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is heavy, like water; in France it is light for forming new intellectual friendships. Let as air; in both countries it is a medium and us consider, this time, what would be the no more.
consequence to Society itself. Society talks, by preference, about amuse- If all the cultivated men were withdrawn ments; it does so because when people meet from it, the general tone of Society would infor recreation they wish to relieve their evitably descend much lower even than it is minds from serious cares, and also for the at present; it would sink so low that the practical reason that Society must talk about whole national intellect would undergo a sure what its members have in common, and their and inevitable deterioration. It is plainly the amusements are more in common than their duty of men situated as you are, who have work. As M. Thiers recommended the repub- been endowed by nature with superior facullican form of government in France on the ties, and who have enlarged them by the acground that it was the form which divided quisition of knowledge, to preserve Society by his countrymen least, so a polite and highly their presence from an evil so surely prolific civilized society chooses for the subject of of bad consequences. If Society is less nargeneral conversation the topic which is row, and selfish, and intolerant, and apathetic least likely to separate the different people than it used to be, it is because they who are who are present. It almost always happens the salt of the earth have not disdained to that the best topic having this recommenda- mix with its grosser and earthier elements. tion is some species of amusement; since All the improvement in public sentiment, and amusements are easily learnt outside the busi- the advancement in general knowledge which ness of life, and we are all initiated into them have marked the course of recent generations, in youth.
are to be attributed to the wholesome influFor these reasons I think that we ought to ence of men who could think and feel, and be extremely tolerant of the dulness or frivol- who steadily exercised, often quite obscurely, ity which may seem to prevail in any nu- yet not the less usefully in their time and merous company, and not to conclude too place, the subtle but powerful attraction of the hastily that the members of it are in any de-greater mind over the less. Instead of comTee more dull or frivolous than ourselves. plaining that people are ignorant and frivoIt is unfortunate, certainly, that the art of lous, we ought to go amongst them and lead general conversation is not so successfully them to the higher life. “I know not how it cultivated as it might be, and there are rea- | is,” said one in a dull circle to a more gifted Fons for believing that our posterity will sur-friend who entered it occasionally, “when pass us in this respect, because as culture in- we are left to ourselves we are all lamentably creases the spirit of toleration increases with stupid, but whenever you are kind enough to it, so that the great questions of politics and come amongst us we all talk very much bet religion, in which all are interested, may be ter, and of things that are well worth talking discussed more safely than they could be at about.” The gifted man is always welcome, the present day, by persons of different ways if only he will stoop to conquer, and forget of thinking. But even the sort of general | himself to give light and heat to others. The conversation we have now, poor as it may low Philistinism of many a provincial town is seem, still sufficiently serves as a medium for due mainly to the shy reserve of the one or human intercourse, and permits us to meet two superior men who fancy that they cannot in a common ground where we may select at amalgamate with the common intellect of leisure the agreeable or instructive friends the place. that our higher intellect needs, and without Not only would I advocate a little patient whom the intellectual life is one of the ghast-condescension, but even something of the liest of solitudes.
sturdier temper which will not be driven out. And now permit me to add a few observa- Are the Philistines to have all the talk to tions on another aspect of this subject, which themselves forever; are they to rehearse is not without its importance.
their stupid old platitudes without the least Let us suppose that every one of rather fear of contradiction? How long, O Lord? more than ordinary capacity and culture were how long? Let us resolve that even in gento act as you yourself are acting, and with-eral society they shall not eternally have draw entirely from general society. Let us things their own way. Somebody ought to leave out of consideration for the present the have the courage to enlighten them even at loss to their private culture which would be their own tables, and in the protecting presthe consequence of missing every opportunity lence of their admiring wives and daughters.
| but in the capacity for both. What would
that captain merit who either had not seamanTO A FRIEND WHO KINDLY WARNED THE AU
ship enough to work under the eye of the adTHOR OF THE BAD EFFECTS OF SOLITUDE.
miral, or else had not sufficient knowledge of Væ solis-Society and solitude alike necessary-The use of navigation to be trusted out of the range of
each-In solitude we know ourselves-Montaigne as a signals? book-buyer-Compensations of solitude-Description of I value society for the abundance of ideas one who loved and sought it How men are driven into solitude-Cultivated people in the provinces-Use of soli- that it brings before us, like carriages in a fretude as a protection for rare and delicate natures-Shel- quented street; but I value solitude for sinley's dislike to general society-Wordsworth and Turner | cerity and peace, and for the better under--Sir Isaac Newton's repugnance to society--Auguste
standing of the thoughts that are truly ours. Comte--His systematic isolation and unshakable firmness of purpose--Milton and Bunyan-The solitude which is Only in solitude do we learn our inmost nature really injurious--Painters and authors-An ideal divis
and its needs. He who has lived for some ion of life.
great space of existence apart from the tumult You cry to me Vie solis ! and the cry seems of the world, has discovered the vanity of the not the less loud and stirring that it comes in things for which he has no natural aptitude the folds of a letter. Just at first it quite or gift--their relative vanity, I mean, their startled and alarmed me, and made me uselessness to himself, personally; and at the strangely dissatisfied with my life and work; same time he has learned what is truly prebut farther reflection has been gradually rec- cious and good for him. Surely this is knowlonciling me ever since, and now I feel cheer- edge of inestimable value to a man: sureiy it ful again, and in a humor to answer you. is a great thing for any one in the bewildering
Woe unto him that is alone! This has been confusion of distracting toils and pleasures to often said, but the studious recluse may an- have found out the labor that he is most fit swer, Woe unto him that is never alone and for and the pleasures that satisfy him best. cannot bear to be alone!
Society so encourages us in affectations that We need society, and we need solitude also, it scarcely leaves us a chance of knowing our as we need summer and winter, day and own minds; but in solitude this knowledge night, exercise and rest. I thank heaven for comes of itself, and delivers us from innua thousand pleasant and profitable conversa- merable vanities. tions with acquaintances and friends; I thank Montaigne tells us that at one time he bought heaven also, and not less gratefully, for thou- books from ostentation, but that afterwards sands of sweet hours that have passed in sol- he bought only such books as he wanted for itary thought or labor, under the silent his private reading. In the first of these constars.
ditions of mind we may observe the influence Society is necessary to give us our share of society; in the second the effect of solitude. and place in the collective life of humanity, The man of the world does not consult his own but solitude is necessary to the maintenance intellectual needs, but considers the eyes of of the individual life. Society is to the indi- his visitors; the solitary student takes his litvidual what travel and commerce are to a erature as a lonely traveller takes food when nation; whilst solitude represents the home he is hungry, without reference to the ordered life of the nation, during which it develops its courses of public hospitality especial originality and genius.
It is a traditional habit of mankind to see The life of the perfect hermit, and that of only the disadvantages of solitude, without those persons who feel themselves nothing in- considering its compensations; but there are dividually, and have no existence but what great compensations, some of the greatest they receive from others, are alike imperfect being negative. The lonely man is lord of his lives. The perfect life is like that of a ship of own hours and of his own purse; his days are war which has its own place in the fleet and long and unbroken, he escapes from every can share in its strength and discipline, but form of ostentation, and may live quite simply can also go forth alone in the solitude of the and sincerely in great calm breadths of leisure. infinite sea. We ought to belong to Society, I knew one who passed his summers in the to have our place in it, and yet to be capable heart of a vast forest, in a common thatched of a complete individual existence outside of cottage with furniture of common deal, and
for this retreat he quitted very gladly a rich Which of the two is the grander, the ship fine house in the city. He wore nothing but in the disciplined fleet, arranged in order of old clothes, read only a few old books, withbattle, or the ship alone in the tempest, a out the least regard to the opinions of the thousand miles from land? The truest grand- learned, and did not take in a newspaper. eur of the ship is neither in one nor the other, On the wall of his habitation he inscribed with
a piece of charcoal a quotation from De Sén-lin loud dissonance with our sincerest thought. ancour to this effect: “In the world a man It is a great error to encourage in young peolives in his own age; in solitude, in all the ple the love of noble culture in the hope that ages." I observed in him the effects of a it may lead them more into what is called lonely life, and he greatly aided my observa- good society. High culture always isolates, tions by frankly communicating his experi- always drives men out of their class and ences. That solitude had become inexpres- makes it more difficult for them to share sibly dear to him, but he admitted one evil naturally and easily the common class-life consequence of it, which was an increasing un-around them. They seek the few companions fitness for ordinary society, though he cher- who can understand them, and when these ished a few tried friendships, and was grate are not to be had within any traversable dissul to those who loved him and could enter tance, they sit and work alone. Very possiinto his humor. He had acquired a horror of bly too, in some instances, a superior culture towns and crowds, not from nervousness, but may compel the possessor of it to hold opinbecause he felt imprisoned and impeded in his ions too far in advance of the opinions prevathinking, which needed the depths of the lent around him to be patiently listened to or forest, the venerable trees, the communica- tolerated, and then he must either disguise tion with primæval nature, from which he them, which is always highly distasteful to a drew a mysterious yet necessary nourishment man of honor, or else submit to be treated as for the peculiar activity of his mind. I found an enemy to human welfare. Cultivated that his case answered very exactly to the people who live in London (their true home) sentence he quoted from De Sénancour; he need never condemn themselves to solitude lived less in his own age than others do, but from this cause, but in the provinces there he had a fine compensation in a strangely are many places where it is not easy for them rivid understanding of other ages. Like Del to live sociably without a degree of reservo Sénancour, be had a strong sense of the tran- that is more wearisome than solitude itself. sitoriness of what is transitory, and a passion. And however much pains you take to keep ate preference for all that the human mind your culture well in the background, it alconceives to be relatively or absolutely per-ways makes you rather an object of suspicion manent. This trait was very observable in to people who have no culture. They perhis talk about the peoples of antiquity, and inceive that you are reserved, they know that the delight he took in dwelling rather upon very much of what passes in your mind is a everything which they had in common with mystery to them, and this feeling makes them ourselves than on those differences which are uneasy in your presence, even afraid of you, more obvious to the modern spirit. His and not indisposed to find a compensation for temper was grave and earnest, but unfailingly this uncomfortable feeling in sarcasms behind cheerful, and entirely free from any tendency your back. Unless you are gifted with a bo bitterness. The habits of his life would have truly extraordinary power of conciliating been most unfavorable to the development of a goodwill, you are not likely to get on happily, nan of business, of a statesman, of a leader in for long together, with people who feel themTractical enterprise, but they were certainly selves your inferiors. The very utmost skill lot unfavorable to the growth of a tranquil and caution will hardly avail to hide all your ind comprehensive intellect, capable of “just modes of thought. Something of your higher udgment and high-hearted patriotism.” He philosophy will escape in an unguarded molad not the spirit of the newspapers, he did ment, and give offence because it will seem lot live intensely in the present, but he had foolish or incomprehensible to your audience. he spirit which has animated great poets. There is no safety for you but in a timely nd saints, and sages, and far-seeing teachers withdrawal, either to a society that is pref humanity. Not in vain had he lived alone pared to understand you, or else to a solitude fith Nature, not in vain had he watched in where your intellectual superiorities will Demn twilights and witnessed many a dawn: neither be a cause of irritation to others nor here is, there is a strength that comes to us of vexation to yourself. Isolitude from that shadowy, awful Presence Like all our instincts, the instinct of soliint frivolous crowds repel!
tude has its especial purpose, which appears Solitude may be and is sometimes deliber- to be the protection of rare and delicate naely accepted or chosen, but far more fre- tures from the commonplace world around lently men are driven into it by Nature and them. Though recluses are considered by
Fate. They go into solitude to escape the men of the world to be doomed to inevitable hise of isolation which is always most intol- | incompetence, the fact is that many of them able when there are many voices round us have reached the highest distinction in intellectual pursuits. If Shelley had not disliked | whatever may have been the defects of his general society as he did, the originality of remarkable mind, and the weakness of its his own living and thinking would have been ultimate decay, it is certain that his amazing less complete; the influences of mediocre peo- command over vast masses of heterogeneous ple, who, of course, are always in the major- material would have been incompatible with ity, would have silently but surely operated any participation in the passing interests of to the destruction of that unequalled and per- the world. Nothing in intellectual history sonal delicacy of imagination to which we has ever exceeded the unshakable firmness owe what is inimitable in his poetry. In the of purpose with which he dedicated his whole last year of his life, he said to Trelawny of being to the elaboration of the Positive phiMary, his second wife, “She can't bear soli- losophy. He sacrificed everything to it, tude, nor I society-the quick coupled with position, time, health, and all the amuse the dead." Here is a piteous prayer of his to ments and opportunities of society. He be delivered from a party that he dreaded : found that commonplace acquaintances dis“ Mary says she will have a party! There turbed his work and interfered with his masare English singers here, the Sinclairs, and tery of it, so he resolutely renounced them. she will ask them, and every one she or you Others have done great things in isolation know. Oh the horror! For pity go to Mary that was not of their own choosing, yet none and intercede for me! I will submit to any the less fruitful for them and for mankind. other species of torture than that of being It was not when Milton saw most of the bored to death by idle ladies and gentlemen."world, but in the forced retirement of a man Again, he writes to Mary: “My greatest de- who had lost health and eyesight, and whose light would be utterly to desert all human so-party was hopelessly defeated, that he comciety. I would retire with you and our child posed the “Paradise Lost.” It was during to a solitary island in the sea; would build a tedious years of imprisonment that Bunyan boat, and shut upon my retreat the flood-gates wrote his immortal allegory. Many a genius of the world. I would read no reviews and has owed his best opportunities to poverty, talk with no authors. If I dared trust my because poverty had happily excluded him imagination it would tell me that there are from society, and so preserved him from one or two chosen companions beside your time-devouring exigencies and frivolities. self whom I should desire. But to this I The solitude which is really injurious is the would not listen; where two or three are severance from all who are capable of undergathered together, the devil is among them." standing us. Painters say that they cannot At Marlow he knew little of his neighbors. work effectively for very long together when “I am not wretch enough,” he said, “to tol- separated from the society of artists, and erate an acquaintance." Wordsworth and that they must return to London, or Paris, Turner, if less systematic in their isolation, or Rome, to avoid an oppressive feeling of were still solitary workers, and much of the discouragement which paralyzes their pro peculiar force and originality of their per- ductive energy. Authors are more fortu formance is due to their independence of the nate, because all cultivated people are society people about them. Painters are especial suf- for them; yet even authors lose strength ferers from the visits of talkative people who and agility of thought when too long de know little or nothing of the art they talk prived of a genial intellectual atmosphere :about, and yet who have quite influence In the country you meet with cultivated in enough to disturb the painter's mind by prov- dividuals; but we need more than this, w ing to him that his noblest thoughts are surest need those general conversations in whic) to be misunderstood. Men of science, too, find every speaker is worth listening to. The lif solitude favorable to their peculiar work, be- most favorable to culture would have it cause it permits the concentration of their times of open and equal intercourse with th powers during long periods of time. Newton best minds, and also its periods of retreat had a great repugnance to society, and even My ideal would be a house in London, not fa to notoriety-a feeling which is different, and from one or two houses that are so full in men of genius more rare. No one can light and warmth that it is a liberal educa doubt, however, that Newton's great intel- tion to have entered them, and a solitar lectual achievements were due in some meas- tower on some island of the Hebrides, wit ure to this peculiarity of his temper, which no companions but the sea-gulls and th permitted him to ripen them in the sustained thundering surges of the Atlantic. One sud tranquillity necessary to difficult investiga-island I know well, and it is before my mind tions. Auguste Comte isolated himself not eye, clear as a picture, whilst I am writin only from preference but on system, and It stands in the very entrance of a fine sal water loch, rising above two hundred feet monplace-book for your benefit rather than out of the water and setting its granite front my own, because the truth it contains has steep against the western ocean. When the been “borne in upon me" by my own experievenings are clear you can see Staffa and ence, so that what Mr. Galton says did not Iona like blue clouds between you and the give me a new conviction, but only confirmed sunset; and on your left, close at hand, the me in an old one. He is speaking to explorgranite hills of Mull, with Ulva to the righters who have not done so much in that way across the narrow strait. It was the dream as he has himself, and though the subject of his of my youth to build a tower there, with advice is the conduct of an exploring party three or four little rooms in it, and walls as in the wilds of Australia, for example) the strong as a lighthouse. There have been advice itself is equally useful if taken metamore foolish dreams, and there have been phorically, and applied to the conduct of in-. less competent teachers than the tempests tellectual labors and explorations of all kinds. that would have roused me and the calms “Interest yourself,” says Mr. Galton, • that would have brought me peace. If any “chiefly in the progress of your journey, and serious thought, if any noble inspiration do not look forward to its end with eagerness. might have been hoped for, surely it would It is better to think of a return to civilization, have been there, where only the clouds and not as an end to hardship and a haven from Waves were transient, but the ocean before ill, but as a thing to be regretted, and as a me, and the stars above, and the mountains close to an adventurous and pleasant life. on either hand, were emblems and evidences In this way, risking less, you will insensibly of eternity.
creep on, making connections, and learning KOTE.There is a passage in Scott's novel. “The Pirate." the capabilities of the country as you adThich illustrates what has been said in this letter about the vance, which will be found invaluable in the necessity for concealing superior culture in the presence of case of a hurried or a disastrous return. And less intellectual companions, and I quote it the more willingy that Scott was so remarkably free from any morbid aver-hus,
thus, when some months have passed by, you in to society, and so capable of taking a sincere interest in will look back with surprise on the great disgery harnan being.
tance travelled over; for if you average only Cleveland is speaking to Minna:*I thought over my former story, and saw that seeming three mies & day, at the end of the yea
we three miles a day, at the end of the year you Dore brave, skilful, and enterprising than others had gained will have advanced 1000, which is a very se command and respect. and that seeming more gently considerable exploration. The fable of the burtured and more civilized than they had made them envy und hate me as a being of another species. I bargained with
hare and the tortoise seems expressly inmyself then, that since I could not lay aside my superiority tended for travellers over wide and unknown v intellect and education, I would do my best to disguise, I tracts." and to sink, in the rude seaman, all appearance of better feeling and better accomplishments."
Yes, we ought to interest ourselves chiefly A similar policy is often quite as necessary in the society of in the progress of our work, and not to look ledsmen.
forward to its end with eagerness. That eagerness of which Mr. Galton speaks has spoiled many a piece of work besides a geo
graphical exploration, and it not only spoils PART X.
work, but it does worse, it spoils life also. INTELLECTUAL HYGIENICS.
How am I to enjoy this year as I ought, if I am continually wishing it were over? A tru
ly intellectual philosophy must begin by recLETTER I.
ognizing the fact that the intellectual paths are
infinitely long, that there will always be new TO A YOUNG AUTHOR WHILST HE WAS WRITING horizons behind the horizon that is before us, HIS FIRST BOOK.
and that we must accept a gradual advance as
the law of our intellectual life. It is our busiIr. Galton's advice to young travellers-That we ought to
to ness to move forwards, but we ought to do so interest ourselves in the progress of 8 journey - The
rule applicable in intellectual things-Women in the without any greater feeling of hurry than that cabin of a canal boat-Working hastily for temporary which affects the most stationary of minds. purposes, Fevered eagerness to get work done-Begin- | Not a bad example for us is a bargeman's Ders have rarely acquired firm intellectual habits-Knowing the range of our own powers--The coolness of accom- wife in a canal-boat. She moves; movement plished artists-Advice given by Ingres-Balzac's method is the law of her life; yet see is as tranquil in of work-Scott, Horace Vernet, John Phillip-Decided workers are deliberate workers.
her little cabin as any goodwife on shore,
brewing her tea and preparing her buttered I READ the other day, in Galton's “Art of toast without ever thinking about getting to Travel," a little bit which concerns you and the end of her journey. For if that voyage all of us, but I made the extract in my com- I were ended, another would always succeed to