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was cut in two by a hurricane of hisses. "the great modern poet." He said also It was the first time he had ever been" when Nature wants an artist she makes Tennyson." He had read Robert Browning partly only, but with deep interest. "Paracelsus," he said, "is the wail of the nineteenth century."
hissed at Cambridge, or, perhaps, any where; but he seemed scarcely to hear it, and when it was over took up the very next word in the sentence and completed it. There was a certain power in his masterly quietness during this interruption, which had a deep effect; and though the relentless anatomy of the favorite orator proceeded for yet thirty minutes, no other hiss was heard.
From this time the interest of the students in Emerson, increased, and when, soon after, Webster died from grief at having failed to receive the seat in the White House, for which he had betrayed Freedom, I think Emerson and his opinions became the leading themes at the University. During that winter (1852) quite a number of students got together one night and went in sleighs to Concord -some twenty miles-to hear a lecture which he was advertised to deliver there. When we arrived it was found that the lecture had been, for some local reason, postponed. Emerson was, however, much moved at seeing such a train of young men, who had come so far to hear him, and invited them to his house, where the evening was passed in interesting conversation. Emerson then agreed to compensate us by coming down to Cambridge and reading, in one of our rooms, one of his lectures. The arrangement was made, and, besides the students present, there were Longfellow, Lowell, and several other poets. The lecture was on poetry, and the effect of it was electrical. When it was over there was a deep silence which no one seemed willing to break; but Otto Dresel, the first musical artist in America, who was present, went to the piano and gave three of Mendelssohn's Songs without Words-which said all that could be said after which the company separated.
During the ensuing long (summer) vacation I resided at Concord, Mr. Emerson having kindly consented to give me some advice about reading, and offered me the use of his books. He introduced to me then all of the Old English Chronicles, as published by Bohn; Beaumont and Fletcher, and the early English poets; Plato, Bohme, Bhaghavat Geeta, Hafiz, the Desatir, some of the Puranas and the Redekunste (Von Hammer). He did not care much about the modern poets, except Wordsworth, whom he spoke of as
It was during that summer that I first saw A. H. Clough, the English poet, between whom and Mr. Emerson existed a close intellectual sympathy and an intimate acquaintance. Mr. Emerson was the first American who recognized the subtle genius of the young Oxonian, and had advised the publication of the Bothie of Toper-na-Fuosich, which gained such a great popularity in New England twelve or thirteen years ago, a popularity which it has retained. Mr. Clough did not so much find, in America, friends as lovers. There was not one superior person who was not pleased to meet him; and when the tidings came that he was to be married, no box of ordinary size was sufficient to hold the presents that his literary friends were eager to send him. I am anxious to claim, as to the credit of the cultivated circles of American society, that this deep friendship and hearty welcome were extended to one who came so quietly, whose genius was without affectation, and culture without ostentation.
"He had built not fame, but a godlike soul." He did not, however, appear much in society; but could be more frequently seen strolling in the groves at Cambridge, around the residence of his dear friends, Charles Norton and his sisters, or in the woods at Concord, with the one in whom he had long years before recognized a master.
"Nunc non e manibus illis, Nunc non e tumulo, fortunataque favilla Nascuntur violæ ?"
Here, too, came Theodore Parker from the thick of that final battle for free thought which was planned when Luther tore Tetzel's list from the church door. He hit hard, and no blow was too hard for the Unitarians to deal to the man who justified all the taunting prophecies of the orthodox as to the inevitable results of their position. Yet those who were in bitterest antagonism to Parker knew that every poor or wronged man in Boston followed him with a silent benediction as he walked the street. When I was leav
ing Virginia for Massachusetts, a negro | gotten by any who have heard it, and was
After this came the discourse-he never
My reader has by this time seen that the story I am telling is a prickly-pear growth-one leaf budding out from an-tremely rare-there was but one in the other-and will therefore indulge me in a discourse to which I am referring, when few other reminiscences of Parker. I re- his finger pointed to a violet by way of illusmember well the first Sunday on which I tration; for whatever flower was bloomentered the great Music Hall at Boston.ing was sure to be laid on his desk. Plain, There was something triumphal in the direct, calm, without art or flourish, the. scene of the four or five thousand well-vast audience was motionless for whatever dressed and cheerful people gathered in length of time the discourse should occuthat beautiful hall, with its pure white py, and it was almost never less than an walls, and lofty blue ceiling, which al- hour. For in this discourse every word most cheated the eye into believing that was loaded with a thought; there were it was looking through to the sky beyond. masses of information conveyed, there When the choir, which was behind the were interpretations of nature, and a preacher, had sung an anthem from Men- bravery and honesty of statement which delssohn, the grave and even sad-looking were exciting enough without rhetoric. man arose for an utterance which could All this was very powerful, and under scarcely be called a prayer, but was more some passages the people bent as before a like a spoken hymn of thankfulness. He strong wind. began, "Our heavenly Father and our Mother," in a voice which blended, in a most notable degree, earnestness and tenderness-a voice which can never be for
"How happy is he born or taught,
Before such a man, as may be imagined, the casuists of Boston could prevail only among those who would not admit that he should have a hearing. He did not
hold long arguments in controversies, but gave formidable replies in single sentences. He was once accused by Dr. Gannett, before the Ministerial Conference, of using unchristian language concerning Judge Curtis, who belonged to Dr. Gannett's church-that which Dr. Channing once ministered to. Judge Curtis's offense, for which Parker had publicly denounced him, was the vehement effort which he had made to return to slavery William and Ellen Crafts, who had journeyed a thousand miles for freedom, she disguised as a Southern gentleman, her husband being his body-servant. It was this same William Crafts who last year at Newcastle defended, against Dr. Hunt, his right to be considered a man. He and his wife were concealed some days in Parker's study, whilst Parker wrote at the door, with several loaded pistols, and the gun which his father had used in the Revolution, by his side. Curtis, how ever, was about to prevail, when the fugitives were smuggled off to England. Then Parker attacked Curtis, and therefore Dr. Gannett attacked him. In his apology, Parker began, "You see, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, the thing was this: a member of Dr. Gannett's church tried to kidnap two of mine." Under the explosion of laughter which followed this, Dr. Gannett beat a retreat, and the matter ended.
Mr. Parker would respect intellectual honesty wherever he found it. There was an editor in the State of Virginia who boldly maintained slavery on grounds which were then regarded in the South as subversive of many orthodox views, but which Parker believed were the only grounds upon which an intelligent man could base any honest attempt to defend that institution. So he subscribed for the paper and always read it carefully; and indeed such faith had he in the honesty of that editor, that when they both were in Europe, the one as a chargé d'affaires, the other as an invalid, he did not hesitate to make (though he was not in need of friends) a personal request to this very fiery Southerner.
The temper on both sides, in the controversy between him and the Unitarians,
appear in the following facts. When our class at Cambridge, that of 1854, was about to be graduated, the majority of us were, at least, rationalistic, and all had an admiration for Mr. Parker. We had con
cluded' to elect him to deliver the annual discourse at our graduation, an honor which he might naturally have coveted, as indicative of the progress of his opinions. But when we waited on him, he said: "I should rejoice to do it; but the faculty have already been embarrassed by the reputation of your class for religious radicalism, and it is not right to press them further; therefore I decline; get a liberal man less notorious than myself." He then suggested Dr. Furness of Philadelphia, who delivered the address. After us there came a class that cared less about embarrassing the faculty, and which, without consulting Mr. Parker, voted to invite him to deliver the address. The faculty, violating the legal rights of the alumni, refused to allow him to address them. The youths stood their ground, and so there was no address that year, but a silence more eloquent than any thing that had been heard there since Emerson's oration twenty years before.
But I must now follow Parker to Concord, where he came to recover from his wounds by contact with nature-whether represented in the Mayflowers or the Brahmin of the meadows, who could expound
"The Vedas of the violet."
Parker, if he had not been so important to the religious revolution going on in New England, would have been distinguished as a botanist. He knew by heart and by name every plant of New England, and had a tender love for flowers. Their presence always excited him to exaltation. I remember once strolling with him in the woods, when we came across an early violet. He sat down by it and gazed on it for some time in silence. Then he said: "There is a miracle-sense in man which should be respected: man is too near to the divine mystery of existence not to clutch at any thing that seems to declare it. At present men feed that mystic part, that miracle-sense, with church fables, as a man who has not bread will eat grass and berries rather than starve; but when man has got so far as to see God full in that flower, nature will so rise as a miraculous dawn above him, that the legendary night-fires will sink to pale ashes."
In his deep communion with Emerson, the first of men to him, Parker cooled his hot temples, and went back to his fight serene and happy; he came up feeling
But Agassiz was very fond of Concord, where he gave lectures at times, and where he often went to exchange with his friend Emerson the new facts and observations which were always flowing into his world-wide nets, for the philosophical interpretations which with the transcendentalist were always awaiting and anticipating such facts and discoveries. Emerson had a scientific method of the sever
that Boston was a whited sepulcher full
"I have long desired," says Alcott, "to bring my views of creation to the severest scientific test. To me the idea that man is the development from lower orders of beings is a subversion of the truth."
agree with you entirely," exclaims Agassiz, with a somewhat pleased glance at the rest of the company, whom he knew to be inclined to the hypothesis of Darwin.
ton, a crazy Millerite encountered Parker, and cried: "Sir, do you not know that the world is coming to an end?" Upon which Parker replied: "My good man, that doesn't concern me; I live in Boston.' The same fanatic overtaking Emerson, announced in the same terms the approach of the end of the world; upon which Emerson replied: "I am glad of it, sir; man will get along much better without it!" The advent of Agassiz at Cambridge was an important event in connection with the intellectual activity of the country. M. Agassiz was soon instructing the American people, north, south, east, and west. He also made acquaintance with every superior person; and thus the whole nation was put under contribution to furnish him with specimens. Old fishermen on the coasts were found carefully setting aside every fish suspected of any eccentricity, and huntsmen in the far west every peculiar feather, as choice morsels for this distinguished guest of the nation. To the young men at Cambridge, who were his pupils, he was a great assistance, because of his sympathy-amounting to enthusiasm-for every effort at independent investigation. At the end of every week a portion of the afternoon was given to questionings of Agassiz by the students. These became invariably earnest discussions, which lasted until late hours, and always turning upon the origin of species, and showing a tendency to the Darwinian theory, which M. Agassiz must have concluded to be the original depravity of the scientific mind, as I believe there was not a student or professor at Cambridge who did not adopt it. At least once in every fortnight Agassiz would take us to the sea-shore to study geology and zoology. Generally it was at Nahant that we spent such glorious days. It was easy for him to find there, for lecture-desks and charts, rocks veined with mica and hornblende, and beaches strewn with sea-urchins, starfishes, and often rarer forms.
"Yes, sir," continues Alcott, "an exact subversion of the truth. Man, I take it, was the first created being; was he not?"
Agassiz (in some dismay): "I don't know that I exactly understand
Alcott: "Why, it is manifest that God could never have created a miserable, poisonous snake, and filthy vermin, and malignant tigers."
Agassiz (embarrassed): "Well, who could have created them?"
Alcott (seeing with sorrow that Agassiz is as materialistic as the rest): "Must we not conclude that these evil beasts which fill the world are the various forms of human sins? That when man was created they did not exist, but were originated by his lusts and animalisms?
Agassiz (bewildered): "But geology shows that these beasts existed many ages before man."
Alcott: "But may man not have created these things before he appeared in his present form?"
Here Agassiz gave that signal of distress, which in company is unmistakable: he looked at his watch. Emerson came to the rescue when the worthy naturalist was on the brink of despair, and suggested that probably the two would comprehend the positions of each other, if Mr. Alcott's theory were given in more scientific rhetoric. "Doubtless he meant that
man was the primal idea and purpose of standard of culture was indeed high; and nature; that these things which swim, fly, the young people formed themselves into creep, are so many shortcomings of man-classes for the study of languages and oththat is, they fall short of being men at this er branches; but equally celebrated in the or that degree, and thus represent some as surrounding villages, and in Boston, were yet uncontrolled animalism of human na- the Concord pic-nics, theatricals, skatingture. Thus they may be man flying or parties, May festivities, and berryings. creeping; and though as forms they may The philosophers of the village were on be anterior, the type they are trying to re- terms of intimacy with the children, and alize (that is, man) may be anterior to it was a rule there that to their merry exthem; in fact, the type must be in some peditions should be invited "all children sense their creator.' from six to sixty years of age." Hawthorne having removed from the Old Manse, the mirthful fairies have in these last years avenged themselves on the somber spirits of his dynasty by making it the cheerful home of the family of Mrs. Ripley, well known to the naturalists on account of her valuable collection of lichens, and to the Cambridge professors on account of her success in training young men for the University. It is said that a learned gentleman once called to see this lady, and found her hearing at once the lesson of one student in Sophocles, and that of another in Differential Calculus, at the same time rocking her grandchild's cradle with one foot, and shelling peas for dinner-a story not at all incredible, and given here because somewhat characteristic of a class of the women of New-England. The Old Manse gradually became a social heart to the village, in distinction from the philosophical capitol at the other end, with which, however, it was in close alliance.
After this Agassiz had the look of a man who has taken to the sea to avoid a fire (for he suspected some Darwinism in every word of Emerson's); and Alcott had the look of having been cheated, for he did not recognize his scientific summerhouse in Emerson's fabric; while the host, not without some wicked twinklings in his eye, assured the company that faith and science had been reconciled, the conflict of ages ended, and dinner ready.
But the chief attraction to men of science that Concord presented was, that it was the home-so far as he could be said to have any of that strange apparition that bore the name of Thoreau; a man of such wonderful, even unparalleled intimacy with nature, that his biography when it is written will seem like a myth. Of this man, who next to Emerson, is certainly the most notable American product, I have said the least; and this because his life in the woods and the secrets confided to him by nature, merit a separate narrative, which I hope to be able to prepare for English readers.
Once in that neighborhood I met with an unquiet soul, yearning for a higher social condition, which had shaped itself to his mind after the pattern shown by Charles Fourier. "Have you ever heard," I said, "of the child that went about lamenting and searching for the beautiful butterfly which she had lost? The butterfly had softly alighted upon her head, Though Concord has been recognized and sat there while the search went on. as the literary center of America, its soci- May not this fable apply to one who, living ety was far removed from any thing stilt-in Concord, searches as far as France for ed and pretentious in that direction. The a true society?"
"He was Emerson's forest seer,
A minstrel of the natural year,