears on, that temper prevails over everything of time, place and condition, and

Inconsumable

of

in the flames

is

Some

religion.'

modifications the moral sentiment avails to impose, but the individual texture holds ion. If not to bias the fix

domin-

moral judgments, yet to

the measure of activity and of enjoyment. I

thus express the law as

platform of ordinary it

its

life,

it Is

read from the

but must not leave

without noticing the capital exception.

temperament

is

a

willingly

On

the plat-

hears any one praise but himself

form of physics we cannot influences

puts

all

For

power which no man

resist the contracting

of so-called science.

divinity to rout.

I

Temperament

know

the mental


EXPERIENCE proclivity of physicians.

the

phrenologists.

I

53

hear the chuckle of

Theoretic kidnappers and

man

slave-drivers, they esteem each

of another,

who winds him round

knowing the law of

his

being

;

the victim

his finger

by

and, by such

cheap signboards as the color of his beard or the slope of his occiput, reads the inventory

The

of his fortunes and character.

norance does not disgust like

The

knowingness.' materialists;

But the

but they are:

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Spirit :

O

is

matter

so thin

!

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

definition of spiritual should be, that

is

'

its

own

evidence.'^

they attach to love

would

impudent

this

physicians say they are not

reduced to an extreme thinness

which

grossest ig-

not willingly

!

What

notions do

One what to religion pronounce these words !

and give them the occasion to profane them. I saw a gracious gentleman who adapts his conversation to the form of the I had fancied head of the man he talks with in

their hearing,

!

that the value of sibilities

in

;

life

lay in

the fact that

its

inscrutable pos-

I

never know, in

addressing myself to a new individual, what

may

befall

me.

I

carry the keys of

my

my hand, ready to throw them at the my lord, whenever and in what disguise

in

he

shall

appear.

I

know he

is

castle

feet

of

soever

in the neigh-


EXPERIENCE

54

among vagabonds.

borhood, hidden

my

preclude

Shall

a high seat

by taking

future

I

and

my conversation to the shape When I come to that, the doctors of heads But, sir, medical shall buy me for a cent. kindly adapting ?

history facts

!

'

;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

'

the report to the Institute

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

I distrust

Temperament

is

;

the proven

the facts and the inferences.

the veto or limitation-power

very justly applied to

In the constitution,

re-

an opposite excess in the constitution,

strain

but absurdly offered

as a bar to original equity.

When

virtue

presence,

powers

sleep.

Is

In

On

Its

nature, temperament

own is

all

subordinate

level, or in

final.

I

view of

see not, If one

be once caught In this trap of so-called ences,

any escape for the

man from

the chain of physical necessity.

scl^

the links of

Given such an

On

embryo, such a history must follow.

this

platform one lives In a sty of sensualism, and

would soon come sible that itself.

which passes.

to suicide.

But

It

Impos-

the creative power should exclude

Into every Intelligence there Is

Is

is

a door

never closed, through which the creator

The

Intellect,

seeker of absolute truth,

or the heart, lover of absolute good, intervenes for our succor,

and

at

one whisper of these high

powers we awake from Ineffectual struggles with


EXPERIENCE

We

this nightmare.'

hurl

it

55

into

its

and cannot again contract ourselves

own

hell,

to so base

a state.

The

secret of the illusoriness

is

in the necessity

of a succession of moods or objects. Gladly we would anchor, but the anchorage is quicksand. This onward trick of nature is too strong for us

:

Pero

si

muove.^

moon and stars, hurry. Our love

When I

to

of the

real

and sanity of mind

association.

at

draws us to per-

manence, but health of body consists tion,

look

at night I

seem stationary, and they

the

We need

in circula-

in variety or facility of

change of objects.

cation to one thought

Dedi-

quickly odious.

is

We

house with the insane, and must humor them ; then conversation dies out. Once I took such delight in

Montaigne

that I thought

not need any other book speare at

;

in Bettine

either of

;

but

;

should

then in Plotinus

;

;

now

;

I

turn the pages of

them languidly, whilst

their genius.

I

before that, in Shak-

afterwards in Goethe

then in Plutarch

one time in Bacon

even

;

So with pictures

;

I still

cherish

each will bear

an emphasis of attention once, which

it

cannot

though we fain would continue to be pleased in that manner. How strongly I have

retain,


EXPERIENCE

56 felt

of pictures that when you have seen one

you must take your leave of it; you shall never see it again. I have had good lessons from pictures which I have since seen without emotion or remark. A deduction must be made

well,

from the opinion which even the wise express on a new book or occurrence. Their opinion gives

me

tidings of their

new

guess at the

fact,

as the lasting relation

that thing. I

The

mood, and some vague

but

child asks,

like the story as well as

yesterday

?

'

Alas

oldest cherubim

child,

!

nowise to be trusted

is

between that '

intellect

and

Mamma, why don't

when you

told

it

me

even so with the

it is

of knowledge.

But

will

it

answer thy question to say. Because thou wert

born to a whole and

The

is

a particular

?

reason of the pain this discovery causes us

(and we art

this story

and

make

it

late in respect to

intellect) is the plaint

murmurs from

it

works of

of tragedy which

in regard to persons, to friend-

ship and love.

That immobility and absence of elasticity which we find in the arts, we find with more pain in the artist. There is no power of expansion in

men.

Our

friends early appear to us as

representatives of certain ideas which they never

pass or exceed.

They stand on

the brink of the


EXPERIENCE

57

ocean of thought and power, but they never take the single step that would there.

A

man

is

like a bit

bring them

of Labrador spar,

which has no

lustre as you turn it in your hand you come to a particular angle then it shows deep and beautiful colors. There is no adaptation or universal applicability in men, but each has his special talent, and the mastery

until

;

of successful

men

consists

in adroitly

keeping

themselves where and when that turn shall be

We do what we must, by the best names we can, and would

oftenest to be practised.

and

call it

fain

have the praise of having intended the rewhich ensues. I cannot recall any form of

sult

man who not this to

do

is

not superfluous sometimes.

pitiful

?

Life

is

But

is

not worth the taking,

tricks in.

Of course

it

needs the whole society to give

symmetry we seek. The party-colored wheel must revolve very fast to appear white. Something is earned too by conversing with so the

much folly and defect. In fine, whoever loses, we are always of the gaining party. Divinity is behind our failures and follies also. The plays of children are nonsense, but very educative nonsense. So it is with the largest and solemnest things, with

commerce, government, church,


EXPERIENCE

58

marriage, and so with the history of every man's bread, and the ways by which he it.

Like a bird which

alights

is

to

come by

nowhere, but hops

bough to bough, is the Power no man and in no woman, but

perpetually from

which abides

in

moment speaks from this another moment from that one. for a

one, and for

But what help from these fineries or pedantries ? What help from thought ? Life is not dialectics.'

We,

I

think, in these times, have

had lessons enough of the

futility

of criticism.

Our young people have thought and written much on labor and reform, and for all that they have written, neither the world nor themselves have got on a will

step.

Intellectual tasting of

not supersede muscular activity.

If a

life

man

should consider the nicety of the passage of a

down At Education Farm piece of bread

sat

on the noblest

his throat,

he would starve.

the noblest theory of figures of

life

young men and

maidens, quite powerless and melancholy.

It

would not rake or pitch a ton of hay it would not rub down a horse and the men and maidens ;

;

it left

pale and hungry.''

A

political orator wit-

compared our party promises to western roads, which opened stately enough, with planted

tily


EXPERIENCE trees

on

either side to

59

tempt the

traveller,

but

soon became narrow and narrower and ended a

and ran up

squirrel-track

culture with us

;

it

So does

tree.

ends in headache. Unspeak-

ably sad and barren does

who

a

in

look to those

life

months ago were dazzled with the " There

a few

splendor of the promise of the times.

now no longer any right course of action nor any self-devotion left among the Iranis." Objections and criticism we have had our fill of. is

'

There

are objections to every course of

action,

and the

practical

ferency, from

The whole ency.

Do

wisdom

and

infers an indif-

the omnipresence of objection.

frame of things preaches indifFer-

not craze yourself with thinking, but

go about your business anywhere. intellectual or critical, is

life

but sturdy.

for well-mixed people

who

they find, without question.

Life

is

not

Its chief good

can enjoy what

Nature hates peep-

and our mothers speak her very sense when they say, " Children, eat your victuals, and say ing,

no more of happiness ice for a

;

it."

to

fill

To

fill

the hour,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

that

is

the hour and leave no crev-

repentance or an approval.'

We

live

amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them. Under the oldest mouldiest conventions a

man

of native force prospers just as


EXPERIENCE

6o

and that by

well as in the newest world,

He

of handling and treatment. anywhere.

Life itself

and form, and either.

To

will

a mixture

is

skill

can take hold

of power

not bear the least excess of

finish the

moment,

to find the jour-

ney's end in every step of the road, to live the

number of good hours, is wisdom. It is not the part of men, but of fanatics, or of mathematicians if you will, to say that, the short-

greatest

not worth caring

ness of

life

whether

for so short a duration

considered,

it

is

with moments,

let

us husband them.

utes of to-day are worth as

minutes

in

we were

sprawl-

Since our office

ing in want or sitting high.

much

to

Five min-

me

men and women

they were real

;

their fancy, like soft

;

treat

are.

Let us

them

Men

as if

live in

drunkards whose hands are too

and tremulous for successful labor.

tempest of is

well

perhaps they

as five

Let us be

the next millennium.

poised, and wise, and our own, to-day. treat the

is

fancies,

and the only

a respect to the present

hour.

It

is

a

know Without any

ballast I

shadow of doubt, amidst this vertigo of shows and politics, I settle myself ever the firmer in the creed that we should not postpone and refer and wish, but do broad justice where we are, by whomsoever we deal with, accepting our actual


EXPERIENCE

6i

companions and circumstances, however humble or odious, as the mystic officials to

the universe has delegated If these are

for us.

contentment, which tice, is a

more

is

whole pleasure

its

mean and

whom

malignant, their

the last victory of jus-

satisfying echo to the heart than

the voice of poets and the casual sympathy

of admirable persons. thoughtful

man may

and absurdities of

his

I

think that however a

from the defects company, he cannot withsuffer

out affectation deny to any

women

set

of

men and The

a sensibility to extraordinary merit.

coarse and frivolous have an instinct of superiority, if they

in

it

their

have not a sympathy, and honor

blind capricious

way with

sincere

homage.'

The

fine

young people

and in such as with and to whom a day it is

me is

a

despise

life,

but in me,

are free from dyspepsia,

sound and soHd good,

a great excess of politeness to look scorn-

and to cry for company. I am grown by sympathy a little eager and sentimental, but leave me alone and I should relish every hour ful

and what

it

brought me, the potluck of the day,

as heartily as the oldest gossip in the bar-room. I

am

thankful for small mercies.

notes with one of

I

compared

my friends who expects every-


EXPERIENCE

62

thing of the universe and

anything I

is

disappointed

is

less than the best, and

when

found that

I

begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing,

am

and

goods.'

always

full

of thanks for

moderate

accept the clangor and jangle of con-

I

trary tendencies.

They

bores also.

my

find

I

account in sots and

give a reality to the circum-

jacent picture which such a vanishing meteorous

appearance can

In the morning

spare.

ill

I

awake and find the old world, wife, babes and mother. Concord and Boston, the dear old spiritual

world and even the dear old devil not

off.

If

we

will take the

we

questions,

shall

is

is

life,

belt.

of thought, of

Moreover, is

We may climb

or sink into that of sensa-

Between these extremes

all

Everything

analysis.

and cold realm of pure geometry

lifeless science,

thing good into

by

the temperate zone.

into the thin

tion.

far

asking no

on the highway. The middle region of

our being

and

find,

have heaping measures. The

great gifts are not got

good

good we

spirit,

in

is

the equator of

of poetry,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

a

narrow

popular experience every-

on the highway.

the picture-shops of

A collector peeps

Europe

for a land-

scape of Poussin, a crayon-sketch of Salvator

but the Transfiguration, the Last Judgment, the Communion of Saint Jerome, and what are as


EXPERIENCE

63

transcendent as these, are on the walls of the Vatican, the UfEzi, or the Louvre, where every

footman may see them

to say nothing of

Na-

ture's pictures in every street, of sunsets

and

sunrises

;

every day, and the sculpture of the

human body

never absent.

A collector recently

bought at public auction, in London, for one hundred and fifty-seven guineas, an autograph of Shakspeare can read est

;

but for nothing a school-boy

Hamlet and can

detect secrets of high-

concernment yet unpublished

think

I will

books,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

therein.

I

never read any but the commonest

the Bible,

Homer, Dante, Shakspeare

and Milton. Then we are impatient of so public a life and planet, and run hither and thither for nooks and secrets. The imagination delights in the woodcraft of Indians, trappers and beehunters. We fancy that we are strangers, and not so intimately domesticated the wild

man and

in the planet as

the wild beast and bird.

the exclusion reaches

them

also

;

But

reaches the

climbing, flying, gliding, feathered and four-

footed man.

Fox and woodchuck, hawk and when nearly seen, have no

snipe and bittern,

more root

in the

deep world than man, and

are just such superficial tenants of the globe.

Then

the

new molecular philosophy shows

as-


EXPERIENCE

64

tronomical interspaces betwixt atom and atom,

shows that the world

is

outside

all

it

;

has no

inside.

The mid-world is best. Nature, as we know The lights of the church, the is no saint.

her,

ascetics,

Gentoos and corn-eaters, she does not by any favor. She comes eating and

distinguish

drinking and sinning.

Her

darlings, the great,

the strong, the beautiful, are not children of

do not come out of the Sunday School, nor weigh their food, nor punctually keep the our law

;

commandments. If we will be strong with her strength we must not harbor such disconsolate consciences, borrowed too from the consciences

of other nations.

We

present tense against

must all

set

"up the strong

the rumors of wrath,

So many things are unsettled of the first importance to settle

past or to come.'

which

it is

;

and, pending their settlement,

we

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

do as we do. Whilst the debate goes forward on the equity of commerce, and will not be closed for a century or two. New and Old England may keep shop. Law of copyright and international copyright

we

is

will sell

to be discussed,

and

will

in the interim

our books for the most we can.

Expediency of

literature, reason

lawfulness of writing

down

of

literature,

a thought,

is

ques-


tioned

much

;

is

EXPERIENCE

65

on both

sides, and, while

to say

the fight waxes hot, thou, dearest scholar, stick to thy foolish task,

add

between whiles add a right of property, tions convene,

away

a line every hour,

line.

Right

purposes.

and before the vote

godsend to

Life itself

all

is

is

taken, dig

serene and beautiful

a bubble and a scepti-

cism, and a sleep within a sleep.

much more

darling

to hold land,

disputed, and the conven-

is

your garden, and spend your earnings

in

as a waif or

as

and

!

they

as

will,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but

Grant

it,

and

thou, God's

heed thy private dream

;

thou wilt

not be missed in the scorning and scepticism there are

enough of them

and do about

it.

puny that,

Thy

stay there in thy

the rest are agreed what to

toil until

closet

;

sickness, they say,

do

habit require that thou

but

know

that thy

tent for a night, and ish that stint.

Thou

and thy

this or

avoid

life is

a flitting state, a

do thou,

sick or well, fin-

art sick,

but shalt not be

worse, and the universe, which holds thee dear, shall

be the

Human

better.'

life is

made up of

the two elements,

power and form, and the proportion must be invariably kept if we would have it sweet and sound. Each of these elements in excess makes a mischief as hurtful as

its

defect.

Everything


EXPERIENCE

66

runs to excess

;

every good quality

noxious

is

unmixed, and, to carry the danger to the edge of ruin, nature causes each man's peculiarity to superabound. Here, among the farms, if

we adduce

the

treachery. They sion. You who

scholars

as

examples of

this

are nature's victims of expressee the artist, the orator, the

poet, too near, and find their

no more ex-

life

cellent than that of mechanics or farmers,

and

themselves victims of partiality, very hollow

and haggard, and pronounce them

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; conclude

heroes, but quacks,

failures,

not

very reason-

ably that these arts are not for man, but are disease. resistible

Yet nature nature

will

not bear you out.

made men

such, and

Ir-

makes

more of such, every day. You love the boy reading in a book, gazing at a drawing or a cast yet what are these millions who read and behold, but incipient writers and sculptors ? Add a little more of that quality which now reads and sees, and they will seize the pen and chisel. And if one remembers how innolegions

;

cently he began to be an artist, he perceives that nature joined with his

golden impossibility. is

a hair's breadth.

of wisdom

is

made

enemy.

A

man

is

a

The line he must walk The wise through excess

a fool.'


EXPERIENCE

How

easily, if fate

would

suffer

keep forever these beautiful ourselves, once for

all,

of the kingdom of

known

we might and adjust

it,

limits,

to the perfect calculation

cause and effect.

the street and in the newspapers, plain a business that

67

life

In

appears so

manly resolution and ad-

herence to the multiplication-table through weathers will insure success.

comes a day, or

is it

angel-whispering,

But ah

!

all

presently

only a half-hour, with

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which

its

discomfits the con-

and of years To-morrow again every thing looks real and angular, the habitual standards are reinstated, common-sense is the basis of genius, and is as rare as genius, experience is hands and feet to every enterprise and yet, he who should do his business on this understanding would be quickly bankrupt. clusions of nations

!

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Power keeps

quite another road than the turn-

pikes of choice and will

;

namely the subterra-

nean and invisible tunnels and channels of It

is

ridiculous that

we

are diplomatists,

doctors, and considerate people

dupes

like these.

Life

is

;

God

and

there are no

a series of surprises,

and would not be worth taking or keeping were not.

life.

if it

delights to isolate us every day,

and hide from us the past and the future. We would look about us, but with grand politeness


EXPERIENCE

68

he draws down before us an impenetrable screen of purest sky, and another behind us of purest sky.

'You

will

not remember,' he seems to say,

and you will not expect.' All good conversation, manners and action come from a spontaneity which forgets usages and makes the moment great. Nature hates calculators; her methods are '

Man

and impulsive.

saltatory

lives

our organic movements are such cal

by pulses

and the chemi-

;

and ethereal agents are undulatory and

alter-

mind goes antagonizing on, and fits. We thrive by casual-

nate ; and the

never prospers but by

Our chief experiences have been casual. The most attractive class of people are those who ties.

and not by the

are powerful obliquely

stroke;'

men

of genius, but not

one gets the cheer of too great a tax.

Theirs

the beauty of the bird

is

thought of genius there

and the moral sentiment ness," for

it is

dom like

is

is

In the

always a surprise

well called

as new young child

never other

art.

;

;

;

"the new-

to the oldest

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;"

the king-

Cometh without observation." ^ In manner, for practical success, there must not that

be too in

;

their light without paying

or the morning hght, and not of

intelligence as to the

direct

yet, accredited

much design.

A man will not be observed

doing that which he can do

best.

There

is

a


EXPERIENCE magic about

certain

stupefies

though

69

which

his properest action

your powers of observation, so that

done before you, you wist not of it. art of life has a pudency, and will not be exposed. Every man is an impossibility until it is

The he

born

is

a success.

;

The

see

ardors of piety agree at last with

the coldest scepticism,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

that nothing

or our works,

all

is

will

we

every thing impossible until

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

that

of God.'

not spare us the smallest leaf of

is

of us

Nature

laurel.

All

God, and all dowould gladly be moral and

writing comes by the grace of

ing and having.

I

keep due metes and bounds, which I dearly love, and allow the most to the will of man but I ;

have set

and

I

my

heart on honesty in this chapter,

can see nothing at

ure, than

last, in

more or less of vital

the Eternal.

The

results

of

success or

force supplied life

fail-

from

are uncalculated

and uncalculable. The years teach much which the days never know. The persons who compose our company converse, and come and go, and design and execute many things, and somewhat comes of

it all,

but an unlooked-for

result.

The individual is always mistaken. He designed many things, and drew in other persons as coadjutors, quarrelled with

much, and something

is

some or done

;

all,

all

blundered are a little


EXPERIENCE

70

advanced, but the individual

is

always mistaken.

It turns out somewhat new and very unlike what he promised himself.

The

ancients, struck with this irreducibleness

of the elements of exalted

Chance

human

life

to calculation,

into a divinity; but that

is

to

stay too long at the spark, which glitters truly at

one point, but the universe

is

warm with

the

same fire. The miracle of life which will not be expounded but will remain a miracle, introduces a new element. I n the growth of the embryo, Sir Everard Home' I think noticed that the evolution was not from one central point, but coactive from three or more points. That which proceeds in Life has no memory. succession might be remembered, but that which is coexistent, or ejaculated from a deeper cause, as yet far from being conscious, knows not its own tendency. So is it with us, now sceptical or without unity, because immersed in forms and effects all seeming to be of equal yet hostile value, and now religious, whilst in the reception

latency of the

of spiritual law.

Bear with these distractions,

with this coetaneous growth of the parts will

On

;

one day be members, and obey one

they will.

that one will, on that secret cause, they nail


EXPERIENCE our attention and hope.

Life

71

hereby melted

is

Underneath

into an expectation or a religion.

the inharmonious and trivial particulars, sical

perfection

us, the

;

mode of our

illumination.

converse with a profound mind, or being alone

once arrive I

at satisfactions, as

drink water

but

I

am

new and

if at

have good thoughts,

I

;

a

mu-

the Ideal journeying always with

heaven without rent or seam.

observe the

is

or go to the

at first apprised

any time

do not

when, being

my

of

;

no

1

vicinity to a

By

life.

at

thirsty,

being cold

fire,

excellent region of

I

Do but When I

persisting

to read or to think, this region gives further sign

of

itself, as it

discoveries of

were in flashes of its

sudden

profound beauty and repose,

as if the clouds that ^covered

tervals

light, in

it

parted at in-

and showed the approaching

traveller

the inland mountains, with the tranquil eternal

whereon flocks graze and shepherds pipe and dance. But every insight from this realm of thought is felt as ini-

meadows spread

at their base,

and promises a sequel. I do not make it 1 arrive there, and behold what was there already. O no I clap my hands in infantine I make joy and amazement before the first opening to tial,

;

1

me of this

!

august magnificence, old with the love

and homage of innumerable

ages,

young with


EXPERIENCE

72 the

life

of life, the sunbright Mecca of the desert.

And what

a future

opens

it

beating with the love of the

a

I feel

!

new

heart

new beauty.

am

I

ready to die out of nature and be born again into this

new yet unapproachable Amei-ica

found "

in the

West

Since neither

now

:

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

nor yesterday began

These thoughts, which have been

A If

I

man

he found

have

I

who

have described

their

first

ever, nor yet can

entrance

as a flux

life

knew."

"

of moods,

I

must now add that there is that in us which changes not and which ranks all sensations and of mind.

states is

The

a sliding scale,

the First Cause, and

body

;

life

above

consciousness in each

which

identifies

now

life,

sentiment from which

with the flesh of his

in infinite degrees. it

man

him now with

The

sprung determines the

dignity of any deed, and the question ever

is,

not

what you have done or forborne, but at whose command you have done or forborne it. Fortune, Minerva, Muse,

Holy Ghost,

these are quaint names, too narrow to cover

unbounded substance. The must still kneel before this refuses to be named, ineffable

this

baffled intel-

lect

cause, which

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

cause, which

every fine genius has essayed to represent by

some emphatic symbol,

as,

Thales by water. An-


EXPERIENCE

73

Anaxagoras by (NoCs) thought, Zoroaster by fire, Jesus and the moderns by love ; and the metaphor of each has become a national religion. The Chinese Mencius has

aximenes by

air,

not been the least successful in his generalization. " I fully understand language," he said,

" and nourish well

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; "I

my vast-flowing vigor."

"

call vast-flowing vigor

? beg to ask what you " said his companion. The explanation," replied Mencius, " is difRcult. This vigor is supremely

and

great,

it will

earth. tice

in

the highest degree unbending.

and do it no injury, and fill up the vacancy between heaven and This vigor accords with and assists jus-

Nourish

it

correctly

and reason, and leaves no hunger."

our more correct writing we give to alization the fess

have

we have

that

Suffice

name of

it

this

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; In

gener-

Being, and thereby con-

we can

go.

for the joy of the universe that

we

arrived as far as

not arrived at a wall, but at interminable

oceans.

Our

prospective

;

life

seems not present so much

not for the

affairs

on which

it

as is

wasted, but as a hint of this vast-flowing vigor.

Most of of faculty

life ;

seems to be mere advertisement

information

ourselves cheap particulars,

;

that

is

we

our greatness

given us not to

are very great. is

sell

So, in

always in a tendency


EXPERIENCE

74

or direction, not in an action.

It

is

for us to

The

believe in the rule, not in the exception.

known from

noble are thus

So

the ignoble.

accepting the leading of the sentiments,

it is

in

not

what we believe concerning the immortality of the soul or the like, but the universal impulse

to

circumstance and

is

believe, that is the material

the principal fact in the history of the globe.'

we

Shall

directly

describe this cause as that which works

?

The

of mediate organs. direct effects. ing,

I

am

not helpless or needful

spirit is

am

I

felt

It has plentiful

powers and

explained without explain-

without acting, and where

I

am

not. Therefore all just persons are satisfied with their

own

praise.

They

refuse to explain them-

and are content that new actions should do them that office. They believe that we communicate without speech and above speech, and that no right action of ours is quite unaffect-

selves,

ing to our friends, at whatever distance the influence of action

by

miles.

Why

should

is

I

;

not to be measured

myself because

fret

a circumstance has occurred which hinders

presence where the meeting,

I

my as

was expected

If

?

presence where

I

I

am

am

my

not at

should be

commonwealth of friendship would be my presence in that

as useful to the

and wisdom,

for


EXPERIENCE place.

I

exert the

75

same quality of power

in all

Thus journeys the mighty Ideal before us it never was known to fall into the rear. No man ever came to an experience which was places. ;

satiating,

but

his

good

is

tidings of a better.

Onward and onward In liberated moments we know that a new picture of life and duty is !

already possible

;

the elements already exist in

many minds around you of which

shall

have.

The new

transcend

a doctrine of hfe

any written record we

statement will comprise the

scepticisms as well as the faiths of society, and

For

out of unbeliefs a creed shall be formed.

scepticisms are not gratuitous or lawless, but are limitations of the affirmative statement,

the

new philosophy must

make as

take

them

in

affirmations outside of them, just as

it

must include the

It

is

discovery

is

and

much

oldest beliefs."

very unhappy, but too

the discovery

and

we have made

late to

be helped,

we exist."" That Man. Ever after-

that

called the Fall of

wards we suspect our instruments.

We

have

we do not see directly, but medithat we have no means of correcting ately, and these colored and distorting lenses which we are, or of computing the amount of their errors. learned that


EXPERIENCE

76

Perhaps these subject-lenses

power

;

this

;

things, engages us. religions,

God is

Once we

what we saw now, the rapaciousness new power, which threatens to absorb all

lived in

of

have a creative

perhaps there are no objects.

Nature,

art,

objects, successively

persons, letters,

tumble

in,

and

but one of its ideas. Nature and literature

phenomena; every evil and every a shadow which we cast. The street

are subjective:

good thing is full

is

of humiliations to the proud.

contrived to dress his

make them

As

the fop

bailiffs in his livery

and

wait on his guests at table, so the

chagrins which the bad heart gives off as bubbles, at

once take form as ladies and gentlemen

in the street,

shopmen

or bar-keepers in hotels,

and threaten or insult whatever is threatenable and insultable in us. 'T is the same with our idolatries.

makes

People forget that

it is

the eye which

the horizon, and the rounding mind's eye

which makes

this or that

man

sentative of humanity, with the

a

type or repre-

name of hero

or

Jesus, the " providential man," is a good man on whom many people are agreed that

saint.

By

love on one part and by forbearance to press objection on the other part, it is for a time settled that we these optical laws shall take effect.

will

look

at

him

in the centre

of the horizon.


EXPERIENCE and ascribe to any

to

man

him

the properties that will attach

so seen.

But the longest love or

aversion has a speedy term. cive

self,

77

The

great and cres-

rooted in absolute nature, supplants

relative existence and ruins the kingdom of mortal friendship and love. Marriage (in

all

what

is

called the spiritual world)

is

impossible,

because of the inequality between every subject

and every object. The subject is the receiver of Godhead, and at every comparison must feel his being enhanced by that cryptic might. Though not in energy, yet by presence,

this

of substance cannot be otherwise than

magazine felt

;

nor

can any force of intellect attribute to the object the proper deity which sleeps or wakes forever

Never can love make consciousness and ascription equal in force. There will be the same gulf between every me and in every subject.

thee as between the original and the picture.

The vate

universe

is

sympathy

the bride of the soul. is

partial.

All pri-

Two human

beings

which can touch only in a point, and whilst they remain in contact all other points of each of the spheres are inert their turn must

are like globes,

;

also

come, and the longer

the

more energy of appetency

union acquire.

a particular

union

lasts

the parts not in


EXPERIENCE

78

Life will be imaged, but cannot be divided

Any

nor doubled.

The soul

be chaos.

invasion of is

unity would

its

not twin-born but the only

begotten, and though revealing itself as child in time, child in appearance,

no

versal power, admitting

of a

is

and uniEvery day,

fatal

co-life.

We

every act betrays the ill-concealed deity.

we do not

believe in ourselves as others.

We

that which for us.

permit

we

It

which

The

man

is

thinks a latitude

nowise to be indulged

act looks very differently .

the inside and on the outside

and

in its consequences.

derer

is

in

;

Murder

no such ruinous thought

romancers

experiment

is

never speak of crime as lightly or every

;

safe for himself

to another.

others

an instance of our faith in our-

is

as they think

believe in

things to ourselves, and

call sin in

men

selves that

all

will

have

it; it

in the

mur-

as poets

and

does not unsettle him

or fright him from his ordinary notice of

trifles

an act quite easy to be contemplated; but

it is

in

on

quality

its

its

sequel

it

turns out to be a horrible jangle

and confounding of

all

relations.

Especially the

crimes that spring from love seem right and fair

from the

actor's point

of view, but when

acted are found destructive of society. at last believes that

he can be

lost,

No man

or that the


EXPERIENCE crime in him

is

79

Because

as black as in the felon.

own case the moral no crime to the intelantinomian or hypernomian, and well as fact. " It is worse than a

the intellect qualifies in our

For there

judgments.

That

lect.

is

judges law as crime,

it is

is

a blunder," said

Napoleon, speaking

the language of the intellect.

To

it,

the world

is

problem in mathematics or the science of quantity, and it leaves out praise and blame and all

a

.

weak emotions. All stealing is comparative. If you come to absolutes, pray who does not steal ? Saints are sad, because they behold sin (even

when they

speculate) from the point of view of

the conscience, and not of the intellect sion of thought.

Sin, seen

a diminution, or less

or will, it

it is

;

;

a confu-

from the thought,

seen from the conscience

pravity or bad.

The

intellect

names

shade, absence of light, and no essence.

conscience must feel

This

no

not

it is

;

it

it

is

The

as essence, essential evil.

has an objective existence, but

subjective.'

Thus color,

inevitably does the universe wear our

and every object

subject

itself.

larges

all

As

I

;

fall

successively into the

The subject

exists, the subject en-

things sooner or later

am, so

I

see

we can never say

fall

into place.

we anything but what we

;

use what language

will,

are


EXPERIENCE

8o

Hermes, Cadmus, Columbus, Newton, Bonaparte, are the mind's ministers.

ing a poverty

Instead of

feel-

when we encounter a great man,

let

us treat the new-comer like a travelling geologist

who passes through our

and shows us good

or limestone, or anthracite, in our brush

slate,

The

pasture. in

estate

partial action

one direction

which

it

is

knowledge agance, ere

Do you

of each strong mind

a telescope for the objects on

is

But every other part of pushed to the same extravthe soul attains her due sphericity. pointed.

is

to be

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, with tragic and comic issues, long conversations, many characters, many ups and downs of fate, and meantime it is only puss and her tail. How long before our masquerade will end its noise of tam-

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

bourines, laughter and shouting, and find

it

was a

and an

solitary

object,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

it

performance

takes so

much

we

A

?

to

shall

subject

make

the

galvanic circuit complete, but magnitude adds

nothing.

What

imports

it

whether

it is

and the sphere, Columbus and America, and his book, or puss with her tail ? It

is

true that

all

Kepler a reader

the muses and love and


EXPERIENCE

8i

religion hate these developments,

way

to punish the chemist

who

and

will find a

publishes in the

And we

parlor the secrets of the laboratory.

cannot say too

little

of our constitutional neces-

of seeing things under private aspects, or

sity

saturated with our humors.

And yet

the

is

God

That need

the native of these bleak rocks.

makes in morals the capital virtue of self-trust. We must hold hard to this poverty, however scandalous, and by more vigorous self-recoverafter the sallies

ies,

more far

firmly.

The

mournful; but

of action, possess our axis

life it

of truth is

is

not the slave of tears,

and perturbations.

contritions

cold and so

It

does not

at-

tempt another's work, nor adopt another's facts. It is a main lesson of wisdom to know your own

from another's.

I

have learned that

dispose of other people's facts; but

such a key to all

my own

as persuades

their denials, that they

theirs."

A

dilemma of

who

all

a

is

cannot possess

me, against

have a key to placed in the

swimmer among drowning men,

catch at him, and

if

a leg or a finger they will

wish to be saved from the vices,

also

sympathetic person

I

I

much as drown him. They he give so

mischiefs of their

but not from their vices.

Charity would

be wasted on this poor waiting on the symp-


EXPERIENCE

82

toms.

Come

A

wise and hardy physician will say,

out of that, as the first condition of advice.

In this our talking America we are ruined by our good nature and listening on all sides. This compliance takes away the power of being greatly useful.

A

man should

not be able to

A

look other than directly and forthright. occupied attention

importunate

and

to an

frivolous.

This

tion,

is

frivolity

the only answer to the

of other people

aim which makes

;

an atten-

their wants

a divine answer,

is

pre-

and leaves

no appeal and no hard thoughts. In Flaxman's drawing of the Eumenides of ^schylus, Orestes supplicates Apollo, whilst the Furies sleep on the threshold.

The

a shade of regret

face of the

god expresses

and compassion, but

calm

is

with the conviction of the irreconcilableness of the two spheres. into the eternal

He and

is

born into other

beautiful.

politics,

The man

at his

feet asks for his interest in turmoils of the earth,

into which his nature cannot enter.

And

the

Eumenides there lying express pictorially this disparity. The god is surcharged with his divine destiny.

Illusion,

Surprise,

Temperament, Succession,

Reality, Subjectiveness,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Surface,

these

are


EXPERIENCE threads on the

of

life.

but

I

loom of time, these them

as I find

picture.

I

am I

and

a fragment,

and form, but

am

I

too

ages to compile a code.

I

many

fair I

in.

politics.

am

I

itself into re-

young yet by some

pictures not in vain.

have lived

this is a frag-

Where

is

the fruit

This

is

I

have seen wonderful

ask for a rash effect

I

was

Let who

will

not the novice

I

?

a fruit,

hour

A

fourteen, nor yet seven years ago.

sufficient.

my

gossip for

I

concerning the eternal

ask.

way.

can very confidently announce

one or another law, which throws

time

my

in

better than to claim any completeness for

ment of me. lief

are the lords

dare not assume to give their order,

name them

know

my

I

83

find a private fruit

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

that

I

should not

from meditations, counsels

and the hiving of truths. I should feel it pitiful to demand a result on this town and county, an overt effect on the instant month and year. The effect is deep and secular as the cause. It works on periods in which mortal lifetime is lost. All I am and I have but I I know is reception when I have fancied I had do not get, and gotten anything, I found I did not. I worship :

;

with wonder the great Fortune. has been so large, that

I

am

My

reception

not annoyed by

receiving this or that superabundantly.

I

say to


EXPERIENCE

84 the Genius,

a

mill, in

gift, I

if

he will pardon the proverb. In for

for a

million.

do not macerate

account square, for

make

When I receive a new my body to make the should die

if I

The

the account square.

the merit the

ever since.

day, and has overrun the merit

first

The

could not

I

benefit overran

merit

itself,

so-called, I reckon

part of the receiving.

Also that hankering seems to

cal effect

earnest I

am

after

me

an overt or practi-

willing to spare this

sary deal of doing.

In good

an apostasy.

Life wears to

most unneces-

me

a visionary

face.

Hardest roughest action

It

but a choice between soft and turbulent

is

is

visionary also.

dreams.

People disparage knowing and the

tellectual

life,

and urge doing.

with knowing,

if

only

I

am very

could know.

I

content

That

an august entertainment, and would suffice a great while.

To know

a little

the expense of this world.

I

in-

is

me

would be worth

hear always the law

of Adrastia, " that every soul which had acquired

any truth, should be other period." I

city I

know and

from harm

safe

until an-

'

that the world

in the farms,

is

I

converse with in the

not the world

I

think.

observe that difference, and shall observe

One day

I shall

know

it.

the value and law of this


EXPERIENCE

85

But I have not found that much was gained by manipular attempts to realize the discrepance.

Many

world of thought. sively

eager persons succes-

make an experiment in this way, and make They acquire democratic

themselves ridiculous.

manners, they foam at the mouth, they hate and deny. Worse, I observe that in the history of

mankind success,

there

never a solitary example of

is

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; taking

their

own

tests

of success.

I

say this polemically, or in reply to the inquiry.

Why me

not realize your world

But

?

far

be from

the despair which prejudges the law by a

paltry empiricism;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

right endeavor but

it

patience,

we

shall

win

since

never was a

there

Patience and

succeeded. at the last.

We

must be

very suspicious of the deceptions of the element

of time.

good deal of time to eat or earn a hundred dollars, and a

It takes a

to sleep, or to

very

little

time to entertain a hope and an insight

which becomes the light of our

life.

We

dress

our garden, eat our dinners, discuss the house-

hold with our wives, and these things make no impression, are forgotten next solitude to

which every

ing, he has a sanity

man

week is

;

but, in the

always return-

and revelations which

in

new worlds he will carry with him. Never mind the ridicule, never mind the his passage into


EXPERIENCE

86 defeat;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

there

true

up is

again, old heart!

victory yet for

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

all

romance which the world

it

seems to

justice;

say,

and the

exists to realize

will

be the transformation of genius into prac-

tical

power.'


Ill

CHARACTER The

sun

set

Stars rose

;

;

but

set

his faith

not his hope:

was

earlier

up:

Fixed on the enormous galaxy.

Deeper and older seemed

his eye:

And matched his sufferance The taciturnity of time.

He

spoke, and

words more

sublime

soft

than rain

Brought the Age of Gold again:

His action

won

As hid

measure of the

all

such reverence sweet. feat.


Work

He

of his hand

nor

commends nor

grieves:

Pleads for itself the fact;

As unrepenting Nature

Her

every act.

leaves


CHARACTER HAVE read that those'who listened to Lord

I

Chatham

in the

man

that there was something finer

felt

than anything which he

been complained of our

brilliant

said.

It has

English histo-

French Revolution that when he has his facts about Mirabeau, they do not

rian of the

told

all

The

justify his estimate of his genius.

heroes,

own Sir

Grac-

Cleomenes, and others of Plutarch's

chi, Agis,

do not

in the record of facts equal their

Sir Philip Sidney, the Earl

fame.

of Essex,

Walter Raleigh, are men of great figure and

of few deeds.

We

cannot find the smallest part

of the personal weight of Washington in the narrative of his exploits.

name of

Schiller

is

The

authority of the

This inequality of the reputation or the anecdotes

is

books.

to the

works

not accounted for by saying

that the reverberation der-clap, but

his

too great for

is

longer than the thun-

somewhat resided

in

these

which begot an expectation that outran performance.

was ter,

latent.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

The

This

is

all

largest part of their

that

which we

call

men their

power

Charac-

a reserved force, which acts directly

presence and without means.

It

is

by

conceived of


CHARACTER

90

undemonstrable

as a certain

force, a Familiar or

Genius, by whose impulses the

man

but whose counsels he cannot impart

company

for him, so that such

which

;

men

they chance to be

solitary, or if

guided,

is

is

are often

do not

social,

need society but can entertain themselves very

The

well alone.

purest literary talent appears

one time great,

at

character

eloquence,

ity,

and undiminishable

stellar

What others effect by talent or by this man accomplishes by some mag-

" Half

netism.

His

of a

is

greatness.

at another time small, but

his strength

victories are

he put not forth."

by demonstration of superior-

and not by crossing of bayonets.

He

quers because his arrival alters the face of

"

O

lole

how

!

was a god

?

"

'

When see

I

him

did you know that Hercules " Because," answered lole, " I

moment my

was content the

beheld Theseus,

I

eyes

in the chariot-race

;

fell

desired that

offer battle, or at least

for a contest;

con-

affairs.

on him. I

might

guide his horses

but Hercules did not wait

he conquered whether he stood,

or walked, or sat, or whatever thing he did."

Man,

ordinarily a pendant to events, only half

attached, and that awkwardly, to the world he lives in, in these life

examples appears to share the

of things, and to be an expression of the


CHARACTER

91

same laws which control the tides and the sun, numbers and quantities. But to use a more modest illustration and nearer home, I observe that in our political elections, where this element, if it appears at all, can only occur in its coarsest form, we sufficiently understand

its

incomparable

rate.

The

know that they need in their representative much more than talent, namely the power to make his talent trusted. They cannot come people

at their

ends by sending to Congress a learned,

acute and fluent speaker,

if

he be not one who,

before he was appointed by the people to re-

present them, was appointed by Almighty to stand for a fact, that fact in himself,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

God

invincibly persuaded of so that the most confi-

dent and the most violent persons learn that here

is

resistance

on which both impudence and

terror are wasted,

men who

namely

faith in a fact.'

The

do not need to inquire of their constituents what they should say, but are themselves the country which they carry their points

represent; nowhere are so instant and true as in

from a

selfish

its

emotions or opinions

them

infusion.

;

The

nowhere so pure constituency at

home hearkens

to their words, watches the color

of their cheek,

and

therein, as in a glass, dresses


CHARACTER

92

own. Our public assemblies are pretty good of manly force. Our frank countrymen

its

tests

of the west and south have a taste for character,

and

lander

like to

is

know whether

a substantial

the

New Eng-

man, or whether the hand

can pass through him.

The same motive There

force

appears in trade.

are geniuses in trade, as well as in war,

or the State, or letters this or that

man is man

and the reason why

;

fortunate

not to be told.

is

anybody can tell you about it.' See him and you will know as easily why he succeeds, as, if you see Napoleon, you would comprehend his fortune. In the new objects we recognize the old game, the habit of fronting the fact, and not dealing with it at second hand, through the perceptions of somebody else. Nature seems to authorize trade, as soon as you see the natural merchant, who appears It lies in the

not so

;

much

that

is all

a private agent as her factor

Minister of Commerce.

combines with society to put

municates to are of his

his

natural probity

insight into the fabric of

him above

all

His

his

own

tricks, faith

no private interpretation.

mind

is

and

and he comthat contracts

The

habit of

a reference to standards of natural

equity and public advantage

;

and he

inspires


CHARACTER and the wish

respect

93

to deal with him, both for

the quiet spirit of honor which attends him, and for the intellectual pastime which the spectacle

much

of so

ability

affords.

makes the capes of the

stretched trade, which

Southern Ocean

his

This immensely

wharves and the Atlantic

Sea his familiar port, centres in his brain only

and nobody good.

in the universe can

In his parlor

I

make

see very well

his place

he

that

work this morning, with that brow and that settled humor, which

has been at hard knitted all

his desire to be courteous cannot

shake

off.

how many firm acts have been done how many valiant noes have this day been spoken, when others would have uttered I

see plainly ;

ruinous jyi?ÂŤj.

I

see,

with the pride of art and

skill of masterly arithmetic and power of remote combination, the consciousness of being

an agent and playfellow of the original laws

of the world.

He

too believes that none can

supply him, and that a trade or he cannot learn

man must

be born to

it.'

This virtue draws the mind more when appears in action to ends not so mixed.

it

It

works with most energy in the smallest companies and in private relations. In all cases It is an extraordinary and incomputable agent. The


CHARACTER

94

excess of physical strength

is

paralyzed by

it.

Higher natures overpower lower ones by affecting them with a certain sleep. The faculties are locked up, and offer no resistance. Perhaps that

is

When

the universal law.

not bring up the low to

man charms down

Men

animals.

occult power.

his eyes

exert

How

as

on each other

a similar

often has the influence of a

the tales of magic

all

light, like

!

A

an Ohio or Danube,

which pervaded them with all

his

thoughts and

events with the hue of his mind.

"What means tion

it,

command seemed to run down from into all those who beheld him, a torrent

of strong sad

colored

benumbs

the resistance of the lower

true master realized river of

itself, it

the high can-

did

you employ?" was the ques-

asked of the wife of Concini, in regard

Mary of Medici and the answer was, " Only that influence which every to her treatment of

;

strong mind has over a weak one."

'

Cannot

Csesar in irons shufHe off the irons and transfer

them

to the person of

turnkey

?

Is

Hippo

or Thraso the

an iron handcuff so immutable

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 a

Toussaint L'Ouverture

:

or, let

us fancy, under


CHARACTER these swarthy

masks he has

When

tons in chains.

a

gang of Washing-

they arrive at Cuba, will

the relative order of the ship's

same

company be

nothing but rope and iron

Is there

?

95

there no love, no reverence

Is there

?

?

the Is

never a

glimpse of right

in a poor slave-captain's mind 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, like light and heat, and all nature cooperates with it. The reason why we feel one man's presence and do not feel another's is as simple as gravity. Truth is the summit of being justice is the application of ;

;

it

All individual natures stand in a

to affairs.

scale,

according to the purity of this element in

The

them.

them

will

of the pure runs

from

a higher into a lower vessel.

force

is

no more

natural for a all

force.

moment

We

into the

air, ;

which somebody credited, it is

but

it is

is

yet true that

and whatever instances theft, or

justice

must

the privilege of truth to

Character

any other

can drive a stone upward

can be quoted of unpunished

believed.

This natural

to be withstood than

stones will forever fall

and

down from down

into other natures, as water runs

this

of a

lie

prevail,

make

itself

moral order seen


CHARACTER

96

through the medium of an individual nature.

An

individual

liberty

and

is

Time and space, and thought, are left

an encloser.

necessity, truth

no longer. Now, the universe

at large

or pound.

with the manners of his soul. ity

him he infuses

in

is

reach

all

nature that he can

nor does he tend to lose himself

;

ness, but, at

how long

regards return into his

animates

all

animates.

a close

is

man tinged With what qual-

All things exist in the

a curve

soever,

own good

in vasthis

all

He

at last.'

he can, and he sees only what he

He

encloses the world, as the patriot

does his country, as a material basis for character,

and a theatre

for action.

A

his

healthy

soul stands united with the Just and the True, as the

magnet arranges

that he stands to

object betwixt

all

itself

with the pole

;

so

beholders like a transparent

them and the sun, and whoso

journeys towards the sun, journeys towards that

He

person.

influence to

is

all

Thus men of

thus the

who

medium of

are not

level.

character are the conscience of

the society to which they belong.

The

the highest

on the same "^

natural measure of this

power is the resistance of circumstances. Impure men consider life as it is reflected in opinions, events and persons.

They cannot

see the action until

it is


CHARACTER

97

Yet its moral element preexisted in the and its quality as right or wrong it was easy to predict. Everything in nature is bipolar, or has a positive and a negative pole. There is a male and a female, a spirit and a fact, a north and a south. Spirit is the positive, the event is done.

actor,

the negative. pole.

Will is the north, action the south

Character

may

be ranked as having

natural place in the north.

are

drawn

look

The

They do not wish

to be loved. their faults ;

They They

hurt of the action.

never behold a principle until

of faults

feeble souls

to the south or negative pole.

at the profit or

person.

mag-

It shares the

netic currents of the system.

;

Men

it is

its

lodged in a

to be lovely, but

of character like to hear of

the other class do not like to hear

they worship events

;

secure to

them

a fact, a connection, a certain chain of circumstances,

and they

will

ask no more.

The

hero

must follow him.^ A given order of events has no power to secure to him the satisfaction which the imasees that the eirent

is

gination attaches to

ancillary

it

;

;

it

the soul of goodness

escapes from any set of circumstances

;

whilst

prosperity belongs to a certain mind, and will

introduce that power and victory which nattiral fruit, into any order of events.

is

its

No change


CHARACTER

98

of circumstances can repair a defect of character.

We

many

boast our emancipation from

stitions

but

;

if

we have broken any

through a transfer of the idolatry. I

super-

idols

What

it is

have

gained, that I no longer immolate a bull to

Jove or to Neptune, or a mouse to Hecate that I do not tremble before the Eumenides, or ;

the Catholic Purgatory, or the Calvinistic Judg-

ment-day,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

if I

opinion as we

quake

call it

;

at opinion, the

public

or at the threat of assault,

or contumely, or bad neighbors, or poverty, or mutilation, or at the

murder ? quake at

rumor of revolution, or of

If I quake, what matters

Our proper

?

vice takes

it

form

what

I

one

in

or another shape, according to the sex, age, or

temperament of the person, and,

if

we

are capa-

The covetousness or the malignity which saddens me when I ascribe it to society, is my own. I am always ble of fear, will readily find terrors.'

environed by myself.

On

the other part, recti-

tude

is

cries

of joy but by serenity, which

a perpetual victory, celebrated not

or habitual.

It

is

is

The

cap-

does not run every hour to the broker to

coin his advantages into current

realm

joy fixed

disgraceful to fly to events for

confirmation of our truth and worth. italist

by

;

he

is

money of

the

satisfied to read in the quotations


CHARACTER

99

The

of the market that his stocks have risen.

same transport which the occurrence of the best events in the best order would occasion me, I must learn to taste purer in the perception that my position is every hour meliorated, and

command

does already

That

exultation

is

those events

desire.

I

only to be checked by the

foresight of an order of things so excellent as to throw

our prosperities into the deepest

all

shade.

The

face

sufEcingness.

so that

I

me is selfperson who is riches

which character wears to I

revere the

;

cannot think of him as alone, or poor,

or exiled, or unhappy, or a client, but as perpetual

patron,

Character

is

benefactor and

centrality, the impossibility

A

ing displaced or overset.

us a sense of mass. shreds

its

Society

day into scraps,

man

I shall

tertained if he give

me

volence and etiquette

of be-

man should

give

frivolous,

and

is

conversation into

go to see an think myself poorly en-

ceremonies and escapes. Ingenious

its

But

man.

beatified

nimble pieces of benerather he shall

;

stoutly in his place and let

were only his resistance

if I

;

me

know It

if it

that I have en-

countered a new and positive quality refreshment for both of us.

stand

apprehend,

is

;

much

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

great

that he


CHARACTER

loo

does not accept the conventional opinions and

That non-conformity

practices.

will

remain

a

goad and remembrancer, and every inquirer will have to dispose of him, in the first place. There is

nothing

real or useful that is

Our houses and

gossip, but

critical

it

helps

uncivil, unavailable

man, who

a threat to society,

whom

must

silence but

to

whom

all

;

it

is

personal

But the problem and

little.

a

cannot

pass in

let

either worship or hate,

parties feel related,

ers of opinion

he helps

not a seat of war.

ring with laughter and

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

both the lead-

and the obscure and

eccentric,

he puts America and Europe in the

wrong, and destroys the scepticism which '

Man

is

a doll, let us eat

and drink,

says,

't is

the

we can do,' by illuminating the untried and unknown. Acquiescence in the establishment best

and appeal to the public, indicate infirm faith, heads which are not clear, and which must see a house built before they can

plan of

it.

The

wise

man

comprehend

the

not only leaves out

of his thought the many, but leaves out the few.

the

Fountains,' the self-moved, the absorbed,

commander because he

assured,

the primary,

is

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; they

commanded, are good ;

the for

these announce the instant presence of supreme

power.


CHARACTER Our

loi

action should rest mathematically on our

In nature there are no

substance.

false

valua-

A

pound of water in the ocean-tempest has no more gravity than in a midsummer pond. All things work exactly according to their qualtions.

ity

and according

to

their

quantity

man

nothing they cannot do, except has pretension

beyond

attempt

;

only.

He

he wishes and attempts things

;

his force.

I

read in a

book of English Lord Hol-

memoirs, " Mr. Fox (afterwards served up to

must have the Treasury it, and would have it."

phon and

Ten Thousand were

land) said, he

his

;

he had

Xeno-

quite equal

what they attempted, and did it; so equal, that it was not suspected to be a grand and inimitable exploit. Yet there stands that fact to

unrepeated, a high-water tory.

Many

been equal to

mark

have, attempted it.

It

is

it

only on

power of action can be based. will

in military his-

since,

and not any

reality that

No

be better than the institutor.

institution I

knew an

amiable and accomplished person who undertook a practical reform, yet I was never able to find in

him the

in hand.'

He

enterprise of love he took

adopted

it

by ear and by the

understanding from the books he reading.

had been

All his action was tentative, a piece


CHARACTER

102

of the

city carried

the city

still,

out into the

and no new

fact,

fields,

and was

and could not

Had there been something man, a terrible undemonstrated genius agitating and embarrassing his demeanor, we had watched for its advent. It is not enough that the intellect should see the evils and their inspire enthusiasm. latent

in the

We

remedy.

shall

postpone our existence,

still

nor take the ground to which whilst

it

are entitled,

only a thought and not a

is

that incites us. to

we

We

spirit

have not yet served up

it.

These trait

is

properties

are

of

life,

Men

the notice of incessant growth.

should be intelligent and earnest. also

and another

make us

feel that

They must

they have a controlling

happy future opening before them, whose twilights already kindle in the passing

The

hero

is

blunders

;

he

is

claims on your heart,

you have

;

he

any man's

again on his road, adding new

domain and new which will bankrupt you

powers and honors to if

hour.'

misconceived and misreported

cannot therefore wait to unravel

early

his

loitered about the old things and

have not kept your relation to him by adding to

your wealth.

logies

New

actions are the only apo-

and explanations of old ones which

the


CHARACTER

103

noble can bear to offer or to receive.

you

friend has displeased you, to consider

it,

If your

of the passage, and has doubled

you can

serve you, and ere

down memory

shall not sit

for he has already lost all

rise

power

his

up

to

again will

burden you with blessings.

We

have no pleasure

nevolence that

Love its

is

in

thinking of a be-

only measured by

is

inexhaustible, and if

granary emptied,

still

its

its

works.

is

wasted,

estate

cheers and enriches,

and the man, though he sleep, seems to purify the air and his house to adorn the landscape and strengthen the lent,

People always recog-

laws.

nize this difference.

We

know who

is

benevo-

by quite other means than the amount

of subscription to soup-societies. that

merits

can

be

enumerated.

It

is

only low

Fear,

when

your friends say to you what you have done but when they stand well, and say it through with uncertain timid looks of respect and half;

and must suspend their judgment for years to come, you may begin to hope.' Those who live to the future must always appear selfish to those who live to the present. Theredislike,

in the good Riemer, who has Goethe, to make out a list of memoirs written of his donations and good deeds, as, so many

fore

it

was droll


CHARACTER

104

hundred

Hegel, to

thalers given to Stilling, to

Tischbein

a lucrative place

;

sor Voss, a post under the

found for Profes-

Grand Duke

for

Herder, a pension for Meyer, two professors

recommended

The

longest

to foreign universities

ture if he

is

etc., etc.

of specifications of benefit

list

would look very

;

A

short.

to be

man

measured

a

is

poor

For

so.

all

crea-

these

of course are exceptions, and the rule and hodiurnal

life

of a good

true charity of

man

Goethe

is

is

benefaction.

The

to be inferred from

Eckermann of the way in which he had spent his fortune. " Each bonmot of mine has cost a purse of gold. Haifa milhon of my own money, the fortune I inherthe account he gave Dr.

my from my

and the large income derived writings for fifty years back, have been salary

ited,

expended to instruct I have besides seen," I

own

it is

to enumerate

me

in

what

I

now know.

etc.

but poor chat and gossip to go traits of this simple and rapid

power, and we are painting the lightning with charcoal tions

but

I

;

but in these long nights and vaca-

like

itself

to

console myself so.

can copy

heart enriches me.

How

death-cold

is

it.

I

A word

Nothing

warm from

the

surrender at discretion.

literary genius

before this


CHARACTER fire

of

mate

life

my

These

!

105

are the touches that reani-

heavy soul and give

the dark of nature.

I

find,

it

eyes to pierce

where

I

thought

I most rich. Thence comes a new intellectual exaltation, to be again rebuked by some new exhibition of character. Strange alternation of attraction and repulsion

myself poor, there was

!

Character repudiates

intellect,

yet

excites

it

and character passes into thought, is published so, and then is ashamed before new flashes of moral worth. Character is

is

nature in the highest form.

of no use to ape

Somewhat sistence,

is

it

It

or to contend with

it.

and of perpower, which

possible of resistance,

and of

creation, to this

will foil all emulation.

This masterpiece

is

no hands but

best where

nature's have been laid

on

it.

Care

that the greatly-destined shall slip in the shade, with

up

is

taken

into

life

no thousand-eyed Athens

to

watch and blazon every new thought, every blushing emotion of young genius. sons

lately,

I

per-

very young children of the most

high God, have given

When

Two

me

occasion for thought.

explored the source of their sanctity

and charm

for the imagination,

each answered,

*

it

seemed

as if

From my non-conformity

;

I


CHARACTER

io6

never listened to your people's law, or to what they

my

and wasted

their gospel,

call

time.

I

was content with the simple rural poverty of

my own

;

hence

this sweetness

reminds you of

that,

nature advertises

me

in

;

my work

never

that.'

And

such persons that

in de-

is

pure of

mocratic America she will not be democratized.'

How cloistered

and constitutionally sequestered

It was from the market and from scandal some I sent away wild morning that only this !

flowers of these wood-gods.

from

literature,

They

sources of thought and sentiment in an age

are a relief

these fresh draughts from the ;

as

of polish and criticism, the

we

of written prose and verse of a nation. captivating

is

read,

first lines

How

their devotion to their favorite

books, whether i^schylus, Dante, Shakspeare, or Scott, as feeling that they have a stake in that

book

who

;

touches that, touches them,

and especially the total solitude of the critic, the Patmos of thought from which he writes, in unconsciousness of any eyes that shall ever

Could they dream on still, as angels, and not wake to comparisons and to be flattered Yet some natures are too good to be spoiled by praise, and wherever the vein of

read this writing.

!

thought reaches down into the profound, there


CHARACTER is

no danger from

vanity.

Solemn

107 friends will

warn them of the danger of the head's being turned by the flourish of trumpets, but they can afford to smile.

I

remember the

indig-

nation of an eloquent Methodist at the kind

admonitions of a Doctor of Divinity, friend, a

man

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 'My

can neither be praised nor in-

But forgive the counsels they are very natural. I remember the thought which occurred to me when some ingenious and spiritual foreigners came to America, was. Have you been victimized in being brought hither? or, prior to that, answer me this, Are you sulted.'

"

;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

'

victimizable

As

?

^ '

Nature keeps these sovereignties in her own hands, and however pertly our sermons and disciplines would divide some share I

have

said.

of credit, and teach that the laws fashion the zen, she goes her

own

gait

citi-

and puts the wisest

She makes very light of gospels and prophets, as one who has a great many more to produce and no excess of time to spare on any one. There is a class of men, individuals

in the

wrong.

of which appear

endowed

at

long intervals, so eminently

with insight

and virtue that they have

been unanimously saluted as divine, and who to be an accumulation of that power we

seem


CHARACTER

io8

Divine persons are character born,

consider. to

borrow

a

phrase from Napoleon, they

victory organized.

with

ill-will,

They

or,

are

are usually received

because they are new and because

they set a bound to the exaggeration that has

been made of the personality of the

last divine

Nature never rhymes her children, nor makes two men alike. When we see a great man we fancy a resemblance to some historical person, and predict the sequel of his character and

person.

fortune

None

;

a result which he

will

is

sure to disappoint.

ever solve the problem of his char-

acter according to our prejudice, but only in his

own high unprecedented way. Character wants room must not be crowded on by persons nor ;

be judged from glimpses got in the press of fairs

or

on ftw

as a great building.

not,

It

af-

It

needs perspective,

may

not, probably does

occasions.

form relations rapidly

;

and we should not on the popular

require rash explanation, either ethics, or I

on our own, of

look on Sculpture

its

as

action.

history.

I

do not

think the Apollo and the Jove impossible in flesh

Every trait which the stone he had seen in life, and

and blood.

recorded in

than his copy.

We

artist

better

have seen many counterfeits,

but we are born believers in great men.

How


CHARACTER easily

we

read in old books,

109

when men were

few,

of the smallest action of the patriarchs.

man should

require that a

lumnar

be so large and co-

in the landscape, that

to be recorded that he arose, loins,

and departed

We

it

should deserve

and girded up

to such a place.

credible pictures are those of majestic

his

The most men who

prevailed at their entrance, and convinced the senses

;

as

happened

to the eastern

magian who

was sent to test the merits of Zertusht or Zo" When the Yunani sage arrived at roaster. Balkh, the Persians a

tell

us,

Gushtasp appointed

day on which the Mobeds of every country

should assemble, and a golden chair was placed

Yunani sage. Then the beloved of Yezdam, the prophet Zertusht, advanced into the midst of the assembly. The Yunani sage, on seeing that chief, said, This form and this gait for the

'

and nothing but truth can proceed Plato said it was impossible not from them.' " to believe in the children of the gods, " though cannot

lie,

"

they should speak without probable or necessary

arguments."

happy

in

'

my

I

should think myself very un-

associates if

I

could not credit the

" John Bradshaw," says " like consul, from whom the appears a Milton,

best things in history.

fasces are not to depart with the year; so that


CHARACTER

no

not on the tribunal only, but throughout his

you would regard him

upon kings." is

I find

'

as sitting in it

more

judgment

credible, since

it

one man should

anterior information, that

know heaven,

life,

Chinese say, than that so the world. " The vir-

as the

many men should know

tuous prince confronts the gods, without any misgiving.

He

hundred ages

waits a

He who

comes, and does not doubt.

the gods, without any misgiving,

he

who

waits a

hundred ages

till

a sage

confronts

knows heaven

until a sage comes,

without doubting, knows men.

Hence

the vir-

tuous prince moves, and for ages shows empire the way."

rience

But there

He

is

no need

to seek remote

whose expehas not taught him the reality and force

examples.

a dull observer

is

The

of magic, as well

as

precisian cannot

go abroad without encounter-

of chemistry.

coldest

One man fastens an memory ren-

ing inexplicable influences.

eye on him and the graves of the der up their dead

;

the secrets that

make him

wretched either to keep or to betray must be yielded

;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; another, and

the bones of his lages

;

he cannot speak, and

body seem

to lose their carti-

the entrance of a friend adds grace, bold-

ness and eloquence to him

;

and there

sons he cannot choose but remember,

are per-

who

gave


CHARACTER a.

iii

transcendent expansion to his thought, and

kindled another

What amity,

The

so

is

bosom.

in his

life

excellent as

when they

strict

relations of

spring from this deep root

the power and the furniture of man, possibility of joyful

which makes the

men.

able

faith

is

in that

intercourse with persons,

and

practice of

know nothing which

I

?

who doubts

sufficient reply to the skeptic

offer so satisfying as the

all

reason-

life

has to

profound good under-

much exchange between two virtuous men, each

standing which can subsist, after

of good

offices,

of whom It

is

sure of himself and sure of his friend.

is

a happiness

which postpones

all

other grati-

and makes politics, and commerce, and For when men shall meet as they ought, each a benefactor, a shower of stars, clothed with thoughts, with deeds, with accom-

fications,

churches, cheap.

plishments,

which

all

it

should be the

things announce.

love in the sexes

is

the

first

things are symbols of love.

festival

of nature

Of such

friendship,

symbol,

as all other

Those relations to we reckoned

the best men, which, at one time,

the romances of youth, become, in the progress

of the character, the most solid enjoyment. If

with

it

were possible to

men

,!

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

if

live in right relations

we could

abstain

from asking


CHARACTER

112

anything of them, from asking their praise, or help, or pity,

and content us with compelling

them through the virtue of the eldest Could we not deal with a few persons, one person,

laws

!

— with

after the

unwritten statutes, and

make an experiment of their efficacy ? Could we not pay our friend the- compliment of truth, of silence, of forbearing ? Need we be so eager to seek him ? If we are related, we shall meet. It

was a tradition of the ancient world that no a god from Greek verse which runs,

metamorphosis could hide and there

is

a

" The Gods

god

a

are to each other not

unknown."

'

Friends also follow the laws of divine necessity

;

they gravitate to each other, and cannot otherwise

:

When

each the other

Their relation

is

shall avoid.

by each be most enjoyed. ^

Shall each

not made, but allowed.

The

gods must seat themselves without seneschal our Olympus, and

as

by seniority divine. Society

is

are taken, if the associates are

to meet.

And

if it

spoiled

if

best.

pains

brought a mile

be not society,

a mis-

it is

chievous, low, degrading jangle, though

up of the

in

they can instal themselves

All the greatness of each

is

made kept


CHARACTER back and every foible

113

in painful activity, as if

the Olympians should meet to exchange snuffboxes. Life goes headlong.

We

chase

scheme, or we are hunted by some

some

flying

fear or

com-

mand behind

us. But if suddenly we encounter we pause our heat and hurry look enough; now pause, now possession is

a friend, foolish

;

required, and the power to swell the moment from the resources of the heart. The moment is all,

in all noble relations.

A divine person a friend

is

is

the prophecy of the mind;

the hope of the heart.

Our

beatitude

waits for the fulfilment of these two in one.

The

ages are opening this moral force.

All force

shadow or symbol of that. Poetry is joyful and strong as it draws its inspiration thence. Men write their names on the world as they are is

the

filled

with

this.

History has been mean

nations have been a

man

:

mobs

that divine

;

our

;

we have never

seen

form we do not yet know,

but only the dream and prophecy of such

we do not know the majestic manners which belong to him, which appease and exalt the beholder. We shall one day see that the most private is :

the most public energy, that quality atones for quantity, and grandeur of character acts in the


CHARACTER

114

dark, and succors them

who never saw

greatness has yet appeared

encouragements to us

What

beginnings and

is

this direction.

in

and

history of those gods

it.

The

which the world

saints

has written and then worshipped, are documents

The

of character.

ages have exulted in the

manners of a youth who owed nothing to fortune, and who was hanged at the Tyburn of his nation, who, by the pure quality of his nature, shed an epic splendor around the facts of his death which has transfigured every particular into an universal

symbol

for the eyes of

man-

This great defeat is hitherto our highest But the mind requires a victory to the senses a force of character which will convert judge, jury, soldier and king which will rule animal and mineral virtues, and blend with the kind. fact.

;

;

courses of sap, of rivers, of winds, of stars, and

of moral agents. If

we cannot

attain

grandeurs, at least

let

at

a

bound

us do them

In society, high advantages are the possessor as disadvantages.

more wariness

in

not forgive in

my

fine character

and to

hospitality."

set

to

down

friends the failure to entertain,

to

It requires the

our private estimates.

When

these

homage.

it

at last that

I

do

know

a

with thankful

which we have


CHARACTER always longed for

115

arrived and shines

is

with glad rays out of that

on us

far celestial land,

then

and

such

to be coarse, then to be critical

treat

a visitant with the jabber and suspicion of the

argues a vulgarity that seems to shut

streets,

the doors of heaven. This right insanity,

when

own, nor where

its

due.

Is there

knows

the soul no longer allegiance,

its

any

confusion, this the

is

but

religion

its

religion, are

know

to

this,

that wherever in the wide desert of being the

holy sentiment we cherish has opened into a flower, it

;

the

I

blooms

it

am

aware,

Whilst

fact.

for if I it

me

?

if

none

sees

it,

see

I

alone, of the greatness of

blooms,

or holy time, and suspend

I will

keep sabbath

my gloom

and

my

and jokes. Nature is indulged by the preThere are many eyes that and honor the prudent and housecan detect

folly

sence of this guest.

hold virtues

Genius on incapable

;

there are

many

his starry track,

;

that can discern

though the

but when that love which

suffering, all-abstaining, all-aspiring,

vowed

mob

to itself that

it

will

is

is

all-

which has

be a wretch and also

a fool in this world sooner than soil

its

white

hands by any compliances, comes into our streets

and houses,

know pay

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; only the

its face,

it is

to

pure and aspiring can and the only compliment they can

own

it.


IV

MANNERS " How

near to good

Which we no But with the

Our

is

what

is fair!

sooner see.

lines

and outward

air

senses taken be.

Again yourselves compose.

And now

put

Of Figure, Or That

all

the aptness on

that Proportion

Color can disclose if

;

those silent arts were lost.

Design and Picture, they might boast

From you Instructed

Of dignity

a

newer ground.

by the heightening sense and reverence

In their true motions found."

Ben

Jonson.


MANNERS HALF

the world,

said, knows not how Our Exploring Expe-

it is

the other half live.

dition saw the Feejee islanders getting their din-

human bones own wives and

ner off their

;

and they

children.

are said to eat

The husbandry

of the modern inhabitants of Gournou (west of old Thebes)

up

is

philosophical to a fault.

housekeeping nothing

their

is

To

set

requisite but

two or three earthen pots, a stone to grind meal, and a mat which is the bed. The house, namely a

tomb,

ready without rent or taxes.

is

can pass through the roof, and there

is

No

rain

no door,

no want of one, as there is nothing to lose. If the house do not please them, they walk out and enter another, as there are several hundreds at their command. " It is somewhat singular," adds Belzoni, to whom we owe this for there

is

account, "to talk of happiness

who

live in sepulchres,

among

among people the corpses and

rags of an ancient nation which they

know no-

In the deserts of Borgoo the rockTibboos still dwell in caves, like cliff-swallows, and the language of these negroes is compared by their neighbors to the shrieking of bats and thing of"


MANNERS

120

Again, the Bornoos

to the whistling of birds.

have no proper names

individuals are called

;

after their height, thickness, or other accidental

salt,

But

and have nicknames merely.

quality,

the

the dates, the ivory, and the gold, for which

way

these horrible regions are visited, find their into countries where the purchaser

and consumer

can hardly be ranked in one race with these can-

and man-stealers

nibals

;

serves himself with metals,

gum,

wood, stone,

cotton, silk and wool

with architecture

; '

man

countries where

;

writes laws,

glass,

honors himself

and contrives

execute his will through the hands of

many

to

na-

tions; and, especially, establishes a select society,

running through

men, a

all

the countries of intelligent

self-constituted aristocracy, or fraternity

of the best, which, without written law or exact

usage of any kind, perpetuates

itself,

colonizes

every new-planted island and adopts and makes its

own whatever

personal beauty or extraordi-

nary native endowment anywhere appears.

What

fact

more conspicuous

in

modern

tory than the creation of the gentleman alry

is

that,

literature

from

and loyalty

is

that,

half the drama, and

Sir Philip

this figure.

?

his-

Chiv-

and

in English

all

the novels,

Sidney to Sir Waltef Scott, paint

The word

gentleman, which, like the


MANNERS word

Christian,

must

121

hereafter characterize the

present and the few preceding centuries by the

homage

to per-

sonal and incommunicable properties.'

Frivo-

importance attached to

a

it, is

lous and fantastic additions have got associated

with the name, but the steady interest of man-

perties

it must be attributed which it designates.

unites

all

kind in

to the valuable pro-

An

element which

the most forcible persons of every

country, makes them intelligible and agreeable to each other, is

at

sign,

once

and

felt if

somewhat

is

so precise that

it

an individual lack the masonic

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; cannot be any

casual product, but

must

be an average result of the character and faculties

universally found in men. It seems a certain

permanent average as the atmosphere is a permanent composition, whilst so many gases are combined only to be decompounded. Comme il faut, is the Frenchman's description of good ;

society: as

we must

be.

It

is

a spontaneous fruit

of talents and feelings of precisely that

class

who

have most vigor, who take the lead in the world of this hour, and though far from pure, far from constituting the gladdest and highest tone of

human permits

feeling, it

it is

to be.

as

It

is

good

as the

made of

than of the talent of men, and

whole society

the is

spirit,

a

more

compound


MANNERS

122

which every great force enters

result into

ingredient, namely

as

virtue, wit, beauty, wealth

an

and

power.

There

is

something equivocal

in all the

in use to express the excellence of social cultivation,

ional,

and the

words

manners and

because the quantities are flux-

last effect is

assumed by the senses

The word

gentleman has not any

as the cause.

correlative abstract to express the quality. tility

is

mean, and

we must keep

gentilesse"

obsolete.

is

Gen-

But

alive in the vernacular the dis-

between fashion, a word of narrow and meaning, and the heroic character sinister often tinction

which the gentleman imports.

The

however, must be respected

they will be found

;

to contain the root of the matter. distinction in

all this class

chivalry, fashion,

and

fruit,

and the

usual words,

The

point of

of names, as courtesy, like, is that the flower

not the grain of the

tree, are

contem-

It is beauty which is the aim this time, and not worth.' The result is now in question, although our words intimate well enough the

plated.

popular feeling that the appearance supposes

The gentleman is his own actions, and

substance. lord of

lordship in his behavior

pendent and

;

a

man

a

of truth,

expressing that

not in any manner de-

servile, either

on persons, or opin-


MANNERS

123

Beyond this fact of truth and real force, the word denotes good-nature or benevolence manhood first, and then gentle-

ions, or possessions.

:

The

ness.

popular notion certainly adds a con-

dition of ease

and fortune

;

but that

is

a natural

result of personal force and love, that they should

possess and dispense the goods of the world.

In

times of violence, every eminent person must fall

in with

many

opportunities to approve his

stoutness and worth

emerged

that

at all

;

therefore every man's

from the mass

name

in the feudal

ages rattles in our ear like a flourish of trum-

But personal force never goes out of fashThat is still paramount to-day, and in the moving crowd of good society the men of valor pets. ion.'

and

reality are

place.

The

to politics

known and

competition

and

trade,

is

rise to their natural

transferred from war

but the personal force

appears readily enough in these new arenas.

Power first, or no leading class. In politics and in trade, bruisers and pirates are of better promise than talkers and clerks. God knows that all sorts of gentlemen knock at the door;^ but whenever used in strictness and with any emphasis, the name will be found to point at original energy. in his

It describes a

own right and working

man after

standing

untaught


MANNERS

124

In a good lord there must

methods.

good animal,

at least to

first

the extent of yielding

the incomparable advantage of animal

The ruling class must have have these, giving

in

be a

spirits.

more, but they must

every company the sense

of power, which makes things easy to be done

which daunt the ergetic class, in ings,

is

The

wise.'

and

festive meet-

of courage and of attempts which

full

intimidate the pale scholar.

The

a sea-fight.

The

courage which

of Lundy's Lane, or

girls exhibit is like a battle

make some

society of the en-

their friendly

intellect relies

on memory

to

supplies to face these extemporane-

ous squadrons. But

memory is

a base

mendicant

with basket and badge, in the presence of these

sudden masters. The

up

to the

versatile office

tern,

rulers of society

work of the world, and equal :

who have

men of

must be to their

the right Caesarian pat-

great range of affinity.

I

am

far

from believing the timid maxim of Lord Falkland (" that for ceremony there must go two to it;

go through the cun-

since a bold fellow will

ningest forms "), and

gentleman

is

am

not to be broken through teous nature

of opinion that the

the bold fellow whose forms are

is

;

and only that plenwhich is the com-

rightful master

plement of whatever person

it

converses with.


MANNERS

My

125

gentleman gives the law where he

is

he

;

outpray saints in chapel, outgeneral veterans

will

in the field,

He

is

and outshine

all

courtesy in the

hall.

.good company for pirates and good with

academicians

;

so that

useless to fortify your-

it is

him he has the private entrance to all minds, and I could as easily exclude myself, as him. The famous gentlemen of Asia and Europe have been of this strong type Saladin,

self against

;

;

Sapor, the Cid,' Julius Caesar, Scipio, Alexander,

and the

Pericles, sat

personages.

lordliest

very carelessly

their chairs,

in

They

and were too

excellent themselves, to value any condition at a high rate.

A

plentiful fortune

is

reckoned necessary,

in

the popular judgment, to the completion of this

man of

the world

;

and

it

is

a material deputy

which walks through the dance which the

Money

has led.

is

not essential, but

this

first

wide

affinity is,

which transcends the habits of clique

and

and makes

caste

classes.

itself felt

If the aristocrat

is

by men of

all

only valid in fashion-

able circles and not with truckmen, he will never

be a leader

in fashion

;

and

if

the

man of

the

people cannot speak on equal terms with the

gentleman, so that the gentleman shall perceive that he

is

already really of his

own

order, he

is


MANNERS

126

not to be feared. Diogenes, Socrates, and

Epamwho

inondas, are gentlemen of the best blood

have chosen the condition of poverty when that of wealth was equally open to them. I use these old names, but the men I speak of are my contemporaries.'

Fortune

will

not supply to every

generation one of these well-appointed knights,

men furnishes some example of the class and the politics of this country, and the trade of every town, are controlled by these hardy and irresponsible doers, who have invention to take the lead, and a broad sympathy which puts them in fellowship with crowds, and makes their action popular. The manners of this class are observed and caught with devotion by men of taste. The asbut every collection of ;

sociation of these masters with each other and

with

men

intelligent

of their merits,

agreeable and stimulating.

is

The good

mutually

forms, the

happiest expressions of each, are repeated and

adopted.

ous

is

By

swift consent everything superflu-

dropped, everything graceful

is

renewed.

Fine manners show themselves formidable to the uncultivated man.

They

are a subtler sci-

ence of defence to parry and intimidate

once matched by the

skill

;

but

of the other party,

they drop the point of the sword,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

points and


MANNERS and the youth

fences disappear, a

127 finds himself in

more transparent atmosphere, wherein

life is

a less troublesome game, and not a misunder-

standing

aim to

rises

between the players.

facilitate life, to

Manners

get rid of impediments

and bring the man pure to energize. They aid our dealing and conversation as a railway aids travelling, by getting rid of all avoidable obstructions of the road and leaving nothing to be conquered but pure space.' These forms very soon become fixed, and a fine sense of propriety is cultivated with the more heed that it becomes a badge of social and civil distinctions. Thus grows up Fashion, an equivocal semblance, the most puissant, the most fantastic and frivolous, the most feared and followed, and which morals

and violence assault

There

in vain.

exists a strict relation

between the

class

of power and the exclusive and polished circles. The last are always filled or filling from the first.

The

strong

men

usually give

some allowance

even to the petulances of fashion, for that affinity

they find in

Napoleon, child of the

it.

re-

volution, destroyer of the old noblesse, never

ceased to court

the

Faubourg

St.

doubtless with the feeling that fashion

age to

men of

his

stamp.

Germain is

a

hom-

Fashion, though in a


MANNERS

128

strange way, represents

gone to seed

virtue

honor.

virtue.

a kind of

it is

:

manly

all

It

is

posthumous

does not often caress the great, but

It

the children of the great

it is

:

a hall of the Past.

It usually sets its face against the great of this

hour.

Great

men

are not

they are absent in the

not triumphing. children

Fashion

of those

;

commonly

field

:

is

in

halls

its

;

they are working,

made up of

who through

their

the value and

virtue of somebody, have acquired lustre to their

name, marks of

distinction,

means of

cultivation

and generosity, and

in their physical organiza-

tion a certain health

and excellence which secure highest power to work,

to them, if not the

yet high power to enjoy.

The

class

of power,

the working heroes, the Cortez, the Nelson, the

Napoleon, see that

manent is

this is the festivity

celebration of such as they

funded talent;

is

;

and

per-

that fashion

Mexico, Marengo and Tra-

falgar beaten out thin

;

that the brilliant

names

of fashion run back to just such busy names their

own,

fifty

or sixty years ago.

They

as

are

the sowers, their sons shall be the reapers, and their sons, in the ordinary course

of things, must

new comand stronger frames.

yield the possession of the harvest to petitors with keener eyes

The

city

is

recruited from the country.

In the


MANNERS year 1805, in

it

is

Europe was

129

every legitimate monarch

said,

The

imbecile.

city

would have

died out, rotted and exploded, long ago, but that

it

was reinforced from the

It is

fields.

only

country which came to town day before yester-

day that

is

city

and court

to-day.'

Aristocracy and fashion are certain inevitable

These mutual selections are indestructible. If they provoke anger in the least favored class, and the excluded majority revenge themselves on the excluding minority by the strong hand_ and kill them, at once a new class finds results.

itself at the top, as certainly as

bowl of milk

:

and

cream

rises in a

the people should destroy

if

class after class, until

two men only were

left,

one of these would be the leader and would be involuntarily served and copied by the other.

You may keep

this

out of mind, but

one of the

it

minority out of sight and is

tenacious of

estates of the realm.

struck with this tenacity,

when

I

life,

am

I see

and

is

the

more

its

work.

unimpornot look for any that we should tant matters, durability in its rule. We sometimes meet men It respects the administration of such

under some strong moral

influence, as a patri-

otic, a literary, a religious

movement, and feel man and nature.

that the moral sentiment rules


MANNERS

130

We

think

slight

and

example

all

other distinctions and

fugitive, this of caste or fashion for

yet

;

be

ties will

come from year

to year

how permanent that is, in this Boston York life of man, where too it has not countenance from the law of the land.

and or

see

New

the least

Not

in

Egypt or in India a firmer or more impassable line. Here are associations whose ties go over and under and through

it,

a

meeting of mer-

chants, a military corps, a college class, a

fire-

club, a professional association, a political, a re-

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

the persons seem tadraw

ligious convention

;

inseparably near

yet, that

persed, again.

;

members Each returns its

will

assembly once

dis-

not in the year meet

to his degree in the scale

of good society, porcelain remains porcelain, and earthen earthen.

The objects of fashion may be may be objectless, but the

frivolous, or fashion

nature of this union and selection can be neither

Each man's rank in on some symhis structure or some agreement in his to the symmetry of society. Its doors

frivolous nor accidental.

that perfect graduation depends

metry

in

structure

unbar instantaneously to a natural claim of their own kind. natural gentleman finds his way

A

in,

and

will

has lost his

keep the oldest patrician out who intrinsic rank.' Fashion understands


MANNERS itself;

131

good-breeding and personal superiority

of whatever country readily fraternize with those of every other.

The

chiefs of savage tribes

have

London and Paris by the purity of their tournure. To say what good of fashion we can, it rests on reality, and hates nothing so much as pre-

distinguished themselves in

tenders

;

to exclude

and mystify pretenders and

send them into everlasting

We

delight.

of

men

contemn

'

Coventry,'

is

in turn every other gift

of the world ; but the habit even in

and the

least matters

its

little

of not appealing to any

but our own sense of propriety, constitutes the foundation of

kind of

all

chivalry.

self-reliance, so

There

is

almost no

be sane and propor-

it

tioned, which fashion does not occasionally adopt

and give soul

is

it

the freedom of

saloons.

A sainted

if it will,

passes un-

its

always elegant, and,

challenged into the most guarded ring.

But so

Jock the teamster pass, in some crisis that him thither, and find favor, as long as his head is not giddy with the new circumstance, and the iron shoes do not wish to dance in waltzes and cotillons. For there is nothing setwill

brings

tled in manners, but the laws of behavior yield

to the energy of the individual.

her

first

ball,

The maiden

at

the countryman at a city dinner.


MANNERS

132 believes that there

is

a ritual according to which

every act and compliment must be performed, or the failing party must be cast out of this pre-

Later they learn that good sense and

sence.

character

make

and speak or or go,

sit

their

own forms every moment,

abstain, take wine or refuse

it,

stay

in a chair or sprawl with children on

the floor, or stand on their, head, or what else soever, in a

new and

strong will

is

aboriginal

way

always in fashion,

be unfashionable.

composure and

and

that

who

will

All that fashion demands

self-content,'

perfectly well-bred

;

let

would be

a

A

circle

is

of men

company of sensi-

ble persons in which every man's native manners

and character appeared. not this quality, he

is

If the fashionist have

nothing.

lovers of self-reliance that

many

he

sins If

will

show us

faction in his position,

We

we excuse a

are such in a

complete

man satis-

which asks no leave

to

be, of mine, or any man's good opinion.^ But any deference to some eminent man or woman

of the world,

He him

is ;

forfeits all

an underling I

will

:

I

privilege of nobility.

have nothing to do with

speak with his master.

A

man

should not go where he cannot carry his whole sphere or society with him,

whole

circle

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; not

bodily, the

of his friends, but atmospherically.


MANNERS He

133

should preserve in a new company the same

mind and

attitude of

daily associates

of relation which his

reality

draw him

he

to, else

is

shorn of

beams, and will be an orphan in the merriest club. " If you could see Vich Ian Vohr

his best

with his

tail

on

!

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

"

But Vich Ian Vohr must in some fashion, if

always carry his belongings

not added as honor, then severed as disgrace.'

There

who

sons

always be in society certain per-

will

are mercuries of

whose glance

will at

its

approbation, and

any time determine for the

These are Accept

curious their standing in the world.

the chamberlains of the lesser gods. their coldness as loftier deities,

lege.

They

they

be

an

omen of

and allow them

grace with the their privi-

all

are clear in their office, nor could

thus

formidable without

own

their

But do not measure the importance of this class by their pretension, or imagine that a fop can be the dispenser of honor and shame.

merits.

They

pass also at their just rate

they otherwise, in

of herald's

As ity,

We

the

circles

which

office for the sifting

first

thing

man

so that appears in

;

for

can

exist as a sort

of character

requires of

all

how

man

is

?

real-

the forms of society.

pointedly, and by name, introduce the par-

ties to

each other.

Know you

before

all

heaven


MANNERS

134

and ory,

earth, that this

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; they

is

Andrew, and

this is

Greg-

look each other in the eye; they

grasp each other's hand, to identify and signal-

each other.

ize

It

is

a

gentleman never dodges

;

his eyes

look straight

forward, and he assures the other party,

of

that Is

it

For what

that he has been met.

all,

we

seek, in so

many

A

great satisfaction.

visits

and

first is

it

hospitalities.''

your draperies, pictures and decorations

?

Or do we

not insatiably ask.

Was

house

may

a great household

I

?

where there

easily

much

is

go into

a

man

in the

substance, excellent pro-

vision for comfort, luxury

and

taste,

and yet

who shall may go into

not encounter there any Amphitryon subordinate these appendages. a cottage, is

the

I

and find a farmer who

man

accordingly.

I

have come to It

see,

feels that

and

fronts

he

me

was therefore a very natural

point of old feudal etiquette that a gentleman

who

received a

visit,

though

it

were of

his sov-

ereign, should not leave his roof, but should

wait his arrival at the door of his house."

house, though curial, is

And

yet

pitality.

it

No

were the Tuileries or the Es-

good for anything without a master. we are not often gratified by this hosEverybody we know surrounds him-

self with a fine house, fine

books, conservatory,


MANNERS gardens, equipage and screens to interpose

Does

guest.

it

all

manner of

toys, as

between himself and his

not seem as

sly, elusive nature,

135

if

man was

of a very

and dreaded nothing so much

as a full rencontre front to front with his fellow? It

were unmerciful,

I

know, quite

to abolish the

use of these screens, which are of eminent convenience, whether the guest little.

We

call

together

too great or too

is

many

friends

who keep

each other in play, or by luxuries and orna-

ments we amuse the young people, and guard

Or

our retirement. realist

comes

to

if

perchance a searching

our gate, before whose eye we

have no care to stand, then again we run to our curtain,

and hide ourselves

voice of the

Lord God

as

Adam

in the garden.

at

the

Cardinal

Caprara, the Pope's legate at Paris, defended

himself from the glances of Napoleon by an

Napoleon remarked them, and speedily managed to rally them off: and yet Napoleon, in his turn, was not great enough, with eight hundred thousand

immense

pair

of green

spectacles.

troops at his back, to face a pair of freeborn eyes,

but

fenced

himself with

within triple barriers of reserve

world knows from

Madame

de

;

etiquette

and, as

Stael,

when he found himself observed,

all

and the

was wont,

to discharge


MANNERS

136

But emperors and rich men are by no means the most skilful masNo rent-roll nor armyters of good manners. list can dignify skulking and dissimulation and the first point of courtesy must always be truth, of

his face

expression.

all

;

as really all the

forms of good-breeding point

that way, I

have just been reading, in Mr. Hazlitt's

translation,

Montaigne's account of

into Italy,

and

am

his

journey

struck with nothing more

agreeably than the self-respecting fashions of the time.

His

arrival in each place, the arrival

of a gentleman of France,

is

an event of some

consequence. Wherever he goes he pays a to

visit

whatever prince or gentleman of note resides

upon

his road, as a

ization.

When

duty to himself and to

civil-

he leaves any house in which he

has lodged for a few weeks, he causes his arms

and hung up as a perpetual sign the house, as was the custom of gentlemen.

to be painted to

The complement of this graceful self-respect, and that of all the points of good-breeding I most require and insist upon, is deference. I like that every chair

hold a king.

I

should be a throne, and

prefer a tendency to stateliness

to an excess of fellowship.

nicable objects of nature

Let the incommu-

and the metaphysical


MANNERS

137

man teach us independence. Let too much acquainted. I would have

isolation of

us not be a

man

enter his house through a hall filled with

heroic and sacred sculptures, that he might not want the hint of tranquillity and self-poise.'

We

should meet each morning

as

from

for-

eign countries, and, spending the day together,

should depart

In

tries.

a

man

all

Let us

inviolate.

apart as the gods,

sit

talking from peak to peak

No

foreign coun-

at night, as into

things I would have the island of

round Olympus.

all

degree of affection need invade this religion.

This

is

sweet.

myrrh and rosemary

to

Lovers should guard

their strangeness.^

If they forgive too much, fusion and meanness.

It

all is

keep the other

slides into

con-

easy to push this

deference to a Chinese etiquette

;

but coolness

and absence of heat and haste indicate ities. A gentleman makes no noise;

fine qual-

our disgust

at those

serene.

invaders

Proportionate

who

fill

is

a studious

a lady

house with

is

blast

and running, to secure some paltry convenience. Not less I dislike a low sympathy of each with his neighbor's needs. Must we have a good understanding with one another's palates foolish

people

know when

who have

?

as

lived long together

each wants salt or sugar.

I

pray

my


MANNERS

138

companion,

he wishes for bread, to ask

if

me for

bread, and if he wishes for sassafras or arsenic, to ask

me

for

plate as if I

them, and not to hold out

knew

Every natural

already.

tion can be dignified

his

func-

by deliberation and privacy.

Let us leave hurry to slaves. The compliments and ceremonies of our breeding should recall,' however remotely, the grandeur of our destiny.

The

flower of courtesy does not very well

we dare to open another leaf and explore what parts go to its conformation, we shall find also an intellectual quality. To the leaders of men, the brain as well as the flesh and the heart must furnish a proportion. Defect in manners is usually the defect of fine bide handling, but if

perceptions.

Men

are too coarsely

delicacy of beautiful carriage

made

for the

and customs.

It

is

not quite sufficient to good-breeding, a union of kindness and independence. require a perception of, and a in

imperatively

homage

to beauty

our companions. Other virtues are in request

in the field

of taste I

We

is

and workyard, but

a certain degree

not to be spared in those

could better eat with one

who

we

sit

with.

did not respect

the truth or the laws than with a sloven and

unpresentable person.

Moral

world, but at short distances

qualities rule the

the senses are


MANNERS The same

despotic. fair

runs out,

life.

The

good

if

discrimination of

with less rigor, into

all

fit

and

parts of

average spirit of the energetic class

sense, acting

to certain ends.

Social in

139

its

under

certain limitations

is

and

It entertains every natural gift.

nature.

respects everything which

It

tends to unite men.

It

The

mainly the love of mea-

love of beauty

is

The

sure or proportion.

measure.

delights in

person

who

screams,

or uses the superlative degree, or converses with heat, puts

you wish

whole drawing-rooms

You must

have genius or a prodigious usefulness will hide the

comes

want of measure.

in to polish

social instrument.

genius and special

If

to flight.

to be loved, love measure.'

if

you

This perception

and perfect the parts of the Society will pardon gifts, but,

being in

much its

to

nature

it loves what is conventional, or what belongs to coming together.^ That makes the good and bad of manners, namely what

a convention,

helps or hinders fellowship.

good

For fashion

sense absolute, but relative

is

not

not good

;

sense private, but good sense entertaining com-

pany.

It

hates

corners and sharp points of

character, hates quarrelsome, egotistical, solitary

and gloomy people

;

hates whatever can inter-

fere with total blending of parties

;

whilst

it


MANNERS

140 values

all peculiarities

refreshing,

And

ship.

as in the highest degree

which can consist with good fellowbesides the general infusion of wit

to heighten civility, the direct splendor of intellectual

power

is

ever welcome in fine society as its rule and its credit. must shine in to adorn our must be tempered and shaded,

the costliest addition to

The dry festival,

but

light it

or that will also offend.'

Accuracy

is

essential

to beauty, and quick perceptions to politeness,

but not too quick perceptions. punctual and too precise.

He

One may must

be too

leave the

omniscience of business at the door, when he

comes

into the palace of beauty.

Society loves

and sleepy languishing manners, that they cover sense, grace and good-will so the air of drowsy strength, which disarms critCreole natures,

icism

;

perhaps because such a person seems to

reserve himself for the best of the game, and

not spend himself on surfaces; an ignoring

which does not see the annoyances,

shifts

eye,^

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, society

demands

in its patrician class another element

already intimated, which

it

significantly terms


MANNERS good-nature, osity,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; expressing

141

degrees of gener-

all

from the lowest willingness and faculty

to oblige, up to the heights of magnanimity and love. Insight we must have, or we shall run against one another and miss the way to our

food

;

but intellect

selfish

is

secret of success in society

and sympathy.

company cannot that will

a

little

fit

is

A man who find

a certain heartiness is

any word

the occasion.

impertinent.

and barren. The

A

not happy in the in

his

memory

All his information

man who

is

happy

is

there,

finds in every turn of the conversation equally

lucky occasions

for

the introduction of that

which he has to say. The favorites of society, and what it calls whole souls, are able men and of more spirit than wit, who have no uncomfortable egotism, but who exactly fill the hour and the company contented and contenting, at ;

a marriage or a funeral, a ball or a jury, a water-

party or a shooting-match. rich in

England, which

is

gentlemen, furnished, in the beginning

of the present century, a good model of that genius which the world loves, in Mr. Fox,

added

who

most social dislove of men. Parliamentary

to his great abilities the

position and real

history has few better passages than the debate in

which Burke and Fox separated

in the

House


MANNERS

142

Fox urged on

of Commons; when

his old friend

the claims of old friendship with such tenderness that the house was

anecdote

is

moved

so close to

my

to tears.

Another

matter, that

must

I

A tradesman who had long dunned him for a note of three hundred guineas, found him one day counting gold, and demanded " No," said Fox, " I owe this payment. hazard the story.

money

to Sheridan

accident should to show." "

my

;

it is

happen

Then,"

said

a debt of

honor

;

if

an

me, he has nothing the creditor, " I change

to

debt Into a debt of honor," and tore the

note in pieces.

Fox thanked

the

confidence and- paid him, saying, "

man

for his

his debt was

of older standing, and Sheridan must wait."

Lover of

liberty, friend

of the Hindoo, friend

of the African slave, he possessed a great per-

Napoleon said of him on the occasion of his visit to Paris, in 1805, " Mr. Fox will always hold the first place in sonal popularity; and

an assembly

We

may

at the Tuilerles."

seem ridiculous in our eulogy of courtesy, whenever we insist on benevolence as its foundation. The painted phantasm Fashion rises to cast a species of derision on what we say. But I will neither be driven from some easily

allowance to Fashion as a symbolic institution,


MANNERS

143

nor from the belief that love

is

the basis of

We must obtain that, if we can but means we must affirm this. Life owes

courtesy.'

by

all

;

much of

to

spirit

its

Fashion, which

these sharp

affects to

be honor,

men's experience, only

all

Yet so long

as

it is

a'

contrasts.

is

often, in

ballroom

code.

the highest circle in the im-

agination of the best heads on the planet, there is

something necessary and excellent

it is

not to be supposed that

to be the

in

it

men have

for

;

agreed

dupes of anything preposterous

and

;

the respect which these mysteries inspire in the

most rude and sylvan characters, and the osity with which details of high life are

curi-

read,

betray the universality of the love of cultivated

manners. be '

I

if

felt,

know

should enter the acknowledged

we

first circles

'

would

that a comic disparity

and apply these

terrific

standards

of justice, beauty and benefit to the individuals

Monarchs and

heroes,

sages and lovers, these gallants are not.

Fash-

found

actually

there.

classes

and many rules of proba-

tion and admission,

and not the best alone.

ion has

There

many

is

not only the right of conquest, which

genius pretends,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

the individual demonstrat-

ing his natural aristocracy best of the best

but

less claims will pass for the

time

;

for

;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Fash-


MANNERS

144

ion loves lions, and points like Circe to

horned company.' This gentleman

is

her

this after-

noon arrived from Denmark and that is my Lord Ride, who came yesterday from Bagdat here is Captain Friese, from Cape Turnagain and Captain Symmes, from the interior of the and Monsieur Jovaire, who came down earth this morning in a balloon Mr. Hobnail, the reformer and Reverend Jul Bat, who has converted the whole torrid zone in his Sunday school and Signor Torre del Greco, who extinguished Vesuvius by pouring into it the Bay ;

;

;

;

;

;

of Naples

;

Spahi, the Persian ambassador

Tul Wil Shan,

;

and

the exiled nabob of Nepaul,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

whose saddle is the new moon. But these are monsters of one day, and to-morrow will be dismissed to their holes and dens for in these rooms every chair is waited for. The artist, the ;

scholar, and, in general, the clerisy, win their

way up into these places and get represented here, somewhat on this footing of conquest. Another mode is to pass through all the degrees, spending a year and a day in St. Michael's Square, being steeped in Cologne water, and perfumed, and dined, and introduced, and properly grounded in all the biography and poHtics and anecdotes of the boudoirs.


MANNERS

145

Yet these fineries may have grace and wit. Let there be grotesque sculpture about the gates and offices of temples.

commandments even have

The

of parody.

Let the creed and

homage

the saucy

forms of politeness universally

express

benevolence

What

they are in the mouths of selfish men,

if

and used

means of

as

degrees.

superlative

in

selfishness

What

?

if

the

gentleman almost bows the true out of the

false

world

What

?

if

the false gentleman contrives

so to address his companion as civilly to exclude all

its

make

others from his discourse, and also to

them

excluded

feel

Real service

?

All generosity

nobleness.

French and sentimental

;

nor

will

is

is

it

not lose

merely

not to

be con-

cealed that living blood and a passion of kind-

ness does at last distinguish God's gentleman

from Fashion's.

Grout

is

The

epitaph of Sir Jenkin

not wholly unintelligible to the present

" Here

Jenkin Grout, who loved what his his friend and persuaded his enemy for what his servants hand paid his mouth ate, age

:

lies Sir

:

:

robbed, he restored

:

if a

woman gave him

sure, he supported her in pain his

children

drew

after

of heroes

it

is

;

:

and whoso touched

his

whole body."'

not utterly extinct.

plea-

he never forgot his

Even

finger,

the line

There

is

still


MANNERS

146

ever some admirable person in plain clothes,

who jumps

standing on the wharf, a

drowning man

Philhellene

;

is still some absurd insome guide and comforter some friend of Poland; some

there

;

ventor of charities of runaway slaves;

in to rescue

;

some fanatic who plants shade-trees

for the second

and

third generation,

and orchards

when he is grown old some well-concealed some just man happy in an ill fame piety some you.th ashamed of the favors of fortune ;

;

;

and impatiently casting them on other shoul-

And

ders.

which

it

these are the centres of society, on

returns for fresh impulses.

the creators of Fashion, which

organize beauty of behavior.

is

These

an attempt

The

are to

beautiful and

the generous are, in the theory, the doctors and apostles of this church

and

Sir Philip

:

Scipio,

every pure and valiant heart

The

persons

constitute the natural aristocracy are not

found

in

edge

as the chemical

is

Cid,'

who worshipped

Beauty by word and by deed.

who

and the

Sidney, and Washington, and

;

the actual aristocracy, or only on

its

energy of the spectrum

found to be greatest just outside of the spec-

trum. Yet that

is

the infirmity of the sene-

who do not know their sovereign when he appears. The theory of society supposes the

schals,


MANNERS

147

existence and sovereignty of these.

coming.

afar off their

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

gods,

It divines

with the elder

It says

" As Heaven and Earth are fairer far Than Chaos and blank Darkness, though once chiefs; And as we show beyond that Heaven and Earth In form and shape compact and beautiful;

So on our heels

A

power more

And .

For

.

That

first

't is

we

pass .

.

.

be

might."

in

first

Therefore, within the ethnical is

concentration of tesy, to

a narrower its

which there

light, is

court

;

the

parliament

'

circle

of good

and higher

circle,

and flower of cour-

always a

pride and reference, as to

And this is whom heroic

.

the eternal law

in beauty shall

society there

.

strong in beauty, born of us

fated to excel us, as

In glory that old Darkness. .

.

a fresh perfection treads,

its

appeal of

tacit

inner and imperial

of love

and chivalry.

constituted of those persons in dispositions are native

;

with the

love of beauty, the delight in society, and the

power

to embellish the passing day.

dividuals

who compose

aristocracy in turies,

that

If the in-

the purest circles of Europe, the guarded blood of cen-

should pass in review,

we could

their behavior,

at leisure

we might

in

and find

such manner as critically inspect

no gentleman and


MANNERS

148

no lady;

for

although excellent specimens of

courtesy and high-breeding would gratify us in the assemblage, in the particulars

we should

Because elegance comes of no

detect offence.

There must be romance of character, or the most fastidious exclusion of impertinencies will not avail. It must be genit must be not ius which takes that direction breeding, but of birth.

:

High behavior

courteous, but courtesy. rare in fiction as

it

in

is

Scott

fact.

is

is

as

praised

which he painted the de-

for the fidelity with

meanor and conversation of the superior classes. Certainly, kings and queens, nobles and great ladies, had some right to complain of the absurdity that had been put in their mouths before the days of Waverley but neither does Scott's dialogue bear criticism. His lords brave each ;

other in smart epigrammatic speeches, but the dialogue

is

in

costume, and does not please on

the second reading

:

is

it

not

warm

with

life.

In Shakspeare alone the speakers do not strut

and

bridle, the dialogue

adds to so bred

man

Once or

many

titles

is

easily great,

and he

that of being the best-

England and

in

Christendom.

twice in a lifetime

we

are permitted

in

to enjoy the

charm of noble manners,

presence of a

man

or

woman who

in

the

have no bar


MANNERS

but whose character emanates

in their nature,

word and

freely in their

form ful

is

149

A

gesture.

better than a beautiful face

behavior

is

beautiful a beauti-

;

better than a beautiful

form

:

it

gives a higher pleasure than statues or pictures it is

the finest of the fine arts.

A

man

but

is

a little thing in the midst of the objects of nature, yet,

by the moral

quality radiating from

countenance he

may

abolish

tions of magnitude,

and

in

his

the majesty of the world.

his

all

considera-

manners equal

have seen an indi-

I

whose manners, though wholly within

vidual

the conventions of elegant society, were never

learned there, but were original and

command-

ing and held out protection and prosperity

one who did not need the aid of a but carried the holiday

in his

eye

;

court-suit,

who

exhila-

rated the fancy by flinging wide the doors of

new modes of existence who shook ;

tivity

off the cap-

of etiquette, with happy, spirited bearing,

good-natured and

free

Robin

as

with the port of an emperor, serious

and

fit

The open

if

Hood

need be,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

yet

;

calm,

to stand the gaze of millions.

air

and the

fields,

the street and

public chambers are the places where ecutes his will

;

let

him

Man

ex-

yield or divide the

sceptre at the door of the house.

Woman,

with


MANNERS

I50

her instinct of behavior, instantly detects

man

In

any coldness or imbecil-

a love of trifles,

any want of that large, flowing and magnanimous deportment which is indisity, or, in short,

pensable as an exterior in the

moment

at this

hall.

Our Amer-

have been friendly to her, and

ican institutions

I

esteem

it

a chief felicity of

it excels in women. A cerinferiority consciousness of in the awkward tain men may give rise to the new chivalry in be-

this country, that

Woman's Rights. Certainly let her be much better placed in the laws and in social

half of as

forms as the most zealous reformer can ask, but

I

confide so entirely in her inspiring and

musical nature, that

show us how

I

she shall

believe only herself can.

be served.'

The won-

derful generosity of her sentiments raises her

and godlike regions, and verifies the pictures of Minerva, Juno, or Polymnia and by the firmness with which she treads her upward path, she convinces the at

times

into

heroical

;

coarsest

calculators

that

another road

than that which their feet know. those

who make good

in

But

exists

besides

our imagination the

place of muses and of Delphic Sibyls, are there

not

women who

fill

our vase with wine and

roses to the brim, so that the wine runs over