July 29: So Emerson and Carlyle walk into Stonehenge


It is important to enjoy the obvious.

Although I'm actually not that interested in Stone'enge -- it's cool and all, but it doesn't have the hold on me that it does on, say, Nigel Tufnel. What does have a hold on me is what you could do there that you could never, never do now:
We walked round the stones, and clambered over them, to wont ourselves with their strange aspect and groupings, and found a nook sheltered from the wind among them, where C. lighted his cigar.
Clambered over them. Is the visitor allowed to clamber now, much less light up a smoke? I've never been; maybe you are allowed to get a good Druidical clamber.

So, even though this piece of Emerson is from English Traits, what's more germane is (and perhaps of course) Emerson on America. First of all, he gets all Thoreauvian:
My friends asked whether there were any Americans?—any with an American idea,—any theory of the right future of that country? Thus challenged, I bethought myself neither of caucuses nor congress, neither of presidents nor of cabinet-ministers, nor of such as would make of America another Europe. I thought only of the simplest and purest minds; I said, “Certainly yes;—but those who hold it are fanatics of a dream which I should hardly care to relate to your English ears, to which it might be only ridiculous,—and yet it is the only true.”

So I opened the dogma of no-government and non-resistance, and anticipated the objections and the fun, and procured a kind of hearing for it. I said, it is true that I have never seen in any country a man of sufficient valor to stand for this truth, and yet it is plain to me that no less valor than this can command my respect. I can easily see the bankruptcy of the vulgar musketworship,—though great men be musket-worshippers;—and ’tis certain, as God liveth, the gun that does not need another gun, the law of love and justice alone, can effect a clean revolution.
Well, the revolution will not be essayed; five years later the Civil War started, and there was plenty of musketworship to be had, and ever after; though the valor of the peacenik is still with us too -- one can only imagine that the damage might have been worse without these dissenters.

Then there's this:
...my friends asked many questions respecting American landscape, forests, houses,—my house, for example. It is not easy to answer these queries well. There I thought, in America, lies nature sleeping, overgrowing, almost conscious, too much by half for man in the picture, and so giving a certain tristesse, like the rank vegetation of swamps and forests seen at night, steeped in dews and rains, which it loves; and on it man seems not able to make much impression.
Too much nature for man gives way to tristesse? I think the tristesse is all the other way these days:


Hey, it's our own Stonehenge! Only in our case it's a burial ground of equity.

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