Imagens da página

have a great regard for my young correspondent. I would gladly know what books Lucia likes to read when nobody advises her, and most of all what her thoughts are when she walks alone or sits alone. For, though I know that Lucia is the happiest of girls in having in her sister so wise and kind a guide, yet even her aid must stop when she has put the book before you: neither sister nor brother nor mother nor father can think for us: in the little private chapel of your own mind none but God and you can see the happy thoughts that follow each other, the beautiful affections that spring there, the little silent hymns that are sung there at morning and at evening. And I hope that every sun that shines, every star that rises, every wind that blows upon you will only bring you better thoughts and sweeter music. Have you found out that Nature is always talking to you, especially when you are alone, though she has not the gift of articulate speech? Have you found out what that great gray old ocean that is always in your sight says ? Listen. And what the withered leaves that shiver and chatter in the cold March wind ? Only listen. The Wind is the poet of the World, and sometimes he sings very pretty summer ballads, and sometimes very terrible odes and dirges. But if you will not tell me the little solitary thoughts that I am asking for, what Nature says to you, and what you say to Nature, at least you can tell me about your books, — what you like the least and what the best, ... the new studies, ... the drawing and the music and the dancing, — and fail not to write to your friend,


His “immense curiosity for Plymouth news” is not surprising; for he wrote this letter shortly before his marriage with Miss Jackson, of Plymouth. The “wise and kind” sister of his little cor

respondent was Miss Jackson's closest friend, and stood up with her at the wedding.

Emerson was also a patriot, a man who loved his country, and longed for it to do right. “One thing," he says, “is plain for all men of common sense and common conscience, that here, here in America is the home of man.” “ America is a poem in our eyes ;" “its ample geography dazzles the imagination, and it will not wait long for metres.” “For He that flung the broad blue fold

O’ermantling land and sea,
One third part of the sky unrolled

For the banner of the free.”

“For He that worketh high and wise

Nor pauses in his plan,
Will take the sun out of the skies

Ere freedom out of man.” Yet his greatest patriotic poem is not the Fourth of July Ode, from which I have been quoting, —

(“O tenderly the haughty day

Fills his blue urn with fire,”).

and not the “Concord Hymn,” never so familiar that we can read without a thrill, —

“Here once the embattled farmers stood,

And fired the shot heard round the world;"

his greatest patriotic poem is “Voluntaries,” which treats of slavery and the conflict between North and South. Freedom loves the North:

“The snowflake is her banner's star ;

Her stripes the boreal streamers are.”

It is this poem that answers the terrible question, —

“Who shall nerve heroic boys

To hazard all in Freedom's fight?"

with that mighty quatrain, —

“So nigh is grandeur to our dust,

So near is God to man,
When Duty whispers low, “Thou must,'
The youth replies, 'I can.”

Yet Emerson is greatest, not as philosopher, poet, or patriot, but as helper of men. He made men better by simply walking among them. I have spoken of his face as “through-shine,” as transfigured with love and refinement and wisdom, with the vision that shall not fade,

“And never poor beseeching glance

Shamed that sculptured countenance.”

It is much to remember him as I do, even in his old age; to have lived with those to whom he was “Mr. Emerson,” who had known him early, and who loved him as they loved no other man. Some of you may secretly wonder whether he was all that your elders have called him, just as I used to wonder whether the Parthenon, the great temple at Athens, was not Professor Norton's building rather than mine, whether it would appeal to such as I. When I saw the Parthenon, even in its ruin, I accepted it instantly and forever; and if you could have seen Emerson, even in his enfeebled old age, you would have accepted him.

« AnteriorContinuar »