A Plea for Culture
THEODORE PARKER somewhere says that in America every one gets a mouthful of education, but scarcely any one a full meal. It seems the defect of some of our recent debates on this subject, that, instead of remedying the starvation, the reformers propose to deduct from the dinner. The disputants appear to agree in assuming that an average Senior Sophister is a plethoric monster of learning, and that something must be done to take him down. For this end, some plan to remove his Greek and Latin, others his German, others again his mathematics, — all assuming it as a thing not to be tolerated, that one small head should carry all he knows.
Yet surely it needs but little actual observation of our college boys, in their more unguarded moments, — at the annual regatta, for instance, or among the young ladies on Class Day,— to mitigate the intensity of these fears. The Class Orator does not always impress us with any bewildering accumulation of mental attainments ; nor does the head of the Lazy Club appear to possess more of any branch of letters than he can hope, by reasonable nonindustry, to forget within a single year. Because the standard of acquirement has been raised within a quarter of a century, it does not follow that it is now very high, for our so-called universities were once but high-schools, and it was no uncommon thing for boys to graduate with honor at seventeen. I Can easily recall three successive Harvard classes in which this happened. In one class, the first and second scholars were of this unripe age; in another class, the second scholar ; while in the intermediate class a student obtained very respectable rank, though graduating at sixteen. Honors thus obtained were the honors of school-boys, and showed a boyish standard of attainment ; they gave no guaranty of real merit; they implied nothing which it was not a disgrace to our culture to call scholarship. Yet academic laurels like these, with a year or two of professional study superadded, were all that America had then to give. He who wished for more must exile himself to find it, or must supply, as he best could, by solitary effort and with little encouragement, what should have been urged and pressed upon him by the full force of some great institution. To say that later years have amended these things a little, is to say something; but the mass of our colleges are now where the highest then were. The advance in the means of education thus afforded in America bears no comparison with the advance in material wealth.
And how has it been with the other instrumentalities of American culture, during the last twenty-five years ? Schools have been improved, periodical publications multiplied, libraries quadrupled, music and pictures made more accessible, at least in our larger cities. These are gains, to be balanced by a few losses. For instance, an institution which was once more potent than all of these for the intellectual training of the adult American has almost ceased to exist in its Original form. The engrossing excitement of public affairs has nearly abolished the old “ Lyceum,” and put a political orator in the lecturer’s place. Science and art have almost ceased to be subjects available for a popular lecture. Agassiz and Bayard Taylor, by dint of exceedingly rapid and continuous travelling, can still find a few regions which Americans will consent to hear described, outside of America ; and a few wandering lecturers on geology still haunt the field, their discourses being almost coeval with their specimens. Emerson still makes his stately tour, through wondering Western towns, where an enterprising public spirit sometimes, it is said, plans a dance for the same evening in the same hall,— “Tickets to lecture and ball one dollar.” Yet the fact remains, that nine addresses out of ten in every popular course are simply stump-speeches, more or less eloquent ; and though an enlightened moral sentiment is doubtless the result of this change of diet, yet to science and art it is almost a total loss. Take away the Lowell and the Cooper Institutes, and all our progress in wealth has secured for the public no increased means of intellectual culture through lectures.
Now there are two aspects to all material successes. They are sublime or base only as they prepare the way for higher triumphs, or displace them. Horace Mann lamented that in European exhibitions the fine arts were always assigned a more conspicuous place than the useful arts. Theodore Parker complained that in Rome the studios were better than the carpenters’ shops. Both exulted in the thought that in America these things were better ordered; and both therein approached the verge of concessions which would sacrifice the noblest aims of man. For carpentry and upholstery, good as a beginning, are despicable as an ending. What cultivated person would not prefer poorer lodgings and better galleries ? I remember that, many years since, in a crowded country-house, I slept one night on the floor beneath Retzsch’s copy of the Sistine Madonna, — then perhaps the loveliest work of art on this continent. As I lay and watched the silent moonbeams enter and rest upon the canvas, I felt that my share of the hospitality was after all the best. The couch might be comfortless, but the dreams were divine. It is such a hospitality that one wishes, after all, from the age in which he lives.
Culture is the training and finishing of the whole man, until he sees physical demands to be merely secondary, and pursues science and art as objects of intrinsic worth. It undoubtedly places the fine arts above the useful arts, in a certain sense, and is willingly impoverished in material comforts, if it can thereby obtain nobler living. When this impulse takes the form of a reactionary distrust of the whole spirit of the age, it is unhealthy and morbid. In its healthy form, it simply keeps alive the conviction that the life is more than meat; and so supplies that counterpoise to mere wealth which Europe vainly seeks to secure by aristocracies of birth.
So far as our colleges go, what is needed seems tolerably plain. Our educational system requires a process of addition, not of subtraction ; not to save our children from the painful necessity of studying this or that, but to gain for them the opportunity of studying that and more, in their own way. The demand for high culture outruns the supply. This is proved by the palpable fact, that more and more pupils are sent to Europe for instruction, every year ; and more from the Westera States than from the Eastern. There are more and more young men of fortune whose parents will not stint them in education, at least; more and more poor young men, who will live on bread and water, if need be, to gain knowledge. What we need is the opportunity of high culture somewhere,— that there should be some place in America where a young man may go and study anything that kindles his enthusiasm, and find there instrumentalities to help the flame. As it is now, the maximum range of study in most of our colleges leaves a young man simply with a good preparation for Germany, while the minimum leaves him very ill prepared for America. What we need is a university. Whether this is to be a new creation, or something reared on the foundations now laid at Cambridge, or New Haven, or Ann Arbor, is unimportant. Until we have it somewhere, our means of culture are still provincial.
Grant this one assumption, that we need a university, and then almost all the recent discussions on the subject seem to be merely questions of detail. There is small difficulty about discipline or selection of studies, when an institution undertakes to deal with men, not children, and assumes that they have come to learn, and not to be feruled. Give young men the opportunity to study anything which anybody in the land knows, and then the various departments will rest upon their own merits, and students will direct their course as parents direct, example influences, or genius guides. But compel them to give their time to something which neither they nor their parents desire, and the result will be ignorance, broken windows, and the torturing of Freshmen.
A more difficult point of detail, perhaps, will be to determine how much account should be made, in organizing such a university, of our present undergraduate system. My own impression is, that the true basis of the future university must be the professional schools, and that what is now called distinctively the College must shrink into a preparatory department, instead of being accepted, as now, for the full sum of a liberal education. Even the professional schools are not yet liberal enough, and their very name indicates that they are founded with a view to certain avocations, and not with a view to culture. It was a misfortune, in this respect, when the Scientific School at Cambridge abandoned its projected departments of Latin and Greek ; for these might have led the way (as at New Haven) to Philology, History, and Metaphysics, and would have helped to save science from being confounded with mere technological training. On the other hand, the recent organization of an Academical Senate at Cambridge for the general government of all departments, and the introduction of University Lectures, are a great step towards giving us the larger system which the nation needs.
The error committed in our colleges of making Latin and Greek compulsory, and therefore unattractive, should not make us forget that this is, after all, an error in the direction of high culture, and one more pardonable in America than anywhere else. These languages are a perpetual protest against the strong tendency to make all American education hasty and superficial. They stand for a learning which makes no money, but helps to make men. Astronomy, metaphysics, the higher mathematics, and the critical or literarystudy of the modern languages, have the same advantage ; but the Latin and Greek tongues represent this culture best. For they remain still synonymous with accurate linguistic training, and with the study of form in literature. Compared with these, all modern languages are undeniably loose in structure, deficient in models, and destitute of the apparatus of critical study. It is certainly unfortunate that it is so, but there is the fact. To suppose the modern languages used in education as we now use the ancient, would imply the complete transformation of the former, — their structure, their literary models, their text-books, and their teachers. I know of no institution in America where this change is even attempted, of none where they are taught except as accomplishments. Nor is it apparent how they could be so taught with any existing instrumentalities. A man may speak a dozen dialects as fluently as a European courier, and yet know as little as the courier knows of the principles of language. Whereas it is impossible for any boy to have faithfully learned the simplest manual of Latin or Greek grammar without having laid some foundation for systematic philology.
And as for the literary value of these languages, I will go still further, and with especial reference to that which there is most disposition to banish from use, the Greek. It certainly is not a hasty or boyish judgment on my part, nor yet one in which pedantry or servility can have much to do, when I deliberately avow the belief that the Greek literature is still so entirely unequalled among the accumulated memorials of the world, that it seems to differ from all others in kind rather than in degree, and that even a very superficial knowledge of it is worth much. In writing this, I am thinking less of Plato than of Homer, and not more of Plomer than of the dramatic and lyric poets. So far from the knowledge of other literatures tending to depreciate the Greek, it seems to me that no one can adequately value this who has not come back to it after long study of the others. Ampère, that master of French prose, has hardly overstated the truth when he says that the man best versed in all other books must say, after all, in returning to a volume of Homer or Sophocles,— " Here is beauty, true and sovereign ; its like was never written among men, — Voilà la beautié véritable ct souveraine j jamais it ne s'est cent run de pareil ekes les homines” I do not see how there could possibly be a list of the dozen masterpieces of the world’s literature, of which at least one half should not be Greek. And, indeed, when one considers the mere vehicle, the language itself, one must remember that there is no more possibility of arbitrary choice in languages than in stones ; and Greek, the native tongue of sculptors, is the only tongue that has the texture of marble.
Perhaps every man of studious habits, growing occasionally impatient of the healthful practical duties which American life involves, has his own whim as to his imaginary employments in case illness or other interference should deny him even the action of the pen, and throw him entirely upon books. I can remember a time, for one, when the State prison would have looked rather alluring to me, if it had guaranteed a copy of the Mécanique Céleste, with full leisure to read it. But foremost among such fantastic attractions are those which obtained actual control over that English clergyman, described in Hogg’s Life of Shelley, who had for his one sole aim in existence the reiterated perusal of a three years’ course of Greek books. He had no family, scarcely any professional duties, a moderate income, and perfect health. He took his three meals a day and his two short walks ; and all the rest of his waking hours, for thirty years,he gave to Greek. No; he read a newspaper once a week, and two or three times a year he read a few pages of Virgil and Cicero, just to satisfy himself that it was a waste of time for a man who could read Greek to read their writings. On Sunday he read the Septuagint and the New Testament. From his three years’ course of authors he never deviated ; when they were ended, he began again. The only exception was Homer, whose works were read every year during a summer vacation of a month at the sea-shore, — “ the proper place to read Homer,” he said. “ I read a book of the Iliad every day before dinner, and a book of the Odyssey daily after dinner. In a month there are twenty-four week-days ; there being twenty-four books in each poem, it just does it..... I throw in the Hymns, — there are commonly two or three rainy days in the four weeks when I cannot take a walk.”
It is hard to imagine a life which would seem to most Americans more utterly misspent than this. Misspent it was, but how harmlessly and how happily! What pure delight, what freedom from perturbation and care, when a dictionary and a dozen books furnished luxury for a lifetime ! What were wealth and fame, peerages and palaces, to him who had all Æschylus for a winter residence, and Homer for the seaside! And a culture which seems remotest from practical ends may not only thus furnish exhaustless intellectual enjoyment, but may educate one’s æsthetic perceptions to the very highest point.
But I repeat, that all preference as to department of study is a secondary and incidental matter, and the special student of any pursuit will have sympathies with the devotees of all others. The essential thing is, that we should recognize, as a nation, the value of all culture, and resolutely organize it into our institutions. As a stimulus to this we must constantly bear in mind, and cheerfully acknowledge, that American literature is not yet copious, American scholarship not profound, American society not highly intellectual, and the American style of execution, in all high arts, yet hasty and superficial. It is not true, as our plain-speaking friend Von Humboldt said, that “the United States are a dead level of mediocrities”; but it is undoubtedly true that our brains as yet lie chiefly in our machine-shops. Make what apology we please for the defect, it still remains ; while what the world asks of us is not excuses for failure, but facts of success. When Europe comes to America for culture, instead of America’s thronging to Europe, the fact will publish itself, and the discussion cease. There is no debate about our reapers and sewingmachines.
No candid person can compare the trade-lists of American publishers with those received from England, France, and Germany, without admitting that we are hardly yet to be ranked among the productive nations in literature. There are single works, and there are individual authors ; but the readiness with which their names suggest themselves shows how exceptional they are. They represent no considerable literary class, scarcely even a cultivated class. Till Emerson came, we were essentially provincial in the tone of our thought; provincial in attainments we still are. One rarely sees in America, outside the professions, a man who gives any large portion of his life to study ; and the professions themselves are with us mainly branches of practical activity, not intellectual pursuits. This is true even of the clergy, and of lawyers and physicians still more. They are absorbed, perhaps inevitably, in the practical side of their professions. I was a member, for some time, of a flourishing local Natural History Society, which counted among its active members but one of the numerous physicians of the city where it was formed. A college president, who had been long officially connected with the leading lawyers of Boston, once stated it to me as an axiom, “ No eminent lawyer ever reads a book.”
The chief discouragement of American literature does not seem to me to lie in the want of an international copyright law, as some think, nor in the fact that other pursuits bid higher prices. These are subordinate things, for there will always be men like Palissy, who will starve self and wife and children, if need be, for the sake of their dream. Nor is it from the want of libraries and collections ; for these are beginning to exist, and nature exists always. The true, great want is of an atmosphere of sympathy in intellectual aims. An artist can afford to be poor, but not to be companionless. It is not well that he should feel pressing on him, in addition to his own doubt whether he can achieve a certain work, the weight of the public doubt whether it be worth achieving. No one can live entirely on his own ideal. The man who is compelled by his constitution to view literature as an art is more lonely in America than even the painter or the sculptor; and he has no Italy for a refuge. His practical life may be developed by the activity around him; his aims may be ennobled by the great ideas of his nation ; and so far all is well. It is only his artistic inspiration that lies dormant, and his power of execution that misses its full training. A man of healthy nature can, indeed, find a certain tonic in this cool atmosphere ; it is only a question whether more perfect works of art may not one day be produced, amid more genial surroundings. Firm must be the will, patient the heart, passionate the aspiration, to secure the fulfilment of some high and lonely purpose, when revery spreads always its beds of roses on the one side, and practical work summons to its treadmill on the other.
Whatever may have been the case in De Tocqueville’s day,—and his report of us, thirty-five years old, seems to be almost the latest intelligence that has reached Europe, — there is certainly now no danger that public life will not have sufficient attractions for cultivated Americans. There is more danger that it will absorb them too much. Why should we insist, like Nick Bottom the weaver, on playing all the parts ? The proper paths of the statesman and the artist may often touch, but will rarely coincide. It is not that politics are so unworthy, but that no one man can do everything. There are a thousand rough-hewn brains which can well perform the plain work which American statesmanship now demands, without calling on the artist to cut blocks with his razor. His shrinking is not cowardice ; this relief from glaring publicity is the natural condition under which works of art mature. The crystal forms by its own laws, and the granite by its own. Yet moments constantly occur to the American student, when he has to bind himself to the mast, like Farragut, to resist the dazzling temptations of paths alien to his own. What is art, what is beauty, (he is tempted to say.) beside the magnificent utilities of American life, — the work of distributing over a continent the varied treasures already gained ? Why hold against the current, when even one’s prospects of immediate usefulness lie with the current, and even conscience joins, half shrinking, to lure him from his plighted faith ? In Europe art is a career, the greatest and most permanent career. History lies around us, a perpetual incentive, since art has everywhere survived all else, and proved itself alone immortal. But here art is still an alien, tolerated, protected, respected even, but without a vote.
What we thus miss in literary culture may be best explained by showing the result of the universal political culture which we possess. It is often noticed that, while the leaders of public affairs in America are usually what are called self-made men, this is not the case with our literary leaders. Among first-class American writers, culture is usually in the second generation; they have usually “ tumbled about in a library,” as Holmes says, in childhood ; at all events, they are usually college-bred men. It has been remarked, for instance, that our eight foremost historians — assuming that this list comprises Prescott, Motley, Bancroft, Hildreth, Sparks, Ticknor, Palfrey, Parkman — were all college graduates, and indeed graduated at a single college. The choice of names may be open to question, but the general fact is undoubted.
Now if it be true that there are fewer among us who rise from the ranks in literature than in politics, it seems not merely to indicate that literature, as being a finer product than statesmanship, implies more elaborate training ; but also that our institutions guarantee such training in the one case, and not in the other. Every American boy imbibes political knowledge through the pores of his skin ; every newspaper, every caucus, contributes to his instruction ; and he is expected to have mature convictions before he is fourteen. In the height of the last Presidential contest, a little boy was hung out of a school window by his heels, within my knowledge, because his small comrades disapproved his political sentiments. For higher intellectual pursuits there are not only no such penalties among us, but there are no such opportunities. Yet in Athens — with its twenty thousand statues, with the tragedies of Æschylus enacted for civic prizes, and the histories of Herodotus read at the public games — a boy could no more grow up ignorant of art than he could here remain untrained in politics.
When we are once convinced that this result is desirable, we shall begin to feel the worth of our accumulated wealth. That is true of wealth which Talleyrand said of wisdom, —everybody is richer than anybody. The richest man in the world cannot afford the parks, the edifices, the galleries, the libraries, which this community can have for itself, whenever it chooses to create them. The Central Park in New York, the Public Library at Boston, the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy at Cambridge, — these are steps towards a more than Athenian culture. These institutions open their vast privileges, free from that sting of selfishness which the private monopolizer feels. Public enthusiasm is roused to sustain them, gifts flow in upon them, and they ennoble the common life around. It was claimed for Athens, that wealth could buy few facilities for culture which poverty did not also share. I take it, we aim at least to secure for the poorest American opportunities such as no wealth could buy in Europe. It may take centuries to accomplish it, but it can be done.
And it will not take so long as one might imagine. Although the great intellectual institutions of Europe are often nominally ancient, yet their effective life has been chiefly in the last few centuries. A hundred years ago, the British Museum and the Bodleian Library had each but about ten thousand volumes. The Imperial Library at Paris had then but fifty thousand, and the present century has added the most valuable half of its seven hundred thousand books. At the time of our Revolution, there were but three public galleries of art in Europe ; and the Louvre, “ the chief attraction of the most attractive city of the world,” is of later origin. One half of the leading German universities are younger than Harvard College. With the immense wealth accumulating in America, and the impulse inherent in democracies to identify one’s own name and successes with the common weal, such institutions will rise among us like Aladdin’s palace, when public spirit is once thoroughly turned that way.
For we must carefully distinguish between a want of cultivated sympathy with the higher intellectual pursuits, and a want of popular respect for them. It is this distinction which relieves the American people from the imputation of materialism. I solemnly believe that no race of practical laborers since the world began was ever so ready to feel respect for those higher pursuits to which it could as yet give no time. The test of a people is not in its occupations, but in its heroes. Whose photographs are for sale in the shop-windows ? I remember to have observed with delight, in a trade-list of photographic likenesses which reached me while in camp, that even in the very height of the war the civilians outnumbered the soldiers. Who are these civilians ? There is not a millionnaire among them ; scarcely a man eminent in mere business pursuits ; scarcely a man whose fame is based on his income. They are statesmen, preachers, lecturers, poets, — men who stand low on the income-lists, and high only on the scale of intangible services, — heroes whose popularity is often exaggerated in quantity, no doubt, but in its quality always honorable. The community seeks wealth, but it knows how to respect its public men who are poor through honesty, or its scholars who are poor for the sake of knowledge. Agassiz never said anything which more endeared him to the mass of his adopted fellow-countrymen, than when he declined a profitable lecturing engagement on the ground that he had no time to make money.
Such a community is at least building the nursery whence artists may be born. All that institutions can do is to saturate the mass with culture, and give a career to genius when it comes. Great men are rarely isolated mountain peaks ; they are the summits of ranges. The thought of a century seems to posterity to have been intrusted to very few minds, but those minds have always been fed by a myriad minds unseen. Why ask whether there was one Homer or a hundred? The hundred contributed their lives, their hopes, their passions, their despairs, to enrich the one. Genius is lonely without the surrounding presence of a people to inspire it. How sad seems the intellectual isolation of Voltaire with his “ Le peuple n’est rien.” To have loved America is a liberal education. Let the student think with reverence of the value of this great race to him, and of his possible worth to it, though his very name be forgotten. Every act of his may be a solid contribution towards a nation’s training.
But as the value of a nation to the human race does not depend upon its wealth or numbers, so it does not depend even upon the distribution of elementary knowledge, but upon the highwater mark of its highest mind. Before the permanent tribunal, copyists and popularizers count for nothing, and even the statistics of common schools are of secondary value. So long as the sources of art and science are still Transatlantic, we are still a province, not a nation. For those are the highest pursuits of man,— higher than trades or professions, higher than statesmanship, far higher than war. jean Paul said : “ Schiller and Herder were both destined for physicians, but Providence said, No, there are deeper wounds than those of the body, — and so they both became authors.” “ After all,” said Rufus Choate, at the zenith of his professional success, “ a book is the only immortality.”
It is observable that in English books and magazines everything seems written for some limited circle, — tales for those who can speak French, essays for those who can understand a Latin quotation. But every American writer must address himself to a vast audience, possessing the greatest quickness and common-sense, with but little culture ; and he must command their attention as he may. This has some admirable results : one must put some life into what he writes, or his thirty million auditors will go to sleep ; he must write clearly, or they will cease to follow him; must keep clear of pedantry and unknown tongues, or they will turn to some one who can address them in English. On the other hand, these same conditions tempt one to accept a low standard of execution, to substitute artifice for art, and to disregard the more permanent verdict of more select tribunals. The richest thought and the finest literary handling which America has yet produced — as of Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau — reached at first but a small audience, and are but very gradually attaining a wider hold. Rénan has said that every man’s work is superficial, until he has learned to content himself with the approbation of a few. This is only one half the truth ; but it is the half which Americans find hardest to remember.
But American literature, though its full harvest be postponed for another hundred years, is sure to come to ripeness at last. Our national development in this direction, though slow, is perfectly healthy. There are many influences to retard, but none to distort Even if the more ideal aims of the artist are treated with indifference, it is a frank indifference ; there is no contempt, no jealousy, no call for petty manoeuvres. No man is asked to flatter this vast audience ; no man can succeed by flattering ; it simply reserves its attention, and lets one obtain its ear if he can. When won, it is worth the winning, — generous in its confidence, noble in its rewards. There is abundant cause for strenuous effort among those who give their lives to the intellectual service of America, but there is no cause for fear. If we can only avoid incorporating superficiality Into our institutions, literature will come when all is ready, and when it comes will be of the best. It is not enough to make England or France our standard. There is something in the present atmosphere of England which seems fatal to genius : its fruits do not mature and mellow, but grow more and more acid until they drop. Give Ruskin space enough, and he grows frarftic and beats the air like Carlyle; and Browning’s last volume is scarcely better. Thackeray was tinged with the same bitterness, but he was the last Englishman who could be said, in any artistic sense, to have a style; as Heine was the last German. The French seems the only prose literature of the present day in which the element of form has any prominent place ; and literature in France is after all but a favored slave. This surely leaves a clear field for America.
But it is peculiarly important for us to remember that we can make no progress through affectation or spasm, only by accepting the essential laws of art, which are the same for the whole human race. Any misconceived patronage— to call anything art merely because it interests us as American — must react against us in the end. A certain point of culture once reached, we become citizens of the world. Art is higher than nations, older than many centuries ; its code includes no local or partial provisions. No Paris Exposition is truly universal, compared with that vast gallery of Time to which nations and ages are but contributors. So far as circumstances excuse America from being yet amenable before this high tribunal, she is safe ; but if she enters its jurisdiction, she must own its laws. Neither man nor nation can develop by defying traditions, but by first mastering and then remoulding them. That genius is feeble which cannot hold its own before the masterpieces of the world.
Above all other races and all other times, we should be full of hearty faith. It is but a few years since we heard it said that the age was dull and mean, and inspiration gone. A single gunshot turned meanness to self-sacrifice, mercenary toil to the vigils of the camp and the transports of battle. It linked boyish and girlish life to new opportunities, sweeter self-devotions, more heroic endings ; tied and loosed the threads of existence in profounder complications. That is all past now; but its results can never pass. The nation has found its true grandeur by war, but must retain it in peace.
Peace too has its infinite resources, after a nation has once become conscious of itself. It is impossible that human life should ever be utterly impoverished, and all the currents of American civilization now tend to its enrichment. This vast development of rudimentary intellect, this mingling of nationalities, these opportunities of books and travel, educate in this new race a thousand new susceptibilities. Then comes Passion, a hand straying freely through all the chords, and thrilling all with magic. We cannot exclude it, a forbidden guest. It re-creates itself in each generation, and bids art live. Rouge gagne. If the romance of life does not assert itself in safe and innocent ways, it finds its outlet with fatal certainty in guilt ; as we see colorless Puritanism touched with scarlet glory through the glass of Hawthorne. Every form of human life is romantic ; every age may become classic. Lamentations, doubts, discouragements, all are wasted things. Everything is here, between these Atlantic and Pacific shores, save only the perfected utterance that comes with years. Between Shakespeare in his cradle and Shakespeare in Hamlet there was needed but an interval of time, and the same sublime condition is all that lies between the America of toil and the America of art.