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The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.



Chapter X
Early Influences 255

Chapter XI
INITLA.L Love 268

1 Chapter XII
Exeter and Cambridge 295

Chapter XIII
Concord and Its Authors 313

Chapter XIV
Other Concord Authors 338

Chapter XV
Mrs. Ripley and Her Friends 357

Chapter XVI
Jones, Dunbar and Thoreau Families . . . 375

Chapter XVII
Margaret Fuller and Her Friends .... 403

Chapter XVIII
Emerson in Ancestry and in Life . . . . 420

Chapter XIX
Concord, Past and Present 441

Chapter XX
Bronson Alcott and His Family .... 461


Chapter XXI
The Concord ScHOOii of Philosophy . . . 485

Chapter XXll
Hawthorne and His Household 514

Chapter XXlll
Theodore Parker and Emerson 539

Chapter XXIV
The Concord Lyceum, Dr. Channing, Wendell,

Phillips, and Others 568

Index 587


Ellery Channing Frontispiece


Dr. C. H. Sanborn, ^t. 25 266

Sarah Sanborn, ^t. 40 ^66

Helen Sanborn, iEt. 20 ....... . 266

F. B. Sanborn, ^t. 17 266

Ariana Smith Walker, yEt. 18 288

F. B. Sanborn, 1853 288

A Valentine (fac simile) 288

Ednah Littlehale, 1853 304^

Allston's Ednah 304

Autograph Signature of Members of the Town and

Country Club 306

The Wayside, from a Sketch by May Alcott . . 320
Hillside, from a Sketch by A. Bronson Alcott . 320
Parlor in the Hosmer Cottage, from a Sketch by A.

Bronson Alcott 340

The Hosmer Cottage, from a Sketch by A. Bronson

Alcott '340

Hawthorne's Chair, Wayside Hill, from a Sketch by

May Alcott 364

The old Manse, 1870, from a Sketch of May Alcott 364
Emerson's Home, Concord, from a Sketch by May

Alcott 364

Mrs. Sarah Bradford Ripley, from a Crayon by S. W.

Cheney 376

Ralph Waldo Emerson 420

May Alcott's East Studio, Orchard House, from her

Sketch 456



Birthplace of Bronson Alcott, from his Sketch . 456

The Children in the Wood 482

A. Bronson Alcott, from a bas-relief by S. W. Cheney 484

B. S. Lyman, 1870 486

Edwin Morton, 1858 486

Dr. W. T. Harris, 1875 486

Dr. W. T. Harris, 1905 486

Last Photograph of Alcott, 1885 .... 498

Hillside Chapel, 1880 ......... 498

Mrs. Alcott, 1870, from a Crayon by May . . 506

May Alcott, 1875 506

Louisa Alcott, Mt 30 506

Grave of Parker at Florence 540

The Orchard House, the Summer Residence of Pro-
fessor Desor 540

The Meeting House at West Roxbury . . . 542

House of George R. Russell, West Roxbury . . 542

Story's Parker Monument, Florence .... 558

Parker's Letter to Huntington 564

Mrs. Broad's House and Schoolhouse . . . 566

The West Roxbury Parsonage 566

Daniel Ricketson, 1887 572

Marston Watson, 1887 572

House of F. D. Sanborn, Concord, 1882 . . . 580

The River Bank and Sanborn House .... 580

George Minot, described by Channing (fac-simile) 586


■ »—IH III > >X


Early Influences

THOUGH my political opinions began to
manifest themselves at seven and eight
years old, for I certainly took a lively
interest in New Hampshire elections in
1839-40, yet my literary life began even earlier,
and under influences very favorable to the forma-
tion of scholarly habits. The libraries of my
father, elder brother and grandfather, though
small, were well supplied with sound reading; and
the " Social Library " founded by Parson Abbot
was open to me almost daily, after it was restored
to the Parsonage in 1840, from Deacon Lane's;
and there I found books of travel, adventure and
history, as well as the pleasing fiction of Hannah
More and Maria Edgeworth, and a few volumes
of English and American poetry. At Grand-
father Leavitt's were the books of Scottish re-
ligion, which had been his mother's, and especially
Doddridge's " Life of Colonel Gardiner," and the
intolerant Presbyterian volume of " The Scots
Worthies," containing brief biographies of the
Protestant reformers of Scotland, from Buchanan
and John Knox down to the Covenanters who
fought at Bothwell Bridge, and the two beheaded


256 Recollections of Seventy Years

earls of Ai-gyle (so the name was then spelled),
ending with that ferocious pamphlet of Howie of
Lochgoin, " God's Judgment on Persecutors,"
which gave the extremely hostile view of the Stuart
sovereigns, of Ai^hbishop Sharpe, Lauderdale and
Graham of Claverhouse. This prepared me for
Scott's Waverley Novels, of which I became the
owner before I was twelve, having already perused
with eager and undoubting interest. Miss Porter's
" Scottish Chiefs " and " Thaddeus of Warsaw,"
in the library of a schoolmate. Burns's poems and
Moore's " Irish Melodies " were in the house; and
the first volume of the now almost forgotten
Southey, which I read at nine, was his rhapsodical
" Joan of Arc," now absolutely gone to oblivion.
My great find, however, at the age of eight, was
an odd volume of Shakespeare including the Henry
VI., Richard III., and Henry VIII., which I al-
most learned by heart before, at the age of twelve,
I got hold of the whole series of the Plays in the
newly started " Ladies' Library," the money for
which was provided by the " Sewing Circle " of the
Unitarian parish, under the energetic management
of Miss Fanny Caldwell, the sister and house-
keeper of our widowed clergyman. Parson Cald-
well. " Don Quixote " was the property of a rov-
ing uncle, and remained in our bookcase for years,
till I had read it twice over; and Bunyan's "Pil-
grim's Progress," the great book of Bronson Al-
cott's childhood, was in our house in two American
editions — my mother's copy and my Aunt Dolly's,
of an earlier date, which had come down to her

Early Influences 257

from her grandmother, who brought her up. Sin-
gularly enough, " Robinson Crusoe " was not
accessible to me in boyhood, so that I lacked the
third of that trio of fiction by Bunyan, Cervantes
and Defoe, which Johnson and Macaulay praise so
warmly. Campbell's poems and Longfellow's
earlier volumes I read as a boy of ten, and became
still earlier acquainted with Pope's " Essay on
Man " from the singular fact that American
pamphlet editions of it, with the "Universal
Prayer " appended, had been given as school
prizes, about 1805, to my father and his elder
brother Joseph, and both remained in a great chest
in the garret, which contained also Webster's
"Spelling-Book," and "Third Part," Murray's
" English Reader," and other discarded school-
books of the early nineteenth century. At school
we had Thomson's " Seasons " for our grammati-
cal exercises in " Parsing," so that I had much of
that famous poem by heart before I was ten. I
cannot remember the time when I could not read
with some fluency; and I began to write verses
(parodies, at first) certainly before I was eleven.

The atmosphere of the little town was literary
and even scholastic, from the fact that we had
enjoyed a learned ministry since 1780, when Dr.
Langdon came to the Parsonage, until I had
graduated at Harvard; and there were three
" academies " within a few miles — the famous
Phillips Academy at Exeter, the Hampton Acad-
emy, where Rufus Choate and others fitted for
college, and a Baptist Rockingham Academy in

258 Eecollections of Seventy Years

Hampton Falls village, built on the triangular
parade-ground given to the town by Colonel
Weare, Chief Justice and President of the Revo-
lutionary State of New Hampshire afterwards,
but given, I suppose, while he was a Provincial
Colonel under Governor Benning Wentworth, in
the old French War. In this Baptist seminary
boys were fitted for Brown University, and its
teachers were usually graduates from Providence.
The winter teachers in our three district schools
were either students from the colleges or graduates
from these three Academies, and were usually
capable of giving instiniction in Latin, sometimes
in Greek. Professor Bowen of Harvard taught
one of our schools while in college, and boarded
with Deacon Lane, who had inlierited from Presi-
dent Langdon his globes and parsonical wig, and
who lived in a large old house behind the meeting-
house of Langdon and Abbot, and of Rev.
Stephen Farley, the father of Harriet Farley ; who
was herself one of the founders of the " Lowell
Offering," written by the factory girls at Lowell,
of whom Dickens and other English tourists had
much to say, in the years 1841-46. Miss Farley
had been a teacher first, and then a factory girl
herself; her eldest brother, Massillon Farley, had
studied law and become a judge in Texas, in those
dim years when the " Lone Star " of that vast
State flared over the exploits of Houston and
Crockett, and lighted the way to annexation in
1844, against the opposition of Webster, Clay,
Van Buren and our local Congressman, John P.

Early Influences 259

Hale. Miss Farley's youngest brother, Stephen,
was a playmate of mine on the three-cornered
green, and my first compassion toward the poor
was aroused by his telling me one day that they
often had no breakfast in the Parsonage but po-
tatoes and cream. My first distinct view of actual
insanity, that painful malady with which I have
been for many years familiar as an expert, was in
seeing the mother of this rather brilliant family of
young persons rambling in our pine-wood and
talking to herself in an incoherent way; for she
was harmlessly insane in her aged years.

My first important literary purchase having been
Scott's novels, I next bought " Marmion " and
Byron's " Childe Harold," and soon after the one-
volume American edition of all Byron's poems,
plays and letters. Carey's " Dante," in the Ladies'
Library, and Fairfax's " Tasso " in my own col-
lection, gave me my first taste of Italian litera-
ture; and by that time I had read much Latin in
my brother's text-books or the old volumes of the
Langdon ministerial libraiy, where I found both
" Terence " and the " Colloquies of Erasmus," in
which I became somewhat familiar with conversa-
tional Latin, and the peculiarities of innkeeping
in the sixteenth century.

All this and much more was random reading,
with little method or guidance, but in my retentive
memory it laid a foundation for the miscellaneous
knowledge in many directions which I had acquired
before entering college, and which gave me in some
degree an advantage over other students who had

260 Recollections of Seventy Years

followed the stricter discipline of the classical
schools. It also furnished me with much material
for illustration and remark when I became a
teacher myself, as I did in a small way, but without
compensation, while in college. I imparted what
Greek they needed to two of my friends in the
Cambridge Divinity School, and prepared Parson
Caldwell's son George for his entrance by the gate-
way of Latin and some Greek, into the scientific
field, where he distinguished himself, after studies
in Germany, by his professorship of chemistry at.
Cornell University. There I renewed my acquaint-
ance with him after more than 25 years, during my
lectureship at Cornell, in 1885-88. Looking back
upon the story of my brothers and sisters, I per-
ceive that we were, five of us, a group of successful
teachers, and all of us, except my youngest brother
Joseph, who had stricter instruction from myself
and the Exeter professors, had prepared ourselves
much in the careless way I hint at in my own case.
My second sister, Helen (the only survivor now
of that family of ten or twelve persons in the large
old house whom I first saw there), had among her
pupils in their early studies, Alice Brown, the
faithful chronicler of village and rural histories,
and Ralph Cram, the architect and aesthetic au-
thor, and also his younger brother William, who
has gained distinction as a naturalist, while tilling
his ancestral farm in the town where we were all

About 1845, when I had entered my fourteenth
year, with the random reading at which I have

Early Influences 261

glanced, I began to read Hawthorne, Carlyle, and
Emerson, and perceived that the bent of my mind
was with that school of writers. " Sartor Re-
sartus " and Hawthorne's " Mosses " were the first
volumes of these authors that I read; but I came
upon Emerson's poems as they were copied into
the newspapers from the Dial, and the " Western
Messenger " of James Freeman Clarke, where
they first appeared. Without my understanding
their full import, they addressed in me that poetic
sentiment which, with no corresponding gift of po-
etic expression, I shared with him and many others.
So early did I begin to read Emerson's writings,
at least in extracts (and very likely first in
the Christian World of Boston, edited by an early
disciple of the Concord poet, J. F. Clarke) , that I
can hardly remember when I did not know them,
in part and superficially. A natural affinity for
that school of thought which he most clearly repre-
sented, and something akin to his intuitions in my
own way of viewing personal and social aspects,
really brought me into relations with him before I
ever saw him, or ever heard that thrilling voice,
which few could forget who had once listened to
its deeper tones. I did not set foot in Concord
until the spring of 1851, when I was nineteen, and
was finishing my freshman studies for Harvard
at the Exeter Academy. I then walked over from
Sudbury with my schoolmate Henry Shaw (once
of Hampton Falls, but then studying medicine at
his father's parsonage in Sudbury, the next town
south of Concord), after sailing on the broad

262 Recollections of Seventy Years

meadows of Sudbury with Henry, who, since we
walked to school together in New Hampshire, had
become an expert seaman and fisherman by voy-
ages to India and along our coast, and was after-
ward for years a surgeon in the navy. We did
not see Emerson that day, although we passed his
house and the Old Manse; and it was two years
later, at the end of my sophomore year in college,
that I called on him and introduced myself to his
acquaintance, knowing by that time many of his

I must have begun to read Emerson before six-
teen; for in my sixteenth year I remember perus-
ing with indignation Francis Bowen's scoffing
review of the " Poems," which he printed in the
North American Review for 1847, in an editorial
article entitled " Nine New Poets." It was
Bowen's notion at the time that Bulwer's " New
Timon " was the great poem of the age, and he
so expressed himself to Longfellow, his brother
professor at Harvard. About the time of this
review I was reading " Sartor Resartus " of Car-
lyle, in the edition that Emerson introduced to
America, where it long preceded the English
volume. The second edition of Emerson's
" Nature " came out and was read by me in 1849,
and I then had each of his volumes, as it came out,
added to our local library. In the year 1850, when
I was reading Greek privately with Professor J.
G. Hoyt at Exeter, he told me how his classmates
at Dartmouth in 1838, as they were graduating,

Early Influences 263

invited Emerson to give his discourse on " Literary
Ethics" (one of the first of his addresses I had
read in 1849) and what he said on the subject of
having it reported for the newspapers. Young
Hoyt, in the name of the class, met him and asked
if he would allow a report to be made. Emerson
refused with decision, according to Mr. Hoyt:
" I curse the reporters," said the gentle sage, — " I
curse them." When I told Emerson this story
in later years, he refused to believe he had so
expressed himself; but I dare say the tale was

I had, of course, made the customary readings
in American history and biography in my boyhood,
and delighted in the myths of Parson Weems,
who wrote the lives of Washington, Marion, and
other heroes of the Revolution; and I was quite
as familiar with the model biography of Frank-
lin, by his own modest and skillful hand. In the
Langdon Library were the serial numbers of
Thomas Paine's " Crisis," received by President
Langdon while at the head of Harvard College,
where he had bestowed the degree of LL.D. on
Washington, in Latin of his own composition.
There also were other pamphlets of that period,
and possibly a few of Dr. Langdon's own sermons
in print; but I was not then a very eager reader
of sermons, and passed by with a groan the
finely printed pages of Zollikoffer's Sermons on
the shelves of our " Social Library." But I took
much delight in Thomas Burnet's " Theory of the

264 Recollections of Seventy Years

World before the Flood," which had come down
from my great-grandmother Leavitt's religious
bookcase, — accounting, as it did, for the antedi-
luvian earth on strictly orthodox principles, be-
fore geology and schism came to break up all our
ancient faiths. I had been a reader of the Bible,
Apocrypha and all, from earliest years; indeed,
had read the Old Testament through, without omis-
sion, before I was eight. This of itself was a lit-
erary training to one who was old enough to feel
the force of its remarkable English style.

I was indebted to a very different school of au-
thors, the writers for the weekly Boston Post, for
much literary news and entertainment in their book
reviews. The brothers Greene, kindred of Sena-
tor Fessenden of Maine, and indeed, distant cousins
of mine through a descent from that old Oxford
scholar, Rev. Stephen Bachiler, of Hampton,
M^re men of lively minds, and Nat, the elder, was
much of a scholar ; so that the book reviews, in which
Richard Frothingham may have aided, were able,
and indulged rustic readers like myself with long
quotations from the book in hand, — a custom that
George Ripley and many other good critics have
since followed, and which I adopt myself, when
space and time will allow. For I well recall the
keen pleasure I found in these quotations, — while
the criticism passed by my boyish mind, as the idle
wind. I dare say it is just so now with those
boys who take the trouble to read the hundreds
of book-notices that I turn off in a year, — and
have been doing so ever since I took charge of the

Early Influences 265

Boston Commonwealth in 1863, and became an
editor of the Springfield Republican in 1868.

It must not be supposed, however, that I was
a mere bookworm in boyhood, and learned nothing
of the wholesome games and sports of youth. I
early was taught to shoot and swim, played all
the ball games then in vogue, and had many joyous
comrades in the field during the open season, and
by the winter fireside from October to April. I
remember one spring night in a sawmill on Tay-
lor's River, — one of the oldest mill-streams in New
Hampshire, — where during the running of the log,
which my companion had to watch, he and I played
" checkers " through the night, on a board lined
off with charcoal, and with bits of bark for the
men; since checkers was then the most common
game except " High, Low, Jack " with cards. In
time I was taught Chess (by a parson's son) and
Whist, and became fairly expert in both. There
was a nightly company too, for several years, made
up of the farmers' sons and a few students from
the Academy, which met in the dense woods, ate
fricasseed chicken by a fire of pine boughs, and
even made excellent sponge cake, by the art of John
Godfrey, who was afterward a good army quarter-
master in the Civil War. and in peace a diviner
with the hazel wand to find concealed springs of
water, in a dry season. We had a fancy that we
were as well oflP in these escapades as the brigands
in Schiller's " Robbers," whose fine song the elder
Rangabe imitated in his Klepht Song, which in
1893 I found so popular in Greece.

266 Recollections of Seventy Years

Ein Freies Leben fiihren wir,
Ein Leben voller Wonne,
Der Wald is unser Nachtquartier,
Bei Sturm und Wind hantieren wir,
Der Mond ist unsre Sonne ;
Mercurius ist unser Mann,
Der's Praktizieren trefflich kann.

By this time (1849) my brother, Charles, had
suspended his Latin and French studies and taken
up German; and I mingled my renewed Greek
with his attractive German poesy. The first piece
I ever printed was a version of Burger's " Wild
Huntsman," which came out in the New Hamp-
shire Independent T>e7nocrat, in 1849; but when
I took up Schiller, the next year, I made several
better translations from that pleasing poet. Some
of these were from this same wild play of " The
Robbers " (in which I have seen Edwin Booth act) ,
which being an early piece by the poet, he clapped
into it some of his school-poems on Greek and
Roman subjects, — the " Farewell to Hector," and
the lyrical interview between Brutus and Caesar's
Ghost at Philippi. What they have to do with a
sensational Storm-and-Stress melodrama of Ger-
many, is hard to say; but they sounded well, and
were not hard to translate. Alexander Rangabe
caught the tune of Schiller's song, but developed
a far better poem, on a theme always popular in
modern Greece, — the tyrant-slaying brigand of
the mountain ranges. He thus begins :





Early Influences 267

" Mavr' ein' e nykta 's ta vouna
'S tous vrachous pephtei chioni :

Black on the mountain falls the night,
O'er crags the snow is drifting,"

and then goes on to picture the short and glorious
life of the Klepht, from the calls to battle till his
death in the moment of victory, — ending thus:

" My blue-eyed darling, weep no more.
But light the torch of glory !
Thy tears must not my death deplore;
Freeborn, these crags I rambled o'er.
In death lie free before thee."

This song reminds me that one of the first histories
I read, after Plutarch, was Dr. Howe's story of
the Greek Revolution, in which he bore so gallant
a part. We were playing Robin Hood, Klepht and
Fra Diavolo, in our nightly revels of the green-
wood; but it was a harmless comedy, like Shake-
speare's "As You Like It," and soon gave place
to the realities of life.


Initial Love

IN his " New Life," that exquisite parable of
initial love, Dante says, " Behold a Spirit
Cometh mightier than thou, who shall rule
over thee." The hour of Love was come and
neither of us suspected it. Up to my 19th year I
had lived fancy-free, although susceptible to the
beauty of girls, in which few New England towns
were then deficient, and slightly attached, at school
or elsewhere, to this maiden or that with fine eyes
and a social or narrative gift; one I remember,
Frances Brown, who had the Oriental trait of
story-telling in what then seemed perfection. To
one pair of sisters, in a family distantly related to
ours, I was specially attracted by their loveliness
and their gentle ways. They had the " matia ga-
lana " of the Klepht's blue-eyed maiden; and
toward the younger of the two, almost exactly my
own age, had I early manifested this interest, when
my years cannot have been more than seven.

They had come with their cousin, who was also
my cousin, to spend the afternoon and take tea
with my two sisters ; it may have been the first time
I had noticed the sweet beauty of Sarah C, who
was a granddaughter of the former parson of the
parish. So strongly was I impressed by it, that


Initial Love 269

while they were taking tea by themselves, boys not
being expected to enjoy their company, I went
to my strong box, which contained all my little stock
of silver, took from it a sliining half-dollar, the
largest coin I had, and deftly transferred it to the
reticule of Sarah, hanging on the back of a chair
in the " parlor chamber," all without telling any-
body what I had done. The two girls (aged seven
and ten) went home unsuspecting what had oc-
curred, but in emptying the reticule that night, the
coin was found, and Sarah knowing nothing about
it, the gift was sent back to the house of the tea
party, and my little scheme of endowing her with
my worldly goods was discovered, to my confu-

There had been other fancies, but nothing serious
until the year 1850, when I was just eighteen.
Nor had I taken the burden of life very seriously
in other directions. I had formed no scheme of
life; my education had been going on as already

Online LibraryF. B. (Franklin Benjamin) SanbornRecollections of seventy years → online text (page 1 of 24)