Font Size

If I am the Devil’s child, I will then live as one from the Devil.

 

“The reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance.” Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in ON SELF-RELIANCE, “Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you only have an extemporaneous half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is unique. The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow. Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much…

“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued advisor who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my saying, ‘What do I have with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within?’ my friend suggested, ‘–But these impulses may be from below, not from above,’ I replied. ‘They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil’s child, I will then live as one from the Devil.’ No law can be sacred to me but that of my own nature. Good and bad are but names transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it…I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”

Charles Chaplin wrote in his book MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY that as a youth he thought the doors open to the sons of the wealthy were closed to him until he read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay ON SELF RELIANCE. The entire essay is here: https://math.dartmouth.edu/~doyle/docs/self/self.pdf   . I recommend you download it.

For myself, the courage in the words “If I am the Devil’s child, I will then live as one from the Devil,” is to me exhilarating.

If you have that courage I want to meet you.

“You have the wrong attitude. If you leave this school today you will starve in two weeks,” my high school principal roared at me.

I knew only one way to find out if he was right. I was 18. I am 75 now.

If you have my courage I want to know you.

Most don’t.–Reg Hartt

Some folks seem to think I am worth listening to.

« »