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them any more live? For they are dead : and their galvanic motions, O heavens, are not of a pleasant sort ! That one man more, in the most modern dialect of this year 1841, recognizes the oldest everlasting truths : here is a thing worth seeing, among the others. One man more who knows, and believes of very certainty, that man's soul is still alive, that God's universe is still godlike, that of all ages of miracles ever seen, or dreamt of, by far the most miraculous is this age in this hour; and who, with all these devout beliefs, has dared, like a valiant man, to bid chimeras, “Be chimerical; disappear, and let us have an end of you !”-is not this worth something? In a word, while so many Benthamisms, Socialisms, Fourrierisms, professing to have no soul, go staggering and lowing like monstrous mooncalves, the product of a heavy-laden moonstruck age; and, in this same baleful “twelfth hour of the night,” even galvanic Puseyisms, as we say, are visible, and dancings of the sheeted dead, shall not any voice of a living man be welcome to us, even because it is alive?
For the rest, what degree of mere literary talent lies in these utterances, is but a secondary question, which every reader may gradually answer for himself. What Emerson's talent is, we will not altogether estimate by this book. The utterance is abrupt, fitful; the great idea not yet embodied struggles towards an embodiment. Yet everywhere there is the true heart of a man; which is the parent of all talent; which without much talent cannot exist. A breath as of the green country,—all the welcomer that it is New-England country, not second-hand, but first-hand country,-meets us wholesomely everywhere in these Essays; the authentic green earth is there, with her mountains, rivers, with her mills and farms. Sharp gleams of insight arrest us by their
pure intellectuality; here and there, in heroic rusticism, a tone of modest manfulness, of mild invincibility, lowvoiced, but lion-strong, makes us too thrill with a noble pride. Talent ? Such ideas as dwell in this man, how can they ever speak themselves with enough of talent? The talent is not the chief question here. The idea, that is the chief question. Of the living acorn you do not ask first, How large an acorn art thou? The smallest living acorn is fit to be the parent of oaktrees without end, —could clothe all New England with oaktrees by and by. You ask it, first of all: Art thou a living acorn ? Certain, now, that thou art not a dead mushroom, as the most are ?
But, on the whole, our book is short : the Preface should not grow too long. Closing these questionable parables and intimations, let me, in plain English, recommend this little book as the book of an original veridical man, worthy the acquaintance of those who delight in such; and so; Welcome to it whom it may concern!
T. CARLYLE. London, 11th August, 1841.