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Henry has a passage in his diary containing the same things that Mr. Emerson has said.” This remark being questioned, the diary was produced, and, sure enough, the thought of the two passages was found to be very similar. The incident being reported to Mr. Emerson, he desired the lady to bring Henry Thoreau to see him, which was soon done, and the intimacy began. It was to this same lady (Mrs. Brown, of Plymouth) that Thoreau addressed one of his earliest poems, — the verses called “Sic Vita,” in the “ Week on the Concord and Merrimac,” commencing:
* I am a parcel of vain strivings, tied
By a chance bond together.” These verses were written on a strip of paper inclosing a bunch of violets, gathered in May, 1837, and thrown in at Mrs. Brown's window by the poet-naturalist. They show that he had read George Herbert carefully, at a time when few persons did so, and in other ways they are characteristic of the writer, who was then not quite twenty years old.
It may be interesting to see what old Quincy himself said, in a certificate, about his stubbornly independent pupil. For the same Maine journey Cambridge furnished the Concord scholar with this document:
“HARVARD UNIVERSITY, CAMBRIDGE,
March 26, 1838. “ TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN, - I certify that, Henry D. Thoreau, of Concord, in this State of Massachusetts, graduated at this seminary in August, 1837 ; that his rank was high as a scholar in all the branches, and his morals and general conduct unexceptionable and exemplary. He is recommended as well qualified as an instructor, for employment in any public or private school or private family.
JOSIAH QUINCY, “ President of Harvard University.” It seems that there was question, at this time, of a school in Alexandria, near Washington (perhaps the Theological Seminary for Episcopalians there), in which young Thoreau might find a place; for on the 12th of April, 1838, President Quincy wrote to him as follows:
“SIR, — The school is at Alexandria ; the students are said to be young men well advanced in ye knowledge of ye Latin and Greek classics ; the requisitions are, qualification and a person who has had experience in school keeping. Sal. ary $600 a year, besides washing and Board ; duties to be entered on ye 5th or 6th of May. If you choose to apply, I will write as soon as I am informed of it. State to me your experience in school keeping. Yours,
“ Josiah Quincy.” We do not know that Thoreau offered himself for the place; and we know that his journey to Maine was fruitless. He did, in fact, teach the town grammar school in Concord for a few weeks in 1837, and in July, 1838, was teaching, at the Academy I think, in Concord. He had already, as we have seen, though not yet twenty-one, appeared as a lecturer before the Concord Lyceum. It is therefore time to consider him as a citizen of Concord, and to exhibit further the character of that town.
CONCORD AND ITS FAMOUS PEOPLE.
THE Thoreau family was but newly planted in Concord, to which it was alien both by the father's and the mother's side. But this wise town adopts readily the children of other communities that claim its privileges, — and to Henry Thoreau these came by birth. Of all the men of letters that bave given Concord a name throughout the world, he is almost the only one who was born there. Emerson was born in Boston, Alcott in Connecticut, Hawthorne in Salem, Channing in Boston, Louisa Alcott in Germantown, and others elsewhere; but Thoreau was native to the soil. And since his genius has been shaped and guided by the personal traits of those among whom he lived, as well as by the hand of God and by the intuitive impulses of his own spirit, it is proper to see what the men of Concord have really been. It is from them we must judge the character of the town and its civilization, not from those exceptional, imported persons — cultivated men and women, who may be regarded as at the head of society, and yet may have no representative quality at all. It is not by the few that a New England town is to be judged, but by the many. Yet there were a Few and a Many in Concord, between whom certain distinctions could be drawn, in the face of that general equality which the institutions of New England compel. Life in our new country had not yet been reduced to the ranks of modern civilization — so orderly outward, so full of mutiny within.
It is mentioned by Tacitus, in his life of Agricola, that this noble Roman lived as a child in Marseilles ; "a place,” he adds, "of Grecian culture and provincial frugality, mingled and well blended.” I have thought this felicitous phrase of Tacitus most apposite for Concord as I have known it since 1854, and as Thoreau must have found it from 1830 onward. Its people lived then and since with little display, while learning was held in high regard ; and the “plain living and high thinking,” which Words