The Concord Saunterer: Including a Discussion of the Nature Mysticism of Thoreau

The Concord Saunterer: Including a Discussion of the Nature Mysticism of Thoreau

The Concord Saunterer: Including a Discussion of the Nature Mysticism of Thoreau

The Concord Saunterer: Including a Discussion of the Nature Mysticism of Thoreau

Excerpt

Each time I hear the thoughtless generalization that Americans are one-sided people, possessing only a nodding acquaintance with the arts and considerably obsessed with an insatiable bent for materialistic enterprise, I am reminded of two brothers who jointly made possible the Abernethy Library of American Literature at Middlebury College. Dr. Julian Willis Abernethy, the elder, was a master teacher of youth, with a scholar's love and understanding of excellence that prompted him unerringly, generations ago, to select the works of Henry Thoreau as the nucleus of his library. Mr. Frank D. Abernethy, the younger, was a valid business man, who had an intense devotion to his brother and a discerning insight into what his brother's books counted for. Here was a fraternal relationship that denied any misgiving I might have as to the one-sidedness of all American business men. Mr. Frank D. Abernethy knew more than the ledger-value of the books comprising his brother's library; he recognized, as well, the intrinsic value of the books as working tools for scholars and lovers of literature. When Dr. Julian Abernethy died, leaving the books to his alma mater, Mr. Frank D. Abernethy gave a wing to the Starr Library so that his brother's books might be properly cared for. And they are, indeed!

These books are like the "leaping tongue of bloom" Mr. Robert Frost tells us about in his poem "The Tuft of Flowers." When the haymaker went to turn the grass long after the early morning mower had leveled the scene, his eye was drawn by an errant butterfly to a tuft of flowers beside a reedy brook spared by the mower's scythe, and although the haymaker had been alone upon the scene he now felt related as to a spirit kindred to his own.

"The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us
. . .

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