Autobiography of Seventy Years - Vol. 1

By George F. Hoar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
FAMOUS CONCORD MEN

THERE were in Concord in my boyhood three writers who afterward became very famous indeed -- Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau. Mr. Lowell said that these three names shine among all others in American literature as the three blazing stars in the belt of Orion shine in the sky.

The town is represented in the beautiful building of the Congressional Library at Washington by busts of Emerson and Hawthorne on the outside front of the building; by Emerson's name on the mosaic ceiling in the entrance pavilion, and by three sentences from his writings inscribed on the walls. These are two out of eight such busts. It is also represented by two figures, a symbolic Statue of History, and a bronze Statue of Herodotus, both by Daniel Chester French, the sculptor, a Concord man.

Emerson came to live in Concord in the summer of 1835. Although he was born in Boston and went to school there, he belonged to the town by virtue of his descent from a race of Concord ministers who held the pulpit, with very brief intervals, from 1635 to 1841. But I do not think his influence upon the town was very great for the first fifteen or twenty years of his life there. Indeed, I think he would have said that the town had more influence upon him than he had upon it. The Concord people, like the general public, were slow in coming to know his great genius. He was highly respected always. But the people were at first puzzled by him. His life was somewhat secluded. He spent his days in study and in solitary walks. Until Mrs. Ripley came to the old manse, about 1846, Emerson had, I think, no intimate friend outside of his own household, except my sister Elizabeth, who had been betrothed to his brother, Charles, and was as a sister to Emerson until her death in

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