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tion—"To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense." To the divinity students at Cambridge he says, “It is not instruction, but provocation only that I can receive from another soul. What he announces, I must find true in me or reject."
Hence, conversant as Emerson was with books, he was their master, not their slave. If he writes on the subject of Quotation, the significant caption is-Quotation and Originality. “ Books are the best things,” he says, “well used; abused, among the worst. I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction, clean out of my own orbit.” “Genius is always sufficiently the enemy of genius by over-influence. The English dramatic poets have Shakespearized for two hundred years." It is at this point of original, personal opinion in authorship that Emerson reminds us so forcibly of Carlyle, in whose character and teachings he found much of the affinity that he did, through the medium of their common independence of other thinkers.
2. Closely akin to this originality of view is, Vigor or Incisiveness of style—a mental weightiness of expression that is Baconian in its type and carries with it its own convincing efficacy.
To attempt to select from the pages of Emerson's “Essays " what we may call, passages of power, is simply invidious. The essays chosen at
random are packed with potency. Any page, opened at a venture, will reveal this condensed forcefulness, mainly resulting from the thought behind it, e. 8., “A profound thought classifies all things; a profound thought will lift Olympus.” “Go and talk with a man of genius, and the first word he utters sets all your so-called knowledge afloat and at large.” “A man, a personal ascendency, is the only great phenomenon.” “Each man has his own vocation. The talent is the call.” “Let a man believe in God, and not in names and places and persons.” “All language is vehicular and transitive, and is good, as ferries are, for conveyance; not as farms and houses are, for homestead." There is visible in these and kindred passages not only a vigor of intellect in the more didactic sense, but a vigor of soul. There is an intellectual passion in the words and lines, that gives them vitality, and, at times, thrilling impressiveness. The prose of Emerson, in this respect, throbs with life. The paragraphs pulsate as we read them. They are more than forcible. They are eloquent and emotive, and stir us to the quick of our characters and powers.
Special attention should here be called to Emerson's mental incisiveness as a writer, to that terse and telling way he has, which is all his own, of presenting and fixing the idea that he utters. “Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous.”
" The moment discourse rises above the ground-line of familiar facts and is inflamed with passion or exalted by thought, it clothes itself in images.” “No man ever prayed heartily without learning something." “Only so much do I know as I have lived." “The main enterprise of the world for splendour, for extent, is the upbuilding of a man."
Not infrequently this incisive statement takes the form of satire, when Emerson gives us some of his most pithy and pungent sentences. His essays on Education, Character and Travel are full of this satiric element. His frequent references to American politics and parties; to charitable societies; to professional and civic fraud; to such visionary enterprises as Brook Farm, and to the modern tendency to extremes, furnish abundant evidence of this trenchant irony, and exhibit his mental vigor in a new and striking light. In fine, the style throughout is instinct with intellectual life. Original, vigorous, incisive and condensed, it is full of that "mental stuff" of which Lord Bacon speaks, and is, at times, almost overborne by its own weight of thought. Behind the sentence and the essay, we always discern the living personality, the thinking ego, and it is he who is talking with us, out of the lowest deeps of his consciousness.
Mr. Emerson had his faults as a thinker, but that he was a thinker none will question. As an intellectual author, he is, at times, open to adverse criticism, but that he was such an author cannot be rationally doubted. Not a scholar in the strictly professional and technical sense, there is an ele
ment in his writing which we must call scholarly. It is Platonic in that it is full of ideas, surcharged and suffused with thought, and makes us think and think again as we peruse it. The pages fairly bristle with reflections and intimations. There is more between the lines than in the lines. The style, throughout, is indicative and potential, and characterized by that “immense suggestiveness” which Whipple attributes to Shakespeare.
Before leaving the subject of Emerson's intellectual character as a writer, it remains to call attention to his radical defect in this direction. This defect may be expressed under various forms. We deem it best to call it-as the older English writers would have called it-Want of Logical Sequence,—the absence of a consecutive progress of reasoning and thinking. Though the theme discussed is always clear, and though, in most instances, the emphatic point of the discussion is clearly stated at the outset, the actual discussion itself is often desultory rather than logical. It is interesting to observe, that Emerson himself understood alike the prime importance of this law of order and his too frequent failure to exhibit and apply it. In his paper on “ Eloquence,”-he writes -“Next to the knowledge of the fact and its law is method, which constitutes the genuis and efficiency of all remarkable men." “ Is there method in your consciousness ? ” he asks. In answer to a letter from his friend Dr. Ware, he writes, “I have always been—from my very incapacity of method
ical writing-a chartered libertine, lucky when I could make myself understood. I could not give an account of myself, if challenged.” “Nothing is plainer,” says Dr. Holmes, his appreciative biographer, “than that it was Emerson's calling to supply impulses and not methods." He is never at great pains to co-ordinate his thoughts. He makes no attempt to discover and constantly keep in the sight of himself and his reader the logical nexus by which truths and systems of truth are relatively adjusted. When Mr. Arnold speaks of him as "the propounder of a philosophy," he means to add, conversely, that he failed to elaborate and explain the philosophy he propounded.
It has been questioned, and plausibly, whether he ever designed to formulate, as a philosophical writer, a philosophical system. Certain it is, that he never did formulate such a system. Each idea, whatever its nature, stood by itself and for itself. If logically related to his other deliverances, precedent and subsequent, well; if not, equally well. “ Here I sit,” he says, “and read and write with very little system.” Mr. Arnold, as a thinker and critic, is not slow, of course, to see the manifest weakness of Mr. Emerson's mental character at this point, as he says, “His arrangement of philosophical ideas has no progress; no evolution in it.” It is to this lack of sequence that Carlyle more than once refers, in his familiar correspondence with Emerson. Hence, we find in these brilliant