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Alps: for him Concord, Boston, and the Alleghanies, suffice ; for these, too, have been hallowed by the presence of noble men, and their teachings are of as high a strain.
Such sentiments, proceeding from a man of genius, cannot fail to impart additional strength and dignity to a yet infant literature.
Emerson, it has been remarked, much resembles Thomas Carlyle, but mostly with a difference. Carlyle excels in his biographies, and depicts action and costume with great power and effect. Emerson loses sight of the individual and external, in speculating on the spiritual and universal. Carlyle is unequal; now tame and obscure, and again bursting forth into a vehement eloquence and grandeur. Emerson, amid seeming diversities, has unity, symmetry, and repose. Both preach the same gospel-Know thy work, and do it. Both see the hollowness and degradation of much that surrounds us. But to the soul, sinking in the struggle, or that, weary at work, would seek some ray of light to cheer it on, some glimpse of those fair and noble issues to which man advances, and which its humble efforts contribute to upbuild, to such an one the Future of Carlyle presents only “shadows, doubts, and darkness ;” but Emerson ever joys in the faith, that “one day all men will be lovers, and every calamity will be dissolved in the universal sunshine."
Much of the charm of Emerson's writings lies in the exceedingly picturesque, and often beautiful language, in which he clothes his ideas. Many passages might be quoted, in which he rises into the region of poetry. His style abounds in illustration and imagery. Though he does not cast about to express his convictions in polished phrase that shall win the general ear, but in words, forcible and strong as the thought he would utter, yet there is not unfrequently a certain measured and stately music in the structure of his sentences. In many places he combines, in a high degree, a poetical warmth and cultivated fancy, as when in describing a sunrise he concludes thus: “ How does nature deify us with a few and cheap elements ! Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous. The dawn is my Assyria ; the sunset and moonrise my Paphos, and unimaginable realms of Faerie ; broad noon shall be my England of the senses and the understanding; the night shall be my Germany of mystic philosophy and dreams !"
We cannot disguise the fact, that on a first perusal, Emerson offers many difficulties. His writings must not be lightly read, but severely and attentively studied. Sometimes we fail to seize his meaning, from a looseness of language ; sometimes, from his omitting a link in the idea, in his haste to give it utterance, in the completed form ; and often, because he is within the threshold of some of those higher speculations, to which we recur again and again, but to feel, as we retire baffled from the inquiry, that in the human soul there are more mysteries than can be fathomed by its philosophy. Sometimes his language will appear exaggerated. As he himself observes, it is difficult to state any one truth strongly, without seeming to belie some other truth.
But despite these drawbacks, he who approaches the study of the writings of Emerson, in that spirit of patient and reverent investigation which the utterances of one sincere and thoughtful mind demands of another, will be well rewarded. Difficulties will disappear; and if a dimness seems to rest on the outlines of that calm colossal soul, we still discern enough to estimate aright its broad and noble proportions. And when we are compelled to dissent from his views, as dissent we sometimes must, we shall do it with respect for the convictions of another, so temperately stated.
In conclusion, we would repeat it, the writings of Emerson have a tendency most elevating, spiritual, and catholic. They are pervaded by a deep piety-by a love of all genial and healthy feelings--of all brave souls and heroic deeds of all free and earnest thought and endeavourof every movement that can aid the cause of human progress, which ever lies nearest his heart. And if we would in one sentence express what seems to us the chief excellence of Emerson, it would be, by quoting, as referable to his writings in a peculiar degree, these words, in which he so beautifully speaks of the “souls who made our souls wiser.” “ We mark with light in the memory the few interviews we have had in the dreary days of routine and of sin, with those souls who made our souls wiser ; that spoke what we thought; that told us what we knew; that gave us leave to be what we inly were. Discharge to men the priestly office, and, present or absent, you shall be followed by their love as by an angel."
LECTURES AND ORATIONS.
I am owner of the sphere,
THERE is one mind 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 party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent.
Of the works of this mind history is the record. Its genius is illustrated by the entire series of days. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in appropriate events. But always the thought is prior to the fact; all the facts of history pre-exist in the mind as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of nature give power to but one at a time. A man is the whole encyclopædia of facts. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, demo