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(1799-1850). 1 “Théorie de la démarche”: “Theory of the Gait.” I Saint Simon, .... de Retz, .... Roederer: Frenchmen of the eighteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, respectively, who wrote memoirs illustrating life at court. I“Notre Dame”: a novel by Victor Hugo (1802-85).
(399) Fuseli: a Swiss painter (1741-1825), who lived much in England. 1 Northcote: an English painter, a contemporary of Fuseli.
(400) Pariah caste: the lowest caste in India, shunned by all the other castes. 1 says Aspasia: in Landor's Imaginary Conversations, “Pericles and Aspasia,” CLIV.
(401) a sibyl: probably Emerson's aunt, Mary Moody Emerson. I Cassandras: Cassandra, daughter of Priam, was given prophetic insight by Apollo.
(402) Aristotle, nor Leibnitz, nor Junius, nor Champollion: Aristotle's works include a treatise on rhetoric; Leibnitz (1646-1716) gave some attention to philology; Franziskus Junius (1589-1677), a student of Teutonic tongues, wrote on English etymology; Champollion (1790-1832) discovered the key to the Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions. | Jacobi: a German philosopher (1743–1819).
CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM “Emerson fills the same rôle of observer and of endless seeker, with an audacity and a concentration of thought which bring him near at the same time to the sages of antiquity. .... Emerson has all the qualities of the sage: originality, spontaneity, wise observation, delicate analysis, critical temper, and freedom from dogmatism."-Revue des Deux Mondes, July-September, 1847. (Translation.)
“When we accuse Mr. Emerson of obscurity, it is not obscurity of style that we mean. His style often rises—as our readers have had already opportunities of judging-into a vivid, terse, and graphic eloquence, agreeably tinged at times with a poetic colouring; and although he occasionally adopts certain inversions which are not customary in modern prose, he never lays himself open to the charge of being difficult or unintelligible. But there is an obscurity of thought-in the very matter of his writings-produced first by a vein of mysticism which runs throughout his works, and, secondly, by a manner he sometimes has of sweeping together into one paragraph a number of unsorted ideas, but scantily related to each other-bringing up his drag-net with all manner of fish in it, and depositing it then and there before us. . . . . That which forms the great and inextinguishable charm of those writings is the fine moral temper they display, the noble ardour, the high ethical tone they everywhere manifest and sustain, and especially that lofty independence of his intellect, that freedom of his reason which the man who aspires after true cultivation should watch over and preserve with the utmost jealousy.”—Blackwood's Magazine, December, 1847.
“The present volume (Representative Men) is marked strongly both by the excellences and defects of Mr. Emerson's other writings. His style is often musical, clear, and brilliant; words are selected with so rare a felicity that they have the shine of diamonds, and they cut their meaning on the reader's mind as the diamond's edge leaves its trace deep and sharp on the surface of glass. But by and by, we fall upon a passage which either conveys no distinct sense, or in which some very common-place thought is made to sound with the clangor of a braying trumpet. Quaintness of thought and expression is his easily besetting sin; and here lies the secret of his sympathy with Carlyle, that highly gifted master of oddity and affectation. As a writer, Mr. Emerson is every way Carlyle's superior, would he but let the Carlylese dialect alone. He has more imagination, more refinement and subtlety of thought, more taste in style, more exquisite sense of rhythm. Perhaps his range of intellectual vision is not so broad. He has not the learning of Carlyle, nor the abundant humor, which sometimes reconciles us even to absurdity. But Mr. Emerson has a more delicate wit, a wit often quite irresistible by its unexpected turns, and the sudden introduction of effective contrasts.”—C. C. Felton, in The North American Review, April, 1850.
“The bother with Mr. Emerson is, that, though he writes in prose, he is essentially a poet. If you undertake to paraphrase what he says, and to reduce it to words of one syllable for infant minds, you will make as sad work of it as the good monk with his analysis of Homer in the 'Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum.' We look upon him as one of the few men of genius whom our age has produced, and there needs no better proof of it than his masculine faculty of fecundating other minds. Search for his eloquence in his books and you will perchance miss it, but meanwhile you will find that it has kindled all your thoughts. For choice and pith of language he belongs to a better age than ours, and might rub shoulders with Fuller and Browne,—though he does use that abominable word, reliable. His eye for a fine, telling phrase that will carry true is like that of a backwoodsman for a rifle; and he will dredge you up a choice word from the ooze of Cotton Mather himself. A diction at once so rich and so homely as his we know not where to match in these days of writing by the page; it is like homespun cloth-of-gold. The many cannot miss his meaning, and only the few can find it. It is the open secret of all true genius.”—J. R. Lowell, in The Atlantic Monthly, February, 1861.
“Whether he turns his eyes abroad or fixes them on what passes around him at home, he can now and again send a glance right to the heart of the matter. Looking across the dreary flats of the American multitude, we see him as a man in their midst of pronounced individuality, with force to resist the tyranny of the majority-with moral courage and mental vigour enough to withstand the pressure of the crowd. Although sitting, he seems to us a head and shoulders above the rest, and we think that what he says of his countrymen, as of us, is worth listening to.”—The Quarterly Review, January, 1864.
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (406) THE MINISTER'S BLACK VEIL. From Twice-Told Tales. The text is from the 1851 edition.
(411) they tolled the wedding knell: see Hawthorne's tale, “The Wedding Knell,” in Twice-Told Tales.
(418) DR. HEIDEGGER'S EXPERIMENT. From Twice-Told Tales. The text is from the 1851 edition.
(419) Hippocrates: a famous Greek physician, of the fifth century B.C., called “the father of medicine.”
(428) RAPPACCINE'S DAUGHTER. From Mosses from an Old Manse. The text is from the 1854 edition.
(429) Verlumnus: the god of the changing nature of the seasons.
(446) an old classic author: Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82). In his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or “Vulgar Errors,” Book VII, chapter 17, he says, “A story there passeth of an Indian king, that sent unto Alexander a fair woman, fed with aconites and other poisons, with this intent, .... complexionally to destroy him.” Hawthorne enters the sentence in his American Note-Books, under date of January 4, 1839.
(448) Benvenuto Cellini: a Florentine silversmith and sculptor (1500–71). 1 poisons of the Borgias: Cesare Borgia (1478–1507) and Lucrezia Borgia (1480 1519), children of Pope Alexander VI, gained an evil fame--undeserved by Lucrezia--for murders committed by the use of poisons.
(455) FEATHERTOP. From Mosses from an Old Manse. The text is from the 1854 edition.
(463) shares in a broken bubble: an allusion to the famous South Sea Bubble, the name given to a scheme originating in England near the beginning of the eighteenth century, to secure a monopoly of trade with Spanish South America; it collapsed, and the stockholders lost heavily.
CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM “We are disposed, on the strength of these volumes (Twice-Told Tales), to accord to Mr. Hawthorne a high rank among the writers of this country, and to predict, that his contributions to its imaginative literature will enjoy a permanent and increasing reputation. Though he has not produced any elaborate and longsustained work of fiction, yet his writings are most strikingly characterized by that creative originality, which is the essential life-blood of genius. . . . . He blends together, with a skilful hand, the two worlds of the seen and the unseen. He never fairly goes out of the limits of probability, never calls up an actual ghost, or dispenses with the laws of nature; but he passes as near as possible to the dividing line, and his skill and ingenuity are sometimes tasked to explain, by natural laws, that which produced upon the reader all the effect of the supernatural. In this, too, his originality is conspicuously displayed. ... . His language is very pure, his words are uniformly well chosen, and his periods are moulded with great grace and skill.” -H. W. Longfellow, in The North American Review, April, 1842.
"Of Mr. Hawthorne's Tales we would say, emphatically, that they belong to the highest region of Art-an Art subservient to genius of a very lofty order. .... There is, perhaps, a somewhat too general or prevalent tone-a tone of melancholy and mysticism. The subjects are insufficiently varied. There is not so much of versatility evinced as we might well be warranted in expecting from the high powers of Mr. Hawthorne. But beyond these trivial exceptions we have really none to make. The style is purity itself."-E. A. Poe, in Graham's Magazine, May, 1842.
“He is infinitely too fond of allegory, and can never hope for popularity so long as he persists in it. This he will not do, for allegory is at war with the whole tone of his nature, which disports itself never so well as when escaping from the mysticism of his Goodman Browns and White Old Maids into the hearty, genial, but still Indian-summer sunshine of his Wakefields and Little Annie's Rambles.
. . . . Let him mend his pen, get a bottle of visible ink, come out from the Old Manse, cut Mr. Alcott, hang (if possible) the editor of 'The Dial,' and throw out of the window to the pigs all his odd numbers of “The North American Review."" -E. A. Poe, in Godey's Lady's Book, November, 1847.
“The 'Mosses from an old Manse,' is occasionally written with an elegance of style which may almost bear comparison with that of Washington Irving; and though certainly it is inferior to the works of that author in taste and judgment, and whatever may be described as artistic talent, it exhibits deeper traces of thought and reflection. .... Mr. Hawthorne appears to have little skill and little taste for dealing with matter of fact or substantial incident, but relies for his favourable impression on the charm of style, and the play of thought and fancy. The most serious defect in his stories is the frequent presence of some palpable improbability which mars the effect of the whole — .... improbability in the main motive and state of mind which he has undertaken to describe, and which forms the turning point of the whole narrative."--Blackwood's Magazine, November, 1847.
“No one who has taken up the Scarlet Letter will willingly lay it down till he has finished it; and he will do well not to pause, for he cannot resume the story where he left it. He should give himself up to the magic power of the style, without stopping to open wide the eyes of his good sense and judgment, and shake off the spell; or half the weird beauty will disappear like a 'dissolving view.' .... One cannot but wonder, by the way, that the master of such a wizard power over language as Mr. Hawthorne manifests should not choose a less revolting subject than this of the Scarlet Letter, to which fine writing seems as inappropriate as fine embroidery.”—Miss A. W. Abbott, in The North American Review, July, 1850.
“He always takes us below the surface and beyond the material; his most inartificial stories are eminently suggestive; he makes us breathe the air of contemplation, and turns our eyes inward ..... And yet there is no painful extravagance, no transcendental vagaries in Hawthorne; his imagination is as human as his heart; if he touches the horizon of the infinite, it is with reverence; if he deals with the anomalies of sentiment, it is with intelligence and tenderness. His utterance too is singularly clear and simple; his style only rises above the colloquial in the sustained order of its flow; the terms are apt, natural and fitly chosen. .... This genuine and unique romance (The Scarlet Letter] may be considered as an artistic exposition of Puritanism as modified by New England colonial life. In truth to costume, local manners and scenic features, the Scarlet Letter is as reliable as the best of Scott's novels; in the anatomy of human passion and consciousness it resembles the most effective of Balzac's illustrations of Parisian or provincial life, while in developing bravely and justly the sentiment of the life it depicts, it is as true to humanity as Dickens. Beneath its picturesque details and intense characterization, there lurks a profound satire."—H. T. Tuckerman, in The Southern Literary Messenger, June, 1851.
“The mind of this child of witch-haunted Salem loved to hover between the natural and the supernatural, and sought to tread the almost imperceptible and doubtful line of contact. .... His genius broods entranced over the evanescent phantasmagoria of the vague debatable land in which the realities of experience blend with ghostly doubts and wonders. But from its poisonous flowers what a wondrous perfume he distilled! Through his magic reed, into what penetrating melody he blew that deathly air! His relentless fancy seemed to seek a sin that was hopeless, a cruel despair that no faith could throw off. Yet his naive and wellpoised genius hung over the gulf of blackness, and peered into the pit with the steady nerve and simple face of a boy. . . . . It was not beauty in itself, nor deformity, not virtue nor vice, which engaged the author's deepest sympathy. It was the occult relation between the two. Thus while the Puritans were of all men pious, it was the instinct of Hawthorne's genius to search out and trace with terrible tenacity the dark and devious thread of sin in their lives. Human life and character, whether in New England two hundred years ago or in Italy to-day, interested him only as they were touched by this glamour of sombre spiritual mystery; and the attraction pursued him in every form in which it appeared.”—G. W. Curtis, in The North American Review, October, 1864.
“The Puritanism of the past found its unwilling poet in Hawthorne, the rarest creative imagination of the century, the rarest in some ideal respects since Shakespeare.”—J. R. Lowell, in an article on Thoreau, in The North American Review, October, 1865.
“That Fate which the Greeks made to operate from without, we recognize at work within in some vice of character or hereditary predisposition. Hawthorne, the most profoundly ideal genius of these latter days, was continually returning more or less directly, to this theme; and his ‘Marble Faun,' whether consciously or not, illustrates that invasion of the aesthetic by the moral which has confused art by dividing its allegiance.”—J. R. Lowell, in a review of Swinburne's tragedies, in The North American Review, April, 1866.
“This is the quality likewise of Hawthorne's humour. But his has more piquancy and new-world flavour. To do it justice, however, would demand a close psychological study, so curious and complex were the riture and genius of the man; the nature was a singular growth for such a soil, the genius out of keeping with the environment, or, as the Americans would say, the 'fixings,'—a new-world man who shrank like a sensitive plant from the heat, and haste, and loudness of his countrymen, and whose brooding mind was haunted by shadows from the past. There was a sombre background to his mind or temperament, against which the humour plays more brightly.”—The Quarterly Review, “Yankee Humour,” January, 1867.
HENRY D. THOREAU (474) WALDEN. Chapters 2 and 12. The text is from the 1854 edition.
(475) “I am monarch of all I survey": from Cowper's poem on Alexander Selkirk, the original of Robinson Crusoe; in the last word Thoreau puns on his occupation as a land-surveyor.
(478) Harivansa: a Sanskrit poem.
(480) its own wrath and wanderings: the Iliad begins, “Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles''; the Odyssey tells of the wanderings of Odysseus on his way home from the Trojan War. I till forbidden: the words, contracted to “tf,” used in newspapers to show that an advertisement is to stand until further notice.