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III.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON.

WHEN SO clear and far-shining a star as Emerson fades out, one, at first, feels numbed: it takes some time to realise the loss sustained.

We forget in the whirl of vulgar cares and interests the great intellectual benefactors of humanity. Some of us have absorbed more or less of their teaching, and feel a vague love and reverence for the teacher. Then one morning one reads in the newspaper that the great and good man is ill-that the bright light is becoming dim; and a few days later one is shocked to learn that it has gone out for ever that the intellectual fire which lit the world with its lambent flame is extinguished. We know how difficult it is for ordinary people to keep alive a spark of inner light, and yet this sublime old man, in spite of the obstacles, worries, and peddling cares of poor human nature, not only kept bright the inner light of his own soul, but assisted millions to do the

same.

What we admire in Emerson is not only the

intellectual elevation, but the moral purity and simple childlike goodness and sweetness of the man. Success did not spoil him, although it came very early. When I say success, I don't mean what the vulgar call success. The success valued by a man like Emerson was an extended power to do good. It did not consist in possessing houses, carriages, and servants. But when he knew that the intellectual and moral light which emanated from him was lighting up the best hearts, brains, and consciences of the English-speaking people, he had his exceeding great reward. And this gifted man looked upon every other man, woman and child as interesting and lovable. He listened with an unfailing courtesy to the stuttering speech of uncultivated people, hoping beneath the stumbling words to find some idea worthy of attention. And I believe he was often rewarded. For education, in which I have a most potent belief, although it develops the large brain, often crushes the small grain of originality which exists in the small one. The small jewel will not bear much cutting, the large one will. You make the most of the latter, the former you reduce to dust.

All my readers have enjoyed the raciness and wit of Emerson; and, I believe, a great part of those rare qualities were gained by his power of opening the hearts and mouths of the people : the rough, the uncouth, but, in this sophisticated

age, when ordinary respectable people are, on the surface, nearly as much alike as Birmingham buttons, the study of the people, to a man who wishes to understand the real grit and power of human nature, is altogether priceless.

Emerson lived a beautifully simple life. He was ready to listen to everybody; and did so with infinite benefit to his head and heart, not to mention ours. Nothing is so easy for a cultivated man to do as to freeze into silence uncultivated people. But I don't think you will find any author worth reading who adopted that form of intellectual and moral suicide.

The peculiar note of Emerson's style is its elevation and simplicity. He did not think of pleasing or displeasing any one; and therefore succeeded in delighting every one worth pleasing. I need scarcely say that so soon as a man of genius begins to think of pleasing this editor or the other by what he writes, it is all over with him as a teacher and a good thing too. I want to know, and you want to know, and every one with any intellectual or moral earnestness wants to know, exactly what a man of genius thinks and feels about this, that, and the other; and not what some publisher or editor, who usually is not a man of genius, thinks will please the vulgar public.

A man who thinks of the success of his writing, and not of his writing only, may gain

a superficial success. He may be noticed by the Times, and even worse papers, but he never gains, and never deserves to gain, a hold on the brains and hearts of mankind.

It is not by pleasing the vulgar that a man succeeds. It is by pleasing the wise and discriminating, who dictate to the vulgar what to admire.

Genius can only be thoroughly appreciated by genius. A man can only be really judged by his peers. But still we little people may pick up some little thoughts and ideas, suitable to our size, and, if we are strong enough, carry them away. But when some puny whipster, who can scarcely reach to the knees of an intellectual giant like Emerson, attempts to measure, weigh, and dissect him, one would be very angry, were it not too preposterously absurd, and the anger ends in a hearty laugh. The flea finding fault with the lion, on which it lives, is too absurd.

"A lion was once slightly bit by a flea:

'Twas the flea's way of saying, 'Take notice of me!'"

But as a rule lions don't take notice ; asses in lions' skins do. But I will do this justice to the critics they appear to have given Emerson a wide berth.

:

They looked upon him as too far gone. Not even their wonderful teaching powers could benefit such a hopeless case. With him they lost

"The lion never

their Latin. What a blessing! lost so much time as when he took lessons from the ape." Emerson, I think, never lost much time in that way. He went on his own solitary intellectual path-the higher the path the more solitary--disregarding the praise or the blame of foolish people. That wise conduct was the root of his power and strength.

Now I must say a word about one of the most salient features in Emerson's character. I mean his unfailing goodness. No man was less goody, and no man was more truly good. Thackeray once said, although a better man than he never lived, that it was a great pity good people were so stupid. Now, I think it is a great blessing that bad people are so stupid. A bad heart, in my humble opinion, is often accompanied by a worse head. I think Carlyle was of opinion that the grand quality in literature and art is the moral quality. I think it is the salt of literature and art. People must love the truth and the right very ardently to find their way to them through the labyrinth of sophistries and lies which hide them from the lukewarm.

And, although we may not think so, a love of truth for its own sake is very rare. I think that was the particular and individual note of Emerson's genius. He did not trouble himself as to the effect of what he said on theological dogmas, or on social and political opinion; but

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