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have been mobbed out of great cities and pelted out of little ones; we have been abused by great men and by little papers. What is the result 2 The tables have been turned ; it is your bull that has gored my ox now. And men that still believe in violence,—the five points of whose faith are the fist, the Bowie knife, fire, poison, and the pistol —are ranged on the side of liberty, and—unwilling to wait for the slow but sure steps of thought—lay on God's altar the best they have. You cannot expect to put a real Puritan Presbyterian, as John Brown is, —a regular Cromwellian dug up from two centuries ago, in the midst of our New England civilization, that dares not say its soul is its own, nor proclaim that it is wrong to sell a man at auction, and not have him show himself as he is. Put a hound in the presence of a deer, and he springs at his throat if he is a true bloodhound. Put a Christian in the presence of sin, and he will spring at its throat if he is a true Christian. And so into an acid we might throw white matter, but unless it is chalk it will not produce agitation. So if in a world of sinners you were to put American Christianity, it would be calm as oil ; but put one Christian like John Brown, of Ossawatomie, and he makes the whole crystallize into right and wrong, and marshal themselves on one side or the other. And God makes him the text, and all he asks of our comparatively cowardly lips is to preach the sermon and to say to the American people that, whether that old man succeeded in a worldly sense or not, he stood a representative of law of government, of right, of justice, of religion, and they were pirates that gathered around him and sought to wreak vengeance by taking his life. The banks of the Potomac are doubly dear now to history and to man The dust of Washington rests there; and history will see forever on that riverside the brave old man on his pallet, whose dust, when God calls him hence, the Father of his Country would be proud to make room for beside his own. But if Virginia tyrants dare hang him, after this mockery of a trial, it will take two more Washingtons at least to make the name of the State anything but abominable to the ages that come after. Well, I say what I really think. George Washington was a great man. Yes, I say what I really think. And I know, ladies and gentlemen, that, educated as you have been by the experience of the last ten years here, you would have thought me the silliest as well as the most cowardly man in the world if I should have come, with my twenty years behind me, and talked about anything else to-night except that great example which one man has set us on the banks of the Potomac. You expected, of course, that I should tell you my opinion of it. I value this element that John Brown has introduced into American politics for another reason. The South is a great power. There are no
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cowards in Virginia. It was not cowardice. Now, I try to speak very plainly, but you will misunderstand me. There is no cowardice in Virginia. The people of the South are not cowards. The lunatics in the Gospel were not cowards when they said: “Art thou come to torment us before the time?” They were brave enough, but they saw afar off. They saw the tremendous power that was entering into that charmed circle; they knew its inevitable victory. Virginia did not tremble at an old gray-headed man at Harper's Ferry. They trembled at a John Brown in every man's own conscience. He had been there many years, and, like that terrific scene which Beckworth llas drawn for us in his “ Hall of Eblis,” where all ran round, each man with an incurable wound in his bosom, and agreed not to speak of it, so the South has been running up and down its political and social life, and every man keeps his right hand pressed on the secret and incurable sore, with an understood agreement, in Church and State, that it never shall be mentioned for fear the great ghastly fabric shall come to pieces at the talismanic word. Brown uttered it, and the whole machinery trembled to its very base.
CLEAR VISION VERSUS EDUCATION
Some men seem to think that our institutions are necessarily safe because we have free schools and cheap books and a public opinion that controls. But this is no evidence of safety. India and China have had schools, and a school-system almost identical with that of Massachusetts, for fifteen hundred years. And books are as cheap in Central and Northern Asia as they are in New York. But they have not secured liberty, nor secured a controlling public opinion, to either nation. Spain for three centuries had municipalities and town governments, as independent and self-supporting, and as representatative of thought, as New England or New York has. But that did not save Spain. De Tocqueville says that three years before the great Revolution, public opinion was as omnipotent in France as it is to-day; but it did not save France. You cannot save men by machinery. What India and France and Spain wanted was live men, and that is what we want to-day; men who are willing to look their own destiny, and their own functions and their own responsibilities in the face. “Grant me to see, and Ajax wants no more,” was the prayer the great poet put into the lips of his hero in the darkness that overspread the Grecian camp. All we want of American citizens is the opening of their own eyes and seeing things as they are.—( .)
RALPH WALDO EMERSON (1803-1882)
MERICA has produced only one Emerson, one to whom all A nature was a song of beauty and use, to whom flower and weed alike told the story of uplifting, who looked through the veil of the future and saw man growing ever higher and nobler, wrong ever giving way to right, and glory replacing gloom. Emerson was an evolutionist by nature. He offered no theory of means and methods, but endless progress was to him the inherent law of the universe. He was at once essayist, poet and orator; but in all these he was one, the social optimist and philosopher. His essays read like strings of verbal gems, epigrams and apothegms linked together by one common significance. The same may, in a measure, be said of his orations. His was the eloquence of the ideal. His sentences are crowded with striking thoughts, and only thinkers could justly appreciate him—the deepest thinker of his times.
MAN THE REFORMER
[We subjoin an extract from one of Emerson's lectures which will serve as a fair example of his method of speech and field of thought. Whatever he said was of an elevating tendency, and all his thoughts rang true to the spirit of love and aspiration that inspired him.]
What is man born for but to be a Reformer ; a re-maker of what man has made; a renouncer of lies; a restorer of truth and good, imitating that great Nature which embosoms us all, and which sleeps no moment on an old past, but every hour repairs herself, yielding us every hour a new day, and with every pulsation a new life? Let him renounce everything which is not true to him, and put all his practices back on their first thoughts, and do nothing for which he has not the whole world for his reason. If there are inconveniences, and what is called ruin, in the way,
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because we have so enervated and maimed ourselves, yet it would be like dying of perfumes to sink in the effort to reattach the deeds of every day to the holy and mysterious recesses of life. The power which is at once spring and regulator in all efforts of reform, is the conviction that there is an infinite worthiness in man which will appear at the call of worth, and that all particular reforms are the removing of some impediment. Is it not the highest duty that man should be honored in us? I ought not to allow any man, because he has broad lands, to feel that he is rich in my presence. I ought to make him feel that I can do without his riches, that I cannot be bought, neither by comfort, neither by pride,-and though I be utterly penniless, and receiving bread from him, that he is the poor man beside me. And if, at the same time, a woman or a child discover a sentiment of piety, or a juster way of thinking than mine, I ought to confess it by my respect and obedience, though it go to alter my whole way of life. The Americans have many virtues, but they have not Faith and Hope. I know no two words whose meaning is more lost sight of. We use these words as if they were as obsolete as Selah and Amen. And yet they have the broadest meaning, and the most cogent application in Boston in 1841. The Americans have no faith. They rely on the power of a dollar; they are deaf to a sentiment. They think you may talk the north wind down as easily as raise society; and no class more faithless than the scholars or intellectual men. . Every triumph and commanding moment in the annals of the world is the triumph of some enthusiasm. The victories of the Arabs after Mahomet, who, in a few years, from a small and mean beginning, established a larger empire than that of Rome, is an example. They did they knew not what. The naked Derar, horsed on an idea, was found an overmatch for a troop of Roman cavalry. The women fought like men, and conquered the Roman men. They were miserably equipped, miserably fed. They were Temperance troops. There was neither brandy nor flesh needed to feed them. They conquered Asia and Africa and Spain on barley. The Caliph Omar's walking-stick struck more terror into those who saw it than another man's sword. His diet was barley bread ; his sauce was salt; and ofttimes, by way of abstinence, he ate his bread without salt. His drink was water ; his palace was built of mud; and when he left Medina to go to the conquest of Jerusalem, he rode on a red camel, with a wooden platter hanging at his saddle, with a bottle of water and two sacks, one holding barley and the other dried fruits. But there will dawn ere long on our politics, on our modes of living, a nobler morning than that Arabian faith, in the sentiment of love. This
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is the one remedy for all ills, the panacea of nature. We must be lovers, and at once the impossible becomes possible. Our age and history for these thousand years has not been the history of kindness, but of selfishness. Our distrustis very expensive. The money we spend for courts and prisons is very ill laid out. We make by distrust the thief and burglar and incendiary, and by our court and jail we keep him so. An acceptance of the sentiment of love throughout Christendom for a season would bring the felon and the outcast to our side in tears, with the devotion of his faculties to our service. See this wide society of laboring men and women. We allow ourselves to be served by them, we live apart from them, and meet them without a salute in the streets. We do not greet their talents, nor rejoice in their good fortune, nor foster their hopes, nor in the assembly of the people vote for what is dear to them. Thus we enact the part of the selfish noble and king from the foundation of the world. . Let our affection flow out to our fellows; it would operate in a day the greatest of all revolutions. It is better to work on institutions by the sun than by the wind. The state must consider the poor man, and all voices must speak for him. Every child that is born must have a just chance for his bread. Let the amelioration in our laws of property proceed from the concession of the rich, not from the grasping of the poor. Let us begin by habitual imparting. Let us understand that the equitable rule is, that no one should take more than his share, let him be ever so rich. Let me feel that I am to be a lover. I am to see to it that the world is the better for me and to find my reward in the act. Love would put a new face on this weary old world, in which we dwell as pagans and enemies too long, and it would warm the heart to see how fast the vain diplomacy of statesmen, the impotence of armies and navies and lines of defense would be superseded by this unarmed child. Love will creep where it cannot go, will accomplish that by imperceptible methods—being its own lever, fulcrum and power—which force could never achieve. Have you not seen in the woods, in a late autumn morning, a poor fungus or mushroom, -a plant without any solidity, nay, that seemed nothing but a soft mush or jelly,–by its constant, total, and inconceivably gentle pushing, manage to break its way up through the frosty ground, and actually to lift a hard crust on its head It is the symbol of the power of kindness. The virtue of this principle in human society in application to great interests is obsolete and forgotten. Once or twice in history it has been tried in illustrious instances, with signal success. This great, overgrown, dead Christendom of ours still keeps alive at least the name of a lover of mankind. But one day all men will be lovers, and every calamity will be dissolved in the universal sunshine.