They reckon ill who leave me out; When me they fly, I am the wings; I am the doubter and the doubt, And I the hymn the Brahmin sings. It calls the light its own, and feels that the grass grows and the stone falls by a law inferior to, and dependent on, its nature. Souls like these make us feel that sincerity is more excellent than flattery. There is in all great poets a wisdom of humanity which is superior to any talents they exercise. It is adult already in the infant man.
Character teaches over our head. Before that heaven which our presentiments foreshow us, we cannot easily praise any form of life we have seen or read of. The popular notion of a revelation is, that it is a telling of fortunes. They do not answer the questions which the understanding asks. We know truth when we see it, let skeptic and scoffer say what they choose.
If we will not interfere with our thought, but will act entirely, or see how the thing stands in God, we know the particular thing, and every thing, and every man. There is a difference between one and another hour of life, in their authority and subsequent effect. His father died when he was eight, the first of many premature deaths which would shape his life--all three brothers, his first wife at 20, and his older son at 5. He will calmly front the morrow in the negligency of that trust which carries God with it and so hath already the whole future in the bottom of the heart. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. They seem frigid and phlegmatic to those who have been spiced with the frantic passion and violent coloring of inferior, but popular writers. That diagnosis lies aloft in our life or unconscious power.
No answer in words can reply to a question of things. For this communication is an influx of the Divine mind into our mind. To truth, justice, love, the attributes of the soul, the idea of immutableness is essentially associated. Emerson and befriended intellectuals hosted several gatherings, which formed the Transcendental Club. A man is the façade of a temple wherein all wisdom and all good abide.
I do not wonder that these men go to see Cromwell, and Christina, and Charles the Second, and James the First, and the Grand Turk. Although Emerson emphasizes our independence and even distance from one another, then, the payoff for self-reliance is public and social. Every proverb, every book, every byword that belongs to thee for aid or comfort, shall surely come home through open or winding passages. He must greatly listen to himself, withdrawing himself from all the accents of other men's devotion. All men stand continually in the expectation of the appearance of such a teacher.
The least activity of the intellectual powers redeems us in a degree from the conditions of time. The character and duration of this enthusiasm varies with the state of the individual, from an ecstasy and trance and prophetic inspiration, — which is its rarer appearance, — to the faintest glow of virtuous emotion, in which form it warms, like our household fires, all the families and associations of men, and makes society possible. Some thoughts always find us young, and keep us so. In that other, though they had seldom met, authentic signs had yet passed, to signify that he might be trusted as one who had an interest in his own character. Why, then, should I make account of Hamlet and Lear, as if we had not the soul from which they fell as syllables from the tongue? God will not make himself manifest to cowards. Emerson says elsewhere, is the weakness of talent as compared with genius. In the presence of law to his mind, he is overflowed with a reliance so universal, that it sweeps away all cherished hopes and the most stable projects of mortal condition in its flood.
The essay elaborates upon the relationship between the soul and God that he first explored in Nature. According to Emerson, man can therefore participate directly in the divine both through observation of nature and introspection. In this collection of essays he represented his belief that people should live in a simple way and in harmony with nature. Among the multitude of scholars and authors, we feel no hallowing presence; we are sensible of a knack and skill rather than of inspiration; they have a light, and know not whence it comes, and call it their own; their talent is some exaggerated faculty, some overgrown member, so that their strength is a disease. They do not answer the questions which the understanding asks. This energy does not descend into individual life on any other condition than entire possession. A certain tendency to insanity has always attended the opening of the religious sense in men, as if they had been blasted with excess of light.
It makes no difference whether the appeal is to numbers or to one. In sickness, in languor, give us a strain of poetry or a profound sentence, and we are refreshed; or produce a volume of Plato or Shakspeare, or remind us of their names, and instantly we come into a feeling of longevity. Every man's words, who speaks from that life, must sound vain to those who do not dwell in the same thought on their own part. The intercourse of society, its trade, its religion, its friendships, its quarrels, is one wide judicial investigation of character. They must always be a godsend to princes, for they confront them, a king to a king, without ducking or concession, and give a high nature the refreshment and satisfaction of resistance, of plain humanity, of even companionship, and of new ideas. But if he would know what the great God speaketh, he must 'go into his closet and shut the door,' as Jesus said.
It requires of us to be plain and true. I feel the same truth how often in my trivial conversation with my neighbors, that somewhat higher in each of us overlooks this by-play, and Jove nods to Jove from behind each of us. He was vigorous in middle age, traveling frequently, but was increasingly aware of his limits and failing energy. I live in society; with persons who answer to thoughts in my own mind, or express a certain obedience to the great instincts to which I live. Nothing can pass there, or make you one of the circle, but the casting aside your trappings and dealing man to man in naked truth, plain confession and omniscient affirmation. The author, the wit, the partisan, the fine gentleman, does not take place of the man.