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presents the best meaning of the wisest man. Does the sunset landscape seem to you the palace of Friendship,—those purple skies and lovely waters the amphitheatre dressed and garnished only for the exchange of thought and love of the purest souls ? It is that. All other meanings which base men have put on it are conjectural and false. “ You cannot bathe twice in the same river," said Heraclitus; and I add, a man never sees the same object twice: with his own enlargement, the object acquires new aspects.
Does not the same law hold for virtue ? It is vitiated by too much will. He who aims at progress, should aim at an infinite, not at a special benefit. The reforms whose fame now fills the land with Temperance, Anti-Slavery, Non-Resistance, No Government, Equal labour ; fair and generous as each appears, are poor bitter things when prosecuted for themselves as an end. To every reform, in proportion to its energy, early disgusts are incident; so that the disciple is surprised at the very hour of his first triumphs, with chagrins and sickness, and a general distrust: so that he shuns his associates, hates the enterprise which lately seemed so fair, and meditates to cast himself into the arms of that society and manner of life which he had newly abandoned with so much pride and hope. Is it that he attached the value of virtue to some particular practices, as, the denial of certain appetites in certain specified indulgences, and, afterward found himself still as wicked and as far from happiness in that abstinence, as he had been in the abuse? But the soul can be appeased not by a deed, but by a tendency. It is in a hope that she feels her wings. You shall love rectitude, and not the disuse of money or the avoidance of trade : an unimpeded mind, and not a monkish diet; sympathy and usefulness, and not hoeing or coopering. Tell me not how great your project is,—the civil liberation of the world, its conversion into a Christian church, the establishment of public education, cleaner diet, a new division of labour and of land, laws of love for laws of property ;-I say to you plainly, there is no end to which your practical faculty can aim, so sacred or so large, that, if pursued for itself, will not at last become carrion and an offence to the nostril. The imaginative faculty of the soul must be fed with objects immense and eternal. Your end should be one inapprehensible to the senses: then will it be a god always approached -never touched ; always giving health. A man adorns himself with prayer and love as an aim adorns an action. What is strong but goodness, and what is energetic but the presence of a brave man ? The doctrine in vegetable physiology of the presence, or the general influence of any substance over and above its chemical influence, as of an alkali or a living plant, is more predicable of man. You need not speak to me, I need not go where you are, that you should exert magnetism on me. Be you only whole and sufficient, and I shall feel you in every part of my life and fortune, and I can as easily dodge the gravitation of the globe as escape your influence.
But there are other examples of this total and supreme influence besides Nature and the conscience. “From the poisonous tree, the world,” say the Brahmins, “two species of fruit are produced, sweet as the waters of life, Love or the society of beautiful souls, and Poetry, whose taste is like the immortal juice of Vishu." What is love, and why is it the chief good, but because it is an overpowering enthusiasm ? Never self-possessed or prudent, it is all abandonment. Is it not a certain admirable wisdom, preferable to all other advantages, and whereof all others are only secondaries and indemnities, because this is that in which the individual is no longer his own foolish master, but inhales an odorous and celestial air, is wrapt round with awe of the object, blending for the time that object with the real and only good, and consults every omen in Nature with tremulous interest ? When we speak truly,-is not he only unhappy who is not in love ? his fancied freedom and self-rule-is it not so much death ? He who is in love is wise, and is becoming wiser,--sees newly every time he looks at the object beloved, drawing from it with his eyes and his mind those virtues which it possesses. Therefore, if the object be not itself a living and expanding soul, he presently exhausts it. But the love remains in his mind, and the wisdom it brought him; and it craves a new and higher object. And the reason why all men honour love is because it looks up, and not down; aspires, and not despairs.
And what is Genius but finer love, a love impersonal, a love of the flower and perfection of things, and a desire to draw a new picture or copy of the same? It looks to the cause and life : it proceeds from within outward, whilst Talent goes from without inward. Talent finds its models and methods and ends in society, exists for exhibition, and goes to the soul only for power to work. Genius is its own end, and draws its means, and the style of its architecture, from within, going abroad only for audience and spectators, as we adapt our voice and phrase to the distance and character of the ear we speak to. All your learning of all literatures would never enable you to anticipate one of its thoughts or
'expressions, and yet each is natural and familiar as household words. Here about us coils for ever the ancient enigma, so old, and so unutterable. Behold! there is the sun, and the rain, and the rocks: the old sun, the old stones. How easy were it to describe all this fitly: yet no word can pass. Nature is a mute, and man, her articulate speaking brother-lo! he also is a mute. Yet when Genius arrives, its speech is like a river, it has no straining to describe, more than there is straining in Nature to exist. When thought is best, there is most of it. Genius sheds wisdom like perfume, and advertises us that it flows out of a deeper source than the foregoing silence, that it knows so deeply and speaks so musically, because it is itself a mutation of the thing it describes. It is sun, and moon, and wave, and fire, in music, as astronomy is thought and harmony in masses of matter.
What is all history but the work of ideas; a record of the incomputable energy which his infinite aspirations infuse into man ? Has anything grand or lasting been done? Who did it ? Plainly not any man, but all men: it was the prevalence and inundation of an idea. What brought the pilgrims here ? One man says, civil liberty; and another, the desire of founding a church ! and a third discovers that the motive force was plantation and trade. But if the Puritans could rise from the dust, they could not answer. It is to be seen in what they were, and not in what they designed: it was the growth and expansion of the human race, and resembled herein the sequent Revolution, which was not begun in Concord, or Lexington, or Virginia, but was the overflowing of the sense of natural right in every clear and active spirit of the period. Is a man boastful and knowing, and his own master ? -we turn from him without hope; but let him be filled with awe and dread before the Vast and the Divine, which uses him, glad to be used, and our eye is riveted to the chain of events. What a debt is ours to that old religion which, in the childhood of most of us, still dwelt like a sabbath morning in the country of New Eng. land, teaching privation, self-denial, and sorrow! A man was born, not for prosperity, but to suffer for the benefit of others, like the noble rock-maple which, all around our villages, bleeds for the service of man. Not praise, not men's acceptance of our doing, but the spirit's holy errand through us absorbed the thought. How dignified was this ! How all that is called talents and success in our noisy capitals becomes buzz and din before this man-worthiness. How our friendships, and the complaisances we use, shame us now! Shall we not quit our companions, as if they were thieves and pot.companions, and betake ourselves to some desert cliff of Mount Katahdin, some unvisited recess in Moosehead Lake, to bewail our innocency, and to recover it, and with it the power to communicate again with these sharers of a more sacred idea ?
And what is to replace for us the piety of that race? We cannot have theirs; it glides away from us day by day, but we also can bask in the great morning which rises for ever out of the eastern sea, and be ourselves the children of the light. I stand here to say, Let us worship the mighty and Transcendant Soul. It is the office, I doubt not, of this age, to annul that adulterous divorce which the superstition of many ages has effected between the intellect and holiness. The lovers of goodness have been one class, the students of wisdom another; as if either could exist in any purity without the other. Truth is always holy, holiness always wise. I will that we keep terms with sin and a sinful literature and society no longer, but live a life of discovery and performance. Accept the intellect, and it will accept us. Be the lowly ministers of that pure omniscience, and deny it not before men. It will burn up all profane literature, all base current opinions, all the false powers of the world as in a moment of time. I draw from Nature the lesson of an intimate divinity. Our health and reason as men needs our respect to this fact against the heedlessness and against the contradiction of society. The sanity of man needs the poise of this immanent force. His nobility needs the assurance of this inexhaustible reserved power. How great soever have been its bounties, they are a drop to the sea whence they flow. If you say, “ The acceptance of the vision is also the act of God,” I shall not seek to penetrate the mystery ; I admit the force of what you say. If you ask, “How can any rules be given for the attainment of gifts so sublime ?” I shall only remark that the solicitations of this spirit, as long as there is life, are never forborne. Tenderly, tenderly, they woo and court us from every object in nature, from every fact in life, from every thought in the mind. The one condition coupled with the gift of truth is its use. That man shall be learned who reduceth his learning to practice. Emanuel Swedenborg affirmed that it was open to him “that the spirits who knew truth in this life, but did it not, at death shall lose their know-. ledge.” “If knowledge,” said Ali, the Caliph, "calleth unto practice, well; if not, it goeth away." The only way into Nature is to enact our best insight. Instantly we are higher poets, and can speak a deeper law. Do what you know, and perception is converted into character, as islands and continents were built by
invisible infusories, or as these forest leaves absorb light, electricity, and volatile gases, and the gnarled oak to live a thousand years is the arrest and fixation of the most volatile and ethereal currents. The doctrine of this Supreme Presence is a cry of joy and exultation. Who shall dare think he has come late into nature, or has missed anything excellent in the past, who seeth the admirable stars of Possibility, and the yet untouched continent of Hope glittering with all its mountains in the vast West? I praise with wonder this great reality which seems to drown all things in the deluge of its light. What man, seeing this, can lose it from his thoughts, or entertain a meaner subject? The entrance of this into his mind seems to be the birth of man. We cannot describe the natural history of the soul, but we know that it is divine. I cannot tell if these wonderful qualities which house to-day in this mortal frame shall ever reassemble in equal activity in a similar frame, or whether they have before had a natural history like that of this body you see before you ; but this one thing I know, that these qualities did not now begin to exist, cannot be sick with my sickness, nor buried in my grave; but that they circulate through the universe-before the world was, they were. Nothing can bar them out, or shut them in ; but they penetrate the ocean and land, space and time, form and essence, and hold the key to universal nature. I draw from this faith, courage, and hope. All things are known to the soul. It is not to be surprised by any communication. Nothing can be greater than it. Let those fear and those fawn who will. The soul is in her native realm, and it is wider than space, older than time, wide as hope, rich as love. Pusillanimity and fear she refuses with a beautiful scorn; they are not for her who putteth on her coronation robes, and goes out through universal love to universal power.
MAN THE REFORMER:
A LECTURE ON SOME OF THE PROMINENT FEATURES OF THE PRESENT AGE. READ
BEFORE THE MECHANICS' APPRENTICES' LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, BOSTON, U. S. MR. PRESIDENT, AND GENTLEMEN,
I wish to offer to your consideration some thoughts on the particular and general relations of man as a reformer. I shall