TO BELIEVE IN YOUR SELF
To believe your own thought,
To believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for always the inmost becomes the outmost. A man should learn to detect and watch that the ray of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the spheres of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses wisdomaro without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous) impression with good-humoured inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Otherwise, tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, nothing of substance can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. A man is relieved and happy when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
Insist on yourself;
never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the full force of a whole life’s cultivation; but the borrowed talent of another, you have only temporary and incomplete possession. No man yet knows what it is until that person has exhibited it. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is a unique. Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey your heart, and you shall reproduce your own creative world again.
Society never advances. recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is religious, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not for better. For everything that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts. What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking civilized, with a watch, a pencil, and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked savage, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat, and an undivided portion of shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men, and you shall see that the civilized man has lost his aboriginal strength. If the traveller tells us truly, strike the savage with a broad axe, and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch, and the same blow shall send the civilized man to his grave.
The civilized man has built coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He has a fine modern watch, but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the sun. An almanac he has, and so being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe; the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. His note-books impair his memory.
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
To the help of book RALPH WALDO EMERSON.