Puslapio vaizdai

analyzed into a Trinity. And further than this: the reduction of its elements to secure the existence of the first, has plainly removed the need of that mediating energy whereby the Supreme Intelligence becomes Supremely Intelligible to Himself. The Spirit can no longer exist as a separate essential element, since it could never make God Supremely Intelligible, if He were not so already, by being the Supreme Intelligence. And if God has really been, from all eternity, a determining consciousness, a Supreme Intelligence, He has been something as stubbornly irresolvable as an undecompounded empyreal substance, whose simplicity baffles chemistry. If He has not been, from all eternity, a determining consciousness, a cause realized, then He has not been at all.

We object, therefore, to Mr. Greene's theory of Creation, so far as his logic makes it essentially dependent upon the Deity, as thus analyzed by him. But there are a few sen. tences which, removed from their sequence, are striking and elevating. He says: “ This Universe is a Divine process of thought, the development of an infinite and eternal Poem. The Supreme thinks the Universe, and that thought is its existence.” It would extend this notice too much, to show in what respects our cosmogony differs from Mr. Greene's, and is independent of his absolutely conditioning Trinity ; but we can receive many of his fine sayings without feeling compromised to his premise. In a note he has the following magnificent passage, in illustration of the cosmic separation of individuals by the out-speaking of the Word, and the resultant order:

“At the word, Inspection of Arms! I have seen innumerable rammers, revolving in the hand, reflect at the same moment the rays of the morning sun. In the beginning of time, the Almighty assumed the command of His army in person ; He uttered His voice before His bost; He gave the word of command IHI AOR ! and immediately there rolled from the infinite abyss under darkness, this immeasurable universe of revolving worlds, dilating itself like an avalanche of visible glory, through inexhaustible spheres. There was the ringing crash of the jubilant creation, and afterwards fixed order, and a silence that might be felt; for, in this crash, the relations of time and space had thundered into being."

Ponder the diction in which Mr. Greene has clothed the above exalted conception; it will appear turgid and affected until you have reproduced the image. Ever since an army officer saw the sun go down, “ with his battle-stained eye,

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

we have doubted whether lieutenants were capable of any poetry, except that of action. This Miltonic note redeems the character of the army, and — we were on the point of saying - of the Florida War itself. If General Taylor gave that command, " Inspection of Arms,” we are reconciled to his election; and if the flash and ring of “innumerable rammers," would always linger in the memory as the filament of figures as noble as this one, we should be the sworn foes of the Peace Society. But we are persuaded that neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor any other creature,” can make a Trinity out of a necessarily undecompoundable Unity.



1.-Nature, fc. Boston. 1836. 1 vol. 12mo.

2.-Essays. By R. W. EMERSON. Boston. 1841. 1 vol. 12mo.

3.Essays. Second Series. By R. W. EMERSON. Ibid. 1844. 1 vol. 12mo.

4.-Poems. By R. W. EMERSON. Ibid. 1847. 1 vol. 12mo.

5.—Nature, Addresses and Orations. By R. W. EMERSON. Ibid. 1849. 1 vol. 12mo.

6.- Representative Men : Seven Lectures. By R. W. EMERSON. Ibid. 1850. 1 vol. 12mo.

WHEN a hen lays an egg in the farmer's mow, she cackles quite loud and long. “ See," says the complacent bird,“ see what an egg I have laid !” all the other hens cackle in sympathy, and seem to say, “ what a nice egg has got laid ! was there ever such a family of hens as our family ?” But the cackling is heard only a short distance, in the neighboring barnyards; a few yards above, the blue sky is silent. By and by the rest will drop their daily burthen, and she will cackle with them in sympathy — but ere long the cackling is still ; the egg has done its service, been addled, or eaten, or perhaps proved fertile of a chick, and it is forgotten, as well as the cackler who laid the ephemeral thing. But when an acorn in June first uncloses its shell, and the young oak puts out its earliest shoot, there is no noise ; none attending its growth,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

yet it is destined to last some half a thousand years as a living tree, and serve as long after that for sound timber. Slowly and in silence, unseen in the dim recesses of the earth, the diamond gets formed by small accretions, age after age. There is no cackling in the caverns of the deep, as atom journeys to its fellow atom and the crystal is slowly getting made, to shine on the bosom of loveliness, or glitter in the diadem of an emperor, a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

As with eggs, so is it with little books, when one of them is laid in some bookseller's mow, the parent and the literary barnyard are often full of the foolishest cackle, and seem as happy as the ambiguous offspring of frogs, in some shallow pool, in early summer. But by and by it is again with the books as with the eggs; the old noise is all hushed, and the little books all gone, while new authors are at the same work again.

Gentle reader, we will not find fault with such books, they are as useful as eggs; yea, they are indispensable ; the cackle of authors, and that of hens — why should they not be allowed ? Is it not written that all things shall work after their kind, and so produce; and does not this rule extend from the hen-roost to the American Academy and all the Royal Socie. ties of Literature in the world ? Most certainly. But when a great book gets written, it is published with no fine flourish of trumpets; the world does not speedily congratulate itself on the accession made to its riches; the book must wait awhile for its readers. Literary gentlemen of the tribe of Bavius and Mævius are popular in their time, and get more praise than bards afterwards famous. What audience did Athens and Florence give to their Socrates and their Dante? What price did Milton get for the Paradise Lost; how soon did men appreciate Shakspeare ? Not many years ago, George Steevens, who “edited” the works of that bard, thought an “ Act of Parliament was not strong enough” to make men read his sonnets, though they bore the author up to a great height of fame, and he sat where Steevens “ durst not soar.” In 1686, there had been four editions of Flatman's Poems; five of Waller's ; eight of Cowley's; but in eleven years, of the Paradise Lost only three thousand copies were sold ; yet the edition was cheap, and Norris of Bemerton went through eight or nine editions in a quite short time. For forty-one years, from 1623 to 1664, England was satisfied with two editions of Shakspeare, making, perhaps, one thousand copies in all. No. X.


Says Mr. Wordsworth of these facts: “There were readers in 'multitudes; but their money went for other purposes, as their admiration was fixed elsewhere." Mr. Wordsworth himself, furnishes another example. Which found the readiest welcome, the Excursion and the Lyrical Poems of that writer, or Mr. Macaulay's Lavs of Ancient Rome? How many a little philosophist in Germany went up in his rocketlike ascension, while the bookseller at Königsberg despaired over the unsaleable sheets of Immanuel Kant!

Says an Eastern proverb, “ the sage is the instructor of a hundred ages,” so he can afford to wait till one or two be past away, abiding with the few, waiting for the fit and the many. Says a writer:

" There is somewhat touching in the madness with which the passing age mischooses the object on which all candles shine, and all eyes are turned; the care with which it registers every trifle touching Queen Elizabeth, and King James, and the Essexes, Leicesters Burleighs, and Buckinghams; and lets pass, without a single valuable pore, the founder of another dynasty, which alone will cause the Tador dynasty to be remembered, – the man who carries the Sason race in him by the inspiration which feeds him, and on whose thoughts the foremost people of the worid are now for some ages to be nourished, and minds to receive this and not another bias. A popular player, — nobody suspected he was the poet of the human race; and the secret was kept as faithfully from poets and inteüectual men, as from courtiers and frivolous people. Bacon, who took the inventory of the human understanding for his times, never mentioned his name. Ben Jonson, had no suspicion of the elastic fame whose first vibrations he was attempting. He no doubt thought the praise he has eoneeded to him generous, and esteemed himself, out of all question, the better pcet of the two.

- It it need wit to know wit, according to the proverb. Shaxspeare's time should be capable of recognizing it. Since the conseilation of great men who appeared in Greece in the time of Pericles, there was never any soch society:- yet their genius tähed then to find out the best bead in the ucirerse. Our pce:'s mask was izpenetratie. You canno: see tże mountain Cear. I: iock a century to make it suspected; and not uctil two cestaries bal passei arter his death, did say criticism wäich we thin's ademie begin to sprear. I was res possible to write the history of Statsspeare siil Dow."

I: is now almost fourteen years since Vr. Eberson pubEsted his fist book: Nature. A besarhl woss it was and

[ocr errors]

will be deemed for many a year to come. In this old world of literature, with more memory than wit, with much tradition and little invention, with more fear than love, and a great deal of criticism upon very little poetry, there came forward this young David, a shepherd, but to be a king," with bis garlands and singing robes about him ;” one note upon his new and fresh-strung lyre was worth a thousand men.” Men were looking for something original, they always are ; when it came, some said it thundered, others that an angel had spoke. How men wondered at the little book! It took nearly twelve years to sell the five hundred copies of Nature. Since that time Mr. Emerson has said much, and if he has not printed many books, at least has printed much ; some things far surpassing the first essay, in richness of material, in perfection of form, in continuity of thought ; but nothing which has the same youthful freshness, and the same tender beauty as this early violet, blooming out of Unitarian and Calvinistic sand or snow. Poems and essays of a later date, are there, which show that he has had more time and woven it into life ; works which present us with thought deeper, wider, richer, and more complete, but not surpassing the simplicity and loveliness of that maiden flower of his poetic spring.

We know how true it is, that a man cannot criticize what he cannot comprehend, nor comprehend either a man or a work greater than himself. Let him get on a Quarterly never so high, it avails him nothing; "pyramids are pyramids in vales," and emmets are emmets even in a Review. Critics often afford an involuntary proof of this adage, yet grow no wiser by the experience. Few of our tribe can make the simple shrift of the old Hebrew poet, and say,

66 we have not exercised ourselves in great matters, nor in things too high for us." Sundry Icarian critics have we seen, wending their wearying way on waxen wing to overtake the eagle flight of Emerson ; some of them have we known getting near enough to see a fault, to overtake a feather falling from his wing, and with that tumbling to give name to a sea, if one cared to notice to what depth they fell.

Some of the criticisms on Mr. Emerson, transatlantic and cisatlantic, have been very remarkable, not to speak more definitely. « What of this new book ?” said Mr. Public to the reviewer, who was not " seized and tied down to judge,” but of his own free will stood up and answered : “Oh! 't is out of all plumb, my lord — quite an irregular thing ! not one

[ocr errors]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »