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.

                “Let them rave:[366]
    Thou art quiet in thy grave.”

In the gloom of our ignorance of what shall be, in the hour when we are deaf to the higher voices, who does not envy them who have seen safely to an end their manful endeavor?  Who that sees the meanness of our politics, but inly congratulates Washington that he is long already wrapped in his shroud, and forever safe; that he was laid sweet in his grave, the hope of humanity not yet subjugated in him?  Who does not sometimes envy the good and brave, who are no more to suffer from the tumults of the natural world, and await with curious complacency the speedy term of his own conversation with finite nature?  And yet the love that will be annihilated sooner than treacherous has already made death impossible, and affirms itself no mortal, but a native of the deeps of absolute and inextinguishable being.

MANNERS[367]

1.  Half the world, it is said, knows not how the other half live.  Our Exploring Expedition saw the Feejee Islanders[368] getting their dinner off human bones; and they are said to eat their own wives and children.  The husbandry of the modern inhabitants of Gournou[369] (west of old Thebes) is philosophical to a fault.  To set up their housekeeping, nothing is requisite but two or three earthen pots, a stone to grind meal, and a mat which is the bed.  The house, namely, a tomb, is ready without rent or taxes.  No rain can pass through the roof, and there is no door, for there is no want of one, as there is nothing to lose.  If the house do not please them, they walk out and enter another, as there are several hundreds at their command.  “It is somewhat singular,” adds Berzoni, to whom we owe this account, “to talk of Happiness among people who live in sepulchers, among corpses and rags of an ancient nation which they knew nothing of.”  In the deserts of Borgoo[370] the rock-Tibboos still dwell in caves, like cliff-swallows, and the language of these negroes is compared by their neighbors to the shrieking of bats, and to the whistling of birds.  Again, the Bornoos[371] have no proper names; individuals are called after their height, thickness, or other accidental quality, and have nick-names merely.  But the salt, the dates, the ivory, and the gold, for which these horrible regions are visited, find their way into countries, where the purchaser and consumer can hardly be ranked in one race with these cannibals and man-stealers; countries where man serves himself with metals, wood, stone, glass, gum, cotton, silk and wool; honors himself with architecture;[372] writes laws, and contrives to execute his will through the hands of many nations; and, especially, establishes a select society, running through all the countries of intelligent men, a self-constituted aristocracy, or fraternity of the best, which, without written law, or exact usage of any kind, perpetuates itself, colonizes every new-planted island, and adopts and makes its own whatever personal beauty or extraordinary native endowment anywhere appears.

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