Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 334 pages of information about Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

24.  It has seemed to me lately more possible than I knew, to carry a friendship greatly, on one side, without due correspondence on the other.  Why should I cumber myself with regrets that the receiver is not capacious?  It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the reflecting planet.  Let your greatness educate the crude and cold companion.  If he is unequal, he will presently pass away; but thou art enlarged by thy own shining, and no longer a mate for frogs and worms, dost soar and burn with the gods of the empyrean.[308] It is thought a disgrace to love unrequited.  But the great will see that true love cannot be unrequited.  True love transcends the unworthy object, and dwells and broods on the eternal, and when the poor interposed mask crumbles, it is not sad, but feels rid of so much earth, and feels its independency the surer.  Yet these things may hardly be said without a sort of treachery to the relation.  The essence of friendship is entireness, a total magnanimity and trust.  It must not surmise or provide for infirmity.  It treats its object as a god, that it may deify both.

HEROISM[309]

“Paradise is under the shadow of swords,"[310]
Mahomet.

1.  In the elder English dramatists,[311] and mainly in the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher,[312] there is a constant recognition of gentility, as if a noble behavior were as easily marked in the society of their age, as color is in our American population.  When any Rodrigo, Pedro, or Valerio[313] enters, though he be a stranger, the duke or governor exclaims, This is a gentleman,—­and proffers civilities without end; but all the rest are slag and refuse.  In harmony with this delight in personal advantages, there is in their plays a certain heroic cast of character and dialogue,—­as in Bonduca, Sophocles, the Mad Lover, the Double Marriage,[314]—­wherein the speaker is so earnest and cordial, and on such deep grounds of character, that the dialogue, on the slightest additional incident in the plot, rises naturally into poetry.  Among many texts, take the following.  The Roman Martius has conquered Athens—­all but the invincible spirits of Sophocles, the duke of Athens, and Dorigen, his wife.  The beauty of the latter inflames Martius, and he seeks to save her husband; but Sophocles will not ask his life, although assured, that a word will save him, and the execution of both proceeds.

Valerius. Bid thy wife farewell.

Soph. No, I will take no leave.  My Dorigen, Yonder, above, ’bout Ariadne’s crown.[315] My spirit shall hover for thee.  Prithee, haste.

Dor. Stay, Sophocles—­with this, tie up my sight;
Let not soft nature so transformed be,
And lose her gentler sexed humanity,
To make me see my lord bleed.  So, ’tis well;
Never one object underneath the sun
Will I behold before my Sophocles: 
Farewell; now teach the Romans how to die.

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Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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