A glimpse on the Philippine Literature

This page is intended only for schools and acedemic purposes. No part of this page is subjected to any forms of plagiarism or any writing violations. This blog will help to empower and to enrich the Philippine Literature.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Small Key by Paz Latorena

It was very warm. The sun, up above a sky that was blue and tremendous and beckoning to birds ever on the wing, shone bright as if determined to scorch everything under heaven, even the low, square nipa house that stood in an unashamed relief against the gray-green haze of grass and leaves.

It was lonely dwelling located far from its neighbors, which were huddled close to one another as if for mutual comfort. It was flanked on both sides by tall, slender bamboo tree which rustled plaintively under a gentle wind.

On the porch  a woman past her early twenties stood regarding the scene before her with eyes made incurious by its familiarity. All around her the land stretched endlessly, it seemed, and vanished into the distance. There were dark, newly  plowed furrows where in due time timorous seedling would give rise to sturdy stalks and golden grain, to a rippling yellow sea in the wind and sun during harvest time. Promise of plenty and reward for hard toil! With a sigh of discontent, however, the woman turned and entered a small dining room where a man sat over a belated a midday meal.

Pedro Buhay, a prosperous farmer, looked up from his plate and smiled at his wife as she stood framed by the doorway, the sunlight glinting on her dark hair, which was drawn back, without relenting wave, from a rather prominent and austere brow.

“Where are the shirts I ironed yesterday?” she asked as she approached the table.

“In my trunk, I think,” he answered.

“Some of them need darning,” and observing  the empty plate, she added, “do you want some more rice?”

“No,” hastily, “I am in a burry to get back. We must finish plowing the south field today because tomorrow is Sunday.”

Pedro pushed the chair back and stood up. Soledad began  to pile the dirty dishes one on top of the other.

“Here is the key to my trunk.” From the pocket of his khaki coat he pulled a string of non descript red which held together a big shiny key and another small, rather rusty looking one.

With deliberate care he untied the knot and, detaching the big key, dropped the small one back into his pocket. She watched him fixedly as he did this. The smile left her face and a strange look came into her eyes as she took the big key from  him without a word. Together they left the dining room.

Out of the porch he put an arm around her shoulders and peered into her shadowed face.

“You look pale and tired,” he remarked softly. “What have you been doing all morning?”

“Nothing,” she said listlessly. “But the heat gives me a headache.”

“Then lie down and try to sleep while I am gone.” For a moment they looked deep into each other’s eyes.

“It is really warm,” he continued. “I think I will take off my coat.”

He removed the garment absent mindedly and handed it to her. The stairs creaked under his weight as he went down.

“Choleng,” he turned his head as he opened the gate, “I shall pass by Tia Maria’s house and tell her to come. I may not return before dark.”

Soledad nodded. Her eyes followed her husband down the road, noting the fine set of his head and shoulders, the case of his stride. A strange ache rose in her throat.

She looked at the coat he had handed to her. It exuded a faint smell of his favorite cigars, one of which he invariably smoked, after the day’s work, on his way home from the fields. Mechanically, she began to fold the garment.

As she was doing so, s small object fell from the floor with a dull, metallic sound. Soledad stooped down to pick it up. It was the small key! She stared at it in her palm as if she had never seen it before. Her mouth was tightly drawn and for a while she looked almost old.

She passed into the small bedroom and tossed the coat carelessly on the back of a chair. She opened the window and the early afternoon sunshine flooded in. On a mat spread on the bamboo floor were some newly washed garments.

She began to fold them one by one in feverish haste, as if seeking in the task of the moment in refuge from painful thoughts. But her eyes moved restlessly around the room until they rested almost furtively on a small trunk that was half concealed by a rolled mat in a dark corner.

It was a small old trunk, without anything on the outside that might arouse one’s curiosity. But it held the things she had come to hate with unreasoning violence, the things that were causing her so much unnecessary anguish and pain and threatened to destroy all that was most beautiful between her and her husband!

Soledad came across a torn garment. She threaded a needle, but after a few uneven stitches she pricked her finger and a crimson drop stained the white garment. Then she saw she had been mending on the wrong side.

“What is the matter with me?” she asked herself aloud as she pulled the thread with nervous and impatient fingers.

What did it matter if her husband chose to keep the clothes of his first wife?

“She is dead anyhow. She is dead,” she repeated to herself over and over again.

The sound of her own voice calmed her. She tried to thread the needle once more. But she could not, not for the tears had come unbidden and completely blinded her.

“My God,” she cried with a sob, “make me forget Indo’s face as he put the small key back into his pocket.”

She brushed her tears with the sleeves of her camisa and abruptly stood up. The heat was stifling, and the silence in the house was beginning to be unendurable.

She looked out of the window. She wondered what was keeping Tia Maria. Perhaps Pedro had forgotten to pass by her house in his hurry. She could picture him out there in the south field gazing far and wide at the newly plowed land with no thought in his mind but of work, work. For to the people of the barrio whose patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, smiled on them with benign eyes from his crude altar in the little chapel up the hill, this season was a prolonged hour during which they were blind and dead to everything but the demands of the land.

During the next half hour Soledad wandered in and out of the rooms in effort to seek escape from her own thoughts and to fight down an overpowering impulse. If Tia Maria would only come and talk to her to divert her thoughts to other channels!

But the expression on her husband’s face as he put the small key back into his pocket kept torturing her like a nightmare, goading beyond endurance. Then, with all resistance to the impulse gone, she was kneeling before the small trunk. With the long drawn breath she inserted the small key. There was an unpleasant metallic sound, for the key had not been used for a long time and it was rusty.

That evening Pedro Buhay hurried home with the usual cigar dangling from his mouth, pleased with himself and the tenants because the work in the south field had been finished. Tia Maria met him at the gate and told him that Soledad was in bed with a fever.

“I shall go to town and bring Doctor Santos,” he decided, his cool hand on his wife’s brow.

Soledad opened her eyes.

“Don’t, Indo,” she begged with a vague terror in her eyes which he took for anxiety for him because the town was pretty far and the road was dark and deserted by that hour of the night. “I shall be alright tomorrow.”

Pedro returned an hour later, very tired and very worried. The doctor was not at home but his wife had promised to give him Pedro’s message as soon as he came in.

Tia Maria  decide to remain for the night. But it was Pedro who stayed up to watch the sick woman. He was puzzled and worried – more than he cared to admit it. It was true that Soledad did not looked very well early that afternoon. Yet, he thought, the fever was rather sudden. He was afraid it might be a symptom of a serious illness.

Soledad was restless the whole night. She tossed from one side to another, but toward morning she fell into some sort of troubled sleep. Pedro then lay down to snatch a few winks.

He woke up to find the soft morning sunshine streaming through the half-open window. He got up without making any noise. His wife was still asleep and now breathing evenly. A sudden rush of tenderness came over him at the sight of her – so slight, so frail.

Tia Maria was nowhere to be seen, but that did not bother him, for it was Sunday and the work in the south field was finished. However, he missed the pleasant aroma which came from the kitchen every time he had awakened early in the morning.

The kitchen was neat but cheerless, and an immediate search for wood brought no results. So shouldering an ax, Pedro descended the rickety stairs that led to the backyard.

The morning was clear and the breeze soft and cool. Pedro took in a deep breath of air. It was good – it smelt of trees, of the ricefields, of the land he loved.

He found a pile of logs under the young mango tree near the house and began to chop. He swung the ax with rapid clean sweeps, enjoying the feel of the smooth wooden handle in his palms.

As he stopped for a while to mop his brow, his eyes caught the remnants of a smudge that had been built in the backyard.

“Ah!” he muttered to himself. “She swept the yard yesterday after I left her. That, coupled with the heat, must have given her a headache and then the fever.”

The morning breeze stirred the ashes and a piece of white cloth fluttered into view.

Pedro dropped his ax. It was a half-burn panuelo. Somebody had been burning clothes. He examined the slightly ruined garment closely. A puzzled expression came into his eyes. First it was doubt groping for truth, then amazement, and finally agonized incredulity passed across his face. He almost ran back to the house. In three strides he was upstairs. He found his coat hanging from the back of a chair.

Cautiously he entered the room. The heavy breathing of his wife told him that she was still asleep. As he stood by the small trunk, a vague distaste to open it assailed to him. Surely he must be mistaken. She could not have done it, she could not have been that… that foolish.

Resolutely he opened the trunk. It was empty.

It was nearly noon when the doctor arrived. He felt Soledad’s pulse and asked question which she answered in monosyllables. Pedro stood by listening to the whole procedure with an inscrutable expression on his face. He had the same expression when the doctor told him that nothing was really wrong with his wife although she seemed to be worried about something. The physician merely prescribed a day of complete rest.

Pedro lingered on the porch after the doctor left. He was trying not to be angry with his wife. He hoped it would be just an interlude that could be recalled without bitterness. She would explain sooner or later, she would be repentant, perhaps she would even listen and eventually forgive her, for she was young and he loved her. But somehow he knew that this incident would always remain a shadow in their lives.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Here's the list of the stories, essays and plays we discussed in phil.lit

Don't forget the characters, setting, the authors, types of essay, purpose of essay, and do not forget the story itself..
for those who do not pass their requirements, it's you last chance for tomorrow
5 essays of either Conrado De Quiros or Randy David with one page reaction paper
Submit everything tomorrow....

The essays, the stories, and plays:
The world is an apple by Alberto Florentino
The virgin- Kerima Polotan Tuviera
We Filipinos are mild drinkers- Alejandro Roces
Embracing for Balikbayans- Conrado De Quiros
Dogeaters-Randy David
The Pinay from pasay by Tessie Crescini Hovland
Women are extraordinary by Maria. Guerrero(forgot the first name)
A portrait of Artist as A Filipino- Nick Joaquin
(if i forgot something, just post it)

Good luck for tomorrow!!!
Pray for us!:))
Philippine literature in English class under Dr. Ballesteros


Saturday, September 25, 2010

We Filipinos are mild drinkers by Alejandro R. Roces

We Filipinos are mild drinkers. We drink for only three good reasons. We drink when we are very happy. We drink when we are very sad. And we drink for any other reason.


When the Americans recaptured the Philippines, they built an air base a few miles from our barrio. Yankee soldiers became a very common sight. I met a lot of GIs and made many friends. I could not pronounce their names. I could not tell them apart. All Americans looked alike to me. They all looked white.

One afternoon I was plowing our rice field with our carabao named Datu. I was barefooted and stripped to the waist. My pants that were made from abaca fibers and woven on homemade looms were rolled up to my knees. My bolo was at my side.

An American soldier was walking on the highway. When he saw me, he headed toward me. I stopped plowing and waited for him. I noticed he was carrying a half-pint bottle of whiskey. Whiskey bottles seemed part of the American uniform.

“Hello, my little brown brother,” he said, patting me on the head.

“Hello, Joe,” I answered.

All Americans are called Joe in the Philippines.

“I am sorry, Jose,” I replied. “There are no bars in this barrio.”

“Oh, hell! You know where I could buy more whiskey?”

“Here, have a swig. You have been working hard,” he said, offering me his half-filled bottle.

“No, thank you, Joe,” I said. “We Filipinos are mild drinkers.”

“Well, don’t you drink at all?”

“Yes, Joe, I drink, but not whiskey.”

“What the hell do you drink?”

“I drink lambanog.”

“Jungle juice, eh?”

“I guess that is what the GIs call it.”

“You know where I could buy some?”

“I have some you can have, but I do not think you will like it.”

“I’ll like it all right. Don’t worry about that. I have drunk everything—whiskey, rum, brandy, tequila, gin, champagne, sake, vodka. . . .” He mentioned many more that I cannot spell.

“I not only drink a lot, but I drink anything. I drank Chanel Number 5 when I was in France. In New Guinea I got soused on Williams’ Shaving Lotion. When I was laid up in a hospital I pie-eyed with medical alcohol. On my way here on a transport I got stoned on torpedo juice. You ain’t kidding when you say I drink a lot. So let’s have some of that jungle juice, eh?”

“All right, “I said. “I will just take this carabao to the mud hole then we can go home and drink.”

“You sure love that animal, don’t you?”

“I should,” I replied. “It does half of my work.”

“Why don’t you get two of them?”

I didn’t answer.

I unhitched Datu from the plow and led him to the mud hole. Joe was following me. Datu lay in the mud and was going: Whooooosh! Whooooosh!

Flies and other insects flew from his back and hovered in the air. A strange warm odor rose out of the muddle. A carabao does not have any sweat glands except on the nose. It has to wallow in the mud or bathe in a river every three hours. Otherwise it runs amok.

Datu shook his head and his widespread horns scooped the muddy water on his back. He rolled over and was soon covered with slimy mud. An expression of perfect contentment came into his eyes. Then he swished his tail and Joe and I had to move back from the mud hole to keep from getting splashed. I left Datu in the mud hole. Then turning to Joe, I said.

“Let us go.”

And we proceeded toward my house. Jose was cautiously looking around.

“This place is full of coconut trees,” he said.

“Don’t you have any coconut trees in America?” I asked.

“No,” he replied. “Back home we have the pine tree.”

“What is it like?”

“Oh, it is tall and stately. It goes straight up to the sky like a skyscraper. It symbolizes America.”

“Well,” I said, “the coconut tree symbolizes the Philippines. It starts up to the sky, but then its leaves sway down the earth, as if remembering the land that gave it birth. It does not forget the soil that gave it life.”

In a short while, we arrived in my nipa house. I took the bamboo ladder and leaned it against a tree. Then I climbed the ladder and picked some calamansi.

“What’s that?” Joe asked.

“Philippine lemon,” I answered. “We will need this for our drinks.”

“Oh, chasers.”

“That is right, Joe. That is what the soldiers call it.”

I filled my pockets and then went down. I went to the garden well and washed the mud from my legs. Then we went up a bamboo ladder to my hut. It was getting dark, so I filled a coconut shell, dipped a wick in the oil and lighted the wick. It produced a flickering light. I unstrapped my bolo and hung it on the wall.

“Please sit down, Joe,” I said.

“Where?” he asked, looking around.

“Right there,” I said, pointing to the floor.

Joe sat down on the floor. I sliced the calamansi in halves, took some rough salt and laid it on the foot high table. I went to the kitchen and took the bamboo tube where I kept my lambanog.

Lambanog is a drink extracted from the coconut tree with pulverized mangrove bark thrown in to prevent spontaneous combustion. It has many uses. We use it as a remedy for snake bites, as counteractive for malaria chills, as an insecticide and for tanning carabao hide.

I poured some lambanog on two polished coconut shells and gave one of the shells to Joe. I diluted my drink with some of Joe’s whiskey. It became milky. We were both seated on the floor. I poured some of my drink on the bamboo floor; it went through the slits to the ground below.

“Hey, what are you doing,” said Joe, “throwing good liquor away?”

“No, Joe,” I said. “It is the custom here always to give back to the earth a little of what we have taken from the earth.”

“Well,” he said, raising his shell. “Here’s to the end of the war!”

“Here is to the end of the war!” I said, also lifting my shell. I gulped my drink down. I followed it with a slice of calamansi dipped in rough salt. Joe took his drink but reacted in a peculiar way.

His eyes popped out like a frog’s and his hand clutched his throat. He looked as if he had swallowed a centipede.

“Quick, a chaser!” he said.

I gave him a slice of calamansi dipped in unrefined salt. He squirted it in his mouth. But it was too late. Nothing could chase her. The calamansi did not help him. I don’t think even a coconut would have helped him.

“What is wrong, Joe?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said. “The first drink always affects me this way.”

He was panting hard and tears were rolling down his cheeks.

“Well, the first drink always acts like a minesweeper,” I said, “but this second one will be smooth.”

I filled his shell for the second time. Again I diluted my drink with Joe’s whiskey. I gave his shell. I noticed that he was beaded with perspiration. He had unbuttoned his collar and loosened his tie. Joe took his shell but he did not seem very anxious. I lifted my shell and said: “Here is to America!”


I was trying to be a good host.

“Here’s to America!” Joe said.

We both killed our drinks. Joe again reacted in a funny way. His neck stretched out like a turtle’s. And now he was panting like a carabao gone berserk. He was panting like a carabao gone amok. He was grasping his tie with one hand.

Then he looked down on his tie, threw it to one side, and said: “Oh, Christ, for a while I thought it was my tongue.”

After this he started to tinker with his teeth.

“What is wrong, Joe?” I asked, still trying to be a perfect host.

“Plenty, this damned drink has loosened my bridgework.”

As Joe exhaled, a moth flying around the flickering flame fell dead. He stared at the dead moth and said: “And they talk of DDT.”

“Well, how about another drink?” I asked. “It is what we came here for.”

“No, thanks,” he said. “I’m through.”

“OK. Just one more.”

I poured the juice in the shells and again diluted mine with whiskey. I handed Joe his drink.

Here’s to the Philippines,” he said.

“Here’s to the Philippines,” I said.

Joe took some of his drink. I could not see very clearly in the flickering light, but I could have sworn I saw smoke coming out of his ears.

“This stuff must be radioactive,” he said.

He threw the remains of his drink on the nipa wall and yelled: “Blaze, goddam you, blaze!”

Just as I was getting in the mood to drink, Joe passed out. He lay on the floor flat as a starfish. He was in a class all by himself.

I knew that the soldiers had to be back in their barracks at a certain time. So I decided to take Joe back. I tried to lift him. It was like lifting a carabao. I had to call four of my neighbors to help me carry Joe. We slung him on top of my carabao. I took my bolo from the house and strapped it on my waist. Then I proceeded to take him back. The whole barrio was wondering what had happened to the big Amerikano.

After two hours I arrived at the airfield. I found out which barracks he belonged to and took him there. His friends helped me to take him to his cot. They were glad to see him back. Everybody thanked me for taking him home. As I was leaving the barracks to go home, one of his buddies called me and said:

“Hey, you! How about a can of beer before you go?”

“No, thanks, “I said. “We Filipinos are mild drinkers.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Scent of Apples Bienvenido N. Santos

When I arrived in Kalamazoo it was October and the war was still on. Gold and silver stars hung on pennants above silent windows of white and brick-red cottages. In a backyard an old man burned leaves and twigs while a gray-haired woman sat on the porch, her red hands quiet on her lap, watching the smoke rising above the elms, both of them thinking the same thought perhaps, about a tall, grinning boy with his blue eyes and flying hair, who went out to war: where could he be now this month when leaves were turning into gold and the fragrance of gathered apples was in the wind?
        It was a cold night when I left my room at the hotel for a usual speaking engagement. I walked but a little way. A heavy wind coming up from Lake Michigan was icy on the face. If felt like winter straying early in the northern woodlands. Under the lampposts the leaves shone like bronze. And they rolled on the pavements like the ghost feet of a thousand autumns long dead, long before the boys left for faraway lands without great icy winds and promise of winter early in the air, lands without apple trees, the singing and the gold!
        It was the same night I met Celestino Fabia, "just a Filipino farmer" as he called himself, who had a farm about thirty miles east of Kalamazoo.
       "You came all that way on a night like this just to hear me talk?"
       "I've seen no Filipino for so many years now," he answered quickly. "So when I saw your name in the papers where it says you come from the Islands and that you're going to talk, I come right away."
        Earlier that night I had addressed a college crowd, mostly women. It appeared they wanted me to talk about my country, they wanted me to tell them things about it because my country had become a lost country. Everywhere in the land the enemy stalked. Over it a great silence hung, and their boys were there, unheard from, or they were on their way to some little known island on the Pacific, young boys all, hardly men, thinking of harvest moons and the smell of forest fire.
        It was not hard talking about our own people. I knew them well and I loved them. And they seemed so far away during those terrible years that I must have spoken of them with a little fervor, a little nostalgia.
        In the open forum that followed, the audience wanted to know whether there was much difference between our women and the American women. I tried to answer the question as best I could, saying, among other things, that I did not know that much about American women, except that they looked friendly, but differences or similarities in inner qualities such as naturally belonged to the heart or to the mind, I could only speak about with vagueness.
        While I was trying to explain away the fact that it was not easy to make comparisons, a man rose from the rear of the hall, wanting to say something. In the distance, he looked slight and old and very brown. Even before he spoke, I knew that he was, like me, a Filipino.
       "I'm a Filipino," he began, loud and clear, in a voice that seemed used to wide open spaces, "I'm just a Filipino farmer out in the country." He waved his hand toward the door. "I left the Philippines more than twenty years ago and have never been back. Never will perhaps. I want to find out, sir, are our Filipino women the same like they were twenty years ago?"
        As he sat down, the hall filled with voices, hushed and intrigued. I weighed my answer carefully. I did not want to tell a lie yet I did not want to say anything that would seem platitudinous, insincere. But more important than these considerations, it seemed to me that moment as I looked towards my countryman, I must give him an answer that would not make him so unhappy. Surely, all these years, he must have held on to certain ideals, certain beliefs, even illusions peculiar to the exile.
       "First," I said as the voices gradually died down and every eye seemed upon me, "First, tell me what our women were like twenty years ago."
        The man stood to answer. "Yes," he said, "you're too young . . . Twenty years ago our women were nice, they were modest, they wore their hair long, they dressed proper and went for no monkey business. They were natural, they went to church regular, and they were faithful." He had spoken slowly, and now in what seemed like an afterthought, added, "It's the men who ain't."
        Now I knew what I was going to say.
       "Well," I began, "it will interest you to know that our women have changed--but definitely! The change, however, has been on the outside only. Inside, here," pointing to the heart, "they are the same as they were twenty years ago. God-fearing, faithful, modest, and nice."
        The man was visibly moved. "I'm very happy, sir," he said, in the manner of one who, having stakes on the land, had found no cause to regret one's sentimental investment.
        After this, everything that was said and done in that hall that night seemed like an anti-climax, and later, as we walked outside, he gave me his name and told me of his farm thirty miles east of the city.
        We had stopped at the main entrance to the hotel lobby. We had not talked very much on the way. As a matter of fact, we were never alone. Kindly American friends talked to us, asked us questions, said goodnight. So now I asked him whether he cared to step into the lobby with me and talk.
       "No, thank you," he said, "you are tired. And I don't want to stay out too late."
       "Yes, you live very far."
       "I got a car," he said, "besides . . . "
        Now he smiled, he truly smiled. All night I had been watching his face and I wondered when he was going to smile.
       "Will you do me a favor, please," he continued smiling almost sweetly. "I want you to have dinner with my family out in the country. I'd call for you tomorrow afternoon, then drive you back. Will that be alright?"
       "Of course," I said. "I'd love to meet your family." I was leaving Kalamazoo for Muncie, Indiana, in two days. There was plenty of time.
       "You will make my wife very happy," he said.
       "You flatter me."
       "Honest. She'll be very happy. Ruth is a country girl and hasn't met many Filipinos. I mean Filipinos younger than I, cleaner looking. We're just poor farmer folk, you know, and we don't get to town very often. Roger, that's my boy, he goes to school in town. A bus takes him early in the morning and he's back in the afternoon. He's nice boy."
       "I bet he is," I agreed. "I've seen the children of some of the boys by their American wives and the boys are tall, taller than their father, and very good looking."
       "Roger, he'd be tall. You'll like him."
        Then he said goodbye and I waved to him as he disappeared in the darkness.
        The next day he came, at about three in the afternoon. There was a mild, ineffectual sun shining, and it was not too cold. He was wearing an old brown tweed jacket and worsted trousers to match. His shoes were polished, and although the green of his tie seemed faded, a colored shirt hardly accentuated it. He looked younger than he appeared the night before now that he was clean shaven and seemed ready to go to a party. He was grinning as we met.
       "Oh, Ruth can't believe it," he kept repeating as he led me to his car--a nondescript thing in faded black that had known better days and many hands. "I says to her, I'm bringing you a first class Filipino, and she says, aw, go away, quit kidding, there's no such thing as first class Filipino. But Roger, that's my boy, he believed me immediately. What's he like, daddy, he asks. Oh, you will see, I says, he's first class. Like you daddy? No, no, I laugh at him, your daddy ain't first class. Aw, but you are, daddy, he says. So you can see what a nice boy he is, so innocent. Then Ruth starts griping about the house, but the house is a mess, she says. True it's a mess, it's always a mess, but you don't mind, do you? We're poor folks, you know.
        The trip seemed interminable. We passed through narrow lanes and disappeared into thickets, and came out on barren land overgrown with weeds in places. All around were dead leaves and dry earth. In the distance were apple trees.
       "Aren't those apple trees?" I asked wanting to be sure.
       "Yes, those are apple trees," he replied. "Do you like apples? I got lots of 'em. I got an apple orchard, I'll show you."
        All the beauty of the afternoon seemed in the distance, on the hills, in the dull soft sky.
       "Those trees are beautiful on the hills," I said.
       "Autumn's a lovely season. The trees are getting ready to die, and they show their colors, proud-like."
       "No such thing in our own country," I said.
        That remark seemed unkind, I realized later. It touched him off on a long deserted tangent, but ever there perhaps. How many times did lonely mind take unpleasant detours away from the familiar winding lanes towards home for fear of this, the remembered hurt, the long lost youth, the grim shadows of the years; how many times indeed, only the exile knows.
        It was a rugged road we were traveling and the car made so much noise that I could not hear everything he said, but I understood him. He was telling his story for the first time in many years. He was remembering his own youth. He was thinking of home. In these odd moments there seemed no cause for fear no cause at all, no pain. That would come later. In the night perhaps. Or lonely on the farm under the apple trees.
        In this old Visayan town, the streets are narrow and dirty and strewn with coral shells. You have been there? You could not have missed our house, it was the biggest in town, one of the oldest, ours was a big family. The house stood right on the edge of the street. A door opened heavily and you enter a dark hall leading to the stairs. There is the smell of chickens roosting on the low-topped walls, there is the familiar sound they make and you grope your way up a massive staircase, the bannisters smooth upon the trembling hand. Such nights, they are no better than the days, windows are closed against the sun; they close heavily.
        Mother sits in her corner looking very white and sick. This was her world, her domain. In all these years, I cannot remember the sound of her voice. Father was different. He moved about. He shouted. He ranted. He lived in the past and talked of honor as though it were the only thing.
        I was born in that house. I grew up there into a pampered brat. I was mean. One day I broke their hearts. I saw mother cry wordlessly as father heaped his curses upon me and drove me out of the house, the gate closing heavily after me. And my brothers and sisters took up my father's hate for me and multiplied it numberless times in their own broken hearts. I was no good.
        But sometimes, you know, I miss that house, the roosting chickens on the low-topped walls. I miss my brothers and sisters, Mother sitting in her chair, looking like a pale ghost in a corner of the room. I would remember the great live posts, massive tree trunks from the forests. Leafy plants grew on the sides, buds pointing downwards, wilted and died before they could become flowers. As they fell on the floor, father bent to pick them and throw them out into the coral streets. His hands were strong. I have kissed these hands . . . many times, many times.
        Finally we rounded a deep curve and suddenly came upon a shanty, all but ready to crumble in a heap on the ground, its plastered walls were rotting away, the floor was hardly a foot from the ground. I thought of the cottages of the poor colored folk in the south, the hovels of the poor everywhere in the land. This one stood all by itself as though by common consent all the folk that used to live here had decided to say away, despising it, ashamed of it. Even the lovely season could not color it with beauty.
        A dog barked loudly as we approached. A fat blonde woman stood at the door with a little boy by her side. Roger seemed newly scrubbed. He hardly took his eyes off me. Ruth had a clean apron around her shapeless waist. Now as she shook my hands in sincere delight I noticed shamefacedly (that I should notice) how rough her hands were, how coarse and red with labor, how ugly! She was no longer young and her smile was pathetic.
        As we stepped inside and the door closed behind us, immediately I was aware of the familiar scent of apples. The room was bare except for a few ancient pieces of second-hand furniture. In the middle of the room stood a stove to keep the family warm in winter. The walls were bare. Over the dining table hung a lamp yet unlighted.
        Ruth got busy with the drinks. She kept coming in and out of a rear room that must have been the kitchen and soon the table was heavy with food, fried chicken legs and rice, and green peas and corn on the ear. Even as we ate, Ruth kept standing, and going to the kitchen for more food. Roger ate like a little gentleman.
       "Isn't he nice looking?" his father asked.
       "You are a handsome boy, Roger," I said.
        The boy smiled at me. You look like Daddy," he said.
        Afterwards I noticed an old picture leaning on the top of a dresser and stood to pick it up. It was yellow and soiled with many fingerings. The faded figure of a woman in Philippine dress could yet be distinguished although the face had become a blur.
       "Your . . . " I began.
       "I don't know who she is," Fabia hastened to say. "I picked that picture many years ago in a room on La Salle street in Chicago. I have often wondered who she is."
       "The face wasn't a blur in the beginning?"
       "Oh, no. It was a young face and good."
        Ruth came with a plate full of apples.
       "Ah," I cried, picking out a ripe one. "I've been thinking where all the scent of apples came from. The room is full of it."
       "I'll show you," said Fabia.
        He showed me a backroom, not very big. It was half-full of apples.
       "Every day," he explained, "I take some of them to town to sell to the groceries. Prices have been low. I've been losing on the trips."
       "These apples will spoil," I said.
       "We'll feed them to the pigs."
        Then he showed me around the farm. It was twilight now and the apple trees stood bare against a glowing western sky. In apple blossom time it must be lovely here. But what about wintertime?
        One day, according to Fabia, a few years ago, before Roger was born, he had an attack of acute appendicitis. It was deep winter. The snow lay heavy everywhere. Ruth was pregnant and none too well herself. At first she did not know what to do. She bundled him in warm clothing and put him on a cot near the stove. She shoveled the snow from their front door and practically carried the suffering man on her shoulders, dragging him through the newly made path towards the road where they waited for the U.S. Mail car to pass. Meanwhile snowflakes poured all over them and she kept rubbing the man's arms and legs as she herself nearly froze to death.
       "Go back to the house, Ruth!" her husband cried, "you'll freeze to death."
        But she clung to him wordlessly. Even as she massaged his arms and legs, her tears rolled down her cheeks. "I won't leave you," she repeated.
        Finally the U.S. Mail car arrived. The mailman, who knew them well, helped them board the car, and, without stopping on his usual route, took the sick man and his wife direct to the nearest hospital.
        Ruth stayed in the hospital with Fabia. She slept in a corridor outside the patients' ward and in the day time helped in scrubbing the floor and washing the dishes and cleaning the men's things. They didn't have enough money and Ruth was willing to work like a slave.
       "Ruth's a nice girl," said Fabia, "like our own Filipino women."
        Before nightfall, he took me back to the hotel. Ruth and Roger stood at the door holding hands and smiling at me. From inside the room of the shanty, a low light flickered. I had a last glimpse of the apple trees in the orchard under the darkened sky as Fabia backed up the car. And soon we were on our way back to town. The dog had started barking. We could hear it for some time, until finally, we could not hear it anymore, and all was darkness around us, except where the headlamps revealed a stretch of road leading somewhere.
        Fabia did not talk this time. I didn't seem to have anything to say myself. But when finally we came to the hotel and I got down, Fabia said, "Well, I guess I won't be seeing you again."
        It was dimly lighted in front of the hotel and I could hardly see Fabia's face. Without getting off the car, he moved to where I had sat, and I saw him extend his hand. I gripped it.
       "Tell Ruth and Roger," I said, "I love them."
        He dropped my hand quickly. "They'll be waiting for me now," he said.
       "Look," I said, not knowing why I said it, "one of these days, very soon, I hope, I'll be going home. I could go to your town."
       "No," he said softly, sounding very much defeated but brave, "Thanks a lot. But, you see, nobody would remember me now."
        Then he started the car, and as it moved away, he waved his hand.
       "Goodbye," I said, waving back into the darkness. And suddenly the night was cold like winter straying early in these northern woodlands.
        I hurried inside. There was a train the next morning that left for Muncie, Indiana, at a quarter after eight.

Self-reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I read the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which were original and not conventional. The soul always hears an admonition in such lines, let the subject be what it may. The sentiment they instill is of more value than any thought they may contain. 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 the inmost in due time becomes the outmost, and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses 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-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow 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, no kernel of nourishing corn 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 that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without pre-established harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.
What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text, in the face and behaviour of children, babes, and even brutes! That divided and rebel mind, that distrust of a sentiment because our arithmetic has computed the strength and means opposed to our purpose, these have not. Their mind being whole, their eye is as yet unconquered, and when we look in their faces, we are disconcerted. Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it, so that one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults who prattle and play to it. So God has armed youth and puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm, and made it enviable and gracious and its claims not to be put by, if it will stand by itself. Do not think the youth has no force, because he cannot speak to you and me. Hark! in the next room his voice is sufficiently clear and emphatic. It seems he knows how to speak to his contemporaries. Bashful or bold, then, he will know how to make us seniors very unnecessary.
The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, are the healthy attitude of human nature. A boy is in the parlour what the pit is in the playhouse; independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome. He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine verdict. You must court him: he does not court you. But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person, watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections must now enter into his account. There is no Lethe for this. Ah, that he could pass again into his neutrality! Who can thus avoid all pledges, and having observed, observe again from the same unaffected, unbiased, unbribable, unaffrighted innocence, must always be formidable.
He would utter opinions on all passing affairs, which being seen to be not private, but necessary, would sink like darts into the ear of men, and put them in fear. These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.
Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser, who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested, "But these impulses may be from below, not from above." I replied, "They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil's child, I will live then from the Devil." No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways. If malice and vanity wear the coat of philanthropy, shall that pass? If an angry bigot assumes this bountiful cause of Abolition, and comes to me with his last news from Barbados, why should I not say to him, 'Go love thy infant; love thy wood-chopper: be good-natured and modest: have that grace; and never varnish your hard, uncharitable ambition with this incredible tenderness for black folk a thousand miles off. Thy love afar is spite at home.' Rough and graceless would be such greeting, but truth is handsomer than the affectation of love. Your goodness must have some edge to it, else it is none. The doctrine of hatred must be preached as the counteraction of the doctrine of love when that pules and whines. I shun father and mother and wife and brother, when my genius calls me. I would write on the lintels of the door-post, Whim. I hope it is somewhat better than whim at last, but we cannot spend the day in explanation. Expect me not to show cause why I seek or why I exclude company. Then, again, do not tell me, as a good man did to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prison, if need be; but your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots; and the thousandfold Relief Societies; though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold.
Virtues are, in the popular estimate, rather the exception than the rule. There is the man and his virtues. Men do what is called a good action, as some piece of courage or charity, much as they would pay a fine in expiation of daily non-appearance on parade. Their works are done as an apology or extenuation of their living in the world, as invalids and the insane pay a high board. Their virtues are penances. I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding. I ask primary evidence that you are a man, and refuse this appeal from the man to his actions. I know that for myself it makes no difference whether I do or forbear those actions which are reckoned excellent. I cannot consent to pay for a privilege where I have intrinsic right. Few and mean as my gifts may be, I actually am, and do not need for my own assurance or the assurance of my fellows any secondary testimony.
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.
The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is, that it scatters your force. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. If you maintain a dead church, contribute to a dead Bible-society, vote with a great party either for the government or against it, spread your table like base housekeepers, under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are.And, of course, so much force is withdrawn from your proper life. But do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. A man must consider what a blindman's-buff is this game of conformity. If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument. I hear a preacher announce for his text and topic the expediency of one of the institutions of his church.
Do I not know beforehand that not possibly can he say a new and spontaneous word? Do I not know that, with all this ostentation of examining the grounds of the institution, he will do no such thing? Do I not know that he is pledged to himself not to look but at one side, — the permitted side, not as a man, but as a parish minister? He is a retained attorney, and these airs of the bench are the emptiest affectation. Well, most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right. Meantime nature is not slow to equip us in the prison-uniform of the party to which we adhere. We come to wear one cut of face and figure, and acquire by degrees the gentlest asinine expression. There is a mortifying experience in particular, which does not fail to wreak itself also in the general history; I mean "the foolish face of praise," the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease in answer to conversation which does not interest us. The muscles, not spontaneously moved, but moved by a low usurping willfulness, grow tight about the outline of the face with the most disagreeable sensation.
For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. The by-standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend's parlour. If this aversation had its origin in contempt and resistance like his own, he might well go home with a sad countenance; but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs. Yet is the discontent of the multitude more formidable than that of the senate and the college. It is easy enough for a firm man who knows the world to brook the rage of the cultivated classes. Their rage is decorous and prudent, for they are timid as being very vulnerable themselves. But when to their feminine rage the indignation of the people is added, when the ignorant and the poor are aroused, when the unintelligent brute force that lies at the bottom of society is made to growl and mow, it needs the habit of magnanimity and religion to treat it godlike as a trifle of no concernment.
The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.
But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then? It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on your memory alone, scarcely even in acts of pure memory, but to bring the past for judgment into the thousand-eyed present, and live ever in a new day. In your metaphysics you have denied personality to the Deity: yet when the devout motions of the soul come, yield to them heart and life, though they should clothe God with shape and color. Leave your theory, as Joseph his coat in the hand of the harlot, and flee.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. "Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood." Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
I suppose no man can violate his nature. All the sallies of his will are rounded in by the law of his being, as the inequalities of Andes and Himmaleh are insignificant in the curve of the sphere. Nor does it matter how you gauge and try him. A character is like an acrostic or Alexandrian stanza; read it forward, backward, or across, it still spells the same thing. In this pleasing, contrite wood-life which God allows me, let me record day by day my honest thought without prospect or retrospect, and, I cannot doubt, it will be found symmetrical, though I mean it not, and see it not. My book should smell of pines and resound with the hum of insects. The swallow over my window should interweave that thread or straw he carries in his bill into my web also. We pass for what we are. Character teaches above our wills. Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment.
There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. For of one will, the actions will be harmonious, however unlike they seem. These varieties are lost sight of at a little distance, at a little height of thought. One tendency unites them all. The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. Act singly, and what you have already done singly will justify you now. Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. The force of character is cumulative. All the foregone days of virtue work their health into this.
What makes the majesty of the heroes of the senate and the field, which so fills the imagination? The consciousness of a train of great days and victories behind. They shed an united light on the advancing actor. He is attended as by a visible escort of angels. That is it which throws thunder into Chatham's voice, and dignity into Washington's port, and America into Adams's eye. Honor is venerable to us because it is no ephemeris. It is always ancient virtue. We worship it to-day because it is not of to-day. We love it and pay it homage, because it is not a trap for our love and homage, but is self-dependent, self-derived, and therefore of an old immaculate pedigree, even if shown in a young person.
I hope in these days we have heard the last of conformity and consistency. Let the words be gazetted and ridiculous henceforward. Instead of the gong for dinner, let us hear a whistle from the Spartan fife. Let us never bow and apologize more. A great man is coming to eat at my house. I do not wish to please him; I wish that he should wish to please me. I will stand here for humanity, and though I would make it kind, I would make it true. Let us affront and reprimand the smooth mediocrity and squalid contentment of the times, and hurl in the face of custom, and trade, and office, the fact which is the upshot of all history, that there is a great responsible Thinker and Actor working wherever a man works; that a true man belongs to no other time or place, but is the center of things. Where he is, there is nature. He measures you, and all men, and all events. Ordinarily, every body in society reminds us of somewhat else, or of some other person. Character, reality, reminds you of nothing else; it takes place of the whole creation. The man must be so much, that he must make all circumstances indifferent. Every true man is a cause, a country, and an age; requires infinite spaces and numbers and time fully to accomplish his design; and posterity seem to follow his steps as a train of clients. A man Caesar is born, and for ages after we have a Roman Empire. Christ is born, and millions of minds so grow and cleave to his genius, that he is confounded with virtue and the possible of man. An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man; as, Monachism, of the Hermit Antony; the Reformation, of Luther; Quakerism, of Fox; Methodism, of Wesley; Abolition, of Clarkson. Scipio, Milton called "the height of Rome"; and all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons.
Let a man then know his worth, and keep things under his feet. Let him not peep or steal, or skulk up and down with the air of a charity-boy, a bastard, or an interloper, in the world which exists for him. But the man in the street, finding no worth in himself which corresponds to the force which built a tower or sculptured a marble god, feels poor when he looks on these. To him a palace, a statue, or a costly book have an alien and forbidding air, much like a gay equipage, and seem to say like that, "Who are you, Sir?" Yet they all are his, suitors for his notice, petitioners to his faculties that they will come out and take possession. The picture waits for my verdict: it is not to command me, but I am to settle its claims to praise. That popular fable of the sot who was picked up dead drunk in the street, carried to the duke's house, washed and dressed and laid in the duke's bed, and, on his waking, treated with all obsequious ceremony like the duke, and assured that he had been insane, owes its popularity to the fact, that it symbolizes so well the state of man, who is in the world a sort of sot, but now and then wakes up, exercises his reason, and finds himself a true prince.
Our reading is mendicant and sycophantic. In history, our imagination plays us false. Kingdom and lordship, power and estate, are a gaudier vocabulary than private John and Edward in a small house and common day's work; but the things of life are the same to both; the sum total of both is the same. Why all this deference to Alfred, and Scanderbeg, and Gustavus? Suppose they were virtuous; did they wear out virtue? As great a stake depends on your private act to-day, as followed their public and renowned steps. When private men shall act with original views, the lustre will be transferred from the actions of kings to those of gentlemen.
The world has been instructed by its kings, who have so magnetized the eyes of nations. It has been taught by this colossal symbol the mutual reverence that is due from man to man. The joyful loyalty with which men have everywhere suffered the king, the noble, or the great proprietor to walk among them by a law of his own, make his own scale of men and things, and reverse theirs, pay for benefits not with money but with honor, and represent the law in his person, was the hieroglyphic by which they obscurely signified their consciousness of their own right and comeliness, the right of every man.
The magnetism which all original action exerts is explained when we inquire the reason of self-trust. Who is the Trustee? What is the aboriginal Self, on which a universal reliance may be grounded? What is the nature and power of that science-baffling star, without parallax, without calculable elements, which shoots a ray of beauty even into trivial and impure actions, if the least mark of independence appear? The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition, whilst all later teachings are tuitions. In that deep force, the last fact behind which analysis cannot go, all things find their common origin. For, the sense of being which in calm hours rises, we know not how, in the soul, is not diverse from things, from space, from light, from time, from man, but one with them, and proceeds obviously from the same source whence their life and being also proceed. We first share the life by which things exist, and afterwards see them as appearances in nature, and forget that we have shared their cause. Here is the fountain of action and of thought.
Here are the lungs of that inspiration which giveth man wisdom, and which cannot be denied without impiety and atheism. We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity. When we discern justice, when we discern truth, we do nothing of ourselves, but allow a passage to its beams. If we ask whence this comes, if we seek to pry into the soul that causes, all philosophy is at fault. Its presence or its absence is all we can affirm. Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his mind, and his involuntary perceptions, and knows that to his involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due. He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night, not to be disputed. My willful actions and acquisitions are but roving; the idlest reverie, the faintest native emotion, command my curiosity and respect. Thoughtless people contradict as readily the statement of perceptions as of opinions, or rather much more readily; for, they do not distinguish between perception and notion. They fancy that I choose to see this or that thing. But perception is not whimsical, but fatal. If I see a trait, my children will see it after me, and in course of time, all mankind, — although it may chance that no one has seen it before me. For my perception of it is as much a fact as the sun.
The relations of the soul to the divine spirit are so pure, that it is profane to seek to interpose helps. It must be that when God speaketh he should communicate, not one thing, but all things; should fill the world with his voice; should scatter forth light, nature, time, souls, from the center of the present thought; and new date and new create the whole. Whenever a mind is simple, and receives a divine wisdom, old things pass away, means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour. All things are made sacred by relation to it, — one as much as another. All things are dissolved to their center by their cause, and, in the universal miracle, petty and particular miracles disappear. If, therefore, a man claims to know and speak of God, and carries you backward to the phraseology of some old mouldered nation in another country, in another world, believe him not. Is the acorn better than the oak which is its fullness and completion? Is the parent better than the child into whom he has cast his ripened being? Whence, then, this worship of the past? The centuries are conspirators against the sanity and authority of the soul. Time and space are but physiological colors which the eye makes, but the soul is light; where it is, is day; where it was, is night; and history is an impertinence and an injury, if it be any thing more than a cheerful apologue or parable of my being and becoming.
Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say "I think," "I am," but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.
So use all that is called Fortune. Most men gamble with her, and gain all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as unlawful these winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect, the chancellors of God. In the Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance, and shalt sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations. A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.