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mean precisely the same thing: a perfect synonym is an impossibility, and therefore, as a facetious philosopher once said, “ very rarely comes to pass "
“For what's impossible can never be,
And therefore very rarely comes to pass."
But it is needless to argue the point: every human being has had the affliction of losing some one dear to him; we therefore appeal to that unerring test for a confirmation of our opinion.
We must not, however, stop to criticise Mr. Emerson's peculiarities of thought and expression in detail, otherwise we should weary our readers; we shall, therefore, only allude to them once for all and say, that it forms to many the chief charm, and to others the great stumbling-block of their admiration and study.
Let us take another thought from his first volume :
“The misery of man appears like children's petulance, when we explore the steady and prodigal provision that has been made for his support and delight on this green ball which floats him through the heavens. What angels invented these splendid ornaments, these rich conveniences, this ocean of air above, this ocean of water beneath, this firmament of earth between? This zodiac of lights-this tent of dropping clouds—this striped coat of climates—this fourfold year of beasts, fire, water, stones, and corn, serve him : the field is at once his floor-his work-yard—his playground his garden--and his bed.”
We know of few books more full of suggestions than Mr. Emerson's, and we could desire no pleasanter occupation than compiling a volume of these suggestive hints. We feel quite sure it would be an acceptable offering to the American public.
“ The useful arts (says Emerson) are but reproductions, or new combinations by the wit of man, of the same natural benefactors. He no longer waits for favoring gales, but by means of steam realizes the fable of Eolus' bag, and carries the two-andthirty winds in the boiler of his boat. To diminish friction, he paves the road with iron bars, and mounting a coach with a shipload of men, animals, and merchandise behind him, he darts through the country, from town to town, like an eagle or a swallow through the air. By the aggregate of these aids, how is the face of the world changed from the era of Noah to that of Napoleon! The private poor man hath cities, ships, canals, bridges, built for him. He goes to the post-office, and the human race run on his errands; to the workshop, and the human race read or write of all that happens, for him; to the court-house, and nations repair his wrongs. He sets his house upon the road, and the human race go forth every morning, and shovel out the snow, and cut a path for him.”
The little volume from which we have made these few extracts excited the attention of many men of eminence, but its non-adaptability for the million prevented general popularity.
After the publication of “Nature,” he contributed to a periodical called “The Dial,” which did not commercially succeed.
In this magazine appeared several of his poems, and his “ Three Lectures on the Times." The first was called “The Introductory;" the second, “ The Conservative;" and the last, “ The Transcendentalist.”
For many of the chief points in the second lecture he is indebted to Goethe. Its argument is to prove that in proportion as we grow in age, wealth, position, and power, we become conservative. Many authors of the day are illustrations, such as Coleridge, Wordsworth, Moore, Lamb, Goethe, Talfourd, &c. These were all great radicals in their early days, indeed very nearly verging on socialism. This is natural in man. When young and poor we are roused to activity : we grow old and rich, and consequently yearn for repose.
Reform is the activity of nations ; conservatism its repose ; and aristocracy its indolence.
His third essay is his finest, and from this he has been so frequently accused of being a “ Transcendentalist.” Nothing is so easy, and nothing so unjust, as to affix a stigma to a man of this kind.
The enemies of progress joyfully catch them, and an air of impracticability or absurdity is thrown over the cause itself. What the fool cannot understand, and the knave will not, he declares to be either absurd or unintelligible, and the masses being easily led believe the slander without inquiring for themselves.
It is the fashion of the world to confound the appearance with the subject; the garb with the form ; and hence the cry of Emerson's unintelligibility.
To abuse a man because he does not write like Joseph Addison or Samuel Johnson is absurd : they may with the same reason condemn him for being himself, instead of somebody else. It is the criticism of the fool. Emerson certainly has a style more marked than most writers, but he has likewise a greater individuality of thought to accompany it. When a teacher utters profounder thought than the untaught have been accustomed to hear, the latter accuse him of being mystical or transcendental : just as boys of the lower form grumble at Euclid, and abuse their tutor. There seems something galling to an inferior mind in the confession of ignorance. It appears to wound self-love or egotism more than any other accusation. The generality would prefer to be suspected of knavery, than of boobyism. This will account for the virulence of the blockhead: to surpass him in genius or learning is to make him your deadly enemy. A warfare is always waged by the dull against the witty; they have the worst of it, and fools though they are, they know it: the alpha and omega of dulness is to this extent, no more. They are sensible of their stupidity. We admit this to be unpleasant, but it is unavoidable, and by way of consolation we recommend the old adage of
“ What can't be cured,
So there's an end of the matter, and they had better rest in silence under the misfortune.
We remember in our young days that Lamb was attacked by a very solemn man (who only wanted the fairy head of Bottom, the weaver, to be the " complete animal”), in these words :—“Mr. Lamb, you are always aiming at being witty, but you do not always succeed.” The old humorist replied, " That's better, Mr. ***, than you, who are always aiming at being dull, and, I must say, you invariably succeed.” We agree with “rare old Charles," that it is better to aim at the highest mark.
On the subject of Transcendentalism Emerson well observes :
“ There is transcendentalism, but no pure transcendentalist : that we know of none but the prophets and heralds of such a philosophythat all who by strong bias of nature have leaned to the spiritual side in doctrine have stopped short of their goal. We have had many harbingers and forerunners, but of a purely spiritual life history has yet afforded no example. I mean, we have yet no man who has leaned entirely on his character, and eaten angels' food: who, trusting to his sentiments, found life made of miracles: who, working for universal aims, found himself fed, he knew not how: clothed, sheltered, and weaponed, he knew not how; and yet it was done by his own hands: only in the instinct of the lower animals we find the suggestion of the methods of it, and something higher than our understanding: the squirrel hoards nuts, and the bee gathers honey, without knowing what they do, and they are thus provided for without selfishness or disgrace.”
This transcendentalism is evidently founded on Christian Doctrine ; it is merely a paraphrase of Christ's words, “Take no thought of what ye shall eat, what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed; but do these things, which I command ye, and all the rest shall be added unto you."
Every new doctrine, when first preached, sounds like a tran