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(Essays, Second Series, p. 178).

2 Jones Very.


at the Love which suffered him to speak there
in his chair, of things he knew nothing of; one
might expect to see the book taken from his
hands and him thrust out of the room, and
yet he was allowed to sit and talk, whilst every
word he spoke was a step of departure from the
truth, and of this he commanded himself to

bear witness ! "

October 31.

Yesterday evening L s soiree. As soon

as the party is broken up, I shrink and wince,
and try to forget it. ...

When I look at life, and see the patches of
thought, the gleams of goodness here and there
amid the wide and wild madness, I seem to be
a god dreaming; and when shall I awake and
dissipate these fumes and phantoms ?

November 2.

Heard I not that a fair girl said, She would
not be "charitable" as she wished to, because it
looked to her so \fa& feeding ? Rem acu tetigisti.
To all let us be men, and not pastry-cooks.

Culture thorough. I see in the lip of the
speaker the presence or absence of Wordsworth,
Coleridge, Shakspear, and the mighty masters.


November 3.

The Trismegisti. There is always a higher
region of thought, soar as high as you will;
and in literature very few words are found touch
ing the best thought ; Laodamia ; James Nay-
ler s dying words ; the Address of the parlia
mentary soldier to the army, in Coleridge s
Friend; and Sampson Reed s oration ; these
are of the highest moral class.

Come on, ye angels who are to write with
pens of flame the poetry of the new age. The
old heathens who have written for us will not
budge one step, neither Plato nor Shakspear,
until a natural majesty equal to their own,
and purer, and of a higher strain, shall appear.
Goethe will die hard. Even Scott dares stand
his ground.

Henry IV of France a nascent Napoleon
and the first European king.

Weans and /Fz/i?. - That s the true pathos
and sublime of human life.

We owe a good many valuable observations
to people who are not very acute or profound,


and who say the thing without effort which we
want and have been long toiling for in vain. 1
This and that other fact, that we kindle each
other s interest so fast in what happen to be our
present studies, and the rapid communication of
results thatis obviously possible between scholars
of various pursuit, lead me to think that ac
quisition would be increased by literary society :
that I could read more, learn faster, by associa
tion with good scholars, than I do or can alone.
There are few scholars. The mob of so-called
scholars are unapt peasants caught late, coated
over merely with a thin varnish of Latin and read
ing-room literature, but unlearned and unintel
ligent : they sleep in the afternoons, read little,
and cannot be said to have faith or hope. For this
reason, I think the reading of Sir William Jones s
Life, or the life of Gibbon, or the letters of Goethe,
might serve the purpose of shaming us into an
emulating industry.

I should not dare to tell all my story. A great
deal of it I do not yet understand. How much
of it is incomplete. In my strait and decorous
way of living, native to my family and to my
country, and more strictly proper to me, is no-
I This sentence is printed in The Over-Soul. "


thing extravagant or flowing. I content myself
with moderate, languid actions, and never trans
gress the staidness of village manners. Herein I
consult the poorness of my powers. More cul
ture would come out of great virtues and vices
perhaps, but I am not up to that. Should I
obey an irregular impulse, and establish every
new relation that my fancy prompted with the
men and women I see, I should not be followed
by my faculties ; they would play me false in mak
ing good their very suggestions. They delight in
inceptions, but they warrant nothing else. I see
very well the beauty of sincerity, and tend that
way, but if I should obey the impulse so far as
to say to my fashionable acquaintance, "you are
a coxcomb, I dislike your manners I pray
you avoid my sight," I should not serve him
nor me, and still less the truth ; I should act quite
unworthy of the truth, for I could not carry out
the declaration with a sustained, even-minded
frankness and love, which alone could save such
a speech from rant and absurdity.
We must tend ever to the good life.

I told Jones Very that I had never suffered,
that I could scarce bring myself to feel a concern
for the safety and life of my nearest friends that


would satisfy them; that I saw clearly that if my
wife, my child, my mother, should be taken from
me, I should still remain whole, with the same
capacity of cheap enjoyment from all things. I
should not grieve enough, although I love them.
But could I make them feel what I feel, the
boundless resources of the soul, remaining
entire when particular threads of relation are/
snapped, I should then dismiss forever the
little remains of uneasiness I have in regard to

November 4.

I wish society to be a Congress of Sovereigns
without the pride, but with the power. There
fore I do not like to see a worthy woman resemble
those flowers that cannot bear transportation,
and when I behold her in a foreign house per
ceive instantly that she has lost an inch or two
of height her manners not so ta//as they were
at home. A woman should always challenge our
respect, and never move our compassion. If
they be great only on their own ground, and de
mure and restless in a new house, they have all
to learn. If people were all true, we should feel
that all persons were infinitely deep natures. But
now in an evening party you have no variety of
persons, but only one person. For, say what you



will, to whom you will, they shall all render
one and the same answer, without thought, with
out heart, a conversation of the lips. . . .

Chaucer. The religion of the early English
wits is anomalous ; so devout, and so blasphe
mous, in the same breath. The merriest tale con

Thus endeth here my tale of Januarie,
God blesse us, and his moder, Seinte Marie.


Chaucer s canon had such wit and art, that he
could turn upside down all the ground between
here and Canterbury, and pave it with silver and
gold, yet was " his overest sloppe not worth a

He is too wise, in faith, as I believe ;
Thing that is overdone, it will not preve
Aright, as clerkes say ; it is a vice.
Wherefore in that I hold him lewd and nicej
For, when a man hath over great a wit,
Full oft it happeth to misusen it.

We do not justice to ourselves in conver
sation. An agreeable instance of this I have
repeatedly remarked, when a man warmly op
poses in conversation your opinion, even to an

1838] NUMBERS. SANITY. 117

extreme, and afterwards, in his public discourse,
tempers his opposition so freely with your
thought that it is scarcely opposition.

Religion. Our religion stands on numbers of
believers. A very bad sign. Whenever the appeal
is made, no matter how indirectly, to numbers,
proclamation is then and there made that religion
is not. He that finds God a sweet, enveloping
thought to him, never counts his company.

Insanity. Swedenborg said insanity was a
screen ; so I think are the active trades and pro
fessions that employ and educate and restrain so
many thousands of unbelievers. We are screened
from premature ideas.

One of the tests of sanity is repose. I demand
of a great spirit entire self-command. He must
be free and detached, and take the world up into
him, and not suggest the idea of a restless soul
bestridden alway by an invisible rider. He must
not be feverish, but free.

A divine man, be assured, will not be impu
dent. An angel may indeed come to Helio-
dorus all wrath, but its terror will be beautiful. 1

I Mr. Emerson took great delight in the head of the aveng
ing angel in Raphael s stanza in the Vatican.


I am very sensible to beauty in the human
form, in children, in boys, in girls, in old men,
and old women. No trait of beauty I think es
capes me. So am I to beauty in nature: a clump
of flags in a stream, a hill, a wood, a path run
ning into the woods, captivate me as I pass. If
you please to tell me that I have no just relish
for the beauty of man or of nature, it would not
disturb me certainly. I do not know but it may
be so, and that you have so much juster, deeper,
richer knowledge, as that I, when I come to know
it, shall say the same thing. But now your tell
ing me that I do not love nature will not in the
least annoy me. I should still have a perfect con
viction that, love it, or love it not, every bough
that waved, every cloud that floated, every water
ripple is and must remain a minister to me of
mysterious joy. But I hear occasionally young
people dwelling with emphasis on beauties of
nature, which may be there or may not, but which
I do not catch, and blind, at the same time, to
the objects which give me most pleasure. I am
quite unable to tell the difference, only I see that
they are less easily satisfied than I ; that they talk
where I would be silent, and clamorously demand
my delight where it is not spontaneous. I fancy
the love of nature of such persons is rhetorical.


If, however, I tell them, as I am moved to do,
that I think they are not susceptible of this plea
sure, straightway they are offended, and set them
selves at once to prove to me with many words
that they always had a remarkable delight in soli
tude and in nature. They even affirm it with
tears. Then can I not resist the belief that the
sense of joy from every pebble, stake, and dry
leaf is not yet opened in them.

"Hope, the master element of a command
ing genius." COLERIDGE, " Macbeth."

I doubt the statement. There is somewhat low
in hope. Faith or Trust, yes, Trust, the con
viction that all is well, that Good and God is at
the centre, will always rest as basis to the intel
lectual and outward activity of a great man, but
this may coexist with great despondence and
apathy as to the present order of things and of


November 7.

Freedom. I will, I think, no longer do things
unfit for me. Why should I act the part of the
silly women who send out invitations to many
persons, and receive each billet of acceptance as
if it were a pistol-shot? Why should I read lec
tures with care and pain and afflict myself with


all the meanness of ticket-mongering, when I
might sit, as God in his goodness has enabled
me, a free, poor man with wholesome bread and
warm clothes, though without cakes or gew-gaws,
and write and speak the beautiful and formid
able words of a free man? If you cannot be free,
be as free as you can.

November 8.

The Asylums of the Mind. I have said on a
former page that natural science always stands
open to us as any asylum, and that, in the con
flict with the common cares, we throw an occa
sional affectionate glance at lichen and fungus,
barometer and microscope, as cities of refuge to
which we can one day flee, if the worst come to
the worst. Another asylum is in the exercise of
the fancy. Puck and Oberon, Tarn O Shanter
and Lili s Park, the Troubadours and old bal
lads are bowers of joy that beguile us of our woes,
catch us up into short heavens and drown all re
membrance, and that too without a death-tramp
of Eumenides being heard close behind, as be
hind other revels. Better still it is to soar into
the heaven of invention, and coin fancies of our
own, weave a web of dreams as gay and beauti
ful as any of these our brothers have done, and
learn by bold attempt our own riches. As the


body is rested and refreshed by riding in the
saddle after walking, and by walking again after
the saddle, or as new muscles are called into play
in climbing a hill, and then in descending, or walk
ing on the plain, an analogous joy and strength
flows from this exercise. Let no man despise
these entertainments as if it were mere luxury and
the drunkard s bowl. These airy realms of per
petual joy are also in nature, and what they are
may well move the deep wonder and inquisition
of the coldest and surliest philosopher.

So is music an asylum. It takes us out of the
actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle
our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence,
and whereto. All the great interrogatories, like
questioning angels, float in on its waves of sound.
" Away, away," said Richter to it, " thou speak-
est to me of things which in all my endless being
I have found not and shall not find."

So is Beauty an asylum.

Asylums ; Books, Natural Science, Fancy,
Music, Beauty.

Everything must have its flower or effort at
the beautiful, finer or coarser according to its
stuff. The architect not only makes sewers and
offices, but halls and chapels. The carpenter


of a village farmhouse expends his taste and
ornament on the front door; the cook rejoices
in his dinner, the laborer has his Sunday clothes,
the poorest Irish scullion has her ribbon and
tags of finery. And in society the senses, the
appetites, the life of the actual world, has also
its virtues or seemings. Thus, in the Planting
States, where the whole culture is a culture of
appearance, exists what is called a romantic state
of society, and the wine-bibber and drabber is
yet required to meet blow with blow, and pistol
with pistol. . . .

It makes little difference, the circumstance. 1
Obedience or disobedience is all. We read Lear
and hate the unkind daughters. But meantime
perhaps our fathers and mothers find us hard
and forgetful. We swell the cry of horror at the
slave-holder, and we treat our laborer or grocer
or farmer as a thing, and so hold slaves our

Not always shall we need to avoid society.
When many men have been bred with God they
are able to know God in each other. Yea, who-

i This is preceded by several sentences used in the first
few pages of History."


ever has come to a steady communion with Him
can well come into society. Remember Hamp-
den s letter to Eliot.

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake
of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I
am contradicted. No man, I think, had ever a
greater well-being with a less desert than I. I
can very well afford to be accounted bad or fool
ish by a few dozen or a few hundred persons,
I who see myself greeted by the good expecta
tion of so many friends far beyond any power
of thought or communication of thought resid
ing in me. Besides, I own, I am often inclined
to take part with those who say I am bad or
foolish, for I fear I am both. I believe and
know there must be a perfect compensation. I
know too well my own dark spots. Not having
myself attained, not satisfied myself, far from a
holy obedience, how can I expect to satisfy
others, to command their love? A few sour faces,
a few biting paragraphs, is but a cheap expia
tion for all these short-comings of mine.

November 9.

With the vision of this world the fugitive
measures of Time and Space shall vanish. Spirits


Can crowd eternity into an hour,
Or stretch an hour to eternity. 1

This superstition about magnitude and dura
tion is a classification for beginners introductory
to the real classification of cause and effect, as
the Linnaean botany gives way to the natural
classes of Jussieu. Why should that complex
fact we call Assyria, with its hundreds of years,
its thousands of miles, its millions of souls, be
to me more than a violet which I pluck out of
the grass? It stands for about so much; it
awakens perchance not so much emotion and
thought. I surely shall not cumber myself to
make it more. Everything passes for what it is

Sbakspear. Rezd Lear yesterday and Ham
let today with new wonder, and mused much on
the great soul whose authentic signs flashed on
my sight in the broad continuous daylight of
these poems. Especially I wonder at the perfect
reception this wit and immense knowledge of
life and intellectual superiority find in us all in
connexion with our utter incapacity to produce
anything like it. The superior tone of Hamlet

I The editors have not been able to find the source of this
quotation which occurs also in "The Over-Soul."


in all the conversations how perfectly preserved,
without any mediocrity, much less any dulness
in the other speakers.

How real the loftiness ! an inborn gentleman ;
and above that, an exalted intellect. What in
cessant growth and plenitude of thought, paus
ing on itself never an instant; and each sally of
wit sufficient to save the play. How true then
and unerring the earnest of the dialogue, as
when Hamlet talks with the Queen ! How ter
rible his discourse!

What less can be said of the perfect mastery,
as by a superior being, of the conduct of the
drama, as the free introduction of this capital
advice to the players ; the commanding good
sense which never retreats except before the god
head which inspires certain passages, - - the
more I think of it, the more I wonder. I will
think nothing impossible to man. No Parthe
non, no sculpture, no picture, no architecture
can be named beside this. All this is perfectly
visible to me and to many, the wonderful
truth and mastery of this work, of these works,
yet for our lives could not I, or any man, or
all men, produce .anything comparable to one
scene in Hamlet or Lear. With all my admir
ation of this life-like picture, set me to pro-


ducing a match for it, and I should instantly
depart into mouthing rhetoric.

Now why is this, that we know so much
better than we do ? that we do not yet possess
ourselves, and know at the same time that we
are much more ? . . .

One other fact Shakspear presents us ; that
not by books are great poets made. Somewhat,
and much he unquestionably owes to his books;
but you could not find in his circumstances the
history of his poem. It was made without hands
in his invisible world. A mightier magic than
any learning, the deep logic of cause and effect
he studied : its roots were cast so deep, there
fore it flung out its branches so high.

I find no good lives. I would live well, I seem
to be free to do so, yet I think with very little
respect of my way of living; it is weak, partial,
not full and not progressive. But I do not see
any other that suits me better. The scholars are
shiftless and the merchants are dull.

Expression of Faces. In many faces we are

i The rest of the passage is printed in " The Over-Soul,"
as to Jove nodding to Jove, and the Arab Sheiks (Essays, First
Series, p. 278).


struck with the fact that magnitude is nothing,
proportion is all. A brow may be so formed
that in its few square inches I may receive the
impression of vast spaces : what amplitude ! what
fields of magnanimity ! of trust ! of humanity !

November 10.

[The opening entry of this date is the passage
in " History " (page 6) as to our reading as
superior beings and in the grandest strokes of
the author feeling most at home. Also about
our sympathy with riches and character. This
is followed by the passage in "Intellect" as to
our being draughtsmen in dreams (Essays, First
Series, p. 337).]

Shakspear fills us with wonder the first time
we approach him. We go away and work and
think, for years, and come again, he aston
ishes us anew. Then having drank deeply and
saturated us with his genius, we lose sight of
him for another period of years. By and by we
return, and there he stands immeasurable as at
first. We have grown wiser, but only that we
should see him wiser than ever. He resembles
a high mountain which the traveller sees in the
morning and thinks he shall quickly near it and


pass it and leave it behind. But he journeys
all day till noon, till night. There still is the
dim mountain close by him, having scarce al
tered its bearings since the morning light.

My brave Henry Thoreau walked with me
to Walden this afternoon and complained of
the proprietors who compelled him, to whom,
as much as to any, the whole world belonged,
to walk in a strip of road and crowded him out
of all the rest of God s earth. He must not get
over the fence: but to the building of that fence
he was no party. Suppose, he said, some great
proprietor, before he was born, had bought up
the whole globe. So had he been hustled out
of nature. Not having been privy to any of
these arrangements, he does not feel called on
to consent to them, and so cuts fishpoles in the
woods without asking who has a better title to
the wood than he. I defended, of course, the
good institution as a scheme, not good, but the
best that could be hit on for making the woods
and waters and fields available to wit and worth,
and for restraining the bold, bad man. At all
events, I begged him, having this maggot of
Freedom and Humanity in his brain, to write
it out into good poetry and so clear himself of


it. He replied, that he feared that that was not
the best way, that in doing justice to the thought,
the man did not always do justice to himself,
the poem ought to sing itself: if the man took
too much pains with the expression, he was not
any longer the Idea himself. I acceded and con
fessed that this was the tragedy of Art that the
artist was at the expense of the man ; and hence,
in the first age, as they tell, the sons of God
printed no epics, carved no stone, painted no
pictures, built no railroad; for the sculpture,
the poetry, the music, and architecture, were in
the man. And truly Bolts and Bars do not seem
to me the most exalted or exalting of our insti
tutions. And what other spirit reigns in our
intellectual works? We have literary property.
The very recording of a thought betrays a dis
trust that there is any more, or much more, as
good for us. If we felt that the universe was
ours, that we dwelled in eternity, and advance
into all wisdom, we should be less covetous of
these sparks and cinders. Why should we cov
etously build a Saint Peter s, if we had the seeing
Eye which beheld all the radiance of beauty
and majesty in the matted grass and the over
arching boughs ? Why should a man spend
years upon the carving an Apollo, who looked


Apollos into the landscape with every glance he
threw ?

Always pay, for first or last you must pay
your entire expense. 2 . . .

Should not the will be dramatised in a man
who, put him where you would, commanded,
and who saw what he willed come to pass? 3 . . .
A supreme commander over all his passions
and affections as much as Hampden, yet the
secret of his power is higher than that. It is
God in the hands. Men and women are his
game : where they are, he cannot be without re
source. Shall I introduce you to Mr. R? to
Madame B ? " No," he replies, " introduction is
for dolls: I have business with A and with B."

1 This walk with Thoreau seems to have suggested the
conversation in "The Conservative," between the protesting
youth and the men of the established order (Nature, Ad
dresses, and Lectures, pp. 306, 307).

2 Here follows the sentence thus beginning in " Compen
sation " (p. 113). It is immediately followed by the conclud
ing sentences in "Self-Reliance," as to easy days being de
ceptive, peace only to come from yourself.

3 Here follows the long passage about Caesar and men
of that stamp in "Eloquence" (Society and Solitude, pp.
78, 79).


Will never consults the law, or prudence, or
uses any paltry expedient, like that falsely as
cribed to Saint Paul about the unknown God.
Tricks, saith Will, for little folks. I am dearer
to you than your laws, for which neither you
nor I care a pin. He is a cool fellow. Every
body in the street reminds us of somewhat else.
Will or Reality reminds you of nothing else.
It takes place of the whole creation.

" He d harpit a fish out of saut water,

Or water out of a stone,
Or milk out of a maiden s breast
That bairn had never none." l

The counterpart to this master in my Drama
should be a maiden, one of those natural mag
nets who make place and a court where they
are. She should serve in menial office and they
who saw her should not know it, for what she
touched she decorated, and what she did the
stars and moon do stoop to see. But this mag
netism should not be meant for him and he
should only honor it as he went by. It is to

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