The complete works of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Natural history of intellect, and other papers [Vol. 12]
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882., Emerson, Edward Waldo, 1844-1930.


MR. CABOT, in his prefatory note to the volume named as above, the material for which he collected and edited in 1893, said of Mr. Emerson, "He had, from his early youth, cherished the project of a new method in metaphysics, proceeding by observation of the mental facts, without attempting an analysis and coördination of them, which must, from the nature of the case, be premature. With this view, he had, at intervals from 1848 to 1866, announced courses on the 'Natural History of Intellect,' 'The Natural Method of Mental Philosophy' and 'Philosophy for the People.' He would, he said, give anecdotes of the spirit, a calendar of mental moods, without any pretence of system.

"None of these attempts, however, disclosed any novelty of method, or indeed, after the opening statement of his intention, any marked difference from his ordinary lectures. He had always been writing anecdotes of the spirit, and those which he wrote under this heading were used by him in subsequently published essays so largely that I find very little left for present publication. The lecture which gives its name to the volume ["Natural History of Intellect"] was the first of the earliest course [at Harvard University], and it seems to me to include all that distinctly belongs to the particular subject."

In an old note-book, perhaps of 1835, is an endeavor by Mr. Emerson to write down some of the laws of "The First Philosophy, by which is meant the original laws of the mind." There is in English Traits (page 240) a passage from which Page  422 one might infer that the reading of Bacon may have first suggested this plan.

While in England, he made a beginning of formulating these laws in lectures, and wrote to Miss Fuller:—

"I am working away in these mornings at some papers which, if I do not, as I suppose I shall not, get ready for lectures here, will serve me in a better capacity as a kind of book of metaphysics, to print at home. Does not James Walker [Professor of Moral Philosophy at Harvard College] want relief, and to let me be his lieutenant for one semester to his class in Locke?"

Soon after writing this, he gave a course in London called "Mind and Manners of the Nineteenth Century," of which the first three were on the Natural History of the Intellect, and were called respectively "Powers and Laws of Thought," "Relation of Intellect to Natural Science," and "Tendencies and Duties of Men of Thought." Mr. Cabot gives, in his Memoir of Emerson (vol. ii., pp. 558-560), in condensed form, the general import of these three lectures. Most of the matter reappears in different arrangement and with additions in the subsequent courses, namely, that of 1858, in Boston, on the Natural Method of Mental Philosophy, and that on the Philosophy of the People, in 1866.

When, in 1870, too late for the satisfactory performance of the duty, Mr. Emerson had the pleasure of being invited to give lectures on Philosophy in the university courses for advanced students at Cambridge, he made a serious effort to arrange and expand his previous notes. His strength was now failing, and the task of arrangement—always for him the most difficult part of his work—sorely burdened him, for he had to prepare two lectures a week for eight weeks. He used his old notes, with changes, and much that was later printed in Page  423 the essays on Poetry and Imagination, Inspiration, and Memory. Mr. Cabot, as literary executor, has done what was possible in arrangement of the manuscript material, and in an Appendix to the Memoir has given an admirable chronological list of the addresses and lectures, often giving abstracts of unpublished lectures, from which Mr. Emerson had taken many passages to use elsewhere.

Mr. Cabot's opinion, as expressed in the quotation above given from his Prefatory Note, is entitled to high consideration in this matter, both because Mr. Emerson intrusted to his judgment the decision as to what should be published of his manuscripts, and as being himself a metaphysician of mind acute, yet broad. There was, however, in two lectures given in London and Boston, which followed that printed by Mr. Cabot in the former edition, much matter that was interesting, if "not distinctly belonging to the particular subject." Therefore in the notes to this lecture I have given many passages that belonged in it, in an earlier form, and to a second lecture, and have ventured to print a third lecture, with little pruning, in the text.

Although Mr. Cabot was not quite ready to agree with his friend in his expression, "Who has not looked into a metaphysical book? and what sensible man ever looked twice?" he gives in his Memoir a most friendly and interesting critique on the Cambridge course. Mr. Emerson admired his friend's character and the quality of his mind. The poet had great and increasing comfort in the metaphysician, whether or no he followed him exactly in his reasoning. In 1843 Mr. Emerson wrote to Miss Elizabeth Hoar:—

"Mr. Cabot came up here and comforted the dry land with a little philosophy. Is not philosophy the simular poetry of the understanding, the mirage of the Sahara? Tax me not Page  424 with levity and the old aloofness. I truly revolve with humble docility and desire the world-old problems. I worship the real, I hate the critical, and athwart the whole sky-full of imperfections can keep some steady sight of the perfect, opening there a new horizon."

Mr. Emerson himself was disappointed and mortified as to his Cambridge courses, which proved too much for his strength and so became, as he called them to Carlyle, "a doleful ordeal." After the first course, he wrote to his friend:—

"Well, it is now ended, and has no shining side but this one, that materials are collected and a possibility shown me how a repetition of the course next year—which is appointed—will enable me, partly out of these materials, and partly by large rejection of these and by large addition to them, to construct a fair report of what I have read and thought on the subject. I doubt the experts in Philosophy will not praise my discourses;—but the topics give me room for my guesses, criticism, admirations and experiences with the accepted masters, and also the lessons I have learned from the hidden great. I have a fancy that a realist is the good corrector of formalism, no matter how incapable of syllogism or continuous linked statement. To great results of thought and morals the steps are not many, and it is not the masters who spin the ostentatious continuity."

He wrote even less happily of the second course, ending thus:—

"I have abundance of good readings and some honest writing on the leading topics,—but in haste and confusion they are misplaced and spoiled. I hope the ruin of no young man's soul will, here or hereafter, be charged to me as having wasted his time or confounded his reason."

Yet many persons have remembered these lectures with Page  425 pleasure. A hearer whom I think now it is proper to name—Mrs. Fields, wife of Mr. Emerson's friend, the publisher—wrote letters to a friend telling very pleasantly, from memory, what Mr. Emerson said, and after his death published this record in the Atlantic Monthly.1 Mr. Emerson sometimes named his subject "The Natural History of Spirit."

Page 3, note 1. It seems a pity to omit the end of this sentence,—his words of honor for the student of science:—

"Sure too of their immense relations and of the grandeur of their tendency, and yet himself deriving an honest dignity from the nobility of his studies, they lend him a certain severe charm."

Writing to his wife from London, in 1848, Mr. Emerson said: "Mr. Owen, who is in England what Agassiz is in America, has given me a card to his lectures at the College of Surgeons, and shown me the Hunterian Museum [Owen was the curator]. His lecture gratified me the more, or entirely, I may say, because, like Agassiz, he is an idealist in physiology." Later Mr. Owen showed him the Museum. Dr. Forbes took him to the Royal Institution "to hear Faraday, who is reckoned the best lecturer in London." He met Lyell often, and went to the Geological Club and took great pleasure in the debate heard there; he also heard Dr. Carpenter lecture. That same year, though the Revolution was in progress in Paris, he "went to the Sorbonne and heard a lecture from Leverrier on mathematics. It consisted chiefly of algebraic formulas, which he worked out on the blackboard,—but I saw the man."

Page 4, note 1. Here followed in the original:—

"But what most delighted me, and deepened the silence in Page  426 the College of Surgeons, was, in every instance, the general statement, the statement of widest application. And I thought, could we only have a list or summary of these results! better still, could we have one collected from all the departments and presented in the same rigorous manner, without any effusion of eloquence!"

Page 4, note 2. "Faraday is an excellent writer, and a wise man, and whilst I read him, I think, that if natural philosophy is faithfully written, moral philosophy need not be, for it will find itself expressed in these theses to a perceptive soul. That is, we shall read off the commandments and Gospels in Chemistry without need of translation; as we read a Latin or a French book to scholars without translation."

Page 5, note 1.

Thou seek'st in globe and galaxy,
He hides in pure transparency.

"Woodnotes," II., Poems.

Page 6, note 1.

But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

"Brahma," Poems.

Page 7, note 1. An interesting abstract of passages in the original which preceded this paragraph is given in Mr. Cabot's Memoir, vol. ii., p. 558.

Page 8, note 1. It is evident that this and the two preceding paragraphs were written in England in 1848. See Mr. Cabot's Memoir, vol. ii., p. 559.

Page 9, note 1. This matter is treated more fully in the essay "Aristocracy," in Lectures and Biographical Sketches.

Page 10, note 1. Here followed, in the English lecture:—

Page  427
"Blessed is the region of Thought,
"'Calm pleasures there abide, majestic pains.'
One would say whoever had tasted this beatitude would hold all other goods cheap. There is a certain medicinal value to the Intellect; 't is a fine ablution which chastens and encourages. Affairs make us stout and supple, but they engage us in low connections and compromises and hurt us. Palaces and luxury degrade and starve us as much as hard work and the society of the ignorant. Thoughts refresh and dignify us again and restore price to life. Thought, while it lasts, is the only thing of value, and appears of universal and eternal value.

"Whatever addresses itself to the intellect subordinates the senses. The Intellect absorbs so much vital power that it kills or suspends the senses. This is the meaning of the famous sentence that Vice loses half its evil by losing all its grossness. In vice it restores, in gloom and skepticism it replaces things.

"There is no day so dark but I know that the worst facts will presently appear to me in that high order which makes skepticism impossible. How can a man of any inwardness not feel the inwardness of the Universe? If he is capable of science and moral sentiment, the masses of nature undulate and flow; and in this hour of thought the world, the galaxy, is a scrap before the metaphysical power. In the words of the Koran, 'Verily worlds upon worlds can add nothing to it.'

"It is the interest of the whole human race. We announce, in contradiction to all doubt and all desperation, the tidings that the best is to be had: that the best is accessible and cheap. Every man cannot get land or jewels, but every man can get what land and money and rank are valued for, namely, substantial manhood, thoughts self-realizing and prophetic of Page  428 the farthest future, thoughts of which poetry and music are the necessary expression."

Page 10, note 2. In reply to criticism of his friend Alcott, Mr. Emerson used to say that his commanding merit was his habit of looking at things with a larger angle of vision than his critics, whether he brought his lines to a focus or not.

Page 11, note 1. Here followed: "I claim the same irresponsibleness and security with the chemist and astronomer. The observer has no duties but fidelity. He simply sets down on tablets the height of the mercury, the variation of the needle, the declination of the star, quite assured that these cold records will be found, when a century, or their natural cycle is complete, more beautiful rhythm, a more lovely dance, than any invention could have combined. It ought not to be less true of the metaphysician."

Page 14, note 1. In Representative Men, Mr. Emerson wrote:—

"A philosopher must be more than a philosopher. Plato is clothed with the powers of a poet, stands upon the highest place of the poet, and (though I doubt he wanted the decisive gift of lyric expression), mainly is not a poet because he chose to use the poetic gift to an ulterior purpose."

Page 16, note 1. Compare in the Poems "The Two Rivers" and the last verse in "Peter's Field."

Mr. Emerson's pleasure in Caesar's offer to renounce the empire, the army and Cleopatra, if he could be shown the fountains of the ancient Nile (the story told by Lucan), seems to have been for its symbolism.

Page 19, note 1.

Melting matter into dreams,
Panoramas which I saw
Page  429 And whatever glows or seems
Into substance, into Law.

"Fragments on the Poet," Poems, Appendix.

Page 20, note 1. The philosophy of Xenophanes, "one in all," appears constantly in the essays. See a passage in "Plato," in Representative Men: "The Same, the Same: friend and foe are of one stuff; the ploughman, the plough and the furrow are of one stuff; and the stuff is such and so much that the variations of form are unimportant."

Page 21, note 1.

Love me then and only, when you know
Me for the channel of the rivers of God
From deep ideal fontal heavens that flow.

"Fragments on Life," Poems, Appendix.

A passage from the earlier lecture may here be introduced:

"Show us what you will, and we are agitated with dim sentiments that we already know somewhat of this; somewhere, sometime, some eternity, we have played this game before, and have still retained some vague memory of the thing, which, though not sufficient to furnish us an account of it, yet enables us to understand it better, now that we are here."

Page 23, note 1. In Mr. Cabot's Memoir, and also in the biographical sketch of Mr. Emerson in the first volume of this edition, some account is given of his visit, in 1833, to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and its remarkable influence on his thought.

This passage in the lecture about the visits to museums is thus continued by Mr. Emerson on the influence of the stars, always felt by him:—

"Neither can a tender soul stand [under] the starry heaven and explore the solar and stellar bodies and arrangements without Page  430 the wish to mix with them by knowledge. If men are analogues of acids and alkalis, of beast and bird, so are they of geometric laws and of astronomic galaxies. … This knowledge and sympathy only needs augmentation and it becomes active or creative. The love of the stars becomes inventive and constructive. Descartes, Kepler, Newton, Swedenborg, Laplace, Schelling, wrestle with the problem of genesis, and occupy themselves with constructing cosmogonies. Nature is saturated with deity; the particle is saturated with the elixir of the Universe. Little men, just born, Copernicize: they cannot radiate as suns, or revolve as planets, and so they do it in effigy by building the orrery in their brain.

"Who can see the profuse wealth of Raphael's or Angelo's designs without feeling how near these were to the secret of structure; how little added power it needs to convert this rush of thoughts and forms into bodies.

"And we are very conscious that this identity reaches farther than we know, has no limits, or none that we can ascertain; as appears in the language that men use in regard to men of extraordinary genius. For the signal performances of great men seem an extension of the same art that built animal bodies applied to toys or miniatures. Thus in Laplace and Napoleon is the old planetary arithmetic now walking in a man, in the builder of Egyptian or in the designer of Gothic piles, a reduction of Nature's great aspects in caverns or forests, to a scale of human convenience; and there is a conviction in the mind that some such impulse is constant.

"Something like this is the root of all the great arts, of picture, music, sculpture, architecture, poetry, and the history of the highest genius will warrant the conclusion that, as a man's life comes into union with Nature, his thoughts run parallel with the highest law. …

Page  431 "Intellect agrees with Nature. Thought is a finer chemistry, a finer vegetation, a finer animal action. It agrees also with the moral code of the universe. There is nothing anomalous or antinomian in its higher properties, but a complete normality or allegiance to general laws, as shown by the moss, or the egg.

"The same laws which are kept in the lower parts, in the mines and workshops of Nature, are kept in the palaces and council-chambers. One police is good for the grub and for the seraphim. Nature is a shop of one price—prix fixé. Great advantages are bought at great cost. It is good to see the stern terms on which all these high prizes of fortune are obtained, and which parallel in their selectness the rigor of material laws.

"Knowledge is the straight line. Wisdom is the power of the straight line, or the square. Virtue is the power of the square, or the solid. A man reads in the Cultivator the method of planting and hoeing potatoes, and follows a farmer hoeing along the row of potato-hills. That is knowledge. At last he seizes the hoe, and at first with care and heed pulls up every root of sorrel and witch-grass. The day grows hot; the row is long; he says to himself, 'This is wisdom; but one hill is like another; I have mastered the art. It is trifling to do many times over the same thing:' and he desists. But the last lesson was still unlearned: the moral power lay in the continuance in fortitude, in working against pleasure to the excellent end and conquering all opposition. He has knowledge, he has wisdom, but he has missed virtue, which he only acquires who endures routine and sweat and postponement of ease to the achievement of a worthy end.

"The whole history of man is a series of conspiracies to win from Nature some advantage without paying for it: especially Page  432 the history of arts and of education. … It is curious to see what grand powers we have a hint of and are mad to get hold of, yet how slow Heaven is to trust us with edged tools. … The condition of participation in any man's thought is entering the gate of that life. No man can be intellectually apprehended as long as you see only with your eyes. You do not see him. You must be committed before you shall be intrusted with the secrets of any party.

"Besides, really and truly there were no short cuts. Every perception costs houses and lands. Every word of Genius apprises me how much he has turned his back upon. Every image, every truth, cost him a great neglect, the loss of an estate, the loss of a brilliant career opened to him; of friend, wife, child; the flat negation of a duty.

"Ah! the whole must come by his own proper growth, and not by addition; by education, not by inducation. If it could be pumped into him, what prices would not be paid; money, diamonds, houses, counties for that costly power that commands and creates all these: but no, the art of arts, the power of thought, Genius, cannot be taught."

Page 24, note 1. The original ending of the sentence about the grass should be given:—

"An identity long ago observed, or, I may say, never not observed, as if the gardener among his vines is in the presence of his ancestors, or shall I say, the orchardist is a pear raised to the highest power."

And the poor grass will plot and plan
What it will do when it is man.

"Bacchus," Poems.

Page 26, note 1. The paragraph originally ended as follows, passing from remote history to the wood-walk of the day:—

Page  433 "And in the conduct of the mind the blending of two tendencies or streams of thought, the union of two brains is a happy result. And usually every mind of a remarkable efficiency owes it to some new combination of traits not observed to have met before. All that delight which the eye owes to complemental colors, which the ear owes to the complemental sounds, the beautiful surprises of music, delights us still more in the combination of human life, and gives rise to love and joy. (For example, in Nature, those two harmonies of color which our winter scenery so frequently offers us, the contrast of snow lying under green pine-trees, and the snow under the dead oak-leaves; each of which contrasts gives the eye a lively pleasure.)"

Page 28, note 1. "As with events, so is it with thoughts. When I watch that flowing river, which, out of regions I see not, pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am a pensioner; not a cause, but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water; that I desire and look up and put myself in the attitude of reception, but from some alien energy the visions come."—"Over-Soul," Essays, First Series.

Page 29, note 1.

Day by day for her darlings to her much she added more;
In her hundred-gated Thebes every chamber was a door,
A door to something grander,—loftier walls, and vaster floor.

"Fragments on Nature," Poems, Appendix.

Page 30, note 1. Mr. Emerson used to warn against doing things consciously for example's sake, and said, "Act always from the simplest motive."

Page 34, note 1. In the lecture "School," in the course on Human Culture given in 1838-39, Mr. Emerson said:—

"Instinct, in the high sense, is so much our teacher as Page  434 almost to exclude all other teaching, but its means and weapons are the secondary instincts, the wants and faculties that belong to our organization."

Page 35, note 1. In the essay on "Self-Reliance" the question is raised, "What is the aboriginal Self on which a universal reliance may be grounded?" and answered: "The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition, whilst all later teachings are tuitions."

This shows that reliance is urged, not on the little self, but the Universal self of the Over-Soul.

Page 36, note 1. This passage is metrically rendered by Mr. Emerson in the first of the "Fragments on Nature," in the Poems.

Page 39, note 1. In "Art," in the first series of Essays, the importance of detachment in that field is considered (p. 354).

Page 41, note 1. Compare with the concluding lines of the poem "Freedom."

Page 43, note 1. This demand is made in the poem "Culture."

Page 44, note 1. Here followed in the lecture:—

"There is a story in the Nursery-books, which always seemed to me a covert satire directed at the Universities, of Velent, who had a sword so wonderfully sharp that its entrance into the body was hardly to be perceived. 'I feel thy sword,' cried AEmilius, 'like cold water, gliding through my body.' 'Shake thyself,' said Velent. He did so, and fell down dead in two pieces." [Mr. Emerson, writing this in a slightly different form, spoke of this sword as "not named Excalibur, but Thought."]

Page  435 After this story followed some further remarks on detachment:—

"In speaking of identity, I said, All things grow; in a living mind the thoughts live and grow, and what happens in the vegetable happens to them. There are always individuals under generals; not stagnant, not childless, but everything alive reproduces, and each has its progeny which fast emerge into light; or what seemed one truth presently multiplies itself into many.

"Of course this detachment the intellect contemplates. The intellect forever watches, foresees this detachment. 'T is an infinite series. Every detachment prepares a new detachment. Of course the prophecy becomes habitual and reaches to all things. Having seen one thing that once was firmament enter into the kingdom of growth and change, the conclusion is irresistible, there is no fixture in the universe. Everything was moved, did spin, and will spin again. This changes once for all his view of things. Things appear as seeds of an immense future. Whilst the dull man always [lives] in a finished world, the thinker always finds himself in the early ages; the world lies to him in heaps."

Here follows the paragraph in the text: "The intellect that sees the interval partakes of it," etc.

Page 45, note 1. The coldness of Intellect is somewhat grimly pictured in the verses called "Philosopher," in the Appendix to the Poems. The above paragraph in the text was originally thus continued:—

"You may see it in any obscure family in which the boy of genius is born; it makes him strange among his housemates. He can take what interest he will in their interests and pursuits, he cannot be mixed with them; he holds a Gyges ring in his hand, and can disappear from them at will. …

Page  436 "This inevitable interval is one of the remarkable facts in the natural history of man, a fact fraught with good and evil. It is only those who have this detachment who interest us. If we go to any nation, who are they whom we seek? The men of thought. If we go to any society, though of seraphim, he only would interest us who comprehended and could interpret the thought and theory, and that act does instantly detach him from them. That thought is the unfolding of wings on his shoulders. The poet, in celebrating his hero, celebrates to the wise ear his superiority to his hero, and announces to the intelligent the lowness of that he magnifies. Shall I say that it is an exquisite luxury, for so I feel it, the speech of those who speak of things by the genius of the things, and not by the facts themselves? What is vulgar but the laying the emphasis on persons and facts, and not on the quality of the fact?"

Page 45, note 2. Here followed in one lecture:—

"The correction for this insubordination is here, that religion runs in true and parallel lines through the Intellect, as through Morals. All the powers and rewards of Faith which we find in the Good hold equally in the region of the True. Integrity is really the fountain of power in one as in the other. Seek first the kingdom of Heaven and all shall be added. It is the office of the poet to justify the moral sentiment and establish its eternal independence of demoniac agencies."

Page 45, note 3. "Emerson's method was to let the inspirations of the spirit lead the way, instead of inflicting one's hypotheses and presuppositions on the spirit. He wanted to know what life was for the spirit, not what it could be made for a certain philosophic demand."—Man and the Divine Order, by Horatio W. Dresser.

Page 46, note 1. Two thoughts in this paragraph are to Page  437 be found in the collection of fragmentary verses in the Appendix to the Poems:

That book is good
Which puts me in a working mood.
Unless to Thought is added Will,
Apollo is an imbecile;—
Hold of the Maker, not the Made;
Sit with the Cause, or grim or glad.

Page 49, note 1. "The intellect constructive, which we popularly designate by the word Genius," is discussed in "Intellect," in the first series of Essays. It is there spoken of as "the generation of the mind, the marriage of thought with Nature."

Page 50, note 1. Compare the "Song of Nature," in the Poems.

A passage on this subject from a lecture may here be inserted:—

"A small acceleration of the intellectual processes without loss of tenacity (continuance) would of course add indefinite ages to human life; a small increase of perception would be equivalent to any increase of power. Observe the effect upon one mind of being comprehended by another mind and forced to take a leap forward, the first hint perhaps of a larger dialectic. He who has seen one proof, ever so slight, of the terrific powers of this organ, will remember it all the days of his life. The most venerable proser will be surprised into silence. It is like the first hint that the earth moves, or that iron is a conductor of fluids, or that granite is a gas. The solids, the centres, rest itself, fly and skip. Rest is a relation, and not rest any longer. And here is revealed to me some neighboring activity, a mere intellection, some new condition Page  438 of ideal order, which seems to have dropped wings to solid earth and solid houses and real estates, which, like so many nimble mosquitoes, do exceedingly leap and fly. How many times?—once at least in every man's experience has repeated itself the question of Callicles, 'If you are in earnest, Socrates, and these things which you say are true, is not our human life subverted, and are not all our actions (as it seems) contrary to what they ought to be?' "

Page 51, note 1. In his journal in the autumn of 1838, Mr. Emerson records the visit to him of Jones Very, then in a state of strange exaltation of mind in which his host found food for thought. He writes: "Entertain every thought, every character that goes by with the hospitality of your soul. … Especially if one of these monotones (whereof, as my friends think, I have a savage society like a menagerie of monsters) come to you, receive him. For the partial action of his mind in one direction is a telescope for the objects on which it is pointed."

Page 52, note 1. The paragraph suggests the complaint of Alphonso of Castile, in the Poems.

Page 53, note 1. Mr. Emerson's method of listening for the thought and recording it in its purity, and his fear of the "ambitious interference which we miscall Art," as he once expressed himself, naturally resulted in the sentence—or paragraph—being, for him, the natural limit of expression, as his biographer has said. He himself complained to Carlyle of these "infinitely repellant particles" which he was striving to unite into a whole. Matthew Arnold and others have complained of his style's lacking "the requisite wholeness of good tissue." Yet his best work stands as he would have it. He meant, like Plotinus, not to "hastily disclose to every one the syllogistic necessities of his discourse." He allowed Page  439 intervals for the electric spark to pass and thrill the reader. As he told a young friend, "Try and leave a little thinking for him; that will be better for both. The trouble of most writers is that they spread too thin. The reader is as quick as they, has got there before, and is ready and waiting. … If you can see how the harness fits, he can. But be sure that you see it."1

There are many readers who would not wish the method changed. Herman Grimm wrote:—

"What he has written is like life itself—the unbroken thread ever lengthened through the addition of the small events which make up each day's experience. … His sentences are series of thoughts. He begins as if continuing a discourse whose opening we had not heard, and ends as if only pausing to take breath before going on.

"We feel that Emerson never wished to say more than just what at the moment presented itself to his soul. He never sets up a system, never defended himself. He speaks as if he had never been assailed; as if all men were his friends, and held the same opinions as himself."

Page 56, note 1. This teaching is found in "Literary Ethics," in the volume Nature, Addresses and Lectures, and in "The Scholar," in Lectures and Biographical Sketches.

Page 58, note 1. These paragraphs follow in one of the lectures:—

"The brain and hands are hardly contemporaries. The brain is the ancestor of the man. The intellectual is the watchman, the angel in the sun, and announces the far-off age. All its laws it can read before yet the happy men arrive who enter into power; but the rest of the man must follow his Page  440 head, and if I can see the eyes, I will trust that he will soon be able to disengage his hands.

"Every truth tends to become a power; every idea from the moment of its emergence begins to gather material forces, and, after a little while, makes itself known in the spheres of politics and commerce. It works first on thoughts, then on things, and makes feet and afterwards shoes; first hands and then gloves; makes the men, and so the age and its material soon after."

Page 59, note 1.

The heavens that now draw him
With sweetness untold,
Once found,—for new heavens
He spurneth the old.

"The Sphinx," Poems.

Page 61, note 1. In the essay on Character (Lectures and Biographical Sketches) Mr. Emerson says the Moral Sentiment "helps us, not by adding, but by putting us in place," and speaks of Truth, Power, Goodness and Beauty as convertible terms; and in "Greatness" (Letters and Social Aims) says that "the Intellect and Moral Sentiment cannot be separated." See also "Worship," in Conduct of Life.

Page 62, note 1. He counselled young writers, "Omit all negative propositions; it will save ninety-nine one hundredths of your labor and increase the value of your work in the same measure."

See also his poem "Music."

Page 62, note 2. This last Ego is the self of "Self-Reliance."

Page 64, note 1. The conclusion brings to mind the last lines in the poem "Wealth."

These sheets from the early lecture may be added:—

Page  441 "Every truth is universally applicable, thousand-sided. Every drop of blood has great talent; the original cellule seems identical in all animals, and only varied in its growth by the varying circumstance which opens now this kind of cell and now that, causing in the remote effect now horns, now wings, now scales, now hair; and the same numerical atom, it would seem, was equally ready to be a particle of the eye or brain of man, or of the claw of a tiger. In the body of a man, all those terrific agencies which belong to it, the capability of being developed into a saurus or a mammoth, a baboon that would twist off heads, or a grampus that tears a square foot of flesh from a whale, are held in check and subordinated to human genius and destiny, but it is ready at any time to pass into other circles and take its part in poorer or in better forms. Nay, it seems that the animal and vegetable texture at last are alike. Well, as thus the drop of blood has many talents lurking in it, so every truth is much more rich.

"Every law detected in any part of Nature holds in every other part. The law of music is law of anatomy, of algebra and astronomy, of human life and social order. … It is certain that the laws are all versions of each other. The symmetry and coördination of things is such that from any creature, well and inly known, the law of any other might be legitimately deduced. Palmistry, phrenology, astrology, rest on a real basis. 'T is certain that there is a relation between the stars and your wedding-day, between the lines of your hand and the works done by it, between the activity of your brain and its outward figure,—there is a relation,—though you may easily fail to find it.

"The world, the universe, may be reeled off from any idea like a ball of yarn. Just see how the chemist, how the Christian, how the negro, disposes of it with the greatest case Page  442 after his own peculiar habit, and finds all the facts fit and confirm his view. And each science and law is, in like manner, prospective and fruitful. Astronomy is not yet astronomy while it only counts the stars in the sky. It must come nearer and be related to men and their life, and interpret the moral laws. In learning one thing you learn all. Egg and stratum go together. …

"The ground of hope is in the infinity of the world which reappears in every particle. The man truly conversant with life knows, against all appearances, that there is a remedy for every wrong, and that every wall is a gate."

These two passages from the journals should be also given:

1843. "That the Intellect grows by moral obedience seems to me the Judgment Day. Let that fact once obtain credence and all wrongs are righted; sorrow and pity are no more, nor fear, nor hatred; but a justice as shining and palpable as the best we know of kings and caliphs and ordeals, and what we call 'poetical justice,' that is, thorough justice, justice to the eye and justice to the mind—takes place."

1865. "Our thoughts have a life of their own, independent of our will."