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lating your eye to see, and your ear to hear, in all the little commonplaces about you, those endlessly changing details which make life everywhere so unfathomably, immeasurably wondrous. For Nature is truly a miracle; and he who will regard her lovingly shall never lack that inspiration which miracles breathe into the spirit of mankind.

Nor is Thoreau's vitality in literature a matter only of his observation. Open his works almost anywhere, — there are ten volumes of them now, - and even in the philosophic passages you will find loving precision of touch.

He was no immortal maker of phrases. Amid bewildering obscurities, Emerson now and again flashed out utterances which may last as long as our language. Thoreau had no such power; but he did possess in higher degree than Emerson himself the power of making sentences and paragraphs artistically beautiful. Read him aloud, and you will find in his work a trait

. like that which we remarked in the cadences of Brockden Brown and of Poe; the emphasis of your voice is bound to fall where meaning demands. An effect like this is attainable only through delicate sensitiveness to rhythm. So when you come to Thoreau's pictures of Nature you have an almost inexhaustible series of verbal sketches in which every touch has the grace of precision. On a large scale, to be sure, his composition falls to pieces; he never troubled himself about a systematically made book, or even a systematic chapter. In mere choice of words, too, he is generally so simple as to seem almost commonplace. But his sentences and paragraphs are often models of art so fine as to seem artless. Take, for example, this well-known passage from “Walden” :

“ Early in May, the oaks, hickories, maples, and other trees, just putting out amidst the pine woods around the pond, imparted a brightness like sunshine to the landscape, especially in cloudy days, as if the sun were breaking through mists and shining faintly on the hillsides here and there. On the third or fourth of May I saw a loon in the pond, and during the first week of the month I heard the whippoorwill, the brown thrasher, the veery, the wood-pewee, the chewink,

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and other birds. I had heard the wood-thrush long before. The phebe had already come once more and looked in at my door and window, to see if my house were cavern-like enough for her, sustaine ing herself on humming wings with clinched talons, as if she held by the air, while she surveyed the premises. The sulphur-like pollen of the pitch-pine soon covered the pond and the stones and the rotten wood along the shore, so that you could have collected a barrelful. This is the 'sulphur showers' we hear of. Even in Calidas' drama of Sacontala, we read of “rills dyed yellow with the golden dust of the lotus.' And so the seasons went rolling on into summer, as one rambles into higher and higher grass." The more you read work like that, the more admirable you will find its artistic form.

With Thoreau's philosophising the case is different. Among Emerson's chief traits was the fact that when he scrutinised the eternities in search of ideal truth, his whole energy was devoted to the act of scrutiny. Vague, then, and bewildering as his phrases may often seem, we are sensible of a feeling that this Emerson is actually contemplating the immensities; and these are so unspeakably vaster than all mankind — not to speak of the single human being who for the moment is striving to point our eyes toward them — that our thoughts again and again concern themselves rather with the truths thus dimly seen than with anything concerning the seer. The glass through which Emerson contemplated the mysteries is achromatic. Now, Thoreau's philosophic speculations so surely appeal to powerful minds who find them sympathetic that we may well admit them to involve more than they instantly reveal to minds not disposed to sympathise. Even their admirers, however, must admit them to be coloured throughout by the unflagging self-consciousness involved in Thoreau's eccentric, harmless life. Perhaps, like Emerson, Thoreau had the true gift of vision ; but surely he could never report his visions in terms which may suffer us to forget himself. The glass which he offers to our eyes is always tinctured with his own disturbing individuality. In spite, then, of the fact that Thoreau was a more conscientious artist than Emerson, this constant obtrusion of his personality ranges him in a lower rank, just as surely as his loving sense of nature ranges him far above the half-foolish egotism of Bronson Alcott.

More and more the emergence of Emerson from his surroundings grows distinct. Like truly great men, whether he was truly great or not, he possessed the gift of such common-sense as saves men from the perversities of eccentricity.

We come now to a fact on which we must lightly touch. When we glanced at the first number of the “ Dial” we remarked that the only advertisement on its cover was that of Mr. Jacob Abbott's “Rollo Books," which remain, with their unconscious humour and art, such admirable pictures of Yankee life about 1840. Twenty-eight years later, Louisa Alcott, the admirably devoted daughter of that minor prophet of Transcendentalism, published a book for girls, called “ Little Women,” which gives almost as artless a picture of Yankee life in the generation which followed Rollo's.

A comparison between these two works is interesting. Comically limited and consciously self-content as the world of Rollo is, it has a refinement which amounts almost to distinction. Whatever you think of the Holiday family and their friends, who may be taken as types of the Yankee middle class just after Gilbert Stuart painted the prosperous gentlemen of Boston, they are not vulgar. The world of “Little Women” is a far more sophisticated world than that of Rollo, a bigger one, a rather braver one, and just as sweet and clean. But ✓ instead of unquestioning self-respect, its personages display that rude self-assertion which has generally tainted the lower middle class of English-speaking countries.

This contrast suggests a contrast between the personal careers of Alcott and of Thoreau and those of the New England men of letters whom we have hitherto mentioned. Whatever their superficial manners, Alcott and Thoreau alike remained in temper what they were born, - farmers' sons,

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men of the people. Emerson and Channing, on the other hand, and the historians and the scholars and the public men of New England, belonged either by birth or by early acquired habit to the traditional aristocracy of their native region. A similar contrast we remarked in New York, where Irving and Cooper and Bryant were succeeded by Poe and the Knickerbocker School. As the nineteenth century proceeded, literature in America tended to fall into the hands of people not less worthy, but perceptibly less distinguished than those who had first illustrated it.

We have now followed the Renaissance of New England from its beginning in the fresh vitality of public utterances and scholarship, through the awakening optimism of the Unitarians, to the disintegrant vagaries of the Transcendentalists. We have seen how, as this impulse proceeded to affect the less distinguished social classes, it tended to assume forms which might reasonably alarm people of sagely conservative habit. Reform in some respects is essentially destructive; and the enthusiasm of Yankee reformers early showed symptoms of concentration in a shape which ultimately became very destructive indeed. This, to which we must now turn, and which enlisted at least the sympathies of almost every Transcendentalist, - which was warmly advocated by Channing himself, which stirred Emerson to fervid utterances concerning actual facts, and which inspired some of the latest and most ardent writings of Thoreau, — was the philanthropic movement for the abolition of negro slavery, an institution which still persisted throughout our Southern States.

VIII

THE ANTISLAVERY MOVEMENT

ENTHUSIASM for reform was obviously involved in the conception of human nature which underlay the world-wide revolutionary movement whose New England manifestation took the forms of Unitarianism and Transcendentalism. If human nature is essentially good, if evil is merely the consequence of what modern evolutionists might call artificial environment, it follows that relaxation of environment, releasing men from temporary bondage, must change things for the better. The heyday of Transcendentalism, then, had a humourous superficial aspect, which was admirably described in the opening passage of Lowell's essay on Thoreau, published in 1865:

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“What contemporary, if he was in the fighting period of his life, (since Nature sets limits about her conscription for spiritual fields, as the State does in physical warfare,) will ever forget what was somewhat vaguely called the • Transcendental Movement of thirty years ago? Apparently set astir by Carlyle's essays on the ‘Signs of the Times,' and on . History,' the final and more immediate impulse seemed to be given by “Sartor Resartus.' At least a republication in Boston of that wonderful Abraham à Sancta Clara sermon on Falstaff's text of the miserable forked radish gave the signal for a sudden mental and moral mutiny. Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile ! was shouted on all hands with every variety of emphasis, and by voices of every conceivable pitch, representing the three sexes of men, women and Lady Mary Wortley Montagues. The nameless eagle of the tree Ygdrasil was about to sit at last, and wild-eyed enthusiasts rushed from all sides, each eager to thrust under the mystic bird that chalk egg from which the new and fairer Creation was to be hatched in due time. Redeunt Saturnia regna,

so much was certain, though in what shape, or by what methods, was still a matter of debate. Every possible form of intellectual and physical dyspepsia brought forth its gospel. Bran had its prophets, and the presartorial simplicity of Adam its martyrs,

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