April 13

Warm and comfortable; mud drying up finely; application to go to Washington to report to General Silas Casey returned this forenoon, disapproved; had a brigade drill this afternoon, a better one than usual; men busy on their cabins; wish they were done as their present ones are very filthy; a beautiful moonlight night.

April 13, 1863

Wrote and mailed some letters this morning. Wm. Partington died in this room this morning. He and I came here the same time and lay side by side. I was taken to the big tent and he left here. We were both hard sick and when I came back Bill was in just about the same condition I was. We both got round together and began to go out at the same time. A day or two ago diarrhea hit him and now he is taken and I left. So it goes. We plan for to-morrow and to-morrow we are wrapped in a blanket and out we go.

April Thirteenth

The history of the world presents no parallel to the manner in which he wrote himself upon his own age, and subsequent ages, with his pen. He was no teacher like Plato; he was not a professional litterateur like Voltaire; he was not a mere maker of books like Carlyle; and yet he put his stamp indelibly upon the minds and hearts of English-speaking people during his own day and for all time to come.

Thomas E. Watson

 

Thomas Jefferson born, 1743

 

 

April 13, 1864

Wednesday. Things have been lively here to-day. Firing was heard up the river this morning, and a pontoon bridge was thrown across here and troops hurried across and gotten into position. The Colonel Cowles came down and reported the boats above here to be in an awkward situation. Troops have been going up on the other side all day. They soon go out of sight around a turn and are hid by the woods. We certainly are having the soft side of soldiering now. There is nothing we can do but look on, and we do that all the time. But we are obeying orders, and that's all any of them are doing.

Tuesday, April 13th.—There is something quite fiendish about the crackling of the rifle firing to-night, and every now and then a gun like "Mother" speaks and shakes the town. Last night it was quite quiet. All leave has been stopped to-day, and there are the wildest rumours going about of a big naval engagement, the forcing of the Narrows, and the surrender of St Mihiel, and anything else you like!

These Medical Officers have always hung on to the most hopeless, both here and at the Hospice, beyond the last hope, and when they pull through there is great rejoicing.

It doesn't seem somehow the right thing to do, to undress and get into bed with these crashes going on, but I suppose staying up won't stop it!

170. John Adams

Philadelphia, 13 April, 1777.

I have spent an hour this morning in the congregation of the dead. I took a walk into the Potter's Field, a burying ground between the new stone prison and the hospital, and I never in my whole life was affected with so much melancholy. The graves of the soldiers who have been buried in this ground from the hospital and bettering house during the course of the last summer, fall, and winter, dead of the small-pox and camp diseases, are enough to make the heart of stone to melt away. The sexton told me that upwards of two thousand soldiers had been buried there, and by the appearance of the graves and trenches it is most probable to me he speaks within bounds. To what causes this plague is to be attributed I don't know. It seems to me that the want of tents, clothes, soap, vegetables, vinegar, vaults, etc., cannot account for it all. Oatmeal and peas are a great preservative of our enemies. Our frying-pans and gridirons slay more than the sword. Discipline, discipline is the great thing wanted. There can be no order nor cleanliness in an army without discipline. We have at last determined on a plan for the sick, and have called into the service the best abilities in physic and chirurgery that the continent affords. I pray God it may have its desired effect, and that the lives and health of the soldiers may be saved by it. Disease has destroyed ten men for us where the sword of the enemy has killed one.

Upon my return from my pensive, melancholy walk, I heard a piece of disagreeable news; that the ship Morris, Captain Anderson, from Nantes, with cannon, arms, gun-locks, powder, etc., was chased into Delaware Bay by two or three men-of-war; that she defended herself manfully against their boats and barges, but finding no possibility of getting clear, she ran aground. The crew and two French gentlemen passengers got on shore, but the captain, determined to disappoint his enemy in part, laid a train and blew up the ship, and lost his own life, unfortunately, in the explosion. I regret the loss of so brave a man much more than that of the ship and cargo. The people are fishing in order to save what they can, and I hope they will save the cannon. The French gentlemen, it is said, have brought dispatches from France to the Congress. I hope this is true. If it is, I will let you know the substance of it if I may be permitted to disclose it.

169. John Adams

Philadelphia, Sunday, 13 April, 1777.

Inclosed with this you have a correspondence [168] between the two Generals concerning the cartel for the exchange of prisoners. Washington is in the right, and has maintained his argument with a delicacy and dignity which do him much honor. He has hinted at the flagitious conduct of the two Howes towards their prisoners in so plain and clear a manner that he cannot be misunderstood, but yet a decency and a delicacy are preserved, which is the more to be applauded because the natural resentment of such atrocious cruelties renders it very difficult to avoid a more pointed language in describing them. They might indeed, without much impropriety, have been painted in crimson colors of a deeper die. If Mr. Howe's heart is not callous, what must be his feelings when he recollects the starvings, the freezings, the pestilential diseases, with which he coolly and deliberately destroyed the lives of so many unhappy men! If his conscience is not seared, how will he bear its lashes when he remembers his breach of honor, his breach of faith, his offense against humanity and divinity, his neighbor, and his God (if he thinks there is any such Supreme Being), in impairing health that he ought to have cherished, and in putting an end to lives that he ought to have preserved, and in choosing the most slow, lingering, and torturing death that he could have devised. I charitably suppose, however, that he would have chosen the shortest course and would have put every man to the sword or bayonet, and thereby have put an end to their sufferings at once, if he could have done it without detection. But this would have been easily proved upon him, both by friends and enemies, whereas, by hunger, frost, and disease he might commit the murders with equal certainty, and yet be able to deny that he had done it. He might lay it to hurry, to confusion, to the fault of commissaries and other officers; nay, might deny that they were starved, frozen, and infected. He was determined to put them out of the way and yet to deny it; to get rid of his enemies and yet save his reputation. But his reputation is ruined forever.

The two brothers will be ranked by posterity with Pizarro, with Borgia, with Alva, and with others in the annals of infamy, whose memories are entitled to the hisses and execrations of all virtuous men. These two unprincipled men are the more detestable because they were in the opposition at home, their connections, friendships, and interest lay with the opposition; to the opposition they owed their rise, promotion, and importance. Yet they have basely deserted their friends and party, and have made themselves the senile tools of the worst of men in the worst of causes. But what will not desperate circumstances tempt men to do, who are without principle and who have a strong, aspiring ambition, a towering pride, and a tormenting avarice? These two Howes were very poor, and they have spent the little fortunes they had in bribery at elections, and having obtained seats in Parliament, and having some reputation as brave men, they had nothing to do but to carry their votes and their valor to market, and, it is very true, they have sold them at a high price.

Are titles of honor the reward of infamy? Is gold a compensation for vice? Can the one or the other give that pleasure to the heart, that comfort to the mind, which it derives from doing good? from a consciousness of acting upon upright and generous principles, of promoting the cause of right, freedom, and the happiness of men? Can wealth or titles soften the pains of the mind upon reflecting that a man has done evil and endeavored to do evil to millions, that he has destroyed free governments and established tyrannies? I would not be a Howe for all the empires of the earth and all the riches and glories thereof. Who would not rather be brave even though unfortunate in the cause of liberty? Who would not rather be Sidney than Monk?

However, if I am not deceived, misfortune as well as infamy awaits these men. They are doomed to defeat and destruction. It may take time to effect it, but it will certainly come. America is universally convinced of the necessity of meeting them in the field in firm battalion, and American fire is terrible.[169]

Footnotes:

[168]Sparks's edition of Washington's Writings, Vol. IV. pp. 380-386.

[169]This description of the Howes may be set down to the account of the irritation of the conflict. They proved in reality as liberal opponents as the nature of the war would permit.

Cuttack, April 13, 1843

The other evening the mhator came to ask me for the key to unlock the fowl-house door, as one of the hens was loose. I told him to bring a light, and then went across the compound. The padlock with which the door is fastened passes through a chain and eye at the top of the door. I raised my hand to unlock it, when the mhator, who had the lantern, called out, "Sahib, sahib, samp!" (Sir, sir, a snake!) I looked, and on the very chain which I was on the point of touching was a snake. I immediately called the men to bring bamboos, and they soon killed it. On examining it we found it to be one of that sort whose bite is always fatal, so that the person bitten never lives more than half an hour, and there would be no time for the doctor to come. How thankful I should be to God for my escape! I suspect that the snake was the cobra manilla, but am not sure. It was about two feet and a half long, small head, back dark green or nearly black, with all the way along it transverse yellow stripes.

HINDU FESTIVAL.

About three weeks ago was a poojah, or Hindu festival, of which I forget the name. About nine o'clock in the evening of the principal day four sepoys came to my house with the subadar major's compliments, and he would be glad if I would do them the honour to go and see the samam or show (the subadar major is the principal native officer in a regiment). I had refused them once or twice before, therefore this evening I sent my compliments and I would be there in a few minutes. When I got to the lines or houses of the sepoys I found a magnificent tent about two hundred feet long, into which I was ushered with much ceremony.

The scene was most interesting. At the upper end there were a few European officers, while down each side were ranged three or four rows of dark sepoys seated on their hams, which is the favourite position among the natives. The tent was lighted by a number of flaming torches, which threw their red light upon the swarthy faces of about seven or eight hundred gigantic up-country sepoys. The whole centre of the tent was clear for the evolutions of the nautch-girls (dancing girls): of these, who were generally young and tolerably good-looking, there were several parties of four or five. All those of one party held each other by the hand, and kept dancing backward and forward with a sort of regular motion, and singing in a peculiar cadence. The song was an invocation of blessing on those who happened to be opposite them at the time, and every now and then they would separate to point with their hands to those who were designated in the verse. The light danced upon the spangles with which their dresses were covered, whilst innumerable little bells jingled on their arms and ankles.

When I entered the subadar major immediately came to me with a long-necked brazen vessel, from which he sprinkled over my clothes a scent extracted from the sandal-wood. He then poured some into his hand and rubbed my face and whiskers with it. This they call anointing. He then presented me with two packets of spices wrapped up in sweet-scented leaves.

As soon as he retired a party of nautch-girls came up, and, after singing a song in my praise and blessing me, suddenly separated and each one threw over me a quantity of crimson powder. In a minute my face and clothes were of a brilliant red; and wherever I had been anointed the powder stuck like paint. Every one was served in the same manner, and a pretty set we must have appeared: this is the chief fun of the festival. During the three or four days that it lasts almost every native that you meet has more or less of this red powder (called akbeer) on his body or dress. Even my monkey, which is a sacred animal with the Hindus, I found covered with it every morning. I did not stay long at the tomasa, but was glad that I had seen it: however, the cassock I had on was spoiled, not by the powder, for that I managed to brush off, but by the anointing, which has left in it so powerful a scent that it is not wearable.

CHENA POOJAH.

Last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday was the Chena poojah, or swinging festival. Upright poles are fixed in the earth, and at the top of each is another pole which revolves upon the first. The religious devotees are said to suspend themselves to one end of the revolving pole by iron hooks stuck into their flesh, and are then whirled round and round by a number of men. Many of these mistaken men are said to die in consequence of the tortures they endure.

At this festival it is also reported that other devotees lie on their stomachs whilst the priests press sharp knives into them until they pin them to the ground, and that this does not always kill them; but that when it does they consider they shall go to Brummah, their God, and that the deity will be pleased with such suffering. I am told they never utter a groan; but I would not go to see them, though there are strong doubts whether it be not a deception.

ELEPHANT-RIDING.

I now often go out with Captain W. before breakfast. An account of one morning will suffice. I was called at half-past three; dressed, and had some coffee, bread and butter, and an egg. At half-past four Captain W. and Lieutenant H. called for me on an elephant. I gave my gunpowder, &c. to two of my men to carry. The great animal then knelt down. He had no howdah, as that is not necessary, except for ladies. The only clothing on the elephant is a thick pad or cushion, covered with leather, which extends over the whole of the back. He knelt, and I climbed up in the usual manner; that is, by standing on his hind foot, then catching hold of a rope which hangs down from his pad, and scrambling up as well as one can. The mahout then told the elephant to get up; and off we started, half sitting half lying on the pad, and the servants, with the guns, &c., walking behind. It seems a fearful height, and for the first few miles I could not help thinking of the danger of a fall. However, one gets accustomed to such things.

The elephant carried us bravely over the loose sands, and down to a ford in the river. In crossing the stream he went more cautiously, seeming to feel each place before he put his foot down, as if he were afraid of getting into a quicksand. Once or twice, when the water was deep, I thought he would have been obliged to swim; but I was wrong: though it would not have mattered if he had; we should have been quite safe on his back.

After crossing the sand on the other side we went through some paddy-fields and jungle towards a jheel (or marsh), which I had mentioned as containing a great number of ducks. I had been there previously on foot with Mr. L. When we reached the jheel a heavy fog came on, and Captain W. therefore proposed that we should go on farther into the jungle, in hopes of its clearing up, when we should find some hares. You must remember that in India, where we get nothing whatever but mutton and fowls, and where we cannot buy even these, everything in the shape of meat is a treat, if not a necessary.

On we went; the fog cleared up; we got down in a jungle of low brushwood, interspersed with several open spaces. We found some men taking charge of a herd of buffaloes: for two pice each they agreed to assist our servants in beating the bushes, and we were not long before we started several hares. I only shot one; the others were more fortunate.

At half-past seven we started on our way back. As we passed the jheel I shot a widgeon. At half-past eight got home, had a cold bath, and enjoyed my breakfast; and at dinner was very glad to have the hare and widgeon, for the expense of two pice. I often go out this way. The elephant belongs to the regiment which is stationed here. The exercise before breakfast is most healthy. One time we came upon a place in the midst of the jungle which I intend to visit again in the cold weather, when I shall have more time to examine it.

Emerson

Tuesday, 13.

Emerson has lately completed a course of readings on English Poetry to an appreciative company in Boston. It is a variation of his method of communicating with his companies, and not less becoming than even his usual form of lecture. It matters not in his case; for such is the charm of his manner, that wherever he appears, the cultured class will delight in his utterances; and one may quote Socrates in Phædrus, where Plato makes him say, "For as men lead hungry creatures by holding out a green bough, or an apple, so you, Phædrus, it would seem, might lead me about all Attica, and, indeed, wherever else you please, by extending to me discourses out of your books." Not less aptly Goethe describes him, in his letters to Schiller, where he calls the rhapsodist, "A wise man, who, in calm thoughtfulness, shows what has happened; his discourse aiming less to excite than to calm his auditors, in order that they shall listen to him with contentment and long. He apportions the interest equally, because it is not in his power to balance a too lively impression. He grasps backwards and forwards at pleasure. He is followed, because he has only to do with the imagination, which of itself produces images, and which, up to a certain degree, is indifferent what kind he calls up. He does not appear to his auditors, but recites, as it were, behind a curtain; so there is a total abstraction from himself, and it seems to them as though they heard only the voice of the Muses."

See our Ion standing there, his audience, his manuscript before him, himself also an auditor, as he reads, of the Genius sitting behind him, and to whom he defers, eagerly catching the words,—the words,—as if the accents were first reaching his ears too, and entrancing alike oracle and auditor. We admire the stately sense, the splendor of diction, and are charmed as we listen. Even his hesitancy between the delivery of his periods, his perilous passages from paragraph to paragraph of manuscript, we have almost learned to like, as if he were but sorting his keys meanwhile for opening his cabinets; the spring of locks following, himself seeming as eager as any of us to get sight of his specimens as they come forth from their proper drawers, and we wait willingly till his gem is out glittering; admire the setting, too, scarcely less than the jewel itself. The magic minstrel and speaker, whose rhetoric, voiced as by organ-stops, delivers the sentiment from his breast in cadences peculiar to himself; now hurling it forth on the ear, echoing; then, as his mood and matter invite, dying away, like

"Music of mild lutes,

Or silver-coated flutes,

Or the concealing winds that can convey

Never their tone to the rude ear of day."

He works his miracles with it, as Hermes did, his voice conducting the sense alike to eye and ear by its lyrical movement and refraining melody. So his compositions affect us, not as logic linked in syllogisms, but as voluntaries rather, as preludes, in which one is not tied to any design of air, but may vary his key or note at pleasure, as if improvised without any particular scope of argument; each period, paragraph, being a perfect note in itself, however it may chance chime with its accompaniments in the piece, as a waltz of wandering stars, a dance of Hesperus with Orion. His rhetoric dazzles by its circuits, contrasts, antitheses; imagination, as in all sprightly minds, being his wand of Power. He comes along his own paths, too, and in his own fashion. What though he build his piers downwards from the firmament to the tumbling tides, and so throw his radiant span across the fissures of his argument, and himself pass over the frolic arches, Ariel-wise,—is the skill less admirable, the masonry the less secure for its singularity? So his books are best read as irregular writings, in which the sentiment is, by his enthusiasm, transfused throughout the piece, telling on the mind in cadences of a current undersong, giving the impression of a connected whole,—which it seldom is,—such is the rhapsodist's cunning in its structure and delivery.

The highest compliment we can pay the scholar is that of having edified and instructed us, we know not how, unless by the pleasure his words have given us. Conceive how much the lyceum owes to his presence and teachings; how great the debt of many to him for their hour's entertainment. His, if any one's, let the institution pass into history, since his art, more than another's, has clothed it with beauty, and made it the place of popular resort, our purest organ of intellectual entertainment for New England and the Western cities. And besides this, its immediate value to his auditors everywhere, it has been serviceable in ways they least suspect; most of his works, having had their first readings on its platform, were here fashioned and polished, in good part, like Plutarch's morals, to become the more acceptable to readers of his published books. Does it matter what topic he touches? He adorns all with a severe sententious beauty, a freshness and sanction next to that of godliness, if not that in spirit and effect.

"The princely mind, that can

Teach man to keep a God in man;

And when wise poets would search out to see

Good men, behold them all in thee."

'Tis over thirty years since his first book was printed. Then followed volumes of essays, poems, orations, addresses; and during all the intervening period, down to the present, he has read briefs of his lectures through a wide range, from Canada to the Capitol; in most of the Free States; in the large cities, East and West, before large audiences; in the smallest towns, and to the humblest companies. Such has been his appeal to the mind of his countrymen, such his acceptance by them. He has read lectures in the principal cities of England also. A poet, speaking to individuals as few others can speak, and to persons in their privileged moments, he is heard as none others are. The more personal he is, the more prevailing, if not the more popular. 'Tis everything to have a true believer in the world, dealing with men and matters as if they were divine in idea and real in fact; meeting persons and events at a glance directly, not at a millionth remove, and so passing fair and fresh into life and literature.

Consider how largely our letters have been enriched by his contributions. Consider, too, the change his views have wrought in our methods of thinking; how he has won over the bigot, the unbeliever, at least to tolerance and moderation, if not acknowledgment, by his circumspection and candor of statement.

"His shining armor,

A perfect charmer;

Even the hornets of divinity

Allow him a brief space,

And his thought has a place

Upon the well-bound library's chaste shelves,

Where man of various wisdom rarely delves."

Poet and moralist, he has beauty and truth for all men's edification and delight. His works are studies. And any youth of free senses and fresh affections shall be spared years of tedious toil, in which wisdom and fair learning are, for the most part, held at arm's-length, planets' width, from his grasp, by graduating from this college. His books are surcharged with vigorous thoughts, a sprightly wit. They abound in strong sense, happy humor, keen criticisms, subtile insights, noble morals, clothed in a chaste and manly diction, fresh with the breath of health and progress.

We characterize and class him with the moralists who surprise us with an accidental wisdom, strokes of wit, felicities of phrase,—as Plutarch, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Saadi, Montaigne, Bacon, Selden, Sir Thomas Browne, Cowley, Coleridge, Goethe,—with whose delightful essays, notwithstanding all the pleasure they give us, we still plead our disappointment at not having been admitted to the closer intimacy which these loyal leaves had with their owners' mind before torn from his note-books, jealous, even, at not having been taken into his confidence in the editing itself.

We read, never as if he were the dogmatist, but a fair-speaking mind, frankly declaring his convictions, and committing these to our consideration, hoping we may have thought like things ourselves; oftenest, indeed, taking this for granted as he wrote. There is nothing of the spirit of proselyting, but the delightful deference ever to our free sense and right of opinion.He might take for his motto the sentiment of Henry More, where, speaking of himself, he says: "Exquisite disquisition begets diffidence; diffidence in knowledge, humility; humility, good manners and meek conversation. For my part, I desire no man to take anything I write or speak upon trust without canvassing, and would be thought rather to propound than to assert what I have here or elsewhere written or spoken. But continually to have expressed my diffidence in the very tractates and colloquies themselves, had been languid and ridiculous."

Then he has chosen proper times and manners for saying his good things; has spoken to almost every great interest as it rose. Nor has he let the good opportunities pass unheeded, or failed to make them for himself. He has taken discretion along as his constant attendant and ally; has shown how the gentlest temper ever deals the surest blows. His method is that of the sun against his rival for the cloak, and so is free from any madness of those, who, forgetting the strength of the solar ray, go blustering against men's prejudices, as if the wearers would run at once against these winds of opposition into their arms for shelter. What higher praise can we bestow on any one than to say of him, that he harbors another's prejudices with a hospitality so cordial as to give him for the time the sympathy next best to, if, indeed, it be not edification in, charity itself? For what disturbs more, and distracts mankind, than the uncivil manners that cleave man from man? Yet, for whose amendment letters, love, Christianity, were all given!


There is a virtuous curiosity felt by readers of remarkable books to learn something more of their author's literary tastes, habits, and dispositions, than these ordinarily furnish. Yet to gratify this is a task as difficult as delicate, requiring a diffidency akin to that with which one would accost the author himself, and without which graceful armor it were impertinent for a friend even to undertake it. We may venture but a stroke or two here.

All men love the country who love mankind with a wholesome love, and have poetry and company in them. Our essayist makes good this preference. If city bred, he has been for the best part of his life a villager and countryman. Only a traveller at times professionally, he prefers home-keeping; is a student of the landscape, of mankind, of rugged strength wherever found; liking plain persons, plain ways, plain clothes; prefers earnest people; shuns egotists, publicity; likes solitude, and knows its uses. Courting society as a spectacle not less than a pleasure, he carries off the spoils. Delighting in the broadest views of men and things, he seeks all accessible displays of both for draping his thoughts and works. And how is his page produced? Is it imaginable that he conceives his piece as a whole, and then sits down to execute his task at a heat? Is not this imaginable rather, and the key to the construction of his works? Living for composition as few authors can, and holding company, studies, sleep, exercise, affairs, subservient to thought, his products are gathered as they ripen, stored in his commonplaces; their contents transcribed at intervals, and classified. It is the order of ideas, of imagination observed in the arrangement, not of logical sequence. You may begin at the last paragraph and read backwards. 'Tis Iris-built. Each period is self-poised; there may be a chasm of years between the opening passage and the last written, and there is endless time in the composition. Jewels all! Separate stars. You may have them in a galaxy, if you like, or view them separate and apart. But every one finds that, if he take an essay, or verses, however the writer may have pleased himself with the cunning workmanship, 'tis cloud-fashioned, and a blind pathway for any one else. Cross as you can, or not cross, it matters not, you may climb or leap, move in circles, turn somersaults;

"In sympathetic sorrow sweep the ground,"

like his swallow in Hermione. Dissolving views, prospects, vistas opening wide and far, yet earth, sky,—realities all, not illusions. Here is substance, sod, sun; much fair weather in the seer as in his leaves. The whole quaternion of the seasons, the sidereal year, has been poured into these periods. Afternoon walks furnished their perspectives, rounded and melodized them. These good things have been talked and slept over, meditated standing and sitting, read and polished in the utterance, submitted to all various tests, and, so accepted, they pass into print. Light fancies, dreams, moods, refrains, were set on foot, and sent jaunting about the fields, along wood-paths, by Walden shores, by hill and brook-sides, to come home and claim their rank and honors too in his pages. Composed of surrounding matters, populous with thoughts, brisk with images, these books are wholesome, homelike, and could have been written only in New England, and by our poet.

"Because I was content with these poor fields,

Low, open meads, slender and sluggish streams,

And found a home in haunts which others scorned,

The partial wood-gods overpaid my love,

And granted me the freedom of their state,

And in their secret senate have prevailed

With the dear, dangerous lords that rule our life,

Made moon and planets parties to their bond,

And through my rock-like, solitary wont

Shot million rays of thought and tenderness.

For me, in showers, in sweeping showers, the spring

Visits the valley;—break away the clouds,—

I bathe in the morn's soft and silvered air,

And loiter willing by yon loitering stream.

Sparrows far off, and nearer, April's bird,

Blue-coated, flying before from tree to tree,

Courageous, sing a delicate overture

To lead the tardy concert of the year.

Onward and nearer rides the sun of May;

And wide around, the marriage of the plants

Is sweetly solemnized. Then flows amain

The surge of summer's beauty; dell and crag,

Hollow and lake, hill-side, and pine arcade,

Are touched with Genius. Yonder ragged cliff

Has thousand faces in a thousand hours.

… The gentle deities

Showed me the lore of colors and of sounds,

The innumerable tenements of beauty,

The miracle of generative force,

Far-reaching concords of astronomy

Felt in the plants and in the punctual birds;

Better, the linked purpose of the whole,

And, chiefest prize, found I true liberty

In the glad home plain-dealing nature gave.

The polite found me impolite; the great

Would mortify me, but in vain; for still

I am a willow of the wilderness,

Loving the wind that bent me. All my hurts

My garden spade can heal. A woodland walk,

A quest of river-grapes, a mocking thrush,

A wild-rose, or rock-loving columbine,

Salve my worst wounds.

For thus the wood-gods murmured in my ear:

'Dost love our manners? Canst thou silent lie?

Canst thou, thy pride forgot, like nature pass

Into the winter night's extinguished mood?

Canst thou shine now, then darkle,

And being latent feel thyself no less?

As, when the all-worshipped moon attracts the eye,

The river, hill, stems, foliage, are obscure,

Yet envies none, none are unenviable.'"

I know of but one subtraction from the pleasure the reading of his books—shall I say his conversation?—gives me,—his pains to be impersonal or discrete, as if he feared any the least intrusion of himself were an offence offered to self-respect, the courtesy due to intercourse and authorship; thus depriving his page, his company, of attractions the great masters of both knew how to insinuate into their text and talk without overstepping the bounds of social or literary decorum. What is more delightful than personal magnetism? 'Tis the charm of good fellowship as of good writing. To get and to give the largest measure of satisfaction, to fill ourselves with the nectar of select experiences, not without some intertinctures of egotism so charming in a companion, is what we seek in books of the class of his, as in their authors. We associate diffidence properly with learning, frankness with fellowship, and owe a certain blushing reverence to both. For though our companion be a bashful man,—and he is the worse if wanting this grace,—we yet wish him to be an enthusiast behind all reserves, and capable of abandonment sometimes in his books. I know how rare this genial humor is, this frankness of the blood, and how surpassing are the gifts of good spirits, especially here in cold New England, where, for the most part,

"Our virtues grow

Beneath our humors, and at seasons show."

And yet, under our east winds of reserve, there hides an obscure courtesy in the best natures, which neithertemperament nor breeding can spoil. Sometimes manners the most distant are friendly foils for holding eager dispositions subject to the measures of right behavior. 'Tis not every New-Englander that dares venture upon the frankness, the plain speaking, commended by the Greek poet.

"Caress me not with words, while far away

Thy heart is absent, and thy feelings stray;

But if thou love me with a faithful breast,

Be that pure love with zeal sincere exprest;

And if thou hate, the bold aversion show

With open face avowed, and known my foe."

Fortunate the visitor who is admitted of a morning for the high discourse, or permitted to join the poet in his afternoon walks to Walden, the cliffs, or elsewhere,—hours likely to be remembered as unlike any others in his calendar of experiences. I may say for me they have made ideas possible by hospitalities given to a fellowship so enjoyable. Shall I describe them as sallies oftenest into the cloud-lands, into scenes and intimacies ever new, none the less novel or remote than when first experienced, colloquies, in favored moments, on themes, perchance,

"Of Fate, free-will, foreknowledge absolute;"

nor yet

"In wand'ring mazes lost,"

as in Milton's page;

But pathways plain through starry alcoves high,

Or thence descending to the level plains.

Interviews, however, bringing their trail of perplexing thoughts, costing some days' duties, several nights' sleep oftentimes to restore one to his place and poise for customary employment; half a dozen annually being full as many as the stoutest heads may well undertake without detriment. Certainly safer not to venture without the sure credentials, unless one will have his pretensions pricked, his conceits reduced to their vague dimensions.

"Fools have no means to meet

But by their feet."

But to the modest, the ingenuous, the gifted, welcome! Nor can any bearing be more poetic and polite than his to all such, to youth and accomplished women especially. I may not intrude further than to say, that, beyond any I have known, his is a faith approaching to superstition concerning admirable persons, the divinity of friendship come down from childhood, and surviving yet in memory if not in expectation, the rumor of excellence of any sort being like the arrival of a new gift to mankind, and he the first to proffer his recognition and hope. His affection for conversation, for clubs, is a lively intimation of this religion of fellowship. He, shall we say, if any, must have taken the census of the admirable people of his time, perhaps numbering as many among his friends as most living Americans, while he is recognized as the representative mind of his country, to whom distinguished foreigners are especially commended on visiting us.

Of Emerson's books I am not here designing to speak critically, rather of his genius and personal influence; yet, in passing, may remark that his "English Traits" deserves to be honored as one in which England, Old and New, may alike take national pride as being the liveliest portraiture of British genius and accomplishments there is,—a book, like Tacitus, to be quoted as a masterpiece of historical painting, and perpetuating the New-Englander's fame with that of his race. 'Tis a victory of eyes over hands, a triumph of ideas. Nor has there been for some time any criticism of a people so characteristic and complete. It remains for him to do like justice to New England. Not a metaphysician, and rightly discarding any claims to systematic thinking; the poet in spirit, if not always in form; the consistent idealist, yet the realist none the less,—he has illustrated the learning and thought of former times on the noblest themes, coming nearest of any to emancipating the mind of his own from the errors and dreams of past ages.


Plutarch tells us that of old they were wont to call men φώτα, which imports light, not only for the vehement desire man has to know, but to communicate also. And the Platonists fancied that the gods, being above men, had something whereof man did not partake, pure intellect and knowledge, and they kept on their way quietly. The beasts, being below men, had something whereof man had less, sense and growth, so they lived quietly in their way. While man had something in him whereof neither gods nor beasts had any trace, which gave him all the trouble, and made all the confusion in the world,—and that was egotism and opinion.

A finer discrimination of gifts might show that Genius ranges through this threefold dominion, partaking in turn of their essence and degrees.

Was our poet planted so fast in intellect, so firmly rooted in the mind, so dazzled with light, yet so cleft withal by duplicity of gifts, that fated thus to traverse the mid-world of contrast and contrariety, he was ever glancing forth from his coverts at life as reflected through his dividing prism, the resident never long of the tracts he surveyed, yet their persistent Muse nevertheless? And so housed in the Mind, and sallying forth from thence in quest of his game, whether of persons or things, he was the Mercury, the merchantman of ideas to his century. Nor was he personally alone in his thinking. Beside him stood his townsman, whose sylvan intelligence, fast rooted in Nature, was yet armed with a sagacity, a subtlety and strength, that penetrated while divining the essences of creatures and things he studied, and of which he seemed Atlas and Head.

Forcible protestants against the materialism of their own, as of preceding times, these masterly Idealists substantiate beyond all question their right to the empires they sway,—the rich estates of an original Genius.