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R. EDWARD EVERETT HALE addressed the
Twentieth Century Club last night in their room, 14 Ashburton Place, on “The Influence of Emerson.' In introducing the speaker, President Edwin D. Mead recalled the fact that Dr. Hale had christened the club five years ago
with an address
upon Phillips Brooks, and would now close the fifth year of the organization with a paper on the man whom J. R. Lowell called the Yankee Plato and Dr. O. W. Holmes the Buddha of the West.
Dr. Hale began with some reflections upon the uni. versality of Emersonian ideas in society to-day. “No matter to what church you may go,” said he, “you will hear Emerson from the pulpit. From the fact that two publishing houses in this country have sold about 2,500,000 copies of his essays during the past few years, it has been estimated that one family out of every four in the United States has one of his books.
“He was my friend for many years, visited repeatedly at my house, and talked familiarly as one does with a friend. The thing I want to emphasize is his deep and tender sympathy with all men, and his way of applying all his ideals to his everyday life. He hoed his own corn on his Concord farm, lived most of his life in comparative poverty, went to the postoffice early in order to have a chance to talk with the men about the door, and bought cheap mutton bones to keep down expenses. Here is where the difference appears between the great idealist and the chipped-off reformers who disgrace the name. So unworldly was he, so completely devoted to his mission of preaching
the greatness of truth and right, that at the age of forty-six he received his first check from a publisher, and did not know how to cash it. His books had then been before the public for sixteen years.
"In the last nineteen centuries," said Dr. Hale, “I can think of only five or six great prophets who have been strong and brave enough to stand alone by themselves, and take their knowledge direct from the Father God, and then speak it forth to the world. Thousands of others have been to the original source, but have not told the rest of us about it. But the great majority of men are turned aside by the sirens of wealth, or something else commanding stones to be made bread, and so have lost the power that was in them.
"The last of these great world prophets, of this inner circle of five or six that I have mentioned, was Ralph Waldo Emerson. He heard the voice of Jesus Christ teaching men to go directly to God the Father, climb like a little child upon his knee and tell him all the troubles of life, leaving cares with him. To Emerson the life of God is the same as that which pulsates in the hearts of men and it reaches out beyond the limits of Arcturus and Orion. His common words exalted themselves into the oracles of our times, which compel us to see something of our Father's business, of the exalted human life that is open to the kings and priests of God.”
MY FIRST PLAY. From "Essays of Elia." Condensed by the Editor. By CHARLES LAMB.
T the north end of Cross Court there yet stands a
portal, of some architectural pretensions, though reduced to humble use, serving at present for an entrance to a printing-office. This old door-way, if you are young, reader, you may not know was the identical pit entrance to old Drury-Garrick's Druryall of it that is left. I never pass it without shaking some forty years from off my shoulders, recurring to the evening when I passed through it to see my first play. The afternoon had been wet, and the condition of our going (the elder folks and myself) was that the rain should cease. With what a beating heart did I watch from the window the puddles, from the stillness of which I was taught to prognosticate the desired cessation! I seem to remember the last spurt, and the glee with which I ran to announce it.
In those days were pit orders. Beshrew the uncomfortable manager who abolished them!—with one of these we went. I remember the waiting at the doornot that which is left-but between that and an inner door in shelter--O, when shall I be such an expectant again!-with the cry of nonpareils, an indispensable playhouse accompaniment in those days.
As near as I can recollect, the fashionable pronunciation of the theatrical fruiteresses then was, “Chase some oranges, chase some numparels, chase a bill of the play;"chase prô chuse. But when we got in, and I beheld the green curtain that veiled a heaven to my imagination, which was soon to be disclosed, -the breathless anticipations I endured! I had seen something like it in the plate prefixed to Troilus and Cressida, in Rowe's
Shakspeare,—the tent scene with Diomede, --and a sight of that plate can always bring back in a measure the feeling of that evening. The boxes at that time, full of well-dressed women of quality, projected over the pit; and the pilasters reaching down were adorned with a glistering substance (I know not what) under glass (as it seemed) resembling-a homely fancy—but I judged it to be sugar-candy,-yet, to my raised imagination, divested of its homelier qualities it appeared a glorified candy! The orchestra lights at length arose, those "fair Auroras!"
Once the bell sounded. It was to ring out yet once again,-and incapable of the anticipation, I reposed my shut eyes in a sort of resignation upon the maternal lap. It rang the second time. The curtain drew up,—I was not past six years old, and the play was Artaxerxes!
I had dabbled a little in the Universal History,--the ancient part of it,--and here was the court of Persia. It was being admitted to a sight of the past. I took no proper interest in the action going on, for I understood not its import,-but I heard the word Darius, and I was in the midst of Daniel. All feeling was absorbed in vision. Gorgeous vests, gardens, palaces, princesses, passed before me. I knew not players. I was in Persepolis for the time, and the burning idol of their devotion almost converted me into a worshipper. I was awe-struck, and believed those significations to be something more than elemental fires. It was all enchantment and a dream. No such pleasure has since visited me but in dreams. Harlequin's invasion followed; where, I remember, the transformation of the magistrates into reverend beldams seemed to me a piece of grave historic justice, and the tailor carrying his own head to be as sober a verity as the legend of St. Denys.
The next play to which I was taken was “The Lady of the Manor," of which, with the exception of some scenery, very faint traces are left in my memory. It was followed by a pantomime, called “Lun's Ghost." I saw the primeval Motley come from his silent tomb in a ghastly vest of white patchwork, like the apparition of a dead rainbow. So Harlequins (thought I) look when they are dead.
My third play followed in quick succession. It was “The Way of the World.” I think I must have sat at it as grave as a judge; for, I remember, the hysteric affectations of good Lady Wishfort affected me like some solemn tragic passion. Robinson Crusoe followed; in which Crusoe, man Friday, and the parrot, were as good and authentic as in the story. The clownery and pantaloonery of these pantomimes have clean passed out of my head. I believe I no more laughed at them than at the same age I should have been disposed to laugh at the grotesque Gothic heads (seeming to me then replete with devout meaning) that gape, and grin, in stone around the inside of the old Round Church (my church) of the Templars.
I saw these plays in the season of 1781-2, when I was from six to seven years old. After the intervention of six or seven other years (for at school all play-going was inhibited) I again entered the doors of a theatre. That old Artaxerxes evening had never done ringing in my fancy. I expected the same feelings to come again with the same occasion. But we differ from ourselves less at sixty and sixteen than the latter does from six. In that interval what had I not lost! At