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A Defense of Enthusiasm Henry Theodore Tuckerman

A Defense of Enthusiasm

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When the returning pilgrim approaches the shores of the New World, the first sign of the vicinity of his native land is traced in hues of rare glory on the western sky. The sunsets grow more and more gorgeous as he draws near, and while he leans over the bulwarks of a gallant vessel (whose matchless architecture illustrates the mechanical skill of her birthplace), and watches their shifting brilliancy, it associates itself with the fresh promise and young renown of his native land; and when from the wide solitude of the Atlantic, he plunges once more amid her eager crowds, it is with the earnest and I must think patriotic wish, that with her prosperous activity might mingle more of the poetry of life!

But what the arrangements of society fail to provide, the individual is at liberty to seek. Nowhere are natural beauty and grandeur more lavishly displayed than on this continent. In no part of the world are there such noble rivers, beautiful lakes, and magnificent forests. The ermine robe of winter is, in no land, spread with more dazzling effect, nor can the woodlands of any clime present a more varied array of autumnal tints. Nor need we resort to the glories of the universe alone. Domestic life exists with us in rare perfection; and it requires but the heroism of sincerity and the exercise of taste, to make the fireside as rich in poetical associations as the terrace and veranda of southern lands. Literature, too, opens a rich field. We can wander through Eden to the music of the blind bard's harp, or listen in the orange groves of Verona, beneath the quite moonlight, to the sweet vows of Juliet. Let us, then, bravely obey our sympathies, and find in candid and devoted relations with others freedom from the constraints of prejudice and form. Let us foster the enthusiasm which exclusive intellectual cultivation would extinguish. Let us detach ourselves sufficiently from the social machinery to realize that we are not integral parts of it; and thus summon into the horizon of destiny those hues of beauty, love, and truth, which are the most glorious reflections of the soul!

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A Defense of Enthusiasm
Henry Theodore Tuckerman

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