Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Greek myths were to the purity of the gods.
Yet noble souls carried themselves nobly, and
drew what treasures of character from that grim

We want heat to execute our plans." . . .
What said Bettine to Goethe? "Go to ruin
with your sentiments ! 'T is the senses alone
that work in art, as in love, and nobody knows
this better than you."

I find it a great and fatal difference whether
I court the muse, or the muse courts me : That
is the ugly disparity between age and youth.

July 30.
This morn came again the exhilarating news
of the landing of the Atlantic telegraph cable at
Heart's Content, Newfoundland, and we repeat
the old wonder and delight we found on the
Adirondac, in August, 1858.' We have grown
more skilful, it seems, in electric machinery, and
may confide better in a lasting success. Our
political condition is better, and, though dashed

1 The rest of the paragraph is found in "Inspiration"
{Letters and Social Aims, p. 276).

2 See "-The Adirondacs," in Poems (pp. 190-193).

156 JOURNAL [Ace 63

by the treachery of our American President, can
hardly go backward to slavery and civil war.
Besides, the suggestion of an event so excep-
tional and astounding in the history of human
arts is, that this instant and pitiless publicity
now to be given to every public act must force
on the actors a new sensibility to the opinion
of mankind, and restrain folly and meanness.

Old light (polarized) is much better than new.
The indirect and reflex ray sometimes better
than the direct. Quotation has its utilities. On
a lower stage, see the history of quotation.
Leave the great wheat-countries, the Egypts,
and Mississippi Valleys, and follow the harvest
into the bakers' shops and pedlers' carts.

When the Quakers settled in France (in the
early part of the French Revolution) asked of
the National Assembly to be released from mil-
itary duty, Mirabeau (President) replied, " The
Assembly will in its wisdom consider your re-
quests, but, whenever I meet a Quaker, I shall
say, ' My brother, if thou hast a right to be
free, thou hast a right to prevent any one from
making thee a slave : as thou lovest thy fellow-


creature, suffer not a tyrant to destroy him : it
would be killing him thyself.' "

" The hero of the Daityas, armed with his
clubj rushed against Nrisimha, But, like the
insect which falls in the fire, the Asura disap-
peared, absorbed by the splendor of his enemy."
— Bhagavat Pur ana.

What fanatics in politics we are ! There are
far more important things than free suffrage ;
namely, a pure will, pure and illumined.

August 12.
Last night, in conversation with the New
York ladies, Alcott appeared to great advan-
tage, and I saw again, as often before, his sin-
gular superiority. As pure intellect, I have
never seen his equal. The people with whom
he talks do not even understand him. They
interrupt him with clamorous dissent, or what
they think verbal endorsement of what they
fancy he may have been saying, or with, " Do
you know Mr. Alcott, I think thus and so," —
some whim or sentimentalism ; and do not
know that they have interrupted his large and
progressive statement, do not know that all they
have in their baby brains is spotty and incoher-

158 JOURNAL [Age 63

ent, that all that he sees and says is like astron-
omy, lying there real and vast, and every part
and fact in eternal connection with the whole,
and that they ought to sit in silent gratitude,
eager only to hear more, to hear the whole, and
not interrupt him with their prattle. It is be-
cause his sight is so clear, commanding the
whole ground, and he perfectly gifted to state
adequately what he sees, that he does not lose
his temper, when his glib Interlocutors bore
him with their dead texts and phrases. An-
other, who sees in flashes, or only here and
there a land-mark, has the like confidence in
his own truth, and in the infinitude of the soul,
but none in his competence to show it to the
bores ; and if they tease him, he is silent.

Power is not pettish, but want of power is.
Alcott's activity of mind is shown in the per-
petual invention and felicity of his language ;
the constitutionality of his thought, apparent in
the fact that last night's discourse only brought
out with new conviction the old fundamental
thoughts which he had when I first knew him..

The moral benefit of such a mind cannot be
told. The world fades : men, reputations, poli-
tics shrivel : the interests, power, future of the
soul beam a new dayspring. Faith becomes sight.

1866] ILLUSION 159

Maya {Illusion) of the Hindoos. Rudra says,
" O thouj who, always unalterable. Greatest,
conservest, and destroyest this universe, by the
aid of Maya, that energy in numerous forms
which, powerless when it reposes in thy bosom,
makes believe that it is distinct from thee, and
gives to the world an apparent reality." —
Bhagavat Purana, vol. ii, p. lay,

Maya. The assistants said : " In the road of
birth, where is no shelter; — which great mis-
eries make difficult ; where the god of death
presents himself as a frightful reptile ; where
they have before their eyes the mirage of ob-
jects ; where the opposite affections (of pleasure
and pain) are precipices ; where they fear the
wicked as ferocious beasts ; where grief is like a
fire in the forest ; — how should a caravan of
ignorant beings, loaded with the heavy burden
of the body and the soul, tormented by desire,
— how, O God who givest asylum, should it
ever arrive at thy feet?"

The Veda says : " The world is born of

" Brahma qui n^a pas de qualit'es"

" Cet Hre exempt d 'attributs et de personnalit'e,
qui est a la fois ce qui existe et ce qui n'existe pas"
{pour nos organes). — Vol. ii, p. m.

i6o JOURNAL [Age 63

There is a maxim which those who know the
Veda repeat in all places; this: — "An action
done in conformity to the law, becomes invisi-
ble, and does not reappear." Equivalent this to
Novalis's saying : " Of the Wrong we are al-
ways conscious : of the Right never."

William Forbes writes wisely, " Difficulties
exist to be surmounted," — a right heroic creed.'

Gifts. Flowers grow in the garden to be given
away. Everybody feels that they appeal to finer
senses than his own, and looks wistfully around
in hope that possibly this friend or that may be
nobler furnished than he to see and read them,

I Mr. Emerson was already aware that his strength began
to fail. His poem "Terminus," written in the previous year,
was an admission of this. His book contracts were not prop-
erly remunerative. He saw that he could not continue his dis-
tant lecturing, the chief source of income, and his wife's in-
vested property was unremunerative, through the dishonesty of
her agent. All this his good son-in-law had discovered, and
strove to win his permission to take such action as would
ensure his receiving his real dues. He found Mr. Emerson
reluctant because of his modesty and the difficulties with which
the way seemed beset. But Colonel Forbes' s affectionate zeal,
clear head and energy won. He saved Mrs. Emerson's prop-
erty just in time, and much increased Mr. Emerson's receipts
from his books.



or at least a better naturalist. Especially they
are sent to ceremonies and assemblies sacred or
festal or funereal, because, on occasions of pas-
sion and sentiment, there may be higher appre-
ciation of these delicate Wonders.

August 3 1 .
Visited Agassiz by invitation, with Lidian
and Ellen, and spent the day at his house and
on the Nahant rocks. He is a man to be thank-
ful for, always cordial, full of facts, with un-
sleeping observation, and perfectly communica-
tive. In Brazil he saw on a half-mile square 117
different kinds of excellent timber, — and not
a saw-mill in Brazil. A country thirsting for
Yankees to open and use its wealth. In Brazil
is no bread : manioca in pellets the substitute,
at the side of your plate. No society, no cul-
ture; could only name three men, — the Em-
peror, M. Coutinho, and M. Couteau. . . . For
the rest, immense vulgarity; and, as Longfel-
low said, the Emperor wished he could swap
places with Agassiz, and be a professor, — which
Agassiz explained thus, that the Emperor said ;
" Now you, when you leave your work, can
always return into cultivated society, I have

l62 JOURNAL [Age 63

Agassiz says, the whole population is wretch-
edly immoral, the colour and features of the peo-
ple showing the entire intermixing of all the
races. Mrs. Agassiz found the women ignorant,
depressed, with no employment but needle-
work, with no future, negligent of their per-
sons, shabby and sluttish at home, with their
hair about their ears, only gay in the ballroom ;
the men well dressed.

I can find my biography in every fable that
I read.

In the history of intellect no more important
fact than the Hindoo theology, teaching that
the beatitude or supreme good is to be attained
through science : namely, by the perception of
the real and unreal, setting aside matter, and
qualities, and affections or emotions and per-
sons, and actions, as Maias or illusions, and
thus arriving at the contemplation of the one
eternal Life and Cause, and a perpetual ap-
proach and assimilation to Him, thus escaping
new births or transmigration.

Truth is the principle, and the moral of the
Hindoo theology, — truth as against the Maya


which deceives Gods and Men; Truth the prin-
ciple, and Retirement and Self-denial the means
of attaining it. And they stop at no extreme in
the statement.

Nobility. The extreme example of the senti-
ment, on which the distinction of rank rests, is
not to be found in Spain, Germany, or Eng-
land, but in India, where poverty and crime do
not interrupt or diminish the reverence for a
Brahmin. In India, a Brahmin may. be very poor,
and perform daily menial tasks for the Eng-
lish, as porters or servants, but the natives still
kneel to him, and show him the highest respect.
— Mr. Dall testified this fact to me on his re-
turn from India.

Self-respect always commands. I see it here in
a family little known, but each of whose members,
without other gifts or advantages above the com-
mon, have that, in lieu of all : teaching that
wealth, fashion, learning, talent, garden, fine
house, servants, can be omitted, if you have
quiet determination to keep your own way
with good sense and energy. The best of it is
that the family I speak of do not suspect the

1 64 JOURNAL [Age 63

Anquetil Duperron. What a counterpart to all
the Bohemianism we attribute to Parisian lit-
terateurs, is the address of Anquetil Duperron
to the Indian Brahmins.

Louis XVI sent one to Anquetil Duperron
with 3000 francs in a leathern bag : his friend
set it down beside the chimney, and departed.
As soon as he was gone, Anquetil snatched it up,
ran out, and threw it at the heels of his friend,
who found the bag arrived at the bottom of the
staircase before him. The Society of Public In-
struction, later, voted him a pension of 6000
francs. Anquetil returned the order, saying he
had no need of it. When very near his end, he
said to his physician, " I am going to set out on
a voyage much more considerable than all those
I have already made, but I do not know where
I shall arrive."

The year 1866 has its memorabilia in the
success of Atlantic Cable; in the downfall of
Austria; in the checking of Napoleon and of
Maximilian ; in Agassiz's South American sci-
ence. (Shall I say in the possession taken by
the American Government of the Telegraph in
the postal service ? for I thought a public state-
ment meant that.)


The promise of literature amazes, for none
reads in a book in a happy hour without sug-
gestion of immensities on the right hand and
on the left — without seeing that all recorded
experience is a drop of dew before the soliciting
universe of thought.

Thought is more ductile than gold, more ex-
pansive than hydrogen gas ; nations live on one
book, and, in active states, one thought, one
perception, discloses endless possibilities. It is
ever as the attention, as the activity of the mind,
and not as the number of .thoughts or sensa-
tions, that the result is.'

Egypt. "Know that the gods hate impu-
dence." Inscription on the temple of Sais.

A poem in praise of Rameses II says of the
tower which he built, —

" The sunlight beams in its horizon,
and sets within it.

« The Nile
Coming all along the heaven."

I Compare in "Celebration of Intellect " : "Keep the
Intellect Sacred. Revere it. Give all to it. Its oracles coun-
tervail all. Attention is its acceptable prayer." {Natural His-
tory of Intellect, p. 130.)

l66 JOURNAL [Age 63

Hafiz's poetry is marked by nothing more
than his habit of playing with all magnitudes,
mocking at them. What is the moon or the
sun's course or heaven, and the angels, to his
darling's mole or eyebrow ? Destiny is a scurvy
night-thief who plays him or her a bad trick. I
might and perhaps will collect presently a few
examples, though, as I remember, they occur
passim in the " Divan." But I am always struck
with the fact that mind delights in measur-
ing itself thus with matter, — with history. A
thought, any thought, pressed, followed, opened,
dwarfs nature, custom, and all but itself.

The fancy carries out all the sentiments into
form, and makes angels in the sky, and organ-
izes remorse into a Judgment Day, and the uni-
verse at court; and so we have painted out our
heaven and hell.

But I do not know but the sad realist has an
equal or better content in keeping his hard nut.
He sees the eternal symmetry, the world per-
sisting to be itself, the unstooping morals of
Nature, and says, " I can trust it." There is
no fancy in my innate, uniform essential per-
ception of Right, unique though million-formed
or -faced. Through all processes, through all
enemies, the result is Benefit, Beauty, the aim


is the Best. I can well omit this parish propen-
sity of casting it in small, in creeds, in Punch
pictures, as the popular religions do, into West-
minster Catechisms ; Athanasian creeds ; Egyp-
tian, Christian, Mahometan or Hindoo paradises
and hells. I will not be the fool of fancy, nor
a child with toys.

The positive degree is manly, and suits me
better : the truth is stranger and grander than
the gayest fable. I cling to astronomy, botany,
zoology, as read by the severe Intellect, and
will live and die assured that I cannot go out
of the Power and Deity which rule in all my
experience, whether sensuous or spiritual.

Fame. I confess there is sometimes a caprice
in fame, like the unnecessary eternity given to
these minute shells and antediluvian fishes,
leaves, ferns, yea, ripples and raindrops, which
have come safe down through a vast antiquity,
with all its shocks, upheavals, deluges, and vol-
canoes, wherein everything noble in art and
humanity had perished, yet these snails, peri-
winkles, and worthless dead leaves come staring
and perfect into our daylight. — What is Fame,
if every snail or ripple or raindrop shares it?

1 68 JOURNAL [Age 63

It were good under the head of Greatness to
collect signal examples of those high steps in
character by which a good greatness is dwarfed
in the presence of a higher strain, and this again
by another. Aunt Mary's history and letters
would give many suggestions ; as, e. g., her defi-
nition of fame, her confidence that she "would,
in spite of all failures, know one day what true
friendship is, for the love of superior virtue is
mine own gift from God" : again ; " That great-
est of all gifts, however small my power of re-
ceiving, the capacity, the element to love the
all-perfect, without regard to personal happi-
ness — happiness — 'tis itself ! "

All greatness is in degree, and there 's more
above than below. Thus, what epic greatness in
Dante's Heaven and Hell, revealing new powers
in the human mind ! What majestic power again
in Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell! What again
in the popular Calvinism of the last two cen-
turies ! Each of these war against the other.
Now read the Indian theory : " As to Heaven
and Hell, they are inventions of Maya, and are
therefore both imaginary," etc.

It costs nothing to a commander to com-
mand : and everybody, the most powerful, finds


himself some time also in the hands of his com-
mander, it may be a woman, or a child, or a
favorite ; but usually it is another man organic-
ally so related to you that he easily impresses
and leads your will, neutralizes your superiori-
ties ; — perhaps has less general ability than
his victim, but is superior where the victim is
weak, and most desires to be strong. But this
locally stronger man has his dragon also, who
flies at his throat, and so gives the first his re-

Thus every one has his master, and no one
is stronger than all the others.

Dr. Jackson * said he was at Pulpit Rock, Lake
Superior, when he heard music, like rhythmical
organ or vocal chanting, and believed it to come
from some singers. But going on a little further,
it ceased ; in another direction, heard it again,
and by and by perceived that it was the beat-
ing of the waves on the shore deprived of its
harshness by the atmosphere. He has never
seen the subject treated scientifically, he thinks,

I Dr. Charles T. Jackson in 1844 and 1845 explored the
unbroken wilderness on the shores of Lake Superior, examined
its geology and made known its mineral resources, on which he
made a report in 1850.

lyo JOURNAL [Age 63

except in a paper on Sound by Dr. Wollas-


(From ML)


My idea of a home is a house in which each
member of the family can on the instant kindle
a fire in his or her private room. Otherwise their
society is compulsory and wasteful to the indi-

I Mr. Emerson turned his brother-in-law's story of this
strange experience to good account in his poem " May-Day."
(Compare Poems, ■p. 179.)

When going across the Plains to California in an emigrant
caravan, in July, 1862, while straying alone among some large
Cottonwood trees with little underbrush, about forty rods away
from our camp close by the upper North Platte River, not far
from Fort Laramie, I heard suddenly wonderfiil music, not
far away, which I could not account for : it was low, but
rather sad, and seemed to come from many instruments, yet was
indistinct. It was like no natural noise.

It was wholly unlike Indian music and no human settle-
ment was near, except our camp. On my return thither I
asked about the music. No one had heard it.

The day was cold and cloudy with a strong " Norther,"
following very hot weather. We were close by the broad, rush-
ing Platte, troubled by the fresh wind, as were the great trees.
After my return home I heard my uncle Dr. Jackson tell of
his experience at Lake Superior, which I thought explained my
own. He spoke of the phenomenon (perhaps quoting Dr.
Wollaston) as " Analyzed Sound." Edward W. Emerson,

1866] PREACHER. SEX 171

There may be two or three or four steps, ac-
cording to the genius of each, but for every seeing
soul there are two absorbing facts, — I and the

September 15.

I think the preacher had better first secure his
acre and his independence. Then let him know
that the secrets are all disclosed in household
talk — let him know that in every act and ex-
pression of men he can divine all the logical
sequences or concomitants.

Speak the affirmative, which is always good.
Then you lose no time. You grow, whether the
deacons like you or not, and are presently in a
position to dictate to them and to the people.

The old psalms and gospels, mighty as ever,
showing that what people call religion is litera-
ture: this man knew how to put his statement,
and the people said. Thus saith the Lord.

Men and Women. Man's conclusions are
reached by toil. Woman arrives at the same by
sympathy. He studies details. She catches by in-
stinct the character. I suppose women feel about
men who huddle them aside in the press as gen-
iuses feel about energetic workers, namely, that
they see through these noisy masters. In the

1 72 JOURNAL [Age 63

company of superior women we all know that
we are overlooked, judged, and sometimes sen-
tenced. They are better scholars than we, and
if not now, yet better twenty years later. Their
organic share is education. They are by sympa-
thy and quickness the right mediators between
those who have knowledge and those who
want it.

Man is a rude bear when_ men are separated
in ships, in mines, in colleges, in monasteries.
Conversation descends ; manners are coarse. Let
women sail as passengers, and all is righted. Taste,
beauty, order, grace; life is respectable, and has
elevated aims. Now she has been rightly drawn
into interest in missions and various humanities,
and at last the putting an end to Slavery.

Woman could not refuse to take part. That
organization in this country was, you know,
an education. The Executive Committee was
composed of Men and Women and continued
so until the end was reached. One truth leads
in another. That cause was an education, a uni-
versity, and it compelled a constant inquisition
Into Human Rights. And Woman has learned
to ask for all her rights — and that of the vote.
'Tis the right remedy at the right moment.
Every truth leads in. another truth.


As Parry, as [others]. In their several ex-
plorations in the Arctic, came out each on the
SEA, so the independent thinkers, like Behmen,
like Spinoza, came out each on an adamantine
Necessity: the theories of the students were
weathercocks, but this inevitable result was

(From LN)

The progress of invention is really a threat.
Whenever I see a railroad I look for a republic.
We must take care to induct free trade and
abolish custom - houses, before the passenger
balloons begin to arrive from Europe, and I
think the Railroad Superintendent has a second
and deeper sense when he inscribes his legend
over the ways, — " Look out for the Engine ! "

"The Unexpected, Wealth is chiefly convenient
for emergencies. Day by day, every family gets
well enough through its common routine, the
poor as the rich. Only now and then comes a
pinch, a sudden and violent call for means; as,
a marriage, or a sickness, or a visitor, or a jour-
ney, or a subscription that must be met; then
it is fortunate and indispensable to have new
power. But emergencies are in the contract.
They will and must occur to every susceptible

174 JOURNAL [Age 63

person. Therefore you must set your daily ex-
pense at the famine-pitch, live within your in-
come all the year round, to be ready with your
dollars for these occasions,

October 12.

To writers. If your subject does not appear
the flower of the world at this moment, you
have not yet rightly got it." . . .

Every word in the language has once been
used happily. The ear caught by that felicity
retains it.' . . .

October 24.

Dreams. I have often experienced, and again
last night, in my dreams, the surprise and curi-
osity of a stranger or indifferent observer to the
trait or the motive and Information communi-
cated. Thus some refractory youth, of whom
I had some guidance or authority, expressed
very frankly his dissent and dislike, disliked
my way of laughing. I was curious to under-
stand the objection, and endeavoured to pene-
trate and appreciate it, and, of course, with the
usual misfortune, that, when I woke and at-

1 See " Poetry and Imagination " (^Letters and Social
Aims, pp. 33, 34).

2 Printed in "Imitation and Originality" {Letters and
Social Aims, 'f. 193).


tempted to recover the specification, .which was
remarkable, it was utterly forgotten. But the
fact that I, who must be the author of both
parts of the dialogue, am thus remote and in-
quisitive in regard to one part, is ever wonder-

October 25.

Success in your work, the finding a better
method, the better understanding that insures
the better performing, is hat and coat, is food
and wine, is fire and horse and health and holi-
day. At least, I find that any success in my
work has the effect on my spirits of all these.

What his right hand achieveth. I like my
neighbour T.'s' manners; he has no deference,
but a good deal of kindness, so that you see
that his good ofHces come from no regard for

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