« PreviousContinue »
some other. I hold our actual knowledge very cheap. Hear the rats in the wall, see the lizard on the fence, the fungus under foot, the lichen on the log. What do I know sympathetically, morally, of either of these worlds of life? Ås old as the Caucasian man,- perhaps older,—these creatures have kept their counsel beside him, and there is no record of any word or sign that has passed from one to the other. What connection do the books show between the fifty or sixty chemical elements and the historical eras ? Nay, what does history yet record of the metaphysical annals of man? What light does it shed on those mysteries which we hide under the names Death and Immortality ? Yet every history should be written in a wisdom which divined the range of our affinities and looked at facts as symbols. I am ashamed to see what a shallow village tale our so-called History is. How many times we must say Rome, and Paris, and Constantinople! What does Rome know of rat and lizard ? What are Olympiads and Consulates to these neighboring systems of being ? Nay, what food or experience or succor have they for the Esquimaux seal-hunter, for the Kandka in his canoe, for the fisherman, the stevedore, the porter ?
Broader and deeper we must write our annals, — from an ethical reformation, from an influx of the ever new, ever sanative conscience, if we would truly express our central and wide-related nature, instead of this old chronology of selfishness and pride to which we have too long lent' our eyes. Already that day exists for us, shines in on us at unawares, but the path of science and of letters is not the way into nature. The idiot, the Indian, the child, and unschooled farmer's boy stand nearer to the light by which nature is to be read, than the dissector or the antiquary,
“ Ne te quæsiveris extra.”
“ Man is his own star; and the soul that can
Cast the bartling on the rocks, Suckle him with the she-wolf's teat; Wintered with the hawk and fox, Power and speed be hands and feet.
READ the other day some verses written by an eminent
painter which were original and not conventional. The soul always hears an admonition in such lines, let the subject be what it may.
The sentiment they instil is of more value than any thought they may contain: 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 for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost, and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. ! A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. → In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts : they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole
of voices is on the other side) Else;to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance ; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion ; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil