Look, what egg-shells are drifting all over it, each one, like ours, filled with men in ecstasies of terror, alternating with cockney conceit, as the sea is rough or smooth. It moves through a zodiac of feasts and fasts, names every day of the year, every town and market and headland and monument, and has coupled itself with the almanac, that no court can be held, no field ploughed, no horse shod, without some leave from the church. . I told him how excellent I thought it and how much I wished to see the entire work. These queries concerning ancestry and blood may be well allowed, for there is no prosperity that seems more to depend on the kind of man than British prosperity. Humor him by all means, draw it all out, and hold him to it.
A sparse population gives this high worth to every man. Hence every writer makes a different count. They attack their own politicians every day, on the same grounds, as adventurers. I have a private letter from him,—later, but respecting the same period,—in which he roughly sketches his own theory. Then the miracle and renown begin. He still returned to English pauperism, the crowded country, the selfish abdication by public men of all that public persons should perform.
The nation always resist the immoral action of their government. They put the expense in the right place, as, in their sea-steamers, in the solidity of the machinery and the strength of the boat. On Friday at noon we had only made one hundred and thirty-four miles. It lived by the love of the people. It was a hint of the part the church plays as a political engine. Swedenborg, who lived much in England, notes the similitude of minds among the English, in consequence of which they contract familiarity with friends who are of that nation, and seldom with others: and they regard foreigners, as one looking through a telescope from the top of a palace regards those who dwell or wander about out of the city. Race in the negro is of appalling importance.
Machinery has been applied to all work, and carried to such perfection that little is left for the men but to mind the engines and feed the furnaces. They give the bias to the current age; and that, not by chance or by mass, but by their character and by the number of individuals among them of personal ability. France is, by its natural contrast, a kind of black-board on which English character draws its own traits in chalk. I could not make him praise Mackintosh, nor my more recent friends; Montaigne very cordially, — and Charron also, which seemed undiscriminating. They think that there are no other men than themselves, and no other world but England; and, whenever they see a handsome foreigner, they say that he looks like an Englishman, and it is a great pity he should not be an Englishman; and whenever they partake of any delicacy with a foreigner, they ask him whether such a thing is made in his country. They hate the French, as frivolous; they hate the Irish, as aimless; they hate the Germans, as professors. They love the lever, the screw and pulley, the Flanders draught-horse, the waterfall, wind-mills, tide-mills; the sea and the wind to bear their freight ships.
At one time he had inquired and read a good deal about America. It has been denied that the English have genius. Emerson's superb book on his travels in England including a chapter on Stonehenge. To be king of their word is their pride. Two ownership signatures dated 1870, both of Cornelius Plummer. In the northern lochs, the herring are in innumerable shoals; at one season, the country people say, the lakes contain one part water and two parts fish.
It has the seal of martyrs and confessors; the noblest books; a sublime architecture; a ritual marked by the same secular merits, nothing cheap or purchasable. In Parliament they have hit on that capital invention of freedom, a constitutional opposition. They require you to dare to be of your own opinion, and they hate the practical cowards who cannot in affairs answer directly yes or no. A couple of signatures just a bit loose, but overall a tight and clean copy internally. Moreover, though we flatter the self-love of men and nations by the legend of pure races, all our experience is of the gradation and resolution of races, and strange resemblances meet us everywhere. Nature, to be sure, had her remedy.
About Emerson's English Traits and the Natural History of Metaphor Metaphors are ubiquitous and yet-or, for that very reason-go largely unseen. It may not be used in any way for profit. Lord Shaftesbury calls the poor thieves together, and reads sermons to them, and they call it gas. From childhood, they dabbled in water, they swam like fishes, their playthings were boats. They are heavy at the fine arts, but adroit at the coarse; not good in jewelry or mosaics, but the best iron-masters, colliers, wool - combers and tanners in Europe.
But its instinct is hostile to all change in politics, literature, or social arts. Steam is almost an Englishman. When he wishes for amusement, he goes to work. They have retained impressment, deck-flogging, army-flogging and school-flogging. The doctrine of the Old Testament is the religion of England.
On looking over the diary of my journey in 1833, I find nothing to publish in my memoranda of visits to places. If a man in England had as many enemies as hairs on his head, no harm would happen to him. Original black cloth, gilt, decorated in blind. About this Item: Phillips and Sampson and Company, Boston, 1856. He led me out into his garden, and showed me the gravel walk in which thousands of his lines were composed. The American has arrived at the old mansion-house and finds himself among uncles, aunts and grandsires.