and there were these placid creatures around, and
the virtue that was in them seemed to pass from
me into them.
Nature is thus a differential thermometer de
tecting the presence or absence of the divine
spirit in man.
It was the oblique and covert way in which
the good world was training to the discovery
i8 4 o] HERMITS. GARDENING 457
that a man must have the saintly and the poetic
character; that by taste he must worship beauty,
and by love of the invisible, if it were only of
Opinion, must carry his life in his hand to be
risked at any instant.
September 1 1 .
Would it not be a good cipher for the seal of
the Lonely Society which forms so fast in these
days, Two porcupines meeting with all their
spines erect, and the motto, " We converse at
the quilt s end " ?
I would labour cheerfully in my garden every
day, if when I go there it did not seem trifling.
It is so easy to waste hours and hours there in
weeding and hoeing, and as pleasant as any other
play, that I can impute to you no merit that you
labour. Nothing is easier or more epicurean.
Character establishes itself and blows a grand
music through whatever instrument, though it
were an oat pipe or a cornstalk viol. If love be
there, I shall find it out, though I only see you
eat bread or make some trifling but necessary
request. The reform that is ripening in your
mind for the amelioration of the human race I
shall find already in miniature in every direction
458 JOURNAL [AGE 37
to the domestics, in every conversation with the
assessor, with your creditor, and with your debtor.
The monastery, the convent, did not quite
fail, many and many a stricken soul found peace
and home and scope in those regimens, in those
chapels and cells. The Society of Shakers did
not quite fail, but has proved an agreeable asylum
to many a lonesome farmer and matron. The
College has been dear to many an old bachelor of
learning. What hinders, then, that this Age, better
advised, should endeavor to sift out of these ex
periments the false, and adopt and embody in a
new form the advantage ?
Sarah Clarke, 1 who left us yesterday, is a true
and high-minded person, but has her full pro
portion of our native frost. She remarked of the
Dial, that the spirit of many of the pieces was
The questions which have slept uneasily a
long time are coming up to decision at last.
I Miss Clarke, the sister of Rev. James Freeman Clarke, was
a friend of Mr. Emerson s from the days wjien she waAone^ of
the scholars in the school in Boston kept by his
Ham and himself. She devoted her life to art.
1840] PROPERTY. SLEEP 459
Men will not be long occupied with the Chris
tian question, for all the babes are born infidels ;
they will not care for your abstinences of diet,
or your objections to domestic hired service;
they will find something convenient and amiable
in these. But the question of property will di
vide us into odious parties. And all of us must
face it and take our part. A good man now
finds himself excluded from all lucrative em
ployments. 1 . . . There is so much to be done
that we ought to begin quickly to bestir our
selves. Lidian says well that it is better to work
on institutions by the sun than by the wind.
As Palmer remarked, that he was satisfied what
should be done must proceed from the conces
sion of the rich, not from the grasping of the
poor. Well then, let us begin by habitual im
parting. . . . Let my ornamental austerities be
come natural and dear. The State w.ill frown;
the State must learn to humble itself, repent and
A sleeping child gives me the impression of a
traveller in a very far country.
i Here follows the passage beginning thus in "Man the
Reformer* (Nature, Addresses, and Lectures, p. 234).
460 JOURNAL [AGE 37
"He can toil terribly," said Cecil of Sir Walter
Raleigh. Is there any sermon on Industry that
will exhort me like these few words ? These
sting and bite and kick me. I will get out of the
way of their blows by making them true of my
The conversion of a woman will be the solid-
est pledge of truth and power.
I am only an experimenter. 1 Do not, I pray
you, set the least value on what I do, or the
least discredit on what I do not, as if I had set
tled anything as true or false. I unsettle all
I Though printed in " Circles" it seems well to let this
whole passage stand here, among the notes of critical years in
Mr. Emerson s life. As appears in these pages, all usage in
private and public relations was brought to the bar of new
theories of independent, self-reliant action. Reforms were
rampant, everything questioned by the young radicals who
came to Mr. Emerson for backing. To his private journal he
confided, not his settled opinion, but the mood or aspect of
The solid virtue in his character and his good sense carried
him safe through the spiritual breakers into serene, happy, and
1840] ALCOTT. ANGLE. TRUST 461
things. No facts are to me sacred, none are pro
fane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker,
with no past at my back.
Every hour has its morning, noon, and night.
Alcott said, "Who are these people? there
is not one of them whom I cannot offend in any
Ah vast Spirit ! I weary of these egotisms. I
see well how puny and limitary they are.
Life is emblematic to every good mind and
is equally profound, let the circumstances or
emblems be a kingdom, a camp, a college, or a
farm. It is the angle which the object makes to
the eye which imports. 1 . . .
Can we not trust ourselves ? Must we be
such coxcombs as to keep watch and ward over
our noblest sentiments even, lest they also be
tray us, and God prove a little too divine ? Dare
we never say, This time of ours shall be the era
I The remainder of the passage is found in " History "
(Essays, First Series, p. 39); and , as to mere transfer of idol
atry, in "Character" (Essays, Second Series, p. 98).
462 JOURNAL [AGE 37
of Discovery ? These have been the ages of
darkness. Wide Europe, wide America lieth in
night, turneth in sleep. The morning twilight
is grey in the East : the Columbuses, the Ves-
puccis, the Cabots of moral adventure are loos
ening their sails and turning their bowsprits to
the main. Men have never loved each other.
See, already they blush with a kindness which
is pure, and Genius, the Inventor, finds in Love
the unknown and inexhaustible continent. Love
which has been exclusive shall now be inclusive.
Love, which once called Genius proud, be
hold, they have exchanged names. Love, which
was a fat, stupid Shaker, or a maudlin Metho
dist, or Moravian, now is a brave and modest
man of light, sight, and conscience. God hateth
the obscure. On the last day, as on the first
day, he still says, Let there be Light. Where
there is progress in character, there is no confu
sion of sentiment, no diffidence of self, but the
heart sails ever forward in the direction of the
Perhaps after many sad, doubting, idle days,
days of happy, honest labor will at last come
when a man shall have filled up all the hours
from sun to sun with great and equal action,
shall lose sight of this sharp individuality which
i8 4 o] NATURE AND MAN 463
contrasts now so oddly with nature, and, ceasing
to regard, shall cease to feel his boundaries, but
shall be interfused by nature and shall [so] inter
fuse nature that the sun shall rise by his will as
much as his own hand or foot do now ; and his
eyes or ears or fingers shall not seem to him the
property of a more private will than the sea and
the stars, and he shall feel the meaning of the
growing tree and the evaporating waters with
a more entire and satisfactory intelligence than
now attends the activity of his organs of sense.
Every glance we give to the landscape pre
dicts a better understanding, by assuring us we
are not right now. When I am quite alone in
my morning walk, if I lift up my eyes, the
goodly green picture I see seems to call me hyp
ocrite and false teacher me who stood inno
cently there with quite other thoughts and had
not spoken a word. For the landscape seems
imperatively to expect a clear mirror, a willing
reception in me, which, not finding, it lies ob
trusive and discontented on the outward eye,
unable to pass into the inward eye, and breeds
a sense of jar and discord.
The most trivial and gaudy fable, Kehama,
Jack Giant-killer, Red Ridinghood, every grand-
am s nursery rhyme contains, as I have elsewhere
464 JOURNAL [AGE 37
noted, a moral that is true to the core of the
world. It is because Nature is an instrument so
omnipotently musical that the most careless or
stupid hand cannot draw a discord from it. A
devil struck the chords in defiance, and his ma
levolence was punished by a sweeter melody
than the angels made.
There is no leap not a shock of violence
throughout nature. Man therefore must be pre
dicted in the first chemical relation exhibited
by the first atom. If we had eyes to see it, this
bit of quartz would certify us of the necessity
that man must exist as inevitably as the cities
he has actually built.
Cities and coaches shall never impose on me
again. 1 . . .
You would have me love you. What shall I
love ? Your body ? The supposition disgusts
you. What you have thought and said? Well,
whilst you were thinking and saying them, but
not now. I see no possibility of loving anything
but what now is, and is becoming; your cour-
i See "Man the Reformer" (Nature, Addressee and
Lectures, p. 230).
i8 4 o] FACES. COMMUNITIES 465
age, your enterprise, your budding affection,
your opening thought, your prayer, I can love,
but what else ?
" Paradise," said Mahomet, " is under the
shadow of swords." I
It is easier to distinguish the sweet apples from
the sour in a multitude of human faces than it is
in an orchard. In the good old women one de
tects at sight the saccharine principle.
Perhaps it is folly, this scheming to bring the
good and like-minded together into families, into
a colony. Better that they should disperse and
so leaven the whole lump of society.
I will not be chidden out of my most trivial
native habit by your distaste, O philosopher, by
your preference for somewhat else. If Rhetoric
has no charm for you, it has for me and my words
are as costly and admirable to me as your deeds
to you. It is all pedantry to prefer one thing that
is alive to another thing which is also alive. The
mystery of God inhabits a nursery tale as deeply
as the laws of a state, or the heart of a man.
i Here other quotations from Simon Ockley s History
of the Saracens are given.
466 JOURNAL [AGE 37
The Soul. Do not indulge this rabble of sec
ond thoughts. Cast yourself on the hour and the
man that now is, nor be so much a litterateur as
to cast about already for the benefits that shall
accrue from this new fact to art. So is your lit
The Whigs meet in numerous conventions
and each palpitating heart swells with the cheap
sublime of magnitude and number. 1 . . .
In the history of the world the doctrine of
Reform had never such scope as at the present
hour. 2 . . . Nations will not shield you, neither
will books. . . . Vain is the cumulative fame
of Tasso, of Dante, vain the volumes of Lit
erature which entrench their sacred rhymes, if
the passing mystic has no glance for them, not
a motion of respect. Alas ! too surely their doom
Lidian gives the true doctrine of property
when she says, "No one should take any more
than his own share, let him be ever so rich."
1 For the rest, see << Self- Reliance" (Essays, First Series,
2 See the second page of " Man the Reformer. *
1840] ABSORBING PERSONS 467
Yes, I resent this intrusion of a few persons
on my airy fields of existence. Shall our conver
sation when we meet, O wife, or sister Eliza
beth, still return, like a chime of seven bells, to
six or seven names, nor we freemen of nature
be able long to travel out of this narrowed orbit ?
Rather I would never name these names again.
They are beautiful, and therefore we have given
them place; but they affront the sun and moon
and the seven stars when they are remembered
once too often. Beware of Walls ; let me keep
the open field. Douglas-like, I had rather hear
the lark sing than the mouse cheep. Yet though
I start like a wild Arab at the first suspicion of
confinement, I have drank with great joy the
contents of this golden cup hitherto. With great
pleasure I heard George Bradford say, that this
romance 1 took from the lustre of the Reform
ers who alone had interested him before. I felt
that what was private and genuine in these rare
relations was more real, and so more public and
I This seems to refer to the engagement and coming mar
riage of Samuel G. Ward and Anna H. Barker. The friendship
with both had made the past year very happy to Mr. Emer
468 JOURNAL [AGE 37
universal than conventions for debate, and these
weary speculations on reform. The call of a heart
to a heart, the glad beholding of a new trait of
character, freedom (derived from the friendly
presence of a fellow being) to do somewhat we
have never done, freedom to speak what I
could never say, these are discoveries in the
Ocean of life, they are Perus, Brazils, and Ply
mouth Rocks, which to me were the more in
estimable that I had been such a homekeeper,
and knew nothing beyond the limits of my own
forest and village fair.
On Saturday evening I attended the wedding
of Samuel Gray Ward and Anna Hazard Barker
at the house of Mr. Farrar in Cambridge. Peace
go with you, beautiful, pure, and happy friends,
peace and beauty and power and the perpe
tuity and the sure unfolding of all the buds of
joy that so thickly stud your branches.
Circumstances are dreams, which, springing
unawares from ourselves, amuse us whilst we
doze and sleep, but when we wake, nothing but
1840] WAITING 469
causes can content us. The life of man is the
true romance which, when it is valiantly con
ducted and all the stops of the instrument
opened, will go nigh to craze the reader with
anxiety, wonder and love. I am losing all relish
for books and for feats of skill in my delight in
Do not accuse me of sloth. Do not ask me
to your philanthropies, charities, and duties, as
you term them; mere circumstances, flakes
of the snow-cloud, leaves of the trees; I sit
at home with the cause, grim or glad. I think
I may never do anything that you shall call a
deed again. I have been writing with some pains
essays on various matters as a sort of apology
to my country for my apparent idleness. But
the poor work has looked poorer daily, as I
strove to end it. My genius seemed to quit me
in such a mechanical work, a seeming wise a
cold exhibition of dead thoughts. When I write
a letter to anyone whom I love, I have no lack
of words or thoughts. I am wiser than myself
and read my paper with the pleasure of one
who receives a letter, but what I write to fill up
the gaps of a chapter is hard and cold, is gram
mar and logic ; there is no magic in it ; I do not
wish to see it again. Settle with yourself your
470 JOURNAL [AGE 37
accusations of me. If I do not please you, ask
me not to please you, but please yourself. What
you call my indolence, Nature does not accuse ;
the twinkling leaves, the sailing fleets of water-
flies, the deep sky, like me well enough and
know me for their own. With them I have no
embarrassments, diffidences or compunctions ;
with them I mean to stay. You think it is be
cause I have an income which exempts me from
your day-labor, that I waste (as you call it)
my time in sun-gazing and star-gazing. You do
not know me. If my debts, as they threaten,
should consume what money I have, I should
live just as I do now : I should eat worse food,
and wear a coarser coat, and should wander in a
potato patch instead of in the wood, but it is
I, and not my twelve hundred dollars a year,
that love God.
We feel that every one of those remarkable
effects in landscape which occasionally catch and
delight the eye, as, for example, a long vista in
woods, trees on the shore of a lake coming
quite down to the water, a long reach in a river,
a double or triple row of uplands or mountains
seen one over the other, and whatever of the
like has much affected our fancy, must be the
1840] DEEDS. THE DIAL 471
rhetoric of some thought not yet detached for
the conscious intellect.
Virtues are among men rather the exception
than the rule. They do what is called a good ac
tion, . . . much as they would pay a fine in expia
tion of daily non-appearance on parade. 1 . . .
I do not give you my time, but I give you
that which I have put my time into, namely,
my letter, or my poem, the expression of my
opinion, or better yet an act which in solitude
I have learned to do.
A newspaper in a grave and candid tone cen
sures the Dial as having disappointed the good
expectation of our lovers of literature. I read
the paragraph with much pleasure ; for the
moment we come to sense and candor I know
the success of the Dial is sure. The Dial is poor
and low and all unequal to its promise: but that
is not for you to say, O Daily Advertiser ! but
I The rest of the paragraph beginning thus is in " Self-
Reliance" (Essays, First Series, pp. 52, 53). The very
next entry in the Journal seems a reflex wave after this mis
prizing of actions.
472 JOURNAL [AGE 37
for me. It is now better after your manner than
anything else you have; and you do not yet see
that it is, and will soon see and extol it. I see
with regret that it is still after your manner, and
not after mine, and that it is something which
you can praise.
" The saugh kens the basket-maker s thumb."
Go, dear soul, 2 and be scales and sword, an
accusation and a terror, a Day of doom and a
Future to the world lying in wickedness. The
fat and easy and conceited world, the cultivated
and intellectual world, takes the prophets by the
hand and affects to be of their part and to de
plore the general ignorance and sensuality which
rejects and derides them. Yet it takes a secret
pleasure in the fact that this reprobation reaches
not to them, instead of finding therein convic
tion of sin. This derision is a laurel on the
brows of the prophets. This same prelacy, these
men of intellect on good terms with the world,
are glad to speak the sheriff and the constable
fair, for they do not yet see what height and
1 Sallow, willow.
2 Perhaps addressed to the Dial.
,8 4 o] COMMUNITY DREAMS 473
what debasement are, and that the only asylum
and protection and lordship and empire is vir
tue. . . . Why should I use a means? Why
should I not rush grandly to ends?
Yesterday George and Sophia Ripley, Mar
garet Fuller and Alcott discussed here the Social
Plans. 1 I wished to be convinced, to be thawed,
to be made nobly mad by the kindlings before
my eye of a new dawn of human piety. But
this scheme was arithmetic and comfort: this
was a hint borrowed from the Tremont House
and United States Hotel ; a rage in our poverty
and politics to live rich and gentlemanlike, an
anchor to leeward against a change of weather ;
a prudent forecast on the probable issue of the
great questions of Pauperism and Poverty. And
not once could I be inflamed, but sat aloof and
thoughtless; my voice faltered and fell. It was
not the cave of persecution which is the palace
of spiritual power, but only a room in the Astor
House hired for the Transcendentalists. I do
not wish to remove from my present prison to
a prison a little larger. I wish to break all
I The project of the Community at Brook Farm. Mr.
Emerson gives some account of it in " Life and Letters in
New England " (Lectures and Biographical Sketches ).
474 JOURNAL [AGE 37
prisons. I have not yet conquered my own
house. It irks and repents me. Shall I raise
the siege of this hencoop, and march baffled
away to a pretended siege of Babylon Pit seems
to me that so to do were to dodge the problem
I am set to solve, and to hide my impotency in
the thick of a crowd. I can see too, afar, that
I should not find myself more than now, no,
not so much, in that select, but not by me
selected, fraternity. Moreover, to join this body
would be to traverse all my long trumpeted
theory, and the instinct which spoke from it,
that one man is a counterpoise to a city, that
a man is stronger than a city, that his solitude
is more prevalent and beneficent than the con
cert of crowds.
[Here follow two pages of fine extracts from
Beaumont and Fletcher s Tragedy of Bonduca,
of which three are here given.]
There s not a blow we gave since Julius landed
That was of strength and worth, but, like records,
They file to after ages. Our registers
The Romans are for noble deeds of honour.
Ten times a night
I have swum the rivers when the stars of Rome
1840] DUMB IN COMPANY 475
Shot at me as I floated, and the billows
Tumbled their watery ruins on my shoulders ;
Charging my battered sides with troops of agues.
Ye should have tied up Death first, when ye con
Ye sweat for us in vain else. See him here,
He s ours still, and our friend, laughs at your
And we command him with as easy rein
As do our enemies.
The old experiences still return. Society,
when I rarely enter the company of my well-
dressed and well-bred fellow creatures, seems
for the time to bereave me of organs, or per
haps only to acquaint me with my want of them.
The soul swells with new life and seeks expres
sion with painful desire, but finds no outlets.
Its life is all incommunicable. . . . Those who
are to me lovely and dear seem for that reason
to multiply and tighten the folds that envelop
and smother my speech.
A dandy, Mr. Pacelise calls, " Un mille-fleur
We need not do what we cannot. Let us go
476 JOURNAL [AGE 37
home again, home to our faculties and work. Is
one associate or one circumstance unfit, in
heaven I should hapless be. We use our virtues
and their fruits as purchase money for our vices.
Not when I walk in the streets of the city, am
I earning the prayers of the young and the
highly endowed, but when I forget Boston and
London in rapid obedience to the Invisible and
Only Spirit. Not by wealth and a city conse
quence, not by skill in arts, nor by the manners
and address of the world could I, if these I had,
bring any gift worthy of the acceptance of friend
ship, but only out of a deeper magazine whereto
cities and bankers cannot go, out of the realms
of an unbroken peace, of loving meditation, of
a habitual conversation with nature. Out of
these alone can I draw the natural gold which
universally commands all other goods and is the
royal currency of the world. I love spring water
and wild air, and not the manufacture of the
chemist s shop. I see in a moment, on looking
into our new Dial, which is the wild poetry, and
which the tame, and see that one wild line out
of a private heart saves the whole book.
I wrote C. S. this afternoon that it is not we,
but the elements, the destinies and conscience
1840] ADVANCE. DR. RIPLEY 477
that make places and hours great, they the om
nipresent : and if we will only be careful not
to intrude or chatter, the least occasion and the
domestic hour will be grand and fated. We shall
one day wonder that we have ever distinguished
days, or circumstances, or persons.
Life only avails, not the having lived. 1 . . .
Neither thought nor virtue will keep, but must
be refreshed by new today. But we get forward
by hops and skips. Shall we not learn one day
to walk a firm continuous step ?
As nothing will keep, but the soul demands
that all shall be new today, therefore we reject
a past man, or a past man s teaching. Who is
Swedenborg ? A man who saw God and Nature
for a fluid moment. His disciples vainly try to
make a fixture of him, his seeing, and his teach
ing, and coax me to accept it for God and
Dependence is the only poverty.
Dr. Ripley is no dandy, but speaks with the
greatest simplicity and gravity. He preaches
i Continued in "Self-Reliance" (p. 69).
478 JOURNAL [AGE 37
however to a congregation of Dr. Ripleys ; and
Mr. Frost to a supposed congregation of Bar-
zillai Frosts; 1 and Daniel Webster to an as
sembly of Websters. Could this belief of theirs