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been unable to read the writings of the new school. They have tried to find a system of doctrines where they ought to have looked for the point of view. But to return to our postulate. We see every thing according to the law of cause and effect. The fact of causation is universal and necessary; for every fact of experience gives us, on one side, its material, which comes from the outworld, and on the other its form, which comes always in part from the law of causation. Let the reader turn for a moment to the postulate of the nail-machine. He will find that every truth which lies in the mind with a conviction of its universality and necessity, is derived to the mind from its own operations, and that it does not rest at all on observation and experience. But does not the truth that every effect must have its cause, lie in the mind with a conviction of its universality and necessity 2 . The consequence is clear. The law of causation is another distorting medium through which we look upon the outworld, and we have no legitimate authority for affirming that the external world is in any way subjected to that law. It is true that we are forced to look upon nature under that relation, but the necessity of the case arises not from the fact of the reality of the law of causation, (we speak as a Kantian,) but from the constitution of our nature. But here all positive knowledge is annihilated. An idea is good and valid, if we may have any confidence in these forms of the soul; but what is the relation of the form of the shears to the outward object independent of the machine : Who shall infer from the inward to the outward 2 The system of Kant is one vast skepticism; admit the fatal postulate, and there is no dodging the conclusion. It will be seen that our transcendentalists have not been unfaithful to the thought of their master. III. New systems of thought are propagated in various manners: sometimes by preaching, sometimes by private teaching, sometimes, as was the case with Mahometanism, by the sword. Neither of these methods has been adopted by the transcendentalists. Their doctrine has been a new religion rather than a new philosophy. Admission into their ranks has taken place by initiation rather than by instruction. In fact, many of
the initiated seem to have remained ignorant, even to this day, of the peculiar doctrines of the school. The sect seems to have aspired to the construction of a new power in society, one that should maintain the rights of the instinctive tendencies of the soul against the encroachments of conventionalism. The force of the school has been much increased by the mystery which it threw around its operations—which were, indeed, the greater part of the time, no operations at all. Hence arose the form of action par coterie. Had the real character of the system been known, the • ‘osity of the world would have remained tranquil, and Transcendentalism, which, in a great measure, depended upon that curiosity for its actual existence, would have been stified at its birth. There are, however, several objections against the form of operation par coterie. First, it is incompatible with the possession of powerful doctrines, for a sect holding to a strong creed is irresistibly impelled to preach it to the world and make converts. Secondly, a coterie inevitably forms a dialect for its own use, which cannot be understood by any except its own members, and a new conventionalism arises within the clique as bad as the conventionalism of the world; thus the main end of the establishment of the sect is defeated. Experience has shown that such is the natural course of events; for a cant has grown up and become current among the Transcendentalists which is worse, and more sickening, than that of the Millerites. Again, the ranks of a coterie are recruited, not by the earnest-minded, the thinking, but by those who are curious to dive into things shrouded in mystery, by those who are desirous of appearing to know more than their neighbors, of possessing some ke
to the secrets of the universe, of whic
the million are deprived. Thus, a movement beginning in strength degenerates into weakness; vain and airy speculation takes the place of philosophy, fancy that of imagination, and mystification that of reasoning. No poet can thrive in such an atmosphere, for the genuine poet speaks to universal humanity, and cannot be heard by a coterie, where they seek honor one of another. For these reasons, the transcendental movement, although commenced in strength, as a reaction against conventionalism, has totally miscarried. The strong members
have left the coterie for the world, and those that remain keep up the form of existence without the power thereof.
A late reviewer of Mr. Emerson's Essays remarks, that he (Mr. Emerson) has a large and constantly increasing circle of readers. It is well for Mr. Emerson that his works are confined to no such large and increasing circle; he speaks no longer to a coterie, to a private circle, however large and increasing. His works are beginning to be appreciated } his countrymen at large, and they will be judged, not by any conventional standard, but according to their inherent merits. Private meetings of young ladies to settle the manner of the birth of the universe, the nature of social relations, and the basis of self-reliance, are no longer the only public to which he can appeal. The organization of the sect (and it has an organization, though without outward form and constitution) had a work to do which it has done. Its mission is past, let us call no names, but leave it to dissolve in peace. If the remains of a former vitality give it for a moment the form and appearance of life, let us respect its present insignificance, remembering the good it has done.
IV. The limits of this notice will not
ermit us to speak in order of each essay
in Mr. Emerson's new series. Like the ancient philosopher, who showed his customers a brick as a sample of the house he wished to sell, we shall select a small portion from the volume under consideration, as a specimen of Mr. Emerson's whole edifice. Not that the parallel is by any means complete, for the portion we select, is, in itself, a living whole, and, although not a perfect exponent of the volume in which it is found, is, nevertheless, a very good exponent of Mr. Emerson's general doctrine. It might indeed be wished that the books of our Transcendental writers were somewhat more homogeneous. As they are now constructed, there is no connection between the beginning, the middle, and the end, no connection between the consecutive chapters. The Essay on “Experience,” however, seems to form a perfect whole, containing as much thought and poetry as any in the volume, and is, moreover, capable of being analysed: we select it therefore as the basis of our further remarks.
But here a o arises. The soul, as we have seen in the beginning of this notice, creates all—man, the universe, all
forms, all changes; and this wonderful power is possessed by each individual soul. Will there not then be necessarily a confusion, a mixture of universes, arising from the conflict of the creative energies of distinct souls This difficulty may be made to vanish. Suppose, for a moment, that I have a magical power over some great public building, the City Hall for example; suppose every one of its parts, by a pre-existing harmony, to be made obedient to my will, so that when I will the windows to open and shut, the doors to turn on their hinges, &c., they immediately do it. Would not this City Hall, thus immedidiately obedient to my will, be a new body with which I am invested Suppose I have power over a dog in the moon, so that he barks, runs, wags his tail, according to the action of my will, am I not existing “in this dim spot which men call earth,” and also, at the same time, in “the orbed maiden whom mortals call the moon " In the first case I exist as a man, in the second as an animal of the canine species. Without doubt, I may have millions of bodies; there is no difficulty in the matter; all that I operate upon by immediate magical power, by magia, to use the technology of Jacob Behmen, is to me a body. So I may be in this world a man, and in the moon a dog; yet am I not two, but one, for one soul animates the two bodies. But mark While I am immersed in things of time and sense, paying no regard to the soul, which is under and behind all, I think the man who is now moving about, trading and traveling on earth, to be myself, and only after deep thought, fasting, and meditation, do I find that I am also a dog. But here mysteries thicken. I am not only both a man and a dog, I am also neither a man nor a dog ; for I am the soul that speaks through both. “What we commonly call man (says Mr. Emerson) the eating, drinking, planting, counting man, does not as we know him represent himself, but misrepresents himself. Him we do not respect; but the soul, whose organ he is, would he let it appear through his action, would make our knees bend.” The man, therefore, who has attained to right knowledge, is aware that there is no such thing as an individual soul. There is but one soul, which is the “Over Soul,” and this one soul is the animating principle of all bodies. When I am thoughtless, and immersed in things which are seen, I mistake the person who is now writing this notice, for myself; but when I am wise, this illusion vanishes like the mists of the morning, and then I know that what I thought to be myself, was only one of my manifestations, only a mode of my existence. It is I who bark in the dog, grow in the tree, and murmur in the passing brook. Think not, my brother, that thou art diverse and alien from myself; it is only while we dwell in the outward appearance that we are two; when we consider the depths of our being, we are found to be the same, for the same self, the same vital principle, animates us both. (We speak as a Transcendentalist.) I create the universe, and thou, also, my brother, createst the same; for we create not two universes but one, for we two have but one soul, there is but one creative energy, which is above, and under, and through all. Well—but all this is no new theory, and whatever reverent disciple may have imagined that Mr. Emerson, or any “favorite of the gods,” has herein shown a wonderful originality, betrays a most triumphant ignorance of what is, and what has been. Such a doctrine was well known in the East, before history began; no man can tell when it arose, it is as old as thought itself. “Rich, (say the Vedas), is that universal self, whom thou worshipest as the soul.” We should strive, therefore, to disentangle ourselves from the world of matter, from the bonds of time and space, that we may take our stand at once in the ‘Oversoul, which we are, did we but realise it. We are the Over-soul, and we come into our own native home, when we attain to our true point of view, where the whole universe is seen to be one body.
Then do we know of a truth that it is,
we who think, love, laugh, bark, growl, run, crawl, rain, snow, &c. &c. Mr. Emerson has given a beautiful expression to this thought:
“There is no great and no small
“There is one mind,” says Mr. Emerson, in his Essay on History, “ common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same, and to all of the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason, is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato has thought, he
may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand. Who hath access to this Universal Mind, is a par to all that hath or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent.” It may easily be seen that this amounts to an identification of man with God; yet this system is by no means Pantheistic; perhaps, indeed, we may be ermitted to coin a new term, and call it uman Pantheism. Pantheism sinks man in God—makes him to be a phenomenon of the Divine existence—but this system, so far from being an absorption of humanity in God, is an absorption of God into the human soul. A pantheistic friend once explained to me the difference between his system and that of the Transcendentalists. “I hold myself,” said he, “to be a leaf, blown about by the winds of change and circumstance, and holding to the extreme end of one of the branches of the tree of universal existence; but these gentlemen (referring to the Transcendentalists), think themselves to be some of the sap.” But to return to the second series of essays. As we before said, we shall confine our remarks altoether to the essay on “Experience.” or the sake of connection and order, we will give a detailed analysis of the essay, stating the doctrine in our own words, but giving full quotations where the subject matter is interesting, that the reader may be enabled to judge of our faithfulness. ILLUSION.—When a man wakes up, as it were, comes to a consciousness of his own existence, and asks himself the questions of his origin and destiny, as, whence came I ? where am I going? why do I exist? he almost inevitably loses himself in the outworld. [I am endeavoring, as the reader will remember, to state the substance of the Essay on Experience.] A chain of causes has receded our birth and actions; and the eeds of this present time will be followed by a chain of results. But who knows anything of these chains “We find ourselves (says Mr. Emerson) in a series of which we do not know the extremes, and believe that it has none. We awake and find ourselves on a stair: there are stairs below us which we seem to have ascended; there are stairs above us, many a one, which go upward and out of sight.” We appear to possess no power, no creative energy, independent of these circumstances. The soul within seems to slumber, and we attribute all to what is without; but while we float on, half seeing, living in appearances, the soul silently and secretly performs, its creative acts, so that we are astonished at the end of a day when we have done nothing, to find that real effects have been produced. We seem lost to ourselves, having faith only in appearances. Where we ourselves are, is mean; but where others are, there is beauty; for who knows but the thing which gives dignity to life may be with them while we feel that it is far from us. “It is said, all martyrdoms looked mean when they were suffered. Every shi is a romantic object, except that we sail in. Embark, and the romance quits our vessel, and hangs on every sail in the horizon. . . . I quote another man's saying ; unluckily that other withdraws himself in the same way, and quotes me.” Even adversity, affliction, the death of friends, have not power to awaken us to ourselves. While our eyes are thus fixed upon the outworld, we are lost to the reality of existence; these things are not the soul, neither have they power to move it. “In the death of my son, now more than two years ago, I seem to have lost a beautiful estate—no more. I cannot get it nearer to me. If to-morrow I should be informed of the bankruptcy of my principal debtors, the loss of my property would be a great inconvenience to me, perhaps, for many years, but it would leave me as it found me—neither better nor worse.” TEMPERAMENT.—But even here we obtain a glimpse of the supremacy of the soul. Man sees only what he brings eyes to see. “We animate what we can, and see only what we animate. It depends on the mood of the man whether he shall see the sunset or the fine poem.” Temperament must always be taken into consideration. It is in vain that the landscape be spread out, if the beholder be of a cold nature, and regard it not. We are not the creatures of the outworld, for the outworld acts on us only according to our temperaments; and, in this, we already see some pre-eminence of ourselves over nature. And these outward things are not so outward after all as we have suposed. Politics, creeds, conventionalisms of societies, are not themselves causes trammelling us, but ill-looking accidents we have impressed upon nature. ... I knew, a witty physician who found theology in the biliary duct, and used to
affirm that if there was disease in the liver, the man became a Calvinist, and if that organ was sound he became a Unitarian.” A protest must, however, be en1ered against the consequences which flow from this doctrine of the temperaments. Temperament is final from the point of view of nature only, but a deeper insight will transcend it. The doctrine of temperaments, taken by itself, (says Mr. Emerson,) leads to physical necessity; but there is a door into every intelligence, which is never closed, through which the Creator passes, bringing with him light and higher knowledge. Succession.—We are first deceived by the outworld, thinking it to be real, and ourselves a part of it; afterwards, when we have been undeceived by a consideration of temperament, we fall into new illusions, thinking temperament to be final. More thought will disclose to us the secret of this illusion also ; it is this—each soul is constituted in a peculiar manner, subjected to moods and changes, and the soul, by its moods and changes, is the reason and ground of the temperaments, as these last are the reason and ground of outward nature. “The secret of the illusoriness is in the necessity of a succession of moods or objects.” Men are constituted each in his own way; there is little that is infinite in them. The nature of each creates his temperament, the temperament of each does its part in creating outward nature. “A man is like a bit of Labrador spar, which has no lustre as you turn it in your hand, until you come to a particular angle; then it shows deep and beautiful colors. There is no adaptation or universal applicability in men, but each has his special talent; and the mastery of successful men consists in adroitly keeping themselves where and when that turn shall be oftenest to be practised. We do what we must, and call it by the best names we can, and would fain have the praise of having intended the lesult which ensues.” If we take one man, two men, with their temperaments, natural character, or what you will, it is not enough ; they cannot constitute the universal harmony. “Of course, it needs the whole society to give the symmetry we seek. The parti-colored wheel must revolve very fast to appear white.” SURFACE.-Temperament finds its reason in the character of the individual man, and outward things are as the temperament of him who perceives them. But is this really so 2 Is the universe which we construct in thought, the same with that in which we have the good fortune, or the misery, to live Nay, but who art thou, O man, that askest ? No good comes from too much prying into nature; the actual, it must be confessed, is against us, and, if we have faith in it, we lose our convictions of the supremacy of the soul. “Nature hates peeping, and our mothers speak her very sense when they say, Children eat your victuals, and say no more about it.” We find, when we think, either a contradiction in our thoughts, or a want of harmony with actual existence. We are therefore, of necessity, skeptics. Let us not, then, look too narrowly into philosophy and science, but live, as others, on the surface of things. “What help, indeed, from thought Life is not dialectics.” “We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well upon them.” The wise man will live in the present. He knows that the appearances are at least appearances; of other things, he knows little. “Five minutes to-day, are worth as much to me as five minutes in the next millenium. Let us be poised and wise in our own to-day. Let us treat the men and women well: treat them as if they were real : perhaps they are.” This “perhaps they are,” is the profound sentence; we have proved them to be mere appearances, yet even the doubt presents itself—perhaps they are real. hat shall we do amid these conflicting doubts? There is but one plan, enjoy the present, and let all these annoyances go by the board. Perhaps all is appearance, perhaps it is real, let us not look deep, but skate on the surface. “Great gifts are not got by analysis. Every o; good is on the highway.” Let us no longer be troubled by these high ethical questions which result in no good. Follow your own impulses and all will be well. How can a man have peace when he calls that crime which is no evil, but, on the contrary, according to nature ?, “Nature, as we know her, is no saint. The lights of the church, the ascetics, the Gentoos and Grahamites, she does not distinguish by any favor. She comes eating and drinking and sinning. Her darlings, the great, the strong, the beautiful, are not children of our law, do not come out of the Sunday School, nor weigh their food, nor punctually keep the commandments. If we will be strong with her strength, we
must not harbor such disconsolate consciences, borrowed too much from the consciences of other nations. We must set up the strong lo tense against all rumors of wrath, past or to come.” Take things as they come, live in the present, enjoy the present, and ask no questions, “In the morning I awake, and find the old world, wife, babes, and mother, Concord and Boston, the dear old spiritual world, and even the dear old devil not far off. If we take the good we find, asking no questions, we shall have heaping measures.” “We may climb into the thin and cold realm of pure geometry and lifeless science, or sink into that of sensation. Between these extremes is the equator of life, of thought, of spirit, of poetry—a narrow belt.” Live on the surface, and ask no questions. SURPRISE.-It would, undoubtedly, be pleasant, if it were possible, to live in this world as knowing something beyond the mere surface of existence. But it is in vain that we construct our positive systems. “Presently comes a day, or is it only a half hour, with its angelwhisperings, which discomfits the conclusions of nations and of years " Our systems never cover the right matters, ways is there a gap through which the reality oozes out. “Life is a series of surprises, and would not be worth taking or keeping if it were not. God delights to isolate us every day, and hide us from the past and the future. We would look about us, and with great politeness he draws down before us an impenetrable screen of purest sky, and another behind us of purest sky. “You will not remember,’ he seems to say, ‘and you will not expect.’” We are not what we wish we were, we are not what we think ourselves to be. “The ardors of piety agree at last with the coldest skepticism —that nothing is of us or our works— that all is of God.” “The individual is always mistaken. He designed many things, and drew in other persons as coadjutors, blundered much, and something is done; all are a little advanced, but the individual is always mistaken. It turns out somewhat new, and very unlike what he promised himself.” REALITY-Temperament gives us the key to Illusion. Outward nature is as it is, because our temperaments are as they are. But, again, these temperaments are a new, and a higher illusion; they result from the necessity of succession in