"For Every Thing You Have Missed, You Have Gained Something Else"
Context: "Ever since I was a boy, I have wished to write a discourse on Compensation," says Emerson. For preachers do not seem aware of this vital fact of life. They assume that in this world the good suffer while the wicked prosper and that justice and compensation will come only "in the next life." Theologians spout a common fallacy when they assume "that justice is not done now." But daily experiences teach the common people that this present life provides adequate compensations. "Polarity, or action and reaction, we meet in every part of nature; in darkness and light; in heat and cold . . . in male and female. . . . An inevitable dualism bisects nature, so that each thing is a half, and suggests another thing to make it whole; as, spirit, matter; man, woman . . . yea, nay." The law of compensation rules human life: "You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong . . . you shall be loved . . . we gain the strength of the temptation we resist." Emerson interprets this universal law in human terms:
The same dualism underlies the nature and condition of man. Every excess causes a defect; every defect, an excess. Every sweet hath its sour; every evil, its good. Every faculty which is a receiver of pleasure has an equal penalty put on its abuse. It is to answer for its moderation with its life. For every grain of wit there is a grain of folly. For every thing you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something. If riches increase, they are increased that use them. If the gatherer gathers too much, nature takes out of the man what she puts into his chest; swells the estate, but kills the owner. Nature hates monopolies and exceptions. . . .