« AnteriorContinuar »
wandering poet and draws him into • antres vast and desarts idle,' and bereaves him of his memory, and leaves him naked, plaiting vines and with twigs in his hand. Very seductive are the first steps from the town to the woods, but the end is want and madness.'
But the dose of Nature that sufficed for Emerson was not enough for Thoreau.
Page 482, note 1. Readers of Thoreau will not forget the passage in which he tells of his visits in the Walden cabin in the long winter evenings, from “ the original proprietor who is reported to have dug Walden Pond," and his neighbor there, the “ elderly dame, invisible to most persons, in whose odorous herb-garden I love to stroll.” * Page 485, note 1.
I find this undated sentence among notes relative to Thoreau and so marked:
• The man of men, the only man you have seen (if you have seen one) is he who is immovably centred.” This scrap
also from the journal of 1852:“ Henry T. rightly said the other evening, talking of lightning-rods, that the only rod of safety was in the vertebræ of his own spine.”
Shortly after the death of Carlyle, the Massachusetts Historical Society invited Mr. Emerson to speak of his friend at their meeting, held in February, 1881. He was no longer able to write an address, but, unwilling to be silent at the meeting held in the great writer's honor, or to disappoint expectation entirely, read this short paper. Most of it is taken from a letter written by him soon after his visit to Carlyle, in 1848,
and to this few
passages from the journals were added. Hence this account of Carlyle has the characteristics of a letter written to near friends who well knew the honor and affection in which the writer held its subject. Secure in this knowledge, he could show them the man at close range –
even his less lovely traits. Emerson's tastes and methods were foreign to Carlyle, and above all his good hope; yet Carlyle could not but love and praise him, and never forgot the help that Emerson's grateful recognition in person of his early work, before its acceptance at home, had been to him. In these particulars there is a striking similarity to Carlyle's relations with his other friend, John Sterling. Emerson knew the brave purpose and utter loyalty to truth of Carlyle, and delighted in his gigantic power of expression. Knowing and loving his virtues, he persistently ignored his prejudices and faults.
These men, born with the ocean between them, had each in early manhood done the other great service. Each saw that the other's metal rang true, though of different temper. One worshipped earnest strength, the other beauty in its largest sense. One worked with the heat of the blast-furnace, the other with sun-heat. With temperaments so different, it was well that the sea remained between them, but their friendship endured as long as life.
This paper was printed by the Historical Society among their Proceedings; also in Scribner's Magazine for May, 1881. In connection with it, the passages relating to Carlyle, in English Traits, chapters 1. and xiv., may be referred to, and the review of Past and Present, among the
papers from the Dial, printed in the volume Natural History of Intellect; also the Correspondence of Carlyle and Emerson, and the frequent mention of Carlyle in the Correspondence of Emerson and Sterling.
Page 490, note 1. In a letter written to Carlyle in 1837, hence long before Webster's defection from the cause of Freedom, Mr. Emerson, with prophetic humor, called him “a good man, and as strong as if he were a sinner. Carlyle recognized in him “ a sufficient, effectual man, whom one must wish well to and prophesy well of,” and saw in his face “ that • indignation' which, if it do not make ‘verses,' makes useful way in the world.” The next year Carlyle was struck with his imposing appearance, of which he gave a wonderful description,' and said, “ As a Logic-fencer, Advocate, or Parliamentary Hercules, one would incline to back him at first sight against all the extant world.”
Page 491, note 1. In a letter from London in March, 1848, when the French Revolution and the Chartist demonstrations at home alarmed the English, Mr. Emerson, telling of the conversation at a dinner-party at Mr. Baring's, said,
Carlyle declaimed a little in the style of that raven prophet who cried • Woe to Jerusalem' just before its fall. All his methods included a good deal of killing.”
In a letter, written to a friend, on his voyage home, Mr. Emerson tells how, when challenged by Carlyle and Arthur Helps as to men “who had the American idea,” he assured them “ There were such monsters hard-by the setting sun, who believed in a future such as was never a past. . .
I sketched the Boston fanaticism of right and might without bayonets or bishops, every man his own king, and all coöperation necessary and extemporaneous.
OF course my men went wild at the denying to society the beautiful right to kill and imprison. But we stood fast for milk and acorns, told them that musketworship was perfectly well known to us, that it was an old bankrupt, but that we had never seen a man of sufficient valor
Correspondence, vol. i., p. 260.
and substance quite to carry out the other, which was nevertheless as sure as Copernican astronomy,” etc.'
Page 492, note 1. Immediately after Mr. Emerson's return in 1848 from England, where was great suffering among the poor, he and his wife tried to introduce the use of Indian meal into England through Carlyle and his philanthropic friends. They sent out first meal, and then corn on the ear, with directions as to the various ways it might be cooked, which recipes were in some sort tried by Mrs. Carlyle and Lady Ashburton, but British conservatism could not be overcome. Carlyle tried to take an interest and make civil speeches, but, in the end, human nature burst out, “ The Johnny-cake is good, the twopence-worth of currants in it too are good; but if
you offer it as a bit of baked ambrosia, Ach Gott !” Page 494, note 1. John Sterling, in a letter to Emerson, in 1844, said: “ Carlyle, our far greater Tacitus, in truth hates all poetry except for that element in it which is not poetic at all, and aims at giving a poetic completeness to historic fact. He is the greatest of moralists and politicians, a gigantic anti-poet.”
Page 495, note 1. Mr. Emerson, however, shows another view of Carlyle's attitude in the journal of 1834: “ Goethe and Carlyle and perhaps Novalis have an undisguised dislike or contempt for common virtue standing on common principles. Meantime they are dear lovers, steadfast maintainers of the pure ideal morality. But they worship it as the highest beauty; their love is artistic. Praise Socrates to them, or Fénelon, much more any inferior contemporary good man, and they freeze at once into silence. It is to them sheer prose.'
Page 497, note 1. In spite of Carlyle's strictures on ? Letters from Ralph Waldo Emerson to a Friend. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1899.
poetry, Mr. Emerson, when he read Sartor Resartus, felt that there was a poetic element in him, and wrote in his journal in 1833: “ As to Carlyle, he is an exemplification of Novalis's maxim concerning the union of Poetry and Philosophy. He has married them, and both are the gainers. Who has done so before as truly and as well ? Sartor Resartus is a philosophical poem.
Page 498, note 1. In the essay on “ Aristocracy,” in this volume (page 63), is a passage on the test that times of riot or revolution put on the scholar's manhood, and Mr. Emerson took pride in his friend's steadfast courage on behalf of the common weal.
Throughout the journals are expressions of the comfort he took in his brother across the sea, and the pleasure and pride with which he read each new work sent by him. Many of these will appear in the volumes made of passages selected from the journals, which the editor hopes ere long to prepare.
GEORGE L. STEARNS
Mr. Stearns was born in Medford and made his home there throughout his life. He early went into business in Boston and was associated in the business of ship-chandlery with Albert Fearing. Later he was engaged in the manufacture of sheet and pipe lead. His great energy, clear head and integrity made him respected and highly successful in whatever business he undertook. He was an excellent citi
A “ Conscience Whig” in 1846, he of course became a “ Freesoiler” in 1848, and thereafter in the midst of his busy life gave time and thought and money lavishly to the