The Early Years of the Saturday Club, 1855-1870

By Edward Waldo Emerson | Go to book overview
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Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.


MR. FIELDS, himself not a member of the Club for four years more, but in constant literary and friendly relations with members because of the Atlantic Monthly, tells that Hawthorne, in England, was constantly demanding longer letters from home; and "nothing gave him more pleasure than monthly news from 'The Saturday Club,' and detailed accounts of what was going forward in literature." In these letters, Hawthorne is often inquiring for Whipple, who, he hopes, is coming out with Fields.

Longfellow, on the 1st of March, writes in his journal: "A soft rain falling, and all day long I read the Marble Faun. A wonderful book, but with the old dull pain in it that runs through all Hawthorne's writings."

Motley, having won a name in Europe by his Rise of the Dutch Republic, begun about the time of the formation of the Club, issued in this year the first two volumes of his United Netherland and received the degree of D.C.L. from the University of Oxford, and of LL.D. from Harvard.

Norton now had launched himself as a man of letters in his Notes of Study and Travel in Italy.

In this year, too, Whipple, the versatile lecturer and essayist and bright talker, published his Life of Macaulay.

In June, Mr. Forbes was chosen Elector-at-large for President. It is interesting to read his good estimate of Lincoln at a time when New England was greatly troubled at the failure of their idealized Seward to win the nomination. He sends to a friend in England a copy of the speeches of Douglas and Lincoln in their fight for the


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