Summer at Concord--Thoreau--Oriental Books--Persian "Desatir"-- The "Rose Garden" of Saadi--Hon. Samuel Hoar--Judge Rockwood Hoar--Elizabeth Hoar--Mrs. Ripley and the "Old Manse"-- Goethe--William Emerson--Concord Children--A Spiritist Adventure--Agassiz at Harvard College--Agassiz, Alcott, and Emerson in Symposium.
BEING homeless in the North, my summer vacation ( 1853) was passed at Concord. The Emersons found for me a very pleasant abode at "Hillside," on Ponkawtasset Hill, about a mile out of the village, where Ellery Channing once lived, and where he wrote his poem on New England. Two sisters, the Misses Hunt, educated ladies, received me into this pleasant cottage, where I was the only boarder. These ladies were cousins of Miss Martha Hunt, whose suicide in Concord River and the recovery of her body are described in Hawthorne "Blithedale Romance." They were troubled because G. W. Curtis, in his "Homes of American Authors," had suggested that Martha's suicide was due to the contrast between her transcendental ideals and the coarseness of her home. They described the family of their cousin as educated people. One of these sisters walked with me to the river and pointed out all the places connected with the tragedy, and some years later another cousin drowned herself there.
Emerson introduced me to his friends. First of all he took me to Henry Thoreau, who lived in the village with his parents and his sister. The kindly and silent pencil-maker, his father, John Thoreau, was French in appearance, and Henry resembled him physically; but neither parent impressed me as possessing mental qualities that could account for such a rare spirit as Henry. He was thirty-six when I met him. He received me pleasantly, and asked what we were studying at Cambridge. I answered, "The Scriptures.""Which?" he asked. Emerson