Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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power-press of the printers. And in dentistry
and in surgery, Dr. Jackson's discovery of An-
aesthesia. It only needs to add the power which,
up to this hour, eludes all human ingenuity,
namely, a rudder to the balloon, to give us the
dominion of the air, as well as of the sea and the
land. But the account is not complete until we
add the discovery of Oersted, of the identity of
Electricity and Magnetism, and the generaliza-
tion of that conversion by its application to
light, heat, and gravitation. The geologist has
found the correspondence of the age of stratified
remains to the ascending scale of structure in

360 JOURNAL [Age 68

animal life. Add now, the daily predictions of
the weather for the next twenty-four hours for
North America, by the Observatory at Wash-

Poetry. "The newness." Every day must be
a new morn. Clothe the new object with a coat
that fits it alone of all things in the world. I
can see in many poems that the coat is second-
hand. Emphasis betrays poverty of thought, as
if the man did not know that all things are full
of meaning, and not his trumpery thing only.

'T is one of the mysteries of our condition
that the poet seems sometimes to have a mere
talent, — a chamber in his brain into which an
angel flies with divine messages, but the man,
apart from this privilege, commonplace. Words-
worth is an example (and Channing's poetry is
apart from the man). Those who know and
meet him day by day cannot reconcile the verses
with their man.

Ah, not to me these heights belong ;
A better voice sings through my song.

[In July, at the Commencement Dinner at
Harvard College, it being the fiftieth year sinte
Mr. Emerson graduated, Mr. William Gray,


who presided, called upon him to speak. He did
sOj but what he said is not preserved.]

Rhetoric. All conversation and writing is rhet-
oric, and the great secret is to know thoroughly,
and not to be affected, and to have a steel spring.

The English write better than we, but I fancy
we read more out of their books than they do.

For History of Liberty.^ There was a great
deal of Whig poetry written in Charles and
Cromwell's time : not a line of it has survived.

In certain minds Thought expels Memory.
I have this example, — that, eager as I am to
fix and record each experience, the interest of a
new thought is sometimes such that I do not
think of pen and paper at all, and the next day
I puzzle myself in a vain attempt to recall the
new perception that had so captivated me.

Channing's poetry does not regard the

I Mr. Emerson was moved, during the struggle against
the encroachments of Slavery, to write a History of Liberty,
and collected matter to this end, never reached, much of which
appeared in his Anti-Slavery speeches and, in fragments, in
the earlier volumes of his journal.

362 JOURNAL [Age 68

reader. It is written to himself; is his strict ex-
perience, the record of his moods, of his fancies,
of his observations and studies, and will interest
good readers as such. He does not flatter the
reader by any attempt to meet his expectation,
or to polish his record that he may gratify him,
as readers expect to be gratified. He confides
entirely in his own bent or bias for meditation
and writing. He will write as he has ever writ-
ten, whether he has readers or not. But his
poems have to me and to others an exceptional
value for this reason. We have not- been con-
sidered in their composition, but either defied or
forgotten, and therefore read them securely, as
original pictures which add something to our
knowledge, and with a fair chance to be sur-
prised and refreshed by novel experience.

George Bradford said that Mr. Alcott once
said to him, " that as the child loses, as he comes
into the world, his angelic memory, so the man,
as he grows old, loses his memory of this

October 18.

Bret Harte's visit. Bret Harte referred to my
essay on Civilization, that the piano comes so
quickly into the shanty, etc., and said, " Do you


know that, on the contrary, it is vice that brings
them in ? It is the gamblers who bring in the
music to CaHfornia. It is the prostitute who
brings in the New York fashions of dress there,
and so throughout." I told him that I spoke
also from Pilgrim experience, and knew on good
grounds the resistless culture that religion effects.

October 21.
Ruskin is a surprise to me. This old book,
Two Paths, is original, acute, thoroughly in-
formed, and religious.

" Wie der Fischer aus dem Meer
Fische zieht die niemand sah."

As the fisher from the sea
Pulls the fish that no man saw.

Names should be of good omen, of agreeable
sound, commending the person in advance, and,
if possible, keeping the old belief of the Greeks,
" that the name borne by each man and woman
has some connection with their part in the drama
of life." The name, then, should look before
and after.

We have two or three facts of natural edu-
cation: I. First, the common sense of merciless

364 JOURNAL [Age 68

dealing of matter with us, punishing us instantly
for any mistake about fire, water. Iron, food,
and poison. 2. And this world perfectly sym-
metrical, so that its laws can be reduced to one
law. 3. Then we have the world of thought,
and its laws, like Niagara currents. 4. Then
the astonishing relation between these two.

The necessity of the mind is poetic. ... It
is plain that Kepler, Hunter, Bonnet, BufFon,
GeofFroy Saint-Hilaire, Linnaeus, Haiiy, Oken,
Goethe, and Faraday were poets in science as
compared with Cuvier.

The physicists in general repel me. I have
no wish to read them, and thus do not know
their names. But the anecdotes of these men of
ideas wake curiosity and delight. Thus Goethe's
and Oken's theory of the skull as a metamor-
phosed vertebra; and Hunter's "arrested de-
velopment " ; and Oersted's " correlation of
forces " ; and Hay's theory of the form of vases ;
and Garbett's and Ruskin's architectural theo-
ries ; and Vitruvius's relation between the hu-
man form and the temple; and Peirce's show-
ing that the orbits of comets (parabolics) make
the forms of flowers ; and Kepler's relation of
planetary laws to music; and Franklin's kite.


Reality, however, has a sUding floor.

Look sharply after your thoughts. They
come unlocked for, like a new bird seen on
your 'trees, and, if you turn to your usual task,
disappear ; and you shall never find that percep-
tion again ; never, I say, — but perhaps years,
ages, and I know not what events and worlds
may lie between you and its return !

In the novel, the hero meets with a person
who astonishes him with a perfect knowledge of
his history and character, and draws from him
a promise that, whenever and wherever he shall
next find him, the youth shall instantly follow
and obey him. So is it with you, and the new

" For deathless powers to verse belong.
And they like demigods are strong

On whom the Muses smile."

In Twistleton's Handwriting of Junius (p.
xiv) I find the quotation from Johnson, of
Bacon's remark, "Testimony is like an arrow
shot from a long bow : the force of it depends
on the strength of the hand that draws it. Ar-
gument is like an arrow from a cross-bow, which
has equal force, though shot by a child."

366 JOURNAL [Age 68

Tibullus (on Sulpicia) says of Venus : —

Illam, quidquid agit^ quoquo vestigia vertit,
Componit furtim, subsequiturque decor.^

Then Twistleton's motto from Epicharmus
is good —

NoOs opr) ichi VQW aicovei, raXXa KCO(j>a Kai TV^\d.'

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire is a true hero. Read
his behaviour, in August, 1792, when his mas-
ters Lhomonde and Haiiy, professors in his
college of Cardinal-Lemoine, and all the rest
of the professors were arrested and sent to the
prison of Saint-Firmin. . . .

[Here follows the account of his repeated
attempts, at desperate risk to himself, and his
final success in accomplishing the escape of twelve
of his friends.]

Saint-Hilaire was very ill in consequence of
these exertions. Haiiy wrote to him : " Leave
your problems of crystals, rhomboids, and do-
dkaedres; stick to plants, which are full of beauty ;

■ I Whatsoe'er she does
Grace prompts unseen, and wheresoe'er she wanders
Attends her footsteps.

2 The mind sees, the mind hears ;
All other things are deaf and blind.

1871] SAINT-HI LAI RE 367

a course of botany is pure hygiene." He went
with Bonaparte to Egypt, and saved the scientific
results, by a brillant stroke of heroism. In the
debate in the Academie des Sciences, in 1 830 (?),
July 19, the contest between Cuvier and Geof-
froy Saint-Hilaire broke out, and reminded of
the old sects of philosophers who shook the
world with their contests. The austere and reg-
ulated thinkers, men of severe science, took part
with Cuvier ; the bold minds ranged themselves
with GeofFroy. What changes have come into
the contests of Churches ! The debates of the
CEcumenical Council are only interesting to the
Catholics and a few abnormal readers, interested
as the billiard players in the contests of the bil-
liard champions.

Culture. The wide diffusion of taste for poetry
is a new fact. We receive twelve newspapers in
this house every week, and eleven of them con-
tain a new poem or poems, — all of these respect-
able, — perhaps one or two fit to clip from the
paper, and put into your anthology. Many of
these poems are quite as good as many of the
pieces in Aikin's or Anderson's standard collec-
tions, and recall Walter Scott's reply when Tom
Moore said, " Now, Scott, it seems to me that

368 JOURNAL [Age 68

these young fellows write better poetry than we
did, and nobody reads it. See how good this
poetry is of so many young writers, and the public
takes no note of them." Scott replied, " Egad,
man, we were in the luck of time." Verses of
conversation are now written in a hundred houses,
or [for] "picnics "or "private theatricals," which
would have made reputation a century ago, but
are now unknown out of some family circle.
Webster wrote excellent lines in an Album ;
Macaulay did the same, his " God " : then Byrch's
" Riddle on the Letter H."

George Bartlett's ' wit and luck in the privat-
est " Game parties " are charming. Yet the pub-
lic never heard of his name. Arthur Gilman,
too. In England, in France, appear the Freres,
Tom Taylors, Luttrells, Hendersons (Newton's
Cotes, too, of whom but for Newton's one re-
mark we should have never heard).
Yet good poetry is as rare as ever.

What a benediction of Heaven is this cheer-
fulness which I observe with delight, — which

I Mr. Bartlett has been mentioned in connection with the
amusements at the hotel in the account of the Emerson visit to
Mount Mansfield. When Mr. Emerson's children came home
from a "game party" at Dr.Bartlett's house, Mr. Emerson
always wished to hear George Bartlett's witty verses.

i87i] POETS. BOYS 369

no wrath and no fretting and no disaster can dis-
turb, but keeps its perfect key and heals insanity
in all companies and crises.

" Little boys should be seen, and not heard" :
Very well, but Poets are not to be seen. Look
at the foolish portraits of Herrick and Gray, one
a butcher, and the other silly. The Greek form
answered to the Greek character, but Poets are
divided from their forms, — live an official life.
Intellect is impersonal.

The father cannot control the child, from de-
fect of sympathy. The man with a longer scale
of sympathy, the man who feels the boy's sense
and piety and imagination, and also his rough
play and impatience and revolt, — who knows
the whole gamut in himself, — knows also a way
out of the one into the other, and can play on
the boy, as on a harp, and easily lead him up
from the Scamp to the Angel.

America. Oxford, working steadily now for a
thousand years, — or the Sorbonne in France,
— and a royal court steadily drawing for cen-
turies men and women of talent and grace
throughout the kingdom to the capital city.

37° JOURNAL ' [Age 68

might give an impulse and sequence to learning
and genius. And the history of this country has
been far less friendly to a rich and polished lit-
erature than England and France. Count our
literary men, and they are few, and their works
not commanding. But if the question be not of
books, but of men, — question of intellect, not
of literature, — there would be no steep inferior-
ity. For every one knows men of wit and special
or general power, whom to compare with citi-
zens of any nation. Edward Taylor lavished
more wit and imagination on his motley congre-
gation of sailors and caulkers than you might
find in all France. The coarsest experiences he
melted and purified, like Shakspeare, into elo-
quence. Wendell Phillips is a Pericles whilst
you hear him speaking. Beecher, I am sure, is
a master in addressing an assembly, though I
have never heard such good speeches of his as
I have read. Webster was majestic in his best
days : and the better audience these men had,
the higher would be the appreciation. Neither
of them could write as well as he spoke. Apple-
ton's wit is quite as good as Frere's or Selby's
or Luttrell's, who shine in the biographies. And
England has no Occasional Poet to surpass
Holmes. Dr. Channing, I must believe, had no


equal as a preacher in the world of his time.
Then we have men of affairs, who would rule
wherever there were men, — masters in com-
merce, in law, in politics, in society. Every civil
country has such, but I doubt if any has more
or better than we.

Add, that the Adamses have shown hereditary
skill in public affairs, and Judge Hoar is as good
a lawyer, a statesman, and an influence in public
and in private, as any city could hope to find.

I pass over my own list of thinkers and
friends [often referred to] , and only add, that I
believe our soil yields as good women, too, as
England or France, though we have not a book
from them to compare with AllemagneJ^ Yet
Aunt Mary's journals shine with genius, and
Margaret Fuller's conversation did.

[The burning of Chicago occurred in early
October. Mr. Emerson had not meant to go on
a far journey to lecture again, buf could not re-
sist the appeal to go there and speak, which he
did, and incidentally lectured in other cities.]

Home again from Chicago, Quincy, Spring-
field, and Dubuque, which I had not believed I

I By Madame de Stael.

372 JOURNAL [Age 68

should see again, yet found it easier to visit than
before, and the kindest reception in each city.

Authors or Books quoted or referred to
IN Journal for 1871

Epicharmus; Heracleitus ; Vitruvius ; Ti-
bullus, Elegia; lamblichus ; Taliessin, apud
Skene; Kepler; Robert Hooke; Newton;
Roger Cotes ;

BufFon ; Linnaeus; Gray; Bonnet; John
Hunter ; John Adams ; Haiiy ; Henry Mc-
Kenzie ; Playfair; Goethe; Dugald Stewart;
Mackintosh; John Quincy Adams; John
Hookham Frere ; Chateaubriand ; Cuvier ; Sir
John Leslie ; Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire ;

James Hogg; Jeffrey; Oersted; Oken ;
Lord Brougham ; Lord Cockburn ; Rev. W.
E. Channing; Chalmers; General Gourgaud ;
Daniel Webster; "Father" Edward Taylor;
Robert Knox ; John Wilson (" Christopher
North"); D^ Quincey; Allan Cunningham;

Sir William Hamilton; Lockhart; Carlyle;
Flourens, Debat entre Cuvier et Geoffroy Saint-
Hilaire ;

Rev. Edward B. Pusey, Lectures on Daniel
and the Prophets; Macaulay; Cardinal Wise-
man ; Luttrell ; Byrch, Riddle on the Letter H ;

i87i] READING 373

J. S. Mill ; Dr. Charles T. Jackson ; Benjamin
Peirce ; Holmes; Wendell Phillips ; Beecher;

Dr. Jeffries Wyman, Symmetry and Homology
in Human Limbs ; Thomas G. Appleton ; Tom
Taylor ; Froude ; W. Ellery Channing, Poems ;
Ruskin, "The 'Two Paths; Hay, On Vases ; Tyn-
dall, On Sound; Max Miiller; Lacy Garbett,
Design in Architecture ; Charles Francis Adams ;

Arthur Gilman ; Twistleton, The Hand-
writing of Junius; Francis Bret Harte; John
Muir; Cronise, On Trees (P)














(From Journal ST)

[In January, Mr. Emerson gave a course of
four lectures in Baltimore, and at Washington,
where he was the guest of Senator Sumner, was
asked to speak to the students (Freedmen) of
Howard University. The address was partly
extempore, but he probably, to help out the ad-
dress, read them some sheets from his lecture on
Books, to guide the reading of the more earnest,
and intellectual among them. The occasion was
reported in all the papers,' and, after his return,
Mr. Emerson was almost annoyed, but soon
rather amused, by the many letters which he re-
ceived. He told his family that the speech was
"very poor; merely talking against time." In
the course of it he praised George Herbert's
Poems as " a Sunday book, and a Monday book,
too," asked if it were in their library, and said
he should have the privilege of giving it to them.

I There was a report in the Boston Evening Transcript
January 22, 1872.

378 JOURNAL [Age 68

When he went to the bookstore in Boston to
buy it he was told, " There is n't a Herbert to
be had. Sir. Since your speech was published
there has been such a demand for them that they
are all sold out, and none left in Boston." How-
ever, he found one, and came home better
pleased with the result of his speech than he had
ever thought to be. Then more letters came,
one suggesting that he should write on the sub-
ject of Books. Comparatively few persons had
probably then read Society and Solitude^ the vol-
ume published nearly two years before.

Mr. James T. Fields, who, with Colonel
Forbes, had arranged the Saturday afternoon
'readings of English Prose and Verse In 1869,
again kindly bestirred himself (Colonel Forbes
having gone to Europe with his family) to have
such another course. This plan was most suc-
cessful, and the tickets were in great demand for
the six Readings, in Mechanics' Hall, Boston,
beginning in the middle of April. Mr. Emer-
son enjoyed sharing with an audience of friends,
old and young, the pleasure that he had in these
selections, made from his boyhood on. The
poems and selections were of authors of various
periods, and on widely differing themes. Mr.
Emerson read his favorites, whether recent, or


dear from the associations of his youth, not car-
ing greatly whether all were illustrations of the
short discourse at the beginning. As his memory
was now imperfect, he, once at least, read a sheet
which he had already read a few minutes before.
His daughter Ellen, who had always accompa-
nied him, was troubled at this and begged him
always to read his lectures to her in advance.
But he answered, " Things that go wrong about
these lectures don't disturb me, because I know
that everyone knows that I am worn out and
passed by, and that it is only my old friends
come for friendship's sake to have one last sea-
son with me."

The course, however, seems to have been
very successful, and to have given great pleas-
ure week by week to a large number of the
best of Boston and the neighborhood.

What follows may have been some notes for
the last of these readings, or possibly for some
Sunday address to the Parker Society at the
Music Hall.]

'T is becoming in the Americans to dare in
religion to be simple, as they have been in gov-
ernment, in trade, in social life.

Christianity is pure Deism.

386 JOURNAL [Age 68

" Hunger and thirst after righteousness."

" The kingdom of God cometh not by obser-
vation"; is "received as a little child."

"God considers integrity, not munificence."
— Socrates.

Power belongeth unto God, but his secret is
with them that fear him.

Schleiermacher said, "The human soul is by
nature a Christian."

One thing is certain : the religions are obso-
lete when the reforms do not proceed from them.

You say, the Church is an institution of God.
Yes, but are not wit, and wise men, and good
judgment whether a thing be so or no, — also
institutions of God, and older than the other?

Concord Lyceum. For that local lecture which
I still propose to read at our Town Hall [re-
member to speak] concerning the hanging of
private pictures, each for one month, in the
Library, etc., etc.

Remember that a scholar wishes that every
book, chart, and plate belonging to him should
draw interest every moment by circulation: for

" No man is the lord of anything
Till he communicate his part to others ;
Nor doth he of himself know them for aught

1872] J'OYS AS A CHILD, 381

Till he behold them formed in the applause
Where they 're extended ; where, like an arch, re-
The voice again, or, like a gate of steel
Fronting the sun, receives and renders back
The figure and its heat."

(Troilus and Cressida.)

When a boy I used to go to the wharves, and
pick up shells out of the sand which vessels had
brought as ballast, and also plenty of stones,
gypsum, which I discovered would be lumi-
nous when I rubbed two bits together in a dark
closet, to my great wonder; — and I do not
know why luminous to this day. That, and the
magnetizing my penknife, till it would hold a
needle; and the fact that blue and gamboge
would make green in my pictures of mountains;
and the charm of drawing vases by scrawling
with ink heavy random lines, and then doubling
the paper, so as to make another side symmetri-
cal, — what was chaos, becoming symmetrical ;
then halloing to an echo at the pond, and
getting wonderful replies.

Still earlier, what silent wonder is waked in
the boy by blowing bubbles from soap and
water with a pipe !

382 JOURNAL [Age 68

Old Age. We spend a great deal of time in

" No more I seek, the prize is found ;
I furl my sail, the voyage is o'er."

Whose lines ? Mine, I believe, part of trans-
lation of some Latin lines for Mrs. Drury.

The good writer is sure of his influence, be-
cause, as he is always copying not from his fancy,
but from real facts, — when his reader afterwards
comes to like experiences of his own he is al-
ways reminded of the writer. Nor do I much
care for the question whether the Zend-Avesta
or the Desatir are genuine antiques, or modern
counterfeits, as I am only concerned with the
good sentences ; and it is indiff^erent how old
a truth is, whether an hour or five centuries,
whether it first shot into the mind of Adam, or
your own. If it be truth it is certainly much
older than both of us.

Shakspeare. Parallax, as you know, is the
apparent displacement of an object from two
points of view; — less and less of the heavenly
bodies, because of their remoteness, — and of
the fixed stars, none at all. Well it is thus that
we have found Shakspeare to be a fixed star.


Because all sorts of men have in three centuries
found him still unapproachable. The merit of
a poem is decided by long experience.

May 16, 1872.
Yesterday, my sixty-ninth birthday, I found
myself on my round of errands in Summer
Street, and, though close on the spot where I
was born, was looking into a street with some
bewilderment and read on the sign Kingston
Street, with surprise, finding in the granite
blocks no hint of Nathaniel Goddard's pasture
and long wooden fence, and so of my nearness
to my native corner of Chauncy Place. It oc-
curred to me that few living persons ought to
know so much of the families of this fast-grow-
ing city, for the reason, that Aunt Mary —
whose manuscripts I had been reading to Hedge
and Bartol, on Friday evening — had such a keen
perception of character, and taste for aristocracy,
and I heard in my youth and manhood every
name she knew. It is now nearly a hundred
years since she was born, and the founders of
the oldest families that are still notable were
known to her as retail - merchants, milliners,
tailors, distillers, as well as the ministers, law-
yers, and doctors of the time. She was a realist.

384 JOURNAL [Age 69

and knew a great man or "a whale - hearted
woman" — as she called one of her pets — from
a successful money-maker.

If I should live another year, I think I shall
cite still the last stanza of my own poem, " The
World-Soul." ■

Walk in the city for an hour, and you shall
see the whole history of female beauty. Here
are the school-girls in the first profusion of their
hair covering them to the waist, and now and
then one maiden of eighteen or nineteen years,

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