I think that the article on you in Blackwood’s is a good deal to get from the reviewers, — the first purely literary notice, as I remember. The writer is far enough off, in every sense, to speak with a certain authority. It is a better judgment of posterity than the public had. It is singular how sure he is to be mystified by any uncommon sense. But it was generous to put Plato into the list of mystics. His confessions on this subject suggest several thoughts, which I have not room to express here. The old word seer, — I wonder what the reviewer thinks that means; whether that he was a man who could see more than himself.
I was struck by Ellen’s asking me, yesterday, while I was talking with Mrs. Brown, if I did not use “colored words.” She said that she could tell the color of a great many words, and amused the children at school by so doing. Eddy climbed up the sofa, the other day, of his own accord, and kissed the picture of his father, — “right on his shirt, I did.”
I had a good talk with Alcott this afternoon. He is certainly the youngest man of his age we have seen, — just on the threshold of life. When I looked at his gray hairs, his conversation sounded pathetic; but I looked again, and they reminded me of the gray dawn. He is getting better acquainted with Channing, though he says that, if they were to live in the same house, they would soon sit with their hacks to each other.
You must excuse me if I do not write with sufficient directness to yourself, who are a far-off traveler. It is a little like shooting on the wing, I confess.
Farewell. HENRY THOREAU
At this date Alcott had passed his forty-eighth year, while Channing and Thoreau were still in the latitude of thirty. Hawthorne had by this time left Concord, and was in the Salem custom house; the Old Manse having gone back into the occupancy of Emerson’s cousins, the Ripleys, who owned it.
VII. EMERSON TO THOREAU FROM ENGLAND.
2 Fenny Street, Higher Broughton, MANCHESTER, 28 January, 1848.
DEAR HENRY, — One roll of letters has gone to-day to Concord and to New York, and perhaps I shall still have time to get this into the leathern bag before it is carted to the wharf. I have to thank you for your letter, which was a true refreshment. Let who or what pass, there stands the dear Henry, — if indeed anybody had a right to call him so, — erect, serene, and undeceivable. So let it ever be! I should quite subside into idolatry of one of my friends, if I were not every now and then apprised that the world is wiser than any one of its boys, and penetrates us with its sense, to the disparagement of the subtleties of private gentlemen.
Last night, as I believe I have already told Lidian, I heard the best man in England make perhaps his best speech, — Cobden, who is the cor cordis, the object of honor and belief, to risen and rising England: a man of great discretion, who never overstates nor states prematurely, nor has a particle of unnecessary genius or hope to mislead him, nor of wasted strength; but calm, sure of his fact, simple and nervous in stating it as a boy in laying down the rules of the game of football which have been violated, — above all, educated by his dogma of Free Trade, led on by it to new lights and correlative liberalities, as our abolitionists have been, by their principle, to so many reforms. Then this man has made no mistake.