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thirty acres ; with another, he winded away sixty head of cattle in the spring, to the pastures of Peterboro' on the hills.”
Such were and are the yeomen of Concord, among whom Thoreau spent his days, a friend to them and they to him, though each sometimes spoke churlishly of the other. He surveyed their wood-lots, laid out their roads, measured their fields and pastures for division among the heirs when a husbandman died, inspected their rivers and ponds, and exchanged information with them concerning the birds, the beasts, insects, flowers, crops, and trees. Their yearly Cattle Show in October was his chief festival, — one of the things he regretted, when living on the edge of New York Bay, and sighing for Fairhaven and White Pond. Without them the landscape of his native valley would not have been so dear to his eyes, and to their humble and perennial virtues he owed more inspiration than he would always confess.
He read in the crabbed Latin of those old Roman farmers, Cato, Varro, and musically-named Columella, and fancied the farmers of Concord were daily obeying Cato's directions, who in turn was but repeating the maxims of a more remote antiq
" I see the old, pale-faced farmer walking beside his team, with contented thoughts,” he says, " for the five thousandth time. This drama every day in the streets; this is the theatre I go to. ... Human life may be transitory and full of trouble, but the perennial mind, whose survey extends from that spring to this, from Columella to Hosmer, is superior to change. I will identify myself with that which did not die with Columella, and will not die with Hosmer.”
THE TRANSCENDENTAL PERIOD.
ALTHOUGH Henry Thoreau would have been, in any place or time of the world's drama, a personage of note, it has already been observed, in regard to his career and his unique literary gift, that they were affected, and in some sort fashioned by the influences of the very time and place in which he found himself at the opening of life. It was the sunrise of New England Transcendentalism in which he first looked upon the spiritual world; when Carlyle in England, Alcott, Emerson, and Margaret Fuller in Massachusetts, were preparing their contemporaries in America for that modern Renaissance which has been so fruitful, for the last forty years, in high thought, vital religion, pure literature, and great deeds. And the place of his birth and breeding, the home of his affections, as it was the Troy, the Jerusalem, and the Rome of his imagination, was determined by Providence to be that very centre and shrine of Transcendentalism, the little village of Concord, which would have been saved from oblivion by his books, had it no other title to remembrance. Let it be my next effort, then, to give some hint - not a brief chronicle - of that extraordinary age, not yet ended (often as they tell us of its death and epitaph), now known to all men as the Transcendental Period. We must wait for aftertimes to fix its limits and determine its dawn and setting ; but of its apparent beginning and course, one cycle coincided quite closely with the life of Thoreau. He was born in July, 1817, when Emerson was entering college at Cambridge, and Carlyle was wrestling “with doubt, fear, unbelief, mockery, and scoffing, in agony of spirit,” at Edinburgh. He died in May, 1862, when the distinctly spiritual and literary era of Transcendentalism had closed, its years of preparation were over, and it had entered upon the conflict of political regeneration, for which Thoreau was constantly sounding the trumpet. In these forty-five yoars, - a longer period than the age of Per
icles, or of the Medici, or of Queen Elizabeth, — New England Transcendentalism rose, climbed, and culminated, leaving results that, for our America, must be compared with those famous eras of civilization. Those ages, in fact, were well-nigh lost upon us, until Channing, Emerson, Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and their fellowship, brought us into communication with the Greek, the Italian, and the noble Elizabethan revivals of genius and art. We had been living under the Puritan reaction, modified and politically fashioned by the more humane philosophy of the eighteenth century, while the freedom-breathing, but half-barbarizing influences of pioneer life in a new continent, had also turned aside the full force of English and Scotch Calvinism.
It is common to trace the so-called Transcendentalism of New England to Carlyle and Coleridge and Wordsworth in the mother-country, and to Goethe, Richter, and Kant in Germany; and there is a certain outward affiliation of this sort, which cannot be denied. But that which in our spiritual soil gave root to the foreign seeds thus wafted hitherward, was a certain inward