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Art and Criticism

  Literature is but a poor trick, you will say, when it busies itself to make words pass for things ; and yet I am far from thinking this subordinate service unimportant. The secondary services of literature may be classed under the name of Rhetoric, and are quite as important in letters as iron is in war. An enumeration of the few principal weapons of the poet or writer will at once suggest their value.
      Writing is the greatest of arts, the subtilest, and of most miraculous effect ; and to it the education is costliest. On the writer the choicest influences are concentrated, — nothing that does not go to his costly equipment : a war, an earthquake, revival of letters, the new dispensation by Jesus, or by Angels ; Heaven, Hell, power, science, the Neant, exist to him as colors for his brush.
      In this art modern society has introduced a new element, by introducing a new audience. The decline of the privileged orders, all over the world ; the advance of the Third Estate ; the transformation of the laborer into reader and writer has compelled the learned and the thinkers to address them. Chiefly in this country, the common school has added two or three audiences: once, we had only the boxes; now, the galleries and the pit.

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"Ide­al­ismthe old­est continuously-operating philo­soph­i­cal sys­tem in the West. 

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Ralph Waldo Emerson's house in Concord, MA

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