Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches

George L. Stearns


       WE do not know how to prize good men until they depart. High virtue has such an air of nature and necessity that to thank its possessor would be to praise the water for flowing or the fire for warming us. But, on the instant of their death, we wonder at our past insensibility, when we see how impossible it is to replace them. There will be other good men, but not these again. And the painful surprise which the last week brought us, in the tidings of the death of Mr. Stearns, opened all eyes to the just consideration of the singular merits of the citizen, the neighbor, the friend, the father and the husband, whom this assembly mourns. We recall the all but exclusive devotion of this excellent man during the last twelve years to public and patriotic interests. Known until that time in no very wide circle as a man of skill and perseverance in his business; of pure life; of retiring and affectionate habits; happy in his domestic relations, — his extreme interest in the national politics, then growing more anxious year by year, engaged him to scan the fortunes with keener attention . He was an early laborer in the resistance to slavery. This brought him into sympathy with the people of Kansas. As early as 1855 the Emigrant Aid Society was formed ; and in 1856 he organized the Massachusetts State Kansas Committee, by means of which a large amount of money was obtained for the " free-state men," at times of the greatest need. He was the more engaged to this cause by making in 1857 the acquaintance of Captain John Brown, who was not only an extraordinary man, but one who had a rare magnetism for men of character, and attached some of the best and noblest to him, on very short acquaintance, by lasting ties. Mr. Stearns made himself at once necessary to Captain Brown as one who respected his inspirations, and had the magnanimity to trust him entirely, and to arm his hands with all needed help.

For the relief of Kansas, in 1856-57, his own contributions were the largest and the first. He never asked any one to give so much as he himself gave, and his interest was so manifestly pure and sincere that he easily obtained eager offerings in quarters where other petitioners failed. He did not hesitate to become the banker of his clients, and to furnish them money and arms in advance of the subscriptions which he obtained. His first donations were only entering-wedges of his later ; and, unlike other benefactors, he did not give money to excuse his entire preoccupation in his own pursuits, but as an earnest of the dedication of his heart and hand to the interests of the sufferers, —a pledge kept until the success he wrought and prayed for was consummated. In 1862, on the President's first or preliminary Proclamation of Emancipation, he took the first steps for organizing the Freedman's Bureau,— a department which has since grown to great proportions. In 1863 he began to recruit colored soldiers in Buffalo, then at Philadelphia and Nashville. But these were only parts of his work. He passed his time in incessant consultation with all men whom he could reach, to suggest and urge the measures needed for the hour. And there are few men with real or supposed influence, North or South, with whom he has not at some time communicated. Every important patriotic measure in this region has had his sympathy, and of many he has been the prime mover. He gave to each his strong support, but uniformly shunned to appear in public. For himself or his friends he asked no reward ; for himself, he asked only to do the hard work. His transparent singleness of purpose, his freedom from all by-ends, his plain good sense, courage, adherence, and his romantic generosity disarmed, first or last, all gainsayers. His examination before the United States,Senate Committee on the Harper's Ferry Invasion, in January, 186o, as reported in the public documents, is a chapter well worth reading, as a shining example of the manner in which a truth-speaker baffles all statecraft, and extorts at last a reluctant homage from the bitterest adversaries.'

I have heard, what must be true, that he had great executive skill, a clear method and a just attention to all the details of the task in hand. Plainly he was no boaster or pretender, but a man for up-hill work, a soldier to bide the brunt ; a man whom disasters, which dishearten other men, only stimulated to new courage and endeavor.

I have heard something of his quick temper, that he was indignant at this or that man's behavior, but never that his anger outlasted for a moment the mischief done or threatened to the good cause, or ever stood in the way of his hearty cooperation with the offenders when they returned to the path of public duty. I look upon him as a type of the American republican. A man of the people, in strictly private life, girt  with family ties ; an active and intelligent manufacturer and merchant, enlightened enough to see a citizen's interest in the public affairs, and virtuous enough to obey to the uttermost the truth he saw, — he became, in the most natural manner, an indispensable power in the state. Without such vital support as he, and such as he, brought to the government, where would that government be ? When one remembers his incessant service ; his journeys and residences in many states ; the societies he worked with; the councils in which he sat ; the wide correspondence, presently enlarged by printed circulars, then by newspapers established wholly or partly at his own cost ; the useful suggestions ; the celerity with which his purpose took form ; and his immovable convictions, — I think this single will was worth to the cause ten thousand ordinary partisans, well-disposed enough, but of feebler and interrupted action.

These interests, which he passionately adopted, inevitably led him into personal communication with patriotic persons holding the same views,—with two Presidents, with members of Congress, with officers of the government and of the army, and with leading people everywhere. He had been always a man of simple tastes, and through all his years devoted .to the growing details of his prospering manufactory. But this sudden association now with the leaders of parties and persons of pronounced power and influence in the nation, and the broad hospitality which brought them about his board at his own house or in New York, or in Washington, never altered one feature of his face, one trait of his manners. There he sat in the council, a simple, resolute Republican, an enthusiast only in his love of freedom and the good of men ; with no pride of opinion, and with this distinction, that, if he could not bring his associates to adopt his measure, he accepted with entire sweetness the next best measure which could secure their assent. But these public benefits were purchased at a severe cost. For a year or two, the most affectionate and domestic of men became almost a stranger in his beautiful home. And it was too plain that the excessive toil and anxieties, into which his ardent spirit led him, overtasked his strength and wore out prematurely his constitution. It is sad that such a life should end prematurely ; but when I consider that he lived long enough to see with his own eyes the salvation of his country, to which he had given all his heart ; that he did not know an idle day ;was never called to suffer under the decays and loss of his powers, or to see that others were waiting for his place and privilege, but lived while he lived, and beheld his work prosper for the joy and benefit of all mankind, — I count him happy among men.

Almost I am ready to say to these mourners, Be not too proud in your grief, when you remember that there is not a town in the remote State of Kansas that will not weep with you as at the loss of its founder; not a Southern State in which the freedmen will not learn to-day from their preachers that one of their most efficient benefactors has departed, and will cover his memory with benedictions; and that, after all his efforts to serve men without appearing to do so, there is hardly a man in this country worth knowing who does not hold his name in exceptional honor. And there is to my mind somewhat so absolute in the action of a good man that we do not, in thinking of him, so much as make any question of the future. For the Spirit of the Universe seems to say: "He has done well; is not that saying all ? "

Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches



Hold with the Maker, not the Made,
Sit with the Cause, or grim or glad.


THOMAS CARLYLE is an immense talker, as extraordinary in his conversation as in his writing,-I think even more so.

He is not mainly a scholar, like the most of my acquaintances, but a practical Scotchman, such as you would find in any saddler's or iron-dealer's shop, and then only accidentally and by a surprising addition, the admirable scholar and writer he is. If you would know precisely how he talks, just suppose Hugh Whelan (the gardener) had found leisure enough in addition to all his daily work to read Plato and Shakspeare, Augustine and Calvin, and, remaining Hugh Whelan all the time, should talk scornfully of all this nonsense of books that he had been bothered with, and you shall have just the tone and talk and laughter of Carlyle. I called him a trip-hammer with " an Aeolian attachment."

He has, too, the strong religious tinge you some-times find in burly people. That, and all his qualities, have a certain virulence, coupled though it be in his case with the utmost impatience of Christendom and Jewdom and all existing presentments of the good old story. He talks like a very unhappy man, – profoundly solitary, displeased and hindered by all men and things about him, and, biding his time, meditating how to undermine and explode the whole world of nonsense which torments him. He is obviously greatly respected by all sorts of people, understands his own value quite as well as Webster, of whom his behavior some-times reminds me, and can see society on his own terms.

And, though no mortal in America could pretend to talk with Carlyle, who is also as remarkable in England as the Tower of London, yet neither would he in any manner satisfy us (Americans), or begin to answer the questions which we ask. He is a very national figure, and would by no means bear trans-plantation. They keep Carlyle as a sort of portable cathedral-bell, which they like to produce in companies where he is unknown, and set a-swinging, to the surprise and consternation of all persons, – bishops, courtiers, scholars, writers, – and, as in companies here (in England) no man is named or introduced, great is the effect and great the inquiry, Forster of Rawdon described to me a dinner at tho table d'hote of some provincial hotel where he carried Carlyle, and where an Irish canon had uttered something. Carlyle began to talk, first to the waiters, and then to the walls, and then, lastly, unmistakably to the priest, in a manner that frightened the whole company.

Young men, especially those holding liberal opinions, press to see him, but it strikes me like being hot to see the mathematical or Greek professor be-fore they have got their lesson. It needs something more than a clean shirt and reading German to visit him. He treats them with contempt; they profess freedom and he stands for slavery ; they praise re-publics and he likes the Russian Czar ; they admire Cobden and free trade and he is a protectionist in political economy ; they will eat vegetables and drink water, and he is a Scotchman who thinks English national character has a pure enthusiasm for beef and mutton, – describes with gusto the crowds of people who gaze at the sirloins in the dealer's shop-window, and even likes the Scotch night-cap ; they praise moral suasion, he goes for murder, money, capital punishment, and other pretty abominations of English law. They wish freedom of the press, and he thinks the first thing he would do, if he got into Parliament, would be to turn out the reporters, and stop all manner of mischievous speaking to Buncombe, and wind-bags. " In the Long Parliament," he says, " the only great Parliament, they sat secret and silent, grave as an ecumenical council, and I know sot what they would have done to anybody that had got in there and attempted to tell out of doors what they did." They go for free institutions, for letting things alone, and only giving opportunity and motive to every man; he for a stringent government, that shows people what they must do, and makes them do it. " Here," he says, " the Parliament gathers up six millions of pounds every year to give to the poor, and yet the people starve. I think if they would give it to me, to provide the poor with labor, and with authority to make them work or shoot them, – and I to he hanged if I did not do it, – I could find them in plenty of Indian meal."

He throws himself readily on the other side. If you urge free trade, he remembers that every la-borer is a monopolist. The navigation laws of England made its commerce. " St. John was insulted by the Dutch; he came home, got the law passed that foreign vessels should pay high fees, and it cut the throat of the Dutch, and made the English trade." If you boast of the growth of the country, and show him the wonderful results of the census, he finds nothing so depressing as the sight of a great mob. He saw once, as he told me, three or four miles of human beings, and fancied that "the airth was some great cheese, and these were mites." If a Tory takes heart at his hatred of stump-oratory and model republics, he replies, " Yes, the idea of a pig-headed soldier who will obey orders, and fire on his own father at the command of his officer, is a great comfort to the aristocratic mind." It is not so much that Carlyle cares for this or that dogma, as that he likes genuineness (the source of all strength) in his companions.

If a scholar goes into a camp of lumbermen or a gang of riggers, those men will quickly detect any fault of character. Nothing will pass with them but what is real and sound. So this man is a hammer that crushes mediocrity and pretension. He detects weakness on the instant, and touches it. He has a vivacious, aggressive temperament, and unimpressionable. The literary, the fashionable, the political man, each fresh from triumphs in his own sphere, comes eagerly to see this man, whose fun they have heartily enjoyed, sure of a welcome, and are struck with despair at the first onset. His firm, victorious, scoffing vituperation strikes them with chill and hesitation. His talk often reminds you of what was said of Johnson : " If his pistol missed fire he would knock you down with the butt-end."

Mere intellectual partisanship wearies him ; he detects in an instant if a man stands for any cause to which he is not born and organically committed. A natural defender of anything, a lover who will live and die for that which he speaks for, and who does not care for him or for anything but his own business, he respects ; and the nobler this object, of course, the better. He hates a literary trifler, and if, after Guizot had been a tool of Louis Philippe for years, he is now to come and write essays on the character of Washington, on The Beautiful," and on Philosophy of History," lie thinks that nothing.

Great is his reverence for realities, – for all such traits as spring from the intrinsic nature of the actor. He humors this into the idolatry of strength. A strong nature has a charm for him, previous, it would seem, to all inquiry whether the force be divine or diabolic. He preaches, as by cannonade, the doctrine that every noble nature was made by God, and contains, if savage passions, also fit cheeks and grand impulses, and, however extravagant, will keep its orbit and return from far.
Nor can that decorum which is the idol of the Englishman, and in attaining which the English-man exceeds all nations, win from him any obeisance. He is eaten up with indignation against such as desire to make a fair show in the flesh.

Combined with this warfare on respectabilities, and, indeed, pointing all his satire, is the severity of his moral sentiment. In proportion to the peals of laughter amid which he strips the plumes of a pretender and shows the lean hypocrisy to every vantage of ridicule, does he worship whatever enthusiasm, fortitude, love; or other sign of a good nature is in a man.

There is nothing deeper in his constitution than his humor, than the considerate, condescending good-nature with which he looks at every object in existence, as a man might look at a mouse. He feels that the perfection of health is sportiveness, and will not look grave even at dullness or tragedy.

His guiding genius is his moral sense, his perception of the sole importance of truth and justice ; but that is a truth of character, not of catechisms. He says, There is properly no religion in England. These idle nobles at Tattersall's – there is no work or word of serious purpose in them ; they have this great lying Church ; and life is a hum-bug." He prefers Cambridge to Oxford, but he thinks Oxford and Cambridge education indurates the young men, as the Styx hardened Achilles, so that when they come forth of them, they say, "Now we are proof ; we have gone through all the degrees, and are case-hardened against the veracities of the Universe ; nor man nor God can penetrate us.

Wellington he respects as real and honest, and as having made up his mind, once for all, that he will not have to do with any kind of a lie. Edwin Chadwick is one of his heroes, – who proposes to provide every house in London with pure water, sixty gallons to every head, at a penny a week ; and in the decay and downfall of all religions, Carlyle thinks that the only religious act which a man nowadays can securely perform is to wash himself well.

Of course the new French revolution of 1848 was the best thing he had seen, and the teaching this great swindler, Louis Philippe, that there is a God's justice in the Universe, after all, was a great satisfaction. Czar Nicholas was his hero ; for in the ignominy of Europe, when all thrones full like card-houses, and no man was found with conscience enough to fire a gun for his crown, but every one ran away in a coucou, with his head shaved, through the Barriere de Passy, one man remained who believed he was put there by God Almighty to govern his empire, and, by the help of God, had re-solved to stand there.

He was very serious about the bad times ; he had seen this evil coming, but thought it would not come in his time. But now 't is coming, and the only good he sees in it is the visible appearance of the gods. He thinks it the only question for wise men, instead of art and fine fancies and poetry and such things, to address themselves to the problem of society. This confusion is the inevitable end of such falsehoods and nonsense as they have been embroiled with.

Carlyle has, best of all men in England, kept the manly attitude in his time. He has stood for scholars, asking no scholar what he should say. Holding an honored place in the best society, he has stood for the people, for the Chartist, for the pauper, intrepidly and scornfully teaching the nobles their peremptory duties.

His errors of opinion are as nothing in comparison with this merit, in my judgment. This aplomb cannot be mimicked ; it is the speaking to the heart of the thing. And in England, where the morgue of aristocracy has very slowly admitted scholars into society, – a very few houses only in the high circles being ever opened to them, – he has carried himself erect, made himself a power confessed by all men, and taught scholars their lofty duty. He never feared the face of man.

Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches

Henry David Thoreau (Eulogy)


A QUEEN rejoices in her peers,
And wary Nature knows her own,
By court and city, dale and down,
And like a lover volunteers,
And to her son will treasures more,
And more to purpose, freely pour
In one wood walk, than learned men
Will find with glass in ten times ten.

IT seemed as if the breezes brought him, It seemed as if the sparrows taught him, As if by secret sign he knew

Henry David Thoreau was the last male descendant of a French ancestor who came to this country from the Isle of Guernsey. His character exhibited occasional traits drawn from this blood, in singular combination with a very strong Saxon genius.

He was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on the 12th of July, 1817. He was graduated at Harvard College in 1837, but without any literary distinction. An iconoclast in literature, he seldom thanked colleges for their service to him, holding them in small esteem, whilst yet his debt to them was important. After leaving the University, he joined his brother in teaching a private school, which he soon renounced. His father was a manufacturer of lead-pencils, and Henry applied himself for a time to this craft, believing he could make a better pencil than was then in use. After completing his experiments, he exhibited his work to chemists and artists in Boston, and having obtained their certificates to its excellence and to its equality with the best London manufacture, he returned home contented. His friends congratulated him that he had now opened his way to fortune. But he replied that he should never make another pencil. “Why should I? I would not do again what I have done once.” He resumed his endless walks and miscellaneous studies, making every day some new acquaintance with Nature, though as yet never speaking of zoology or botany, since, though very studious of natural facts, he was incurious of technical and textual science.

 At this time, a strong, healthy youth, fresh from college, whilst all his companions were choosing their profession, or eager to begin some lucrative employment, it was inevitable that his thoughts should be exercised on the same question, and it required a rare decision to refuse all the accustomed paths and keep his solitary freedom at the cost of disappointing the natural expectations of his family and friends: all the more difficult that he had a perfect probity, was exact in securing his own independence, and in holding every man to the like duty. But Thoreau never faltered. He was a born protestant. He declined to give up his large ambition of knowledge and action for any narrow craft or profession, aiming at a much more comprehensive calling, the art of living well. If he slighted and defied the opinions of others, it was only that he was more intent to reconcile his practice with his own belief. Never idle or self-indulgent, he preferred, when he wanted money, earning it by some piece of manual labor agreeable to him, as building a boat or a fence, planting, grafting, surveying or other short work, to any long engagements. With his hardy habits and few wants, his skill in wood-craft, and his powerful arithmetic, he was very competent to live in any part of the world. It would cost him less to supply his wants than another. He was therefore secure of his leisure.

 A natural skill for mensuration, growing out of his mathematical knowledge and his habit of ascertaining the measures and distances of objects which interested him, the size of trees, the depth and extent of ponds and rivers, the height of mountains and the air-line distance of his favorite summits, this, and his intimate knowledge of the territory about Concord, made him drift into the profession of land-surveyor. It had the advantage for him that it led him continually into new and secluded grounds, and helped his studies of Nature. His accuracy and skill in his work were readily appreciated, and he found all the employment he wanted.

He could easily solve the problems of the surveyor, but he was daily beset with graver questions, which he manfully confronted. He interrogated every custom, and wished to settle all his practice on an ideal foundation. He was a protestant a outrance, and few lives contain so many renunciations. He was bred to no profession; he never married; he lived alone; he never went to church; he never voted; he refused to pay a tax to the State; he ate no flesh; he drank no wine; he never knew the use of tobacco; and though a naturalist, he used neither trap nor gun. He chose, wisely no doubt for himself, to be the bachelor of thought and Nature. He had no talent for wealth, and knew how to be poor without the least hint of squalor or inelegance. Perhaps he fell into his way of living without forecasting it much, but approved it with later wisdom. “I am often reminded,” he wrote in his journal, “that if I had bestowed on me the wealth of Croesus, my aims must be still the same.” He had no temptations to fight against, —no appetites, no passions, no taste for elegant trifles. A fine house, dress, the manners and talk of highly cultivated people were all thrown away on him. He much preferred a good Indian, and considered these refinements as impediments to conversation, wishing to meet his companion on the simplest terms. He declined invitations to dinner-parties, because there each was in every one’s way, and he could not meet the individuals to any purpose. “They make their pride,” he said, “in making their dinner cost much; I make my pride in making my dinner cost little.” When asked at table what dish he preferred, he answered, “The nearest.” He did not like the taste of wine, and never had a vice in his life. He said,”I have a faint recollection of pleasure derived from smoking dried lily-stems, before I was a man. I had commonly a supply of these. I have never smoked anything more noxious.”

He chose to be rich by making his wants few, and supplying them himself. In his travels, he used the railroad only to get over so much country as was unimportant to the present purpose, walking hundreds of miles, avoiding taverns, buying a lodging in farmers’ and fishermen’s houses, as cheaper, and more agreeable to him, and because there he could better find the men and the information he wanted.

There was somewhat military in his nature, not to be subdued, always manly and able, but rarely tender, as if he did not feel himself except in opposition. He wanted a fallacy to expose, a blunder to pillory, I may say required a little sense of victory, a roll of the drum, to call his powers into full exercise. It cost him nothing to say No; indeed he found it much easier than to say Yes. It seemed as if his first instinct on hearing a proposition was to controvert it, so impatient was he of the limitations of our daily thought. This habit, of course, is a little chilling to the social affections; and though the companion would in the end acquit him of any malice or untruth, yet it mars conversation. Hence, no equal companion stood in affectionate relations with one so pure and guileless. “I love Henry,” said one of his friends, “but I cannot like him; and as for taking his arm, I should as soon think of taking the arm of an elm-tree.”

Yet, hermit and stoic as he was, he was really fond of sympathy, and threw himself heartily and childlike into the company of young people whom he loved, and whom he delighted to entertain, as he only could, with the varied and endless anecdotes of his experiences by field and river: and he was always ready to lead a huckleberry-party or a search for chestnuts or grapes. Talking, one day, of a public discourse, Henry remarked that whatever succeeded with the audience was bad. I said, “Who would not like to write something which all can read, like ‘Robinson Crusoe?’ and who does not see with regret that his page is not solid with a right materialistic treatment, which delights everybody?” Henry objected, of course, and vaunted the better lectures which reached only a few persons. But, at supper, a young girl, understanding that he was to lecture at the Lyceum, sharply asked him, “Whether his lecture would be a nice, interesting story, such as she wished to hear, or whether it was one of those old philosophical things that she did not care about.” Henry turned to her, and bethought himself, and, I saw, was trying to believe that he had matter that might fit her and her brother, who were to sit up and go to the lecture, if it was a good one for them.

He was a speaker and actor of the truth, born such, and was ever running into dramatic situations from this cause. In any circumstance it interested all bystanders to know what part Henry would take, and what he would say; and he did not disappoint expectation, but used an original judgment on each emergency. In 1845 he built himself a small framed house on the shores of Walden Pond, and lived there two years alone, a life of labor and study. This action was quite native and fit for him. No one who knew him would tax him with affectation. He was more unlike his neighbors in his thought than in his action. As soon as he had exhausted the advantages of that solitude, he abandoned it. In 1847, not approving some uses to which the public expenditure was applied, he refused to pay his town tax, and was put in jail. A friend paid the tax for him, and he was released. The like annoyance was threatened the next year. But as his friends paid the tax, notwithstanding his protest, I believe he ceased to resist. No opposition or ridicule had any weight with him. He coldly and fully stated his opinion without affecting to believe that it was the opinion of the company. It was of no consequence if every one present held the opposite opinion. On one occasion he went to the University Library to procure some books. The librarian refused to lend them. Mr. Thoreau repaired to the President, who stated to him the rules and usages, which permitted the loan of books to resident graduates, to clergymen who were alumni, and to some others resident within a circle of ten miles’ radius from the College. Mr. Thoreau explained to the President that the railroad had destroyed the old scale of distances,–that the library was useless, yes, and President and College useless, on the terms of his rules,–that the one benefit he owed to the College was its library,–that, at this moment, not only his want of books was imperative, but he wanted a large number of books, and assured him that he, Thoreau, and not the librarian, was the proper custodian of these. In short, the President found the petitioner so formidable, and the rules getting to look so ridiculous, that he ended by giving him a privilege which in his hands proved unlimited thereafter.

No truer American existed than Thoreau. His preference of his country and condition was genuine, and his aversion from English and European manners and tastes almost reached contempt. He listened impatiently to news or bonmots gleaned from London circles; and though he tried to be civil, these anecdotes fatigued him. The men were all imitating each other, and on a small mould. Why can they not live as far apart as possible, and each be a man by himself? What he sought was the most energetic nature; and he wished to go to Oregon, not to London. “In every part of Great Britain,” he wrote in his diary, “are discovered traces of the Romans, their funereal urns, their camps, their roads, their dwellings. But New England, at least, is not based on any Roman ruins. We have not to lay the foundations of our houses on the ashes of a former civilization.”

But idealist as he was, standing for abolition of slavery, abolition of tariffs, almost for abolition of government, it is needless to say he found himself not only unrepresented in actual politics, but almost equally opposed to every class of reformers. Yet he paid the tribute of his uniform respect to the Anti-Slavery party. One man, whose personal acquaintance he had formed, he honored with exceptional regard. Before the first friendly word had been spoken for Captain John Brown, he sent notices to most houses in Concord that he would speak in a public hall on the condition and character of John Brown, on Sunday evening, and invited all people to come. The Republican Committee, the Abolitionist Committee, sent him word that it was premature and not advisable. He replied, “I did not send to you for advice, but to announce that I am to speak.” The hall was filled at an early hour by people of all parties, and his earnest eulogy of the hero was heard by all respectfully, by many with a sympathy that surprised themselves.

It was said of Plotinus that he was ashamed of his body, and ‘t is very likely he had good reason for it, –that his body was a bad servant, and he had not skill in dealing with the material world, as happens often to men of abstract intellect. But Mr. Thoreau was equipped with a most adapted and serviceable body. He was of short stature, firmly built, of light complexion, with strong, serious blue eyes, and a grave aspect, –his face covered in the late years with a becoming beard. His senses were acute, his frame well-knit and hardy, his hands strong and skilful in the use of tools. And there was a wonderful fitness of body and mind. He could pace sixteen rods more accurately than another man could measure them with rod and chain. He could find his path in the woods at night, he said, better by his feet than his eyes. He could estimate the measure of a tree very well by his eye; he could estimate the weight of a calf or a pig, like a dealer. From a box containing a bushel or more of loose pencils, he could take up with his hands fast enough just a dozen pencils at every grasp. He was a good swimmer, runner, skater, boatman, and would probably outwalk most countrymen in a day’s journey. And the relation of body to mind was still finer than we have indicated. He said he wanted every stride his legs made. The length of his walk uniformly made the length of his writing. If shut up in the house he did not write at all.

He has a strong common sense, like that which Rose Flammock, the weaver’s daughter in Scott’s romance, commends in her father, as resembling a yardstick, which, whilst it measures dowlas and diaper, can equally well measure tapestry and cloth of gold. He had always a new resource. When I was planting forest trees, and had procured half a peck of acorns, he said that only a small portion of them would be sound, and proceeded to examine them and select the sound ones. But finding this took time, he said, “I think if you put them all into water the good ones will sink;” which experiment we tried with success. He could plan a garden or a house or a barn; would have been competent to lead a “Pacific Exploring Expedition;” could give judicious counsel in the gravest private or public affairs.

He lived for the day, not cumbered and mortified by his memory. If he brought you yesterday a new proposition, he would bring you to-day another not less revolutionary. A very industrious man, and setting, like all highly organized men, a high value on his time, he seemed the only man of leisure in town, always ready for any excursion that promised well, or for conversation prolonged into late hours. His trenchant sense was never stopped by his rules of daily prudence, but was always up to the new occasion. He liked and used the simplest food, yet, when some one urged a vegetable diet, Thoreau thought all diets a very small matter, saying that “the man who shoots the buffalo lives better than the man who boards at the Graham House.” He said, “You can sleep near the railroad, and never be disturbed: Nature knows very well what sounds are worth attending to, and has made up her mind not to hear the railroad-whistle. But things respect the devout mind, and a mental ecstasy was never interrupted.” He noted what repeatedly befell him, that, after receiving from a distance a rare plant, he would presently find the same in his own haunts. And those pieces of luck which happen only to good players happened to him. One day, walking with a stranger, who inquired where Indian arrowheads could be found, he replied, “Everywhere,” and, stooping forward, picked one on the instant from the ground. At Mount Washington, in Tuckerman’s Ravine, Thoreau had a bad fall, and sprained his foot. As he was in the act of getting up from his fall, he saw for the first time the leaves of the Arnica mollis.

His robust common sense, armed with stout hands, keen perceptions and strong will, cannot yet account for the superiority which shone in his simple and hidden life. I must add the cardinal fact, that there was an excellent wisdom in him, proper to a rare class of men, which showed him the material world as a means and symbol. This discovery, which sometimes yields to poets a certain casual and interrupted light, serving for the ornament of their writing, was in him an unsleeping insight; and whatever faults or obstructions of temperament might cloud it, he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. In his youth, he said, one day, “The other world is all my art; my pencils will draw no other; my jack-knife will cut nothing else; I do not use it as a means.” This was the muse and genius that ruled his opinions, conversation, studies, work and course of life. This made him a searching judge of men. At first glance he measured his companion, and, though insensible to some fine traits of culture, could very well report his weight and caliber. And this made the impression of genius which his conversation sometimes gave.

He understood the matter in hand at a glance, and saw the limitations and poverty of those he talked with, so that nothing seemed concealed from such terrible eyes. I have repeatedly known young men of sensibility converted in a moment to the belief that this was the man they were in search of, the man of men, who could tell them all they should do. His own dealing with them was never affectionate, but superior, didactic, scorning their petty ways, –very slowly conceding, or not conceding at all, the promise of his society at their houses, or even at his own. “Would he not walk with them?” “He did not know. There was nothing so important to him as his walk; he had no walks to throw away on company.” Visits were offered him from respectful parties, but he declined them. Admiring friends offered to carry him at their own cost to the Yellowstone River,–to the West Indies,–to South America. But though nothing could be more grave or considered than his refusals, they remind one, in quite new relations, of that fop Brummel’s reply to the gentleman who offered him his carriage in a shower, “But where will you ride, then?”–and what accusing silences, and what searching and irresistible speeches, battering down all defences, his companions can remember!

Mr. Thoreau dedicated his genius with such entire love to the fields, hills and waters of his native town, that he made them known and interesting to all reading Americans, and to people over the sea. The river on whose banks he was born and died he knew from its springs to its confluence with the Merrimack. He had made summer and winter observations on it for many years, and at every hour of the day and night. The result of the recent survey of the Water Commissioners appointed by the State of Massachusetts he had reached by his private experiments, several years earlier. Every fact which occurs in the bed, on the banks or in the air over it; the fishes, and their spawning and nests, their manners, their food; the shad-flies which fill the air on a certain evening once a year, and which are snapped at by the fishes so ravenously that many of these die of repletion; the conical heaps of small stones on the river-shallows, the huge nests of small fishes, one of which will sometimes overfill a cart; the birds which frequent the stream, heron, duck, sheldrake, loon, osprey; the snake, muskrat, otter, woodchuck and fox, on the banks; the turtle, frog, hyla and cricket, which make the banks vocal, were all known to him, and, as it were, townsmen and fellow creatures; so that he felt an absurdity or violence in any narrative of one of these by itself apart, and still more of its dimensions on an inch-rule, or in the exhibition of its skeleton, or the specimen of a squirrel or a bird in brandy. He liked to speak of the manners of the river, as itself a lawful creature, yet with exactness, and always to an observed fact. As he knew the river, so the ponds in this region.

One of the weapons he used, more important to him than microscope or alcohol-receive, to other investigators, was a whim which grew on him by indulgence, yet appeared in gravest statement, namely, of extolling his own town and neighborhood as the most favored centre for natural observation. He remarked that the Flora of Massachusetts embraced almost all the important plants of America, most of the oaks, most of the willows, the best pines, the ash, the maple, the beech, the nuts. He returned Kane’s “Arctic Voyage” to a friend of whom he had borrowed it, with the remark, that “Most of the phenomena noted might be observed in Concord.” He seemed a little envious of the Pole, for the coincident sunrise and sunset, or five minutes’ day after six months: a splendid fact, which Annursnac had never afforded him. He found red snow in one of his walks, and told me that he expected to find yet the Victoria regia in Concord. He was the attorney of the indigenous plants, and owned to a preference of the weeds to the imported plants, as of the Indian to the civilized man, and noticed, with pleasure, that the willow-bean poles of his neighbor had grown more than his beans. “See these weeds,” he said, “which have been hoed at by a million farmers all spring and summer, and yet have prevailed, and just now come out triumphant over all lanes, pastures, fields and gardens, such is their vigor. We have insulted them with low names, too, as Pigweed, Wormwood, Chickweed, Shad-blossom.” He says, “They have brave names, too, Ambrosia, Stellaria, Amelanchier, Amaranth, etc.”

I think his fancy for referring everything to the meridian of Concord did not grow out of any ignorance or depreciation of other longitudes or latitudes, but was rather a playful expression of his conviction of the indifferency of all places, and that the best place for each is where he stands. He expressed it once in this wise: “I think nothing is to be hoped from you, if this bit of mould under your feet is not sweeter to you to eat than any other in this world, or in any world.”

The other weapon with which he conquered all obstacles in science was patience. He knew how to sit immovable, a part of the rock he rested on, until the bird, the reptile, the fish, which had retired from him, should come back and resume its habits, nay, moved by curiosity, should come to him and watch him.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to walk with him. He knew the country like a fox or a bird, and passed through it as freely by paths of his own. He knew every track in the snow or on the ground, and what creature had taken this path before him. One must submit abjectly to such a guide, and the reward was great. Under his arm he carried an old music-book to press plants; in his pocket, his diary and pencil, a spy-glass for birds, microscope, jack-knife and twine. He wore a straw hat, stout shoes, strong gray trousers, to brave scrub-oaks and smilax, and to climb a tree for a hawk’s or a squirrel’s nest. He waded into the pool for the water-plants, and his strong legs were no insignificant part of his armor. On the day I speak of he looked for the Menyanthes, detected it across the wide pool, and, on examination of the florets, decided that it had been in flower five days. He drew out of his breast-pocket his diary, and read the names of all the plants that should bloom on this day, whereof he kept account as a banker when his notes fall due. The Cypripedium not due till to-morrow. He thought that, if waked up from a trance, in this swamp, he could tell by the plants what time of the year it was within two days. The redstart was flying about, and presently the fine grosbeaks, whose brilliant scarlet “makes the rash gazer wipe his eye,” and whose fine clear note Thoreau compared to that of a tanager which has got rid of its hoarseness. Presently he heard a note which he called that of the night-warbler, a bird he had never identified, had been in search of twelve years, which always, when he saw it, was in the act of diving down into a tree or bush, and which it was vain to seek; the only bird which sings indifferently by night and by day. I told him he must beware of finding and booking it, lest life should have nothing more to show him. He said, “What you seek in vain for, half your life, one day you come full upon, all the family at dinner. You seek it like a dream, and as soon as you find it you become its prey.”

His interest in the flower or the bird lay very deep in his mind, was connected with Nature, and the meaning of Nature was never attempted to be defined by him. He would not offer a memoir of his observations to the Natural History Society. “Why should I? To detach the description from its connections in my mind would make it no longer true or valuable to me: and they do not wish what belongs to it.” His power of observation seemed to indicate additional senses. He saw as with a microscope, heard as with ear-trumpet, and his memory was a photographic register of all he saw and heard. And yet none knew better than he that it is not the fact that imports, but the impression or effect of the fact on your mind. Every fact lay in glory in his mind, a type of the order and beauty of the whole.

His determination on Natural History was organic. He confessed that he sometimes felt like a hound or a panther, and, if born among Indians, would have been a fell hunter. But, restrained by his Massachusetts culture, he played out the game in this mild form of botany and ichthyology. His intimacy with animals suggested what Thomas Fuller records of Butler the apiologist, that “either he had told the bees things or the bees had told him.” Snakes coiled round his legs; the fishes swam into his hand, and he took them out of the water; he pulled the woodchuck out of its hole by the tail, and took the foxes under his protection from the hunters. Our naturalist had perfect magnanimity; he had no secrets: he would carry you to the heron’s haunt, or even to his most prized botanical swamp, possibly knowing that you could never find it again, yet willing to take his risks.

No college ever offered him a diploma, or a professor’s chair; no academy made him its corresponding secretary, its discoverer or even its member. Perhaps these learned bodies feared the satire of his presence. Yet so much knowledge of Nature’s secret and genius few others possessed; none in a more large and religious synthesis. For not a particle of respect had he to the opinions of any man or body of men, but homage solely to the truth itself; and as he discovered everywhere among doctors some leaning of courtesy, it discredited them. He grew to be revered and admired by his townsmen, who had at first known him only as an oddity. The farmers who employed him as a surveyor soon discovered his rare accuracy and skill, his knowledge of their lands, of trees, of birds, of Indian remains and the like, which enabled him to tell every farmer more than he knew before of his own farm; so that he began to feel a little as if Mr. Thoreau had better rights in his land than he. They felt, too, the superiority of character which addressed all men with a native authority.

Indian relics abound in Concord, arrow-heads, stone chisels, pestles and fragments of pottery; and on the river-bank, large heaps of clam-shells and ashes mark spots which the savages frequented. These, and every circumstance touching the Indian, were important in his eyes. His visits to Maine were chiefly for love of the Indian. He had the satisfaction of seeing the manufacture of the bark canoe, as well as of trying his hand in its management on the rapids. He was inquisitive about the making of the stone arrow-head, and in his last days charged a youth setting out for the Rocky Mountains to find an Indian who could tell him that: “It was well worth a visit to California to learn it.” Occasionally, a small party of Penobscot Indians would visit Concord, and pitch their tents for a few weeks in summer on the river-bank. He failed not to make acquaintance with the best of them; though he well knew that asking questions of Indians is like catechizing beavers and rabbits. In his last visit to Maine he had great satisfaction from Joseph Polis, an intelligent Indian of Oldtown, who was his guide for some weeks.

He was equally interested in every natural fact. The depth of his perception found likeness of law throughout Nature, and I know not any genius who so swiftly inferred universal law from the single fact. He was not pedant of a department. His eye was open to beauty, and his ear to music. He found these, not in rare conditions, but wheresoever he went. He thought the best of music was in single strains; and he found poetic suggestion in the humming of the telegraph-wire.

His poetry might be bad or good; he no doubt wanted a lyric facility and technical skill, but he had the source of poetry in his spiritual perception. He was good reader and critic, and his judgment on poetry was to the ground of it. He could not be deceived as to the presence or absence of the poetic element in any composition, and his thirst for this made him negligent and perhaps scornful of superficial graces. He would pass by many delicate rhythms, but he would have detected every live stanza or line in a volume and knew very well where to find an equal poetic charm in prose. He was so enamored of the spiritual beauty that he held all actual written poems in very light esteem in the comparison. He admired Aeschylus and Pindar; but when some one was commending them, he said that Aeschylus and the Greeks, in describing Apollo and Orpheus, had given no song, or no good one. “They ought not to have moved trees, but to have chanted to the gods such a hymn as would have sung all their old ideas out of their heads, and new ones in.” His own verses are often rude and defective. The gold does not yet run pure, is drossy and crude. The thyme and marjoram are not yet honey. But if he want lyric fineness and technical merits, if he have not the poetic temperament, he never lacks the causal thought, showing that his genius was better than his talent. He knew the worth of the Imagination for the uplifting and consolation of human life, and liked to throw every thought into a symbol. The fact you tell is of no value, but only the impression. For this reason his presence was poetic, always piqued the curiosity to know more deeply the secrets of his mind. He had many reserves, an unwillingness to exhibit to profane eyes what was still sacred in his own, and knew well how to throw a poetic veil over his experience. All readers of “Walden” will remember his mythical record of his disappointments:

 “I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse and a turtle-dove, and am still on their trail. Many are the travelers I have spoken concerning them, describing their tracks, and what calls they answered to. I have met one or two who have heard the hound, and the tramp of the horse, and even seen the dove disappear behind a cloud; and they seemed as anxious to recover them as if they had lost them themselves.”

His riddles were worth the reading, and I confide that if at any time I do not understand the expression, it is yet just. Such was the wealth of his truth that it was not worth his while to use word in vain. His poem entitled “Sympathy” reveals the tenderness under that triple steel of stoicism, and the intellectual subtlety it could animate. His classic poem on “Smoke” suggests Simonides, but is better than any poem of Simonides. His biography is in his verses. His habitual thought makes all his poetry a hymn to the cause of causes, the Spirit which vivifies and controls his own:

“I hearing get, who had but ears,
And sight, who had but eyes before;
I moments live, who lived but years,
And truth discern, who knew but learning’s lore.”

And still more in these religious lines:
“Now chiefly is my natal hour,
And only now my prime of life;
I will not doubt the love untold,
Which not my worth nor want have bought,
Which wooed me young, and woos me old,
And to this evening hath me brought.”

Whilst he used in his writings a certain petulance of remark in reference to churches or churchmen, he was a person of a rare, tender and absolute religion, a person incapable of any profanation, by act or by thought. Of course, the same isolation which belonged to his original thinking and living detached him from the social religious forms. This is neither to be censured nor regretted. Aristotle long ago explained it, when he said, “One who surpasses his fellow citizens in virtue is no longer a part of the city. Their law is not for him, since he is a law to himself.”

Thoreau was sincerity itself, and might fortify the convictions of prophets in the ethical laws by his holy living. It was an affirmative experience which refused to be set aside. A truth-speaker he, capable of the most deep and strict conversation; a physician to the wounds of any soul; a friend, knowing not only the secret of friendship, but almost worshipped by those few persons who reported to him as their confessor and prophet, and knew the deep value of his mind and great heart. He thought that without religion or devotion of some kind nothing great was ever accomplished: and he thought that the bigoted sectarian had better bear this in mind.

His virtues, of course, sometimes ran into extremes. It was easy to trace to the inexorable demand on all for exact truth that austerity which made this willing hermit more solitary even than he wished. Himself of a perfect probity, he required not less of others. He had a disgust at crime, and no worldly success could cover it. He detected paltering as readily in dignified and prosperous persons as in beggars, and with equal scorn. Such dangerous frankness was in his dealing that his admirers called him “that terrible Thoreau,” as if he spoke when silent, and was still present when he had departed. I think the severity of his ideal interfered to deprive him of a healthy sufficiency of human society.

The habit of a realist to find things the reverse of their appearance inclined him to put every statement in a paradox. A certain habit of antagonism defaced his earlier writings, a trick of rhetoric not quite outgrown in his later, of substituting for the obvious word and thought its diametrical opposite. He praised wild mountains and winter forests for their domestic air, in snow and ice he would find sultriness, and commended the wilderness for resembling Rome and Paris. “It was so dry, that you might call it wet.”

The tendency to magnify the moment, to read all the laws of Nature in the one object or one combination under your eye, is of course comic to those who do not share the philosopher’s perception of identity. To him there was no such thing as size. The pond was a small ocean; the Atlantic, a large Walden Pond. He referred every minute fact to cosmical laws. Though he meant to be just, he seemed haunted by a certain chronic assumption that the science of the day pretended completeness, and he had just found out that the savans had neglected to discriminate a particular botanical variety, had failed to describe the seeds or count the sepals. “That is to say,” we replied, “the blockheads were not born in Concord; but who said they were? It was their unspeakable misfortune to be born in London, or Paris, or Rome; but, poor fellows, they did what they could, considering that they never saw Bateman’s Pond, or Nine-Acre Corner, or Becky Stow’s Swamp; besides, what were you sent into the world for, but to add this observation?”

Had his genius been only contemplative, he had been fitted to his life, but with his energy and practical ability he seemed born for great enterprise and for command; and I so much regret the loss of his rare powers of action, that I cannot help counting it a fault in him that he had no ambition. Wanting this, instead of engineering for all America, he was the captain of a huckleberry party. Pounding beans is good to the end of pounding empires one of these days; but if, at the end of years, it is still only beans!

But these foibles, real or apparent, were fast vanishing in the incessant growth of a spirit so robust and wise, and which effaced its defeats with new triumphs. His study of Nature was a perpetual ornament to him, and inspired his friends with curiosity to see the world through his eyes, and to hear his adventures. They possessed every kind of interest.

He had many elegancies of his own, whilst he scoffed at conventional elegance. Thus, he could not bear to hear the sound of his own steps, the grit of gravel; and therefore never willingly walked in the road, but in the grass, on mountains and in woods. His senses were acute, and he remarked that by night every dwelling-house gives out bad air, like a slaughter-house. He liked the pure fragrance of meliot. He honored certain plants with special regard, and, over all, the pond-lily, then, the gentian, and the Mikania scandens, and “life-everlasting,” and a bass-tree which he visited every year when it bloomed, in the middle of July. He thought the scent a more oracular inquisition than the sight, more oracular and trustworthy. The scent, of course, reveals what is concealed from the other senses. By it he detected earthiness. He delighted in echoes, and said they were almost the only kind of kindred voices that he heard. He loved Nature so well, was so happy in her solitude, that he became very jealous of cities and the sad work which their refinements and artifices made with man and his dwelling. The axe was always destroying his forest. “Thank God,” he said, “they cannot cut down the clouds!” “All kinds of figures are drawn on the blue ground with this fibrous white paint.”

I subjoin a few sentences taken from his unpublished manuscripts, not only as records of his thought and feeling, but for their power of description and literary excellence:
“Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

“The chub is a soft fish, and tastes like boiled brown paper salted.”

“The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them.”
“The locust z-ing,”

“Devil’s-needles zigzagging along the Nut-Meadow brook.”

“Sugar is not so sweet to the palate as sound to the healthy ear.”

“I put on some hemlock-boughs, and the rich salt crackling of their leaves was like mustard to the ear, the crackling of uncountable regiments. Dead trees love the fire.”

“The bluebird carries the sky on his back.”

“The tanager flies through the green foliage as if it would ignite the leaves.”

“If I wish for a horse-hair for my compass-sight, I must go to the stable; but the hair-bird, with her sharp eyes, goes to the road.”
“Immortal water, alive even to the superficies.”
“Fire is the most tolerable third party.”

“Nature made ferns for pure leaves, to show what she could do in that line.”

“No tree has so fair a bole and so handsome an instep as the beech.”

“How did these beautiful rainbow-tints get into the shell of the fresh-water clam, buried in the mud at the bottom of our dark river?”

“Hard are the times when the infant’s shoes are second-foot.”
“We are strictly confined to our men to whom we give liberty.”

“Nothing is so much to be feared as fear. Atheism may comparatively be popular with God himself.”

“Of what significance the things you can forget? A little thought is sexton to all the world.”

“How can we expect a harvest of thought who have not had a seed-time of character?”

“Only he can be trusted with gifts who can present a face of bronze to expectations.”
“I ask to be melted. You can only ask of the metals that they be tender to the fire that melts them. To nought else can they be tender.”

There is a flower known to botanists, one of the same genus with our summer plant called “Life-Everlasting,” a Gnaphalium like that, which grows on the most inaccessible cliffs of the Tyrolese mountains, where the chamois dare hardly venture, and which the hunter, tempted by its beauty, and by his love (for it is immensely valued by the Swiss maidens), climbs the cliffs to gather, and is sometimes found dead at the foot, with the flower in his hand. It is called by botanists the Gnaphalium leontopodium, but by the Swiss Edelweiss, which signifies Noble Purity. Thoreau seemed to me living in the hope to gather this plant, which belonged to him of right. The scale on which his studies proceeded was so large as to require longevity, and we were the less prepared for his sudden disappearance. The country knows not yet, or in the least part, how great a son it has lost. It seems an injury that he should leave in the midst of his broken task which none else can finish, a kind of indignity to so noble a soul that he should depart out of Nature before yet he has been really shown to his peers for what he is. But he, at least, is content. His soul was made for the noblest society; he had in a short life exhausted the capabilities of this world; wherever there is knowledge, wherever there is virtue, wherever there is beauty, he will find a home.

Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches

Samuel Hoar


"Magno se Mice quisque tuetur:
Victrix causa deis placuit sed victa Catoni."

A year ago, how often did we meet
Beneath these elms, once more in sober bloom,
Thy tall, sad figure pacing down the street. And now the robin sings above thy tomb !
Thy name on other shores may ne'er be known, Though Rome austere no graver consul knew,
But Massachusetts her true son shall own ; Out of her soil thy hardy virtues grew.
She loves the man that chose the conquered cause,
With upright soul that bowed to God alone;
The clean hands that upheld her equal laws,
The old religion ne'er to be outgrown ;
The cold demeanor, the warm heart beneath,
The simple grandeur of thy life and death.

April, 1857.

HERE is a day on which more public good or evil is to be done than was ever done on any day. And this is the pregnant season, when our old Roman, Samuel Hoar, has chosen to quit this world. Ab iniquo certamine indignabundus reeessit.

He was born under a Christian and humane star, full of mansuetude and nobleness, honor and charity ; and, whilst he was willing to face every disagreeable duty, whilst he dared to do all that might beseem a man, his self-respect restrained him from any foolhardiness. The Homeric heroes, when they saw the gods mingling in the fray, sheathed their swords. So did not he feel any call to make it a contest of personal strength with mobs or nations ; hut when he saw the day and the gods went against him, he withdrew, but with an unaltered belief. All was conquered praeter atrocem animum Catonis.

At the time when he went to South Carolina as the Commissioner of Massachusetts, in 1844, whilst staying in Charleston, pending his correspondence with the governor and the legal officers, he was repeatedly warned that it was not safe for him to appear in public, or to take his daily walk, as he had done, unattended by his friends, in the streets of the city. He was advised to withdraw to private lodgings, which were eagerly offered him by friends. He rejected the advice, and refused the offers, saying that he was old, and his life was not worth much, but he had rather the boys should troll his old head like a foot-ball in their streets, than that he should hide it. And he continued the uniform practice of his daily walk into all parts of the city. But when the mob of Charleston was assembled in the streets before his hotel, and a deputation of gentlemen waited upon him in the hall to say they had come with the unanimous voice of the State to remove him by force, and the carriage was at the door, he considered his duty discharged to the last point of possibility. The force was apparent and irresistible; the legal officer's part was up ; it was now time for the military officer to be sent ; and he said, " Well, gentlemen, since it is your pleasure to use force, I must go." But his opinion was unchanged.

In like manner now, when the votes of the Free States, as shown in the recent election in the State and large ability. He was fond of farms and trees, fond of birds, and attentive to their manners and habits ; addicted to long and retired walks ; temper-ate to asceticism, for no lesson of his experience was lost on him, and his self-command was perfect. Though rich, of a plainness and almost poverty of personal expenditure, yet liberal of his money to any worthy use, readily lending it to young men, and industrious men, and by no means eager to re-claim of them either the interest or the principal. He was open-handed to every charity, and every public claim that had any show of reason in it. When I talked with him one day of some inequality of taxes in the town, he said it was his practice to pay whatever was demanded ; for, though he might think the taxation large and very unequally proportioned, yet he thought the money might as well go in this way as in any other.

The strength and the beauty of the man lay in the natural goodness and justice of his mind, which, in manhood and in old age, after dealing all his life with weighty private and public interests, left an infantile innocence, of which we have no second or third example, – the strength of a chief united to the modesty of a child. He returned from courts or congresses to sit down, with unaltered humility, in the church or in the town-house, on the plain wooden bench where honor came and sat down beside him.

He was a man in whom so rare a spirit of justice visibly dwelt, that if one had met him in a cabin or in a forest he must still seem a public man, answering as sovereign state to sovereign state ; and might easily suggest Milton's picture of John Bradshaw, that he was a consul from whom the fasces did not depart with the year, but in private seemed ever sitting in judgment on kings." Everybody knew where to find him. What he said, that would he do. But he disdained any arts in his speech : he was not adorned with any graces of rhetoric,

"But simple truth his utmost skill."

So cautious was he, and tender of the truth, that he sometimes wearied his audience with the pains he took to qualify and verify his statements, adding clause on clause to do justice to all his conviction. He had little or no power of generalization. But a plain way he had of putting his statement with all his might, and now and then borrowing the aid of a good story, or a farmer's phrase, whose force had imprinted it on his memory, and, by the same token, his hearers were bound to remember his point.

The impression he made on juries was honorable to him and them. For a long term of years, he was at the head of the bar in Middlesex, practising, also, in the adjoining counties. He had one side or the other of every important case, and his influence was reckoned despotic, and sometimes complained of as a bar to public justice. Many good stories are still told of the perplexity of jurors who found the law and the evidence on one side, and yet Squire Hoar had said that he believed, on his con-science, his client entitled to a verdict. And what Middlesex jury, containing any God-fearing men in it, would hazard an opinion in flat contradiction to what Squire Hoar believed to be just ? He was entitled to this respect ; for he discriminated in the business that was brought to him, and would not argue a rotten cause ; and he refused very large sums offered him to undertake the defense of criminal persons.

His character made him the conscience of the community in which he lived. And in many a town it was asked, " What does Squire Hoar think of this?" and in political crises, he was entreated to write a few lines to make known to good men in Chelmsford, or Marlborough, or Shirley, what that opinion was. I used to feel that his conscience was a kind of meter of the degree of honesty in the country, by which on each occasion it was tried, and sometimes found wanting. I am sorry to say he could not be elected to Congress a second time from Middlesex.

And in his own town, if some important end was to be gained, – as, for instance, when the county commissioners refused to rebuild the burned court-house, on the belief that the courts would be transferred from Concord to Lowell, – all parties combined to send Mr. Hoar to the Legislature, where his presence and speech, of course, secured the re-building; and, of course also, having answered our end, we passed him by and elected somebody else at the next term.

His head, with singular grace in its lines, had a resemblance to the bust of Dante. He retained to the last the erectness of his tall but slender form, and not less the full strength of his mind. Such was, in old age, the beauty of his person and carriage, as if the mind radiated, and made the same impression of probity on all beholders. His beauty was pathetic and touching in these latest days, and, as now appears, it awakened a certain tender fear in all who saw him, that the costly ornament of our homes and halls and streets was speedily to be re-moved. Yet how solitary he looked, day by day in the world, this man so revered, this man of public life, of large acquaintance and wide family connection ! Was it some reserve of constitution, or was it only the lot of excellence, that with aims so pure and single, he seemed to pass out of life alone, and, as it were, unknown to those who were his contemporaries and familiars?

[The following sketch of Mr. Hoar from a slightly different point of view, was prepared by Mr. Emerson, shortly after the above paper appeared in "Putnam's Magazine " (December, 1856), at the request of the Editor of the Monthly Religious Magazine," and was printed there, January, 1857. It is here appended as giving some additional traits of a characteristic figure which may serve as a pendant in some respects to that of Dr. Ripley.]

Mr. Hoar was distinguished in his profession by the grasp of his mind, and by the simplicity of his means. His ability lay iii the clear apprehension and the powerful statement of the material points of his case. He soon possessed it, and he never possessed it better, and he was equally ready at any moment to state the facts. He saw that was essential and refuted whatever was not, so that no man embarrassed himself less with a needless array of books and evidences of contingent value.

These tactics of the lawyer were the tactics of his life. He had uniformly the air of knowing just what he wanted and of going to that in the shortest way. It is singular that his character should make so deep an impression, standing and working as he did on so common a ground. He was neither spiritualist nor man of genius nor of a literary nor an executive talent. In strictness the vigor of his understanding was directed on the ordinary domestic and municipal well-being. Society had reason to cherish him, for he was a main pillar on which it leaned. The useful and practical super-abounded in his mind, and to a degree which might be even comic to young and poetical persons. If lie spoke of the engagement of two lovers, he called it a contract. Nobody cared to speak of thoughts or aspirations to a black-letter lawyer, who only studied to keep men out of prison, and their lands out of attachment. Had you read Swedenborg or Plotinus to him, he would have waited till you had clone, and answered you out of the Revised Statutes. He had an affinity for mathematics, but it was a taste rather than a pursuit, and of the modern sciences he liked to read popular books on geology. Yet so entirely was this respect to the ground plan and substructure of society a natural ability, and from the order of his mind, and not for tickling conmuodity," that it was admirable, as every work of nature is, and like one of those opaque crystals, big beryls weighing tons, which are found in Acworth. New Hampshire, not less perfect in their angles and structure. and only less beautiful, than the transparent topazes and diamonds. Meantime, whilst his talent and his profession led him to guard the material wealth of society, a more disinterested person did not exist. And if there were regions of knowledge not open to him, he did not pretend to them. His modesty was sincere. He had a childlike innocence and a native temperance, which left him no temptations, and enabled him to meet every comer with a free and disengaged courtesy that had no memory in it

" Of wrong and outrage with which earth is filled."

No person was more keenly alive to the stabs which the ambition and avarice of men inflicted on the common wealth. Yet when politicians or speculators approached him, these memories left no scar ; his countenance had an unalterable tranquility and sweetness ; he had nothing to repent of, – let the cloud rest where it might, he dwelt in eternal sunshine.

He had his birth and breeding in a little country town, where the old religion existed in strictness, and spent all his energy in creating purity of manners and careful education. No art or practice of the farm was unknown to him, and the farmers greeted him as one of them-selves, whilst thy paid due homage to his powers of mind and to his virtues.

He loved the dogmas and the simple usages of his church; was always an honored and sometimes an active member. e never shrunk from a disagreeable duty. In the time of the Sunday laws he was a tithing-man ; under the Maine Law he was a prosecutor of the liquor dealers. It seemed as if the New England church had formed him to be its friend and defender ; the lover and assured friend of its parish by-laws, of its ministers, its rites, and its social reforms. He was a model of those formal but reverend manners which make what is called a gentleman of the old school, so called under an impression that the style is passing away, but which, I suppose, is an optical illusion, as there are always a few more of the class remaining, and always a few young men to whom these manners are native.

I have spoken of his modesty ; he had nothing to say about himself ; and his sincere admiration was commanded by certain heroes of the profession, like Judge Parsons and Judge Marshall. Mr. Mason and Mr. Webster. When some one said. in his presence, that Chief Justice Marshall was failing in his intellect, Mr. Hoar remarked that " Judge Marshall could afford to lose brains enough to furnish three or four common men, be-fore common men would find it out." He had a huge respect for Mr. Webster's ability, with whom he had often occasion to try his strength at the bar, and a proportionately deep regret at Mr. Webster political course in his later years.

There was no elegance in his reading or tastes beyond the crystal clearness of his mind. He had no love of poetry ; and I have heard that the only verse that he was ever known to quote was the Indian rule :

" When the oaks are in the gray,
Then, farmers, plant away."

But I find an elegance in his quiet but firm withdrawal from all business in the courts which he could drop without manifest detriment to the interests involved (and this when in his best strength). and his self-dedication thenceforward to unpaid services of the Temperance and Peace and other philanthropic societies, the Sunday Schools, the cause of Education, and specially of the University, and to such political activities as a strong sense of duty and the love of order and of freedom urged him to forward.

Perfect in his private life, the husband, father. friend, he was severe only with himself. He was as if on terms of honor with those nearest him, nor did he think a life-long familiarity could excuse any omission of courtesy from him. He carried ceremony finely to the last. But his heart was all gentleness, gratitude and bounty.

With beans December planets dart,
His cold eye truth and conduct scanned;
July was in his sunny heart,
October in his liberal hand.

Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches

Mary Moody Emerson


The yesterday cloth never smile,
To-day- goes drudging through the while,
Yet in the name of Godhead, I
The morrow front and can defy ;
Though I am weak, yet God, when prayed,
Cannot withhold his conquering aid.
Ah me ! it was my childhood's thought,
If He should make my web a blot
On life's fair picture of delight,
My heart's content would find it right.
But 0, these waves and leaves, –
When happy, stoic Nature grieves, –
No human speech so beautiful
As their murmurs mine to lull.
On this altar God hath built
I lay- my vanity and guilt;
Nor me can Hope or Passion urge,
Hearing as now the lofty dirge
Which blasts of Northern mountains hymn,
Nature's funeral high and dim, –
Sable pageantry of clouds,
Mourning summer laid in shrouds.
Many a day- shall dawn and die,
Many an angel wander by,
And passing, light my- sunken turf,
Moist perhaps by ocean surf,
Forgotten amid splendid tombs,
Yet wreathed and hid by summer blooms,
On earth I dream;- I die to be:
Time! shake not thy bald head at me.
I challenge thee to hurry past,
Or for my turn to thy too fast.


I wish to meet the invitation with which the ladies have honored me by offering them a portrait of real life. It is a representative life, such as could hardly have appeared out of New England ; of an age now past, and of which I think no types survive. Perhaps I deceive myself and overestimate its interest. It has to me a value like that which many readers find in Madame Guyon, in Rahel, in Eugenie de Guerin, but it is purely original and hardly admits of a duplicate. Then it is a fruit of Calvinism and New England, and marks the precise time when the power of the old creed yielded to the influence of modern science and humanity.

I have found that I could only bring you this portrait by selections from the diary of my heroine, premising a sketch of her time and place. I report some of the thoughts and soliloquies of a country girl, poor, solitary, – `a goody' as she called herself, – growing from youth to age amid slender opportunities and usually very humble company.

Mary Moody Emerson was born just before the outbreak of the Revolution. When introduced to Lafayette at Portland, she told him that she was " arms " at the Concord Fight. Her father, the minister of Concord, a warm patriot in 1775, went as a chaplain to the American army at Ticonderoga : he carried his infant daughter, before he went, to his mother in Malden and told her to keep the child until he returned. He died at Rutland, Vermont, of army-fever, the next year, and Mary remained at Malden with her grandmother, and, after her death, with her father's sister, in whose house she grew up, rarely seeing her brothers and sisters in Concord. This aunt and her husband lived on a farm, were getting old, and the husband a shiftless, easy man. There was plenty of work for the little niece to do day by day, and not always bread enough in the house.

One of her tasks, it appears, was to watch for the approach of the deputy-sheriff, who might come to confiscate the spoons or arrest the uncle for debt. Later, another aunt, who had become insane, was brought hither to end her days. More and sadder work for this young girl. She had no companions, lived in entire solitude with these old people, very rarely cheered by short visits from her brothers and sisters. Her mother had married again, – married the minister who succeeded her husband in the parish at Concord, [Dr. Ezra Ripley,] and had now a young family growing up around her.

Her aunt became strongly attached to Mary, and persuaded the family to give the child up to her as a daughter, on some terms embracing a care of her future interests. She would leave the farm to her by will. This promise was kept ; she came into possession of the property many years after, and her dealings with it gave her no small trouble, though they give much piquancy to her letters iii after years. Finally it was sold, and its price in-vested in a share of a farm in Maine, where she lived as a boarder with her sister, for many years. It was in a picturesque country, within sight of the White Mountains, with a little lake in front at the foot of a high hill called Bear Mountain. Not far from the house was a brook running over a granite floor like the Franconia Flume, and noble forests around. Every word she writes about this farm (" Elm Vale," Waterford,) her dealings and vexations about it, her joys and raptures of religion and Nature, interest like a romance, and to those who may hereafter read her letters, will make its obscure acres amiable.

In Malden she lived through all her youth and early womanhood, with the habit of visiting the families of her brothers and sisters on any necessity of theirs. Her good will to serve in time of sickness or of pressure was known to them, and promptly claimed, and her attachment to the youths and maidens growing up in those families was se-cure for any trait of talent or of character. Her sympathy for young people who pleased her was almost passionate, and was sure to make her arrival in each house a holiday.

Her early reading was Milton, Young, Akenside, Samuel Clarke, Jonathan Edwards, and always the Bible. Later, Plato, Plotinus, Marcus Antoninus, Stewart, Coleridge, Cousin, Harder, Locke. Madame De Stael, Channing, Mackintosh. Byron. No-body can read in her manuscript, or recall the conversation of old-school people, without seeing that Milton and Young had a religions authority in their mind, and nowise the slight, merely entertaining quality of modern bards. And Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus,- how venerable and organic as Nature they are in her mind! What a subject is her mind and life for the finest novel ! When I read Dante, the other day, and his paraphrases to signify with more adequateness Christ or Jehovah, whom do you think I was reminded of ? Whom but Mary Emerson and her eloquent theology? She had a deep sympathy with genius. When it was unhallowed, as in Byron, she had none the less, whilst she deplored and affected to denounce him. But she adored it when ennobled by character. She liked to notice that the greatest geniuses have died ignorant of their power and influence. She wished you to scorn to shine. "My opinion," she writes, (is) that a mind like Byron's would never be satisfied with modern Unitarianism, – that the fiery depths of Calvinism, its high and mysterious elections to eternal bliss, beyond angels, and all its attendant wonders would have alone been fitted to fix his imagination."

Her wit was so fertile, and only used to strike, that she never used it for display, any more than a wasp would parade his sting. It was ever the will and not the phrase that concerned her. Yet certain expressions, when they marked a memorable state of mind in her experience, recurred to her afterwards, and she would vindicate herself as having said to Dr. R–or Uncle L so and so, at such a period of her life. But they were in-tensely true when first spoken. All her language was happy, but inimitable, unattainable by talent, as if caught from some dream. She calls herself
the puny pilgrim, whose sole talent is sympathy." " I like that kind of apathy that is a triumph to overset."

She writes to her nephew Charles Emerson, in 1833: -"I could never have adorned the garden. If I had been in aught but dreary deserts, I should have idolized my friends, despised the world and been haughty. I never expected connections and matrimony. My taste was formed in romance, and I knew I was not destined to please. I love God and his creation as I never else could. I scarcely feel the sympathies of this life enough to agitate the pool. This in general, one case or so excepted, and even this is a relation to God through you. 'T was so in my happiest early days, when you were at my side."

Destitution is the Muse of her genius, – Destitution and Death. I used to propose that her epitaph should be: here lies the angel of Death." And wonderfully as she varies and poetically repeats that image in every page and day, yet not less fondly and sublimely she returns to the other, – the grander of humility and privation, as thus ; "The chief witness which I have had of a Godlike principle of action and feeling is in the disinterested joy felt in others' superiority. For the love of superior virtue is mine own gift from God.-" Where were thine own intellect if others had not lived?

She had many acquaintances among the notables of the time ; and now and then in her migrations from town to town in Maine and Massachusetts, in search of a new boarding-place, discovered some preacher with sense or piety, or both. For on her arrival at any new home she was likely to steer first to the ministers house and pray his wife to take a boarder ; and as the minister found quickly that she knew all his books and many more, and made shrewd guesses at his character and possibilities, she would easily rouse his curiosity, as a per-son who could read his secret and tell him his fortune.

She delighted in success, in youth, in beauty, in genius, in manners. When she met a young per-son who interested her, she made herself acquainted and intimate with him or her at once, by sympathy, by flattery, by raillery, by anecdotes, by wit, by rebuke, and stormed the castle. None but was attracted or piqued by her interest and wit and wide acquaintance with books and with eminent names. She said she gave herself full swing in these sudden intimacies, for she knew she should disgust them soon, and resolved to have their best hours. " Society is shrewd to detect those who do not belong to her train, and seldom wastes her attentions." She surprised, attracted, chided and denounced her companion by turns, and pretty rapid turns. But no intelligent youth or maiden could have once met her without remembering her with interest, and learning something of value. Scorn trifles, lift your aims : do what you are afraid to do : sublimity of character must come from sublimity of motive : these were the lessons which were urged with vivacity, in ever new language. But if her companion was dull, her impatience knew no bounds. She tired presently of (lull conversations, and asked to be read to, and so disposed of the visitor. If the voice or the reading tired her, she would ask the friend if he or she would do an errand for her, and so dismiss them. If her companion were a little ambitious, and asked her opinions on books or matters on which she did not wish rude hands laid, she did not hesitate to stop the intruder with "
How's your cat, Mrs. Tenner?"

"I was disappointed,". she writes, "in finding my little Calvinist no companion, a cold little thing who lives in society alone, and is looked up to as a specimen of genius. I performed a mission in secretly undermining his vanity, or trying to. Alas! never done but 1)y mortifying affliction." From the country she writes to her sister in town, You can-not help saying that my epistle is a striking specimen of egotism. To which I can only answer that, in the country, we converse so must more with ourselves, that we are almost led to forget every-body else. The very sound of your bells and the rattling of the carriages have a tendency to divert selfishness." " This seems a world rather of trying each others' dispositions than of enjoying each others' virtues."

She had the misfortune of spinning with a greater velocity than any of the other tops. She would tear into the chaise or out of it, into the house or out of it, into the conversation, into the thought, into the character of the stranger, – disdaining all the graduation by which her fellows time their steps : and though she might do very happily in a planet where others moved with the like velocity, she was offended here by the phlegm of all her fellow-creatures, and disgusted them by her impatience. She could keep step with no human being. Her nephew [ R. W. E.] wrote of her: I am glad the friendship with Aunt Mary is ripening. As by seeing a high tragedy, reading a true poem, or a novel like 'Corinne,' so, by society with her, one's mind is electrified and purged. She is no statute-book of practical commandments, nor orderly digest of any system of philosophy, divine or human, but a Bible, miscellaneous in its parts, but one in its spirit, wherein are sentences of condemnation, promises and covenants of love that make foolish the wisdom of the world with the power of God."

Our Delphian was fantastic enough, Heaven knows, yet could always be tamed by large and sincere conversation. Was there thought and eloquence, she would listen like a child. Her aspiration and prayer would begin, and the whim and petulance in which by diseased habit she had grown to indulge without suspecting it, was burned up in the glow of her pure and poetic spirit, which dearly loved the Infinite.

She writes : " August, 184 7 : Vale. – My oddities were never designed – effect of an uncalculating constitution, at first, then through isolation ; and as to dress, from duty. To be singular of choice, without singular talents and virtues, is as ridiculous as ungrateful." " It is so universal with all classes to avoid contact with me that I blame none. The fact has generally increased piety and self-love." " As a traveller enters some fine palace and finds all the doors closed, and he only allowed the use of some avenues and passages, so have I wandered from the cradle over the apartments of social affections, or the cabinets of natural or moral philosophy, the recesses of ancient and modern lore. All say – Forbear to enter the pales of the initiated by birth, wealth, talents and patronage. I submit with delight, for it is the echo of a decree from above ; and from the highway hedges where I get lodging, and from the rays which burst forth when the crowd are entering these noble saloons, whilst I stand in the doors, I get a pleasing vision which is an earnest of the interminable skies where the mansions are prepared for the poor."

" To live to give pain rather than pleasure (the latter so delicious) seems the spider-like necessity of my being on earth, and I have gone on my queer way with joy, saying, " Shall the clay interrogate?" But in every actual case, 't is hard, and we lose sight of the first necessity, – here too amid works red with default in all great and grand and infinite aims. Yet with intentions disinterested, though uncontrolled by proper reverence for others."

When Mrs. Thoreau called on her one day, wearing pink ribbons, she shut her eyes, and so conversed with her for a time. By and by she said, " Mrs. Thoreau, I don't know whether you have observed that my eyes are shut." "Yes, Madam, I have observed it." " Perhaps you would like to know the reasons ? " " Yes, I should." " I don't like to see a person of your age guilty of such levity iii her dress."

When her cherished favorite, E. H., was at the Vale, and had gone out to walk in the forest with Hannah, her niece, Aunt Mary feared they were lost, and found a man in the next house and begged him to go and look for them. The man went and returned saying that he could not find them. "Go and cry, ' Elizabeth ! ' " The man rather declined this service, as he did not know Miss II. She was highly offended, and exclaimed, "God has given you a voice that you might use it in the service of your fellow-creatures. Go instantly and call ' Elizabeth ' till you find them." The man went immediately, and did as he was bid, and having found them apologized for calling thus, by telling what Miss Emerson had said to him.
When some ladies of my acquaintance by an unusual chance found themselves in her neighbor-hood and visited her, I told them that she was no whistle that every mouth could play on, but a quite clannish instrument, a pibroch, for example, from which none but a native Highlander could draw music.

In her solitude of twenty years, with fewest books and those only sermons, and a copy of " Paradise Lost," without covers or title-page, so that later, when she heard much of Milton and sought his work, she found it was her very book which she knew so well, – she was driven to find Nature her companion and solace. She speaks of " her at-tempts in Malden, to wake up the soul amid the dreary scenes of monotonous Sabbaths, when Nature looked like a pulpit."

" Malden, November 15th, 1805. – What a rich day, so fully occupied in pursuing truth that I scorned to touch a novel which for so many years I have wanted. How insipid is fiction to a mind touched with immortal views ! November 16th. – I am so small in my expectations, that a week of industry delights. Rose before light every morn ; visited from necessity once, and again for books ; read Butler's Analogy ; commented on the Scriptures ; read in a little book, – Cicero's Letters, – a few : touched Shakspeare, – washed, carded, cleaned house, and baked. To-day cannot recall an error, nor scarcely a sacrifice, but more fulness of content in the labors of a day never was felt. There is a sweet pleasure in bending to circumstances while superior to them.

"Malden, September, 1807. – The rapture of feeling I would part from, for days more devoted to higher discipline. But when Nature beams with such excess of beauty, when the heart thrills with hope in its Author, – feels that it is related to him more than by any tics of Creation, – it exults, too fondly perhaps for a state of trial. But in dead of night, nearer morning, when the eastern stars glow or appear to glow with more indescribable lustre, a lustre which penetrates the spirit with wonder and curiosity, – then, however awed, who can fear? Since Sabbath, Aunt B—– [the insane aunt] was
brought here. Ah! mortifying sight! instinct perhaps triumphs over reason, and every dignified respect to herself, in her anxiety about recovery, and the smallest means connected. Not one wish of others detains her, not one care. But it alarms inc not, I shall delight to return to God. His name my fullest confidence. His sole presence ineffable pleasure.

I walked yesterday five or more miles, lost to mental or heart existence, through fatigue, – just fit for the society I went into, all mildness and the most commonplace virtue. The lady is celebrated for her cleverness, and she was never so good to mc. Met a lady in the morning walk, a foreigner, – conversed on the accomplishments of Miss T. My mind expanded with novel and innocent pleasure. Ah! were virtue, and that of dear heavenly meekness attached by any necessity to a lower rank of genteel people, who would sympathize with the exalted with satisfaction ? But that is not the ease, I believe. A mediocrity does seem to me more distant from eminent virtue than the extremes of station ; though after all it must depend on the ma-ture of the heart. A mediocre mind will be de-ranged in either extreme of wealth or poverty, praise or censure, society or solitude. The feverish lust of notice perhaps in all these cases would injure the heart of common refinement and virtue."

Later she writes of her early days in Malden: " When I get a glimpse of the revolutions of nations – that retribution which seems forever going on in this part of creation, – I remember with great satisfaction that from all the ills suffered, in child-hood and since, from others, I felt that it was rather the order of things than their individual fault. — It was from being early impressed by my poor unpractical aunt, that Providence and Prayer were all in all. Poor woman ! Could her own temper in child-hood or age have been subdued, how happy for her-self, NN-ho had a warm heart ; but for me would have prevented those early lessons of fortitude, which her caprices taught me to practise. Had I prospered in life, what a proud, excited being, even to feverishness-, I might have been. Loving to shine, flattered and flattering, anxious, and wrapped in others, frail and feverish as myself."

She alludes to the early days of her solitude, sixty years afterward, on her own farm in Maine, speaking sadly the thoughts suggested by the rich autumn landscape around her " Ah! as I walked out this afternoon, so sad was wearied Nature that I felt her whisper to me, ' Even these leaves you use to think my better emblems have lost their charm on me too, and I weary of my pilgrimage, – tired that I must again be clothed in the grandeurs of winter, and anon be bedizened in flowers and cascades. Oh, if there be a power superior to we, – and that there is. my own dread fetters proclaim, – when will e let my lights go out, my tides cease to an eternal ebb? "Oh for transformation! I am not, infinite, nor have I power or will, but bound and imprisoned, the tool of mind, even of the beings feed and adorn. Vital, I feel not : not active, but passive, and cannot aid the creatures which seem my progeny, – myself. But you are ingrate to tire of me, now you want to look beyond. 'T was I who soothed your thorny childhood, though you knew me not, and you were placed in my most leafless waste. Yet 1 comforted thee when going on the daily errand, fed thee with my mallows, on the first young day of bread failing. More, I led thee when thou knewest not a syllable of my active Cause, (any more than if it had been dead eternal matter,) to that Cause ; and from the solitary heart taught thee to say, at first womanhood, Alive with God is enough, – 't is rapture.' "

" This morning rich in existence ; the remembrance of past destitution in the deep poverty of my aunt, and her most unhappy temper ; of bitterer days of youth and age, when my senses and understanding seemed but means of labor, or to learn my own unpopular destiny, and that – but no more ; – joy, hope and resignation unite me to Him whose mysterious Will adjusts everything, and the darkest and lightest are alike welcome. Oh ! could this state of mind continue, death would not be longed for." " I felt, till above twenty years old. as though Christianity were as necessary to the world as existence ; – was ignorant that it was lately promulged, or partially received." Later: Could I have those hours in which in fresh youth I said, To obey God is joy, though there were no hereafter, I should rejoice, though returning to dust."

"Folly follows me as the shadow does the form. Yet my whole life devoted to find some new truth which will link me closer to God. And the simple principle which made me say, in youth and laborious poverty, that. should He make me a blot on the fair face of his Creation, I should rejoice in His will, has never been equalled, though it returns in the long life of destitution like an Angel. I end days of fine health and cheerfulness without getting up-ward now. How did I use to think them lost ! If more liberal views of the divine government make me think nothing lost which carries me to His now hidden presence, there may be danger of losing and causing others the loss of that awe and sobriety so indispensable."

She was addressed and offered marriage by a man of talents, education and good social position, whom she respected. The proposal gave her pause and much to think, but after consideration she re-fused it, I know not on what grounds : but a few allusions to it in her diary suggest that it .was a religious act, and it is easy to see that she could hardly promise herself sympathy in her religious abandonment with any but a rarely-found partner.

"1807. Jan. 19, Malden [alluding to the sale of her farm]. Last night I spoke two sentences about that foolish place, which I most bitterly lament, – not because they were improper, but they arose from anger. It is difficult, when we have no kind of barrier, to command our feelings. But this shall teach me. It humbles me beyond anything I have met, to find myself for a moment affected with hope, fear, or especially anger, about interest. But I did overcome and return
kindness for the repeated provocations. What is it ? My uncle has been the means of lessening my property. Ridiculous to wound him for that. He was honestly seeking his ow a. But at last, this very night, the bargain is closed, and I am delighted with my-self : – my dear self has done well. Never did I so exult in a trifle. Happy beginning of my bar-gain, though the sale of the place appears to me one of the worst things for me at this time."

"Jan. 21. Weary at times of objects so tedious to hear and see. C) the power of vision, then the delicate power of the nerve which receives impressions from sounds ! If ever I am blest with a social life, let the accent be grateful. Could I at times be regaled with music, it would remind me that there are sounds. Shut up in this severe weather with careful, infirm, afflicted age, it is wonderful, my spirits : hopes I can have none. Not a prospect but is dark on earth, as to knowledge and joy from externals: but the prospect of a dying bed reflects lustre on all the rest.

"The evening is fine, but I dare not enjoy it, The moon and stars reproach me, because I had to do with mean tools. Should I take so much care to save a few dollars ? Never was I so much ashamed. Did I say with what rapture I might dispose of them to the poor? Pho! self-preservation, dignity, confidence in the future, contempt of trifles! Alas, I am disgraced. Took a momentary revenge on for worrying me."

" Jan. 30. I walked to Captain Dexter's. Sick. Promised never to put that ring on. Ended miserably the month which began so worldly.

It was the choice of the Eternal that gave the glowing seraph his joys, and to me my vile imprisonment. I adore Him. It was His will that gives my superiors to shine in wisdom, friendship, and ardent pursuits, while I pass my youth, its last traces, in the veriest shades of ignorance and complete destitution of society. I praise Him, though when my strength of body falters, it is a trial not easily described."

" True, I must finger the very farthing candle-ends, – the duty assigned to my pride ; and indeed so poor are some of those allotted to join me oil the weary needy path, that 't is benevolence enjoins selfdenial. Could I but dare it in the bread-and-water diet ! Could 1 but live free from calculation, as in the first half of life, when my poor aunt lived. I had ten dollars a year for clothes and charity, and I never remember to have been needy, though I never had but two or three aids in those six years of earning my home. That ten dollars my dear father earned, and one hundred dollars remain, and I can't bear to take it, and don't know what to do. Yet I would not breathe to—or—my want.'T is only now that I would not let pay my hotel-bill. They have enough to do. Besides, it would send me packing to depend for anything. Better anything than dishonest dependence, which robs the poorer, and despoils friendship of equal connection."

In 1830, in one of her distant homes, she reproaches herself with some sudden passion she has for visiting her old home and friends in the city, where she had lived for a while with her brother [Mr. Emerson's father] and afterwards with his widow. " Do I yearn to be in Boston ? 'T would fatigue, disappoint ; I, who have so long despised means, w ho have always found it a sort of rebellion to seek them ? Yet the old desire for the worm is not so greedy as [mine] to find myself iii my old haunts."

1833. " The difficulty of getting places of low board for a lady, is obvious. And, at moments, I am tired out. Yet how independent, how better than to hang on friends ! And sometimes I fancy that I am emptied and peeled to carry some seed to the ignorant, which no idler wind can so well dispense." " Hard to contend for a health which is daily used in petition for a final close." " Am I, poor victim, swept on through the sternest ordinations of nature's laws which slay ? yet I 'll trust." " There was great truth in what a pious enthusiast said, that, if God should cast him into hell, he would yet clasp his hands around Him."

" Newburyport, Sept. 1822. High, solemn, entrancing noon, prophetic of the approach of the Presiding Spirit of Autumn. God preserve my reason! Alone, feeling strongly, fully, that I have deserved nothing ; according to Adam Smith's idea of society, `done nothing ; ' doing nothing, never expect to : yet joying in existence, perhaps striving to beautify one individual of God's creation.

" Our civilization is not always mending our poetry. It is sauced and spiced with our complexity of arts and inventions, but lacks somewhat of the grander that belongs to a Doric and unphilosophical age. In a religious contemplative public it would have less outward variety, but simpler and grander means ; a few pulsations of created beings, a few successions of acts, a few lamps held out in the firmament enable us to talk of Time, make epochs, write histories, – to do more. – to date the revelations of God to man. But these lamps are held to measure out some of the moments of eternity, to divide the history of God's operations in the birth and death of nations, of worlds. It is a goodly name for our notions of breathing, suffering, enjoying, acting. We personify it. We call it by every name of fleeting, dreaming, vaporing imagery. Yet it is nothing. We exist in eternity. Dissolve the body and the night is gone, the stars are extinguished, and we measure duration by the number of our thoughts, bV the activity of reason, the discovery of truths, the acquirement of virtue, the approach to God. And the gray-headed god throws his shadows all around, and his slaves catch, now at this, now at that, one at the halo he throws around poetry, or pebbles, bugs, or bubbles. Sometimes they climb, sometimes creep into the meanest holes – but they are all alike in vanishing, like the shadow of a cloud."

To her nephew Charles: " War: what do I think of it ? Why in your ear I think it so much better than oppression that if it were ravaging the whole geography of despotism it would be an omen of high and glorious import. Channing paints its miseries, but does he know those of a worse war, – private animosities. pinching, bitter warfare of the human heart, the cruel oppression of the poor by the rich, which corrupts old worlds ? How much better, more honest, are storming and conflagration of towns! They are but letting blood which corrupts into worms and dragons. A war-trump would be harmony to the jars of theologians and statesmen such as the papers bring. It was the glory of the Chosen People, nay, it is said there was war in Heaven. War is among the means of discipline, the rough meliorators, and no worse than the strife with poverty, malice and ignorance. War devastates the conscience of men, yet corrupt peace does not less. And if you tell me of the miseries of the battle-field, with the sensitive Channing, (of whose love of life I am ashamed), what of a few days of agony, what of a vulture being the bier, tomb and parson of a hero, compared to the long years of sticking on a bed and wished away ? For the widows and orphans- "Oh, I could give facts of the long-drawn years of imprisoned minds and hearts, which uneducated orphans endure!

"O Time! Thou loiterer. Thou. whose might has laid low the vastest and crushed the worm, restest on thy hoary throne, with like potency over thy agitations and thy graves. When will thy routines give way to higher and lasting institutions ? When thy trophies and thy name and all its wizard forms be lost in the Genius of Eternity ? In Eternity, no deceitful promises, no fantastic illusions, no riddles concealed by thy shrouds, none of thy Arachnean webs, which decoy and destroy. Hasten to finish thy motley work, on which frightful Gorgons are at play, spite of holy ghosts. 'T is already moth-eaten and its shuttles quaver, as the beams of the loom are shaken.

" Sat. 25. Hail requiem of departed Time! Never was incumbents funeral followed by expect-ant heir with more satisfaction. Yet not his hope is mine. For in the weary womb are prolific numbers of the same sad hour, colored by the memory of defeats in virtue, by the prophecy of others, more dreary, blind and sickly. Yet He who formed thy web, who stretched thy warp from long ages, has graciously given man to throw his shuttle, or feel he does, and irradiate the filling woof with many a flowery rainbow, – labors, rather – evanescent efforts, which will wear like flowerets in brighter soils ; – has attuned his mind in such unison with the harp of the universe, that he is never without some chord of hope's music. 'T is not in the nature of existence, while there is a God, to be without the pale of excitement. When the dreamy pages of life seem all turned and folded down to very weariness, even this idea of those who fill the hour with crowded virtues, lifts the spectator to other worlds, and he adores the eternal purposes of Him who lifteth up and casteth down, bringeth to dust, and raiseth to the skies. 'T is a strange deficiency in Brougham's title of a System of Natural Theology, when the moral constitution of the being for whom these contrivances were made is not recognized. The wonderful inhabitant of the building to which unknown ages were the mechanics, is left out as to that part where the Creator had put his own lighted candle, placed a vice-gerent. Not to complain of the poor old earth's chaotic state, brought so near in its long and gloomy transmut- by the geologist. Yet its youthful charms as decked by the hand of Moses' Cosmogony, will linger about the heart, while Poetry succumbs to Science. Yet there is a sombre music in the whirl of times so long gone by. And the bare bones of this poor embryo earth may give the idea of the In-finite far, far better than when dignified with arts and industry : – its oceans, when beating the symbols of ceaseless ages, than when covered with car-goes of war and oppression. How grand its preparation for souls, – souls who were to feel the Divinity, before Science had dissected the emotions, and applied its steely analysis to that state of being which recognizes neither psychology nor ele-

"September, 1836. Vale. The mystic dream which is shed over the season. 0, to dream more deeply ; to lose external objects a little more ! Yet the hold on them is so slight, that duty is lost sight of perhaps, at times. Sadness is better than walking talking acting somnambulism. Yes, this en-tire solitude with the Being who makes the powers of life ! Even Fame, which lives in other states of Virtue, palls. Usefulness, if it requires action, seems less like existence than the desire of being absorbed in God, retaining consciousness. Number the waste-places of the journey, – the secret martyrdom of youth, heavier than the stake, I thought, the narrow limits which know no outlet, the bitter dregs of the cup, – and all are sweetened by the purpose of Him I love. The idea of being no mate for those intellectualists I've loved to ad-mire, is no pain. Hereafter the same solitary joy will go with me, were I not to live, as I expect, in the vision of the Infinite. Never do the feelings of the Infinite, and the consciousness of finite frailty and ignorance, harmonize so well as at this mystic season in the deserts of life. Contradictions, the modern German says, of the Infinite and finite."

I sometimes fancy I detect in her writings, a certain – shall I say – polite and courtly homage to the name and dignity of Jesus, not at all spontaneous, but growing out of her respect to the Rev-elation, and really veiling and betraying her organic dislike to any interference, any mediation between her and the Author of her being, assurance of whose direct dealing with her she incessantly invokes : for example, the parenthesis Saving thy presence, Priest and Medium of all this approach for a sinful creature! " Were it possible that the Creator was not virtually present with the spirits and bodies which He has made:- if it were in the nature of things possible He could withdraw himself, – I would hold on to the faith, that, at some moment of is existence, I was present : that, though cast from Him, my sorrows, my ignorance and meanness were a part of His plan ; my death, too, however long and tediously delayed to prayer, – was decreed, was fixed. "Oh how weary in youth – more so scarcely now, not when-ever I can breathe, as it seems,, the atmosphere of the "Omnipresence : then I ask not faith nor knowledge ; honors, pleasures, labors, I always refuse, compared to this divine partaking of existence ;-but how rare, how dependent on the organs through which the soul operates!

The sickness of the last week was fine medicine ; pain disintegrated the spirit, or became spiritual. I rose, -I felt that I had given to God more perhaps than an angel could, – had promised Him in youth that to be a blot on this fair world, at His command, would be acceptable. Constantly offer myself to continue the obscurest and loneliest thing ever heard of, with one proviso, – His agency. Yes, love Thee, and all Thou dost, while Thou sheddest frost and darkness on every path of mine."

For years she had her bed made in the form of a coffin ; and delighted herself with the discovery of the figure of a coffin made every evening on their sidewalk, by the shadow of a church tower which adjoined the house.

Saladin caused his shroud to be made, and carried it to battle as his standard. She made up her shroud, and death still refusing to come, and she thinking it a pity to let it lie idle, wore it as a night-gown, or a day-gown, nay, went out to ride in it, on horseback, in her mountain roads, until it was worn out. Then she had another made up, and as she never travelled without being provided for this dear and indispensable contingency, I believe she wore out a great many.

"1833. I have given up, the last year or two, the hope of dying. In the lowest ebb of health nothing is ominous ; diet and exercise restore. So it seems best to get that very humbling business of insurance. I enter my dear sixty the last of this month." " 1835, June 16. Tedious indisposition ;- hoped, as it took a new form, it would open the cool, sweet grave. Now existence itself in any form is sweet. Away with knowledge ; – God alone. He communicates this our condition and humble waiting, or I should never perceive Him, Science, Nature, – 0, I've yearned to open some page ; – not now, too late. Ill health and nerves. O dear worms, -how they will at some sure time take down this tedious tabernacle, most valuable companions, instructors in the science of mind, by gnawing away the meshes which have chained it. A very Beatrice in showing the Paradise. Yes, I irk under contact with forms of depravity, while I am resigned to being nothing, never expect a pahn, a laurel, hereafter."

"1826, July. If one could choose, and without crime be gibbeted, – were it not altogether better than the long drooping away by age without mentality or devotion ? The vulture and crow would caw caw, and, unconscious of any deformity in the mutilated body, would relish their meal, make no grimace of affected sympathy, nor suffer any real compassion. I pray to die, though happier myriads and mine own companions press nearer to the throne. His coldest beam will purify and render me forever holy. Had I the highest place of acquisition and diffusing virtue here, the principle of human sympathy would be too strong for that rapt emotion, that severe delight which I crave ; nay for that kind of obscure virtue which is so rich to lay at the feet of the Author of morality. Those economists (Adam Smith) who say nothing is added to the wealth of a nation but what is dug out of the earth, and that, whatever disposition of virtue may exist, unless something is done for society, deserves no fame, – why I am content with such paradoxical kind of facts ; but one secret sentiment of virtue, disinterested (or perhaps not), is worthy, and will tell, iii the world of spirits, of God's immediate presence, more than the blood of many a martyr who has it not." " I have heard that the greatest geniuses have died ignorant of their power and influence on the arts and sciences. I believe thus much, that their large perception consumed their egotism, or made it impossible for them to make small calculations."

" That greatest of all gifts, however small my power of receiving, – the capacity, the element to love the All-perfect, without regard to personal happiness : – happiness ? – 't is itself." She checks herself amid her passionate prayers for immediate communion with God ; – " I who never made a sacrifice to record, – I cowering in the nest of quiet for so many years ; – I indulge the delight of sympathizing with great virtues, – blessing their Original : Have I this right?" " While I am sympathizing in the government of God over the world, perhaps I lose nearer views. Well, I learned his existence a priori. No object of science or observation ever was pointed out to me by my poor aunt, but His Being and commands ; and oh how much I trusted Him with every event till I learned the order of human events from the pressure of wants."

" What a timid, ungrateful creature ! Fear the deepest pit-falls of age, when pressing on, in imagination at least, to Him with whom a day is a thou-sand years, – with whom all miseries and irregularities are conforming to universal good ! Shame on me who have learned within three years to sit whole days in peace and enjoyment without the least apparent benefit to any, or knowledge to my-self : – resigned, too, to the memory of long years of slavery passed in labor and ignorance, to the loss of that character which I once thought and felt so sure of, without ever being conscious of acting from calculation."

Her friends used to say to her, " I wish you joy of the worm." And when at last her release arrived, the event of her death had really such a comic tinge in the eyes of every one who knew her, that her friends feared they might, at her funeral, not dare to look at each other, lest they should for-get the serious proprieties of the hour.

She gave high counsels. It was the privilege of certain boys to have this immeasurably high standard indicated to their childhood ; a blessing which nothing else in education could supply. It is frivolous to ask, – " And was she ever a Christian in practice ? " Cassandra uttered, to a frivolous, skeptical time, the arcana of the Gods : but it is easy to believe that Cassandra domesticated in a lady's house would have proved a troublesome boarder. Is it the less desirable to have the lofty abstractions because the abstractionist is nervous and irritable? Shall we not keep Flamsteed and Herschel in the observatory, though it should even be proved that they neglected to rectify their own kitchen clock? It is essential to the safety of every mackerel fisher that latitudes and longitudes should be astronomically ascertained ; and so every banker, shopkeeper and wood-sawyer has a stake in the elevation of the moral code by saint and prophet. Very rightly, then, the Christian ages, proceeding on a grand instinct, have said: Faith alone, Faith alone.

Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches

Chardon Street Convention


IN the month of November, 1840, a Convention of Friends of Universal Reform assembled in the Chardon Street Chapel in Boston, in obedience to a call in the newspapers, signed by a few individuals, inviting all persons to a public discussion of the institutions of the Sabbath, the Church and the Ministry. The Convention organized itself by the choice of Edmund Quincy as Moderator, spent three days in the consideration of the Sabbath, and adjourned to a day in March of the following year, for the discussion of the second topic. In March, accordingly, a three-days' sessions was holden in the same place, on the subject of the Church, and a third meeting fixed for the following November, which was accordingly holden ; and the Convention debated, for three days again, the remaining subject of the Priesthood. This Convention never printed any report of its deliberations, nor pretended to arrive at any result by the expression of its sense in formal resolutions ; – the professed objects of those persons who felt the greatest interest in its meetings being simply the elucidation of truth through free discussion. The daily newspapers reported, at the time, brief sketches of the course of proceedings, and the remarks of the prineipal speakers. These meetings attracted a great deal of public attention, and were spoken of in different circles in every note of hope, of sympathy, of joy, of alarm, of abhorrence and of merriment. The composition of the assembly was rich and various. The singularity and latitude of the summons drew together, from all parts of New England and also from the Middle States, men of every shade of opinion from the straitest orthodoxy to the wildest heresy, and many persons whose church was a church of one member only. A great variety of dialect and of costume was noticed ; a great deal of confusion, eccentricity, and freak appeared, as well as of zeal and enthusiasm. If the assembly was disorderly, it was picturesque. Madmen, madwomen, men with beards, Dunkers, Muggletonians, Come-outers, Groaners, Agrarians, Seventh-day-Baptists, Quakers, Abolitionists, Calvinists, Unitarians and Philosophers, -all came successively to the top, and seized their moment, if not their hour, wherein to chide, or pray, or preach, or protest. The faces were a study. The most daring innovators and the champions -until – death of the old cause sat side by side. The still-living merit of the oldest New England families, glowing yet after several generations, encountered the founders of families, fresh merit, emerging, and expanding the brows to a new breadth, and lighting a clownish face with sacred fire. The assembly was characterized by the predominance of a certain plain, sylvan strength and earnestness, whilst many of the most intellectual and cultivated per-sons attended its councils. Dr. Channing, Ed-ward Taylor, Bronson Alcott, Mr. Garrison, Mr. May, Theodore Parker, II. C. Wright, Dr. Osgood, William Adams, Edward Palmer, Jones Very, Maria 11'. Chapman, and many other persons of a mystical or sectarian or philanthropic renown, were present, and some of them participant. And there was no want of female speakers ; Mrs. Little and Mrs. Lucy Sessions took a pleasing and memorable part in the debate, and that flea of Conventions, Mrs. Abigail Folsom, was but too ready with her interminable scroll. If there was not parliamentary order, there was life, and the assurance of that constitutional love for religion and religious liberty which, in all periods, characterizes the inhabitants of this part of America.

There was a great deal of wearisome speaking in each of those three-days' sessions, but relieved by signal passages of pure eloquence, by much vigor of thought, and especially by the exhibition of character, and by the victories of character. These men and women were in search of something better and more satisfying than a vote or a definition, and they found what they sought, or the pledge of it, in the attitude taken by individuals of their number of resistance to the insane routine of parliamentary usage ; in the lofty reliance on principles, and the prophetic dignity and transfiguration which accompanies, even amidst opposition and ridicule, a man whose mind is made up to obey the great inward Commander, and who does not anticipate his own action, but awaits confidently the new emergency for the new counsel. By no means the least value of this Convention, in our eye, was the scope it gave to the genius of Mr. Alcoa, and not its least instructive lesson was the gradual but sure ascendency of his spirit, in spite of the incredulity and derision with which he is at first received, and in spite, we might add, of his own failures. Moreover, although no decision was had, and no action taken on all the great points mooted in the discussion, yet the Convention brought together many remarkable persons, face to face, and gave occasion to memorable interviews and conversations, in the hall, in the lobbies, or around the doors.

Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches

Ezra Ripley, D. D.

WE love the venerable house
Our fathers built to God :
In Heaven are kept their grateful vows,
Their dust endears the sod.

From humble tenements around
Came up the pensive train
And in the church a blessing found
That filled their homes again.


EZRA RIPLEY was born May 1, 1751 (O. S.), at Woodstock, Connecticut. He was the fifth of the nineteen children of Noah and Lydia (Kent) Ripley. Seventeen of these nineteen children married, and it is stated that the mother died leaving nineteen children, one hundred and two grandchildren and ninety-six great-grandchildren. The father was born at Hingham, on the farm purchased by his ancestor, William Ripley, of England, at the first settlement of the town ; which farm has been occupied by seven or eight generations. Ezra Ripley followed the business of fanning till sixteen years of age, when his father wished him to be qualified to teach a grammar school, not thinking himself able to send one son to college without in-jury to his other children. With this view, the father agreed with the late Rev. Dr. Forbes of Gloucester, then minister of North Brookfield, to fit Ezra for college by the time he should be twenty-one years of age, and to have him labor during the time sufficiently to pay for his instruction, clothing and books.

But, when fitted for college, the son could not be contented with teaching, which he had tried the preceding winter. He had early manifested a desire for learning, and could not be satisfied without a public education. Always inclined to notice ministers, and frequently attempting, when only five or six years old, to imitate them by preaching, now that he had become a professor of religion he had an ardent desire to be a preacher of the gospel. He had to encounter great difficulties, but, through a kind providence and the patronage of Dr. Forbes, he entered Harvard University, July, 1772. The commencement of the Revolutionary War greatly interrupted his education at college. In 1775, in his senior year, the college was removed from Cam-bridge to this town. The studies were much broken up. Many of the students entered the army, and the class never returned to Cambridge. There were an unusually large number of distinguished men in this class of 1776 : Christopher Gore, Governor of Massachusetts and Senator in Congress; Samuel Sewall, Chief Justice of Massachusetts; George Thacher, Judge of the Supreme Court ; Royall Tyler, Chief Justice of Vermont; and the late learned Dr. Prince, of Salem.

Mr. Ripley was ordained minister of Concord November 7, 1778. He married, November 16, 1780, Mrs. Phoebe (Bliss) Emerson, then a widow of thirty-nine, with five children. They had three children : Samuel, born May 11, 17 83 ; Daniel Bliss, born August 1, 1784 Sarah, born April 8, 1789. He died September 21, 1841.

To these facts, gathered chiefly from his own diary, and stated nearly in his own words, I can only add a few traits from memory.

He was identified with the ideas and forms of the New England Church, which expired about the same time with him, so that he and his coevals seemed the rear guard of the great camp and army of the Puritans, which, however in its last days declining into formalism, in the heyday of its strength had planted and liberated America. It was a pity that his old meeting-house should have been modernized in his time. I am sure all who remember both will associate his form with whatever was grave and droll in the old, cold, unpainted, uncarpeted, square-pewed meeting-house, with its four iron-gray deacons in their little box under the put pit, – with Watts’s hymns, with long prayers, rich with the diction of ages ; and not less with the re-port like musketry from the movable seats. Ile and his contemporaries, the old New England clergy, were believers in what is called a particular providence, – certainly, as they held it, a very particular providence, – following the narrowness of King David and the Jews, who thought the universe existed only or mainly for their church and congregation. Perhaps I cannot better illustrate this tendency than by citing a record from the diary of the father of his predecessor,’ the minister of Malden, written in the blank leaves of the almanac for the year 1735. The minister writes against January 31st : ” Bought a shay for 27 pounds, 10 shillings. The Lord grant it may be a comfort and blessing to my family.” In March following he notes : Had a safe and comfortable journey to York.” But April 24th, we find : ” Shay over-turned, with my wife and I in it, yet neither of us much hurt. Blessed be our gracious Preserver. Part of the shay, as it lay upon one side, went over my wife, and yet she was scarcely anything hurt. How wonderful the preservation.” Then again, May 5th : ” Went to the beach with three of the children. The beast, being frightened when we were all out of the shay, overturned and broke it. I desire (I hope I desire it) that the Lord would teach me suitably to repent this Providence, to make suitable remarks on it, and to be suitably affected with it. Have I done well to get me a shay? Have I not been proud or too fond of this convenience? Do I exercise the faith in the Divine care and protection which I ought to do ? Should I not be more in my study and less fond of diversion ? Do I not withhold more than is meet from pious and charitable uses?” Well, on 15th May we have this : ” Shay brought home ; mending cost thirty shilling’s. Favored in this respect beyond expectation.” 16th May : “My wife and I rode together to Rumney Marsh. The beast frighted several times.” And at last we have this record, June 4th: “Disposed of my shay to Rev. Mr. White.”

The same faith made what was strong and what was weak in Dr. Ripley and his associates. He was a perfectly sincere man, punctual, severe, but just and charitable, and if he made his forms a strait-jacket to others, he wore the same himself all his years. Trained in this church, and very well qualified by his natural talent to work in it, it was never out of his mind. He looked at every person and thing from the parochial point of view. I re-member, when a boy, driving about Concord with him, and in passing each house he told the story of the family that lived in it, and especially he gave me anecdotes of the nine church members who had made a division in the church in the time of his predecessor, and showed me how every one of the nine had come to had fortune or to a bad end. Hhis prayers for rain and against the lightning, “that it may not lick up our spirits ; ” and for good weather ; and against sickness and insanity ; ” that we have not been tossed to and fro until the dawning of the day, that we have not been a terror to ourselves and others ; ” are well remembered, and his own entire faith that these petitions were not to be overlooked, and were entitled to a favor-able answer. Some of those around me will re-member one occasion of severe drought in this vicinity, when the late Rev. Mr. Goodwin offered to relieve the Doctor of the duty of leading in prayer; but the Doctor suddenly remembering the season, rejected his offer with some humor, as with an air that said to all the congregation, ” This is no time for you young Cambridge men ; the affair, sir, is getting serious. I will pray myself.” One August afternoon, when I was in his hayfield helping him with his man to rake up his hay, I well remember his pleading, almost reproachful looks at the sky, when the thunder gust was coming up to spoil his hay. e raked very fast, then looked at the cloud, and said, ” We are in the Lords hand ; mind your rake, George ! We are in the Lord’s hand ; ” and seemed to say, ” You know me ; this field is mine, – Dr. Ripley’s, – thine own servant !

He used to tell the story of one of his old friends, the minister of Sudbury, who, being at the Thursday lecture in Boston, heard the officiating clergy-man praying for rain. As soon as the service was over, he went to the petitioner, and said, ” You Boston ministers, as soon as a tulip wilts under your windows, go to church and pray for rain, until all Concord and Sudbury are under water.” I once rode with him to a house at Nine Acre Corner to attend the funeral of the father of a family. He mentioned to me on the way his fears that the oldest son, who was now to succeed to the farm, was becoming intemperate. We presently arrived, and the Doctor addressed each of the mourners separately : ” Sir, I condole with you.” ” Madam, I condole with you.” ” Sir, I knew your great-grandfather. When I came to this town, your great-grandfather was a substantial farmer in this very place, a member of the church, and an excellent citizen. Your grandfather followed him, and was a virtuous man. Now your father is to be carried to his grave, full of labors and virtues. There is none of that large family left but you, and it rests with you to bear up the good name and usefulness
of your ancestors. If you fail, Ichabod, the glory is departed.’ Let us pray.” Right manly he was, and the manly thing he could always say. I can remember a little speech he made to me, when the last tie of blood which held me and my brothers to his house was broken by the death of his daughter. He said, on parting, ” I wish you and your brothers to come to this house as you have always done. You will not like to be excluded ; I shall not like to be neglected.”

When “Put” Merriam, after his release from the state prison, had the effrontery to call on the doctor as an old acquaintance, iii the midst of general conversation Mr. Frost came in, and the doctor presently said, ” Mr. Merriam, my brother and colleague, Mr. Frost, has come to take tea with me. I regret very much the causes (which you know very well) which make it impossible for me to ask you to stay and break bread with us.” With the Doctor’s views it was a matter of religion to say thus much. He had a reverence and love of society, and the patient, continuing courtesy, carrying out every respectful attention to the end, which marks what is called the manners of the old school His hospitality obeyed Charles Lamb’s rule, and ” ran fine to the last.” His partiality for ladies was always strong, and was by no means abated by time. He claimed privilege of years, was much addicted to kissing ; spared neither maid, wife, nor widow, and, as a lady thus favored remarked to me, ” seemed as if he was going to make a meal of you.

He was very credulous, and as he was no reader of books or journals, he knew nothing beyond the columns of his weekly religious newspaper, the tracts of his sect, and perhaps the Middlesex Yeoman. He was the easy dupe of any tonguey agent, whether colonizationist or anti-papist, or charlatan of iron combs, or tractors, or phrenology, or magnetism, who went by. At the time when Jack Downing’s letters were iii every paper, he repeated to me at table some of the particulars of that gentleman’s intimacy with General Jackson, in a manner that betrayed to me at once that he took the whole for fact. To undeceive him, I hastened to recall some particulars to show the absurdity of the thing, as the Major and the President going out skating on the Potomac, etc. ” Why, ” said the Doctor with perfect faith, ” it was a bright moon-light night ; ” and I am not sure that he did not die in the belief in the reality of Major Downing. Like other credulous men, he was opinionative, and, as I well remember, a great browbeater of the poor old fathers who still survived from the 19th of April, to the end that they should testify to his history as he had written it.

He was a man so kind and sympathetic, his char. acter was so transparent, and his merits so intelligible to all observers, that he was very justly appreciated in this community. He was a natural gentleman, no dandy, but courtly, hospitable, manly and public – spirited ; his nature social, his house open to all men. We remember the remark made by the old farmer who used to travel hither from Maine, that no horse from the Eastern country would go by the doctor’s gate. Travellers from the West and North and South bear the like testimony. His brow was serene and open to his visitor, for he loved men, and he had no studies, no occupations, which company could interrupt. His friends were his study, and to see them loosened his talents and his tongue. In his house dwelt or-der and prudence and plenty. There was no waste and no stint. He was open-handed and just and generous. Ingratitude and meanness in his beneficiaries did not wear out his compassion ; he bore the insult, and the next day his basket for the beg-gar, his horse and chaise for the cripple, were at their door. Though he knew the value of a dollar as well as another man, yet he loved to buy dearer and sell cheaper than others. e subscribed to all charities, and it is no reflection on others to say that he was the most public-spirited man in the town. The late Dr. Gardiner, in a funeral sermon on some parishioner whose virtues did not readily come to mind, honestly said, e was good at fires.” Dr. Ripley had many virtues, and yet all will remember that even in his old age, if the fire-bell was rung, he was instantly on horseback with his buckets and bag.

He showed even in his fireside discourse traits of that pertinency and judgment, softening ever and anon into elegancy, which make the distinction of the scholar, and which, under better discipline, might have ripened into a Bentley or a Porson. He had a foresight, when he opened his month, of all that he would say, and he marched straight to the conclusion. In debate in the vestry of the Lyceum, the structure of his sentences was admirable; so neat, so natural, so terse, his words fell like stones; and often, though quite unconscious of it, his speech was a satire on the loose, voluminous, draggle-tail periods of other speakers. He He sat down when he had done. A man of anecdote, his talk in the parlor was chiefly narrative. We remember the remark of a gentleman who listened with much de-light to his conversation at the time when the Doc-tor was preparing to go to Baltimore and Washington, that a man who could tell a story so well was company for kings and John Quincy Adams.”

Sage and savage strove harder in him than in any of my acquaintances, each getting the mastery by turns, and pretty sudden turns : ” Save us from the extremity of cold and these violent sudden changes.” ” The society will meet after the Lyceum, as it is difficult to bring people together in the evening, – and no moon. ” Mr. N. F. is dead, and I expect to hear of the death of Ir. B. It is cruel to separate old people from their wives in this cold weather.”

With a very limited acquaintance with books, his knowledge was an external experience, an Indian wisdom, the observation of such facts as country life for nearly a century could supply. He watched with interest the garden, the field, the or-chard, the house and the barn, horse, cow, sheep and dog, and all the common objects that engage the thought of the farmer. He kept his eye on the horizon, and knew the weather like a sea-captain. The usual experiences of men, birth, marriage, sickness, death, burial ; the common temptations ; the common ambitions ; – he studied them all, and sympathized so well in these that he was excellent company and counsel to all, even the most humble and ignorant. With extraordinary states of mind, with states of enthusiasm or enlarged speculation, he had no sympathy, and pretended to none. He was sincere, and kept to his point, and his mark was never remote. His conversation was strictly personal and apt to the party and the occasion. An eminent skill he had in saying difficult and unspeakable things ; in delivering to a man or a woman that which all their other friends had abstained from saying, in uncovering the bandage from a sore place, and applying the surgeon’s knife with a truly surgical spirit. Was a man a sot, or a spendthrift, or too long time a bachelor, or suspected of some hidden crime, or had he quarrelled with his wife, or collared his father, or was there any cloud or suspicious circumstances in his behavior, the good pastor knew his way straight to that point, believing himself entitled to a full explanation, and whatever relief to the conscience of both parties plain speech could effect was sure to be pro-cured. In all such passages he justified himself to the conscience, and commonly to the love, of the persons concerned. e was the more competent to these searching discourses from his knowledge of family history. He knew everybody ‘s grand-father, and seemed to address each person rather as the representative of his house and name, than as an individual. In him have perished more local and personal anecdotes of this village and vicinity than are possessed by any survivor. This intimate knowledge of families, and this skill of speech, and still more, his sympathy, made him incomparable in his parochial visits, and in his exhortations and prayers. e gave himself up to his feelings, and said on the instant the best things in the world Many and many a felicity he had in his prayer, now forever lost, which defied all the rules of all the rhetoricians. He did not know when he was good in prayer or sermon, for he had no literature and no art ; but he believed, and therefore spoke. e was eminently loyal in his nature, and not fond of adventure or innovation. By education, and still more by temperament, he was engaged to the old forms of the New England Church. Not speculative, but affectionate ; devout, but with an extreme love of order, he adopted heartily, though in its mildest form, the creed and catechism of the fathers, and appeared a modern Israelite in his attachment to the Hebrew history and faith. He was a man very easy to read, for his whole life and conversation were consistent. All his opinions and actions might be securely predicted by a good observer on short acquaintance. My classmate at Cambridge, Frederick King, told me from Governor Gore, who was the Doctor’s classmate, that in college he was called Holy- Ripley.

And now, in his old age, when all the antique Hebraism and its customs are passing away. it is fit that he too should depart, – most fit that in the fall of laws a loyal man should die.

Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches

Life and Letters in New England


THE ancient manners were giving way. There grew a certain tenderness on the people, not before remarked. Children had been repressed and kept in the background ; now they were considered, cosseted and pampered. I recall the remark of a witty physician who remembered the hardships of his own youth ; he said, “It was a misfortune to have been born when children were nothing, and to live till men were nothing.”

There are always two parties, the party of the Past and the party of the Future ; the Establishment and the Movement. At times the resistance is reanimated, the schism runs under the world and appears in Literature, Philosophy, Church, State, and social customs. It is not easy to date these eras of activity with any precision, but in this region one made itself remarked, say in 1820 and the twenty years following.

It seemed a war between intellect and affection ; a crack in nature, which split every church in Christendom into Papal and Protestant ; Calvinism into, Old and New schools ; Quakerism into Old and New ; brought new divisions in politics ; as the new conscience touching temperance and slavery. The key to the period appeared to be that the mind had become aware of itself. Men grew reflective and intellectual. There was a new consciousness. The former generations acted under the belief that a shining social prosperity was the beatitude of man, and sacrificed uniformly the citizen to the State. The modern mind believed that the nation existed for the individual, for the guardianship and education of every man. This idea, roughly written in revolutions and national movements, in the mind of the philosopher had far more precision ; the individual is the world.

This perception is a sword such as was never drawn before. It divides and detaches bone and marrow, soul and body, yea, almost the man from himself. It is the age of severance, of dissociation, of freedom, of analysis, of detachment. Every man for himself. The public speaker disclaims speaking for any other ; he answers only for himself. The social sentiments are weak ; the sentiment of patriotism is weak ; veneration is low ; the natural affections feebler than they were. People grow philosophical about native land and parents and. relations. There is an universal resistance to ties rand ligaments once supposed essential to civil society. The new race is stiff, heady and rebellious ; they are fanatics in freedom ; they hate tolls, taxes, turnpikes, banks, hierarchies, governors, yea, almost laws. They have a neck of unspeakable tenderness ; it winces at a hair. They rebel against theological as against political dogmas ; against mediation, or saints, or any nobility in the unseen.

The age tends to solitude. The association of the time is accidental and momentary and hypocritical, the detachment intrinsic and progressive. The association is for power, merely, — for means ; the end being the enlargement and independency of the individual. Anciently, society was in the course of things. There was a Sacred Band, a Theban Phalanx. There can be none now. College classes, military corps, or trades-unions may fancy themselves indissoluble for a moment, over their wine ; but it is a painted hoop, and has no girth. The age .of arithmetic and of criticism has set in. The structures of old faith in every department of society a few centuries have sufficed to destroy. Astrology, magic, palmistry, are long gone. The very last ghost is laid. Demonology is on its last legs. Prerogative, government, goes to pieces day by day. Europe is strewn with wrecks ; a constitution once a week. In social manners and morals the revolution is just as evident. In the law courts, crimes of fraud have taken the place of crimes of force.. The stockholder has stepped into the place of the warlike baron. The nobles shall not any longer, as feudal lords, have power of life and death over the churls, but now, in another shape, as capitalists, shall in all love and peace eat them up as before.. Nay, government itself becomes the resort of those • whom government was invented to restrain. “Are there any brigands on the road ? ” inquired the traveller in France. ” Oh, no, set your heart at rest on that point,” said the landlord; ” what should these fellows keep the highway for, when they can rob just as effectually, and much more at their ease, in the bureaus of office?”

In literature the effect appeared in the decided tendency of criticism. The most remarkable literary work of the age has for its hero and subject precisely this introversion: I mean the poem of Faust. In philosophy, Immanuel Kant has made the best catalogue of the human faculties and the best analysis of the mind. Hegel also, especially. In science the French savant, exact, pitiless, with barometer, crucible, chemic test and calculus in hand, travels into all nooks and islands, to weigh, to analyze and report. And chemistry, which is the analysis of matter, has taught us that we eat gas, drink gas, tread on gas, and -are gas. The same decomposition has changed the whole face of physics ; the like in all arts, modes. Authority falls, in Church, College, Courts of Law, Faculties, Medicine. Experiment is credible ; antiquity is grown ridiculous.

It marked itself by a certain predominance of the intellect in the balance of powers. The warm swart Earth-spirit which made the strength of past ages, mightier than it knew, with instincts instead of science, like a mother yielding food from her own breast instead of preparing it through chemic and culinary skill, — warm negro ages of sentiment and vegetation, — all gone ; another hour had struck and other forms arose. Instead of the social existence which all shared, was now separation. Every one for himself ; driven to find all his resources, hopes, rewards, society and deity within himself.

The young men were born with knives in their brain, a tendency to introversion, self-dissection, anatomizing of motives. The popular religion of our fathers had received many severe shocks from the new times ; from the Arminians, which was the current name of the backsliders from Calvinism, sixty years ago ; then from the English philosophic theologians, Hartley and Priestley and Belsham, the followers of Locke ; and then I should say much later from the slow but extraordinary influence of Swedenborg ; a man of prodigious mind, though as I think tainted with a certain suspicion of insanity, and therefore generally disowned, but exerting a singular power over an important intellectual class ; then the powerful influence of the genius and character of Dr. Channing.

Germany had created criticism in vain for us until 1820, when Edward Everett returned from his five years in Europe, and brought to Cambridge his rich results, which no one was so fitted by natural grace and the splendor of his rhetoric to introduce and recommend. He made us for the first time acquainted with Wolff’s theory of the Homeric writings, with the criticism of Heyne. The novelty of the learning lost nothing in the skill and genius of his relation, and the rudest undergraduate found a new morning opened to him in the lecture-room of Harvard Hall.

There was an influence on the young people from the genius of Everett which was almost comparable to that of Pericles in Athens. He had an inspiration which did not go beyond his head, but which made him the master of elegance. If any of my readers were at that period in Boston or Cambridge, they will easily remember his radiant beauty of person, of a classic style, his heavy large eye, marble lids, which gave the impression of mass which the slightness of his form needed ; sculptured lips ; a voice of such rich tones, such precise and perfect utterance, that, although slightly nasal, it was the most mellow and beautiful and correct of all the instruments of the time. The word that he spoke, in the manner in which he spoke it, became current and classical in New England. He had a great talent for collecting facts, and for bringing those he had to bear with ingenious felicity on the topic of the moment. Let him rise to speak on what occasion soever, a fact had always just transpired which composed, with some other fact well known to the audience, the most pregnant and happy coincidence. It was remarked that for a man who threw out so many facts he was seldom convicted of a blunder. He had a good deal of special learning, and all his learning was available for purposes of the hour. It was all new learning, that wonderfully took and stimulated the young men. It was so coldly and weightily communicated from so commanding a platform, as if in the consciousness and consideration of all history and all learning, —adorned with so many simple and austere beauties of expression, and enriched with so many excellent digressions and significant quotations, that, though nothing could be conceived beforehand less attractive or indeed less fit for green boys from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, with their,unripe Latin and Greek reading,,than exegetical discourses in the style of Voss and Wolff and Ruhnken, on the Orphic and Ante-Homeric remains, —yet this learning instantly took the highest place to our imagination in our unoccupied American Parnassus. All his auditors felt the extreme beauty and dignity of the manner, and even the coarsest were contented to go punctually to listen, for the manner, when they had found out that the subject-matter was not for them. In the lecture-room, he abstained from all ornament, and pleased himself with the play of detailing erudition in a style of perfect simplicity. In the pulpit (for he was then a clergyman) he made amends to himself and his auditor for the self-denial of the professor’s chair, and, with an infantine simplicity still, of manner, he gave the reins to his florid, quaint and affluent fancy.

Then was exhibited all the richness of a rhetoric. which we have never seen rivalled in this country. Wonderful how memorable were words made which were only pleasing pictures, and covered no new or valid thoughts. He abounded in sentences, in wit,. in satire, in splendid allusion, in quotation impossible to forget, in daring imagery, in parable and even in a sort of defying experiment of his own wit and skill in giving an oracular weight to Hebrew or Rabbinical words ; — feats which no man could better accomplish, such was his self-command and the security of his manner. All his speech, was music, and with such variety and invention that the ear was never tired. Especially beautiful were his poetic quotations. He delighted in quoting Milton, and with such sweet modulation that. he seemed to give as much beauty as he borrowed ; and whatever be has quoted will be remembered by any who heard him, with inseparable association with his voice and genius. He had nothing in common with vulgarity and infirmity, but, speaking, walking, sitting, was as much aloof and uncommon as a star. The smallest anecdote of his behavior or conversation was eagerly caught and repeated, and every young scholar could recite brilliant sentences from his sermons, with mimicry, good or bad,. of his voice. This influence went much farther, for he who was heard with such throbbing hearts and sparkling eyes in the lighted and crowded churches, did not let go his hearers when the church was dismissed, but the bright image of that eloquent form followed the boy home to his bed-chamber ; and not a sentence was written in academic exercises, not a declamation attempted in the col-. lege chapel, but showed the omnipresence of his genius to youthful heads. This made every youth his defender, and boys filled their mouths with arguments to prove that the orator had a heart. This was a triumph of Rhetoric. It was not the intellectual or the moral principles which he had to teach. It was not thoughts. When Massachusetts was full of his fame it was not contended that he had thrown any truths into circulation. But his power lay in the magic of form ; it was in the graces of manner ; in a new perception of Grecian beauty, to which he had opened our eyes. There was that finish about this person which is about women, and which distinguishes every piece of genius from the works of talent, — that these last are more or less matured in every degree of completeness according to the time bestowed on them, but works of genius in their first and slightest form are still wholes. In every public discourse there was nothing left for the indulgence of his hearer, no marks of late hours and anxious, unfinished study, but the goddess of grace had breathed on the work a last fragrancy and glitter.

By a series of lectures largely and fashionably attended for two winters in Boston he made a beginning of popular literary and miscellaneous lecturing, which in that region at least had important results. It is acquiring greater importance every day, and becoming a national institution. I am quite certain that this purely literary influence was of the first importance to the American mind.

In the pulpit Dr. Frothingham, an excellent classical and German scholar, had already made us acquainted, if prudently, with the genius of Eichhorn’s theologio criticism. And Professor Norton a little later gave form and method to the like studies in the then infant Divinity School. But I think the paramount source of the religious revolution was Modern Science ; beginning with Copernicus, who destroyed the pagan fictions of the Church, by showing mankind that the earth on which we live was not the centre of the Universe, around which the sun and stars revolved every day, and thus fitted to be the platform on which the Drama of the Divine Judgment was played before the assembled Angels of Heaven, — ” the scaffold of the divine vengeance ” Saurin called it, — but a little scrap of a planet, rushing round the sun in our system, which in turn was too minute to be seen at the distance of many stars which we behold. Astronomy taught us our insignificance in Nature ; showed that our sacred as our profane history had been written in gross ignorance of the laws, which were far grander than we knew ; and compelled a certain extension and uplifting of our views of the Deity and his Providence. This correction of our superstitions was confirmed by the new science of Geology, and the whole train of discoveries in every department. But we presently saw also that the religious nature in man was not affected by these errors in his understanding. The religious sentiment made nothing of bulk or size, or far or near ; triumphed over time as well as space ; and every lesson of humility, or justice, or charity, which the old ignorant saints had taught him, was still forever true.

Whether from these influences, or whether by a reaction of the general mind against the too formal science, religion and social life of the earlier period, — there was, in the first quarter of our nineteenth century, a certain sharpness of criticism, an eagerness for reform, which showed itself in every quarter. It appeared in the popularity of Lavater’s Physiognomy, now almost forgotten. Gall and Spurzheim’s Phrenology laid a rough hand on the mysteries of animal and spiritual nature, dragging down every sacred secret to a street show. The attempt was coarse and odious to scientific men, but had a certain truth in it ; it felt connection where the professors denied it, and was a leading to a truth which had not yet been announced. On the heels of this intruder came Mesmerism, which broke into the inmost shrines, attempted the explanation of miracle and prophecy, as well as of creation. What could be more revolting to the contemplative philosopher ! But a certain success attended it, against all expectation. It was human, it was genial, it affirmed unity and connection between remote points, and as such was excellent criticism on the narrow and dead classification of what passed for science ; and the joy with which it was greeted was an instinct of the people which no true philosopher would fail to profit by. But while society remained in doubt between the indignation of the old school and the audacity of the new, a higher note sounded. Unexpected aid from high quarters came to iconoclasts. The German poet Goethe revolted against the science of the day, against French and English science, declared war against the great name of Newton, proposed his own new and simple optics : in Botany, his simple theory of metamorphosis ; — the eye of a leaf is all ; every part of the plant from root to fruit is only a modified leaf, the branch of a tree is nothing but a leaf whose serratures have become twigs. He extended this into anatomy and animal life, and his views were accepted. The revolt became a revolution. Schelling and Oken introduced their ideal natural philosophy, Hegel his metaphysics, and extended it to Civil History.

The result in literature and the general mind was a return to law ; in science, in politics, in social life ; as distinguished from the profligate manners and politics of earlier times. The age was moral. Every immorality is a departure from nature, and is punished by natural loss and deformity. The popularity of Combo’s Constitution of Man; the humanity which was the aim of all the Multitudinous works of Dickens ; the tendency even of Punch’s caricature, was all on the side of the people. There was a breath of new air, much vague expectation, a consciousness of power not yet finding its determinate aim.

I attribute much importance to two papers of Dr. Channing, one on Milton and one on Napoleon, which were the first specimens in this country of that large criticism which in England had given power and fame to the Edinburgh Review. They were widely read, and of course immediately fruitful in provoking emulation which lifted the style of Journalism. Dr. Channing, whilst he lived, was the star of the American Church, and we then thought, if we do not still think, that he left no successor in the pulpit. He could never be reported, for his eye and voice could not be printed, and his discourses lose their best in losing them. He was made for the public ; his cold temperament made him the most unprofitable private companion; but all America would have been impoverished in wanting him. We could not then spare a single word he uttered in public, not so much as the reading a lesson in Scripture, or a hymn, and it is curious that his printed writings are almost a history of the times ; as there was no great public interest, political, literary, or even economical (for he wrote on the Tariff), on which he did not leave some printed record of his brave and thoughtful opinion. A poor little invalid all his life, he is yet one of those men who vindicate the power of the American race to produce greatness.

Dr. Channing took counsel in 1840 with George Ripley, to the point whether it were possible to bring cultivated, thoughtful people together, and make society that deserved the name. He had earlier talked with Dr. John Collins Warren on the like purpose, who admitted the wisdom of the design and undertook to aid him in making the experiment. Dr. Channing repaired to Dr. Warren’s house on the appointed evening, with large thoughts which he wished to open. He found a well-chosen assembly of gentlemen variously distinguished ; there was mutual greeting and introduction, and they were chatting agreeably on indifferent matters and drawing gently towards their great expectation, when a side-door opened, the whole company streamed in to an oyster supper, crowned 1)y excellent wines ; and so ended the first attempt to establish aesthetic society in Boston.

Some time afterwards Dr. Channing opened his mind to Mr. and Mrs. Ripley, and with some care they invited a limited party of ladies and gentlemen. I had the honor to be present. Though I recall the fact, I do not retain any instant consequence of this attempt, or any connection between it and the new zeal of the friends who at that time began to be drawn together by sympathy of studies and of aspiration. Margaret Fuller, George Ripley, Dr. Conyers Francis, Theodore Parker, Dr. Hedge, Mr. Brownson, James Freeman Clarke, William H. Channing, and many others, gradually drew together and from time to time spent an afternoon at each other’s houses in a serious ednversation. With them was always one well-known form, a pure idealist, not at all a man of letters,. nor of any practical talent, nor a writer of books ; a man quite too cold and contemplative for the alliances of friendship, with rare simplicity and grandeur of perception, who read Plato as an equal, and inspired his companions only in proportion as they were intellectual, — whilst the men of talent complained of the want of point and precision in this abstract and religious thinker.
     These fine conversations, of course, were incomprehensible to some in the company, and they had their revenge in their little joke. One declared that ” It seemed to him like going to heaven in a swing ; ” another reported that, at a knotty point in the discourse, a sympathizing Englishman with a squeaking voice interrupted with the question, ” Mr. Alcott, a lady near me desires to inquire whether omnipotence abnegates attribute ? “

I think there prevailed at that time a general belief in Boston that there was some concert of doctrinaires to establish certain opinions and inaugurate some movement in literature, philosophy, and religion, of which design the supposed conspirators were quite innocent ; for there was no concert, and only here and there two or three men or women who read and wrote, each alone, with unusual vivacity. Perhaps they only agreed in having fallen upon Coleridge and Wordsworth and Goethe, then on Carlyle, with pleasure and sympathy. Otherwise, their education and reading were not marked, but had the American superficialness, and their studies were solitary. I suppose all of them were surprised at this rumor of a school or sect, and certainly at the name of Transcendentalism, given nobody knows by whom, or when it was first applied. As these persons became in the common chances of society acquainted with each other, there resulted certainly strong friendships, which of course were exclusive in proportion to their heat : and perhaps those persons who were mutually the best friends were the most private and had no ambition of publishing their letters, diaries, or conversation.

From that time meetings were held for conversation, with very little form, from house to house, of people engaged in studies, fond of books, and watchful of all the intellectual light from whatever quarter it flowed. Nothing could be less formal, yet the intelligence and character and varied ability of the company gave it some notoriety and perhaps waked curiosity as to its aims and results.
     Nothing more serious came of it than the modest quarterly journal called ” The Dial ” which, under the editorship of Margaret Fuller, and later of some other, enjoyed its obscurity for four years. All its papers were unpaid contributions, and it was rather a work of friendship among the narrow circle of students than the organ of any party. Perhaps its writers were its chief readers : yet it contained some noble papers by Margaret Fuller, and some numbers had an instant exhausting sale, because of papers by Theodore Parker.

Theodore Parker was our Savonarola, an excellent scholar, in frank and affectionate communication with the best minds of his day, yet the tribune of the people, and the stout Reformer to urge and defend every cause of humanity with and for the humblest of mankind. He was no artist. Highly refined persons might easily miss in him the element of beauty. What he said was mere fact, almost offended you, so bald and detached ; little cared he. He stood altogether for practical truth ; and so to the last. He used every day and hour of his short life, and his character appeared in the last moments with the same firm control as in the midday of strength. I habitually apply to him the words of a French philosopher who speaks of ” the man of Nature who abominates the steam-engine and the factory. His vast lungs breathe independence with the air of the mountains and the woods.”

The vulgar politician disposed of this circle cheaply as ” the sentimental class.” State Street had an instinct that they invalidated contracts and threatened the stability of stocks ; and it did not fancy brusque manners. Society always values, even in its teachers, inoffensive people, susceptible of conventional polish. The clergyman who would live in the city may have piety, but must have taste, whilst there was often coming, among these, some John the Baptist, wild from the woods, rude, hairy, careless of dress and quite scornful of the etiquette of cities. There was a pilgrim in those days walking in the country who stopped at every door where he hoped to find hearing for his doctrine, which was, Never to give or receive money. He was a poor printer, and explained with simple warmth the belief of himself and five or six young men with whom he agreed in opinion, of the vast mischief of our insidious coin. He thought every one should labor at some necessary product, and as soon as he had made more than enough for himself, were it corn, or paper, or cloth, or boot-jacks, he should give of the commodity to any applicant, and in turn go to his neighbor for any article which he had to spare. Of course we were curious to know how he sped in his experiments on the neighbor, and his anecdotes were interesting, and often highly creditable. But he had the courage which so stern a return to Arcadian manners required, and had learned to sleep, in cold nights, when the farmer at whose door he knocked declined to give him a bed, on a wagon covered with the buffalo-robe under the shed, — or under the stars, when the farmer denied the shed and the buffalo-robe. I think he persisted for two years in his brave practice, but did not enlarge his church of believers.

These reformers were a new class. Instead of the fiery souls of the Puritans, bent on hanging the Quaker, burning the witch and banishing the Romanist, these were gentle souls, with peaceful and even with genial dispositions, casting sheep’s-eyes even on Fourier and his houris. It was a time when the air was full of reform. Robert Owen of Lanark came hither from England in 1845, and read lectures or held conversations wherever he found listeners ; the most amiable, sanguine and candid of men. He had not the least doubt that he had hit on a right and perfect socialism, or that all mankind would adopt it. He was then seventy years old, and being asked, ” Well, Mr. Owen, who is your disciple ? How many men are there possessed of your views who will remain after you are gone, to put them in practice? ” ” Not one,” was his reply. Robert Owen knew Fourier in his old age. He said that Fourier learned of him all the truth he had ; the rest of his system was imagination, and the imagination of a banker. Owen made the best impression by his rare benevolence. His love of men made us forget his ” Three Errors.” His charitable construction of men and their actions was invariable. He was the better Christian in his controversy with Christians, and he interpreted with great generosity the acts of the ” Holy Affiance,” and Prince Metternich, with whom the persevering doctrinaire had obtained interviews ; ” Ah,” he said, ” you may depend on it there are as tender hearts and as much good will to serve men, in palaces, as in colleges.”

And truly I honor the generous ideas of the Socialists, the magnificence of their theories, and the enthusiasm with which they have been urged. They appeared the inspired men of their time. Mr. Owen preached his doctrine of labor and reward, with the fidelity and devotion of a saint, to the slow ears of his generation. Fourier, almost as wonderful an example of the mathematical mind of France as La Place or Napoleon, turned a truly vast arithmetic to the question of social misery, and has put men under the obligation which a generous Trnind always confers, of conceiving magnificent hopes and making great demands as the right of man. He took his measure of that which all should and might enjoy, from no soup-society or charity-concert, but from the refinements of palaces, the wealth of universities, and the triumphs of artists. He thought nobly. A man is entitled to pure air, and to the air of good conversation in his bringing up, and not, as we or so many of us, to the poor-smell and musty chambers, cats and fools. Fourier carried a whole French Revolution in his head, and much more. Here was arithmetic on a huge scale. His ciphering goes where ciphering never went before, namely, into stars, atmospheres, and animals, and men and women, and classes of every character. It was the most entertaining of French romances, and could not but suggest vast possibilities of reform to the coldest and least sanguine.

We had an opportunity of learning something of these Socialists and their theory, from the indefatigable apostle of the sect in New York, Albert Brisbane. Mr. Brisbane pushed his doctrine with all the force of memory, talent, honest faith and importunacy. As we listened to his exposition it appeared to us the sublime of mechanical philosophy ; for the system was the perfection of arrangement and contrivance. The force of arrangement could no farther go. The merit of the plan was that it was a system ; that it had not the partiality and hint-and-fragment character of most popular schemes, but was coherent and comprehensive of facts to a wonderful degree. It was not daunted by distance, or magnitude, or remoteness of any sort, but strode about nature with a giant’s step, and skipped no fact, but wove its large Ptolemaic web of cycle and epicycle, of phalanx and phalanstery, with laudable assiduity. Mechanics were pushed so far as fairly to meet spiritualism. One could not but be struck with strange coincidences betwixt Fourier and Swedenborg. Genius hitherto has been shamefully misapplied, a mere trifler. It must now set itself to raise the social condition of man and to redress the disorders of the planet he inhabits. The Desert of Sahara, the Campagna di Roma, the frozen Polar circles, which by their pestilential or hot or cold airs poison the temperate regions, accuse man. Society, concert, co-operation, is the secret of the coining Paradise. By reason of the isolation of men at the present day, all work is drudgery. By concert and the allowing each laborer to choose his own work, it becomes pleasure. ” Attractive Industry” would speedily subdue, by adventurous scientific and persistent tillage, the pestilential tracts ; would equalize temperature, give health to the globe and cause the earth to yield “healthy imponderable fluids” to the solar system, as now it yields noxious fluids. The hyena, the jackal, the gnat, the bug, the flea, were all beneficent parts of the system ; the good Fourier knew what those creatures should have been, had not the mould slipped, through the bad state of the atmosphere ; caused no doubt by the same vicious imponderable fluids. All these shall be redressed by human culture, and the useful goat and dog and innocent poetical moth, or the wood-tick to consume decomposing wood, shall take their place. It takes sixteen hundred and eighty men to make one Man, complete in all the faculties ; that is, to be sure that you have got a good joiner, a good cook, a barber, a poet, a judge, an umbrella-maker, a mayor and alderman, and so on. Your community should consist of two thousand persons, to prevent accidents of omission ; and each community should take up six thousand acres of land. Now fancy the earth planted with fifties and hundreds of these phalanxes side by side, what tillage, what architecture, what refectories, what dormitories, what reading-rooms, what concerts, what lectures, what gardens, what baths! What is not in one will be in another, and many will be within easy distance. Then know you one and all, that Constantinople is the natural capital of the globe. There, in the Golden Horn, will the Arch-Phalanx be established ; there will the Omniarch reside. Aladdin and his magician, or the beautiful Scheherezade can alone-, in these prosaic times before the sight, describe the material splendors collected there. Poverty shall be abolished ; deformity, stupidity and crime shall be no more. Genius, grace, art, shall abound, and it is not to be doubted but that in the reign of ” Attractive Industry ” all men will speak in blank verse.

Certainly we listened with great pleasure to such gay and magnificent pictures. The ability and earnestness of the advocate and his friends, the comprehensiveness of their theory, its apparent directness of proceeding to the end they would secure, the indignation they felt and uttered in the presence of so much social misery, commanded our attention and respect. It contained so much truth, and promised in the attempts that shall be made to realize it so much valuable instruction, that we are engaged to observe every step of its progress. Yet in spite of the assurances of its friends that it was new and widely discriminated from all other plans for the regeneration of society, we could not exempt it from the criticism which we apply to so many projects for reform with which the brain of the age teems. Our feeling was that Fourier had skipped no fact but one, namely Life. He treats man as a plastic thing, something that may be put up or clown, ripened or retarded, moulded, polished, made into solid or fluid or gas, at the will of the leader ;or perhaps as a vegetable, from which, though now a poor crab, a very good peach can by manure and exposure be in time produced, — but skips the faculty of life, which spawns and scorns system and system-makers ; which eludes all conditions; which makes or supplants a thousand phalanxes and New Harmonies with each pulsation. There is an order in which in a sound mind the faculties always appear, and which, according to the strength of the individual, they seek to realize in the surrounding world. The value of Fourier’s system is that it is a statement of such an order externized, or carried outward into its correspondence in facts. The mistake is that this particular order and series is to be imposed, by force or preaching and votes, on all men, and carried into rigid execution. But what is true and good must not only be begun by life, hut must be conducted to its issues by life. Could not the conceiver of this design have also believed that a similar model lay in every mind, and that the method of each associate might be trusted, as well as that of his particular Committee and General Office, No. 200 Broadway ? Nay, that it would be better to say, Let us be lovers and servants of that which is just, and straightway every man becomes a centre of a holy and beneficent republic, which he sees to include all men in its law, like that of Plato, and of Christ. Before such a man the whole world becomes Fourierized or Christized or humanized, and in obedience to his most private being he finds himself, according to his presentiment, though against all sensuous probability, acting in strict concert with all others who followed their private light.

Yet, in a day of small, sour and fierce schemes, one is admonished_ and cheered by a project of such friendly aims and of such bold and generous proportion ; there is an intellectual courage and strength in it which is superior and commanding ; it certifies the presence of so much truth in the theory, and in so far is destined to be fact.

It argued singular courage, the adoption of Fourier’s system, to even a limited extent, with his books lying before the world only defended by the thin veil of the French language. The Stoic said, Forbear, Fourier said, Indulge. Fourier was of the ()pinion of St. Evremond ; abstinence from pleasure appeared to him a great sin. Fourier was very French indeed. He labored under a misapprehension of the nature of women. The Fourier marriage was a calculation how to secure the greatest amount of kissing that the infirmity of human constitution admitted. It was false and prurient, full of absurd French superstitions about women ; ignorant how serious and how moral their nature always is ; how chaste is their organization ; how lawful a class?

It is the worst of community that it must inevitably transform into charlatans the leaders, by the endeavor continually to meet the expectation and admiration of this eager crowd of men and women seeking they know not what. Unless he have a Cossack roughness of clearing himself of what belongs not, charlatan he must be.

It was easy to see what must be the fate of this fine system in any serious and comprehensive attempt to set it on foot in this country. As soon as our people got wind of the doctrine of Marriage held by this master, it would fall at once into the hands of a lawless crew who would flock in troops to so fair a game, and, like the dreams of poetic-people on the first outbreak of the old French Revolution, so theirs would disappear in a slime of mire and blood.

There is of course to every theory a tendency to run to an extreme, and to forget the limitations. In our free institutions, where every man is at liberty to choose his home and his trade, and all possible modes of working and gaining are open to him, fortunes are easily made by thousands, as in no. other country. Then property proves too much for the man, and the men of science, art, intellect,. are pretty sure to degenerate into selfish housekeepers, dependent on wine, coffee, furnace-heat, gas-light and fine furniture. Then instantly things swing the other way, and we suddenly find that civilization crowed too soon ; that what we bragged as triumphs were treacheries : that we have opened the wrong door and let the enemy into the castle ; that civilization was a mistake ; that nothing is so vulgar as a great warehouse of rooms full of furniture and trumpery ; that, in the circumstances, the best wisdom were an auction or a fire. Since the. foxes and the birds have the right of it, with a warm hole to keep out the weather, and no more,— a pent-house to fend the sun and rain is the house. which lays no tax on the owner’s time and thoughts,. and which he can leave, when the sun is warm, and defy the robber. This was Thoreau’s doctrine, who said that the Fourierists had a sense of duty which led them to devote themselves to their second-best. And Thoreau gave in flesh and blood and pertinacious Saxon belief the purest ethics. He was more, real and practically believing in them than any of’ his company, and fortified you at all times with an affirmative experience which refused to be set aside. Thoreau was in his own person a practical answer, almost a refutation, to the theories of the socialists. He required no Phalanx, no Government, no society, almost no memory. He lived extempore from hour to hour, like the birds and the angels ; brought every day a new proposition, as revolutionary as that of yesterday, but different : the only man ofleisure in his town ; and his independence made all others look like slaves. He was a good Abbot Sampson, and carried a counsel in his breast. ” Again and again I congratulate myself on my so-called poverty, I could not overstate this advantage.” ” What you call bareness and poverty, is to me simplicity. God could not be unkind to me if he should try. I love best to have each thing in its season only, and enjoy doing without it at all other times. It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all. I have never got over my surprise that I should have been born into the most estimable place in all the world, and in the very nick of time too.” There ‘s an optimist for you.

I regard these philanthropists as themselves the effects of the age in which we live, and, in common with so many other good facts, the efflorescence of the period, and predicting a good fruit that ripens. They were not the creators they believed themselves, but they were unconscious prophets of a true state of society ; one which the tendencies of nature lead unto, one which always establishes itself for the sane soul, though not in that manner in which they paint it ; but they were describers of that which is really being done. The large cities are phalansteries ; and the theorists drew all their argument from facts already taking place in ourexperience. The cheap way is to make every man do what he was born for. One merchant to whom I described the Fourier project, thought it must not only succeed, but that agricultural association must presently fix the price of bread, and drive single farmers into association in self-defence, as the great commercial and manufacturing companion had done. Society in England and in America/ is trying the experiment again in small pieces, in. co-operative associations, in cheap eating-houses, as well as in the economies of club-houses and in cheap reading-rooms.

It chanced that here in one family were two brothers, one a brilliant and fertile inventor, and close by him his own brother, a man of business, who knew how to direct his faculty and make it instantly and permanently lucrative. Why could not the like partnership be formed between the inventor and the man of executive talent everywhere ? Each man of thought is surrounded by wiser men than he, if they cannot write as well. Cannot he and they combine ? Talents supplement each other. Beaumont and Fletcher and many French novelists have known how to utilize such partnerships. Why not have a larger one, and with more various members ?
Housekeepers say, ” There are a thousand things to everything,” and if one must study all thestrokes to be laid, all the faults to be shunned in a building or work of art, of its keeping, its composition, its site, its color, there would be no end. But the architect, acting under a necessity to build the house for its purpose, finds himself helped, he knows not how, into all these merits of detail, and steering clear, though in the dark, of those dangers which might have shipwrecked him.

The West Roxbury association was formed in 1841, by a society of members, men and women, who bought a farm in West Roxbury, of about two hundred acres, and took possession of the place in April. Mr. George Ripley was the President, and I think Mr. Charles Dana (afterwards well known as one of the editors of the New York Tribune), was the secretary. Many members took shares by paying money, others held shares by their labor. An old house on the place was enlarged, and three new houses built. William Allen was at first and for some time the head farmer, and the work was distributed in orderly committees to the men and women. There were many employments more or less lucrative found for, or brought hither by these members, shoemakers, joiners, sempstresses. They had good scholars among them, and so received pupils for their education. The parents of the children in some instances wished to live there, and were received as boarders. Many persons attracted by the beauty of the place and the culture and ambition of the community, joined them as boarders, and lived there for years. I think the numbers of this mixed community soon reached eighty or ninety souls.

It was a noble and generous movement in the projectors, to try an experiment of better living. They had the feeling that our ways of living were too conventional and expensive, not allowing each to do what he had a talent for, and not permitting men to combine cultivation of mind and heart with a reasonable amount of daily labor. At the same time, it was an attempt to lift others with themselves, and to share the advantages they should attain, with others now deprived of them.

There was no doubt great variety of character and purpose in the members of the community. It consisted in the main of young people, — few of middle age, and none old. Those who inspired , and organized it were of course persons impatient of the routine, the uniformity, perhaps they would say, the squalid contentment of society around them ; which was so timid and skeptical of any progress. One would say then that impulse was the rule in the society, without centripetal balance ; perhaps it would not be severe to say,
intellectualsans-culottism, an impatience of the formal, routinary character of our educational, religious, social and economical life in Massachusetts. Yet there was immense hope in these yolng people. There was nobleness ; there were selasacrificing victims who compensated for the levity and rashness of their companions. The young people lived a great deal in a short time, and came forth some of them perhaps with shattered constitutions. And a few grave sanitary influences of character were happily there, which, I was assured, were always felt.

George W. Curtis of New York, and his brother, of English Oxford, were members of the family from the first. Theodore Parker, the near neighbor of the farm and the most intimate friend of Mr. Ripley, was a frequent visitor. Mr. Ichabod Morton of Plymouth, a plain man formerly engaged through many years in the fisheries with success, — eccentric, with a persevering interest in Education, and. of a very democratic religion, came and built a house on the farm, and he, or members of his family, continued there to the end. Margaret Fuller, with her joyful conversation” and large sympathy, was often a guest, and always in correspondence with her friends. Many ladies, whom to name were to praise, gave character and varied attraction to the place.

In and around Brook Farm, whether as members, boarders, or visitors, were many remarkable persons, for character, intellect, or accomplishments. I recall one youth of the subtlest mind, I believe I must say the subtlest observer and diviner of character I ever met, living, reading, writing, talking there, perhaps as long as the colony held together ; his mind fed and overfed by whatever is exalted in genius, whether in Poetry or Art, in Drama or Music, or in social accomplishment and elegancy ; a man of no employment or practical aims, a student and philosopher, who found his daily enjoyment not with the elders or his exact contemporaries so much as with the fine boys who were skating and playing ball or bird-hunting ; forming the closest friendships with such,.and finding his delight in the petulant heroisms of boys ; yet was he the chosen counsellor to whom the guardians would repair on any hitch or difficulty that occurred, and draw from him a wise counsel. A fine, subtle, inward genius, puny in body and habit as a girl, yet with an aplomb like a general, never disconcerted. He lived and thought, in 1842, such worlds of life ; all hinging on the thought of Being or Reality as opposed to consciousness ; hating intellect with the ferocity of a Swedenborg. He was the Abbe or spiritual father, from his religious bias. His reading lay in Aeschylus, Plato, Dante, Calderon, Shakspeare, and in modern novels andromances of merit. There too was Hawthorne, with his cold yet gentle genius, if he failed to do justice to this temporary home. There was the accomplished Doctor of Music, wick has presided over its literature ever since in our metropolis. Rev.. William Henry Channing, now of London, was from the first a student of Socialism in France and. England, and in perfect sympathy with this experiment. An English baronet, Sir John Caldwell, was a frequent visitor, and more or less directly interested in the leaders and the success.

Hawthorne drew some sketches, not happily, as I think ; I should rather say, quite unworthy of his genius. No friend who knew Margaret Fuller could recognize her rich and brilliant genius under the dismal mask which the public fancied was meant for her in that disagreeable story.

The Founders of Brook Farm should have this praise, that they made what all people try to make, an agreeable place to live in. All comers, even the most fastidious, found it the pleasantest of residences. It is certain that freedom from household routine, variety of character and talent, variety of work, variety of means of thought and instruction, art, music, poetry, reading, masquerade, did not permit sluggishness or despondency ; broke up routine. There is agreement in the testimony that it was, to most of the associates, education ; to many, the most important period of their life, the birth of valued friendships, their first acquaintance with the riches of conversation, their training in behavior. The art of letter-writing, it is said, was immensely cultivated. Letters were always flying not only from house to house, but from room to room. It was a perpetual picnic, a French Revolution in small, an Age of Reason in a patty-pan.
In the American social communities, the gossip found such vent and sway as to become despotic. The institutions were whispering-galleries, in which the adored Saxon privacy was lost. Married women I believe uniformly decided against the community. It was to them like the brassy and lacquered life in hotels. The common school was well enough, but to the common nursery they had grave objections. Eggs might be hatched in ovens, but the hen on her own account much preferred the old way. A hen without her chickens was but half a hen.

It was a curious experience of the patrons and leaders of this noted community, in which the agreement with many parties was that they should give so many hours of instruction in mathematics, in music, in moral and intellectual philosophy, and so forth, — that in every instance the new corners showed themselves keenly alive to the advantages of •the society, and were sure to avail themselves of every means of instruction ; their knowledge wasincreased, their manners refine, — but they became in that proportion averseo labor, and were charged by the heads of the departments with a certain indolence and selfishness.

In practice it is always found that -virtue is occasional, spotty, and not linear or cubic. Good people are as bad as rogues if steady performance is claimed ; the conscience of the conscientious runs in veins, and the most punctilious in some particulars are latitudinarian in others. It was very gently said that people on whom beforehand all persons would put the utmost reliance were not responsible. They saw the necessity that the work must be done, and did it not, and it of course fell to be done by the few religious workers. No doubt there was in many a certain strength drawn from the fury of dissent. Thus Mr. Ripley told Theodore Parker, ” There is your accomplished friend —, he would hoe corn all Sunday if I would let him, but all Massachusetts could not make .him do it on Monday.”

Of course every visitor found that there was a comic side to this Paradise of shepherds and shepherdesses. There was a stove in every chamber, and every one might burn as much wood as he or she would saw. The ladies took cold on washing-day ; so it was ordained that the gentlemen-shepherds should wring and hang out clothes ; which they punctually did. And it would sometimes occur that when they danced in the evening, clothespins dropped plentifully from their pockets. The country members naturally were surprised to observe that one man ploughed all day and one looked out of the window all day, and perhaps drew his picture, and both received at night the same wages. One would meet also some modest pride in their advanced condition, signified by a frequent phrase, ” Before we came out of civilization.”
The question which occurs to you had occurred much earlier to Fourier : ” How in this charming Elysium is the dirty work to be done ? ” And long ago Fourier had exclaimed, ” Ah I have it,” and jumped with joy. “Don’t you see,” he cried, ” that nothing so delights the young Caucasian child as dirt ? See the mud-pies that all children will make if you will let them. See how much more joy they find in pouring their pudding on the table-cloth than into their beautiful mouths. The children from six to eight, organized into companies with flags and uniforms, shall do this last function of civilization.”

In Brook Farm was this peculiarity, that there was no head. In every family is the father; in every factory, a foreman ; in a shop, a master ; in a boat, the skipper ; but in this Farm, no author. ity ; each was master or mistress of his or her ac-tions ; happy, hapless anarchists. They expressed,. after much perilous experience, the conviction that plain dealing was the best defence of manners and moral between the sexes. People cannot live together in any but necessary ways. The only candidates who will present themselves will be those who have tried the experiment of independence and ambition, and have failed ; and none others will barter for the most comfortable- equality the chance of superiority. Then all communities have quarrelled. Few people can live together on their merits. There must be kindred, or mutual economy, or a common interest in their business, or other external tie.

The society at Brook Farm existed, I think, about six or seven years, and then broke up, the Farm was sold, and I believe all the partners came out with pecuniary loss. Some of them had spent. on it the accumulations of years. I suppose they all, at the moment, regarded it as a failure. I do not think they can so regard it now, but probably as an important chapter in their experience which has been of lifelong value. What knowledge of themselves and of each other, what various practical wisdom, what personal power, what studies of character, what accumulated culture many of the members owed to it ! What mutual measure they took of each other ! It was a close union, like that in a ship’s cabin, of clergymen, young collegians, merchants, mechanics, farmers’ sons and daughters, with men and women of rare opportunities and delicate culture, yet assembled there by a sentiment which all shared, some of them hotly shared, of the honesty of a life of labor and of the beauty of a life of humanity. The yeoman saw refined manners in persons who were his friends ; and the lady or the romantic scholar saw the continuous strength and faculty in people who would have disgusted them but that these powers were now spent in the direction of their own theory of life.

I recall these few selected facts, none of them of much independent interest, but symptomatic of the times and country. I please myself with the thought that our American mind is not now eccentric or rude in its strength, but is beginning to show a quiet power, drawn from wide and abundant sources, proper to a Continent and to an educated people. If I have owed much to the special influences I have indicated, I am not less aware of that excellent and increasing circle of masters in arts and in song and in science, who cheer the intellect of our cities and this country today, — whose genius is not a lucky accident, but normal, and with broad foundation of culture, and so inspires the hope of steady strength advancing on itself, and a day without night.

Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches



The soul
Shall have society of its own rank :
Be great. be true, and all the Seipios,
The Catos. the wise patriots of Rome,
Shall Hoek to you and tarry by your side
And comfort you with their high company,


IT is remarkable that of an author so familiar as Plutarch, not only to scholars, but to all reading men, and whose history is so easily gathered from his works, no accurate memoir of his life, not even the dates of his birth and death, should have come down to us. Strange that the writer of so many illustrious biographies should wait so long for his own. It is agreed that he was born about the year 50 of the Christian era.. e has been represented as having been the tutor of the Emperor Trajan, as dedicating one of his books to him, as living long in Rome in great esteem, as having received from Trajan the consular dignity, and as having been appointed by him the governor of Greece. He was a man whose real superiority had no need of these flatteries. Meantime, the simple truth is, that he was not the tutor of Trajan, that he dedicated no book to him, was not consul in Rome, nor governor of Greece ; appears never to have been in Rome but on two occasions, and then on business of the people of his native city, Chaeronea ; and though he found or made friends at Rome, and read lectures to some friends or scholars, he did not know or learn the Latin language there ; with one or two doubtful exceptions, never quotes a Latin book ; and though the contemporary, in his youth or in his old age, of Persius, Juvenal, Lucan and Seneca, of Quintiliau, Martial, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Elder and the Younger. he does not cite them, and, in return, his name is never mentioned by any Roman writer. It would seem that the community of letters and of personal news was even more rare at that day than the want of printing, of railroads and telegraphs, would suggest to us.

But this neglect by his contemporaries has been compensated by an immense popularity in modern nations. Whilst his books were never known to the world iii their own Greek tongue, it is curious that the " Lives " were translated and printed in Latin, thence into Italian, French, and English, more than a century before the original " Works" were yet printed. For whilst the " Lives " were translated in Rome in 1470, and the " Morals," part by part, soon after, the first printed edition of the Greek " Works " did not appear until 1572. Hardly current in his own Greek, these found learned interpreters in the scholars of Germany, Spain and Italy. In France, in the middle of the most turbulent civil wars, Amyot's translation awakened general attention. his genial version of tho " Lives " in 1559, of the " Morals " in 1572, had signal success. King Henry IV. wrote to his wife, Marie de Medicis : " Vive Dieu. As God liveth, you could not have sent me anything which could be more agreeable than the news of the pleasure you have taken in this reading. Plutarch always delights me with a fresh novelty. To love him is to love me ; for he has been long time the instructor of my youth. My good mother, to whom I owe all, and who would not wish, she said, to see her son an illustrious dunce, put this book into my hands almost when I was a child at the breast. It has been like my conscience, and has whispered in my ear many good suggestions and maxims for my conduct and the government of my affairs." Still earlier, Rabelais cites him with due respect. Montaigne, in 1589, says : " We dunces had been lost, had not this book raised us out of the dirt. By this favor of his we dare now speak and write. The ladies are able to read to schoomasters. 'T is our breviary." Montesquieu drew from him his definition of law, and, in his Pen sees, declares, "I am always charmed with Plutarch ; in his writings are circumstances attached to persons, which give great pleasure ; " and adds examples. Saint Evremond read Plutarch to the great Conde under a tent. Rollin, so long the historian of antiquity for France, drew unhesitatingly his history from him. Voltaire honored him, and Rousseau acknowledged him as his master. In England, Sir Thomas North translated the " Lives " in 15T9, and Holland the " Morals " in 1(303, in time to be used by Shakspeare in his plays, and read 1)y Bacon. Dryden, and Cudworth.

Then, recently, there has been a remarkable revival, in France, in the taste for Plutarch and his contemporaries ; led, we may say, by the eminent critic Sainte-Beuve. M. Octave Greard, in a critical work on the "Morals," has carefully corrected the popular legends and constructed from the works of Plutarch himself his true biography. M. Leveque has given an exposition of his moral philosophy, under the title of " A Physician of the
Soul,'' in the Revue des Deue Mondes; and M. C. Martha, chapters on the genius of Mavens Aurelius, of Persius, and Lucretius, in the same journal whilst M. Fustel de Coulanges has explored from its roots in the Aryan race, then in their Greek and Roman descendants, the primeval religion of the household.

Plutarch occupies a unique place in literature as an encyclopaedia of Greek and Roman antiquity. Whatever is eminent in fact or in fiction, in opinion, in character, in institutions, in science – natural, moral, or metaphysical, or in memorable sayings, drew his attention and came to his pen with more or less fulness of record. He is, among prose writers, what Chaucer is among English poets, a rep ertory for those who want the story without searching for it at first hand, – a compend of all accepted traditions. And all this without any supreme in tellectual gifts. He is not a profound mind ; not a master in any science ; not a lawgiver, like Lycurgus or Solon not a metaphysician, like Parmenides, Plato, or Aristotle; not the founder of any sect or community, like Pythagoras or Zeno : not a naturalist, like Pliny or Linnaeus; not a leader of the mind of a generation, like Plato or Goethe. But if he had not the highest powers, he was yet a man of rare gifts. He had that universal sympathy with genius which makes all its victories his own ; though he never used verse, he had many qualities of the poet iii the power of his imagination, the speed of his mental associations, and his sharp, objective eyes. But what specially marks him, he is a chief example of the illumination of the intellect by the force of morals. Though the most amiable of boon-companions, this generous religion gives him apercus like Goethe's.

Plutarch was well-born, well-taught, well-conditioned a self-respecting, amiable man, who knew how to better a good education by travels, by devotion to affairs private and public ; a master of ancient culture, he read books with a just criticism; eminently social, he was a king in his own house, surrounded himself with select friends, and knew the high value of good conversation ; and declares in a letter written to his wife that he finds scarcely an erasure, as in a book well-written, in the happiness of his life."

The range of mind makes the glad writer. The reason of Plutarch's vast popularity is his humanity. A man of society, of affairs ; upright, practical ; a good son, husband, father, and friend, – he has a taste for common life, and knows the court, the camp and the judgment-hall, but also the forge, farm, kitchen and cellar, and every utensil and use, and with a wise man's or a poet's eye. Thought de-fends him from any degradation. He does not lose his way, for the attractions are from within, not from without. A poet in verse or prose must have a sensuous eye, but an intellectual co-perception. Plutarch's memory is full, and his horizon wide. Nothing touches man but he feels to be his ; he is tolerant even of vice, if he finds it genial ; enough a man of the world to give even the Devil his due, and would have hugged Robert Burns, when he cried : –

" O wad ye tak' a thought and mend!"

He is a philosopher with philosophers, a naturalist with naturalists, and sufficiently a mathematician to leave some of his readers, now and then, at a long distance behind him, or respectfully skipping to the next chapter. But this scholastic omniscience of our author engages a new respect, since they hope he understands his own diagram.

He perpetually suggests Montaigne, who was the best reader he has ever found, though Montaigne excelled his master in the point and surprise of his sentences. Plutarch had a religion which Montaigne wanted, and which defends him from wantonness ; and though Plutarch is as plain-spoken, his moral sentiment is always pure. What better praise has any writer received than he whom Montaigne finds ' frank in giving things, not words," dryly adding, "it vexes me that he is so exposed to the spoil of those that are conversant with him." It is one of the felicities of literary history, the tie which inseparably couples these two names across fourteen centuries. Montaigne, whilst he grasps Etienne de la Boece with one hand, reaches back the other to Plutarch. These distant friendships charm us, and honor all the parties, and make the best example of the universal citizenship and fraternity of the human mind.

I do not know where to find a book – to borrow a phrase of Ben Jonson's – " so rammed with life," and this in chapters chiefly ethical, which are so prone to be heavy and sentimental. No poet could illustrate his thought with more novel or striking similes or happier anecdotes. His style is realistic, picturesque and varied ; his sharp objective eyes seeing everything that moves, shines, or threat-ens in nature or art, or thought or dreams. In-deed, twilights, shadows, omens and spectres have a charm for him. He believes in witchcraft and the evil eye, in demons and ghosts, – but prefers, if you please, to talk of these in the morning. ` His vivacity and abundance never leave him to loiter or pound on an incident. I admire his rapid and crowded style, as if he had such store of anecdotes of his heroes that he is forced to suppress more than he recounts, in order to keep up with the hasting history.

His surprising merit is the genial facility with which he deals with his manifold topics. There is no trace of labor or pain. He gossips of heroes, philosophers and poets ; of virtues and genius ; of love and fate and empires. It is for his pleasure that he recites all that is best in his reading : he prattles history. But he is no courtier, and no Boswell: he is ever manly, far from fawning, and would be welcome to the sages and warriors he re-ports, as one having a native right to admire and recount these stirring deeds and speeches. I find him a better teacher of rhetoric than any modern. His superstitions are poetic, aspiring, affirmative. A poet might rhyme all day with hints drawn from Plutarch, page on page. No doubt, this superior suggestion for the modern reader owes much to the foreign air, the Greek wine, the religion and history of antique heroes. Thebes, Sparta, Athens and Rome charm us away from the disgust of the passing hoar. But his own cheerfulness and rude health are also magnetic. In his immense quotation and allusion we quickly cease to discriminate between what he quotes and what he invents. We sail on his memory into the ports of every nation, enter into every private property, and do not stop to discriminate owners, but give him the praise of all. 'T is all Plutarch, by right of eminent domain, and all property vests in this emperor. This facility and abundance make the joy of his narrative, and he is read to the neglect of more careful historians. Yet he inspires a curiosity, sometimes makes a necessity, to read them. He disowns any attempt to rival Thucydides ; but I suppose he has a hundred readers where Thucydides finds one, and Thucydides must often thank Plutarch for that one. He has preserved for us a multitude of precious sentences, in prose or verse, of authors whose books are lost ; and these embalmed fragments, through his loving selection alone, have come to be proverbs of later mankind. I hope it is only my immense ignorance that makes me believe that they do not survive out of his pages, – not only Thespis, Polemos, Euphorion, Ariston, Evenus, etc., but fragments of Menander and Pindar. At all events, it is in reading the fragments he has saved from lost authors that I have hailed another example of the sacred care which has unrolled in our times, and still searches and unrolls papyri from ruined libraries and buried cities, and has drawn attention to what an ancient might call the politeness of Fate, – we will say, more advisedly, the benign Providence which uses the violence of war, of earthquakes and changed water-courses, to save underground through barbarous ages the relies of ancient art, and thus allows us to witness the upturning of the alphabets of old races, and the deciphering of for-gotten languages, so to complete the annals of the forefathers of Asia, Africa and Europe.

His delight in poetry makes him cite with joy the speech of Gorgias, " that the tragic poet who deceived was juster than he who deceived not, and he that was deceived was wiser than he who was not deceived."

It is a consequence of this poetic trait in his mind, that I confess that, in reading him, I em-brace the particulars, and carry a faint memory of the argument or general design of the chapter ; but he is not less welcome, and he leaves the reader with a relish and a necessity for completing his studies. Many examples might be cited of nervous expression and happy allusion, that indicate a poet and an orator, though he is not ambitious of these titles, and cleaves to the security of prose narrative, and only shows his intellectual sympathy with these ; yet I cannot forbear to cite one or two sentences which none who reads them will forget. In treating of the style of the Pythian Oracle, he says: –

" Do you not observe, some one will say, what a grace there is in Sappho's measures, and how they delight and tickle the ears and fancies of the hearers ? Whereas the Sibyl, with her frantic grimaces, uttering sentences altogether thoughtful and serious, neither fucused nor perfumed, continues her voice a thousand years through the favor of the Divinity that speaks within her."

Another gives an insight into his mystic tendencies: –

" Early this morning, asking Epaminondas about the manner of Lysis's burial, I found that Lysis had taught him as far as the incommunicable mysteries of our sect, and that the same Daemon that waited on Lysis, presided over him, if I can guess at the pilot from the sailing of the ship. The paths of life are large, but in few are men directed by the Daemons. When Theanor had said this, he looked attentively on Epaminondas, as if he designed a fresh search into his nature and inclinations."

And here is his sentiment on superstition, some. what condensed in Lord Bacon's citation of it : I had rather a great deal that men should say, There was no such man at all as Plutarch, than that they should say that there was one Plutarch that would eat up his children as soon as they were born, as the poets speak of Saturn."

The chapter " On Fortune " should be read by poets, and other wise men ; and the vigor of his pen appears in the chapter " Whether the Athenians were more Warlike or Learned," and in his attack upon Usurers.

There is, of course, a wide difference of time in the writing of these discourses, and so in their merit. Many of them are mere sketches or notes for chapters in preparation, which were never digested or finished. Many are notes for disputations in the lecture-room. His poor indignation against Herodotus was perhaps a youthful prize essay : it appeared to me captious and labored ; or perhaps, at a rhetorician's school, the subject of Herodotus being the lesson of the (lay, Plutarch was appointed by lot to take the adverse side.

The plain-speaking of Plutarch, as of the ancient writers generally, coming from the habit of writing for one sex only, has a great gain for brevity, and, in our new tendencies of civilization, may tend to correct a false delicacy.
We are always interested in the man who treats the intellect well. We expect it from the philosopher, – from Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza and Kant ; but we know that metaphysical studies in any but minds of large horizon and incessant inspiration have their dangers. One asks sometimes whether a metaphysician can treat the intellect well. The central fact is the superhuman intelligence, pouring into us from its unknown fountain, to be received with religious awe, and defended from any mixture of our will. But this high Muse comes and goes ; and the danger is that, when the Muse is wanting, the student is prone to supply its place with microscopic subtleties and logomachy. It is fatal to spiritual health to lose your admiration. " Let others wrangle," said St. Augustine ; " I will wonder." Plato and Plotinus are enthusiasts, who honor the race ; but the logic of the sophists and materialists, whether Greek or French, fills us with disgust. Whilst we expect this awe and reverence of the spiritual power from the philosopher in his closet, we praise it in the man of the world ; – the man who lives on quiet terms with existing institutions, yet indicates his perception of these high oracles ; as do Plutarch, Montaigne, Hume and Goethe. These men lift themselves at once from the vulgar and are not the parasites of wealth. Perhaps they sometimes compromise, go out to dine, make and take compliments ; but they keep open the source of wisdom and health. Plutarch is uniformly true to this centre. He had not lost his wonder. He is a pronounced idealist, who does not hesitate to say, like another Berkeley. " Mattel is itself privation ; " and again, " The Sun is the cause that all men are ignorant of Apollo, by sense with- drawing the rational intellect from that which is to that which appears." He thinks that " souls are naturally endowed with the faculty of prediction ;
he delights iii memory, with its miraculous power of resisting time. He thinks that " Alexander invaded Persia with greater assistance from Aristotle than from his father Philip." He thinks that he who has ideas of his own is a bad judge of another man's, it being true that the Eleans would be the most proper judges of the Olympic games, were no Eleans gamesters." He says of Socrates, that he endeavored to bring reason and things together, and make truth consist with sober sense. He wonders with Plato at that nail of pain and pleasure which fastens the body to the mind. The mathematics give him unspeakable pleasure, but he chiefly liked that proportion which teaches us to account that which is just, equal ; and not that which is equal, just.

Of philosophy he is more interested in the results than in the method. He has a just instinct of the presence of a master, and prefers to sit as a scholar with Plato, than as a disputant ; and, true to his practical character, he wishes the philosopher not to hide in a corner, but to commend himself to men of public regards and ruling genius : " for, if he once possess such a man with principles of honor and religion, he takes a compendious method, by doing good to one, to oblige a great part of man-kind." 'T is a temperance, not an eclecticism, which makes him adverse to the severe Stoic, or the Gymnosophist, or Diogenes, or any other extremist. That vice of theirs shall not hinder him from citing any good word they chance to drop. e is an eclectic in such sense as Montaigne was, – willing to be an expectant, not a dogmatist.

In many of these chapters it is easy to infer the relation between the Greek philosophers and those who came to them for instruction. This teaching was no play nor routine, but strict, sincere and affectionate. The part of each of the class is as important as that of the master. They are like the base-ball players, to whom the pitcher, the bat, the catcher and the scout are equally important. And Plutarch thought, with Ariston, " that neither a bath nor a lecture served any purpose, unless they were purgative." Plutarch has such a keen pleasure in realities that he has none in verbal disputes; he is impatient of sophistry, and despises the Epicharmian disputations : as, that he who ran in debt yesterday owes nothing to-day, as being another man ; so, he that was yesterday invited to supper, the next night comes an unbidden guest, for that he is quite an-other person.

Except as historical curiosities, little can be said in behalf of the scientific value of the " Opinions of the Philosophers," the " Questions " and the Symposiacs.'' They are, for the most part, very crude opinions ; many of them so puerile that one would believe that Plutarch in his haste adopted the notes of his younger auditors, some of them jocosely misreporting the dogma of the professor, who laid them aside as memoranda for future revision, which he never gave, and they were posthumously published. Now and then there are hints of superior science. You may cull from this record of barbarous guesses of shepherds and travellers, statements that are predictions of facts established in modern science. Usually, when Thales, Anaximenes or Anaximandor are quoted, it is really a good judgment. The explanation of the rainbow, of the floods of the Nile, and of the remora, etc., are just : and the bad guesses are not worse than many of Lord Bacon's.

His Natural History is that of a lover and poet, and not of a physicist. His humanity stooped affectionately to trace the virtues which he loved in the animals also. " Knowing and not knowing is the affirmative or negative of the dog ; knowing you is to be your friend; not knowing you, your enemy." He quotes Thueydides' saying that " not the desire of honor only never grows old, but much less also the inclination to society and affection to the State, which continue even in ants and bees to the very last."

But, though curious in the questions of the schools on the nature and genesis of things, his extreme interest in every trait of character, and his broad humanity, lead him constantly to Morals, to the study of the Beautiful and Good. Hence his love of heroes, his rule of life, and his clear convictions of the high destiny of the soul. La Harpe said that " Plutarch is the genius the most naturally moral that ever existed."

'T is almost inevitable to compare Plutarch with Seneca, who, born fifty years earlier, was for many years his contemporary, though they never met, and their writings were perhaps unknown to each other. Plutarch is genial, with an endless interest in all human and divine things ; Seneca, a professional philosopher, a writer of sentences, and, though he keep a sublime path, is less interesting, because less humane ; and when we have shut his book, we forget to open it again. There is a certain violence in his opinions, and want of sweetness. He lacks the sympathy of Plutarch. He is tiresome through perpetual didactics. e is not happily living. Cannot the simple lover of truth enjoy the virtues of those he meets, and the virtues suggested by them, so to find himself at some time purely con-tented ? Seneca was still more a man of the world than Plutarch ; and, by his conversation with the Court of Nero, and his own skill, like Voltaire's, of living with men of business and emulating their address in affairs by great accumulation of his own property, learned to temper his philosophy with facts. He ventured far, – apparently too far, – for so keen a conscience as he inly had. Yet we owe to that wonderful moralist illustrious maxims ; as if the scarlet vices of the times of Nero had the natural effect of driving virtue to its loftiest antagonisms. " Seneca," says L'Estrange, " was a pagan Christian, and is very good reading for our Christian pagans." He was Buddhist in his cold abstract virtue, with a certain impassibility beyond humanity. He called pity, " that fault of narrow souls." Yet what noble words we owe to hint : " God divided man into men, that they might help each other ; " and again, " The good man differs from God in nothing but duration." His thoughts are excellent, if only be had the right to say them. Plutarch, meantime, with every virtue under heaven, thought it the top of wisdom to philosophize yet not appear to do it, and to reach in mirth the same ends which the most serious are proposing.

Plutarch thought " truth to be the greatest good that man can receive, and the goodliest blessing that God can give." " When you are persuaded in your mind that you cannot either offer or per-form anything more agreeable to the gods than the entertaining a right notion of them, you will then avoid superstition as a no less evil than atheism." He cites Euripides to affirm, " If gods do aught dishonest, they are no gods," and the memorable words of Antigone, in Sophocles, concerning the moral sentiment : –

" For neither now nor yesterday began
These thoughts, which have been ever, nor yet can
A man be found who their first entrance knew."

His faith in the immortality of the soul is an-other measure of his deep humanity. He reminds his friends that the Delphic oracles have given several answers the same in substance as that formerly given to Corax the Naxian : –

" It sounds profane impiety
To teach that human souls e'er die."

He believes that the doctrine of the Divine Providence, and that of the immortality of the soul, rest on one and the same basis. He thinks it impossible either that a man beloved of the gods should not be happy, or that a wise and just man should not be beloved of the gods. To him the Epicureans are hateful, who held that the soul perishes when it is separated from the body. " The soul, incapable of death, suffers in the same manner in the body, as birds that are kept in a cage." He believes that the souls of infants pass immediately into a better and more divine state."

I can easily believe that an anxious soul may find in Plutarch's chapter called " Pleasure not attainable by Epicurus," and his "Letter to his Wife Timoxena," a more sweet and reassuring argument on the immortality than in the Ph�do of Plato ; for Plutarch always addresses the question on the human side, and not on the :metaphysical ; as Walter Scott took hold of boys and young men, in England and America, and through them of their fathers. His grand perceptions of duty lead him to his stern delight in heroism; a stoic resistance to low indulgence ; to a fight with fortune ; a regard for truth ; his love of Sparta, and of heroes like Aristides, Phocion and Cato. He insists that the highest good is in action. He thinks that the in-habitants of Asia came to be vassals to one, only for not having been able to pronounce one syllable ; which is, No. So keen is his sense of allegiance to right reason, that he makes a fight against For-tune whenever she is named. At Rome he thinks her wings were clipped : she stood no longer on a ball, but on a cube as large as Italy. He thinks it was by superior virtue that Alexander won his battles in Asia and Africa, and the Greeks theirs against Persia.

But this Stoic in his fight with Fortune, with vices, effeminacy and indolence, is gentle as a woman when other strings are touched. He is the most amiable of men. " To erect a trophy in the soul against anger is that which none but a great and victorious puissance is able to achieve." – " Anger turns the mind out of doors, and bolts the door." He has a tenderness almost to tears when he writes on "Friendship," on the Training of Children," and on the '' Love of Brothers." " There is no treasure," he says, " parents can give to their children, like a brother; 't is a friend given by nature, a gift nothing can supply; once lost, not to be replaced. The Arcadian prophet, of whom Herodotus speaks, was obliged to make a wooden foot in place of that which had been chopped off. A brother, embroiled with his brother, going to seek in the street a stranger who can take his place, resembles him who will cut off his foot to give himself one of wood."

All his judgments are noble. He thought, with Epicurus, that it is more delightful to do than to receive a kindness. " This courteous, gentle, and benign disposition and behavior is not so accept-able, so obliging or delightful to any of those with whom we converse, as it is to those who have it." There is really no limit to his bounty : " It would be generous to lend our eyes and ears, nay, if possible, our reason and fortitude to others, whilst we are idle or asleep." His excessive and fanciful humanity reminds one of Charles Lamb, whilst it much exceeds him. When the guests are gone, he " would leave one lamp burning, only as a sign of the respect he bore to fires, for nothing so resembles an animal as fire. It is moved and nourished by itself, and by its brightness, like the soul, discovers and makes everything apparent, and in its quenching shows some power that seems to proceed from a vital principle, for it makes a noise and resists, like an animal dying, or violently slaughtered; and he praises the Romans, who, when the feast was over, " dealt well with the lamps, and did not take away the nourishment they had given, but permitted them to live and shine by it."

I can almost regret that the learned editor of the present republication has not preserved, if only as a piece of history, the preface of Mr. Morgan, the editor and in part writer of this Translation of 1718. In his dedication of the work to the Arch-bishop of Canterbury, Wm. Wake, he tells the Primate that " Plutarch was the wisest man of his age, and, if he had been a Christian, one of the best too; but it was his severe fate to, flourish in those clays of ignorance, which, 't is a favorable opinion to hope that the Almighty will sometime wink at; that our souls may be with these philosophers together in the same state of bliss." The puzzle in the worthy translator's mind between his theology and his reason well reappears iii the puzzle of his sentence.

I know that the chapter of " Apothegms of Noble Commanders " is rejected by some critics as not a genuine work of Plutarch ; but the matter is good, and is so agreeable to his taste and genius, that if he had found it, he would have adopted it. If he did not compile the piece, many, perhaps most of the anecdotes were already scattered in his works. If I do not lament that a work not his should be ascribed to him. I regret that he should have suffered such destruction of his own. What a trilogy is lost to mankind in his Lives of Scipio, Epaminondas, and Pindar!

His delight in magnanimity and self-sacrifice has made his books, like Homer"s Iliad, a bible for heroes ; and wherever the Cid is relished, the leg-ends of Arthur, Saxon Alfred and Richard the Lion-hearted, Robert Bruce, Sydney, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Cromwell, Nelson, Bonaparte, and Walter Scott's Chronicles in prose or verse,- there will Plutarch, who told the story of Leonidas, of Agesilaus, of Aristides, Phocion, Themistocles, Demosthenes, Epaminondas, Caesar, Cato and the rest, sit as the bestower of the crown of noble knighthood, and laureate of the ancient world.

The chapters " On the Fortune of Alexander," in the " Morals," are an important appendix to the portrait in the "Lives." The union in Alexander of sublime courage with the refinement of his pure tastes, making him the carrier of civilization into the East, are in the spirit of the ideal hero, and endeared him to Plutarch. That prince kept Homer's poems not only for himself under his pillow in his tent, but carried these for the delight of the Persian youth, and made them acquainted also with time tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles. He persuaded the Sogdians not to kill, but to cherish their aged parents ; the Persians to reverence, not marry their mothers ; the Seythians to bury and not eat their dead parents. What a fruit and fitting monument of his best days was his city Alexandria, to be the birthplace or home of Plotinus, St. Augustine, Synesius, Posidonius, Ammonius, Jamblicus, Porphyry, Origen, Aratus, Apollonius and Apuleius.

If Plutarch delighted in heroes, and held the balance between the severe Stoic and the indulgent Epicurean, his humanity shines not less in his intercourse with his personal friends. He was a genial host and guest, and delighted in bringing chosen companions to the supper-table. He knew the laws of conversation and the laws of good-fellowship quite as well as Horace, and has set them down with such candor and grace as to make them. good reading to-day. The guests not invited to a private board by the entertainer, but introduced by a guest as his companions, the Greek called shadows; and the question is debated whether it was civil to bring them, and he treats it candidly, but concludes: "Therefore, when I make an invitation, since it is hard to break the custom of the place, I give my guests leave to bring shadows ; but w hen I myself am invited as a shadow, I assure you I re-fuse to go." He has an objection to the introduction of music at feasts. He thought it wonderful that a man having a muse in his own breast, and all the pleasantness that would fit an entertainment, would have pipes and harps play, and by that external noise destroy all the sweetness that was proper and his own.

I cannot close these notes without expressing my sense of the valuable service which the Editor has rendered to his Author and to his readers. Professor Goodwin is a silent benefactor to the book, wherever I have compared the editions. I did not know how careless and vicious in parts the old book was, until, in recent reading of the old text, on coming on anything absurd or unintelligible, I referred to the new text and found a clear and ac. curate statement in its place. It is the vindication of Plutarch. The correction is not only of names of authors and of places grossly altered or misspelled, but of unpardonable liberties taken by the translators, whether from negligence or freak.

One proof of Plutarch's skill as a writer is that he bears translation so well. In spite of its carelessness and manifold faults, which, I doubt not, have tried the patience of its present learned editor and corrector, I yet confess my enjoyment of this old version, for its vigorous English style. The work of some forty or fifty University men, some of them imperfect in their Greek, it is a monument of the English language at a period of singular vigor and freedom of style. I hope the Commission of the Philological Society iii London, charged with the duty of preparing a Critical Dictionary, will not overlook these volumes, which show the wealth of their tongue to greater advantage than many books of more renown as models. It runs through the whole scale of conversation in the street, the market, the coffee-house, the law courts, the palace, the college and the church. There are, no doubt, many vulgar phrases, and many blunders of the printer ; but it is the speech of business and conversation, and in every tone, from lowest to highest.

We owe to these translators many sharp perceptions of the wit and humor of their author, sometimes even to the adding of the point. I notice one, which, although the translator has justified his rendering in a note, the severer criticism of the Editor has not retained. " Were there not a sun, we might, for all the other stars, pass our days in the Reverend Dark, as Heraclitus calls it." I find a humor in the phrase which might well excuse its doubtful accuracy.

It is a service to our Republic to publish a book that can force ambitious young men, before they mount the platform of the county conventions, to read the "Laconic Apothegms" and the "Apothegms of Great Commanders." If we could keep the secret, and communicate it only to a few chosen aspirants, we might confide that, by this noble in-filtration. they would easily carry the victory over all competitors. But, as it was the desire of these old patriots to fill with their majestic spirit all Sparta or Rome, and not a few leaders only, we hasten to offer them to the American people.

Plutarch's popularity will return in rapid cycles. If over-read iii this decade, so that his anecdotes and opinions become commonplace, and today's novelties are sought for variety, his sterling values will presently recall the eye and thought of the best minds, and his books will be reprinted and read anew by coming generations. And thus Plutarch will be perpetually rediscovered from time to time as long as books last.

Complete Works of RWE X - Lectures and Biographical Sketches

The Scholar


For thought, and not praise,
Thought is the wages
For which I sell days,
Will gladly sell ages
And willing grow old,
Deaf and dumb, blind and cold,
Melting matter into dreams,
Panoramas which I saw,
And whatever glows or seems
Into substance, into Law.

Tun sun and moon shall fall amain
Like sowers' seeds into his brain,
There quickened to be born again



The Athenians took an oath, on a certain crisis in their affairs, to esteem wheat, the vine and the olive the bounds of Attica. The territory of scholars is yet larger. A stranger but yesterday to every person present, I find myself already at home, for the society of lettered men is a university which does not bound itself with the walls of one cloister or college, but gathers-in the distant and solitary student into its strictest amity. Literary men gladly acknowledge these ties which find for the homeless and the stranger a welcome where least looked for. But in proportion as we are conversant with the laws of life, we have seen the like. We are used to these surprises. This is but one operation of a more general law. As in coming among strange faces we find that the love of letters makes us friends, so in strange thoughts, in the worldly habits which harden us, we find with some surprise that learning and truth and beauty have not let us go ; that the spiritual nature is too strong for us ; that those excellent influences which men in all ages have called the Muse, or by some kindred name, come in to keep us warm and true ; that the face of Nature remains irresistibly alluring. We have strayed from the territorial monuments of Attica, but here still are wheat and olives and the vine.

I do not now refer to that intellectual conscience which forms itself in tender natures, and gives us many- twinges for our sloth and unfaithfulness: — the influence I speak of is of a higher strain. Stung by this intellectual conscience, we go to measure our tasks as scholars, and screw ourselves up to energy and fidelity, and our sadness is suddenly overshone by a sympathy of blessing. Beauty, the inspirer, the cheerful festal principle, the leader of gods and men, which draws by being beautiful, and not by considerations of advantage, comes in and puts a new face on the world. I think the peculiar office of scholars in a careful and gloomy generation is to be (as the poets were called in the Middle Ages) Professors of the Joyous Science, detectors and delineators of occult symmetries and unpublished beauties; heralds of civility, nobility, learning and wisdom; affirmers of the one law, yet as those who should affirm it in music and dancing ; expressers themselves of that firm and cheerful temper, infinitely removed from sadness, which reigns through the kingdoms of chemistry, vegetation, and animal life. Every natural power exhilarates ; a true talent delights the possessor first. A celebrated musician was wont to say, that men knew not how much more he delighted himself with his playing than he did others; for if they knew, his hearers would rather demand of him than give him a re-ward. The scholar is here to fill others with love and courage by confirming their trust in the love and wisdom which are at the heart of all things ; to affirm noble sentiments ; to hear them wherever spoken, out of the deeps of ages, out of the obscurities of barbarous life, and to republish them : – to untune nobody, but to draw all men after the truth, and to keep men spiritual and sweet.

Language can hardly exaggerate the beatitude of the intellect flowing into the faculties. This is the power that makes the world incarnated in man, and laying again the beams of heaven and earth, setting the north and the south, and the stars in their places. Intellect is the science of metes and bounds ; yet it sees no bound to the eternal proceeding of law forth into nature. All the sciences are only new applications, each translatable into the other, of the one law which his mind is.

This, gentlemen, is the topic on which I shall *Teak, – the natural and permanent function of the Scholar, as he is no permissive or accidental appearance, but an organic agent in nature. He is here to be the beholder of the real ; self-centred amidst the superficial ; here to revere the dominion of a serene necessity and be its pupil and apprentice by tracing everything home to a cause ; here to be sobered, not by the cares of life, as men say, no, but by the depth of his draughts of the cup of immortality.

One is tempted to affirm the office and attributes of the scholar a little the more eagerly, because of a frequent perversity of the class itself. Men are ashamed of their intellect. The men committed by profession as well as by bias to study, the clergy-man, the chemist, the astronomer, the metaphysician, the poet, talk hard and worldly, and share the infatuation of cities. The poet and the citizen perfectly agree in conversation on the wise life. The poet counsels his own son as if he were a merchant. The poet with poets betrays no amiable weakness. They all chime in, and are as inexorable as bankers on the subject of real life. They have no toleration for literature ; art is only a fine word for appearance in default of matter. And they sit white over their stoves, and talk themselves hoarse over the mischief of books and the effeminacy of book-makers. But at a single strain of a bugle out of a grove, or at the dashing among the stones of a brook from the bills; at the sound of some subtle word that falls from the lips of an imaginative person, or even at the reading in solitude of some moving image of a we poet, this grave conclusion is blown out of memory ; the sun shines, and the worlds roll to music, and the poet replaces all this cowardly Self-denial and God-denial of the literary class with the conviction that to one poetic success the world will surrender on its knees. Instantly he casts in his lot with the pearl-diver and the diamond-merchant. Like them he will joyfully lose days and months, and estates and credit, in the profound hope that one restoring, all-rewarding, immense success will arrive at last, which will give him at one bound a universal dominion. And rightly ; for if his wild prayers are granted, if he is to succeed, his achievement is the piercing of the brass heavens of use and limitation, and letting in a beam of the pure eternity which burns up this limbo of shadows and chimeras in which we dwell. Yes, Nature is too strong fer us ; she will not be denied ; she has balsams for our hurts, and hellebores for our insanities. She does not bandy words with us, but comes in with a new ravishing experience and makes the old time ridiculous. Every poet knows the unspeakable hope, and represents its audacity.

I am not disposed to magnify temporary differences, but for the moment it appears as if in former times learning and intellectual accomplishments had secured to the possessor greater rank and authority. If this were only the reaction from excessive expectations from literature, now disappointed, it were a just censure. It was superstitious to exact too much from philosophers and the literary class. The Sophists, the Alexandrian grammarians, the wits of Queen Anne's, the philosophers and diffusion-societies have not much helped us. Granted, freely granted. Men run out of one superstition into an opposite superstition, and practical people in America give themselves wonderful airs. The cant of the time inquires superciliously after the new ideas; it believes that ideas do not lead to the owning of stocks ; they are perplexing and effeminating.

Young men, I warn you against the clamors of these self-praising frivolous activities, – against these busy-bodies ; against irrational labor; against chattering, meddlesome, rich and official people. If their doing came to any good end ! Action is legitimate and good ; forever be it honored ! right, original, private, necessary action, proceeding new from the heart of man, and going forth to beneficent and as yet incalculable ends. Yes ; but not a petty fingering and running, a senseless repeating of yesterday's fingering and running ; an accepts ance of the method and frauds of other men; an overdoing and busyness which pretends to the honors of action, but resembles the twitches of St. Vitus. The action of these men I cannot respect, for they do not respect it themselves. They were better and more respectable abed and asleep. All the best of this class, all who have any insight or generosity of spirit are frequently disgusted, and fain to put it behind them.

Gentlemen, I do not wish to check your impulses to action : I would not hinder you of one swing of your arm. I do not wish to see you effeminate gownsmen, taking hold of the world with the tips of your fingers, or that life should be to you as it is to many, optical, not practical. Far otherwise : I rather wish you to experiment boldly and give play to your energies, but not, if I could prevail with you, in conventional ways. I should wish your energy to run in works and emergencies growing out of your personal character. Nature will fast enough instruct you in the occasion and the need, and will bring to each of you the crowded hour, the great opportunity. Love, Rectitude, everlasting Fame, will come to each of you in loneliest places with their grand alternatives, and Honor watches to see whether you dare seize the palms.

I have no quarrel with action, only I prefer no action to misaction, and I reject the abusive application of the term practical to those lower activities. Let us hear no more of the practical men, or I will tell you something of them, – this, namely, that the scholar finds in them unlooked-for acceptance of his most paradoxical experience. There is confession in their eyes, and if they parade their business and public importance, it is by way of apology and palliation for not being the students and obeyers of those diviner laws. Talk frankly with them and you learn that you have little to tell them ; that the Spirit of the Age has been before you with influences impossible to parry or resist. The dry-goods men, and the brokers, the lawyers and the manufacturers are idealists, and only differ from the philosopher in the intensity of the charge. We are all contemporaries and bones of one body.

The shallow clamor against theoretic men comes from the weak. Able men may sometimes affect a contempt for thought, which no able man ever feels. For what alone in the history of this world interests all men in proportion as they are men? 11-hat but truth, and perpetual advance in knowledge of it, and brave obedience to it in right action? Every man or woman who can voluntarily or involuntarily give them any insight or suggestion on these secrets they will hearken after. The poet writes his verse on a scrap of paper, and instantly the desire and love of all mankind take charge of it, as if it were Holy Writ. What need has he to cross the sill of his door ? Why need he meddle with politics ? His idlest thought, his yesternight's dream is told already in the Senate. What the Genius whispered him at night he re-ported to the young men at (lawn. He rides in them, he traverses sea and land. The engineer in the locomotive is waiting for him ; the steamboat is hissing at the wharf, and the wheels whirling to go. 'T is wonderful, 't is almost scandalous, this extraordinary favoritism shown to poets. I do not mean to excuse it. I admit the enormous partiality. It only shows that such is the gulf between our perception and our painting, the eye is so wise, and the hand so clumsy, that all the human race have agreed to value a man according to his power of expression. For him arms, art, politics, trade waited like menials, until the lord of the manor should arrive. Even the demonstrations of nature for millenniums seem not to have attained their end, until this interpreter arrives. " I," said the great-hearted Kepler, " may well wait a hundred years for a reader, since God Almighty has waited six thousand years for an observer like myself."

Genius is a poor man and has no house, but see, this proud landlord who has built the palace and furnished it so delicately, opens it to him and beseeches him to make it honorable by entering there and eating bread. Where is the palace in England whose tenants are not too happy if it can make a home for Pope or Addison or Swift or Burke or Canning or Tennyson? Or if wealth has humors and wishes to shake off the yoke and assert itself, – oh, by all means let it try ! Will it build its fences very high, and make its Almancks too narrow for a wise man to enter? Will it be independent? I incline to concede the isolation which it asks, that it may learn that it is not independent but parasitical.

There could always be traced, in the most barbarous tribes, and also in the most character-destroying civilization, some vestiges of a faith in genius, as in the exemption of a priesthood or bards or artists from taxes and tolls levied on other men; or in civic distinction ; or in enthusiastic homage ; or in hospitalities ; as if men would signify their sense that genius and virtue should not pay money for house and land and bread, because they have a royal right in these and in all things, – a first mortgage that takes effect before the right of the present proprietor. For they are the First Good, of which Plato affirms that " all things are for its sake, and it is the cause of everything beautiful."

This reverence is the re-establishment of natural order; for as the solidest rocks are made up of in-visible gases, as the world is made of thickened light and arrested electricity, so men know that ideas are the parents of men and things; there was never anything that did not proceed from a thought. The scholar has a deep ideal interest in the moving show around him. He knew the motley system in its egg. We have – have we not ? – a real relation to markets and brokers and currency and coin. " Gold and silver," says one of the Platonists grow in the earth from the celestial gods, – an effluxion from them." The unmentionable dollar itself has at last a high origin in moral and meta-physical nature. Union Pacific stock is not quite private property, but the quality and essence of the universe is in that also. Have we less interest in ships or in shops, in manual work or in household affairs ; in any object of nature, or in any handiwork of man ; in any relation of life or custom of society ? The scholar is to show, in each, identity and connexion ; he is to show its origin in the brain of man, and its secret history and issues. He is the attorney of the world, and can never be superfluous where so vast a variety of questions are ever coming up to be solved, and for ages.

I proceed to say that the allusions just now made to the extent of his duties, the manner in which every day's events will find him in work, may show that. his place is no sinecure. The scholar, when he comes, will be known by an energy that will animate all who see him. The labor of ambition and avarice will appear fumbling beside his. In the right hands, literature is not resorted to as a consolation, and by the broken and decayed, but as a decalogue. In this country we are fond of results and of short ways to them ; and most in this department. In our experiences, learning is not learned, nor is genius wise. The name of the Scholar is taken in vain. We who should be the channel of that unweariable Power which never sleeps, must give our diligence no holidays. Other men are planting and building, baking and tanning, running and sailing, heaving and carrying, each that he may peacefully execute the fine function by which they all are helped. Shall he play, whilst their eyes follow him from far with reverence, attributing to him the delving in great fields of thought, and conversing with supernatural allies? If he is not kindling his torch or collecting oil, he will fear to go by a workshop ; he will not dare to hear the music of a saw or plane the steam-engine will reprimand, the steam-pipe will hiss at him he cannot look a blacksmith in the eye ; the field he will be shamed by mowers and reapers. The speculative man, the scholar, is the right hero. He is brave, because he sees the omnipotence of that which inspires him. Is there only one courage and one warfare? I cannot manage sword and rifle ; can I not therefore be brave ? I thought there were as many courages as men. Is an armed man the only hero ? Is a man only the breech of a gun or the haft of a bowie-knife ? Men of thought fail in fighting down malignity, because they wear other armor than their own. Let them decline henceforward foreign methods and foreign cont., ages. Let them do that which they can do. Let them fight by their strength, not by their weakness. It seems to me that the thoughtful man needs no armor but this – concentration. One thing is for him settled. that he is to come at his ends. He is not there to defend himself, but to deliver his message; if his voice is clear, then clearly ; if husky, then huskily: if broken, he can at least scream ; gag him, he can still write it ; bruise, mutilate him, cut off his hands and feet, he can still crawl towards his object on his stamps. It is the corruption of our generation that men value a long life, and do not esteem life simply as a means of expressing a sentiment.

The great English patriot Algernon Sidney wrote to his father from his prison a little before his execution : " I have ever had in my mind that when God should east me into such a condition as that I cannot save my life but by doing an indecent thing he shows me the time has come when I should resign it." Beauty belongs to the sentiment, and is always departing from those who depart out of that. The hero rises out of all comparison with contemporaries and with ages of men, because he disesteems old age, and lands, and money, and power, and will oppose all mankind at the call of that private and perfect Right and Beauty in which he lives.

Man is a torch borne in the wind. The ends 1 have hinted at made the scholar or spiritual man indispensable to the Republic or Commonwealth of Man. Nature could not leave herself without a seer and expounder. But he could not see or teach without organs. The same necessity then that would create him reappears in his splendid gifts. There is no power in the mind but in turn becomes an instrument. The descent of genius into talents is part of the natural order and history of the world. The incarnation must be. We cannot cat the granite nor drink hydrogen. They must be de-compounded and re-compounded into corn and water before they can enter our flesh. There is a great deal of spiritual energy in the universe, but it is not palpable to us until we can make it up into man. There is plenty of air, but it is worth nothing until by gathering it into sails we can get it into shape and service to carry us and our cargo across the sea. Then it is paid for by hundreds of thousands of our money. Plenty of water also, sea full. sky full ; who cares for it ? But when we can get it where we want it, and in measured portions, on a mill-wheel, or boat-paddle, we will buy it with millions. There is plenty of wild azote and carbon unappropriated, but it is nought till we have made it up into loaves and soup. So we find it in higher relations. There is plenty of wild wrath, but it steads not until we can get it racked off, shall I say ? and bottled into persons ; a little pure, and not too much, to every head. How many young geniuses we have known, and none but ourselves will ever hear of them for want in them of a little talent!

Ah, gentlemen, I own I love talents and accomplishments ; the feet and hands of genius. As Burke said, " it is not only our duty to make the right known, but to make it prevalent." So I de-light to see the Godhead in distribution to see men that can come at their ends. These shrewd faculties belong to man. I love to see them in play, and to see them trained : this memory carrying in its caves the pictures of all the past, and rendering them in the instant when they can serve the possessor ; – the craft of mathematical combination, which carries a working-plan of the heavens and of the earth in a formula. I am apt to believe, with the Emperor Charles V., that " as many languages as a man knows, so many times is he a man." I like to see a man of that virtue that no obscurity or disguise can conceal, who wins all souls to his way of thinking. I delight in men adorned and weaponed with u. unlike arts, who could alone, or with a few like them, reproduce Europe and America, the result of our civilization.

It is excellent when the individual is ripened to that degree that he touches both the centre and the circumference, so that he is not only widely intelligent, but carries a council in his breast for the emergency of to-day ; and alternates the contemplation of the fact in pure intellect, with the total conversion of the intellect into energy ; Jove, and the thunderbolt launched from his hand. Perhaps I value power of achievement a little more because in America there seems to be a certain indigence in this respect. I think there is no more intellectual people than ours. They are very apprehensive and curious. lint there is a sterility of talent. These iron personalities, such as in Greece and Italy and once in England were funned to strike fear into kings and draw the eager service of thousands, rarely appear. We have general intelligence, but no Cyclop arms. A very little intellectual force makes a disproportionately great impression, and when one observes how eagerly our people entertain and discuss a new theory, whether home-born or imported, and how little thought operates how great an effect, one would draw a favorable inference as to their intellectual and spiritual tendencies. It seems as if two or three persons coining who should add to a high spiritual aim great constructive energy, would carry the country with them.

In making this claim of costly accomplishments for the scholar, I chiefly wish to infer the dignity of his work by the lustre of his appointments. He is not cheaply equipped. The universe was rifled to furnish him. He is to forge out of coarsest ores the sharpest weapons. But if the weapons are valued for themselves, if his talents assume an independence, and come to work for ostentation, they cannot serve him. It was said of an eminent Frenchman, that " he was drowned in his talents." The peril of every fine faculty is the delight of playing with it for pride. Talent is commonly developed at the expense of character, and the greater it grows, the more is the mischief and misleading ; so that presently all is wrong, talent is mistaken for genius, a dogma or system for truth, ambition for greatness, ingenuity for poetry, sensuality for art; and the young, coming up with innocent hope, and looking around them at education, at the professions and employments, at religious and literary teachers and teaching, -finding that nothing outside corresponds to the noble order in the soul, are confused, and become skeptical and forlorn. Hope is taken from youth unless there be, by the grace of God, sufficient vigor in their instinct to say, " All is wrong and human invention. I declare anew from Heaven that truth exists new and beautiful and profitable forevermore." Order is heaven's first law. These gifts, these senses, these facilities are excel-lent as long as subordinated ; all wasted and mischievous when they assume to lead and not obey. What is the use of strength or cunning or beauty, or musical voice, or birth, or breeding, or money, to a maniac ? Yet society, in which we live, is subject to fits of frenzy ; sometimes is for an age to. gether a maniac, with birth, breeding, beauty, cunning, strength and money. And there is but one defence against this principle of chaos, and that is the principle of order, or brave return at all hours to an infinite common-sense, to the mother-wit, to the wise instinct, to the pure intellect.

When a man begins to dedicate himself to a particular function, as his logical, or his remembering, or his oratorical. or his arithmetical skill : the advance of his character and genius pauses ; he has run to the end of his line ; seal the book ; the development of that mind is arrested. The scholar is lost in the showman. Society is babyish, and is dazzled and deceived by the weapon, without inquiring into the cause for which it is drawn ; like boys by the drums and colors of the troops.

The objection of men of the world to what they call the morbid intellectual tendency in our young men at present, is not a hostility to their truth, but to this, its shortcoming, that the idealistic views unfit their children for business in their sense, and do not qualify them for any complete life of a better kind. They threaten the validity of contracts, but do not prevail so far as to establish the new kingdom which shall supersede contracts, oaths, and property. " We have seen to weariness what you cannot do ; now show us what you can and will do," asks the practical man, and with perfect reason.

We are not afraid of new truth, – of truth never, new, or old, – no, but of a counterfeit. Everybody hates imbecility and shortcoming, not new methods. The astronomer is not ridiculous inasmuch as he is an astronomer, but inasmuch as he is not an astronomer. Be that you are : be that cheerly and sovereignly. Plotinus makes no apologies, he says roundly, "the knowledge of the senses is truly ludicrous." " Body and its properties belong to the region of nonentity, as if more of body was necessarily produced where a defect of being happens in a greater degree." " Matter," says Plutarch, " is privation." Let the man of ideas at this hour be as direct, and as fully committed. Have you a thought in your heart ? There was never such need of it as now. As we read the newspapers, as we see the effrontery with which money and power carry their ends and ride over honesty and good-meaning, patriotism and religion seem to shriek like ghosts. We will not speak for them, because to speak for them seems so weak and hopeless. We will hold fast our opinion and die in silence. But a true orator will make us feel that the states and kingdoms, the senators, lawyers and rich men are caterpillars' webs and caterpillars, when seen in the light of this despised and imbecile truth. Then we feel what cowards we have been. Truth alone is great. The orator too becomes a fool and a shadow before this light which lightens through him. It shines backward and forward, diminishes and annihilates everybody, and the prophet so gladly feels his personality lost in this victorious life. The spiritual nature exhibits itself so in its counteraction to any accumulation of material force. There is no mass that can be a counter-weight for it. This makes one man good against mankind. This is the secret of eloquence, for it is the end of eloquence in a half-hour's discourse, – perhaps by a few sentences, – to persuade a multitude of persons to renounce their opinions, and change the course of life. They go forth not the men they came in, but shriven, convicted, and converted.

We have many revivals of religion. We have had once what was called the Revival of Letters. I wish to see a revival of the human mind : to see men's sense of duty extend to the cherishing and use of their intellectual powers : their religion should go with their thought and hallow it. Whosoever looks with heed into his thoughts will find that our science of the mind has not got far. He will find there is somebody within him that knows more than he does, a certain dumb life in life ; a simple wisdom behind all acquired wisdom ; some-what not educated or educable ; not altered or alterable ; a mother-wit which does not learn by experience or by books, but knew it all already ; makes no progress, but was wise in youth as in age. More or less clouded it yet resides the same in all, saying Ay, ay, or No, no to every proposition. Yet its grand Ay and its grand No are more musical than all eloquence. Nobody has found the limit of its knowledge. Whatever object is brought be-fore it is already well known to it. Its justice is perfect ; its look is catholic and universal, its light ubiquitous like the sun. It does not put forth organs, it rests in presence : yet trusted and obeyed in happy natures it becomes active and salient, and makes new means for its great ends.

The scholar then is unfurnished who has only literary weapons. He ought to have as many talents as he can ; memory, arithmetic, practical power, manners, temper, lion-heart, are all good things, and if he has none of them he can still manage, if he have the main-mast, – if he is anything. But he must have the resource of resources, and be planted on necessity. For the sure months are bringing him to an examination-day in which nothing is remitted or excused, and for which no tutor, no book, no lectures, and almost no preparation. can be of the least avail. He will have to answer certain questions, which, I must plainly tell you, cannot be staved off. For all men, all women, Time, your country, your condition, the invisible world, are the interrogators : Who are your? What do you ? Can you obtain what you wish ?
there method in your consciousness? Can you see tendency in your life ? Can you help any soul?

Can he answer these questions? can he dispose of them ? Happy if you can answer them mutely in the order and disposition of your life ! Happy for more than yourself, a benefactor of mien, if you can answer them in works of wisdom, art, or poetry; bestowing on the general mind of men organic creations, to be the guidance and delight of all who know them. These questions speak to Genius, to that power which is underneath and greater than all talent, and which proceeds out of the constitution of every man : to Genius, which is an emanation of that it tells of ; whose private counsels are not tinged with selfishness, but are laws. Men of talent fill the eye with their pretension. They go out into some camp of their own, and noisily persuade society that this thing which they do is the needful cause of all men. They have talents for contention, and they nourish a small difference into a loud quarrel. But the world is wide, nobody will go there after to-morrow. The gun they have pointed can defend nothing but itself, nor itself any longer than the man is by. What is the use of artificial positions? But Genius has no taste for weaving sand, or for any trifling, but flings itself on real elemental things, which are powers, self-defensive ; which first subsist, and then resist unweariably forevermore all that opposes. Genius has truth and clings to it, so that what it says and does is not in a by-road, visited only by curiosity, but on the great highways of nature, which were before the Appian Way, and which all souls must travel. Genius delights only in statements which are them-selves true, which attack and wound any who opposes them, whether he who brought them here re-mains here or not which are live men, and do daily declare fresh war against all falsehood and custom, and will not let an offender go ; which society cannot dispose of or forget, but which abide there and will not down at anybody's bidding, but stand frowning and formidable, and will and must be finally obeyed and done.

The scholar must be ready for bad weather, poverty, insult, weariness, repute of failure, and many vexations. He must have a great patience, and ride at anchor and vanquish every enemy whom his small arms cannot reach, by the grand resistance of submission, of ceasing to do. be is to know that in the last resort be is not here to work, but to be worked upon. IIe is to eat insult, drink insult, be clothed and shod in insult until he has learned that this bitter bread and shameful dress is also whole-some and warm, is in short indifferent; is of the same chemistry as praise and fat living ; that they also are disgrace and soreness to him who has them. I think much may be said to discourage and dissuade the young scholar from his career. Freely be that said. Dissuade all you can from the lists. Sift the wheat, frighten away the lighter souls. Let us keep only the heavy-armed. Let those come who cannot but come, and who see that there is no choice here, no advantage and no disadvantage compared with other careers. For the great Necessity is our patron, who distributes sun and shade after immutable laws.

Yes, he has his dark days, he has weakness, he has waitings, he has bad company, he is pelted by storms of cares, untuning cares, untuning company. Well, let him meet them. He has not consented to the frivolity, nor to the dispersion. The practical aim is forever higher than the literary aim. He shall not submit to degradation, but shall bear these crosses with what grace he can. be is still to decline how many glittering opportunities, and to re-treat, and wait. So shall you find in this penury and absence of thought a purer splendor than ever clothed the exhibitions of wit. I invite you not to cheap joys, to the flutter of gratified vanity, to a sleek and rosy comfort ; no, but to bareness, to power, to enthusiasm, to the mountain of vision, to true and natural supremacy, to the society of the great, and to love. Give me bareness and poverty so that I know them as the sure heralds of the Muse. Not in plenty, not in a thriving, well-to-do condition, she delighteth. He that would sacrifice at her altar must not leave a few flowers, an apple, or some symbolic gift. No ; he must relinquish or-chants and gardens, prosperity and convenience ; he may live on a heath without trees ; sometimes hungry, and sometimes rheumatic with cold. The fire retreats and concentrates within into a pure flame, pure as the stars to which it mounts.

But, gentlemen, there is plainly no end to these expansions. I have exhausted your patience, and I have only begun. I had perhaps wiselier adhered to my first purpose of confining my illustration to a single topic, but it is so much easier to say many things than to explain one. Well, you will see the drift of all my thoughts, this namely – that the scholar must be much more than a scholar, that his ends give value to every means, but he is to subdue and keep down his methods ; that his use of books is occasional, and infinitely subordinate ; that he should read a little proudly, as one who knows the original, and cannot therefore very highly value the copy. In like manner he is to hold lightly every tradition, every opinion, every person, out of his piety to that Eternal Spirit which dwells unexpressed with him. He shall think very highly of his destiny. He is here to know the secret of Genius ; to become, not a reader of poetry, but Homer, Dante, Milton, Shakspeare, Swedenborg, in the fountain, through that. If one man could impart his faith to another, if I could prevail to communicate the incommunicable mysteries, you should see the breadth of your realm ; – that ever as you ascend your proper and native path, you receive the keys of Nature and history, and rise on the same stairs to science and to joy.