ONCE when we were conversing about Robert Browning's poetry, Emerson said, "Paracelsus is the wail of the nineteenth century." I was a new student in Divinity College, and rejoicing so much in having reached a shore so free as Unitarianism, that I did not quite understand Emerson's remark. Afterwards, while rambling along the Plymouth shore, the gently beating waves seemed to repeat
"The sad rhyme of the men who proudly clung
To their first fault, and withered in their pride."
Like those voyagers in Paracelsus's fable, who bore their household gods to the wrong shore, the old Plymouth Pilgrims fixed their ideals in rock-caves of dogma.
"A hundred shapes of lucid stone!
All day we built its shrine for each,
A shrine of rock for every one,
Nor paused we till in the westering sun
We sat together on the beach
To sing because our task was done.
When lo! what shouts and merry songs!
What laughter all the distance stirs!
A loaded raft with happy throngs
Of gentle islanders!
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Publication information: Book title: Emerson at Home and Abroad. Contributors: Moncure Daniel Conway - Author. Publisher: J. R. Osgood and Company. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1882. Page number: 90.
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