Infomotions, Inc.Early Letters of George Wm. Curtis / Curtis, George William, 1824-1892



Author: Curtis, George William, 1824-1892
Title: Early Letters of George Wm. Curtis
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): brook farm; curtis; dwight; brook; farm; emerson; music; boston
Contributor(s): Cooke, George Willis, 1848-1923 [Editor]
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Title: Early Letters of George Wm. Curtis

Author: G. W. Curtis, ed. George Willis Cooke

Release Date: June, 2005 [EBook #8222]
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[This file was first posted on July 3, 2003]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK EARLY LETTERS OF GEORGE WM. CURTIS ***




Produced by Eric Eldred, Beth Trapaga
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team




EARLY LETTERS OF GEORGE WM. CURTIS

TO

JOHN S. DWIGHT:
Brook Farm and Concord


Edited by
George Willis Cooke




CONTENTS

EARLY LIFE AT BROOK FARM AND CONCORD
EARLY LETTERS TO JOHN S. DWIGHT
LETTERS OF LATER DATE




EARLY LIFE AT BROOK FARM AND CONCORD


George William Curtis was born in Providence, February 24, 1824. From the
age of six to eleven he was in the school of C.W. Greene at Jamaica
Plain, and then, until he was fifteen, attended school in Providence. His
brother Burrill, two years older, was his inseparable companion, and they
were strongly attached to each other. About 1835 Curtis came under the
influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was heard by him in Providence, and
who commanded his boyish admiration. Burrill Curtis has said of this
interest of himself and his brother that it proved to be the cardinal
event of their youth; and what this experience was he has described.

"I still recall," he says, "the impressions produced by Emerson's delivery
of his address on 'The Over-Soul' in Mr. Hartshorn's school-room in
Providence. He seemed to speak as an inhabitant of heaven, and with the
inspiration and authority of a prophet. Although a large part of the
matter of that discourse, when reduced to its lowest terms, does not
greatly differ from the commonplaces of piety and religion, yet its form
and its tone were so fresh and vivid that they made the matter also seem
to be uttered for the first time, and to be a direct outcome from the
inmost source of the highest truth. We heard Emerson lecture frequently,
and made his personal acquaintance. My enthusiastic admiration of him and
his writings soon mounted to a high and intense hero-worship, which, when
it subsided, seems to have left me ever since incapable of attaching
myself as a follower to any other man. How far George shared such
feelings, if at all, I cannot precisely say; but he so far shared my
enthusiastic admiration as to be led a willing captive to Emerson's
attractions, and to the incidental attractions of the movement of which he
was the head; and Emerson always continued to command from us both the
sincerest reverence and homage."

Burrill went so far as to discontinue the use of money and animal food;
both the brothers discarded the conventional costumes in matters of dress,
and their interest was enlisted in the reforms of the day. The family
removed to New York in 1839, George studied at home with tutors, and was
an attendant at the church of Dr. Orville Dewey.


I

The warm and active interest of the brothers in the Transcendental
movement, in all its phases, led them to propose to their father that
he permit them to attend the school connected with the Brook Farm
Association. Permission having been granted, they became boarders there
in the spring or summer of 1842. At no time were they members of the
association, and they paid for their board and tuition as they would
have done at any seminary or college.

At this time the Brook Farm Association had two sources of income--the
farm of about two hundred acres, and the school which was carried on in
connection therewith. In fact, the school was more largely profitable than
the farm, and was for a time well patronized by those who were in general
sympathy with the leaders of the association. George Ripley was the
teacher in philosophy and mathematics, George P. Bradford in literature,
John S. Dwight in Latin and music, Charles A. Dana in Greek and German,
and John S. Brown in theoretical and practical agriculture. A six years'
course was arranged in preparation for college, and three years were given
to acquiring a knowledge of farming. The pupils were required to work one
hour each day, the idea being that this was conducive to sound
intellectual training.

It would seem, however, that Curtis gave only a part of his time to
study, as is indicated in a letter written to his father in June, 1843,
and published in the admirable biography by Mr. Edward Gary. "My life
is summery enough here," he writes. "We breakfast at six, and from
seven to twelve I am at work. After dinner, these fair days permit no
homage but to their beauty, and I am fain to woo their smiles in the
shades and sunlights of the woods. A festal life for one before whom
the great stretches which must be sailed; yet this summer air teaches
sea life-navigation, and I listen to the flowing streams, and to the
cool rush of the winds among the trees, with an increase of that hope
which is the only pole-star of life."

At Brook Farm, Curtis studied Greek, German, music, and agriculture. The
teaching was of the best, as good as could have been had in any college
of the country at that time, and was thorough and efficient. Much more of
freedom was allowed the students than was usual elsewhere, both as to
conditions of study and recitation, and as to the relations of the pupils
to the instructors. The young people in the school were treated as
friends and companions by their teachers; but this familiarity did not
breed contempt for the instructors or indifference to the work of the
school. On the other hand, it secured an unusual degree of enthusiasm
both for the teachers and for the subjects pursued. The work of the
school went on with somewhat less of system than is thought desirable in
most places of instruction; but in this instance the results justified
the methods pursued. The teachers were such as could command success by
their personal qualities and by their enthusiastic devotion to their
work.

The two years spent at Brook Farm formed an important episode in the life
of George William Curtis. It is evident that he did not surrender himself
to the associationist idea, even when he was a boarder at Brook Farm and a
member of its school. He loved the men and women who were at the head of
the community; he found the life attractive and genial, the atmosphere was
conducive to his intellectual and spiritual development; but he did not
surrender himself to the idea that the world can be reformed in that
manner. In a degree he was a curious looker-on; and in a still larger way
he was a sympathetic, but not convinced, friend and well-wisher. If not a
member, he retained throughout life his interest in this experiment, and
remembered with delight the years he spent there. He more than once spoke
in enthusiastic terms of Brook Farm, and gave its theories and its
practice a sympathetic interpretation. In one of his "Easy Chair" essays
of 1869 he described the best side of its life:

"There is always a certain amount of oddity latent in society which rushes
to such an enterprise as a natural vent; and in youth itself there is a
similar latent and boundless protest against the friction and apparent
unreason of the existing order. At the time of the Brook Farm enterprise
this was everywhere observable. The freedom of the antislavery reform and
its discussions had developed the 'come-outers,' who bore testimony in all
times and places against church and state. Mr. Emerson mentions an apostle
of the gospel of love and no money who preached zealously but never
gathered a large church of believers. Then there were the protestants
against the sin of flesh-eating, refining into curious metaphysics upon
milk, eggs, and oysters. To purloin milk from the udder was to injure the
maternal affections of the cow; to eat eggs was Feejee cannibalism and the
destruction of the tender germ of life, to swallow an oyster was to mask
murder. A still selecter circle denounced the chains that shackled the
tongue and the false delicacy that clothed the body. Profanity, they said,
is not the use of forcible and picturesque words; it is the abuse of such
to express base passions and emotions. So indecency cannot be affirmed of
the model of all grace, the human body....

"These were harmless freaks and individual fantasies. But the time was
like the time of witchcraft. The air magnified and multiplied every
appearance, and exceptions and idiosyncrasies and ludicrous follies were
regarded as the rule, and as the logical masquerade of this foul fiend
Transcendentalism, which was evidently unappeasable, and was about to
devour manners, morals, religion, and common-sense. If Father Lamson or
Abby Folsom were borne by main force from an antislavery meeting, and the
non-resistants pleaded that these protestants had as good right to speak
as anybody, and that what was called their senseless babble was probably
inspired wisdom, if people were only heavenly minded enough to understand
it, it was but another sign of the impending anarchy. And what was to be
said--for you could not call them old dotards--when the younger
protestants of the time came walking through the sober streets of Boston
and seated themselves in concert-halls and lecture-rooms with hair parted
in the middle and falling upon their shoulders, and clad in garments such
as no known human being ever wore before--garments which seemed to be a
compromise between the blouse of the Paris workman and the peignoir of a
possible sister? For tailoring underwent the same revision to which the
whole philosophy of life was subjected, and one ardent youth, asserting
that the human form itself suggested the proper shape of its garments,
caused trowsers to be constructed that closely fitted the leg, and bore
his testimony to the truth in coarse crash breeches.

"These were the ludicrous aspects of the intellectual and moral
fermentation or agitation that was called Transcendentalism. And these
were foolishly accepted by many as its chief and only signs. It was
supposed that the folly was complete at Brook Farm, and it was
indescribably ludicrous to observe reverend Doctors and other Dons coming
out to gaze upon the extraordinary spectacle, and going about as dainty
ladies hold their skirts and daintily step from stone to stone in a muddy
street, lest they be soiled. The Dons seemed to doubt whether the mere
contact had not smirched them. But droll in itself, it was a thousandfold
droller when Theodore Parker came through the woods and described it.
With his head set low upon his gladiatorial shoulders, and his nasal
voice in subtle and exquisite mimicry reproducing what was truly
laughable, yet all with infinite _bonhomie_ and with a genuine
superiority to small malice, he was as humorous as he was learned, and as
excellent a mime as he was noble and fervent and humane a preacher. On
Sundays a party always went from the Farm to Mr. Parker's little country
church. He was there exactly what he was afterwards when he preached to
thousands of eager people in the Boston Musichall; the same plain,
simple, rustic, racy man. His congregation were his personal friends.
They loved him and admired him and were proud of him; and his geniality
and tender sympathy, his ample knowledge of things as well as of books,
drew to him all ages and sexes and conditions.

"The society at Brook Farm was composed of every kind of person. There
were the ripest scholars, men and women of the most aesthetic culture and
accomplishment, young farmers, seamstresses, mechanics, preachers--the
industrious, the lazy, the conceited, the sentimental. But they were
associated in such a spirit and under such conditions that, with some
extravagance, the best of everybody appeared, and there was a kind of high
_esprit de corps_--at least, in the earlier or golden age of the colony.
There was plenty of steady, essential, hard work, for the founding of an
earthly paradise upon a rough New England farm is no pastime. But with the
best intention, and much practical knowledge and industry and devotion,
there was in the nature of the case an inevitable lack of method, and the
economical failure was almost a foregone conclusion. But there was never
such witty potato-patches and such sparkling cornfields before or since.
The weeds were scratched out of the ground to the music of Tennyson or
Browning, and the nooning was an hour as gay and bright as any brilliant
midnight at Ambrose's. But in the midst of all was one figure, the
practical farmer, an honest neighbor who was not drawn to the enterprise
by any spiritual attraction, but was hired at good wages to superintend
the work, and who always seemed to be regarding the whole affair with the
most good-natured wonder as a prodigious masquerade....

"But beneath all the glancing colors, the lights and shadows of its
surface, it was a simple, honest, practical effort for wiser forms of life
than those in which we find ourselves. The criticism of science, the sneer
of literature, the complaint of experience is that man is a miserably
half-developed being, the proof of which is the condition of human society,
in which the few enjoy and the many toil. But the enjoyment cloys and
disappoints, and the very want of labor poisons the enjoyment. Man is made,
body and soul. The health of each requires reasonable exercise. If every
man did his share of the muscular work of the world, no other man would be
overwhelmed by it. The man who does not work imposes the necessity of
harder toil upon him who does. Thereby the first steals from the last the
opportunity of mental culture--and at last we reach a world of pariahs and
patricians, with all the inconceivable sorrow and suffering that surround
us. Bound fast by the brazen age, we can see that the way back to the age
of gold lies through justice, which will substitute co-operation for
competition.

"That some such generous and noble thought inspired this effort at
practical Christianity is most probable. The Brook Farmers did not
interpret the words,'the poor ye have always with ye,' to mean,'ye must
always keep some of you poor.' They found the practical Christian in him
who said to his neighbor, 'Friend, come up higher.' But, apart from any
precise and defined intention, it was certainly a very alluring
prospect--that of life in a pleasant country, taking exercise in useful
toil, and surrounded with the most interesting and accomplished people.
Compared with other efforts upon which time and money and industry are
lavished, measured by Colorado and Nevada speculations, by California
gold-washing, by oil-boring, and by the stock exchange, Brook Farm was
certainly a very reasonable and practical enterprise, worthy of the hope
and aid of generous men and women. The friendships that were formed there
were enduring. The devotion to noble endeavor, the sympathy with all that
is most useful to men, the kind patience and constant charity that were
fostered there, have been no more lost than grain dropped upon the field.
It is to the Transcendentalism that seemed to so many good souls both
wicked and absurd that some of the best influences of American life
to-day are due. The spirit that was concentrated at Brook Farm is
diffused, but it is not lost. As an organized effort, after many downward
changes, it failed; but those who remember the Hive, the Eyrie, the
Cottage; when Margaret Fuller came and talked, radiant with bright humor;
when Emerson and Parker and Hedge joined the circle for a night or a day;
when those who may not be publicly named brought beauty and wit and
social sympathy to the feast; when the practical possibilities of life
seemed fairer, and life and character were touched ineffaceably with good
influence, cherish a pleasant vision which no fate can harm, and remember
with ceaseless gratitude the blithe days of Brook Farm."

Curtis returned to the same subject in 1874, in discussing Frothingham's
biography of George Ripley. Some of the errors into which writers about
Brook Farm had fallen he undertook to correct, to point out the real
character of the association, and its effort at the improvement of
society.

"The Easy Chair describes Brook Farm as an Arcadia, for such in effect was
the intention, and such is the retrospect to those who recall the hope
from which it sprang.... The curious visitors who came to see poetry in
practice saw with dismay hard work on every side, plain houses and simple
fare, and a routine with little aesthetic aspect. Individual whims in
dress and conduct, however, were exceptional in the golden age or early
days at Brook Farm, and those are wholly in error who suppose it to have
been a grotesque colony of idealogues. It was originally a company of
highly educated and refined persons, who felt that the immense disparity
of condition and opportunity in the world was a practical injustice, full
of peril for society, and that the vital and fundamental principle of
Christianity was universally rejected by Christendom as impracticable.
Every person, they held, is entitled to mental and moral culture, but it
is impossible that he should enjoy his rights as long as all the hard
physical work of the world is done by a part only of its inhabitants. Were
that work limited to what is absolutely necessary, and shared by all, all
would find an equal opportunity for higher cultivation and development,
and the evil of an unnatural and cruelly artificial system of society
would disappear. It was a thought and a hope as old as humanity, and as
generous as old. No common mind would have cherished such a purpose, no
mean nature have attempted to make the dream real. The practical effort
failed in its immediate object, but, in the high purposes it confirmed and
strengthened, it had remote and happy effects which are much more than
personal.

"It is an error to suppose that many of the more famous
'Transcendentalists' were of the Brook Farm company. Mr. Emerson, for
instance, was never there except as a visitor. Margaret Fuller was often a
visitor, and passed many days together as a guest, but she was never,
except in sympathy, one of the Brook Farmers. Theodore Parker was a
neighbor, and had friendly relations with many of the fraternity, but he
seldom came to the farm. Meanwhile the enterprise was considered an
unspeakable folly, or worse, by the conservative circle of Boston. In
Boston, where a very large part of the 'leaders' of society in every way
were Unitarians, Unitarian conservatism was peremptory and austere. The
entire circle of which Mr. Ticknor was the centre or representative, the
world of Everett and Prescott and their friends, regarded Transcendentalism
and Brook Farm, its fruit, with good-humored wonder as with Prescott, or
with severe reprobation as with Mr. Ticknor. The general feeling in regard
to Mr. Emerson, who was accounted the head of the school, is well expressed
by John Quincy Adams in 1840. The old gentleman, whose glory is that he was
a moral and political gladiator and controversialist, deplores the doom of
the Christian Church to be always racked with differences and debates, and
after speaking of 'other wanderings of mind' that 'let the wolf into the
fold,' proceeds to say: 'A young man named Ralph Waldo Emerson, a son of my
once-loved friend William Emerson, and a classmate of my lamented son
George, after failing in the every-day avocations of a Unitarian preacher
and school-master, starts a new doctrine of Transcendentalism, declares all
the old revelations superannuated and worn out, and announces the approach
of new revelations.' Mr. Adams was just on the eve of his antislavery
career, but he continues: 'Garrison and the non-resistant Abolitionists,
Brownson and the Marat Democrats, phrenology and animal magnetism, all come
in, furnished each with some plausible rascality as an ingredient for the
bubbling caldron of religion and politics.' C.P. Cranch, the poet and
painter, was a relative of Mr. Adams, and then a clergyman; and the
astonished ex-President says: 'Pearse Cranch, _ex ephebis_, preached here
last week, and gave out quite a stream of Transcendentalism most
unexpectedly.'

"This was the general view of Transcendentalism and its teachers and
disciples held by the social, political, and religious establishment. The
separation and specialty of the 'movement' soon passed. The leaders and
followers were absorbed in the great world of America; but that world has
been deeply affected and moulded by this seemingly slight and transitory
impulse. How much of the wise and universal liberalizing of all views and
methods is due to it! How much of the moral training that revealed itself
in the war was part of its influence! The transcendental or spiritual
philosophy has been strenuously questioned and assailed. But the life and
character it fostered are its sufficient vindication."

The school at Brook Farm brought together there a large number of bright
young people, and they formed one of the chief characteristics of the
place. The result was that the life was one of much amusement and healthy
pleasure, as George P. Bradford has said:

"We were floated away by the tide of young life around us. There was
always a large number of young people in our company, as scholars,
boarders, etc., and this led to a considerable mingling of amusement in
our life; and, moreover, some of our company had a special taste and skill
in arranging and directing this element. So we had very varied amusements
suited to the different seasons--tableaux, charades, dancing, masquerades,
and rural fetes out-of-doors, and in winter, skating, coasting, etc."

In her "Years of Experience," Mrs. Georgiana Bruce Kirby, who was at Brook
Farm for very nearly the same period as Curtis, has not only given an
interesting account of the social life there, but she has especially
described the entertainments mentioned by Mr. Bradford. Two of these
occasions, when Curtis was a leading participant, she mentions with
something of detail.

"At long intervals in what most would call our drudgery," she says, "there
came a day devoted to amusement. Once we had a masquerade picnic in the
woods, where we were thrown into convulsions of laughter at the sight of
George W. Curtis dressed as Fanny Ellsler, in a low-necked, short-sleeved,
book-muslin dress and a tiny ruffled apron, making courtesies and
pirouetting down the path. It was much out of character that I, a St.
Francis squaw, in striped shirt, gold beads, and moccasins, should be
guilty of such wild hilarity. Ora's movements were free and graceful in
white Turkish trousers, a rich Oriental head-dress, and Charles Dana's
best tunic, which reached just below her knee. She was the observed of all
observers.

"In the midwinter we had a fancy-dress ball in the parlors of the Pilgrim
House, when the Shaws and Russells, generous friends of the association,
came attired as priests and dervishes. The beautiful Anna Shaw was superb
as a portly Turk in quilted robe, turban, mustache, and cimeter, and bore
herself with grave dignity.

"George W. Curtis, as Hamlet, led the quadrille with Carrie Shaw as a Greek
girl. His sad and solemn 'reverence' contrasted charmingly with her sunny
ease. He acted the Dane to the life, his bearing, the melancholy light in
his eyes, his black-plumed head-cover, and his rapier glittering under his
short black cloak, which fell apart in the dance, were all perfect. It was
a picture long to be remembered, and as long as I could watch these two I
had no desire to take part in the dance myself."

Another phase of Curtis's life at Brook Farm she also mentions, and it
gives a new insight into his character. The occasion described was a
social Sunday evening spent in the parlor of the Eyrie:

"At supper it was whispered that George W. Curtis would sing at the Eyrie,
upon which several young men volunteered to assist with the dishes. My
services were also cordially accepted.... And now we ascended the winding,
moonlit path to the Eyrie, where Curtis was already singing. We went up
the steps of the building cautiously, lest a note of the melody which
floated through the open French windows should be lost to us. Entering the
large parlor, we found not only the chairs and sofas occupied, but the
floor well covered with seated listeners.

"I did not at first recognize the operatic air, so admirably modified and
retarded it was, and its former rapid words replaced by a sad and touching
theme, which called for noble endurance in one borne down by suffering.
The accompaniment consisted of simple chords and arpeggios, a very plain
and sufficient background. Curtis, though not yet twenty--not nineteen, if
I remember rightly--had a grave and mature appearance. He was full of
poetic sensibility, and his pure, rich voice had that sympathetic quality
that penetrates to the heart.... Curtis was not ever guilty of singing a
comic song. It would indeed have been most inappropriate to our intensely
earnest mood. Often his brother would join him in a duet with his
agreeable tenor.

"Low praises and half-spoken thanks were murmured as the grave and gracious
young friend, at the expiration of an hour, swung round on the piano-stool
and attempted to make his exit."

In his "Cheerful Yesterdays," Colonel T.W. Higginson has described the
same life as an onlooker. Although not a member of the community at Brook
Farm, he was somewhat in sympathy with it--at least, with the people of
whom it was composed. At the time he was living in Brookline and teaching
the children of a cousin. "Into this summer life," he writes, "there
occasionally came delegations of youths from Brook Farm. Among these were
George and Burrill Curtis, and Larned, with Charles Dana--all presentable
and agreeable, but the first three peculiarly costumed. It was then very
common for young men in college and elsewhere to wear what were called
blouses--a kind of hunter's frock, made at first of brown holland, belted
at the waist, these being gradually developed into garments of gay-colored
chintz, sometimes, it was said, an economical transformation of their
sisters' skirts or petticoats. All the young men of this party but Dana
wore these gay garments, and bore on their heads little round and
visorless caps with tassels."

"I was but twice at Brook Farm," Higginson continues, "once driving over
there to a fancy ball at 'the Community,' as it was usually called, where
my cousin Barbara Channing was to appear in a pretty Creole dress made of
madras handkerchiefs. She was enthusiastic about Brook Farm, where she
went often, being a friend of Mrs. Ripley.... Again, I once went for her
in summer and stayed for an hour, watching the various interesting
figures, including George William Curtis, who was walking about in
shirtsleeves, with his boots over his trousers, yet was escorting a young
maiden with that elegant grace which never left him. It was a curious fact
that he, who was afterwards so eminent, was then held wholly secondary in
interest to his handsome brother Burrill, whose Raphaelesque face won all
hearts, and who afterwards disappeared from view in England. But if I did
not see much of Brook Farm on the spot, I met its members frequently at
the series of exciting meetings for Social Reform in Boston."

Other reminiscences of Brook-Farmers tell of the Curtis brothers and their
active part in the amusements of the place. They were leaders among the
young people, and they had those gifts of social guidance which placed
them at the head of whatever entertainment was being organized. Their
grace of manner and beauty of face and figure also won consideration for
them, so that they were accepted into every circle and found friends on
every hand. It seems that Burrill was at this time regarded as the
handsomer, but in time George gained the chief place in this regard. Their
courtesy led them to help those whose labors were hard, to aid the women
in the laundry at their tasks, and to assist them in hanging out the
clothes on washing-days. In the evening the clothes-pins which had been
thrust into a pocket found their way to the floor of the dancing-room.

One of the members of the community has written that the brothers "looked
like young Greek gods. Burrill, the elder, with a typical Greek face and
long hair falling to his shoulders in irregular curls," she says, "I
remember as most unconscious of himself, interested in all about him,
talking of the Greek philosophers as if he had just come from one of
Socrates' walks, carrying the high philosophy into his daily life, helping
the young people with hard arithmetic lessons, trimming the lamps daily at
the Eyrie, where the two brothers came to live (my sister saw George
assisting him one day, and occasionally, she says, he turned his face with
a disgusted expression, trying to puff away the disagreeable odor), never
losing control of himself, with the kindest manner to every person. He and
George seemed very companionable and fond of each other.

"George, though only eighteen, seemed much older, like a man of
twenty-five, possibly, with a peculiar elegance, if I may so express it;
great and admirable attention, as I recollect, when listening to any one;
courteous recognition of others' convictions and even prejudices; and
never a personal animosity of any kind--a certain remoteness of manner,
however, that I think prevented persons from becoming acquainted with him
as easily as with Burrill."

In his "Memories of Brook Farm," Dr. John T. Codman mentions the
occasional returns of Curtis to the Farm after he had left it, and says
he heard him singing the "Erl King," "Kathleen Mavourneen," and "Good-night
to Julia" "in his inimitable manner." Everything goes to indicate that
he was a favorite, not only with the younger persons, but with those who
were older. He had already developed a mature thoughtfulness, and gave
indications of his power as a writer and speaker. His fondness for music,
and his enthusiastic study of it under Dwight's leadership is an
indication of that aesthetic appreciation which he kept through life,
and which appeared in his mastership of prose style.

At first each one helped himself to the food placed on the table in the
dining-room at the Hive, or those at the table helped each other. In this
way more or less confusion was produced, and the results were
unsatisfactory. Accordingly, Charles Dana organized a group, including
Curtis and other young men of character and good breeding, to act as
waiters. Dana took his place at the head of this group of voluntary
servants, who performed their duties with grace and alacrity. "It is
hardly necessary to observe," says Mrs. Kirby, "that the business was
henceforth attended to with such courtly grace and such promptness that
the new _regime_ was applauded by every one, although it did appear at
first as if we were all engaged in acting a play. The group, with their
admired chief, took dinner, which had been kept warm for them, afterwards,
and were themselves waited upon with the utmost consideration."


II

While at Brook Farm, Curtis was on intimate terms with most of the persons
there. He greatly admired Mr. and Mrs. Ripley, and he frequently wrote to
Mrs. Ripley and made of her a sort of mother-confessor. He also highly
appreciated the scholarly qualities of Charles Dana, and his capacity as a
leader. In his letters he frequently mentions "the two Charleses," who
were Charles Dana and Charles Newcomb. The latter has been described by
Dr. Codman as "the mysterious and profound, with his long, dark, straight
locks of hair, one of which was continually being brushed away from his
forehead as it continually fell; with his gold-bowed eye-glass, his large
nose and peculiar blue eyes, his spasmodic expressions of nervous horror,
and his cachinnatious laugh." Newcomb was for many years a resident of
Providence, afterwards finding a home in England and in Paris. He was
early a member of Brook Farm--a solitary, self-involved person, preferring
to associate with children rather than with older persons. He read much in
the literature of the mystics, and was laughingly said to prefer paganism
to Christianity. He had a feminine temperament, was full of sensibility,
and of an indolent turn of mind. Emerson was attracted to him, and at one
time had great expectations concerning his genius. His paper, published in
_The Dial_, under the title of "The Two Dolons," was much admired by some
of the Transcendentalists when it was printed there; and it is referred to
by Hawthorne in his "Hall of Phantasy." In June, 1842, Emerson wrote to
Margaret Fuller: "I wish you to know that I have 'Dolon' in black and
white, and that I account Charles N. a true genius; his writing fills me
with joy, so simple, so subtle, and so strong is it. There are sentences
in 'Dolon' worth the printing of _The Dial_ that they may go forth." This
paper was given him for publication at Emerson's urgent request, and it is
not known that Newcomb has published anything else. In 1850 Emerson said
he had come to doubt Newcomb's genius, having found that he did not care
for an audience.

Another person of whom Curtis speaks is Isaac Hecker, who became a member
of the Catholic Church, under the guidance of Orestes Brownson. He was
born in New York City, was brought up under Methodist auspices, became a
baker, developed a strong taste for philosophy, and went to Brook Farm at
the age of twenty-two. He remained for a few months as a student, and then
tried Alcott's Fruitlands for a fortnight. He was naturally of an ascetic
turn of mind, loved mystic books and philosophy, and found in the Catholic
Church his true religious home. He secured at Brook Farm a kind of culture
which he much needed, and his abilities were seen by those around him.
After his return to New York, Ripley, and Charles Lane, of Fruitlands,
wrote him in a way which indicated their faith in him as a man of judgment
and liberal aims. He spent some months in Concord, had George P. Bradford
for his tutor, and he rented a room of Mrs. Thoreau, the mother of Henry
D. Thoreau. There again he met the Curtis brothers; but soon after he went
to Holland to prepare for the priesthood, and then entered upon his
life-work. A curious phase in the life of this time was the effort of
Hecker to convert Curtis to his own way of religious thinking, as Curtis
relates in his letters. Even more singular was the attempt of Hecker to
persuade Thoreau into the Catholic Church. Mr. Sanborn has read a letter
in which he proposed to Thoreau to travel on foot with him in Europe. His
real purpose seems to have been to get Thoreau away from Protestants, and
among the influences of the Catholic churches and traditions, and thus to
make a convert of him. In a letter printed in Father Elliott's biography
of Father Hecker, Curtis gave an account of his acquaintance with the
founder of the order of the Paulist Fathers.

"WEST NEW BRIGHTON, STATEN ISLAND, _February 28, 1890._

Dear Sir,--I fear that my recollections of Father Hecker will be of little
service to you, for they are very scant. But the impression of the young
man whom I knew at Brook Farm is still vivid. It must have been in the
year 1843 that he came to the Farm in West Roxbury, near Boston. He was a
youth of twenty-three, of German aspect, and I think his face was somewhat
seamed with small-pox. But his sweet and candid expression, his gentle and
affectionate manner, were very winning. He had an air of singular
refinement and self-reliance combined with a half-eager inquisitiveness,
and upon becoming acquainted with him, I told him that he was Ernest the
Seeker, which was the title of a story of mental unrest which William
Henry Channing was then publishing in _The Dial_.

Hecker, or, as I always called him and think of him, Isaac, had apparently
come to Brook Farm because it was a result of the intellectual agitation
of the time which had reached and touched him in New York. He had been
bred a baker, he told me, and I remember with what satisfaction he said to
me, 'I am sure of my livelihood, because I can make good bread.' His
powers in this way were most satisfactorily tested at the Farm, or, as it
was generally called, 'the Community,' although it was in no other sense a
community than an association of friendly workers in common. He was drawn
to Brook Farm by the belief that its life would be at least agreeable to
his convictions and tastes, and offer him the society of those who might
answer some of his questions, even if they could not satisfy his longings.

By what influence his mind was first affected by the moral movement known
in New England as Transcendentalism, I do not know. Probably he may have
heard Mr. Emerson lecture in New York, or he may have read Brownson's
'Charles Elwood,' which dealt with the questions that engaged his mind and
conscience. But among the many interesting figures at Brook Farm I recall
none more sincerely absorbed than Isaac Hecker in serious questions. The
merely aesthetic aspects of its life, its gayety and social pleasures, he
regarded good-naturedly, with the air of a spectator who tolerated rather
than needed or enjoyed them. There was nothing ascetic or severe in him,
but I have often thought since that his feeling was probably what he might
have afterwards described as a consciousness that he must be about his
Father's business.

I do not remember him as especially studious. Mr. Ripley had classes in
German philosophy and metaphysics, in Kant and Spinoza, and Isaac used to
look in, as he turned wherever he thought he might find answers to his
questions. He went to hear Theodore Parker preach in the Unitarian Church
in the neighboring village of West Roxbury. He went to Boston, about ten
miles distant, to talk with Brownson, and to Concord to see Emerson. He
entered into the working life at the Farm, but always, as it seemed to me,
with the same reserve and attitude of observation. He was the dove
floating in the air, not yet finding the spot on which his foot might
rest.

The impression that I gathered from my intercourse with him, which was
boyishly intimate and affectionate, was that of all 'the apostles of the
newness,' as they were gayly called, whose counsel he sought, Brownson was
the most satisfactory to him. I thought then that this was due to the
authority of Brownson's masterful tone, the definiteness of his views, the
force of his 'understanding,' as the word was then philosophically used in
distinction from the reason. Brownson's mental vigor and positiveness were
very agreeable to a candid mind which was speculatively adrift and
experimenting, and, as it seemed to me, which was more emotional than
logical. Brownson, after his life of varied theological and controversial
activity, was drawing towards the Catholic Church, and his virile force
fascinated the more delicate and sensitive temper of the young man, and, I
have always supposed, was the chief influence which at that time affected
Hecker's views, although he did not then enter the Catholic Church.

He was a general favorite at Brook Farm, always equable and playful,
wholly simple and frank in manner. He talked readily and easily, but not
controversially. His smile was singularly attractive and sympathetic, and
the earnestness of which I have spoken gave him an unconscious personal
dignity. His temperament was sanguine. The whole air of the youth was that
of goodness. I do not think that the impression made by him forecast his
career, or, in any degree, the leadership which he afterwards held in his
Church. But everybody who knew him at that time must recall his charming
amiability.

I think that he did not remain at Brook Farm for a whole year, and when
later he went to Belgium to study theology at the seminary of Mons he
wrote me many letters, which, I am sorry to say, have disappeared. I
remember that he labored with friendly zeal to draw me to his Church, and
at his request I read some writing of St. Alphonse of Liguori. Gradually
our correspondence declined when I was in Europe, and was never resumed;
nor do I remember seeing him again more than once, many years ago. There
was still in the clerical figure, which was very strange to me, the old
sweetness of smile and address; there was some talk of the idyllic days,
some warm words of hearty good-will, but our interests were very
different, and, parting, we went our separate ways. For a generation we
lived in the same city, yet we never met. But I do not lose the bright
recollection of Ernest the Seeker, nor forget the frank, ardent, generous,
manly youth, Isaac Hecker.

Very truly yours,

George William Curtis."

One of the teachers at Brook Farm was George P. Bradford, who left there
at about the same time Curtis did, and was then a tutor in Concord. When
the account of philosophy in Boston was left uncompleted by Ripley,
Bradford finished it for the "Memorial History of Boston." While living in
the Old Manse in Concord, Hawthorne wrote to Margaret Fuller: "I have
thought of receiving a personal friend, and a man of delicacy, into my
household, and have taken a step towards that object. But in doing so I
was influenced far less by what Mr. Bradford is than by what he is not;
or, rather, his negative qualities seem to take away his personality, and
leave his excellent characteristics to be fully and fearlessly enjoyed. I
doubt whether he be not precisely the rarest man in the world." Mrs.
Hawthorne wrote of Bradford, that "his beautiful character makes him
perennial in interest." After the death of Bradford, Curtis wrote of him
in one of the most appreciative of the biographical papers which the "Easy
Chair" gave to the public:

"Whoever had the happiness of knowing the late George P. Bradford, upon
reading that he was the son of a stout sea-captain of Duxbury, must have
recalled Charles Lamb's description of one of his comrades at the old
South Sea House--'like spring, gentle offspring of blustering winter.' A
more gentle, truthful, generous, constant, high-minded, accomplished man,
or, as Emerson, his friend of many years, said of Charles Sumner, 'a
whiter soul,' could not be known. However wide and various and delightful
your acquaintance may have been, if you knew George Bradford, you knew a
man unlike all others. His individuality was entirely unobtrusive, but it
was absolute.

"The candor of his nature refused the least deceit, and rejected every
degree of indirectness without consciousness or effort. His admirable
mind, the natural loftiness of his aim, his instinctive sympathy with
every noble impulse and humane endeavor, his fine intellectual
cultivation, all made him the friend of the best men and women of his time
and neighborhood, and none among them but acknowledged the singular charm
of a companion who asserted his convictions by his character, and with
whom controversy was impossible. Mr. Bradford had the temperament, the
tastes, and the acquirements of a scholar; a fondness for nature, and a
knowledge which made him her interpreter; yet still more obvious were the
social sympathy and tenderness of feeling that brought him into intimate
personal relations which time could not touch.

"Something in his appearance and manner, a half-shrinking and smiling
diffidence, an unworn and childlike ardor and unconsciousness, a freshness
of feeling and frankness of address, invested his personality with what we
call quaintness. He was always active, even to apparent restlessness, not
from nervous excitement, but from fulness of life and sympathy. You might
think of a humming-bird darting from flower to flower, of a honey-bee
happy in a garden. He graduated at Harvard, meaning to be a clergyman, but
the publicity, the magisterial posture, the incessant constraint of the
liberty which he valued more than all else, with the lack of oratorical
gifts and of the self-asserting disposition, soon closed that career to
him; afterwards he was one of the most cheerful and charming figures at
Brook Farm in its pleasantest day. All his life he was a teacher, mainly
of private classes, and generally of women, now in Plymouth, now in
Cambridge, now elsewhere, but, wherever he was, always beloved and
welcomed, and bewailed when he departed.

"Mr. Bradford was unmarried, and there was a sentiment of solitude in his
life, but it was scarcely more, so affectionate and devoted were his
relations to his kindred and his friends. His elder sister, Mrs. Samuel B.
Ripley, was one of the most admirably accomplished women in New England,
living for some years in the Old Manse in Concord in which Hawthorne had
lived. Mr. Ripley was the son of the clergyman who married the widow of
his fellow-clergyman who saw from the Manse the battle at Concord Bridge.
Mr. Bradford was very fond of the old town, and Mr. Emerson had no friend
who was a more welcome or frequent guest than George Bradford, who came to
look after the vegetable garden and to trim the trees, and in long walks
to Walden Pond or Fairhaven Hill to discuss with his host philosophy and
poetry and life. The small gains of a teacher were enough for the simple
wants of the scholarly gentleman, and after middle life he went often to
Europe, and few Americans have ever gone more admirably equipped. He
travelled sometimes with a tried comrade, sometimes alone, and a life
already full was enriched and enchanted still more by the happy journeys.

"Indeed, the recollection of George Bradford is that of a long life as
serene and happy as it was blameless and delightful to others. It was a
life of affection and many interests and friendly devotion; but it was not
that of a recluse scholar like Edward Fitzgerald, with the pensive
consciousness of something desired but undone. George Bradford was in full
sympathy with the best spirit of his time. He had all the distinctive
American interest in public affairs. His conscience was as sensitive to
public wrongs and perilous tendencies as to private and personal conduct.
He voted with strong convictions, and wondered sometimes that the course
so plain to him was not equally plain to others.

"It was a life of nothing of what we call achievement, and yet a life
beneficent to every other life that it touched, like a summer wind laden
with a thousand invisible seeds that, dropping everywhere, spring up into
flowers and fruit. It is a name which to most readers of these words is
wholly unknown, and which will not be written, like that of so many of the
friends of him who bore it, in our literature and upon the memory of his
countrymen. But to those who knew him well, and who therefore loved him,
it recalls the most essential human worth and purest charm of character,
the truest manhood, the most affectionate fidelity. To those who hear of
him now, and perhaps never again, these words may suggest that the
personal influences which most ennoble and sweeten life may escape fame,
but live immortal in the best part of other lives."

Another member of Brook Farm in its earlier period was Minott Pratt, who
had been a printer, and the foreman in the office of the _Christian
Register_, the Unitarian paper published in Boston. Dr. Codman says of him
that he was "a finely formed, large, graceful-featured, modest man. His
voice was low, soft, and calm. His presence inspired confidence and
respect. Whatever he touched was well done. He was faithful and dignified,
and the serenity of his nature welled up in genial smiles. In farm-work he
was Mr. Ripley's right hand. They agreed in practical matters, and Ripley
deferred to his judgment. His wife was an earnest, strong, faithful
worker. They entered into the scheme with fervor." Another Brook Farmer
said of him: "No one can ever forget the entire freedom from fret and fume
and worry he evinced, while he never neglected a duty or failed to
accomplish his full share of work. No one can fail to recall how peaceful
and free from criticism his life was, with what rare fidelity he estimated
his fellows, and how little apparent thought or recognition of self there
was in all his actions. Indeed, the loveliness of his spirit shone through
the bodily vesture, and his smile itself was a blessing which one might
seek to win, and be proud to have gained by one's exertions. His presence,
in all the various spheres of active life and industry, had a wonderful
educational power upon both old and young; and to the influence of several
individuals of similar beauty of character I attribute the harmony and
beauty, in considerable degree, of our Brook Farm life."

Pratt spent the remainder of his life, after the Brook Farm episode, in
Concord, and there he has, even now, the reputation of having been a model
farmer. He was an extremely modest man, very little forthputting, gentle
in manner, and most neighborly in spirit. He wrote many papers for the
Concord Farmers' Club, and some of these were printed in the _Boston
Commonwealth_. In that paper, when Mr. Frank B. Sanborn was the editor, he
published a series of articles on country life, which were delightful to
read. He was a fine writer, and what he wrote showed the grace and charm
of the man. He gave much attention to botany, knew all the plants and
flowers in Concord, and knew them both as a scientist and poet.

For several years Pratt was in the habit of gathering on the lawn in front
of his house, under a large elm-tree, a picnic of such of his Brook Farm
associates as he could bring together. Emerson, Phillips, Thoreau, Curtis,
George Bradford, and others of note, often attended. The gathering was a
delightful one, and it was made an occasion of happy reminiscences and a
renewal of old personal ties and affections.

Some of the reminiscences of Brook Farm mention that Curtis walked in the
moonlight with Caroline Sturgis, who, over the signature of "Z,"
contributed a number of poems to _The Dial_. She was an intimate friend of
Margaret Fuller, and she afterwards published "Rainbows for Children,"
"The Magician's Show-box," and other children's books. She married William
A. Tappan, who rented to Hawthorne the cottage in which he lived at Lenox.
Mrs. Lathrop's book about her mother contains many reminiscences of them.
She was a daughter of William Sturgis, a wealthy Boston merchant. A
sister, Mrs. Ellen H. Hooper, was also a contributor to _The Dial_, in
which appeared her poem beginning with the line:

  "I slept and dreamed that life was beauty."

Another well-known poem was written by her:

  "She stood outside the gate of heaven and saw them entering in."

Colonel Higginson speaks of her as "a woman of genius," and Margaret
Fuller wrote of her from Rome: "I have seen in Europe no woman more gifted
by nature than she."

Under date of October 25, 1845, Curtis mentions a religious meeting which
had been recently held at Brook Farm. This was a reference to one of the
many occasions on which William Henry Channing conducted religious
services there, for he was listened to with greater satisfaction than any
one else who spoke on religious subjects. When the weather was suitable he
preached in the grove near the Margaret Fuller cottage (so called); and on
the present occasion he asked those present to join hands and to repeat
with him a bond of union or confession of faith, and constitute themselves
into a church. Before this time no religious organization had existed at
Brook Farm, the utmost liberty of opinion being cultivated there. In fact,
the leaders of the movement had been strongly opposed to any religious
formalism or organized effort at religious instruction. The freedom of
belief was such that Freethinkers on the one side, and devout Catholics on
the other, were welcomed with equal cordiality. The majority of the
members were undoubtedly of the "liberal" school in theology, and found in
the preaching of Theodore Parker the kind of spiritual instruction they
desired. At one time there was an enthusiastic interest in the teachings
of Swedenborg.

It was the tendency towards what was at once practical and mystical which
drew the large majority of the Farmers to the preaching of William Henry
Channing, who was one of the most gifted preachers which America has
produced. He was imaginative, mystical, and eloquent, liberal in his
thinking, progressive in his social ideals, and profoundly religious. He
was thoroughly in sympathy with the Associationist movement, and more than
any other man he was the spiritual leader and confessor of those who found
in that movement a practical realization of their religious convictions.

The organization which began on that Sunday afternoon in October, 1845,
continued to exist at Brook Farm until January, 1847, when "The Religious
Union of Associationists" was organized in Boston, with Channing as the
minister. For a few years it was successful, and it gave union and purpose
to the Associationist movement in Boston and the vicinity. A considerable
number of the members of Brook Farm were connected with it actively--as
officers, members of the choir, or regular attendants.

The organization effected in the pine woods in so informal a manner was
quite in harmony with the Brook Farm spirit and methods. Formalism of
every kind was dreaded, but yet there was a deeply religious interest
pervading the whole life of the community. At all the meetings held by the
Farmers, even at little social gatherings, the conversation was likely to
run on high themes. While there was present the utmost freedom of opinion
and expression, and while there was the greatest effort to avoid cant and
conventional phraseology, yet there was in the community a very strong
religious feeling; and nearly all the members held serious and earnest
convictions, to which they were unusually faithful in their daily living.


III

The relations of Curtis to his teachers at Brook Farm were cordial and
appreciative, but they were especially so with John S. Dwight, with whom
he studied music. When he left the farm, an intimate and confidential
correspondence began between them, and this continued until Curtis went to
Europe. After he returned it was resumed, but the interchange of letters
was not so frequent. They continued to write to each other almost to the
end of Dwight's life, however, and their friendship was always sympathetic
and confidential. The letters of Dwight have not been preserved, with two
or three exceptions, but those of Curtis still exist in unbroken
succession, and are presented to the public in this volume. In these days,
when we complain of the decay of letter-writing, they afford a remarkably
good specimen of youthful effort in that kind of literature.

To Dwight there were sent by Curtis several poems, which were printed in
the _Harbinger_, and he also sent two letters from New York on musical
topics. Two of his letters to Dwight from Europe were also printed in the
_Harbinger_. After he was settled in New York, Curtis did his part in an
effort to get Dwight established in that city. When Dwight began his
_Journal of Music_, Curtis wrote for it frequently over the signature of
"Hafiz." It is safe to say that these contributions were not paid for, but
were the result of a desire to aid his friend in his musical enterprise.
They were of the nature of passing comments on the musical performances of
the day, but they were worthy of the pages in which they appeared.

John Sullivan Dwight was born in Court Street, Boston, May 13, 1813, the
son of Dr. John Dwight and his wife Mary. He was educated at the Derne
Street Grammar School and the Boston Latin School, from which he entered
Harvard College. As a boy he was a devoted reader of books, studious in
his habits, but little inclined to active or practical pursuits. When
about fifteen, he began to take an interest in music, and from his father
he received the best instruction in that art.

Young Dwight entered Harvard in 1829, and he carried through the studies
of the course with a fair degree of success. He gave much attention to
music, joined the Pierian Sodality, and was an earnest reader of the best
poetry. He gave the class poem on his graduation, in 1832. During his
Senior year he taught at Northborough, and following his graduation he
spent a year as a tutor in a family at Meadville, Pennsylvania. In the
autumn of 1834 he entered the theological school at Harvard, and graduated
therefrom in August, 1836, his dissertation being on "The Proper Character
of Poetry and Music for Public Worship," which was published in the
_Christian Examiner_ for that year.

Dwight's interest in music led him to take a leading part in bringing
together, in 1837, those recent graduates of the college who were of like
mind with himself; and a society was organized for the purpose of
promoting its study. In 1840 the name was changed to that of the "Harvard
Musical Association"; in 1845 it was incorporated, and in 1848 the place
of meeting was transferred to Boston.

It was three years and a half after Dwight left the theological school
before he had secured a pulpit. He preached nearly every Sunday, but he
had become a member of the Transcendental Club, he was in sympathy with
Emerson and Parker, and the churches did not find his preaching
acceptable. He wrote several papers for the _Christian Examiner_, and
reviewed a number of books in the same periodical. The first review of
Tennyson published in this country he gave to the public in that journal.
In 1838 he published in the series of translations edited by George
Ripley, under the general title of "Specimens of Foreign Standard
Literature," a volume of "Select Minor Poems, Translated from the German
of Goethe and Schiller, with Notes." Several of Dwight's friends aided him
in this translation, especially on the poems of Schiller; but the valuable
notes appended were furnished by himself. The volume was dedicated to
Carlyle, who wrote a characteristic letter in giving his permission, and a
still more interesting one in acknowledging the receipt of the book.

In May, 1840, Dwight became the minister of the little Unitarian parish at
Northampton, and the ordination sermon was preached by George Ripley, the
address to the minister being given by Dr. W.E. Channing. From the first
the people were not fully agreed as to Dwight's preaching, and the
objections gradually increased as his strong Transcendental habits of
thought began to be more clearly manifest. A few persons of thoughtful and
more distinctly spiritual cast of mind were warmly drawn to him, but the
majority grew more and more opposed to him, and he withdrew from the
parish after a year and a half. During his stay in Northampton he wrote
for _The Dial_, for one or two musical journals, planned several extended
literary undertakings, and gave lectures before the American Institute of
Instruction and the Harvard Musical Association. In _The Dial_ was
published one of his sermons, under the title of "Religion of Beauty," and
another called "Ideals of Every-day Life." At the end of that on the
religion of beauty was printed a poem of Dwight's, which has been often
credited to Goethe, and is usually given the title of

  "REST

  Sweet is the pleasure,
    Itself cannot spoil!
  Is not true leisure
    One with true toil?

  Thou that wouldst taste it,
    Still do thy best;
  Use it, not waste it,
    Else 'tis no rest.

  Wouldst behold beauty
    Near thee, all round?
  Only hath duty
    Such a sight found.

  Rest is not quitting
    The busy career;
  Rest is the fitting
    Of self to its sphere.

  'Tis the brook's motion,
    Clear without strife,
  Fleeing to ocean
    After its life.

  Deeper devotion
    Nowhere hath knelt;
  Fuller emotion
    Heart never felt.

  'Tis loving and serving
    The Highest and Best!
  'Tis onwards! unswerving,
    And that is true rest."

As an intimate friend of George Ripley, Dwight had discussed with him the
project of a community at Brook Farm; and it was natural that he should
find his place there in November, 1841. Many years later Dwight said of
the purposes of Ripley, in this effort to improve upon the usual forms of
social life: "His aspiration was to bring about a truer state of society,
one in which human beings should stand in frank relations of true equality
and fraternity, mutually helpful, respecting each other's occupation, and
making one the helper of the other. The prime idea was an organization of
industry in such a way that the most refined and educated should show
themselves practically on a level with those whose whole education had
been hard labor. Therefore, the scholars and the cultivated would take
their part also in the manual labor, working on the farm or cultivating
nurseries of young trees, or they would even engage in the housework."

In the Brook Farm community, Dwight was one of the leaders, his place
being next after Ripley and Dana. In the school he was the instructor in
Latin and music. His love for music began to make itself strongly manifest
at this time; he brought out all the musical talent which could be
developed among the members of the community. Of this phase he said: "The
social education was extremely pleasant. For instance, in the matter of
music we had extremely limited means or talent, and very little could be
done except in a very rudimentary, tentative, and experimental way. We had
a singing-class, and we had some who could sing a song gracefully and
accompany themselves at the piano. We had some piano music; and, so far as
it was possible, care was taken that it should be good--sonatas of
Beethoven and Mozart, and music of that order. We sang masses of Haydn and
others, and no doubt music of a better quality than prevailed in most
society at that date, but that would be counted nothing now. Occasionally
we had artists come to visit us. We had delightful readings; and, once in
a while, when William Henry Channing was in the neighborhood, he would
preach us a sermon."

At this time a musical awakening was taking place in Boston, a genuine
taste for and appreciation of Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn was being
developed. Dwight was instrumental in promoting a love for these masters,
and out of his classes for their study grew what were called "Mass Clubs."
He and his pupils often went into Boston to hear the best music, walking
both ways. In _The Dial_, and especially in the _Harbinger_, Dwight wrote
with enthusiasm and poetic charm of the merits of classical music. He
wrote afterwards that the treatment of music in these periodicals told the
time of day far ahead; and "such discussion did at least contribute much
to make music more respected, to lift it in the esteem of thoughtful
persons to a level with the rest of the humanities of culture, and
especially to turn attention to the nobler compositions, and away from
that which is but idle, sensual, and vulgar."

To the _Christian Examiner_, _Boston Miscellany_, _Lowell's Pioneer_, and
the _Democratic Review_, Dwight was an occasional contributor at this
period. His chief literary work, however, was in the form of lectures on
musical subjects, especially on the great composers already named. He gave
a successful course of musical lectures in New York, and he lectured in a
number of other cities.

To the _Harbinger_, which was the organ of Brook Farm after the Fourierite
period began, as well as the best advocate of associated life ever
published in the country, Dwight was one of the chief contributors. He
wrote much in behalf of association, but he also discussed literary
topics. His chief contributions were on the subject of music, which was
then, as always, so near his heart. He conducted the department devoted to
musical criticism and interpretation. During the last year of the
publication of the paper at Brook Farm he was associated with Ripley in
the editorial management.

In 1847 Brook Farm came to an end. The _Harbinger_ was removed to New
York, and Ripley was its editor; but it was discontinued in less than two
years. Dwight was the Boston correspondent, and continued his editorial
connection with the paper. He removed to Boston, continued his interest in
association, was an active member of W.H. Channing's "Religious Union of
Associationists," was one of the most zealous workers in the organization
for promoting associated life, and began to write for the _Daily
Chronotype_ on musical subjects. In 1849 he edited a department in the
_Chronotype_ devoted to the interests of association, and he had the
assistance of Channing, Brisbane, Dana, and Cranch. This arrangement was
continued for only a few months, not proving a success. In 1851 he was for
six months the musical editor of the _Boston Commonwealth_, he wrote for
_Sartain's Magazine_ and other periodicals on musical topics, and he
continued to lecture. Ripley and Dana made an earnest effort to secure him
a place on one of the daily journals in New York. In February, 1851,
Dwight and Mary Bullard, who had been a frequent visitor at Brook Farm,
and a member of the choir at Channing's church in Boston, of which Dwight
was the musical leader, were married. She was a beautiful and attractive
woman, of some musical talent, and of a most unselfish and winning
character. They went to live in Charles Street, and there had Dr. O.W.
Holmes and his wife for near neighbors.

In April, 1852, Dwight issued the first number of _Dwight's Journal of
Music_. He was able to do this with the aid of several of his
associationist and musical friends, who generously contributed to a
guarantee fund for the purpose. The Harvard Musical Association lent its
aid to the project, and made it financially possible. In the first number
Dwight said of his purposes and plans:

"Our motive for publishing a musical journal lies in the fact that music
has made such rapid progress here within the last fifteen, and even the
last ten, years. Boston has been without such a paper, and Boston has
thousands of young people who go regularly to hear all the good
performances of the best classic models in this art. Its rudiments are
taught in all our schools....

"All this requires an organ, a regular bulletin of progress; something to
represent the movement, and at the same time help to guide it to the true
end. Very confused, crude, heterogeneous is this sudden musical activity
in a young, utilitarian people. A thousand specious fashions too
successfully dispute the place of true art in the favor of each little
public. It needs a faithful, severe, friendly voice to point out
steadfastly the models of the true, the ever beautiful, the divine.

"We dare not promise to be all this; but what we promise is, at least, an
honest report, week by week, of what we hear and feel and in our poor way
understand of this great world of music, together with what we receive
through the ears and feeling and understanding of others, whom we trust;
with every side-light from the other arts."

What was thus promised was carried out successfully, so far as the spirit
and purpose were concerned, for more than thirty years. At first the
_Journal of Music_ was an eight-page weekly, of about the size of
_Harper's Weekly_. After a time it was issued fortnightly, and the number
of pages was increased. Though small the _Journal of Music_ was varied in
contents, and published much that was of great value. The selections from
English, French, and German musical publications were well adapted to give
music a higher position in American society. Many works of great value
were translated for its pages; and whatever new or of importance was
taking place or being said in the musical world was faithfully reported.
The circulation was small at the best, for the high quality of the paper,
and the refusal of the editor to make it an organ of the interests of
publishers did not help to bring it widely before the public. Dwight would
make no compromises with what was sensational or merely popular.

At the beginning of 1859 the _Journal of Music_ was put into the hands of
Oliver Ditson & Co., who undertook its publication, paying Dwight a stated
salary for his labors upon it. This arrangement relieved him of much
drudgery as publisher, which he had hitherto undertaken. The conduct of
the paper did not essentially change, but with each number was added a
musical composition; the best works of Mendelssohn, Schubert, Wagner,
Gluck, Mozart, and many other composers were thus issued. Dwight also did
much translating for Ditson, turning into English the words which
accompanied some of the best German music.

In July, 1860, Dwight went to Europe for purposes of travel and study.
Shortly after his departure his wife was taken ill, and died in a few
weeks. The blow nearly crushed him, and it took many months for him to
recover himself. In a most sympathetic letter Dr. Holmes told him of the
illness, and the scenes which followed:

"I listened to the sweet music which was sung over her as she lay, covered
with flowers, in the pleasant parlor of her house, by the voices of those
that loved her--I and my wife with me--and then we followed her to Mount
Auburn, and saw her laid in the earth, and the blossoms showered down upon
her with such tokens of affection and sorrow that the rough men, whose
business makes them callous to common impressions, were moved as none of
us ever saw them moved before. Our good James Clarke, as you know,
conducted the simple service. It was one which none of us who were present
will ever forget; and in every heart there was one feeling over all
others, that for the far-distant husband, brother, friend, as yet
unconscious of the bereavement he was too soon to learn."

Dwight spent a few days in England, was for a fortnight in Paris, went
through Switzerland, and then on to Germany. He went to Frankfort, then to
Bonn, where he was for some weeks. In Berlin some months were passed, and
visits were made to Leipzig, Dresden, Munich, and other cities. He gave
much attention to music, taking every opportunity of making himself better
acquainted with its traditions and spirit. He then went to Italy, passed
on to France, and reached England in July, 1861. Early in September he
sailed on the trial trip of the _Great Eastern_, which encountered a
fearful storm, and was nearly wrecked. Dwight landed on the Irish coast,
made his way back to London, thought of remaining another year in Europe,
but finally returned home in November.

In Dwight's absence the _Journal_ had been conducted by Henry Ware, a
young musical friend. He now established himself in the Studio Building on
Tremont Street, and went on with his tasks as usual. He became an active
member of the Saturday Club, and was a constant attendant. He helped to
organize, in 1863, the Jubilee Concert, at which Emerson read his "Boston
Hymn." On the other hand, he severely criticised Gilmore's National Peace
Jubilee of 1869.

In 1878 the desire of the Ditson publishing house to make the _Journal of
Music_ more popular in its character, and more directly helpful to their
business interests, led Dwight to transfer its management to the firm of
Houghton, Osgood & Co. It was better printed, the list of contributors was
enlarged, and in many ways the paper was improved. A number of Dwight's
friends promised to stand behind it for a year or two with definite sums
of money, that it might be improved, and an effort made to reach a larger
public. From some cause, not easy to understand, the response on the part
of the public was not large enough to warrant the additional outlay; the
list of paid contributors had to be abandoned, and the paper returned
gradually to its old ways. In December, 1880, Dwight's friends joined with
the musicians of Boston in giving a testimonial concert for the benefit of
the paper, which yielded the sum of $6000. In an editorial Dwight said of
this expression of interest in his work: "Greetings and warmest signs of
recognition, kindliest notes of sympathy (often from most unexpected
quarters), prompt, enthusiastic offers of musical service in any concert
that might be arranged, poured in upon the editor, who, all at once, found
himself the object of unusual attention. Hand and heart were offered
wherever he met an old acquaintance; everybody seemed full of the bright
idea that had struck somebody just in the nick of time. We never knew we
had so many friends."

In September, 1881, the _Journal of Music_ came to an end. The position
taken by Dwight was not that of the self-seeker; he had no gift for
turning his love for the art of music into financial results. He would not
lower the critical attitude of his journal for the sake of pleasing the
publishers of music; and he would not pretend to a love of those popular
forms of music which he held to be inferior in their character. It may be
he was not a great critic, certainly he had not the technical knowledge of
music which is desirable in its scientific expositor; but his whole soul
was in the art, and he gave it the devotion of his life. His preference
was for the older composers, and he did not yield a ready homage to those
of the newer schools. Of this he speaks in the closing number of his
journal: "Startling as the new composers are, and novel, curious,
brilliant, beautiful at times, they do not inspire us as we have been
inspired before, and do not bring us nearer heaven. We feel no inward call
to the proclaiming of the new gospel. We have tried to do justice to these
works as they have claimed our notice, and have omitted no intelligence of
them which came within the limits of our columns, but we lack motive for
entering their doubtful service; we are not ordained their prophet."

Dwight frankly admitted that the causes for the limited success of his
journal lay in himself, and said, truly, "We have long realized that we
were not made for the competitive, sharp enterprise of modern journalism.
The turn of mind which looks at the ideal rather than the practical, and
the native indolence of temperament which sometimes goes with it, have
made our movements slow. To be the first in the field with an
announcement, or a criticism, or an idea, was no part of our ambition; how
can one recognize competitors, or enter into competition, and at the same
time keep his eye on truth?"

The real value of Dwight's work in his _Journal of Music_ was expressed in
a letter sent him by Richard Grant White, when the closing number
appeared: "I regret very much this close of your valuable editorial
labors. You have done great work; and have that consciousness to be
sure--some comfort, but it should not be all. There is not a musician of
respectability in the country who is not your debtor." In the "Easy Chair"
Curtis gave a worthy account of the labors of his friend, and showed how
deserving he was of a far greater success than he had reached.

"In the midst of the great musical progress of the country," he wrote, "it
is a curious fact that the oldest, ablest, and most independent of musical
journals in the United States has just suspended publication, on the eve
of the completion of its thirtieth year, for want of adequate support. We
mean, of course, _Dwight's Journal of Music_, which ended with an
admirably manly, candid, and sagacious, but inevitably pathetic,
valedictory from its editor--veteran editor, we should say, if the
atmosphere of good music in which he has lived had not been an enchanted
air in which youth is perpetually renewed.... A more delightful
valedictory it would not be easy to find in the swan song of any
journal....

"Mr. Dwight does not say, what the history of music in this country will
show, that to no one more than to him are we indebted for the intelligent
taste which enjoys the best music. His lectures upon the works of the
great Germans at the time of their performance by the Boston Academy of
Music in the old Odeon forty years ago were a kind of manual for the
intelligent audience. They showed that an elaborate orchestral musical
composition might be as serious a work of art, as full of thought and
passion, and, in a word, of genius, as a great poem, and that no form of
art was more spiritually elevating. They lifted the performance of such
music from the category of mere amusement, and asserted for the authors a
dignity like that of the master poets. If to some hearers the exposition
seemed sometimes fanciful and remote, it was only as all criticism of
works of the imagination often seems so. If the spectator sometimes sees
in a picture more than the painter consciously intended, it is because the
higher power may work with unconscious hands, and because beauty cannot be
hidden from the eye made to see it. Beethoven, for instance, had never a
truer lover or a subtler interpreter than Dwight, and Dwight taught the
teachers, and largely shaped the intelligent appreciation of the
unapproached master.

"Those were memorable evenings at the old Odeon. Francis Beaumont did not
more pleasantly recall the things that he and Ben Jonson had seen done at
the Mermaid than an old Brook Farmer remembers the long walks, eight good
miles in and eight miles out, to see the tall, willowy Schmidt swaying
with his violin at the head of the orchestra, to hear the airy ripple of
Auber's 'Zanetta,' the swift passionate storm of Beethoven's 'Egmont,' the
symphonic murmur of woods and waters and summer fields in the limpid
'Pastorale,' or the solemn grandeur of sustained pathetic human feeling in
the 'Fifth Symphony.' The musical revival was all part of the new birth
of the Transcendental epoch, although none would have more promptly
disclaimed any taint of Transcendentalism than the excellent officers of
the Boston Academy of Music. The building itself, the Odeon, was the old
Federal Street Theatre, and had its interesting associations.... To all
there was now added, in the memory of the happy hearers, the association
of the symphony concerts.

"As the last sounds died away, the group of Brook Farmers, who had ventured
from the Arcadia of co-operation into the Gehenna of competition, gathered
up their unsoiled garments and departed. Out of the city, along the bare
Tremont road, through green Roxbury and bowery Jamaica Plain, into the
deeper and lonelier country, they trudged on, chatting and laughing and
singing, sharing the enthusiasm of Dwight, and unconsciously taught by him
that the evening had been greater than they knew. Brook Farm has long
since vanished. The bare Tremont road is bare no longer. Green Roxbury and
Jamaica Plain are almost city rather than suburbs. From the symphony
concerts dates much of the musical taste and cultivation of Boston. The
old Odeon is replaced by the stately Music Hall. The _Journal of Music_,
which sprang from the impulse of those days, now, after a generation, is
suspended; nor need we speculate why musical Boston, which demands the
Passion music of Bach, permits a journal of such character to expire. Amid
all these changes and disappearances two things have steadily
increased--the higher musical taste of the country, and the good name of
the critic whose work has most contributed to direct and elevate it. If,
as he says, it is sad that the little bark which the sympathetic
encouragement of a few has kept afloat so long goes down before reaching
the end of its thirtieth annual voyage, it does not take down with it the
name and fame of its editor, which have secured their place in the history
of music in America."

From the beginning Dwight was intimately connected with the Harvard
Musical Association, which has done so much to promote the interests of
music in Boston. He was its first vice-president and chairman of its board
of directors. He was active in providing its meetings with attractive
musical programmes; about 1844 he secured for it a series of chamber
concerts; he took part in procuring the building of Music Hall, and in
bringing to it the great organ which was for many years an attraction.
From 1855 to 1873 he continuously filled the position of vice-president of
the association; and in the latter year was elected president, which place
he held until his death. Beginning about 1850 he worked steadily for
securing a good musical library, that should be as nearly complete as
possible; and his desire was to make this a special feature in the
activities of the association. In 1867 a room was secured for it; and in
1869 a suite of rooms was rented for the gatherings, both social and
musical, of the members of the association. On his election as president,
Dwight went to live in those rooms, cared for the library, and received
the members and guests of the association whenever they chose to frequent
them. This was in Pemberton Square; but in 1886 there was a removal to
Park Square, and another in 1892 to West Cedar Street. Dwight's connection
of forty or fifty years with the Harvard Musical Association was most
intimate, so that he and the association came to be almost identical in
the minds of Boston people. Whatever it accomplished was through his
initiative or with his active cooperation.

In 1865 Dwight proposed the organization of a Philharmonic Society among
the members of the association, and also that a series of concerts be
undertaken. This suggestion was carried out, and the concerts were for
many years very successful. In time their place was taken by the concerts
of Theodore Thomas, and the Symphony Concerts generously sustained by Mr.
H.L. Higginson; but it must be recognized that Dwight and the Harvard
Musical Association taught the Boston public to appreciate only those
concerts at which the best music was produced.

One special object in the organization of the Harvard Musical Association
was the securing of a place for music in the curriculum of Harvard
College. That was an object very dear to the heart of Dwight, and one
which he brought forward frequently in the pages of his _Journal of
Music_. He maintained that music was not merely for amusement, but that it
is the most human and spiritual of all the arts, and must find its place
in any systematic effort to secure a full-rounded culture. In a few years
Harvard appointed an instructor in music. Mr. John K. Paine was called to
that position in 1862, and was made a professor in 1876.

Dwight gave a most generous welcome to all young musicians of promise as
they came forward. Such men as John C.D. Parker, John K. Paine, Benjamin
J. Lang, George W. Chadwick, Arthur Foote, and William F. Apthorp were
generously aided by him; and the _Journal of Music_ never failed to speak
an appreciative word for them. However Dwight might differ from some of
them, he could recognize their true merits, and did not fail to make them
known to the public. When Mr. Paine, who had been watched by Dwight with
appreciation and approval from the beginning of his musical career, was
made a professor of music in Harvard University, when his important
musical compositions were published, and when his works were given fit
interpretation in Cambridge and elsewhere, these events were welcomed by
him as true indications of the development of music in this country.

For many years John S. Dwight was the musical autocrat of Boston, and what
he approved was accepted as the best which could be obtained. His
knowledge of music was literary rather than technical, appreciative rather
than scientific; but his qualifications were such as to make him an
admirable interpreter of music to the cultivated public of Boston. What a
musical composition ought to mean to an intelligent person he could make
known in language of a fine literary texture, and with a rare spiritual
insight he voiced its poetic and aesthetic values. If the better-trained
musicians of more recent years look upon his musical judgments with
somewhat of disapproval, as not being sufficiently technical, they ought
not to forget that he prepared the way for them as no one else could have
done it, and that he had a fine skill in bringing educated persons to a
just appreciation of what music is as an art. As Mr. William F. Apthorp
has well said, "his musical instincts and perceptions were, in a certain
high respect, of the finest. He was irresistibly drawn towards what is
pure, noble, and beautiful, and felt these things with infinite keenness."

Dwight's last years were spent in furthering the interests of the Harvard
Musical Association, in writing about his beloved art, and in the society
of his many generous friends. He had a talent for friendship, and during
his lifetime he was intimately associated with almost every man and woman
of note in Boston. He was of a quiet, gentlemanly habit of life, took the
world in the way of one who appreciates it and desires to secure from it
the most of good, was warmly attached to the children of his friends and
found the keenest delight in their presence, loved all that is graceful
and beautiful, and devoted himself with unceasing ardor to the art for
which he did so much to secure a just appreciation.

On the occasion of his eightieth birthday his friends and admirers were
brought together in the rooms of the Harvard Musical Association. It was a
red-letter day in his life, and he greatly appreciated it. A few months
later, September 5, 1893, his life came to an end--a life that had been in
no way great, but that had been spent in the loving and faithful service
of his fellow-men. At his funeral, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, an intimate
friend of many years, read this just and appreciative tribute:

 "O Presence reverend and rare,
    Art thou from earth withdrawn?
  Thou passest as the sunshine flits
   To light another dawn.

  Surely among the symphonies
    That praise the Ever-blest,
  Some strophe of surpassing peace
    Inviteth thee to rest.

  Thine was the treasure of a life
    Heart ripened from within,
  Whose many lustres perfected
    What youth did well begin.

  The noble champions of thy day
    Were thy companions meet,
  In the great harvest of our race,
    Bound with its priceless wheat.

  Thy voice its silver cadence leaves
    In truth's resistless court,
  Whereof thy faithful services
    Her heralds make report.

  Here thou, a watchful sentinel,
    Didst guard the gates of song,
  That no unworthy note should pass
    To do her temple wrong.

  Dear are the traces of thy days
    Mixed in these walks of ours;
  Thy footsteps in our household ways
    Are garlanded with flowers.

  If we surrender, earth to earth,
    The frame that's born to die,
  Spirit with spirit doth ascend
    To live immortally."

The letters contained in this volume give fullest indication of the
cordial and intimate relations which existed between Dwight and Curtis.
This may be seen more distinctly, perhaps, with the help of a few letters
not there given, including two or three written by Dwight to his friend.
In a letter to Christopher P. Cranch, the preacher, poet, and artist,
written at the time when he was starting his _Journal of Music_ on its
way, Dwight said: "If you see the Howadji, can you not enlist his active
sympathy a little in my cause? A letter now and then from him on music or
on art would be a feather in the cap of my enterprise. It is my last,
desperate (not very confident), grand _coup d'etat_ to try to get a
living; and I call on all good powers to help me launch the ship, or,
rather, little boat."

Curtis seconded his friend's efforts cordially, subscribed for the new
journal, persuaded a number of his friends to subscribe, and wrote
frequently for it. He wrote Dwight this letter of appreciation and advice:

"Your most welcome letter has been received, and its contents have been
submitted to the astute deliberations of the editorial conclave
[_Tribune_]. We are delighted at the prospect--but we do not love the
name. 1st. _Journal of Music_ is too indefinite and commonplace. It will
not be sufficiently distinguished from the _Musical Times_ and the
_Musical World_, being of the same general character. 2d. 'Side-glances'
is suspicious. It 'smells' Transcendentalism, as the French say, and, of
all things, any aspect of a clique is to be avoided.

"That is the negative result of our deliberations; the positive is, that
you should identify your name with the paper, and call it _Dwight's
Musical Journal_, and you might add, _sotto voce_, 'a paper of Art and
Literature.'

"Prepend: I shall be very glad to send you a sketch of our winter doings in
music, especially as I love Steffanone, although she says, 'I smoke, I
chew, I snoof, I drink, I am altogether vicious.' You shall have it Sunday
morning. Give my kindest regards to your wife. I wish she could sing in
your paper."

In a letter written in March, 1882, Dwight expressed to Curtis his
appreciation of the most friendly words which the "Easy Chair" had said of
him and his work as an editor, in making mention of the fact that the
_Journal of Music_ had come to the end of its career:

"My dear George,--With this I send you formal invitation, on the part of
the committee of arrangements, for the celebration of the anniversary of
the foundation, by Dr. Howe, of the Institution for the Blind.... We wish
to have an address--not long, say half an hour--partly historical; and we
all (committee, director, teachers, pupils) have set our hearts upon
having _you_ perform that service. It would delight us all; and I know
that you would find the occasion, the very sight of those sightless
children made so happy, most inspiring.... A more responsive audience than
the blind themselves cannot be found. Dear George, do think seriously of
it, and tell me you will come. Your own wishes in respect to the
arrangements and conditions shall in all respects be consulted. But come,
if you wish to have a good time, a memorable time, and make a good time
for us.

"George, how many times have I been on the point of writing to you since
that delightful week we spent at dear old Tweedy's. To me it was a sweet
renewal of good old days, and I came away feeling that it must have added
some time to my life. Then, too, I wished to thank you for your most
friendly, hearty, and delightful talk about me and my _Journal_ in the
'Easy Chair.' It was so like you, like the dear old George. I tell you, it
made me feel good, as if life wasn't all a failure. And now I am finding
laziness agreeing with me too--too well.... And if I were not so very,
very _old_, if it were not my fate to have been sent into the world so
long before my time, I verily believe I should confess myself over head
and ears in love! At any rate, I love _life_. Yet nearly all my old
friends seem to be dead or dying. When I write you again, I hope to be
able to say that I am well at work again; but how?--on what? Thank God, I
am not a 'critic!'"


IV

The winter of 1843-44 was spent by the Curtis brothers at their father's
house in New York. George studied somewhat, heard much music, and read
extensively. In the spring of 1844 they went to live in Concord for
purposes of study and recreation. They wished to know country life, and
they regarded it as a desirable part of education that they should become
acquainted with practical affairs, and especially with agriculture. That
tendency of the time which established Brook Farm and sent Thoreau into
the Concord woods, worked itself out in this desire of two young men to
find life at first hand. Colonel Higginson has said of the fresh life
started by the transcendental movement: "Under these combined motives I
find that I carefully made out, at one time, a project of going into the
cultivation of peaches, thus securing freedom for study and thought by
moderate labor of the hands. This was in 1843, two years before Thoreau
tried a similar project with beans at Walden Pond; and also before the
time when George and Burrill Curtis undertook to be farmers at Concord. A
like course was actually adopted and successfully pursued through life by
another Harvard man a few years older than myself, the late Marston
Watson, of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Such things were in the air, and even
those who were not swerved by 'the Newness' from their intended pursuits
were often greatly as to the way in which they were undertaken."

A letter written by Burrill Curtis, and printed in part by Mr. Cary, gives
the reasons for this experiment. He says it was "for the better
furtherance of our main and original end--the desire to unite in our own
persons the freedom of a country life with moderate out-door occupation,
and with intellectual cultivation and pursuits. At Concord we first took
up our residence in the family of an elderly farmer, recommended by Mr.
Emerson. We gave up half the day (except in hay-time, when we gave the
whole day) to sharing the farm-work indiscriminately with the
farm-laborers. The rest of the day we devoted to other pursuits, or to
social intercourse or correspondence; and we had a flat-bottomed
rowing-boat built for us, in which we spent very many afternoons on the
pretty little river. For our second season we removed to another farm and
farmer's house, near Mr. Emerson and Walden Pond, where we occupied only a
single room, making our own beds, and living in the very simplest and most
primitive style. A small piece of ground, which we hired of the farmer, we
cultivated for ourselves, raising vegetables only, and selling the
superfluous product, and distributing our time much as before."

It was to the house of Captain Nathan Barrett, one mile north of Concord
village, west of the river, and overlooking it and its meadows, that the
Curtis brothers went. Barrett was born in October, 1797, and was of the
seventh generation of his family in the town. His house on Punkatassett
Hill was pleasantly located, and the farm was large and well cultivated.
Judge John S. Keyes, in the sketch of Barrett's life printed in the second
series of the "Memoirs of Members of the Social Circle in Concord," says
of him: "His house was the resort of many of the connections of himself
and wife, who had there gay and jolly frolics. He was a captain of the
Light Infantry company of the town. He was naturally of an easy, somewhat
indolent disposition, so that he did little of the harder work of the
farm, but he looked after everything, and he became a thoroughly skilled,
practical farmer. His position as the principal man of his section of the
town, and his own good sense, made him the leading person in his
neighborhood. In person he was tall, nearly six feet, of large frame, and
good proportions, weighing two hundred pounds, had a frank, open face, a
high forehead, and a large head. He lived plainly but comfortably; drove a
poor horse but a good carriage to church and visiting; dressed like his
brother farmers about his work, but neatly and in good style when at
leisure. He loved good fruit, raised it in large amounts. Neither witty
nor humorous, he was slow to appreciate a joke, but he had a hearty laugh
when he did comprehend it. He was liberal in his habits, genial in his
temperament, and kindly in his disposition. He was very modest, though
firm and reliable; honest in every fibre, without guile and cunning;
thoroughly simple, and yet clear-headed, cool, and sensible. He was slow
in his mental processes, but no one doubted that he believed all that he
thought and said and did. His apples were not deaconed, his seeds were
sure and reliable, and his milk was never watered. He never made a mistake
in his accounts but once, and then it was against himself. Everybody knew
him and liked him and praised him, and was sorry when he died."

Captain Barrett had a farm of five hundred acres, the largest in the town.
He was a large raiser of sheep and milk. He was a deacon in the First
Parish Church, thoroughly honest, most neighborly and accommodating in his
ways, a loyal citizen, and a true-hearted man. He died in February, 1868,
and was lamented by every resident of the town. A typical farmer was
Captain Barrett, thoroughly human, loving life and all there is good in
it, hard-headed, practical, of sturdy common-sense, faithful to every
obligation as he understands it, of a kindly nature, enjoying the doing of
good in a plain, simple way, caring little for the supernatural, and yet
having a very sturdy faith in the few convictions of a rational religion,
without high spiritual insight, he lived his religion in a very honest
fashion.

It was quite in keeping with the character of Captain Barrett that he put
the Curtis brothers at the task of getting out manure, as almost the first
labor he required of them after their arrival on his farm. His idea was to
"test their metal," to find what stuff they were made of, and to what
extent they were in earnest in their expressed wish to become acquainted
with practical agriculture. He spoke of it with glee to his neighbors,
that he had put such refined gentlemen at that kind of work. It is
needless to say that they bore the test well. They were not domiciled in
the farm-house, but in a small cottage somewhat lower down the hill, yet
in the immediate neighborhood.

The love of music which George Curtis had developed at Brook Farm
continued during his stay in Concord. He sang on occasion, and he often
played a flute. The young singer he mentions was Belinda Randall, a sister
of John Randall, who published a volume of poems. She was a daughter of
Dr. Randall, of Winter Street, Boston, who had a summer place in Stowe.
From there she often visited in Concord, perhaps attended school there,
and was an intimate friend of Elizabeth Hoar, the betrothed of Edward
Emerson, and the sister of Judge Hoar and Senator Hoar, who, when she
visited Mrs. Hawthorne, was described as coming "with spirit voice and
tread." Belinda Randall has recently died, and left half a million dollars
to Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the
Cambridge Prospect Union. Her sister Elizabeth married Colonel Alfred
Cumming, of Georgia, afterwards Governor of Utah. Dr. Randall did not
approve of the marriage, and would not have the wedding take place in his
house. They were married at the house of Judge Hoar, the father of
Elizabeth. She was an excellent musician, but Belinda was the musical
genius of the family.

Another person mentioned by Curtis was Almira Barlow, who was at Brook
Farm during the time he was there. She had been a Miss Penniman of
Brookline, and had the reputation of being a famous beauty. She married
David Hatch Barlow, a graduate of Harvard in 1824, and of the Theological
School in 1829. Their marriage took place in Brookline about 1830, and
they were regarded as the handsomest couple that had been seen in the
town. He had a parish in Lynn, and was afterwards settled in Brooklyn; but
his habits became irregular, he remained but a short time in any place,
and he separated from his wife in 1838. There was much gossip about her,
owing to her beauty and her fondness for the society of men.

With Mrs. Barlow at Brook Farm and Concord was her son Francis Channing,
born in 1834, who graduated at Harvard in 1855, was a lawyer in New York,
rose to the rank of Major-General during the Rebellion, and was afterwards
prominent in his profession. He married as his second wife Miss Ellen
Shaw, the sister of Colonel Robert G. Shaw and of Mrs. George William
Curtis.

Curtis mentions hearing Emerson's address on the anniversary of
emancipation in the West Indies, which was delivered in Concord, August 1,
1844. There had existed in Concord for a number of years a Woman's
Antislavery Society, of which Mrs. Emerson was a member. Of this society,
Mrs. Mary Merrick Brooks was the president, and its most active worker.
She invited Emerson to speak on this occasion. He felt that he was excused
from political action by virtue of his having been a clergyman, and
because of his life as a man of letters. Mrs. Brooks thought otherwise,
and she gave him good and urgent reasons why he ought to speak, and to
speak then. At last she prevailed, partly because she gave him no rest
until he had complied with her request, and partly because his conscience
went with her arguments. His attitude hitherto had been such as in part
justified the statement made by Carlyle to Theodore Parker in 1843, that
the negroes were fit only for slavery, and that Emerson agreed with him.


V

The second abiding place of Curtis and his brother in Concord was the farm
of Edmund Hosmer, which was one-half mile east of Emerson's house, about
that distance from Walden Pond, and nearly the same from Hawthorne's
Wayside of later years, which faced it, and from which it could be seen.
Hosmer was a native of Concord, gave his earlier years to his trade as a
tanner, and then spent the remainder of his life as a Concord farmer. He
was Emerson's authority on agriculture and gardening more than any one;
though in later years Samuel Staples (usually known and spoken of as
"Sam") superseded him because he was a nearer neighbor. In 1843, when
Emerson wrote to George Ripley declining to join the Brook Farm community,
he referred to the opinions of Edmund Hosmer, "a very intelligent farmer
and a very upright man in my neighborhood." He gave in full his neighbor's
reasons for want of faith in the community idea, that co-operation in
farming was not successful, that the word of gentlemen-farmers could not
be trusted, that the equal payment of ten cents an hour to every laborer
was unjust, and that good work could not be secured if the worker was not
directly benefited.

In his notes on the agriculture of Massachusetts, published in _The Dial_,
Emerson described his neighbor in these words: "In an afternoon in April,
after a long walk, I traversed an orchard where boys were grafting
apple-trees, and found the farmer in his cornfield. He was holding the
plough, and his son driving the oxen. This man always impresses me with
respect, he is so manly, so sweet-tempered, so faithful, so disdainful of
all appearances--excellent and reverable in his old weather-worn cap and
blue frock bedaubed with the soil of the field; so honest, withal, that he
always needs to be watched lest he should cheat himself. I still remember
with some shame that in some dealing we had together a long time ago, I
found that he had been looking to my interest, and nobody had looked to
his part. As I drew near this brave laborer in the midst of his own acres,
I could not help feeling for him the highest respect. Here is the Caesar,
the Alexander of the soil, conquering and to conquer, after how many and
many a hard-fought summer's day and winter's day; not like Napoleon, hero
of sixty battles only, but of six thousand, and out of every one he has
come victor; and here he stands, with Atlantic strength and cheer,
invincible still. These slight and useless city limbs of ours will come to
shame before this strong soldier, for his having done his own work and
ours too. What good this man has or has had, he has earned. No rich father
or father-in-law left him any inheritance of land or money. He borrowed
the money with which he bought his farm, and has bred up a large family,
given them a good education, and improved his land in every way year by
year, and this without prejudice to himself the landlord, for here he is,
a man every inch of him, and reminds us of the hero of the Robin Hood
ballad:

     'Much, the miller's son,
  There was no inch of his body
  But it was worth a groom.'

"Innocence and justice have written their names on his brow. Toil has not
broken his spirit. His laugh rings with the sweetness and hilarity of a
child; yet he is a man of a strongly intellectual taste, of much reading,
and of an erect good sense and independent spirit which can neither brook
usurpation nor falsehood in any shape. I walked up and down the field as
he ploughed his furrow, and we talked as we walked. Our conversation
naturally turned on the season and its new labors." The conversation went
on, leading to a discussion of the agricultural survey of the State;
Hosmer's opinions of it are quoted as of much worth, and as sounder than
anything which the writer could himself say on the subject.

Mr. Sanborn is of the opinion that Edmund Hosmer was described as Hassan
in Emerson's fragments on the "Poet and the Poetic Gift," in the complete
edition of his poems:

  "Said Saadi, 'When I stood before
  Hassan the camel-driver's door,
  I scorned the fame of Timour brave;
  Timour, to Hassan, was a slave:
  In every glance of Hassan's eye
  I read great years of victory,
  And I, who cower mean and small
  In the frequent interval
  When wisdom not with me resides,
  Worship Toil's wisdom that abides.
  I shunned his eyes, that faithful man's,
  I shunned the toiling Hassan's glance.'"

Hosmer was also described by William Ellery Channing in his "New England":

  "This man takes pleasure o'er the crackling fire,
  His glittering axe subdued the monarch oak;
  He earned the cheerful blaze by something higher
  Than pensioned blows--he owned the tree he stroke,
  And knows the value of the distant smoke,
  When he returns at night, his labor done,
  Matched is his action with the long day's sun."

Channing spoke of him again as the

                     "Spicy farming sage,
  Twisted with heat and cold and cramped with age,
  Who grunts at all the sunlight through the year,
  And springs from bed each morning with a cheer.
  Of all his neighbors he can something tell,
  'Tis bad, whate'er, we know, and like it well!
  The bluebird's song he hears the first in spring--
  Shoots the last goose bound south on freezing wing."

Hosmer was also one of the farmer friends of Thoreau, who much enjoyed his
society and the vigor of his conversation. He is described in the
fourteenth chapter of "Walden" as among Thoreau's winter visitors at his
hut: "On a Sunday afternoon, if I chanced to be at home, I heard the
cronching of the snow made by the step of a long-headed farmer, who from
far through the woods sought my house, to have a social 'crack'; one of
the few of his vocation who are 'men on their farms'; who donned a frock
instead of a professor's gown, and is as ready to extract the moral out of
church or state as to haul a load of manure from his barn-yard. We talked
of rude and simple things, when men sat about large fires in cold, bracing
weather, with clear heads; and when other dessert failed, we tried our
teeth on many a nut which wise squirrels have long since abandoned, for
those which have the thickest shells are commonly empty." In W.E.
Channing's book about Thoreau as the "Poet-Naturalist," there is a passage
from his journal in which Thoreau speaks of Hosmer as the last of the
farmers worthy of mention. "Human life may be transitory and full of
trouble," he says, "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 will not die with Columella and will not
die with Hosmer."

At Hosmer's house the two young men lived in a single room, and did their
own cooking and house-keeping. Mrs. Hosmer furnished them with milk, and
they ate crackers, cheese, and fruit largely. They were Grahamites, and
used no meat. They read much, and had with them a large number of books.
It was their custom here, as well as at Captain Barrett's, to spend much
time in the woods. They were enthusiastic students of botany, and came
home from their excursions in the woods with their arms loaded with
flowers, and often searched out the rarest which could be found in the
Walden and Lincoln woods.

It was while the Curtises were living at Hosmer's that they assisted
Thoreau in building his hut at Walden Pond. Thoreau says that in March,
1845, he borrowed an axe and went into the woods to build him a house. The
axe was procured of Emerson, and he says he returned it sharper than when
he received it. He was assisted in building the house, he says, by some of
his acquaintances, "rather to improve so good an occasion for
neighborliness than from any necessity." These acquaintances were Emerson,
Alcott, W.E. Charming, Burrill and George Curtis, Edmund Hosmer and his
sons John, Edmund, and Andrew. Thoreau said that he wished the help of the
young men because they had more strength than the older ones, and that no
man was ever more honored in the character of his raisers than he. It was
Thoreau's custom while at Walden to dine on Sundays with Emerson, and to
stop at Hosmer's on his way back to the pond, often remaining to supper.
After the failure of his experiment at Fruitlands, it was into Hosmer's
house that Alcott found himself welcomed; and he was given much of help
and encouragement by the farmer and his wife.


VI

At this time several of the Brook Farmers were living in Concord, and
among them were Bradford, Pratt, and Mrs. Barlow; and later on Marianne
Ripley, the sister of George Ripley, found a home there, and kept a school
for small children. On the third return of the Curtises to Concord, in the
summer of 1846, they found a home in the house of Minott Pratt, who was
living at the foot of Punkatassett Hill, on the top of which was the house
of Captain Barrett. In the same neighborhood lived William Ellery
Channing, the poet, whose wife was a sister of Margaret Fuller. They are
frequently mentioned in Hawthorne's and his wife's letters from the Old
Manse. Pratt's cottage was in a quiet, delightful location; and in the
family George Curtis found himself quite at home.

Curtis made a very pleasant impression in Concord, for he was social in
his ways, paid much deference to others, and always exemplified a fine
etiquette. The brothers are remembered by one person who then knew them as
having no mannerisms, and as being perfect gentlemen. His article on
Emerson, in the "Homes of American Authors," gave much offence in the
town, and by Mrs. Alcott, as well as others, was warmly resented. He was
exact enough as to facts, but he drew from them wrong inferences. He
afterwards said that there was nothing romantic in his paper, and that
every incident mentioned was an actual occurrence. He had letters from
Emerson and Hawthorne before he wrote his papers on those two authors, to
enable him to verify certain details.

The relations of Curtis and Hawthorne were cordial if not intimate. In a
letter to Hawthorne, written from Europe, Curtis said: "Does Mrs.
Hawthorne yet remember that she sent me a golden key to the studio of
Crawford, in Rome? I shall never forget that, nor any smallest token of
her frequent courtesy in the Concord days." In another letter to Hawthorne
he speaks of Concord as "our old home, which is very placid and beautiful
in my memory." In his paper on Hawthorne, in the "Homes of American
Authors," Curtis gave an interesting account of his acquaintance with that
reticent genius during these Concord days:

"There glimmer in my memory a few hazy days, of a tranquil and
half-pensive character, which I am conscious were passed in and around the
house, and their pensiveness I know to be only that touch of twilight
which inhered in the house and all its associations. Beside the few chance
visitors there were city friends occasionally, figures quite unknown to
the village, who came preceded by the steam shriek of the locomotive, were
dropped at the gate-posts, and were seen no more. The owner was as much a
vague name to me as any one.

"During Hawthorne's first year's residence in Concord, I had driven up with
some friends to an aesthetic tea at Mr. Emerson's. It was in the winter,
and a great wood fire blazed upon the hospitable hearth. There were
various men and women of note assembled, and I, who listened attentively
to all the fine things that were said, was for some time scarcely aware of
a man who sat upon the edge of the circle, a little withdrawn, his head
slightly thrown forward upon his breast, and his bright eyes clearly
burning under his black brow. As I drifted down the stream of talk, this
person, who sat silent as a shadow, looked to me as Webster might have
looked had he been a poet--a kind of poetic Webster. He rose and walked to
the window, and stood quietly there for a long time, watching the dead,
white landscape. No appeal was made to him, nobody looked after him, the
conversation flowed steadily on, as if every one understood that his
silence was to be respected. It was the same at table. In vain the silent
man imbibed aesthetic tea. Whatever fancies it inspired did not flower at
his lips. But there was a light in his eye which assured me that nothing
was lost. So supreme was his silence that it presently engrossed me to the
exclusion of everything else. There was very brilliant discourse, but this
silence was much more poetic and fascinating. Fine things were said by the
philosophers, but much finer things were implied by the dumbness of this
gentleman with heavy brows and black hair. When he presently rose and
went, Emerson, with the 'slow, wise smile' that breaks over his face like
day over the sky, said, 'Hawthorne rides well his horse of the night.'

"Thus he remained in my memory, a shadow, a phantom, until more than a year
afterwards. Then I came to live in Concord. Every day I passed his house,
but when the villagers, thinking that perhaps I had some clew to the
mystery, said, 'Do you know this Mr. Hawthorne?' I said, 'No,' and trusted
to time.

"Time justified my confidence, and one day I too went down the avenue and
disappeared in the house. I mounted those mysterious stairs to that
apocryphal study. I saw 'the cheerful coat of paint, and golden-tinted
paper-hangings, lighting up the small apartment; while the shadow of a
willow-tree, that swept against the overhanging eaves, attempered the
cheery western sunshine.' I looked from the little northern window whence
the old pastor watched the battle, and in the small dining-room beneath
it, upon the first floor, there were

  'Dainty chicken, snow-white bread,'

and the golden juices of Italian vineyards, which still feast insatiable
memory.

"Our author occupied the Old Manse for three years. During that time he was
not seen, probably, by more than a dozen of the villagers. His walks could
easily avoid the town, and upon the river he was always sure of solitude.
It was his favorite habit to bathe every evening in the river, after
nightfall, and in that part of it over which the old bridge stood, at
which the battle was fought. Sometimes, but rarely, his boat accompanied
another up the stream, and I recall the silence and preternatural vigor
with which, on one occasion, he wielded his paddle to counteract the bad
rowing of a friend who conscientiously considered it his duty to do
something and not let Hawthorne work alone, but who, with every stroke,
neutralized all Hawthorne's efforts. I suppose he would have struggled
until he fell senseless, rather than ask his friend to desist. His
principle seemed to be, if a man cannot understand without talking to him,
it is useless to talk, because it is immaterial whether such a man
understands or not. His own sympathy was so broad and sure that, although
nothing had been said for hours, his companion knew that nothing had
escaped his eye, nor had a single pulse of beauty in the day or scene or
society failed to thrill his heart. In this way his silence was most
social. Everything seemed to have been said. It was a Barmecide feast of
discourse from which a greater satisfaction resulted than from an actual
banquet.

"When a formal attempt was made to desert this style of conversation, the
result was ludicrous. Once Emerson and Thoreau arrived to pay a call. They
were shown into the little parlor upon the avenue, and Hawthorne presently
entered. Each of the guests sat upright in his chair like a Roman senator.
'To them,' Hawthorne, like a Dacian King. The call went on, but in a most
melancholy manner. The host sat perfectly still, or occasionally
propounded a question which Thoreau answered accurately, and there the
thread broke short off. Emerson delivered sentences that only needed the
setting of an essay to charm the world; but the whole visit was a vague
ghost of the Monday Evening Club at Mr. Emerson's--it was a great failure.
Had they all been lying idly on the river brink or strolling in Thoreau's
blackberry pastures, the result would have been utterly different. But
imprisoned in the proprieties of a parlor, each a wild man in his way,
with a necessity of talking inherent in the nature of the occasion, there
was only a waste of treasure. This was the only 'call' in which I ever
knew Hawthorne to be involved.

"In Mr. Emerson's house I said it seemed always morning. But Hawthorne's
black-ash trees and scraggy apple boughs shaded

  'A land in which it seemed always afternoon.'

"I do not doubt that the lotus grew along the grassy marge of the Concord
behind his house, and that it was served, subtly concealed, to all his
guests. The house, its inmates, and its life lay dream-like upon the edge
of the little village. You fancy that they all came together and belonged
together, and were glad that at length some idol of your imagination, some
poet whose spell had held you, and would hold you forever, was housed as
such a poet should be.

"During the lapse of the three years since the bridal tour of twenty miles
ended at the 'two tall gate-posts of roughhewn stone,' a little wicker
wagon had appeared at intervals upon the avenue, and a placid babe, whose
eyes the soft Concord day had touched with the blue of its beauty, lay
looking tranquilly up at the grave old trees, which sighed lofty lullabies
over her sleep. The tranquillity of the golden-haired Una was the living
and breathing type of the dreamy life of the Old Manse. Perhaps, that
being attained, it was as well to go. Perhaps our author was not surprised
or displeased when the hints came, 'growing more and more distinct, that
the owner of the old house was pining for his native air.' One afternoon I
entered the study and learned from its occupant that the last story he
should ever write there was written."

In the midnight chapter of his "Blithedale Romance," Hawthorne described
an incident which actually took place in Concord. A young girl drowned
herself, and her body was found as there set forth. Hawthorne wrote a full
account of the drowning in his journal, which is printed by Julian
Hawthorne in his biography of "Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife." No
mention is made of Curtis, who took part in the search, and who gave his
own account of the affair in his paper on Hawthorne. When Thoreau went to
New York, in 1843, he put his boat into the keeping of Curtis, and he and
Channing made their excursions on the river in it. In it they searched for
Mary Hunt, who lived near Channing. Curtis's account of this affair
deserves to be placed by the side of Hawthorne's:

"Martha was the daughter of a plain Concord farmer, a girl of delicate and
shy temperament, who excelled so much in study that she was sent to a fine
academy in a neighboring town, and won all the honors of the course. She
met at the school and in the society of the place a refinement and
cultivation, a social gayety and grace, which were entirely unknown in the
hard life she had led at home, and which by their very novelty, as well as
because they harmonized with her own nature and dreams, were doubly
beautiful and fascinating. She enjoyed this life to the full, while her
timidity kept her only a spectator; and she ornamented it with a fresher
grace, suggestive of the woods and fields, when she ventured to engage in
the airy game. It was a sphere for her capacities and talents. She shone
in it, and the consciousness of a true position and genial appreciation
gave her the full use of all her powers. She admired and was admired. She
was surrounded by gratifications of taste, by the stimulants and rewards
of ambition. The world was happy, and she was worthy to live in it. But at
times a cloud suddenly dashed athwart the sun--a shadow stole, dark and
chill, to the very edge of the charmed circle in which she stood. She knew
well what it was, and what it foretold, but she would not pause nor heed.
The sun shone again, the future smiled; youth, beauty, and all hopes and
thoughts bathed the moment in lambent light.

"But school-days ended at last, and with the receding town in which they
had been passed, the bright days of life disappeared, and forever. It was
probable that the girl's fancy had been fed, perhaps indiscreetly
pampered, by her experience there. But it was no fairy-land. It was an
academy town in New England, and the fact that it was so alluring is a
fair indication of the kind of life from which she had emerged, and to
which she now returned. What could she do? In the dreary round of petty
details, in the incessant drudgery of a poor farmer's household, with no
companions or any sympathy--for the family of a hard-working New-England
farmer are not the Chloes and Clarissas of pastoral poetry, nor the
cowboys Corydons--with no opportunity of retirement and cultivation, for
reading and studying--which is always voted 'stuff' under such
circumstances--the light suddenly quenches out of life, what was she to
do?

"The simple answer is that she had only used all her opportunities, and
that, although it was no fault of hers that the routine of her life was in
every way repulsive, she did struggle to accommodate herself to it, and
failed. When she found it impossible to drag on at home, she became an
inmate of a refined and cultivated household in the village, where she had
opportunity to follow her own fancies and to associate with educated and
attractive persons. But even here she could not escape the feeling that it
was all temporary, that her position was one of dependence; and her pride,
now grown morbid, often drove her from the very society which alone was
agreeable to her. This was all genuine. There was not the slightest strain
of the _femme incomprise_ in her demeanor. She was always shy and silent,
with a touching reserve which won interest and confidence, but left also a
vague sadness in the mind of the observer. After a few months she made
another effort to rend the cloud which was gradually darkening around her,
and opened a school for young children. But although the interest of
friends secured her a partial success, her gravity and sadness failed to
excite the sympathy of her pupils, who missed in her the playful gayety
always most winning to children. Martha, however, pushed bravely on, a
figure of tragic sobriety to all who watched her course. The farmers
thought her a strange girl, and wondered at the ways of the farmer's
daughter who was not content to milk cows and churn butter and fry pork,
without further hope or thought. The good clergyman of the town,
interested in her situation, sought a confidence she did not care to
bestow, and so, doling out a, b, c to a wild group of boys and girls, she
found that she could not untie the Gordian knot of her life, and felt with
terror that it must be cut.

"One summer evening she left her father's house and walked into the fields
alone. Night came, but Martha did not return. The family became anxious,
inquired if any one had noticed the direction in which she went, learned
from the neighbors that she was not visiting, that there was no lecture
nor meeting to detain her, and wonder passed into apprehension. Neighbors
went into the adjacent woods and called, but received no answer. Every
instant the awful shadow of some dread event solemnized the gathering
groups. Every one thought what no one dared whisper, until a low voice
suggested the river. Then with the swiftness of certainty all friends far
and near were roused, and thronged along the banks of the stream. Torches
flashed in the boats that put off in the terrible search. Hawthorne, then
living in the Old Manse, was summoned, and the man whom the villagers had
only seen at morning as a musing spectre in his garden, now appeared among
them at night, to devote his strong arm and steady heart to their service.
The boats drifted slowly down the stream, the torches flashed strangely
upon the black repose of the waters, and upon the long slim grasses that
weeping fringed the marge. Upon both banks silent and awe-stricken crowds
hastened along, eager and dreading to find the slightest trace of what
they sought. Suddenly they came to a few articles of dress, heavy with the
night dew. No one spoke, for no one had doubted the result. It was clear
that Martha had strayed to the river, and quietly asked of its stillness
the repose she sought. The boats gathered around the spot. With every
implement that could be of service the melancholy search began. Long
intervals of fearful silence ensued, but at length, towards midnight, the
sweet face of the dead girl was raised more placidly to the stars than
ever it had been to the sun.

"So ended a village tragedy. The reader may possibly find in it the
original of the thrilling conclusion of the 'Blithedale Romance,' and
learn anew that dark as is the thread with which Hawthorne weaves his
spells, it is no darker than those with which tragedies are spun, even in
regions apparently so torpid as Concord."

Far too much has been made of the realistic elements in the "Blithedale
Romance." Hawthorne says in his preface that "he has occasionally availed
himself of his actual reminiscences;" but it cannot be claimed that he did
anything more. The fact seems to be that he used such reminiscences and
incidents merely as stimuli to his imagination, that the real romance of
the story was purely of his own creation. So far as he used the facts of
his life at Brook Farm it was to give an air of reality to his story; and
in no other sense can it be accepted as truthful to Brook Farm life. For
instance, his Zenobia was in every sense an original creation, and not a
description of any person he had known. Three persons he knew at Brook
Farm gave him hints, traits of character, and points of departure for the
activity of his imagination. The stately elements in Zenobia resembled
those of Mrs. George Ripley, her luxurious tastes were like those of Mrs.
Almira Barlow, while her genius and brilliancy had a few similarities to
Margaret Fuller. His habit seems to have been to take a single incident in
the life of a person, and to make that the chief one in a character. In
this way his romances gained a realistic phase of a very impressive kind;
but the character of a person as a whole he never copied. It is a strange
comment on his powerful writing that so much should have been made of his
superficial realism, while the persistent and profound romanticism of his
work is too often overlooked. Yet this was one of the weird results of his
genius, that his imagination weaves for itself a world more real than life
itself, and that claims for itself an acceptance as truer to facts than
the word of the historian.

In his paper on Emerson, Curtis gives further account of his life in
Concord. He said that "Thoreau lives in the berry-pastures upon a bank
over Walden Pond, and in a little house of his own building. One pleasant
summer afternoon a small party of us helped him raise it--a bit of life as
Arcadian as any at Brook Farm. Elsewhere in the village he turns up
arrow-heads abundantly, and Hawthorne mentions that Thoreau initiated him
into the mystery of finding them." His account of the club which gathered
for a few evenings in Emerson's study deserves to be placed here in order
to complete his story of Concord experiences, the fictitious names used by
him being changed to the real ones:

"It was in the year 1845 that a circle of persons of various ages, and
differing very much in everything but sympathy, found themselves in
Concord. Towards the end of the autumn, Mr. Emerson suggested that they
should meet every Monday evening through the winter in his library.
'Monsieur Aubepine,' 'Miles Coverdale,' and other phantoms, since known as
Nathaniel Hawthorne, who then occupied the Old Manse; the inflexible Henry
Thoreau, a scholastic and pastoral Orson, then living among the blackberry
pastures of Walden Pond; Plato Skimpole [Margaret Fuller's name for
Alcott], then sublimely meditating impossible summer-houses in a little
house on the Boston Road; the enthusiastic agriculturist and Brook Farmer
[George Bradford], then an inmate of Mr. Emerson's house, who added the
genial cultivation of a scholar to the amenities of the natural gentleman;
a sturdy farmer-neighbor [Edmund Hosmer], who had bravely fought his weary
way through inherited embarrassment to the small success of a New England
husbandman; two city youths [George and Burrill Curtis], ready for the
fragments from the feast of wit and wisdom; and the host himself, composed
the club. Ellery Channing, who had that winter harnessed his Pegasus to
the New York _Tribune_, was a kind of corresponding member. The news of
this world was to be transmitted through his eminently practical genius,
as the club deemed itself competent to take charge of tidings from all
other spheres.

"I went the first evening very much as Ixion may have gone to his banquet.
The philosophers sat dignified and erect. There was a constrained but very
amiable silence, which had the impertinence of a tacit inquiry, seeming to
ask, 'Who will now proceed to say the finest thing that has ever been
said?' It was quite involuntary and unavoidable, for the members lacked
that fluent social genius without which a club is impossible. It was a
congress of oracles on the one hand, and of curious listeners upon the
other. I vaguely remember that the Orphic Alcott invaded the Sahara of
silence with a solemn 'Saying,' to which, after due pause, the honorable
member for Blackberry Pastures responded by some keen and graphic
observations, while the Olympian host, anxious that so much material
should be spun into something, beamed smiling encouragement upon all
parties. But the conversation became more and more staccato. Hawthorne, a
statue of night and silence, sat a little removed, under a portrait of
Dante, gazing imperturbably upon the group; and as he sat in the shadow,
his dark hair and eyes and suit of sables made him, in that society, the
black thread of mystery which he weaves into his stories; while the
shifting presence of the Brook Farmer played like heat lightning around
the room.

"I remember little else but a grave eating of russet apples by the erect
philosophers, and a solemn disappearance into night. The club struggled
through three Monday evenings. Alcott was perpetually putting apples of
gold in pictures of silver; for such was the rich ore of his thoughts
coined by the deep melody of his voice. Thoreau charmed us with the
secrets won from his interviews with Pan in the Walden woods; while
Emerson, with the zeal of an engineer trying to dam wild waters, sought to
bind the wide-flying embroidery of discourse into a whole of clear, sweet
sense. But still in vain. The oracular sayings were the unalloyed
saccharine element; and every chemist knows how much else goes to
practical food--how much coarse, rough, woody fibre is essential. The club
struggled on valiantly, discoursing celestially, eating apples, and
disappearing in the dark, until the third evening it vanished altogether.
But I have since known clubs of fifty times the number, whose collected
genius was not more than that of either of the Dii Majores of our Concord
coterie. The fault was its too great concentration. It was not relaxation,
as a club should be, but tension. Society is a play, a game, a tournament;
not a battle. It is the easy grace of undress; not an intellectual,
full-dress parade."


VII

As will have been seen, Curtis never lost his interest in Brook Farm or
his faith in the principles on which it was founded. In his letters to
Dwight he clearly pointed out its defects, and he indicated in an
emphatic manner that he could not accept some of its methods. He showed
that he was an individualist rather than an associationist or socialist,
that his supreme faith was in individual effort, and in each person making
himself right before he undertook to reform society. His "Easy Chair"
essays make it clear that he saw with keen vision the limitations of Brook
Farm; but it had for him a distinct charm, and one that increased rather
than grew less as the years went on. The Brook Farm effort to right the
wrongs of society, to give all persons an opportunity in life, and to
bring the help of all to the aid of each one, he heartily accepted in its
spirit and intent; and to that faith he ever held with unswerving
confidence.

Not less did the Concord episode remain with Curtis as a bright spot in
his life. He gladly went to Concord whenever the opportunity offered; he
frequently lectured there, and was always heard with delight; and he gave
the Centennial Address, April 19, 1875, on the occasion of the one
hundredth anniversary of the battle at the old north bridge.

It was a part of the Brook Farm and Concord life which Curtis continued in
his intimacy with Dwight. So great was the confidence of this friendship
that he wrote to Dwight as soon as his marriage had been arranged, telling
him of his happiness, and telling him that the promised bride was the
daughter of their old Brook Farm friends, the Francis George Shaws. "Do
you remember her in Brook Farm days?" he asked. "There was never anything
that made parents and children happier." In closing his letter he wrote:
"When do you come to New York? I so want you to see her and know her; then
of course you will love her. Give my love to your wife--think that love is
not for this world, but forever!--and remember your friend who remembers
you." In his reply, Dwight said:

"You are right, George; link your destinies with _youth_. I scarcely
believe in anything else--except Spring and Morning. But then, there is a
way of making these--the soul of them--perpetual; and you have the secret
of it, I am sure, better than most of us.

"To think of that child, who used to play about Brook Farm, and go through
finger drudgery under my piano-professorship (Heaven save the mark!), the
child of our young friends, Mr. and Mrs. F.S. (how can you think of them
as parents?) being the future Mrs. Howadji! or I a dull drudge of an
editor! I do wish indeed to see and know her, and doubt not I shall find
your glowing statements all confirmed, and that in your height of joy you
need not be ashamed to 'blush it east and blush it west.' There is a
certain 'Maud'-like ecstasy in your note that makes me think of that.

"A small bird had already sung the news in my ear. But it was doubly
pleasant to have it straight from you. It was good in you to remember me
so.... Would that I might see you in New York! but I must content myself
with the not very remote prospect of having you by the hand here. Till
then, believe me happy in your happiness, and faithfully as ever your
friend."

Francis George Shaw, and his wife Sarah B. Shaw, were not members of the
Brook Farm community; but they lived in the immediate vicinity, often
visited the farm, joined in its entertainments, and were intimate friends
of the leaders of the association. He was a contributor to the Harbinger,
for which he wrote a number of articles in favor of the associationist
social movement. He made an admirable translation of George Sand's
"Consuelo" for the paper, in which that novel was for the first time
printed in this country. Their children were frequently at the farm, and
grew up in the midst of such ideas and influences as it fostered. One of
them was that Colonel Robert G. Shaw who was "buried with his niggers" at
Fort Wagner, after having led one of the most gallant military movements
of modern times. Three of the daughters married, Curtis, General Barlow,
and General Charles Russell Lowell. Mrs. Josephine Shaw Lowell has made
for herself a lasting name by her philanthropies, and her generous
interest in all good causes. Mrs. Shaw wrote the biography of her son
Robert, which was published in the work devoted to the Harvard graduates
who fell in the Civil War.

The real effect of Brook Farm, and that movement of which it was a part,
can be rightly understood only when there is taken into consideration what
they did for such persons as Shaw, Curtis, Barlow, Lowell, and Mrs.
Lowell. These persons were trained by Brook Farm and Transcendentalism;
and their aspirations, philanthropies, chivalrous spirit, and romantic
courage were fostered and developed by them. The tone and quality of
Shaw's courage, and of his heroic effort for the colored men, found in
Brook Farm their motive and incentive; and in Brook Farm because it
represented a phase of life much larger than itself, one that fosters the
noblest faith in men and in the spiritual future of humanity. Of Barlow
and Lowell it may be also said that their heroism and their patriotism
were the legitimate products of that movement whose hope and faith were
the inspiration of their youth. To this source was due Barlow's love of
justice, his unflinching courage in opposing self-seekers and partisan
patriots, and his trust in the ultimate worth of what is right and true.

The letters printed in this volume have a large interest as indications of
how George William Curtis was making ready for his life-work. His
independence, his love of humanity, his courage in maintaining his own
convictions, his chivalrous and romantic spirit, his literary skill and
charm, his profound spiritual convictions, that would not be limited by
any sectarian bounds, all find expression here in such form as to give
sure promise for his future. It was a somewhat erratic kind of training
which Curtis received; but for him it was better than any college of his
day could have given him. Admirably fitted to his tastes, it was no less
well adapted to his needs. It fostered in him all that was best in his
character, and it served to bring out his genius to its rounded
expression.

The two years which Curtis spent in Concord must have been of the greatest
value to him. His contact with Emerson was of itself of inestimable worth,
for it gave him that enthusiasm for ideas, that contact with a noble life
lived for the highest ends of spiritual development, which fostered in him
the enthusiasms which were so genuine a part of his life. Without Brook
Farm, Transcendentalism, and Emerson, it is quite safe to say that the
life of Curtis would have been less worthy of our admiration. The stay in
Concord was a time of seed-planting, and the harvest came in all that the
man was in later years. Without the enthusiasms then cherished the
independent in politics would have been less courageous. And these letters
may suggest anew one of the most important lessons of education, that
without enthusiasms no man can do any great or noble work in the world.
What will give to youth visions, ideals, and enthusiasms is worth all
other parts of culture, for out of these grow the noblest results of human
willing, thinking, and doing.




EARLY LETTERS TO JOHN S. DWIGHT


I

PROVIDENCE, _August 18, 1843._

Are you quite recovered from those divine enchantments which held us bound
so long? Memory preserves for me those silvery sounds, and almost I seem
to catch their echo. Have we indeed heard the Siren song--are we
unscathed? Let me be your Father John, and to these reverend years commit
the tale of youthful fervor. So good a Catholic as I, of course, has long
ago made confession. But another yet remains for me--namely, that I cannot
get that song. Yesterday I heard from Isaac, who cannot buy it in New
York. Nothing but a copy for the guitar and that Rosalie. Would it be an
expensive thing to import? Reed told me he could do that, but as I
supposed there was no doubt of its being in New York, I said nothing about
it. She should have the song; it would be so fine falling out of her
mouth. Mouth-dropped gems would be no longer a fable. As, indeed, we have
seen already. For what so universal an Interpreter as music? That art has
the gift of tongues (_ecce_, the Singing-School).

Burrill met with a mishap on Wednesday. We were walking out of town, and
he, springing from a wall, turned his ankle and sprained it. He is
therefore laid up for some days. It is a disappointment to him, for he
hoped to leave on Monday next, and meanwhile see several persons. I doubt
if he can step on his foot so soon.

I had yesterday a German letter from Isaac; German in spirit, not in
language. He has certainly a great heart, more delicate in his character
than I thought, with a constant force, nervous, not muscular strength.

Will you accept so city-like a letter? I am busy or I should write more;
another time will suffice. Let me accept from you a country-like letter.

Yours in the bonds,

G.W.C.


II

PROVIDENCE, _September 1, 1843._

My dear Friend,--Your letter did not reach my hands until last evening,
when I returned from Newport, where I have passed the last eight days, how
pleasantly I need not tell you. After the quiet beauty of our farm home,
there was a striking grandeur in the sea that I never beheld so plainly
before. There is something sublimely cheerful about the ocean, altho' it
is so stored with woe, and so constantly suggestive it is of that ocean,
life, whereon we all float.

It was pleasant to me that Nature confirmed my judgment of Tennyson. The
little poem that closes one of the volumes, "Break, break, break," etc.,
is so exquisitely human and tender, with all its vague and dim beauty,
that the waves dashed to its music, and silently the whole sea sung the
song. Just so the jottings down of poets, the few words that must be said,
tho' the Nature which they sing is so limitless, and inexpressible are the
blossoms of poetry and all literature. Will not the little song of
Shakespeare's, "Take, oh! take those lips away," be as immortal as Hamlet?
Not because chance may print them together, but because it is as universal
and more delicate an expression. That charm pervades our favorite,
Tennyson. There is no rough-marked outline, all fades away upon earnest
contemplation into the tones of his songs, into the colors of the sky. So
in the landscape, tint fades gently into tint, and the beauty that
attracts spreads from leaf to hill, from hill to horizon, till the whole
is bathed in sunlight. Is not this fact also recognized in other arts? In
painting, the great picture is without marked outline; in music, the
truest and deepest is undefined. Beethoven is greater than Haydn. The
precision which offends in manner is as disagreeable everywhere else. Is
it not because when named as Precision, the depth which necessarily means
a graceful form is absent? As when we say a woman has beautiful eyes we
indirectly acknowledge her want of universal beauty. Certainly a man of
elegant manners is admired not for himself, but what he represents.
Indeed, all society is only thus endurable. Nature, and to me particularly
the ocean, makes no such partial impression; and therefore the poet who
sits nearest to the great heart sings rather the sense of vague beauty and
aspiration, of tender remembrance and gentle hope, than a bald description
of the sight. The ocean is not fathomless water nor the woods green trees
to him, but a presence, and a key that unlocks the chambers of his soul
where the diamonds are. Therefore, when I have been into nearer
conversation with Nature I have little to say, but my life is deepened.
The poet is he who with deepened life chants also a flowing hymn which
utters the music of that life. You will understand why the little poem
seems to me so fine, therefore. This water I also see; but not in me lies
the power of the due expression of its influence.

There was another pleasant aspect in Newport, of persons. I walked one
evening towards the town (for I was boarding in the outskirts), and passed
an encampment of soldiers, who in their gay uniforms glittered among the
lighted tents like soldier fays. The band in the shadow of the camp was
playing very sweetly airs proper for that fading light, half-mournful,
half-tender and hopeful. I passed by the houses brilliantly lighted and
filled with finely dressed people, who also thronged the streets. Before
one of the principal hotels was a band from the fort serenading, and
surrounded with a crowd of easy listeners. The ice-cream resort was
filled, the cottages shone among the trees, and an air of entire
abandonment to joy filled the place. Old men and young men, women and
girls, seemed to have laid aside all business, all care, and to be only
gay. It was a vision of the Lotos islands, an earthly portrait of that
meek repose which haunts us ideally sometimes.

I was surprised upon my return to find Burrill still here. He is able only
to crutch about the house, but will probably return to Brook Farm with me
during the latter part of next week, which is the commencement week
here....

I should have been glad to have seen the gay picnic, and to have heard the
O.; let me hope she will not be gone when I return. I am exceedingly
obliged for your kind suggestion of "Adelaide," and if you choose to
present it as a joint gift, you confer a great pleasure upon me.

Commend me particularly to Almira; to the young men whom you will,
including mainly Charles D. and James S.; to Mr. and Mrs. R.; and if you
will write me again you will be sure that your proxy will be welcome to

Your friend,

G.W. CURTIS.

Will you say to Miss Russell that I shall see my aunt this afternoon, and
will perform her commission. Moreover, that I am gratified at so
distinguished a mark of her approbation as the permission to escort a
plant to her garden.

G.W.C.


III

NEW YORK, _Saturday eve'g, November 11, 1843._

Your letter has just reached me, my dear friend, loaded with much that was
not in it, and which needed only a person or a letter from a region so
delightful to bear it to me. Already my life at the Farm is removed and
transfigured. It stands for so much in my experience, and is so fairly
rounded, that I know the experience could never return, tho' the residence
might be renewed. When we mend the broken chain, we see ever after the
point of union.

To-night the wind sighs thro' the chimney, complaining and wailing and
melting away in a depth of sadness, as if it would pacify its own sorrow,
and found newer grief in that need. The clouds break and roll away in the
sky, and the wan moon sails up as if to a weary duty. Yet so calm it is,
so pure, that it chides weariness and preaches a deep, still hope. In the
city I seem not to breathe quite freely yet, but daily I gain ground and
air. It is so different, even more than I tho't; so new, tho' I had seen
it for years; so full, tho' I walk miles without speaking or seeing a face
seen before. I must constantly say to myself, "Be quiet, be quiet. This
huge enigma will gradually explain itself, and out of these conventions
and courtesies you shall see the same tender Nature looking that so
enchanted your country life."

Here is Burrill, and we are of more worth to each other than ever before.
Sometimes I fear to think how much. He was as glad to see me as the old
Christians a prophet, for I know him best of all.

The aspect of things here impresses me mainly with the absolute necessity
and duty of making our place good. The stern, stirring activity around me
compels me to give account to myself of my silence and repose. The answer
is always clear and steady. I have not heard the voice. Yet my mind begins
to shape some outline of life. Of this I am assured, that in this world of
work, where the hum of business makes music with the stars, I must work
too. And how I must work, by what handle I shall grasp the world and
justify my consumption of its food, that begins to appear. My Genius is
not decided enough to lead me unquestioning in any one direction, and my
taste is so equally cultivated and developed that choice seems somewhat
arbitrary. Yet it is not so. Above all, I regret no culture, tho' it may
have thus multiplied the roads to be chosen. It is a tinge and charm to
whatever is performed.

A gentleman in never so ragged clothes is a gentleman still. You may be
sure nothing has charmed me more than my meeting with Isaac in his mealy
clothes and brown-paper cap. His manner had a grand dignity, because he
was universally related by his diligent labor, and my conversation with
him was as earnest and happy as any intercourse I have had with him. This
general activity does not reprove me, for my silence respects itself and
gives good reasons why judgment should not proceed. And therefore it views
more lovingly what surrounds it. The God stirs within, and presently will
say something. Let us plant ourselves there and be lawyers that we may so
dispense justice, not that we may get bread; and priests, because the
Divine will speaks thro' us; and merchants and doctors and shoemakers and
bakers, from the same reason. If we honestly serve in any such profession,
bread will come of course.

Your letter has quickened my thought upon these things, quite active
before. My impulse is to say at once, go. The worst and all you can dread
is the foul breath that will befog your fair name, because E.W. has done
what he has, because you _were_ a minister and _are_ a Transcendentalist
and a seceder from the holy office, and a dweller at _that place_, unknown
to perfumed respectability and condemned of prejudice and error. This is
the first great reason, and the second is not unlike unto it. It is that
you retard your preparation for any permanent pursuit, as a centre of your
sensuous life, by passing two or three years in Europe. With respect to
the first reason, not your own feelings, but those of your friends, demand
some consideration. In Heaven's court will their sorrow at your departure
and intimacy with E.W. at this time outweigh your own happiness at the
trip, and because so you lend your own good character to one perhaps
unjustly condemned. Such a sudden departure and intimacy with him might
have an indirect influence upon your future attempts to base yourself in
some way. If your mind is determining itself towards no pursuit, and you
anticipate the same general employment that has filled the last year or
two, I should say go. If God doesn't call here, he may in Europe; and if
not for years, your voyage cannot interfere with him. There are privater
reasons, which you know, of his character and of your probability of
assimilation, and of your independence in intimacies. Perhaps you may link
little fingers, if you cannot clasp the whole hand. On the whole, I should
say go, though not without due thought of friends, to whom your name and
relation may be more than your friendship. You will soon let me know of
your movements, will you not?

For a week or two, I am man of the house for my cousin, whose husband is
in Boston. Burrill fulfils the same duty for an aunt. It is a great
separation, though only a step separates us when I am at home; but the
fine social sympathy of actual contact, in the early morning and late
night, the kind deeds that link the minutes and adorn the hours, the
tender sweets of the dignity of friendship without its form--these are
buds that bloom only in the warmth of hands perpetually united.

To-night Charles Dana and Isaac and Burrill came to see me. I smelled
summer leaves and heard summer flutes as I stood with them and talked.
Charles was never so important to me; he was himself and all Brook Farm
beside. We are all going to hear William Henry Channing in the morning.
Last Sunday at the church door I met C.P. Cranch and his wife. I mean to
go and see them very soon, though they live _streets_ away. Of Isaac I
have seen much for a week's space. He lives two miles or more from us.

I have heard no music yet. Max Bohrer concerts on Monday with Timm, Mrs.
Sutton, Antogigni, and Schafenberg; I mean to go. The Philharmonic
concerts begin a week from this evening. They have four concerts, and the
subscription is $10, for which one obtains three tickets to each concert,
and the privilege of buying two occasional tickets at $1.50 each. A
singular arrangement. They are to play the 8th Symphony next Saturday. I
know not what else.

Give Almira a great deal of love from me. I shall sing a song to her
solitude and patiently await the response. I have begun to read "Wilhelm
Meister" in German. I read about three or four hours a day, then an hour
or two in Latin, and the rest to poetical reading--Beaumont and Fletcher,
Ford, Massinger, Shakespeare, and the Bible, at present. In Worcester I
found Montaigne, whom I devoured. What cheerful good sense! I have begun
also to learn two or three of B.'s waltzes from note. "La Dobur" I have
almost accomplished. Possibly I shall thus pick up some _note_ knowledge,
though I do not build any castles. Good-night. Could I but send myself in
my letter! Your friend,

G.W.C.

Tuesday morning. I concluded to retain my letter for Charles, who leaves
to-day. Charles and Isaac and Burrill and I all went to Max Bohrer's
concert last evening. The hall was full, 1000 or 1500 people present. I
was glad to go, for he introduced me to the Instrument, but no more. He
has great skill, and has fully mastered it. That is what persevering
talent can always do. Bohrer loved his instrument because he could display
himself by its aid, not because it was through his genius a minister and
revealer of the art to himself and others. His conceit is sublime. It was
entire and unique. His posture and air were ridiculously Olympian. Mrs.
Sutton is very fat and has a thin voice. There are some good tones in it,
but she undertakes the most difficult music. Antignini sings pleasantly
but with great effort. All his songs were his own composition, and all Max
Bohrer's his. In fact, it was not a musical festival so much as a
gymnasium for musical instruments, both mechanical and human. Timm and
Scharfenberg both played admirably. I saw Fred'k Rakemann in the crowd;
could not conveniently speak to him, and am going, as soon as I can find
out where he lives, to see him. His face was so sad that I wanted to go to
him and say some tenderer word than I should have said had I spoken. Yet
after all he doesn't need tender words, but a calm, grateful demeanor
towards him.

I wish that I could tell all the glories of my trip to New York. I went
from Worcester over the Western R.R. to Albany and down the river. Some
other day shall be consecrated to their fit celebration when the
recollection may be pleasant and soothing among cares that disturb. Now I
expect Charles every moment to go with me to see Cranch.

Ask Charles for all news about our "externe." Remember me most tenderly to
my many friends at Brook Farm.

G.W.C.


IV

NEW YORK, _November 20, '43._

Certainly, my dear Friend, the concert of the Philharmonic Society on
Saturday evening was the finest concert ever given in the country. It is
pleasant to see the homage paid to the art indirectly by the whole style
of the concert. The room is small, holding 1000 people. Every gentleman
goes in full-dress, and the ladies in half-dress. Various members of the
society are appointed managers, distinguished by a ribboned button-hole,
and they provide seats for the audience. No bills are issued before the
night, so there are only rumors of what the _particular_ will be, with a
quiet consciousness that the _general_ will be fine. So we arrived on
Saturday evening and found the following bill: Symphony No. 7 in A minor
(Beethoven); Cavatina from an opera of Nini's (Signora Castellan);
Overture to "Zauberflote" (Mozart); Cavatina from Donizetti (Signora
Castellan); Overture to "The Jubilee" (Weber). I think we have not had
many such concerts.

The symphony was interpreted upon the bills as a musical presentment of
the mythological story of Orpheus and Eurydicc. That did very well as a
figure to represent it, but it was taken by the audience as a theme; and
they all fixed their eyes upon the explanation, thereby to judge the
symphony. It was grand, and full of his genius. It was another of those
earnest, hopeless questionings of Destiny. The very first bars were full
of this. It opens with a crash of the whole orchestra, determined and
inexorable. Then follows a low deep wailing of the flutes and horns, full
of tenderness, of aspiration, of subdued hope; and another crash of the
whole, like a lightning flash, instantaneous and scathing the world,
sweeps across the plaintiveness of the wind instruments and as instantly
is gone. The sad inquiry continues, the determined Thunder of Fate drowns
it constantly, and it is lost. Then it becomes more imperious and active,
and the call upon the Invisible and the Unanswerable sounds on every side,
rises to the top of the flutes, sinks to the lowest bases, appears now
among the violins, now vanishes to the rest, until it has disciplined the
whole, and the whole orchestra together thunders out the call. Then comes
the adagio, where, as always, the mystery seems to be developing itself,
where the earnest-seeking solemnly consecrates itself to success; and the
minuet and finale conclude--the soaring, mocking, hellish laughter of
fiends and demons of the air, at baffled curiosity and blighted hope. Is
not that what these symphonies express? The pith of the matter is never
reached. The very movement of the adagio, while it expresses a deep,
solemn hope, seems to mourn with unutterable sorrow that the hope must be
only consecrated and profound, never realized. The climax of the music and
the sentiment seems to be always in the adagio.

What remained for such a man as he, separate from all others and alone
with his life, but to question the Fate that impelled him, now in this
tone and now in that? What remained for such unsatisfied, joyless strength
but the stern, wild laughter of fiends that the question could not be
answered--and the deep wail of Fate, which also is sung in his music, that
such strength should have the ruggedness of endurance but not the
gracefulness of Faith? How I wished you had been there!

Castellan's voice is full and rich; it was very sweet, and she sang with
warmth but no passion. She needs some cultivation yet, for her shake is
not good. Why did we not hear Mali-bran? who was also so great an actor
that she would have been famous without a voice. I could not for a moment
suffer my idea of her to be compared with Castellan. Malibran must have
been so lovely from her sensibility and passion, so commanding from the
majesty of her voice, that the art and not the woman must have found newer
worshippers with every new audience.

I hope to hear Cinto Damoreau this week. You have heard "The Magic Flute"
overture, I think, so fairy-like and graceful, full of tender shadows and
heart-rejoicing sunlight and aerial shapes that fade and glint like stars.
And the magnificent "Jubilee" concluded with "God save the King."

Evening. My aunt sent for me to hear Timm play the "Pathetique." His
playing is wonderfully graceful, his touch more delicate than either of
the R.'s. But he lacks genius; and time and practice will give Fred. R.
all that Timm has. He is very enthusiastic. I spoke to him of "Egmont;" he
seemed delighted, said he hadn't heard it for 12 years, but instantly sat
down and played portions of it. He promised to play the adagio of the
"Pathetique" on the organ next Sunday. We had but a few moments, for his
time is all devoted to teaching, or I should have kept him till midnight.
He is so simple and natural about the matter that it is very pleasant to
be with him. If you mention anything to him, he instantly runs to the
piano and plays something from it. Imagine him the other evening standing
up straddling the stool, a roll of music under each arm, gloves in hand,
and playing a movement from one of the symphonies!

I have been to see Cranch; found his wife at home, whom I have not seen
since January. They are pleasantly situated, though a good way off. He has
a room in the house where he paints. I saw two of his landscapes, views
from nature, that were very striking. If I should find fault, I should say
they were too warmly colored; and I suspect that is his error, if he has
any, from what his wife told me he said of one of Durand's.

Mr. Furness preached finely for us on Sunday. Mr. Dewey does not charm me
at all. Have heard W.H.C. once, as Charles will have told you. Have not
yet seen him, for I have been out to see people hardly at all. Met Isaac
at the Saturday concert. He looks fresh and well. Seems better every way
than I ever knew him. Has he not found his place? I must see him again to
discern the direction of Almira, to whom I have a letter written partly,
and know not how to address it.

Are you singing Eastward ho! or do you remain? Remember that he who
criticises Handel and Mozart, as the "Democratic" witnesseth, owes
something to the art--shall I say _his life_? What literary work are you
about, or have you still the same reluctance to assume the pen that you
had? Let the consideration that the pen is so invaluable a minister to
friendship tempt you to honor it more by use.

I have squeezed myself into such little space that I must defer an outline
of my days till I write again. One moral inquiry for your wits, and I will
withdraw into silence and the infinite. Does not one friend who indites
many letters, unanswered, to another, thereby heap coals of fire upon
somebody's head as effectually as if he fed the hungry? Scatter my love as
broadly as you think it will bear, and reserve the carver's share for
yourself.

G.W.C.


V

_Saturday night, November 25, '43._

Why do I love music enough to be only a lover, and cannot offer it a
life-devoted service? Yet the lover serves in his sort, and if I may not
minister to it, it cannot fail to dignify and ennoble my life. I am just
from hearing Ole Bull, who this evening made his first appearance in
America. How shall I fitly speak to you of him, how can I now, while the
new vision of beauty that he caused to sweep by still lingers? Yet itself
shall inspire me. The presence of so noble a man allures to light whatever
nobility lies in us.

He came forward to a house crowded in every part with the calm simplicity
of Genius. There was no grimace, no graces, but a fine grace that adorned
his presence and assured one that nothing could disappoint--that the
simplicity of the man was the seal and crown of his genius. A fair-haired,
robust, finely formed man, the full bloom of health shining on his face,
he appeared as the master of the great instrument, as the successor, in
point of time, of the world-famous Paganini. Yet was one confident that
here was no imitator, but a pupil who had sat thoughtfully at the master's
feet and felt that beneath the depth of his expression there was yet a
lower depth, who knew himself consecrated by a will grander than his will
to the service of an art so divine and so loved. In him there was that
sure prophecy of latent power which surrounds genius, and assures us that
the thing done is an echo only and shadow of the possible performance.

The playing followed this simple, majestic appearance. It was full of
music, irregular, wild, yearning, trembling. His violin lay upon his arm
tenderly as a living thing; and such rich, mellow, silver, shining tones
followed his motion that one seemed to catch echoes of that eternal melody
whereof music itself is but the shadow and presentment. The adagios
reminded me of Beethoven, not as they were imitated, but as all the great
ones, in their appearing, summon all the rest. The mechanical execution
was faultless. I detected no thick note. It was smooth as the sea of
summer, embosoming only deep cloud-shadows and the full sunlight, but no
lesser thing. Then he came, and he withdrew; and my heart followed him.

Do not be alarmed if the critics call him cold, and speak of him
disparagingly when others are mentioned. The noble and heroes serve divine
powers, and at last win men. Men of talent and application love their
instrument as it introduces the world to them; men of genius as it
interprets to them and to the world the mystery of music. Genius men must
reverence, and they are not apt to do it boisterously. Is not the
influence of fine character, which is only genius for virtue, like the
brooding of God over chaos? Which is chaos only to the blind, but teems
with generous, melodious laws to the spiritually discerned. Creation is
the opening of eyes, not the fabrication of objects. "Let there be light"
is the creative fiat, spoken by every God-filled soul. Yet how sure is
this power of Genius.

The world henceforth gives to Ole Bull the full and generous satisfaction
of his needs. It cannot fail to esteem God's messengers when they come, if
they be true and collected. Talent wins the same subsistence; earnest,
unfailing, unshrinking endeavor wins it anywhere; but what does Talent and
Trial do but imitate the action of the result of Genius! How sublime the
revelations it makes in this art! While the rest have risen and culminated
and paused, this seeks a zenith ever loftier and diviner. That deep
nature, that central beauty, which all art strives to reveal, floats to us
in these fine harmonies, to me more subtly and surely than elsewhere. But
in this region, where my thought bears me, they are all united. This soft,
silent face of Urania, which looks upon me sleeplessly and untired, is not
its wonderful influence woven of that same essence that has ravished me
tonight in the tones of the violin? In the coolness of thought, do not the
masters of song, of painting, of sculpture meet in eternal congress, for
in each is the appearance of equal skill? Raphael could have sung as
Shakespeare, and Milton have hewn these massy forms as Angelo. Yet a
divine economy rules these upper spiritual regions, as sure and steadfast
as the order of the stars. Raphael must paint and Homer sing, yet the same
soul gilds the picture and sweetens the song. So Venus and Mars shine
yellow and red, but the same central fire is the light of each. In the
capacity of doing all things well lies the willingness to serve one duty.
The Jack of all trades is sure to be good at none, for who is good at all
is Jack of one only. It seemed a bitter thing to me, formerly, that
painters must only paint and sculptors carve; but I see now the wisdom. In
one thing well done lies the secret of doing all.

Music, painting, are labels that designate the form of action; the soul of
it lies below. The earnest merchant and the earnest anti-tradesman do join
hands and work together. Not ends are demanded of them, but vital strength
and soul. The world does not need that I name my work, but that the work
be accomplished.

The midnight warns me to pause. The stillness accords with the intercourse
of friendship, as the silence of space with the calm, speechless
recognition of the planets. Thoughts of all friends circle round me like
gentle breezes from the black wing of the night. Friends are equal and
noble always to friends. Lovers only know the depths and the heights of
lovers. Love prophesies only a surer, diviner friendship, crowned with the
dignity and composure of God.

I shall re-enter the world through the white gate of dreams, yet more
quiet and resolved that I have heard this man, more tender, more tolerant.
He has touched strings of that harp whose vibrations never cease, but
affirm the infiniteness of our being and its present habitation in
Eternity. Your friend,

G.W.C.

Wednesday. Sunday P.M. I passed with Fred. Rakemann. He was very glad to
see me, and I him. His fine face lighted with enthusiasm as we spoke of
music, of Germany and its poets. He played magnificently, among others
"Adelaide," translated for the piano by Liszt, a beautiful andante of
Chopin, some of Henselt, etc., until it was quite twilight. Then I went
away. He promised to come and see me, nor shall I fail to see him as often
as I think he will endure, though his days are so busy with teaching that
I do not hope to find him except on Sundays.

To-night Ole Bull plays the second time. I shall go to hear him. The
Frenchmen are cliqued against him, for Vieuxtemps has arrived, and they
mean to maintain his superiority. He has no announcement as yet. My letter
I will not close until to-morrow, and say a final word about Ole Bull.
Wednesday night. I have heard him again, and the impression he made on
Saturday is only deepened. He played an adagio of Mozart's. It was simple
and severely chaste. His beautiful simplicity is just the character to
apprehend the delicate touches of the Master, which he drew to us, without
any ornament or addition. It was as if Mozart had been in spirit in the
instrument, and given us, with all the freshness of creation, the music
that can never lose its bloom. Scharfenberg was in the box with us, Fred.
Rakemann in the next box. I saw Castellan in a private box, and Isaac H.
The evening was glorious. Had you only been there! Yet you will see him
in Boston. Do not fail to write me how he impresses you--that is,
particularly. I cannot misapprehend his power so much as not to feel that
it will seem to you very grand. Observe his manner towards the orchestra,
how Olympian, how supreme, yet with all the gentle grace and tenderness of
power! Good-night. May you ever hear sweet music!


VI

N.Y., _Friday, Dec. 15, 1843._

Truly the musical art culminates in our zenith this winter. It gives me
other thoughts than of music only, unfolds to me something more of art,
and I am charmed constantly to see how calmly we receive the great
artists, after the noise of their entry, as the world quietly accepts the
light of stars and swings unastonished on its wonderful way. Ole Bull and
the rest are the scouts we have sent on before us, and they return to tell
us of the Wonderful Land, and bring mementos and captives from the rich
Eldorado of our hopes. That country to which nature points, of which all
art is the flaming beacon, and which the weary voyager home-returning from
fruitless search tells us is in ourselves--not the less far away for that.

Ole Bull's quiet, rapt manner is the full remembrance of that land which
he has seen, and which he unfolds to us--is always the character and
expression of the deepest insight. Just look at our bill for the week
which ends to-night: Monday, Vieuxtemps; Tuesday, Artot and Damoreau;
Wednesday, Ole Bull, Miss Sperty (the new pianist), and Madame Sphor Zahn;
Thursday, Castellan, Antoquin Brough and Sphor Zahn in the "Stabat Mater,"
followed by the "Battle of Waterloo Symphony," by Beethoven; Friday,
Vieuxtemps again! Monday evening I could not hear Vieuxtemps, but went on
Tuesday to hear C. Damoreau and Artot. The former, with the smallest
voice, sings pleasantly from her wonderful cultivation, of which, however,
the technicalities, so to say, are too much obtruded. She shakes through
all her songs, and this power, which would render her plain singing so
sure and pleasing, demands attention for itself, not because it improves
the tone of the singing. Artot is an elegant artist. He plays very finely,
wonderfully; but the greater his execution the more marked appeared to me
the difference between the highest cultivated talent and the supremacy of
Genius. He played difficult music, he shook and warbled and imitated, some
of his tones were very exquisite, but it was all lifeless, the passionless
semblance of beauty. I was as if walking in a Gorgon's ice-palace, with
magnificent, clear crystals, and noble, transparent pillars, and all the
artifice of beauty and comfort, but evermore a deep chill from the lavish
elegance. When he had done, I knew he had done his utmost, that he had
exhausted hope. In him I found none of that depthless background which
genius ever offers. He made sing in my ears the old text, "The things seen
are temporal; the things unseen are eternal." His performance is a thing
seen, not a dim beacon on the outskirts of an unexplored country, wherein
we hear birds singing and rivers flowing, and see the great cloud-shadows
fall upon the hills, where in the dim distance stately palaces are faintly
traced, and the depthless woods fringe unknown seas. Artot's playing
seemed to me like the full flower exhausting the plant; Ole Bull's like a
star shining out of the infinite space.

Flowers wither, but the stars do not fade. We gather the blossoms with joy
and hurry home; but the stars light us on our way and make our homes
beautiful. Talent has something familiar and social in its impression and
greeting; but Genius receives us with a calm dignity that transfigures
courtesy and complaisance, and makes our relations healthy and grand. The
whole tone of Artot's violin differs from Bull's. I felt they must not be
compared, and so listened delightedly, but with a pale, ghastly joy. When
I heard Ole, I could not sleep. It was like a fire shining out of heaven,
sudden and bright. It kindled within me flames which seek heaven,
disturbed the surface of my soul, evoking spirits out of that depth I did
not know were there, and it was as if a thousand hopes, which were the
substance and object of memory, rose out of their graves and held long
vigil with me in those silent hours. How few of us can keep our balance
when a regal soul dashes by. I presently recover myself, and serve with a
milder and firmer persistence my own nature. The way is made clearer by
these bright lights, universal nature shines fairer that there are so many
single stars; but they must only be stars in my heaven and fires upon my
hearth, nor burn out my heart by inserting themselves in my bosom.

The next night I went to hear Ole Bull again at the Tabernacle, which
holds 3000 persons. The doors were open at 6, the concert began at 8. At
quarter-past 6 the house was full, and at 7 was jammed, and hundreds went
away. I arrived too late, but was so satisfied at the triumph that I went
gladly home again, pleased to be one who could not hear.

Last evening I heard the "Stabat." Castellan has a magnificent voice. Does
she not lack passion? She certainly needs cultivation. The symphony was
merely a musical picture of the battle--a battle of Prague for the
orchestra! It begins with a drum, a bugle-call follows; a march--and what
march do you think? "Malbrook." Imagine me, a fervid worshipper of
Beethoven, rushing in the crowd to hear a symphony wherein, with all
orchestral force, the old song, L-a-w, Law, was banged into my ears. I sat
in motionless dismay, while there followed another trumpeting and drumming
and marching and imitations of musketry by some watchman's rattle. Then
came some good passages, which confounded me only the more. Then, "God
save the King," which announced the British victory. Anon followed some
marches, with the occasional bang of the bass drum to "disfigure or
present" the distant cannon; and then there was a pause, and the people
began to get up. I was confounded, looked towards the orchestra, and they
were moving away; and I discovered I had heard the whole--alas! the day.
What it meant, what Beethoven meant by writing it, how he could be so
purely external, how he could so use the orchestra, I cannot comprehend.
Perhaps it was a curious relaxation with him, as artists imitate other
instruments upon their own--perhaps it is a joke--but that it was a sad
disappointment to me admits no perhaps. Since the limitations of life
appear most forcibly to correspondents in limited sheets of paper, let me
bear away abruptly from music. My German progresses finely. I have read
Novalis's poetry, and am just now finishing the "Lehrjahre." I read three
or four hours daily, and am pleased at my progress. Burrill and I have
just finished Johnson's "Elements of Agricultural Chemistry" and Buel's
book. I read to him daily from Bunyan. I am also busy with Beaumont and
Fletcher, Paul's Epistles, and St. Augustine. You will easily imagine that
my whole day is devoted to literature. After dinner, at 5 o'clock, I sally
down Broadway for exercise; and in the evening, if I go to no concert,
usually seek my room and books. To-night, for the first time, I am going
out to a ball at a friend's, the girl of whom you have heard me speak as
singing so well. Cranch I meet very rarely. Have been only once to see
him. W.H. Channing do not yet know. At his meeting I see Isaac and C.P.
Cranch, and Rufus Dawes, and Parke Godwin, William Chace, and a host of
the unconverted and heretical. Him I do not yet know personally, nor
Vathek. His enthusiastic manner, and the tranquil fervor of his character,
charm me very much.

I find that I do not care to go after people. Perhaps I have been rather
too much with them; at all events, I will go to see none for curiosity.
Isaac is my good friend, and passed Sunday P.M. in my room. We spoke of
the church and society, and all topics that do so excite the youthful
mind. I must break short off to dress for my party. I shall speak to you
again before you know that I have been.

Saturday. To-day I have finished the "Lehrjahre." It is very calm and
wise. It is full of Goethe, and therefore leaves behind in its impression
that almost indefinite want which his character leaves, a want apparently
readily designated. Yet to say his intellect was disproportionately
developed leaves us in doubt whether a pure natural growth of the moral
nature would have harmonized with his peculiar manifestation of intellect.
He is to me as a blind God, made wise by laborious experience, not
perpetual sight. He is at least too large for the tip of a letter.

What do you read, or don't you read? Sunday. To-day I heard a fine sermon
from W.H. Channing. There I met Isaac and C.P. Cranch. Walked home with
the latter, who during the week had heard Ole Bull. I suppose he will
write you of it. Prof. Adam, from Northampton, was there. At our church, a
few Sundays since, I saw Mrs. Delano, late Kate Lyman, and her sister
Susan. The latter was beautiful. She seemed like a pure, passionless
saint. Had I been in a Catholic church I had imagined her to have been
some holy being, incarnated by her deep sympathy with the worshippers. I
hardly saw her, just enough to receive a poetic impression.

How little I have said! My life is very quiet, yet very full. Your letters
are very grateful to me. One dares trust so much more to paper than to
conversation. Friends living intimately learn of each other from tones and
glances, not by conversation. Friends meet intellectually in words, lovers
heartfully in words.

Macready has gone and I did not see him; he played nothing of Shakespeare.
Shall I direct to Brook Farm or Boston? More anon. Yrs ever,

G.W.C.


VII

NEW YORK, _Friday, Dec. 22, '43._

A merry Christmas to you, and to all Christian souls. How brave goes the
year to its setting! These calm, cold days impress me like the fine
characters of history and the elder time, inspired with a generous wisdom,
and prophesying what shall be the newest and best word of hope in our day.
The season embraces and surpasses those old men, even the finest. To-day,
as I walked, the magnificence of the closing year, so steadfast and sure,
sparing no sunshine nor rain, passing quietly out to be renewed nevermore,
quite reproved the solemn martyrdoms of men, upon which we hang our hopes.

Nature is great that she does not suffer us to define her influence upon
ourselves. Like all greatness, she suggests to us beauty and grace, not as
attributes of hers, but fair buds and flowers of the soul. Therefore, in
the full presence of nature, the grandest deeds seem harmonious and the
wisdom of Plato, and actions whose greatness is the centre, not the utmost
compression, of our life are harmonious and symmetrical. To the Greeks and
Jews the Gospel is blindness and a stumbling-block, but joy and peace to
the elect.

Nothing is so stern and lofty a cordial to me as this severe
inscrutability of nature. I must obey or die, and dying is no help to me,
for the spirit that rules now rules evermore. How like a god sits she
brooding over the world, announcing her laws by blows and knocks, by
agonies and convulsions, by the mouths of wise men, affirming that as the
sowing so also is the harvest. And there is no alleviation, no palliation.
She heeds no prayers, no sighs; those who fall must raise themselves; the
sick must of their own force recover or perish. When thus she has set us
upon our legs everything works for us, and the sun and moon are great
lamps for our enlightenment, and men and women leaves of a wondrous book.
Then, imperceptibly to us, in these snows and blossoms and fruits annually
all history is rewritten, and the honest man who knows nothing of Greece
and Rome derives from the swelling trees and the bending sky the same
subtle infusion of heroism and nobility that is the vitality of history.
The vice of our mode of education is that we do not regard life from an
eternal point. We want magnanimity and truth, not the names of those who
have been magnanimous and true; and I see not why nature to-day does not
offer to me all the grandeur of character that has illustrated any period.
Men and nature and art all seek to say the same thing. Could we search
deeply enough, I doubt not we should find all matter to be one substance;
and could we appreciate the worth of every art and every landscape and
man, they would be identical. As I am a better man, the more soluble is
the great outspreading riddle of nature, and the more distinct and full
the delicate grace of art. As an old, quaint divine said of fate and
free-will, they are two converging lines which of necessity must somewhere
unite, though our human vision does not see the point; so all mysteries
are radii, and could we follow one implicitly, then we have found the
centre of all. Therefore the best critic of art is the man whose life has
been hid with God in nature; and therefore the triumph of art is complete
when birds peck at the grapes.

I felt this yesterday while looking at Cole's paintings. Each picture of
"The Voyage of Life" impressed me somewhat as the voyage itself does.
Especially the cold, subdued tone of the last, which suggests infinity by
the tone merely. Perhaps you have not seen them, and will suffer a brief
account. The pictures are four. The first represents a boat of golden prow
and sides wrought into the images of the hours, bearing an infant in a bed
of roses, and issuing from a dim cave in a dark, indefinable mountain, and
hasting down a flower-crowned stream. The second shows the babe grown to
manhood, and, assuming himself the guidance, leaves the guardian spirit
upon the bank, and upon a wider stream, piercing a wider prospect, sails
away, allured by a dim cloud-castle which seems to hang over the river,
yet from which the stream turns. The next shows him dashing along amid
clouds and whirlpools and tempests, without rudder or compass, towards
threatening rocks, yet serenely, with clasped hands, abiding the issue. In
the last, grown to old age, he sails forth upon a fathomless, shoreless
sea, leaving behind all rocks and tempests, while the guardian angel again
at the helm points to regions of cloudless day. Though very beautiful of
themselves, they suggested to me grander pictures of this grandest theme,
and so interested me very much.

Truly there is nothing final; all is suggestive. When, entranced in summer
woods, we demand that nature lend our homes somewhat of her beauty, she
replies to us that beauty is so subtle, residing not in the green of this
leaf nor in the curve of that branch, and not in the whole, but in the
soul that contemplates it, that of herself she has none, and that we her
lovers have invested her with such golden charms. The universal wish to
realize is only typified by the grasping gain. Most men live to
acknowledge in heart the superiority of young dreams over old possessions;
and the world feels that in the unshrinking aspirations of the youth lies
the hope of the world. That is the lightning that purifies the dense
atmosphere, and, glancing for an instant, reveals the keenest light known
to men. So the old year sings to me as it goes crowned with crystals and
snow-drops to its end. Without shrinking, without sorrow, it folds its
white garment around unwithered limbs, and submits gracefully to the past.
Nature regards it with that calm face whereon no emotions are written, but
a wise serenity forever sits. This year, too, is to many lonely hearts a
redeemer; and no heavens will be darkly clouded when it is over, but still
stars will shine unsurprised. Pale scholars in midnight vigils, golden
gayety wreathing the hours with flowers and gems, unbending sorrow
pressing heavy seals upon yielding wretchedness, it will steal surely from
all these, and on the morrow be a colorless ghost in the distant past. Its
constancy will secure our immortality. The grandeur of the year may be the
strength of our character; and as the East receives it, we may enter the
inscrutable future reverently and with folded hands.

Sunday. I am going to F. Rakemann's to pass the afternoon and give him
this for you. He proposes to pass a week in Boston. I have heard Wallace
during the week. He has great talent; but I had heard Ole Bull, and
Wallace's violin-playing was only good. What think you of Vieuxtemps, who,
I see, is in Boston? Shall you not send Knoop hither? So many things I
would say! It is wiser to say nothing. Remember me to my West Roxbury
friends, Mrs. Russell and Mrs. Shaw and their spouses.

Ever your friend,

G.W.C.


VIII

N.Y., _Thursday, January 18, '44._

I have not yet answered your letter by W.H. Channing in words, though I
have said a great deal to you that you have not heard. What an interrupter
of conversation is this absence! Neither have I told you of my Vieuxtemps
experience, nor shall I close my letter without speaking of Knoop, who by
the gods' favor concerts to-night. Your letter by W.H. Channing
crystallized a resolution which has been quiet in me for the winter, so
still that it needed only a powerful jerk to induce crystallization at
once. So the day or two succeeding its receipt found me busy in expressing
some thoughts about reform and association which I meant for _The
Present_. But the necessity for expression seems to have been satisfied
without publication. The essay remains as quietly in my portfolio as did
the idea in my mind. So it was with an article on Ole Bull that I wrote
some weeks since for the _Tribune_. The need seems to give the thought
expression and form, whether it then lay still or fly abroad upon paper
wings. Besides, printing does give a dignity to thoughts that the author
should feel that they deserve, a permanency too. The newspaper that
escapes the turmoil and tear and dust of years bears the same aspect as
all its fellows of the same date that were ushered into the morning
parlors with it; and so some commentator on Ole Bull and Vieuxtemps or
what not shall run down to the lower generations more noiselessly, yet as
certainly, as Shakespeare and Plato. There is a singular pleasure, too, in
publishing what nobody thinks is yours. It is addressing the world not as
Geo. Curtis, but as some distinguished messenger, the mystery of whom is a
charm, if nothing more. Yet unfortunate me! I could never maintain the
secret long. Is that from pride or because you cannot endure to see men go
wrong, if you can help them? When Charles Dana came running to me with
what he thought Emerson's poem, how could I help saying, "It is mine." In
that case, at least, it was sympathy for Emerson's reputation that
prompted the speech.

There is something that pleases me much in the united works of young
authors. Sands and who? in our country published "Yamoyden" and some other
poems together. C. Lamb and Lloyd (was not Coleridge one?) published some
small verses in company. There is a sort of meanness in it, too, as if
they should say, "Here we come, two scribblers, not worthy singly to
attract your attention, but together making out something worth your
money." After all, a single failure may be better than a double
respectability. Imagine the united literary works of Dwight and Curtis
rotting in an odd drawer of Ticknor's or James Munroe's; could we ever
look each other in the face again? What a still, perpetual suspicion there
would be that the one swamped the other.

Do you not mean some day to gather your musical essays together, like a
whorl of leaves, and suffer them to expand into a book, though not with
the cream--colored calyx that Ticknor affects, I beg. Nay, might you not
make some arrangements with Greeley to publish them here, in a cheap way,
if you would make money, for those who valued them would of course obtain
more durable copies. If not, and you would think dignity compromitted,
some of the regular publishers might be diplomatized with. They would make
an unique work. You know we have nothing similar in American literature,
no book of artistic criticism, have we? Why will you not think of it, if
you have not done so? And what so poor a man as Hamlet is may do, you
shall command. How recreant am I to this noble art, that listen only and
celebrate with feeble voice its charms.

Tuesday evening, at a small musical party, I heard Euphrasia Borghese
sing, whom you may have heard, and who is to be Prima Donna at the new
Opera-house, which opens on the 25th or 2eth of the present month. They
begin with the "Puritani." It will be altogether devoted to Italian music,
I suppose, from the tendency of the New York taste and the collection of
musicians.

I heard Vieuxtemps both times he played after his return. I was very much
delighted; he was so modest and composed and refined. His playing is as
wonderful as Ole Bull's, but not so fascinating; his compositions more
contemplative and regular, not so wild and throbbing with the irregular
pulsations of unsatisfied genius, as are Ole Bull's. I felt no disposition
to compare, feeling how different they were. I thanked God when I came
away that no one man has sole power, but that many may serve in this
boundless temple, each in its various offices. Yet in my memory is Ole
Bull the only man who has stirred me up as genius always must. When I
heard Vieuxtemps, I knew what to anticipate; the grandeur of the
instrumental and the human possibility upon it had been revealed to me,
therefore he could not surprise me, and for that revelation I am indebted
to Ole Bull. Vieuxtemps prolonged the echo of the deep tone that had been
sounded into my spiritual ear. I must say that the first was grandest to
me, and remains so.

I passed Sunday P.M. with Rakemann; he played all the time, told me of you
and Boston and his love for it, asked me if I had heard more of the
concerts you mentioned. Timm on Monday played me the "Invitation to the
W." very beautifully, beside some Mazurkas of Chopin, also the "Egmont"
overture grandly. Saturday evening the second Philharmonic, the "Jupiter
Symphony," and some Septuats, etc. It was not a good concert. Castellan
sang for the last time. Not a note of Beethoven! Yesterday afternoon and
evening I passed with Josephine Maman, who plays and sings finely. We had
some of Beethoven, the "Pathetique," etc., and some songs of Schubert,
which I had never heard. A singular girl, but delightful to me. My musical
appetite has been well appeased; can it ever be satisfied? To-night,
Knoop, for whom I have left little space, especially as I find my paper is
torn.

Evening. Have just come from Knoop's. It was beautiful to see the worthy
mate of such men as Ole Bull and Vieuxtemps. From what you and others had
told me, I knew I should like him. So calm and grand. Yet when I left the
room a mournful feeling came over me, that so he must leave and be heard
no more. Beethoven is not done when he is dead, nor Raphael nor
Shakespeare; but for him whose glory is action, which leaves no trace but
upon the heart, what shall remain? The notes he may transcribe for others,
but the charm of the musical artist lies not therein; it is a personal
effluence; how shall we measure it? I felt to-night that he played not for
an audience, but to the private heart. He was singing to me his deep
searching thought, his star-lost aspiration. Indeed, he is worthy to close
the brilliant winter; a calm planet fading from us, but with a mild,
steady lustre that condemns sorrow. How invisible, insensibly proceeds his
fame! My character must needs be strengthened and mellowed by such men,
and so my influence upon others is moulded, till perhaps it meets him
again. Surrounded by these intimate relations, we cannot touch one but all
thrill. In such a subtle shrine is the influence of genius fitly embalmed
and there worshipped. How grand an era in my life, when through a winter I
may justly use the word genius many times!

Good-night!

G.W.C.

I am 24! Will you write me the numbers of the "Tempest" sonata, and some
others that I liked particularly? The op. 14, No. 2, I have got, and Timm
played it to me on Monday. How inexorable is this space, that will not let
me crowd in that I am ever your friend,

G.W.C.


IX

N.Y., _Sunday evening, Feb. 25, '44._

Do you remember ever to have read a novel called "The Collegians?" A work
of great interest, and displaying great dramatic power. I was always
anxious to know the author, and chance has thrown his name and history in
my way. It was Gerald Griffin, an Irishman of genius, who lived the varied
life of a professed literary man. Desirous of having his dramas accepted
at the London theatres, and finding no one to favor him. Too noble to be
dependent, and going days without food. In 183ty something he published,
"Gisippus," a tragedy, famed of the greatest merit. Finally he became
weary of his literary life, and entered an Irish convent, where, within
two or three years, he died. His father's family in greater part have
removed to America, and his elder brother, a physician of note, has
recently published his memoirs, the reviews of which I have happened to
meet. The reviews say the usual thing of genius, that his writings were
full of promise, and that he might have achieved greatly had he lived.
Must not this be always a complaint of genius? Its being, not its
expression, has the charm which captivates. The dramas are the least part
of Shakespeare, and one would give more to have known him than to study
them forever. It must seem to us promising, till we have entered into the
fulness of its spirit. The necessity of expressing compromises the dignity
of being. God is more pleasing to thought as self-contemplation, rather
than creation. Expression is degradation to us, not to the genius. That
informs everything with its complete Loveliness. But we who must seek in
the expression for it, miss its beauty. Critics complain of Tennyson that
he writes no epic, as if all poets must do the same thing. "Comus" is as
Miltonic as the "Paradise Lost;" and the little songs of Shakespeare as
wide and fresh as the dramas. The diamond is no less wonderful than the
world.

Recently my reading has led me into the old English poetry. A friend gave
me a card to the Society Library, the largest in the city; and I have
found much good browsing in those fields. I have found "Amadis de Gaul"
among the rest, and the complete works of Carew, Suckling, Drayton,
Drummond, etc. It has led me to wish some more intimate knowledge of
English history, to which I must turn. How imperceptibly and surely spread
out these meadows where the rare flowers bloom! There is no end to these
threads which place themselves in our hand, and which lead every man of
the world his different way. So we sail on through the blue spaces,
separate as stars.

And you, they tell me, have joined the association. I supposed you were
making some move, and thought this might be it. I am glad that you do so
so heartily, and more glad that I can say so. After all, the defiance
offered us by the varied positions of our friends is what life needs. Each
dissimilar act of my friend, while it does not sever him from me, throws
me more sternly upon myself. Can we not make our friendship so fine that
it shall be only a sympathy of thought, and let the expression differ, and
court it to differ? This ray of the sunlight falls upon summer woods, that
sinks into the wintry sea, yet are they brothers. The severe loneliness
that has sun and moon in its bosom invites us as the vigorous health of
the soul. The beautiful isolation of the rose in its own fragrance is
self-sufficient.

Charles wrote Burrill a manly letter during the week. The Arcadian beauty
of the place is lost to me, and would have been lost, had there been no
change. Seen from this city life, you cannot think how fair it seems. So
calm a congregation of devoted men and true women performing their
perpetual service to the Idea of their lives, and clothed always in white
garments. Though you change your ritual, I feel your hope is unchanged;
and though it seems to me less beautiful than the one you leave, it is
otherwise to you. There was a mild grace about our former life that no
system attains. The unity in variety bound us very closely together. I
doubt if we shall be again among you, as I had hoped. I cannot, in
thought, lose my hold upon the place without pain not to be spoken of. On
the whole, I cannot say, even to you, just what I would about it. It will
leak out from the pores of my hands before we have done with each other.

I hear no music here now, except Timm and Rakemann. Charlotte Dana is
here; I have heard her only once. The opera is a wretched affair.
By-the-by, I gave W.H. Channing an article for _The Present_, very short,
upon music and Ole Bull. If he publishes it, it will not be new to you,
though I do not remember if I have talked with you about all at which it
hints. I await orders and manuscripts about the French stories; though you
are very busy, all of you, just now, perhaps too much so for that
business. The rest stands adjourned. Give my love to friends. Yrs ever,

G.W.C.

Will you say to C. Dana that I would like to come for a short visit--at
least, before going elsewhere; and that as soon as possible, say in a
week. Can I come? If not, ask him to say when. Yours,

J. Burrill Curtis.

_Feb'y 27._


X

NEW YORK, _March 3, 1844._

Your letter was very grateful to me. I had supposed the silence would be
broken by some music burst of devotion, and that all friends would be
dearer to you the more imperative the call upon your strength to battle
for the Ideal. It half reproved me for the meagre sheet the same day
brought to your hand. And yet could we see how all the forces of heaven
and earth unite to shape the particle that floats idly by us, we should
never see meagreness more.

I do not think (and what a heresy!) that your life has found more than an
object, not yet a centre. The new order will systematize your course; but
I do not see that it aids your journey. Is it not the deeper insight you
constantly gain into music which explains the social economy you adopt,
and not the economy the music? One fine symphony or song leads all reforms
captive, as the grand old paintings in St. Peter's completely ignore all
sects. Association will only interpret music so far as it is a pure art,
as poetry and sculpture and painting explain each other. But necessarily
Brook Farm, association and all, do not regard it artistically, but
charitably. It regenerates the world with them because it does tangible
good, not because it refines. We must view all pursuits as arts before we
can accomplish.

With respect to association as a means of reform, I have seen no reason to
change my view. Though, like the monastic, a life of devotion, to severe
criticism it offers a selfish and an unheroic aspect. When your letter
first spoke of your personal interest in the movement, I had written you a
long statement of my thought, which I did not send, and then partly spun
into an article for _The Present_, which I did not entirely finish. It was
only a strong statement of Individualism, which would not be new to you,
perhaps, and the essential reason of which could not be readily treated.
What we call union seems to me only a name for a phase of individual
action. I live only for myself; and in proportion to my own growth, so I
benefit others. As Fourier seems to me to have postponed his life, in
finding out how to live, so I often felt it was with Mr. Ripley. Besides,
I feel that our evils are entirely individual, not social. What is society
but the shadow of the single men behind it. That there is a slave on my
plantation or a servant in my kitchen is no evil; but that the slave and
servant should be unwilling to be so, that is the difficulty. The weary
and the worn do not ask of me an asylum, but aid. The need of the most
oppressed man is strength to endure, not means of escape. The slave
toiling in the Southern heats is a nobler aspect of thought than the freed
black upon the shore of England. That is just now the point which pains me
in association, its lack of heroism. Reform is purification, forming anew,
not forming again. Love, like genius, uses the means that are, and the
opportunities of to-day. If paints are wanting, it draws charcoal heads
with Michael Angelo. These crooked features of society we cannot rend and
twist into a Roman outline and grace; but they may be animated with a soul
that will utterly shame our carved and painted faces. A noble man purges
these present relations, and does not ask beautiful houses and landscapes
and appliances to make life beautiful. In Wall Street he gives another
significance to trade; in the City Hall he justifies its erection; in the
churches he interprets to themselves the weekly assembly of citizens. He
uses the pen with which, just now, the coal-man scrawled his bill, and
turns off an epic with the fife that in the band so sadly pierced our
ears. He moves our trudging lives to the beauties of golden measures. He
laughs heartily at our absorbing charities and meetings, upon which we
waste our health and grow thin. He answers our distressing plea for the
rights of the oppressed, and the "all-men-born-to-be-free-and-equal" with
a smiling strength, which assures us therein lies the wealth and the
equality which we are trying to manufacture out of such materials as
association, organization of society, copartnership, no wages, and the
like. While this may be done, why should we retire from the field behind
the walls which you offer? Let us die battling or victorious. And this,
true for me and you, is true to the uttermost. The love which alone can
make your Phalanx beautiful, also renders it unnecessary. You may insure
food and lodgings to the starving beggar, I do not see that strength is
afforded to the man. Moreover, a stern divine justice ordains that each
man stand where he stands, and do his utmost. Retreat, if you will, behind
this prospect of comfortable living, but you do so at a sacrifice of
strength. Your food must be eternal, for your life is so. I do not feel
that the weary man outworn by toil needs a fine house and books and
culture and free air; he needs to feel that his position, also, is as good
as these. When he has, by a full recognition of that, earned the right to
come to you, then his faith is deeper than the walls of association, and
the desolate cellar is a cheerful room for his shining lore. Men do not
want opportunities, they do not want to start fair, they do not want to
reach the same goal; they want only perfect submission. The gospel now to
be preached is not, "Away with me to the land where the fields are fair
and the waters flow," but, "Here in your penury, while the rich go idly by
and scoff, and the chariot wheels choke you with dust, make here your
golden age."

  "Who cannot on his own bed sweetly sleep,
  Can on another's hardly rest."

So sings the saintly George Herbert, no new thought in these days of ours.

The effect of a residence at the Farm, I imagine, was not greater
willingness to serve in the kitchen, and so particularly assert that labor
was divine; but discontent that there was such a place as a kitchen. And,
however aimless life there seemed to be, it was an aimlessness of the
general, not of the individual life. Its beauty faded suddenly if I
remembered that it was a society for special ends, though those ends were
very noble. In the midst of busy trades and bustling commerce, it was a
congregation of calm scholars and poets, cherishing the ideal and the true
in each other's hearts, dedicate to a healthy and vigorous life. As an
association it needed a stricter system to insure success; and since it
had not the means to justify its mild life, it necessarily grew to this.
As reformers, you are now certainly more active, and may promise
yourselves heaven's reward for that. That impossibility of severance from
the world, of which you speak, I liked, though I did not like that there
should be such a protest against the world by those who were somewhat
subject to it. This was not my first feeling. When I went, it seemed as if
all hope had died from the race, as if the return to simplicity and beauty
lay through the woods and fields, and was to be a march of men whose very
habits and personal appearance should wear a sign of the coming grace. The
longer I stayed, the more surely that thought vanished. I had
unconsciously been devoted to the circumstance, while I had earnestly
denied its value. Gradually I perceived that only as a man grew deeper and
broader could he wear the coat and submit to the etiquette and obey the
laws which society demands. Now I feel that no new order is demanded, but
that the universe is plastic to the pious hand.

Besides, it seems to me that reform becomes atheistic the moment it is
organized. For it aims, really, at that which conservatism represents. The
merit of the reformer is his sincerity, not his busy effort to emancipate
the slaves or to raise the drunkards. And the deeper his sincerity the
more deeply grounded seems to him the order he holds to be so corrupt. God
always weighs down the Devil. Therefore the church is not a collection of
puzzling priests and deceived people, but the representative, now as much
as ever, of the religious sentiment. A pious man needs no new church or
ritual. The Catholic is not too formal nor the Quaker too plain. If he
complains of these, and build another temple and construct a new service,
it is not the satisfaction which piety would have. Luther's protest was
that of the intellect against the supremacy of sentiment. So was
Unitarianism, and now we do not seek in the Boston churches for the
profound pietists. Does not our present experience show that as fast as we
are emancipated from morality and the dominance of the intellect, we
revert to the older rituals, if we need any. And if we have no need, the
piety can so fully inform them, that we seek no other. The transcendental
is a spiritual movement. It is the effort to regain the lost equilibrium
between the intellect and the soul, between morals and piety. Therefore,
put of its ranks come Catholics and Calvinists and mystics, and those who
continue the reform movement commenced by Luther; and, proceeding at
intervals down the stream of history, are the Rationalists. There is
indeed a latent movement, badly represented by these reforms, and that is
the constant perception of the supremacy of the Individual. But the
stronger the feet become the more delicate may be the movements. The more
strictly individual I am, the more certainly I am bound to all others. I
can reach other men only through myself. So far as you have need of
association you are injured by it.

You will gather what I think from such hints as these. I recognize the
worth of the movement, as I do of all sincere action. Other reasons must
bind me peculiarly to the particular me at Brook Farm. "Think not of any
severance of our loves," though we should not meet immediately. Burrill
will see if there is any such place as we wish about you. I have not much
hope of his success. The scent of the roses will not depart, though the
many are scattered. I hardly hope to say directly how very beautiful it
lies in my memory. What a heart-fresco it has become! All the dignity, the
strength, the devotion will be preserved by you; that graceful
"aimlessness" comes no more. And yet that was necessary. Long before I
knew of the changes I perceived that the growth of the place would
overshadow the spots where the sunlight had lain so softly and long. We
must still regret the waywardness of the child, though the man is active
and victorious; and the delicate odor of the blossom is unrivalled by the
juicy taste of the fruit. The one implies necessity; the other a
self-obedient impulse. You see I do not forget it was a child; but the
philosopher has no better playfellow.

I wish this was me instead of my letter, for a warm grasp of the hand
might say more than all these words. Yr friend,

G.W.C.


XI

NEW YORK, _March 27, 1844._

At last I imagine our summer destiny is fixed. This morning Burrill
received a reply from Emerson informing us of a promising place near
Concord. The farmer's name being Captain Nathaniel Barrett, of pleasant
family and situation, and a farm on which more farm work than usual is
done. Altogether the prospect is very alluring and satisfactory; and I
have little doubt of our acceptance of the situation. We shall not then be
very far removed from you; and at some AEsthetical tea or Transcendental
club or Poet's assembly meet you, perhaps, and other Brook Farmers. At all
events, we shall breathe pretty much the same atmosphere as before, and
understand more fully the complete pivacy of the country life.

Burrill brought pleasant accounts of your appearance at Brook Farm. The
summer shall not pass without my looking in upon you, though only for an
hour. That time will suffice to show me the unaltered beauty of aspect,
though days would be scarce to express all that they suggested.

Emerson writes that there is a piano and music at the farm mentioned. I
have no faith in pianos under such circumstances; but it shows a taste, a
hope, a capability, possibly it is equal to all spiritual significances
except music! which want in a piano may be termed a deficiency.

I have become acquainted with a fine amateur, a niece of Dr. Channing's,
name Gibbs. She is yet young, not more than 17, but plays with great grace
and beauty. She played me one of Mendelssohn's songs, translated by Liszt,
a beautiful piece, one of F.R.'s, and spoke more sensibly of music than
any girl I have met. By-the-way, yesterday I bought the January number of
the _Democratic Review_ to read Mrs. Fanny Kemble Butler's review of
Tennyson, when, to my great surprise, I found your "Haydn." O'Sullivan I
have met a great deal, but made no acquaintance. The Tennyson review is
very fine. I think she understands him well. Perhaps she is too masculine
a woman to judge correctly his delicacy; but she does the whole thing
well.

Cranch has just painted a scene from the "Lady of Shalott," the scene--

  "In among the bearded barley,
  The reaping late and early," etc.--

represents two reapers standing with sickles among the grain, and turning
intently towards the four "gray walls and four gray towers which overlook
a space of flowers" in an island covered with foliage to the water, and
lying in the midst of the stream. The criticism upon the picture is
obvious; if Cranch is as painter what Tennyson is as poet, it is good--if
not, it is bad. What do you think? When a man illustrates a poem he is
pledged by the poem, hence the absurdity of Martyn's drawings from the
"Paradise Lost," and the various pictures of Belshazzar's feast. Only the
Madonnas of the greatest painters are satisfactory. But I shall not
abandon myself to the tracking of these mysteries of art.

I have been reading Goethe's "Tasso." Now I am at the "Sorrows of
Werther." I am wonderfully impressed with his dramatic power. The
"Egmont," "Iphigenia," and "Tasso" are grander than anything I know in
modern literature, than anything else of his which I have read. The serene
simplicity of the "Iphigenia" is like a keen blast of ocean air. It stands
like a Grecian temple, but in the moonlight. Is not that because, as Fanny
Kemble says, and so many have thought, he was a Heathen? He did not enter
into the state called the Christian. He served gods, not a God; and had it
been otherwise this tragedy had been full-bathed in sunlight. And yet I
hardly dare to say anything decidedly of such a man. I shall condemn
myself a little while hence if I do.

Let me hear from you before I leave New York, which will be in two or
three weeks. I shall not leave all my good friends, and all the fine music
here, without a pang. But if we stop for pangs! Will you send me the
number of the "Mondschein," and the "Tempest" sonata?

Yr friend,

G.W. CURTIS.


XII

N.Y., _Monday morning, April 8th, 1844._

The last few days have been like glimpses of Brook Farm, seeing so
constantly Mr. Ripley, and Charles, and Liszt, and Isaac, and Georgiana,
and Margaret Fuller. The last three days of the past week were occupied by
the sessions of the Convention, about which there was no enthusiasm, but
an air of quiet resolution which always precedes success. To be sure, the
success, to me, is the constant hope in humanity that inspires them, the
sure, glowing prophecies of paradise and heaven, being individual not
general prophecies, and announcing the advent in their own hearts and
lives of the feet beautiful of old upon the mountains. In comparison with
this what was done, and what was doing, lost much of its greatness. Leave
to Albert Brisbane, and _id omne genus_, these practical etchings and
phalansteries; but let us serve the gods without bell or candle. Have
these men, with all their faith and love, not yet full confidence in love?
Is that not strong enough to sway all institutions that are, and cause to
overflow with life? does that ask houses and lands to express its power?
does it not ride supreme over the abounding selfishness of the world, and
so raise men from their sorrow and degradation, or so inspire them that
their hovels are good enough for them?

But all difference of thought vanished before the profound, sincere
eloquence of these men. Last night, at W.H. Channing's church, the room
was full, and the risen Lord Jesus might have smiled upon a worthy
worship. From all sections were gathered in that small room men led by the
same high thought, and in the light of that thought joining hearts and
hands, unknown to each other, never to be seen again, and in the early
dawn setting forth with hard hands and stout hearts to hew down the trees
which shall be wrought into the stately dwellings for those who come after
in the day. So knelt the devoted Pilgrims upon the sands of Holland, and
embarked upon that doubtful sea. They fought and perished; their homes
were pierced with the Indian's bullet and flames of fire; the solitude of
stern forests scared not their hearts, and we follow now and live in
peace. It was something to have felt and seen such heroism.

The meetings of the convention were made interesting by some speeches of
W.H. Channing. His fervor kindles the sympathy of all who listen. I do
not think he is a man of great intellect; his views of society are not
always correct. He speaks very often as an infidel-in-the-capability-
of-men might speak. He is fanatical, as all who perceive by the heart and
not the head are, as deeply pious men are apt to be. But I never heard so
eloquent a man, one who commanded attention and sympathy, not by his words
or thoughts, but the religion that lay far below them. It is a warm,
fragrant, southern wind at which the heart leaps, not the pure, cold,
ocean air which braces the frame. Between him and some whom I have heard
is the same difference as between Goethe and Novalis. The one a June
meadow, with flower-scents and cloud-shadows and the soft, sultry music of
humming-bees and singing-birds, with clear skies bending over; a deep sea
the other, whereon sail stately ships, wafted by health-bearing breezes,
in whose waters the sick gain strength, in whose soundless depths the
coral and the precious stones repose forever, which supplies the clouds
whose shadow makes the meadow beautiful.

Indeed, how glorious is the range and variety of character among which we
move. Though the stars differ in glory they all make the sky fair, and do
not clash in their revolutions. That dissimilarity is the secret of
friendship, which educates to stand alone. Indeed--to make a most
heretical conclusion--the race exists to teach me to live without it. My
friend, God has no need of creatures, but he is not less nearly bound to
them.

I send you the final number of _The Present_. You will see my article, "a
poor thing, but mine own." To you it will be nothing new. It seems to me I
have used some of the same sentences in speaking to you.

_The Dial_ stops. Is it not like the going out of a star? Its place was so
unique in our literature! All who wrote and sang for it were clothed in
white garments; and the work itself so calm and collected, though
springing from the same undismayed hope which fathers all our best
reforms. But the intellectual worth of the time will be told in other
ways, though _The Dial_ no longer reports the progress of the day.

On Friday we leave for Boston. I do not know precisely if we shall go
immediately to Concord, for we are performing at the same time a duty of
affection in accompanying to Mount Auburn the body of an uncle. We may
possibly be detained in Boston until the following Monday, in which case I
shall not fail to come out and see you.

So endeth my New York correspondence.

Yours truly and ever,

G.W. CURTIS.

MUSIC AND OLE BULL

We know little of the art of music; though our concerts are crowded, and
the names of the composers familiar. But our reverence to the Masters in
art is like the reverence for the Bible, not a hearty one. A late musical
reviewer well says, that the admiration of the Parisians for Beethoven is
a conceit. That calculation answers for our meridian. Slight Italian
scholars are eloquent in their admiration of Dante, but the depths and
majesty of his poem are explored by few. The dullest may recognize the
beauty of feature, but the soul which inspires quite eludes them. During
the performance of a symphony the audience smile and shake when the airs
float out of the orchestra, not observing that they are the
breathing-places, the relaxation of the composer. Every one who can play
can compose tunes, but to the lover of the art they yield no greater
pleasure than the rhymes of a poem. Often the grandest passages are most
melodious, as in poems the greatest thought suggests the happiest
expression. Tune and song occupy a distinct portion of the realm of music.
They are _attaches_ to the royal court. Perhaps the finest music is allied
to verse, but if it be a true marriage, the music comprehends the whole.
No artist would hear the words of one of Handel's or Haydn's choral
hosannas. The words are the translation, but the scholar will not accept
that.

Music is an art distinct and self-sufficient. It represents the harmony of
that interior truth which all art seeks to reveal, and whose beauty and
grace appear in painting and sculpture. The interpreters of that harmony
are sounds, which are related to music as colors to painting, and the
fullest expression is given to them by instrumental combination. The human
voice in respect of the art is valuable as an instrument, and in
suppleness may exceed mechanical contrivances; wherefore one readily
understands why a mighty chorus is introduced in the finale of the
grandest symphony, that the whole effect may be duly crowned, and the
appeal to the heart be assured by the union of human sounds. But with such
an effect words have nothing to do. The charm of the foreign opera to us
Americans is, that the full music of the Masters is received with
syllables meaning to us no more than the fa-sol-la of the gamut. The
reason of this is very evident. If the poetry be good it has a rhythm and
cadence of its own which resembles music, but in respect of art belongs to
poetry and not to music. Arbitrarily united with melody the words obtrude
a meaning which the music may not suggest, though the capacity of fine
music is equal to any words. The beauty of Schubert's songs is their
completeness. They are lyrics, and the words are only an addition. Those
who heard Rakemann play the translated serenade will remember that the
instrumentation produced the whole effect of the song. If the music be
fine, it gives all the sentiment of the words in its own way. It is like
painting a statue to unite them. Sometimes, indeed, one feels that both
are written from the same mood in the grandest minds. The mysterious
charms of Goethe's song of Mignon, to which Beethoven wrote the music, is
that the song is the expression of the same awe-struck yearning which
wails and thunders through the music of the master. In the melody alone
all the wild vagueness and dim aspiration of the song are manifest, and
only because the union is perfect is the impression uniform. Should
Wilhelm Meister be lost to literature the blossom of Mignon's life would
still bloom in the music.

The same necessity which divided art into the arts ordains their practical
separation. Because they are divisions of one their impression is similar.
They work to the same end, but each has a way. To complete the harmony,
the soprano, and the tenor, and the bass, must all strictly observe their
parts. So must the arts. It is a mournful degradation when the composer
would make his sounds, colors, as those who heard the battle of Waterloo
symphony will not soon forget. Without his interference, the relation
between his art and the rest will be preserved. In his symphony he is the
spiritual significance of the Apollo and the Iliad; and the graceful,
romantic songs of Mozart are in the drops of poetry scattered upon the old
drama, and in the infinite, tender beauty of Raphael's pictures. Yet this
is a likeness as between woods and waters, and with which we have nothing
to do.

If a reply be sought to the question, why the grandest compositions of
this art are more generally impressive than the efforts of the pure
science, it may be reached in various ways. The old masters, doubtless,
obeyed an unconscious instinct in joining words to their music. Then, as
now, the art was in its young years, and the words served as a dictionary
to the student. Merely as a dictionary, for the deep significance of the
thing could not be apprehended until that was thrown aside, and the
scholar read and spoke and lived in that high language as in his daily
speech. The best American critic of the art says, speaking of the Messiah,
"Feeling that it was time now to do something more worthy his genius, and
more fitting his years, as he was getting old, he resolved to draw from
all the sources of his art, and put forth all his power, to make an
eloquent exposition of his faith in music, and interpret the Bible thus to
the hearts of all men." And yet, hitherto, have not the sublime fragments
he culled from the Bible served as expositors of the Oratorio? The Messiah
is the celebration, in Handel's way, of the great things of his life,
which, more or less, are the remarkable experience of all men, and which
receive the grandest verbal expression in the Bible. Having this same
confession to make, and obeying a different means from Moses and the
apostles, a means which few could understand, what remained but to
transcribe the sublimest verbal record men knew, and tell them that that
was a free translation of his thought. So, in later times, Beethoven
replied to one who asked the meaning of a sonata, "Read Shakespeare's
Tempest." With the masses and operas of modern times the case is the same.
Genius, which is plenitude of power, adapts itself to all facts. It will
receive the outline of a story and weave upon it a wonderful web, which
the story shall interpret. But an opera of Mozart's reveals to the
voiceless player its whole magnificence. Trilling Prima Donnas and silvery
Italian are the addenda and vocabulary. They are the "this is the man,
this the beast" written under the picture. The severe beauty of the art is
immediately injured by any encroachment upon the others. The highest
praise awarded to the most successful of such attempts is that of
imitation. Haydn would represent the growing of grass and the budding of
trees--a beautiful conceit, but a false perception of his art. Art has
little to do with imitation. The best portrait is not the fac-simile of a
face, but the suggestion of a character. Music has not to do with form but
thought. The Germans derive no more pleasure from the songs of their
masters than we who may not know their language.

The second question is that of persons who do not understand the claims of
music to the dignity of an art, whom pleasant old songs pleasantly lull to
sleep after dinner; to whom comes no voice of the art separate from all
things else, but which stands before him silent and veiled, while an
interpreter converses. Often these songs are beautiful ballads, and so
have a peculiar grace. If the music is appropriate and simple and
melodious it is enough, and henceforth, to such, no artist who does not
play tunes is more than a quack; and the complaint of the man who sat
hearing Ole Bull for an hour, and then departed because he was so long
tuning his fiddle, is the most general criticism upon his performance. But
the old Scotch and Irish airs, which endear these songs to us, were
doubtless, at some remote period, the wordless singings of maternal love
over the rocking-cradle. They become readily united with words as a help
to the memory, and as imparting facility of expression. Those who have
heard "Auld Robin Gray," "Robin Adair," and the airs which Moore has
gratefully accompanied with words, played on summer evenings, with flutes
and horns, then realize that the impression lies in that which the words
shadow. This fact is recognized in modern music by the introduction of
songs without words--by the composition and performance, with more or less
success, of Beethoven's symphonies, where most of all words are at fault.
The pleasure of him to whom these profound compositions reveal a meaning
is more private and enchanting than any he knows. He is very well content
to be called enthusiastic, for his presence along justifies the
performance of such works. When he meets at the concert-room those who are
enraptured with Donizetti, yet who come to do homage to Beethoven, he is
reminded that Beethoven would not see Rossini, holding him as one who
debased the art; and it seems to him like Jesus calling upon the Jews to
become as little children. Everybody reads Shakespeare, but few know what
the word means. The theatre is crowded to hear Macready's "Hamlet," but it
is to see Macready, not to study the drama. When he is gone the play
remains; and though it is spoken by stupid men, their dulness cannot
affect its profundity and strength. That is the test of art, that it
transcends its instruments; and the artist at his piano realizes the soul,
though not the effect of the symphony which has spoken to him so loudly
from the orchestra.

The music written at this day is gymnastics for the instrument, rather
than worthy offerings upon the altar of art. It is a perverse separation
of the art and the science. It requires an accurate knowledge of the
instrument that it may surprise, and so win applause for the performer;
not that it may the better serve music, whether it has auditors or not.
Few things could have more deeply pained a worthy musician than the last
concert of Max Bohrer. Such profound knowledge of the power of the
instrument, such utter ignorance of its intention. It seemed to groan in
despair, that he, who knew its changes so well, could not awaken it to
melody, but, with solemn conceit, show that he did know them, and gain
approbation for that knowledge. Knoop, with the same exact science, showed
a hearty reverence for art, and reverently withdrew himself and his
violoncello. Castellan's voice was so full that her person was necessarily
forgotten. One would not do injustice to the voice; that is frequently the
instrument for which fine music is written; but in view of the art, it is
an instrument only. Its deeper effect upon many minds springs from its
humanity, from that part of it of which nothing can be said, and which the
coal-man has as well as Malibran. This constitutes its occasional
superiority of influence, but cannot impart to it the effect and artistic
manifestation which instruments produce. When the full force of both is
united, as in the symphony mentioned, the grandest musical expression
appears.

The winter has been full of finer musical experience than we have yet had.
With Ole Bull, Vieuxtemps, and Knoop, Castellan and Damoreau--the
Beethoven symphonies and German overtures of the Philharmonic Society, the
art has reached a point hitherto unattained. Yet this is partly deceptive.
Most persons heard Ole Bull from curiosity, and the symphonies from
fashion. Such music and such artists have no permanent hold of the heart
here. The pianos are covered with the songs of Donizetti; and Max Bohrer
takes, generally, a higher rank than Knoop. The student of art does not
regard these noble artists and fine music as the dawning of the art among
us, but as brighter stars flashing across the sky, while still the east is
dark. Europe has made these artists and this music after many centuries.
In the bosom of a church, full of profound spiritual experiences, this
music has been nurtured, and artistic devotion has streamed upon these
men. The necessity of this hoary antiquity to the development of art we
cannot readily determine. Our painters and sculptors must flock to Italy,
and lie down in the shadows of those old fanes, before they are willing to
announce their claim to be servants of the art. Our poets sing in
self-defence the majesty and grandeur of primeval America, and drink
deeply at the stream of letters that flows from the Past. Had foreign
literature been cut off from us, we should have had few writers of poetry,
and Mr. Griswold's book had been a valuable duodecimo and not a heavy
octavo. Our chief poets are cultivated men. Poetry with us is the
recreation of elegant scholars. Mr. Percival announces that he writes
poetry in more than a hundred ways; and the few young men who seem to
advance first claims to the dignity of poets, by their fresh expression,
need the overshadowing of Time to make them artists. How especially is
this so with music. We have no native artists and few hearty students. The
societies which introduce to us the finest music are German, our musical
teachers are Germans and Italians, our opera is Italian. Of this no
complaint is to be made. The nation is content with a foreign fragrance,
as the individual students are content to live in Rome and send home to us
the ideas of an old mythology wrought into statues. Art is the flower of
life. The man will build his house, then he will have pictures and a
piano. The claims of the interior life will surely be heard at last, and
art will follow. Yankees and Wall Street govern now, Niagara by-and-by.
The prophecies of our American literature, with which the literary
anniversaries are annually eloquent, are sure. Contemplating the healthy
seed which they represent, we need not fear for the flower. But the
literature and art will be American only in respect of culture. The German
music is an universal song, sung in a provincial dialect. The immortality
of the classics is the universality of their truth. English and Italian
art are the several ways that nations regard the same thing. The soul of
music, as of painting and poetry, is always one. The foreigner is no
longer a foreigner when he hears the music he loves; and silent under its
spell, lovers, for the first time, meet. In the Louvre or the Vatican will
not the traveller see his home?

Yet in our present backwoods life let me not omit to notice the wonderful
artist whom we have recently seen. The genius of Ole Bull is so delicate
and profound that we must speak of it modestly, but with certainty. It is
not to be estimated by comparison. The height assures us of its loftiness,
not by the inferior summits below it, but by the wide, full sunlight and
the free winds that flow around it and rest upon it. The perception of
genius is so sure that we need not attempt to define what it is. Every
artist, full of its power, shows something more than the last. Like
beauty, it will not be measured, but every beautiful person shames our
analysis and philosophy of beauty. Yet the impression of genius is always
the same, and its appearance in any one individual makes real to us all
the rest. Until we heard Ole Bull, Paganini was a fabulous being of whom,
as of Orpheus and Amphion, strange stories were told, which seemed rather
prophecies of musical possibility than the history of actual
accomplishment. Henceforth Paganini is a household god, and the old Pagans
loom more distinctly through the misty centuries and wear something of the
aspect of reality.

To us, children of a seventy years' nation, plucking the full blossom of
European musical culture, the appearance of Ole Bull was like a new star
in the sky. Few had predicted its shining. At most, there was a faint
hope, in some minds, that we should yet see a worthy minister of art, in
honoring whom we should fitly reverence the Masters. Yet it was a hope too
faint and limited to inspire confidence in our manager to secure to
himself a fair portion of the ample harvest nodding for so sharp a sickle.
When he appeared, that wild Norwegian bravery, subdued by a reverence for
art and deepened by commanding originality, the shouting theatre, the
crowded tabernacle, the press for once speaking confidently in one tone,
the silent joy of hearts to whom this was the first vision of
genius--these announced a triumph. The ecstatic musical festivals of
Europe, the pilgrimages of artists more royally surrounded than the
progress of kings, we now understood.

The chief value of Ole Bull is that he introduces us more nearly to art.
It is the prerogative of genius to illustrate that; therefore he stood
before us as one who had in rapt hours pierced a little further into the
mystery which envelops life like an atmosphere and came to recite his
vision. He had detected some of those fine sunbeams that make the air
golden and give it warmth, and painted them for us as well as he could.
Yet in his music there was the same melancholy strain, varied by wonderful
and wild freaks, like the hysterics of the gods, that hitherto so
emphatically characterizes the works of genius. Throughout his
compositions there was the want of unity which expressed aspiration not
fulfilment, scattered stones of a fairer temple than men have seen, which
also are all works of art hitherto, yet each so fair that for these the
old shrines are deserted, and here men worship. One perceived that the
performance was the least part of the man. It was not his height and
limit, a faint beacon-light, rather, trembling over the waters, marking
the shore of a wide land, with deep ravines and towering mountains and
endless woods fringing depthless seas, and yet a light so bright that we
thought the sun was rising. For the genius which enables one to illustrate
art is universal power, whose expression is inadequate because thought is
quicker than execution. Every work of art represents an era past. Only the
whole character of the artist is the present flower of his life. It is no
matter of surprise that Ole Bull practises little, that his compositions
are unique. A deep rhythm, a subdued, infinite harmony pervades them. The
rugged Norway shows in them its influence upon the artist. The rocks and
glens and forests of his fatherland are not painted, but their spiritual
significance floats through his music, modified and moulded by the
individuality of the man. All this appears in his aspect. As he advances,
the strong, composed grace of his appearance, deferential not to
individuals but to the mind which shall receive the song of his
inspiration, destroys conventional ideas of grace, as Mont Blanc might
destroy them. His tall, compact figure well becomes a priest of art. Out
of his eyes shines the reflection of the perpetual fire of which all
artists are the ministers and which communicates energy and warmth to his
action. With a slight, respectful motion of the head and violin-bow
towards the orchestra, the respect of Olympian power, he draws from them
the first notes of the symphony; then, leaning his head upon his
instrument caressingly, as if he gratefully heard at once what he is about
to unfold to the audience, he draws his bow. Then that violin expresses
with intense passion the undefined yearnings that haunt the private heart.
It entreats and restrains. Its wildness harmonizes with the deep unrest of
a great aspiring soul. Its solemn movement is like the progress of a brave
man to an unknown destiny, and as the last yet distinct cadence floats
away into the stillness, it is as if a dove disappeared in heaven. At his
second concert he played an adagio of Mozart. It was full of tender
delicacy and the graceful imagination that makes all his music romance.
All this the artist felt, and every tone that followed his bow was
exquisite. Then was it seen how all genius meets. It was as if the
composer lay in the violin and sang the song anew, as if Raphael recited
one of Shakespeare's sonnets.

With what has been said about the man one who realizes the genius has
little to do. The music was not false, and that is his language. There has
been stern opposition and prejudice and ill-will; but so we must all bring
our gifts to the altar, and they who have not gold gifts must tender
swine.

Not the least of his offices is that he has enabled us to appreciate
Vieuxtemps. They will not be compared by the reverent worshipper at the
shrine of art. The plant needs the sunshine and the dew. It was pleasant
to feel that genius abides in one man and realize that one star differeth
from another in glory. Surely the firmament of art is wide enough and yet
deep enough to contain many planets.

Yet the artists are but messengers whom we send before into the
undiscovered country. They return and sing to us songs familiar in the
Eldorado of our hope, yet of which we have learned no note. Afloat upon
the depthless sea we loose doves and ravens, who bear back to us olive
boughs and flowers which we cannot analyze, but whose form and fragrance
make our homes beautiful. When the first shock of delighted wonder is past
we receive great men as the present attainment of an illimitable Nature,
as the Earth receives the light of stars, unnoticed save of wandering
lovers, and sweeps undisturbed on its way. If sometimes we are warped from
our sphere by the apparition of noble persons, wise men presently recover
themselves and serve with a milder and firmer persistence their own
nature. The way is made clearer by these bright lights, universal nature
is fairer that there are so many single stars; but they must be only stars
in our heaven and fires on our hearth, nor turn out the heart by inserting
themselves in the bosom.

G.W.C.


XIII

CONCORD, _Friday evening, May 10th, 1844._

Since our arrival here I have been busy enough. From breakfast at 6 to
dinner at 12-1/2, hard at work, and all the afternoon roaming over the
country far and near. When we came the spring was just waking, now it is
opening like a rose-bud, with continually deepening beauty. The
apple-trees in full bloom, making the landscape so white, seem to present
a synopsis of the future summer glory of the flower-world.

Our farm lies on one of the three hills of Concord. They call it
Punkatassett. Before us, at the foot of the hill, is the river; and the
slope between holds a large part of the Captain's orchard. Among the hills
at one side we see the town, about a mile away; and a wide horizon all
around, which Elizabeth Hoar tells me she has learned is the charm of
Concord scenery. The summit of the hill on which we are is crowned with
woods, and from a clearing commands a grand prospect. Wachusett rises
alone upon the distance, and takes the place of the ocean in the
landscape. There is a limitation in the prospect if one cannot see the sea
or mountains. The Blue Hill, in a measure, supplies that want at West
Roxbury. Otherwise the landscape is a garden which only pleases. We are
much pleased with our host and his family. He is that Capt. Nathan Barrett
to whom Messrs. Pratt and Brown came for seed, and who raises a good deal
of seed for Ruggles, Nourse and Mason. We go into all work. The Captain
turns us out with the oxen and plough, and we do our best. Already I have
learned a good deal. The men are very courteous and generous.

Indeed, I am disposed to think it just the place we wanted. As yet I see
no reason to doubt it. It is so still a life after the city, and after the
family at Brook Farm. I am glad to be thrown so directly and almost alone
into nature, and am more ready than ever to pay my debt in a human way by
learning the names of her beautiful flowers and the places where they
blossom. We study Botany daily, and have thus far kept pace with the
season. I have found here the yellow violet, which I do not remember at
West Roxbury. Already we have the rhodora and the columbine, which you
have probably found. And with our afternoons surrendered to the meadows
and hills, and our mornings to the fields, we find no heavy hours; but
every Sunday surprises us. I am to bed at 9, and rise at 4-1/2 or 5. I
practise the Orphic, which says: "Baptize thyself in pure water every
morning when thou leavest thy couch," which I more concisely render, Wash
betimes.

For the last three evenings I have been in the village, hearing Belinda
Randall play and sing. With the smallest voice she sings so delicately,
and understands her power so well, that I have been charmed. It was a
beautiful crown to my day, not regal and majestic, like Frances O.'s in
the ripe summer, but woven of spring flowers and buds. Last night I saw
her at Mr. Hoar's, only herself and Miss E. Hoar, G.P. Bradford, Mr. and
Mrs. Emerson, and myself and Mr. Hoar. She played Beethoven, sang the
"Adelaide Serenade," "Fischer Madchen," "Amid this Green Wood." I walked
home under the low, heavy, gray clouds; but the echo lingered about me
like starlight.

We have a piano in the house, and a very good one. It was made by Currier,
and is but a few years old. The evenings do not all pass without reminding
me of the flute music of the last summer, and making me half long to hear
it again. Yet I am too contented to wish to be back at the Farm. The
country about us is wilder than there; but I need now this tender severity
of nature and of friendship. With John Hosmer, Isaac, Geo. Bradford, and
Burrill, I am not without some actual features of the Farm as I knew it.
When I shall see you I cannot say. I shall not willingly break the circle
of life here, though occasion will make me willing enough.

Let me not remain unmentioned to my friends at Brook Farm and in the
village; and when you can _ungroup_ yourself for an hour paint me a
portrait of the life you lead.

Yr friend,

G.W.C.


XIV

CONCORD, _May 24th, '44._

My dear Friend,--I heard of you at Ole Bull's concert, and have
sympathized with you in your delight. I was in Worcester that evening, and
had hoped to have come down to Boston and heard him once more. But so many
were listening with that pleasure which can come but once, and I knew so
many must try in vain to hear, that I was content others should then
express that admiration which lies so deeply in my heart. But who of all
heard? Was it not as if he walked above the earth, and of his sublime
conversation you heard now and then the notes? Did not the singular beauty
of the man unite with his performance to make the completest musical
festival you have had?

Indeed, I owe more to him than one can know, except as he feels the same
debt; are you not that one?

To Belinda Randall, who has been here, as I told you, I was obliged for
revealing Beethoven's tenderness. She is so soft and tender herself that
she could not fail unconsciously to express it in her playing. I passed
some fine evenings with her. Since I had been here I had heard no music,
and felt that I needed to hear some as an adequate expression of all that
I felt. When she came that demand was satisfied. Ole Bull satisfies the
claim of the same nature which our whole life makes, and of itself
creates, rather reveals newer and deeper demands, and so on, I suppose,
until the celestial harmonies are heard by us.

I heard from a friend of the last Philharmonic in New York. It seems they
have made Vieux-temps an honorary member, and he played for them. On the
same evening they performed one of Beethoven's symphonies. It is one of
those accounts whose beauty is their nakedness. To lovers of music a bare
description is as an outline to a painter which he can readily fill up and
supply with the shadows and sunlight. Yet not he so magnificently as
sunlight and shadows sweep over this landscape. It seems to me that a
century of splendor has been rushing by since I have been here.

The persons who make Concord famous I have hardly seen. The consciousness
of their presence is like the feeling of lofty mountains whom the night
and thick forests hide. Of one of them, E. Hoar, I need to say nothing to
you. One evening I sat with her and Waldo Emerson and Geo. P. Bradford
while Belinda Randall played and sang.

Isaac brings you this, and will himself best tell you of himself. Burrill
is well, and unites with me in remembrance to all who remember.

Your friend,

G.W.C.


XV

CONCORD, _June 26th, 1844._

These are Tophetic times. I doubt if the sturdy faith of those heroes,
Shadrack and co., would carry them through this fervor unliquefied. Their
much vaunted furnace was but a cool retreat where thoughts of great-coats
were possible, compared with this. And if that nether region of whose
fires so much is sung by poets and other men possessed, can offer hotter
heats, let them be produced. Those Purgatorial ardencies for the gentle
suggestion of torment to thin shades can have little in common with these
perspiration-compelling torridities. Why does not some ingenious Yankee
improve such times for the purchase, at a ruinous discount, of all thick
clothes? I tremble lest some one should offer me an ice-cream for my best
woollens! Is it human to resist such an offer? Does it not savor something
of Devildom, and a too great familiarity with that lower Torrid Zone, to
entertain such a proposition cool-ly? when such a word grows suddenly
obsolete in such seasons? If I venture to move, such an atmosphere of heat
is created immediately around my body that all cool breezes (if the
imagination is competent to such a conception) are like arid airs when
they reach my mouth. Perhaps we are tending to those final, fiery days of
which Miller is a prophet. We are slowly sinking, perhaps, from heat to
heat, until entire rarefication and evanishment in imperceptible vapor
ensues; and so the great experiment of a world may end in smoke, as many
minor ones have ended. If it were not so hot, I should love to think about
these things.

June 28th. So far I had proceeded on the afternoon I returned to Concord.
When I desisted I supposed I had inscribed my final manuscript, and that
only a cinder would be found sitting over it when some one should enter.
Yet by the providence of God I am preserved for the experience of greater
heats. I did not know before what was the capacity of endurance of the
human frame. I begin to suspect we are of nearer kin to the Salamander
than our pride will allow; and since Devils only are admitted to nether
fire, I begin to lapse into the credence of total depravity!! Reflect upon
my deplorable condition! As Shelley's body, when lifeless, was caused to
disappear in flames and smoke, so may mine before its tenant is departed.
Was it not prophetic that on Sunday afternoon the following lines came to
me while thinking of that poet?

  SHELLEY

  A smoke that delicately curled to heaven,
    Mingling its blueness with the infinite blue,
  So to the air the faded form was given,
    So unto fame the gentle spirit grew.

And as Shelley and Keats are associated always together in my mind,
immediately the Muse gave me this:

  KEATS

  A youth did plight his troth to Poesy.
    "Thee only," were the fervent words he said,
  Then sadly sailed across the foaming sea,
    And lay beneath the southern sunset dead.

I was glad that once I could express what I think about those men. These
will show you, but you must write your own poem upon them before you will
be satisfied. Is it not so always? We cannot speak much about poets until
our thought of them sings itself.

The day I left you was very hot in Boston. Anna Shaw and Rose Russell
passed me like beautiful spirits; one like a fresh morning, the other like
an Oriental night. Then I did my business, and met James Sturgis, who
carried me to see his head cut in cameo by Mr. King. It is quite good,
though it gives him rather a finer head than he has; but that's a good
failing. I went to the Athenaeum. There I saw one or two pictures, and much
paint upon canvas. Those that I liked I saw belonged to the Athenaeum, and
I suppose were old objects to those who are familiar with the gallery. A
face of Ophelia interested me. It was very simple and sweet. But I was so
warm that I could do little more than lay upon a bench and catch dreamy
glimpses of the walls. The sculpture gallery, full of white marble heads,
seemed quite cool.

My dear Friend, I shall melt and be mailed in this letter as a spot if I
do not surcease. May you be blest with frigidity, a blessing far removed
from my hope. Of course I must be warmly, nay, _hotly_ remembered to
Charles.

Yrs ever,

G.W.C.


XVI

CONCORD, _August 7th, 1844._

My regret at not seeing you was only lessened by the beautiful day I
passed with Mr. Hawthorne. His life is so harmonious with the antique
repose of his house, and so redeemed into the present by his infant, that
it is much better to sit an hour with him than hear the Rev. Barzillai
Frost! His baby is the most serenely happy I ever saw. It is very
beautiful, and lies amid such placid influences that it too may have a
milk-white lamb as emblem; and Mrs. Hawthorne is so tenderly respectful
towards her husband that all the romance we picture in a cottage of lovers
dwells subdued and dignified with them. I see them very seldom. The people
here who are worth knowing, I find, live very quietly and retired. In the
country, friendship seems not to be of that consuming, absorbing character
that city circumstances give it, but to be quite content to feel rather
than hear or do; and that very independence which withdraws them into the
privacy of their homes is the charm which draws thither.

Mr. Emerson read an address before the anti-slavery "friends" last
Thursday. It was very fine. Not of that cold, clear, intellectual
character which so many dislike, but ardent and strong. His recent reading
of the history of the cause has given him new light and warmed a fine
enthusiasm. It commenced with allusions to the day "which gives the
immense fortification of a fact to a great principle," and then drew in
strong, bold outline the progress of British emancipation. Thence to
slavery in its influence upon the holders, to the remark that this event
hushed the old slander about inferior natures in the negro, thence to the
philosophy of slavery, and so through many detached thoughts to the end.
It was nearly two hours long, but was very commanding. He looked genial
and benevolent, as who should smilingly defy the world, the flesh, and the
devil to ensnare him. The address will be published by the society; and he
will probably write it more fully, and chisel it into fitter grace for the
public criticism. He spoke of your unfortunate call, but said you bore the
sulkiness very well. George Bradford was also very sorry; and it was bad
that you should come so far, with the faces of friends for a hospitable
city before you, and find a mirage only, or (begging Burrill's pardon) one
house.

For the last six weeks I have been learning what hard work is. Afternoon
leisure is now remembered with the holiday which Saturday brought to the
school-boy. During the haying we have devoted all our time and faculty to
the making of hay, leaving the body at night fit only to be devoted to
sheets and pillows, and not to grave or even friendly epistolary
intercourse. Oh friends! live upon faith, say I, as I pitch into bed with
the ghosts of Sunday morning resolutions of letters tickling my sides or
thumping my back, and then sink into dreams where every day seems a day in
the valley of Ajalon, and innumerable Joshuas command the sun and moon to
stay, and universal leisure spreads over the universe like a great wind.
Then comes morning and wakefulness and boots and breakfast and scythes and
heat and fatigue, and all my venerable Joshuas endeavor in vain to make
oxen stand still, and I heartily wish them and I back in our valley ruling
the heavens and not bending scythes over unseen hassocks which do
sometimes bend the words of our mouths into shapes resembling oaths! those
most crooked of all speech, but therefore best and fittest for the
occasional crooks of life, particularly mowing. Yet I mow and sweat and
get tired very heartily, for I want to drink this cup of farming to the
bottom and taste not only the morning froth but the afternoon and evening
strength of dregs and bitterness, if there be any. When haying is over,
which event will take place on Saturday night of this week, fair weather
being vouchsafed, I shall return to my moderation. Towards the latter part
of the month I shall stray away towards Providence and Newport and sit
down by the sea, and in it, too, probably. So I shall pass until harvest.
Where the snows will fall upon me I cannot yet say.

Say to Charles that I was sorry not to have seen him; but if persons of
consequence will travel without previous annunciation, they may chance to
find even the humblest of their servants not at home. I know you will
write when the time comes, so I say nothing but that I am your friend
ever.

G.W.C.


XVII

CONCORD, _Sept. 23, 1844._

Shall we not see you on the day of the cattle-show? Certainly Brook Farm
will be represented; and I think you may, by this time, be farmer enough
to enjoy the cattle and the ploughing. Besides, as I remember a similar
excursion last year at which I assisted, the splendor of the early
morning, which was not yet awake when we came away from the Farm, will
amply repay any extraordinary effort. And still another besides; I do not
want the winter to build its white, impenetrable walls between us before I
have heard your voice once more. I should hope to come and look at you for
one day, at least, in West Roxbury; but our Captain has work, autumnal
work, the end whereof is not comprehended by the unassisted human vision.
Potato-digging, apple-picking, thrashing, the gathering of innumerable
seeds, must be done before winter; and yet to-day is like a despatch from
December to announce that snow and ice and wind are to be just as cold
this winter as they were the last.

And I have had a long vacation, too. I think, on the very day after I
wrote my last letter to you, as I was whetting my scythe for the last
swath of the season, my hat half fell off, and suddenly raising my hand to
catch it, I thrust it against the scythe and cut my thumb just upon the
joint. It has healed, but I shall never find it quite as agile as
formerly. I could not use the hand--my right hand--for more than a
fortnight. It was like losing a sense to lose its use. After a week of
inaction in Concord, I went to Rhode Island and remained three weeks, and
am now at home a fortnight. I came back more charmed than ever with
Concord, which hides under a quiet surface most precious scenes. I suppose
we see more deeply into the spirit of a landscape where we have been
happy. Then we behold the summer bloom. It is spring or autumn or winter
to men generally.

We shall remain with Capt. Barrett through the winter. The spring will
bring its own arrangements, or rather the conclusion of those which are
formed during the winter. I suspect that our affections, like our bodies,
have been transplanted to Massachusetts, and that our lives will grow in
the new soil. Not at all ambitious of settling and becoming a citizen, I
am very well content with the nomadic life until obedience to the law of
things shall plant me in some home.

And are you still at home in the Farm? Rumors, whose faces I cannot fairly
see, pass by me sometimes, breathing your name and others. But I have long
ago turned rumor out-of-doors as an impostor and impertinent person, who
apes the manners and appearance of its betters. I shall receive none as
from you, however loudly they may shout your name, except they show your
hand and seal.

Autumn has already begun to leave the traces of her golden fingers upon
the brakes, and occasionally upon some tall nut-trees. It seems as if she
were trying her skill before she comes like a wind over the landscape. She
warbles a few glittering notes before the mournful, majestic Death-song.

Dear friend, why should I send you this chip of ore out of the mine of
regard which is yours in my heart? Come and dig in it.

Your friend,

G.W. CURTIS.


XVIII

CONCORD, _January 12, '45._

My dear Friend,--I have written Burrill to look at the Custom-house, and
inquire about the method of warming by water. He replies that he has been
there, but defers writing to you until he learns more about the matter.
Through him I received a message from Isaac to tell you that he (I) can
procure an edition of the Beethoven Sonatas (26, I believe) for about $10.

I think it highly probable that I shall pass some weeks in Providence next
month, and so will defer my day with you at Brook Farm until that time, of
which I will inform you.

Burrill has not yet returned, and leaves me still a hermit. I am well
pleased with my solitude, nor do I care much to go out of the country
during the winter; but domestic circumstances make it advisable to go to
Providence. There I shall have a good library at hand, which I miss a good
deal here. Indeed, I think it likely that every year while my home is in
the country I may perform a pilgrimage to the city for two or three months
for purposes of art and literature and affection, for, as there seems in
the minds of divines to be some doubt of personal identity when this
mortal coil is shuffled off, I am fain to embrace my friends' coils while
they are yet palpable. This idea of city visits implies a very free life;
but there seems now to be no hinderance to it. When the band of Phalanxes,
proceeding into desert and free air, no more allow art to rendezvous in
cities, I can take one of the nearest radiating railroads and rush from my
solitude into the healthily-peopled and cityish-countrified Phalanx.

I am loath to forgive Fourier the unmitigated slander upon the moon. I
began to suspect that was the only influence alive since the sun lights
men to cheating and deviltry; and the moon recalls the sweetest
remembrance and best hope. After our evening at Almira's it lighted me
home with such forgiving splendor that I could have fallen on my knees in
the snow and have prayed its pardon if it would not have chilled those
members.

Almira I have not seen since Wednesday. She was then well, and went with
me to hear Dr. Francis lecture upon Bishop Berkeley. He told the life,
which is the most poetical and beautiful of any of his contemporary
philosophers, and then suggested that the "limits of a lecture" did not
permit an extended notice of his philosophy, and so gave none.

Among my holiday gifts was Miss Barrett's poems. She is a woman of
vigorous thought, but not very poetical thought, and throwing herself into
verse involuntarily becomes honied and ornate, so that her verse cloys. It
is not natural, quite. Tennyson's world is purple, and all his thoughts.
Therefore his poetry is so, and so naturally. Wordsworth lives in a clear
atmosphere of thought, and his poetry is simple and natural, but no more
than Tennyson's. Pardon these critical distinctions. I make them to have
them expressed, for Burrill did not see why I called Miss Barrett purple.
It was because her highly colored robe was not harmonious with her native
style of thought. Ben Jonson, too, I have been reading. After him and
Beaumont and Fletcher (who are imitators, rather, of Shakespeare), I feel
that Shakespeare differed not in degree only but in kind from all others,
his contemporaries and successors. In his peculiar path Jonson was
unequalled, but Shakespeare includes that and so much more! He seems to be
the only one to whom poets are content to be inferior.

Remember me to Charles Dana and my other compeers at Brook Farm,
especially Charles Newcomb.

Yours sincerely,

G.W.C.


XIX

My dear Friend,--If I should come to Brook Farm on Thursday evening will
it be convenient, and shall you be at home? If all circumstances favor, I
should like to remain with you until Saturday. On Thursday I shall go into
Boston to hear what the Texas Convention is saying, and if I hear anything
very eloquent or interesting may not see you until Friday.

I was very sorry to know nothing of your convention until it was over. I
should have run down to have seen you.

On Saturday evening I was at the Academy, and on Sunday at the Handel and
Haydn. I have by Burrill a letter from Cranch, and a book of German songs
from Isaac. More anon.

Your friend ever,

G.W. Curtis.

CONCORD, _January 28th_, 1845.


XX

PROVIDENCE, _March 5th, '45._

My dear Friend,--I hope to see you at Brook Farm by Friday, intending to
remain until Friday P.M. Here in Providence I have been having a quiet
good time, though the weeks have flown faster than I thought weeks could
fly. Mrs. Burges received a _Phalanx_ from Miss Russell, in which we found
a good deal of interesting matter. I hear from her that she will write by
me to Miss Russell.

To-day it rains merrily, a warm southern April rain; and the weeks of mild
weather hint that there must be ploughing and sowing very soon. I
anticipate my summer work with a good deal of pleasure.

Yours truly and hastily,

G.W. Curtis.


XXI

CONCORD, _March 13, '45._

My dear Friend,--The cold gray days at Brook Farm were the sunniest of the
month. I wish I could step into the parlor when my heart is ready for
music, and surrender to Beethoven and Mozart or, indeed, when I find men
very selfish and mean, look in upon your kindliness and general sympathy.
But while your intercourse at the Farm is so gentle and sweet you will not
forget that it springs from the characters whose companions are still in
outer darkness and civilization! I meet every day men of very tender
characters under the roughest mien. Even in the midst of the world I
constantly balance my ledger in favor of actual virtue, and enjoy
intercourse, not so familiar but as sweet, as that I saw at Brook Farm. Is
it not the tendency of a decided institution of reform to be unjust to the
Barbarians? I do assure you the warm, tender south winds blow over us here
in the unsocial state no less than the chilly east.

The snow on the ground belies the season. It is warm to-day and the birds
sing. I should have enjoyed more my ride in the soft snow on Tuesday if
conscience had not arrayed me against Mr. Billings. But I am most glad to
see that I am withdrawing from the argumentative. I begin to enjoy more
than ever the pure still characters which I meet. Intellect is not quite
satisfying though so alluring. It is a scentless flower; but there is a
purer summer pleasure in the sweet-brier than the dahlia, though one would
have each in his garden. It is because Shakespeare is not solely
intellectual, but equally developed, that his fame is universal. The old
philosophers, the sheer intellects, lack as much fitness to life as a man
without a hand or an eye. And because life is interpreted by sentiment,
the higher the flight of the intellect the colder and sadder is the man.
Plato and Emerson are called poets, but if they were so their audience
would be as wide as the world. Milton's fame is limited because he lacked
a subtlety and delicacy corresponding with his healthiness and strength.
Milton fused in Keats would have formed a greater than Shakespeare. If
Milton's piety had been Catholic and not Puritanical I do not see why he
should not have been a greater poet.

I shall not have much work to do before we undertake our garden plot. We
take care of the cattle daily, and that is about all. Yesterday in the
sunlight I walked in the woods. It was a spectacle finer than the
sleet--the flower of winter among the trees.

I forgot to take the _Phalanxes_. Geo. Bradford asked me for a half-dozen.
If you will send them to me I will give them to him. Almira says that he
is now in a Brook Farm way. It is a species of chills and fever with him,
as you know.

Remember me to the Eaglets, Dolly and her friend, Mary especially; and
tell Abby Foord I have already learned the Polonaise which she is
practising. I sit and play it over and over, and think I shall never tire
of it. It has a peculiar charm to me, as I have never heard it except in
the Eyrie parlor. It will always float me back to that room. Will you say
to Charles Newcomb that Burrill has destroyed all "the churchmen"?
Remember me to your family and believe me, as always,

G.W.C.


XXII

CONCORD, _April 22d, 1845._

Will you forgive me if I flood you with letters now while the mood of
writing lasts? It seems that I must so exhaust some of the added life
which spring infuses into my veins. The gray herbage of winter fades so
slowly, so imperceptibly into the spring greenness, that I watch it with
the curious eyes of a lover who sees gradual developments of deeper beauty
in the face of his mistress. Do you note how every spring, sliding down
from heaven with such intense life, quenches or rather subdues the
remembrance of all past springs as a great gem surrounded in the ring by
many small ones? And as I stood to-day, as if hearing the throb of the new
active life in nature, for winter is more like the unchanged dead face of
an intellectual person, the contrast of this steaming and heating life was
suggested to me as is always the case, and necessarily so to the
perfection of the thought. The idea of day is not symmetrical except when
night is implied in thought, for if one could paint a portrait of the day,
it would be brightness against darkness.

Why are we so troubled or moved at death, elated or depressed? It cannot
give anything, nor take. Every sphere satisfies its desires by its hopes,
and so seems to show that life is only an effort at equilibrium. At least
it does show that to this state. There is a perpetual balance in every
experience, never a permanence, as night follows day, but never survives
the sunrise. Plato nor Shakespeare have drunk all this beauty, and it
seems not right to become cold and callous towards it, externally, as the
dead are. If they see the soul of things, do they see the form of nature
without the soul, as we do now? If death mark only a general expansion of
life and nature, it is no more pleasant. With greater hopes greater
desires; and, after all, it is only keeping a larger set of books. There
is no standard of life, as there is none of character. A flower is
sometimes as pure a satisfaction as a man or the thought of an archangel.
It passes into a proverb that the beggar is happier than a king, and
proverbs are only the homely disguises in which wisdom roams the world.

The "Polarity" which Emerson talks about is the nearest approximation to
the universal form of life, but this is constantly marred by a stray
thought of permanence and the confusing hint of the passive mind that we
suppose the balance to be the law, and are glad to accept night with day,
and cold with heat, because there is a blindness in the spiritual eye
which will not let us see the riper spirits who are not sated but
satisfied with permanency. For there, too, is a reason that we are so glad
to hide in the equipoise as an eternal fact that we are surfeited with
constancy. Drowning in the malmsey-butt is no better than the Thames.
Enjoyment to-day is secured by the certain prospect of sorrow to-morrow,
which is not wilful, but a lesson of life, and as we suppose, at last, of
the central life, just as the creation at daybreak is supported and
adorned in the mind by the prospective tenderness of twilight. And this
balancing, so universal in this sphere, in outward if not in real life, is
therefore a fact, and why not as profound as any, since there is no
standard of life? Is there any law at last? Nature seems so general and
yet so intensely individual. As fine harmony results from the accord of
distinct tones, and each tone an infinite division of vibrations. At
bottom no things are similar. Harmony is only unison, not identity. Nature
is like the ocean, which bears whole forests hewn into ships laden with
treasure; but no bottom is found to support all the weight, only a drop
resting upon a drop forever. The elephant that bore the earth stood upon a
tortoise, who fortunately could keep his feet in his shell, and so had no
need to stand anywhere!

The spring day looks very inscrutably upon all such wandering fancies. Her
beauty is very inexorable, yet fascinating beyond resistance. It is not
regal and composing and self-finding as is the mellowed summer, but an
alluring splendor. It is a bud in inner, as well as outer, expression, and
not yet a satisfying flower. Yet in the young days of June is sometimes
seen the sereneness of autumn. After the full summer it is quite plain. It
is like a child with pale, consumptive hands. Yet this is a constant
reference to unity, which just now seemed so far off. Beauty suggests what
Truth only can answer and Goodness realize; and the whole circle of nature
offers these three only, beauty, truth, and goodness, or, again, poetry,
philosophy, religion, or, more subtly, tone, color, feeling. This lies
beyond words, because they are an intellectual means. Music foreshadows
their interpretation, but always faintly, as it does everything, because
music is revealed only enough here that we may not be surprised hereafter
in some sphere. This is an intellectual sphere, but music is sentiment, so
it is here an accomplishment for women, and for men of finer natures.
Music is the science of spiritual form; and poetry, which is the loftiest
expression of the intellectual sphere, finds its profound distinction from
prose, which is the language of the vulgar, in its spiritual and sensuous
rhythm, and so is music applied to the intellectual state.

Nature answers questions by removing us out of inquisitiveness. It is
wilfully that we are querulous in nature, and not naturally.

I just now went to the door, and the still beauty of the moonlight night
makes me a little ashamed of my letter. If I had stayed all day in the
woods, and seen you there, I should have been content to be silent; but
removed from the immediate glow of nature, and sitting in a purely human
society, surrounded by circumstances produced humanly, as the house and
furniture, the mind is withdrawn into a separate chamber, like one who
goes down from the house-top into a room and so looks towards the north or
west or south, and does not see all around as before.

Good-night, good friend.

Yr. aff.

G.W.C.


XXIII

CONCORD, _April 5th, 1845._

Judge, my unitary friend, how grateful was your letter, perfumed with
flowers and moonlight, to an unfortunate up to his ears in manure and
dish-water! For no happier is my plight at this moment. I snatch a moment
out of the week wherein the significance of that fearful word _business_
has been revealed to me to send an echo, a reply to your good letter.

Since Monday we have been moving and manuring and fretting and fuming and
rushing desperately up and down turnpikes with bundles and baskets, and
have arrived at the end of the week barely in order. Yesterday, in the
midst, while I was escorting a huge wagon of that invaluable farming
wealth, I encountered Mrs. Pratt and family making their reappearance in
civilization. All Brook Farm in the golden age seemed to be strapped to
the rear of their wagon as baggage, for Mrs. Pratt was the first lady I
saw at Brook Farm, where ladyhood blossomed so fairly. Ah! my minute is
over, and I must leave you to lie in wait for another.

Evening. I have captured an evening instead, my first tolerably quiet
evening in this new life, this new system of ours for a summer sojourn.
The waves of my nomadic life drift me on strange shores, and sometimes, as
I mount them, I dream of a home, quiet and beautiful, that home which
allures all young minds and gradually fades into the sad features of such
households as we see. In all my experience I think of three happy homes
where the impression is uniform, for in all there are May Days and
Thanksgivings; and yet to see a complete home would be to see that
marriage which, if we may credit Miss Fuller, does not belong to an age
when celibacy is the "great fact." As if the divine force could be
extinguished! I must marry and spite her theory. You would be amused if
you could see some of the letters which I receive, and which discourse of
a wife with the same gravity as they do of washing clothes, as if each
were a necessary, and that it would not do for me to settle upon a farm
until I am married. There is some wisdom in the last advice. An old
bachelor upon a farm, with a solitary old maid-servant, is not the most
pleasing prospect for young one-and-twenty to contemplate. But I ignore
farms and maids and prospects, saving always the natural one. Next year
may find me the favored of all three.

How gladly I would be with you on Monday, you know; but what candidate for
the plough and the broom should I be after the bewilderment of that scene!
I remember too well the festivals which graced the younger days to trust
myself within their sphere again, save in the midst of a boundless summer
leisure. And when, after these chill, moist, April days, the perfect
flower of summer shall bloom, I will be in its heart and breathe the
enchanted air again. The word reminds me how glad I am that the flowers
were so grateful. I committed my memory to delicate guardians, who, dying,
did not suffer that to die. And the trinity of tone, color, and sentiment,
though I knew not, like you, how to indicate it, is one of the most
alluring of mysteries, so much so that I must leave it even unexpressed.
Since so little may be known, I will not bring it into the melancholy
purlieus of theory, but see it and hear it and feel it in echoes and
glimpses. Yet all these rainbows which span the heaven of thought, finely
woven of the tears of humility, one would sometimes grasp and crystallize
forever. In that I find my satisfaction in what I know of Fourier; but to
clutch at the rainbow! can it be crystallized?

Let not the spasm of infidelity mar my letter in your eyes or heart, and
on your anniversary let one stream flow to the memory of your friend,

G.W.C.


XXIV

CONCORD, _April 17th, 1845._

As a good friend, am I not bound to advise you how my new household works,
here in the very bosom of terrible civilization, which yet keeps me very
warm? A long wet day like this, when I have been gloriously imprisoned by
dropping diamonds, tries well the power of my new solitary life to charm
me. It has not failed. It is going away now through the dark, still
midnight, but it bears the image of my smile. A long wet day, with my
books and fire and Burrill for external, long thoughts for internal,
company. After a morning service prolonged far beyond the hour of matins,
led by the sweet and solemn Milton, I read Miss Martineau's last tale,
founded upon the history of Toussaint L'Ouverture, in whom I have been
interested. I have just read Victor Hugo's "Bug Jargal," his first novel,
and also based upon the insurrection of St. Domingo. I feel that Miss
Martineau's picture is highly colored, but the features must be correct. A
strong, sad, long-suffering, far-seeing man, finally privately murdered by
one who had been the idol of his manhood. The interest is individual
throughout, which is necessary, yet fatal to the novel. I followed the
Hero away from St. Domingo to his grave, and afterwards the thought of the
remaining negroes came very faintly back. We read what Napoleon said of
his own conduct in the matter; but with the abolitionist Miss Martineau on
one side, and the doubtful Man of Destiny on the other, the pure fact grew
very attenuated, and I am not now sure that I have seen it. The moment
your curiosity is really aroused about an historical circumstance, the
glasses through which you have been viewing so varied and wide a landscape
become suddenly very opaque. History is a gallery of pictures so
individually unexpressive that you must know the artist to know their
meaning. Very few men relate with cold precision what occurs daily, so
much are their feelings enlisted; and no less daily experiences are the
recorded events of the past to the man whose days are devoted to them, and
he too must infuse himself into them. He is a Guelph or a Ghibelline, not
a judge of the struggle, wiser by five or six centuries of experience. In
Carlyle's book "that shall be" the "Cromwell," I feel there will be so
much stress laid upon the gravity and prompt, sturdy heroism of the man
that much else will be shoved out of sight. It will be the history of
Cromwell as a strong man, for Carlyle loves strong men; but if there are
other things to be said, we shall not hear so much about them. So in
Emerson's "Napoleon." He commences with saying that Napoleon is the
Incarnate Democrat, the representative of the 19th century, and the
lecture is an illustration of that position, but most comprehensive and
eloquent.

Let history and great men fade from our sight. Lately I have grown to be a
sad rhymer, and shall end my letter with hints of a life sweeter than
these records of mine. More and more I feel that my wine of letters is
poured by the poets, not handed as cold sherbet by the philosophers. Some
day I may speak more fully upon these things. Meanwhile, secretly and
constantly, I turn over pebble after pebble upon the shore, not uncheered
by the hope that one day a pearl may glitter in my hands. Even this smacks
of history, for Clio had claimed this page.

  LADY JANE GREY

  Meek violet of History! there flows
  A modest fragrance from thy maiden fame
  Touched with the coolness of the chaste repose
      Which broods o'er Plato's name.

  No Wanderer through the dimly arched hall
  Which Time has reared between thy date and ours
  Meeting thy form, but sees that on its pall
      Are broidered Grecian flowers.

  Thy shrinking virgin fame is wed with one
  Whose calm celestial teaching was thy King;
  When sitting in that cloistered nook alone
      Thou heardst the rude shout ring.

  To thee that rabble shout foretold a scene
  Of tearful splendor faded in its birth--
  The melancholy mockery of a Queen--
      And virgin dust to earth.

  Ah! Princess of that golden classic hoard,
  Thy need was other than an earthly crown;
  But ours was such, for else couldst thou have poured
      Through time thy pure renown?

  For us thy blood was spilled; the whetted edge
  Of that keen axe gave us one jewel more,
  As a stream-drifted lily by chance sedge
      Is held beside the shore.

    Good-night. Let the remembrance of the
  flowers still hold mine fast, and my solemn sweet
  Milton shall sing my vespers too.

                     May you "move
      In perfect Phalanx to the Dorian mood
      Of flutes and soft Recorders...."

Your aff.

G.W.C.


XXV

CONCORD, _May 3, '45.

I am weary of these winds, which have blown so constantly through the
spring; and would so gladly exchange their long wail to-night for some of
your music. And yet they are musical, and when I feel vexed at their
persistency they seem to fade and breathe against my face with a low sigh,
like one who shouts a secret which I cannot understand, and then mourns
softly that I cannot. In spite of the wind we went to a new pond near us
(new to us) this afternoon. There we separated, and Burrill went roaming
over the hills and along the shore; and I sat down with Bettine upon the
margin. That is the best workbook that I know. I read it for the first
time in the Brook Farm pine-woods on a still Sunday; but to-day, as I
followed her vanishing steps through Fairyland, the wind that rustled and
raged around was like the tone of her nature interpreting to my heart,
rather than to my mind, what I read. She was intellectual, spiritual more
than poetical. She was such a glancing, dancing, joyous, triumphant child.
I imagine great dark eyes, sparkling to the centre, and heavy locks
overhanging--pine-trees drooping over diamonds, deepest brilliancy, with
splendor, and a low singing sadness like the wind again, for her position
is sad. The ardent, bursting, seeking-ripe girl, and the calm old man,
wise and cold, not harsh. A sense of singular unfitness, a sweet-brier and
an oak, a feeling as if some string in the great harp had slipped from its
harmony, always strikes me when I read Bettine. Will you say no youthful
lover would have inspired such a gush of the tenderest and profoundest
girlishness? But it was no more than the bursting out of an irrepressible
fountain, and it would have flowed as clearly and sweetly through a new
wood conduit of to-day as through the polished golden channel which lay
there for it. She must love, and love the best, and if only the best had
been younger, fitter! Would not the steady massiveness of Goethe's nature
have been splendidly adorned by the arabesques and intricately graceful
woof of Bettine's? Now it was spring flowers on an old brow, with all the
sweetness, but not the freshness, of youth. The imperial Goethe, supreme
in wisdom and age, smelling a violet! Ah! though the flowers and the
laughter and the dance and the sparkle are for the child, but sadly
serious autumnal wreaths for the old man; but the world does the best it
knows how to do with the poets, so did Goethe with his young lover.
Friendly, cool, gentle, never flattering, Bettine asks him half sadly, as
if for once those world-roving eyes were still: Do I speak to you or only
speak in your presence? She answered her question by asking it.

She speaks much of music. It is beauty impersonized to her; she pours out
gems and flowers of words, and sketches grotesquely exquisite shapes dimly
all over the landscape, coins all the beautiful fancies that crowd her
brain, throws them to Goethe sparkling in the sunlight, and says: This is
music, and finds at last that music is God. That is the most orthodox
Pantheism.

The year has piloted us into the flowery haven of May, but I lay so
languidly charmed with the beauty, and looking to see if I cannot this
time see the goddess whose smiles I feel, that it will be June and summer
before I know it. I treat the season as I do poetry. Sometimes I dissect a
line which has fascinated me, or a poem, to expose the secret. But it
folds and fades and changes under my glance as a cloud at twilight; and
the beauty of the spring is as elusive as the foam upon a wave. In the
midst of summer, the summer that we anticipated in January seems farther
off. It sinks constantly into itself. The deep solitude of rest, the
murmurous silence of woods at noon, these are as real in winter as when we
are melting in June. The senses will have their share. It is melancholy
that a man with the stomach-ache cannot enjoy Shakespeare; and that this
wild, wayward, glowing, and glorious Bettine must disappear in the Frau
von Arnim, wearing caps and taking snuff, and instead of these pine-trees,
false curls, cut from the last criminal, perhaps, and then croaking and
child-bearing and nursing and diapering! things so beautiful for many, but
not for her. She is not yet a woman, but belongs to us and the woods and
the waters and the midnight. A child singing wonderful songs in the
starlight, serenading with tender, passionate love-songs the old man who
waves his hand and breathes down a kiss which is chilled by the night air,
and falls like a snow-flake into her hot bosom, not as a star upon her
brow.

We had some May-baskets left for us by unknown hands upon May-day. The
flowers drooped over the sides, as if they would not meet my eye to tell
the secret; but a group of smiling girls next morning were not so
inexorable, and I thanked nature for such almoners of her gifts. These
beautiful tributes are touching if one is serious. They are hung upon our
wall, which is adorned with the Urania and sketches from Michel Angelo,
and one or two drawings of Burrill's.

Mrs. Brown (Mrs. Emerson's sister) wishes Charles Newcomb to return some
letters he has about little Waldo's death. Will you speak to him and say
that Mrs. Brown will like them by the first opportunity?

I hope my name is down as a subscriber to the Paper. When shall we see it?
Mr. Emerson read us a part of your letter.

Here is another of the unconscionable epistles; not to mention answering,
it is too audacious to demand that they shall be read.

Ever yr

G.W.C.


XXVI

CONCORD, _May 31, '45, Saturday morning._

My dear Friend,--Mr. Hosmer just tells me that he is going to Brook Farm,
and I must say a word of regret that I could not come at this time, as Mr.
Ripley, whom I saw in Boston, asked me to do. I have no doubt that the
essence of all good things which are said, I shall gather from you some
day, somehow. I send my subscription to the Harbinger. Almira is well, and
would send you love and flowers if she knew that Mr. Hosmer was going.

I am fairly launched in "Consuelo," which I must read as fast as I can,
for Mr. Hedge is to take it to Maine. Already it interests me as a new
life, and, if I could, I would have it developing all summer; but I must
feed upon the remembrance.

Will you say to Mr. Keith, the postmaster at West Roxbury, that we have
despatched sundry messages to Messrs. Greeley and McElrath to have our
_Tribune_ come to Concord and not to West Roxbury, and that to-day, upon
receipt of his note, we have written a very concise letter upon that
subject to the publishers.

Tell Mrs. Ripley that she must not fail to come this summer; and how soon
are you coming to have a vacation in civilization?--not a day or two in
winter, but a week for summer rambles.

Give my love to the Eyrie, for I believe all my friends are there save
Miss Russell; and forgiving me for using you so unsparingly with messages,
believe me always,

G.W.C.

If Geo. Wells is or shall be at Brook Farm, tell him that Almira and the
rest of the Concordians are waiting to see him.


XXVII

CONCORD, _June 24th, 1845._

My dear Friend,--I finished "Consuelo" some time since, though I have not
yet read the "Countess." I read what you said in the _Harbinger_, and am
waiting for the promised continuation. Meanwhile you shall hear something
of the impression she made upon me.

Consuelo is a natural, not a pious person. She lives in the world like a
flower, not like a flame; and though you feel that nothing is beyond her,
since beauty and fidelity comprehend all, yet she does not directly
suggest those personal relations with the Invisible which a saint always
does. She sings as a bird, with her whole soul; and though she consents to
relinquish the profession if she marries Albert, you feel very well that
it will not be so. Porhora constantly urges the art upon her attention,
but she grows in that by instinct. She is always in that to which he
exhorts her, and the difference between her life and singing is no more
perceived than in the life and singing of a bird. She is one of the
persons from whom the rules of the art are drawn, because in her they are
so clearly but unconsciously expressed. It is a character which fuses
everything which it attracts to itself, and in whose outline no seam or
crevice is visible. She is entirely impulsive, and every impulse is an
inspiration. She leaves the castle of the Giants as soon as it occurs to
her to do so, and the perfect submission to her impulse indicates the
power and depth of her nature. Therefore, too, though she seems always
right, she is free from all self-discipline. In meeting her one should not
feel especially that she was a good person. She is not virtuous, for she
has no moral struggle; nor pious, for she is too impersonal; and even her
love, at least to the end of "Consuelo," is not a life. Her regard for
Anzoleto you feel will pass. It is a personal relation, necessary among
the flowers and music and moonlight of Venice. It is not the sentiment
which love is to such a nature, nor could Anzoleto ever awaken that. With
Albert it is much the same in another way. The waters do not at once flow
to a level. She is consolation to him, but he is not life and hope to her.
Music is, but she is too human to be satisfied so. A character like hers
is always seeking for its completeness the strengthening sympathy of love,
although its relations are very far from personal. Thus she seems as if
she ought to love Albert, and that she will at last. Her life is too
self-poised and true to allow you a moment's anxiety. The waves of
circumstance roll and break at her feet, and she walks queen-like over the
waters. The characters are grouped around her as friends or courtiers; and
so she preserves the unity of the book as the figures of Jesus in the old
paintings. It is the memoirs of the court of Queen Consuelo.

As in life such a person would make every scene in which she was an actor
impressive and graceful, so the strong conception of the character makes
the book so. I was thirsting for music when I read it, and it satisfied me
like a strain of the sweetest and best; like a beautiful picture or a
flower, it left nothing to be asked, although suggesting a general and not
an individual beauty and satisfaction like itself. The graceful Venetian
life wrought of song and fragrance fades so suddenly into the sombre
Bohemian forest where the careless girl who dabbles in the water with
Anzoleto becomes the mistress of the destiny of the morbid Albert, and all
shifts again into the clear, vigorous friendship with Hadyn and the sunny
journey where the woman of the castle becomes a girl again, as cheerful
but so much wiser than the Venetian girl, singing and saddening and
sleeping in barns and leaping abbey walls, that it was like lying on a
hillside under the shades and sunlight of the April sky. There is an
indirect developing of the character throughout which is very fine as it
makes the harmonies more intricate and profound. It is like the reflection
of the moon in the water to one who has cast his eyes down from the sky,
as where Hadyn silently conquers the love which she has inspired, because
in her mien and tone he reads her love for another. That is a golden key
to her character.

It was pleasant just after reading it to make a trip to Wachusett with Mr.
Hawthorne and Mr. Bradford. We had soft, warm weather, and a beautiful
country to pass. From the mountain the prospect was very grand. It is not
too high to make the landscape indistinct, but enough so to throw the line
of the level country on the east back into the misty horizon and so leave
a sea-like impression. To the north was Monadnock, lonely and grim and
cold. A solitary lover he seemed, of the rough Berserkir sort, of the
round and virgin-delicate Wachusett. Towards the northwest the lower part
of the Green mountain range built a misty wall beyond which we could not
have seen had it been away. Nearer were smaller hills and ponds and woods.
On the mountain we found the pink azalia and the white _Patenlila
tridenta_. It was a fine episode in the summer.

About the 12th of July Burrill and I mean to go into Berkshire, and if
possible to reach the White Mountains before the autumn catches us. This
last is doubtful. But I felt when I came down from Wachusett as if I
should love to go on from mountain to mountain until winter stopped me.

Last Sunday Father Taylor preached here. All the heretics went to church.
In the evening he preached temperance. After the afternoon service we
tea'd with him at Mr. Emerson's. He is a noble man, truly the Christian
apostle of this time. It is impossible to pin him anywhere. He is like the
horizon, wide around, but impossible to seize. I know no man who thrills
so with life to the very tips, nor is there any one whose eloquence is so
thrilling to me. I have found that one of the best things of living in
Concord is that we have here the types of classes of men and in society
generally only the members of the class. The types are magnetic to each
other and draw each into their vicinity.

The lonely life pleases as much as ever. If I sometimes say inwardly that
such is not the natural state of man, I contrive to quiet myself by the
assurance that such is the best state For bachelors. What disembodied
comforter of Job suggests such things?

Yr friend,

G.W.C.

P.S. If you loved some one ardently who wonderfully resembled personally
some one you hated ardently what would you do? It is not my case, but a
question some evil genius whispered to make me perspire in these torrid
days.


XXVIII

CONCORD, _Sept. 14, 1845._

My dear Friend,--I returned last week from a long and beautiful visit to
the mountains, among which I had never been before. I went in the middle
of July to Berkshire, and returned home for two or three days to set off
for the White Hills, and back again through the length of Berkshire. In
all about seven weeks. The garden served us very well. We had weeded so
faithfully that weeds did not trouble us, and Burrill stayed in Concord a
part of the time I was in New Hampshire.

When I first came towards the mountains it was twilight, and they looked
very cold and grim; their outline traced against the sky, and seemingly
made of some other material than earth or sky--too dense for the one and
too ethereal for the other. But when I came to them in broad day, they had
lost their terror, as any other night phantom would have done. When I
could scale them with my eye, and stand upon their highest peak, I seemed
to have subdued them. But as I retreated, and looked back, they resumed
their twilight majesty; and I could not realize I had been so proud among
them. Yet, after all, they did not command me as the sea does. The charm
of that is not robbed by being in it or upon it. All night and all day its
murmur sounds an infinite bass to all that is done and said; and in the
night, when you awake, it holds you still in thrall. Like the song of the
locust in a summer noon, which fills the air with music and intensifies
the heat, so the sound of the sea constantly draws thought and life to its
depth and sweetness. Among the hills I was haunted with the vague desire
of some corresponding sound. They were like a dumb Apollo, a thunderless
Jupiter.

In Berkshire they are less grand than in New Hampshire, but high enough to
cease to be hills, and wooded quite to the summit. They give an endless
variety to the landscape, and are full everywhere of beautiful places and
commanding prospects through the openings. The aspect of the country and
the character of the people were so different from the country and people
near a city, that it seemed to be more recently created.

Frank Parley is there in Stockbridge, and seems to be very happy. At
Williamstown, the northern town in the county, we saw George Wells. He has
only changed to become more entirely a collegian, but retains the same
cordiality and carelessness that made us love him at Brook Farm. I have so
many things to say about my wanderings that I cannot write any more, for I
mean to come to Brook Farm and see you some day during the autumn. In the
late autumn we are going to New York to pass the winter.

Give my love to Mrs. Ripley and the Archon, and to the two Charleses, and
believe me, as always, your friend,

G.W.C.

On the next page I write a little song, which you shall print if you think
it worth the space. Nameless and dateless if you please.

  AUTUMN SONG

  The gold corn in the field
    And the asters in the meadow,
  And the heavy clouds that yield
    To the hills a crown of shadow,
  Mark the ending of the Summer,
    And the Autumn coming in,
  A crimson-eyed new-comer,
    Whose voice is cold and thin,
  As he whispers to the flowers,
  "Lo, all this time is ours."

  I remember, long ago,
    When the soft June days were wasted,
  That the Autumn and the snow
    In the after-heats were tasted;
  For the sultry August weather
    Burned the freshness from the trees,
  And the woods and I, together,
    Mourned the Winter, that must freeze
  The silver singing streams
  Which fed our Summer dreams.

  Through the yellow afternoon
    Rolls the wagon harvest-laden,
  And beneath the harvest moon
    At the husking sings the maiden;
  While without the winds are flowing
    Like long aerial waves,
  And their scythe-sharp breath is mowing
    The flowers upon the graves.
  When the husking is all o'er
  The maiden sings no more.

    To ----

  Thy spirit was a flexile harp, whereon
    The moonlight fell like delicatest air,
  Thro' thee its beauty flowing into tone
    Which charmed the silence with a sound as rare.

  Thou peaceful maid! the music then I heard,
    Whose influence had moulded thy soft eyes
  To their deep tone of tenderness: O! bird,
    Whose life is fed with thine own melodies.


XXIX

CONCORD, _Oct. 25, 1845._

My dear Friend,--My Concord days are numbered, but before I go I should
like to write you again, although it is not impossible that I may come
here again next year. The autumn since I saw you has fulfilled the promise
of the day I left Brook Farm--bright, clear, and cool. On Wednesday, the
day was so remarkably beautiful that, having nothing especial to do, and
seeing that Ole Bull was to give another concert, we walked to Boston and
heard him once more, I fear for the last time; and walked back again the
next morning. The air was very still and bright, and cold enough to spur
us on, without an unpleasant chill.

I was very glad to part with Ole Bull having my first impressions deepened
and strengthened. The wonder with which I heard him in New York had
subsided, and I gave myself, or rather he drew me, wholly to his music. It
seems as if he improvised with the orchestra as a poet would at the piano.
The music is full of every sort of movement and variety, but has great
unity of character, and constantly suggests beautiful and distinct images
rather than pictures. I thought of glorious young gladiators leaping into
the lists, of fleecy clouds sweeping over starlight skies, and the
beach-line of the sea. Every image was of the graceful, vigorous, and
entirely healthy character of his person, which I suppose is only a fair
expression of his soul. The music should not be criticised as a work of
art, but only as the articulate reveries of Genius, for it is such as only
he should play, because it is so entirely individual. It is full of
delicate tenderness, and each piece is much like a gentle, strong child
wandering in Fairyland, melted now by the sweets of child-deep piety in
the Adagio Religioso, now leaping down the Polacca Guerricra like a young
angel down a ladder from heaven, and roaming wistful and silent and amazed
in the solitude of the Prairie, at times leaping and running and shouting,
and then sighing and weeping and losing its voice in aerial cadences,
until the smiles make rainbows through the tears again.

All these things whirled through my mind as I sat listening to him, with
my eyes closed to preserve the realm of vision unassailed, last Saturday
evening. But there is no end to such stuff. Music is so fully suggestive;
and, after all, if you abandon yourself to that you are very apt to find
yourself only among corresponding images. The adagio of the Fifth Symphony
reminds me in one part of majestic waves, black and crowned with creamy
foam; and they swell as if the whole sound of the ocean thundered in each,
and when they have almost gained a height through which the sun may shine
and reveal the long-haired mermaids, and the splendid colors which hide so
much, then they fall upon themselves and stream backward into the sea, the
foam uppermost like a shroud. But when I considered this one evening I
found it was only the image of the sound transformed to a visible object.
It is like watching the clouds and seeing their palaces and mountains. It
is easy to sport with the symbol, and shows the greatness of the composer
when he arouses the thought of the sea and sky for an echo; but that is
only the sensuous influence of his music, and further we cannot go in
words, for good music is so because it is inexpressible in words. There is
always correspondence but not identity. And the impression of the same
object in a poem, painting, or statue should be as different as the
different necessities which constituted those arts and the differing
direction of the various genius which so expresses itself.

Ole Bull's last concert (that I heard) was a cheap one, and the audience
was very cheap. I felt at once the want of sympathy between that and him,
and that destroyed the unity of the impression, which is so pleasant. The
music which he played was of the best and played in the best way, but was
played apart from the sympathy of the hearers to the soul of his art. When
he was encored he came and showed his mastery of the violin as a juggler
his power over cards. I should have been sorry to have seen it in any one
but a true artist; but while he satisfied every just claim in the style
and selection of the music of the concert, he permitted the rabble to hear
what they had paid fifty cents to hear. He could not be accused of
lowering or pampering the popular taste, for the music that he played was
elevating, and the gymnastics not music at all.

I was glad to see Mrs. Ripley last Monday, and to hear from her the result
of your Sunday meeting. I was a little sceptical, because I think
permanent forms of worship spring from a very deep piety, and the pious
persons whom I know I could count on my hands. Such themes are too good
for heel-taps to a letter, and I shall wait the issue of your movement
with a great deal of interest. Give my love to Mrs. Ripley, and tell her I
hope the whole winter will not pass without my hearing from her.

I feel sorry to go from Concord, which we shall do in about a fortnight,
for it is a quiet place, full of good people and pleasant spots. But I
have found the same everywhere, so

  "To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new."

Your friend,

G.W.C.


XXX

NEW YORK, _December 22, 1845._

A merry Christmas and happy New Year to you, if you are still alive, for
since small-pox has joined your Phalanx I am not sure but his ambition for
the supreme power has swept you all away. Yet every Saturday's _Harbinger_
is a missive from Brook Farm which tells of other things than the
cosmogonies, etc., of which it ostensibly discourses. I shall be glad to
smuggle myself in for a share of the commendation bestowed upon those who
have increased your list with the new volume, but my New York friends are
pale at Greeley's _Tribune_, and would christen your sheet "An Omen Ill"
instead of _Harbinger_.

Individually I am grateful for your article upon De Meyer. It gives me an
idea of his exhilarating impression, which I had dimly supposed from what
I heard of him. I wait eagerly for his reappearance here, and cannot
discover why he tarries so long in Boston. Privately I have heard very
much good music since I have been here, mainly Mendelssohn and Spohr, with
singing of Schubert and "Adelaide," etc. Publicly I have heard Huber, the
German opera, and Mendelssohn's "St. Paul," a rich, melodious oratorio,
squeezing the utmost drop from the power of the orchestra, and uniform at
a point of the most luminous delicacy, refinement, and grace. I missed the
heavy choruses of the Handel and Haydn, for, particularly, "Stone him to
death," and "Lovely are the messengers," and "Oh, be gracious, ye
Immortals" are magnificent. From what I have heard I prefer Mendelssohn to
Spohr, as being the most original and luxuriant genius, although I hear
that I shall not maintain that opinion when I have heard Spohr more.

Rossini and Donizetti are the Musical Gods here; now and then you meet a
person who really loves what is better, but in mixed societies and at all
concerts, particularly in fashionable circles, where music is a fashion
now, the merest exercises for the voice and the fingers elicit the
most--rapturous bravoes and tapping of white gloves. Last evening I was at
one of my musical friends', who, with another girl, plays the symphonies,
etc., and is a most wonderful performer. She has the grand-piano which
Miss Gserty (?) owned. For an hour we had the "Fingal's Cave," Schubert's
"Wanderer" by Liszt, and Quatuors of Spohr; then entered "our fashionable
friends" (for my musical lady is in such a sphere), and songs from
Donizetti's operas and Thalberg's "Moses in Egypt," and the "Marche
Maracaire," which seems nothing or very little without De Meyer, followed;
and two mortal hours of such followed. I am always a little angry that my
friends don't do something better on such occasions; but why cast pearls
before swine? Yet I have no right to complain. They willingly play good
music when they have good listeners.

Literature I serve quite faithfully. I have read the "Aminta," and am deep
in "Hell." In German I am reading the second part of "Faust," with scraps
from Novalis. English reading is Swedenborg and "Festus" and "Cromwell,"
with dips into the dramatists. I am sorry such good men have no better
reader at this present, but trust they find some somewhere. The weather is
vile. We are pinched with "nipping" airs which do not remain clear and
steady, but unbend themselves in a dirty slush called snow in the papers.
And just now I have no business to write you a letter, for I am torn every
way by longings and doubts, not at all of a moral nature. This copy of
verses, written last summer, is somewhat harmonious with my present mood,
and shall be printed if you approve.

I have seen Cranch several times, and his pictures. Some I like very much,
but they have his faults. I went with him to the Art Union Gallery the
other day, and some beautiful landscapes that I saw of his and others made
my heart "babble of green fields" to itself for some days afterwards. One
does not fully realize the value of art until he is in the city, as away
from home you realize the worth of a mother's portrait. A great charm of a
picture-gallery is the perfect stillness which belongs to the paintings,
and which they suggest. My overcoat seemed superfluous, for I was full of
sultry noontide feeling, gathered not from any special picture, but the
atmosphere of so many portraits of trees and waters and hills.

In New York I feel how life is a glorious opportunity wasted. A halo seems
forever to float over our heads everywhere, even on the tips of the hair,
which might crown us with glory and honor; but no man is yet crowned. The
richest and grandest music of the world is hitherto in a minor key. But,
indeed, every sigh is a waste of so much energy that I try to turn my
stone towards the erection of the infinite temple without grieving that it
was not long since built. I used to despise justice as a shabby virtue,
but now it seems to me the only lack. We are unjust in our treatment and
in our opinion of persons. In the first we are too sweet, in the last too
severe. For we eternally measure men by a standard suggested by our
individuality, instead of sympathizing so fully that we stretch them on
their own line. But here of all places there can be no sham. If we are not
just in our own thought we cannot pretend to be, since only we are the
persons concerned, and no man ever cheated himself.

I should be very glad to hear from you, for, knowing how busy you are, I
have learned to value your letters. Remember me most kindly to Mrs.
Ripley, and believe me always Yr friend,

G.W.C.

  DIRGE

  Time laid within an early grave
    Those hopes, so delicate and sweet,
  I wondered not I could not save,
    But that they did sooner fleet.

  Life has its fading summer dream,
    Its hope is crowned with one full hour,
  And yet its best deservings seem
    Buds all unworthy such a flower.

  How well that happy hour is bought
    By an after-life of sorrow!
  The golden sunset yields a thought
    Which adorns the dreary morrow.

  We meet no more as we have met;
    Thy heart made music once with mine,
  Which now is still, and we forget
    The art that made our youth divine.

  One glance reaps beauty, nevermore
    It wears a lustre as at first;
  We come again--the harvest o'er
    To no new flow'ring can be nursed.


XXXI

N.Y., _April 12th, 1846._

My dear Friend,--I meant to have given you some verses when you were here
as you asked, but I forgot it. Now I send this. It is so different from
Wentworth Higginson's that I do not feel as if the same road had been run
over by us[1]. And as each Phalanx will be a centre of innumerable
railroads in the age of harmony, why not its paper of paper railroads now?
This was written in Concord some time since.

[Footnote 1: This refers to a poem by T.W. Higginson with the same title,
which had been printed in the _Harbinger,_ a few weeks previously.]

Since you went I have done little but study French and Italian. We meet
Cranch, and his wife of course, three times a week at that, and I drop
into his studio now and then. To-day I was there, and he was hard at work
upon a sunset composition, which he hopes to finish for the exhibition of
the Boston Athenaeum. He has sent the large landscape, "The Summer
Shower," and "The Old Mill with the Bridge and Ducks," to the National
Academy, which exhibition opens this week. He has sold one in Washington
to a member of Congress for $100, and if he can continue to improve as
rapidly as he has for a year or two past he will be a fine painter.

These soft, gushing spring days make me yearn for the country. I shall
hope to be emancipated from Masters and Mistresses by the first or middle
of May and take my place with the other cattle in the pastures. When I do
not exactly know. Let me hear from you and about the Farm and its
prospects. Burrill's eyes have given out again. He is bound head and foot,
for his ankle has a habit of breaking down occasionally. Rest and warm
weather and the country may strengthen them all. Give my love

  "und vergiss nicht euer treur,"

G.W.C.

  THE RAILROAD

  A bright November day. The morning light
  Shone through the city's mist against my eyes,
  Soft, chiding them from sleep. Unfolding them
  They raised their lids and--gave me a new day.

  A day not freshly breaking on the fields,
  And waking with a morning kiss the streams
  That slept beneath the vapor, but on streets,
  Piles of great majesty and human skill,
  Stone veins where human passion swiftly runs.
  Thereon I gazed with tenderness and awe,
  Remembering the heavy debt I owed
  To the dim arches of the dingy bricks,
  Which sternly smiled upon my youngest years
  And gravely greeted now, as through the crowd
  By all unknown and knowing none, I passed.

  The warning whistle thrilled the misty air,
  And stately forth we rode into the morn,
  Subduing airy distance silently;
  The shadow glided by us on the grass,
  The sole companion of our lonely speed,
  And all the landscape changing as we went,
  A shifting picture, of like hues and forms
  But ever various, trees, rocks, and hills,
  Rising sublime and stretching pastoral--
  How like a noble countenance which shows
  Endless expression and eternal charm.

  I leaned against the window as we went.
  And saw the city mist recede afar,
  And lost the busy hum which haunts the mind
  As a voice inarticulate, the tone
  Of many men whose mouths speak distinct words
  Which blend in grim confusion, till the sound
  Like a vague aspiration climbs the sky.
  The muffled murmur of the iron wheels,
  And the sharp tinkle of the hurried bell,
  And a few words between were all the sounds
  Which peopled that else silent morning air.

  A busy city darting o'er the plains
  Across the turnpikes and through hawthorne lanes,
  O'er wide morasses and profound ravines--
  Through stately woods where red deer only run,
  And grassy lawn and farmer's planted field--
  Was that swift train that flashed along the hills,
  And smoked through sloping valleys, and surprised
  The mild-eyed milk-maid with her morning pail.

  I dreamed my dreams until the village lay
  White in the morning light, and holding up
  Its modest steeples in the crystal air.
  A moment, and the picture changed no more,
  But wore a serious constancy and showed
  Its bare-boughed trees immovable. I rose,
  And stepping from the train, it glided on,
  Sweeping around the hill; the whistle shrill
  Rang through the stricken air. A moment more
  It rolled along the iron out of sight.


XXXII

NEW YORK, _Thursday, May 14th, 1846._

My dear Friend,--You will of course have supposed that I did not receive
your letter of the 2d May, or it would have been more promptly answered.
On that very day I responded to a most urgent invitation from Mrs. Cranch
to go up the river and make a visit with Burrill, at her father's house
upon the Hudson. I have only returned to-day, and hasten to send you this,
bidding you to come, for the Choral Symphony is to be played, and there
are to be various preparatory rehearsals of the orchestra and the chorus.
This I know from the papers, but I will to-morrow inquire of Herr Timm the
particulars of the concert. If I had not thought of remaining I would
certainly do so if you will come. I am only sorry that there is no room
fit for such a performance; it will be hard to get far enough away.
Immediately that I have ascertained what particulars are ascertainable I
will write again, although you must not wait for that, but come as soon as
you can.

And now, what shall I say to you of the serene, sparkling splendors of the
Spring which upon the Hudson have been flowing around me, so that my few
days swelled into a fortnight almost, consecrated like a long song to
romance and beauty. The tender young green upon the riversides and upon
the mountains behind, which receive into their deep, dark mass of foliage
the light, golden, smooth, colored fields which rise backward from the
ample river, and (at Mr. Downing's at Newburg, opposite, a brother-in-law,
and the author of fruit treatises, etc.) the splendid magnolias, which
resemble deepest-dyed beakers, whence the fragrance arose almost palpable,
it was so strong and sweet, and I looked to see rainbow-colored clouds
floating from out the flowers--these, with the white blossoms of the
orchards and the spray-like, snowy beauty of the Dogwood; in the early
morning the sunlight, streaming down the mountains into the bosom of the
river, kisses flashing and fiery, yet most gentle and tender, and at night
the round moon, rising suddenly, almost without any preluding splendor
over the same line of hills, and threw a yellow brightness all over the
landscape like the throbbing heart of the night whose life is mysterious
beauty fed by that mysterious light. What could I do but roam and wonder
and smile and sing in the moonlight till midnight sent me to lie in a bed
whence I looked out from under the plain white curtains through the
branches of the trees without upon the sleeping river so wide and deep and
still, and the line of hills fading in the night beyond. It was one of
those seeds whose flower does not come at once, but which will show a
tinge of Spring beauty wherever it unfolds. How have I earned the
privilege of such enchantment, and is there not some condition of fairy
which I do not yet see, but which some day must be paid?

The city is hot and hard after those fields and mountains, yet there are
sweet smiles here, and I found three letters from friends, which was a
fine welcome. Mrs. Dunlap and her sister are here, and I shall hear some
singing; but they can give no music like the panorama I have seen. I have
been choking all day, as I always do when I leave any place or person that
is specially beautiful. When I am in the midst of the greatest beauty I
remind myself that it is so, but I do not seem to touch the very heart;
but when I have left it behind then its heart overflows itself in the
remembrance, and so the past becomes more beautiful than any possible
present, as when you would see a distant, almost indistinct, star you must
look just at one side and not directly upon the object. The present must
be as really worthy, but time and distance have a character of their own
which they impart to all circumstances, as distance in space makes green
and rugged mountains soft and purple like the hue of a fruit.

I long to leave the city, but I shall yet stay some time, for I shall not
see my Father and Mother much during the Summer, and we shall sail
probably by the first of August. Perhaps I can arrange so as to return
with you if you come. I meant to have passed two or three days at Brook
Farm. I could write till you were tired, but I have no time or paper.
Cranch is well and sketching. He says something of coming to Boston during
the Summer. Come immediately, and believe me as ever,

G.W.C.


XXXIII

NEW YORK, _Saturday, May 16, '46._

My dear Friend,--I learn from Mr. Timm that the concert will take place at
the Castle Garden, a spacious enclosure adjoining the Battery. The Choral
Symphony, the overtures to "Der Freischutz" and "The Midsummer-Night's
Dream," Rico's singing, Burke's playing, and De Meyer's, if he is in town,
will make up the bill. The rehearsals of the chorus and orchestra are
separate until the night before (I believe); and the Symphony is found so
difficult that they almost repent having undertaken it. I suppose there
would be no difficulty in your getting to the rehearsals through some of
your friends, as you did before. The orchestra is to consist of 150 and
the chorus of 300 or 400 persons. "The Desert" is to be played for the
fifth time on Monday evening. Trinity Church is to be consecrated on
Thursday, the day after the concert, and Pico will doubtless sing
somewhere during the week. I heard her and Julia Northall last evening in
"The Messiah." Their voices were glorious. After the "Pastoral Symphony"
the clear, rich, sunny voice of Miss Northall in the recitative "While
Shepherds watched," etc., was most fitting and beautiful. It was a soft
stream of pearly light, as the hope of Christ was upon the darkness of his
time. Pico sang, "I know that my Redeemer liveth," simply and sweetly, and
was obliged to repeat it. The choruses were weak; they did not smite
steadily upon the ear, but wavered, ghost-like, through the great
tabernacle. The "Hallelujah" seemed to awaken the singers, and there was
some tolerable body in that.

I heard Walker at his room with the greatest delight. He is so delicately
feminine that I felt with him as with a splendid woman in whose nature you
do not feel the want of masculine elements, since there is strength enough
in a feminine way; with Rakemann I always feel the man with the womanly
tenderness and sweetness which belongs to a real man. It was very pleasant
to feel such a harmonious difference, as when you see a beautiful man and
wife.

This being anniversary week, the Unitarians have been holding meetings and
discussions. I do not feel impressed by them very much, they stand in such
a negative position, "one stocking off and the other stocking on."

At Isaac's request I have been reading the life of the founder of his
order, St. Alphonse of Liguori. He was a very pious man, and the Church
was very jealous of him. It is a painful book to read, for the Catholic
Church seems to use heaven as a weapon whereby to conquer the earth. I
have not yet written Isaac, as he wanted me to read the book first; but if
his promised prayers fall as short as the history, I shall be delivered
incontinently to the buffetings of Satan.

I hope this will not find you at Brook Farm, for it cannot reach there
until Monday; the concert is on Wednesday, if it is pleasant. Charles
Newcomb and his mother are here.

Yours ever,

G.W.C.


XXXIV

CONCORD, _June 6, 1846._

My dear Friend,--I send you some verses for the Harbinger, which are not a
conceit, although they relate to no actual personal experience except that
I am sometimes conscious of the main fact, for my dreams do sometimes so
surpass the waking reality that the charm of the suggesting person, if not
lost, is indefinitely subdued and postponed. It is very pleasant here at
Minot's. The family are still, the household goes smoothly on, and we live
in a house 150 years old, under a tree of apparently almost equal age and
looking across a green meadow to a clump of pines and birches beyond. The
scenery in Concord is very gentle but pleasant. I have become attached to
it as to a taciturn friend who has no splendid bursts of passion but wears
always a soft smile.

All the morning we are busy working, and in the afternoons I have been
reading Goethe's "Rome." It is very fine, and full of wisdom and beauty.
His thoughts are clear and just and profound, and he looks on every side.
He was so ready for Italy, too, as the home of art--he a lover and student
of art, an artist by nature, and always too much a man. But Goethe, though
he is constantly a wise friend, is never a lover. You could not take him
always, personally, as the companion of your rambles, your jokes, your
silence and sorrows. I think of several persons among those I know, who
are by no means lights upon a hill, whom I should select as companions for
a journey rather than him. In Rome one would wish to see him as he would
Jupiter, and hear all his simple, grave, and catholic discourse; but has
he that ineffable and inexplicable human delicacy and sympathy which is
worth so much more in a man, as the innocence of the dove is than the
wisdom of the serpent. And yet, in the "Elective Affinities," does he not
show all that one could wish? But why should he be haunted by the thought
that he does not have it and think of particular things to prove it,
except that he does not have it? It is like feeling the beauty of single
lines which a man writes without being impressed by the whole poem that he
is a poet.

I had yesterday a long letter from Cranch and his wife. They are now in
Washington, and are enjoying the same June weather that we have here. They
have a peculiar interest to me as those who are to take the leap into the
ocean whence we do not know whether we shall emerge upon some fairy island
or upon desolate rocks or shall sink forever deeper and deeper in the
sea-caves where the mermaids are. For a residence in Italy is certainly,
in its entire uncertainty, in its new enclosures of circumstances and
influences, like leaping into an unknown sea. It is a lover's leap,
however, and love is beyond the hopes or arrangements of wisdom.

The Concordians are all well. I feel a pang in going to-night to take
leave of Elizabeth Hoar, who is going away for several weeks, and who will
not return until after I have left Concord. She seems to me one who may at
any moment become invisible, like a pure flame. Almira is well, and sends
love to you. She hopes you will come and make her a visit during the
summer, and I hope it may be made in June, as I shall go away by the 1st
of July, and move by slow stages towards New York. The summer will fly by
on swift wings, and more beautiful than those of a gorgeous butterfly
which we examined today; it flitted away among the dark pines, as the
summer will disappear in the shadowy pines of autumn, so grave and at last
solemn.

I hope this late afternoon is as beautiful with you as it is here.

Your friend,

G.W.C.

  DESTINY

  That dream was life, but waking came,
    Dead silence after living speech,
  Cold darkness after golden flame,
    And now in vain I seek to reach,
  In thought that radiant delight
  Which girt me with a splendid night.

  No art can bring again to me
    Thy figure's grace, lithe-limbed by sleep;
  No echo drank the melody
    An after-festival to keep
  With me, and memory from that place
  Glides outward with averted face.

  I loved thy beauty as a gleam
    Of a sweet soul by beauty nursed,
  But the strange splendor of that dream
    All other loves and hopes has cursed--
  One ray of the serenest star
  Is dearer than all diamonds are.

  Yet would I give my love of thee,
    If thus of thee I had not dreamed,
  Nor known that in thine eyes might be
    What never on my waking gleamed,
  For Night had then not swept away
  The possibilities of Day.

  For had my love of thee been less,
    Still of my life thou hadst been queen,
  And that imperial loveliness
    Hinted by thee I had not seen;
  Yet proudly shall that love expire
  The spark of dawn in morning's fire.

  How was it that we loved so well,
    From love's excess to such sweet woe,
  Such bitter honey--for will swell
    Across my grief that visioned glow
  Which steals the soul of grief away
  As sunlight soothes a wintry day.

  And so we part, who are to each
    The only one the earth can give.
  How vainly words will strive to reach
    Why we together may not live,
  When barely thought can learn to know
  The depth of this sublimest woe.


XXXV

CONCORD, _June 29, '46._

My dear Friend,--I had hoped that you would have come to Concord
yesterday, because to-morrow early I leave, and shall be here only one day
more, towards the close of the next week. I had not expected to have gone
so soon, but I shall accompany a sick friend to Saratoga by slow stages,
and, returning to Worcester, make a short visit among my kindred there,
and then return to Concord to take my final departure. I shall try to
secure some day about that time to come to Brook Farm, if only to say
farewell to you; but just now I cannot specify the day.

My trip to Monadnock was very beautiful. The minister, Jno. Brown, is the
same Brook Farmer in a black coat; and I enjoyed a few days at his house
exceedingly. I wrote a long journal while there, and cannot say anything
about it here, therefore.

This afternoon I have answered Isaac's letter which I received during the
winter. With great modesty I attempted to show him how, in the nature of
things, proselyting was hopeless, at least upon any who are really worth
converting. But the tone, like my feeling, was friendly and gentle. If it
does not change his course towards me, he will better understand my
feeling and position, for I told him that in men of his nature and
tendency the zeal of proselytism is a part of the fervor of sentiment, and
therefore I expected and willingly accepted his exhortations, and only
deplored them as a loss of time and misuse of opportunities of
communication. The Roman Church was such an unavoidable goal for Isaac
that one who knows him well cannot possibly grieve to see him prostrate
before the altar, and ought to understand and anticipate what was called
his arrogance, which is a necessary portion of the sentiment and position.

The review of Mr. Hawthorne's book in the last _Harbinger_ is delicately
appreciative. The introductory chapter is one of the softest, clearest
pictures I know in literature. His feeling is so deep, and so
unexaggerated, that it is a profoundly subtle interpreter of life to him,
and the pensiveness which throws such a mellow sombreness upon his
imagination is only the pensiveness which is the shadow of extreme beauty.
There is no companion superior to him in genial sympathy with human
feeling. He seems to me no less a successful man than Mr. Emerson,
although at the opposite end of the village.

For a week or two, if you write, continue to address me at Concord, and
believe me, in constant unitary feeling,

Your friend,

G.W.C.


XXXVI

CONCORD, _July 14th, '46, Sunday night._

My dear Friend,--I have just returned from Almira's, who sends her love,
and will be very happy to see you. I have written Mr. Hawthorne to go to
Monadnock with me this week, but I suppose his duties will prevent. If I
go I shall probably return before Sunday, as that is John Brown's working
day, and we shall stay with him.

The night was glorious as I came from Almira's. The late summer twilight
held the stars at bay; and in the meadows the fire-flies were flitting
everywhere. Suddenly in the north, directly before me, began the flashings
of the aurora--piles of splendor, a celestial colonnade to the invisible
palace. It is a fitting close for a day so soft and beautiful. We took a
long sauntering walk this morning and found the mountain laurel, which is
very rare here.

I have been busy all my afternoons reading Roman history. Niebuhr and
Arnold are fine historians. They are such wise, sincere men and scholars.
I sit at the western door of the barn, looking across a meadow and
rye-field to a group of pines beyond. My eye fixes upon some point in the
landscape which constantly grows more beautiful, winning my eyes from the
rest, until they gradually slide along, finding each as pleasant until the
whole has a separate and individual beauty like a fall whose expressions
you know intimately. It is a "Summer of Summers," as Lizzie Curzon writes
me, and I am glad that my last hours in my own country will be so
consecrated by beauty in my memory.

Burrill goes again to the Hudson to see Mr. Downing on Thursday. He will
remain a week, I suppose, and go again to New York in August, when I sail.

Let me have my answer in person, for so short and poor a letter does not
deserve the exclusive attention of writing.

Remember me kindly to all at Brook Farm, to Wm. Channing particularly, if
he is there.

Your friend ever,

G.W.C.


XXXVII

CONCORD, _July 13th, 1846._

My dear Friend,--It is a miserable piece of business to say my farewell to
this blank sheet and send it to you, instead of having you say good-bye to
my blank face. But, unless you can come to Ida's on Wednesday or Thursday,
it must be so. A sudden trip to Saratoga has deranged my plans.

Will you now send my copy of the _Harbinger_ to Almira?

We have been too happy together in times past and mean to be so so much
more, here or somewhere, that we will not be very serious in our
farewells, for we have been as far apart since I left you as we shall be
when you are at Brook Farm and I at Palmyra. So good-bye, whether for two
or three years, or an indefinite period. When we see each other again we
shall _meet_, for our friendship has been of a fine gold which the moth
and rust of years cannot corrupt.

Will you give my love and say good-bye to Mr. and Mrs. Ripley and my other
friends with you? and remember, as he deserves,

Your friend,

G.W.C.


XXXVIII

MILTON HILL, _Midnight, July 16, '46._

My dear Friend,--I could not come this evening, and shall only have time
in the morning to go to Boston and take the cars; so we must part so. I
will copy some of my verses for you if I can steal the time, and write you
from Europe if David Jones permits me to arrive.

I must say good-bye and good-night in some lines of Burns's which haunt me
at this time, though they have no appropriateness; but they have a
speechless woe of farewell, like a wailing wind:

  "Had we never loved sae kindly,
  Had we never loved sae blindly,
  Never met or never parted,
  We had never been broken hearted."

Yr friend

G.W.C.

I shall write you again. Will you give this to Jno. Cheever? I have no
wafer.


XXXIX

FORT HAMILTON, LONG ISLAND, _July 30, '46._

My dear Friend,--It is very shabby, but I have been so unexpectedly and
constantly separated from my manuscripts that I cannot copy, as I hoped,
some of my verses. I have but one more day on land, and more than I can
well do in it.

Could you hear how the sea moans and roars in the moonlight at this
moment, it would be a siren song to draw you far away. I strain my eyes
over the water as one struggles to comprehend the end of life, but the
beauty of the future lies unseen and untouched.

God bless you always, my dear Friend; and do not fail to write me often.

Affly. yr friend,

G.W.C.


XL

ROME, _November 22d, 1846._

My dear Friend,--Italy is no fable, and the wonderful depth of purity in
the air and blue in the sky constantly makes real all the hopes of our
American imagination. Sometimes the sky is an intensely blue and distant
arch, and sometimes it melts in the sunlight and lies pale and rare and
delicate upon the eye, so that one feels that he is breathing the sky and
moving in it. The memory of a week is full of pictures of this atmospheric
beauty. I looked from a lofty balcony at the Vatican upon broad gardens
lustrously green with evergreen and box and orange trees, in whose dusk
gleamed the large planets of golden fruit. Palms, and the rich, rounding
tuft of Italian pines, and the solemn shafts of cypresses, stood beside
fountains which spouted rainbows into the air, which was silver-clear and
transparent, and on which the outline of the landscape was drawn as
vividly as a flame against the sky at night. Beside me rose floating into
the air the dome of St. Peter's, which is not a nucleus of the city, like
the Duomo of Florence, but a crown more majestic and imposing as the
spectator is farther removed. I had come to this balcony and its realm of
sunny silence through the proper palace of the "Apollo" and the "Laocoon"
and Raphael's "Transfiguration" and "Stanze." The Vatican is a wilderness
of art and association, and in the allotted three hours I could only
wander through the stately labyrinth and arrange the rooms, but not their
contents, in my mind, but could not escape the "Apollo," which stands
alone in a small cabinet opening upon a garden and fountain. It was
greater to me than the "Venus de Medici" at Florence, although it has
taught me better to appreciate that when I see it again. It is cold and
pure and vast, the imagination of a man in the Divine Mind, given to
marble because flesh was too recreant a material. The air of the statue is
proudly commanding, with disdain that is not human, and a quiet
consciousness of power. It does not resemble any figure we see of a man
who has drawn a bow, but the ideal of a man in action. Like the "Venus,"
it shows how entire was the possible abstraction of the old Sculptors into
a region of pure form as an expression of what was beyond human passion,
with which color seems to correspond. Deities are properly the subject of
sculpture because of color; colorless purity of marble accords with the
divine superiority to human passion, and although the mythology degraded
the gods into the sphere and influence of men, to the mind of the artist
they would still sit upon unstained thrones.

This was one day. Upon another I stepped from a lovely road upon the
Aventine into an old garden where, at the end of a long, lofty, and narrow
alley of trimmed evergreens, stood the Dome of St. Peter's filling the
vista against an afternoon sky. In these mossy and silent old places, the
trees and plants seem to have sucked their vigor from the sun and soil of
many long-gone centuries, and to remain ghosts of themselves and hoary
reminiscences of their day in the soft splendor of modern light. Italy
itself is that garden wherein everything hands you to the past, and stands
dim-eyed towards the future. It is a vast university, endowed by the past
with the choicest treasures of art, to which come crowds from all nations,
as lovers and dreamers and students, who may be won to live among relics
so dear, but who mostly return to stand as interpreters of the beauty they
have seen. Therefore, Italy is a theme which cannot grow old, as love and
beauty cannot. Every book should be a work of art, and Italy, like the
Madonna, should have a fresh beauty in the hands of every new artist. It
is no longer interesting, statistically, for the names and numbers have
been told often enough; but the impression which it leaves upon the mind
of men of character and taste is the picture which should be novel and
interesting.

But it is the relics of the summer prime of the Rome of distant scholars
and lovers, and the art which shines with an Indian-summer softness in the
autumn of its decay, that rule here yet; for the imperial days have
breathed a spirit into the air which broods over the city still. Although
it is a modern capital, with noise and dirt and smells and nobility and
fashionable drives, and walks and shops, and the red splendor of lacquered
cardinals, and the triple-crowned Pope, in the arches which rise over
modern chapels and of which they are built, in the ruined forum and
acqueducts and baths and walls, are the decayed features of what was once
greatest in this world, and which rules it from its grave. My first view
of old Rome was in the moonlight. We passed through the silent Forum, not
on the level of the ancient city, which recoils from modern footsteps and
goes downward towards the dust of those who made it famous, but by the
ruined temples and columns whose rent seams were shaped anew into graceful
perfection by the magical light, by the wilderness of the ruined Caesar's
palace, until we looked wonderingly into the intricacy of arch and
corridor and column of which was built the arch-temple of Paganism, the
Coliseum. The moonlight silvered the broad spaces of scornful silence as
if Fate mused mournfully upon the work it must needs do. Grass and flowers
in their luxuriant prime waved where the heads of Roman beauties nodded in
theirs; and yet how true to the instincts of their nature were the Romans,
who nourished by their recreations the stern will which had won the world
for them. And since literature and art and science depend in a certain
measure for their development and perfection upon a strong government, the
same Roman beauty, in dooming to a bloody death before her eyes the man
upon whose life depended other and far-away beauties and loves, may have
breathed a sweeter strain into the song of the poet. The Popes have not
refrained from obtruding a cross and shrines upon this defenceless ruin.
They would not render unto Caesar the things which were his, and although
they are shocking at first, the magnificence of silence and decay soon
swallows them, and they appear no more except as emblems of modern Rome
lost in the broad desolation of the imperial city.

One cannot see the present Pope without a hope for Italy. I first saw him
at high mass, with the cardinals, in the Palace chapel. The college of
cardinals resembled a political and not a religious body, which, although
the council of government, it ought to resemble upon religious occasions.
When the Pope entered they kissed his hand through his mantle. He is a
noble-looking man, of a dignified and graceful presence, and already very
dear to the people for what he has done and what he has promised. I could
not look at him without sadness as a man sequestered in splendor and
removed from the small sympathies in which lies the mass of human
happiness. The service seemed a worship of him, but no homage could
recompense a man for what a Pope had lost. I have seen him often since,
and his demeanor is always marked by the same air of lofty independence.
It is good to see him appear equal to a position so solitary and so
commanding, and to indicate this vigor of life and the conscience which
would prevent him from making his seclusion a bower for his own ease.

From one of these wonderful days passed in the Villa Borghese, a spacious
estate near the city, equally charming for its nature and art, I went, a
day or two since, to watch by the deathbed of a young American. Hicks (a
young artist, whom I love and whom the MacDaniels will know) and myself
stood by him and closed his eyes. He was without immediate friends, except
a connection by marriage who has recently arrived, and who was with him at
the last. I was glad that I was here to be with him and lay him decently
in his coffin. The handful of Americans in Rome followed him last evening
at dusk, close by twilight, and buried him in the Protestant graveyard,
near the grave of Shelley's ashes and heart. The roses were in full
blossom, as Shelley says they used to be in midwinter. It is a green and
sequestered spot under the walls of old Rome, where the sunlight lingers
long, and where in the sweet society of roses whose bloom does not wither,
Shelley and Keats sleep always a summer sleep. Fate is no less delicate
than stern, which has here united them after such lives and deaths. And
yet here one feels also the grimness of the Fate which strikes such lips
into silence.

I force myself to send you this letter, because I want to write you. It is
a shadowy hint of what I think and feel, as all letters must be. Cranch
and his wife are with me, and will stay the winter. There are not many
Americans, but I look every day for Burrill. Hicks I have seen a good deal
and like very much. He speaks to me of the MacDaniels. Give my love to all
at Brook Farm, and forgive a letter which you will not believe was written
in Italy. Cranch sends much love.

Always yr

G.W.C.

How I wish you were going with us this sweet sunny day (23 Nov.), on which
I am writing this at my open window, without a fire, to see the
"Gladiator" at the capitol. It is a great responsibility to be in Italy,
one may justly demand so much of you afterwards. Once more, good-bye, and
some day send me a ray from the beautiful past which Brook Farm is to me.

G.W.C.


XLI

NAPLES, _April 27th, 1847._

My dear Friend,--If it would be hopeless and dispiriting to paint the
constantly shifting lights and beauties of a summer day, it is no less so
to write now and then a letter from Italy to one who would so warmly enjoy
all that I see and hear. Every omitted day makes the case worse, a month
makes it hopeless; and so I lived in Rome for five months and wrote you
only one letter at the beginning. Yet is the magnetism of friendship not
yet fine enough for you to know how constantly you were remembered, how I
lingered in the moonlit Coliseum, how I felt the commanding beauty of the
"Apollo" thrill through me, and the "Laocoon" and the proud heads of
Antinous, and the pictures which are what our imaginations demand for
Raphael and Leonardo and Michel Angelo, how I stood in the flood of the
"Miserere," which was and was not what I knew it must be, how I plucked
roses from the graves of Shelley and Keats, and led a Roman life for a
winter, not for myself only, but for you!

I have written quite regularly to my family, and described some of the
many matters which were new and picturesque, but have scarcely snatched a
line to a friend except to Lizzie Curson and two letters to Geo. Bradford,
who had some intention of coming out to join us in this enchanted land. In
my last letter to him, which I wrote at the end of the Holy Week, I
mentioned the "Miserere" and the news of that time. He will show you the
letter, I suppose, if you wish to see it. But from Rome I broke suddenly
off and came to Naples.

Is it not fine when things are beautifully different, when you part from
one as if you were leaving everything, and find satisfaction in
another--not a superiority, but equal difference? So is Naples after Rome.
There is nothing solemn or grand in it. It rises in solid banks of
cheerful houses from the spacious streets upon the water to the grim
castle of St. Elmo, which hovers almost perpendicularly over it. These
houses are white and bright, and turn themselves into the sunlight, and
stretch in long lines around the bay, blending with the neighboring towns
so that the base of Vesuvius is marked with a line of white houses, which
go on undistinguishably from Naples. Farther round is Castellamare and
Sorrento, whose promontory beyond is one corner of the bay, of which Capri
seems like a portion sailed away into the sea. And the bay of Naples is so
spacious and stately, so broad and deep, its lines those of mountains and
the sea, its gem the sunny city, and the islands of Capri, Ischia, and
Procida, so large and high and springing so proudly from the water, that
it satisfies the expectation; and sometimes this broad water dashes and
rolls like the ocean, then subsides into sunny ripples and gleams like
glass in the moonlight. Two or three old castles stand out upon the bay
from the city, picturesque objects for artists and lookers on, and in the
hazy moonlight black and sharp masses reflected in the water. Sails and
steamers and boats of all sorts are constantly dotting this space, and I
am never weary of wandering along the shore on which lie the fishermen
among their boats, with mournful looking women and black, matted-haired,
gypsy-like children.

The picturesqueness of cities and life in Italy is more striking to me
than anything else. The people are so poetic that, although lazy and dirty
and mean, what they do and wear is like an animated picture. The gay
costumes of the women--ribbons and bodices and trinkets--with their deep
olive skins and bare heads, with hair that is most luxuriantly black, and
beautifully twisted and folded in heavy, graceful braids, the broad-browed
and outlined Roman women, majestic and handsome, not lovely or
interesting, but showing as the remains of an imperial beauty; and in
Naples the little figures and arch eyes and Oriental mien of the
girls--these persons living in quaint old cities where the brightest
flowers bloom amid hanging green over windows far and far above the street
and walking in high-walled narrow lanes over which hang the sun-sucking
leaves of the indolent aloe, and in which gleam the rich orange and lemon
trees, or, as now, the keen lustrous green of just-budding fig-trees, and
vines, or entering with quiet enthusiasm into festivals of saints,
sprinkling the churches and streets with glossy, fragrant bay-leaves,
hanging garlands upon the altars while a troop of virgins, clad in white
and crowned, pass with lighted tapers to the Bishop's feet for a blessing,
or more grandly drawing St. Peter's in fire upon the wild gloom of a March
night, and in vast procession of two or three thousand marching down the
narrow Corso singing a national song to the Pope--all this, if you can
unravel it, paints for the eye what can never be seen at home. "I pack my
trunk and wake up in Naples," and find myself, for which I am grateful;
but I also find Italian beauty, which is like American as oranges are like
apples. Such deep passionate eyes, such proud, queenly motions, such
groups of peasants and girls in gardens listening to music, and lying
asleep in the shade of trees, all this material of poetry is also material
of life here. This is the true Lotos Eaters' island, this the grateful
land of leisure; here people walk slowly and eat slowly and ride slowly,
and, I must say, think slowly. But that also is corn to my mill. I find
some sympathy with the happy Guy of Emerson's book, for there is no public
opinion in Italy. A man feels that he stands alone and enjoys all the joys
and sorrows of that consciousness and that position. Your room is your
castle. If a man knows where it is he comes to see you, but whatever you
do or say (of course excepting what is political) is your own business and
not that of infernal society, which at home is grand arbiter of men's
destinies. Except you care to do so, you have no state to keep up. The
card for a royal ball finds you as readily in your fourth story as in the
neighboring palace it finds My Lord; and so you are released from that
thraldom which one cannot explain, but which one feels at home whether he
consents to it or not.

And it is a broad and catholic teacher, this travelling. I have been quite
unsphered since I have been here, in various ways, and have discovered how
good every man's business is and how wide his horizon. There is a shabby
Americanism which prowls proselyting through Europe, defying its spirit or
its beauty or its difference to swerve it from what it calls its
patriotism. Because America is contented and tolerably peaceful with a
Republic, it prophesies that Europe shall see no happy days until all
kings are prostrated; and belches that peculiar eloquence which prevails
in small debating-clubs in retired villages at home. This is like taunting
the bay of Naples with the bay of New York, or apples with oranges, or the
dark lustrous beauty of Italian women with the blond fairness of
Americans. Why should all men be governed alike rather than all look
alike; the north is cold and the south is warm. These monarchies which are
decried have been the fostering arms of genius and art; and in Italy and
the rest of the countries here lie the grand achievements of all time,
which draw the noblest and best from America to contemplate them and suck
the heart of their beauty for the refining and adorning their own land.
And why fear imitation! Men imitate when they stay at home more
preposterously than when they see what is really beautiful and grand in
other places; and a fine work of art repels imitation as the virgin beauty
of a girl repels licentiousness. And we are elevated by art and mingling
with men to know what is noble and best in attainment. We fancy a thousand
things fine at home because we do not know how much finer the same may be,
perhaps because we do not know that they are copies. Indeed, I feel as if
it would be a good fruit of long travel to recover the knowledge of the
fact which we so early lose--that we are born into the world with
relations to men as men before we are citizens of a country with limited
duties. A noble cosmopolitanism is the brightest jewel in a man's crown.

I have heard very little music in Italy--never so little in a winter. In
Rome the opera was nothing, and there were only two or three concerts.
That of a young Pole pianiste whom I knew was good, Maurice Strakosch
(perhaps he will come to America). But the great gem of music was the
singer Adelaide Kemble. You know she has left the stage and the public,
but this was an amateur concert for the Irish. Her singing of "Casta Diva"
was by far the finest gem heard. Such richness and volume, such possession
and depth and passion, such purity and firmness and ease, I did not
believe possible. Although a single song in a concert it seemed to embrace
the whole spirit of the opera. She sang also the moon song from "Der
Freischutz" simply and exquisitely, also in a trio of Mozart's and a
Barcarolle, all of which showed the same genius. I do not see that she
lacks anything, for although not beautiful, her face is flexible and
really grand when she is excited. Cranch thought her voice not quite sweet
in some parts. The "Miserere" was exquisitely beautiful, but not entirely
what I expected to hear. In Naples I have heard the "Barber of Seville"
and an opera of Mercadanti's. The last is refined street music, and
reminds me of the mien and manners of a gentleman. The bands play every
day, which is much better than at Rome. But it is unhappy for me that
Verdi is the musical god of Italy at present, because the bands play
entirely from his operas, which remind me of a diluted Donizetti. He has
brought out a new opera, "Macbeth," within the month, at Florence. On the
third evening he was called out thirty-eight times; the young men escorted
him home in triumph, and the next night various princes and nobles
presented him with a golden crown!

I have heard various rumors of Brook Farm, none agreeable. I feel as if my
letter might not find you there; but what can you be doing anywhere else?
I have received no letter from you, no direct news from Brook Farm, except
through Lizzie Curzon and Geo. Bradford. But it floats on in my mind, a
sort of Flying Dutchman in these unknown seas of life and experience, full
of an old beauty and melody. I know how your time is used, and am not
surprised at any length of silence. We go into the beautiful country about
us for a fortnight, to Salerno, Sorrento, Pestum, and Capri, afterwards
Rome again. Florence, the Apennines, Venice, Milan, Como, the Tyrol,
Switzerland, and Germany lie before us. What a spring which promises such
a summer! You will still go with me as silently as before.

At this moment I raise my eyes to Vesuvius, which is opposite my window,
and the blue bay beneath. I can see the line of the Mediterranean blending
with the sky, and remember that you are at the other side. I write as if
Brook Farm still was there, and am more than ever

Yr friend

G.W.C.




LETTERS OF LATER DATE


I

PROVIDENCE, _Thursday, Oct. 10, '50._

My dear Dwight,--I was very very sorry not to find you the other day; but
as I was only a few hours in Boston, I had no opportunity of renewing the
attempt.

This morning I saw a letter, I suppose from you, in the _Tribune_, about
Jenny's Saturday concert in Boston. It reminded me to send you a most
rapid criticism(?) of mine published here yesterday. I address the paper
as I do this note.

This Jenny Lind singing is a matter of such lofty art in the sublimest
sense, and we are so young and jejune in all art, that I cannot much
wonder at the general impression. It is precisely what would be the fate
of really fine pictures and poems. Huge wonder, childish delight,
intoxication, delirium, and disappointment--but little of the apprehensive
perception of the presence of an artist so profound and grand.

I knew, of course, that you must be realizing somewhere the greatness of
this gift. Now I have heard you say so, I am glad to send you a kind of
echo.

When shall I see you? I shall be here for a day or two more, then relapse
into New York, for how long I know not. Let me have a line from you,
saying that among all your virtues you yet count Memory, as does yours
most rememberingly,

George W. Curtis.


II

PROVIDENCE, _March 17th, '51, Monday._

I believe, dear John, that I have not yet had the grace to congratulate
you upon "the great change" that you have recently undergone. But,
happily, I am equally sure that you have not ascribed my silence to
anything but the habit of epistolary silence that has come upon me since
my return from the other continent, mainly distinguished, if my memory may
confirm universal remark, by the great number of letters written from it.

May I also add the satiety of writing, which a man who has just published
a book may be supposed to be experiencing? For I have published a book, a
copy of which, with the heart of the author, pressed but not dried between
the blank leaves, you should have had immediately but for my absence from
New York. It is called "Nile Notes of a Howadji," and has thus far, being
only a week old, received as flattering notice as any tremulous young
author could have wished. One or two chapters are considered somewhat
_broad_, I hear; but the whole impression is precisely what I wished.

I am here because I was invited to repeat my lecture here; and, as I was
not back in New York when the "Notes" were issued, I preferred to tarry in
the "ambrosial retirement," as Rev. Osgood calls it, and not serve as
foot-notes to my Readers.

I shall go home soon, and I trust by way of Boston. If so, I shall of
course see you and--yours, I must now say. Will you present my warmest
regards and pleasantest recollections to your wife, and believe still in
your friend

George W.C.


III

My dear John,--The Lady Emelyn swears by Venus and all the Goddesses that
our party at your house must be postponed until Friday evening, that she
may bring with us Miss Anna Loring and Miss Augusta King. What can mere
men do? They submit. And they walk across the fields to look at a
beautiful woman, at a Poet's wife.

We are all very hot and very happy down here, and wonder if your ashes are
white or quite invisible, for of course, in the city, you have become ash.

Present us most kindly to your wife, and forget not that our coming will
be much more enchanting with Mrs. S.'s proposed addition.

Yours aff.,

G.W.C.

NAHANT, _Wednesday morning Aug 12, '51._


IV

My dear John,--We are tapering off. Mrs. Story is not well, and we have
not our young ladies yet. Also C.P. Cranch goes to Quincy, where his wife
is. So I fear you will have only William and me, and very probably his
proof-sheets will retain him. I expect Cranch to come, but he is quite
unwell.

Yours aff.,

G.W.C.

_Friday, Aug. 15, '51._


V

PROVIDENCE, _Friday, Sep. 26, 1851._

My dear John,--This morning I received the enclosed. If you can shed light
upon the darkness it indicates will you please do so, sending me what
information you have.

I am up to my ears in a book I am writing in continuation of the "Notes,"
"Syrian Sketches"; and shall stay here perhaps two months. I shall hope to
slip down to Boston occasionally and see you all. I was there a few hours
on Monday, and saw William by chance. Burrill has reached England, and is
very much pleased with Malvern.

Give my love to your wife, whom I would be glad to hear sing once more.

Your aff.

G.W.C.


VI

PROVIDENCE, _25th Nov., '51._

My dear John,--I had intended to see the B. when she came. I have sounded
her trumpet here, for auld lang syne. If I can do so heartily I will write
a notice of her concert, as I always do when I am here, at the request of
_The Journal_. I enclose my last effort in that kind, apropos of Catherine
Hayes.

I would gladly come to Boston, but I cannot think of it just now. Should
Jenny Lind threaten not to sing in Providence I shall very likely run down
with my cousin Anna and hear her for an evening. We are trying to have the
Germania here, but for music in the general we go hang. My cousin,
however, is a very accomplished player, and I enjoy with her Mendelssohn's
songs and Liszt's arrangements and "Don Giovanni" and eke Schumann. I see
Fred Rackemann has returned.

My book is written; but I am now very busily revising it. Hedge much
prefers what I have read him to the other. He lives just across the street
from me, and we have many a cigar and chat. He preaches superb sermons.

Give my heartiest love and remembrances to your wife, and forget not the
faithful. I have a line from the Xest of Xtophers the other day, who is
painting away for dear life. Tom Hicks, ditto. The latter lives with
Charles Dana.

Ever your aff.

G.W.C.

I have unluckily forgotten your no. so I'll put the street, not being
quite sure of that!!!


VII

TRIBUNE OFFICE, N.Y., _19th March, '52._

My dear John,--Your most welcome letter has been received, and its
contents have been submitted to the astute deliberations of the editorial
conclave. We are delighted at the prospect--but--we do not love the name.
_1st. Journal of Music_ is too indefinite and commonplace. It will not be
sufficiently distinguished from the _Musical Times_ and the _Musical
World_, being of the same general character.

2d. "Side-glances" is suspicious. It "smells" Transcendentalism, as the
French say, and, of all things, any aspect of a clique is to be avoided.

That is the negative result of our deliberations; the positive is, that
you should identify your name with the paper and called it _Dwight's
Musical Journal_, and you might add, _sotto voce_, "a paper of Art and
Literature."

Prepend: I shall be very glad to send you a sketch of our winter doings in
music, especially as I love Steffanane, although she says, "I smoke, I
chew, I snoof, I drink, I am altogether vicious." You shall have it Sunday
morning, and I will address it to you simply at the P.O.

My book is ready, is only waiting for the English publisher to move; and I
have other irons heating, of which anon. I've had a long letter from Wm.
Story, who is happy and busy in Rome--who wouldn't be?


VIII

I wish you could run on and see us all. Tom Hicks is right busy with his
great portrait of the ex-Governor. Indeed, we are all so busy that I have
only time to remember--rarely to say--that I am

Your ever aff.

G.W.C.

_J.S. Dwight, Esq._

Give my kindest regards to your wife. I wish she could sing in your paper.


IX

N.Y., _Saturday, 24th April, '52._

My dear John,--I have been so busy in the last throes of my "Syrian
Howadji," which is to be born on Tuesday, that I have not sent you an
intended letter about the Philharmonic and the Quartette; and I presume
from to-day's number that you have other notes of them. I think, however,
I will still send you something by Monday's mail if you will promise not
to use it if you don't truly want it. There is rather a flat and
barrenness just now in the world of music, but, with the Academy
exhibition, Brackett's group, and the Paul Delaroche picture we can make
out something.

Your paper is a triumph. It is so handsome to the eye and sweet to the
mind, it is so pleasantly varied, and its sketches have such completeness
of grace in themselves, that the reader is not ashamed of the pleasure it
gives him and the interest he has in it, which you may have remarked is
not always the case, for instance, in liking Anna Thillard's business at
Niblo's (of which very little is certainly enough). I am half ashamed of
myself for really enjoying what I know is so utterly artificial. Do you
conceive?

I just see in the _National Era_ a long notice of you and your _Journal_.
It was not mine or the T.'s or I should have sent it to you. But you must
find it.

You will receive an early copy of my Syrian book, the last of the Howadji,
who, leaving the East, becomes a mere traveller. It was a real work of
love, and I hope you may have some of the pleasure in reading that I had
in writing it.

Give my love to your wife, and believe me always,

G.W.C.

I send you over the page a list of names of my subscribers and enclose you
the funds in N.Y. money. [Enclosed were eight subscriptions to _Dwight's
Journal of Music_, Curtis himself taking three copies.]


X

N.Y., _28th Apr., 1852._

My dear John,--I span out my letter so far that I had no room for
pictures, but I will not forget them, and they will remain open until the
middle of July.

I shall be only too delighted to see Mr. Goldschmidt, and sincerely regret
that I have enjoyed no such opportunity of seeing Jenny Lind until just as
she is going. We are beginning to stir. White and I have both suggested
_one_ concert of the true stamp, and the _Times_ came out against us and
we pitched back again into the _Times_; and the _Herald_ and other
journals have called attention to the warfare, and insist that humbug,
Barnumania, and high prices shall be put down. I am going to write an
article upon Jenny Lind's right to ask $3 if she thinks fit, on the
principle that Dickens, Horace Vernet, and every molasses merchant acts
and properly acts.

Why not send your papers to the publisher of some Saturday paper to
distribute with his? The difficulty is that if people are irregular in
getting it, it will lose its character of steadiness, which is fatal to
such a paper. Ripley agrees in this. By mail the majority of people who
haven't boxes at the P.O. get nothing at all, or only spasmodically. You
will have to send it to some agent here, I am confident.

Cranch is about breaking up house-keeping preparatory to his summer
rustication. He is in a tight place again, as he is too apt to be, poor
fellow! The fact is art is poor pay unless you are a great artist. He
fights very cheerfully, though, which is a comfort. His children are very
interesting, and at his house there is a set of us who have the best of
times, the most truly genial and poetic.

I enclose you the funds which I so amusingly forgot, and, if I can serve
you by seeing any agent or other "fallow deer," I shall be most happy to
do it; and don't fail always to call upon me.

Yours most truly and ever,

G.W.C.

Is this sum right?


XI

NEWPORT, _July 29th, 1852._

My dear John,--I have been running round for two or three weeks, and have
forgotten to ask you to change the address of the papers which come to
me....

I am charmingly situated here with Mr. and Mrs. Longfellow and Tom
Appleton, and with some other pleasant people. It is very lovely and lazy;
but I am quite busy. Give my love to your wife and believe me, always,

Your aff.

G.W.C.


XII

NEWPORT, _Oct. 11th, 1852._

My dear John,--I leave Newport this evening, and since "friend after
friend departs," you will hardly be surprised to hear that I have fallen
from the ranks of bachelors; and that when I said I should die such, I had
no idea I should live to be married. Prosaically, then, I am engaged
to.... Her father is cousin of ... and is of the elder branch of the
family, so that I already begin to feel sentimental about Lady Arabella
Johnson. On the other side I come plump against plump old Gov. Stuyvesant
of the New Netherlands. What with Dutch and Puritan blood, therefore, I
shall be sufficiently sobered, you will fancy. Wrong, astutest of Johns,
for my girl plays like a sunbeam over the dulness of that old pedigree,
and is no whit more Dutch or Puritan than I am. She is, in brief, 22 years
old, a very, very pronounced blonde, not handsome (to common eyes),
graceful and winning, not accomplished nor talented nor fond of books, gay
as a bird, bright as sunshine, and has that immortal youth, that perennial
freshness and sweetness which is the secret of permanent happiness.

I am as happy as the day, and have no especial intention of marrying
directly. Her father has a large property, but she is not, properly, a
rich girl. I shall be settled at home in ten days. To-night I am going to
Baltimore, and shall return to New York next week.

Give my warmest love to your wife, and believe me--Benedict or no
Benedict--always

Your aff.

G.W.C.


XIII

N.Y., _14th April, 1853._

Caro Don Giovanni,--Any time these six months I have seen a skulking
scoundrel who endeavored to avoid my notice, and always turned pale when
he saw a copy of _Dwight's Journal of Music_. I pursued him vigorously,
and he confessed to me that he was the chief of sinners, and that his name
was _Hafiz_.

"But," said he, when he saw in my eyes the firm resolve to acquaint the
editor with the fact that his correspondent was still living--"but, oh!
say that I have just paid to Messrs. Scharfenberg and Luis my subscription
for the three copies owing the coming year"--and thereupon he vanished;
and I haste to discharge my duty, for if I have a failing, it is doing my
duty. Should you see the editor will you please state not only the fact of
the subscription paid, but that I have heard this pursued Hafiz swear that
not many moons should wane before he wrote to _Dwight's Journal of Music_
a letter about things in New York, "our new music and other things," for
instance.

Hafiz, who tries to make me believe that he does the music in _Putnam_,
says that in the May number he has commended your _Journal_. He is an
abandoned fellow.

How are you, and how prospers the _Journal_? and have you quite forgiven
my wicked silences as well as my imperfect speeches; and will you please
not to forget that you are never forgotten by Your aff.

G.W.C.


XIV

N.Y., _Sept. 14, '53._

My dear John,---I have just returned to town, and find your letter
suggestive of White Mountains, quiet, artists, and other dissipations; but
I am just from the hills, where I have been for six weeks, and am ordered
to the sea-shore to be salted. I am not quite sure whether I shall go to
Newport or to Long Branch; but I infinitely prefer Newport, although I
have very valued friends upon the New Jersey shore.

My old head has been bothering me all summer; but Dr. Gray has taken it
fairly in hand, and says I shall soon be all right. I hope he is not all
wrong.

I am coming to Boston some time during the season to lecture before your
Mercantile Library, and have promised to make something of a visit; but I
fear it will hardly be possible to stay long.

X was on my track yesterday, although I havn't seen him for an age. I hear
he projects Europe again, but know nothing definite. Today I am just
hurrying off to Staten Island to assist at the nuptials of.... So they go,
and so, soon--let us pray--may

Your aff.

G.W.C.


XV

N.Y., _July 19, '53._

My dear John,--It has been anything but indifference that has prevented my
sending you some notices of the pictures. But my head, which was muzzy
when you were here, has been muzzier ever since, and my Dr. made me
relinquish everything and run out of town, so that I have been gadding for
a month, and the August _Putnam_ hasn't a line of mine.

You see I have been positively idle; but I hope I am somewhat better. At
least I feel so, although I shall not work much for some time to come.

I'm going up to Cranch's this evening and to Lenox next week. It is not
impossible that some happy gust may blow me to Conway. Give my kindest
love to your wife, and believe me--muzzy or no muzzy--

Your aff.

G.W.C.


XVI

HOME, _9th Feb., '54._

My dear John,--Behold me with unspoken farewells and innumerable Boston
banquets well (I hope) digested, and with only a glancing word with your
wife at Mrs. Ticknor's on Monday morning.

One thing thou lackest, O Freunde! You have not heard Miss Skelton sing!
It is a young girl who not only does not like "classical" music, but does
not even profess to, which I hold to be virtuous in factitious times. But
she is a sweet, natural, honest girl, and sings Italian, yea, even "Ah!
Non Credea," with a sweet, full, and tender voice which is truly
delicious. She is one of Cranch's stars. I heard her at the Greenwoods.

I have a vague idea of darting through Boston again about the first of
March. I shall be in New Bedford, and might go to Keene.

Good-night. I have every reason to love your Boston.

Your aff.

G.W.C.

Friday I hope to see Mrs. Downing, and if I hear of the great X--an
unknown quantity to us--I will inform you.


XVII

N.Y., _Monday, April 10, '54._

My dear John,---I send you my humble duty. The season is over, and I
return to an accumulated mass of work. I find nothing pleasanter in my
winter's reminiscences than the Boston episode.

Give my kindest love to your wife, and my regards to Hurlbut, and believe
me as always,

G.W.C.


XVIII

WEST NEW BRIGHTON, STATEN ISLAND, N.Y., _11 April, 1883._

My dear John,----Your letter reached me safely, and I share your surprise
and regret at what seems to me, so far as I can see, a wholly unnecessary
act. I will speak of it in the _Weekly_ at once because the _Magazine_ is
always so long after!

I saw some notice of Cranch's seventieth birthday. Good lack! how the
years whiz! I did not hear from him, and I suppose it is not exactly the
occasion upon which you ask your friends to make merry. Longfellow, I
remember, wrote me when he was seventy that it was like turning the slate
over and beginning upon the other side.

We are all well and quiet. The Doctors in New York dine Dr. Holmes
to-morrow, and I have promised to go. I have heard nothing from Edmund
Tweedy for many a day, but I suppose that all goes well with him and his.

Good-bye. It is very good to hear from you always, and I am always
affectionately yours,

George William Curtis.


XIX

WEST NEW BRIGHTON, STATEN ISLAND, N.Y., _8 February, 1884._

My dear John,--I read your letter with sincere but hopeless interest,
because I know how very slight her chance is in New York. The only hope
lies in a circle of ladies who know her and would take pains to help her;
but who are they, and how can they care for her? The contest single-armed
against established teachers of prestige of a ci-devant Prima Donna, who
had small success twenty-five years ago and is forgotten, is only pitiful.
I will ask one of the best and most prosperous of our teachers, and who is
much interested in my Lizzie, what ought to be done. He knows more than
any one with whom I could advise.

I had heard with great delight of your portrait and of the becoming
disposition which was made of it. I have thought also how sincerely you
will deplore the death of our incomparable orator. And I hope that you
sometimes think how affectionately I am always yours,

George William Curtis.


XX

NEW YORK, _October 26, 1884._

My dear John,--Your note finds me here on my way to Ashfield. I voted for
Edmunds every time, and in the uproar of the vote that made Blaine's
nomination I held my peace. But had I voted for Blaine, and had afterwards
found good reasons to change my mind, I should not have hesitated to take
the course I have taken. I am very busy, and I send you my love always.
Your ancient,

George William Curtis.


XXI

WEST NEW BRIGHTON, STATEN ISLAND, N.Y., _May 17th, 1886._

My dear John,--I do not know your address, but I am sure the Boston
postmaster does, and I trust this note to his superior knowledge.

It was very good to see your familiar hand again and unchanged, and best
of all to read your strong, clear, masterful, and delightful plea for the
true saving grace of humanity, common-sense. It is a most admirable piece
of work, and a host of readers will wonder that they had never thought of
it before. That is the effect of all wise writing, I suppose, which like
yours lays us all under obligation. Why don't you oftener bring us reports
of your interviews with Egeria? Cranch had already told me of the paper
with great praise, in a letter which told me also of your birthnight orgie
with Boott and John Holmes. At the Commencement dinner of the year that
Harvard made me a Doctor, I said to President Eliot, "Who is that military
man who looks like a captain of Dragoons?" and, after making out the one I
meant, he laughed and said, "Dragoons? why that is John Holmes!" As I
remember him, his whiskers had a military cut; but I have often laughed
since.

I have the photograph of Carrie Cranch's remarkable portrait of you, which
is a precious possession; and when I see Cranch I hear of you and when I
don't see him I think of you, and always with the old affection. We are
all well, which means my wife and daughter here, and my son and
daughter-in-law and two grandchildren at Newton. My whiskers are white,
but my hair holds out with its old brown! Goodbye and auf wiedersehen.

Most truly yours,

George William Curtis.





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