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standing and the Reason. Besides, there is a historical perspective to Coleridge's treatment of philosophy that is missing in Kant. It is possible, for instance, that Kant knew nothing directly about Platonism. In Emerson's Transcendental philosophy, then, how much is due respectively to Kant and how much to Coleridge? I realize that I have not fully answered the question. And when we consider the distinction between the Fancy and the Imagination, together with the kindred distinction between Talent and Genius, the question becomes even more complicated.
Kant unquestionably furnished stimulus to Coleridge's analysis of the poetical faculties. But, as Shawcross points out, it is difficult to tell what is original with Coleridge and what is not. With Kant Imagination is a function of the Understanding and at the same time is the greatest mark of the Genius. The poet, the highest reach of Genius, cannot interpret his own work, but must rely upon someone with critical power sufficient to achieve the same heights. Though Coleridge is not careful to disinguish between the function of the Imagination in its relation to the distinction between the Understanding and the Reason, still he does accept Kant's theory of criticism in regard to the function of the poet. We see this clearly in respect to Wordsworth.
Wordsworth attempted to set forth a theory of poetry in the preface to the Lyrical Ballads. At that time Coleridge seemingly gave his approval. When Wordsworth, however, wrote the preface to the edition of his poems in 1814, Coleridge was led to write the Biographia Literaria in self-defense. Coleridge did not condemn Wordsworth's poetry. What he objected to was Wordsworth's attempt to be his own interpreter. Furthermore, Coleridge made Wordsworth's effort to distinguish between the Fancy and the Imagination the center of his reply. Then, in the spirit of Kant, he proceeds to give the correct distinction between these faculties of the mind and to place Wordsworth in his true relation to them. It is this further aspect of Kant's influence, it seems to me, that we have failed to realize in regard to Emerson.
Emerson began with open hostility toward Wordsworth's poetry. He cared less for his theory. In 1826, when he gave his fullest criticism during his early years, he was criticizing Wordsworth's preface to the Lyrical Ballads. At that time, evidently, he had not
seen the Biographia Literaria. With the reading of The Friend three years later, though, Emerson came into contact with a new type of criticism. He accepted readily what Coleridge had to say of Bacon, Shakespeare, and Plato. And this acceptance of ancient writers prepared the way for the acceptance of Wordsworth. Until we can present a complete account of Emerson's relation to Wordsworth, we cannot appreciate fully what Coleridge accomplished as a critic for his friend. I have presented enough material, however, to enable us to realize that the revolution that took place in Emerson's theory and practice of poetry must have been shaped largely by Coleridge's critical work. In the case of Milton and Shakespeare, what Coleridge accomplished as a critic is of value because Emerson lectured on both men in the spirit of Coleridge's criticism. But this acceptance by Emerson of Coleridge's Romantic criticism of the two greatest figures of the Renaissance is of importance to us because Emerson came to consider Wordsworth more original than either Shakespeare or Milton, and reckoned him to be the sanest and most imaginative poet of his age.
Until we have considered in more detail, then, what Emerson owed to Carlyle and to Wordsworth, we cannot pass final judgment upon what he gained from Coleridge. We can see, however, that Coleridge meant more to Emerson than a mere transmitter of Kantian metaphysics. Coleridge felt that he had a system of philosophy of his own to present, and we are almost led to think that Emerson discovered it. Besides, we have learned to appreciate the fact that only Coleridge was prepared to present to Emerson the Wordsworth that every one now accepts, the greatest figure of the Romantic movement. I like to think of Coleridge coming to Emerson as he came to Wordsworth and opening the springs of his intellectual being.
The University of North Carolina.
THE MASTER OF WHITMAN
BY JOHN B. MOORE
The literary relationship of Whitman to Emerson, though somewhat complicated, is not by any means so difficult of analysis as to warrant any doubt that (1) Whitman was more indebted to Emerson than to any other for fundamental ideas in even his earliest Leaves of Grass; that (2) Whitman on certain occasions endeavored to minimize his debt to Emerson; that (3) Whitman ultimately arrived at an open, almost undeviating, allegiance both to Emerson as a person and to Emersonian ideas in general. It is well known that Whitman sent to Emerson one of the copies of the first (1855) edition of Leaves of Grass. Emerson's letter to Whitman is, perhaps, too often quoted; yet a reminder in the form of two or three of the significant sentences of that letter is prudent.
I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed. I am very happy in reading it, as great power makes us happy. . . .
I greet you at the beginning of a great career, which yet must have had a long foreground somewhere, for such a start. I rubbed my eyes a little, to see if this sunbeam were no illusion; but the solid sense of the book is a sober certainty. It has the best merits, namely, of fortifying and encouraging.1
It is well never to overlook these few but astonishing words of commendation from the unrivaled chief of American literature to one not only new to literature but distinctly novel to literature, unprecedented. The praise could, under the circumstances, have hardly been more unqualified. The effect upon Whitman must have been enormous, for no one else contributed any such estimate of the work; even Emerson himself never spoke so again of Whitman's poetry. We do not need to guess the effect upon Whitman, for he published in the 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass a sort of open letter in reply to that of Emerson. He tells Emerson how he (Emerson) has been leading all rebels (like
1 Emerson's Uncollected Writings, New York, 1912.
Whitman) to see clearly the ill state of this country politically and otherwise-and to formulate a remedy.
Those shores you found. I say you have led The States there-have led Me there. I say that none has ever done or ever can do, a greater deed for The States, than your deed . . . ; it is yours to have been the original true Captain who put to sea, intuitive, positive, rendering the first report,
Receive, dear Master, these statements and assurances through me, for all the young men, and for an earnest that we know none before you, but the best following you; and that we demand to take your name into our keeping, and that we understand what you have indicated, and find the same indicated in ourselves, and that we will stick to it and enlarge upon it through These States.2
The two letters are the external evidence of the influence of Emerson upon the author of Leaves of Grass; but surely the gift of the copy of the 1855 edition and the subsequent letter of pledged devotion (more fervent, no doubt, as a result of Emerson's letter) on Whitman's part, indicate no sudden or superficial acquaintance with the work of Emerson and no newly-assumed esteem for it. The only natural procedure is to examine Whitman's verse and prose of about the period of the first edition of Leaves of Grass for traces of kinship with, or direct influence of, Emerson's writings, the most celebrated of which had been published by that time. A great many traces of Emersonian doctrine might be listed from Whitman's writings for the period from 1848 to 1855, but only a few representative instances need be mentioned. What may be called traces of Emersonian doctrine are, moreover, often perfectly spontaueous with Whitman; yet it is impossible to believe that the man who conceived and expressed such thoroughly mediocre things as Whitman did from the age of twenty to thirty should have performed so remarkably in the following five years without some powerful external stimulus. In an early notebook of Whit
G. R. Carpenter's Walt Whitman, pp. 74-75.
Emerson's Nature was published in 1836; Essays I in 1841; Essays II in 1844; Representative Men in 1850. Besides these volumes, several of his more celebrated addresses had been published before 1850-" The Divinity School Address," "The American Scholar," etc.
Examples of Whitman's altogether undistinguished early verse are to be found in Uncollected Poetry and Prose (Holloway), vol. 1, pp. 1-20; even poorer prose, ibid., II, 103-221.
man-containing an only fairly successful attempt in his later manner-stands the following picture (among many others, for the poem is entitled "Pictures "):
And there, tall and slender, stands Ralph Waldo Emerson, of New England, at the lecturer's desk, lecturing.
This was almost certainly written in the very beginning of the eighteen-fifties, and it suggests an acquaintance with Emerson the lecturer as well as with Emerson the writer."
Instances in Whitman's comparatively early prose of an Emersonian trend are to be found in a paragraph championing women's rights (in 1846), in a reprint of certain "Remarks of Walt Whitman" on Art and Artists (1851), in a brief newspaper notice, Who Was Swedenborg? The mere subjects of these three articles suggest that Whitman's mind was pursuing matters which had not improbably been brought to his attention more forcibly by reading Emerson. But the most vivid Emersonian "likenesses " are perhaps those in certain of Whitman's notebooks covering the six or seven years preceding the publication of Leaves of Grass. A few quotations will render clear to persons at all familiar with Emerson the debt Whitman owed for many of his most fervent thoughts in those early days.
True noble expanded American character is raised on a far more lasting and universal basis than that of any of the characters of the "gentlemen of aristocratic life. . . . It is to be illimitably proud, independent, selfpossessed, generous and gentle. It is to accept nothing except what is equally free and eligible to any body else. It is to be poor rather than rich-but to prefer death sooner than any mean dependence.-Prudence is part of it, because prudence is the right arm of independence.10
"Whitman's Embryonic Verse," by Emory Holloway, Southwest Review, July 1925, p. 38.
Cf. Writings of Whitman (complete), New York, 1902, vol. VII, p. 55. Whitman recalls: "There were also the smaller and handsome halls of the historical and Athenaeum societies upon Broadway. I very well remember W. C. Bryant lecturing on Homoeopathy, in one of them, and attending two or three addresses by Emerson in the other."
Uncollected Poetry and Prose, vol. 1, p. 137.
8 Ibid., 1, 241.
* Ibid., II, 16.
10 Uncollected Poetry and Prose, vol. II, p. 63. Cf. Emerson's "Prudence,” in Essays, 1841.