Page images

MERSON'S was an Asiatic mind, drawing its sustenance partly from the hard soil of our New England, partly, too, from the air that has known Himalaya and the Ganges. So impressed with this character of his mind was Mr. Burlingame, as I saw him, after his return from his mission, that he said to me, in a freshet of hyperbole, which was the overflow of a channel with a thread of truth running in it, "There are twenty thousand Ralph Waldo Emersons in China.”

ministers denounced his heresies, and handled his writings as if they were packages of dynamite, and the grandmothers were as much afraid of his new teachings as old Mrs. Piozzi was of geology. We had had revolutionary orators, reformers, martyrs; it was but a few years since Abner Kneeland had been sent to jail for expressing an opinion about the great we had had nothing First Cause; but like this man, with his seraphic voice

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they


Tears from the depth of some divine

and countenance, his choice vocabu

Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn fields, lary, his refined ut-
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a

That brings our friends up from the under-

Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the


So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer


The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering


So sad, so strange, the days that are no


What could we do with this unexpected, unprovided for, unclassified, half-unwelcome newcomer, who had been for a while potted, as it were, in our Unitarian cold green-house, but had taken to growing so fast that he was lifting oft its glass roof and letting in the hailstorms? Here was a protest that outflanked the extreme left of liberalism, yet so calm and serene that its radicalism had the accents of the gospel of peace. Here was an iconoclast without a hammer, who took down our idols from their pedestals so tenderly that it seemed like an act of worship. The scribes and pharisees made light of his oracular sayings. The lawyers could not find the witnesses to subpoena and the documents to refer to when his case came before them, and turned him over to their wives and daughters The

Dear as remember'd kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy

On lips that are for others: deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
Oh, death in life! the days that are no


"Tears, Idle Tears," by Alfred Tennyson

terance, his gentle courage, which, with a different have been called manner, might audacity, his temperate statement of opinions which threatened to shake the existing order earthquake ❤❤ of thought like an style and of thinkHis peculiarities of ing became fertile parents of mannerisms, which were fair game for ridicule as they ap

peared in his imi

talks like Emerson or like Carlyle soon finds himself sur

tators. For one who

rounded by a crowd of walking phonographs, who mechanically reproduce his mental and vocal accents. Emerson was before long talking in the midst of a babbling Simonetta of echoes, and not unnaturally was now and then himself a mark for the small-shot of criticism. He had soon reached that height in the "cold thin atmosphere" of thought where "Vainly the fowler's eye might mark his distant



flight to do him wrong." ¶ I have known something of Emerson as a talker, not nearly so much as many others who can speak and write of him. It is unsafe to tell how a great thinker talks, for perhaps, like a city dealer with a village customer, he has not shown his best goods to the innocent reporter of his sayings. However that may be in this case, let me contrast in a single glance the momentary effect in conversation of the two neighbors, Hawthorne and Emerson. Speech

seemed like a kind of travail to Haw

thorne. One must harpoon him like a cetacean with questions to make him talk at all. Then the words came from him at last, with bashful manifestations, like

the boundaries of thought for the few that followed him, and the many who never knew, and do not know today, what hand it was which took down their prison walls. He was a preacher who taught that the religion of humanity included both those of Palestine, nor those alone, and taught it with such consecrated lips that the narrowest bigot was asham

What delightful hosts are they-
Life and Love!
Lingeringly I turn away,

ed to pray for him as from a footstool nearer tothethrone. "Hitch your wagon to a star:" this was his version of the

This late hour, yet glad enough divine lesson taught

They have not withheld from me

Their high hospitality.
So, with face lit with delight

And all gratitude, I stay

Yet to press their hands and say,

by that holy George Herbert whose words he loved. Give him whatever place belongs to him in the literature of our lan

"Thanks. So fine a time! Good guage, of the world,


but remember this: the end and aim of

"A Parting Guest," by James Whitcomb Riley his being was to

those of a young girl, almost-words that gasped themselves forth, seeming to leave a great deal more behind them than they told, and died out discontented with themselves, like the monologue of thunder in the sky, which always goes off mumbling and grumbling as if it had not said half it wanted to, and ought to say...

To sum up briefly what would, as it seems to me, be the text to be unfolded in his biography, he was a man of excellent common sense, with a genius so uncommon that he seemed like an exotic transplanted from some angelic nursery. His character was so blameless, so beautiful, that it was rather a standard to judge others by than to find a place for on the scale of comparison. Looking at life with the profoundest sense of its infinite significance, he was yet a cheerful optimist, almost too hopeful, peeping into every cradle to see if it did not hold a babe with the halo of a new Messiah about it. He enriched the treasure-house of literature, but, what was far more, he enlarged

make truth lovely and manhood valorous, and to bring our daily life nearer and nearer to the eternal, immortal, invisible.

-Oliver Wendell Holmes.

THEN I was born, New York con

tained 27,000 inhabitants. The upper limits of the city were at Chambers Street. Not a single free school, either by day or night, existed. General Washington had just entered upon his first term as President of the United States, the whole annual expenditures of which did not exceed $2,500,000, being about sixty cents per head of the population. Not a single steam engine had yet been built or erected on the American continent; and the people were clad in homespun and were characterized by the simple virtues and habits which are usually associated with that primitive garb.

I need not tell you what the country now is, and what the habits and the garments of its people now are, or that the expenditure, per capita, of the general government has increased fifteen

fold. But I have witnessed and taken a deep interest in every step of the marvelous development and progress which have characterized this century beyond all the centuries which have gone before.

may be ready to welcome laborers to a new field of usefulness, and to clear the road for their progress.

This I have tried to do, as well in the perfecting and execution of their ideas as in making such provision as my means have permitted for the proper education of the young mechanics and citizens of my native city, in order to fit them for the

Out of me unworthy and unknown
The vibrations of deathless music:
"With malice toward none, with chairty
for all."

Out of me the forgiveness of millions
towards millions,

Measured by the achievements of the
years I have seen, I am one of the oldest
men who have ever lived; but I do not
feel old, and I propose to give you the
recipe by which I
have preserved my
youth. I have al-
ways given a friend-
ly welcome to new
ideas, and I have
endeavored not to
feel too old to learn,
and thus, though I
stand here with the
snows of so many
winters upon my
head, my faith in
human nature, my
belief in the prog-
ress of man to a
better social con-
dition, and espe-
cially my trust in

And the beneficent face of a nation
Shining with justice and truth.

I am Anne Rutledge who sleep beneath
these weeds,

Beloved in life of Abraham Lincoln,
Wedded to him, not through union,
But through separation.
Bloom forever, O Republic,
From the dust of my bosom!

"Anne Rutledge," by Edgar Lee Masters

the ability of men to establish and maintain self-government, are as fresh and as young as when I began to travel the path of life se

While I have always recognized that the object of business is to make money in an honorable manner, I have endeavored to remember that the object of life is to do good. Hence I have been ready to engage in all new enterprises, and, without incurring debt, to risk in their promotion the means which I had acquired, provided they seemed to me calculated to advance the general good.

This will account for my early attempt to perfect the steam engine, for my attempt to construct the first American locomotive, for my connection with the telegraph in a course of efforts to unite our country with the European world, and for my recent efforts to solve the problem of economical steam navigation on the canals It happens to but few men to change the current of human progress, as it did to Watt, to Fulton, to Stephenson, and to Morse; but most men

reception of new ideas, social, mechanical and scientific-hoping thus to economize and expand the intellectual as well as the physical forces, and provide a larger fund for distribution among the various classes which necessarily make up the total of society

If our lives shall be such that we shall receive the glad welcome of Well done, good and faithful servant," we shall then know that we have not lived in vain.-Peter Cooper (From an Address, 1874.)

HE less there is said of physical

structure and laws, and the more there is thought and said about moral and spiritual law, the higher the standard of mortals will be, and the farther they will be removed from imbecility of mind and body.

We should master fear, instead of culti-
vating it. It was the ignorance of our fore-
fathers, in the departments of knowledge
broadcast in the earth, which made them
more hardy than our trained physiol-
ogists, more honest than our sleek poli-
ticians. Mary Baker Eddy.

There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.


[blocks in formation]

Samuel Johnson Meets His Future Biographer


R. THOMAS DAVIES the actor, who then kept a bookseller's shop in Russell street, Covent Garden, told me that Johnson was very much his friend, and came frequently to his house, where he more than once invited me to meet him; but by some unlucky accident or other he was prevented from coming to us.

Mr. Thomas Davies was a man of good understanding and talents, with the advantage of a liberal education. Though somewhat pompous, he was an entertaining companion; and his literary performances have no inconsiderable share of merit. He was a friendly and very hospitable man. Both he and his wife (who has been celebrated for her beauty), though upon the stage for many years, maintained a uniform decency of character; and Johnson esteemed them, and lived in as easy an intimacy with them as with any family which he used to visit. Mr. Davies recollected several of Johnson's remarkable sayings, and was one of the best of the many imitators of his voice and manner, while relating them. He increased my impatience more and more to see the extraordinary man whose works I highly valued, and whose conversation was reported to be so peculiarly excellent.

At last, on Monday the 16th of May, when I was sitting in Mr. Davies' back parlor, after having drunk tea with him and Mrs. Davies, Johnson unexpectedly came in the shop; and Mr. Davies having perceived him through the glass door in the room in which we were sitting, advancing toward us, he announced his awful approach to me somewhat in the manner of an actor in the part of Horatio, when he addresses Hamlet on the appearance of his father's ghost-"Look, my lord, it comes." I found that I had a perfect idea of Johnson's figure from the portrait of him painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds soon after he had published his Dictionary, in the attitude of sitting in his easy chair in deep meditation; which was the first picture his friend did for

him, which Sir Joshua very kindly presented to me, and from which an engraving has been made for this work. Mr. Davies mentioned my name, and respectfully introduced me to him. I was much agitated, and recollecting his prejudice against the Scotch, of which I had heard much, I said to Davies, "Don't tell where I came from,' ""From Scotland," cried Davies, roguishly "Mr. Johnson," (said I) "I do indeed come from Scotland, but I can not help it." I am willing to flatter myself that I meant this as light pleasantry to soothe and conciliate him, and not as an humiliating abasement at the expense of my country. But however that might be, this speech was somewhat unlucky; for with that quickness of wit for which he was so remarkable, he seized the expression,


come from Scotland," which I used in the sense of being of that country: and as if I had said that I had come away from it, or left it, retorted, "That, sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen can not help." This stroke stunned me a good deal; and when he had sat down, I felt myself not a little embarrassed, and apprehensive of what might come next. He then addressed himself to Davies: What do you think of Garrick? He has refused me an order for the play of Miss Williams, because he knows the house will be full, and that an order would be worth three shillings." Eager to take any opening to get into conversation with him, I ventured to say, "Oh, sir, I can not think Mr. Garrick would grudge such a trifle to you."

[ocr errors]

"Sir," (said he, with a stern look) "I have known David Garrick longer than you have done; and I know no right you have to talk to me on the subject." Perhaps I deserved this check; for it was rather presumptuous in me, an entire stranger, to express any doubt of the justice of his animadversion upon his old acquaintance and pupil. I now felt myself much mortified, and began to think that the hope which I had long indulged of obtaining his acquaintance was blasted. And in truth, had not my

ardor been uncommonly strong, and my resolution uncommonly persevering, so rough a reception might have deterred me forever from making any further attempts.... I was highly pleased with the extraordinary vigor of his conversation, and regretted that I was drawn away from it by an engagement at another place. I had for a part of the evening been left alone with him, and had ventured to make an observation now and then, which he received very civilly; so that I was satisfied that though there was a roughness in his manner, there was no ill-nature in his disposition. Davies followed me to the door, and when I complained to him a little of the hard blows which the great man had given me, he kindly took upon him to console me by saying, " Don't be uneasy. I can see he likes you very well." A few days afterward I called on Davies, and asked him if he thought I might take the liberty of waiting on Mr. Johnson at his chambers in the Temple. He said I certainly might, and that Mr. Johnson would take it as a compliment. So on Tuesday the 24th of May, after having been enlivened by the witty sallies of Messieurs Thornton, Wilkes, Churchill, and Lloyd, with whom I had passed the morning, I boldly repaired to Johnson. His chambers were on the first floor of No. 1, Inner Temple Lane, and I entered them with an impression given me by the Rev. Dr. Blair, of Edinburgh, who had been introduced to him not long before, and described his having "found the giant in his den;" an expression which, when I came to be pretty well acquainted

99 66

[ocr errors]

particularities were forgotten'the moment that he began to talk. Some gentlemen, whom I do not recollect, were sitting with him; and when they went away, I also rose; but he said to me, Nay, don't go. Sir," (said I), “ I am afraid that I intrude upon you. It is benevolent to allow me to sit and hear you." He seemed pleased with this compliment, which I sincerely paid him, and answered, Sir, I am obliged to any man who visits me."-James Boswell.

[ocr errors]

RUTH! Where is truth but in the soul itself? Facts, objects, are but phantoms, matter-woven ghosts of this earthly night, at which the soul, sleeping here in the mire and clay of matter, shudders and names its own vague tremors, sense and perception


even as our nightly dreams stir in us the suspicion of mysterious and immaterial presences, unfettered by the bonds of time and space, so do these waking dreams which we call sight and sound. They are divine messengers, whom Zeus, pitying his children, even when he pent them in this prison-house of flesh, appointed to arouse in them dim recollections of that real world of souls whence they came. Awakened once to them; seeing, through the veil of sense and fact, the spiritual truth of which they are but the accidental garment, concealing the very thing which they made palpable, the philosopher may neglect the fact for the doctrine, the shell for the kernel, the body for the soul, of which it is but the symbol and the vehicle.-Hypatia.

with Johnson, I repeated to him, and heNGLAND and America are bound was diverted at this picturesque account of himself..


He received me very courteously; but it must be confessed that his apartment and furniture and morning dress were sufficiently uncouth. His brown suit of clothes looked very rusty; he had on a little shriveled unpowdered wig, which was too small for his head; his shirt-neck and the knees of his breeches were loose; his black worsted stockings ill drawn up; and he had a pair of unbuckled shoes by way of slippers. But all these slovenly

up together in peaceful fetters by the strongest of all the ligatures that can bind two nations to each other, namely, commercial interests; and which, every succeeding year, renders more impossible, if the term may be used, a rupture between the two Governments. -Richard Cobden.

If you wish to appear agreeable in society, you must consent to be taught many things which you know already. -Lavater.

« PreviousContinue »