Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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illusion had been heedless for a moment that
the Reason had returned to its seat, and was
startled into attention. Instantly, there is a rush
from some quarter to break up the drama into
a chaos of parts, then of particles, then of ether,
like smoke dissolving in a wind; it cannot be
disintegrated fast enough or fine enough. If you
could give the waked watchman the smallest
fragment, he could reconstruct the whole ; for
the moment, he is sure he can and will ; but his
attention is so divided on the disappearing parts,
that he cannot grasp the least atomy, and the
last fragment or film disappears before he could
say, "I have it."


"jiimera lire, c' est fair e un 'echange des heures
d^ ennui que Ton doit avoir en sa vie, contre des
heures delicieuses." — Montesquieu, Pensies.

In "Clubs" I ought to have said that men
being each a treasure-house of valuable experi-
ences, — and yet the man often shy and daunted
by company into dumbness, — it needs to court
him, to put him at his ease, to make him laugh
or weep, and so at last to get his naturel con-
fessions, and his best experience.

^he blinded Ar ago s ^^ Ardent Age." — " Sa
vieillesse est aussi remarquable que celle de M. de
Humboldt, elk est meme plus ardent e." — Varn-
HAGEN, vol. X, p. 100.

I ought to have had Arago among my heroes
in " Old Age," and Humboldt, and Agesilaus.

March 23.
On the 31st, I received President Eliot's let-
ter signifying the acceptance of Carlyle's bequest
of the Cromwellian and Friedrich books by the
Corporation of Harvard College, and enclosing
the vote of the Corporation. I wrote to Carlyle
the same day enclosing the President's letter to

3i6 JOURNAL [Age 66

me, and the record of their vote, and mailed it
yesterday morning to him,'

" Study for eternity smiled on me."

Varnhagen says, " Goethe once said to me,
'How can the narrative be always right ? The
things themselves are not always right' "; and
Varnhagen adds : " A microscopic history is not
better than one seen with the natural, unarmed
eye; — not the rightness of the now invisible
littles, but the gross impression is the main
thing." — Varnhagen, vol. x, p. 174.

At Wiesbaden, an Englishman being ad-
dressed by another guest at the table, called the
waiter, and said to him aloud, "Waiter, say to
that gentleman that I won't speak with him."
This delighted Varnhagen, and he adds, " Wor-
thy of imitation. Nothing more odious than
faMe d^htte conversation."

I For the account of the generous gift which Carlyle felt
moved to make to the college, see the Carlyle- Emerson Corre-

The widow of General Charles Russell Lowell (sister of
Colonel Robert G. Shaw) had visited Carlyle with a letter of
introduction from Mr. Emerson, had talked freely with him
about our war and sent him the Harvard Memorial Bio-
graphies to enlighten him on the cause and its heroes.


Musagetes. Goethe's fly. Read not in your
official professional direction too steadily, —
rather less and less, but, where you find excite-
ment, awakening, for every surface is equally
near to the centre. Every one has his own ex-
perience, — but I find the contrasts most sug-

[Under the new and more liberal dispensa-
tion of President Eliot's administration, courses
of "University Lectures" were established, and
Mr. Emerson was invited to give a course of
sixteen in the Philosophical Department in
April and May. These were: — I, Introduc-
tory, The Praise of Knowledge ; II, Transcend-
ency of Physics; III and IV; Perception; V
and VI, Memory; VII, Imagination; VIII,
Inspiration ; IX, Genius ; X, Common Sense ;
XI, Identity; XII, XIII, Metres of Mind;
XIV, The Platonists; XV, Conduct of Intel-
lect ; XVI, Relation of Intellect to Morals.]

Identity. Bias. The best identity is the prac-
tical one, as in the pure satisfaction felt in find-
ing that we have long since said, written, or done
somewhat quite true and fit for ourselves.

StefFens relates that he went into Schelling's
lecture-room at Jena (?). SchelHng said, " Gen-

3i8 JOURNAL [Age 66

tlemen, think of the wall." All the class at once
took attitudes of thought ; some stiffened them-
selves up ; some shut their eyes ; all concen-
trated themselves. After a time, he said, "Gen-
tlemen, think of that which thought the wall."
Then there was trouble in all the camp.

The scholar who abstracted himself with pain
to make the analysis of Hegel is less enriched
than when the beauty and depth of any thought
by the wayside has commanded his mind and
led to new thought and action ; for this is
healthy, and these thoughts light up the mind.
He is made aware of the walls, and also of the
open way leading outward and upward, whilst the
other analytic process is cold and bereaving, and,
— shall I say it? — somewhat mean, as spying.

The delicate lines of character in Aunt Mary,
Rahel, Margaret Fuller, Sarah A'. Ripley, need
good metaphysic, better than Hegel's, to read
and delineate.

There is onepther reason for dressing well than
I have ever considered, namely, that dogs respect
it, and will not attack you in good clothes.

The strength of his moral convictions is the
charm of the character of Fichte.


Autograph letters. Wise was the Turkish cadi
who said, "O my friend, my liver, the ques-
tioner is one, and the answer is another."

I find Plutarch a richer teacher of rhetoric
than any modern.

Plutarch quotes, as a true judgment, this, —
" That this courteous, gentle, and benign dis-
position and behaviour is not so acceptable,
so obliging, and delightful to any of those with
whom they converse, as it is to those who have
it." — Plutarch, Morals, vol. i, p. 59.

Old age. Here is a good text from Montes-
quieu : " Les vieillards qui ont etudi'e dans leur
jeunesse n'ont besoin que de se ressouvenir, et
non d^apprendre. Cela est bien heureux." — Pen-
sees, p. 232.

June 9.

I find Philip Randolph almost if not quite
on a level with my one or two Olympic friends
in his insight, — as shown in his manuscript,
which I have been reading. He made that im-
pression on me once and again in our interviews
whilst he lived, and in his paper which was
promised to the North American Review. But
in these papers on science, philosophy, poetry.

320 JOURNAL [Age 67

painting, and music, the supremacy of his faith
purely shines.

How much it ever pleases me that this pure
spiritualist was the best chess-player in Phila-
delphia, and, according to Evan Randolph's
account to me, had beaten the best players in

Plutarch rightly tells the anecdote of Alex-
ander (badly remembered and misrelated usually)
that he wept when he heard from Anaxarchus
that there was an infinite number of worlds;
and his friends asking if any accident had be-
fallen him, he replied, " Don't you think it a
matter for my lamentation, that, when there is
such a vast multitude of them, I have not yet
conquered one?" — Plutarch, Morals, vol. i,

P- 134-

Were I professor of rhetoric, I would urge
my class to read Plutarch's Morals in English,
and Cotton's Montaigne for their English style.

We think we do a great service to our coun-
try in publishing this book if we hereby force
our public men to read the "Apophthegms of
Great Commanders," before they make their
speeches to caucuses and conventions. If I
could keep the secret, and communicate it only


to one or two chosen youths, I should know
that they would by this noble infiltration easily
carry the victory over all competitors. But as it
was the desire of these old patriots to fill Rome
or Sparta with this majestic spirit, and not a few
leaders only, we desire to offer them to the
American people.

The reason of a new philosophy or philoso-
pher is ever that a man of thought finds that
he cannot read in the old books. I can't read
Hegel, or Schelling, or find interest in what is
told me from them, so I persist in my own idle
and easy way, and write down my thoughts,
and find presently that there are congenial
persons who like them, so I persist, until some
sort of outline or system grows. 'Tis the
common course : ever a new bias. It happened
to each of these, Heraclitus, or Hegel, or who-

June 30.

I cannot but please myself with the recoil
when Plutarch tells me that "the Athenians
had such an abhorrence of those who accused
Socrates that they would neither lend them
fire, nor answer them any question, nor wash
with them in the same water, but commanded

322 JOURNAL [Age 67

the servants to pour it out as polluted, till these
sycophants, no longer able to bear up under
the pressure of this hatred, put an end to their
own lives." — Plutarch, Morals, vol. ii, p. ^6.

I find Nouvelle Biographie G'enirale a perpet-
ual benefactor, — almost sure on every con-
sultation to answer promptly and well. Long
live M. le Docteur Hoefer! Just now he has
answered full^ on Plutarch, Suetonius, Amyot,
but I dared not believe he would know Dr.
Philemon Holland, — yet he answered at once
joyfully concerning him ; and even cites the
epigram upon him : —

" Philemon with translations will so fill us
He cannot let Suetonius be Tranquillus."

July 14.
Here at Nantasket Beach, with Ellen, I won-
der that so few men do penetrate what seems
the secret of the innkeeper. He funs along the
coast, and perceives that by buying a few acres,
well chosen, of the seashore, which cost no
more or not so much as good land elsewhere,
and building a good house, he shifts upon Na-
ture the whole duty of filling it with guests,
the sun, the moon, the stars, the rainbow, the


sea, the islands, the whole horizon, — not else-
where seen, ships of all nations. All of these
(and all unpaid) take on themselves the whole
charge of entertaining his guests, and filling and
delighting their senses with shows ; and it were
long to tell in detail the attractions which these
furnish. Everything here is picturesque: the
long beach is every day renewed with pleasing
and magical shows, with variety of colour, with
the varied music of the -rising and falling water,
with the multitudes of fishes, and the birds and
men that prey on them ; with the strange forms
of the radiates sprawling on the beach; with
shells ; with the beautiful variety of sea-rolled
pebbles, — of quartz, porphyry, sienite, mica,
and limestone. The man buys a few acres, but
he has all the good and all the glory of a hun-
dred square miles, by the cunning choice of the
place ; for the storm is one of the grand enter-
tainers of his company; so is the sun, and the
moon, and all the stars of heaven, since they
who see them here, in all their beauty, and in
the grand area or amphitheatre which they need
for their right exhibition, feel that they have
never rightly seen them before.

The men and women who come to the house,
and swarm or scatter in groups along the

324 JOURNAL [Age 67

spacious beach, or in yachts, or boats, or in car-
riages, or as bathers, never appeared before so
gracious and inoffensive. In these wide stretches,
the largest company do not jostle one another.
Then to help him, even the poor Indians from
Maine and Canada creep on to the outskirts of
the hotel to pitch their tents, and make baskets
and bows and arrows to add a picturesque fea-
ture. Multitudes of children decorate the piazza,
and the grounds in front, with their babble and
games; and in this broad area every individual
from least to largest is inoffensive and an enter-
taining variety. To make the day complete, I
saw from the deck of our boat this morning,
coming out of the bay, the English steamer
which lately made the perilous jump on Minot's
Ledge, and this afternoon I saw the turret
monitor, Miantonomoh, sailing into Boston.

The parlours, chambers, and the table of the
Rockland House were all good, but the supreme
relish of these conveniences was this superb
panorama which the wise choice of the place on
which the house was built afforded. This selec-
tion of the site gives this house the like advan-
tage over other houses that an astronomical
observatory has over other towers, — namely,
that this particular tower leads you to the

,870] MRS. HOWE. AUNT MARY 325

heavens, and searches depths of space before

July 21,

I am filling my house with books which I am
bound to read, and wondering whether the new
heavens which await the soul (after the fatal
hour) will allow the consultation of these.

I honour the author of the " Battle Hymn,"

and of "The Flag." She was born in the city

•of New York. I could well wish she were a

native of Massachusetts. We have had no such

poetess in New England.

August 7.

This morning I think no subject so fit for
poetry as Home, the Massachusetts or the
American Home.

I find my readings of Aunt Mary ever mon-
itory and healthful as of old, and for the reason
that they are moral inspirations. All the men
and women whose talents challenge my admira-
tion from time to time lack this depth of source,
and are therefore comparatively shallow. They
amuse, they may be inimitable ; I am proud of
them as countrymen and contemporaries ; but it
is as music or pictures, — and other music and
pictures would have served me as well ; but

326 JOURNAL [Age 67

they do not take rank hold of me as consolers,
uplifters, and hinderers from sleep. But the
moral muse is eternal, and wakes us to eternity,
— pervades the whole man. Socrates is not dis-
tant; Sparta is nearer than New York ; Marcus
Antoninus is of no age ; Plotinus and Porphyry,
Confucius and Menu had a deeper civilization
than Paris or London ; and the deeply religious
men and women in or out of our churches are
really the salt of our civilization, and constitute
the nerve and tension of our politics in Ger-
many, England, and America. The men of
talent see the power of principle, and the ne-
cessity of respecting it, but they deal with its
phenomena, and not with the source. It is
learned and wielded as an accomplishment and
a weapon.

As I have before written, that no number
oi Nays will help, — only one Tea, and this is
moral. Strength enters according to the pres-
ence of the moral element. There are no bounds
to this power. If it have limits, we have not
found them. It domesticates. They are not our
friends who are of our household, but they who
think and see with us. But it is ever wonderful
where the moral element comes from.
. The Christian doctrine not only modifies the


individual characterj but the individual character
modifies the Christian doctrine in Luther, in
Augustine, in Fenelon, in Milton. — Something
like this I read in Leveque or Antoninus.

September 1.
With Edward took the 7.30 a. m. train from
Boston to Portland, thence to South Paris, where
we took a carriage and reached Waterford, Mr.
Houghton's inn, at 5 p. m. Thence, the next
afternoon, to South Paris, carried by Mr. Wil-
kins, and took the train for Gorham, and thence
immediately the stage to the Glen House, Mount
Washington, where we arrived near 9 o'clock in
the evening. Spent Sunday, September 4, and
on Monday, September 5, at 8 o'clock, ascended
the mountain in open carriage ; descended in the
railway [funicular] car, at 3, and reached the
Crawford House. Next morning, September 6,
took stage to Whitefield, arriving to dine, thence
by railway to Plymouth, arriving at 9 p. m. Next
morning, at 5 o'clock, took railroad, and arrived
in Boston at 11.30 and home in an hour.

[To fill out this rather bald Itinerary, it may be
said that Mr. Emerson's family, seeing that the
Philosophy course (sixteen lectures In a few

328 JOURNAL [Age 67

weeks) had been a tax on his strength, betrayed
him into a journey to Maine on the plea of show-
ing to his son the village of Waterford, of which
Mr. Emerson had a happy remembrance from
the days long past when he went there to visit
his Haskins relations, and his Aunt Mary. His
consent was won, and reaching Waterford we
climbed Bear Mountain and from its sheer cliff
looked down into the blue lake below. Then
he eagerly led the way to a broad brook whose
clear waters, rushing over smooth ledges and
boulders, had long delighted him in memory,
and now gave like joy.

We were glad to find at Gorham, where we
passed Sunday, Mr. James Bryce, now noted,
who had lately brought his letter of introduction
to Concord. Next morning he and young Emer-
son climbed the mountain, and Mr. Emerson
followed in the stage from the great heat and
moisture below into a fierce, cold snow-squall
which blew almost dangerously on the top. We
saw nothing but that, shivered through dinner,
and gladly descended to Crawford's Notch,
where Mr. Emerson had stayed with Ellen
Tucker and her family some forty years before.
— E. W. Emerson^


Very much afflicted in these days with stupor:
— acute attacks whenever a visit is proposed
or made.

Montesquieu's prediction is fulfilled, "La
France se perdra par les gens de guerre." —

September 24.

On Saturday, at the Club ; present, Sumner,
Longfellow, Lowell, Hoar, James, Brimmer,
Fields, Estes Howe, Holmes, R. W. E., and,
as guests, Mr. Catacazy, the Russian Minister,
Hon. Samuel Hooper, and Henry Lee, Esq.

September id.
Chivalry, I fancied, this afternoon, would
serve as a good title for many topics, and some
good readings which I might offer to the Fra-
ternity [Course of Lectures] on December 6.
George Ticknor, Hallam, and Renan (in his
paper on the Paris Exposition) have each given
me good texts ; Fauriel has others ; and the
wonderful mythology and poetry of Wales, of
Brittany, of Germany (in the Nibelungenlied),
and Scott and Joinville and Froissart can add
their stores. It might be called "Imagination"
as well, and what we call chivalry be only a rich

330 JOURNAL [Age 67

illustration. Every reading boy has marched to
school and on his errands, to fragments of this
magic, and swinging a cut stick for his broad-
sword, brandishing it, and plunging it into the
swarm of airy enemies whom his fancy arrayed
on his right and left.

The life of the topic, of course, would be the
impatience in every man of his limits ; the inex-
tlnguishableness of the imagination. We cannot
crouch in our hovels or our experience. We have
an immense elasticity. Every reader takes part
with the king, or the angel, or the god, in the
novel or poem he reads, and not with dwarfs and
cockneys. That healthy surprise which a sunset
sky gives to a man coming out on it alone, and
from his day's work ; or which the stars unex-
pectedly seen give.

(From ST)

October 2.

La fort'ee, the range of a thought, of a fact
observed, and thence of the word by which we
denote it, makes its value. Only whilst it has
new values does it warm and invite and enable
to write. And this range or ulterior outlook ap-
pears to be rare in men; — a slight primitive
difference, but essential to the work. For this
possessor has the necessity to write, — 'Tis


easy and delightful to him ; the other, finding
no continuity, — must begin again uphill at
every step. Now Plutarch is not a deep man,
and might well not be personally impressive
to his contemporaries ; but, having this facile
association in his thought, — a wide horizon to
every fact or maxim or character which engaged
him, every new topic reanimated all his experi-
ence or memory, and he was impelled with joy
to begin a new chapter. Then there is no such
chord in Nature for fagoting thoughts as well
as actions, as religion, which means fagoting.
Plutarch had a commanding moral sentiment,
which, indeed, is common to all men, but in
very unlike degree, so that in multitudes it ap-
pears secondary, as if aped only from eminent
characters, and not native. But in Plutarch was
his genius. This clear morale is the foundation
of genius in Milton, in Burke, in Herbert,
in Socrates, in Wordsworth, Michael Angelo,
and, I think, also in many men who like to
mask or disguise it in the variety of their powers,
— as Shakespeare and Goethe. Indeed, we are
sure to feel the discord and limitation in men
of rare talent in whom this sentiment has not
its healthy or normal superiority ; as, Byron,
Voltaire, Daniel Webster.

332 JOURNAL [Age 67

The writer is an explorer. Every step is an
advance into new land.

Memory. The compensation of failing mem-
ory is, — the assistance of increased and in-
creasing generalization.

" Old age stands not in years, but in directed

Among my mnemonics I recorded that I
went into France just three hundred years after
Montaigne did. He was born, 1533 ; I visited
it in 1833.

[During this year the Government of Har-
vard University determined that it should no
longer discredit itself by conferring the degree
of Master of Arts on any graduate who should
have survived five years and have five dollars
to pay into the treasury for receiving it. Mr.
Eme'rson was appointed one of a Committee of
Harvard teachers to prepare a plan for confer-
ring that degree. He was also made one of the
Committee to visit the Academic Department
of the University.]

October 6.

To-day at the laying of the corner-stone of
the " Memorial Hall," at Cambridge. All was


well and wisely done. The storm ceased for us,
the company was large, — the best men and the
best women all there, — or all but a few ; — the
arrangements simple and excellent, and every
speaker successful. Henry Lee, with his uni-
form sense and courage, the Manager ; the
Chaplain, Rev. Phillips Brooks, offered a prayer,
in which not a word was superfluous, and every
right thing was said. Henry Rogers, William
Gray, Dr. Palfrey, made each his proper Report.
Luther's Hymn in Dr. Hedge's translation was
sung by a great choir, the corner-stone was laid,
and then Rockwood Hoar read a discourse of
perfect sense, taste, and feeling, — full of virtue
and of tenderness. After this, an original song
by Wendell Holmes was given by the Choir.
Every part in all these performances was in such
true feeling that people praised them with broken
voices, and we all proudly wept. Our Harvard
soldiers of the war were in their uniforms, and
heard their own praises, and the tender allu-
sions to their dead comrades. General Meade
was present, and "adopted by the College," as
Judge Hoar said, and Governor Claflin sat by
President Eliot. Our English guests, Hughes,
Rawlins, Dicey, and Bryce, sat and listened.

334 JOURNAL [Age 67

" I bear no ill will to my contemporaries,"
said Cumberland. " After you, ma'am, in man-
ners," said Swett. The only point in which I
regret priority of departure is that I, as every
one, keep many stories of which the etiquette
of contemporariness forbids the airing, and
which burn uncomfortably being untold. I
positively resolve not to kill A. nor C. nor N.

— but I could a tale unfold, like Hamlet's

Now a private class gives just this liberty
which in book or public lecture were unparlia-
mentary, and of course because here, at least, one
is safe from the unamiable presence of report-
ers. Another point. I set great value in culture
on foreign literature — rthe farther off the better

— much on French, on Italian, on German, or
Welsh — more on Persian or Hindu, because
if one read and write only English, he soon
slides into narrow conventions, and believes
there is no other way to write poetry than as
Pope or Milton. But a quite foreign mind born
and grown in different latitude and longitude,

— nearer to the pole or to the equator, — a
child of Mount Hecla, like Sturluson, or of the
Sahara, like Averroes, astonishes us with a new
nature, gives a fillip to our indolence, and we

i87o] COUTURE'S RULE 335

promptly learn that we have faculties which we
have never used.

How right is Couture's rule ' of looking three
times at the object, for one at your drawing, —
of looking at Nature, and not at your whim ; and
William Hunt's emphasis, after him, on the
mass, instead of the details ! And how perfectly
(as I wrote upon Couture long ago) the same rule
applies in rhetoric or writing! Wendell Holmes
hits right in every affectionate poem he scrib-
bles, by his instinct at obeying a just perception
of what /J important, instead, of feeling about
how he shall write some verses touching the

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