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RALPH WALDO Emerson. 1803-. Mr. Emerson holds the most prominent place among those of ovr country to whom the name Transcendentalist is applied. He was born in Boston, graduated at Harvard, and for a few years was settled as a clergyman in Boston. But, from some peculiar views, he gave up this profession, and removed to Concord. Here, living in a retired, quiet way, he takes the liberty of thinking for himself; and occasionally puts forth his thoughts to the world. His published works consist of Poems, Essays, Orations, Lectures, &c.
[From an "Essay on Compensation."] THE COMPENSATIONS OF CALAMITY. The changes which break up, at short intervals, the prosperity of men, are advertisements of a nature whose law is growth. Evermore it is the order of nature to grow; and every soul is, by this intrinsic necessity, quitting its whole system of things, - its friends, and home, and laws, and faith,- as the shell-fish crawls out of its beautiful but strong case, because it no longer admits of its growth, and slowly forms a new house. In proportion to the vigor of the individual, these revolutions are frequent, until in some happier mind they are incessant, and all worldly relations hang very loose about him, becoming, as it were, a transparent fluid membrane, through which the form is always seen, and not, as in most men, an indurated heterogeneous fabric of many dates, and of no settled character, in which the man is imprisoned. Then there can be enlargement, and the man of to-day scarcely recognizes the man of yesterday. And such should be the outward biography of man in time, putting off of dead circumstances day by day, as he renews his raiment day by day. But to us, in our lapsed state, resting, not advancing, - resisting, not coöperating with the Divine expansion, — this growth comes by shocks.
We cannot part with our friends. We cannot let our angels go. We do not see that they only go out that archangels may come in. We are idolaters of the old. We do not believe in the riches of the soul, - in its proper eternity and omnipresence. We do not believe there is any force in to-day, to rival or recreate that beautiful yesterday. We linger in the ruins of the old tent, where once we had bread, and shelter, and organs,
nor believe that the spirit can feed, cover and nerve us again. We cannot again find aught so dear, so sweet, so graceful. But we sit and weep in vain. The voice of the Almighty saith, “Up and onward, forevermore.” We cannot stay amid the ruins. Neither will we rely on the new; and so we walk ever with reverted eyes, like those monsters who look backwards.
And yet, the compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also, after long intervals of time. A fever, a mutilation, a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of friends, seems at the moment unpaid loss, and unpayable. But the sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts. The death of a dear friend, wife, brother, lover, which seemed nothing but privation, somewhat later assumes the aspect of a guide or genius; for it commonly operates revolutions in our way of life, terminates an epoch of infancy or youth which was waiting to be closed, breaks up a wonted occupation, or a household, or style of living, and allows the formation of new ones, more friendly to the growth of character. It permits or constrains the formation of new acquaintances, and the reception of new influences, that prove of the first importance to the next years; and the man or woman who would have remained a sunny garden-flower, with no room for its roots, and too much sunshine for its head, by the falling of the walls and the neglect of the gardener, is made the banyan of the forest, yielding shade and fruit to wide neighborhoods of men.
MRS. SEBA SMITH. 1806-.
Mrs. Smith was born in Maine, near Portland, and at the age of sixteen married Mr. Seba Smith, a lawyer, who then resided in Portland, but who has since removed to New York. Mrs. Smith began to write for periodicals when quite young. Her longest poem is The Sinless Child, from which an extract is here given, as abridged by Griswold.
FROM - THE SINLESS CHILD."
* Every insect dwelt secure,
When she in greenwood strayed,
The widow's cot was rude and low
The sloping roof moss-grown;
bird were known.
Round roof and oaken door,
Were painted on the floor.
(Here the daughter, as)
Beneath the pleasant skies;
For joy that in her dwelt,
Such blessedness she felt. (As the widow and child walk in the twilight, the first sees, in the jagged limbo spreading above her,]
Spectres and distorted shapes,
That frown upon her path,
For when the soul is blind
Vague fears debase the mind.
But Eva, like a dreamer waked,
Looked off upon the hill,
As if there lingered still
Unseen by all beside ;
The vision to abide.
To cheer with hope the trembling heart,
And cheer the dying eye;
Each on his work intent;
In every face were blent.
For angels sported by -
To scent the evening sky.
And its petals fairer grew;
And o'er the lily threw,
A host flew o'er the mowing field,
And they were showering down The little drops on the tender grass,
Like diamonds o'er it thrown.
With pearls of liquid dew,
Till its robe was fresh and new.
I saw a meek-eyed angel curve
The tulip's painted cup,
Then fold its petals up.
bird's nest, As high on a branch it hung, And the tinkling dew-drops rattled down
Where the old dry leaf was flung.
Each, and all, as its task is done,
Soars up with a joyous eye, , Bearing aloft some treasured gift, An offering to God on high.
They bear the breath of the odorous flower,
The sound of the pearly shell ;
Of the home where spirits dwell.
Why raises she the small pale hand,
And holds it to the light?
To meet her dizzy sight.
To catch the moistened air ;-
With her dead daughter there!
And yet, so placid is the face,
So sweet its lingering smile,
The maiden's playful wile.
The sinless child, with mission high,
A while to earth was given,
The vestibule of heaven.
Of truth and goodness rise,
And spirits from the skies.
NATHANIEL P. WILLIS. 1807-. Mr. Willis was born in Portland, but early removed to Boston. While a student at Yale College, he wrote his Scripture Sketches. His poetical and works are numerous and well known. He has, for number of years, resided in New York; and
has been editor of several periodicals.