Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/152

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138
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

approved as a rule for a debating society (what often enough corresponds to the practice) that no one should reply to a previous speaker. You thought that you had contradicted him; he placidly accepted both your statements and his own. He is simply playing a different tune, not denying that yours may be harmonious. The region of simple truths would seem to be altogether above the sphere in which controversy is possible. You should never conform to a church or sect, or to public opinion or to your own past utterances. Leave the truths to assimilate by spontaneous affinity.

One charm of Emerson is due to this affable reception of all opinions. On his first appearance in a pulpit he is described as 'the most gracious of mortals, with a face all benignity,' and preached with an indefinite air of simplicity and wisdom. His lectures radiate benignity and simplicity. He has no dogmas to proclaim or heretics to denounce. He is simply uttering an inspiration which has come to him. He is not a mystagogue, affecting supernatural wisdom, and in possession of the only clue to the secret. If you sympathise, well and good; if you cannot, you may translate his truth into your own. The