« НазадПродовжити »
to their berths, he and I used to sit talking together for an hour or two, till eleven o'clock, when the lights were extinguished in the deserted cabin. The visit to Europe and to Egypt had been undertaken, as some of you will remember, at the urgency of friends, in the belief that a change of scene and interest would be serviceable to him after the shock which he had experienced from the burning of his house in the summer, and the depressed condition of health which had followed it. It had done him all the good that had been hoped for, and he now seemed in excellent health and spirits.
“ It is rank blasphemy,” said he one day, “ to doubt anything in the universe; everything in life makes for good. The moral element in man supreme, is progressive. Man is always better than himself. The world is all for happiness, and is meant for the happy. It is always improving. Pain and sorrow are of no account as compared with the joy of living; if a man be overcome by them he violates the moral order."
“The universe is not a cheat; the beauty and the order of the external world are sufficient proof that the spiritual world is in accord with the hopes and instincts of man and nature for their own perfection.”
“ Order, goodness, God are the one everlasting, self-existent fact."
“I measure a man's intellectual sanity by his faith in immortality. A wise man's wish for life is in proportion to his wisdom.”
He would not entertain for a moment the evidence of ruthlessness and disorder in nature, of perversion of the moral nature in men. His faith was superior to any apparent exceptions to his doctrine; all of them could be brought into accordance with it.
In our long evening talks he told me much of his early life. He was often in a mood of reminiscence, and in the retrospect all life lay fair behind him, like a pleasant landscape illumined by the slowly sinking sun. The sweetness and purity and elevation of his nature were manifest in his recollections, and his vision of the past was that not only of the poet, but of the good man who had gained from life the best it can afford. He returned over and over again to the happiness of life and the joy of existence. He had been very fortunate in his times.
The 25th of May, his seventieth birthday, was the last day before the voyage ended. When I greeted him in the morning, he replied with a pleasant semi-humorous smile, and with a blush like a youth, “ You are too good with all these kind words, but the day is a melancholy one for me, for I count this seventieth birthday as the close of youth!” He had been reading with great interest on the voyage the quatrains of Omar Khayyam, and one of them may have been lingering in his mind :
“Yet Oh! that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
But my thoughts fell back to his own Terminus, written ten years before ; not so much to its opening words, “ It is time to grow old,” but rather to the verses with which it ends :
“ As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
One day, a day of rough waves and lowering skies, as we walked the deck, he spoke of the stout hearts of the early mariners, sailing the untracked seas. “How, in Heaven's name, did Columbus get over?” as Clough asks. “Not so much of a wonder after all,” said Emerson ; “ Columbus had his compass, and that was enough for such a soul as his; there was the miracle of the magnet, the witness of the divine spirit in nature, type of the eternal control of matter by spirit, of fidelity to the unseen and the ideal. I always carry with me a little compass,” and taking it from his pocket, he added, “ I like to hold the god in my hand.”
He lived for nine years after his return home. Some of you remember his gently declining days. The evening mists steadily gathered about him, but while they gradually obscured the light of his mind, they were still suffused by the unquenched glow of his spirit. His sweetness, his faith never failed.
On the last occasion that I saw him at his own house his powers of recollection were imperfect, but his gracious benignity was unchanged. His talk had its old tone, though the intermittent thoughts sometimes failed to find perfect expression. As I was bidding him good-bye at his hospitable door, his daughter, who proposed to go with me to the railroad station, urged him to accompany us. “No,” said he, “no, my dear, my good friend whose name I cannot recall, has had quite enough of me to-day;" and then turning to me with a smile, as if to apologize for the seeming lack of courtesy in his inability to recall my name, he said in words and manner like his old self, “Strange that the kind Heavens should keep us upon earth after they have destroyed our connection with things ! ”
The last time I saw him was at the funeral of Longfellow on the 26th of March, just a month before his own death. He leaned on my arm as we walked through the path at Mt. Auburn behind the poet's coffin, and as we stood listening to the short service at the grave. He hardly seemed to belong to our actual life; he was present but yet remote; for him, too, “ The port well worth the cruise was near.”
If there be pathos in the record of these last days, there is no drop of bitterness in it. They were the peaceful ending of a happy life. “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
Emerson's fame is secure. The years will sift his work, but his true message and service were not for
his own generation alone. It is not the founders of schools whose influence is the strongest and most lasting in the world, but rather that of teachers who lift and invigorate the souls of men by sentiment and habitual loftiness of view. Men draw strength and high resolve to-day, after seventeen centuries, from the desultory Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and in long future time men seeking to elevate and liberate their souls will find help in the words and example in the character of Emerson.
The Chairman then introduced Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson.
THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON
WHEN one opens the morning's newspaper on a day like this and finds it filled, like all its companion journals, with eulogiums upon one man, it is difficult not to recall that fine passage in Landor's Imaginary Conversations, where Demosthenes says of Athens, “I have seen the day when the most august of cities had but one voice within her walls; and when the stranger, on entering them, stopped at the silence of the gateway, and said, “Demosthenes is speaking in the assemblage of the people. One controlling voice speaks to us to-day and all that we can do is in our humbler individual tones to