previous next

[345] enters into his language. There is no attempt at fine writing, not a word or phrase for effect; it is the simple unadorned diction of one to whom the temptations of the pen seem to have been wholly unknown. He wrote, as he believed, from an inward spiritual prompting; and with all his unaffected humility he evidently felt that his work

was done in the clear radiance of

The light which never was on land or sea.

It was not for him to outrun his Guide, or, as Sir Thomas Browne expresses it, to ‘order the finger of the Almighty to His will and pleasure, but to sit still under the soft showers of Providence.’ Very wise are these essays, but their wisdom is not altogether that of this world. They lead one away from all the jealousies, strifes, and competitions of luxury, fashion, and gain, out of the close air of
parties and sects, into a region of calmness,—
The haunt
     Of every gentle wind whose breath can teach
The wild to love tranquillity,—

a quiet habitation where all things are ordered in what he calls ‘the pure reason;’a rest from all self-seeking, and where no man's interest or activity conflicts with that of another. Beauty they certainly have, but it is not that which the rules of art recognize; a certain indefinable purity pervades them, making one sensible, as he reads, of a sweetness as of violets. ‘The secret of Woolman's purity of style,’ said Dr. Channing, ‘is that his eye was single, and that conscience dictated his words.’
Of course we are not to look to the writings of

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.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Providence, R. I. (Rhode Island, United States) (1)

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.
John Woolman (1)
William Ellery Channing (1)
Thomas Browne (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: