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him with Wordsworth, as he says—"that these two, respectively, have done the most important work in English prose and poetry in the present cent
From no two volumes of English prose can a larger number of significant passages be gathered, and who could estimate the stimulating effect of the presence of a few such supreme intellects in any institution or age or nation. As he remarked of his personal friend, Dr. Channing,
that all America would have been impoverished in wanting him," so can we say of Emerson. He is the "common property” of the intellectual public, and we could not spare him from our corporate literary life any more than we could spare Bacon and Milton and Dr. Johnson. In his essay on “Books," he tells us that he finds certain books “ vital and spermatic.” Emerson's books, we may add, are “vital and spermatic,” full of life and full of seminal virtue, and must be read by every man who is truly ambitious to reach the highest mental and ethical ends. Is it too much to say, that the appreciative perusal of Emerson is an education and an inspiration, quickening into new activity, what he calls, in speaking of Milton—"the vibration of hope, selfreverence, piety and beauty!” For such a reading there is a kind of preparative work that is essential -a clearing of the inner eye; a cleaning of the conscience, mind and sentiment, if so be, that through the medium of fullest affinity, the author and the reader may understand each other, and the giving and receiving be complete,
We emphasize, as a final word, the urgent need of this Emersonian Element in Modern Life and Letters ; partly, by reason of its inherent value and, partly, to rebuke the ever-increasing tendency to the unintellectual and unethical in literature and style. Of this debasing tendency, the author was himself aware, as he asks with imploring pathos“ Amidst the downward proneness of things, will you not tolerate one or two solitary voices in the land, speaking for thoughts and principles not marketable or perishable ?” “If our times are sterile in genius, we must cheer us with books of believing men who had atmosphere and amplitude about them.” “It is a sort of mark of probity to declare how little you believe, and we have punctuality for faith and good taste for character." “ How is the new generation to be edified ?” he asks, and as quickly answers with eloquent earnestness-by bringing in a new and sublime order of men, who “with happy hearts and a bias for theism bring duty and magnanimity once again into vogue." This is Emerson and this is Emersonianism-pure and simple, ethical and mental and literary, and of no type of character and culture is the present age and nation more in need. Despite defects of logical method, ethical consistency and verbal finishthis is the style, after all, and this the literature for which the world is waiting. What we need, most of all, in authorship is personality behind it and character behind it and the highest purposes inspiring it. What we seek in books, first and last, is stimulus and uplifting, even though, at times, such high result be reached at the possible expense of executive form and finish. Literature is embodied intellect and character in verbal form. It is power in possession and power in exercise, and when we read an author we are to feel, as we do feel in reading Emerson, that literature is richer than ever for such books ; that human character is richer than ever for such men; that truth is safer than ever with such defenders and that life is a happier and holier thing in that "Such as these have lived and died," and live again and shall never die.
Examples. Among secular books, Plato only is entitled to Omar's fanatical compliment to the koran, when he said—“Burn the libraries; for their value is in this book.” These sentences contain the culture of nations; these are the corner-stone of schools; these are the fountain-head of literatures. There was never such range of speculation. Out of Plato came all things that are still written and debated among men of thought. Great havoc makes he among our originalities. _"Representative Men."
It is contended by those who have been bred at Eton, Harrow, Rugby and Westminster, that the public sentiment within each of these schools is heightened and manly; that in their playgrounds, courage is universally admired; meanness, despised; manly feelings and generous conduct are encouraged; that an unwritten code of honor deals to the spoiled child of rank and to the child of upstart wealth an even-handed justice, purges their nonsense out of both and does all that can be done to make them gentlemen. Again, at the universities, it is urged that all goes to form, what England values as the flower of its national life--a well-educated gentleman.-" English Traits,"
There is not yet any inventory of a man's faculties, any more than a bible of his opinions. Who shall set a limit to the influence of a human being ? There are men who by their sympathetic attractions carry nations with them and lead the activity of the human race. And if there be such a tie, that wherever the mind of man goes, nature will accompany him, perhaps there are men whose magnetisms are of that force to draw material and elemental powers, and where they appear, immense instrumentalities organize around them. Life is a search after power; and this is an element with which the world is so saturated that no honest seeking goes unrewarded.—“ Conduct of Life.”
I like to be beholden to the great metropolitan English speech, the sea which receives tributaries from every region under heaven. I should as soon think of swimming across Charles River when I wish to go to Boston, as of reading my books in originals when I have them rendered for me in my mother-tongue.-—"Society and Solitude."