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because he cannot speak to you and
me. Hark in the next room, who spoke so clear and emphatic? Good SelfHeaven! it is he! it is that very lump Reliance of bashfulness and phlegm which for weeks has done nothing but eat when you were by, that now rolls out these words like bell-strokes. It seems he knows how to speak to his contemporaries Bashful or bold, then, he will know how to make us seniors very unnecessary.
The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, is the healthy attitude of human nature. How is a boy the master of society!-independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift
summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troubleSelf- some He cumbers himself never Reliance about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine verdict You must court him: he does not court you. But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person, watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds whose affections must now enter into his account.
There is no Lethe for this. Ah, that he could pass again into his neutral, godlike independence! Who can thus lose all pledge, and having observed, observe again from the same unaffected, unbiased, unbribable, unaffrighted innocence, must always be formidable, must always engage
the poet's and the man's regards.
Of such an immortal youth the force would be felt. He would utter opin- Selfions on all passing affairs, which Reliance being seen to be not private but necessary, would sink like darts into the ear of men, and put them in fear. These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and audible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members Society is a joint-stock company in which the members agree for the better securing of his bread to each share-holder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs. Whoso would be a man must be
a nonconformist He who would gather immortal palms must not be Self- hindered by the name of goodness, Reliance but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested— "But these impulses may be from below, not from above." I replied, They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the devil's child, I will live then from the devil. No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature.
Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my con- Selfstitution, the only wrong what is Reliance against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if everything were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.
Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways. If malice and vanity wear the coat of philanthropy, shall that pass? If an angry bigot assumes this bountiful cause of Abolition, and comes to me with his last news of the Barbadoes, why should I not say to him, "Go love thy infant; love thy