American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, a literary, philosophical and spiritual movement with a belief in humanity's fundamental goodness; and a reverence for self-reliance, non-conformity, and a deep, personal connection to the natural world. And while the title of his essay, "Uses of great Men," may come off as misogynistic, or at least "dated," transcendentalists like Emerson were outspoken advocates of civil rights and social justice.
This week, a reading of Emerson's "Uses of Great Men," by Rolland G. Smith.
If Rolland Smith was born a century earlier, he would likely seek fellowship in the Transcendental Club, to converse with the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. A child of the 20th century, however, Rolland gravitated toward broadcast media, where he reported for outlets like WCBS, NBC, and WWOR. He's interviewed U.S. presidents, reported live from the front lines in Vietnam, and served as anchor of the historic "Live Aid" concert to an international audience of 2 billion. His journalistic integrity, contemplative storytelling, and abiding faith in humankind lie in stark contrast to today's media punditry, social media scrolling, and click bait. If Ralph Waldo Emerson was born a century later, he'd probably get his news from Rolland Smith.
Here's Rolland to introduce "Uses of Great Men," followed by his narration of the essay, recorded right here in the Catskills.
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Welcome to cats cast, a bi weekly podcast from New York's Catskill Mountains. This week, a reading of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay, the uses of great men by another great man, and a great friend, rollin Smith. This week's show was made possible by the Emerson Resort and Spa, a hidden treasure surrounded by the splendor of the Catskill Mountains, featuring spacious accommodations in the contemporary Inn and Adirondack style Lodge, and were some guests enjoy a nature inspired spa, dining in their signature restaurant with notes grill, the shops at Emerson and the world's largest kaleidoscope. And by the 52 mile Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway, following New York State Route 28 through the heart of the central Catskills for maps, itineraries and links to area restaurants, shops and accommodations, visit scenic catskills.com American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson led the transcendentalist movement of the mid 19th century, a literary, philosophical and spiritual movement with a belief in humanity's fundamental goodness, and a reverence for a self reliance, nonconformity and a deep personal connection to the natural world. And while the title of this essay uses of great men may come off as misogynistic, or at least dated, transcendentalists like Emerson, were outspoken advocates of civil rights and social justice. If rollin Smith was born a century earlier, he would likely seek fellowship in the transcendental club to converse with the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau, a child of the 20th century. However, Roland gravitated toward broadcast media, where he reported for outlets like w CBS, NBC, and w w. o. r. He's interviewed US presidents, reported live from the front lines in Vietnam, and served as anchor of the historic Live Aid concert to an international audience of 2 billion. His journalistic integrity, contemplative storytelling and abiding faith in humankind lie in stark contrast to today's media punditry, social media, scrolling and clickbait. If Ralph Waldo Emerson was born a century later, he'd probably get his news from rollin Smith. Here's Rolland to introduce uses of great man, followed by his narration of the essay recorded right here in the Catskills. I was first exposed to this essay in high school as an assignment in an advanced English class. When I read it at that time, so many years ago, I did not understand the Gestalt of the essay, but I loved so many of the phrases such as other men are lenses through which we read our own minds. This essay has always resonated within my own truth, and I have embraced Emerson's essay as something profound throughout my adult life and career. Emerson's prose is archaic to our 21st century here, but I trust this reading of his words is true to his writing and meaning, and will engender an essence of understanding me it for just a brief moment, take you back to a time less convoluted in technology, and far more intricate in the divination of language. It is natural to believe in great men. If the companions of our childhood should turn out to be heroes, and their condition regal, it would not surprise us. All mythology opens with demigods and the circumstances high and poetic, that is their genius is paramount. In the legends of the government. The first men ate the earth and founded delicious Li sweet. Nature seems to exist for the excellent. The world is upheld by the veracity of good men. They make the earth wholesome, they who live with them found life glad and nutritious. Life is sweet and tolerable only in our belief in such society. And actually, or ideally, we managed to live with superiors, we call our children and our lens by their names. Their names are wrought into the verbs of language, their works, and effigies are in our houses, and every circumstance of the day recalls an anecdote of them. The search after the great is the dream of youth, and the most serious occupation of manhood. We try into foreign parts to find his works if possible to get a glimpse of him. But we are put off with fortune. Instead, you say the English are practical, the Germans are hospitable. in Valencia, the climate is delicious. And in the hills of the Sacramento there was gold for the gathering. Yes, but I do not travel to find comfortable, rich and hospitable people, or clear sky or ingots that cost too much. But if there were any magnets that would point to the countries and houses, where are the persons who are intrinsically rich and powerful. I would sell all and buy it and put myself on the road today. The race goes with us on their credit. The knowledge then in the city is a man who invented the railroad raises the credit of all the citizens, but enormous populations, if they'd be beggars are disgusting, like moving cheese, like hills of ants, or a fleas. The more the worse. Our religion is the love and cherishing of these patrons. The gods of fable are the shining moments of great men. We run all our vessels into one mole. Our colossal theologies of Judaism, Christ ism Buddhism, Muhammad ism are the necessary and structural action of the human mind. The student of history is like a man going into a warehouse to buy cloths or carpets. he fancies he has a new article, if he go to the factory, he shall find that his new stuff still repeats the scrolls and rosettes, which are found on the interior walls of the pyramids of Thebes. Are theism is the purification of the human mind. Man can paint or make or think nothing but man, he believes that the great material elements had their origin from his thought, and our philosophy finds one essence collected or distributed. If now, we proceed to inquire into the kinds of service we derive from others, let us be warned of the danger of modern studies and begin low enough we must not contend against love or deny the substantial existence of other people I know not what would happen to us, we have social strengths, our affection towards others creates a sort of Vantage or purchase, which nothing will supply, I can do that by another which I cannot do alone. I can say to you what I cannot first say to myself, other men are lenses through which we read our own minds. Each man seeks those of different quality from his own, and such as our good of their kind, that is, he seeks other men and the other wrist, the stronger than nature, the more red is reactive. Let us have the quality pure, a little genius let us leave alone. A main difference between men is whether they attend their own affair or not. Man is that noble endogenous plant which grows like the palm from within outward, his own affair though impossible to others, he can open with celebrity and in sport. It is easy to sugar to be sweet, and tonight her to be salt. We take a great deal of pains to waylay and entrap that which of itself will fall into our hands. I count him a great man who inhabits a higher sphere of thought into which other men rise with labor and difficulty. He has what to open his eyes to see things in our true light and enlarge relations, while as they must make painful corrections and keep a vigilant eye on many sources of error. His service to us is of like sort. It costs a beautiful person no exertion to paint her image on our eyes. Yet how splendid is that benefit. It costs no more for a wise soul to convey his quality to other men. And everyone can do his best thing easiest. With the Maurya Boku Devi, he is great, who is what he is from nature, and who never reminds us of others. But he must be related to us and our life received from him some promise of explanation. I cannot tell what I would know. But I have observed there are persons who in their character and actions answer questions which I have not skilled to put. One man answers some question which none of his contemporaries put and is isolated. The past and passing religions and philosophies answer some other questions. Certain men affect us as rich possibilities but helpless to themselves and to their times. The sport perhaps have some instinct that rules in the air. They do not speak to our want but the great are near we know them at sight. they satisfy expectation and fall into place. What is good is effective. generative makes for itself room food and allies. A sound Apple produces seed a hybrid does not, is a man in his place he is constructive, fertile, magnetic inundating armies with his purpose which is last executed. The river makes its own shores, and each legitimate idea makes its own channels and welcome harvest for food institutions for expression weapons to fight with, and disciples to explain it. The true artist has the planet for his pedestal. The adventurer, after years of strife has nothing broader than his own shoes. Our common discourse respects two kinds of use or service from superior men. Direct giving is agreeable to the early belief of men, direct giving of material or metaphysical aid as of health eternal youth find senses arts of healing, magical power, and prophecy. The boy believes there is a teacher who can sell him wisdom. Churches believe in imputed merit. But in strictness, we are not much cognizant of direct serving, man is endogenous and education is his unfolding. The aid we have from others is mechanical compared with the discoveries of nature in us. What is thus learned is delightful in the doing and the effect remains. Right ethics are central and go from the sole outward. gift is contrary to the law of the universe. serving others is serving us I must absolve me to myself mind I affair says the spirit, Cox comb would you meddle with the skies or with other people, indirect service is left. Men have a pictorial or representative quality and serve us in the intellect, bone and swedenborg saw that things were representative. Men are also representative first of things and secondly, of ideas. As plants convert the minerals into food for animals, so each man converts some raw material in nature to human use. The inventors of fire electricity, magnetism, iron, lead, glass, linen, silk, cotton, the makers of tools, the inventor of decimal notation, the geometer, the engineer or the musician severally make an easy way for all through unknown and impossible confusions. Each man is by secret liking connected with some district of nature, whose agent and interpreter he is as Linnaeus of plants cober of bees freeze of lichens, one moans of pears Dalton of atomic forms. Euclid of lines Newton of flexions. A man is a center for nature, running out threads of relation through everything fluid and solid material and elemental. The earth rolls every clod and stone comes to the meridian. So every organ function acid crystal grain of dust has its relation to the brain. It waits long, but its turn comes. Each plant has its parasite and each created thing its lover and poet. Justice has already been done to steam to iron to wood to coal to Lodestone, to iron, iron to corn and cotton. But how few materials are yet used by our arts. The mass of creatures and of qualities are still hidden and expectant. It would seem as if each waited like the enchanted princess and fairy tales for a destined human deliverer. Each must be disenchanted and walk forth to the day in human shape. In the history of discovery, the ripe and latent truth seems to have fashioned a brain for itself. a magnet must be made man in some Gilbert or swedenborg or oersted, before the general mind can come to entertain its powers. If we limit ourselves to the first advantages, a sober grace adheres to the mineral and botanic kingdoms, which in the highest moments, comes up as the charm of nature. The glitter of the spa, the shortness of affinity, the veracity of angles, light and darkness, heat and cold hunger and food sweet and sour, solid, liquid and gas circle us round in a wreath of pleasures, and by their agreeable coral beguiled the day of life. The eye repeats every day, the first eulogy on things. He saw that they were good, we know where to find them, and these performers are relished all the more after a little experience of the pretending races. We are entitled also to hire advantages. Something is wanting to science until it has been humanized. The table of logarithms is one thing and it's vital play in botany, music, optics, and architecture another. There are advancements to numbers, anatomy, architecture, astronomy, little suspected at first, when by union with intellect and will they ascend into the life and reappear in conversation, character, and politics. But this comes later. We speak now only of our acquaintance with them in their own sphere, and the way in which they seem to fascinate and draw to them some genius who occupies himself with one thing, all is lifelong. The possibility of interpretation lies in the identity of the observer with the observed. Each material thing has its celestial side, as its translation through humanity into the spiritual and necessary sphere, where it plays a part as indestructible as any other. Unto these there ends, all things continually ascend. The guest has gathered to the solid firmament, the chemic lump arrives at the plant and grows arrives of the quadruped Ed and walks arrives at the man and thinks, but also the constituency determines the vote of the representative, he is not only representative but participant like can only be known by like, the reason why he knows about them is that he is of them, he has just come out of nature, or from being a part of that thing. Animated chlorine knows of chlorine, and incarnate zinc of zinc. Their quality makes his career and he can variously published their virtues, because they compose him. man made of the dust of the world does not forget his origin. And all that as you get inanimate will one day speak and reason. unpublished nature will have its whole secret told, shall we say the courts mountains will pulverize into innumerable burners on books and bones, and the Laboratory of the atmosphere holes in solution? I know not what Brasilia is, is and Davies. For us, we sit by the fire and take hold on the poles of the earth. This quiz I on the presence supplies the imbecility of our condition. In one of those celestial days when heaven and earth meet and adorn each other, it seems a poverty that we can only spend it once we wish for 1000 heads 1000 bodies, that we might celebrate its immense beauty in many ways and places. Is this fancy? Well, in good faith, we are multiplied by our proxies, how easily we adopt their labors. Every ship that comes to America got his chart from Columbus. Every novel is a debtor to Homer. Every carpenter, who shaves with a four plain borrows the genius of a forgotten inventor. Life is good all around with the Zodiac of sciences, the contributions of men who have perished to add their point of light to our sky, engineer, Roker, jurist, physician, moralist, theologian, and every man in as much as he has any science is a definer and mapmaker of the latitudes and longitudes of our condition. These road makers on every hand, enrich us We must extend the area of life and multiply our relations. We are as much gainers by finding a new property in the old earth, as by acquiring a new planet. We are too passive in the reception of these material or some material AIDS. We must not be sacks and stomachs. to ascend one step, we are better served through our sympathy. activity is contagious, looking where others look and conversing with the same things, we catch the charm which lured them, Napoleon said, You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war. talk much with any man of vigorous mind and we acquire very fast the habit of looking at things in the same light. And on each occurrence, we anticipate his thought. Men are helpful through the intellect, and the affections. Other help I find a false appearance. If you affect to give the bread and fire, I perceive that I pay for it the full price. And at last, it leaves me as it found me neither better, nor worse. But all mental and moral force is a positive good. It goes out from you, whether you will or not, and profits me whom you never thought of. I cannot even hear of personal vigor of any kind, great power of performance without fresh Resolution, we are emulous of all that men can do. Cecil's saying of Sir Walter Raleigh. I know that he can toil terribly, is an electric touch. So are clarens portraits of Hamden, who was on an industry and vigilance not to be tired out or wearied by the most laborious, and of parts not to be imposed on by the most subtle and sharp, and have a personal courage equal to his best parts of haukeland, who was so severe and adorer of truth that he could as easily have given himself leave to steal as to dissemble. We cannot read Plutarch, without a tingling of the blood, and I accept the saying of the Chinese mensches. a sage is the instructor of 100 ages, when the manners of Lu are heard of the stupid become intelligent, and the wavering, determined. This is the moral of biography. Yet it is hard for departed men to touch the quick like our own companions, whose names may not last as long. What is he who might never think of whilst in every solitude are those who sucker our genius and stimulate us in wonderful manners? There is a power in love to divine another's destiny, better than that other can, and by heroic encouragements, hold him to his task. What has friendship so signal as it's sublime attraction to whatever virtue is in us, we will never more think cheaply of ourselves or of life. We are peaked to some purpose. And the industry of the diggers on the railroad will not again Seamus, under this head to falls that homage, very pure as I think, which all ranks paid to the hero of the day from Korea, Elena's and grok is down to pit Lafayette, Wellington Webster lemmer team. Here the shouts in the street, the people cannot see him enough. They delight in a man. Here is a head and a trunk. What a front what eyes Atlantean shoulders, and the whole carriage heroic with equal inward force to guide the great machine. This pleasure of full expression to that which in their private experience is usually cramped and obstructed, runs also much higher, and is the secret of the reader's joy in literary genius. Nothing is kept back, there is fire enough to fuse the mountain of or Shakespeare's principle merit may be conveyed in saying that he of all men best understands the English language and can say what he will get these unchecked channels and floodgates of expression, our only health or fortunate constitution. Shakespeare's name suggests other and purely intellectual benefits. So nets and sovereigns have no compliment with our metals, swords and armorial coats, like the addressing to a human being thoughts out of a certain height, and presupposing his intelligence, this honor, which is possible in personal intercourse, scarcely twice in the lifetime, genius perpetually pays contented if now and then, in a century, the proffer is accepted. The indicators of the values of matter are degraded to a sort of cooks and confectioner's, on the appearance of the indicators of ideas. Genius is the naturalist or geographer of the super sensible regions and draws their map and by acquainting us with new fields of activity cools our affection for the old. These are at once accepted as the reality of which the world we have conversed with is the show. We go to the gymnasium and the swimming schools to see the power and beauty of the body. There is the like pleasure and a higher benefit from witnessing intellectual feats of all kinds as feats of memory of mathematical combination, great power of abstraction, the trance musings of the imagination, even versatility and concentration as these acts expose the invisible organs and members of the mind, which respond, member for member to the parts of the body. For We thus enter a new gymnasium and learn to choose men whether chooses Marx talked with Plato, to choose those who can without aid from the eyes, or any other sense proceed to truth, and to being Foremost among these activities of the somersaults spells, and resurrections wrought by the imagination. When this week's a man seems to multiply 10 times or 1000 times his force, it opens the delicious sense of indeterminate size and inspires an audacious mental habit. We are as elastic as the gas of gunpowder. And the sentence in a book or a word dropped in conversation sets free our fancy, and instantly our heads are bathed with galaxies, and our feet tread the floor of the pit. And this benefit is real, because we are entitled to these enlargements. And once having passed the bones shall never again be quite the miserable pedants we were. The high functions of the intellect are so allied that some imaginative power usually appears in all eminent minds. Even in earth petitions of the first class, but especially in meditative men have an intuitive habit of thought, this class service so that they have the perception of identity and the perception of reaction. The eyes of Plato, Shakespeare swedenborg Gerda never shot on either of these laws. The perception of these laws is a kind of meter of the mind, little minds our little through failure to see them even these feats have their surfeit, our delight in reason degenerates into idolatry of the Herald. Especially when a mind of powerful method has instructed men, we find the examples of oppression, the dominion of Aristotle, the Ptolemaic astronomy, the credit of Luther, of bacon of Locke, in religion, the history of hierarchies of saints, and the sex which have taken the name of each founder are in point. Alas, every man is such a victim. The imbecility of men is always inviting the impotence of power. It is the delight of vulgar talent to dazzle and to mine the beholder, but true genius seeks to defend us from itself. true genius will not impoverish, but will liberate and add new senses. If a wise man should appear in our village, he would create in those who converse with him a new consciousness of wealth, by opening their eyes to unobserved advantages. He would establish a sense of immovable equality, commas with assurances that we could not be cheated. As everyone would discern the checks and guarantees of condition. The rich would see their mistakes and poverty, the poor their escapes and their resources. But nature brings all this about in due time, rotation is her remedy. The soul is impatient of masters and eager for change. housekeepers say of a domestic who has been valuable she had lived with me long enough, we are tendencies or rather symptoms and none of us complete, we touch and go and sip the foam of many lives. rotation is the law of nature. When nature removes a great man, people explore the horizon for a successor, but none comes and none will, his class is extinguished with him. In some other and quite different fields, the next man will appear. Not Jefferson, not Franklin, but now a great salesman, than a road contractor, than a student of fishes, than a buffalo hunting Explorer, or a semi savage Western general. Thus we make a stand against our rougher masters, but against the best, there is a finer remedy, the power which they communicate is not theirs. When we are exalted by ideas, we do not owe this to Plato, but to the idea to which also Plato was debtor. I must not forget that we have a special debt to a single class. Life is a scale of degrees between rank and rank of our great men are wide intervals. Mankind have in all ages attach themselves to a few persons who, either by the quality of that idea they embodied, or by the largeness of the reception, we're entitled to the position of leaders and law givers. These teach us the qualities of primary nature, admit us to the Constitution of things. We swim day by day on a river of delusions, and are effectually, amused with houses and towns in the air, of which the men about us are dupes. But life is a sincerity. In lucid intervals, we say, Let there be an entrance open for me into realities. I have warned the foolscap too long, we will know the meaning of our economies and politics, give us the cipher. And if persons and things are scores of a celestial music that has read off the strains, we have been cheated of our reason. Yet there have been seen men who enjoyed a rich and related existence. What they know they know for us, with each new mind, a new secret of nature transpires nor can the Bible be closed until the last great man is mourn these men Correct the delirium of the animal spirits make us considerate and engage us to new aims and powers. The veneration of mankind selects these for the highest place, witnessed the multitude of statues, pictures and memorials which recall their genius in every city, village, house, and ship. Ever there. phantoms arise before us, our lofty are brothers, but one in blood, at bed in table they Lord it or us with looks of beauty and words of good How to illustrate the distinctive benefit of ideas, the service rendered by those who introduce moral truths into the general mind. I am plagued in all my living with a perpetual tariff of prices. If I work in my garden, and prune an apple tree, I am well enough entertained and could continue indefinitely in the like occupation. But it comes to mind that the day is gone, and I have got this precious nothing done. I go to Boston or New York and run up and down in my affairs, they are sped, but so is the day I am vexed by the recollection of this price I have paid for a trifling advantage. I remember the pre down on which who so sat should have his desire, but a piece of the skin was gone for every wish. I go to a convention of philanthropists do what I can, I cannot keep my eyes off the clock. But if there should appear in the company, some gentle soul who knows little of persons, or parties of Carolina, or Cuba, but who announces a law that disposes these particulars, and so certifies me of the equity which checkmates every false player, bankrupts every self seeker, and surprises me of my independence on any conditions of country, or time or human body, that man liberates me. I forget the clock. I pass out of the sore relation to persons, I am healed of my hurts, I am made immortal by apprehending my possession of incorruptible goods. Here is great competition of rich and poor. We live in a market where there's only so much wheat, or wool or land. And if I have so much more, every other must have so much less. I seem to have no good without breach of good manners. Nobody is glad in the gladness of another. And our system is one of war of an injurious superiority. Every child of the Saxon race is educated to wish to be first, it is our system, and a man comes to measure his greatness by the regrets, envies and hatreds of his competitors. But in these new fields, there is room here are knows self esteems no exclusions. I admire great men of all classes, those who stand for facts, and for thoughts. I like rough and smooth scourges of God and darlings of the human race. I like the first Caesar and Charles the fifth of Spain, and Charles the 12th of Sweden, Richard plantagenet, and Bonaparte in France. I applaud a sufficient man and officer equal to his office, captains, ministers, Senators, I like a master standing firm on legs of iron. Well mourn rich, handsome, eloquent, loaded with advantages, drawing all men by fascination into tributaries and supporters of his power, sword and staff or talents, sword like or staff like, carry on the work of the world. But I find him greater when he can abolish himself and all heroes, by letting in this element of reason, irrespective of persons, this satellizer and irresistible upward force into our thought destroying individualism. The power is so great that the potentate is nothing. Then he is a monarch who gives a constitution to his people, a party who preaches the equality of souls, and releases his servants from their barbarous homogenizes, an emperor who can spare his empire but I intended to specify with a little minute minus two or three points of service. Nature never spares the Opium War nepenthez but wherever she Mars, her creature with some deformity or defect, lays her poppies plentifully on the bruise and the sufferer and goes joyfully through life, ignorant of the ruin, and incapable of seeing it, the wall the world point their finger at it every day. The worthless and offensive members of society whose existence is a social pest, invariably think themselves the most ill us people alive, and never get over their astonishment at the ingratitude and selfishness of their contemporaries. Our globe discovers its hidden virtues not only in heroes and archangels But in gossips and nurses is it not a rare contrivance that lodged the due inertia in every creature, the conserving, resisting energy, the anger of being waked or changed altogether independent of the intellectual force in each is the pride of opinion, the security that we are right, not the feeble has grown Dom not a moving idiot, but uses what spark of perception and faculty is left to chuckle and triumph in his or her opinion over the absurdities of all the rest. difference from me is the measure of absurdity. Not one has a misgiving of being wrong. Was it not a bright thought that made things cohere with this bitumen fastest of cements. But in the midst of this chuckle of self gratulations, some figure goes by which the site is to can love and admire. This is he that should Marshall lost the way we were going, there is no end to his aid. Without playdough we should almost lose our faith in the possibility of a reasonable book. We seem to want but one, but we want one. We love to associate with heroic persons, since our receptivity is unlimited, and with the great our thoughts and mentors easily become great. We are all wise and capacity, those so few in energy, their needs, but one wise men in a company and all are wise, so rapid is the contagion. Great men are thus are clearly going to clear our eyes from egotism and enable us to see other people in their works. But there are vices and follies incident to whole populations and ages. Men resemble their contemporaries, even more than their progenitors. It is observed in old couples, or in persons who have been housemates for a course of years, that they grow alike, and if they should live long enough, we should not be able to know them apart. Nature abhors these complacency is which threatened to melt the world into a lump and hastens to break up such modeling the gluten nations. The like assimilation goes on between men of one town of one sect of one political party, and the ideas of the time are in the air, and in fact, all who breathe it. viewed from any high point the city of New York, yonder City of London, the western civilization would seem a bundle of insanities. We keep each other in countenance, and exasperated by emulation, the frenzy of the time. The shield against the stings of conscience is the universal practice or our contemporaries. Again, it is very easy to be as wise and good as your companions. We learn of our contemporaries what they know without effort and almost through the pores of the skin. We catch it by sympathy or as a wife arrives at the intellectual and moral elevations of her husband. But we stopped where they stop, very hardly can we take another step, the great are such as hold of nature, and transcend fashions by their fidelity to Universal ideas, our saviors from these federal errors and defend us from our contemporaries. They are the exceptions which we want. We're all grows alike. A foreign greatness is the antidote for cannibalism. Thus we feed on genius and refresh ourselves from too much conversation with our mates, and exalt in the depth of nature in that direction in which he leads us. What indemnification is one great man for populations of pygmies. Every mother wishes one son a genius, the all the rest should be mediocre. But a new danger appears in the excess of influence of the great man, his attractions warpless from our place, we have become underlings and intellectual suicides. yonder in the horizon is our help other great men new qualities counterweights and checks on each other. We cloy of the honey of each peculiar greatness. Every hero becomes a bore at last. Perhaps Voltaire was not bad hearted. Yet he said of the good Jesus even I pray you let me never hear that man's name again. They cry up the virtues of George Washington. Damn George Washington is the poor Jacobins whole speech and computation. But it is human nature's indispensable defense. The centripetal augments the center of excellence, we balanced one man with his opposite, and the health of the state depends on the seesaw. There is however, a speedy limit to the use of heroes. Every genius is defended from approach by quantities of unavailable this they are very attractive and seem at a distance or wrong, but we are hindered on all sides from approach. The more we are drawn, the more we are Peled. There is something not solid in the good that has done for us. The best discovery the discovery makes for himself. It has something unreal for his companion, until he too has substantiated it. It seems as if the deity dressed each soul which he sends into nature, in certain virtues and power is not communicable to other men, and sending it to perform one more turn for the circle of beings, wrote, non transferable and good for this trip only on these garments of the soul. There is somewhat deceptive about the intercourse of minds, the boundaries are invisible, but they are never crossed. There is such goodwill to impart and such goodwill to receive, that each threatens to become the other, but the law of individuality collects its secret strength, you are you and I am I. And so, we remain, for nature wishes everything to remain itself. And whilst every individual strives to grow and exclude and to exclude and grow to the extremities of the universe, and to impose the law of its being on every other creature. Nature steadily aims to protect each against every other. Each is soft defended. Nothing is more marked than the power by which individuals are guarded from individuals. In a world where every benefactor becomes so easily a malefactor, only by continuation of his activity into places where it is not due, where children seem so much at the mercy of their foolish parents, and we're almost all men are too social and interfering. We rightly speak of the guardian angels of children, how superior in their security from infusions of evil persons from vulgarity and second thought, they shed their own abundant beauty on the objects they behold, therefore, they are not at the mercy of such poor educators as we adults. If we have and chide them, they soon come not to mind it and get a self reliance. And if we indulge them to folly, they learn the limitation elsewhere. We need not fear, excessive influence, a more generous trust is permitted. Serve the great stick at no humiliation, grudge, no office, thou canst render me the limb of their body, the breath of their mouth, compromised by egotism who cares for that. So now again, often wider and nobler. Nevermind the taunt of Boswell ism, the devotion may easily be greater than the wretched pride which is guarding its own skirts. Be another not thyself but a platanus not as soul but a Christian, not a naturalist, but a Cartesian. Not a poet. But a Shakespearean. In vain the wheels of tendency will not stop, nor will all the forces of inertia of fear or of love itself, hold the there. On in forever onward. The microscope observes a mon ad or we'll insect among the infuser bees circulating in water. Presently a dot appears on the animal which enlarges to a slit and it becomes to perfect animals. The ever proceeding detachment appears not less in all thought, and in society, children think they cannot live without their parents. But long before they are aware of it, the black dot has appeared and the detachment taken place. Any accident will now reveal to them their independence. But great men, the word is injurious. Is there a cast is their fate. what becomes of the promise to virtue? The thoughtful youth laments the superfetation of nature, generous and handsome, he says is your hero. But look at yonder poor Paddy, whose country is his wheelbarrow? Look at his whole nation of paddies. Why are the masses from the dawn of history down food for knives and powder? The idea dignifies a few leaders who have sentiment, opinion, love self devotion, and they make war and death sacred. But what further riches from the higher end kill the cheapness of man is everyday is tragedy. It is as real the loss that others should be low as that we should be low for we must have society. Is it a reply to these suggestions to say society is a pestalozzi in school, all our teachers and pupils in turn, we are equally served by receiving and by imparting men who know the same things are not long the best company for each other. But bring to each and intelligent person have another experience and it is if you let off water from a lake by cutting a lower basin. It's Seems a mechanical advantage and great benefit it is to each speaker, as he can now paint out his thought to himself. We pass very fast in our personal moods from dignity to dependence, and if any appeared never to assume the chair, but always to stand and serve, it is because we do not see the company in a sufficiently long period for the whole rotation of parts to come about. As to what we call the masses and common men, there are no common men. All men are at last of a size, and true art is only possible on the conviction that every talent has its apotheosis somewhere, fair play and an open field and freshest laurels to all who have won, but haven't reserves an equal scope for every creature. Each is uneasy until he has produced his private Ray onto the concave sphere and beheld his talent also, in its less nobility and exaltation. The heroes of the hour are relatively great, of a faster growth, or they are such in whom at the moment of success, a quality is ripe, which is then in request. Other days will demand other qualities. Some rays escape the common observer, and one finally adapted I asked the great man if there would be none greater his companions are and not the less great but the more that society cannot see them. Nature never sends a great men into the planet without confiding the secret to another soul. One gracious fact emerges from these studies, that there is true Ascension in our love. The reputations of the 19th century will one day be quoted to prove its barbarism. The genius of humanity is the real subject whose biography is written in our animals, we must infer much and supply many chasms in the record. The history of the universe is symptomatic, and life is no monocle. No man in all the procession of famous men is reason or illumination, or that essence we were looking for, but is an exhibition in some quarter of new possibilities. Could we one day complete the immense figure which these flagrant points compose. The study of many individuals leads us to an elemental region, wherein the individual is lost, or were in all touch by their summit's thought and feeling that breakout there it cannot be impounded by any fence of personality. This is the key to the power of the greatest men, their spirit diffuses itself. A new quality of mind travels by night and by day, in concentric circles from its origin and publishes itself by unknown methods. The union of all minds appears intimate, what gets admission to one cannot be kept out of any other. The smallest acquisition of truth or of energy in any quarter is so much good to the Commonwealth of souls. If the disparities of talent and position vanish, when the individuals are seen and the duration which is necessary to complete the career of each, even more swiftly, the seeming injustice disappears. When we ascend to the central identity of all the individuals and know that they are made of the substance which ordain and do with the genius of humanity is the right point of view of history. The qualities abide. The men who exhibit them have now more now less and pass away. The qualities remain on another bra. No experience is more familiar. Once you saw phoenixes they are gone. The world is not therefore disenchanted. The vessels on which you read sacred emblems turned out to be common pottery, but the sense of the pictures is sacred, and you may still read them transferred to the walls of the world. For a time our teachers serve us personally as meters, or milestones of progress. Once they were angels of knowledge, and their fingers touch the sky. Then we drew near saw their means culture and limits, and they yielded their place to other geniuses. Happy if a few names remain so high, that we have not been able to read them nearer. And age and comparison have not robbed them of array. But at last, we shall cease to look in men for completeness and shall content ourselves with their social and delegated quality. All that respects the individual is temporary and prospective. Like the individual himself, who is ascending out of his limits into a Catholic existence. We have never come at the true and best benefit of any genius, so long as we believe him and original force. In the moment when he ceases to help us as a cause, he begins to help us more as an effect. Then he appears as an exponent of a vaster mind and will, the opaque self becomes transparent with the light of the first cause. Yet within the limits of human education and agency, we may say, great men exist, that there may be greater men. The destiny of organized nature is amelioration, and who can tell this limits. It is for men to tame the chaos on every side whilst he lives to scatter the seeds of science and of song, the climate, corn animals men may be milder, and the germs of love and benefit may be multiplied. That was Ralph Waldo Emerson's uses of great men, published as part of a larger work, Representative man in 1850. read for you by rollin Smith. You can find him at Roland g. smith.com. Katz cast is a production of silver hollow audio. Please don't forget to subscribe, and we'll see you again in two weeks. I'm Brett Barry. Thanks for listening.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai