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thoughts will ultimately wear a true and faithful | by a recurrence to those very portions of the work aspect. They will not be hampered by their own which he before purposely hurried over. utterances more than by other men's“ If you We take up such a book as these Essays of would be a man,” says Emerson,“ spoak what Emerson. We are charmed with many delightful you think to-day in words as hard as cannen-balls, passages of racy eloquence, of original thought, of and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in profound or of naïve reflection. What if there hard words again, though it contradict every hing are barren pages ? What if sometimes there is a you said to-day.” These headstrong sages, full thick entangled underwood through which there is of noble caprice, of lofty humors, often pour fouth no penetrating? We are patient. We can endure in their wild profusion a strange mixture of great the one, and for the other obstacle, in military truths and petty conceits-noble principles and phrase, we can turn it. The page is movable. paradoxes no better than conundrums. As we We are not bound, like the boa-constrictor, to have said, they are lovers preëminently of thought. swallow all or none. Meanwhile, in all conscience, Full of the chase, they will sometimes run down there is sufficient for one feast. There is excelthe most paltry game with unmitigated ardor. lenee enough to occupy one's utmost attention ; Such writers are not so wise as their best wisdom, there is beauty to be carried away, and truth to be nor so foolish as their folly. When certain of the appropriated. What more, from a single book, ancient sages who were in the habit of guessing can any one reasonably desire ? But if the task boldly at the open riddle of nature, made, amidst of eriticism be imposed upon us, we must, nevertwenty absurd conjectures, one that has proved to theleas, sucrifice this easy and complacent mood— be correct, we do not therefore give them the this merely receptive disposition ; we must reëxoredit of a scientific discovery. One of these wise amine ; we must cavil and object; we must qnesmen of antiquity said that the sea was a great fish; tion of obscurty why it should stand there darkenhe asserted also that the moon was an opaque body, ing the road ; ve must refuse admittance to mere and considerably larger than she appears to be. paradox; we mist expose the trifling conceit or He was right about the moon; he was wrong fanciful analogy that would erect itself into high about the fish ; but as he speculated on both sub- places, and assume the air of novel and profound jects in the same hap-hazard style, we give him truth. very little more credit in the one case than the Some portion of thi: less agreeable duty we will other. Perhaps his theory which transformed the at once perform, that wo may afterwards the more sea into a fish, was that on which he prided him- freely and heartily devon ourselves to the more self most. Something of the same kind, though pleasant task of calling atvntion to the works of a 'very different in degree, takes place in our judg- man of genius—for we suspect that Emerson is ment upon certain moral speculators. When a not known in this country is he deserves to be. man of exuberant thought utters in the fervor or With some who have heard his name coupled with the fever of his mind what comes first, his frag- that of Carlyle, he passes for a sort of echo or ments of wisdom seem as little to belong to him double of the English writer. A more indepenas his fragments of folly. The reader picks up, dent and original thinker can nowhere in this age and carries off, what best pleases him, as if there be found. This praise must, at al' events, be were no owner there, as if it were treasure-trove, awarded him. And even in America—which has and he was entitled to it as first finder. He fore- not the reputation of generally overlooring, or ungoes the accustomed habit of connecting his writer derrating, the merits of her own chidren—we with the assemblage of thoughts presented to him, understand that the reputation of Emerson is by as their sole proprietor for the time being ; "he no means what it ought to be ; and many critics cries halves," as Charles Lamb has said on some there, who are dissatisfied with merely initative similar occasion, in whatever he pounces on.
talent, and demand a man of genius of their own, The task of the critic on a writer of this class, are not aware that he stands there amongst them. becomes more than usually ungracious and irk- When we accuse Mr. Emerson of obscurity, it some. He meets with a work abounding with is not obscurity of style that we mean. traits of genius, and conspicuous also for its faults often rises—as our readers have had already opand imperfections. As a reader only, he gives portunities of judging—into a vivid, terse, and himself up to the pleasure which the former of graphic eloquence, agreeably tinged at times with these inspire. Why should he disturb that pleas- a poetic coloring ; and although he occasionally ure by counting up the blemishes and errors ? adopts certain inversions which are not customary He sees, but passes rapidly over them; on the in modern prose, he never lays himself open to nobler passages he dwells, and to them alone he the charge of being difficult or unintelligible. But returns. But, as critic, he cannot resign himself there is an obscurity of thought-in the very matentirely to this mood; or rather, after having ter of his writings-produced first by a vein of resigned himself to it, after having enjoyed that mysticism which runs throughout his works, and, only true perusal of a book in which we forget all secondly, by a manner he sometimes has of sweepbut the truth we can extract from it, he must rouse ing together into one paragraph a number of unhimself to another and very different act of atten- sorted ideas, but scantily related to each othertion; he must note defects and blemishes, and bringing up his drag-net with all manner of fish in caution against errors, and qualify his admiration it, and depositing it then and there before us.
His style Mysticism is a word often so vaguely and rashly | the opposite opinion, and we are not aware that in applied, that we feel bound to explain the sense in either case there is any appeal but to the authority which we use it. It is not because Mr. Emerson of numbers, to which, of course, neither the lunatic is an idealist in his philosophy—what we are in nor the mystic will submit. the habit in the present day of describing as the We have frequent intimations in Mr. Emerson's German school of metaphysics, though he does not writings of this high intuitive source of truth. appear to have drawn his tenets from the Germans, Take the following passage in the Essay on Selfand more frequently quotes the name of Plato than reliance :that of Kant or Hegel—it is not for this we pro And now at last the highest truth on this subnounce him to be a mystic. Berkeley was no ject remains unsaid, probably, cannot be said; for mystic. In support of this philosophy, reasons all that we say is the far-off remembering of the may be adduced which appeal to the faculties, and intuition. The thought by what I can now nearest are open to the examination of all men. We do approach to say it, is this. When good is near not pronounce idealism to be mystical, but we pro- known or appointed way; you shall not discern the
you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any nounce him to be a mystic who upholds this, or foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face any other philosophy, upon grounds of conviction of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, not open to all rational men ; whose convictions, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and in short, rest upon some profound intuition, some new; it shall exclude all other being. You take deep and peculiar source of knowledge, to which the way from man not to man. All persons that the great multitude of mankind are utter strangers. be no fear in it. Fear and hope are alike beneath
ever existed are its fugitive ministers. There shall A man shall be an idealist, and welcome ; we can it. It asks nothing. There is somewhat low even discuss the matter with him, we can follow his in hope. We are then in vision. There is nothing reasonings, and if we cannot sustain ourselves in that can be called gratitude, nor, properly, joy. that nicely-balanced aërial position he has assumed, The soul is raised over passion. It seeth identity poised above the earth on a needle's point of faith, and eternal causation. It is a perceiving that Truth we can at least apprehend how the more subtle and Right are. Hence it becomes a tranquillity out metaphysician has contrived to accomplish the feat. of the knowing that all things go well. Vast spaces
of nature-the Atlantic Ocean—the South SeaBut the moment a man proclaims himself in the vast intervals of time-years-centuries—are of no possession of any truth whatever, by an intuition account. This, which I think and feel, anderlay of which we, and other men, find no traces in our that former state of life and circumstances as it does own mind, then it is that we must, of force, aban- underlie my present, and will always all circumdon him to the sole enjoyment of an illumination stance, and what is called life, and what is called we do not share, and which he cannot impart. death.” We call him mystical, and he calls us blind, or Whenever a man begins by telling us that he sense-beclouded. We assume that he pretends to cannot find language to express his meaning, we see where there is no vision, and no visual organ; may be pretty sure that he has no intelligible meanhe retorts that it is we, and the gross vulgar who ing to express; and Mr. Emerson, in the above have lost, or never attained, the high faculty of passage, fully bears out this general observation. vision which he possesses. Whether it is Plato “ I cannot,” he says in another place, “ I cannot, or Swedenborg, Pagan or Christian, who lays nor can any man, speak precisely of things so subclairn to this occult and oracular wisdom, we must lime, but it seems to me, the wit of man, his. proclaim it a delusion. It is in vain to tell us that strength, his grace, his tendency, his art, is the these men may be the élite of humanity, that they grace and the presence of God. It is beyond exare thus signally favored because they have more planation. When all is said and done, the rapt successfully cultivated their minds, both intellect- saint is found the only logician. Not exhortation, ually and morally, and purified them for the recep- not argument, becomes our lips, but pæans of joy tion of a closer communion with the divine and all- and praise. But not of adulation : we are too sustaining and interpenetrating intelligence, than nearly related in the deep of the mind to that we is vouchsafed to the rest of mankind. We, who honor. It is God in us which checks the language have nothing but our eyesight and our reason, we of petition by a grander thought. In the bottom of the multitude who are not thus favored, can, at of the heart it is said, “I am, and by me, O child! all events, learn nothing from them. Whether this fair body and world of thine stands and grows. above or beside human reason, they are equally I am: all things are mine : and all mine are remote from intellectual communion. We do not thine.'" recognize their reason as reason, nor their truth as If we can gather anything from this language, truth; and we call them mystics to express this it must imply that the individual mind is conscious unapproachable nature of their minds, this hopeless of being a part, an emanation of the divine mindseverance from intercommunion of thought, from is conscious of this union or identity--the preteneven so much of contact as is requisite for thesion to which species of consciousness is, in our hostilities of controversy. These wisest of man- apprehension, pure mysticism. kind are in the same predicament as the maddest But we shall not weary our readers by seeking of mankind; both believe that they are the only further proofs of this charge of mysticism ; for perfectly sane, and that all the rest of the world what can be more wearisome than to have a numhave lost their reason The rest of the world holdber of unintelligible passages brought together from different and remote parts of an author's soul of Erwin of Steinbach. The true poem is works. We
to that other cause of obscurity the poet's mind, the true ship is the ship-builder," we have hinted at the agglomerations of a mul- and so forth. It would be waste of time ana titude of unrelated, or half-related, ideas. Some words to ask how “ tree and horse,” in the same times a whole paragraph, and a long one too, is sense as kingdom and college, can be said to have made up of separate fragments of thought or fancy, “their roots in man;" or whether, when it is said good or amusing, it may be, in themselves, but that “Strasburg cathedral is the material counterpart connected by the slightest and most flimsy thread of the soul of Erwin of Steinbach,” this can possibly imaginable. Glittering insects and flies of all sorts, mean anything else than the undoubted fact, that caught and held together in a spider's web, present the architect thought and designed before he built. as much appearance of unity as some of these par- This subject of architecture comes sadly in the agraphs we allude to.
way of the author, and of the reader too, whom it For an example, we will turn to the first essay succeeds in thoroughly mystifying. “The Gothic in the series, that on History. It is, perhaps, the cathedral is a blossoming in stone, subdued by the most striking of the whole, and one which has insatiable demand of harmony in man. The more distinct aim and purport than most of them, mountain of granite blooms into an eternal flower and yet the reader is fairly bewildered at times by with the lightness and delicate finish, as well as the incongruous assemblage of thoughts presented the aërial proportions and perspective of vegetable to him. It is the drift of the essay to show, that beauty. In like manner, all public facts are to be the varied and voluminous record of history is still individualized, all private facts are to be generalbut the development and expansion of the individ- ized. Then at once history becomes fluid and ual being man, as he existed yesterday, as he ex- true, and biography deep and sublime.” ists to-day. “A man,” he says, “is the whole The fables of Pagan mythology next cross his encyclopædia of facts. The creation of a thousand path, and these lead to another medley of thoughts. forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, - These beautiful fables of the Greeks,” he says, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the “ being proper creations of the imagination, and first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, not of the fancy are universal verities." And empire, republic, democracy, are merely the appli- well they may be, whether of the fancy or the cation of his manifold spirit to the manifold world.” imagination, (and the great distinction here marked This idea is explained, illustrated, amplified, and out between the two, we do not profess to comvery often in a novel and ingenious manner. To prehend,) if each mind, in every age, is at liberty exemplify the necessity we feel to recognize our- to interpret them as it pleases, and with the same selves in the past, he says—“All inquiry into an unrestrained license that our author takes. But tiquity, all curiosity respecting the pyramids, the how can he find here an instance of the present excavated cities, Stonehenge, the Ohio circles, man being written out in history, when the old Mexico, Memphis, is the desire to do away this history or fable is perpetually to receive new interwild, savage, and preposterous there or then, and pretations, as it is handed down from generation introduce in its place the here and the now. It is to generation-interpretations which assuredly to banish the Not me, and supply the Me. It is to were never dreamt of by the original inventor? abolish difference and restore unity. Belzoni digs “ Apollo kept the flocks of Admetus, said the and measures in the mummy-pits and pyramids of poets. Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god Thebes, until he can see the end of the difference playing the fool. It seems as if heaven had sent between the monstrous work and himself. When its insine angels into our world as to an asyhum, he has satisfied himself, in general and in detail, and here they will break out into their native that it was made by such a person as himself, so music, and utter at intervals the words they have armed and so motived, and to ends to which he heard in heaven ; then the mad fit returns,
and himself, in given circumstances, should also have they mope and wallow like dogs." Whether worked, the problem is then solved, his thought witty or wise, such interpretations have manifestly lives along the whole line of temples and sphinxes nothing to do with the fable as it exists in history, and catacombs, passes through them all like a cre- as part of the history of the human mind. ative soul, with satisfaction, and they live again to “ The transmigration of souls : that too is no the mind, or are now."
fable; I would it were. But men and women This is good, but by and by he begins to inter- are only half human. Every animal of the barncalate all sorts of vagrant fantasies, as thus :- yard, the field and the forest, of the earth and of
“ Civil history, natural history, the history of the waters that are under the earth, has contrived to art, and the history of literature--all must be get a footing, and to leave the print of its features explained from individual history, or must remain and form in some one or other of these upright, words. There is nothing but is related to us, heaven-facing speakers.” Very good ; only, if nothing that does not interest us-kingdom, col-poets and wits are to set themselves to the task, lege, tree, horse, or iron shoe, the roots of all we should like to know what fable there is in the things are in man. It is in the soul that archi- world, whether the product of imagination or tecture exists. Santa Croce and the dome of St. fancy, which might not be shown to abound in Peter's are lame copies after a divine model. eternal verities. Strasburg cathedral is a material counterpart of the Travelling on a little further, we meet with the following paragraph, some parts of which are to that goddess, in a robe painted all over with wonbe made intelligible by putting ourselves in the derful events and experiences ;-his own form and point of view of the idealistic philosopher; but features by that exalted intelligence shall be that the whole together, by reason of the incongruity in his childhood the age of gold; the apples of
I shall find in him the foreworld ; of its parts, produces no other effect than that of knowledge; the Argonautic expedition ; the calling mere and painful bewilderment
of Abraham; the building of the temple; the “ A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, the reformation; the discovery of new lands, the
advent of Christ; dark ages; the revival of letters ; whose flower and fruitage is the world. All his faculties refer to natures out of him. All his fac-opening of new sciences, and new regions in man. ulties predict the world he is to inhabit, as the fins He shall be the priest of Pan, and bring with him of the fish foreshow that water exists, or the wings
into humble cottages the blessing of the morning of an eagle in the egg presuppose a medium like stars, and all the recorded benefits of heaven and
earth.” air. Insulate and you destroy him. He cannot live without a world. Put Napoleon in an island pris- We regret to say that instances of this painful on, let his faculties find no men to act on, no Alps obscurity, of this outrageous and fantastical style to climb, no stake to play for, and he would beat of writing, it would not be difficult to multiply, the air and appear stupid. Transport him to large countries, dense population, complex interests and were it either necessary or desirable. , We have antagonist power, and you shall see that the man quoted sufficient to justify even harsher terms of Napoleon, bounded, that is, by such a profile and censure than we have chosen to deal in ; sufficient outline, is not the virtual Napoleon. This is but to warn our readers who may be induced, from the Talbot's shadow;
favorable quotations we have made, and shall con• His substance is not here:
tinue to make, to turn to the works of this author, For what you see is but the smallest part,
that it is not all gold they will find there, that the And least proportion of humanity;
sun does not always shine upon his page, that a But were the whole frame here,
great proportion of his writings may be little suited It is of such a spacious lofty pitch,
to their taste. Your roof were not sufficient to contain it.'
That which forms the great and inextinguishaColumbus needs a planet to shape his course upon. ble charm of those writings is the fine moral temNewton and Laplace need myriads of ages and per they display, the noble ardor, the high ethithick-strewn celestial areas. One may say, a grav- cal tone they everywhere manifest and sustain, itating solar system is already prophesied in the and especially that lofty independence of his intelnature of Newton's mind. Not less does the brain lect, that freedom of his reason which the man of Davy and Gay-Lussac, from childhood exploring who aspires after true cultivation should watch always the affinities and repulsions of particles, anticipate the laws of organization. Does not the over and preserve with the utmost jealousy. eye of the human embryo predict the light? the Addressing the divinity students of Cambridge, ear of Handel predict the witchcraft of harmonic U. S., he sayssounds? Do not the constructive fingers of Watt, Fulton, Whittemore, and Arkwright, predict the
“Let me admonish you, first of all, to go alone ; fusible, hard, and temperable texture of metals, the to refuse the good models, even those most sacred properties of stone, water, and wood! the lovely without mediator or veil. Friends enough you will
in the imagination of men, and dare to love God attributes of the maiden child predict the refinements and decorations of civil society? Here, also, find, who will hold up to your emulation Wesleys we are reminded of the action of man on man. A
and Oberlins, saints and prophets. Thank God for mind might ponder its thoughts for ages, and not
these good men, but say, 'I also am a man.' Imigain so much self-knowledge as the passion of love tation cannot go above its model. The imitator shall teach it in a day. Who knows himself before
dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The invenhe has been thrilled with indignation at an outrage, him it has a charm. In the imitator, something
tor did it because it was natural to him; and so in or has heard an eloquent tongue, or has shared the throb of thousands in a national exultation and else is natural, and he bereaves himself of his own alarm? No man can antedate his experience, or
beauty, to come short of another man's. guess what faculty or feeling a new object shall Can we not leave to such as love it the virtue that
“Let us not aim at common degrees of merit. unlock, any more than he can draw to-day the face of a person whom he shall see to-morrow for the glitters for the commendation of society, and ourfirst time."
selves pierce the deep solitudes of absolute ability
and worth? We easily come up to the standard of And the essay concludes by presenting its lead- goodness in society. Society's praise can be cheaply ing idea in this distorted and exaggerated shape
secured, and almost all men are content with those
easy merits ; but the instant effect of conversing “ Thus, in all ways does the soul concentrate with God, will be to put them away. There are and reproduce its treasures for each pupil, each sublime merits ; persons who are not actors, not new-born man. He, too, shall pass through the speakers, but influences; persons too great for whole cycle of experience. He shall collect into a fame, for display ; who disdain eloquence; to whom focus the rays of nature. History no longer shall all we call art and artist seems too nearly allied to be a dull book. It shall walk incarnate in every show and by-ends, to the exaggeration of the finite just and wise man. You shall not tell me by lan- and selfish, and loss of the universal. The orators, guages and titles a catalogue of the volumes you the poets, the commanders, encroach on us only have read. You shall make me feel what periods as fair women do, by our allowance and homage. you have lived. A man shall be the temple of Slight them by preoccupation of mind-slight them, fame. He shall walk as the poets have described as you can well afford to do, by high and universali aims, and they instantly feel that you have right, | timent as it appeared in hope, and not in history. and that it is in lower places that they must shine. Let any man go back to those delicious relations They also feel your right; for they, with you, are which make the beauty of his life, which have open to the influx of the all-knowing spirit, which given him sincerest instruction and nourishment, he annihilates before its broad noon the little shades will shrink, and shrink. Alas! I know not why, and gradations of intelligence in the compositions but infinite compunctions imbitter in mature life all we call wiser and wisest.
the remembrances of budding sentiment, and cover “In such high communion, let us study the every beloved name. Everything is beautiful grand strokes of rectitude : a bold benevolence, an seen from the point of the intellect, or as truth. independence of friends, so that not the unjust But all is sour, as seen from experience. It is wishes of those who love us shall impair our free strange how painful is the actual world—the paindom; but we shall resist, for truth's sake, the ful kingdom of time and space. There dwell care, freest flow of kindness, and appeal to sympathies canker, and fear. With thought, with the ideal, is far in advance. And, what is the highest form in immortal hilarity, the rose of joy. Round it all the which we know this beautiful element !--a certain muses sing. But with names and persons and the solidity of merit that has nothing to do with opinion, partial interests of to-day and yesterday, is grief. and which is so essentially and manifestly virtue, “But be our experience in particulars what it that it is taken for granted that the right, the brave, may, no man ever forgot the visitations of that the generous step will be taken by it, and nobody power to his heart and brain which created all thinks of commending it. You would compliment things new ; which was the dawn in him of music, a coxcomb doing a good act, but you would not poetry, and art; which made the face of nature praise an angel. The silence that accepts merit as radiant with purple light, the morning and the night the most natural thing in the world, is the highest varied enchantments; when a single tone of one applause."
voice could make the heart beat, and the most
trivial circumstance associated with one form, is Nothing but the necessity to husband our space put in the amber of memory; when we become all prevents us from quoting other passages of the eye when one was present, and all memory when one same noble strain.
was gone; when the youth becomes a watcher of There is an essay on Love which has highly windows, and studious of a glove, a veil, a ribbon, pleased us, and from which we wish to make some or the wheels of a carriage; when no place is too extracts. To a man of genius the old subjects solitary, and none too silent for him who has richer are always new. The romance and enthusiasm company and sweeter conversation in his new of the passion is here quite freshly and vividly
thoughts, than any old friends, though best and
purest, can give him ; when all business seemed an portrayed, while the great moral end of that charm- impertinence, and all the men and women running ing exaggeration which every lover makes of the to and fro in the streets, mere pictures. beauty and excellence of his mistress, is finely “ For, though the celestial rapture falling out of pointed out. There is both poetry and philosophy heaven, seizes only upon those of tender age, and in the essay—as our readers shall judge for them- although a beauty, overpowering all analysis or selves from the following extracts.
We do not comparison, and putting us quite beside ourselves, always mark the omissions we make for the sake remembrance of these visions outlasts all other
we can seldom see after thirty years, yet the of economy of space, nor always cite the passages remembrances, and is a wreath of flowers on the in the order they appear in the essay.
oldest brows." “ What fastens attention, in the intercourse of And on this matter of beauty how ingenious life, like any passage betraying affection between and full of feeling are the following reflections ! two parties? Perhaps we never saw them before, and never shall meet them again. But we see
" Wonderful is its charm. It seems sufficient to them exchange a glance, or betray a deep emotion, itself
. The lover cannot paint his maiden to his and we are no longer strangers.' We understand fancy poor and solitary. Like a tree in flower, 80 them, and take the warmest interest in the develop- much soft, budding, informing loveliness, is society ment of the romance. All mankind love a lover. for itself, and she teaches his eye why Beauty was The earliest demonstrations of complacency and ever painted with Loves and Graces attending her kindness are nature's most winning pictures. It is steps.
Her existence makes the world rich the dawn of civility and grace in the coarse and Though she extrudes all other persons from his rustic. The rude village boy teases the girls about attention as cheap and unworthy, yet she indemnithe school-house door ;-but to-day he comes run
fies him by carrying out her own being into somening into the entry, and meets one fair child what impersonal; so that the maiden stands to him arranging her satchel ; he holds her books to help for a representation of all select things and virtues. her, and instantly it seems to him as if she removed For that reason the lover sees never personal resemherself from him infinitely, and was a sacred pre- His friends finds in her a likeness to her mother, or
blances in his mistress to her kindred or to others. cinct. Among the throng of girls he runs rudely enough, but one alone distances him; and these her sisters, or to persons not of her blood. The two little neighbors that were so close just now, and diamond mornings, to rainbows and the song
lover sees no resemblance except to summer evenings have learned to respect each other's personality.”
of birds. As is ever the case when men describe what is, “ Beauty is ever that divine thing the ancients or might be an exquisite happiness, there steals a esteemed it It is, they said, the flowering of vir melancholy over the description; and our author tue. Who can analyze the nameless charm which makes it a primary condition,
glances from one and another face and form? We
are touched with emotions of tenderness and com“That we must leave a too close and lingering placency, but we cannot find whereat this dainty adherence to the actual, to facts, and study the sen-emotion, this wandering gleam, points. It is