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that the diffidence of mankind in the soul has crept over the American mind; that men here, as elsewhere, are indisposed to innovation, and prefer any antiquity, any usage, any livery productive of ease or profit, to the unproductive service of thought.
Yet, in every sane hour, the service of thought appears reasonable, the despotism of the senses insane. The scholar may, and does, lose himself, in schools; in words; becomes a pedant; yet, when he comprehends his duties, he above all men is a realist, and converses with things. For, the scholar is the student of the world, and of what worth the world is, and with what emphasis it accosts the soul of man, such is the worth, such the call of the scholar.
The want of the times, and the propriety of this anniversary, concur to draw attention to the doctrine of Literary Ethics. On that doctrine I wish to offer you a few thoughts. What I have to say, distributes itself under the topics of the resources, the subject, and the discipline of the scholar.
I. The resources of the scholar are proportioned to his confidence in the attributes of the Intellect. The resources of the scholar are co
extensive with nature and truth, yet can never be his, unless claimed by him with an equal greatness of mind. He cannot know them until he has beheld with awe the infinitude and impersonality of the intellectual power, and worshipped that great light. When he has seen, that it is not his, nor any man's, but that it is the soul which made the world, and that it is all accessible to him, he will then see, that he, as its minister, may rightfully hold all things subordinate and answerable to it. When he stands in the world, he feels himself its native king. A divine pilgrim in nature, all things attend his steps. Over him stream the flying constellations; over him streams Time, as they, scarcely divided into months and years. He inhales the year as a vapour: its fragrant midsummer breath, its sparkling January heaven. And so pass into his mind, in bright transfiguration, the grand events of history, to take a new order and scale from him. He is the world; and the epochs and heroes of chronology are pictorial images, in which his thoughts are told. There is no event but sprung somewhere from the soul of man; and therefore there is none but the soul of man can interpret. Every preSentiment of the mind is executed somewhere in some gigantic fact. What else is Greece, Rome,
England, France, St Helena ? What else are churches, and literatures, and empires ?
But the soul, so feeling its right, must exercise the same, or it surrenders itself to the usurpation of facts. Essential to our riches is the unsleeping assertion of spiritual independence, as all the history of literature may teach. The new man must feel that he is new, and has not come into the world mortaged to the opinions and usages of Europe, and Asia, and Egypt. The sense of spiritual independence is like the lovely varnish of the dew, whereby the old, hard, peaked earth, and its old self-same productions, are made new every morning, and shining with the last touch of the artist's hand. A false humility, a complaisance to reigning schools, or to the wisdom of antiquity, must not defraud me of supreme possession of this hour. If any person have less love of liberty, and less jealousy to guard his integrity, shall he therefore dictate to you and me? Say to such doctors, We are thankful to you, as we are to history, to the pyramids and the authors; but now our day is come; we have been born out of eternal silence ; and now will we live,–live for ourselves,—and not as the pall-bearers of a funeral, but as the upholders and creators of our age; and neither Greece nor Rome, nor the three Unities of Aristotle, nor the three Kings of Cologne, nor the College of the Sorbonne, nor the Edinburgh Review, is to command any longer. Now we are come, and will put our own interpretation on things, and, moreover, our own things for interpretation. Please himself with complaisance who will,—for me, things must take my scale, not I theirs. I will say with the warlike king, “God gave me this crown, and the whole world shall not take it away.”
The whole value of history, of biography, is to increase my self-trust, by demonstrating what man can be and do. This is the moral of the Plutarchs, the Tennemanns, the Cudworths, who give us the story of men or of opinions. Any history of philosophy fortifies my faith in the treasuries of the soul, by showing me, that what high dogmas I had supposed were the rare and late fruit of a cumulative culture, and only now possible to some recent Kant or Fichte,—were the prompt improvisations of the earliest inquirers; of Parmenides, Heraclitus, and Xenophanes. In view of these students, the soul seems to whisper, “There is a better way than this indolent learning of another. Leave me alone; do not teach me out of Leibnitz or Schelling, and I shall find it all out myself.”
Still more do we owe to biography the fortification of our hope. If you would know the power of character, see how much you would impoverish the world, if you could take clean out of history the life of Milton, of Shakspeare, of Plato,—these three, and cause them not to be. See you not, instantly, how much less the power of man would be! I console myself in the poverty of my present thoughts, in the scarcity of great men, in the malignity and dulness of the nations, by falling back on these sublime recollections, and seeing what the prolific soul could beget on actual nature:
-seeing that Plato was, and Shakspeare, and Milton,-three irrefragable facts. Then I dare ; I also will essay, to be. The humblest, the most hopeless, in view of these radiant facts, may now theorise and hope. In spite of all the rueful abortions that squeak and gibber in the street, in spite of slumber and guilt, in spite of the army, the bar-room, and the jail, have been these glorious manifestations of the mind; and I will thank my great brothers so truly for the admonition of their being, as to endeavour also to be just and bold, to aspire and to speak. Plotinus too, and Spinoza, and the immortal bards of philosophy,—that which they have written out with patient courage, makes me bold. No more will I dismiss, with