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scendentalism, and it is only when it becomes traditional that the mass receive it unchallenged; then any additional obscurity is swallowed as a matter of course. In another place he says, “ Transcendentalism is the faith proper to a man in his integrity."
This is the pure religion of regenerate man, or of man in his primal state ; it was, doubtless, the faith of Eden.
Now the discussion lies between the believers in the comparative perfectibility of man, and those who have no desire to rise into a loftier sphere ; the wing and the wish are at variance in every imperfect nature, and so far as physical happiness is concerned, this discrepancy is fatal.
Mr. Emerson, in the next place, thus discourses of “Pure Nature.” These extracts must not be read hastily, but well thought over.
“ Language cannot paint it with his colors. It is too subtle. It is undefinable, unmeasurable, but we know that it pervades and contains us..... In sickness, in languor, give us a strain of poetry or a profound sentence, and we are refreshed: ... See how the deep divine thought demolishes centuries and millenniums, and makes itself present through all ages. ...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."
We must confess here that we cannot do justice to our author by picking a piece here, and another there, as each sen
tence belongs so essentially to the one before, and the other after, that we are nearly misrepresenting the man, instead of presenting him to our readers. What, therefore, we must do for the future must be to indicate as nearly as we can, the idea pervading the article we have to comment on. It is not, however, an easy matter to do this with the next essay, “ Circles," which we will pass to speak of the next, “ Intellect,” where we find the same difficulty. We go to the next one, “ Art,” and we still find it as difficult to give the leading idea. We could give sentences without number, eloquent, poetical, golden, but, as we have already given a number from this little volume of essays-sufficient, we think, to cause the reader to go to the Book itself—once for all, therefore, we must refer him to the fountain head, the essays themselves, confident that he will be richly rewarded for his pains.
Besides these Essays, our author has published several separate orations and lectures: “Man Thinking, an Oration,” “An Address delivered at Cambridge,” “ Literary Ethics, an Oration,” “The Method of Nature," “ Man the Reformer," and “ The Young American.” We select a few sentences from these.
“ The theory of Books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. It came into him-life; it went from him—truth. It came to him-shortlived actions; it went from him-immortal thoughts. It came to him--business; it went from him-poetry. It was dead fact; now it is quick thought. It can stand and it can go. It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires. Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.
“ The true scholar grudges every opportunity of action passed by as a loss of Power. It is the raw material out of which the intellect moulds her splendid products. A strange process, too, this by which experience is converted into thought as a mulberry leaf is converted into satin. The manufacture goes forward at all hours."
Mark the more than morning glow thrown over the opening of “the Address."
“ In this refulgent summer it has been a luxury to draw the breath of life. The grass grows, the buds burst ; the meadow is spotted with fire and gold in the tint of flowers; the air is full of birds, and sweet with the breath of the pine, the balm of Gilead, and the new hay. Night brings no gloom to the heart with its welcome shade. Through the transparent darkness pour the stars their almost spiritual rays. Man under them seems a young child, and his huge globe a toy. The cool night bathes the world as with a river, and prepares his eye again for the crimson dawn. The mystery of nature was never displayed more happily. The corn and the wine have been freely dealt to all creatures, and the never broken silence with which the old bounty goes forward has not yielded yet one word of explanation.”
The Address, of which this is the opening, did not please the professors, and one of them remonstrated. We give Emerson's reply, as it is a part of his spiritual history.
“ What you say about the Discourse at Divinity College is just what I might expect from your truth and charity, combined with
your known opinions. I am not a stock or a stone, as one said in the old time, and could not feel but pain in saying some things in that place and presence which I supposed would meet with dissent, and the dissent I may say of dear friends and benefactors of mine. Yet, as my conviction is perfect in the substantial truth of the doctrines of this discourse, and is not very new, you will see at once that it must appear very important that it be spoken; and I thought I could not pay the nobleness of my friends so mean a compliment as to suppress my opposition to their supposed views out of fear of offence. I would rather say to them—These things look thus to me, to you otherwise. Let us say our uttermost word, and be the all-pervading truth, as it surely will, judge between us. Either of us would, I doubt not, be equally apprised of his error. Meantime I shall be admonished by this expression of your thought to revise with great care the · Address' before it is printed (for the use of the class), and I heartily thank you for this expression of your tried toleration and love."
This was followed by a sermon against Emerson's views, a copy of which was sent to him with a letter, to which he replied as follows:
“I ought sooner to have replied to your kind letter of last week, and the Sermon it accompanied. The letter was right manly and noble. The sermon, too, I have read with attention. If it assails any doctrine of mine—perhaps I am not so quick to see it as writers generally-certainly I did not feel any disposition to depart from my habitual contentment that you should say your thought, whilst I say mine. I believe I must tell you what I think of my new position. It strikes me very oddly that good and wise men, and Cambridge and Boston, should think of raising me into an object of criticism. I have always been, from my very incapacity of methodical writing, “a chartered libertine, free to worship and free to rail, lucky when I could make myself understood, but never esteemed near enough to the institutions and mind of society to deserve the notice of the masters of literature and religion. I have appreciated fully the advantages of my position, for I well know that there is no scholar less willing or less able to be a polemic. I could not give account of myself, if challenged. I could not possibly give you one of the arguments you cruelly hint at, on which any doctrine of mine stands. For I do not know what arguments mean in reference to any expression of a thought. I delight in telling what I think ; but if you ask me why I dare say so, or why it is so, I am the most helpless of mortal men. I do not even see that either of these questions admits of an answer, so that in the present posture of affairs, when I see myself suddenly raised to the importance of a heretic, I am very uneasy when I advert to the supposed duties of such a personage, who is to make good his thesis against all comers. I certainly shall do no such thing. I shall read what you and other good men write, as I have always done, glad when you speak my thoughts, and skipping the page that has nothing for me. I shall go on just as before, seeing whatever I can, and telling what I see; and, I suppose, with the same fortune that has hitherto attended me; the joy of finding that my abler and better brothers, who work with the sympathy of society, loving and beloved, do now and then unexpectedly confirm my perception, and find my nonsense is only their own thought in motley. And so I am your affectionate servant, R. W. E.”