The Early Years of the Saturday Club, 1855-1870

By Edward Waldo Emerson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
1858

That makes the good and bad of manners, namely, what helps or hinders fellowship. For fashion is not good sense absolute, but relative; not good sense private, but good sense entertaining company. It hates corners and sharp points of character, hates quarrelsome, egotistical, solitary, and gloomy people; hates whatever can interfere with total blending of parties; whilst it values all peculiarities as in the highest degree refreshing which can consist with good fellowship. And besides the general infusion of wit to heighten civility, the direct splendour of intellectual power is ever welcome in fine society as the costliest addition to its rule and its credit.

EMERSON

IN Mr. Emerson's journal of 1836 he says, "In our Club we proposed that the rule of admission should be this; whoever by his admission excludes any topic from our debate shall be excluded."1

The Saturday Club seems to have had the instinct that the membership of aggressive reformers, however much they might be worthy of respect and praise, would be destructive to its happy organization. Whittier said to Fields one day that he was "troubled about Wendell Phillips: he is a hard man. It is the Calvinist in him." Dr. S. G. Howe -- but he was also a brilliant doer -- and James Freeman Clarke, who was sweet-tempered, and Edmund Quincy, who had a lively sense of humour, were comfortable reformers among the membership, never complained of for untimely zeal, except that Mr. Norton chafed a little at Clarke's unshakeable optimism. Sumner, living in Washington, was not included in the first group. Early in the war, the Club wished to do him honour for his noble struggle, then renewed, in a cause for which he had undergone a long martyrdom. Because of its enduring effects very possibly, and a continued life of struggle, into which he put his whole soul, he became less fitted for easy social intercourse and seems to have been sometimes a trying convive on the rather rare occasions when he came to the dinners.

Our printed list of members, given to each on joining, shows in

____________________
1
The club referred to was The Symposium.

-166-

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The Early Years of the Saturday Club, 1855-1870
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introductory xi
  • Chapter I - The Attraction 1
  • Chapter II - 1855-1856 The Saturday Club is Born Also the Magazine or Atlantic Club 11
  • Chapter III - 1856 21
  • Chapter IV - 1857 128
  • Chapter V - 1858 166
  • Chapter VI - 1859 197
  • Chapter VII - 1860 234
  • Chapter VIII - 1861 249
  • Chapter IX - 1862 287
  • Chapter X - 1863 309
  • Chapter XI - 1864 334
  • Chapter XII - 1865 392
  • Chapter XIII - 1866 407
  • Chapter XIV - 1867 428
  • Chapter XV - 1868 447
  • Chapter XVI - 1869 456
  • Chapter XVII - 1870 474
  • Index 503
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