Ranging over time and space with astonishing rapidity and binding names and things together that no ordinary vision could connect, Emerson calls the Past also to witness the need of self-reliance and a steadfast obedience to intuition.〖The uses of the past and the right spirit in which to approach it, are finely set forth in “The American Scholar” (H. C., V, 5ff).〗 The need of such independence, he thought, was particularly great for the student, who so easily becomes overawed by the great names of the Past and reads “to believe and take for granted.”〖Bacon, “Of Studies” (H. C., iii, 122).〗 This should not be, nor can it be if we remember what we are. “Meek young men grow up in libraries believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.”〖H. C., V, 9.〗 When we sincerely find, therefore, that we cannot agree with the Past, then, says Emerson, we must break with it, no matter how great the prestige of its messengers. But often the Past does not disappoint us; often it assists us in our quest to become our highest selves. For in the Past there have been many men of genius; and, inasmuch as the man of genius has come nearer to being continually conscious of his relation to the Over-Soul, it follows that the genius is actually more ourselves than we are. So we often have to fall back upon more gifted souls to interpret for us what we mean but cannot say. Any supreme triumph of expression, therefore, should arouse in us not humility, still less discouragement, but renewed consciousness that “one nature wrote and the same reads.”〖H. C., V, 10, 11.〗 So it is in travel or in any other form of contact with the Past: we cannot derive any profit or see any new thing except we remember that “the world is nothing, the man is all.”〖H. C., V, 22.〗

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