Theodore Parker: A Biography

By Octavius Frothingham Brooks | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV.
THE REFORMER.

THEODORE PARKER came to Boston as a theological, not as a social reformer; but life in the city brought him into such close contact with misery, crime, and vice, that he could not stand aloof. A reformer by instinct, readily kindled into indignation at the thought of evils he never saw, the daily communication with evil in its concrete forms moved and roused every energy in him. His gravest charge against religion was not its superstition, but its inhumanity.

From the Journal.

"I have sometimes in the woods found the dead body of an eagle, all dry, and yet tenanted by horrid worms, -- a fetid, noisome thing. Once it was an eagle, that soared and screamed in its awful heaven, the playmate of the lightning and the symbol of the thunder: now it is carrion. So, too, the traveller in Sahara finds in the desert a camel, all dead, grim, and dried up, only skin, bones, and emaciated muscle, shrivelled by the hot wind of the wilderness. Once it was a ship of the desert, carrying food in his pack-saddle, and water in himself. How the children loved the camel! Now it is all dead and worthless, very noisome, and only supplicating burial; its teeth, long and useless and dry, protruding from its withered lips. But crazy men stood by and told me that the dead camels were still the only ships of the desert, and the thunder of heaven slept in the eagle's claws.

"The clergy leave the errors (lies), follies, and sins of the

-352-

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Theodore Parker: A Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface iii
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I - Birthplace and Parentage 1
  • Chapter II - Home and Boyhood 10
  • Chapter III - Teaching and Study 28
  • Chapter IV - Divinity Hall 41
  • Chapter V - The Candidate 67
  • Chapter VI - West Roxbury 88
  • Chapter VII - The Ferment of Thought 125
  • Chapter VIII - The Unitarian Controversy 147
  • Chapter IX - Europe 183
  • Chapter X - The Conflict Renewed 210
  • Chapter XI - The Pastor 241
  • Chapter XII - The Pastor. Specimens of Correspondence 252
  • Chapter XIII - The Preacher 332
  • Chapter XIV - The Reformer 352
  • Chapter XV - The Fight with Slavery 376
  • Chapter XVI - The Kansas War 435
  • Chapter XVII - Failing Health 477
  • Chapter XVIII - The Departure. the Search 508
  • Chapter XIX - The Eternal City 521
  • Chapter XX - Tributes 537
  • Index 583
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