previous next
[97] book or magazine essay, in which he perhaps benignantly complimented the intelligence of his audience --an intelligence which he never could fairly compute, since he never found out how it had criticised him. I forget which of these excellent gentlemen it was who gravely recommended to the good people of Boston a wholly new means of mental improvement-reading aloud in the evening! What is it that carries us calmly through these inflictions? No doubt good-nature has something to do with it, and the feeling of hospitality ; but it is also largely due to the tradition of humility, the habit of thinking that light and grace come from Europe-ex oriente lux.

We early overcame this humility in political matters, because it took a race of strong men to free us from the parental yoke, and we recognized their strength; but literature and art and science and refined manners come more slowly, and in these we do not yet trust ourselves. That was true of our early days which Aulus Gellius quotes Cato as saying of early Rome: “Poetry was not held in honor; if any one devoted himself to it, or went about to banquets, he was called a vagabond” (grassator vocabatur). Hence we were slower to assert ourselves in these finer arts, and when we did, it was with becoming modesty. It was thought daring in Emerson to sing of the bumblebee, or Lowell of the

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
J. R. Lowell (1)
Aulus Gellius (1)
M. J. Emerson (1)
M. P. Cato (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: