The Periodicals of American Transcendentalism

By Clarence L. F. Gohdes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV THE PRESENT

In the second series of his Imaginary Conversations, published in 1826, Walter Savage Landor put into the mouths of Franklin and Washington a woefully dull discussion of much pompous inanity. During the course of the conversation Franklin, who is made out to be little more than a subservient flatterer, expresses himself as follows:

I do not believe that the remainder of the world contains so many men who reason rightly as New England. Serious, religious, peaceable, inflexibly just and courageous, their stores of intellect are not squandered in the regions of fancy, nor in the desperate ventures of new-found and foggy metaphysics, but warehoused and kept sound at home. . . .

Whether these remarks adequately characterize the New England of Revolutionary times may be doubted. But if one were to search for a description of the intellectual state of New England during the period of its renaissance, no words could be found so far removed from the truth as those of Landor. One needs only to read Emerson's vivid account of the Chardon Street Convention, held in 1840,1 to realize how completely the intellect of the northeastern states was being "squandered in the regions of fancy."

Old John Quincy Adams, vainly endeavoring to understand the changes of the new era, wrote in his diary for August 2, 1840:

A young man, named Ralph Waldo Emerson, a son of my once-loved friend William Emerson, and a classmate of my lamented son George, after failing in the every-day avocations of a

____________________
1
The Dial, III, 100, reprinted in Lectures and Biographical Sketches. In connection with the Chardon Street Convention see also William Lloyd Garrison, the story of his life, told by his children, New York, 1885, II, 422 ff.

-83-

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The Periodicals of American Transcendentalism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I Introduction 3
  • Chapter II the Western Messenger and the Dial 17
  • Chapter III Orestes A. Brownson and the Boston Quarterly Review 38
  • Chapter IV the Present 83
  • Chapter V the Harbinger 101
  • Chapter VI the Spirit of the Age 132
  • Chapter VII Elizabeth Peabody and Her Æsthetic Papers 143
  • Chapter VIII the Massachusetts Quarterly Review 157
  • Chapter IX the Dial (cincinnati) 194
  • Chapter X the Radical 210
  • Chapter XI 229
  • Appendix Two Uncollected Emerson Items 255
  • Index 257
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