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make, we do make, even sitting in our pews, a far better, holier, sweeter, for ourselves.” Nature, doc., pp. 132. - 133.
God continually communicates Himself to man in various forms :
“We distinguish the announcements of the soul, its manifestations of its own nature, by the term Revelation. These are always attended by the emotion of the sublime.
For this communication is an influx of the Divine mind into our mind. It is an ebb of the individual rivulet before the flowing surges of the sea of life. Every distinct apprehension of this central commandment agitates men with awe and delight. A thrill passes through all men at the reception of new truth, or at the performance of a great action, which comes out of the heart of nature. In these communications, the power to see, is not separated from the will to do, but the insight proceeds from obedience, and the obedience proceeds from a joyful perception. Every moment when the individual feels himself invaded by it, is memorable."-Essays, pp. 232 233.
“ The nature of these revelations is always the same: they are perceptions of the absolute law."
“ This energy does not descend into individual life, on any other condition than entire possession. It comes to the lowly and simple; it comes to whomsoever will put off what is foreign and proud; it comes as insight; it comes as serenity and grandeur. When we see those whom it inbabits, we are apprised of new degrees of greatness. From that inspiration the man comes back with a changed tone. He does not talk with men, with an eye to their opinion. He tries them. It requires of us to be plain and true.
The soul that ascendeth to worship the great God, is plain and true ; has no rose color; no fine friends ; no chivalry; no adventures ; does not want admiration ; dwells in the hour that now is, in the earnest experience of the common day, - by reason of the present moment, and the mere trifle having become porous to thought, and bibulous of the sea of light.”
“How dear, how soothing to man, arises the idea of God, peopling the lonely place, effacing the scars of our mistakes and disappointments !" - Essays, pp. 239, 240, 241 — 242. He says the same thing in yet more rythmic notes :
“ Not from a vain or shallow thought
Out from the heart of nature rolled
“The passive Master lent his hand
Poems, pp. 17-18, 19. If we put Emerson's conclusions into five great classes representing respectively his idea of Man, of God, and of Nature; his idea of self-rule, the relation of man's consciousness to his unconsciousness; his idea of religion, the relation of men to God; of ethics, the relation of man to man; and of economy, the relation of man to nature ; we find him in the very first rank of modern science. No man in this age is before him. He demonstrates nothing, but assumes his position far in advance of mankind. This explains the treatment he has met with.
Then in his writings there appears a love of beauty in all its forms — in material nature, in art, literature, and above all, in human life. He finds it everywhere :
“The frailest leaf, the mossy bark,
“ Oft, in streets or humblest places,
Poems, pp. 137, 139. Few men have had a keener sense for this in common life, or so nice an eye for it in inanimate nature. His writings do not disclose a very clear perception of the beauty of animated nature ; it is still life that he describes, in water, plants, and the sky. He seldom refers to the great cosmic forces of the world, that are everywhere balanced into such systematic proportions, the perception of which makes the writings of Alexander Von Humboldt so attractive and delightful.
In all Emerson's works there appears a sublime confidence in man; a respect for human nature which we have never seen surpassed - never equalled. Man is only to be true to his nature, to plant himself on his instincts, and all will turn out well :
“ Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit. So fast will disagreeable appearances, swine, spiders, snakes, pests, mad-houses, prisons, enemies, vanish ; they are temporary and shall be no more seen. The sordor and filths of nature, the sun shall dry up, and the wind exhale. As when the summer comes from the south, the snow-banks melt, and the face of the earth becomes green before it, so shall the advancing spirit create ornaments along its path, and carry with it the beauty it visits, and the song which enchants it; it shall draw beautiful faces, and warm hearts, and wise discourse, and heroic acts around its way, until evil is no more seen. The kingdom of man over nature, which cometh not with observation, a dominion such as now is beyond his dream of God, - he shall enter without more wonder than the blind man feels who is gradually restored to perfect sight.” — Nature, pp. 94 — 95.
" Foolish hands may mix and mar,
Wise and sure the issues are." He has also an absolute confidence in God. He has been foolishly accused of pantheism which sinks God in nature ; but no man is further from it. He never sinks God in man, he does not stop with the law, in matter or morals, but goes
back to the Lawgiver; yet probably it would not be so easy for him to give his definition of God as it would be for most grad
uates at Andover or Cambridge. With this confidence in God he looks things fairly in the face, and never dodges, never fears. Toil, sorrow, pain, these are things which it is impious to fear. Boldly he faces every fact, never retreating behind an institution or a great man. In God his trust is complete ; with the severest scrutiny he joins the highest reverence.
Hence come his calmness and serenity. He is evenly balanced and at repose. A more tranquil spirit cannot be found in literature. Nothing seems to fret or jar him, and all the tossings of the literary world never jostle him into anger or impatience. He goes on like the stars above the noise and dust of earth, as calm yet not so cold. No man says things more terribly severe than he on many occasions ; few in America have encountered such abuse, but in all his writings there is not a line which can be referred to ill-will. Impudence and terror are wasted on him ; “upstart wealth's averted eye,” which blasts the hope of the politician, is powerless on him as on the piles of granite in New Hampshire hills.
Misconceived and misreported, he does not wait to “unravel any man's blunders; he is again on his road, adding new powers and honors to his domain, and new claims on the heart." He takes no notice of the criticism from which nothing but warning is to be had, warning against bigotry and impudence, and goes on his way, his only answer a creative
Many shafts has he shot, not an arrow in self-defence; not a line betrays that he has been treated ill. This is small praise but rare ; even cool egotistic Goethe treated his
Philistine" critics with haughty scorn, comparing them to dogs who bark in the court-yard when the master mounts to ride :
“ Es will der Spitz aus unserm Stall
Mit Bellen uns begleiten ;
Beweist nur dass wir reiten."
Then he is not creative like Shakspeare and Goethe, perhaps not inventive like many far inferior men; he seldom or never undertakes to prove any thing. He tells what he sees, seeing things by glimpses, not by steady and continuous looking, he often fails of seeing the whole object; he does not always see all of its relations with other things. Hence comes an occasional exaggeration. But this is commonly corrected by some subsequent statement. Thus he has seen books imprison many a youth, and speaking to men, desirous of warning them of their danger, he undervalues the worth of books themselves. But the use he makes of them in his own writings shows that this statement was an exaggeration which his practical judgment disapproves. Speaking to men whose chief danger was that they should be bookworms, or mechanical grinders at a logic-mill, he says that ecstasy is the method of Nature, but himself never utters anything “poor and extemporáneous ; " what he gets in his ecstatic moments of inspiration, he examines carefully in his cool, reflective hours, and it is printed as reflection, never as the simple result of ecstatic inspiration, having not only the stamp of Divine truth, but the private mark of Emerson. He is never demonized by his enthusiasm; he possesses the spirit, it never possesses him; if “the God” comes into his rapt soul “ without bell,” it is only with due consideration that he communicates to the world the message that was brought. Still he must regret that his extravagant estimate of ecstasy, intuitive unconsciousness, has been made and has led some youths and maids astray.
This mode of looking at things, and this want of logical order make him appear inconsistent. There are actual and obvious contradictions in his works. 66 Two sons of Priam in one chariot ride.” Now he is all generosity and nobleness, shining like the sun on things mean and low, and then he says, with a good deal of truth but some exaggeration :
“Do not tell me of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prison, if need be; but your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools ; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots; and the thousandfold Relief Societies ;though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the NO. X.