Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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strabismus should be healed.

Manners. What a harness of buckram wealth
and city life put on our poets and literary men,
even when men of great parts. Alcott com-
plained to me of want of simplicity in Lowell,
Holmes, Ward, and Longfellow: and Alcott is
the right touchstone to test them ; true litmus
to detect the acid. Agassiz is perfectly access-
ible, has a brave manliness which can meet a
peasant, a mechanic, or a fine gentleman with

I The whole passage may be found in "Social Aims"
(p. 91).


equal fulness. Henry James is not spoiled;
Bryant is perfect; New York has not hurt him.
Whittier is unspoiled. Wasson is good company
for prince or ploughman. Rowse also. I should
be glad if James Lowell were as simply noble
as his cousin Frank Lowell, who, my wife once

said, " appeared like a King." C T

has perfect manners. Charles Newcomb and
Channing are saved by genius. Thoreau was

with difficulty sweet. A W has never

left her broad humanity, and suggests so much
that is told of Madame Recamier.

But in all the living circle of American wits
and scholars is no enthusiasm. Alcott alone has
it. " Enthusiasm a delight, but may not always
be a virtue," wrote Aunt Mary. The enthu-
siast will not be irritated, sour, and sarcastic.

Wealth of Nature the only good. 'T is vain
to accuse scholars of solitude, and merchants
of miserliness : they are really so poor that they
cannot help it. Poverty is universal. "Ah,
blessed Ocean, 'tis good to find enough of one
thing." Genius delights because of its opulence.
We scorn the poor litterateurs who hide their
want by patchwork of quotations and borrow-
ings ; and the poor artist, who, instead of the

be JOURNAL [Age 6i

rapid drawing on a single conception, labori-
ously etches after his model with innumerable
stipplings. What a saving grace is in poverty
and solitude, that the obscure youth learns the
practice instead of the literature of his Virtues !
One or two or three ideas are the gods of his
Temple, and suffice him for intellect and heart
for years, .They condescend to his shoeshop,
or his hoe and scythe and threshing-floor.

The solitary worshipper knows the essence
of the thought : the scholar in society sees only
its fair face.

Aunt Mary writes : "After all, some of the old
Christians were more delivered from external
things than the (modern) speculative, who are
anxious for society, books, ideas, — and become
sensitive to all that affects the organs of thought.
A few single grand ideas, which become objects,
pursuits, and all in all ! "

Aunt Mary and her contemporaries spoke
continually of angels and archangels, with a good
faith, as they would have spoken of their par-
ents, or their late minister. Now the word
palls, — all the credence gone.

The War at last appoints the generals, in
spite of parties and Presidents. Every one of


us had his pet, at the start, but none of us ap-
pointed Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Farra-
gut, — none but themselves. Yet these are only
shining examples ; the fruit of small powers
and virtues is as fixed. The harvest of pota-
toes is not more sure than the harvest of every

Great difference in life of two consecutive
days. Now it has grip, tastes the hours, fills the
horizon ; and presently it recedes, has little pos-
session, is somnambulic.

We read often with as much talent as we

The retrospective value of a new thought is
immense. 'T Is like a torch applied to a long
train of powder."

A page of Aunt Mary's gives much to think
of the felicity of greatness on a low ground of
condition, as we have so often thought a rich
Englishman has better lot than a king. " No
fair object but affords me gratification, and with
common interests." Again, she writes, "they
[probably the common farming people about

I This passage is printed in Natural History of Intellect
(p. 21).

68 JOURNAL [Age 6i

her] knew by hearsay of apes of men, vampire
despots, crawling sycophants."

Criticism. I read with delight a casual notice
of Wordsworth in the London Reader, in which,
with perfect aplomb, his highest merits were
affirmed, and his unquestionable superiority to
all English poets since Milton, and thought how
long I travelled and talked in England, and
found no person, or none but one, and that one
Clough, sympathetic with him, and admiring
him aright, in face of Tennyson's culminating
talent, and genius in melodious verse. What
struck me now was the certainty with which the
best opinion comes to be the established opin-
ion. This rugged, rough countryman walks and
sits alone, assured of his sanity and his inspira-
tion, and writes to no public, — sneered at
by Jeffrey and Brougham, branded by Byron,
blackened by the gossip of Barry Cornwall and
De Quincey, down to Bowring, — for they all
had disparaging tales of him, — yet himself no
more doubting the fine oracles that visited him
than if Apollo had brought them visibly in his
hand : and here and there a solitary reader in
country places had felt and owned them ; and
now, so few years after, it is lawful in that obese


material England, whose vast strata of popu-
lation are nowise converted or altered, yet to
affirm unblamed, unresisted, that this is the gen-
uine, and the rest the impure, metal. For, in
their sane hours each of the fine minds in the
country has found it, and imparted his convic-
tion, so that every reader has somewhere heard
it on the highest authority : —

"And thus the world is brought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not."

English genius is more truly shown in the
drawings in Punch than in all their water-colour
and Royal Academy exhibitions ; just as their
actors are dreary in tragedy, and admirable in
low comedy.

Criticism. Dr. Holmes, one day, said to me
that he disliked scientific matter introduced into
(literary) lectures, " it was meretricious."

Prodigality of Nature. She can afford mil-
lions of lives of men to make the movement
of the earth round the sun so much as " sus-
pected." ' . . . How much time a man's poetic

I This sentence occurs in "Poetry and Imagination"
(^Letters and Social Aims, pp. z^, 24). Much of what

70 JOURNAL [Age 6i

experiences cost him. He abandons business and
wealth for them. How much time Love costs
him !

" The time I lost pursuing
The light which Jies
In woman's eyes
Has been my heart's undoing."

Ah, yes, but if his love was well directed, it has
been his mind's upbuilding.

How often I have to say that every man has
material enough in his experience to exhaust the
sagacity of Newton in working it out. We have
more than we use. We know vastly more than
we digest. I never read poetry, or hear a good
speech at a caucus, or a cattle-show, but It adds
less stock to my knowledge than it apprises me
of admirable uses to which what I knew can be
turned. I write this now on remembrance of
some structural experience of last night, — a
painful waking out of dreams as by violence,
and a rapid succession of quasi-optical shows
following like a pyrotechnic exhibition of archi-
tectural or grotesque flourishes, which indicate
magazines of talent and invention in our struc-

follows is printed in "Resources" (^Letters and Social
Aims, pp. 139, 140).


ture, which I shall not arrive at the control of
in my time, but perhaps my great-grandson will
mature and bring to-day.

October 9.

Yesterday at Mr. George L. Stearns's, at
Medford, to meet Wendell Phillips, and Mr.
Fowler of Tennessee. The conversation politi-
cal altogether, and though no very salient points,
yet useful to me as clearing the air, and bring-
ing to view the simplicity of the practical prob-
lem before us. Right-minded men would very
easily bring order out of our American chaos,
if working with courage, and without by-ends.
These Tennessee slaveholders in the land of
Midian are far in advance of our New England
politicians. They see and front the real ques-
tions. [One] point would seem to be absolute
— Emancipation, — establishing the fact that
the United States henceforward knows no col-
our, no race, in its law, but legislates for all
alike, — one law for all men. . . .

It was good in Fowler, his marked though
obscure recognition of the higher element that
works in affairs. We seem to do it, — it gets
done ; but for our will in it, it is much as if I
claimed to have manufactured the beautiful skin
and flavour of my pears.

72 JOURNAL [Age 6i

Certain memorable words, expressions that
flew out incidentally in late history, as, for ex-
ample, in Lincoln's letter, " To all whom it
may concern," are caught up by men, — go to
England, go to France, — reecho thence with
thunderous report to us, and they are no longer
the unconsidered words they were, but we must
hold the Government to them ; they are pow-
ers, and are not to be set aside by reckless
speeches of Seward, putting all afloat again.

October 12.

Returned from Naushon, whither I went on
Saturday, the 8th, with Professor Goldwin
Smith, of Oxford University, Mr. Charles B.
Sedgwick,' John Weiss, and George C, Ward.

Mr. Forbes at Naushon is the only "Squire"
in Massachusetts, and no nobleman ever un-
derstood or performed his duties better. I di-
vided my admiration between the landscape of
Naushon and him. He is an American to be
proud of. Never was such force, good mean-
ing, good sense, good action, combined with
such domestic lovely behaviour, and such mod-
esty and persistent preference of others. Wher-

'i Of Syracuse, an admirable man and member of Con-


ever he moves, he is the benefactor. It is of
course that he should shoot well, ride well, sail
well, administer railroads well, carve well, keep
house well, but he was the best talker also in
the company, — with the perpetual practical
wisdom, seeing always the working of the thing,
— with the multitude and distinction of his
facts (and one detects continually that he has
had a hand in everything that has been done),
and in the temperance with which he parries all
offence, and opens the eyes of his interlocutor
without contradicting him.' I have been proud
of many of my countrymen, but I think this is
a good country that can breed such a creature as
John M. Forbes.

There was something dramatic in the conver-
sation of Monday night between Professor Gold-
win Smith, Forbes, and Ward, chiefly, — the
Englishman being evidently alarmed at the near
prospect of the retaliation of America's stand-
ing in the identical position soon in which Eng-
land now and lately has stood to us, and play-

I This description by Mr. Emerson of his friend Mr.
Forbes, whose services throughout the war in every sort had
been important and admirable (although he never allowed his
name to get into the papers), is printed, though without his
name, in Letters and Social Aims (p. 103).


Ing the same part towards her. Forbes, a year
ago, was in Liverpool and London entreating
them to respect their own neutrality, and disal-
low the piracy, and the blockade-running, and
hard measure to us in their colonial ports, etc.
And now, so soon, the parts were entirely re-
versed, and Professor Smith was showing us the
power and irritability of England and the cer-
tainty that war would follow, if we shoifld build
and arm a ship in one of our ports, send her out
to sea, and at sea sell her to their enemy, which
would be a proceeding strictly in accordance
with her present proclaimed law of nations.
Forbes thinks the Americans are in such a tem-
per toward England that they will do this if the
opportunity occurs. When the American Gov-
ernment urged England to make a new treaty
to adjust and correct this anomalous rule, the
English Government refused. And 't is only
ignorance that has prevented the Rebel Confed-
eracy from availing themselves of it.

Mr. Smith had never heard of J. J. Garth
Wilkinson ; nor had the Trollopes heard of
Elizabeth Sheppard,' nor scarcely any English,
fifteen years ago, of Browning.

I Author of Charles Auchester and Counterparts.


At Naushon, I recall what John Smith said
of the Bermudas, and I think as well of Mr.
Forbes's fences/ which are cheap and steep.
" No place known had better walls or a broader

What complete men are Forbes, Agassiz,
and Rockwood Hoar 1

I came away from Naushon saying to myself
of John Forbes, how little this man suspects,
with his sympathy for men, and his respect
for lettered and scientific people, that he is
not likely ever to meet a man superior to him-

The dire, to heivov, is that which I used to
long for in orators. I can still remember the
imposing march of Otis's eloquence, which, like
Burke's, swept into it all styles of address, all
varieties of tone and incident, and in its skirts
"far flashed the red artillery."

In modern eloquence what is more touching
or sublime than the first words of Lafayette's
speech in the French Assembly In 1815 (?),
"When, after so many years silence [the whole
Consulate and Empire], I raise a voice which
the friends of liberty will still recognize," etc.
I Buzzards Bay and the Vineyard Sound.

76 JOURNAL [Age 6i

Nemesis is that recoil of Nature, not to be
guarded against, which ever surprises the most
wary transgressor (of the Laws). Not possibly
can you shut up all the issues.

Ste.-Beuve notes, in 1838, the charming let-
ters of Lafayette to his wife, just published.

"The Age, and the Hour. The party of virility
rules the hour, the party of ideas and senti-
ments rules the age.

October 19.
Yesterday, as I passed Shannon's field, rob-
ins, blackbirds, bluebirds, and snowbirds {frin-
gilla hiemalis) were enjoying themselves to-

New York, October 20.
Bryant has learned where to hang his titles,
namely, by tying his mind to autumn woods,
winter mornings, rain, brooks, mountains, even-
ing winds, and wood -birds. Who speaks of
these is forced to remember Bryant. [He is]
American. Never despaired of the Republic.
Dared name a jay and a gentian, crows also.
His poetry is sincere. I think of the young
poets that they have seen pictures of mountains.


and sea-shores, but in his that he has seen moun-
tains and has the staff in his hand.

It occurred in talking with Henry James
yesterday, who attached a too exclusive origi-
nality to Swedenborg, that he did not seem to
recognize the eternal co-presence of the revo-
lutionary force. The revolutionary force in in-
tellect is never absent. Such persons as my poor
Platonist Taylor in Amesbury ; Jones Very ; and

the shoemaker, , at Berwick ; Tufts in

Lima (or Cuba), New York, are always appear-
ing in the deadest conservatism ; — in an age
of antiquaries, representing the most modern
times; — in the heart of papacy and toryism,
"the seed of rebellion; — for the world is ever
equal to itself, and centripetence makes centrif-


October it^.

Power of certain states of the sky. There is an
astonishing magnificence even in this low town,
and within a quarter of a mile of my doors, in
the appearance of the Lincoln hills now drest
in their coloured forest, under the lights and
clouds of morning, as I saw them at eight
o'clock. When I see this spectacle so near, and
so surprising, I think no house should be built

78 JOURNAL [Age 6i

quite low, or should obstruct the prospect by

America makes its own precedents. The im-
perial voice of the Age cannot be heard for the
tin horns and charivari of the varlets of the
hour, such as the London Times, Blackwood's,
and the Saturday Review. But already these
claqueurs have received their cue — I suppose it
was hinted to them that the American People
are not always to be trifled with ; they are end-
ing their home war, and are exasperated at
English bad behaviour, and are in force to de-
stroy English trade. Speak them fair; — and 'The
Times has just discovered what " temper, valour,
constancy, the Union has shown in the War,"
and what a noble "career of honour and pros-
. perity lies before her," etc.

When a lady rallied Adam Smith on his plain
dress, he pointed to his well-bound library, and
said, "You see. Madam, I am a beau in my
books." The farmer in this month is very pa-
tient of his coarse attire, and thinks, "at least,
I am a beau in my woods."

October 30.

At Club, yesterday, we had a full table,
Agassiz, Hoar, Hedge, Cabot, Holmes, Apple-


ton, Peirce, Norton, Forbes, Ward, Sumner,
Whipple, Woodman, Dwight, Emerson ; An-
drew (who, with Brimmer and Fields, was elected
yesterday) ; and, for guests, Mr. C. G. Loring,
Sterry Hunt, and Mr. Godkin, the English
correspondent of the Daily News.

Before the War, our patriotism was a fire-
work, a salute, a serenade, for holidays and sum-
mer evenings, but the reality was cotton thread
and complaisance. Now the deaths of thousands
and the determination of millions of men and
women show it real.

Rich are the sea-gods, who gives gifts but they?
All hidden gems are theirs.

What power is theirs, they give it to the wise, —
For every wave is wealth to Daedalus,
Wealth to the cunning artist who can work
The wave's immortal sinew.'

November 18,
The way that young woman '" keeps her school

1 This addition to thle earlier lines of " Seashore," written
at Pigeon Cove, probably came in a walk on the south shore
beach on the beautiful island of Naushon, where Mr. Emerson
could not resist the beauty of the pebbles.

2 Miss Eliza Hosmer, daughter of Mr. Emerson's farmer
friend and neighbour, Edmund Hosmer, often referred to in
the earlier journals.

8o JOURNAL [Age 6i

was the best lesson I received in the Preparatory
School to-day. She knew so much, and carried
it so well in her head, and gave it out so well,
that the pupils had quite enough to think of, and
not an idle moment to waste on noise or dis-
order. 'T is the best recipe I know for school

November 26.

Agassiz, Brimmer, Cabot, Holmes, Hoar,
Fields, Dana, Norton, Sumner, Whipple, Emer-
son, at the Club ; and Senator Wilson, M. Lau-
gel and M, Duvergne d'Hauranne guests. I
promised Sumner to attend to the question of
the Academy.

Cows are dull, sluggish creatures, but with a
decided talent in one direction — for extracting
milk out of meadows : — mine have a genius for
it, — leaking cream, " larding the lean earth as
they walk along." Wasps, too, for making paper.
Then what soothing objects are the hens !

Bryant.'^ His sincere, balanced mind has the
enthusiasm which perception of Nature inspires,

I This passage was written for the Bryant Festival which
was held in New York on November 8. It seems probable
that Mr. Emerson took part in it.


but it did not tear him ; only enabled him ; gave
him twice his power; he did not parade it, but
hid it in his verse. His connection with party
usque ad aras.^ " True bard, but simple," I fear
he has not escaped the infirmity of fame, like
the presidential malady, a virus once in, not to
be got out of the system : he has this, so cold
and majestic as he sits there, — has this to a heat
which has brought to him the devotion of all
the young men and women who love poetry,
and of all the old men and women who once
were young. 'Tis a perfect tyranny. Talk of the
shopmen who advertise their drugs or cosmetics
on the walls and on the palisades and huge
rocks along the railways; — why, this man, more
cunning by far, has contrived to levy on all
American Nature and subsidized every solitary
forest and Monument Mountain in Berkshire
or the Katskills, every waterfowl, every part-
ridge, every gentian and goldenrod, the prairies,
the gardens of the desert, the song of the stars,
the Evening Wind, — has bribed every one of
these to speak for him, so that there is scarcely a

I Even to the altars, a Latin version of a Greek expression
for devotion, though Mr. Emerson, in his quatrain "Peri-
cles," makes the altar a bound beyond which right service
may not go (^Poems, p. 296).

82 JOURNAL [Age 6i

feature of day and night in the country which
does not — whether we will or not — recall the
name of Bryant. This high-handed usurpation
I charge him with, and on the top of this, with
persuading us and all mankind to hug our fetters
and rejoice in our subjugation.

(From ML)


(Read at the Melodeon, November, 1864 ')

I congratulate my countrymen on the great
and good omens of the hour ; that a great por-
tion of mankind dwelling in the United States
have given their decision in unmistakeable
terms in favor of social and statute order, that
a nation shall be a nation, and refuses to hold
its existence on the tenure of a casual rencontre
of passengers, who meet at the corner of a street,
or on a railroad, or at a picnic, — held by no
bond, but meeting and parting at pleasure ; that
a nation cannot be trifled with, but involves in-
terests so dear and so vast that it is intolerable
crime to treat them with levity; they shall be

I Soon after Lincoln had been elected President for a
second term.

1864] THE UNION 83

held binding as marriage, binding as contracts
of property, binding as laws which guard the
life and honour of the citizen. The people, after
the most searching discussion of every part of
the subject, have decided that the unity of the
nation shall be held by force against the forcible
attempt of parties to break it. What gives com-
manding weight to this decision is that it has
been made by the people sobered by the calam-
ity of the War, the sacrifice of life, the waste of
property, the burden of taxes, and the uncer-
tainties of the result. They protest in arms
against the attempt of any small or any numer-
ous minority of citizens or states to proceed by
stealth or by violence to dispart a country. They
do not decide that if a part of the nation, from
geographic necessities or from irreconcileable
interests of production and trade, desires sepa-
ration, no such separation can be. Doubtless it
may, because the permanent interest of one part
to separate will come to be the interest and good
will of the other part. But, at all events, it shall
not be done in a corner, not by stealth, not by
violence, but as a solemn act, with all the forms,
with all deliberation, and on the declared opin-
ions of the entire population concerned, and
with mutual guaranties and compensations.

84 JOURNAL [Age 6i

I need not go over the statistics of the Coun-
try: those colossal lines are printed on your
brain. These lines of land subject to one law
are almost astronomical measures, containing a
pretty large fraction of the planet. These grand
material dimensions cannot suggest dwarfish
and stunted manners and policy. Everything
on this side the water inspires large and pro-
spective action. America means opportunity,
freedom, power; and, very naturally, when these
instincts have not been supported by adequate
mental and moral training, they run into the
grandiose, into exaggeration and vapouring.
This is odious, but inevitable. The inhabitants
of the Great Republic are taxed with rudeness
and superficiality. It was said of Louis XIV that
his gait was becoming in a king, but, in a pri-
vate man, would have been an insufferable strut.
Still, when we are reproached with vapouring
by people of small home territory, like the Eng-
lish, I often think that ours is only the gait and
bearing of a tall boy, a little too large for his
trousers, by the side of small boys. They are
jealous, quicksighted about their inches.

But let us call bad manners by the right
name. . . . Don't take any pains to praise good
people. I delight in certain dear persons, that


they need no letters of introduction, knowing
well that, wherever they go, they are hung all
over with eulogies. If there is any perception in
the company, these will be found out as foun-
tains of joy.

Power of criticism. Laugel said, the other day,
that the French Emperor censures and prohibits
newspapers, but never meddles with books.
But now I am glad to see Laboulaye, in his
critique on the Life of Julius Casar, toss his
Emperor Napoleon on his horns, and with in-
vulnerable propriety.

" The late good and wise first Lord Ravens-
worth used to say, ' there was nothing grateful

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