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If there be power in good intention, in fidelity
and in toil, the North wind shall be purer, the stars in heaven shall glow with a kindlier beam, that I have lived. I am primarily engaged to myself to be a public servant of all the gods, to demonstrate to all men that there is intelligence and good will at the heart of things, and ever higher and yet higher leadings. These are my engagements; how can your law further or hinder me in what I shall do to men? ... Wherever there are men, are the objects of my study and love. Sooner or later all men will be my friends and will testify in all methods the energy of their regards.
Such is the hero's attitude in facing life, Emerson said, in one of his early lectures. After his death, forty years later, his friend Dr. Holmes in writing of him said, “Consciously or unconsciously men describe themselves in the characters they draw. One must have the mordant in his own personality or he will not take the color of his subject,” and the Doctor goes on to show how well the test applies to his prose, and especially to his verse. And as for the North wind and the stars, Emerson held their bracing and uplifting influence dependent on the preparation of the soul:
Light-loving, asking, life in me
Feeds those eternal lamps I see. His spiritual autobiography might be given almost in its completeness in impersonal extracts, duly ordered, from his prose and verse. There, as he said of Shakspeare, “in place of meagre fact we have really the information which is material: that which describes character and fortune, that which, if we were about to meet the man and deal with him, would most import us to know. We have his recorded convictions on those questions which knock for answer at every heart — on life and death, on love, on wealth and poverty, on the prizes of life and the ways whereby we come at them; on the characters of men and the influences, occult and open, which affect their fortunes; and on those mysterious and demoniacal powers which defy our science and which yet interweave their malice and their gift in our brightest hours.” In his journal for 1841 Mr. Emerson wrote, “Seemed to me that I had the keeping of a secret too great to be confided to one man : that a divine man dwelt near me in a hollow tree.” And again, “All that is said of the wise man by Stoic or Oriental