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