Redeunt saturnia regna.
IN the middle of the last century a constellation, which -- as separate stars of differing magnitude, but all bright -- had for twenty years been visible, at first dimly, in the New England heavens, ascending, was seen as a group, gave increasing light and cheer here and to the westward-journeying sons and daughters; reached our zenith; even began to be reported by star-gazers beyond the ocean.
These brave illuminators, -- poets, scholars, statesmen, workers in science, art, law, medicine, large business, and good citizenship, -- by the fortune of the small area of New England and its few centres of ripening culture, were more easily drawn together.
In the summer of 1855, eleven of these agreed to meet for monthly dinners in Boston. They soon drew friends with genius or wit into their circle.
When the often asked question comes up, -- Why did so many men suddenly appear in that generation, eminent in their various callings, using their gifts nobly for the public good, simple livers withal; and why, with another half century's immense advantages and opportunities, nothing like it has appeared in this country? -- an answer might be hazarded something like this: The struggle for existence, in the new country, with untamed nature and man in the seventeenth century; in the eighteenth, the first only lessened and the second increased by the French and Indian neighbours, and later, by the oppression of the mother country; then, early in the nineteenth, a modified repetition of the latter, and the