Part 3 out of 5
Having waited until nearly famished, the sister blandly told us,
as if it were a matter of local interest, but otherwise of small
consequence, that the North Family were strict vegetarians,
serving no meat whatsoever; the only meat family was at the other
end of the village.
We were ready for meat, for chickens, ducks, green goose, anything
that walked on legs; we were not ready for pumpkin, squash, boiled
potatoes, canned peas, and cabbage; but a theory as well as a
condition confronted us; it was give in or move on. We gave in,
but for fifteen cents more per plate bargained for preserves,
maple syrup, and honey,--for something cloying to deceive the
But that dinner was a revelation of what a good cook can do with
vegetables in season; it was the quintessence of delicacy, the
refinement of finesse, the veritable apotheosis of the kitchen
garden; meat would have been brutal, the intrusion of a chop
inexcusable, the assertion of a steak barbarous, even a terrapin
would have felt quite out of place amidst things so fragrant and
impalpable as the marvellous preparations of vegetables from that
wonderful Shaker kitchen.
Everything was good, but the various concoctions of sweet corn
were better; and such sweet corn! it is still a savory
Then the variety of preserves, jellies, and syrups; fifteen cents
extra were never bestowed to better advantage. We cast our coppers
upon the water and they returned Spanish galleons laden with good
things to eat.
After dining, we were walked through the various buildings, up
stairs and down, through kitchens, pantries, and cellars,--a wise
exercise after so bountiful a repast. In the cellar we drank
something from a bottle labelled "Pure grape juice," one of those
non-alcoholic beverages with which the teetotaler whips the devil
around the stump; another glass would have made Shakers of us all,
for the juice of the grape in this instance was about twenty-five
per cent. proof. If the good sisters supply their worthy brothers
in faith with this stimulating cordial, it is not unlikely that
life in the village is less monotonous than is commonly supposed.
It certainly was calculated to add emphasis to the eccentricities
of even a "Shaking Quaker."
Although the oldest and the wealthiest of all the socialistic
communities, there are only about six thousand Shakers in the
United States, less than one-fourth of what there were in former
At Mt. Lebanon, the first founded of the several societies in this
country, there are seven families, or separate communities, each
with its own home and buildings. The present membership is about
one hundred and twenty, nearly all women,--scarcely enough men to
provide the requisite deacons for each family.
Large and well-managed schools are provided to attract children
from the outside world, and so recruit the diminishing ranks of
the faithful; but while many girls remain, the boys steal away to
the heathen world, where marriage is an institution.
Celibacy is the cardinal principle and the curse of Shakerism; it
is slowly but surely bringing the sect to an end. It takes a lot
of fanaticism to remain single, and fanaticism is in the sere and
yellow leaf. In Massachusetts, where so many women are compelled
to remain single, there ought to be many Shakers; there are a few,
and Mt. Lebanon is just over the line.
Celibacy does not appeal strongly to men. A man is quite willing
to live alone if it is not compulsory, but celibates cannot stand
restraint; the bachelor is bound to have his own way--until he is
married. Tell a man he may not marry, and he will; that he must
marry, and he won't.
The sect which tries to get along with either too little or too
much marriage is bound to peter out. There were John Noyes and
Brigham Young. John founded the Oneida Community upon the
proposition that everything should be in common, including
husbands, wives, and children; from the broadest possible
communism his community has regenerated into the closet of stock
companies "limited," with a capital stock of seven hundred and
fifty thousand dollars, a surplus of one hundred and fifty
thousand, and only two hundred and nineteen stockholders.
In the palmy days of Mormonism the men could have as many wives as
they could afford,--a scheme not without its practical advantages
in the monotonous life of pioneer settlements, since it gave the
women something to quarrel about and the men something to think
about, thereby keeping both out of mischief,--but with the advent
of civilization with its diverse interests, the men of Salt Lake,
urged also by the law, are getting tired of more than one wife at
a time, and the community will soon be absorbed and lost in the
commonplace. The ancient theory of wives in multiples is giving
place to the modern practice of wives in series.
The story is told that a dear Shaker brother once fell from grace
and disappeared in the maelstrom of the carnal world; in a few
years he came back as penitent as he was penniless, with strange
accounts of how men had fleeced him of all he possessed save the
clothes--none too desirable--on his back. Men were so scarce that
the credulous sisters and charitable deacons voted to accept his
tales as true and receive him once more into the fold.
It was in 1770, while in prison in England, that Ann Lee claimed
to have had a great revelation concerning original sin, wherein it
was revealed that a celibate life is a condition precedent to
spiritual regeneration. Her revelation may have been biased by the
fact that she herself was married, but not comfortably.
In 1773, on her release from prison, another revelation told her
to go to America. Her husband did not sympathize with the celibacy
proposition, left "Mother Ann," as she was then known, and went
off with another woman who was unhampered by revelations. This was
the beginning of desertions which have continued ever since, until
the men are reduced to a corporal's guard.
The principles of the Shakers, barring celibacy, are sound and
practical, and, so far as known, they live up to them quite
faithfully. Like the original Oneida community, they believe in
free criticism of one another in open meetings. They admit no one
to the society unless he or she promises to make a full confession
before others of every evil that can be recalled,--women confess
to women, men to men; these requirements make it difficult to
recruit their ranks. They are opposed to war and violence, do not
vote, and do not permit corporal punishment. They pay their full
share of public taxes and assessments and give largely in charity.
Their buildings are well built and well kept, their farms and
lands worked to the best advantage; in short, they are industrious
Communism is one of those dreams that come so often to the best of
mankind and, lingering on through the waking hours, influence
conduct. The sharp distinctions and inequalities of life seem so
harsh and unjust; the wide intervals which separate those who have
from those who have not seem so unfair, that in all ages and in
all countries men have tried to devise schemes for social
equality,--equality of power, opportunity, and achievement.
Communism of some sort is one solution urged,--communism in
property, communism in effort, communism in results, everything in
In 1840 Emerson wrote to Carlyle, "We are all a little wild here
with numberless projects of social reform. Not a reading man but
has a draft of a new community in his waistcoat pocket. I am
gently mad myself, and am resolved to live cleanly. George Ripley
is talking up a colony of agriculturists and scholars, with whom
he threatens to take the field and book. One man renounces the use
of animal food; another of coin; and another of domestic hired
service; and another of the State; and on the whole we have a
commendable share of reason and of hope."
Ripley did found his Brook Farm, and a lot of good people went and
lived there--not Emerson; he was just a trifle too sane to be won
over completely, but even he used to go into his own garden and
dig in a socialistic way until his little boy warned him not to
dig his foot.
That is the trouble with communism, those who dig are apt to dig
their feet. It is easier to call a spade a spade than to use one.
Men may be born free and equal, but if they are, they do not show
it. From his first breath man is oppressed by the conditions of
his existence, and life is a struggle with environment. Freedom
and liberty are terms of relative not absolute value. The
absolutism of the commune is oppression refined, each man must dig
even if he digs his own foot. The plea of the anarchist for
liberty is more consistent than the plea of the communist,--the
one does demand a wild, lawless freedom for individual initiative;
the other demands the very refinement of interference with liberty
of mind and body.
The evolutionist looks on with philosophic indifference, knowing
that what is to be will be, that the stream of tendency is not to
be checked or swerved by vaporings, but moves irresistibly onward,
though every thought, every utterance, every experiment, however
wild, however visionary, has its effect.
We of the practical world sojourning in the Shaker village may
commiserate the disciples of theory, but they are happy in their
own way,--possibly happier in their seclusion and routine than we
are in our hurly-burly and endless strife for social, commercial,
and political advantages. Life is as settled and certain for them
as it is unsettled and uncertain for us. No problems confront
them; the everlasting query, "What shall we do to-morrow?" is
never asked; plans for the coming summer do not disturb them; the
seashore is far off; Paris and Monte Carlo are but places, vague
and indistinct, the fairy tales of travellers; their city is the
four walls of their home; their world the one long, silent, street
of the village; their end the little graveyard beyond; it is all
planned out, foreseen, and arranged.
Such a life is not without its charms, and it is small wonder that
in all ages men of intellect have sought in some form of
communistic association relief from the pressure of strenuous
individualism. We may smile with condescension upon the busy
sisters in their caps and gingham gowns, but, who knows, theirs
may be the better lot.
Life with us is a good deal of an automobile race,--a lot of dust,
dirt, and noise; explosions, accidents, and delays; something
wrong most of the time; now a burst of headlong speed, then a jolt
and sudden stop; or a creeping pace with disordered mechanism; no
time to think of much except the machine; less time to see
anything except the road immediately ahead; strife to pass others;
reckless indifference to life and limb; one long, mad contest for
success and notoriety, ending for the most part in some sort of
disaster,--possibly a sea of flame.
If we possessed any sense of grim, sardonic humor, we would
appreciate how ridiculous is the life we lead, how utterly absurd
is our waste of time, our dissipation of the few days and hours
vouchsafed us. We are just so many cicadas drumming out the hours
and disappearing. We have abundance of wit, and a good deal of
humor of a superficial kind, but the penetrating vision of a
Socrates, a Voltaire, a Carlyle is denied the most of us, and we
take ourselves and our accustomed pursuits most seriously.
On our way back from the village we stopped at the birthplace of
Samuel Tilden,--an old-fashioned white frame house, situated in
the very fork of the roads, and surrounded by tall trees. Not far
away is the cemetery, where a stone sarcophagus contains the
remains of a man who was very able if not very great.
Probably not fifty people in the United States, aside from those
living in the neighborhood, know where Tilden was born. We did not
until we came abruptly upon the house and were told; probably not
a dozen could tell exactly where he is buried. Such is fame. And
yet this man, in the belief of most of his countrymen, was chosen
president, though never seated; he was governor of New York and a
vital force in the politics and public life of his times,--now
What a disappointment it must have been to come so near and yet
miss the presidency. Before 1880 came around, his own party had so
far forgotten him that he was scarcely mentioned for
renomination,--though Tilden decrepit was incomparably stronger
than Hancock "the superb." It was hard work enthusing over
"Hancock and Hooray" after "Tilden and Reform;" the latter cry had
substance, the former was just fustian.
The Democratic party is as iconoclastic as the Republican is
reverential. The former loves to pick flaws in its idols and dash
them to pieces; the latter, with stolid conservatism, clings
loyally to its mediocrities. The latter could have elected Bryan,
the former could not; the Democratic stomach is freaky and very
squeamish; it swallows many things but digests few; the
ostrich-like Republican organ has never been known to reject
Republicans swear stanchly** by every president they have ever
elected. Democrats abandoned Tilden and spurned Cleveland, the
only two men they have come within a thousand miles of electing in
ten campaigns. The lesson of well-nigh half a century makes no
impression, the blind are leading the blind.
It is a far cry from former leaders such as Tilden, Hewitt,
Bayard, and Cleveland to those of to-day; a party which seeks its
candidate among the populists of Nebraska courts defeat. The two
nominations of Bryan mark low level in the political tide; it is
not conceivable that a great political party could sink lower; for
less of a statesman and more of a demagogue does not exist. The
one great opportunity the little man had to show some ability as a
leader was when the treaty of Paris was being fiercely debated at
Washington; the sentiment of his party and the best men of the
country were against the purchase of the Philippines; but this
cross-roads politician, who could not see beyond the tip of his
nose, hastened to Washington, played into the hands of the jingoes
by persuading the wiser men of his own party--men who should not
have listened to him--to withdraw their opposition.
Bryan had two opportunities to exhibit qualities of statesmanship
in the beginning of the war with Spain, and in the discussion of
the treaty of Paris; he missed both. So far as the war was
concerned, he never had an idea beyond a little cheap renown as a
paper colonel of volunteers; so far as the treaty was concerned,
he made the unpardonable blunder of playing into the hands of his
opponents, and leaving the sound and conservative sentiment of the
country without adequate leadership in Washington.
While we were curiously looking at the Tilden homestead, an old
man came walking slowly down the road, a rake over his shoulder,
one leg of his patched trousers stuck in a boot-top, a suspender
missing, his old straw hat minus a goodly portion of its crown. He
stopped, leaned upon his rake, and looked at us inquisitively,
then remarked in drawling tone,--
"I know'd Sam Tilden."
"Yes, I know'd him; he was a great man."
"You are a Democrat?"
"I wuz, but ain't now," pensively.
"Why ar'n't you?"
"Well, you see, I wuz allus a rock-ribbed Jacksonian fr'm a boy;
seed the ole gen'ral onc't, an' I voted for Douglas an' Seymore. I
skipped Greeley, fur he warn't no Dem'crat; an' I voted fur Tilden
an' Hancock an' Cleveland; but when it come to votin' fur a
cyclone fr'm N'braska,--jest wind an' nothin' more,--I kicked over
"Then you don't believe in the divine ratio of sixteen to one?"
"Young man, silver an' gold come out'r the ground, jes' lik' corn
an' wheat. When you kin make two bush'ls corn wu'th a bush'l wheat
by law an' keep 'em there, you can fix the rasho 'twixt silver an'
gold, an' not before," and the old man shouldered his rake and
wandered on up the road.
Before leaving the birthplace of Tilden, it is worth noting that
for forty years every candidate favored by Tammany has been
ignominiously defeated; the two candidates bitterly opposed by the
New York machine were successful. It is to the credit of the party
that no Democrat can be elected president unless he is the avowed
and unrelenting foe of corruption within and without the ranks.
The farmer with whom we were staying had earlier in the summer a
flock of sixty young and promising turkeys; of the lot but twenty
were left, and one of them was moping about as his forty brothers
and sisters had moped before, ready to die.
"Ah, he'll go with the others," said the farmer. "Raising turkeys
is a ticklish job; to-day they're scratching gravel for all
they're worth; to-morrow they mope around an' die; no telling
what's the matter."
"Suppose we give that turkey some whiskey and water; it may help
"Can't do him any harm, fur he'll die anyway; but it's a waste of
Soaking some bread in good, strong Scotch, diluted with very
little water, we gave the turkey what was equivalent to a
teaspoonful. The bird did not take unkindly to the mixture. It had
been standing about all day first on one leg, then on another,
with eyes half closed and head turned feebly to one side. In a few
moments the effect of the whiskey became apparent; the half-grown
bird could no longer stand on one leg, but used both, placing them
well apart for support. It began to show signs of animation,
peering about with first one eye and then the other; with great
gravity and deliberation it made its way to the centre of the road
and looked about for gravel; fixing its eye upon an attractive
little pebble it aimed for it, missed it by about two inches and
rolled in the dust; by this time the other turkeys were staring in
amazement; slowly pulling itself together he shook the dust from
his feathers, cast a scornful eye upon the crowd about him and
looked again for the pebble; there it was within easy shot; taking
good aim with one eye closed he made another lunge, ploughed his
head into the dust, making a complete somersault. By this time the
two old turkeys were attracted by the unusual excitement; making
their way through the throng of youngsters, they gazed for a
moment upon the downfall of one of their progeny, and then giving
vent to their indignation in loud cries pounced upon their tipsy
offspring and pecked him until he struggled upright and staggered
away. The last we saw of the young scapegrace he was smoothing his
ruffled plumage before a shining milk-pail and apparently
admonishing his unsteady double. It is worth recording that the
turkey was better the next day, and lived, as we were afterwards
told, to a ripe old Thanksgiving age.
The new steering-head came early the next morning; in thirty
minutes it was in place. Our host and valley hostess were then
given their first automobile ride; she, womanlike, took the speed,
sudden turns, and strange sensations more coolly than he. As a
rule, women and children are more fearless than men in an
automobile; this is not because they have more courage, but men
realize more vividly the things that might happen, whereas women
and children simply feel the exhilaration of the speed without
thinking of possible disasters.
We went down the road at a thirty-mile clip, made a quick turn at
the four corners, and were back almost before the dust we raised
"That's something like," said our host; "but the old horse is a
good enough automobile for me."
The hold-all was soon strapped in place, and at half-past nine we
were off for Pittsfield.
Passing the Tilden homestead, we soon began the ascent of the
mountain, following the superb new State road.
The old road was through the Shaker village and contained grades
which rendered it impossible for teams to draw any but the
lightest loads. It was only when market conditions were very
abnormal that the farmers in the valley would draw their hay,
grain, and produce to Pittsfield.
The new State road winds around and over the mountain at a grade
nowhere exceeding five per cent. and averaging a little over four.
It is a broad macadam, perfectly constructed.
In going up this easy and perfectly smooth ascent for some six or
seven miles, the disadvantage of having no intermediate-speed
gears was forcibly illustrated, for the grade was just too stiff
for the high-speed gear, and yet so easy that the engine tended to
race on the low, but we had to make the entire ascent on the
hill-climbing gear at a rate of about four or five miles an hour;
an intermediate-gear would have carried us up at twelve or fifteen
miles per hour.
CHAPTER TWELVE AN INCIDENT OF TRAVEL
"THE COURT CONSIDERS THE MATTER"
In Pittsfield the machine frightened a lawyer,--not a woman, or a
child, or a horse, or a donkey,--but just a lawyer; to be sure,
there was nothing to indicate he was a lawyer, and still less that
he was unusually timid of his kind, therefore no blame could
attach for failing to distinguish him from men less nervous.
That he was frightened, no one who saw him run could deny; that he
was needlessly frightened, seemed equally plain; that he was
chagrined when bystanders laughed at his exhibition, was highly
Now law is the business of a lawyer; it is his refuge in trouble
and at the same time his source of revenue; and it is a poor
lawyer who cannot make his refuge pay a little something every
time it affords him consolation for real or fancied injury.
In this case the lawyer collected exactly sixty cents' worth of
consolation,--two quarters and a dime, the price of two lunches
and a cup of coffee, or a dozen "Pittsfield Stogies," if there be
so fragrant a brand;--the lay mind cannot grasp the possibilities
of two quarters and a ten-cent piece in the strong and resourceful
grasp of a Pittsfield lawyer. In these thrifty New England towns
one always gets a great many pennies in change; small money is the
current coin; great stress is set upon a well-worn quarter, and a
dime is precious in the sight of the native.
It so happened that just about the time of our arrival, the
machinery of justice in and about Pittsfield was running a little
In an adjoining township, on the same day, ex-President Cleveland,
who was whiling away time in the philosophic pursuit of fishing,
was charged with catching and retaining longer than the law
allowed a bass which was a quarter of an inch under the legal
limit of eight inches. Now in the excitement of the moment that
bass no doubt felt like a whale to the great man, and as it neared
the surface, after the manner of its kind, it of course looked as
long as a pickerel; then, too; the measly fish was probably a
silver bass, and once in the boat shrunk a quarter of an inch,
just to get the eminent gold Democrat in trouble. At all events,
the friend who was along gallantly claimed the bass as his,
appeared in the Great Barrington district court, and paid a fine
of two dollars.
Now these things are characteristic of the place, daubs of local
coloring; the summer resident upon whom the provincials thrive is
not disturbed; but the stranger who is within the gates, who is
just passing through, from whom no money in the way of small
purchases and custom is to be expected, he is legitimate plunder,
even though he be so distinguished a stranger as an ex-President
of the United States.
A local paper related the fishing episode as follows:
"Ex-President Grover Cleveland, who is spending the summer in
Tyringham, narrowly escaped being arrested at Lake Garfield, in
Monterey, Thursday afternoon. As it was, he received a verbal
summons to appear in the Great Barrington district court this
morning and answer the charge of illegal fishing. But when the
complainants learned who the distinguished person was with whom
they were dealing, they let drop the matter of swearing out a
warrant, and in Mr. Cleveland's place appeared Cassius C.
Scranton, of Monterey.
"He pleaded guilty to catching a bass less than eight inches in
length, which is the minimum allowed by law, and was fined two
dollars by Judge Sanford, but as Mr. Cleveland said that he caught
the fish, there is still a good deal of doubt among the residents
of southern Berkshire as to which one was actually guilty.
However, if the hero of the Hawaiian enterprise was the unlucky
angler who caught the bass, he was relieved of the unpleasant
notoriety of being summoned into court on a warrant by the very
charitable act of Mr. Scranton, of Monterey, who will forever go
down in the history of that town as the stalwart defender of the
It is not conceivable that such a ridiculous display of
impecunious justice would be made elsewhere in the country. In the
South the judge would dismiss the complainant or pay the fine
himself; in the West he would be mobbed if he did not. New York
would find a tactful and courteous way of avoiding the semblance
of an arrest or the imposition of a fine; but in thrifty
Massachusetts, and in thrice thrifty Great Barrington, and in
twice thrice thrifty Pittsfield, pennies count, are counted, and
most conscientiously received and receipted for by those who set
the wheels of justice in motion.
North Street is broad and West Street is broad, and there is
abundance of room for man and beast.
At the hour in question there were no women, children, or horses
in the street; the crossings were clear save for a young man with
a straw hat, whose general appearance betrayed no sign of undue
timidity. He was on the far crossing, sixty or seventy feet
distant. When the horn was sounded for the turn down into West
Street, he turned, gave one look at the machine, jumped, and ran.
In a few moments the young man with the straw hat came to the
place where the machine had stopped. He was followed by a short,
stubby little friend with a sandy beard, who, while apparently
acting as second, threatened each moment to take the matter into
his own hands and usurp the place of principal.
Straw Hat was placable and quite disposed to accept an expression
of regret that fright had been occasioned.
Sandy Beard would not have it so, and urged Straw Hat to make a
Straw Hat spurred on his flagging indignation and asked for a
Sandy Beard told Straw Hat not to be deterred by soft words and
civility, and promised to stand by him, or rather back of him;
whereupon something like the following might have occurred.
Sandy Beard.--Then you know what is to be done?
Straw Hat.--Not I, upon my soul!
Sandy Beard.--We wear no clubs here, but you understand me.
Straw Hat.--What! arrest him.
Sandy Beard.--Why to be sure; what can I mean else?
Straw Hat.--But he has given me no provocation.
Sandy Beard.--Now, I think he has given you the greatest
provocation in the world. Can a man commit a more heinous offence
against another than to frighten him? Ah! by my soul, it is a most
unpardonable breach of something.
Straw Hat.--Breach of something! Ay, ay; but is't a breach of the
peace? I have no acquaintance with this man. I never saw him
before in my life.
Sandy Beard.--That's no argument at all; he has the less right to
take such a liberty.
Straw Hat.--Gad, that's true. I grow full of anger, Sir Sandy!
fire ahead! Odds, writs and warrants! I find a man may have a good
deal of valor in him, and not know it! But couldn't I contrive to
have a little right on my side?
Sandy Beard.--What the devil signifies right when your courage is
concerned. Do you think Verges, or my little Dogberry ever
inquired where the right lay? No, by my soul; they drew their
writs, and left the lazy justice of the peace to settle the right
Straw Hat.--Your words are a grenadier's march to my heart! I
believe courage must be catching! I certainly do feel a kind of
valor rising as it were,--a kind of courage, as I may say. Odds,
writs and warrants! I'll complain directly.
(With apologies to Sheridan.)
And the pair went off to make their complaint.
Suppose each had been given then and there the sixty cents he
afterwards received and duly receipted for, would it have saved
time and trouble? Who knows? but the diversion of the afternoon
would have been lost.
In a few moments an officer quite courteously--refreshing
contrast--notified me that complaint was in process of making.
I found the chief of police with a copy of the city ordinance
trying to draw some sort of a complaint that would fit the
extraordinary case, for the charge was not the usual one, that the
machine was going at an unlawful speed, but that a lawyer had been
frightened; to find the punishment that would fit that crime was
no easy task.
The ordinance is liberal,--ten miles an hour; and the young man
and his mentor had not said the speed of the automobile was
greater than the law allowed, hence the dilemma of the chief; but
we discussed a clause which provided that vehicles should not be
driven through the streets in a manner so as to endanger public
travel, and he thought the complaint would rest on that provision.
However lacking the bar of Pittsfield may be in the amenities of
life, the bench is courtesy itself. There was no court until next
day; but calling at the judge's very delightful home, which
happens to be on one of the interesting old streets of the town,
he said he would come down and hear the matter at two o'clock, so
I could get away that afternoon.
The first and wisest impulse of the automobilist is to pay
whatever fine is imposed and go on, but frightening a lawyer is
not an every-day occurrence. I once frightened a pair of army
mules; but a lawyer,--the experience was too novel to let pass
lightly. The game promised to be worth the candle.
The scene shifts to a dingy little room in the basement of the
court-house; present, Straw Hat and Sandy Beard, with populace.
To corroborate--wise precaution on the part of a lawyer in his own
court--their story, they bring along a volunteer witness in
over-alls,--the three making a trio hard to beat.
Straw Hat takes the stand and testifies he is an unusually timid
man, and was most frightened to death.
Sandy Beard's testimony is both graphic and corroborative.
The witness in over-alls, with some embellishments of his own,
supports Sandy Beard.
The row of bricks is complete.
The court removes a prop by remarking that the ordinance speed has
not been exceeded.
The bricks totter.
Whereupon, Sandy Beard now takes the matter into his own hands,
and, ignoring the professional acquirements of his principal,
addresses the court and urges the imposition of a fine,--a fine
being the only satisfaction, and source of immediate revenue,
conceivable to Sandy Beard.
Meanwhile Straw Hat is silent; the witness in over-alls is
The court considers the matter, and says "the embarrassing feature
of the case is that it has yet to be shown that the defendant was
going at a rate exceeding ten miles an hour, and upon this point
the witnesses did not agree. There was evidence tending to prove
the machine was going ten miles an hour, but that would not lead
to conviction under the first clause of the ordinance; but there
is another clause which says that a machine must not be run in
such a manner as to endanger or inconvenience public travel. What
is detrimental to public travel? Does it mean to run it so as not
to frighten a man of nerve like the chief of police, or some timid
person? It is urged that not one man in a thousand would have been
frightened like Mr.-- ; but a man is bound to run his machine in
the streets so as to frighten no one, therefore the defendant is
fined five dollars and costs."
The fine is duly paid, and Messrs. Straw Hat, Sandy Beard, and
Over-alls, come forward, receive and receipt for sixty cents each.
Their wrath was appeased, their wounded feelings soothed, their
valor satisfied,--one dollar and eighty cents for the bunch.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN THROUGH MASSACHUSETTS
There are several roads out of Pittsfield to Springfield, and if
one asks a half-dozen citizens, who pretend to know, which is the
best, a half-dozen violently conflicting opinions will be
The truth seems to be that all the roads are pretty good,--that
is, they are all very hilly and rather soft. One expects the
hills, and must put up with the sand. It is impossible to get to
Springfield, which is far on the other side of the mountains,
without making some stiff grades,--few grades so bad as Nelson's
Hill out of Peekskill, or worse than Pride's Hill near Fonda; in
fact, the grades through the Berkshires are no worse than many
short stiff grades that are to be found in any rolling country,
but there are more of them, and occasionally the road is rough or
soft, making it hard going.
The road commonly recommended as the more direct is by way of
Dalton and Hinsdale, following as closely as possible the line of
the Boston and Albany; this winds about in the valleys and is said
to be very good.
We preferred a more picturesque though less travelled route. We
wished to go through Lenox, some six or seven miles to the south,
and if anything a little to the west, and therefore out of our
The road from Pittsfield to Lenox is a famous drive, one of the
wonders of that little world. It is not bad, neither is it good.
Compared with the superb State road over the mountain, it is a
trail over a prairie. As a matter of fact, it is just a broad,
graded, and somewhat improved highway, too rough for fast speed
and comfort, and on the Saturday morning in question dust was
The day was fine, the country beautiful; hills everywhere, hills
so high they were almost mountains. The dust of summer was on the
foliage, a few late blossoms lingered by the roadside, but for the
most part flowers had turned to seeds, and seeds were ready to
fall. The fields were in stubble, hay in the mow and straw in the
stack. The green of the hills was deeper in hue, the valleys were
ripe for autumn.
People were flocking to the Berkshires from seashore and
mountains; the "season" was about to begin in earnest; hotels were
filled or rapidly filling, and Lenox--dear, peaceful little
village in one of nature's fairest hollows--was most enticing as
we passed slowly through, stopping once or twice to make sure of
our very uncertain way.
The slowest automobile is too fast for so delightful a spot as
Lenox. One should amble through on a palfrey, or walk, or, better
still, pass not through at all, but tarry and dream the days away
until the last leaves are off the trees. But the habit of the
automobile is infectious, one goes on and on in spite of all
attractions, the appeals of nature, the protests of friends.
Ulysses should have whizzed by the Sirens in an auto. The
Wandering Jew, if still on his rounds, should buy a machine; it
will fit his case to a nicety; his punishment will become a habit;
he will join an automobile club, go on an endurance contest, and,
in the brief moments allowed him for rest and oiling up, will swap
stories with the boys.
With a sigh of relief, one finishes a long day's run, thinking it
will suffice for many a day to come; the evening is scarce over
before elfin suggestions of possible rides for the morrow are
floating about in the air, and when morning comes the automobile
is taken out,--very much as the toper who has sworn off the night
before takes his morning dram,--it just can't be helped.
Our way lay over October Mountain by a road not much frequented.
In the morning's ride we did not meet a trap of any kind or a
rider,--something quite unusual in that country of riders and
drivers. The road seemed to cling to the highest hills, and we
climbed up and up for hours. Only once was the grade so steep that
we were obliged to dismount. We passed through no village until we
reached the other side, but every now and then we would come to a
little clearing with two or three houses, possibly a forlorn store
and a silent blacksmith shop; these spots seemed even more lonely
and deserted than the woods themselves. Man is so essentially a
gregarious animal that to come upon a lone house in a wilderness
is more depressing than the forests. Nature is never alone; it
knows no solitude; it is a mighty whole, each part of which is in
constant communication with every other part. Nature needs no
telephone; from time immemorial it has used wireless telegraphy in
a condition of perfection unknown to man. Every morning Mount
Blanc sends a message to Pike's Peak, and it sends it on over the
waters to Fujisan. The bosom of the earth thrills with nervous
energy; the air is charged with electric force; the blue ether of
the universe throbs with motion. Nature knows no environment; but
man is fettered, a spirit in a cage, a mournful soul that seeks
companionship in misery. Solitude is a word unknown to nature's
vocabulary. The deepest recesses of the forest teem with life and
joyousness until man appears, then they are filled with solitude.
The wind-swept desert is one of nature's play-grounds until man
appears, then it is barren with solitude. The darkest mountain
cavern echoes with nature's laughter until man appears, then it is
hollow with solitude. The shadow of man is solitude.
Instead of coming out at Becket as we expected, we found ourselves
way down near Otis and West Otis, and passed through North
Blandford and Blandford to Fairfield, where we struck the main
We stopped for dinner at a small village a few miles from
Westfield. There was but one store, but it kept a barrel of stove
gasoline in an apple orchard. The gasoline was good, but the
gallon measure into which it was drawn had been used for oil,
varnish, turpentine, and every liquid a country store is supposed
to keep--not excepting molasses. It was crusted with sediment and
had a most evil smell. Needless to say the measure was rejected;
but that availed little, since the young clerk poured the gasoline
back into the barrel to draw it out again into a cleaner
The gasoline for sale at country stores is usually all right, but
it is handled in all sorts of receptacles; the only safe way is to
ask for a bright and new dipper and let the store-keeper guess at
At Westfield the spark began to give trouble; the machine was very
slow in starting, as if the batteries were weak; but that could
not be, for one set was fresh and the other by no means exhausted.
A careful examination of every connection failed to disclose any
breaks in the circuit, and yet the spark was of intermittent
strength,--now good, now weak.
When there is anything wrong with an automobile, there is but one
thing to do, and that is find the source of the trouble and remedy
it. The temptation is to go on if the machine starts up
unexpectedly. We yielded to the temptation, and went on as soon as
the motor started; the day was so fine and we were so anxious to
get to Worcester that we started with the motor,--knowing all the
time that whatever made the motor slow to start would, in all
likelihood, bring us to a stand-still before very long; the evil
moment, possibly the evil hour, may be postponed, but seldom the
At two o'clock we passed through Springfield, stopping only a
moment at the hotel to inquire for mail. Leaving Springfield we
followed the main road towards Worcester, some fifty miles away.
The road is winding and over a rolling country, but for the most
part very good. The grades are not steep, there are some sandy
spots, but none so soft as to materially interfere with good
speed. There are many stretches of good gravel, and here and there
a piece--a sample--of State road, perfectly laid macadam, with
signs all along requesting persons not to drive in the centre of
the highway,--this is to save the road from the hollows and ruts
that horses and narrow-tired wagons invariably make, and in which
the water stands, ultimately wearing the macadam through. We could
not see that the slightest attention was paid to the notices.
Everybody kept the middle of the road, such is the improvidence of
men; the country people grumble at the great expense of good
roads, and then take the surest way to ruin them.
While it is true that the people in the first instance grumble at
the prospective cost of these well-made State roads, no sooner are
they laid than their very great value is appreciated, and good
roads sentiment becomes rampant. The farmer who has worn out
horses, harness, wagons, and temper in getting light loads to
market over heavy roads is quick to appreciate the very material
advantage and economy of having highways over which one horse can
pull as much as two under the old sandy, rough, and muddy
A good road may be the making of a town, and it increases the
value of all abutting property. Already the question is commonly
asked when a farm is offered for sale or rent, "Is it on a State
road?" Lots will not sell in cities unless all improvements are
in; soon farmers will not be able to sell unless the highways are
One good thing about the automobile, it does not cut up the
surface of a macadam or gravel road as do steel tires and
At the outskirts of the little village of West Brookfield we came
to a stand-still; the spark disappeared,--or rather from a large,
round, fat spark it dropped to an insignificant little blue
sparklet that would not explode a squib.
The way the spark acted with either or both batteries on indicated
pretty strongly that the trouble was in the coil; but it is so
seldom a coil goes wrong that everything was looked over, but no
spark of any size was to be had, therefore there was nothing to do
but cast about for a place to spend the night, for it was then
As good luck would have it, we were almost in front of a large,
comfortable, old-fashioned house where they took summer boarders;
as the season was drawing to a close, there was plenty of room and
they were glad to take us in. The machine was pushed into a shed,
everybody assisting with the readiness ever characteristic of
The big, clean, white rooms were most inviting; the homely New
England supper of cold meats and hot rolls seemed under the
circumstances a feast for a king, and as we sat in front of the
house in the evening, and looked across the highway to a little
lake just beyond and heard the croaking of the frogs, the chirping
of crickets, and the many indistinguishable sounds of night, we
were not sorry the machine had played us false exactly when and
where it did.
The automobile plays into the hands of Morpheus, the drowsy god
follows in its wake, sure of his victims. No sleep is dreamless.
It is pretty difficult to exhaust the three billions of cells of
the central nervous system so that all require rest, but ten hours
on an automobile in the open air, speeding along like the wind
most of the time, will come nearer putting all those cells to
sleep than any exercise heretofore discovered. The fatigue is
normal, pervasive, and persuasive, and it is pretty hard to recall
any dream on waking.
It was Sunday morning, September 1, and raining, a soft, drizzly
downpour, that had evidently begun early in the night and kept up
--or rather down--steadily. It was a good morning to remain
indoors and read; but there was that tantalizing machine challenging
combat; then, too, Worcester was but eighteen or twenty miles
away, and at Worcester we expected to find letters and telegrams.
A young and clever electrician across the way came over, bringing
an electric bell, with which we tested the dry cells, finding them
in good condition. We then examined the connections and ran the
trouble back to the coil. There was plenty of current and plenty
of voltage, but only a little blue spark, which could be obtained
equally well with the coil in or out of the circuit, and yet the
coil did not show a short circuit, but before we finished our
tests the spark suddenly appeared.
Again, it would have been better to remain and find the trouble;
but as there was no extra coil to be had in the village, it seemed
fairly prudent to start on and get as far as possible. Possibly
the coil would hold out to Worcester; anyway, the road is a series
of villages, some larger than Brookfield, and a coil might be
found at one of them.
When within two miles of Spencer the spark gave out again; this
time no amount of coaxing would bring it back, so there was
nothing to do but appeal to a farmer for a pair of horses to pull
the machine into his yard. The assistance was most kindly given,
though the day was Sunday, and for him, his men and his animals,
emphatically a day of rest.
Only twice on the entire trip were horses attached to the machine;
but a sparking coil is absolutely essential, and when one gives
out it is pretty hard to make repairs on the road. In case of
necessity a coil may be unwound, the trouble discovered and
remedied, but that is a tedious process. It was much easier to
leave the machine for the night, run into Worcester on the trolley
which passed along the same road, and bring out a new coil in the
Monday happened to be Labor Day, and it was only after much
trouble that a place was found open where electrical supplies
could be purchased. In addition to a coil, the electrician took
out some thoroughly insulated double cable wire; the wiring of the
machine had been so carelessly done and with such light, cheap
wire that it seemed a good opportunity to rewire throughout.
The electrician--a very competent and quick workman he proved to
be--was so sure the trouble could not be in the coil that he did
not wish to carry out a new one.
When ready to start, we found the trolley line blocked by a Labor
Day parade that was just beginning to move. The procession was
unusually long on account of striking trades unionists, who turned
out in force. As each section of strikers passed, the electrician
explained the cause of their strike, the number of men out, and
the length of time they had been out.
It seemed too bad that big, brawny, intelligent men could find no
better way of adjusting differences with employers than by
A strike is an expensive luxury. Three parties are losers,--the
community in general by being deprived for the time being of
productive forces; the employers by loss on capital invested; the
employees by loss of wages. The loss to the community, while very
real, is little felt. Employers, as a rule, are prepared to stand
their losses with equanimity; in fact, when trade is dull, or when
an employer desires to make changes in his business, a strike is
no inconvenience at all; but the men are the real losers, and
especially those with families and with small homes unpaid for; no
one can measure their losses, for it may mean the savings of a
lifetime. It frequently does mean a change in character from an
industrious, frugal, contented workman with everything to live
for, to a shiftless and discontented man with nothing to live for
but agitation and strife.
It is easy to acquire the strike habit, and impossible to throw it
off. A first strike is more dangerous than a first drink; it makes
a profound and ineradicable impression. To quit work for the first
time at the command of some central organization is an experience
so novel that no man can do it without being affected; he will
never again be the same steady and indefatigable workman; the
spirit of unrest creeps in, the spirit of discontent closely
follows; his life is changed; though he never goes through another
strike, he can never forget his first.
In the long run it does not matter much which side wins, the
effect is very much the same,--strikes are bound to follow
strikes. Warfare is so natural to men that it is difficult to
declare a lasting peace. But some day the men themselves will see
that strikes are far more disastrous to them than to any other
class, and they will devise other ways and means; they will use
the strength of their organizations to better advantage; above
all, they will relegate to impotency the professional organizers
and agitators who retain their positions by fomenting strife.
It is singular that workmen do not take a lesson from their
shrewder employers, who, if they have organizations of their own,
never confer upon any officer or committee of idlers the power to
control the trade. An organization of employers is always
controlled by those most actively engaged in the business, and not
by coteries of paid idlers; no central committee of men, with
nothing to do but make trouble, can involve a whole trade in
costly controversies. The strength of the employer lies in the
fact that each man consults first his own interest, and if the
action of the body bids fair to injure his individual interests he
not only protests, but threatens to withdraw; the employer cannot
be cowed by any association of which he is a member; but the
employee is cowed by his union,--that is the essential difference
between the two. An association of employers is a union of
independent and aggressive units, and the action of the
association must meet the approval of each of these units or
disruption will follow. Workingmen do not seem to appreciate the
value of the unit; they are attracted by masses. They seem to
think strength lies only in members; but that is the keynote of
militantism, the death-knell of individualism. The real, the only
strength of a union lies in the silent, unconsulted units; now and
then they rise up and act and the union accomplishes something;
for the most part they do not act, but are blindly led, and the
union accomplishes nothing.
It was interesting to hear the comments of the intelligent young
mechanic as the different trades passed by.
"Those fellows are out on a sympathetic strike; no grievance at
all, plenty of work and good wages, but just out because they are
told to come out; big fools, I say, to be pulled about by the
"There are the plumbers; their union makes more trouble than any
other in the building trades; they are always looking for trouble,
and manage to find it when no one else can.
"Unions are all right for bachelors who can afford to loaf, but
they are pretty hard on the married man with a family.
"What's gained in a strike is lost in the fight.
"What's the use of staying out three months to get a ten per cent.
raise for nine? It doesn't pay.
"Wages have been going up for two hundred years. I can't see that
the strike has advanced the rate of increase any.
"These fellows have tried to monopolize Labor Day; they don't want
any non-union man in the parade; the people will not stand for
that very long; labor is labor whether union or non-union, and the
great majority of workingmen in this country are not members of
The parade, like all things good, came to an end, and we took the
trolley for the place where the automobile had been left.
On arriving we took out the dry cells, tested each one, and then
rewired the carriage complete and in a manner to defy rain, sand,
and oil. The difficulty, however, was in the coil. Apparently the
motion of the vehicle had worn the insulation through at some
point inside. The new coil, a common twelve-inch coil, worked
well, giving a good, hot spark.
The farmer who had so kindly pulled the machine in the day before
would accept nothing for his trouble, and was, as most farmers
are, exceedingly kind. It is embarrassing to call upon strangers
for assistance which means work and inconvenience for them, and
then have them positively decline all compensation.
The ride into Worcester was a fast one over good gravel and
Immediately after luncheon we started for Boston. Every foot of
the road in from Worcester is good hard gravel and the ride is
most delightful. As it was a holiday and the highway was
comparatively free of traffic, we travelled along faster than
It was our intention to follow the main road through Shrewsbury,
Southborough, Framingham, and Wellesley, but though man proposes,
in the suburbs of Boston Providence disposes. About Southborough
we lost our road, and were soon angling to the northeast through
the Sudburys. So far as the road itself was concerned the change
was for the better, for, while there would be stretches which were
not gravelled, the country was more interesting than along the
The old "Worcester Turnpike" is Boyleston Street in Boston and
through Brookline to the Newtons, where it becomes plain Worcester
Street and bears that name westward through Wellesley and Natick.
The trolley line out of Worcester is through Shrewsbury and
Northborough to Marlborough, then a turn almost due south to
Southborough, then east to Framingham, southeast to South
Framingham, east through Natick to Wellesley, northeast through
Wellesley Hills to Newton, then direct through Brookline into
The road, it will be noted, is far from straight, and it is at the
numerous forks and turns one is apt to go astray unless constant
inquiries are made.
At Marlborough we kept on to the east towards Waltham instead of
turning to the south for Southborough. It is but a few miles out
of the way from Marlborough to Concord and into Boston by way of
Lexington; or, if the road through Wellesley and Newton is
followed, it is worth while to turn from Wellesley Hills to
Norembega Park for the sake of stopping a few moments on the spot
where Norembega Tower confidently proclaims the discovery of
America and the founding of a fortified place by the Norsemen
nearly five hundred years before Columbus sailed out of the harbor
Having wandered from the old turnpike, we thought we would go by
Concord and Lexington, but did not. The truth is the automobile is
altogether too fast a conveyance for the suburbs of Boston, which
were laid out by cows for the use of pedestrians. There are an
infinite number of forks, angles, and turnings, and by a native on
foot short cuts can be made to any objective point, but the
automobile passes a byway before it is seen. Directions are given
but not followed, because turns and obscure cross-roads are passed
at high speed and unobserved.
Every one is most obliging in giving directions, but the
directions run about like this:
"To Concord?--yes,--let me see;--do you know the Old Sudbury
road?--No!--strangers?--ah! that's too bad, for if you don't know
the roads it will be hard telling you--but let me see;--if you
follow this road about a mile, you will come to a brick store and
a watering trough,--take the turn to the left there;--I think that
is the best road, or you can take a turn this side, but if I were
you I would take the road at the watering trough;--from there it
is about eight miles, and I think you make three turns,--but you
better inquire, for if you don't know the roads it is pretty hard
to direct you."
"We follow this road straight ahead to the brick store and trough,
"Well, the road is not exactly straight, but if you bear to the
right, then take the second left hand fork, you'll be all right."
All of which things we most faithfully performed, and yet we got
no nearer that day than "about eight miles farther to Concord."
In circling about we came quite unexpectedly upon the old "Red
Horse" tavern, now the "Wayside Inn." We brought the machine to a
stop and gazed long and lovingly at the ancient hostelry which had
given shelter to famous men for nearly two hundred years, and
where congenial spirits gathered in Longfellow's days and the
imaginary "Tales of a Wayside Inn" were exchanged.
The mellow light of the setting sun warmed the time-worn structure
with a friendly glow. The sign of the red horse rampant creaked
mournfully as it swung slowly to and fro in the gentle breeze;
with palsied arms and in cracked tones the old inn seemed to bid
us stay and rest beneath its sheltering eaves. Washington and
Hamilton and Lafayette, Emerson and Hawthorne and Longfellow had
entered that door, eaten and drunk within those humble walls,--the
great in war, statecraft, and literature had been its guests; like
an old man it lives with its memories, recalls the associations of
its youth and prime, but slumbers oblivious to the present.
The old inn was so fascinating that we determined to come back in
a few days and spend at least a night beneath its roof. The
shadows were so rapidly lengthening that we had to hurry on.
Crossing the Charles River near Auburndale a sight of such
bewitching beauty met our astonished gaze that we stopped to make
inquiries. Above and below the bridge the river was covered with
gayly decorated canoes which were being paddled about by laughing
and singing young people. The brilliant colors of the decorations,
the pretty costumes, the background of dark water, the shores
lined with people and equipages, the bridge so crowded we could
hardly get through, made a never-to-be-forgotten picture. It was
just a holiday canoe-meet, and hundreds of the small, frail craft
were darting about upon the surface of the water like so many
pretty dragon-flies. The automobile seemed such an intrusion, a
drone of prose in a burst of poetry, the discord of machinery in a
We stopped a few moments at Lasell Seminary in Auburndale, where
old associations were revived by my Companion over a cup of tea. A
girl's school is a mysterious place; there is an atmosphere of
suppressed mischief, of things threatened but never quite
committed, of latent possibilities, and still more latent
impossibilities. In a boy's school mischief is evident and
rampant; desks, benches, and walls are whittled and defaced with
all the wanton destructiveness of youth; buildings and fences show
marks of contact with budding manhood; but boys are so openly and
notoriously mischievous that no apprehension is felt, for the
worst is ever realized; but those in command of a school of demure
and saintly girls must feel like men handling dynamite, uncertain
what will happen next; the stolen pie, the hidden sweets, the
furtive note are indications of the infinite subtlety of the
From Auburndale the boulevard leads into Commonwealth Avenue and
the run is fine.
It was about seven o'clock when we reached the Hotel Touraine, and
a little later when the machine was safely housed in an automobile
station,--a part of an old railway depot.
A few days in Boston and on the North Shore afforded a welcome
Through Beverly and Manchester the signs "Automobiles not allowed"
at private roadways are numerous; they are the rule rather than
the exception. One young man had a machine up there, but found
himself so ostracized he shipped it away. No machines are allowed
on the grounds of the Essex Country Club.
No man with the slightest consideration for the comfort and
pleasure of others would care to keep and use a machine in places
where so many women and children are riding and driving. The charm
of the North Shore and the Berkshires lies largely in the
opportunities afforded for children to be out with their ponies,
girls with their carts, and women with horses too spirited to
stand unusual sights and sounds. One automobile may terrorize the
entire little community; in fact, one machine will spread terror
where many would not.
It is quite difficult enough to drive a machine carefully through
such resorts, without driving about day after day to the
discomfort of every resident.
In a year or two all will be changed; the people owning summer
homes will themselves own and use automobiles; the horses will see
so many that little notice will be taken, but the pioneers of the
sport will have an unenviable time.
A good half-day's work was required on the machine before starting
The tire that had been plugged with rubber bands weeks before in
Indiana was now leaking, the air creeping through the fabric and
oozing out at several places. The leak was not bad, just about
enough to require pumping every day.
The extra tire that had been following along was taken out of the
express office and put on. It was a tire that had been punctured
and repaired at the factory. It looked all right, but as it turned
out the repair was poorly made, and it would have been better to
leave on the old tire, inflating it each day.
A small needle-valve was worn so that it leaked; that was
replaced. A stiffer spring was inserted in the intake-valve so it
would not open quite so easily. A number of minor things were
done, and every nut and bolt tried and tightened.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN LEXINGTON AND CONCORD
"THE WAYSIDE INN"
Saturday morning, September 7, at eleven o'clock, we left the
Touraine for Auburndale, where we lunched, then to Waltham, and
from there due north by what is known as Waltham Street to
Lexington, striking Massachusetts Avenue just opposite the town
Along this historic highway rode Paul Revere; at his heels
followed the regulars of King George. Tablets, stones, and
monuments mark every known point of interest from East Lexington
In Boston, at the head of Hull Street, Christ Church, the oldest
church in the city, still stands, and bears a tablet claiming for
its steeple the credit of the signals for Paul Revere; but the Old
North Church in North Square, near which Revere lived and where he
attended service, and from the belfry of which the lanterns were
really hung, disappeared in the conflict it initiated. In the
winter of the siege of Boston the old meeting-house was pulled
down by the British soldiers and used for firewood. Fit ending of
the ancient edifice which had stood for almost exactly one hundred
years, and in which the three Mathers, Increase, Cotton, and
Samuel,--father, son, and grandson,--had preached the unctuous
doctrine of hell-fire and damnation; teaching so incendiary was
bound sooner or later to consume its own habitation.
Revere was not the only messenger of warning. For days the
patriots had been anxious concerning the stores of arms and
ammunition at Concord, and three days before the night of the 18th
Revere himself had warned Hancock and Adams at the Clarke home in
Lexington that plans were on foot in the enemies' camp to destroy
the stores, whereupon a portion was removed to Sudbury and Groton.
Before Revere started on his ride, other messengers had been
despatched to alarm the country, but at ten o'clock on the
memorable night of the 18th he was sent for and bidden to get
ready. He got his riding-boots and surtout from his house in North
Square, was ferried across the river, landing on the Charlestown
side about eleven o'clock, where he was told the signal-lights had
already been displayed in the belfry. The moon was rising as he
put spurs to his horse and started for Lexington.
The troops were ahead of him by an hour.
He rode up what is now Main Street as far as the "Neck," then took
the old Cambridge road for Somerville.
To escape two British officers who barred his way, he dashed
across lots to the main road again and took what is now Broadway.
On he went over the hill to Medford, where he aroused the Medford
minute-men. Then through West Medford and over the Mystic Bridge
to Menotomy,--now Arlington,--where he struck the highway,--now
Massachusetts Avenue,--to Lexington. Galloping up to the old
Clarke house where Hancock and Adams were sleeping, the patriot on
guard cautioned him not to make so much noise.
"Noise! you'll have enough of it here before long. The Regulars
Awakened by the voice, Hancock put his head out of the window and
"Come in, Revere; we're not afraid of you."
Soon the old house was alight. Revere entered the "living room" by
the side door and delivered his message to the startled occupants.
Soon they were joined by Dawes, another messenger by another road.
After refreshing themselves, Revere and Dawes set off for Concord.
On the road Samuel Prescott joined them. When about half-way, four
British officers, mounted and fully armed, stopped them. Prescott
jumped over the low stone wall, made his escape and alarmed
Concord. Dawes was chased by two of the officers until, with rare
shrewdness, he dashed up in front of a deserted farm-house and
shouted, "Hello, boys! I've got two of them," frightening off his
Revere was captured. Without fear or humiliation he told his name
and his mission. Frightened by the sound of firing at Lexington,
the officers released their prisoner, and he made his way back to
Hancock and Adams and accompanied them to what is now the town of
Burlington. Hastening back to Lexington for a trunk containing
valuable papers, he was present at the battle,--the fulfillment of
his warning, the red afterglow of the lights from the belfry of
Old North Church.
He lived for forty-odd years to tell the story of his midnight
ride, and now he sleeps with Hancock and Adams, the parents of
Franklin, Peter Faneuil, and a host of worthy men in the
The good people of Massachusetts have done what they could to
commemorate the events and obliterate the localities of those
great days; they have erected monuments and put up tablets in
great numbers; but while marking the spots where events occurred,
they have changed the old names of roads and places until
contemporary accounts require a glossary for interpretation.
Who would recognize classic Menotomy in the tinsel ring of
Arlington? The good old Indian name, the very speaking of which is
a pleasure, has given place to the first-class apartments,
--steam-heated, electric-lights, hot and cold water, all improvements
--in appellations of Arlington and Arlington Heights. A tablet marks
the spot where on April 19 "the old men of Menotomy" captured a
convoy of British soldiers. Poor old men, once the boast and glory
of the place that knew you; but now the passing traveller
curiously reads the inscription and wonders "Why were they called
the old men 'of Menotomy'?" for there is now no such place.
Massachusetts Avenue--Massachusetts Avenue! there's a name, a
great, big, luscious name, a name that savors of brown stone
fronts and plush rockers: a name which goes well with the
commercial prosperity of Boston. Massachusetts Avenue extends from
Dorchester in Boston to Lexington Green; it has absorbed the old
Cambridge and the old Lexington roads; the old Long Bridge lives
in history, but, rechristened Brighton Bridge, the reader fails to
Concord remains and Lexington remains, simply because no real
estate boom has yet reached them but Bunker Hill, there is a
feeling that apartments would rent better if the musty
associations of the spot were obliterated by some such name as
"Buckingham Heights," or "Commonwealth Crest;" "The Acropolis" has
been prayerfully considered by the freemen of the modern Athens;--
whatever the decision may be, certain it is the name Bunker Hill
is a heavy load for choice corners in the vicinity.
There are a few old names still left in Massachusetts,--
Jingleberry Hill and Chillyshally** Brook sound as if they once
meant something; Spot Pond, named by Governor Winthrop, has not
lost its birthright; Powder-Horn Hill records its purchase from
the Indians for a hornful of powder--probably damp; Drinkwater
River is a good name,--Strong Water Brook by many is considered
better. It is well to record these names before they are effaced
by the commercialism rampant in the suburbs of Boston.
At the Town Hall in Lexington we turned to the right for East
Lexington, and made straight for Follen Church, and the home of
Dr. Follen close by, where Emerson preached in 1836 and 1837.
The church was not built until 1839. In January, 1840, the
congregation had assembled in their new edifice for the dedication
services. They waited for their pastor, who was expected home from
a visit to New York, but the Long Island Sound steamer--Lexington,
by strange coincidence it was called--had burned and Dr. Follen
was among the lost. His home is now the East Lexington Branch of
the Public Library.
We climbed the stairs that led to the small upper room where
Emerson filled his last regular charge. Small as was the room, it
probably more than sufficed for the few people who were
sufficiently advanced for his notions of a preacher's mission. He
did not believe in the rites the church clung to as indispensable;
he did not believe in the use of bread and wine in the Lord's
Supper; he did not believe in prayers from the pulpit unless the
preacher felt impelled to pray; he did not believe in ritualism or
formalism of any kind,--in short, he did not believe in a church,
for a church, however broad and liberal, is, after all, an
institution, and no one man, however great, can support an
institution. A very great soul--and Emerson was a great soul--may
carry a following through life and long after death, but that
following is not a church, not an institution, not a living
organized body, until forms, conventions, and traditions make it
so; its vitalizing element may be the soul of its founder, but the
framework of the structure, the skeleton, is made up of the more
or less rigid conventions which are the results of natural and
The ritual of Rome, the service of England, the dry formalism of
Calvinism, the slender structure of Unitarianism were all equally
repugnant to Emerson; he could not stretch himself in their
fetters; he was not at ease in any priestly garment. Born a
prophet, he could not become a priest. By nature a teacher and
preacher, he never could submit to those restrictions which go so
far to make preaching effective. He taught the lesson of the ages,
but he mistook it for his own. He belonged to humanity, but he
detached himself. He was a leader, but would acknowledge no
discipline. Men cried out to him, but he wandered apart. He was an
intellectual anarchist of rare and lovely type; few sweeter souls
ever lived, but he defied order.
Not that Emerson would have been any better if he had submitted to
the discipline of some church; he did what he felt impelled to do,
and left the world a precious legacy of ideas, of brilliant,
beautiful thoughts; but thoughts which are brilliant and beautiful
as the stars are, scattered jewels against the background of night
with no visible connection. Is it not possible that the gracious
discipline of an environment more conventional might have reduced
these thoughts to some sort of order, brought the stars into
constellations, and left suggestions for the ordering of life that
would be of greater force and more permanent value?
His wife relates that one day he was reading an old sermon in the
little room in the Follen mansion, when he stopped, and said,
"The passage which I have just read I do not believe, but it was
The circumstance illustrates the openness and frankness of his
mind, but it is also a commentary on the want of system in his
intellectual processes. His habit through life was to jot down
thoughts as they came to him; he kept note-books and journals all
his life; he dreamed in the pine woods by day and walked beneath
the stars by night; he sat by the still waters and wandered in the
green fields; and the dreams and the visions and the fancies of
the moment he faithfully recorded. These disjointed musings and
disconnected thoughts formed the raw material of all he ever said
and wrote. From the accumulated stores of years he would draw
whatever was necessary to meet the needs of the hour; and it did
not matter to him if thought did not dovetail into thought with
all the precision of good intellectual carpentry. His edifices
were filled with chinks and unfinished apartments.
He saw things in a big way, but did not always see them as through
crystal, clearly; nor did he always take his staff in hand and
courageously go about to see all sides of things. He never thought
to a finish. His philosophy never acquired form and substance. His
thoughts are not linked in chain, but are just so many precious
pearls lightly strung on a silken thread.
In 1852 he wrote in his journal, "I waked last night and bemoaned
myself because I had not thrown myself into this deplorable
question of slavery, which seems to want nothing so much as a few
assured voices. But then in hours of sanity I recover myself, and
say, 'God must govern his own world, and knows his way out of this
pit without my desertion of my post, which has none to guard it
but me. I have quite other slaves to free than those negroes, to
wit, imprisoned spirits, imprisoned thoughts, far back in the
brain of man, far retired in the heaven of invention, and which,
important to the republic of man, have no watchman or lover or
defender but me,'" thereby naively leaving to God the lesser task.
But he wrongs himself in his own journal, for he did bestir
himself and he did speak, and he did not leave the black men to
God while he looked after the white; he helped God all he could in
his own peculiar, irresolute way. At the same time no passage from
the journals throws more light on the pure soul of the great
dreamer. He was opposed to slavery and he felt for the negroes,
but their physical degradation did not appeal to him so much as
the intellectual degradation of those about him. To him it was a
loftier mission to release the minds of men than free their
bodies. With the naive and at the same time superb egoism which is
characteristic of great souls, he consoles himself with the
thought that God can probably take care of the slavery question
without troubling him; he will stick to his post and look after
more important matters.
What a treat it must have been to those assembled in the Follen
house to hear week after week the very noblest considerations and
suggestions concerning life poured forth in tones so musical, so
penetrating, that to-day they ring in the ears of those who had
the great good fortune to hear. There was probably very little
said about death. Emerson never pretended to a vision beyond the
grave. In his essay on "Immortality" he says, "Sixty years ago,
the books read, the services and prayers heard, the habits of
thought of religious persons, were all directed on death. All were
under the shadow of Calvinism and of the Roman Catholic purgatory,
and death was dreadful. The emphasis of all the good books given
to young people was on death. We were all taught that we were born
to die; and over that, all the terrors that theology could gather
from savage nations were added to increase the gloom, A great
change has occurred. Death is seen as a natural event, and is met
with firmness. A wise man in our time caused to be written on his
tomb, 'Think on Living.' That inscription describes a progress in
opinion. Cease from this antedating of your experience. Sufficient
to to-day are the duties of to-day. Don't waste life in doubts and
fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that
the right performance of the hour's duties will be the best
preparation for the hours or ages that follow it."
Such was the burden of Emerson's message: make the very best of
life; let not the present be palsied by fears for the future. A
healthy, sane message, a loud clear voice in the wilderness of
doubt and fears, the very loudest and clearest voice in matters
spiritual and intellectual which America has yet produced.
It was during the days of his service in East Lexington that he
went to Providence to deliver a course of lectures; while there he
was invited to conduct the services in the Second (Unitarian)
Church. The pastor afterwards said, "He selected from Greenwood's
collection hymns of a purely meditative character, without any
distinctively Christian expression. For the Scripture lesson he
read a fine passage from Ecclesiasticus**, from which he also took
his text. The sermon was precisely like one of his lectures in
style; the prayers, or what took their place, were wholly without
supplication, confession, or praise, but only sweet meditations on
nature, beauty, order, goodness, love. After returning home I
found Emerson with his head bowed on his hands, which were resting
on his knees. He looked up to me and said, 'Now, tell me honestly,
plainly, just what you think of that service.' I replied that
before he was half through I had made up my mind that it was the
last time he should have that pulpit. 'You are right,' he
rejoined, 'and I thank you. On my part, before I was half through,
I felt out of place. The doubt is solved.'"
He dwelt with time and eternity on a footing of familiar equality.
He did not shrink or cringe. His prayers were sweet meditations
and his sermon a lecture. He was the apostle of beauty, goodness,
Lexington Road from East Lexington to the Centre is a succession
of historic spots marked by stones and tablets.
The old home of Harrington, the last survivor of the battle of
Lexington, still stands close to the roadside, shaded by a row of
fine big trees. Harrington died in 1854 at the great age of
ninety-eight; he was a fifer-boy in Captain Parker's company. In
the early morning on the day of the fight his mother rapped on his
bedroom door, calling, "Jonathan, Jonathan, get up; the British
are coming, and something must be done." He got up and did his
part with the others. Men still living recall the old man; they
heard the story of that memorable day from the lips of one who
At the corner of Maple Street there is an elm planted in 1740.
On a little knoll at the left is the Monroe Tavern. The square,
two-storied frame structure which remains is the older portion of
the inn as it was in those days. It was the head-quarters of Lord
Percy; and it is said that an inoffensive old man who served the
soldiers with liquor in the small bar-room was killed when he
tried to get away by a rear door. When the soldiers left they
sacked the house, piled up the furniture and set fire to it.
Washington dined in the dining-room in the second story, November
5, 1789. The house was built in 1695, and is still owned by a
direct descendant of the first William Monroe.
Not far from the tavern and on the same side of the street is a
house where a wounded soldier was cared for by a Mrs. Sanderson,
who lived to be one hundred and four years old.
Near the intersection of Woburn Street is a crude stone cannon
which marks the place where Lord Percy planted a field pine
pointing in the direction of the Green to check the advancing
patriots and cover the retreat of the Regulars.
On the triangular "Common," in the very heart of the village, a
flat-faced boulder marks the line where the minute-men under
Captain Parker were formed to receive the Regulars. "Stand your
ground; don't fire unless fired upon; but if they mean to have a
war, let it begin here" was Parker's command to his men and it was
there the war did begin. The small band of patriots were not yet
in line when the red-coats appeared at the east end of the
meeting-house, coming on the double-quick. Riding ahead, a British
officer called out, "Disperse, you rebels! Villains, disperse!"
but the little band of rebels stood their ground until a fatal
volley killed eight and wounded ten. Only two of the British were
The victors remained in possession of the Green, fired a volley,
and gave three loud cheers to celebrate a victory that in the end
was to cost King George his fairest colonies.
The soldiers' monument that stands on the Green was erected in
1799. In 1835, in the presence of Daniel Webster, Joseph Story,
Josiah Quincy, and a vast audience, Edward Everett delivered an
oration, and the bodies of those who fell in the battle were
removed from the old cemetery to a vault in the rear of the shaft,
where they now rest. The weather-beaten stone is over-grown with a
protecting mantle of ivy, which threatens to drop like a veil over
the long inscription. Here, for more than a century, the village
has received distinguished visitors,--Lafayette in 1824, Kossuth
in 1851, and famous men of later days.
The Buckman Tavern, where the patriots assembled, built in 1690,
still stands with its marks of bullets and flood of old
These ancient hostelries--Monroe's, Buckman's, Wright's in
Concord, and the Wayside Inn--are by no means the least
interesting features of this historic section. An old tavern is as
pathetic as an old hat: it is redolent of former owners and
guests, each room reeks with confused personalities, every latch
is electric from many hands, every wall echoes a thousand voices;
at dusk of day the clink of glasses and the resounding toast may
still be heard in the deserted banquet-hall; at night a ghostly
light illumines the vacant ballroom, and the rustle of silks and
satins, the sound of merry laughter, and the faint far-off strains
of music fall upon the ear.
We did not visit the Clarke house where Paul Revere roused Adams
and Hancock; we saw it from the road. Originally, and until 1896,
the house stood on the opposite side of the street; the owner was
about to demolish it to subdivide the land, when the Historical
Society intervened and purchased it.
Neither did we enter the old burying-ground on Elm Street. The
automobile is no respecter of persons or places; it pants with
impatience if brought to a stand for so much as a moment before a
house or monument of interest, and somehow the throbbing, puffing,
impatient machine gets the upper hand of those who are supposed to
control it; we are hastened onward in spite of our better
The trolley line from Lexington to Concord is by way of Bedford,
but the direct road over the hill is the one the British followed.
It is nine miles by Bedford and the Old Bedford Road, and but six
A short distance out of Lexington a tablet marks an old well; the
inscription reads, "At this well, April 19, 1775, James Hayward,
of Acton, met a British soldier, who, raising his gun, said, 'You
are a dead man.' 'And so are you,' replied Hayward. Both fired.
The soldier was instantly killed and Hayward mortally wounded."
Grim meeting of two thirsty souls; they sought water and found
blood; they wooed life and won death. War is epitomized in the
exclamations, "You are a dead man," "And so are you." Further
debate would end the strife; the one query, "Why?" would bring
each musket to a rest. Poor unknown Britisher, exiled from home,
what did he know about the merits of the controversy? What did he
care? It was his business to shoot, and be shot. He fulfilled most
completely in the same moment the double mission of the soldier,
to kill and be killed. Those who do the fighting never do know
very much about what they are fighting for,--if they did, most of
them would not fight at all. In these days of common schools and
newspapers it becomes ever more and more difficult to recruit
armies with men who neither know nor think; the common soldier is
beginning to have opinions; by and by he will not fight unless
convinced he is right,--then there will be fewer wars.
Over the road we were following the British marched in order and
retreated in disorder. The undisciplined minute-men were not very
good at standing up in an open square and awaiting the onslaught
of a company of regulars,--it takes regulars to meet regulars out
in the open; but behind trees and fences, from breast-works and
scattered points of advantage, each minute-man was a whole army in
himself, and the regulars had a hard time of it on their retreat,
--the trees and stones which a few hours before had been just trees
and stones, became miniature fortresses.
The old vineyard, where in 1855 Ephraim Bull produced the now well
known Concord grape by using the native wild grape in a cross with
a cultivated variety, is at the outskirts of Concord.
A little farther on is "The Wayside," so named by Hawthorne, who
purchased the place from Alcott in 1852, lived there until his
appointment as Consul at Liverpool in 1853, and again on his
return from England in 1860, until he died in 1864. But "The
Wayside" was not Hawthorne's first Concord home. He came there
with his bride in 1842 and lived four years in the Old Manse.
There has never been written but one adequate description of this
venerable dwelling, and that by Hawthorne himself in "Mosses from
an Old Manse." To most readers the description seems part and
parcel of the fanciful tales that follow; no more real than the
"House of the Seven Gables." We of the outside world who know our
Concord only by hearsay cannot realize that "The Wayside" and the
"Old Manse" and "Sleepy Hollow" are verities,--verities which the
plodding language of prose tails to compass, unless the pen is
wielded by a master hand.
Cut in a window-pane of one of the rooms were left these
inscriptions: "Nat'l Hawthorne. This is his study, 1843."
"Inscribed by my husband at sunset, April 3d, 1843, in the gold
light, S. A. H. Man's accidents are God's purposes. Sophia A.
Dear, devoted bride, after more than fifty years your bright,
loving letters have come to light, and through your clear vision
we catch unobstructed glimpses of men and things of those days.
After years of devotion to your husband and his memory it was your
lot to die and be buried in a foreign land, while he lies lonely
in "Sleepy Hollow."
When the honeymoon was still a silver crescent in the sky she
wrote a friend, "I hoped I should see you again before I came home
to our paradise. I intended to give you a concise history of my
elysian life. Soon after we returned my dear lord began to write
in earnest, and then commenced my leisure, because, till we meet
at dinner, I do not see him. We were interrupted by no one, except
a short call now and then from Elizabeth Hoar, who can hardly be
called an earthly inhabitant; and Mr. Emerson, whose face pictured
the promised land (which we were then enjoying), and intruded no
more than a sunset or a rich warble from a bird.
"One evening, two days after our arrival at the Old Manse, George
Hilliard and Henry Cleveland appeared for fifteen minutes on their
way to Niagara Falls, and were thrown into raptures by the
embowering flowers and the dear old house they adorned, and the
pictures of Holy Mothers mild on the walls, and Mr. Hawthorne's
study, and the noble avenue. We forgive them for their appearance
here, because they were gone as soon as they had come, and we felt
very hospitable. We wandered down to our sweet, sleepy river, and
it was so silent all around us and so solitary, that we seemed the
only persons living. We sat beneath our stately trees, and felt as
if we were the rightful inheritors of the old abbey, which had
descended to us from a long line. The tree-tops waved a majestic
welcome, and rustled their thousand leaves like brooks over our
heads. But the bloom and fragrance of nature had become secondary
to us, though we were lovers of it. In my husband's face and eyes
I saw a fairer world, of which the other was a faint copy."
Nearly two weeks later she continues in the same letter, "Sweet,
dear Mary, nearly a fortnight has passed since I wrote the above.
I really believe I will finish my letter to-day, though I do not
promise. That magician upstairs is very potent! In the afternoon
and evening I sit in the study with him. It is the pleasantest
niche in our temple. We watch the sun, together, descending in
purple and gold, in every variety of magnificence, over the river.
Lately, we go on the river, which is now frozen; my lord to skate,
and I to run and slide, during the dolphin death of day. I
consider my husband a rare sight, gliding over the icy stream.
For, wrapped in his cloak, he looks very graceful; impetuously
darting from me in long, sweeping curves, and returning again--
again to shoot away. Our meadow at the bottom of the orchard is
like a small frozen sea now; and that is the present scene of our
heroic games. Sometimes, in the splendor of the dying light, we
seem sporting upon transparent gold, so prismatic becomes the ice;
and the snow takes opaline hues from the gems that float above as
clouds. It is eminently the hour to see objects, just after the
sun has disappeared. Oh, such oxygen as we inhale! After other
skaters appear,--young men and boys,--who principally interest me
as foils to my husband, who, in the presence of nature, loses all
shyness and moves regally like a king. One afternoon Mr. Emerson
and Mr. Thoreau went with him down the river. Henry Thoreau is an
experienced skater, and was figuring dithyrambic dances and
Bacchic leaps on the ice,--very remarkable, but very ugly
methought. Next him followed Mr. Hawthorne, who, wrapped in his
cloak, moved like a self-impelled Greek statue, stately and grave.
Mr. Emerson closed the line, evidently too weary to hold himself
erect, pitching headforemost, half lying on the air. He came in to
rest himself, and said to me that Hawthorne was a tiger, a bear, a
lion,--in short, a satyr, and there was no tiring him out; and he
might be the death of a man like himself. And then, turning upon
me that kindling smile for which he is so memorable, he added,
'Mr. Hawthorne is such an Ajax, who can cope with him!'"
Of all the pages, ay, of all the books, that have been printed
concerning Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, there is not one which
more vividly and accurately set the men before us and describe
their essential characteristics than the casual lines of this old
letter:--Thoreau, the devotee of nature, "figuring dithyrambic
dances and Bacchic leaps on the ice," joyous in the presence of
his god; the mystic Hawthorne, wrapped in his sombre cloak, "moved
like a self-impelled Greek statue, stately and grave,"--with magic
force these words throw upon the screen of the imagination the
figure of the creator of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale;
while Emerson is drawn with the inspiration of a poet, "evidently
too weary to hold himself erect, pitching headforemost, half lying
on the air;" "half lying on the air,"--the phrase rings in the
ear, lingers in the memory, attaches itself to Emerson, and fits
like a garment of soft and yielding texture.
The letter concludes as follows: "After the first snow-storm,
before it was so deep, we walked in the woods, very beautiful in
winter, and found slides in Sleepy Hollow, where we became
children, and enjoyed ourselves as of old,--only more, a great
deal. Sometimes it is before breakfast that Mr. Hawthorne goes to
skate upon the meadow. Yesterday, before he went out, he said it
was very cloudy and gloomy, and he thought it would storm. In half
an hour, oh, wonder! what a scene! Instead of a black sky, the
rising sun, not yet above the hill, had changed the firmament into
a vast rose! On every side, east, west, north, and south, every
point blushed roses. I ran to the study and the meadow sea also
was a rose, the reflection of that above. And there was my
husband, careering about, glorified by the light. Such is
"In the evening we are gathered together beneath our luminous star
in the study, for we have a large hanging astral lamp, which
beautifully illumines the room, with its walls of pale yellow
paper, its Holy Mother over the fireplace, and pleasant books, and
its pretty bronze vase on one of the secretaries, filled with
ferns. Except once, Mr. Emerson, no one hunts us out in the
evening. Then Mr. Hawthorne reads to me. At present we can only
get along with the old English writers, and we find that they are
the hive from which all modern honey is stolen. They are thick-set
with thought, instead of one thought serving for a whole book.
Shakespeare is pre-eminent; Spencer is music. We dare to dislike
Milton when he goes to heaven. We do not recognize God in his
picture of Him. There is something so penetrating and clear in Mr.
Hawthorne's intellect, that now I am acquainted with it, merely
thinking of him as I read winnows the chaff from the wheat at
once. And when he reads to me, it is the acutest criticism. Such a
voice, too,--such sweet thunder! Whatever is not worth much shows
sadly, coming through such a medium, fit only for noblest ideas.
From reading his books you can have some idea of what it is to
dwell with Mr. Hawthorne. But only a shadow of him is found in his
books. The half is not told there."
Just a letter, the outpouring of a loving young heart, written
with no thought of print and strange eye, slumbering for more than
fifty years to come to light at last;--just one of many, all of
them well worth reading.
The three great men of Concord were happy in their wives. Mrs.
Hawthorne and Mrs. Alcott were not only great wives and mothers,
but they could express their prayers, meditations, fancies, and
emotions in clear and exquisite English.
It was after the prosperous days of the Liverpool Consulate that
Hawthorne returned to Concord to spend the remainder of his all
too short life.
He made many changes in "The Wayside" and surrounding grounds. He
enlarged the house and added the striking but quite unpicturesque
tower which rises from the centre of the main part; here he had
his study and point of observation; he could see the unwelcome
visitor while yet a far way off, or contemplate the lazy travel of
a summer's day.
Just beyond is "Orchard House," into which the Alcotts moved in
A philosopher may not be a good neighbor, and Alcott lived just a
little too near Hawthorne. "It was never so well understood at
'The Wayside' that its owner had retiring habits as when Alcott
was reported to be approaching along Larch Path, which stretched
in feathery bowers between our house and his. Yet I was not aware
that the seer failed at any hour to gain admittance,--one cause,
perhaps, of the awe in which his visits were held. I remember that
my observation was attracted to him curiously from the fact that
my mother's eyes changed to a darker gray at his advents, as they
did only when she was silently sacrificing herself. I clearly
understood that Mr. Alcott was admirable, but he sometimes brought
manuscript poetry with him, the dear child of his own Muse. There
was one particularly long poem which he had read aloud to my
mother and father; a seemingly harmless thing, from which they
The appreciation the great men of Concord had of one another is
interesting to the outside world. Great souls are seldom
congenial,--popular impression to the contrary notwithstanding.
Minds of a feather flock together; but minds of gold are apt to
remain apart, each sufficient unto itself. It is in sports,
pastimes, business, politics, that men congregate with facility;
in literary and intellectual pursuits the leaders are
anti-pathetic in proportion to their true greatness. Now and then
two, and more rarely three, are united by bonds of quick
understanding and sympathy, but men of profound convictions attract
followers and repel companions.
Emerson's was the most catholic spirit; he understood his
neighbors better than they understood one another; his vision was
very clear. For a man who mingled so little with the world, who
spent so much of his life in contemplation--in communing with his
inner self--Emerson was very sane indeed; his idiosyncrasies did
not prevent his judging men and things quite correctly.
Hawthorne and Emerson saw comparatively little of each other;
these two great souls respected the independence of each other too
much to intrude. "Mr. Hawthorne once broke through his hermit
usage, and honored Miss Ellen Emerson, the friend of his daughter
Una, with a formal call on a Sunday evening. It was the only time,
I think, that he ever came to the house except when persuaded to
come in for a few moments on the rare occasions when he walked
with my father. On this occasion he did not ask for either Mr. or
Mrs. Emerson, but announced that his call was upon Miss Ellen.
Unfortunately, she had gone to bed, but he remained for a time
talking with my sister Edith and me, the school-mates of his
children. To cover his shyness he took up a stereoscope on the
centre-table and began to look at the pictures. After looking at
them for a time he asked where those views were taken. We told him
they were pictures of the Concord Court and Town Houses, the
Common and the Mill-dam; on hearing which he expressed some
surprise and interest, but evidently was as unfamiliar with the
centre of the village where he had lived for years as a deer or a
wood-thrush would be. He walked through it often on his way to the
cars, but was too shy or too rapt to know what was there."
Emerson liked Hawthorne better than his books,--the latter were
too weird, uncanny, and inconclusive. In 1838 he noted in his
journal, "Elizabeth Peabody brought me yesterday Hawthorne's
'Footprints on the Seashore' to read. I complained there was no
inside to it. Alcott and he together would make a man."
Later, when Hawthorne came to live in Concord, Emerson did his
best to get better acquainted; but it was of little use; they had
too little in common. Both men were great walkers, and yet they
seldom walked together. They went to Harvard to see the Shakers,
and Emerson recorded it as a "satisfactory tramp; we had good talk
on the way."
After Hawthorne's death, Emerson made the following entry in his
journal: "I thought him a greater man than any of his works
betray; there was still a great deal of work in him, and he might
one day show a purer power. It would have been a happiness,
doubtless, to both of us, to come into habits of unreserved
intercourse. It was easy to talk with him; there were no barriers;
only he said so little that I talked too much, and stopped only
because, as he gave no indication, I feared to exceed. He showed
no egotism or self-assertion; rather a humility, and at one time a
fear that he had written himself out. I do not think any of his
books worthy his genius. I admired the man, who was simple,
amiable, truth-loving, and frank in conversation, but I never read
his books with pleasure; they are too young."
Emerson was greedy for ideas, and the pure, limpid literature of
Hawthorne did not satisfy him.
Hawthorne's estimate of Emerson was far more just and penetrating;
he described him very correctly as "a great original thinker"
whose "mind acted upon other minds of a certain constitution with
wonderful magnetism, and drew many men upon long pilgrimages to
speak with him face to face. Young visionaries--to whom just so
much of insight had been imparted as to make life all a labyrinth
around them--came to seek the clew that should guide them out of
their self-involved bewilderment. Gray-headed theorists--whose
systems, at first air, had finally imprisoned them in an iron
framework--travelled painfully to his door, not to ask
deliverance, but to invite the free spirit into their own
thraldom. People that had lighted on a new thought, or a thought
that they fancied new, came to Emerson, as the finder of a
glittering gem hastens to a lapidary to ascertain its quality and
value. Uncertain, troubled, earnest wanderers through the midnight
of the moral world beheld his intellectual face as a beacon
burning on a hill-top, and, climbing the difficult ascent, looked
forth into the surrounding obscurity more hopefully than hitherto.
For myself, there had been epochs in my life when I, too, might
have asked of this prophet the master word that should solve me
the riddle of the universe, but, now, being happy, I feel as if
there were no question to be put, and therefore admired Emerson as
a poet of deep and austere beauty, but sought nothing from him as
a philosopher. It was good nevertheless to meet him in the
wood-paths, or sometimes in our avenue, with that pure, intellectual
gleam diffused about his presence like the garment of a shining
one; and he, so quiet, so simple, so without pretension,
encountering each man alive as if expecting to receive more than
he could impart."
It was fortunate for Hawthorne, doubly fortunate for us who read
him, that he could withstand the influence of Emerson, and go on
writing in his own way; his dreams and fancies were undisturbed by
the clear vision which sought so earnestly to distract him from
his realm of the imagination.
On first impressions Emerson rated Alcott very high. "He has more
of the godlike than any man I have ever seen, and his presence
rebukes, and threatens, and raises. He is a teacher." "Yesterday
Alcott left us after a three days' visit. The most extraordinary
man, and the highest genius of his time." This was in 1835. Seven
years later Emerson records this impression. "He looks at
everything in larger angles than any other, and, by good right,
should be the greatest man. But here comes in another trait; it is
found, though his angles are of so generous contents, the lines do
not meet; the apex is not quite defined. We must allow for the
refraction of the lens, but it is the best instrument I have ever
Alcott visited Concord first in October, 1835, and found that he
and Emerson had many things in common, but he entered in his
diary, "Mr. Emerson's fine literary taste is sometimes in the way
of a clear and hearty acceptance of the spiritual." Again, he
naively congratulates himself that he has found a man who could
appreciate his theories. "Emerson sees me, knows me, and, more
than all others, helps me,--not by noisy praise, not by low
appeals to interest and passion, but by turning the eye of others
to my stand in reason and the nature of things. Only men of like
vision can apprehend and counsel each other."
With the exception of Hawthorne, there was among the men of
Concord a tendency to over-estimate one another. For the most
part, they took themselves and each other very seriously; even
Emerson's subtle sense of humor did not save him from yielding to
this tendency, which is illustrated in the following page from
"About nine o'clock (Sunday) Hilliard and I set out on a walk to
Walden Pond, calling by the way at Mr. Emerson's to obtain his
guidance or directions. He, from a scruple of his eternal
conscience, detained us until after the people had got into
church, and then he accompanied us in his own illustrious person.
We turned aside a little from our way to visit Mr. Hosmer, a
yeoman, of whose homely and self-acquired wisdom Mr. Emerson has a
very high opinion." "He had a fine flow of talk, and not much
diffidence about his own opinions. I was not impressed with any
remarkable originality in his views, but they were sensible and
characteristic. Methought, however, the good yeoman was not quite
so natural as he may have been at an earlier period. The
simplicity of his character has probably suffered by his detecting
the impression he makes on those around him. There is a circle, I