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were simple and wholesome; and it was his inestimable privilege to have as guardians of his education three noble and accomplished women. He was born in a quarter of Boston which still retained its simple eighteenth-century air and aspect of spaciousness and quiet ease. Rustic and urban met in quaint combination; there were fine old mansions set amidst sunny gardens rich in fruits and flowers, old orchards, and quiet pastures, to which little Waldo was accustomed, like other dutiful youngsters, to drive his mother's cow. The rigid frugality which had to be observed in the fatherless Emerson household was, as Emerson afterwards considered, another beneficial feature of his boyish life.

But these influences of early environment were secondary to those exercised by the three women before alluded tohis mother, a devout woman, reputed for her tact in household affairs, and her uncomplaining patience and Fortitude; his aunt, Mary Moody Emerson, a person of great energy and originality of character; and Sarah Bradford, an accomplished scholar, who supervised young Waldo's studies. Of the remarkable and lasting influence of Mary Emerson, Mr. Cabot's Memoir affords fresh evidence. She made the most exacting demands upon her promising nephew, keenly watched his spiritual development, perused his journals, admonished him of his faults, and was liberal in counsels of perfection. There is the true Emersonian ring about some of her letters to him. She writes to cite one out of many tempting instances: 'Solitude, which to people not talented to deviate from the beaten track is the safe ground of mediocrity (without offending), is to learning and genius the only sure labyrinth -though sometimes gloomy-to form the eagle wing that will bear one farther than suns and stars. . . . Would to Providence that your unfoldings might be there !—that it were not a wild and fruitless wish that you could be disunited from travelling with the souls of other men ; of living and breathing, reading and writing, with one vital time-fated idea-their opinions." Again, like his elder self,


she bids him "scorn trifles, lift your aims; do what you are afraid to do. Sublimity of character must come from sublimity of motive." This was the woman whose advice and opinions Emerson sought until he reached maturity.

The date of Emerson's birth almost coincides with the beginnings of what we may call the New England Renascence; that awakening of mind an accession of culture which culminated in the Transcendental Movement. As a lad he found himself in a stream of new tendencies of thought, which, while it may have had a native source, was largely fed by European tributaries. The leader of the party of advance was Channing, whose church the Emersons attended. Channing had been greatly attracted by the spiritual philosophy of Coleridge, and by the poetry of Wordsworth. The study of Coleridge, to which he stimulated many of his younger contemporaries, begot an interest in the German thinkers, to whom Coleridge owed his leading ideas-Kant, Schelling, Fichte, Hegel. It was about this time that Carlyle published his series of brilliant articles on German Literature, which kindled a fresh ardor for German studies. Young scholars went from New England to Germany to complete their equipment, and brought back the new scholarship and its latest outcome in theology, philosophy, and letters. Kant, Fichte, Jacobi, Lessing, Herder, Goethe, Schiller, Schleiermacher, were studied with enthusiasm, and translations and articles soon appeared in plenty. There was a genuine literary revival; the old writers were re-read in the light of the new learning-Plato and the Platonists, the mystics and Orientals, and even the Christian scriptures. These new currents of intellectual activity were reinforced by the potent influence of Carlyle, who, in such essays as "Characteristics," "History," "Signs of the Times," had spoken, as Emerson said, to the youth of New England with an emphasis that deprived them of sleep. If to these influences we add the growing dominance of Wordsworth, awakening a fresh love of simple things and simple folk, and a subtle sense of man's kinship with Nature, we have named

the chief literary factors that contributed to the evolution of that unique product, New England Transcendentalism. No one was more sensitive to these influences than Ralph Waldo Emerson; but no one kept more sane and steady under them.

What, let us inquire, was the nature of the revolution which they wrought? Before this invasion of German idealism the thought and religion of New England-more especially the Unitarianism of New England—had been little better than the arid methodism which characterised the low-water period of the Eighteenth Century in England. Its philosophy was divided between the business-like sensism of Locke and the dreary common-sense doctrine of the Scotch school of Dugald Stewart and Dr. Thomas Brown. It was a philosophy with no outlook; a philosophy of externalism and routine, that found its standards in custom and precedent; a colourless creed without any power of inspiration. The religion, of course, was to match; a religion of decorum, Sabbath proprieties, and cold calculation. A reaction against this spiritless, prudential creed was as natural in New England as it was in Europe. The blood of the New Englanders had been warmed by the War of Independence, which was soon followed by a commercial revival; and European ideas found greedy soil across the ocean.

The new philosophy was the very antithesis of the old, although it had certain affinities to the Protestant individualism and fervid piety of former days. Its original source in Europe was Kant, who had compared the revolution which he initiated to that effected in astronomy by Copernicus. He tried (successfully, he believed) to explain the system of things by starting, like Copernicus, from a new centre. Whereas the prevailing philosophy had begun with the less known world of external phenomena, and had sought to explain man by their action upon the tabula rasa of the mind; Kant, on the other hand, set out from man, or from mind in man, as the better known, and endeavoured to explain phenomena in terms of

their relationship to mind. He showed that the world is as it actually appears to our consciousness, by reason of "the work of the mind" (endowed with certain faculties) upon the data or raw material supplied by the senses. According to this view, man—or mind in man—was rather the maker, or the part-creator, of the world, than made by it. Man did not derive his powers of reason and will from without, but was himself the sent or medium of power. It was from Kant that the term "transcendental" was borrowed; he having used it to designate man's faculty of knowing, and the primary concepts and necessary judgments of the mind presupposed in all our thinking.

The revolutionary character of this philosophy is obvious. It meant the assumption of a new point of mental vision; a new attitude of thought and mental disposition. It threw men back upon themselves as the repositories of a divine and inexhaustible spiritual energy. Thus it favoured a deeper and more vital religion, bidding men wait upon and obey the inward voice of reason and conscience, which was the voice of deity, instead of looking without to conventional opinion and habit. It fostered self-trust and a determination to follow boldly the generous promptings of the heart. It invested man, as the temple of the divine, with new significance. It raised a larger hope of human possibilities, a deeper faith in human freedom. To sum it up in the words of its able historian, Mr. Frothingham, "practically it was an assertion of the inalienable worth of man; theoretically it was an assertion of the immanence of divinity in instinct, the transference of supernatural attributes to the natural constitution of mankind." Animated by this belief and hope in human powers, the men of this movement felt that a new epoch had dawned for the race, when humanity, escaping from the trammels of tradition, was to re-make its own world conformed to the pattern of the ideal. With this wide prospect came a sense of elasticity and buoyancy which stimulated to noble resolves and worthy undertakings.

The Transcendental Movement is aptly styled by Mr.

Cabot an "outburst of Romanticism on Puritan ground." Deeply tinged as it was by Germanic influences, it naturally reproduced many of the features of European Romanticism. It was, with its Puritan bias, more intellectual and restrained than the latter. It was without the more full-blooded Pagan delight in the sensuous and fantastic; without the "storm and stress" of passion, and vague, restless longing which were present in Europe. But it rejoiced in the same sense of wonder and mystery,-the same scorn of conventionality and rash impulsiveness,-the same return upon Nature; and it cherished the same bold hope of social regeneration. It had, too, its obvious alliance with the great European struggle for the liberation of the individual which was signalised by the French Revolution. Yet, whilst so related to the general European movement, the conditions of life in the New World differentiated it widely from European instances. The new tendency had not the same resistances to overcome; for the weight of tradition was not heavy, prejudices were not hard-set, and the sentiment of individual freedom was active and general. The civilisation was comparatively new, the institutions were still plastic, and people were inclined to experiments in thought and life. We are prepared to find that, with so few deterrents, the transcendental champions of dissent should fall into excesses and absurdities. The stupid had their rebirth like the wise, and Nonconformity became a positive virtue. "No concession to society was the cry of the new Protestants; and so austere were some, that, seeing association of any kind involved compromise, they decided to leave society altogether and live the life of unaccommodating individualism. The humorous side of the movement has been made the most of by Mr. Lowell (see his essay on Thoreau in My Study Windows, published in this Series), but we must not be led by its comicalities to under-estimate its genuine worth and admirable achievements.


Gathered round the central and commanding figure of Emerson were many persons of striking personality,

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