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    Ch. 5 - Hero as Man of Letters

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    Chapter 5
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    [May 19, 1840.]
    LECTURE V.
    THE HERO AS MAN OF LETTERS. JOHNSON, ROUSSEAU, BURNS.



    Hero-Gods, Prophets, Poets, Priests are forms of Heroism that belong to the
    old ages, make their appearance in the remotest times; some of them have
    ceased to be possible long since, and cannot any more show themselves in
    this world. The Hero as _Man of Letters_, again, of which class we are to
    speak to-day, is altogether a product of these new ages; and so long as the
    wondrous art of _Writing_, or of Ready-writing which we call _Printing_,
    subsists, he may be expected to continue, as one of the main forms of
    Heroism for all future ages. He is, in various respects, a very singular
    phenomenon.

    He is new, I say; he has hardly lasted above a century in the world yet.
    Never, till about a hundred years ago, was there seen any figure of a Great
    Soul living apart in that anomalous manner; endeavoring to speak forth the
    inspiration that was in him by Printed Books, and find place and
    subsistence by what the world would please to give him for doing that.
    Much had been sold and bought, and left to make its own bargain in the
    market-place; but the inspired wisdom of a Heroic Soul never till then, in
    that naked manner. He, with his copy-rights and copy-wrongs, in his
    squalid garret, in his rusty coat; ruling (for this is what he does), from
    his grave, after death, whole nations and generations who would, or would
    not, give him bread while living,--is a rather curious spectacle! Few
    shapes of Heroism can be more unexpected.

    Alas, the Hero from of old has had to cramp himself into strange shapes:
    the world knows not well at any time what to do with him, so foreign is his
    aspect in the world! It seemed absurd to us, that men, in their rude
    admiration, should take some wise great Odin for a god, and worship him as
    such; some wise great Mahomet for one god-inspired, and religiously follow
    his Law for twelve centuries: but that a wise great Johnson, a Burns, a
    Rousseau, should be taken for some idle nondescript, extant in the world to
    amuse idleness, and have a few coins and applauses thrown him, that he
    might live thereby; _this_ perhaps, as before hinted, will one day seem a
    still absurder phasis of things!--Meanwhile, since it is the spiritual
    always that determines the material, this same Man-of-Letters Hero must be
    regarded as our most important modern person. He, such as he may be, is
    the soul of all. What he teaches, the whole world will do and make. The
    world's manner of dealing with him is the most significant feature of the
    world's general position. Looking well at his life, we may get a glance,
    as deep as is readily possible for us, into the life of those singular
    centuries which have produced him, in which we ourselves live and work.

    There are genuine Men of Letters, and not genuine; as in every kind there
    is a genuine and a spurious. If _hero_ be taken to mean genuine, then I
    say the Hero as Man of Letters will be found discharging a function for us
    which is ever honorable, ever the highest; and was once well known to be
    the highest. He is uttering forth, in such way as he has, the inspired
    soul of him; all that a man, in any case, can do. I say _inspired_; for
    what we call "originality," "sincerity," "genius," the heroic quality we
    have no good name for, signifies that. The Hero is he who lives in the
    inward sphere of things, in the True, Divine and Eternal, which exists
    always, unseen to most, under the Temporary, Trivial: his being is in
    that; he declares that abroad, by act or speech as it may be in declaring
    himself abroad. His life, as we said before, is a piece of the everlasting
    heart of Nature herself: all men's life is,--but the weak many know not
    the fact, and are untrue to it, in most times; the strong few are strong,
    heroic, perennial, because it cannot be hidden from them. The Man of
    Letters, like every Hero, is there to proclaim this in such sort as he can.
    Intrinsically it is the same function which the old generations named a man
    Prophet, Priest, Divinity for doing; which all manner of Heroes, by speech
    or by act, are sent into the world to do.

    Fichte the German Philosopher delivered, some forty years ago at Erlangen,
    a highly remarkable Course of Lectures on this subject: "_Ueber das Wesen
    des Gelehrten_, On the Nature of the Literary Man." Fichte, in conformity
    with the Transcendental Philosophy, of which he was a distinguished
    teacher, declares first: That all things which we see or work with in this
    Earth, especially we ourselves and all persons, are as a kind of vesture or
    sensuous Appearance: that under all there lies, as the essence of them,
    what he calls the "Divine Idea of the World;" this is the Reality which
    "lies at the bottom of all Appearance." To the mass of men no such Divine
    Idea is recognizable in the world; they live merely, says Fichte, among the
    superficialities, practicalities and shows of the world, not dreaming that
    there is anything divine under them. But the Man of Letters is sent hither
    specially that he may discern for himself, and make manifest to us, this
    same Divine Idea: in every new generation it will manifest itself in a new
    dialect; and he is there for the purpose of doing that. Such is Fichte's
    phraseology; with which we need not quarrel. It is his way of naming what
    I here, by other words, am striving imperfectly to name; what there is at
    present no name for: The unspeakable Divine Significance, full of
    splendor, of wonder and terror, that lies in the being of every man, of
    every thing,--the Presence of the God who made every man and thing.
    Mahomet taught this in his dialect; Odin in his: it is the thing which all
    thinking hearts, in one dialect or another, are here to teach.

    Fichte calls the Man of Letters, therefore, a Prophet, or as he prefers to
    phrase it, a Priest, continually unfolding the Godlike to men: Men of
    Letters are a perpetual Priesthood, from age to age, teaching all men that
    a God is still present in their life, that all "Appearance," whatsoever we
    see in the world, is but as a vesture for the "Divine Idea of the World,"
    for "that which lies at the bottom of Appearance." In the true Literary
    Man there is thus ever, acknowledged or not by the world, a sacredness: he
    is the light of the world; the world's Priest;--guiding it, like a sacred
    Pillar of Fire, in its dark pilgrimage through the waste of Time. Fichte
    discriminates with sharp zeal the _true_ Literary Man, what we here call
    the _Hero_ as Man of Letters, from multitudes of false unheroic. Whoever
    lives not wholly in this Divine Idea, or living partially in it, struggles
    not, as for the one good, to live wholly in it,--he is, let him live where
    else he like, in what pomps and prosperities he like, no Literary Man; he
    is, says Fichte, a "Bungler, _Stumper_." Or at best, if he belong to the
    prosaic provinces, he may be a "Hodman; " Fichte even calls him elsewhere a
    "Nonentity," and has in short no mercy for him, no wish that _he_ should
    continue happy among us! This is Fichte's notion of the Man of Letters.
    It means, in its own form, precisely what we here mean.

    In this point of view, I consider that, for the last hundred years, by far
    the notablest of all Literary Men is Fichte's countryman, Goethe. To that
    man too, in a strange way, there was given what we may call a life in the
    Divine Idea of the World; vision of the inward divine mystery: and
    strangely, out of his Books, the world rises imaged once more as godlike,
    the workmanship and temple of a God. Illuminated all, not in fierce impure
    fire-splendor as of Mahomet, but in mild celestial radiance;--really a
    Prophecy in these most unprophetic times; to my mind, by far the greatest,
    though one of the quietest, among all the great things that have come to
    pass in them. Our chosen specimen of the Hero as Literary Man would be
    this Goethe. And it were a very pleasant plan for me here to discourse of
    his heroism: for I consider him to be a true Hero; heroic in what he said
    and did, and perhaps still more in what he did not say and did not do; to
    me a noble spectacle: a great heroic ancient man, speaking and keeping
    silence as an ancient Hero, in the guise of a most modern, high-bred,
    high-cultivated Man of Letters! We have had no such spectacle; no man
    capable of affording such, for the last hundred and fifty years.

    But at present, such is the general state of knowledge about Goethe, it
    were worse than useless to attempt speaking of him in this case. Speak as
    I might, Goethe, to the great majority of you, would remain problematic,
    vague; no impression but a false one could be realized. Him we must leave
    to future times. Johnson, Burns, Rousseau, three great figures from a
    prior time, from a far inferior state of circumstances, will suit us better
    here. Three men of the Eighteenth Century; the conditions of their life
    far more resemble what those of ours still are in England, than what
    Goethe's in Germany were. Alas, these men did not conquer like him; they
    fought bravely, and fell. They were not heroic bringers of the light, but
    heroic seekers of it. They lived under galling conditions; struggling as
    under mountains of impediment, and could not unfold themselves into
    clearness, or victorious interpretation of that "Divine Idea." It is
    rather the _Tombs_ of three Literary Heroes that I have to show you. There
    are the monumental heaps, under which three spiritual giants lie buried.
    Very mournful, but also great and full of interest for us. We will linger
    by them for a while.

    Complaint is often made, in these times, of what we call the disorganized
    condition of society: how ill many forces of society fulfil their work;
    how many powerful are seen working in a wasteful, chaotic, altogether
    unarranged manner. It is too just a complaint, as we all know. But
    perhaps if we look at this of Books and the Writers of Books, we shall find
    here, as it were, the summary of all other disorganizations;--a sort of
    _heart_, from which, and to which all other confusion circulates in the
    world! Considering what Book writers do in the world, and what the world
    does with Book writers, I should say, It is the most anomalous thing the
    world at present has to show.--We should get into a sea far beyond
    sounding, did we attempt to give account of this: but we must glance at it
    for the sake of our subject. The worst element in the life of these three
    Literary Heroes was, that they found their business and position such a
    chaos. On the beaten road there is tolerable travelling; but it is sore
    work, and many have to perish, fashioning a path through the impassable!

    Our pious Fathers, feeling well what importance lay in the speaking of man
    to men, founded churches, made endowments, regulations; everywhere in the
    civilized world there is a Pulpit, environed with all manner of complex
    dignified appurtenances and furtherances, that therefrom a man with the
    tongue may, to best advantage, address his fellow-men. They felt that this
    was the most important thing; that without this there was no good thing.
    It is a right pious work, that of theirs; beautiful to behold! But now
    with the art of Writing, with the art of Printing, a total change has come
    over that business. The Writer of a Book, is not he a Preacher preaching
    not to this parish or that, on this day or that, but to all men in all
    times and places? Surely it is of the last importance that _he_ do his
    work right, whoever do it wrong;--that the _eye_ report not falsely, for
    then all the other members are astray! Well; how he may do his work,
    whether he do it right or wrong, or do it at all, is a point which no man
    in the world has taken the pains to think of. To a certain shopkeeper,
    trying to get some money for his books, if lucky, he is of some importance;
    to no other man of any. Whence he came, whither he is bound, by what ways
    he arrived, by what he might be furthered on his course, no one asks. He
    is an accident in society. He wanders like a wild Ishmaelite, in a world
    of which he is as the spiritual light, either the guidance or the
    misguidance!

    Certainly the Art of Writing is the most miraculous of all things man has
    devised. Odin's _Runes_ were the first form of the work of a Hero; _Books_
    written words, are still miraculous _Runes_, the latest form! In Books
    lies the _soul_ of the whole Past Time; the articulate audible voice of the
    Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished
    like a dream. Mighty fleets and armies, harbors and arsenals, vast cities,
    high-domed, many-engined,--they are precious, great: but what do they
    become? Agamemnon, the many Agamemnons, Pericleses, and their Greece; all
    is gone now to some ruined fragments, dumb mournful wrecks and blocks: but
    the Books of Greece! There Greece, to every thinker, still very literally
    lives: can be called up again into life. No magic _Rune_ is stranger than
    a Book. All that Mankind has done, thought, gained or been: it is lying
    as in magic preservation in the pages of Books. They are the chosen
    possession of men.

    Do not Books still accomplish _miracles_, as _Runes_ were fabled to do?
    They persuade men. Not the wretchedest circulating-library novel, which
    foolish girls thumb and con in remote villages, but will help to regulate
    the actual practical weddings and households of those foolish girls. So
    "Celia" felt, so "Clifford" acted: the foolish Theorem of Life, stamped
    into those young brains, comes out as a solid Practice one day. Consider
    whether any _Rune_ in the wildest imagination of Mythologist ever did such
    wonders as, on the actual firm Earth, some Books have done! What built St.
    Paul's Cathedral? Look at the heart of the matter, it was that divine
    Hebrew BOOK,--the word partly of the man Moses, an outlaw tending his
    Midianitish herds, four thousand years ago, in the wildernesses of Sinai!
    It is the strangest of things, yet nothing is truer. With the art of
    Writing, of which Printing is a simple, an inevitable and comparatively
    insignificant corollary, the true reign of miracles for mankind commenced.
    It related, with a wondrous new contiguity and perpetual closeness, the
    Past and Distant with the Present in time and place; all times and all
    places with this our actual Here and Now. All things were altered for men;
    all modes of important work of men: teaching, preaching, governing, and
    all else.

    To look at Teaching, for instance. Universities are a notable, respectable
    product of the modern ages. Their existence too is modified, to the very
    basis of it, by the existence of Books. Universities arose while there
    were yet no Books procurable; while a man, for a single Book, had to give
    an estate of land. That, in those circumstances, when a man had some
    knowledge to communicate, he should do it by gathering the learners round
    him, face to face, was a necessity for him. If you wanted to know what
    Abelard knew, you must go and listen to Abelard. Thousands, as many as
    thirty thousand, went to hear Abelard and that metaphysical theology of
    his. And now for any other teacher who had also something of his own to
    teach, there was a great convenience opened: so many thousands eager to
    learn were already assembled yonder; of all places the best place for him
    was that. For any third teacher it was better still; and grew ever the
    better, the more teachers there came. It only needed now that the King
    took notice of this new phenomenon; combined or agglomerated the various
    schools into one school; gave it edifices, privileges, encouragements, and
    named it _Universitas_, or School of all Sciences: the University of
    Paris, in its essential characters, was there. The model of all subsequent
    Universities; which down even to these days, for six centuries now, have
    gone on to found themselves. Such, I conceive, was the origin of
    Universities.

    It is clear, however, that with this simple circumstance, facility of
    getting Books, the whole conditions of the business from top to bottom were
    changed. Once invent Printing, you metamorphosed all Universities, or
    superseded them! The Teacher needed not now to gather men personally round
    him, that he might _speak_ to them what he knew: print it in a Book, and
    all learners far and wide, for a trifle, had it each at his own fireside,
    much more effectually to learn it!--Doubtless there is still peculiar
    virtue in Speech; even writers of Books may still, in some circumstances,
    find it convenient to speak also,--witness our present meeting here! There
    is, one would say, and must ever remain while man has a tongue, a distinct
    province for Speech as well as for Writing and Printing. In regard to all
    things this must remain; to Universities among others. But the limits of
    the two have nowhere yet been pointed out, ascertained; much less put in
    practice: the University which would completely take in that great new
    fact, of the existence of Printed Books, and stand on a clear footing for
    the Nineteenth Century as the Paris one did for the Thirteenth, has not yet
    come into existence. If we think of it, all that a University, or final
    highest School can do for us, is still but what the first School began
    doing,--teach us to _read_. We learn to _read_, in various languages, in
    various sciences; we learn the alphabet and letters of all manner of Books.
    But the place where we are to get knowledge, even theoretic knowledge, is
    the Books themselves! It depends on what we read, after all manner of
    Professors have done their best for us. The true University of these days
    is a Collection of Books.

    But to the Church itself, as I hinted already, all is changed, in its
    preaching, in its working, by the introduction of Books. The Church is the
    working recognized Union of our Priests or Prophets, of those who by wise
    teaching guide the souls of men. While there was no Writing, even while
    there was no Easy-writing, or _Printing_, the preaching of the voice was
    the natural sole method of performing this. But now with Books! --He that
    can write a true Book, to persuade England, is not he the Bishop and
    Archbishop, the Primate of England and of All England? I many a time say,
    the writers of Newspapers, Pamphlets, Poems, Books, these _are_ the real
    working effective Church of a modern country. Nay not only our preaching,
    but even our worship, is not it too accomplished by means of Printed Books?
    The noble sentiment which a gifted soul has clothed for us in melodious
    words, which brings melody into our hearts,--is not this essentially, if we
    will understand it, of the nature of worship? There are many, in all
    countries, who, in this confused time, have no other method of worship. He
    who, in any way, shows us better than we knew before that a lily of the
    fields is beautiful, does he not show it us as an effluence of the Fountain
    of all Beauty; as the _handwriting_, made visible there, of the great Maker
    of the Universe? He has sung for us, made us sing with him, a little verse
    of a sacred Psalm. Essentially so. How much more he who sings, who says,
    or in any way brings home to our heart the noble doings, feelings, darings
    and endurances of a brother man! He has verily touched our hearts as with
    a live coal _from the altar_. Perhaps there is no worship more authentic.

    Literature, so far as it is Literature, is an "apocalypse of Nature," a
    revealing of the "open secret." It may well enough be named, in Fichte's
    style, a "continuous revelation" of the Godlike in the Terrestrial and
    Common. The Godlike does ever, in very truth, endure there; is brought
    out, now in this dialect, now in that, with various degrees of clearness:
    all true gifted Singers and Speakers are, consciously or unconsciously,
    doing so. The dark stormful indignation of a Byron, so wayward and
    perverse, may have touches of it; nay the withered mockery of a French
    sceptic,--his mockery of the False, a love and worship of the True. How
    much more the sphere-harmony of a Shakspeare, of a Goethe; the cathedral
    music of a Milton! They are something too, those humble genuine lark-notes
    of a Burns,--skylark, starting from the humble furrow, far overhead into
    the blue depths, and singing to us so genuinely there! For all true
    singing is of the nature of worship; as indeed all true _working_ may be
    said to be,--whereof such _singing_ is but the record, and fit melodious
    representation, to us. Fragments of a real "Church Liturgy" and "Body of
    Homilies," strangely disguised from the common eye, are to be found
    weltering in that huge froth-ocean of Printed Speech we loosely call
    Literature! Books are our Church too.

    Or turning now to the Government of men. Witenagemote, old Parliament, was
    a great thing. The affairs of the nation were there deliberated and
    decided; what we were to _do_ as a nation. But does not, though the name
    Parliament subsists, the parliamentary debate go on now, everywhere and at
    all times, in a far more comprehensive way, _out_ of Parliament altogether?
    Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters'
    Gallery yonder, there sat a _Fourth Estate_ more important far than they
    all. It is not a figure of speech, or a witty saying; it is a literal
    fact,--very momentous to us in these times. Literature is our Parliament
    too. Printing, which comes necessarily out of Writing, I say often, is
    equivalent to Democracy: invent Writing, Democracy is inevitable. Writing
    brings Printing; brings universal everyday extempore Printing, as we see at
    present. Whoever can speak, speaking now to the whole nation, becomes a
    power, a branch of government, with inalienable weight in law-making, in
    all acts of authority. It matters not what rank he has, what revenues or
    garnitures. the requisite thing is, that he have a tongue which others
    will listen to; this and nothing more is requisite. The nation is governed
    by all that has tongue in the nation: Democracy is virtually _there_. Add
    only, that whatsoever power exists will have itself, by and by, organized;
    working secretly under bandages, obscurations, obstructions, it will never
    rest till it get to work free, unencumbered, visible to all. Democracy
    virtually extant will insist on becoming palpably extant.--

    On all sides, are we not driven to the conclusion that, of the things which
    man can do or make here below, by far the most momentous, wonderful and
    worthy are the things we call Books! Those poor bits of rag-paper with
    black ink on them;--from the Daily Newspaper to the sacred Hebrew BOOK,
    what have they not done, what are they not doing!--For indeed, whatever be
    the outward form of the thing (bits of paper, as we say, and black ink), is
    it not verily, at bottom, the highest act of man's faculty that produces a
    Book? It is the _Thought_ of man; the true thaumaturgic virtue; by which
    man works all things whatsoever. All that he does, and brings to pass, is
    the vesture of a Thought. This London City, with all its houses, palaces,
    steam-engines, cathedrals, and huge immeasurable traffic and tumult, what
    is it but a Thought, but millions of Thoughts made into One;--a huge
    immeasurable Spirit of a THOUGHT, embodied in brick, in iron, smoke, dust,
    Palaces, Parliaments, Hackney Coaches, Katherine Docks, and the rest of it!
    Not a brick was made but some man had to _think_ of the making of that
    brick.--The thing we called "bits of paper with traces of black ink," is
    the _purest_ embodiment a Thought of man can have. No wonder it is, in all
    ways, the activest and noblest.

    All this, of the importance and supreme importance of the Man of Letters in
    modern Society, and how the Press is to such a degree superseding the
    Pulpit, the Senate, the _Senatus Academicus_ and much else, has been
    admitted for a good while; and recognized often enough, in late times, with
    a sort of sentimental triumph and wonderment. It seems to me, the
    Sentimental by and by will have to give place to the Practical. If Men of
    Letters _are_ so incalculably influential, actually performing such work
    for us from age to age, and even from day to day, then I think we may
    conclude that Men of Letters will not always wander like unrecognized
    unregulated Ishmaelites among us! Whatsoever thing, as I said above, has
    virtual unnoticed power will cast off its wrappages, bandages, and step
    forth one day with palpably articulated, universally visible power. That
    one man wear the clothes, and take the wages, of a function which is done
    by quite another: there can be no profit in this; this is not right, it is
    wrong. And yet, alas, the _making_ of it right,--what a business, for long
    times to come! Sure enough, this that we call Organization of the Literary
    Guild is still a great way off, encumbered with all manner of complexities.
    If you asked me what were the best possible organization for the Men of
    Letters in modern society; the arrangement of furtherance and regulation,
    grounded the most accurately on the actual facts of their position and of
    the world's position,--I should beg to say that the problem far exceeded my
    faculty! It is not one man's faculty; it is that of many successive men
    turned earnestly upon it, that will bring out even an approximate solution.
    What the best arrangement were, none of us could say. But if you ask,
    Which is the worst? I answer: This which we now have, that Chaos should
    sit umpire in it; this is the worst. To the best, or any good one, there
    is yet a long way.

    One remark I must not omit, That royal or parliamentary grants of money are
    by no means the chief thing wanted! To give our Men of Letters stipends,
    endowments and all furtherance of cash, will do little towards the
    business. On the whole, one is weary of hearing about the omnipotence of
    money. I will say rather that, for a genuine man, it is no evil to be
    poor; that there ought to be Literary Men poor,--to show whether they are
    genuine or not! Mendicant Orders, bodies of good men doomed to beg, were
    instituted in the Christian Church; a most natural and even necessary
    development of the spirit of Christianity. It was itself founded on
    Poverty, on Sorrow, Contradiction, Crucifixion, every species of worldly
    Distress and Degradation. We may say, that he who has not known those
    things, and learned from them the priceless lessons they have to teach, has
    missed a good opportunity of schooling. To beg, and go barefoot, in coarse
    woollen cloak with a rope round your loins, and be despised of all the
    world, was no beautiful business;--nor an honorable one in any eye, till
    the nobleness of those who did so had made it honored of some!

    Begging is not in our course at the present time: but for the rest of it,
    who will say that a Johnson is not perhaps the better for being poor? It
    is needful for him, at all rates, to know that outward profit, that success
    of any kind is _not_ the goal he has to aim at. Pride, vanity,
    ill-conditioned egoism of all sorts, are bred in his heart, as in every
    heart; need, above all, to be cast out of his heart,--to be, with whatever
    pangs, torn out of it, cast forth from it, as a thing worthless. Byron,
    born rich and noble, made out even less than Burns, poor and plebeian. Who
    knows but, in that same "best possible organization" as yet far off,
    Poverty may still enter as an important element? What if our Men of
    Letters, men setting up to be Spiritual Heroes, were still _then_, as they
    now are, a kind of "involuntary monastic order;" bound still to this same
    ugly Poverty,--till they had tried what was in it too, till they had
    learned to make it too do for them! Money, in truth, can do much, but it
    cannot do all. We must know the province of it, and confine it there; and
    even spurn it back, when it wishes to get farther.

    Besides, were the money-furtherances, the proper season for them, the fit
    assigner of them, all settled,--how is the Burns to be recognized that
    merits these? He must pass through the ordeal, and prove himself. _This_
    ordeal; this wild welter of a chaos which is called Literary Life: this
    too is a kind of ordeal! There is clear truth in the idea that a struggle
    from the lower classes of society, towards the upper regions and rewards of
    society, must ever continue. Strong men are born there, who ought to stand
    elsewhere than there. The manifold, inextricably complex, universal
    struggle of these constitutes, and must constitute, what is called the
    progress of society. For Men of Letters, as for all other sorts of men.
    How to regulate that struggle? There is the whole question. To leave it
    as it is, at the mercy of blind Chance; a whirl of distracted atoms, one
    cancelling the other; one of the thousand arriving saved, nine hundred and
    ninety-nine lost by the way; your royal Johnson languishing inactive in
    garrets, or harnessed to the yoke of Printer Cave; your Burns dying
    broken-hearted as a Gauger; your Rousseau driven into mad exasperation,
    kindling French Revolutions by his paradoxes: this, as we said, is clearly
    enough the _worst_ regulation. The _best_, alas, is far from us!

    And yet there can be no doubt but it is coming; advancing on us, as yet
    hidden in the bosom of centuries: this is a prophecy one can risk. For so
    soon as men get to discern the importance of a thing, they do infallibly
    set about arranging it, facilitating, forwarding it; and rest not till, in
    some approximate degree, they have accomplished that. I say, of all
    Priesthoods, Aristocracies, Governing Classes at present extant in the
    world, there is no class comparable for importance to that Priesthood of
    the Writers of Books. This is a fact which he who runs may read,--and draw
    inferences from. "Literature will take care of itself," answered Mr. Pitt,
    when applied to for some help for Burns. "Yes," adds Mr. Southey, "it will
    take care of itself; _and of you too_, if you do not look to it!"

    The result to individual Men of Letters is not the momentous one; they are
    but individuals, an infinitesimal fraction of the great body; they can
    struggle on, and live or else die, as they have been wont. But it deeply
    concerns the whole society, whether it will set its _light_ on high places,
    to walk thereby; or trample it under foot, and scatter it in all ways of
    wild waste (not without conflagration), as heretofore! Light is the one
    thing wanted for the world. Put wisdom in the head of the world, the world
    will fight its battle victoriously, and be the best world man can make it.
    I called this anomaly of a disorganic Literary Class the heart of all other
    anomalies, at once product and parent; some good arrangement for that would
    be as the _punctum saliens_ of a new vitality and just arrangement for all.
    Already, in some European countries, in France, in Prussia, one traces some
    beginnings of an arrangement for the Literary Class; indicating the gradual
    possibility of such. I believe that it is possible; that it will have to
    be possible.

    By far the most interesting fact I hear about the Chinese is one on which
    we cannot arrive at clearness, but which excites endless curiosity even in
    the dim state: this namely, that they do attempt to make their Men of
    Letters their Governors! It would be rash to say, one understood how this
    was done, or with what degree of success it was done. All such things must
    be very unsuccessful; yet a small degree of success is precious; the very
    attempt how precious! There does seem to be, all over China, a more or
    less active search everywhere to discover the men of talent that grow up in
    the young generation. Schools there are for every one: a foolish sort of
    training, yet still a sort. The youths who distinguish themselves in the
    lower school are promoted into favorable stations in the higher, that they
    may still more distinguish themselves,--forward and forward: it appears to
    be out of these that the Official Persons, and incipient Governors, are
    taken. These are they whom they _try_ first, whether they can govern or
    not. And surely with the best hope: for they are the men that have
    already shown intellect. Try them: they have not governed or administered
    as yet; perhaps they cannot; but there is no doubt they _have_ some
    Understanding,--without which no man can! Neither is Understanding a
    _tool_, as we are too apt to figure; "it is a _hand_ which can handle any
    tool." Try these men: they are of all others the best worth
    trying.--Surely there is no kind of government, constitution, revolution,
    social apparatus or arrangement, that I know of in this world, so promising
    to one's scientific curiosity as this. The man of intellect at the top of
    affairs: this is the aim of all constitutions and revolutions, if they
    have any aim. For the man of true intellect, as I assert and believe
    always, is the noble-hearted man withal, the true, just, humane and valiant
    man. Get him for governor, all is got; fail to get him, though you had
    Constitutions plentiful as blackberries, and a Parliament in every village,
    there is nothing yet got!--

    These things look strange, truly; and are not such as we commonly speculate
    upon. But we are fallen into strange times; these things will require to
    be speculated upon; to be rendered practicable, to be in some way put in
    practice. These, and many others. On all hands of us, there is the
    announcement, audible enough, that the old Empire of Routine has ended;
    that to say a thing has long been, is no reason for its continuing to be.
    The things which have been are fallen into decay, are fallen into
    incompetence; large masses of mankind, in every society of our Europe, are
    no longer capable of living at all by the things which have been. When
    millions of men can no longer by their utmost exertion gain food for
    themselves, and "the third man for thirty-six weeks each year is short of
    third-rate potatoes," the things which have been must decidedly prepare to
    alter themselves!--I will now quit this of the organization of Men of
    Letters.

    Alas, the evil that pressed heaviest on those Literary Heroes of ours was
    not the want of organization for Men of Letters, but a far deeper one; out
    of which, indeed, this and so many other evils for the Literary Man, and
    for all men, had, as from their fountain, taken rise. That our Hero as Man
    of Letters had to travel without highway, companionless, through an
    inorganic chaos,--and to leave his own life and faculty lying there, as a
    partial contribution towards _pushing_ some highway through it: this, had
    not his faculty itself been so perverted and paralyzed, he might have put
    up with, might have considered to be but the common lot of Heroes. His
    fatal misery was the _spiritual paralysis_, so we may name it, of the Age
    in which his life lay; whereby his life too, do what he might, was half
    paralyzed! The Eighteenth was a _Sceptical_ Century; in which little word
    there is a whole Pandora's Box of miseries. Scepticism means not
    intellectual Doubt alone, but moral Doubt; all sorts of infidelity,
    insincerity, spiritual paralysis. Perhaps, in few centuries that one could
    specify since the world began, was a life of Heroism more difficult for a
    man. That was not an age of Faith,--an age of Heroes! The very
    possibility of Heroism had been, as it were, formally abnegated in the
    minds of all. Heroism was gone forever; Triviality, Formulism and
    Commonplace were come forever. The "age of miracles" had been, or perhaps
    had not been; but it was not any longer. An effete world; wherein Wonder,
    Greatness, Godhood could not now dwell;--in one word, a godless world!

    How mean, dwarfish are their ways of thinking, in this time,--compared not
    with the Christian Shakspeares and Miltons, but with the old Pagan Skalds,
    with any species of believing men! The living TREE Igdrasil, with the
    melodious prophetic waving of its world-wide boughs, deep-rooted as Hela,
    has died out into the clanking of a World-MACHINE. "Tree" and "Machine:"
    contrast these two things. I, for my share, declare the world to be no
    machine! I say that it does _not_ go by wheel-and-pinion "motives"
    self-interests, checks, balances; that there is something far other in it
    than the clank of spinning-jennies, and parliamentary majorities; and, on
    the whole, that it is not a machine at all!--The old Norse Heathen had a
    truer motion of God's-world than these poor Machine-Sceptics: the old
    Heathen Norse were _sincere_ men. But for these poor Sceptics there was no
    sincerity, no truth. Half-truth and hearsay was called truth. Truth, for
    most men, meant plausibility; to be measured by the number of votes you
    could get. They had lost any notion that sincerity was possible, or of
    what sincerity was. How many Plausibilities asking, with unaffected
    surprise and the air of offended virtue, What! am not I sincere? Spiritual
    Paralysis, I say, nothing left but a Mechanical life, was the
    characteristic of that century. For the common man, unless happily he
    stood _below_ his century and belonged to another prior one, it was
    impossible to be a Believer, a Hero; he lay buried, unconscious, under
    these baleful influences. To the strongest man, only with infinite
    struggle and confusion was it possible to work himself half loose; and lead
    as it were, in an enchanted, most tragical way, a spiritual death-in-life,
    and be a Half-Hero!

    Scepticism is the name we give to all this; as the chief symptom, as the
    chief origin of all this. Concerning which so much were to be said! It
    would take many Discourses, not a small fraction of one Discourse, to state
    what one feels about that Eighteenth Century and its ways. As indeed this,
    and the like of this, which we now call Scepticism, is precisely the black
    malady and life-foe, against which all teaching and discoursing since man's
    life began has directed itself: the battle of Belief against Unbelief is
    the never-ending battle! Neither is it in the way of crimination that one
    would wish to speak. Scepticism, for that century, we must consider as the
    decay of old ways of believing, the preparation afar off for new better and
    wider ways,--an inevitable thing. We will not blame men for it; we will
    lament their hard fate. We will understand that destruction of old _forms_
    is not destruction of everlasting _substances_; that Scepticism, as
    sorrowful and hateful as we see it, is not an end but a beginning.

    The other day speaking, without prior purpose that way, of Bentham's theory
    of man and man's life, I chanced to call it a more beggarly one than
    Mahomet's. I am bound to say, now when it is once uttered, that such is my
    deliberate opinion. Not that one would mean offence against the man Jeremy
    Bentham, or those who respect and believe him. Bentham himself, and even
    the creed of Bentham, seems to me comparatively worthy of praise. It is a
    determinate _being_ what all the world, in a cowardly half-and-half manner,
    was tending to be. Let us have the crisis; we shall either have death or
    the cure. I call this gross, steam-engine Utilitarianism an approach
    towards new Faith. It was a laying-down of cant; a saying to oneself:
    "Well then, this world is a dead iron machine, the god of it Gravitation
    and selfish Hunger; let us see what, by checking and balancing, and good
    adjustment of tooth and pinion, can be made of it!" Benthamism has
    something complete, manful, in such fearless committal of itself to what it
    finds true; you may call it Heroic, though a Heroism with its _eyes_ put
    out! It is the culminating point, and fearless ultimatum, of what lay in
    the half-and-half state, pervading man's whole existence in that Eighteenth
    Century. It seems to me, all deniers of Godhood, and all lip-believers of
    it, are bound to be Benthamites, if they have courage and honesty.
    Benthamism is an _eyeless_ Heroism: the Human Species, like a hapless
    blinded Samson grinding in the Philistine Mill, clasps convulsively the
    pillars of its Mill; brings huge ruin down, but ultimately deliverance
    withal. Of Bentham I meant to say no harm.

    But this I do say, and would wish all men to know and lay to heart, that he
    who discerns nothing but Mechanism in the Universe has in the fatalest way
    missed the secret of the Universe altogether. That all Godhood should
    vanish out of men's conception of this Universe seems to me precisely the
    most brutal error,--I will not disparage Heathenism by calling it a Heathen
    error,--that men could fall into. It is not true; it is false at the very
    heart of it. A man who thinks so will think _wrong_ about all things in
    the world; this original sin will vitiate all other conclusions he can
    form. One might call it the most lamentable of Delusions,--not forgetting
    Witchcraft itself! Witchcraft worshipped at least a living Devil; but this
    worships a dead iron Devil; no God, not even a Devil! Whatsoever is noble,
    divine, inspired, drops thereby out of life. There remains everywhere in
    life a despicable _caput-mortuum_; the mechanical hull, all soul fled out
    of it. How can a man act heroically? The "Doctrine of Motives" will teach
    him that it is, under more or less disguise, nothing but a wretched love of
    Pleasure, fear of Pain; that Hunger, of applause, of cash, of whatsoever
    victual it may be, is the ultimate fact of man's life. Atheism, in
    brief;--which does indeed frightfully punish itself. The man, I say, is
    become spiritually a paralytic man; this godlike Universe a dead mechanical
    steam-engine, all working by motives, checks, balances, and I know not
    what; wherein, as in the detestable belly of some Phalaris'-Bull of his own
    contriving, he the poor Phalaris sits miserably dying!

    Belief I define to be the healthy act of a man's mind. It is a mysterious
    indescribable process, that of getting to believe;--indescribable, as all
    vital acts are. We have our mind given us, not that it may cavil and
    argue, but that it may see into something, give us clear belief and
    understanding about something, whereon we are then to proceed to act.
    Doubt, truly, is not itself a crime. Certainly we do not rush out, clutch
    up the first thing we find, and straightway believe that! All manner of
    doubt, inquiry, [Gr.] _skepsis_ as it is named, about all manner of
    objects, dwells in every reasonable mind. It is the mystic working of the
    mind, on the object it is _getting_ to know and believe. Belief comes out
    of all this, above ground, like the tree from its hidden _roots_. But now
    if, even on common things, we require that a man keep his doubts _silent_,
    and not babble of them till they in some measure become affirmations or
    denials; how much more in regard to the highest things, impossible to speak
    of in words at all! That a man parade his doubt, and get to imagine that
    debating and logic (which means at best only the manner of _telling_ us
    your thought, your belief or disbelief, about a thing) is the triumph and
    true work of what intellect he has: alas, this is as if you should
    _overturn_ the tree, and instead of green boughs, leaves and fruits, show
    us ugly taloned roots turned up into the air,--and no growth, only death
    and misery going on!

    For the Scepticism, as I said, is not intellectual only; it is moral also;
    a chronic atrophy and disease of the whole soul. A man lives by believing
    something; not by debating and arguing about many things. A sad case for
    him when all that he can manage to believe is something he can button in
    his pocket, and with one or the other organ eat and digest! Lower than
    that he will not get. We call those ages in which he gets so low the
    mournfulest, sickest and meanest of all ages. The world's heart is
    palsied, sick: how can any limb of it be whole? Genuine Acting ceases in
    all departments of the world's work; dexterous Similitude of Acting begins.
    The world's wages are pocketed, the world's work is not done. Heroes have
    gone out; Quacks have come in. Accordingly, what Century, since the end of
    the Roman world, which also was a time of scepticism, simulacra and
    universal decadence, so abounds with Quacks as that Eighteenth? Consider
    them, with their tumid sentimental vaporing about virtue, benevolence,--the
    wretched Quack-squadron, Cagliostro at the head of them! Few men were
    without quackery; they had got to consider it a necessary ingredient and
    amalgam for truth. Chatham, our brave Chatham himself, comes down to the
    House, all wrapt and bandaged; he "has crawled out in great bodily
    suffering," and so on;--_forgets_, says Walpole, that he is acting the sick
    man; in the fire of debate, snatches his arm from the sling, and
    oratorically swings and brandishes it! Chatham himself lives the strangest
    mimetic life, half-hero, half-quack, all along. For indeed the world is
    full of dupes; and you have to gain the _world's_ suffrage! How the duties
    of the world will be done in that case, what quantities of error, which
    means failure, which means sorrow and misery, to some and to many, will
    gradually accumulate in all provinces of the world's business, we need not
    compute.

    It seems to me, you lay your finger here on the heart of the world's
    maladies, when you call it a Sceptical World. An insincere world; a
    godless untruth of a world! It is out of this, as I consider, that the
    whole tribe of social pestilences, French Revolutions, Chartisms, and what
    not, have derived their being,--their chief necessity to be. This must
    alter. Till this alter, nothing can beneficially alter. My one hope of
    the world, my inexpugnable consolation in looking at the miseries of the
    world, is that this is altering. Here and there one does now find a man
    who knows, as of old, that this world is a Truth, and no Plausibility and
    Falsity; that he himself is alive, not dead or paralytic; and that the
    world is alive, instinct with Godhood, beautiful and awful, even as in the
    beginning of days! One man once knowing this, many men, all men, must by
    and by come to know it. It lies there clear, for whosoever will take the
    _spectacles_ off his eyes and honestly look, to know! For such a man the
    Unbelieving Century, with its unblessed Products, is already past; a new
    century is already come. The old unblessed Products and Performances, as
    solid as they look, are Phantasms, preparing speedily to vanish. To this
    and the other noisy, very great-looking Simulacrum with the whole world
    huzzaing at its heels, he can say, composedly stepping aside: Thou art not
    _true_; thou art not extant, only semblant; go thy way!--Yes, hollow
    Formulism, gross Benthamism, and other unheroic atheistic Insincerity is
    visibly and even rapidly declining. An unbelieving Eighteenth Century is
    but an exception,--such as now and then occurs. I prophesy that the world
    will once more become _sincere_; a believing world; with _many_ Heroes in
    it, a heroic world! It will then be a victorious world; never till then.

    Or indeed what of the world and its victories? Men speak too much about
    the world. Each one of us here, let the world go how it will, and be
    victorious or not victorious, has he not a Life of his own to lead? One
    Life; a little gleam of Time between two Eternities; no second chance to us
    forevermore! It were well for us to live not as fools and simulacra, but
    as wise and realities. The world's being saved will not save us; nor the
    world's being lost destroy us. We should look to ourselves: there is
    great merit here in the "duty of staying at home"! And, on the whole, to
    say truth, I never heard of "world's" being "saved" in any other way. That
    mania of saving worlds is itself a piece of the Eighteenth Century with its
    windy sentimentalism. Let us not follow it too far. For the saving of the
    _world_ I will trust confidently to the Maker of the world; and look a
    little to my own saving, which I am more competent to!--In brief, for the
    world's sake, and for our own, we will rejoice greatly that Scepticism,
    Insincerity, Mechanical Atheism, with all their poison-dews, are going, and
    as good as gone.--

    Now it was under such conditions, in those times of Johnson, that our Men
    of Letters had to live. Times in which there was properly no truth in
    life. Old truths had fallen nigh dumb; the new lay yet hidden, not trying
    to speak. That Man's Life here below was a Sincerity and Fact, and would
    forever continue such, no new intimation, in that dusk of the world, had
    yet dawned. No intimation; not even any French Revolution,--which we
    define to be a Truth once more, though a Truth clad in hell-fire! How
    different was the Luther's pilgrimage, with its assured goal, from the
    Johnson's, girt with mere traditions, suppositions, grown now incredible,
    unintelligible! Mahomet's Formulas were of "wood waxed and oiled," and
    could be burnt out of one's way: poor Johnson's were far more difficult to
    burn.--The strong man will ever find _work_, which means difficulty, pain,
    to the full measure of his strength. But to make out a victory, in those
    circumstances of our poor Hero as Man of Letters, was perhaps more
    difficult than in any. Not obstruction, disorganization, Bookseller
    Osborne and Fourpence-halfpenny a day; not this alone; but the light of his
    own soul was taken from him. No landmark on the Earth; and, alas, what is
    that to having no loadstar in the Heaven! We need not wonder that none of
    those Three men rose to victory. That they fought truly is the highest
    praise. With a mournful sympathy we will contemplate, if not three living
    victorious Heroes, as I said, the Tombs of three fallen Heroes! They fell
    for us too; making a way for us. There are the mountains which they hurled
    abroad in their confused War of the Giants; under which, their strength and
    life spent, they now lie buried.

    I have already written of these three Literary Heroes, expressly or
    incidentally; what I suppose is known to most of you; what need not be
    spoken or written a second time. They concern us here as the singular
    _Prophets_ of that singular age; for such they virtually were; and the
    aspect they and their world exhibit, under this point of view, might lead
    us into reflections enough! I call them, all three, Genuine Men more or
    less; faithfully, for most part unconsciously, struggling to be genuine,
    and plant themselves on the everlasting truth of things. This to a degree
    that eminently distinguishes them from the poor artificial mass of their
    contemporaries; and renders them worthy to be considered as Speakers, in
    some measure, of the everlasting truth, as Prophets in that age of theirs.
    By Nature herself a noble necessity was laid on them to be so. They were
    men of such magnitude that they could not live on unrealities,--clouds,
    froth and all inanity gave way under them: there was no footing for them
    but on firm earth; no rest or regular motion for them, if they got not
    footing there. To a certain extent, they were Sons of Nature once more in
    an age of Artifice; once more, Original Men.

    As for Johnson, I have always considered him to be, by nature, one of our
    great English souls. A strong and noble man; so much left undeveloped in
    him to the last: in a kindlier element what might he not have been,--Poet,
    Priest, sovereign Ruler! On the whole, a man must not complain of his
    "element," of his "time," or the like; it is thriftless work doing so. His
    time is bad: well then, he is there to make it better!--Johnson's youth
    was poor, isolated, hopeless, very miserable. Indeed, it does not seem
    possible that, in any the favorablest outward circumstances, Johnson's life
    could have been other than a painful one. The world might have had more of
    profitable _work_ out of him, or less; but his _effort_ against the world's
    work could never have been a light one. Nature, in return for his
    nobleness, had said to him, Live in an element of diseased sorrow. Nay,
    perhaps the sorrow and the nobleness were intimately and even inseparably
    connected with each other. At all events, poor Johnson had to go about
    girt with continual hypochondria, physical and spiritual pain. Like a
    Hercules with the burning Nessus'-shirt on him, which shoots in on him dull
    incurable misery: the Nessus'-shirt not to be stript off, which is his own
    natural skin! In this manner _he_ had to live. Figure him there, with his
    scrofulous diseases, with his great greedy heart, and unspeakable chaos of
    thoughts; stalking mournful as a stranger in this Earth; eagerly devouring
    what spiritual thing he could come at: school-languages and other merely
    grammatical stuff, if there were nothing better! The largest soul that was
    in all England; and provision made for it of "fourpence-halfpenny a day."
    Yet a giant invincible soul; a true man's. One remembers always that story
    of the shoes at Oxford: the rough, seamy-faced, rawboned College Servitor
    stalking about, in winter-season, with his shoes worn out; how the
    charitable Gentleman Commoner secretly places a new pair at his door; and
    the rawboned Servitor, lifting them, looking at them near, with his dim
    eyes, with what thoughts,--pitches them out of window! Wet feet, mud,
    frost, hunger or what you will; but not beggary: we cannot stand beggary!
    Rude stubborn self-help here; a whole world of squalor, rudeness, confused
    misery and want, yet of nobleness and manfulness withal. It is a type of
    the man's life, this pitching away of the shoes. An original man;--not a
    second-hand, borrowing or begging man. Let us stand on our own basis, at
    any rate! On such shoes as we ourselves can get. On frost and mud, if you
    will, but honestly on that;--on the reality and substance which Nature
    gives _us_, not on the semblance, on the thing she has given another than
    us!--

    And yet with all this rugged pride of manhood and self-help, was there ever
    soul more tenderly affectionate, loyally submissive to what was really
    higher than he? Great souls are always loyally submissive, reverent to
    what is over them; only small mean souls are otherwise. I could not find a
    better proof of what I said the other day, That the sincere man was by
    nature the obedient man; that only in a World of Heroes was there loyal
    Obedience to the Heroic. The essence of _originality_ is not that it be
    _new_: Johnson believed altogether in the old; he found the old opinions
    credible for him, fit for him; and in a right heroic manner lived under
    them. He is well worth study in regard to that. For we are to say that
    Johnson was far other than a mere man of words and formulas; he was a man
    of truths and facts. He stood by the old formulas; the happier was it for
    him that he could so stand: but in all formulas that _he_ could stand by,
    there needed to be a most genuine substance. Very curious how, in that
    poor Paper-age, so barren, artificial, thick-quilted with Pedantries,
    Hearsays, the great Fact of this Universe glared in, forever wonderful,
    indubitable, unspeakable, divine-infernal, upon this man too! How he
    harmonized his Formulas with it, how he managed at all under such
    circumstances: that is a thing worth seeing. A thing "to be looked at
    with reverence, with pity, with awe." That Church of St. Clement Danes,
    where Johnson still _worshipped_ in the era of Voltaire, is to me a
    venerable place.

    It was in virtue of his _sincerity_, of his speaking still in some sort
    from the heart of Nature, though in the current artificial dialect, that
    Johnson was a Prophet. Are not all dialects "artificial"? Artificial
    things are not all false;--nay every true Product of Nature will infallibly
    _shape_ itself; we may say all artificial things are, at the starting of
    them, _true_. What we call "Formulas" are not in their origin bad; they
    are indispensably good. Formula is _method_, habitude; found wherever man
    is found. Formulas fashion themselves as Paths do, as beaten Highways,
    leading toward some sacred or high object, whither many men are bent.
    Consider it. One man, full of heartfelt earnest impulse, finds out a way
    of doing somewhat,--were it of uttering his soul's reverence for the
    Highest, were it but of fitly saluting his fellow-man. An inventor was
    needed to do that, a _poet_; he has articulated the dim-struggling thought
    that dwelt in his own and many hearts. This is his way of doing that;
    these are his footsteps, the beginning of a "Path." And now see: the
    second men travels naturally in the footsteps of his foregoer, it is the
    _easiest_ method. In the footsteps of his foregoer; yet with improvements,
    with changes where such seem good; at all events with enlargements, the
    Path ever _widening_ itself as more travel it;--till at last there is a
    broad Highway whereon the whole world may travel and drive. While there
    remains a City or Shrine, or any Reality to drive to, at the farther end,
    the Highway shall be right welcome! When the City is gone, we will forsake
    the Highway. In this manner all Institutions, Practices, Regulated Things
    in the world have come into existence, and gone out of existence. Formulas
    all begin by being _full_ of substance; you may call them the _skin_, the
    articulation into shape, into limbs and skin, of a substance that is
    already there: _they_ had not been there otherwise. Idols, as we said,
    are not idolatrous till they become doubtful, empty for the worshipper's
    heart. Much as we talk against Formulas, I hope no one of us is ignorant
    withal of the high significance of _true_ Formulas; that they were, and
    will ever be, the indispensablest furniture of our habitation in this
    world.--

    Mark, too, how little Johnson boasts of his "sincerity." He has no
    suspicion of his being particularly sincere,--of his being particularly
    anything! A hard-struggling, weary-hearted man, or "scholar" as he calls
    himself, trying hard to get some honest livelihood in the world, not to
    starve, but to live--without stealing! A noble unconsciousness is in him.
    He does not "engrave _Truth_ on his watch-seal;" no, but he stands by
    truth, speaks by it, works and lives by it. Thus it ever is. Think of it
    once more. The man whom Nature has appointed to do great things is, first
    of all, furnished with that openness to Nature which renders him incapable
    of being _in_sincere! To his large, open, deep-feeling heart Nature is a
    Fact: all hearsay is hearsay; the unspeakable greatness of this Mystery of
    Life, let him acknowledge it or not, nay even though he seem to forget it
    or deny it, is ever present to _him_,--fearful and wonderful, on this hand
    and on that. He has a basis of sincerity; unrecognized, because never
    questioned or capable of question. Mirabeau, Mahomet, Cromwell, Napoleon:
    all the Great Men I ever heard of have this as the primary material of
    them. Innumerable commonplace men are debating, are talking everywhere
    their commonplace doctrines, which they have learned by logic, by rote, at
    second-hand: to that kind of man all this is still nothing. He must have
    truth; truth which _he_ feels to be true. How shall he stand otherwise?
    His whole soul, at all moments, in all ways, tells him that there is no
    standing. He is under the noble necessity of being true. Johnson's way of
    thinking about this world is not mine, any more than Mahomet's was: but I
    recognize the everlasting element of _heart-sincerity_ in both; and see
    with pleasure how neither of them remains ineffectual. Neither of them is
    as _chaff_ sown; in both of them is something which the seedfield will
    _grow_.

    Johnson was a Prophet to his people; preached a Gospel to them,--as all
    like him always do. The highest Gospel he preached we may describe as a
    kind of Moral Prudence: "in a world where much is to be done, and little
    is to be known," see how you will _do_ it! A thing well worth preaching.
    "A world where much is to be done, and little is to be known:" do not sink
    yourselves in boundless bottomless abysses of Doubt, of wretched
    god-forgetting Unbelief;--you were miserable then, powerless, mad: how
    could you _do_ or work at all? Such Gospel Johnson preached and
    taught;--coupled, theoretically and practically, with this other great
    Gospel, "Clear your mind of Cant!" Have no trade with Cant: stand on the
    cold mud in the frosty weather, but let it be in your own _real_ torn
    shoes: "that will be better for you," as Mahomet says! I call this, I
    call these two things _joined together_, a great Gospel, the greatest
    perhaps that was possible at that time.

    Johnson's Writings, which once had such currency and celebrity, are now as
    it were disowned by the young generation. It is not wonderful; Johnson's
    opinions are fast becoming obsolete: but his style of thinking and of
    living, we may hope, will never become obsolete. I find in Johnson's Books
    the indisputablest traces of a great intellect and great heart;--ever
    welcome, under what obstructions and perversions soever. They are
    _sincere_ words, those of his; he means things by them. A wondrous buckram
    style,--the best he could get to then; a measured grandiloquence, stepping
    or rather stalking along in a very solemn way, grown obsolete now;
    sometimes a tumid _size_ of phraseology not in proportion to the contents
    of it: all this you will put up with. For the phraseology, tumid or not,
    has always _something within it_. So many beautiful styles and books, with
    _nothing_ in them;--a man is a malefactor to the world who writes such!
    _They_ are the avoidable kind!--Had Johnson left nothing but his
    _Dictionary_, one might have traced there a great intellect, a genuine man.
    Looking to its clearness of definition, its general solidity, honesty,
    insight and successful method, it may be called the best of all
    Dictionaries. There is in it a kind of architectural nobleness; it stands
    there like a great solid square-built edifice, finished, symmetrically
    complete: you judge that a true Builder did it.

    One word, in spite of our haste, must be granted to poor Bozzy. He passes
    for a mean, inflated, gluttonous creature; and was so in many senses. Yet
    the fact of his reverence for Johnson will ever remain noteworthy. The
    foolish conceited Scotch Laird, the most conceited man of his time,
    approaching in such awe-struck attitude the great dusty irascible Pedagogue
    in his mean garret there: it is a genuine reverence for Excellence; a
    _worship_ for Heroes, at a time when neither Heroes nor worship were
    surmised to exist. Heroes, it would seem, exist always, and a certain
    worship of them! We will also take the liberty to deny altogether that of
    the witty Frenchman, that no man is a Hero to his valet-de-chambre. Or if
    so, it is not the Hero's blame, but the Valet's: that his soul, namely, is
    a mean _valet_-soul! He expects his Hero to advance in royal
    stage-trappings, with measured step, trains borne behind him, trumpets
    sounding before him. It should stand rather, No man can be a _Grand-
    Monarque_ to his valet-de-chambre. Strip your Louis Quatorze of his
    king-gear, and there _is_ left nothing but a poor forked radish with a head
    fantastically carved;--admirable to no valet. The Valet does not know a
    Hero when he sees him! Alas, no: it requires a kind of _Hero_ to do
    that;--and one of the world's wants, in _this_ as in other senses, is for
    most part want of such.

    On the whole, shall we not say, that Boswell's admiration was well
    bestowed; that he could have found no soul in all England so worthy of
    bending down before? Shall we not say, of this great mournful Johnson too,
    that he guided his difficult confused existence wisely; led it _well_, like
    a right valiant man? That waste chaos of Authorship by trade; that waste
    chaos of Scepticism in religion and politics, in life-theory and
    life-practice; in his poverty, in his dust and dimness, with the sick body
    and the rusty coat: he made it do for him, like a brave man. Not wholly
    without a loadstar in the Eternal; he had still a loadstar, as the brave
    all need to have: with his eye set on that, he would change his course for
    nothing in these confused vortices of the lower sea of Time. "To the
    Spirit of Lies, bearing death and hunger, he would in nowise strike his
    flag." Brave old Samuel: _ultimus Romanorum_!

    Of Rousseau and his Heroism I cannot say so much. He is not what I call a
    strong man. A morbid, excitable, spasmodic man; at best, intense rather
    than strong. He had not "the talent of Silence," an invaluable talent;
    which few Frenchmen, or indeed men of any sort in these times, excel in!
    The suffering man ought really "to consume his own smoke;" there is no good
    in emitting _smoke_ till you have made it into _fire_,--which, in the
    metaphorical sense too, all smoke is capable of becoming! Rousseau has not
    depth or width, not calm force for difficulty; the first characteristic of
    true greatness. A fundamental mistake to call vehemence and rigidity
    strength! A man is not strong who takes convulsion-fits; though six men
    cannot hold him then. He that can walk under the heaviest weight without
    staggering, he is the strong man. We need forever, especially in these
    loud-shrieking days, to remind ourselves of that. A man who cannot _hold
    his peace_, till the time come for speaking and acting, is no right man.

    Poor Rousseau's face is to me expressive of him. A high but narrow
    contracted intensity in it: bony brows; deep, strait-set eyes, in which
    there is something bewildered-looking,--bewildered, peering with
    lynx-eagerness. A face full of misery, even ignoble misery, and also of
    the antagonism against that; something mean, plebeian there, redeemed only
    by _intensity_: the face of what is called a Fanatic,--a sadly
    _contracted_ Hero! We name him here because, with all his drawbacks, and
    they are many, he has the first and chief characteristic of a Hero: he is
    heartily _in earnest_. In earnest, if ever man was; as none of these
    French Philosophers were. Nay, one would say, of an earnestness too great
    for his otherwise sensitive, rather feeble nature; and which indeed in the
    end drove him into the strangest incoherences, almost delirations. There
    had come, at last, to be a kind of madness in him: his Ideas _possessed_
    him like demons; hurried him so about, drove him over steep places!--

    The fault and misery of Rousseau was what we easily name by a single word,
    _Egoism_; which is indeed the source and summary of all faults and miseries
    whatsoever. He had not perfected himself into victory over mere Desire; a
    mean Hunger, in many sorts, was still the motive principle of him. I am
    afraid he was a very vain man; hungry for the praises of men. You remember
    Genlis's experience of him. She took Jean Jacques to the Theatre; he
    bargaining for a strict incognito,--"He would not be seen there for the
    world!" The curtain did happen nevertheless to be drawn aside: the Pit
    recognized Jean Jacques, but took no great notice of him! He expressed the
    bitterest indignation; gloomed all evening, spake no other than surly
    words. The glib Countess remained entirely convinced that his anger was
    not at being seen, but at not being applauded when seen. How the whole
    nature of the man is poisoned; nothing but suspicion, self-isolation,
    fierce moody ways! He could not live with anybody. A man of some rank
    from the country, who visited him often, and used to sit with him,
    expressing all reverence and affection for him, comes one day; finds Jean
    Jacques full of the sourest unintelligible humor. "Monsieur," said Jean
    Jacques, with flaming eyes, "I know why you come here. You come to see
    what a poor life I lead; how little is in my poor pot that is boiling
    there. Well, look into the pot! There is half a pound of meat, one carrot
    and three onions; that is all: go and tell the whole world that, if you
    like, Monsieur!"--A man of this sort was far gone. The whole world got
    itself supplied with anecdotes, for light laughter, for a certain
    theatrical interest, from these perversions and contortions of poor Jean
    Jacques. Alas, to him they were not laughing or theatrical; too real to
    him! The contortions of a dying gladiator: the crowded amphitheatre looks
    on with entertainment; but the gladiator is in agonies and dying.

    And yet this Rousseau, as we say, with his passionate appeals to Mothers,
    with his _contrat-social_, with his celebrations of Nature, even of savage
    life in Nature, did once more touch upon Reality, struggle towards Reality;
    was doing the function of a Prophet to his Time. As he could, and as the
    Time could! Strangely through all that defacement, degradation and almost
    madness, there is in the inmost heart of poor Rousseau a spark of real
    heavenly fire. Once more, out of the element of that withered mocking
    Philosophism, Scepticism and Persiflage, there has arisen in this man the
    ineradicable feeling and knowledge that this Life of ours is true: not a
    Scepticism, Theorem, or Persiflage, but a Fact, an awful Reality. Nature
    had made that revelation to him; had ordered him to speak it out. He got
    it spoken out; if not well and clearly, then ill and dimly,--as clearly as
    he could. Nay what are all errors and perversities of his, even those
    stealings of ribbons, aimless confused miseries and vagabondisms, if we
    will interpret them kindly, but the blinkard dazzlement and staggerings to
    and fro of a man sent on an errand he is too weak for, by a path he cannot
    yet find? Men are led by strange ways. One should have tolerance for a
    man, hope of him; leave him to try yet what he will do. While life lasts,
    hope lasts for every man.

    Of Rousseau's literary talents, greatly celebrated still among his
    countrymen, I do not say much. His Books, like himself, are what I call
    unhealthy; not the good sort of Books. There is a sensuality in Rousseau.
    Combined with such an intellectual gift as his, it makes pictures of a
    certain gorgeous attractiveness: but they are not genuinely poetical. Not
    white sunlight: something _operatic_; a kind of rose-pink, artificial
    bedizenment. It is frequent, or rather it is universal, among the French
    since his time. Madame de Stael has something of it; St. Pierre; and down
    onwards to the present astonishing convulsionary "Literature of
    Desperation," it is everywhere abundant. That same _rose-pink_ is not the
    right hue. Look at a Shakspeare, at a Goethe, even at a Walter Scott! He
    who has once seen into this, has seen the difference of the True from the
    Sham-True, and will discriminate them ever afterwards.

    We had to observe in Johnson how much good a Prophet, under all
    disadvantages and disorganizations, can accomplish for the world. In
    Rousseau we are called to look rather at the fearful amount of evil which,
    under such disorganization, may accompany the good. Historically it is a
    most pregnant spectacle, that of Rousseau. Banished into Paris garrets, in
    the gloomy company of his own Thoughts and Necessities there; driven from
    post to pillar; fretted, exasperated till the heart of him went mad, he had
    grown to feel deeply that the world was not his friend nor the world's law.
    It was expedient, if any way possible, that such a man should _not_ have
    been set in flat hostility with the world. He could be cooped into
    garrets, laughed at as a maniac, left to starve like a wild beast in his
    cage;--but he could not be hindered from setting the world on fire. The
    French Revolution found its Evangelist in Rousseau. His semi-delirious
    speculations on the miseries of civilized life, the preferability of the
    savage to the civilized, and such like, helped well to produce a whole
    delirium in France generally. True, you may well ask, What could the
    world, the governors of the world, do with such a man? Difficult to say
    what the governors of the world could do with him! What he could do with
    them is unhappily clear enough,--_guillotine_ a great many of them! Enough
    now of Rousseau.

    It was a curious phenomenon, in the withered, unbelieving second-hand
    Eighteenth Century, that of a Hero starting up, among the artificial
    pasteboard figures and productions, in the guise of a Robert Burns. Like a
    little well in the rocky desert places,--like a sudden splendor of Heaven
    in the artificial Vauxhall! People knew not what to make of it. They took
    it for a piece of the Vauxhall fire-work; alas, it _let_ itself be so
    taken, though struggling half-blindly, as in bitterness of death, against
    that! Perhaps no man had such a false reception from his fellow-men. Once
    more a very wasteful life-drama was enacted under the sun.

    The tragedy of Burns's life is known to all of you. Surely we may say, if
    discrepancy between place held and place merited constitute perverseness of
    lot for a man, no lot could be more perverse then Burns's. Among those
    second-hand acting-figures, _mimes_ for most part, of the Eighteenth
    Century, once more a giant Original Man; one of those men who reach down to
    the perennial Deeps, who take rank with the Heroic among men: and he was
    born in a poor Ayrshire hut. The largest soul of all the British lands
    came among us in the shape of a hard-handed Scottish Peasant.

    His Father, a poor toiling man, tried various things; did not succeed in
    any; was involved in continual difficulties. The Steward, Factor as the
    Scotch call him, used to send letters and threatenings, Burns says, "which
    threw us all into tears." The brave, hard-toiling, hard-suffering Father,
    his brave heroine of a wife; and those children, of whom Robert was one!
    In this Earth, so wide otherwise, no shelter for _them_. The letters
    "threw us all into tears:" figure it. The brave Father, I say always;--a
    _silent_ Hero and Poet; without whom the son had never been a speaking one!
    Burns's Schoolmaster came afterwards to London, learnt what good society
    was; but declares that in no meeting of men did he ever enjoy better
    discourse than at the hearth of this peasant. And his poor "seven acres of
    nursery-ground,"--not that, nor the miserable patch of clay-farm, nor
    anything he tried to get a living by, would prosper with him; he had a sore
    unequal battle all his days. But he stood to it valiantly; a wise,
    faithful, unconquerable man;--swallowing down how many sore sufferings
    daily into silence; fighting like an unseen Hero,--nobody publishing
    newspaper paragraphs about his nobleness; voting pieces of plate to him!
    However, he was not lost; nothing is lost. Robert is there the outcome of
    him,--and indeed of many generations of such as him.

    This Burns appeared under every disadvantage: uninstructed, poor, born
    only to hard manual toil; and writing, when it came to that, in a rustic
    special dialect, known only to a small province of the country he lived in.
    Had he written, even what he did write, in the general language of England,
    I doubt not he had already become universally recognized as being, or
    capable to be, one of our greatest men. That he should have tempted so
    many to penetrate through the rough husk of that dialect of his, is proof
    that there lay something far from common within it. He has gained a
    certain recognition, and is continuing to do so over all quarters of our
    wide Saxon world: wheresoever a Saxon dialect is spoken, it begins to be
    understood, by personal inspection of this and the other, that one of the
    most considerable Saxon men of the Eighteenth Century was an Ayrshire
    Peasant named Robert Burns. Yes, I will say, here too was a piece of the
    right Saxon stuff: strong as the Harz-rock, rooted in the depths of the
    world;--rock, yet with wells of living softness in it! A wild impetuous
    whirlwind of passion and faculty slumbered quiet there; such heavenly
    _melody_ dwelling in the heart of it. A noble rough genuineness; homely,
    rustic, honest; true simplicity of strength; with its lightning-fire, with
    its soft dewy pity;--like the old Norse Thor, the Peasant-god!

    Burns's Brother Gilbert, a man of much sense and worth, has told me that
    Robert, in his young days, in spite of their hardship, was usually the
    gayest of speech; a fellow of infinite frolic, laughter, sense and heart;
    far pleasanter to hear there, stript cutting peats in the bog, or such
    like, than he ever afterwards knew him. I can well believe it. This basis
    of mirth ("_fond gaillard_," as old Marquis Mirabeau calls it), a primal
    element of sunshine and joyfulness, coupled with his other deep and earnest
    qualities, is one of the most attractive characteristics of Burns. A large
    fund of Hope dwells in him; spite of his tragical history, he is not a
    mourning man. He shakes his sorrows gallantly aside; bounds forth
    victorious over them. It is as the lion shaking "dew-drops from his mane;"
    as the swift-bounding horse, that _laughs_ at the shaking of the
    spear.--But indeed, Hope, Mirth, of the sort like Burns's, are they not the
    outcome properly of warm generous affection,--such as is the beginning of
    all to every man?

    You would think it strange if I called Burns the most gifted British soul
    we had in all that century of his: and yet I believe the day is coming
    when there will be little danger in saying so. His writings, all that he
    _did_ under such obstructions, are only a poor fragment of him. Professor
    Stewart remarked very justly, what indeed is true of all Poets good for
    much, that his poetry was not any particular faculty; but the general
    result of a naturally vigorous original mind expressing itself in that way.
    Burns's gifts, expressed in conversation, are the theme of all that ever
    heard him. All kinds of gifts: from the gracefulest utterances of
    courtesy, to the highest fire of passionate speech; loud floods of mirth,
    soft wailings of affection, laconic emphasis, clear piercing insight; all
    was in him. Witty duchesses celebrate him as a man whose speech "led them
    off their feet." This is beautiful: but still more beautiful that which
    Mr. Lockhart has recorded, which I have more than once alluded to, How the
    waiters and ostlers at inns would get out of bed, and come crowding to hear
    this man speak! Waiters and ostlers:--they too were men, and here was a
    man! I have heard much about his speech; but one of the best things I ever
    heard of it was, last year, from a venerable gentleman long familiar with
    him. That it was speech distinguished by always _having something in it_.
    "He spoke rather little than much," this old man told me; "sat rather
    silent in those early days, as in the company of persons above him; and
    always when he did speak, it was to throw new light on the matter." I know
    not why any one should ever speak otherwise!--But if we look at his general
    force of soul, his healthy _robustness_ every way, the rugged
    downrightness, penetration, generous valor and manfulness that was in
    him,--where shall we readily find a better-gifted man?

    Among the great men of the Eighteenth Century, I sometimes feel as if Burns
    might be found to resemble Mirabeau more than any other. They differ
    widely in vesture; yet look at them intrinsically. There is the same burly
    thick-necked strength of body as of soul;--built, in both cases, on what
    the old Marquis calls a _fond gaillard_. By nature, by course of breeding,
    indeed by nation, Mirabeau has much more of bluster; a noisy, forward,
    unresting man. But the characteristic of Mirabeau too is veracity and
    sense, power of true _insight_, superiority of vision. The thing that he
    says is worth remembering. It is a flash of insight into some object or
    other: so do both these men speak. The same raging passions; capable too
    in both of manifesting themselves as the tenderest noble affections. Wit;
    wild laughter, energy, directness, sincerity: these were in both. The
    types of the two men are not dissimilar. Burns too could have governed,
    debated in National Assemblies; politicized, as few could. Alas, the
    courage which had to exhibit itself in capture of smuggling schooners in
    the Solway Frith; in keeping _silence_ over so much, where no good speech,
    but only inarticulate rage was possible: this might have bellowed forth
    Ushers de Breze and the like; and made itself visible to all men, in
    managing of kingdoms, in ruling of great ever-memorable epochs! But they
    said to him reprovingly, his Official Superiors said, and wrote: "You are
    to work, not think." Of your _thinking-faculty_, the greatest in this
    land, we have no need; you are to gauge beer there; for that only are you
    wanted. Very notable;--and worth mentioning, though we know what is to be
    said and answered! As if Thought, Power of Thinking, were not, at all
    times, in all places and situations of the world, precisely the thing that
    was wanted. The fatal man, is he not always the unthinking man, the man
    who cannot think and _see_; but only grope, and hallucinate, and _mis_see
    the nature of the thing he works with? He mis-sees it, mis_takes_ it as we
    say; takes it for one thing, and it _is_ another thing,--and leaves him
    standing like a Futility there! He is the fatal man; unutterably fatal,
    put in the high places of men.--"Why complain of this?" say some:
    "Strength is mournfully denied its arena; that was true from of old."
    Doubtless; and the worse for the _arena_, answer I! _Complaining_ profits
    little; stating of the truth may profit. That a Europe, with its French
    Revolution just breaking out, finds no need of a Burns except for gauging
    beer,--is a thing I, for one, cannot _rejoice_ at!--

    Once more we have to say here, that the chief quality of Burns is the
    _sincerity_ of him. So in his Poetry, so in his Life. The song he sings
    is not of fantasticalities; it is of a thing felt, really there; the prime
    merit of this, as of all in him, and of his Life generally, is truth. The
    Life of Burns is what we may call a great tragic sincerity. A sort of
    savage sincerity,--not cruel, far from that; but wild, wrestling naked with
    the truth of things. In that sense, there is something of the savage in
    all great men.

    Hero-worship,--Odin, Burns? Well; these Men of Letters too were not
    without a kind of Hero-worship: but what a strange condition has that got
    into now! The waiters and ostlers of Scotch inns, prying about the door,
    eager to catch any word that fell from Burns, were doing unconscious
    reverence to the Heroic. Johnson had his Boswell for worshipper. Rousseau
    had worshippers enough; princes calling on him in his mean garret; the
    great, the beautiful doing reverence to the poor moon-struck man. For
    himself a most portentous contradiction; the two ends of his life not to be
    brought into harmony. He sits at the tables of grandees; and has to copy
    music for his own living. He cannot even get his music copied: "By dint
    of dining out," says he, "I run the risk of dying by starvation at home."
    For his worshippers too a most questionable thing! If doing Hero-worship
    well or badly be the test of vital well-being or ill-being to a generation,
    can we say that _these_ generations are very first-rate?--And yet our
    heroic Men of Letters do teach, govern, are kings, priests, or what you
    like to call them; intrinsically there is no preventing it by any means
    whatever. The world has to obey him who thinks and sees in the world. The
    world can alter the manner of that; can either have it as blessed
    continuous summer sunshine, or as unblessed black thunder and
    tornado,--with unspeakable difference of profit for the world! The manner
    of it is very alterable; the matter and fact of it is not alterable by any
    power under the sky. Light; or, failing that, lightning: the world can
    take its choice. Not whether we call an Odin god, prophet, priest, or what
    we call him; but whether we believe the word he tells us: there it all
    lies. If it be a true word, we shall have to believe it; believing it, we
    shall have to do it. What _name_ or welcome we give him or it, is a point
    that concerns ourselves mainly. _It_, the new Truth, new deeper revealing
    of the Secret of this Universe, is verily of the nature of a message from
    on high; and must and will have itself obeyed.--

    My last remark is on that notablest phasis of Burns's history,--his visit
    to Edinburgh. Often it seems to me as if his demeanor there were the
    highest proof he gave of what a fund of worth and genuine manhood was in
    him. If we think of it, few heavier burdens could be laid on the strength
    of a man. So sudden; all common _Lionism_. which ruins innumerable men,
    was as nothing to this. It is as if Napoleon had been made a King of, not
    gradually, but at once from the Artillery Lieutenancy in the Regiment La
    Fere. Burns, still only in his twenty-seventh year, is no longer even a
    ploughman; he is flying to the West Indies to escape disgrace and a jail.
    This month he is a ruined peasant, his wages seven pounds a year, and these
    gone from him: next month he is in the blaze of rank and beauty, handing
    down jewelled Duchesses to dinner; the cynosure of all eyes! Adversity is
    sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there
    are a hundred that will stand adversity. I admire much the way in which
    Burns met all this. Perhaps no man one could point out, was ever so sorely
    tried, and so little forgot himself. Tranquil, unastonished; not abashed,
    not inflated, neither awkwardness nor affectation: he feels that _he_
    there is the man Robert Burns; that the "rank is but the guinea-stamp;"
    that the celebrity is but the candle-light, which will show _what_ man, not
    in the least make him a better or other man! Alas, it may readily, unless
    he look to it, make him a _worse_ man; a wretched inflated
    wind-bag,--inflated till he _burst_, and become a _dead_ lion; for whom, as
    some one has said, "there is no resurrection of the body;" worse than a
    living dog!--Burns is admirable here.

    And yet, alas, as I have observed elsewhere, these Lion-hunters were the
    ruin and death of Burns. It was they that rendered it impossible for him
    to live! They gathered round him in his Farm; hindered his industry; no
    place was remote enough from them. He could not get his Lionism forgotten,
    honestly as he was disposed to do so. He falls into discontents, into
    miseries, faults; the world getting ever more desolate for him; health,
    character, peace of mind, all gone;--solitary enough now. It is tragical
    to think of! These men came but to _see_ him; it was out of no sympathy
    with him, nor no hatred to him. They came to get a little amusement; they
    got their amusement;--and the Hero's life went for it!

    Richter says, in the Island of Sumatra there is a kind of "Light-chafers,"
    large Fire-flies, which people stick upon spits, and illuminate the ways
    with at night. Persons of condition can thus travel with a pleasant
    radiance, which they much admire. Great honor to the Fire-flies! But--!
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