The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table

The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table


I proceeded in spite of the interruption.- All uttered thought, my friend, the Professor, says, is of the nature of an excretion.Its materials have been taken in, and have acted upon the system, and been reacted on by it; it has circulated and done its office in one mind before it is given out for the benefit of others.It may be milk or venom to other minds; but, in either case, it is something which the producer has had the use of and can part with.A man instinctively tries to get rid of his thought in conversation or in print so soon as it is matured; but it is hard to get at it as it lies imbedded, a mere potentiality, the germ of a germ, in his intellect.

- Where are the brains that are fullest of these ovarian eggs of thought? - I decline mentioning individuals.The producers of thought, who are few, the "jobbers" of thought, who are many, and the retailers of thought, who are numberless, are so mixed up in the popular apprehension, that it would be hopeless to try to separate them before opinion has had time to settle.Follow the course of opinion on the great subjects of human interest for a few generations or centuries, get its parallax, map out a small arc of its movement, see where it tends, and then see who is in advance of it or even with it; the world calls him hard names, probably; but if you would find the OVA of the future, you must look into the folds of his cerebral convolutions.

[The divinity-student looked a little puzzled at this suggestion, as if he did not see exactly where he was to come out, if he computed his arc too nicely.I think it possible it might cut off a few corners of his present belief, as it has cut off martyr-burning and witch-hanging; - but time will show, - time will show, as the old gentleman opposite says.]

- Oh, - here is that copy of verses I told you about.



The sunbeams, lost for half a year, Slant through my pane their morning rays For dry Northwesters cold and clear, The East blows in its thin blue haze.

And first the snowdrop's bells are seen, Then close against the sheltering wall The tulip's horn of dusky green, The peony's dark unfolding ball.

The golden-chaliced crocus burns;

The long narcissus-blades appear;

The cone-beaked hyacinth returns, And lights her blue-flamed chandelier.

The willow's whistling lashes, wrung By the wild winds of gusty March, With sallow leaflets lightly strung, Are swaying by the tufted larch.

The elms have robed their slender spray With full-blown flower and embryo leaf;Wide o'er the clasping arch of day Soars like a cloud their hoary chief.

- [See the proud tulip's flaunting cup, That flames in glory for an hour, -Behold it withering, - then look up, -

How meek the forest-monarch's flower! -

When wake the violets, Winter dies;

When sprout the elm-buds, Spring is near;When lilacs blossom, Summer cries, "Bud, little roses! Spring is here!"]

The windows blush with fresh bouquets, Cut with the May-dew on their lips;The radish all its bloom displays, Pink as Aurora's finger-tips.

Nor less the flood of light that showers On beauty's changed corolla-shades, -The walks are gay as bridal bowers With rows of many-petalled maids.

The scarlet shell-fish click and clash In the blue barrow where they slide;The horseman, proud of streak and splash, Creeps homeward from his morning ride.

Here comes the dealer's awkward string, With neck in rope and tail in knot, -Rough colts, with careless country-swing, In lazy walk or slouching trot.

- Wild filly from the mountain-side, Doomed to the close and chafing thills, Lend me thy long, untiring stride To seek with thee thy western hills!

I hear the whispering voice of Spring, The thrush's trill, the cat-bird's cry, Like some poor bird with prisoned wing That sits and sings, but longs to fly.

Oh for one spot of living green, -

One little spot where leaves can grow, -

To love unblamed, to walk unseen, To dream above, to sleep below!

Oliver Wendell Holmes