To Possess One’s Soul in Peace

From Human Intercourse (1884), by Philip Gilbert Hamerton.

To me [Emerson] taught two great lessons. The first was to rely confidently on that order of the universe which makes it always really worth while to do our best, even though the reward may not be visible; and the second was to have self-reliance enough to trust our own convictions and our own gifts, such as they are, or such as they may become, without either echoing the opinions or desiring the more brilliant gifts of others. Emerson taught much besides; but it is these two doctrines of reliance on the compensations of Nature, and of a self-respectful reliance on our own individuality, that have the most invigorating influence on workers like myself. Emerson knew that each of us can only receive that for which he has an affinity, and can only give forth effectually what is by birthright, or has become, his own. To have accepted this doctrine with perfect contentment is to possess one’s soul in peace.