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Full text of "Nature"


University of California Berkeley 

Purchased as the gift of 

Mr. & Mrs. 
Stephen Walter 






NATURE. 



" Nature is but an imago or imitation of wisdom, the last thing 
of the soul; nature being a thing which doth only do, but not 
know." 

PLOTINUS. 



BOSTON: 

JAMES MUNROE AND COMPANY. 

M DCCC XXXVI. 



Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1836, 

By JAMES MUNROS & Co. 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of 
Massachusetts. 



Cambridge Press : 
Metcalf, Torry, &, Ballou. 



CONTENTS. 



INTRODUCTION. 



NATURE. 



COMMODITY. 



BEAUTY. 

LANGUAGE. 

DISCIPLINE. 

IDEALISM. . 

SPIRIT. 

PROSPECTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

CHAPTER II. 
CHAPTER III. 
CHAPTER IV. 

CHAPTER V. 

CHAPTER VI. 

CHAPTER VII. 

CHAPTER VIII. 



15 



19 



46 



59 



76 



82 



INTRODUCTION. 



OUR age is retrospective. It builds the sep 
ulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, 
histories, and criticism. The foregoing gene 
rations beheld God and nature face to face ; 
we, through their eyes. Why should not we 
also enjoy an original relation to the universe? 
Why should not we have a poetry and philoso 
phy of insight and not of tradition, and a relig 
ion by revelation to us, and not the history of 
theirs 1 Embosomed for a season in nature, 
whose floods of life stream around and through 
us, and invite us by the powers they supply, to 
action proportioned to nature, why should we 
grope among the dry bones of the past, or put 
the living generation into masquerade out of its 
faded wardrobe ? The sun shines to-day also. 
There is more wool and flax in the fields. 



6 INTRODUCTION. 

There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. 
Let us demand our own works and laws and 
worship. 

Undoubtedly we have no questions to ask 
which are unanswerable. We must trust the 
perfection of the creation so far, as to believe 
that whatever curiosity the order of things has 
awakened in our minds, the order of things can 
satisfy. Every man's condition is a solution in 
hieroglyphic to those inquiries he would put. 
He acts it as life, before he apprehends it as 
truth. In like manner, nature is already, in its 
forms and tendencies, describing its own design. 
Let us interrogate the great apparition, that 
shines so peacefully around us. Let us inquire, 
to what end is nature 1 

All science has one aim, namely, to find a 
theory of nature. We have theories of races 
and of functions, but scarcely yet a remote 
approximation to an idea of creation. We are 
now so far from the road to truth, that religious 
teachers dispute and hate each other, and 
speculative men are esteemed unsound and 



INTRODUCTION. 7 

frivolous. But to a sound judgment, the most 
abstract truth is the most practical. Whenever 
a true theory appears, it will be its own evi 
dence. Its test is, that it will explain all phe 
nomena. Now many are thought not only un 
explained but inexplicable ; as language, sleep, 
dreams, beasts, sex. 

Philosophically considered, the universe is 
composed of Nature and the Soul. Strictly 
speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, 
all which Philosophy distinguishes as the NOT 
ME, that is, both nature and art, all other men 
and my own body, must be ranked under this 
name, NATURE. In enumerating the values of 
nature and casting up their sum, I shall use the 
word in both senses ; in its common and in 
its philosophical import. In inquiries so gene 
ral as our present one, the inaccuracy is not 
material ; no confusion of thought will occur. 
Nature, in the common sense, refers to essences 
unchanged by man ; space, the air, the river, 
the leaf. Art is applied to the mixture of his 
will with the same things, as in a housCj a 



8 INTRODUCTION. 

canal, a statue, a picture. But his operations 
taken together are so insignificant, a little chip 
ping, baking, patching, and washing, that in an 
impression so grand as that of the world on 
the human mind, they do not vary the result. 



NATURE. 



CHAPTER I. 

To go into solitude, a man needs to retire 
as much from his chamber as from society. 
I am not solitary whilst I read and write, 
though nobody is with me. But if a man would 
be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays 
that come from those heavenly worlds, will 
separate between him and vulgar things. One 
might think the atmosphere was made trans 
parent with this design, to give man, in the 
heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the 
sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how 
great they are ! If the stars should appear one 
night in a thousand years, how would men 
1 



l(f NATURE. 

believe and adore; and preserve for many 
generations the remembrance of the city of 
God which had been shown ! But every night 
come out these preachers of beauty, and light 
the universe with their admonishing smile. 

The stars awaken a certain reverence, be 
cause though always present, they are always 
inaccessible ; but all natural objects make a 
kindred impression, when the mind is open to 
their influence. Nature never wears a mean 
appearance. Neither does the wisest man 
extort all her secret, and lose his curiosity by 
finding out all her perfection. Nature never 
became a toy to a wise spirit. The flowers, 
the animals, the mountains, reflected all the 
wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had 
delighted the simplicity of his childhood. 

When we speak of nature in this manner, 
we have a distinct but most poetical sense in 
the mind. We mean the integrity of impres 
sion made by manifold natural objects. It is 
this which distinguishes the stick of timber of 
the wood-cutter, from the tree of the poet. 



NATURE. 11 

The charming landscape which I saw this 
morning, is indubitably made up of some twenty 
or thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke 
that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But 
none of them owns the landscape. There is 
a property in the horizon which no man has 
but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, 
that is, the poet. This is the best part of these 
men's farms, yet to this their land-deeds give 
them no title. 

To speak truly, few adult persons can see 
nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At 
least they have a very superficial seeing. The 
sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but 
shines into the eye and the heart of the child. 
The lover of nature is he whose inward and 
outward senses are still truly adjusted to each 
other ; who has retained the spirit of infancy 
even into the era of manhood. His intercourse 
with heaven and earth, becomes part of his 
daily food. In the presence of nature, a wild 
delight runs through the man, in spite of real 
sorrows. Nature says, he is my creature, 



12 NATURE. 

and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall 
be glad with me. Not the sun or the summer 
alone, but every hour and season yields its 
tribute of delight ; for every hour and change 
corresponds to and authorizes a different state 
of the mind, from breathless noon to grimmest 
midnight. Nature is a setting that fits equally 
well a comic or a mourning piece. In good 
health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. 
Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at 
twilight, under a clouded sky, without having 
in my thoughts any occurrence of special good 
fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. 
Almost I fear to think how glad I am. In the 
woods too, a man casts off his years, as the 
snake his slough, and at what period soever of 
life, is always a child. In the woods, is per 
petual youth. Within these plantations of God, 
Bf decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial 
festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how 
he should tire of them in a thousand years. 
In the woods, we return to reason and faith. 
There I feel that nothing can befal me in 



NATURE. 13 

life, no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my 
eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing 
on the bare ground, my head bathed by the 
blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, all 
mean egotism vanishes. I become a transpa 
rent eye-ball. I am nothing. I see all. The 
currents of the Universal Being circulate 
through me ; I am part or particle of God. 
The name of the nearest friend sounds then 
foreign and accidental. To be brothers, to be 
acquaintances, master or servant, is then 
a trifle* and a disturbance. I am the lover 
of uncontained and immortal beauty. In 
the wilderness, I find something more dear 
and connate than in streets or villages. In the 
tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant 
line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as 
beautiful as his own nature. 

The greatest delight which the fields and 
woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult 
relation between man and the vegetable. I am 
not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to 
me and I to them. The waving of the boughs 
1* 



14 NATURE. 

in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes 
me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its 
effect is like that of a higher thought or a 
better emotion coming over me, when I deemed 
I was thinking justly or doing right. 

Yet it is certain that the power to produce 
this delight, does not reside in nature, but in 
man, or m a harmony of both. It is necessary 
to use these pleasures with great temperance. 
For, nature is not always tricked in holiday 
attire, but the same scene which yesterday 
breathed perfume and glittered as for the frolic 
of the nymphs, is overspread with melancholy 
today. Nature always wears the colors of the 
spirit. To a man laboring under calamity, the 
heat of his own fire hath sadness in it. Then, 
there is a kind of contempt of the landscape 
felt by him who has just lost by death a dear 
friend. The sky is less grand as it shuts down 
over less worth in the population. 



CHAPTER II. 

COMMODITY. 

WHOEVER considers the final cause of the 
world, will discern a multitude of uses that 
enter as parts into that result. They all admit 
of being thrown into one of the following 
classes; Commodity; Beauty; Language; and 
Discipline. 

Under the general name of Commodity, 
I rank all those advantages which our senses 
owe to nature. This, of course, is a benefit 
which is temporary and mediate, not ultimate, 
like its service to the soul. Yet although low, 
it is perfect in its kind, and is the only use of 
nature which all men apprehend. The misery 
of man appears like childish petulance, when 
we explore the steady and prodigal provision 
that has been made for his support and delight 
on this green ball which floats him through the 



16 COMMODITY. 

heavens. What angels invented these splendid 
ornaments, these rich conveniences, this ocean 
of air above, this ocean of water beneath, this 
firmament of earth between ? this zodiac of 
lights, this tent of dropping clouds, this 
striped coat of climates, this fourfold year 1 
Beasts, fire, water, stones, and corn serve 
him. The field is at once his floor, his 
work-yard, his play-ground, his garden, and his 
bed. 

" More servants wait on man 
Than he'll take notice of." 



Nature, in its ministry to man, is not only the 
material, but is also the process and the result. 
All the parts incessantly work into each other's 
hands for the profit of man. The wind sows 
the seed ; the sun evaporates the sea ; the 
wind blows the vapor to the field ; the ice, on 
the other side of the planet, condenses rain on 
this ; the rain feeds the plant ; the plant feeds 
the animal ; and thus the endless circulations 
of the divine charity nourish man. 















COMMODITY. 17 

The useful arts are but reproductions or new 
combinations by the wit of man, of the same 
natural benefactors. He no longer waits for 
favoring gales, but by means of steam, he 
realizes the fable of ^Bolus's bag, and carries 
the two and thirty winds in the boiler of his 
boat. To diminish friction, he paves the road 
with iron bars, and, mounting a coach with a 
ship-load of men, animals, and merchandise 
behind him, he darts through the country, from 
town to town, like an eagle or a swallow 
through the air. By the aggregate of these 
aids, how is the face of the world changed, 
from the era of Noah to that of Napoleon ! 
The private poor man hath cities, ships, canals, 
bridges, built for him. He goes to the post- 
office, and the human race run on his errands ; 
to the book-shop, and the human race read 
and write of all that happens, for him ; to the 
court-house, and nations repair his wrongs. 
He sets his house upon the road, and the 

human race go forth every morning, and shovel 

* ^ 
out the snow, and cut a path for him. 






-- 



' 1 ** s> " * 



18 COMMODITY. 

But there is no need of specifying particu 
lars in this class of uses. The catalogue is end 
less, and the examples so obvious, that I shall 
leave them to the reader's reflection, with the 
general remark, that this mercenary benefit is 
one which has respect to a farther good. A 
man is fed, not that he may be fed, but that he 
may work. 






CHAPTER III. 

BEAUTY. 

A NOBLER want of man is served by nature, 
namely, the Jove of Beauty. 

The ancient Greeks called the world xoej^o?, 
beauty. Such is the constitution of all things, 
or such the plastic power of the human eye, 
that the primary forms, as the sky, the moun 
tain, the tree, the animal, give us a delight in 
and for themselves ; a pleasure arising from 
outline, color, motion, and grouping. This 
seems partly owing to the eye itself. The eye 
is the best of artists. By the mutual action of 
its structure and of the laws of light, perspec 
tive is produced, which integrates every mass 
of objects, of what character soever, into a 
well colored and shaded globe, so that where 
the particular objects are mean and unaffecting, 
the landscape which they compose, is round and 



20 ^ BEAUTY. 

symmetrical. And as the eye is the best com 
poser, so light is the first of painters. There 
is no object so foul that intense light will not 
make beautiful. And the stimulus it affords to 
the sense, and a sort of infinitude which it hath, 
like space and time, make all matter gay. 
Even the corpse hath its own beauty. But 
beside this general grace diffused over nature, 
almost all the individual forms are agreeable 
to the eye, as is proved by our endless imita 
tions of some of them, as the acorn, the grape, 
the pine-cone, the wheat-ear, the egg, the 
wings and forms of most birds, the lion's claw, 
the serpent, the butterfly, sea-shells, flames, 
clouds, buds, leaves, and the forms of many 
trees, as the palm. 

For better consideration, we may distribute 
the aspects of Beauty in a threefold manner. 

1. First, the simple perception of natural forms 
is a delight. The influence of the forms and ac 
tions in nature, is so needful to man, that, in its 
lowest functions, it seems to lie on the confines 
of commodity and beauty. To the body and mind 






BEAUTY. 21 

which have been cramped by noxious work or 
company, nature is medicinal and restores their 
tone. The tradesman, the attorney comes out 
of the din and craft of the street, and sees the 
sky and the woods, and is a man again. In 
their eternal calm, he finds himself. The 
health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. 
We are never tired, so long as we can see far 
enough. 

But in other hours, Nature satisfies the soul 
purely by its loveliness, and without any mix 
ture of corporeal benefit. I have seen the 
spectacle of morning from the hill-top over 
against my house, from day-break to sun-rise, 
with emotions which an angel might share. 
The long slender bars of cloud float like fishes 
in the sea of crimson light. From the earth, 
as a shore, I look out into that silent sea. I 
seem to partake its rapid transformations : the 
active enchantment reaches my dust, and I 
dilate and conspire with the morning wind. 
How does Nature deify us with a few and 
cheap elements ! Give me health and a day, 
2 



22 BEAUTY. 

and I will make the pomp of emperors ridicu 
lous. The dawn is my Assyria; the sun-set 
and moon-rise my Paphos, and unimaginable 
realms of faerie ; broad noon shall be my Eng 
land of the senses and the understanding; the 
night shall be my Germany of mystic philoso 
phy and dreams. 

Not less excellent, except for our less sus 
ceptibility in the afternoon, was the charm, last 
evening, of a January sunset. The western 
clouds divided and subdivided themselves into 
pink flakes modulated with tints of unspeakable 
softness; and the air had so much life and 
sweetness, that it was a pain to come within 
doors. What was it that nature would say ? 
Was there no meaning in the live repose of the 
valley behind the mill, and which Homer or 
Shakspeare could not re-form for me in words ? 
The leafless trees become spires of flame in 
the sunset, with the blue east for their back 
ground, and the stars of the dead calices of 
flowers, and every withered stem and stubble 
rimed with frost, contribute something to the 
mute music. 



BEAUTY. 23 

The inhabitants of cities suppose that the 
country landscape is pleasant only half the year. 
I please myself with observing the graces of 
the winter scenery, and believe that we are as 
much touched by it as by the genial influences 
of summer. To the attentive eye, each moment 
of the year has its own beauty, and in the 
same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture 
which was never seen before, and which shall 
never be seen again. The heavens change 
every moment, and reflect their glory or gloom 
on the plains beneath. The state of the crop 
in the surrounding farms alters the expression 
of the earth from week to week. The succes 
sion of native plants in the pastures and road 
sides, which make the silent clock by which 
time tells the summer hours, will make even 
the divisions of the day sensible to a keen 
observer. The tribes of birds and insects, like 
the plants punctual to their time, follow each 
other, and the year has room for all. By water 
courses, the variety is greater. In July, the 
blue pontederia or pickerel-weed blooms in 



24 BEAUTY. 

large beds in the shallow parts of our pleasant 
river, and swarms with yellow butterflies in con 
tinual motion. Art cannot rival this pomp of 
purple and gold. Indeed the river is a per 
petual gala, and boasts each month a new 
ornament. 

But this beauty of Nature which is seen and 
felt as beauty, is the least part. The shows of 
day, the dewy morning, the rainbow, moun 
tains, orchards in blossom, stars, moonlight, 
shadows in still water, and the like, if too 
eagerly hunted, become shows merely, and 
mock us with their unreality. Go out of the 
house to see the moon, and 't is mere tinsel ; it 
will not please as when its light shines upon 
your necessary journey. The beauty that 
shimmers in the yellow afternoons of October, 
who ever could clutch it 1 Cio forth to find it, 
and it is gone : 't is only a mirage as you look 
from the windows of diligence. 

2. The presence of a higher, namely, of the 
spiritual element is essential to its perfection. 
The high and divine beauty which can be loved 



BEAUTY. 25 

without effeminacy, is that which is found in 
combination with the human will, and never 
separate. Beauty is the mark God sets upon 
virtue. Every natural action is graceful. Every 
heroic act is also decent, and causes the place 
and the bystanders to shine. We are taught by 
great actions that the universe is the property 
of every individual in it. Every rational crea 
ture has all nature for his dowry and estate. It 
is his, if he will. He may divest himself of it ; 
he may creep into a corner, and abdicate his 
kingdom, as most men do, but he is entitled to 
the world by his constitution. In proportion to 
the energy of his thought and will, he takes up 
the world into himself. " All those things for 
which men plough, build, or sail, obey virtue; " 
said an ancient historian. " The winds and 
waves," said Gibbon, " are always on the side 
of the ablest navigators." So are the sun and 
moon and all the stars of heaven. When a 
noble act is done, perchance in a scene of 
great natural beauty; when Leonidas and his 
three hundred martyrs consume one day in 
2* 



26 BEAUTY. 

dying, and the sun and moon come each and 
look at them once in the steep defile of Ther 
mopylae ; when Arnold Winkelried, in the high 
Alps, under the shadow of the avalanche, gath 
ers in his side a sheaf of Austrian spears to 
break the line for his comrades ; are not these 
heroes entitled to add the beauty of the scene to 
the beauty of the deed ? When the bark of 
Columbus nears the shore of America ; before 
it, the beach lined with savages, fleeing out of 
all their huts of cane ; the sea behind ; and the 
purple mountains of the Indian Archipelago 
around, can we separate the man from the liv 
ing picture ? Does not the New World clothe 
his form with her palm-groves and savannahs as 
fit drapery 1 Ever does natural beauty steal in 
like air, and envelope great actions. When Sir 
Harry Vane was dragged up the Tower-hill, 
sitting on a sled, to suffer death, as the cham 
pion of the English laws, one of the multitude 
cried out to him, " You never sate on so glori 
ous a seat." Charles II., to intimidate the citi 
zens of London, caused the patriot Lord Rus- 



BEAUTY. <J7 

sel to be drawn in an open coach, through the 
principal streets of the city, on his way to the 
scaffold. " But," to use the simple narrative of 
his biographer, " the multitude imagined they 
saw liberty and virtue sitting by his side." In 
private places, among sordid objects, an act of 
truth or heroism seems at once to draw to itself 
the sky as its temple, the sun as its candle. 
Nature stretcheth out her arms to embrace man, 
only Jet his thoughts be of equal greatness. 
Willingly does she follow his steps with the rose 
and the violet, and bend her lines of grandeur 
and grace to the decoration of her darling child. 
Only let his thoughts be of equal scope, and the 
frame will suit the picture. A virtuous man, is 
in unison with her works, and makes the cen 
tral figure of the visible sphere. Homer, Pin 
dar, Socrates, Phocion, associate themselves 
fitly in our memory with the whole geography 
and climate of Greece. The visible heavens 
and earth sympathize with Jesus. And in com 
mon life, whosoever has seen a person of power 
ful character and happy genius, will have re- 



28 BEAUTY. 

marked how easily he took all things along with 
him, the persons, the opinions, and the day, 
and nature became ancillary to a man. 

3. There is still another aspect under which 
the beauty of the world may be viewed, namely, 
as it becomes an object of the intellect. Be 
side the relation of things to virtue, they have a 
relation to thought. The intellect searches out 
the absolute order of things as they stand in the 
mind of God, and without the colors of affec 
tion. The intellectual and the active powers 
seem to succeed each other in man, and the ex 
clusive activity of the one, generates the exclu 
sive activity of the other. There is something 
unfriendly in each to the other, but they are 
like the alternate periods of feeding and work 
ing in animals ; each prepares and certainly will 
be followed by the other. Therefore does beau 
ty, which, in relation to actions, as we have 
seen comes unsought, and comes because it is un 
sought, remain for the apprehension and pursuit 
of the intellect ; and then again, in its turn, of 
the active power. Nothing divine dies. All 



BEAUTY. 29 

good is eternally reproductive. The beauty of 
nature reforms itself in the mind, and not for 
barren contemplation, but for new creation. 

All men are in some degree impressed by the 
face of the world. Some men even to delight. 
This love of beauty is Taste. Others have the 
same love in such excess, that, not content with 
admiring, they seek to embody it in new forms. 
The creation of beauty is Art. 

The production of a work of art throws a 
light upon the mystery of humanity. A work 
of art is an abstract or epitome of the world. 
It is the result or expression of nature, in mini 
ature. For although the works of nature are 
innumerable and all different, the result or the 
expression of them all is similar and single. 
Nature is a sea of forms radically alike and 
even unique. A leaf, a sun-beam, a landscape, 
the ocean, make an analogous impression on 
the mind. What is common to them all, that 
perfectness and harmony, is beauty. There 
fore the standard of beauty, is the entire circuit 
of natural forms, the totality of nature ; 



. . 

30 BEAUTY. 

which the Italians expressed by defining beauty 
" il piu nelF uno," Nothing is quite beautiful 
alone : nothing but is beautiful in the whole. A 
single object is only so far beautiful as it sug 
gests this universal grace. The poet, the pain 
ter, the sculptor, the musician, the architect 
seek each to concentrate this radiance of the 
world on one point, and each in his several 
work to satisfy the love of beauty which stimu 
lates him to produce. Thus is Art, a nature 
passed through the alembic of man. Thus in 
art, does nature work through the will of a man 
filled with the beauty of her first works. 

The world thus exists to the soul to satisfy the 
desire of beauty. Extend this element to the 
uttermost, and I call it an ultimate end. No 
reason can be asked or given why the soul seeks 
beauty. Beauty, in its largest and profoundest 
sense, is one expression for the universe. God 
is the all-fair. Truth, and goodness, and beau 
ty, are but different faces of the same All. But 
beauty in nature is not ultimate. It is the 
herald of inward and eternal beauty, and is 






* 

4 



BEAUTY. 31 

not alone a solid and satisfactory good. It : 
must therefore stand as a part and not as yet 
the last or highest expression of the final cause 
of Nature. 









M * 1* 



CHAPTER IV. 

LANGUAGE. 

A THIRD use which Nature subserves to man 
is that of Language. Nature is the vehicle of 
thought, and in a simple, double, and threefold 
degree. 

1. Words are signs of natural facts. 

2. Particular natural facts are symbols of par 
ticular facts. 

3. Nature is the symbol of spirits. 

1. Words are signs of natural facts. The 
use of natural history is to give us aid in 
supernatural history. The use of the outer 
creation is to give us language for the beings 
and changes of the inward creation. Every 
word which is used to express a moral or intel 
lectual fact, if traced to its root, is found to 
be borrowed from some material appearance. 
Right originally means straight ; wrong means 
twisted. Spirit primarily means wind; trans- 



LANGUAGE. 33 

gression, the crossing of a line; supercilious , 
the raising of the eye-brow. We say the heart 
to express emotion, the head to denote thought; 
and thought and emotion are, in their turn, 
words borrowed from sensible things, and now 
appropriated to spiritual nature. Most of the 
process by which this transformation is made, 
is hidden from us in the remote time when 
language was framed ; but the same tendency 
may be daily observed in children. Children 
and savages use only nouns or names of things, 
which they continually convert into verbs, and 
apply to analogous mental acts. 

2. But this origin of all words that convey a 
spiritual import, so conspicuous a fact in the 
history of language, is our least debt to 
nature. It is not words only that are emble 
matic ; it is things which are emblematic. 
Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual 
fact. Every appearance in nature corresponds 
to some state of the mind, and that state of the 
mind can only be described by presenting that 
natural appearance as its picture. An enraged 
3 

- / * - ;?**, - 



iv 



34 LANGUAGE. 

man is a lion, a cunning man is a fox, a firm 
man is a rock, a learned man is a torch. A 
lamb is innocence ; a snake is subtle spite ; 
flowers express to us the delicate affections. 
Light and darkness are our familiar expression 
for knowledge and ignorance ; and heat for 
love. Visible distance behind and before us, 
is respectively our image of memory and hope. 
Who looks upon a river in a meditative hour, 
and is not reminded of the flux of all things? 
Throw a stone into the stream, and the circles 
that propagate themselves are the beautiful 
type of all influence. Man is conscious of a 
universal soul within or behind his individual 
life, wherein, as in a firmament, the natures of 
Justice, Truth, Love, Freedom, arise and shine. 
This universal soul, he calls Reason : it is not 
mine or thine or his, but we are its ; we are its 
property and men. And the blue sky in which 
the private earth is buried, the sky with its 
eternal calm, and full of everlasting orbs, is the 
type of Reason. That which, intellectually 
considered, we call Reason, considered in rela- 



IF* 



LANGUAGE. 35 

tion to nature, we call Spirit. Spirit is the 
Creator. Spirit hath life in itself. And man 
in all ages and countries, embodies it in his 
language, as the FATHER. 

It is easily seen that there is nothing lucky or 
capricious in these analogies, but that they are 
constant, and pervade nature. These are not 
the dreams of a few poets, here and there, but 
man is an analogist, and studies relations in all 
objects. He is placed in the centre of beings, 
and a ray of relation passes from every other 
being to him. And neither can man be under 
stood without these objects, nor these objects 
without man. All the facts in natural history 
taken by themselves, have no value, but are bar 
ren like a single sex. But marry it to human 
history, and it is full of life. Whole Floras, all 
Linnaeus' and BufFon's volumes, are but dry 
catalogues of facts ; but the most trivial of 
these facts, the habit of a plant, the organs, or 
work, or noise of an insect, applied to the illus 
tration of a fact in intellectual philosophy, or, 
in any way associated to human nature, affects 




36 LANGUAGE. 

us in the most lively and agreeable manner. 
The seed of a plant, to what affecting analo 
gies in the nature of man, is that little fruit 
made use of, in all discourse, up to the voice of 
Paul, who calls the human corpse a seed, 
" It is sown a natural body ; it is raised a 
spiritual body." The motion of the earth round 
its axis, and round the sun, makes the day, and 
the year. These are certain amounts of brute 
light and heat. But is there no intent of an 
analogy between man's life and the seasons? 
And do the seasons gain no grandeur or pathos 
from that analogy ? The instincts of the ant 
are very unimportant considered as the ant's ; 
but the moment a ray of relation is seen to ex 
tend from it to man, and the little drudge is 
seen to be a monitor, a little body with a mighty 
heart, then all its habits, even that said to be 
recently observed, that it never sleeps, become 
sublime. 

Because of this radical correspondence be 
tween visible things and human thoughts, sava 
ges, who have only what is necessary, converse 






LANGUAGE. 37 

in figures. As we go back in history, language 
becomes more picturesque, until its infancy, 
when it is all poetry ; or, all spiritual facts are 
represented by natural symbols. The same 
symbols are found to make the original ele 
ments of all languages. It has moreover been 
observed, that the idioms of all languages ap 
proach each other in passages of the greatest 
eloquence and power. And as this is the first 
language, so is it the last. This immediate de 
pendence of language upon nature, this conver 
sion of an outward phenomenon into a type of 
somewhat in human life, never loses its power 
to affect us. It is this which gives that piquan 
cy to the conversation of a strong-natured 
farmer or back-woodsman, which all men relish. 
Thus is nature an interpreter, by whose 
means man converses with his fellow men. A 
man's power to connect his thought with its 
proper symbol, and so utter it, depends on the 
simplicity of his character, that is, upon his 
love of truth and his desire to communicate it 
without loss. The corruption of man is follow- 
3* 









38 LANGUAGE. 

ed by the corruption of language. When sim 
plicity of character and the sovereignty of ideas 
is broken up by the prevalence of secondary de 
sires, the desire of riches, the desire of plea 
sure, the desire of power, the desire of praise, 
and duplicity and falsehood take place of sim 
plicity and truth, the power over nature as an 
interpreter of the will, is in a degree lost ; new 
imagery ceases to be created, and old words are 
perverted to stand for things which are not; a 
paper currency is employed when there is no 
bullion in the vaults. In due time, the fraud is 
manifest, and words lose all power to stimulate 
the understanding or the affections. Hundreds 
of writers may be found in every long-civilized 
nation, who for a short time believe, and make 
others believe, that they see and utter truths, 
who do not of themselves clothe one thought in 
its natural garment, but who feed unconsciously 
upon the language created by the primary 
writers of the country, those, namely, who hold 
primarily on nature. 



LANGUAGE. 39 

But wise men pierce this rotten diction and 
fasten words again to visible things ; so that 
picturesque language is at once a commanding 
certificate that he who employs it, is a man in 
alliance with truth and God. The moment our 
discourse rises above the ground line of familiar 
facts, and is inflamed with passion or exalted by 
thought, it clothes itself in images. A man 
conversing in earnest, if he watch his intel 
lectual processes, will find that always a ma 
terial image, more or less luminous, arises in 
his mind, cotemporaneous with every thought, 
which furnishes the vestment of the thought. 

o 

Hence, good writing and brilliant discourse are 
perpetual allegories. This imagery is sponta 
neous. It is the blending of experience with 
the present action of the mind. It is proper 
creation. It is the working of the Original 
Cause through the instruments he has already 
made. 

These facts may suggest the advantage which 
the country-life possesses for a powerful mind, 
over the artificial and curtailed life of cities. We 









40 LANGUAGE. 

know more from nature than we can at will 

* -% 

communicate. Its light flows into the mind 
evermore, and we forget its presence. The poet, 
the orator, bred in the woods, whose senses 
have been nourished by their fair and appeasing 
changes, year after year, without design and 
without heed, shall not lose their lesson al 
together, in the roar of cities or the broil of 
politics. Long hereafter, amidst agitation and 
terror in national councils, in the hour of 
revolution, these solemn images shall reap 
pear in their morning lustre, as fit symbols and 
words of the thoughts which the passing events 
shall awaken. At the call of a noble sentiment, 
again the woods wave, the pines murmur, the 
river rolls and shines, and the cattle low upon 
the mountains, as he saw and heard them in his 
infancy. And with these forms, the spells of per 
suasion, the keys of power are put into his hands. 
3. We are thus assisted by natural objects in 
the expression of particular meanings. But 
how great a language to convey such pepper 
corn informations! Did it need such noble 









LANGUAGE. 41 

races of creatures, this profusion of forms, this 
host of orbs in heaven, to furnish man with the 
dictionary and grammar of his municipal speech? 
Whilst we use this grand cipher to expedite the 
affairs of our pot and kettle, we feel that we 
have not yet put it to its use, neither are able. 
We are like travellers using the cinders of a 
volcano to roast their eggs. Whilst we see that 
it always stands ready to clothe what we would 
say, we cannot avoid the question, whether the 
characters are not significant of themselves. 
Have mountains, and waves, and skies, no sig 
nificance but what we consciously give them, 
when we employ them as emblems of our 
thoughts ? The world is emblematic. Parts of 
speech are metaphors because the whole of na 
ture is a metaphor of the human mind. The 
laws of moral nature answer to those of matter 
as face to face in a glass. " The visible world 
and the relation of its parts, is the dial plate of 
the invisible." The axioms of physics trans 
late the Jaws of ethics. Thus, " the whole is 
greater than its part ; " " reaction is equal to 



. 






42 LANGUAGE. 

action ; " " the smallest weight may be made to 
lift the greatest, the difference of weight being 
compensated by time ; " and many the like pro 
positions, which have an ethical as well as phy 
sical sense. These propositions have a much 
more extensive and universal sense when ap 
plied to human life, than when confined to 
technical use. 

In like manner, the memorable words of his 
tory, and the proverbs of nations, consist usu 
ally of a natural fact, selected as a picture or 
parable of a moral truth. Thus; A rolling 
stone gathers no moss ; A bird in the hand is 
worth two in the bush ; A cripple in the right 
way, will beat a racer in the wrong ; Make hay 
whilst the sun shines ; 'T is hard to carry a full 
cup even ; Vinegar is the son of wine ; The 
last ounce broke the camel's back ; Long-lived 
trees make roots first; and the like. In their 
primary sense these are trivial facts, but we re 
peat them for the value of their analogical im 
port. What is true of proverbs, is true of all 
fables, parables, and allegories. 



LANGUAGE. 43 

This relation between the mind and matter is 
not fancied by some poet, but stands in the will 
of God, and so is free to be known by all men. 
It appears to men, or it does not appear. When 
in fortunate hours we ponder this miracle, the 
wise man doubts, if, at all other times, he is not 
blind and deaf; 

" Can these things be, 



And overcome us like a summer's cloud, 
Without our special wonder ? " 

for the universe becomes transparent, and the 
light of higher laws than its own, shines 
through it. It is the standing problem which 
has exercised the wonder and the study of 
every fine genius since the world began ; 
from the era of the Egyptians and the Brah 
mins, to that of Pythagoras, of Plato, of Ba 
con, of Leibnitz, of Swedenborg. There sits 
the Sphinx at the road-side, and from age to 
age, as each prophet comes by, he tries his for 
tune at reading her riddle. There seems to be 
a necessity in spirit to manifest itself in material 



44 LANGUAGE. 

forms ; and day and night, river and storm, 
beast and bird, acid and alkali, preexist in 
necessary Ideas in the mind of God, and are 
what they are by virtue of preceding affections, 
in the world of spirit. A Fact is the end or 
last issue of spirit. The visible creation is the 
terminus or the circumference of the invisible 
world. " Material objects," said a French phi 
losopher, " are necessarily kinds of scoria of 
the substantial thoughts of the Creator, which 
must always preserve an exact relation to their 
first origin ; in other words, visible nature must 
have a spiritual and moral side." 

This doctrine is abstruse, and though the 
images of " garment," " scoriae," " mirror," 
&c., may stimulate the fancy, we must summon 
the aid of subtler and more vital expositors to 
make it plain. " Every scripture is to be inter 
preted by the same spirit which gave it forth," 
is the fundamental law of criticism. A life 
in harmony with nature, the love of truth and 
of virtue, will purge the eyes to understand her 
text. By degrees we may come to know the 









LANGUAGE. 45 

primitive sense of the permanent objects of na 
ture, so that the world shall be to us an open 
book, and every form significant of its hidden 
life and final cause. 

A new interest surprises us, whilst, under the 
view now suggested, we contemplate the fearful 
extent and multitude of objects ; since " every 
object rightly seen, unlocks a new faculty of the 
soul." That which was unconscious truth, be 
comes, when interpreted and defined in an ob 
ject, a part of the domain of knowledge, a 
new amount to the magazine of power. 



CHAPTER V. 

DISCIPLINE. 

IN view of this significance of nature, we ar 
rive at once at a new fact, that nature is a dis 
cipline. This use of the world includes the 
preceding uses, as parts of itself. 

Space, time, society, labor, climate, food, loco 
motion, the animals, the mechanical forces, give 
us sincerest lessons, day by day, whose meaning 
is unlimited. They educate both the Under 
standing and the Reason. Every property of 
matter is a school for the understanding, its so 
lidity or resistance, its inertia, its extension, its 
figure, its divisibility. The understanding adds, 
divides, combines, measures, and finds everlast 
ing nutriment and room for its activity in this 
worthy scene. Meantime, Reason transfers all 
these lessons into its own world of thought, by 
perceiving the analogy that marries Matter and 
Mind. 







DISCIPLINE. 47 

1. Nature is a discipline of the understanding 
in intellectual truths. Our dealing with sensi 
ble objects is a constant exercise in the neces 
sary lessons of difference, of likeness, of order, 
of being and seeming, of progressive arrange 
ment ; of ascent from particular to general ; of 
combination to one end of manifold forces. 
Proportioned to the importance of the organ to 
be formed, is the extreme care with which its 
tuition is provided, a care pretermitted in no 
single case. What tedious training, day after 
day, year after year, never ending, to form the 
common sense ; what continual reproduction of 
annoyances, inconveniences, dilemmas ; what 
rejoicing over us of little men ; what disputing 
of prices, what reckonings of interest, and 
all to form the Hand of the mind ; to instruct 
us that " good thoughts are no better than good 
dreams, unless they be executed ! " 

The same good office is performed by Pro 
perty and its filial systems of debt and credit. 
Debt, grinding debt, whose iron face the widow, 
the orphan, and the sons of genius fear and 



48 DISCIPLINE. 

hate; debt, which consumes so much time, 
which so cripples and disheartens a great spirit 
with cares that seem so base, is a preceptor 
whose lessons cannot be forgone, and is needed 
most by those who suffer from it most. More 
over, property, which has been well compared 
to snow, " if it fall level to-day, it will be 
blown into drifts to-morrow," is merely the 
surface action of internal machinery, like the 
index on the face of a clock. Whilst now it is 
the gymnastics of the understanding, it is hiv 
ing in the foresight of the spirit, experience in 
profounder laws. 

The whole character and fortune of the indi 
vidual is affected by the least inequalities in the 
culture of the understanding ; for example, in 
the perception of differences. Therefore is 
Space, and therefore Time, that man may know 
that things are not huddled and lumped, but 
sundered and individual. A bell and a plough 
have each their use, and neither can do the 
office of the other. Water is good to drink, 
coal to burn, wool to wear ; but wool cannot be 



DISCIPLINE. 49 

drunk, nor water spun, nor coal eaten. The 
wise man shows his wisdom in separation, in 
gradation, and his scale of creatures and of 
merits, is as wide as nature. The foolish have 
no range in their scale, but suppose every man 
is as every other man. What is not good they 
call the worst, and what is not hateful, they call 
the best. 

In like manner, what good heed, nature forms 
in us ! She pardons no mistakes. Her yea is 
yea, and her nay, nay. 

The first steps in Agriculture, Astronomy, 
Zoology, (those first steps which the farmer, the 
hunter, and the sailor take,) teach that nature's 
dice are always loaded ; that in her heaps and 
rubbish are concealed sure and useful results. 

How calmly and genially the mind apprehends 
one after another the laws of physics ! What 
noble emotions dilate the mortal as he enters 
into the counsels of the creation, and feels by 
knowledge the privilege to BE ! His insight 
refines him. The beauty of nature shines in 
his own breast. Man is greater that he can see 
4* 



50 DISCIPLINE. 

this, and the universe less, because Time and 
Space relations vanish as laws are known. 

Here again we are impressed and even daunt 
ed by the immense Universe to be explored. 
4 What we know, is a point to what we do not 
know.' Open any recent journal of science, 
and weigh the problems suggested concerning 
Light, Heat, Electricity, Magnetism, Physiolo 
gy, Geology, and judge whether the interest of 
natural science is likely to be soon exhausted. 

Passing by many particulars of the discipline 
of nature we must not omit to specify two. 

The exercise of the Will or the lesson of 
power is taught in every event. From the child's 
successive possession of his several senses up to 
the hour when he saith, " thy will be done ! " 
he is learning the secret, that he can reduce 
under his will, not only particular events, but 
great classes, nay the whole series of events, and 
so conform all facts to his character. Nature 
is thoroughly mediate. It is made to serve. It 
receives the dominion of man as meekly as the 
ass on which the Saviour rode. It offers all its 






DISCIPLINE. 51 

kingdoms to man as the raw material which he 
may mould into what is useful. Man is never 
weary of working it up. He forges the subtile 
and delicate air into wise and melodious words, 
and gives them wing as angels of persuasion 
and command. More and more, with every 
thought, does his kingdom stretch over things, 
until the world becomes, at last, only a realized 
will, the double of the man. 

2. Sensible objects conform to the premoni 
tions of Reason and reflect the conscience. 
All things are moral ; and in their boundless 
changes have an unceasing reference to spirit 
ual nature. Therefore is nature glorious with 
form, color, and motion, that every globe in the 
remotest heaven; every chemical change from 
the rudest crystal up to the laws of life ; every 
change of vegetation from the first principle of 
growth in the eye of a leaf, to the tropical forest 
and antediluvian coal-mine ; every animal func 
tion from the sponge up to Hercules, shall hint 
or thunder to man the laws of right and wrong, 
and echo the Ten Commandments. Therefore 






52 DISCIPLINE. 

is nature always the ally of Religion : lends all 
her pomp and riches to the religious sentiment. 
Prophet and priest, David, Isaiah, Jesus, have 
drawn deeply from this source. 

This ethical character so penetrates the bone 
and marrow of nature, as to seem the end for 
which it was made. Whatever private purpose 
is answered by any member or part, this is its 
public and universal function, and is never omit 
ted. Nothing in nature is exhausted in its first 
use. When a thing has served an end to the 
uttermost, it is wholly new for an ulterior ser 
vice. In God, every end is converted into a new 
means. Thus the use of Commodity, regarded 
by itself, is mean and squalid. But it is to the 
mind an education in the great doctrine of Use, 
namely, that a thing is good only so far as it 
serves ; that a conspiring of parts and efforts to 
the production of an end, is essential to any 
being. The first and gross manifestation of this 
truth, is our inevitable and hated training*, in 
values and wants, in corn and meat 



DISCIPLINE. 53 

It has already been illustrated, in treating of 
the significance of material things, that every 
natural process is but a version of a moral sen 
tence. The moral law lies at the centre of na 
ture and radiates to the circumference. It is the 
pith and marrow of every substance, every rela 
tion, and every process. All things with which 
we deal, preach to us. What is a farm but a 
mute gospel 'I The chaff and the wheat, weeds 
and plants, blight, rain, insects, sun, it is a 
sacred emblem from the first furrow of spring to 
the last stack which the snow of winter over 
takes in the fields. But the sailor, the shepherd, 
the miner, the merchant, in their several resorts, 
have each an experience precisely parallel and 
leading to the same conclusions. Because all 
organizations are radically alike. Nor can it be 
doubted that this moral sentiment which thus 
scents the air, and grows in the grain, and im 
pregnates the waters of the world, is caught by 

man and sinks into his soul. The moral in- 

i 

fluence of nature upon every individual is that 
amount of truth which it illustrates to him. 



/ 






/t. 

54 DISCIPLINE. 

Who can estimate this? Who can guess how 
much firmness the sea-beaten rock has taught 
the fisherman 1 how much tranquillity has been 
. reflected to man from the azure sky, over whose 
unspotted deeps the winds forevermore drive 
flocks of stormy clouds, and leave no wrin 
kle or stain ? how much industry and pro 
vidence and affection we have caught from the 
pantomime of brutes ? What a searching preach 
er of self-command is the varying phenomenon 
of Health ! 

Herein is especially apprehended the Unity of 
Nature, the Unity in Variety, which meets 
us everywhere. All the endless variety of things 
make a unique, an identical impression. Xeno- 
phanes complained in his old age, that, look 
where he would, all things hastened back to 
Unity. He was weary of seeing the same entity 
in the tedious variety of forms. The fable of 
Proteus has a cordial truth. Every particular 
in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a momenj; of 
time is related to the whole, and partakes of the 
perfection of the whole. Each particle is a mi 



^ 

DISCIPLINE. 55 

crocosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of 
the world. 

Not only resemblances exist in things whose 
analogy is obvious, as when we detect the type 
of the human hand in the flipper of the fossil 
saurus, but also in objects wherein there is great 
superficial unlikeness. Thus architecture is 
called ' frozen music/ by De Stael and Goethe. 
' A Gothic church/ said Coleridge, ' is a petrified 
religion.' Michael Angelo maintained, that, to 
an architect, a knowledge of anatomy is essen 
tial. In Haydn's oratorios, the notes present to 
the imagination not only motions, as, of the 
snake, the stag, and the elephant, but colors also; 
as the green grass. The granite is differenced 
in its laws only by the more or less of heat, from 
the river that wears it away. The river, as it 
flows, resembles the air that flows over it ; the 
air resembles the light which traverses it with 
more subtile currents; the light resembles the 
heat which rides with it through Space. Each 
creature is only a modification of the other ; the 
likeness in them is more than the difference/ and 



56 DISCIPLINE. 

their radical law is one and the same. Hence it 
is, that a rule of one art, or a law of one organ 
ization, holds true throughout nature. So in 
timate is this Unity, that, it is easily seen, it lies 
under the undermost garment of nature, and be 
trays its source in universal Spirit. For, it per 
vades Thought also. Every universal truth 
which we express in words, implies or supposes 
every other truth. Omne verum vero consonat' 
It is like a great circle on a sphere, comprising 
all possible circles ; which, however, may be 
drawn, and comprise it, in like manner. Every 
such truth is the absolute Ens seen from one 
side. But it has innumerable sides. 

The same central Unity is still more conspic- 
ous in actions. Words are finite organs of the 
infinite mind. They cannot cover the dimen 
sions of what is in truth. They break, chop, 
and impoverish it. An action is the perfection 
and publication of thought. A right action seems 
to fill the eye, and to be related to all nature. 
" The wise man, in doing one thing, does all ; 
or, in the one thing he does rightly, he sees the 
likeness of all which is done rightly." 



DISCIPLINE. 57 

Words and actions are not the, attributes of 
mute and brute nature. They introduce us to 
that singular form which predominates over all 
other forms. This is the human. All other or 
ganizations appear to be degradations of the 
human form. When this organization appears 
among so many that surround it, the spirit pre 
fers it to all others. It says, ' From such as 
this, have I drawn joy and knowledge. In such 
as this, have I found and beheld myself. I will 
speak to it. It can speak again. It can yield 
me thought already formed and alive.' In fact, 
the eye, the mind, is always accompanied 
by these forms, male and female ; and these are 
incomparably the richest informations of the 
power and order that lie at the heart of things. 
Unfortunately, every one of them bears the marks 
as of some injury ; is marred and superficially 
defective. Nevertheless, far different from the 
deaf and dumb nature around them, these all 
rest like fountain-pipes on the unfathomed sea of 
thought and virtue whereto they alone, of all or 
ganizations, are the entrances. 
5 



5g DISCIPLINE. 

It were a pleasant inquiry to follow into de 
tail their ministry to our education, but where 
would it stop ? We are associated in adolescent 
and adult life with some friends, who, like skies 
and waters, are coextensive with our idea ; who, 
answering each to a certain affection of the soul, 
satisfy our desire on that side ; whom we lack 
power to put at such focal distance from us, that 
we can mend or even analyze them. We can 
not chuse but love them. When much inter 
course with a friend has supplied us with a 
standard of excellence, and has increased our 
respect for the resources of God who thus sends 
a real person to outgo our ideal ; when he has, 
moreover, become an object of thought, and, 
whilst his character retains all its unconscious 
effect, is converted in the mind into solid and 
sweet wisdom, it is a sign to us that his office 
is closing, and he is commonly withdrawn from 
our sight in a short time. 



CHAPTER VI. 



IDEALISM. 



THUS is the unspeakable but intelligible and 
practicable meaning of the world conveyed to 
man, the immortal pupil, in every object of sense. 
To this one end of Discipline, all parts of na 
ture conspire. 

A noble doubt perpetually suggests itself, 
whether this end be not the Final Cause of the 

p 

Universe ; and whether nature outwardly exists. 
It is a sufficient account of that Appearance we 
call the World, that God will teach a human 
mind, and so makes it the receiver of a certain 
number of congruent sensations, which we call 
sun and moon, man and woman, house and trade. 
In my utter impotence to test the authenticity of 
the report of my senses, to know whether the 
impressions they make on me correspond with 
outlying objects, what difference does it make, 
whether Orion is up there in heaven, or some 



60 IDEALISM. 

god paints the image in the firmament of the 
soul ? The relations of parts and the end of 
the whole remaining the same, what is the dif 
ference, whether land and sea interact, and 
worlds revolve and intermingle without number 
or end, deep yawning under deep, and galaxy 
balancing galaxy, throughout absolute space, or, 
whether, without relations of time and space, 
the same appearances are inscribed in the con 
stant faith of man. Whether nature enjoy a 
substantial existence without, or is only in the 
apocalypse of the mind, it is alike useful and 
alike venerable to me. Be it what it may, it is 
ideal to me, so long as I cannot try the accuracy 
of my senses. 

The frivolous make themselves merry with the 
Ideal theory, as if its consequences were bur 
lesque ; as if it affected the stability of nature. 
It surely does not. God never jests with us, and 
will not compromise the end of nature, by per 
mitting any inconsequence in its procession. 
Any distrust of the permanence of laws, would 
paralyze the faculties of man. Their perma- 






IDEALISM. QI 

nence is sacredly respected, and his faith therein 
is perfect. The wheels and springs of man are 
all set to the hypothesis of the permanence of 
nature. We are not built like a ship to be toss 
ed, but like a house to stand. It is a natural 
consequence of this structure, that, so long as 
the active powers predominate over the reflective, 
we resist with indignation any hint that nature 
is more short-lived or mutable than spirit. The 
broker, the wheelwright, the carpenter, the toll 
man, are much displeased at the intimation. 

But whilst we acquiesce entirely in the per 
manence of natural laws, the question of the 
absolute existence of nature, still remains open. 
It is the uniform effect of culture on the human 
mind, not to shake our faith in the stability of 
particular phenomena, as of heat, water, azote j 
but to lead us to regard nature as a phenome 
non, not a substance ; to attribute necessary 
existence to spirit ; to esteem nature as an acci 
dent and an effect. 

To the senses and the unrenewed understand 
ing, belongs a sort of instinctive belief in the 
5* 



62 IDEALISM. 

absolute existence of nature. In their view 

"* * ' 

man and nature are iadissolubly joined. Things 

are ultimates, and they never look beyond their 
sphere. The presence of Reason mars this 
faith. The first effort of thought tends to relax 
this despotism of the senses, which binds us to 
nature as if we were a part of it, and shows us 
nature aloof, and, as it were, afloat. Until this 
higher agency intervened, the animal eye sees, 
with wonderful accuracy, sharp outlines and col 
ored surfaces. When the eye of Reason opens, 
to outline and surface are at once added, grace 
and expression. These proceed from imagina 
tion and affection, and abate somewhat of the 
angular distinctness of objects. If the Reason 
be stimulated to more earnest vision, outlines 
and surfaces become transparent, and are no 
longer seen ; causes and spirits are seen through 
them. The best, the happiest moments of life, 
are these delicious awakenings of the higher 
powers, and the reverential withdrawing of na 
ture before its God. 



IDEALISM. 63 

Let us proceed to indicate the effects of cul 
ture. 1. Our first institution in the Ideal philo 
sophy is a hint from nature herself. 

Nature is made to conspire with spirit to eman 
cipate us. Certain mechanical changes, a small 
alteration in our local position apprizes us of a 
dualism. We are strangely affected by seeing 
the shore from a moving ship, from a balloon, or 
through the tints of an unusual sky. The least 
change in our point of view, gives the whole 
world a pictorial air. A man who seldom rides, 
needs only to get into a coach and traverse his 
own town, to turn the street into a puppet-show. 
The men, the women, talking, running, bar 
tering, fighting, the earnest mechanic, the 
lounger, the beggar, the boys, the dogs, are un 
realized at once, or, at least, wholly detached 
from all relation to the observer, and seen as ap 
parent, not substantial beings. What new 
thoughts are suggested by seeing a face of coun 
try quite familiar, in the rapid movement of the 
rail-road car ! Nay, the most wonted objects, 
(make a very slight change in the point of vis- 






64 IDEALISM. 

sion,) please us most. In a camera obscura, the 
butcher's cart, and the figure of one of our own 
family amuse us. So a protrait of a well-known 
face gratifies us. Turn the eyes upside down, 
by looking at the landscape through your legs, 
and how agreeable is the picture, though you 
have seen it any time these twenty years ! 

In these cases, by mechanical means, is sug 
gested the difference between the observer and 
the spectacle, between man and nature. 
Hence arises a pleasure mixed with awe ; I may 
say, a low degree of the sublime is felt from the 
fact, probably, that man is hereby apprized, that, 
whilst the world is a spectacle, something in 
himself is stable. 

2. In a higher manner, the poet communicates 
the same pleasure. By a few strokes he deli 
neates, as on air, the sun, the mountain, the 
camp, the city, the hero, the maiden, not differ 
ent from what we know them, but only lifted 
from the ground and afloat before the eye. He 
unfixes the land and the sea, makes them revolve 
around the axis of his primary thought, and dis- 



IDEALISM. 65 

poses them anew. Possessed himself by a he 
roic passion, he uses matter as symbols of it. 
The sensual man conforms thoughts to things ; 
the poet conforms things to his thoughts. The 
one esteems nature as rooted and fast ; the 
other, as fluid, and impresses his being thereon. 
To him, the refractory world is ductile and 
flexible; he invests dust and stones with hu 
manity, and makes them the words of the 
Reason. The imagination may be defined to 
be, the use which the Reason makes of the 
material world. Shakspeare possesses the power 
of subordinating nature for the purposes of 
expression, beyond all poets. His imperial muse 
tosses the creation like a bauble from hand to 
hand, to embody any capricious shade of thought 
that is uppermost in his mind. The remotest 
spaces of nature are visited, and the farthest 
sundered things are brought together, by a 
subtile spiritual connexion. We are made aware 
that magnitude of material things is merely 
relative, and all objects shrink and expand to 
serve the passion of the poet. Thus, in his 



66 IDEALISM. 

sonnets, the lays of birds, the scents and dyes 
of flowers, he finds to be the shadow of his 
beloved ; time, which keeps her from him, is 
his chest ; the suspicion she has awakened, is 
her ornament ; 

The ornament of beauty is Suspect, 

A crow which flies in heaven's sweetest air. 

His passion is not the fruit of chance; it 
swells, as he speaks, to a city, or a state. 

No, it was builded far from accident ; 

It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls 

Under the brow of thralling discontent; 

It fears not policy, that heretic, 

That works on leases of short numbered hours, 

But all alone stands hugely politic. 

. ^; : *. 

In the strength of his constancy, the Pyra 
mids seem to him recent and transitory. And 
the freshness of youth and love dazzles him 
with its resemblance to morning. 

Take those lips away 
Which so sweetly were forsworn ; 
And those eyes, the break of day, 
Lights that do mislead the morn. 






IDEALISM. 67 

The wild beauty of this hyperbole, I may 
say, in passing, it would not be easy to match 
in literature. 

This transfiguration which all material objects 
undergo through the passion of the poet, 
this power which he exerts, at any moment, to 
magnify the small, to micrify the great, might 
be illustrated by a thousand examples from his 
Plays. I have before me the Tempest, and will 
cite only these few lines. " k 

ARIEL. The strong based promontory 

Have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked up 
The pine and cedar. 

Prospero calls for music to sooth the frantic 
Alonzo, and his companions ; 

A solemn air, and the best comforter 
To an unsettled fancy, cure thy brains 
Now useless, boiled within thy skull. 

Again ; 

The charm dissolves apace 
And, as the morning steals upon the night, 
Melting the darkness, so their rising senses 
Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle 
Their clearer reason. 



* * 



68 IDEALISM. 

Their understanding 

Begins to swell : and the approaching tide 
Will shortly fill the reasonable shores 
That now lie foul and muddy. 

The perception of real affinities between 
events, (that is to say, of ideal affinities, for 
those only are real,) enables the poet thus to 
make free with the most imposing forms and 
phenomena of the world, and to assert the pre 
dominance of the soul. 

3. Whilst thus the poet delights us by animat- 
ing nature like a creator, with his own thoughts, 
he differs from the philosopher only herein, 
that the one proposes Beauty as his main end ; 
the other Truth. But, the philosopher, not less 
than the poet, postpones the apparent order and 
relations of things to the empire of thought. 
" The problem of philosophy," according to 
Plato, " is, for all that exists conditionally, to 
find a ground unconditioned and absolute." It 
proceeds on the faith that a law determines all 
phenomena, which being known, the phenome 
na can be predicted. That law, when in the 



fc f 



IDEALISM. 69 

mind, is an idea. Its beauty is infinite. The 
true philosopher and the true poet are one, and 
a beauty, which is truth, and a truth, which is 
beauty, is the aim of both. Is not the charm of 
one of Plato's or Aristotle's definitions, strictly 
like that of the Antigone of Sophocles ? It 
is, in both cases, that a spiritual life has been 

imparted to nature ; that the solid seeming block 

p ^ 

of matter has been pervaded and dissolved by 
a thought ; that this feeble human being has 
penetrated the vast masses of nature with an 

informing soul, and recognised itself in their 

. - ? . j. * . 

harmony, that is, seized their law. In physics, 
when this is attained, the memory disburthens 
itself of its cumbrous catalogues of particulars, 
and carries centuries of observation in a single 

formula. 

***"'**' '" 

Thus even in physics, the material is ever 

degraded before the spiritual. The astronomer, 
the geometer, rely on their irrefragable analysis, 
and disdain the results of observation. The 
sublime remark of Euler on his law of arches, 
" This will be found contrary to all experience, 
6 



70 IDEALISM. 

yet is true ; " had already transferred nature 
into the mind, and left matter like an outcast 
corpse. 

4. Intellectual science has been observed to 
beget invariably a doubt of the existence of 
matter. Turgot said, " He that has never 
doubted the existence of matter, may be assured 
he has no aptitude for metaphysical inquiries." 
It fastens the attention upon immortal necessary 
uncreated natures, that is, upon Ideas ; and in 
their beautiful and majestic presence, we feel 
that our outward being is a dream and a shade. 
Whilst we wait in this Olympus of gods, we 
think of nature as an appendix to the soul. 
We ascend into their region, and know that 
these are the thoughts of the Supreme Being. 
" These are they who were set up from everlast 
ing, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 
When he prepared the heavens, they were there ; 
when he established the clouds above, when he 
strengthened the fountains of the deep. Then 
they were by him, as one brought up with him. 
Of them took he counsel." 



IDEALISM. 71 

Their influence is proportionate. As objects 
of science, they are accessible to few men. Yet 
all men are capable of being raised by piety or 
by passion, into their region. And no man 
touches these divine natures, without becoming, 
in some degree, himself divine. Like a new 
soul, they renew the body. We become physi 
cally nimble and lightsome; we tread on air; 
life is no longer irksome, and we think it will 
never be so. No man fears age or misfortune 
or death, in their serene company, for he is 
transported out of the district of change. 
Whilst we behold unveiled the nature of Justice 
and Truth, we learn the difference between the 
absolute and the conditional or relative. We 
apprehend the absolute. As it were, for the 
first time, we exist. We become immortal, for 
we learn that time and space are relations of 
matter; that, with a perception of truth, or a 
virtuous will, they have no affinity. 

5. Finally, religion and ethics, which may be 
fitly called, the practice of ideas, or the in 
troduction of ideas into life, have an analo- 



72 IDEALISM. 

gous effect with all lower culture, in degrading 
nature and suggesting its dependence on spirit. 
Ethics and religion differ herein ; that the one 
is the system of human duties commencing from 
man; the other, from God. Religion includes 
the personality of God ; Ethics does not. They 
are one to our present design. They both put 
nature under foot. The first and last lesson of 
religion is, " The things that are seen, are 
temporal ; the things that are unseen are eter 
nal." It puts an affront upon nature. It does 
that for the unschooled, which philosophy does 
for Berkeley and Viasa. The uniform language 
that may be heard in the churches of the most 
ignorant sects, is, * Contemn the unsubstan 
tial shows of the world; they are vanities, 
dreams, shadows, unrealities ; seek the realities 
of religion.' The devotee flouts nature. Some 
theosophists have arrived at a certain hostility 
and indignation towards matter, as the Mani- 
chean and Plotinus. They distrusted in them 
selves any looking back to these flesh-pots of 
Egypt. Plotinus was ashamed of his body. In 



IDEALISM. 73 

short, they might all better say of matter, what 
Michael Angelo said of external beauty, " it is 
the frail and weary weed, in which God dresses 
the soul, which he has called into time." 

It appears that motion, poetry, physical and 
intellectual science, and religion, all. tend to 
affect our convictions of the reality of the ex 
ternal world. But I own there is something 
ungrateful in expanding too curiously the par 
ticulars of the general proposition, that all cul 
ture tends to imbue us with idealism. I have 
no hostility to nature, but a child's love to it. 
I expand and live in the warm day like corn and 
melons. Let us speak her fair. I do not wish 
to fling stones at my beautiful mother, nor soil 
my gentle nest. I only wish to indicate the 
true position of nature in regard to man, where 
in to establish man, all right education tends ; 
as the ground which to attain is the object of 
human life, that is, of man's connexion with 
nature. Culture inverts the vulgar views of na 
ture, and brings the mind to call that apparent, 
which it uses to call real, and that real, which 
6* 






74 IDEALISM. 

it uses to call visionary. Children, it is true, 
believe in the external world. The belief that 
it appears only, is an afterthought, but with cul 
ture, this faith will as surely arise on the mind 
as did the first. 

The advantage of the ideal theory over the 
popular faith, is this, that it presents the world 
in precisely that view which is most desirable to 
the mind. It is, in fact, the view which Reason, 
both speculative and practical, that is, philoso 
phy and virtue, take. For, seen in the light of 
thought, the world always is phenomenal ; and 
virtue subordinates it to the mind. Idealism 
sees the world in God. It beholds the whole 
circle of persons and things, of actions and 
events, of country and religion, not as painfully 
accumulated, atom after atom, act after act, in 
an aged creeping Past, but as one vast picture, 
which God paints on the instant eternity, for 
the contemplation of the soul. Therefore the 
soul holds itself off from a too trivial and mi 
croscopic study of the universal * tablet. It 
respects the end too much, to immerse itself in 



IDEALISM. 75 

the means. It sees something more important 
in Christianity, than the scandals of ecclesiasti 
cal history or the niceties of criticism ; and, 
very incurious concerning persons or miracles, 
and not at all disturbed by chasms of historical 
evidence, it accepts from God the phenomenon, 
as it finds it, as the pure and awful form of re 
ligion in the world. It is not hot and passionate 
at the appearance of what it calls its own good 
or bad fortune, at the union or opposition of 
other persons. No man is its enemy. It ac 
cepts whatsoever befals, as part of its lesson. It 
is a watcher more than a doer, and it is a doer, 
only that it may the better watch. 



CHAPTER VII. 

SPIRIT. 

IT is essential to a true theory of nature and 
of man, that it should contain somewhat pro 
gressive. Uses that are exhausted or that may 
be, and facts that end in the statement, cannot 
be all that is true of this brave lodging wherein 
man is harbored, and wherein all his faculties 
find appropriate and endless exercise. And all 
the uses of nature admit of being summed in 
one, which yields the activity of man an infinite 
scope. Through all its kingdoms, to the suburbs 
and outskirts of things, it is faithful to the cause 
whence it had its origin. It always speaks of 
Spirit. It suggests the absolute. It is a per 
petual effect. It is a great shadow pointing 
always to the sun behind us. 

The aspect of nature is devout. Like the 
figure of Jesus, she stands with bended head, 
and hands folded upon the breast. The happiest 



SPIRIT. 77 

man is he who learns* from nature the lesson of 
worship. 

Of that ineffable essence which we call Spirit, 
he that thinks most, will say least. We can 
foresee God in the coarse and, as it were, distant 
phenomena of matter; but when we try to define 
and describe himself, both language and thought 
desert us, and we are as helpless as fools and 
savages. That essence refuses to be recorded in 
propositions, but when man has worshipped him 
intellectually, the noblest ministry of nature is 
to stand as the apparition of God. It is the 
great organ through which the universal spirit 
speaks to the individual, and strives to lead back 
the individual to it. 

When we consider Spirit, we see that the 
views already presented do not include the 
whole circumference of man. We must add 
some related thoughts. 

Three problems are put by nature to the 
mind ; What is matter ? Whence is it 1 and 
Whereto ? The first of these questions only, 
the ideal theory answers. Idealism saith : mat- 



78 SPIRIT. 

ter is a phenomenon, not a substance. Idealism 
acquaints us with the total disparity between the 
evidence of our own being, and the evidence 
of the world's being. The one is perfect ; the 
other, incapable of any assurance ; the mind is a 
part of the nature of things ; the world is a 
divine dream, from which we may presently 
awake to the glories and certainties of day. 
Idealism is a hypothesis to account for nature 
by other principles than those of carpentry and 
chemistry. Yet, if it only deny the existence of 
matter, it does not satisfy the demands of the 
spirit. It leaves God out of me. It leaves me 
in the splendid labyrinth of my perceptions, to 
wander without end. Then the heart resists it, 
because it baulks the affections in denying sub 
stantive being to men and women. Nature is 
so pervaded with human life, that there is some 
thing of humanity in all, and in every particular. 
But this theory makes nature foreign to me, and 
does not account for that consanguinity which 
we acknowledge to it. 



SPIRIT. 79 

Let it stand then, in the present state of our 
knowledge, merely as a useful introductory 
hypothesis, serving to apprize us of the eternal 
distinction between the soul and the world. 

But when, following the invisible steps of 
thought, we come to inquire, Whence is matter ? 
and Whereto? many truths arise to us out of 
the recesses of consciousness. We learn that 
the highest is present to the soul of man, that 
the dread universal essence, which is not wis 
dom, or love, or beauty, or power, but all in 
one, and each entirely, is that for which all 
things exist, and that by which they are ; that 
spirit creates ; that behind nature, throughout 
nature, spirit is present ; that spirit is one and 
not compound ; that spirit does not act upon us 
from without, that is, in space and time, but 
spiritually, or through ourselves. Therefore, 
that spirit, that is, the Supreme Being, does not 
build up nature around us, but puts it forth 
through us, as the life of the tree puts forth new 
branches and leaves through the pores of the 
old. As a plant upon the earth, so a man rests 



80 SPIRIT. 

upon the bosom of God; he is nourished by 
unfailing fountains, and draws, at his need, inex 
haustible power. Who can set bounds to the 
possibilities of man ? Once inspire the infinite, 
by being admitted to behold the absolute natures 
of justice and truth, and we learn that man has 
access to the entire mind of the Creator, is him 
self the creator in the finite. This view, which 
admonishes me where the sources of wisdom 
and power lie, and points to virtue as to 

" The golden key 
Which opes the palace of eternity," 

carries upon its face the highest certificate of 
truth, because it animates me to create my own 
world through the purification of my soul. 

The world proceeds from the same spirit as 
the body of man. It is a remoter and inferior 
incarnation of God, a projection of God in the 
uncoYiscious. But it differs from the body in 
one important respect. It is not, like that, now 
subjected to the human will. Its serene order 
is inviolable by us. It is therefore, to us, the 
present expositor of the divine mind. It is a 



SPIRIT. 81 

fixed point whereby we may measure our depart 
ure. As we degenerate, the contrast between 
us and our house is more evident. We are as 
much strangers in nature, as we are aliens from 
God. We do not understand the notes of birds. 
The fox and the deer run away from us ; the 
bear and tiger rend us. We do not know the 
uses of more than a few plants, as corn and the 
appJe, the potato and the vine. Is not the land 
scape, every glimpse of which hath a grandeur, 
a face of him ? Yet this may show us what 
discord is between man and nature, for you can 
not freely admire a noble landscape, if laborers 
are digging in the field hard by. The poet finds 
something ridiculous in his delight, until he is 
out of the sight of men. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

PROSPECTS. 

IN inquiries respecting the laws of the world 
and the frame of things, the highest reason is 
always the truest. That which seems faintly 
possible it is so refined, is often faint and dim 
because it is deepest seated in the mind among 
the eternal verities. Empirical science is apt 
to cloud the sight, and, by the very knowledge of 
functions and processes, to bereave the student 
of the manly contemplation of the whole. The 
savant becomes unpoetic. But the best read 
naturalist who lends an entire and devout atten 
tion to truth, will see that there remains much 
to learn of his relation to the world, and that it 
is not to be learned by any addition or subtrac 
tion or other comparison of known quantities, 
but is arrived at by untaught sallies of the spirit, 
by a continual self-recovery, and by entire 
humility. He will perceive that there are far 



PROSPECTS. 83 

more excellent qualities in the student than 
preciseness and infallibility; that a guess ii 
often more fruitful than an indisputable affirma 
tion, and that a dream may let us deeper into 
the secret of nature than a hundred concerted 
experiments. 

For, the problems to be solved are precisely 
those which the physiologist and the naturalist 
omit to state. It is not so pertinent to man to 
know all the individuals of the animal kingdom, 
as it is to know whence and whereto is this 
tyrannizing unity in his constitution, which ever 
more separates and classifies things, endeavour 
ing to reduce the most diverse to one form. 
When I behold a rich landscape, it is less to my 
purpose to recite correctly the order and super 
position of the strata, than to know why all 
thought of multitude is lost in a tranquil sense 
of unity. I cannot greatly honor minuteness in 
details, so long as there is no hint to explain the 
relation between things and thoughts ; no ray 
upon the metaphysics of conchology, of botany, 
of the arts, to show the relation of the forms ol 



84 PROSPECTS. 

flowers, shells, animals, architecture, to the 
mind, and build science upon ideas. In a cabi 
net of natural history, we become sensible of a 
certain occult recognition and sympathy in re 
gard to the most bizarre forms of beast, fish, 
and insect. The American who has been con 
fined, in his own country, to the sight of build 
ings designed after foreign models, is surprised 
on entering York Minster or St. Peter's at 
Rome, by the feeling that these structures are 
imitations also, faint copies of an invisible 
archetype. Nor has science sufficient humanity, 
so long as the naturalist overlooks that wonder 
ful congruity which subsists between man and 
the world ; of which he is lord, not because he 
is the most subtile inhabitant, but because he is 
its head and heart, and finds something of him 
self in every great and small thing, in every 
mountain stratum, in every new law of color, 
fact of astronomy, or atmospheric influence 
which observation or analysis lay open. A per 
ception of this mystery inspires the muse of 
George Herbert, the beautiful psalmist of the 



PROSPECTS. 85 

seventeenth century. The following lines are 
part of his little poem on Man. 

" Man is all symmetry, 
Full of proportions, one limb to another, 

And to all the world besides. 

Each part may call the farthest, brother; 
For head with foot hath private amity, 

And both with moons and tides. 

" Nothing hath got so far 
But man hath caught and kept it as his prey; 

His eyes dismount the highest star ; 

He is in little all the sphere. 
Herbs gladly cure our flesh, because that they 

Find their acquaintance there. 

" For us, the winds do blow, 
The earth doth rest, heaven move, and fountains flow ; 

Nothing we see, but means our good, 

As our delight, or as our treasure ; 
The whole is either our cupboard of food, 

Or cabinet of pleasure. 

" The stars have us to bed : 

Night draws the curtain ; which the sun withdraws. 
Music and light attend our head. 

7* 






86 PROSPECTS. 

All things unto our flesh are kind, 
In their descent and being ; to our mind, 
In their ascent and cause. 

- More servants wait on man 
Than he '11 take notice of. In every path, 

He treads down that which doth befriend him 

When sickness makes him pale and wan. 
Oh mighty love ! Man is one world, and hath 

Another to attend him." 

The perception of this class of truths makes 
the eternal attraction which draws men to sci 
ence, but the end is lost sight of in attention to 
the means. In view of this half-sight of sci 
ence, we accept the sentence of Plato, that, 
" poetry comes nearer to vital truth than his 
tory." Every surmise and vaticination of the 
mind is entitled to a certain respect, and we 
learn to prefer imperfect theories, and sentences, 
which contain glimpses of truth, to digested 
systems which have no one valuable suggestion. 
A wise writer will feel that the ends of study 
and composition are best answered by announc 
ing undiscovered regions of thought, and so 



PROSPECTS. 87 

communicating, through hope, new activity to 
the torpid spirit. 

I shall therefore conclude this essay with 
some traditions of man and nature, which a 
certain poet sang to me ; and which, as they 
have always been in the world, and perhaps 
reappear to every bard, may be both history and 
prophecy, 

'' The foundations of man are not in matter, 
but in spirit. But the element of spirit is eter 
nity. To it, therefore, the longest series of 
events, the oldest chronologies are young and 
recent. In the cycle of the universal man, 
from whom the known individuals proceed, 
centuries are points, and all history is but the 
epoch of one degradation. 

' We distrust and deny inwardly our sympathy 
with nature. We own and disown our relation 
to it, by turns. We are, like Nebuchadnezzar, 
dethroned, bereft of reason, and eating grass 
like an ox. But who can set limits to the reme 
dial force of spirit ? 



88 PROSPECTS. 

' A man is a god in ruins. When men are 
innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass 
into the immortal, as gently as we awake from 
dreams. Now, the world would be insane and 
rabid, if these disorganizations should last for 
hundreds of years. It is kept in check by 
death and infancy. Infancy is the perpetual 
Messiah, which comes into the arms of fallen 
men, and pleads with them to return to para 
dise. 

* Man is the dwarf of himself. Once he was 
permeated and dissolved by spirit. He filled 
nature with his overflowing currents. Out from 
him sprang the sun and moon ; from man, the 
sun ; from woman, the moon. The laws of his 
mind, the periods of his actions externized 
themselves into day and night, into the year and 
the seasons. But, having made for himself this 
huge shell, his waters retired; he no longer fills 
the veins and veinlets ; he is shrunk to a drop. 
He sees, that the structure still fits him, but fits 
him colossally. Say, rather, once it fitted him, 
now it corresponds to him from far and on high. 



PROSPECTS. gg 

He adores timidly his own work. Now is man 
the follower of the sun, and woman the follower 
of the moon. Yet sometimes he starts in his 
slumber, and wonders at himself and his house, 
and muses strangely at the resemblance betwixt 
him and it. He perceives that if his law is still 
paramount, if still he have elemental power, " if 
his word is sterling yet in nature," it is riot con 
scious power, it is not inferior but superior to 
his will. It is Instinct.' Thus my Orphic poet 
sang. 

At present, man applies to nature but half his 
force. He works on the world with his under 
standing alone. He lives in it, and masters it 
by a penny-wisdom ; and he that works most in it, 
is but a half-man, and whilst his arms are strong 
and his digestion good, his mind is imbruted 
and he is a selfish savage. His relation to na 
ture, his power over it, is through the under 
standing ; as by manure ; the economic use of 
fire, wind, water, and the mariner's needle ; 
steam, coal, chemical agriculture ; the repairs 
of the human body by the dentist and the sur- 



90 PROSPECTS. 

geon. This is such a resumption of power, as 
if a banished king should buy his territories 
inch by inch, instead of vaulting at once into 
his throne. Meantime, in the thick darkness, 
there are not wanting gleams of a better light, 
occasional examples of the action of man 
upon nature with his entire force, with reason 
as well as understanding. Such examples are ; 
the traditions of miracles in the earliest antiqui 
ty of all nations; the history of Jesus Christ; 
the achievements of a principle, as in religious 
and political revolutions, and in the abolition of 
the Slave-trade ; the miracles of enthusiasm, as 
those reported of Swedenborg, Hohenlohe, and 
the Shakers ; many obscure and yet contested 
facts, now arranged under the name of Animal 
Magnetism; prayer; eloquence; self-healing; 
and the wisdom of children. These are exam 
ples of Reason's momentary grasp of the scep 
tre ; the exertions of a power which exists not 
in time or space, but an instantaneous in-stream 
ing causing power. The difference between 
the actual and the ideal force of man is happi- 



PROSPECTS. 91 

ly figured by the schoolmen, in saying, that the 
knowledge of man is an evening knowledge, 
vespertina cognitio, but that of God is a morn 
ing knowledge, mat utina cognitio. 

The problem of restoring to the world origi 
nal and eternal beauty, is solved by the redemp 
tion of the soul. The ruin or the blank, that 
we see when we look at nature, is in our own 
eye. The axis of vision is not coincident with 
the axis of things, and so they appear not trans 
parent but opake. The reason why the world 
lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, 
because man is disunited with himself. He 
cannot be a naturalist, until he satisfies all the 
demands of the spirit. Love is as much its 
demand, as perception. Indeed, neither can be 
perfect without the other. In the uttermost 
meaning of the words, thought is devout, and 
devotion is thought. Deep calls unto deep. 
But in actual life, the marriage is not celebrated. 
There are innocent men who worship God after 
the tradition of their fathers, but their sense of 
duty has not yet extended to the use of all their 



92 PROSPECTS. 

faculties. And there are patient naturalists, 
but they freeze their subject under the wintry 
light of the understanding. Is not prayer also 
a study of truth, a sally of the soul into the 
unfound infinite ? No man ever prayed heartily, 
without learning something. But when a faith 
ful thinker, resolute to detach every object from 
personal relations, and see it in the light of 
thought, shall, at the same time, kindle science 
with the fire of the holiest affections, then will 
God go forth anew into the creation. 

It will not need, when the mind is prepared 
for study, to search for objects. The invariable 
mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the 
common. What is a day ? What is a year ? 
What is summer ? What is woman ? What is a 
child? What is sleep? To our blindness, these 
things seem unaffecting. We make fables to 
hide the baldness of the fact and conform it, as 
we say, to the higher law of the mind. But 
when the fact is seen under the light of an idea, 
the gaudy fable fades and shrivels. We behold 
the real higher law. To the wise, therefore, a 



PROSPECTS. 93 

fact is true poetry, and the most beautiful of fables. 
These wonders are brought to our own door. 
You also are a man. Man and woman, and their 
social life, poverty, labor, sleep, fear, fortune, 
are known to you. Learn that none of these 
things is superficial, but that each phenomenon 
hath its roots in the faculties and affections of 
the mind. Whilst the abstract question occu 
pies your intellect, nature brings it in the con 
crete to be solved by your hands. It were a 
wise inquiry for the closet, to compare, point by 
point, especially at remarkable crises in life, 
our daily history, with the rise and progress of 
ideas in the mind. 

So shall we come to look at the world with 
new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry 
of the intellect, What is truth? and of the 
affections, What is good? by yielding itself 
passive to the educated Will. Then shall come 
to pass what my poet said ; ' Nature is not fixed 
but fluid. Spirit alters, moulds, makes it. The 
immobility or bruteness of nature, is the absence 
of spirit ; to pure spirit, it is fluid, it is volatile, 
8 



92 ^PROSPECTS. 

it is obedient. Every spirit builds itself a house; 
and beyond its house, a world; and beyond its 
world, a heaven. Know then, that the world 
exists for you. For you is the phenomenon per 
fect. What we are, that only can we see. All 
that Adam had, all that Caesar could, you have 
and can do. Adam called his house, heaven and 
earth ; Caesar called his house, Rome; you per 
haps call yours, a cobler's trade ; a hundred 
acres of ploughed land ; or a scholar's garret. 
Yet line for line and point for point, your domin 
ion is as great as theirs, though without fine 
names. Build, therefore, your own world. As 
fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in 
your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. 
A correspondent revolution in things will attend 
the influx of the spirit. So fast will disagreea 
ble appearances, swine, spiders, snakes, pests, 
mad-houses, prisons, enemies, vanish ; they are 
temporary and shall be no more seen. The 
sordor and filths of nature, the sun shall dry up, 
and the wind exhale. As when the summer 
comes from the south, the snow-banks melt, and 



PROSPECTS. 95 

the face of the earth becomes green before it, 
so shall the advancing spirit create its orna 
ments along its path, and carry with it the 
beauty it visits, and the song which enchants it ; 
it shall draw beautiful faces, and warm hearts, 
and wise discourse, and heroic acts, around its 
way, until evil is no more seen. The kingdom of 
man over nature, which cometh not with obser 
vation, a dominion such as now is beyond his 
dream of God, he shall enter without more 
wonder than the blind man feels who is gradu 
ally restored to perfect sight.' 



PS I L