« AnteriorContinuar »
constituted man is his labor. Use is inscribed on all his faculties. Use is the end to which he exists. As the tree exists for its fruit, so a man for his work. A fruitless plant, an idle animal, does not stand in the universe."
He believed in work that left no time for worrying: “But blest is he who playing deep yet haply asks
not why, Too busied with the crowded hour to fear to live
or die." And he believed in work through everything, – “On bravely through the sunshine and the
showers! Time hath his work to do and we have ours.”
Such was the courage of his preaching and of his life. We are to be ourselves in the present, not to make ourselves like anybody else or like what we ourselves have been. If we are inconsistent, no matter; if we are misunderstood, no matter. “With consistency,” he says, “a
great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day. “Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood !' Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood ? ... Every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh ” has been misunderstood.
“Whenever a mind is simple and receives a divine wisdom, old things pass away, - means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour."
“Our helm is given up to a better guidance than our own; the course of events is quite too strong for any helmsman, and our little wherry is taken in tow by the ship of the great Admiral, which knows the way, and has the force to draw men and states and planets to their good.”
And there was no room in his philosophy for the sickly and discontented. As one of “the first obvious rules of life,” he says, “ Get health.” “And the best part of health,” he adds, “is fine disposition. It is more essential than talent, even in the works of talent. Nothing will supply the want of sunshine to peaches, and to make knowledge valuable, you must have the cheerfulness of wisdom.”
“I know how easy it is to men of the world to look grave, and sneer at your sanguine youth and its glittering dreams. But I find the gayest castles in the air that were ever piled far better for comfort and for use than the dungeons in the air that are daily dug and caverned out by grumbling, discontented people.”
Nor is cheerfulness for the young only :
“Spring still makes spring in the mind
When sixty years are told ;
Over the winter glaciers
Even though old age bring loss of power, it need not bring loss of cheerfulness :
“ As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time;
And every wave is charmed.” If disaster come, there is good in it. “We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.”
George Eliot tells us of a woman who seemed among other people like a fine quotation from the Bible in a paragraph of a newspaper. Something like this might be said of Emerson, who brought into everyday life the help that cometh from the hills. “I believe,” says an old friend of his, “no man ever had so deep
an influence as he had on the life and thought of the young people of his day. I think there are many who would say ... that it has been one of the chief privileges of their life to have lived at the same time with him.”
I have tried to show you what Emerson has meant to American youth; how he has stood for pure life, high thought, brave speech, patient and cheerful work; how he found in everything poetry and a man's poetry, and revealed that poetry to the world : but this is not all. It is as easy to “put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes” as to compass in half an hour a great man. I might speak of him as a forerunner of Darwin. “Man,” he says, “is no upstart in the creation, but has been prophesied in nature for a thousand, thousand ages before he appeared. . . . His limbs are only a more exquisite organization - say rather the finish — of the rudimental