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THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR
he thought, for the sluggard intellect' of America to 'look from under its iron lids' and prove itself equal to something more than 'exertions of me'chanical skill.' We have been too long the bond slave of Europe.
True emancipation consists in freedom from the idea that only a few gifted ones of the earth are privileged to learn truth at first hand. Let us not be cowed by great men.
Emerson notes three influences acting upon the scholar. First, nature, always with us and taking the impress of our minds. Second, books, which, noble as they are in theory, have their danger: 'I 'had better never see a book than be warped by 'its attraction clean out of my own orbit.' Third, life, everything which is the opposite of mere thinking. 'If it were only for a vocabulary the 'scholar would be covetous of action. Life is our dictionary.'
Above all, he praises the obscure scholar who without hope of visible reward, reckoning at true value the seesaw of public whim and fancy, patient of neglect, patient of reproach, 'is happy if he can satisfy himself alone that this day he has seen 'something truly.'
'The Divinity Address,' as it is called, was thought in its day nothing short of outrageous radicalism. The now well-known Emersonian plea for a noble individuality is made in terms the most inspiring. He bewails the helplessness of mankind.
'All men go in flocks to this saint or that poet, 'avoiding the God who seeth in secret.' Emerson would drive out the spirit which prompts a man to content himself with being an easy secondary 'to some Christian scheme, or sectarian connection, 'or some eminent man.' He would have men follow no one leader, however distinguished or gifted, but seek truth at first hand, know God face to face. And while he grants that nothing is of value in comparison with the soul of a good and great man, even a great man becomes a source of danger if we propose to rest in the shadow of his achievement rather than develop our own gift.
'The Method of Nature' is a rhapsody in praise of the spontaneous and unreasoning as over against the logical and definite. Nature looks to great results, not to little ones, to the type rather than the individual.
In Man the Reformer' Emerson preaches another favorite doctrine, the necessity of manual work. There is nothing fanciful in his view. He did not set himself against division of labor. He did not insist that every man should be a farmer 'any 'more than that every man should be a lexico'grapher.' His 'doctrine of the Farm' is that every man ought to stand in primary relations 'with the work of the world.'
This address should be read in connection with the one on The Times,' which supplements it. The ideal reformer is not he who has some cause
THE TRANSCENDENTALIST at heart in comparison with which all other causes are naught. The reformer is the 'Re-maker of 'what man has made; a renouncer of lies, a re
storer of truth and good, imitating that great *Nature which embosoms us all, and which sleeps 'no moment on an old past.'
A reading of this address ought to be followed by a reading of the one entitled “The Conserva
tive. As he had advised reformers of the danger to which they were exposed, he now warns conservatives not to forget that they are the retrograde party. By their theory of life sickness is a necessity and the social frame a hospital. Yet in a planet 'peopled with conservatives one Reformer may yet be born.'
In the lecture on The Transcendentalist' Emerson comes to a tempered defence of his own. He defines the new movement; it is merely Idealism as it shows itself in 1840 — an old thing under a new name. He is very patient with the Transcendentalists, whose chief idiosyncrasy is that they have struck work.' Now every one must do after ' his kind, be he asp or angel, and these must.' American literature and spiritual history will profit by the turmoil. This heresy will leave its mark, as any one will admit who knows 'these seething
brains, these admirable radicals, these talkers who (talk the sun and moon away.'
THE ESSAYS, REPRESENTATIVE MEN, ENGLISH TRAITS, CONDUCT OF LIFE
WHEN the Essays appeared, Emerson found a larger audience. He now spoke through the medium of a recognized literary form. If all readers do not read essays, they at least know what they are and stand in no fear of them. Some buyers may have been tempted by the table of contents. Titles such as 'Self-Reliance,' Compensation,' 'Friendship,' 'Heroism,' had an encouraging sound and promised useful advice.
In the essay on History,' Emerson reaffirms the doctrine of the unity of human nature. There is one mind,' history is its record. What we possess in common with the men of the past enables us to comprehend and interpret the actions of the men of the past. The facts must square with our own experience.
The theme is continued in 'Self-Reliance.' As there is one mind common to all men, and as what belongs to greatness of the Past belongs also to us, it is suicide to descend to imitation. Speak 'your latent conviction and it shall become the 'universal sense.' The whole essay is a glowing exhortation to men to live largely and stand on their own feet, facing the world with the noncha
lance begotten of health, good humor, and the sense of possession.
In Compensation' the essayist notes those inexorable forces by which a balance is kept in the world, the laws by virtue of which things refuse 'to be mismanaged long.' In 'Spiritual Laws' he shows the importance of living the life of nature. Let no man import into his mind difficulties 'which are none of his.' The essay on 'Love' is a prose poem in honor of that passion which 'makes the clown gentle, and gives the coward 'heart.' Following it is the essay on 'Friendship' with its austere definitions. I do not wish to treat 'friendships daintily, but with roughest courage.' 'Friendship implies sincerity, and sincerity is the 'luxury allowed, like diadems and authority, only 'to the highest rank.'
Emerson writes on Prudence' in order to balance those fine lyric words of Love and Friendship with words of coarser sound. Prudence considered in itself is naught; but recognized as one of the conditions of existence, it deserves our utmost attention. It keeps a man from standing in false and bitter relations to other men. Emerson had no patience with people who, because they have genius or beauty, expect an exception of the laws of Nature to be made in their case. Notwithstanding their gifts, they must toe the mark.
'Heroism,' the eighth essay in this volume, contains a definition of the hero which does not