Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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I notice that the 'spider finds it a good stand
wherever he falls : he takes the first corner, and
the flies make haste to come.

Inspiration. I have found my advantage in
going to a hotel with a task which could not
prosper at home. I secured so a more absolute
solitude.' ... At home, the day is cut up into
short strips. In the hotel, I forget rain, wind,
cold, and heat.^ At home, I remember in my
library the wants of the farm, and have all too
much sympathy. I envy the abstraction of some

1 Much of this paragraph is omitted, as it is printed in
full in "Inspiration" (^Letters and Social Aims, pp. 288,

2 In his lecturing journeys Mr. Emerson found it impor-
tant to estabhsh a rule (only broken in the case of especial

44 JOURNAL [Age 6i

scholars 1 have known. ... All the conditions
must be right for my success, slight as that is.
What untunes is as bad as what cripples or
stuns me.

Therefore, I extol the prudence of Carlyle,
who, for years, projected a library at the top of
his house, high above the orbit of all house-
maids, and out of earshot of doorbells. Could
that be once secured, — a whole floor, — room
for books, and a good bolt, — he could hope
for six years of history, and he kept it in view
till it was done. . . . And George Sand's love of
heat agrees with mine. Even the steel pen is a

The capital rule must not be forgotten of" une

friends) to decline private hospitalities and go to a hotel, where
his first demand was, "Now make me red-hot." He also
could command his time to revise or supplement his manu-

I I Mr. Emerson, when at home, wrote almost always with
a quill pen. When the second storey of the house was enlarged,
a few years before this time, a little room was made over the
new bedroom with one pleasant window looking southward
towards Walden woods. It was hard to find, in a remote cor-
ner of the garret. Mr. Emerson called it his "den" and oc-
casionally used it under stress of circumstances. But in its con-
struction another possible use as a hiding-place for a fugitive
slave had been in the minds of Mr. and Mrs. Emerson, for


demi-heure par jour de lecture suivie et sMeuse,"
or, as Van Helmont says, " study of Eter-

And the first rule for me would be to defend
the morning, keep all its dews on. Goethe
thanks the flies that waked him at dawn as the

And where shall I find the record of my brag
of places, favourite spots in the woods and on
the river, whither I once went with security for
a poetic mood?

In my paper on " Civilization," I omitted an
important trait, namely, the increased respect for
human life. The difference between the Orien-
tal nations, on one side, and Europe and Amer-
ica, on the other, lies mainly herein. The Jap-
anese in France are astonished, 't is said, at the
vast apparatus and expense of a capital trial
[examples of Eastern slaughter referred to].
Remember General Scott's maxim, too, about
the sacrifice of one life more than necessity re-

at that time he told his children, when " the Building of a
House " was the subject given them for a school composition,
to be sure to say, " No house now is complete without such a

46 JOURNAL [Age 6i

The French say that " the special character-
istic of English art is the absence of genius." —
Apud M. Chesneau.

Inspiration. Aunt Mary wrote, " How sad,
that atmospheric influences should bring to dust
the communions of Soul with the Infinite ! " —
meaning, how sad that the atmosphere should
be an excitant. But no, she should be glad that
the atmosphere and the dull rock itself should
be deluged with deity, — should be theists.
Christian, Unitarian, poetic.

Dr. S. Hawtry, Master of Eton, says, " I re-
fer to another feature which an Eton education
calls into existence, — I mean a kind of serenity
and repose of character ; this will be at once re-
cognized as a well-known characteristic of free-
minded English gentlemen, and I think Eton
has its full share in perpetuating this character-
istic in an age in which there is much vieing
with, much outrunning and outwitting one an-
other." This is not irony in Dr. Hawtry,
though it reads so on this side the water.

Of Paris, Renan writes, after saying that the
provincial academies of France have no original


studies, — " Cette brillante Alexandrie sans suc-
cursales ntinquiete et m'effraie. Aucun atelier de
travail intellectuel ne peut itre compare a Paris :
on dirait une ville fait expr}s pour F usage des gens
d' esprit : mais quil faut se d'efier de ces oasis au
milieu d'un d'esert. Des dangers perpetuels les as-
■ siigent. Un coup de vent, une source tarie, quelques
palmiers coup'es, et le desert reprend ses droits."

When Renan speaks of France, Macaulay or
any Englishman of England, or any American
of America, I feel how babyish they are. I sup-
pose hardly Newton, or Swedenborg, or Cer-
vantes, or Menu, can be trusted to speak of
his nationality.

The grief of old age is, that, now, only in
rare moments, and by happiest combinations or
consent of the elements, can we attain those
enlargements and that intellectual ^lan, which
were once a daily gift.

Men are good where they have experience,
but not off their beat. Hence Dr. Robert Hare

and Mr. S , and many other men reckoned

of excellent sense, tumble helplessly into mes-
meric spiritism, and prove its most credulous
dupes, because here they have no guide. It is

48 JOURNAL [Age 6i

in government as it is in war. It was said many
officers can manoeuvre a regiment or a division,
who could not get a hundred thousand men in
or out of Hyde Park, without confusion. So in
government. There is plenty of administrative
skill in trade and civil affairs, management of
railroads and factories, which is at once at a loss
and unequal to the disposition of the affairs of
an empire.

A good text was that medical observation
suggested by the distemper of the cattle at
Chenery's and elsewhere, — namely, that men
carry the seeds of diseases in their constitutions
latent, and which remain latent, during much,
perhaps during the whole, of their life. But if
it happen that the patient loses, from any cause,
his normal strength, instantly these seeds begin
to ripen, and the disease, so long latent, be-
comes acute, and conquers him.


I have more enjoyed, in the last hours of
finishing a chapter, the insight which has come
to me of how the truths really stand, than I suf-
fered from seeing in what confusion I had left
them in my statement.

St. Francis rode all day along the border of


the Lake of Geneva, and, at night, hearing his
companions speak of the lake, inquired, " What
lake ? " — Morison's Life of St. Francis.

It is a tie between men to have read the same
book.' . . .

Great men are the universal, men, men of the
common sense, not provincial ; RafFaelle not a
mannerist. Everybody would paint like Raf-
faelle, if everybody could paint at all.

\ReservesI\ "We can never compete with
English in manufactures, because of the low
price of labour in Europe," — say the merchants,
day by day. Yet this season, half or two thirds
of our labourers are gone to the war, and we
have reaped all the hay by the use of the horse-
mower and the horse-rake ; the wheat, by Mc-
Cormick's reaper ; and, when the shoemakers
went, then, by the use of the new pegging-
machine and scrap-machine, we make six hun-
dred pairs of shoes every day at Feltonville, and
can let Weymouth send away one hundred

I The rest of the passage is found in the "Address at the
Opening of the Concord Public Library" (^Miscellanies, pp.
507, 508).

50 JOURNAL [Age 6i

shoemakers to the war in the regiment that has
just departed. We make horseshoes by ma-
chine as well as Pittsburg. We can spare all the
whalemen to the navy, for we draw oil out of
the rocks in Pennsylvania ; we can spare the
Cuba sugar, for we made seven million gallons
of sorghum molasses in i860, though the article
was not known here in 1850.

In that theme of Inspiration, 'tis to be noted
that we use ourselves, and use each other: some
perceptions — I think the best — are granted to
the single soul.

Kings. " ^and la bonne foi serait bannie de la
terre, elle devrait se retrouver dans le cceur des
rois" said the French King John, who was taken
prisoner at Poitier.

Manners. Their vast convenience I must al-
ways admire. The perfect defence and isolation
which they effect makes an insuperable protec-
tion. Though he wrestle with you, or swim with
you, lodge in the same chamber, sleep in the
same bed, he is yet a thousand miles off, and can
at any moment finish with you. Manners seem
to say, "You are you, and I am I."


Old age' brings along with its uglinesses the
comfort that you will soon be out of it, —
which ought to be a substantial relief to such
discontented pendulums as we are. To be out
of the war, out of debt, out of the drouth, out
of the blues, out of the dentist's hands, out
of the second thoughts, mortifications, and re-
morses that inflict such twinges and shooting
pains, — out of the next winter, and the high'
prices, and company below your ambition, —
surely these are soothing hints. And, har-
binger of this, what an alleviator is sleep, which
muzzles all these dogs for me every day? Old
age; — 'tis proposed to call an indignation

Man. The body borrows the elements of its
blood from the whole world, and the mind its

The tradition is never left at peace, but
must be winnowed again by the new comers.
"Every age has another sieve, and will sift it
out again."

I The following page should have been printed in Solitude
and Society, in the chapter called '• Old Age." (R. W. E.'s
note. )

52 JOURNAL [Age 6i

Our Democratic party shows itself very
badly in these days, simply destructive, and
"would tear down God from Heaven if they

Talk with Alcott last night. Men have no
scale. Talents warp them. They don't see when
their tendency is wrong ; don't discriminate be-
tween the rank of this and that perception. A
gossiping, rambling talk, and yet kept the line
of American tendencies. The English and
French are still thirty or forty years back in
theology. What questions do bishops and uni-
versities discuss ? We have silently passed be-
yond all such Debateable Lands.

Want of scale appears in this; Each of the
masters has some puerility, as Carlyle his pro-
slavery whim ; Tennyson, English class feeling;
University men. Churchmen, not humanity,
heroism, truth. Our faculties are of different ages
— the Memory is mature, sometimes the Imagi-
nation adult, and yet the Moral Sense still
swaddled and sheathed. Yet on the credit of
their talent, these masters are allowed to parade
this baby faculty, all fits and folly, in the midst
of grown company.

We have freedom, are ready for truth, but
we have not the executive culture of Germany.


They have good metaphysics, — have made sur-
veys, sounding every rod of way, set their foot
on every rock, and where they felt the rock they
planted a buoy and recorded it. Kant, Hegel,
Schelling are architects. Scope is not sufficient.
We have scope, but we want the Copernicus of
our inward heaven. Let us be very mum at pre-
sent about American literature. One of these
ages, we too will set our feet on Andes' tops.

We lack repose. As soon as we stop work-
ing, or active thinking, we mope: there is no
self-respect, no grand sense of sharing the Divine
presence. We are restless, run out and back,
talk fast, and overdo.

Nothing in the universe so solid as a thought.

An Indian came to the white man's door and
asked for rum. " Oh, no," said the farmer, " I
don't give rum to Indians, they steal my pigs
and chickens." " Oh, me no steal ; me good
Indian." "Butgood Indians don't ask for rum,"
replied the farmer. "Me no good Indian; me
dam rascal."

Use of Towns I considered in an old Journal
in many points. But we are far from having the
best aesthetics out of them. The French and

54 JOURNAL [Age 6i

Italians have made a nearer approach to it. A
town in Europe is a place where you can go
into a cafe at a certain hour of every day, buy
eau sucr'ee, or a cup of coiFee, for six sous, and, at
that price, have the company of the wits, schol-
ars, and gentlemen fond of conversation. That
is a cheap and excellent club, which finds and
leaves all parties on a good mutual footing.
That is the fame of the " Cafe Procope," the
" Cafe Grec " of Rome, the " Cafe deTrinita" of
Florence, and the principle of it exists in every
town in France and Italy. But we do not man-
age it so well in America. Our clubbing is much
more costly and cumbersome.

The test of civilization is the power of draw-
ing the most benefit out of cities.

The young men in America take little thought
of what men in England are thinking or do-
ing.' ... It may be safely affirmed that when
the highest conception, the lessons of religion,
are imported, the nation is not culminating, has
not genius, but is servile.^ . . .

'Tis a good word of Niebuhr in speaking of

1 See "Social Aims" (pp. 103, 104).

2 See "Character" {Lectures and Biographical Sketches,
p. III).


the respect which somehow the "oracles" ob-
tained in the ancient world, — "Did man, in
those early periods, stand nearer to Nature ? "
See Lieber's Reminiscences.

In Italy a nobleman said to Niebuhr, "I un-
derstand the present Pope is not even a man of
family." " Oh," replied Niebuhr, " I have been
told that Christ himself was not a man of fam-
ily ; and St. Peter, if I recollect well, was but
of a vulgar origin. Here in Rome we don't
mind these things."

[Certain family events occurring in this year
may be mentioned. Mr. Emerson's elder bro-
ther, William, on whom his early responsibili-
ties and long years of assiduous professional
work had worn heavily, came to Concord with
his wife for the summer. The year had for them
been one of grief and anxiety. William, the eld-
est son, a young man of charming personality,
scholarly habit, and a promising student of law,
had died of consumption a few months after his
marriage. John Haven, the second son, gave his
services, medical and surgical, to help care for the
wounded during Grant's Wilderness campaign
in May and June. Charles, the youngest, after
serving as a private in the New York Seventh

56 JOURNAL [Age 6i

Regiment, was commissioned a lieutenant m
a New York regiment in 1862, and later served
successively on the staffs of General Banks and
General Emory in Louisiana and Virginia.]

Various powers : power of getting work out
of others, which Napoleon had.

When I go to talk with Alcott it is not so
much to get his thoughts as to watch myself
under his influence. He excites me, and I think
freely. But he mistakes me, and thinks, if
J [ames ?] is right, that I come to feed on him.

It is mortifying that all events must be seen,
by wise men even, through the diminishing lens
of a petty interest. Could we have believed that
England should have disappointed us thus? —
that no man in all that civil, reading, brave, cos-
mopolitan country, should have looked at our
revolution as a student of history, as philanthro-
pist, eager to see what new possibilities for hu-
manity were to begin, — what the inspirations
were : what new move on the board the Genius
of the World was preparing? No, but every
one squinted ; lords, ladies, statesmen, scholars,
poets, all squinted, — like Borrow's Gypsies
when he read St. John's Gospel. Edinburgh,


^arterly, Saturday Review, Gladstone, Russell,
Palmerston, Brougham, nay, Tennyson ; Carlyle,
— I blush to say it; Arnold. Everyone forgot
his history, his poetry, his religion, and looked
only at his shop-till, whether his salary, whether
his small investment in the funds, would not be
less ; whether the stability of English order might
not be in some degree endangered. No Milton,
no Bacon, no Berkeley, no Montesquieu, no
Adam Smith was there to hail a new dawn of
hope and culture for men, to see the oppor-
tunity for riddance of this filthy pest which dis-
honoured human nature; to cry over to us,
" Up, and God with you ! and for this Slavery,
— off with its head! We see and applaud; the
world is with you ; such occasion does not come
twice. Strike for the Universe of men ! " No ;
but, on the other hand, every poet, every scholar,
every great man, as well as the rich, thought
only of his pocket-book, and to our astonish-
ment cried, " Slavery forever ! Down with the
North ! Why does not England join with France
to protect the slaveholder ? " I thought they
would have seized the occasion to forgive the
Northerner every old grudge ; to forget their dis-
like of his rivalry, of his social short-c?omings ;
forget, in such a moment, all petty disgusts and

58 JOURNAL [Age 6i

would see in him the honoured instrument of
Heaven to destroy this rooted poison tree of
five thousand years.

We shall prosper, we shall destroy slavery,
but by no help of theirs. They assailed us with
mean cavils, they sneered at our manners, at
our failures, at our shifts, at the poverty of our
treasury, at our struggles, legal and municipal,
and irregularities in the presence of mortal
dangers. They cherished our enemies, they ex-
ulted at the factions which crippled us at home ;
whenever the allies of the rebels obstructed the
great will and action of the Government, they
danced for joy.

They ought to have remembered that great
actions have mean beginnings; poor matters
point to rich ends.

Alas, for England; she did not know her
friends. 'Tis a bad omen for England, that, in
these years, her foreign policy is ignominious,
that she plays a sneaking part with Denmark,
with France, with Russia, with China, with

August 3 1 .

High School. Beginning of term. Whole num-
ber, 32; Present to-day, 22; Class in Arith-
metic begin alligation; ist Latin begin Cicero ;


ad, begin Csesar; 3d, begin Viri Romae, 12 in
class; Greek, Xenophon; French, 2 in class;
Geometry, i scholar; Natural Philosophy, 10
scholars ; Bookkeeping, 6 scholars.

Remember Madden's rule to Dr. Johnson
about having fruit enough in an orchard, —
" Enough to eat, enough to lay up, enough to
be stolen, and enough to rot on the ground."

Among " Resources," too, might be set down
that rule of my travelling friend, '' When I esti-
mated the costs of my tour in Europe, I added
a couple of hundreds to the amount, to be
cheated of, and gave myself no more uneasi-
ness when I was overcharged here or there."

So Thoreau's practice to put a hundred seeds
into every melon hill, instead of eight or ten.

Affirmative. John Newton said, " The best
way to prevent a bushel being filled with chaiF,
is to fill it with wheat." Trench " On the study
of words." — Past and Present of the English

When a man writes descriptions of the sun
as seen through telescope, he is only writing

6o JOURNAL [Age 6i

autobiography, or an account of the habit and
defects of his own eyes.

Henry Thoreau found the height of the cliff'
over the river to be 231.09 feet.

September i\.

Hon. Lyulph Stanley, Wendell Phillips, and
Agassiz, Channing, and Alcott here.

Agassiz is really a man of great ability,
breadth, and resources, a rare and rich nature,
and always maintains himself, — in all com-
panies, and on all occasions. I carried him to
Mrs. Mann's, and, afterwards, to Bull's,^ and,
in each house he gave the fittest counsel in the
best way. At the Town Hall, he made an ex-
cellent speech to the farmers, extemporaneous,
of course, but with method and mastery, on the
question of the location of the Agricultural Col-
lege, urging the claims of Cambridge. Judge
French ' followed him with a very good state-

1 Overlooking " Fairhaven Bay " on the South Branch of
the Concord River.

2 The producer of the Concord grape.

3 Henry F. French, first President of the Massachusetts
Agricultural College at Amherst, and father of the sculptor,
Daniel Chester French, vyho, ten years later, made the bronze


ment of the history of the affair from the begin-
ning until now.

Agassiz thinks that, if he could get a calf
elephant, and young enough, that is, before
birth, he should find the form of the mastodon :
that if he could get a tapir calf before birth, he
should find the form of the megatherion. But,
at present, these are practical impossibilities, as
they require hundreds of dissections ; hundreds,
that is, of live subjects.

September 24.

Yesterday with Ellery walked through " Becky
Stow's Hole,"' dry-shod, hitherto a feat for a
muskrat alone. The sky and air and autumn
woods in their early best. This year, the river
meadows all dry and permeable to the walker.
But why should Nature always be on the gal-
lop ? Look now and instantly, or you shall
never see it : not ten minutes' repose allowed.
IncessantwhirJ. And 'tis the same with my com-
panion's genius. You must carry a stenographic
press in your pocket to save his commentaries
on things and men, or they are irrecoverable. I

Minute-Man who guards the North Bridge in Concord, and
now (191 3) is finishing the marble statue of Emerson.

I A sphagnum swamp, in which some remarkable plants

62 JOURNAL [Age 6i

tormented my memory just now in vain to re-
store a witty criticism of his, yesterday, on a

Though Love recoil, and Reason chafe,
There came a voice without reply,
'T is man's perdition to be safe,
When for the Truth he ought to die.'

The American Nationality is now within the
Republican Party. Hence its serenity. In like
manner, in view of all the nationalities of the
world, the battle of humanity is now in the
American Union, and hence the' weakness of
English and European opposition.

Napoleon's word, that in twenty-five years
the United States would dictate the politics of
the world, was a little early ; but the sense was
just, with a Jewish interpretation of the " forty
days " and " seventy weeks." It is true that if
we escape bravely from the present war, Amer-
ica will be the controlling power.

[Grieved at his friend's wilful hostility to-
wards our country in its struggle for integrity

I See the Quatrain " Sacrifice "( Po^OT/, p. 296). The last
two lines are a quotation from a sermon by Caleb Vines, a Pu-
ritan, preached at St. Margaret's, Westminster, before the
Honourable House of Commons, November 30, 1642.


and freedom, Mr. Emerson wrote to Carlyle,
September 26, these words: —

" I have, in these last years, lamented that
you had not made the visit to America which in
earlier years you projected. ... It would have
made it impossible that your name should be
cited for one moment on the side of the ene-
mies of mankind. Ten days' residence in this
country would have made you the organ of the
sanity of England and of Europe to us and to
them, and have shown you the necessities and
aspirations which struggle up in our Free States,
which, as yet, have no organ to others, and are
ill and unsteadily articulated here. . . . Ah! how
gladly I would enlist you, with your thunder-
bolt, on our part ! How gladly enlist the wise,
thoughtful, efficient pens and voices of Eng-
land ! . . . Are English of this day incapable of
a great sentiment ? Can they not leave cavilling
at petty failures and bad manners, and at the
dunce part (always the largest part in human
affairs) and leap to the suggestions and finger-
pointings of the gods, which, above the under-
standing, feed the hopes and guide the wills of
men ? This war has been conducted over the
heads of all the actors in it." Carlyle-Emer-
son Correspondence, vol. ii, pp. 285, 286.J

64 JOURNAL [Age 6i

'Tis a defect in our manners that they have
not yet reached the prescribing a term to vis-
its." . . .

What a pity that Beauty is not the rule, since
everybody might have been handsome as well
as not. Or, if the moral laws must have their
revenge, like Indians, for every violation, what
pity that everybody is not promoted on the
battle-field, as our generals are ; that is, in-
stantly embellished by a good action. My serv-
ant squints and steals : I persuade her to better
behaviour : she restores the long-lost trinkets,
embroidered purse, and, at the same time, the

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