Theodore Frelinghuysen Wolfe.

Literary shrines; the haunts of some famous American authors online

. (page 1 of 11)
Online LibraryTheodore Frelinghuysen WolfeLiterary shrines; the haunts of some famous American authors → online text (page 1 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





P. L. 124

Q F O 0— 145e



Uniform with this volume



Trtating descriptively and reminiscently of the
Acmes and resorts of English writers from the
time of Chaucer to the present^ and of the scenes
commemorated in their works

262 pages. Illustrated with four
photogravures. ^1.25


Two volumes in a box, $2.50



M.D. Ph.D. "



aao3Ko3 ,aai3YAW shT

The Wayside, Concorp



M.D. Ph.D. "





Copyright, 1895,


Theodore F. Wolfe.

Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, U.S.A.

BfiiPT. lO. 2040















TT^OR some years it has been the delightful
•*- privilege of the writer of the present
volume to ramble and sojourn in the scenes amid
which his best-beloved authors erst lived and
wrote. He has made repeated pilgrimages to
most of the shrines herein described, and has
been, at one time or another, favored by inter-
course and correspondence with many of the
authors adverted to or with their surviving
friends and neighbors. In the ensuing pages he
has endeavored to portray these shrines in pen-
pictures which, it is hoped, may be interesting
to those who are unable to visit them and help-
ful and companionable for those who can and
will. If certain prominent American authors
receive little more than mention in these pages,
it is mainly because so few objects and places
associated with their lives and writings can now
be indisputably identified : in some instances the
writer has expended more time upon fruitless
quests for shrines which proved to be non-exist-
ent or of doubtful genuineness than upon others
which are themes for the chapters of this

T. F. W.




I. A Village of Literary Shrines.
Abodei of Thoreau — The Alcotts — Channing — Sanborn
- Hudson - Hoar - fFheildon - Bartlett - The His-
toric Common — Cemetery - Church 17

II. The Old Manse.

Abode of Dr. Ripley — The Emersons — Hawthorne —
Learned Mrs. Ripley - Its Famed Study and
Apartments -Grounds -Guests - Ghosts - A Tran-
scendental Social Court 28

III. A Storied River and Battle-field.
Where Zenobia Drowned — Where Embattled Farmers

Fought — Thoreau" s Hemlocks — Haunts of Haw-
thorne— Channing— Thoreau — Emerson y etc. . . 39

IV. The Home of Emerson.

An Intellectual Capitol and Pharos - Its Grounds^ Li-
brary y and Literary Workshop — Famous Rooms
and Visitants- Relics and Reminiscences of the
Concord Sage 4.5

V. The Orchard House and its Neighbors.
EUery Channing-Margaret Fuller-The Alcotts-Pro-
fessor Harris — Summer School of Philosophy —



Where Little Women was ivritten and Robert
Hagburn linjed-Where Cyril Norton was slain . 52

VI. Hawthorne's Wayside Home.
Sometime Abode of Alcott— Hawthorne— Lathrop— Mar-
garet Sidney - Storied Apartments - Hawthorne' s
Study — His Mount of Vision — Where Septimius
Felton and Rose Garfield dwelt 58

Vn. The Walden of Thoreau.
A Transcendental Font-Emerson" s Garden— Thoreau* s
Cove— Cairn— Beanfeld-Resort of Emerson-Haw-
thorne-Channing-Hosmer-Alcott, etc 68

VIII. The Hill-top Hearsed with Pines.

Last Resting-Place of the Illustrious Concord Company-

Their Graves beneath the Piny Boughs .... 75



A Golden Age of Letters-Literary Associations-Isms-
Clubs-Where Hester Prynne and Silas Lapham
lived-The Corner Book-store -Home of Fields-
Sargent — Hilliard — Aldrich — Deland- Parkman —
Holmes - Howells - Moulton - Hale - Howe - Jane
Austin J etc 83


I. Cambridge: Elmwood; Mount Auburn.
Holmes's Church-yard- Bridge- Smithy f Chapel ^ and
River of Longfellow's Verse-Abodes of Lettered



Culture - Holmes - Higginson - Agaaiz — Norton -
Clough - Hoivelh — Fuller — Longfalloiv - Loivell—
Long fellow'' s City of the Dead and its Precious
Graves 103

II. Belmont : The Wayside Inn : Home of
LoivelPs Beaver Brook — Abode of Trowbridge — Red
Horse Tavern-Parsons and the Company of Long-
fellow* s Friends— Birthplace of TV hittier— Scenes of
his Poems— Divelling and Grave of the Countess—
Powow Hill— Whittier'' s Amesbury Home — His
Church and Tomb 1 17

III. Salem : Whittier's Oak-Knoll and be-

Cemetery of Hawthorne'' s Ancestors- Birthplace of Haw-
thorne and his Wife — Where Fame was won —
House of the Seven Gables— Custom-House— Where
Scarlet Letter was written — Main Street and
Witch Hill - Sights from a Steeple - Later Home
of Whittier— Norman's Woe -Lucy Larcom— Par-
ton ^ etc, —Rivermouth —Thaxter 128

IV. Webster's Marshfield : Brook Farm, etc.
Scenes of the Old Oaken Bucket — Webster' s Home and

Grave -Where Emerson won his Wife — Home of
Miss Peabody —Par kman— Miss Guiney —Aldrich' s
Ponkapog - Farm of Ripley'' s Community - Relics

and Reminiscences 141



I. The Graylock and Hoosac Region.
North Adams and about— Haivt home' s Acquaintancei
and Excursions - Actors and Incidents of Ethan
Brand-Kiln of Bertram the Lime- Burner-Nat-
ural Bridge — Graylock - Thoreau - Hoosac Moun-
tain-Deerf eld Arch- WilUamstoivn-Bryant . . 155

II. Lenox and Middle Berkshire.
Beloved of the Litterateurs-La Mai son Rouge-Where
The House of the Seven Gables -was written —
Wonder- Book and Tangleivood Scenes— The Bowl—
Beecher*s Laurel Lake -Kemble -Bryant^ s Monu-
ment Mountain — Stockbridge — Catherine Sedgwick
-Melville's Piazza and Chimney-Holmes -Long-
fellow - Pittsf eld 176


Walk and Talk with Socrates in Camden —The Bard's
Appearance and Surroundings — Recollections of his
Life and Work — Hospital Service — Praise for his
Critics-His Literary Habit^ Purpose^ Equipmentf
and Style-His Religious Bent-Readings .... aoi



The Wayside, Concord Frontispiece.

The Thoreau-Alcott House, — Present Appearance . . ai

The Grave of Emerson 78

Where Longfellow lived 108


'J'he concord pilgrimage

I. A Village of Literary Shrines
II. The Old Manse

III. Storied River and Battle-field

IV. The Home of Emerson

V. Alcott's Orchard House, etc.

VI. Hawthorne's Wayside Home

VII. The Walden of Thoreau

VIII. The Hill-top Hearsed with




jibodes of Thoreau — The jilcotts — Channing — Sanborn —
Hudson - Hoar - TVheildon - Bartlett - The Historic
Common — Cemetery — Church.

TF to trace the footsteps of genius and to
linger and muse in the sometime haunts of
the authors we read and love, serve to bring us
nearer their personality, to place us en rapport
with their aspirations, and thus to incite our
own spiritual development and broaden and
exalt our moral nature, then the Concord pil-
grimage should be one of the most fruitful and
beneficent of human experiences. Familiarity
with the physical stand-point of our authors,
with the scenes amid which they lived and
wrote, and with the objects which suggested
the imagery of their poems, the settings of
their tales, and which gave tone and color to
their work, will not only bring us into closer
sympathy with the writers, but will help us to
a better understanding of the writings.

A plain, straggling village, set in a low
country amid a landscape devoid of any striking
beauty or grandeur. Concord yet attracts more
B 17

The Concord Pilgrimage

pilgrims than any other place of equal size upon
the continent, not because it holds an historic
battle-field, but because it has been the dwelling-
place of some of the brightest and best in
American letters, who have here written their
books and warred against creeds, forms, and
intellectual servitude. It is another Stratford,
another Mecca, to which come reverent pil-
grims from the Old World and the New to wor-
ship at its shrines and to wander through the
scenes hallowed by the memories of its illus-
trious litterateurs, seers, and evangels. To the
literary prowler it is all sacred ground, — its
streets, its environing hills, forests, lakes, and
streams have alike been blessed by the loving
presence of genius, have alike been the theatres
and the inspirations of noble literary achieve-

Our way lies by historic Lexington, and
thence, through a pleasant country and by the
road so fateful to the British soldiery, we ap-
proach Concord. It is a placid, almost somno-
lent village of villas, abounding with delightful
lawns and gardens, with great elms shading its
old-fashioned thoroughfares and drooping their
pliant boughs above its comfortable homes.

Elizabeth Hoar has said, " Concord is Tho-
reau*s monument, adorned with inscriptions by

A Village of Literary Shrines

his hand ;" of the circle of brilliant souls who
have given the tow^n its world-v/ide fame, he
alone was native here ; he has left his imprint
upon the place, and we meet some reminder of
him at every turn. By the historic village Com-
mon is the quondam home of his grandfather,
where his father was reared, and where the
" New England Essene" himself lived some
time with the unmarried aunt who made the
ample homespun suit he wore at Walden. The
house of his maternal grandmother, where Henry
David Thoreau was born, stood a little way out
on a by-road to Lexington, and a daughter of
this home — Thoreau's winsome aunt Louisa
Dunbar — was ineffectually wooed by the famous
Daniel Webster. At the age of eight months
the infant Thoreau was removed to the village,
in which nearly the whole of his life was passed.
Believing that Concord, with its sylvan environ-
ment, was a microcosm " by the study of which
the whole world could be comprehended,'* this
wildest of civilized men seldom strayed beyond
its familiar precincts. Alcott declared that
Thoreau thought he dwelt in the centre of the
universe, and seriously contemplated annexing
the rest of the planet to Concord.

On the south side of the elm-shaded Main
street of the village we find a pleasant and com-

The Concord Pilgrimage

fortable, old-fashioned wooden dwelling, — the
home which, in his later years, the philosopher,
poet, and mystic shared with his mother and
sisters. About it are great trees which Thoreau
planted ; a stairway and some of the partition
walls of the house are said to have been erected
by him. In the second story of an extension at
the back of the main edifice, some of the family
worked at their father's trade of pencil-making.
In the large room at the right of the entrance,
afterward the sitting-room of the Alcotts, some
of Thoreau's later writing was done, and here,
one May morning of 1862, he breathed out a
life all too brief and doubtless abbreviated by
the storms and drenchings endured in his pan-
theistic pursuits. In this house Thoreau's " spir-
itual brother," John Brown of Osawatomie, was
a welcome guest, and more than one wretched
fugitive from slavery found shelter and protec-
tion. From his village home Thoreau made,
with the poet Ellery Channing, the journey
described in his ** Yankee in Canada," and sev-
eral shorter " Excursions," — shared with Ed-
ward Hoar, Channing, and others, — which he
has detailed in the delightful manner which gives
him a distinct position in American literature.

After the removal of Sophia, the last of
Thoreau's family, his friend Frank B. Sanborn

A Village of Literary Shrines

occupied the Thoreau house for some years, and
then it became the home of the Alcott family.
Here Mrs. Alcott, the " Marmee" of " Little
Women," died ; here Bronson Alcott was stricken
with the fatal paralysis ; here commenced the
malady which contributed to the death of his
illustrious daughter Louisa ; here lived " Meg,"
the mother of the ** Little Men" and widow of
"John Brooke" of the Alcott books; and here
now lives her son, while his brother, " Demi-
John," dwells just around the corner in the next
street. In the room at the left of the hall,
fitted up for her study and workshop, Louisa
Alcott wrote some of the tales which the world
will not forget. An added apartment at the
right of the sitting-room was long the sick-room
of the Orphic philosopher and the scene of
Louisa's tender care. Here the writer saw them
both for the last time : Alcott helpless upon his
couch, his bright intelligence dulled by a veil of
darkness ; the daughter at his bedside, sedulous
of his comfort, devoted, hopeful, helpful to the
end. A cherished memento of that interview
is a photograph of the Thoreau-Alcott mansion,
made by one of the ** Little Men," and presented
to the writer, with her latest book, by "Jo" her-
self. The front fence has since been removed,
and the illustration shows the present view.

The Concord Pilgrimage

In Thoreau's time, a modest dwelling, with a
low roof sloping to the rear, — now removed to
the other side of the street, — stood directly op-
posite his home, and was for some time the
abode of his friend and earliest biographer, the
sweet poet William Ellery Channing. Thoreau
thought Channing one of the few who under-
stood " the art of taking walks," and the two
were almost constant companions in saunterings
through the countryside, or in idyllic excursions
upon the river in the boat which Thoreau kept
moored to a riverside willow at the foot of
Channing's garden. The beneficent influence
of their comradeship is apparent in the work of
both these recluse writers, and many of the
most charming of Channing^s stanzas are either
inspired by or are poetic portrayals of the scenes
he saw with Thoreau, — the " Rudolpho" and the
" Idolon" of his verse. Thoreau*s last earthly
" Excursion" was with this friend to Monadnoc,
where they encamped some days in i860. To
this home of Channing came, in 1855, Sanborn,
who was welcomed to Concord by all the lit-
erary galaxy, and quickly became a familiar
associate of each particular star. To go swim-
ming together seems to have been, among these
earnest and exalted thinkers, the highest evidence
of mutual esteem, and so favored was Sanborn

A Village of Literary Shrines

that he is able to record, " I have swum with
Alcott in Thoreau's Cove, with Thoreau in the
Assabet, with Channing in every water of Con-

In this home Sanborn entertained John Brown
on the eve of his Virginia venture ; here escap-
ing slaves found refuge ; here fugitives from the
Harper's Ferry fight were concealed ; here San-
born was arrested for supposed complicity in
Brown's abortive schemes, and was forcibly
rescued by his indignant neighbors. This
modest dwelling gave place to the later residence
of Frederic Hudson, the historian of journalism,
who here produced many of his contributions to
literature. Professor Folsom, of " Translations
of the Four Gospels," and the popular authoress
Mrs. Austin have also lived in this neighbor-

For some years Sanborn had a famous select
school on a street back of Thoreau's house, not
far from the recent hermit-home of his friend
Channing, at whose request Hawthorne sent
some of his children to this school, in which
Emerson's daughter — the present Mrs. Forbes —
was a beloved pupil, and where, also, the daugh-
ters of John Brown were for some time placed.

A few rods westward from his former dwell-
ing we find Sanborn in a tasteful modern villa, —

The Concord Pilgrimage

spending life's early autumn among his books.
He abounds with memories of his friends of the
by-gone time, and his reminiscences and biog-
raphies of some of them have largely employed
his pen in his pleasant study here.

Some time ago the sweet singer Channing
suffered in his hermitage a severe illness, which
prompted his appreciative friend Sanborn to take
him into his own home ; so we find two sur-
viving witnesses or participants in the moral,
intellectual, and political renaissance dwelling
under the same roof. In the kindly atmosphere
of this home, the shy poet — who in his age is
more recluse than ever, and scarce known to his
neighbors — so far regained physical vigor that
he has resumed his frequent visits to the Boston
library, long time a favorite haunt of his. The
world refused to listen to this exquisite singer,
and now " his songs have ceased." He has been
celebrated by Emerson in the" Dial," by Thoreau
in his " Week," by Hawthorne in " Mosses" and
" Note-Books," by the generous and sympathetic
Sanborn in many ways and places ; but even such
poems as " Earth-Spirit," " Poet's Hope," and
" Reverence" found few readers, — the dainty
little volumes fewer purchasers.

Below the Thoreau-Alcott house on the vil-
lage street was a prior home of Thoreau, from

A Village of Literary Shrines

which he made, with his brother, the voyage
described in his ♦* Week on the Concord and
Merrimac Rivers," and from which, in superb
disdain of " civilization" and social convention-
alities, he went to the two years' hermitage of
«* Walden."

Nearly opposite the earlier residence of the
stoic is the home of the Hoars, where lived
Thoreau's comrade Edward Hoar, and Edward's
sister, — styled " Elizabeth the Wise" by Emer-
son, of whom she was the especial friend and
favorite, having been the fiancee of his brother
Charles, who died in early manhood. The
adjacent spacious mansion was long the home
of Wheildon, the historian, essayist, and pam-
phleteer. Nearer the village Common lived
John A. Stone, dramatist of " The Ancient
Briton" and of the " Metamora" in which
Forrest won his first fame. In this part of the
village the eminent correspondent " Warring-
ton," author of " Manual of Parliamentary Law,"
was born and reared ; and in Lowell Street, not
far away, lives the gifted George B. Bartlett, of
the " Carnival of Authors," — poet, scenic artist,
and local historian.

In the public library we find copies of the
printed works of the many Concord authors,
and portraits or busts of most of the writers.

The Concord Pilgrimage

Among the treasures of the institution are priceless
manuscripts of Curtis, Motley, Lowell, Holmes,
Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and others.

Among the thickly, strewn graves on the hill-
side above the Common repose the ashes of
Emerson's ancestors; about them lie the fore-
fathers of the settlement, — some of them asleep
here for two centuries, reckless alike of the re-
sistance to British oppression and of the later
struggle for freedom of thought which their
townsmen have waged. A tree on the Common
is pointed out as that beneath which Emerson
made an address at the dedication of the sol-
diers* monument, and Bartlett records the tra-
dition that the grandfather of the Concord sage
stood on the same spot a hundred years before
to harangue the ** embattled farmers" on the
morning of the Concord fight.

Near by is the ancient church where Emer-
son's ancestors preached, and within whose
framework the Provincial Congress met. Of
the religious services here Emerson was always
a supporter, often an attendant ; here he some-
times preached in early manhood ; here his
children were christened by the elder Channing,
— " the first minister he had known who was as
good as they;" here Emerson's daughter is a
devout worshipper.


A Village of Literary Shrines

The comparatively few of the transcendental
company who prayed within a pew came to this
temple, but here all were brought at last for
funeral rites : here lay Thoreau among his
thronging townsmen while Emerson and Bron-
son Alcott made their touching eulogies and
Ellery Channing read a dirge in a voice almost
hushed with emotion ; here James Freeman
Clarke, who had married Hawthorne twenty-
two years before, preached his funeral sermon
above the lifeless body which bore upon its
breast the unfinished ** Dolliver Romance ;" be-
fore the pulpit here lay the cofiined Emerson, —
** his eyes forever closed, his voice forever still,"
— while a vast concourse looked upon him for
the last time, and his neighbor Judge Hoar pro-
nounced one of the most impressive panegyrics
that ever fell from human lips, and the devoted
Alcott read a sonnet.


Abode of Dr. Ripley — The Emersons — Haivthorne — Learned
Mrs. Ripley— Its Famed Study and Apartments-Grounds—
Guests-Ghosts— A Transcendental Social Court.

^^ORTHWARD from the village Common,
■^^ a delightful stroll along a shaded highway,
less secluded now than when Hawthorne " daily-
trudged" upon it to the post-office or trundled
the carriage of ** baby Una," brings us to the
famous ** Old Manse" about which he culled his
" Mosses."

This antique mansion was first tenanted by
Ralph Waldo Emerson's grandsire, and next by
Dr. Ezra Ripley, who married the previous
occupant's widow and became guardian of her
children, — born under its roof, — of whom Emer-
son's father was one. When his father died
Emerson found a secondary home here with Dr.
Ripley. The Manse was again the abode of
Emerson and his mother in 1834-35, when he
here wrote his first volume. In 1842, the year
following the demise of the good Dr. Ripley,
the Manse was profaned by its first lay occupant,
Nathaniel Hawthorne. He brought here his
bride, lovely Sophia Peabody (who, with the


The Old Manse

gifted Elizabeth and Mrs. Horace Mann, formed
a famous triune sisterhood), and for four years
lived here the ideal life of which his " Note-
Books" and ** Mosses" give us such delicious
glimpses. Hav^rthorne's landlord, Samuel Ripley,
was related to the George Ripley with whom
Hawthorne had recently been associated at
Brook Farm. He was uncle of Emerson, and
preached his ordination sermon ; was himself
reared in the old Manse, and succeeded Haw-
thorne as resident there. His widow, born
Sarah Bradford, and celebrated as " the most
learned woman ever seen in New England," the
close friend of Emerson and of the brilliant
Concord company, survived here until 1876.
She made a valuable collection of lichens, and
sometimes trained young men for Harvard Uni-
versity. Conway records that a savant called
here one day and found her hearing at once the
lesson of one student in Sophocles and that of
another in Differential Calculus, while rocking
her grandchild's cradle with one foot and shell-
ing peas for dinner. The place is now owned
by her daughters, who reside in Cambridge, and
is rented in summer.

It is little changed since the time Emerson's
ancestor hurried thence to the gathering of his
parishioners by his church-door before the Con-

The Concord Pilgrimage

cord battle, — still less changed since the halcyon
days when the great wizard of romance dwelt —
the "most unknown of authors" — within its
shades. It is still the unpretentious Eden, ** the
El Dorado for dreamers," which so completely
won the heart of the sensitive Hawthorne.

The picturesque old mansion stands amid
greensward and foliage, its ample grounds di-
vided from the highway by a low wall. The
gate-way is flanked by tall posts of rough-hewn
stone, whence a grass-grown avenue, bordered
by a colonnade of overarching trees, leads to the
house. Within the scattered sunshine and shade
of the avenue, a row of stone slabs sunken in the
turf like gravestones paves the path paced by
Ripley, Emerson, and Hawthorne as they pon-
dered and planned their compositions. Of the
trees aligned upon either side, some, gray-li-
chened and broken, are survivors of Hawthorne's
time ; others are set to replace fallen patriarchs
and keep the stately lines complete. At the
right of the broad allee and extending away to
the battle-ground is the field, waving now with
lush grass, where Hawthorne and Thoreau
found the flint arrow-heads and other relics of

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryTheodore Frelinghuysen WolfeLiterary shrines; the haunts of some famous American authors → online text (page 1 of 11)