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they do, in the deep recesses of virtue, in it that suggests a strong light and of the spirit, he has only a kind of a big brush-than as it issued from hearsay, uninformed acquaintance Emerson's lips ; so far from being a with the disorders. It would require vulgarisation, it was simply the esotsome ingenuity, the reader may say eric made audible, and insteal of too much, to trace closely this cor treating the few as the many, after respondence between his genius and the usual fashion of gentlemen on the frugal, dutiful, happy, but deci platforms, he treated the many as the dedly lean Boston of the past, where few. There was probably no other there was a great deal of will but very society at that time in which he little fulcrum-like a ministry without would have got so many persons to an opposition.
understand that; for we think the The genius itself it seems to me im better of his audience as we read him, possible to contest—I mean the genius and wonder where else people would for seeing character as a real and su have had so much moral attention to preme thing. Other writers have give. It is to be remembered, howarrived at a more complete expression : ever, that during the winter of 1847-48, Wordsworth and Goethe, for instance, on the occasion of his second visit to give one a sense of having found their England, he found many listeners in form, whereas with Emerson we never London and in provincial cities. Mr. lose the sense that he is still seeking it. Cabot's volumes are full of evidence of But no one has had so steady and con the satisfactions he offered, the delights stant, and above all so natural, a vision and revelations he may be said to have of what we require, and what we are promised, to a race which had to seek capable of, in the way of aspiration their entertainment, their rewards and and independence. With Emerson it consolations, almost exclusively in the is ever the special capacity for moral moral world. But his own writings experience—always that and only that. are fuller still : we find an instance We have the impression, somehow, almost wherever we open them. that life had never bribed him to look at anything but the soul; and “All these great and transcendent proindeed in the world in which he grew
perties are ours. . Let us find room for up and lived the bribes and lures, the
this great guest in our small houses.
Where the heart is, there the muses, there the beguilements and prizes, were few. gods sojourn, and not in any geography of He was in an admirable position for fame. Massachusetts, Connecticut River, and showing, what he constantly endea Boston Bay, you think paltry places, and the voured to show, that the prize was
‘ear loves names of foreign and classic topo
graphy. But here we are, and if we will tarry within. Any one who in New Eng a little we may come to learn that here is land at that time could do that was best.
The Jerseys were handsome sure of success, of listeners and sym enough ground for Washington to tread, and
London streets for the feet of Milton. pathy : most of all, of course, when it
That country is fairest which is inhabited by was a question of doing it with such a
the noblest minds." divine persuasiveness. Moreover, the way in which Emerson did it added to We feel, or suspect, that Milton is the charm—by word of mouth, face to thrown in as a hint that the London face, with a rare, irresistible voice and streets are no such great place, and a beautiful, mild, modest authority. it all sounds like a sort of pleading If Mr. Arnold is struck with the consolation against bleakness. limited degree in which he was a man The beauty of a hundred passages of letters, I suppose it is because he of this kind in Emerson's pages is that is more struck with his having been, they are effective, that they do come as it were, a man of lectures. But home, that they rest upon insight and the lecture, surely, was never more not upon ingenuity, and that if they purged of its grossness—the quality are sometimes obscure it is never with
the obscurity of paradox. We seem disposed, kindly people among these sinewy to see the people turning out into the
farmers of the North, but in all that is called
cultivation they are only ten years old.” snow after hearing them, glowing with a finer glow than even the climate He says in another letter (in 1860), could give, and fortified for a struggle “I saw Michigan and its forests and with overshoes and the east wind. the Wolverines pretty thoroughly ;”
and on another page Mr. Cabot shows “Look to it first and only, that fashion, him as speaking of his engagements to custom, authority, pleasure, and money, are
lecture in the West as the obligation nothing to you, are not as bandages over your eyes, that you cannot see ; but live with the to “wade, and freeze, and ride, and privilege of the immeasurable mind. Not too run, and suffer all manner of indignianxious to visit periodically all families and ties.” This was not New England, each family in your parish connection, when you meet one of these men or women be to
but as regards the country districts them a divine man ; be to them thought and throughout, at that time, it was a virtue ; let their timid aspirations find in you question of degree. Certainly never a friend ; let their trampled instincts be
was the fine wine of philosophy carried genially tempted out in your atmosphere ; let their doubts know that you have doubted,
to remoter or queerer corners : never and their wonder feel that
was a more delicate diet offered to “two wondered.”
or three governors, or ex-governors,"
living in a cabin. It was Mercury, When we set against an exquisite shivering in a mackintosh, bearing passage like that, or like the familiar
nectar and ambrosia to the gods sentences that open the Essay on whom he wished those who lived in History, (“He that is admitted to the
cabins to endeavour to feel that they right of reason is made freeman of the
might be. whole estate. What Plato has thought, I have hinted that the will, in the he may think; what a saint has felt
old New England society, was a clue he may feel; what at any time has without a labyrinth; but it had its befallen any mau he can understand”),
use, nevertheless, in helping the young when we compare the letters, cited by talent to find its mould. There were Mr. Cabot, to his wife from Springfield,
few or none ready-made : tradition was Illinois (January, 1853), we feel that certainly not so oppressive as might his spiritual tact needed to be very have been inferred from the fact that just, but that if it was so it must have the air swarmed with reformers and brought a blessing.
improvers. Of the patient, philosophic "Here I am in the deep mud of the prairies,
manner in which Emerson groped and misled I fear into this bog, not by a will-of-the
waited, through teaching the young wisp, such as shine in bogs, but by a young and preaching to the adult, for his New Hampshire editor, who over-estimated particular vocation, Mr. Cabot's first the strength of both of us, and fancied I
volume gives a full and orderly acshould glitter in the prairie and draw the
count. prairie birds and waders. It rains and thaws
His passage from the Uniincessantly, and if we step off the short street tarian pulpit to the lecture-desk was we go up to the shoulders, perhaps, in mud. a step which at this distance of time My chamber is a cabin ; my fellow-boarders can hardly help appearing to us short, are legislators. Two or three governors or ex-governors live in the house.
though he was long in making it, for cannot command daylight and solitude for even after ceasing to have a parish of study or for more than a scrawl.
his own he freely confounded the two, And another extract:
or willingly, at least, treated the
pulpit as a platform. “The young "A cold, raw country this, and plenty of people and the mature hint at odium night-travelling and arriving at four in the and the aversion of faces, to be premorning to take the last and worst bed in the tavern. Advancing day brings mercy and
sently encountered in society," he favour to me, but not the sleep.
writes in his journal in 1838 ; but cury 15° below zero. .. I find well in point of fact the gentle drama of
his abdication was not to include the landed fish. It would take a very note of suffering. The Boston world fine point to sketch Emerson's benigmight feel disapproval, but it was far nant, patient, inscrutable countenance too kindly to make this sentiment during the various phases of this somefelt as a weight : every element of times
close contact ; but the martyrdom was there but the im picture, when complete, would be one portant ones of the cause and the of the portraits, half a revelation and persecutors. Mr. Cabot marks the half an enigma, that suggest and lightness of the penalties of dissent; fascinate. Such a striking personage if they were light, in somewhat later as old Miss Mary Emerson, our years, for the Transcendentalists and author's aunt, whose high intelligence fruit-eaters, they could press but little and temper were much of an influence on a man of Emerson's distinction, to in his earlier years, has a kind of whom, all his life, people went not to tormenting representative value: we carry but to ask the right word. want to see her from head to foot, with There was no consideration to give her frame and her background; having up, he could not have been one of the (for we happen to have it) an impression dingy if he had tried; but what he that she was a very remarkable specidid renounce in 1838 was a material men of the transatlantic Puritan stock, profession. He was "settled,” and his a spirit that would have dared the indisposition to administer the com devil. We miss a more liberal handmunion unsettled him. He calls the ling, are tempted to add touches of whole business, in writing to Carlyle, our own, and end by convincing our"a tempest in our washbowl”; but it selves that Miss Mary Moody Emerson, had the effect of forcing him to seek grim intellectual virgin and daughter a new source of income. His wants of a hundred ministers, with her local were few and his view of life severe, traditions and her combined love of and this came to him, little by little, empire and of speculation, would have as he was able to extend the field in been an inspiration for a novelist. which he read his discourses. In Hardly less so the charming Mrs. 1835, upon his second marriage, he Ripley, Emerson's life-long friend and took up his habitation at Concord, and neighbour, most delicate and accomhis life fell into the shape it was,
in plished of women, devoted to Greek general way, to keep for the next and to her house, studious, simple half-century. It is here that we can and dainty-an admirable example of not help regretting that Mr. Cabot the old-fashioned New England lady. bad not found it possible to treat his It was a freak of Miss Emerson's career a little more pictorially. Those somewhat sardonic humour to give fifty years of Concord—at least the her once a broomstick to carry across earlier part of them—would have been Boston Common (under the pretext of a subject, bringing into play many "moving"), a task accepted with odd figures, many human incongrui- docility, but making of the victim the ties: they would have abounded in most benignant witch ever equipped illustrations of the primitive New with that utensil. England character, especially during These ladies, however, were very prithe time of its queer search for some vate persons, and not in the least of the thing to expend itself upon. Objects reforming tribe : there are others who and occupations have multiplied since would have peopled Mr. Cabot's page then, and now there is no lack ; but to whom he gives no more than a menfifty years ago the expanse was wide tion. We must add that it is
to and free, and we get the impression him to say that their features have of a conscience gasping in the void,
become faint and indistinguishable topanting for sensations, with something day without more research than the of the movement of the gills of a question is apt to be worth: they are
embalmed—in a collective way-t
- the of universal passive hospitality-he apprehensible part of them, in Mr. aimed at nothing less. It was only Frothingham's clever History of Tran because he was so deferential that he scendentalism in New England. This could be so detached : he had polished must be admitted to be true of even his aloofness till it reflected the image so lively a factor," as we say nowa of his solicitor. And this was not days, as the imaginative, talkative, because he was an uncommunicating intelligent and finally Italianised and egotist,” though he amuses himself with shipwrecked Margaret Fuller: she is
saying so to Miss Fuller : egotism is now one of the dim, one of Carlyle's the strongest of passions, and he was “ then-celebrated” at most. It seemed altogether passionless. It was because indeed as if Mr. Cabot rather grudged he had no personal, just as he had her a due place in the record of the almost no physical, wants.
“ Yet I company that Emerson kept, until we plead not guilty to the malice prepense. came across the delightful letter he 'Tis imbecility, not contumacy, though quotes toward the end of his first perhaps somewhat more odious. It volume-a letter interesting both as seems very just, the irony with which a specimen of graceful, inimitable you ask whether you may not be edging away and as an illustration trusted and promise such
such docility. of the curiously generalised way, as Alas, we will all promise, but the if with an implicit protest against prophet loiters.” He would not say personalities, in which his inter even to himself that she bored him : course, epistolary and other, with his he had denied himself the luxury of friends was conducted. There is an such
and obvious short cuts. extract from a letter to his aunt on There is a passage in the lecture the occasion of the death of a deeply (1844) called Man the Reformer, loved brother (his own), which reads in which he hovers round and round like a passage from some fine old
the idea that the practice of trade, in chastened essay on the vanity of certain conditions likely to beget an earthly hopes : strangely unfamiliar, underhand competition, does not draw considering the circumstances. Cour forth the nobler parts of character, teous and humane to the furthest pos till the reader is tempted to interrupt sible point, to the point of an almost him with, “Say at once that it is profligate surrender of his attention, impossible for a gentleman!” there was no familiarity in him, no So he remained always, reading his personal avidity. Even his letters to lectures in the winter, writing them his wife are courtesies, they are not in the summer, and at all seasons familiarities. He had only one style, taking wood-walks and looking for one manner,
and he had it for every hints in old books. thing—even for himself, in his notes, in bis journals. But he had it in per
“Delicious summer stroll through the pastfection for Miss Fuller : he retreats,
On the steep park of Conantum
I have the old regret-is all this beauty to smiling and flattering, on tiptoe, as if perish? Shall none re-make this sun and he were advancing. “She ever seems wind ; the sky-blue river ; the river-blue sky; to crave," he says in his journal,
the yellow meadow, spotted with sacks and
sheets of cranberry-gatherers ; the red bushes ; “something which I have not, or have
the iron-gray house, just the colour of the not for her." What he had was doubt
granite rocks; the wild orchard ?” less not what she craved, but the letter in question should be read to see how
His observation of Nature was exthe modicum was administered. It is quisite always the direct, irresistible only between the lines of such a pro
impression. duction that we read that a part of
"The hawking of the wild geese flying by her effect upon him was to bore him ;
night; the thin note of the companionable for his system was to practise a kind titmouse in the winter day; the fall of swarms
of flies in autumn, from combats high in the many a reader, charming yet ever air, pattering down on the leaves like rain ;
slightly droll, will remain Emerson's the angry hiss of the wood-birds; the pine throwing out its pollen for the benefit of the frequent invocation of the “scholar" next century. .” (Literary Ethics.)
there is such a friendly vagueness and
convenience in it. It is of the scholar I have said there was no familiarity that he expects all the heroic and unin him, but he was familiar with wood comfortable things, the concentrations land creatures and sounds. Certainly, and relinquishments, that make up too, he was on terms of free associa the noble life. We fancy this pertion with his books, which sonage looking up from his book and numerous and dear to him; though armchair a little ruefully and saying, Mr. Cabot says, doubtless with justice, “Ah, but why me always and only? that his dependence on them was Why so much of me, and is there no slight and that he was not "intimate" one else to share the responsibility ?” with his authors. They did not feed “Neither years nor books have yet him but they stimulated : they were availed to extirpate a prejudice then not his meat but his wine-he took rooted in me (when as a boy he first saw them in sips. But he needed them the graduates of his college assembled and liked them : he had volumes of at their anniversary], that a scholar is notes from his reading, and he could the favourite of heaven and earth, the not have produced his lectures without excellency of his country, the happiest them. He liked literature as a thing to of men.” refer to, liked the very names of which In truth, by this term he means it is full, and used them, especially in simply the cultivated man, the man his later writings, for purposes
who has had a liberal education, and ment, to dress the dish, sometimes with there is a voluntary plainness in his an unmeasured profusion. I open
The use of it-speaking of such people as Conduct of Life and find a dozen on the rustic, or the vulgar, speak of the page. He mentions more authori those who have a tincture of books. ties than is the fashion to-day. He This is characteristic of his humilitycan easily say, of course, that he that humility which was nine-tenths follows a better one-that of his well a plain fact (for it is easy for persons loved and irrepressibly allusive Mon who have at bottom a great fund of taigne. In his own bookishness there indifference to be humble), and the reis a certain contradiction, just as there maining tenth a literary habit. Moreis a latent incompleteness in his whole over an American reader may be exliterary side. Independence, the re cused for finding in it a pleasant sign turn to nature, the finding out and of that prestige, often so quaintly and doing for one's self, was ever what he indeed so extravagantly acknowledged, most highly recommended; and yet he which a connection with literature is constantly reminding his readers of carries with it among the people of the the conventional signs and consecra United States. There is no country tions-of what other men have done. in which it is more freely admitted This was partly because the indepen to be a distinction—the distinction ; dence that he had in his eye was an or in which so many persons have independence without ill-nature, with become eminent for showing it even out rudeness (though he likes that in a slight degree. Gentlemen and word), and full of gentle amiabilities, ladies are celebrated there on this curiosities, and tolerances; and partly ground who would not on the same it is a simple matter of form, a literary ground, though they might on another, expedient, confessing its character-on be celebrated anywhere else. Emerthe part of one who had never really son's own tone is an echo of that, when mastered the art of composition-of he speaks of the scholar-not of the continuous expression. Charming to banker, the great merchant, the legis