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Of all his neighbors he can something tell,
Hosmer might have sat, also, for the more idyllic picture of the Concord farmer, which Channing has drawn in his “ New England”:“ This man takes pleasure o'er the crackling fire,
His glittering axe subdued the monarch oak;
Near the small farm of Edmund Hosmer, when Mr. Curtis lived with him and sometimes worked on his well-tilled acres, lay a larger farm, which, about the beginning of Thoreau's active life, was brought from neglect and barrenness into high cultivation by Captain Abel Moore, another Concord farmer, and one of the first, in this part of the country, to appreciate the value of our bog-meadows for cultivation by ditching and top-dressing with the sand which Nature had so thoughtfully ridged up in hills close by. Under the name of “Captain
Hardy,” Thoreau celebrated this achievement of his townsman, upon which the hundreds who in summer stroll to the School of Philosophy in Mr. Alcott's orchard, now gaze with admiration,- bettered as it has been by the thirty years' toil and skill bestowed upon it since by Captain Moore's son and grandson. Thoreau said :
“ Look across the fence into Captain Hardy's land. There's a musician for you who knows how to make men dance for him in all weathers, — all sorts of men, — Paddies, felons, farmers, carpenters, painters, — yes, and trees, and grapes, and ice, and stone, — hot days, cold days. Beat that true Orpheus lyre if you can. He knows how to make men sow, dig, mow, and lay stonewall; to make trees bear fruit God never gave them, and foreign grapes yield the juices of France and Spain, on his south side. He saves every drop of sap, as if it were his blood. See his cows, his horses, his swine! And he, the piper that plays the jig they all must dance, biped and quadruped, is the plainest, stupidest harlequin, in a coat of no colors. His are the woods, the waters, hills, and meadows. With one blast of his pipe he danced a thousand tons of gravel from yonder blowing sand-heap to the bog-meadow, where the English grass is waving over thirty acres ; with another, he winded away sixty head of cattle in the spring, to the pastures of Peterboro' on the hills.”
Such were and are the yeomen of Concord, among whom Thoreau spent his days, a friend to them and they to him, though each sometimes spoke churlishly of the other. He surveyed their wood-lots, laid out their roads, measured their fields and pastures for division among the heirs when a husbandman died, inspected their rivers and ponds, and exchanged information with them concerning the birds, the beasts, insects, flowers, crops, and trees. Their yearly Cattle Show in October was his chief festival, — one of the things he regretted, when living on the edge of New York Bay, and sighing for Fairhaven and White Pond. Without them the landscape of his native valley would not have been so dear to his eyes, and to their humble and perennial virtues he owed more inspiration than he would always confess.
He read in the crabbed Latin of those old Roman farmers, Cato, Varro, and musically-named Columella, and fancied the farmers of Concord were daily obeying
Cato's directions, who in turn was but repeating the maxims of a more remote antiquity.
“I see the old, pale-faced farmer walking beside his team, with contented thoughts,” he says, “ for the five thousandth time. This drama every day in the streets ; this is the theatre I go to. ... Human life may be transitory and full of trouble, but the perennial mind, whose survey extends from that spring to this, from Columella to Hosmer, is superior to change. I will identify myself with that which did not die with Columella, and will not die with Hosmer."
THE TRANSCENDENTAL PERIOD.
ALTHOUGH Henry Thoreau would have been, in any place or time of the world's drama, a personage of note, it has already been observed, in regard to his career and his unique literary gift, that they were affected, and in some sort fashioned by the influences of the very time and place in which he found himself at the opening of life. It was the sunrise of New England Transcendentalism in which he first looked upon the spiritual world; when Carlyle in England, Alcott, Emerson, and Margaret Fuller in Massachusetts, were preparing their contemporaries in America for that modern Renaissance which has been so fruitful, for the last forty years, in high thought, vital religion, pure literature, and great deeds. And the place of his birth and breeding, the home of his affections, as it was the Troy, the Jerusalem, and the Rome of his