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There is something not solid in the good that is done for us. The best discovery the discoverer makes for himself. It has something unreal for his companion until he too has substantiated it. It seems as if the Deity dressed each soul which he sends into nature in certain virtues and powers not communicable to other men, and sending it to perform one more turn through the circle of beings, wrote “ Not transferable" and " Good for this trip only," on these garments of the soul. There is somewhat deceptive about the intercourse of minds. The boundaries are invisible, but they are never crossed. There is such good will to impart, and such good will to receive, that each threatens to become the other; but the law of individuality col. lects its secret strength: you are you, and I am I, and so we remain.
For nature wishes every thing to remain itself ; and whilst every individual strives to grow and exclude and to exclude and grow, to the extremities of the universe, and to impose the law of its being on every other creature, Nature steadily aims to protect each against every other. Each is selfdefended. Nothing is more marked than the power by which individuals are guarded from individuals, in a world where every benefactor becomes so easily a malefactor only by continuation of his activity into places where it is not due ; where chil. dren seem so much at the mercy of their foolish parents, and where almost all men are too social and interfering. We rightly speak of the guar. dian angels of children. How superior in their security from infusions of evil persons, from vulgarity and second thought! They shed their own abundant beauty on the objects they behold. Therefore they are not at the mercy of such poor educators as we adults. If we huff and chide them they soon come not to mind it and get a self-reliance; and if we indulge them to folly, they learn the limitation elsewhere.
We need not fear excessive influence. A more generous trust is permitted. Serve the great. Stiek at no humiliation. Grudge no office thou canst render. Be the limb of their body, the breath of their mouth. Compromise thy egotism. Who cares for that, so thou gain aught wider and nobler? Never mind the taunt of Boswellism : the devotion may easily be greater than the wretched pride which is guarding its own skirts. Be another: not thyself, but a Platonist ; not a soul, but a Christian; not a naturalist, but a Cartesian ; not a poet, but a Shaksperian. In vain, the wheels of tendeney will not stop, nor will all the forces of inertia, fear, or of love itself hold thee there. On, and forever onward! The microscope observes a monad or wheel-insect among the infusories circu
lating in water. Presently a dot appears on the animal, which enlarges to a slit, and it becomes two perfect animals. The ever-proceeding detachment appears not less in all thought and in society. Children think they cannot live without their parents. But, long before they are aware of it, the black dot has appeared and the detachment taken place. Any accident will now reveal to them their independence.
But greut men : — the word is injurious. Is there caste? is there fate? What becomes of the promise to virtue? The thoughtful youth laments the superfætation of nature. Generous and handsome,' he says, “is your hero; but look at yonder poor Paddy, whose country is his wheelbarrow ; look at his whole nation of Paddies.' Why are the masses, from the dawn of history down, food for knives and powder? The idea dignifies a few leaders, who have sentiment, opinion, love, self-devotion; and they make war and death sacred ;but what for the wretches whom they hire and kill? The cheapness of man is every day's tragedy. It is as real a loss that others should be low as that we should be low ; for we must have society.
Is it a reply to these suggestions to say, Society is a Pestalozzian school : all are teachers and pu
pils in turn? We are equally served by receiving and by imparting. Men who know the same things are not long the best company for each other. But bring to each an intelligent person of another experience, and it is as if you let off water from a lake by cutting a lower basin. It seems a mechanical advantage, and great benefit it is to each speaker, as he can now paint out his thought to himself. We pass very fast, in our personal moods, from dignity to dependence. And if any appear never to assume the chair, but always to stand and serve, it is because we do not see the company in a sufficiently long period for the whole rotation of parts to come about. As to what we call the masses, and common men, — there are no common men. All men are at last of a size ; and true art is only possible on the conviction that every talent has its apotheosis somewhere. Fair play and an open field and freshest laurels to all who have won them! But heaven reserves an equal scope for every creature. Each is uneasy until he has produced his private ray unto the concave sphere and beheld his talent also in its last nobility and exaltation.
The heroes of the hour are relatively great; of a faster growth ; or they are such in whom, at the moment of success, a quality is ripe which is then in request. Other days will demand other quali. ties. Some rays escape the common observer, and want a finely adapted eye. Ask the great man if there be none greater. His companions are ; and not the less great but the more that society cannot see them. Nature never sends a great man into the planet without confiding the secret to another soul.
One gracious fact emerges from these studies, – that there is true ascension in our love. The reputations of the nineteenth century will one day be quoted to prove its barbarism. The genius of humanity is the real subject whose biography is written in our annals. We must infer much, and supply many chasms in the record. The history of the universe is symptomatic, and life is mnemonical. No man, in all the procession of famous men, is reason or illumination or that essence we were looking for ; but is an exhibition, in some quarter, of new possibilities. Could we one day complete the immense figure which these fagrant points compose! The study of many individuals leads us to an elemental region wherein the individual is lost, or wherein all touch by their summits. Thought and feeling that break out there cannot be impounded by any fence of personality. This is the key to the power of the greatest men, — their spirit diffuses itself. A new quality of mind travels by night and by day, in concentric circles from its ori