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and the world passes on. They are finger-posts in history; but the man who dares to be himself is not the finger-post, but the runner. Few now read Aristotle; but Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Antoninus yield us new translations and editions every year. We have them for manuals and give them to our children. What the system of each may be is quite secondary - each offers us a series of thoughts, detached or otherwise; and each of these thoughts may turn out great enough to mould a life. Such are the thoughts we get from Emerson. We may say of his works what Renan said so finely of Marcus Antoninus, “His works will never grow antiquated, because they offer no dogma.
Let us all be Platos and Newtons, if you please; or, if you prefer, Homers and Shakespeares; let our school committees hunt them up in abundance, if possible, in every school district; yet let us not lose faith in the greatness of the spontaneous or fragmentary life; that is, the life which becomes at its highest moments a source of vital influence. Open your Emerson anywhere and you are presently touched by the vivid power of a phrase, a sentence; or perhaps — in his earlier addresses especially by the cadence of some fine paragraph. Read, for instance, that description of the boyish student to be found in his address at Dartmouth College (1838):
“In solitude, in a remote village, the ardent youth loiters and mourns. With inflamed eye, in his sleep
ing wilderness, he has read the story of the Emperor Charles the Fifth, until his fancy has brought home to the surrounding woods the faint roar of cannonades in the Milanese, and marches in Germany. He is curious concerning that man's day. What filled it? the crowded orders, the stern decisions, the foreign despatches, the Castilian etiquette? The soul answers - Behold his day here! In the sighing of these woods, in the quiet of these gray fields, in the cool breeze that sings out of these northern mountains; in the workmen, the boys, the maidens you meet, - in the hopes of the morning, the ennui of noon, and sauntering of the afternoon; in the disquieting comparisons; in the regrets at want of vigor; in the great idea and the puny execution;
– behold Charles the Fifth's day; another, yet the same;
behold Chatham's, Hampden's, Bayard's, Alfred's, Scipio's, Pericles's day, — day of all that are born of women. The difference of circumstance is merely costume. Be lord of a day, through wisdom and justice, and you can put up your history
Fifty years ago there must have been more than a thousand men and women in America and in England who could look back on that passage, as I did, and say of it, "At any rate, it was the making of me." A hundred thousand others since then may have, perhaps, looked back and said of those first thousand converts, “It was they who made us." You
1 Nature, Addresses and Lectures, pp. 157–159.
might as well question the creative power of passages in the Book of Psalms.
I began with a picture of Emerson as he showed himself to an essentially childish mind. Let me close with a glimpse of the scene when he was brought, for the first time, before a thousand halfchildish minds, gathered beneath the solemn mosshung forests of South Carolina, early in the Civil War. It was the first regiment of freed slaves mustered into the service of the Union; and they stood, with that perfect stillness of which they were capable, while their white surgeon, Dr. Seth Rogers, of Worcester, a man who possessed their confidence in all ways, read before them at their Sunday service, by his own wish, the whole of Emerson's “ Boston Hymn.” When he came to the lines –
Pay ransom to the owner
And fill his cup to the brim.
And ever was. Pay him !” – I watched their faces as he read. There was no look of wild excitement, no air of aroused and selfish desire, but a serene religious expression, a look of absolute security, as if the Almighty had at last heard their prayers and this far-off poet was his messenger.
The Chairman then introduced Professor William James.
ADDRESS OF WILLIAM JAMES
The pathos of death is this, that when the days of one's life are ended, those days that were so crowded with business and felt so heavy in their passing, what remains of one in memory should usually be so slight a thing. The phantom of an attitude, the echo of a certain mode of thought, a few pages of print, some invention, or some victory we gained in a brief critical hour, are all that can survive the best
It is as if the whole of a man's significance had now shrunk into the phantom of an attitude, into a mere musical note or phrase, suggestive of his singularity — happy are those whose singularity gives a note so clear as to be victorious over the inevitable pity of such a diminution and abridgment.
An ideal wraith like this, of Emerson's singularity, hovers over all Concord to-day, taking in the minds of those of you who were his neighbors and intimates a somewhat fuller shape, remaining more abstract in the younger generation, but bringing home to all of us the notion of a spirit indescribably precious. The form that so lately moved upon these streets and country roads, or awaited in these fields and woods the beloved Muse's visits, is now dust; but the soul's note, the spiritual voice, rises strong and clear above the uproar of the times, and seems securely destined to exert an ennobling influence over future generations.
What gave a flavor so matchless to Emerson's individuality was, even more than his rich mental gifts, their combination. Rarely has a man so known the limits of his genius or so unfailingly kept within them. “ Stand by your order,” he used to say to youthful students; and perhaps the paramount impression one gets of his life is of his loyalty to his own type and mission. The type was that of what he liked to call the scholar, the perceiver of pure truth, and the mission was that of the reporter in worthy form of each perception. The day is good, he said, in which we have the most perceptions. There are times when the cawing of a crow, a weed, a snowflake, or a farmer planting in his field, become symbols to the intellect of truths equal to those which the most majestic phenomena can open. Let me mind my own charge, then, walk alone, consult the sky, the field and forest, sedulously waiting every morning for the news concerning the structure of the universe which the good Spirit will give me.
This was the first half of Emerson, but only half, for his genius was insatiate for expression, and his truth had to be clad in the right verbal garment. The form of the garment was so vital with Emerson that it is impossible to separate it from the matter. They form a chemical combination, — thoughts which would be trivial expressed otherwise are important through the nouns and verbs to which he married them. The style is the man, it has been said: the man Emerson's mission culminated in his