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come; -- welcome, perhaps, as a brother's voice, to
wanderers in the labyrinthic Night! For these, and not for any other class of persons, is this little Book reprinted and recommended. Let such read, and try; ascertain for themselves, whether this is a kind of articulate human voice speaking words, or only another of the thousand thousand ventriloquisms, mimetic echoes, hysteric shrieks, hollow laughters, and mere inarticulate mechanical babblements, the soul-confusing din of which already fills all places ? I will not anticipate their verdict; but I reckon it safe enough, and even a kind of duty in these circumstances, to invite them to try.
The name of Ralph Waldo Emerson is not entirely new in England: distinguished Travellers bring us tidings of such a man; fractions of his writings have found their way into the hands of the curious here ; fitful hints that there is, in New England, some spiritual Notability called Emerson, glide through Reviews and Magazines. Whether these hints were true or not true, readers are now to judge for themselves a little better.
Emerson's writings and speakings amount to something :—and yet hitherto, as seems to me, this Emerson is perhaps far less notable for what he has spoken or done, than for the many things he has not spoken and has forborne to do. With uncommon in
terest I have learned that this, and in such a neverresting locomotive country too, is one of those rare men who have withal the invaluable talent of sitting still! That an educated man of good gifts and opportunities, after looking at the public arena, and even trying, not with ill success, what its tasks and its prizes might amount to, should retire for long years into rustic obscurity; and, amid the all-pervading jingle of dollars and loud chaffering of ambitions and promotions, should quietly, with cheerful deliberateness, sit down to spend his life not in Mammonworship, or the hunt for reputation, influence, place or any outward advantage whatsoever : this, when we get notice of it, is a thing really worth noting. As Paul Louis Courrier said: “Ce qui me distingue de tous mes contemporains c'est que je n'ai pas la prétention d'être roi." All my contemporaries; poor contemporaries ! It is as if the man said : Yes, ye contemporaries, be it known to you, or let it remain unknown, There is one man who does not need to be a king; king neither of nations, nor of parishes or cliques, nor even of cent-per-annums; nor indeed of anything at all save of himself only. “Realities? Yes, your dollars are real, your cotton and molasses are real; so are Presidentships, Senatorships, celebrations, reputations, and the wealth of Rothschild : but to me, on the whole, they are not the reality that will suffice. To me, without some other reality, they are mockery, and amount to zero, nay to a negative quantity. ETERNITIES surround this godgiven Life of mine : what will all the dollars in creation do for me? Dollars, dignities, senate-addresses, review-articles, gilt coaches or cavalcades, with worldwide huzzaings and parti-coloured beef-eaters never so many : 0 Heaven, what were all these? Behold, ye shall have all these, and I will endeavour for a thing other than these. Behold, we will entirely agree to differ in this matter; I to be in your eyes nothing, you to be something, to be much, to be all things :-wherefore, adieu in God's name ; go ye that way, I go this!
Pity that a man, for such cause, should be so distinguished from all his contemporaries! It is a misfortune partly of these our peculiar times. Times and nations of any strength have always privately held in them many such men. Times and nations that hold none or few of such, may indeed seem to themselves strong and great, but are only bulky, loud ; no heart or solidity in them;great, as the blown bladder is, which by and by will collapse and become small enough!
For myself I have looked over with no common feeling to this brave Emerson, seated by his rustic hearth, on the other side of the Ocean (yet not altogether parted from me either), silently communing
with his own soul, and with the God's World it finds itself alive in yonder. Pleasures of Virtue, Progress of the Species, Black Emancipation, New Tarif, Eclecticism, Locofocoism, ghost of ImprovedSocinianism : these with many other ghosts and substances are squeaking, jabbering, according to their capabilities, round this man; to one man among the sixteen millions their jabber is all unmusical. The silent voices of the Stars above, and of the green Earth beneath, are profitabler to him,--tell him gradually that these others are but ghosts, which will shortly have to vanish ; that the LifeFountain these proceeded out of does not vanish! The words of such a man, what words he finds good to speak, are worth attending to. By degrees a small circle of living souls eager to hear is gathered. The silence of this man has to become speech : may this too, in its due season, prosper for him!—Emerson has gone to lecture, various times, to special audiences, in Boston, and occasionally elsewhere.. Three of those Lectures, already printed, are known to some here; as is the little Pamphlet called Nature, of somewhat earlier date. It may be said, a great meaning lies in these pieces, which as yet finds no adequate expression for itself. A noteworthy though very unattractive work, moreover, is that new Periodical they call The Dial, in which he
occasionally writes; which appears indeed generally to be imbued with his way of thinking, and to proceed from the circle that learns of him. This present little Volume of Essays, printed in Boston a few months ago, is Emerson's first Book. An unpretending little Book, composed probably, in good part, from mere Lectures which already lay written. It affords us, on several sides, in such manner as it can, a direct glimpse into the man and that spiritual world of his.
Emerson, I understand, was bred to Theology ; of which primary bent his latest way of thought still bears traces. In a very enigmatic way, we hear much of the 'universal soul,' of the &c. &c. : Aickering like bright bodiless Northern Streamers, notions and half-notions of a metaphysic, theosophic, theologic kind are seldom long wanting in these Essays. I do not advise the British Public to trouble itself much with all that; still less, to take offence at it. Whether this Emerson be a Pantheist,' or what kind of Theist or Ist he may be, can perhaps as well remain undecided. If he prove a devoutminded, veritable, original man, this for the present will suffice. Ists and Isms are rather growing a weariness. Such a man does not readily range himself under Isms. A man to whom the 'open secret of the universe' is no longer a closed one, what