A Glimpse of Emerson's Boyhood
The Reverend William Emerson, minister of the First Church in Boston, addressing his people on Sunday, July 17, 1808, upon the occasion of their quitting their old meeting-house in the heart of the town for one "more spacious and convenient" in the suburbs, remarked that they broke none of the commandments of Jesus Christ in exchanging "a house which is exposed to the noise and dust of a publick street, for one which is remote from the business and amusements of the town." And, on the following Thursday, when services were held for the first time in the new building, he reminded them to be thankful that "in place of an ancient and decaying house, situated in the most busy and populous part of the town, we now possess this new, commodious, and beautiful edifice, where, in the silence of retirement, yet in the centre of the territory of the metropolis, we may worship the Lord our God."1
The First Church was not only the oldest in Boston, but older than the town itself, since it was gathered and "imbodied" in Charlestown, under the shade of a tree, before Winthrop and his associates crossed the river. The ancient house they were leaving, the third they had occupied, was, when it was built (in 1713), President Porter says,2 the most expensive and elaborate in New England. It was placed, very fitly for the time, on Cornhill (now Washington Street), where Rogers' Building now stands, not far from the Corner of State Street. But, with the growth of the town, Cornhill was getting crowded and noisy, and in 1808 the proprietors of the Old Brick (as the meeting-house was called) accepted the offer of Mr. Benjamin Joy to build for them a new meeting-house and a parsonage of brick, and also three other brick dwelling-houses, on the parish land in Summer Street; receiving in return the Cornhill property and $13,500 in cash.
The old parish house was a gambrel-roofed wooden building, standing in the middle of a piece of land nearly an acre in extent, belonging to the church, but "situated [in the language of the deed from Richard Hollingshead and Ann, his wife, in 1680] at the southerly end of the town of Boston," namely, on Summer Street, where is now the corner of Chauncy Street, near half a mile from the meeting-house.
In this house, which stood, village-fashion, back from the street, in an orchard and garden extending down to where Avon Street now is, with a bordering row of elms and Lombardy poplars on Summer Street, Ralph Waldo, the fourth child and third son of the Reverend William and Ruth (Haskins) Emerson, was born, on the 25th of May, 1803.
One who should seek "the silence of retirement" in the same place to-day would find there but little contrast in this respect with Washington Street; nor would he find it easy, unless helped by recollections going back many years, to imagine, in the place of the long rows of lofty warehouses shutting out the sky, and the roaring flood of traffic that pours between them, the quiet, open region of gardens and pastures, sunny in winter and shaded in summer, in the midst of which Emerson's childhood was passed. "As late as 1815 [says Mr. Drake3] there was a pasture of two acres on Summer Street, and the tinkling of cow-bells was by no means an unusual sound there. The fine old estates of the Guyers, Coffins, Russells, Barrells, Lydes, Prebles, etc., were covered with orchards and gardens; and these hospitable residents could set before their guests cider of their own manufacture, or butter of their own making.
"Yesterday [Emerson writes in his journal, May 26, 1872], my sixty-ninth birthday, I found myself on my round of errands in Summer Street, and, though close on the spot where I was born, was looking into a street with some bewilderment, and read on the sign 'Kingston Street' with surprise; finding in the granite blocks no hint of Nath. Goddard's pasture and long wooden fence, and so of my nearness to my native corner of Chauncy Place. It occurred to me that few living persons ought to know so much of the families of this fast-growing city; for the reason that aunt Mary, whose manuscripts I had been reading, had such a keen perception of character and taste for aristocracy, and I heard in my youth and manhood every name she knew."
The Summer Street region, even as I remember it twenty years later, was a boy's paradise, and echoed every holiday afternoon and midday recess with "Coram" and "Hy-spy;" having just the right admixture of open ground, fences, and thoroughfares, with intricacies and lurking-places of sheds and wood-houses, and here and there a deserted barn, with open doors and a remnant of hay long untouched. There was even a pond, where a beginner might try his first skates; and the salt water was close by, with wharves, where he might catch flounders and tom-cod. Then, near at hand, the Common, at that time a playground from end to end.
But Emerson knew none of these things. He never, he told me, had a sled, and would not have dared to use one, for fear of the Round-Pointers, rough boys from Windmill Point and the South End, who "were always coming;" taking Summer Street on their way to the Common, where they had pitched battles with the West-Enders. His mother had cautioned him against the rude boys in the street, and he used to stand at the gate, wistful to see what the rude boys were like.
Somewhere in his journals he speaks of a time when he was "a chubby boy, trundling a hoop in Chauncy Place, and spouting poetry from Scott and Campbell at the Latin School," but I find no other evidence of play or of chubbiness. "We were babies and boys together," says the Reverend Dr. William Henry Furness in some precious recollections of Emerson with which he has favored me, "but I can recall but one image of him as playing, and that was on the floor of my mother's chamber. I don't think he ever engaged in boys' plays; not because of any physical inability, but simply because, from his earliest years, he dwelt in a higher sphere. My one deep impression is that, from his earliest childhood, our friend lived and moved and had his being in an atmosphere of letters, quite apart by himself. I can as little remember when he was not literary in his pursuits as when I first made his acquaintance."
Rufus Dawes, a school-fellow of Emerson's at the Latin School, describes him as a "spiritual-looking boy in blue nankeen ... whose image more than any other's is still deeply stamped upon my mind as I then saw him and loved him, I knew not why, and thought him so angelic and remarkable."
This early seriousness naturally found favor with his elders rather than with those of his own age. "When I was thirteen years old [he writes in his journal in 1839], my uncle Samuel Ripley one day asked me, 'How is it, Ralph, that all the boys dislike you and quarrel with you, whilst the grown people are fond of you?' Now I am thirty-six, and the fact is reversed: the old people suspect and dislike me, and the young people love me." The explanation lay perhaps in a certain lofty carriage of the head,—the air of one, as Dr. Furness says, dwelling apart in a higher sphere,—sometimes remarked also in Edward and Charles, and apt to be mistaken for pride, though it was in truth quite free from any self-reference. "My grandfather, William [Emerson says], walking before his father to church on a Sunday, his father checked him: 'William, you walk as if the earth was not good enough for you.' 'I did not know it, sir,' he replied, with the utmost humility. This is one of the household anecdotes in which I have found a relationship."
The arrangement with Mr. Joy was opposed by some of the proprietors, and one of them, Mr. Benjamin Austin, is said to have vented his feelings in the following epigram:—
"Farewell, Old Brick,—Old Brick, farewell:
You bought your minister and sold your bell."
The taunt about the minister referred to another negotiation, in consequence of which the Reverend William Emerson had been transferred from the town of Harvard, where he was first settled, to Boston.
William Emerson had in his veins the blood of several lines of "painful preachers" and spiritual guides of the people, from the earliest days of the colony. Far from being "comatose" persons, as Mr. James, in his reminiscences of Emerson,4 calls them, they were, several of them, heroic enthusiasts, remarkably alive to what is best worth living for. One line has for its first representative in America the Reverend Peter Bulkeley, Rector of Woodhill or Odell in Bedfordshire, England, and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge,—a man of ancient family and considerable estate, who, being silenced by Laud for nonconformity, crossed the sea in 1634 to New England, and pushed out through the woods with Major Simon Willard to Musketaquid (which they named Concord), and there spent most of his fortune as a pioneer of civilization. "He was addressed [says Shattuck5] as father, prophet, and counselor by his people and by all the ministers of the country;" and his Gospel Covenant, one of the first books published in New England, has good counsel for the present day. The church, he says, is built on the foundation of prophets and apostles; "not in regard of their persons, but of their doctrine,"—a sentiment which finds its echo in the Divinity Hall Address of his descendant two hundred years afterwards.
His granddaughter, Elizabeth Bulkeley, married the Reverend Joseph Emerson, the pioneer minister of Mendon, who barely escaped with his life when the village was destroyed by the Indians. Their son, Edward, "sometime deacon of the First Church of Newbury," married Rebecca, daughter of Cornelius Waldo, "from whom [says one of her descendants] came that beloved name into the family." Their son, the Reverend Joseph Emerson of Malden (Harvard College, 1717), was a heroic scholar, "the greatest student in the country [says his granddaughter, Mary Moody Emerson], and left a library considerable for those days. He was a reader of the Iliad, and said he should be sorry to think that the men and cities he read of never existed. If it had not been for my grandmother, my father would have been killed, perhaps, by confinement, for his father thought he ought never to leave his lessons. The children sat upon a settle, with lessons or catechism, the biggest at one end, the next in size at the other, and the little one in the middle. For out-door relaxation there was the farm-work; but even that was grudged. When he was working the hay one afternoon, his father looked out of the window and called, 'Billy, Billy, it's a waste of your precious time: go back to your books.' But grandmother said, 'No, it does him good to work a Iittle: he has books enough.' They all believed in poverty, and would have nothing to do with Uncle John of Topsfield, who had a grant of land, and was rich. My grandfather prayed every night that none of his descendants might ever be rich. My father, after he left college, taught school in Roxbury, then preached in Concord, was settled there, and married Phebe Bliss. Her mother was Phebe Walker, a woman such as I have read about, but, except her, never seen. She never fell before affliction. My mother reproached her with want of feeling because she went to church whilst her husband lay dead in the house. But she was rapt in another world."
Miss Emerson's father, of whom she here speaks, was William Emerson of Concord, the patriot minister of the Revolution. He was the son of Joseph of Malden, the scholar, and Mary Moody, daughter of the Reverend Samuel Moody ("Father Moody"), a man of transcendent zeal in doctrine and practice. "In every town in Maine [says Emerson in one of his early lectures] you may still hear of the charities and of the commanding administration of his holy office, of Father Moody of Agamenticus. When the offended parishioners, wounded by his pointed preaching, would rise to go out of church, he cried out, 'Come back, you graceless sinner, come back!' And when they began to fall into ill customs and ventured into the alehouse on a Saturday night, the valiant pastor went in after them, collared the shiners, dragged them forth, and sent them home with rousing admonitions. Charity then went hand in hand with zeal. They gave alms profusely, and the barrel of meal wasted not." He gave away his wife's only pair of shoes from her bedside to a poor woman who came to the house one frosty morning barefoot. When his wife, thinking to restrain a profuseness of almsgiving which his scanty salary could ill afford, made him a purse that could not be opened without a tedious manipulation, he gave away purse and all to the next applicant.
Samuel Moody, and his son-in-law Joseph Emerson of Malden, and Daniel Bliss of Concord, were prominent supporters of Whitefield and his revival in 1734; invited him into their pulpits, and were thought to favor his doctrine of immediate direction by the Holy Spirit.
William Emerson of Concord (Harvard College, 1761) was the builder of the Old Manse, celebrated by Hawthorne. He was living there when the British troops came up on the 19th of April, 1775, and he wrote an account of the skirmish at the bridge, which his grandson published in the Appendix to the Historical Discourse at Concord. He and his brother, the Reverend Joseph Emerson of Pepperell, had been active patriots before the war.6 He preached to the minute-men, exhorting them to ready obedience to discipline, and assuring them that their resistance to invasion of their constitutional rights was true loyalty to "the principles which had advanced the House of Hanover to its unrivaled lustre." In August, 1776, he left Concord to join the army at Ticonderoga as chaplain, and died a few months later, of camp-fever.
His wife was Phebe Bliss (his "Phebe-bird" he calls her in one of his letters), daughter of the Reverend Daniel Bliss, his predecessor in the Concord pulpit,—"a flame of fire" his son-in-law calls him, in the epitaph on his tombstone; the introducer, says Shattuck, of a new style of preaching, "bold, zealous, impassioned, enthusiastic," which brought him into trouble with the lukewarm Arminianism of the day.
William Emerson of Concord, though he died at thirty-three, was a man of mark; a fervent patriot and leader in the patriotic movement of the day, as well as an eloquent preacher. "A public character [says Miss Mary Emerson, his daughter], passing the old church, said 'There I first heard eloquence.'" He was noted for his beautiful reading of the hymns, and he seems to have had much of his father's literary tastes. Writing to his wife on his way to the camp, he incloses some verses, and says: "For my part, I'm not sure, but for that old mangler of words, Mr. Wooster, I should have been a considerable poet, methinks there are the outlines of a fine rhymester in the enclosed; and you must try to think so, if it is only to gratify my vanity and please the children."
In William, his oldest child and only son (as well as in his daughter, Mary Moody), the love of good letters and a hunger for literary society were prominent traits. After his father's death,—his mother having married the Reverend Ezra Ripley, and another set of children having come to the Concord Manse,—William Emerson the second was left very early dependent on his own exertions. He went through the usual course of school-keeping, college, school-keeping again; then, after a few months' study of divinity at Cambridge, he was admitted to preach, and at the age of twenty-three ordained minister of Harvard, a town thirty miles from Concord. It is said that he had no predilection for the ministry, but yielded upon hearing Dr. Ripley pray that his mother's strong desire that he should be a minister might be fulfilled. He had no relish for the country seclusion to which, for a while, at least, he had to look forward. "The situation [he writes to a friend] is apparently too circumscribed and remote for present gratification. My retirement hides me from the intercourse of all humanized beings; yet I believe Harvard, on the whole, is the most eligible place, at present, in the universe."
He was not entirely cut off from human intercourse, for he was well received at Mr. Bromfield's,7 Squire Kimball's, Mrs. Grosvenor's, and other houses, where he found agreeable society. And he seems to have found sympathizers with a taste he had for music, for he reproaches himself with spending too much time in singing and in playing on the bass-viol, an instrument, I believe, not used for solo performance. But probably there was not much talk of books,—few to discuss with him the literary and scientific novelties by the last ship from England. Then, with his meagre salary, he was "too poor to keep a horse,"—a serious obstacle in those days to intercourse with his brother ministers. He was decidedly of a social turn; too accessible, he thought, and in danger of forgetting the reserve of manner that belonged to his cloth. He reminds himself, in his journal, "to be more free with my hat and less with my hand." Some extracts from a letter he wrote to Mrs. Grosvenor, the widow of his predecessor at Harvard, while he was considering the invitation to settle there, may serve to paint the situation of the young candidate:—
Concord, January 28, 1792.
Madam,—How checkered is life! How uncertain, how various, the state of humanity! At Harvard my days flew rapidly away. Charming variety characterized each week. While the hours of day wore the serious aspect of study, the gay moments of eve brought humor and cheerfulness into our circle. But no sooner did I leave your social fire, no sooner did the rocks and woods of Harvard, on that beautiful morn, disappear, than cold black clouds of doubt and suspense overshadowed my mind, which, ever since, hath been the sport of opinion and the dupe of advice. On the Saturday following, I broke the path through pathless woods and over hills of everlasting snow, to Newbury. At night I supped in a room that was not warmed with more fire than I could have comfortably slept with in my bed. Bed! as to that I will say nothing; for my weight made no more impression on it than would a walnut, which, I imagine, might have been cracked on it to advantage. In the morning, frozen to death, I went to their meeting-house; which, for age and deformity, beggars all description. When I was in the pulpit, I could see nothing of what was transacted below; and, in the galleries, nobody appeared to converse with me. The case was somewhat remedied when I took the stand; for there I made shift to get hold of the cushion, which, as I stood, was about up to my armpits. Thus elevated, I peeked over, and made many discoveries among the people scattered hither and thither around the antiquated walls. What was wanting in prospect, however, I endeavored to supply by my vociferation, and, like Jonah, at a goodly distance I proclaimed the terrors of the law. Tuesday and Wednesday I have been freezing along back. This is the day appointed [for some ceremony at Dr. Ripley's church in Concord], and lo! the winds and snow seem emulous which shall contribute most to disappoint my pleasure, or throw obstacles in the way of my return. Not only so, but journeys, horses, and stages have emptied my pockets. But, you say, madam, I was to tell you when I should return, and with what aspect I should come. Do not ask me. I can assure you, Mrs. Grosvenor, so far as this: that should I leave Harvard, I should not entertain the most distant hope scarcely of settling at Newbury, were it ever so agreeable. The people are amazingly divided. They are old, and they are crafty. They do not keep good fires at Newbury. They keep noble fires at Harvard. Yes, madam, but will they keep me a good fire? I think thirty cords of wood would be as pretty a supplement to this little paper in my pocket as they could possibly publish. I cannot, however, think of being buried. And yet a man might read as many hours in a day at Harvard as at Newbury or any other place. In short, madam, my mind, like the air of this day, is torn by constant winds; I scarcely know how or what to think....
He decided to remain at Harvard, upon a salary fixed at first at $333.30,—not a large sum even for those days, and constantly diminishing in value with the progressive depreciation of the currency. I suppose he had no rent to pay, and his "benefactions," that is, presents from the wealthier parishioners,—a leg of pork from Squire Kimball, a load of wood from Mr. Bromfield, "the outside of my gown" from Mrs. Grosvenor,—together with wedding-fees, might add perhaps half as much. Still it was but a small pittance for a man who felt it necessary to spend sometimes in the quarter-year more than his quarter's salary on books. He felt that he must "never name marriage or building." Nevertheless I find in his diary that in June, 1796, he "rode out with Miss R. H., and talked with her on the subject of matrimony;" and, on the 25th of October, "was married to the pious and amiable Ruth Haskins, fifth daughter of Mr. John Haskins of Rainsford's Lane [Harrison Avenue], Boston," and brought her home to a farm which he had bought and made ready a few months before.
Henceforward, though I do not find that his wife brought him any immediate accession of fortune, all complaints of poverty, disquietude about debts, regret at his want of frugality, and resolutions "to obtain a better living in Harvard or go elsewhere," disappear from his journal, as if he foresaw the dawn of his deliverance. "We are poor and cold, and have little meal, and little wood, and little meat; but, thank God, courage enough."
This was not the courage of heedlessness; he was careful and methodical, a great admirer of order, and thrifty except in the article of books: it was an unconquerable buoyancy of disposition, that would not let him believe that any real misfortune would come to him. Years afterwards, just before his death, writing almost gayly to Dr. Ripley about the perplexities of the physicians over his case, he says: "You will think me better, because of the levity with which this page is blurred. Threads of this levity have been interwoven with the entire web of my life."
Meanwhile, he did not idly trust in Providence, but put his shoulder to the wheel, sold the bass-viol, took boarders, kept school, and worked with his own hands on the farm. After many rebuffs, and even being "reviled at town-meeting," he at last prevailed upon the town (then the same persons with the parish) to add two hundred and fifty dollars to his salary, only to bring it up, in purchasing value, to what it had been at first.
At last, in the spring of 1799, the deliverer appeared in the shape of a committee of the First Church of Boston. He had been invited to preach there, and also to preach the annual sermon on the solemn occasion of choosing officers for the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. A week afterwards, a committee of the church came up to sound him with regard to a removal to Boston, and, receiving some encouragement, addressed a letter to the Harvard church, requesting his release from his engagement there. In this letter they urge as a motive for compliance that "the alarming attacks upon our holy religion, by the Learned, the Witty, and the Wicked, especially in populous and seaport towns, call aloud to invite and support, in the places of most eminence, such spiritual workmen as are endowed with talents to convince and confound the Wicked by their arguments, and allure them by their amiable behavior." The Harvard church replied, through a committee appointed in town-meeting, setting forth the dangers and inconveniences of a step so novel if not unprecedented, and suggesting that in case of compliance they ought to receive $1300 by way of compensation for the increased taxes which the pew-holders might be compelled to pay. Finally, after a negotiation lasting all summer, "the committee of Harvard," writes William Emerson in his journal, "conclude to take $1000 and let me go." He preached his farewell sermon on the 15th of September, and entered upon his duties at the Old Brick on the 22nd.
The test of sermons being the effect upon those who hear them, the qualities in William Emerson that wrought this change in his fortunes may be better estimated, perhaps, through the accounts of his contemporaries than by reading the Artillery-Election discourse. The Reverend Joseph Stevens Buckminster, in his funeral sermon, says of him: "He was a happy example of that correct and rational style of evangelical preaching of which the yet lamented Clarke [Emerson's predecessor] has left so fair a specimen." The Reverend Dr. John Pierce, who never missed an Artillery-Election sermon or a Thursday lecture, says:8 "He was considered an extraordinary preacher; he had a melodious voice; his elocution was remarkable for distinctness, yet had an easy flow. In prayer he was fluent, but his expressions were often too studied for a common audience. His sermons were greatly labored, yet very perspicuous. He could not endure the fashion, which at times prevails, of writing in a desultory manner. He would sometimes employ words which were not common, but he was particularly desirous that they should be classical."
All accounts agree in praising his voice and his skill in reading. As to his success in the particular task for which he was summoned to the First Church, namely, resistance to the increasing laxity in religion, the question involves the previous one, whether the cause of true religion at the time and place was best served by drawing tighter the bonds of orthodoxy or by loosening them still further. And whichever way this point might be decided, the testimony as to the actual tendency of his doctrine is by no means concordant. Dr. Pierce speaks with some asperity of his "latitudinarianism;" Dr. Charles Lowell, on the other hand, does not think him so extreme as some of his brethren. It is clear from what he writes in 1806, about the middle of his Boston pastorate, to his half-brother, Samuel Ripley, at Washington, that he was no stickler for forms and dogmas:—
"If I had not left Harvard for Boston, it was my intention to leave it for Washington, where I designed to plant a church strictly on congregational principles; in which there was to be no written expression of faith, no covenant, and no subscription whatever to articles, as a term of communion. It was my plan, and still would be, in forming a new church, to administer the rituals of Christianity to all who would observe them, without any profession except such observance."
In personal appearance, Dr. Lowell says he was "a handsome man, rather tall, of fair complexion, with cheeks slightly tinted; his motions easy, graceful, and gentlemanlike; his manners bland and pleasant. He was an honest man, and expressed himself decidedly and emphatically, but never bluntly or vulgarly."
Upon his acceptance of their call, the First Church voted "that Mr. Emerson receive, for his encouragement and support, at the rate of fourteen dollars per week; also the parish dwelling-house and twenty cords of wood." This salary was gradually increased, until, in 1809, it was fixed at twenty-five hundred dollars a year and thirty cords of wood. To the parish dwelling-house was attached, as I have said, a garden, in which the minister planted his potatoes, sweet-corn, and peas, as he had done at Harvard.
The Boston salary, modest enough when measured by the standards of the present day, afforded the means for a more unencumbered style of living, and even for gradually discharging some debts that he had brought with him, though hardly for making any provision for the future. He went a good deal into society,—"dined abroad" and "had company" are frequent entries in his diary; and he sometimes complains that these agreeable avocations consumed too much of his time. But the desire for congenial companionship was strong in him, and for this the little provincial metropolis afforded fair opportunity. The scholarship that some of the early immigrants brought with them had mostly died out, but the love of good letters still remained, and it was beginning to feel its way towards some expression. The Massachusetts Historical Society had lately been founded, and had encouraged "the establishment of a weekly paper, to be called the American Apollo, in which will be given the result of their inquiries into the natural, political, and ecclesiastical history of this country."9 Mr. Emerson was an active member of the society; and also "converses about the Physiological Society," which held its first meeting (as the Philosophical Society) December 10, 1801, at Dr. James Jackson's.
"April 9th, lecture before the Philosophical Society, and break two phials." In 1803, "The Philosophical Society wonderfully flourishes. Thank God that this child of my brain is fostered and promises to grow to mature age."
His chief literary enterprise, however, was the Monthly Anthology, with its foster-child the Boston Anthenæum. He took charge of the Anthology in 1804, six months after its first establishment, and called in aid a number of his friends, sixteen in all, forming the Club, which met once a week to project and discuss (with a modest supper) articles for the magazine. Dr. John Sylvester John Gardiner, Rector of Trinity Church, was the first President; William Emerson, Vice-President; several of the members were Liberal ministers; all were liberal in sentiment, but doubtless good Federalists. Mrs. Lee, in her memoir of the Buckminsters, says that the Boston ladies would not invite company on Anthology evening, because it robbed them of the presence of the most agreeable gentlemen. The society, says President Quincy,10 "maintained its existence with reputation for about six years, and issued ten octavo volumes from the press; constituting one of the most lasting and honorable monuments of the taste and literature of the period." And so it is, for it shows a proportion of scholarly men among the busy lawyers, doctors, and merchants of the little town, hardly equaled since. We find in it literary essays by Judge Parsons, Daniel Webster, Dr. Jacob Bigelow, Dr. John Collins Warren, Dr. James Jackson, James Perkins; poems by Judge Story and John Quincy Adams; as well as literary contributions of scholars and of clergymen of various faiths, among them Cheverus, the Roman Catholic bishop. The tone of the Anthology was very liberal in religion, but conservative in politics and in literature; aiming, one of the writers said, "to apply caustic and lancet to the disorders of the American press," and stoutly opposed to the new school of poetry in England. Scott was eagerly welcomed, and extracts are given, in advance of re-publication, from his poems; but to Coleridge Dr. Gardiner applies the epithet "asinine," and he speaks of the "dull malignity" of Southey.
Of yet more lasting importance was the collection of books begun by the Club, on Mr. Emerson's motion, and growing into the Boston Athanæum Library. Already at Harvard he had started a public library, to which he gave his services as librarian; and when the new meeting-house was built in Chauncy Place he persuaded the church to form a theological library in the vestry.
With his social and literary activities and distinctions he had his share of the public honors that came naturally to a prominent member of the New England aristocracy, the class held in honor apart from wealth or political station. He was Fourth of July orator in 1802, chaplain of the State Senate in 1803, and of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, overseer of Harvard College, a guest of the town authorities on all great occasions, besides being invited to join them when they refreshed themselves with an excursion in the harbor and visited the forts, or landed on Lovell's Island for a game of quoits.
His sister, Mary Moody Emerson, who had in her more of the tense Moody fibre,—though she sympathized with his literary tastes, wrote for the Anthology, and was drawn to his house in Boston from time to time by her "desire to hear the men talk,"—did not fail to warn him in her letters that these "tributes to fashion and parade are hostile to the perpetual claims of simplicity, reason, and piety." She feared that the "sultry air and diet of the town have dimmed the light of genius," and that "the present world is too real to you." It was indeed very real to him; "an ample and beautiful world," he writes in his diary, "in which there has been afforded to me on earth a pleasant lot and much happiness, many worthy friends and such delightful contemplation."
No shadow came over his life, except the deaths of two children (Phebe Ripley, born at Harvard, died 1800 at Boston; and John Clarke, died 1807), until in the spring of 1811, the twelfth year of his ministry at the First Church, "a consuming marasmus," vainly combated for some months, cut it short at the age of forty-two (May 12, 1811).11
A short time before his death he says in a letter to his sister Mary:—
"To my wife and children, indeed, my continuance upon earth is a matter of moment; as, in the event of my decease, God only knows how they would subsist. And then the education of the latter! But I am not oppressed with this solicitude. Our family, you know, have so long been in the habit of trusting Providence, that none of them ever seriously thought of providing a terrestrial maintenance for themselves and households."
It was in truth a heavy burden that fell upon the widow in her affliction, with scanty means of support, and six children, all under ten years of age. After the first two, above mentioned, there had been born to them William, 1801; Ralph Waldo, May 25, 1803, at which date the following entry appears in his father's diary: "Mr. Puffer preached his Election Sermon to great acceptance. This day also, whilst I was at dinner at Governor Strong's, my son Ralph Waldo was born. Mrs. E. well. Club at Mr. Adams'." Afterwards, three sons: Edward Bliss (1805), Robert Bulkeley (1807), Charles Chauncy (1808); and a daughter, Mary Caroline (1811, died 1814).
The First Church did their part: they continued the minister's salary to his widow for six months, and then voted to pay her five hundred dollars a year for seven years, and also to give her the use of the parish house for a year and a half, unless the society should have occasion for it for parish purposes. She remained there, in fact, more than three years.
With this aid, and with the occasional assistance of "kind friends," Mrs. Emerson managed to keep the household together in Boston until the older boys began to earn their living. She would have preferred a less expensive place; but the children must be educated,—"they were born to be educated," their aunt Mary said. Some of them, at least, their mother hoped would be ministers; at any rate, they must be kept within reach of the Latin School and of Harvard College. And this she accomplished, though with sore travail. She took boarders into her house, rose early and sat up late, doing much of the work herself, with the help of the children as they grew old enough, and with occasional aid from her sister-in-law, Miss Mary Emerson; and thus kept the wolf from the door, though never far off. William, the oldest son, writing to his mother in after years, when these straits were past, says:—
"Our circumstances have been such that the increase of expense which would necessarily have attended upon the sickness of any one of us might have reduced us to real distress. We have never suffered this."
Great embarrassment was escaped only by unremitting exertion and a frugality that left its mark in many ways upon the growing boys. A friend of the family (Mrs. Ripley) coming in one day found them without food, and Miss Emerson consoling them with stories of heroic endurance. Ralph (as he was then called) and Edward had but one great-coat between them, and had to take turns in going without, and in bearing the taunts of vulgar-minded school-fellows inquiring, "Whose turn is it to wear the coat to-day?"
The boys did much of the housework, and had but little opportunity for play or relaxation of any kind. Nothing in the way of relaxation, to be sure, entered much into the plan of life of these excellent women. If the boys had any time to spare, it might be better employed than in mere amusement. They might be reading good, improving books, such as Whelpley's Historical Compend, or Jebb's Sermons, or even Rollin or Robertson. A constant intellectual stimulus was added to that of outward circumstances. Their father, in the midst of his various activities, never neglected their lessons. During a short absence from home he writes to his wife: "William [aged five] will recite to you as he does to me, if you have leisure to hear him, a sentence of English grammar before breakfast,—though i think, if only one can be attended to, Ralph [aged three] should be that one." And he "hopes that John Clarke [aged seven] can repeat passages from Addison, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, etc."
The tradition was kept up by their aunt, Mary Moody Emerson, a remarkable person of whom her nephew has left a sketch,12 somewhat softened by the veneration in which he never ceased to hold her. She united with the Moody enthusiasm and impetuosity and a good share of Puritan rigor a keen appreciation of modern ideas. In one of his letters, long afterwards, when she had quarreled with him for his "high, airy speculations," and would not see him nor even come into the town where he was, he writes:—
"Give my love to her,—love and honor. She must always occupy a saint's place in my household; and I have no hour of poetry or philosophy, since I knew these things, into which she does not enter as a genius."
She was a very strange saint, and exemplified the exaltation of faith over works to an extent that made her hard to live with. She idolized her nephews, set no bounds to her expectations from them, and showed, particularly when they were at a distance, a tender affection,—which, however, did not prevent her from turning upon the least appearance of weakness with the bitterest scoffs; and her imperius temper could tolerate no difference in opinion, even when she could not help secretly respecting it. This made her an uncomfortable inmate,—uncomfortable to herself as to others. Emerson wrote of her: "She tramples on the common humanities all day, and they rise as ghosts and torment her at night." And she says of herself: "I love to be a vessel of cumbersomeness to society." Yet her genuine and habitual elevation of view, her really superior mind, and her keen sensibility to every kind of merit made her a commanding influence.
"And so, though we flout her and contradict her and compassionate her whims, we all stand in awe of her penetration, her indignant, eloquent conscience, her poetic and commanding reason."
"I doubt [he writes upon aonther occasion] if the interior of spiritual history in New England could be trulier told than through the exhibition of family history such as this: the picture of this group of M. M. E. and the boys, mainly Charles. The key to her life is in the conflict of the new and the old ideas in New England. The heir of whatever was rich and profound and efficient in thought and emotion in the old religion which planted and peopled this land, she strangely united to this passionate piety the fatal gift of penetration, a love of philosophy, an impatience of words; and was thus a religious skeptic. She held on with both hands to the faith of the past generation, as to the palladium of all that was good and hopeful in the physical and metaphysical worlds; and in all companies and on all occasions, and especially with these darling nephews of her hope and pride, extolled and poeticized this beloved Calvinism. Yet all the time she doubted and denied it, and could not tell whether to be more glad or sorry to find that these boys were irremediably born to the adoption and furtherance of the new ideas. She reminds me of Margaret Graeme, the enthusiast in Scott's Abbot, who lives to infuse into the young Roland her enthusiasm for the Roman Church,—only that our Margaret doubted while she loved. Milton and Young were the poets endeared to the generation she represented. Of Milton they were proud; but I fancy their religion has never found so faithful a picture as in the Night Thoughts. These combined traits in M. M. E.'s character gave the new direction to her hope that these boys should be richly and holily qualified and bred to purify the old faith of what narrowness and error adhered to it, and import all its fire into the new age. Such a gift should her Prometheus bring to men. She hated the poor, low, thin unprofitable, unpoetical humanitarians, and never wearies with piling on them new terms of slight and weariness."
To the boys, from their childhood up, she was an ever-present embodiment of the Puritan conscience, at their side, or in searching letters, when her disgust at the town and at her own outbursts drove her away to her country solitude; yet also a constant stimulus to go beyond the Puritan limitations, which she would allow no one to praise but herself. And the conflict in her own life no doubt communicated itself in some degree to theirs. Her ambition for them was above all thought for worldly success, and she was prompt to jeer at any symptom of "a frivolous desire for fame," or of "sensitiveness to the sympathies of society." Yet, as her brother William had felt obliged to admonish her, she was not without "a plentiful share of family pride;" which showed itself, as he complains, in "the gentle insinuation that my name is never to be splendid. It is not enough that your relatives should be good husbands and wives, good neighbors and friends, but they must be called of men Rabbis and Fathers."
Her secret dream was that her beloved nephews should be intellectual, learned, poetical, eloquent; honored of men and the darlings of "the world" of Boston, that they might bear it up into a higher atmosphere. They were born to distinction, that was plain; but it must be laid as a worthy offering on the altar of religion.
Meanwhile, her counsels of perfection for both worlds helped to bring a strain upon these delicate organizations which they could ill endure. In the two elder it was alleviated by a certain impassivity of temperament and an admixture (in Ralph, at least) of what their father called "levity," and Ralph afterwards, in his college days, "silliness,"—we may call it humor, though lacking some ingredients,—the habit of detaching his impressions from himself, and looking at them from the outside, as a bystander. Possibly, in his case, seclusion from the companionships and the pastimes of boyhood may have supplied a needed check to what he calls, in one of his early journals, "my cardinal vice of intellectual dissipation:" any way, he appears to have thought so. For Edward and Charles the concentration was not needed; and "the iron band of poverty, of necessity, of austerity" (of which he speaks in the essay on Domestic Life), together with "the pressure of I know not how many literary atmospheres," which Dr. Furness found there, we may well suppose intensified into disease what was already intense enough. In Ralph's case the drawback came in another shape. Want of "that part of education which is conducted in the nursery and the playground, in fights and frolics, in business and politics,"—leaving him without the help of the free masonries which these things establish,—no doubt exaggerated the idealist's tendency to fence himself off from contact with men, and made it an effort for him in after-life to meet them on common terms in every-day intercourse.
For better or worse the children were thrown upon themselves; partly from the austere fashion of domestic intercourse in those days. Their father appears to have been a kindly, affectionate man, but Ralph's chief recollection of him was as "a somewhat social gentleman, but severe to his children, who twice or thrice put me in mortal terror by forcing me into the salt water, off some wharf or bathing-house; and I still recall the fright with which, after some of these salt experiences, I heard his voice one day (as Adam that of the Lord God in the garden) summoning me to a new bath, and I vainly endeavoring to hide myself."
Even his mother, the most loving of women was so far from making them feel her tenderness that once, when he and William had wandered off upon some holiday and spent the day away from home, they were much surprised, on their return, at her exclaiming: "My son, I have been in an agony for you!" "I went to bed," he says, "in bliss at the interest she showed."
A letter from Ralph, when he was about ten years old, to his aunt Mary, gives account of one of their days:—
Boston, April 16, 1813.
Dear Aunt,—I am much obliged to you for your kind letter. I mean now to give you an account of what I do commonly in one day, if that is what you meant by giving an account of one single day in my life. Friday, 9th, I choose for the day of telling what I did. In the Morning I rose, as I commonly do, about 5 minutes before 6. I then help Wm. in making the fire, after which I set the table for Prayers. I then call mamma about quarter after 6. We spell as we did before you went away. I confess I often feel an angry passion start in one corner of my heart when one of my Brothers gets above me, which I think sometimes they do by unfair means, after which we eat our breakfast; then I have from about quarter after 7 till 8 to play or read. I think I am rather inclined to the former. I then go to school, where I hope I can say I study more than I did a little while ago. I am in another book called Virgil, and our class are even with another which came to the Latin School one year before us. After attending this school I go to Mr. Webb's private school, where I write and cipher. I go to this place at eleven and stay till one o'clock. After this, when I come home I eat my dinner, and at two o'clock I resume my studies at the Latin School, where I do the same except in studying grammar. After I come home I do mamma her little errands, if she has any; then I bring in my wood to supply the breakfast room. I then have some time to play and eat my supper. After that we say our hymns or chapters, and then take our turns in reading Rollin, as we did before you went. We retire to bed at different times. I go at a little after eight, and retire to my private devotions, and then close my eyes in sleep, and there ends the toils of the day.... I have sent a letter to you in a Packet bound for Portland, which I suppose you have not received, as you made no mention of it in your letter to mamma. Give my love to Aunt Haskin and Aunt Ripley, with Robert and Charles and all my cousins, and I hope you will send me an answer to this the first opportunity, and believe me, I remain your most dutiful Nephew,
R. Waldo Emerson.
It must not be supposed, however, that the household, with all its austerities, was a gloomy one. There was in the mother a native serenity that nothing could deeply disturb. "Her mind and her character," says Dr. N. L. Frothingham,13 "were of a superior order, and they set their stamp upon manners of peculiar softness and natural grace and quiet dignity. Her sensible and kindly speech was always as good as the best instruction; and her smile, though it was always ready, was a reward. Her dark, liquid eyes, from which old age could not take away the expression, will be among the remembrances of all on whom they ever rested." Her sister-in-law, Mary Emerson, who, as she says of herself, "was never patient with the faults of the good," says of her:—
"When first she grew up, I knew her to be without comparison. I continued to see her for some years, and thought her looks, words, actions, the sweetest, wisest, fittest, chastest of all.... In a new situation [after her marriage], she sustained any occasional trial of temper with a dignity and firmness and good sense that I shall ever respect, and obtained a greater influence than is common over one of the best of husbands. Since, in the trials of boarders, the most I could say would not be too much."
And in the younger members of the household there was a buoyancy of spirit that seemed, to their stern aunt Mary, excessive; their mirth and frivolity, she feared, "had too much influence even with their mother, and made her too often a party to folly." Their cousin, George Barrell Emerson, who found a home there at a later period, just before their removal from Boston, says:14—
"Among the sons I found William, whom I had long known and loved, the best reader, and with the sweetest voice I ever heard, and a pleasant talker; Ralph Waldo, whom I had known and admired, and whom all the world now knows almost as well as I do; Edward Bliss, the most modest and genial, the most beautiful and the most graceful speaker, a universal favorite; and Charles Chauncy, bright and ready, full of sense, ambitious of distinction and capable of it. There never was a more delightful family."
The passage in Domestic Life referred to above is so clearly a reminiscence of the family circle that I will insert it here:—
"Who has not seen, and who can see unmoved, under a low roof, the eager, blushing boys discharging as they can their household chores, and hastening into the sitting-room to the study of tomorrow's merciless lesson, yet stealing time to read one chapter more of the novel, hardly smuggled into the tolerance of father and mother,—atoning for the same by some passages of Plutarch or Goldsmith; the warm sympathy with which they kindle each other in schoolyard, or barn, or wood-shed, with scraps of poetry or song, with phrases of the last oration or mimicry of the orator; the youthful criticism, on Sunday, of the sermons; the school declamation, faithfully rehearsed at home, sometimes to the fatigue, sometimes to the admiration, of sisters; the first solitary joys of literary vanity, when the translation or the theme has been completed, sitting alone near the top of the house; the cautious comparison of the attractive advertisement of the arrival of Macready, Booth, or Kemble, or of the discourse of a well-known speaker, with the expense of the entertainment; the affectionate delight with which they greet the return of each one after the early separations which school or business requires; the foresight with which, during such absences, they hive the honey which opportunity offers, for the ear and imagination of the others; and the unrestrained glee with which they disburden themselves of their early mental treasures when the holidays bring them again together? What is the hoop that holds them stanch? It is the iron band of poverty, of necessity, of austerity, which, excluding them from sensual enjoyments which made other boys too early old, has directed their activity into safe and right channels, and made them, despite themselves, reverers of the grand, the beautiful, and the good. Ah, short-sighted students of books, of nature, and of man! too happy could they know their advantages, they pine for freedom from that mild parental yoke; they sigh for fine clothes, for rides, for the theatre, and premature freedom and dissipation which others possess. Woe to them if their wishes were crowned! The angels that dwell with them, and are weaving laurels of life for their youthful brows, are Toil and Want and Truth and Mutual Faith."
And another passage in the same volume, of the boy reading Plato, covered to his chin with a cloak, in a cold upper chamber, and associating the Dialogues ever after with a wooden smell, is evidently another of their experiences; Edward's, most likely, at a somewhat later time.
Ralph's school-days began before he was three years old; not an unusual thing at that time, when the school-room took the place of the nursery. His mother writes, March 9, 1806: "William and Ralph now go again to Mrs. Whitwell's school," in Summer Street, near the parsonage. May 17th, his father writes: "Ralph does not read very well yet." Dr. Furness remembers him somewhat later under Miss Nancy Dickson, at the same school; whence they passed on together to the school of Lawson Lyon, "a severe teacher, whose ruler and cowskin did active service," says Mr. Samuel Bradford,15 another schoolfellow and member of the "three of us" who, Emerson writes nearly seventy years afterwards, "have agreed not to grow old, certainly not to each other."
In 1813 Emerson entered the Latin School, which, he says, was then on its wanderings whilst the school-house was rebuilding, first to the Mill Pond (since filled up, and now Haymarket Square and the adjoining tract between North and South Margin streets), where the beach-birds were piping over the flats; then to an attic on Pemberton Hill. The headmastership soon afterwards devolved upon Mr. Benjamin Apthorp Gould, "an excellent master, who loved a good scholar and waked his ambition. One day in 1814 Mr. Gould informed the school that there was a rumor that the British were going to send a fleet to Boston Harbor, and it was desired that the boys of the school should come one day to assist in throwing up defenses on Noddle's Island. All who were able and willing should go the next day at nine o'clock to the bottom of Hanover Street, where a boat would be in waiting to carry them to the island. The whole school went. I went, but I confess I cannot remember a stroke of work that I or my school-fellows accomplished. Mr. Gould in his first years encouraged the boys to found a school library, which was immediately set on foot. One of his virtues I recall often,—that he required us to learn by heart verses of Homer; which I doubt not some of us kept in mind and could repeat long after we forgot their meaning. Mr. Gould valued good speaking, and the Saturday morning was devoted to it. Edward Greeley Loring, now Judge Loring of Washington, was the best speaker."15
Judge Loring, in a kind reply to my request for his recollections of Emerson, says: "I do not remember anything salient enough in Emerson's school life to serve your purpose. He was always a good scholar because honestly studious, but not eminent. His compositions were graceful and correct; this made their quality, and I think describes his exercises at college as well as at school. He began at school to be critical in expression, and grew more and more so through his college life. In school and college he was liked for his equable temper and fairness, but was not demonstrative enough to be eminently popular.
He was not vigorous in body, and therefore not a champion in athletic sports; but I do not remember that he shunned play or boyish fun.... My clearest recollection is that Emerson was singularly free from faults, and this was the substratum for his subsequent expansion in character and intellect."
Dr. Furness says: "We were at the Boston Latin School together. From eleven to twelve every day we went to a private school kept by Mr. Webb, master of one of the public grammar schools. After the public school was dismissed, Mr. Webb had a few boys who came to him, chiefly to learn to write.17 Ralph and I used to sit together. I can see him now, at his copy-book; quite a laborious operation it appeared, as his tongue worked up and down with his pen. But then, thank Heaven! he never had any talent for anything,—nothing but pure genius, which talents would have overlaid. Then it was that he wrote verses on the naval victories of the war of 1812. He wrote in verse also a history, or romance,—or was it an epic?—entitled Fortus, which I have a dim remembrance of having illustrated.18 I think Waldo repaid my admiration of his verses with his for my pictures. He was rather jealous of any amendments that I ventured to suggest. At the Latin School his favorite piece for declamation was from the Pleasures of Hope, Warsaw's Last Champion, etc. This passage is a telephone to my ears. I hear the ringing of his voice."
In his last school year Ralph more than once delivered "original poems" on exhibition days, and some of his "themes" so pleased Mr. Gould that he kept them to show to the school committee.19 "Those days," says Dr. Furness, "may be distinguished as the era of rhetoric; we boys went into ecstasies over a happy turn of expression or a brilliant figure of speech. The Everetts, John and Edward, were the demigods. I remember Waldo's telling me of the making-up after a quarrel between William and his classmate John Everett, and quoting with great admiration a passage in Everett's note about 'trifles which children resent and boys magnify,' and one from a sermon by Mr. N. L. Frothingham, the young pastor of First Church, of the doctrine that represents man as 'coming into the world girt in the poison robes of hereditary depravity, and with the curses of his Maker upon his head.' These were the things than which we thought nothing could be finer. I suppose it was the impressiveness of Waldo's tones that has caused me to remember them."
There are several specimens of his verse-making about this time; perhaps the most favorable is the translation from Virgil given by Mr. Cooke.20 In general they show some facility at rhyming, without much appearance of any other aim. His gift of rhyming was a matter of modest family pride among the brothers, and he was often called upon to exercise it in writing to them when they were separated. In his letters to Edward, who was away from home at the Phillips Academy at Andover, he often passes into verse, as for instance:—
"The other day, while scouring knives, I began to hum away that verse,—
Harp of Memnon, sweetly strung, etc.,
but I really did not think that the harsh melody of the knives sounded quite so sweet as the harp.
Melodious knife, and thou, harmonious sand,
Touched by the poet scourer's rugged hand,
When swift ye glide along the scouring-board,
With music's note your happy bard reward."
In 1814, the coastwise trade being cut off by the enemy's cruisers, the price of provisions went so high in Boston—flour $17 a barrel, and rice and meal in proportion—that the family were driven out to Concord, where they passed the year with Dr. Ripley. At the peace Ralph writes to his brother William, who was then in college:—
Concord, February 24, 1815.
My Dear Brother,—What a change has taken place in the times since I saw you last, and how happy is the change! But a little while since and the cry of war was heard in every place, but nowFair Peace triumphant blooms on golden wings,When the news reached this place, a smile was on every face and joy in every heart. On the 22d instant the steeple of the court-house here was illuminated, and appeared very brilliant from this house. When I came to see you, you did not pack up your Cicero's Orations in the bundle, and I should like to have you send it the first opportunity in your bundle of clothes. To-day I get through the Incredibilibus Collectanea.
And War no more of all his Victories sings.And now, dear William, with a rhyme I'll close,
For you are tired, I may well suppose.
Besides, we soon shall hear the nightly bell
For prayers,—so now farewell.
Yours affectionately, Ralph.
His rhyming powers appear to have been discovered at the school in Concord, and when he left he was made to mount a barrel, and recite by way of farewell an original ode, of which Emerson used to repeat for the delectation of his children whatever scraps he could remember, beginning:—
I rise to bid adieu
To you, my schoolmates, and, kind sir, to you.
He always recurred with much amusement to his brother Charles's disgust at being held up to school as—
Another brother, small and younger too,
New to the school and to its studies new,
Hath here received instruction of that kind
To banish all its dulness from the mind.
The last two lines he thought particularly delightful.
On the return of the family to Boston, having to seek a new dwelling-place, a house in Beacon Street, near the present site of the Boston Athenæum, was lent to Mrs. Emerson by the owner, who was going to Europe, she undertaking to provide board for his wife and family. In the yard there was room enough for a cow, which Dr. Ripley sent down from Concord, and which Emerson remembered driving round the Common to a pasture his mother had on Carver Street. In one of his letters (always by a private hand) to Edward, who had just returned to his boarding-school, he writes,
By boards and dirt and rubbish marred.
Upon the right a wicket gate,
The left appears a jail of state.
Before, the view all boundless spreads,
And five tall chimneys lift their lofty heads.
The gate, I suppose, of the Granary Burying-Ground, and the County Jail on Court Street. "Aunt's only message to you is, Be brave; that is, do not be cast down by thoughts of home. I have begun Telemachus in French at Miss Sales', and at home I am reading Priestley's Lectures on History. Mother thinks you had better try to borrow Charles XII. or some other history, to amuse you during vacation [for he was not to come home]. But as even nonsense sounds good if clothed in the dress of Poetry, I believe I must resort to that as my last expedient:—
So erst two brethren climbed the cloud capped hill,
Ill-fated Jack and long-lamented Jill,
Snatched from the crystal font its lucid store,
And in full pails the precious treasure bore.
But ah! by dull forgetfulness oppressed
(Forgive me, Edward), I've forgot the rest.
October 1, 1817, he writes: "Next Friday, you know, my college life begins, Deo volente, and I hope and trust will begin with determined and ardent pursuit of real knowledge that will raise me high in the class while in college, and qualify me well for stations of future usefulness. Aunt Betsey is very much grieved she says, that I go to Cambridge instead of Providence,—you guess the reason. I hope going to Cambridge will not prevent some future time my being as good a minister as if I came all Andovered from Providence,"—namely, from Brown University, which aunt Betsey doubtless thought safer from the latitudinarianism that had crept into Cambridge.
1 An Historical Sketch of the First Church in Boston, by Rev. William Emerson.
2 New Englander, May, 1883
3 Old Landmarks and Historic Personages of Boston, by Samuel Adams Drake.
4 Literary Remains of the late Henry James, edited by William James.
5 History of Concord.
6 It is said that their zeal carried them so far in contravention to the prevailing ideas of filial reverence that they rebuked their mother for drinking tea at the time of the general agreement against the use of it.
7 Mr. Bromfield was not the Squire of Harvard, in the New England sense, but the account of him in Mrs. Quincy's diary seems to show some traits of the English squirarchy still surviving in New England at the beginning of the century: "Mr. Bromfield and his surroundings vividly reminded Mrs. Quincy of Addison's description of Sir Roger de Coverley in the Spectator. It seemed to her that she must be on a visit to that worthy knight,—especially on Sunday, when, equipped with a red cloak and a wig surmounted by a cocked hat, and attended by his negro servant Othello, he escorted her under the ancient avenue of elms and through the grave-yard to the village church. Profound deference and respect marked the passing salutations he received, and at the conclusion of the service the whole congregation remained standing in their pews until Mr. Broomfield and his guests had walked down the broad aisle."
8 Sprague's Annals, and Dr. Pierce's MS. diary in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society. 9 Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, vol. i.
10 History of the Boston Athenæum, Boston, 1851, page 3.
11 His comrades of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company attended the funeral under arms. Emerson well remembered his delight at the military pomp.
12 Collected Writings. The references to Mr. Emerson's writings are uniformly to the Riverside edition.
13 Christian Examiner, January, 1854.
14 Reminiscences of an Old Teacher.
15 Bradford Memoirs (privately printed). Phil., 1880.
16 MS. notes for the speech at the Latin School celebration, November 8, 1876.
17 Emerson remembered playing truant for some time in this midday interval, and being punished for it by imprisonment on bread and water.
18 Fortus, with Dr. Furness's illustrations, still survives, in the possession of the Rev. Daniel Noyes at Byfield.
19 One of these (on Astronomy) I find among Emerson's papers. One night, crossing Boston Common, then an open expanse, he had been much impressed by the sight of the stars, and resolved to take this subject for his next school composition.
20 Ralph Waldo Emerson. By George Willis Cooke.