The Periodicals of American Transcendentalism

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

CHAPTER III ORESTES A. BROWNSON AND THE BOSTON QUARTERLY REVIEW

Like most of the transcendentalists, Orestes A. Brownson was a man of strong emotions. In his spiritual autobiography, The Convert, written after he became a Catholic, he gives an account of his early communings with Christ, and even with the Virgin Mary.1 As a result, his interest in religion was something more than the usual dutiful acquiescence to family tradition. Of the earlier phases of his philosophical and religious evolution he writes as follows:

Like most English and Americans of my generation, I had been educated in the school of Locke. From Locke I had passed to the Scottish school of Reid and Stewart, and had adhered to it without well knowing what it was, till it was overthrown by Dr. Thomas Brown, who . . . revived the scepticism of Hume, and drove me into speculative atheism, by resolving cause and effect into invariable antecedence and consequence, thus excluding all idea of creative power or productive force. Still young, I rushed into pure sensism and materialism, and was prepared intellectually to join with Frances Wright and her followers, when they appeared. Gradually I had elaborated a sort of philosophical sentimentalism, depending on the heart rather than the head. . . . In this half-dreaming state, with vague feelings, and vaguer notions, I encountered the philosophical writings of Cousin, first, I think, in 1833, and yielded almost entirely to the witchery of his style . . . although I made from first to last certain reserves.2

The chief circumstances of his "outer" life during the period covered by the above remarks are of equal importance. Born in Stockbridge, Vermont, in 1803, almost completely self-educated, Brownson in 1822 became a

____________________
1
The Convert, or Leaves from My Experience, The Works of Orestes A. Brownson, Detroit, 1884, V, 5. Cf. the dream of Margaret in S. Judd Margaret, 1851, cap. XIV.
2
Ibid., 124-125.

-38-

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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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