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To Mrs. Lucy Osgood.

Wayland, January 16,--1859.
I have buckled to Buckle's “History of civilization,” though I said I would not read it because I dreaded being made uncomfortable by the point of view from which he looks at things. This making moral progress depend entirely on intellectual progress seems to turn things so inside out that it twists my poor brain. I care more that the world should grow better, than it should grow wiser. The external must be developed from the internal. It makes my head ache to look at human growth from any other point of view. That is the great mistake of Fourier. He is wise and great, and often prophetic, but he thinks to produce perfect men by surrounding them with perfect circumstances; whereas the perfect circumstances must be the result of perfect men. How can the marriage relation, for instance, be well ordered, until men and women are [100] more pure? I have no sympathy with the doctrine that

The body, not the soul,
Governs the unfettered whole.

Then I am tempted full strongly enough to believe Emerson's axiom, “We only row, we're steered by fate,” without having Buckle write a bulky volume to convince me ; for when I think I am steered, I immediately become tired of rowing. But there is no help for it. I must read every word of Buckle. It seems to me the most remarkable book of the age; bold, clear, strong, comprehensive, candid, and, above all, free. He pulls out all the linch-pins from the wheels of Juggernaut without any sign of hesitation. “Some think it will spoil the old cart; and they pretend to say there are valuable things in it which may get hurt. Hope not — hope not.” The fact is, I shall never be easy till you read it, and write me your opinion of it. It delights me, with none of the modern affectations of style; no resuscitated words, whose only merit is their obsoleteness; no inverted sentences; no parentheses within parentheses; no clouds of language between the reader and the subject; no vague Orphic sayings, which may mean one thing, or another thing, or no thing. “Which things I hate,” as saith the apostle. I get so vexed with writers that send me to the dictionary a dozen times an hour to decipher my own language! It's the fashion nowadays. I suppose it was in ancient times also, for doth not Aristophanes say, “I hate their peacock trains, their six-foot words, and swell of ostentation” ? None of this in Buckle. He is a full, deep river, showing clearly every pebble over which it flows. But I don't agree with all his statements. He says [101] that moral truths were exactly the same as they are now ages ago; that intellect is the sole cause of progress. Now I have considerable to say on that subject; but I want to hear what you have to say. Perhaps the term he uses is more at fault than the idea he intends to convey.

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