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And specially as all my lodgers are out, and I ain't got
a wash in the copper." So we made up a meeting for Monday night, that
moment before we parted, And the very next Monday as ever was, at seven o'clock,
off we started. But there was such squeezing and crowding about, such
blaze of light all around us, I felt if we missed each other but once, no one ever
again would have found us. The first thing I saw was the letters in gas of "F. W.”
standing together, Which it's pleasant to know, as I told Mrs. Jones, was a
a sign of it being Fine Weather. And there was the flags a-waving about, above the
bewildered spectators, And the stars, which I'm told you pay to behold engaged
at the different theatres. And down Piccadilly, and all that way, such beautiful
bright gas thingummies, You wondered where all the jets came from, and where
all the screws and the pipes for to bring 'em isAt least, so I heerd the people say, and I daresay the
sight was splendid, But I don't know myself, nor poor Mrs. Jones, where
the gas-pipes began or ended; For what with sixteen people a-piece a-top of our toes,
in the thick of it, And lots of tall people behind and before, in the mobbing,
we soon got sick of it. But there we were fixed, and we couldn't get out, both
crammed, rammed, and jammed in a corner, And there I lost sight of poor Mrs. Jones, though I did
all I could well to warn her ; For though I screeched out, at the top of my voice, not
to go and be lost and be silly, She never turned up till the day after that, having
drifted right down Piccadilly. Well, left in a mess, I just looked at my dress, and torn
into ribands I found it,
And a nice new bonnet I had on my head was as fat as
the ribands around it. How, at last I got home, I never could tell, if you
downed on your knees to beseech me, But if ever I go a sight-seeing again, this a valuable
lesson will teach me. It's all
well for the folks who are tall, after everything new to be gapers, But I'll be content with the sixpence I've spent, to read all that's done in the papers.
(By permission of the Author.)
(Abridged for Reading.) (Mr. Emerson, one of the most original thinkers and distin. guished lecturers of the United States, was born at Boston in 1803. His father was an Unitarian clergyman, and, after graduating at llavard College, in 1821, Ralph Waldo was ordained minister of the second Unitarian Church of Boston. He, however, abandoned his profession to pursue his favourite study—the nature of man, and his relation to the universe. In 1810 he commenced the
Dial,” which stopped at the end of four years. His "Essays” were published-the first series in 1841, the second in 1844. They have been reprinted in this country. In 1846 he published a volume of poems, and in 1849 visited England to deliver a series of lectures, since published under the title of "Representative Men.” Mr. Emerson follows literature as a profession, contributes largely to the American periodicals, and is very popular as a lecturer and orator.] Great men are more distinguished by range and extent than by originality. If we require the originality which consists in weaving, like a spider, their web from their own bowels, in finding clay, and making bricks, and building the house, no great men are original. Nor does valuable originality consist in unlikeness to other
The hero is in the press of knights, and the thick of events; and, seeing what men want, and sharing their desire, he adds the needful length of sight and of arm, to come at the desired point. The greatest genius is the most indebted man. A poet is no rattlebrain, saying what comes uppermost, and, because he says everything, saying, at last, something good ; but a heart in unison with his time and country. There is nothing whimsical and fantastic in his production, but sweet and sad carnest, freighted with the weightiest convictions, and pointed with the most determined aim which any man or class knows of in his times.
The Genius of our life is jealous of individuals, and will not have any individual great, except through the general. There is no choice to genius. A great man does not wake up on some fine morning, and say, “I am full of life, I will go to sea, and find an Antarctic continent : to-day I will square the circle: I will ransack botany, and find a new food for man: I have a new architecture in my mind : I foresee a new mechanic power:” no, but he finds himself in the river of the thoughts and events, forced onwards by the ideas and necessities of his contemporaries. He stands where all the eyes of men look one way, and their hands all point in the direction in which he should go. The Church has reared him amidst rites and pomps, and he carries out the advice which her music gave him, and builds a cathedral needed by her chants and processions. He finds a war raging : it educates him, by trumpet, in barracks, and he betters the instruction. He finds two counties groping to bring coal, or flour, or fish, from the place of production to the place of consumption, and he hits on a railroad. Every master has found his materials collected, and his power lay in his sympathy with his people, and in his love of the materials he wrought in. What an economy of power! and what a compensation for the shortness of life! All is done to his hand. The world has brought him thus far on his way. The human race has gone out before him, sunk the hills, filled the hollows, and bridged the rivers. Men, nations, poets, artisans, women, all have worked for him, and he enters into their labours. Choose any other thing, out of the line of tendency, out of the national feeling and history, and he would have all to do for himself: his powers would be expended in the first preparations. Great genial power, one would almost say, consists in not being original at all; in being altogether receptive; in letting the world do all, and suffering the spirit of the hour to pass unobstructed through the mind.
Shakspeare's youth fell in a time when the English people were importunate for dramatic entertainments
. The court took offence easily at political allusions, and attempted to suppress them. The Puritans, a growing and energetic party, and the religious among the Anglican church, would suppress them. But the people wanted them. Inn-yards, houses without roofs, and extemporaneous enclosures at country fairs, were the ready theatres of strolling players. The people had tasted this new joy; and, as we could not hope to suppress newspapers now,- no, not by the strongest party, -neither then could king, prelate, or puritan, alone or united, suppress an organ, which was ballad, epic, newspaper, caucus, lecture, punch, and library, at the same time. Probably king, prelate, and puritan, all found their own account in it. It had become, by all causes, a national interest, -by no means conspicuous, so that some great scholar would have thought of treating it in an English history,—but not a whit less considerable, because it was cheap, and of no account, like a baker's shop. The best proof of its vitality is the crowd of writers which suddenly broke into this field; Kyd, Marlowe, Greene, Jonson, Chapman, Dekker, Webster, Heywood, Middleton, Peele, Ford, Massinger, Beaulmont and Fletcher.
The secure possession, by the stage, of the public mind, is of the first importance to the poet who works for it. He loses no time in idle experiments. Here is audience and expectation prepared. In the case of Shakspeare there is much more. At the time when he left Stratford, and went up to London, a great body of stage plays, of all dates and writers, existed in manu
script, and were in turn produced on the boards. Here is the Tale of Troy, which the audience will bear hearing some part of every week; the Death of Julius Cæsar, and other stories of Plutarch, which they never tire of; a shelf full of English history, from the chronicles of Brut and Arthur, down to the royal Henries, which men hear eagerly; and a string of doleful tragedies, merry Italian tales, and Spanish voyages, which all the London 'prentices know. All the mass has been treated, with more or less skill, by every playwright, and the prompter has the soiled and tattered manuscripts. It is now no longer possible to say who wrote them first. They have been the property of the Theatre so long, and so many rising geniuses have enlarged or altered them, inserting a speech, or a whole scene, or adding a song, that no man can any longer claim copyright on this work of numbers. Happily, no man wishes to. They are not yet desired in
We have few readers, many spectators and hearers. They had best lie where they are.
Shakspeare, in common with his comrades, esteemed the mass of old plays waste stock, in which any experiment could be freely tried. Had the prestige which hedges about a modern tragedy existed, nothing could have been done. The rude warm blood of the living England circulated in the play, as in street-ballads, and gave body which he wanted to his airy and majestic fancy. The poet needs a ground in popular tradition on which he may work, and which, again, may restrain his art within the due temperance. It holds him to the people, supplies a foundation for his edifice; and, in furnishing so much work done to his hand, leaves him at leisure and in full strength for the audacities of his imagination. In short, the poet owes to his legend what sculpture owed to the temple. Sculpture in Egypt and in Greece grew up in subordination to architecture. It was the ornament of the temple wall: at first, a rude relief carved on pediments, then the relief became bolder, and a head or arm was projected from the wall, the groups being still arrayed with re