PARKER threw himself into the various reform movements of the day with characteristic energy, and soon he was as immersed in the reports of state boards of charities, of prisons, and asylums as ever he had been in the transactions of the philosophical societies. "When I first came to Boston," he remembered later, "I meant to do something for the perishing and dangerous classes in our great towns -- for the poor, the drunkard, the ignorant, for the prostitute, and the criminal. But, alas, I did not quite understand all the consequences of my relation to these great social forces, or how much I had offended the religion of the state, the press, the market, and the church. I soon found my very name was enough to ruin any new good enterprise. I knew there were three periods in each great movement of mankind -- that of sentiment, ideas, and action; I fondly hoped the last had come; but when I found I had reckoned without the host, I turned attention to the two former and sought to arouse the sentiment of justice and mercy, and to diffuse the ideas which belonged to this five-fold reformation. Hence I took pains to state the facts of poverty, drunkenness, ignorance, prostitution, crime; to show their cause, their effect, and their mode of cure, leaving it for others to do the practical work."
Yet this was a palpable exaggeration; when did Parker ever leave it to others to do work that must be done? His genius lay in agitation, and he gave it full play, but he did
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Publication information: Book title: Theodore Parker. Contributors: Henry Steele Commager - Author. Publisher: Little Brown and Company. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1936. Page number: 168.
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