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alators, Transcendentalists, or, as they prefer to be called, Realists, presume to follow Reason in her purest dictates, her sublime and unfrequented regions. They presume, by her power, not only to discover what is truth, but to judge of revealed truth. But is not their whole process marred by leaving out common sense, by which mankind are generally governed ? That superiority which places a man above the power of doing good to his fellow-men seems to me not very desirable. I honor most the man who transcends others in capacity and disposition to do good, and whose daily practice corresponds with his profession. Here I speak of professed Christians. I would not treat with disrespect and severe censure men who advance sentiments which I may neither approve nor understand, provided their authors be men of learning, piety, and holy lives. The speculations and novel opinions of such men rarely prove injurious. Nevertheless, I would that their mental endowments might find a better method of doing good, - a more simple and intelligible manner of informing and reforming their fellow-men. ...
“ The hope of the gospel is my hope, my consolation, support and rejoicing. Such is my state of health that death is constantly before me; no minute would it be unexpected. I am waiting in faith and hope, but humble and penitent for my imperfections and faults. The prayer of the publican, God be merciful to me a sinner!' is never forgotten. I have hoped to see and converse with you, but now despair. If you shall think I use too much freedom with you, charge it to the respect and esteem which are cherished for your character by your affectionate friend and brother,
E. RIPLEY. “ CONCORD, February 26, 1839.”
At this time Dr. Ripley was almost eighty-eight, and he lived two years longer, to mourn yet more pathetically over the change of times and manners. “It was fit,” said Emerson, “ that in the fall of laws, this loyal man should die.” But the young men who succeeded him were no less loyal to the unwritten laws, and from their philosophy, which to the old theologian seemed so misty and unreal, there flowered forth, in due season, the most active and world-wide philanthropies. Twenty years after this pastoral epistle, there came to Concord another Christian of the antique type, more Puritan and Hebraic than Dr. Ripley himself, yet a Transcendentalist, too, — and JOHN BROWN found no lack of practical good-will in Thoreau, Alcott,
Emerson, and the other Transcendentalists. The years had “come full circle," the Sibyl had burnt her last prophetic book, and the new æon was about to open with the downfall of slavery
EARLY ESSAYS IN AUTHORSHIP.
It has been a common delusion, not yet quite faded away, that the chief Transcendentalists were but echoes of each other, that Emerson imitated Carlyle, Thoreau and Alcott imitated Emerson, and so on to the end of the chapter. No doubt that the atmosphere of each of these men affected the others, nor that they shared a common impulse communicated by what Matthew Arnold likes to call the Zeitgeist, - the ever-felt spirit of the time. In the most admirable of the group, who is called by preëminence “the Sage of Concord," -- the poet Emerson, — there has been an outbreathing inspiration as profound as that of the Zeitgeist himself; so that even Hawthorne, the least susceptible of men, found himself affected as he says, “after living for three years within the subtle influence of an intellect like Emerson's.” But, in
fact, Thoreau brought to his intellectual tasks an originality as marked as Emerson's, if not so brilliant and star-like — a patience far greater than his, and a proud independence that makes himn the most solitary of modern thinkers. I have been struck by these qualities in reading his yet unknown first essays in authorship, the juvenile papers he wrote while in college, from the age of seventeen to that of twenty, before Emerson had published anything except his first little volume, “ Nature,” and while Thoreau, like other young men, was reading Johnson and Goldsmith, Addison and the earlier English classics, from Milton backward to Chaucer. Let me therefore quote from these papers, carefully preserved by him, with their dates, and sometimes with the marks of the rhetorical professor on their margins. Along with these may be cited some of his earlier verses, in which a sentiment more purely human and almost amatory appears, than in the later and colder, if higher flights of his song.
The earliest writings of Thoreau, placed in my hands by his literary executor, Mr.