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Selected Writings of the American Transcendentalists

Selected Writings of the American Transcendentalists: Second Edition

Edited, with an Introduction by GEORGE HOCHFIELD
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
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  • Book Info
    Selected Writings of the American Transcendentalists
    Book Description:

    Transcendentalism was the name given to the New England movement of the 1830s and 1840s that brought together Romanticism in literature and social reform in politics. Its partisans argued for the rights of women, the abolition of slavery, and, in some cases, the socialization of labor and equal distribution of profits. They were America's first avant-garde. This volume presents substantial selections from the writings of key American Transcendentalists, such as George Ripley, Margaret Fuller, Orestes Brownson, Theodore Parker, and Bronson Alcott. Included are sermons and diary entries, essays on labor, religion, education, and literature, on German metaphysics and Coleridge's philosophy of mind. Many are expressive of the movement's over-arching project: to define the innermost meanings of democracy-the nature of man, his place in the world, and his relation to the divine. First published in 1966, the book has been updated and expanded for this edition.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14590-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xxviii)
    George Hochfield

    Like those of all movements in intellectual history, the outlines of American Transcendentalism are indistinct. Its beginnings merge with the liberal tendencies of Boston Unitarianism; its endings are a confused record of unforeseeable careers, ephemeral publications, and a historical influence that still affects the intellectual life of contemporary America. Despite this vagueness at the edges, however, Transcendentalism was a real and significant event, a somewhat provincial and peculiar manifestation of the more general phenomenon of Romanticism. During its heyday—roughly the decade 1836–1846—it exerted a fascination over most of the active literary minds of the country, whether in...

    (pp. xxix-xxx)

      (pp. 33-44)
      William Ellery Channing

      We regard the Scriptures as the records of God’s successive revelations to mankind, and particularly of the last and most perfect revelation of His will by Jesus Christ. Whatever doctrines seem to us to be clearly taught in the Scriptures, we receive without reserve or exception. We do not, however, attach equal importance to all the books in this collection. Our religion, we believe, lies chiefly in the New Testament. The dispensation of Moses, compared with that of Jesus, we consider as adapted to the childhood of the human race, a preparation for a nobler system, and chiefly useful now...

      (pp. 45-53)
      William Ellery Channing

      . . . The great objection to Christianity—the only one which has much influence at the present day—meets us at the very threshold. We cannot, if we would, evade it, for it is founded on a primary and essential attribute of this religion. The objection is oftener felt than expressed, and amounts to this—that miracles are incredible, and that the supernatural character of an alleged fact is proof enough of its falsehood. So strong is this propensity to doubt of departures from the order of nature that there are sincere Christians who incline to rest their religion...

    • LIKENESS TO GOD (1828)
      (pp. 54-66)
      William Ellery Channing

      . . . I begin with observing what all indeed will understand, that the likeness of God of which I propose to speak belongs to man’s higher or spiritual nature. It has its foundation in the original and essential capacities of the mind. In proportion as these are unfolded by right and vigorous exertion, it is extended and brightened. In proportion as these lie dormant, it is obscured. In proportion as they are perverted and overpowered by the appetites and passions, it is blotted out. In truth, moral evil, if unresisted and habitual, may so blight and lay waste these...

    • ON GENIUS (1821)
      (pp. 67-72)
      Sampson Reed

      The world was always busy; the human heart has always had love of some kind; there has always been fire on the earth. There is something in the inmost principles of an individual, when he begins to exist, which urges him onward; there is something in the center of the character of a nation to which the people aspire; there is something which gives activity to the mind in all ages, countries, and worlds. This principle of activity is love: it may be the love of good or of evil; it may manifest itself in saving life or in killing;...

      (pp. 73-91)
      Sampson Reed

      Nothing is a more common subject of remark than the changed condition of the world. There is a more extensive intercourse of thought and a more powerful action of mind upon mind than formerly. The good and the wise of all nations are brought nearer together and begin to exert a power which, though yet feeble as infancy, is felt throughout the globe. Public opinion, that helm which directs the progress of events by which the world is guided to its ultimate destination, has received a new direction. The mind has attained an upward and onward look and is shaking...

    • JOURNALS (1826-1838)
      (pp. 92-104)
      Bronson Alcott

      It is not from books entirely that instruction is to be drawn. They should only be subservient to our main purpose. They should lie by us for occasional instruction only. When doubts and uncertainties arise, they may sometimes explain the difficulty and point to the truth. Frequently, however, they lead us astray. They are imperfect. Adherence to them has been the cause, and still continues to be, of perpetuating error among men, and that to an alarming extent. Ideas, when vended in a book, carry with them a kind of dignity and certainty which awe many into implicit belief. They...

      (pp. 105-112)
      James Marsh

      . . . The only way in which it is possible for any one to learn the science of words, which is one of the objects to be sought in the present work, and the true import of those words especially which most concern us as rational and accountable beings, is by reflecting upon, and bringing forth into distinct consciousness, those mental acts which the words are intended to designate. We must discover and distinctly apprehend different meanings, before we can appropriate to each a several word or understand the words so appropriated by others. Now it is not too...

      (pp. 113-118)
      Samuel Taylor Coleridge

      . . . Reason is the power of universal and necessary convictions, the source and substance of truths above sense, and having their evidence in themselves. Its presence is always marked by the necessity of the position affirmed: this necessity being conditional, when a truth of reason is applied to facts of experience, or to the rules and maxims of the understanding; but absolute, when the subject matter is itself the growth or offspring of the reason. Hence arises a distinction in the reason itself, derived from the different mode of applying it and from the objects to which it...

      (pp. 119-128)
      Frederic Henry Hedge

      . . . The characteristics of genius have been variously defined. To us it always seemed that, as there are two degrees of this mental quality, so there are also two characteristics, the (me common to both degrees, the other peculiar to, and indeed constituting the highest. The first characteristic is originality. By this we mean not merely a disposition to think and act differently from the rest of mankind, but the power of imparting novelty and a sense of freshness to common thoughts and familiar objects. In poetry this faculty constitutes what is called the poetical feeling; it is...


      (pp. 131-143)
      Bronson Alcott

      Man is the noblest of the Creator’s works. He is the most richly gifted of all his creatures. His sphere of action is the broadest; his influence the widest; and to him is given nature and life for his heritage and his possession. He holds dominion over the outward. He is the rightful sovereign of the earth, fitted to subdue all things to himself, and to know of no superior, save God. And yet he enters upon the scene of his labors a feeble and wailing babe, at first unconscious of the place assigned him, and needs years of tutelage...

      (pp. 144-156)
      Orestes A. Brownson

      Whoever would see the American people as remarkable for their philosophy as they are for their industry, enterprise, and political freedom must be gratified that these works have already attracted considerable attention among us and are beginning to exert no little influence on our philosophical speculations. It is a proof that our philosophical speculations are taking a wholesome direction, and especially that the great problems of mental and moral science are assuming in our eyes a new importance and calling to their solution a greater and an increasing amount of mind. We are, in fact, turning our attention to matters...

      (pp. 157-163)
      George Ripley

      We believe . . . in opposition to Mr. Martineau, that the mental state of the Apostles involved, among other elements, that of divine inspiration. They professed to have received not the gift of infallibility, but an extraordinary illumination from on high. This claim, we think, is substantiated by all that we know of their character and history.

      We will briefly indicate the process by which we arrive at this conclusion. The first step in the proof of supernatural inspiration is the admission of natural inspiration. The foundation for this is laid in the primitive elements of our being. The...

      (pp. 164-179)
      Orestes A. Brownson

      Religion is natural to man and he ceases to be man the moment he ceases to be religious.

      This position is sustained by what we are conscious of in ourselves and by the universal history of mankind.

      Man has a capacity for religion, faculties which are useless without it, and wants which God alone can satisfy. Accordingly, wherever he is, in whatever age or country, he has—with a few individual exceptions easily accounted for—some sort of religious notions and some form of religious worship.

      But it is only religion, as distinguished from religious institutions, that is natural to...

      (pp. 180-187)
      George Ripley

      These words are applied by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, to the ancient lawgiver of then: nation, as descriptive of the principle of faith which formed a prominent element in his character. They may be regarded as describing with no less justice and force the peculiar character of every truly religious man. For there is nothing which more strongly marks the believer in religious truth than his firm conviction of the reality of a vast range of subjects which do not come under the cognizance of any of the senses. His thoughts are not confined to the...

    • RECORD OF A SCHOOL (1836)
      (pp. 188-202)
      Elizabeth Palmer Peabody

      To contemplate spirit in the Infinite Being has ever been acknowledged to be the ground of true religion. To contemplate spirit in external nature is universally allowed to be the true science. To contemplate spirit in ourselves and in our fellowmen is obviously the means of understanding social duty, and quickening within ourselves a wise humanity. In general terms, contemplation of spirit is the first principle of human culture, the foundation of self-education.

      This principle Mr. Alcott begins with applying to the education of the youngest children, considering early education as a leading of the young mind to self-education.


      (pp. 203-209)
      Andrews Norton

      . . . The latest form of infidelity is distinguished by assuming the Christian name, while it strikes directly at the root of faith in Christianity, and indirectly of all religion, by denying the miracles attesting the divine mission of Christ. The first writer, so far as I know, who maintained the impossibility of a miracle was Spinoza, whose argument, disengaged from the use of language foreign from his opinions, is simply this, that the laws of nature are the laws by which God is bound, Nature and God being the same, and therefore laws from which Nature or God...

      (pp. 210-214)
      George Ripley

      I . . . hasten to the discussion of the chief topic which I conceive worthy of attention in the statements of your discourse. I refer to your adoption and defense of the exclusive principle in an address before an assembly of liberal clergymen. By the exclusive principle, I mean the assumption of the right for an individual, or for any body of individuals, to make their own private opinions the measure of what is fundamental in the Christian faith. As liberal Christians, we have long contended against this principle as contrary to the very essence of Protestantism; we have...

      (pp. 215-218)
      George Ripley

      . . . I cannot close this letter without adding a few words in regard to the character of the theology which is presented in your “Discourse” and “Remarks.” Its radical defect, in my opinion, proceeds from the influence of the material philosophy on which it is founded. The error with which it starts, that there is no faculty in human nature for perceiving spiritual truth, must needs give rise to the other errors which I have formerly pointed out, and which will be rejected, one would hope, as soon as their character and tendency are understood.

      You maintain that...

    • JONES VERY (1839)
      (pp. 219-221)
      James Freeman Clarke

      . . . We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Very, a few months since, in the city of Boston. We had heard of him before, from various quarters, as a young man of much intelligence and of a remarkably pure character, whose mind had become extremely interested within a few months upon the subject of religion. He was said to have adopted some peculiar views on this important theme, and to consider himself inspired by God to communicate them. Such pretensions had excited the fears of his friends, and by many he was supposed to be partially deranged. The...

    • EPIC POETRY (1839)
      (pp. 222-227)
      Jones Very

      The poets of the present day who would raise the epic song cry out, like Archimedes of old, “give us a place to stand on and we will move the world.” This is, as we conceive, the true difficulty. Glancing for a moment at the progress of epic poetry, we shall see that the obscurity of fabulous times could be adapted to the earliest development only of the heroic character. There is an obvious incongruity in making time so far remote the theater on which to represent the heroism of a civilized age; and it adds still more to the...

    • SHAKESPEARE (1839)
      (pp. 228-233)
      Jones Very

      . . . With other writers, at our very first acquaintance with their thoughts, we recognize our relationship with the swiftness of intuition; but who of us, however familiar he may have been with his writings, has yet caught a glance of Shakespeare’s self, so that he could in any way identify himself with him and feel himself a sharer in his joys and sorrows, his motives and his life? With views narrowed down to our own peculiar and selfish ends, we cannot well conceive, for we feel little within us that answers to a being like him—whose spirit...

    • HAMLET (1839)
      (pp. 234-239)
      Jones Very

      The play of Hamlet, when viewed with reference to the character of Shakespeare, which we have given, will no longer stand in that unique relation to the rest of his performances it has hitherto held, but will be found to be more vitally connected than any of them with the great characteristics of the poet’s mind. We have chosen this, therefore, because it illustrates our previous remarks, and because these, in their turn, afford the position from which it is to be viewed. . . . There is, to use his own words, “something more than natural” in this tragedy,...

    • POEMS (1839)
      (pp. 240-245)
      Jones Very
      (pp. 246-253)
      Orestes A. Brownson

      . . . Of American literature as it has been, and even as it now is, not much is to be said flattering to our national vanity. We have produced some works respectable for their practical aims and utility; we have brought forth much which passes for poetry, but there is no great poem of American origin unless we call Barlow’s Columbiad such—our only national epic—and we could make up but a meager collection of national songs. Latterly, we have given birth to some tolerable novels and made a good beginning in history. But, aside from the newspaper...

      (pp. 254-273)
      Orestes A. Brownson

      . . . No one can observe the signs of the times with much care, without perceiving that a crisis as to the relation of wealth and labor is approaching. It is useless to shut our eyes to the fact, and like the ostrich fancy ourselves secure because we have so concealed our heads that we see not the danger. We or our children will have to meet this crisis. The old war between the king and the barons is well nigh ended, and so is that between the barons and the merchants and manufacturers—landed capital and commercial capital....

      (pp. 274-289)
      Theodore Parker

      In this sentence we have a very clear indication that Jesus of Nazareth believed the religion he taught would be eternal, that the substance of it would last forever. Yet there are some who are affrighted by the faintest rustle which a heretic makes among the dry leaves of theology; they tremble lest Christianity itself should perish without hope. Ever and anon the cry is raised, “The Philistines be upon us, and Christianity is in danger.” The least doubt respecting the popular theology, or the existing machinery of the church; the least sign of distrust in the religion of the...

      (pp. 290-296)
      Theodore Parker

      In our version of the New Testament the word servant often stands for a word in the original, which means slave. Such is the case in this passage just read, and the sense of the whole verse is this:—“If a man yields unconditional service to sin, he is the slave of sin, and gets death for his reward.” Here, however, by a curious figure of speech, not uncommon in this apostle, he uses the word slave in a good sense—slave of obedience unto righteousness. I now ask your attention to a short sermon of slavery.

      A popular definition...


      (pp. 299-302)
      R. W. Emerson and Margaret Fuller

      We invite the attention of our countrymen to a new design. Probably not quite unexpected or unannounced will our journal appear, though small pains have been taken to secure its welcome. Those who have immediately acted in editing the present number cannot accuse themselves of any unbecoming forwardness in their undertaking, but rather of a backwardness, when they remember how often in many private circles the work was projected, how eagerly desired, and only postponed because no individual volunteered to combine and concentrate the free-will offerings of many cooperators. With some reluctance the present conductors of this work have yielded...

      (pp. 303-309)
      Margaret Fuller

      An essay on criticism were a serious matter; for, though this age be emphatically critical, the writer would still find it necessary to investigate the laws of criticism as a science, to settle its conditions as an art Essays entitled critical are epistles addressed to the public through which the mind of the recluse relieves itself of its impressions. Of these the only law is, “Speak the best word that is in thee.” Or they are regular articles, got up to order by the literary hack writer for the literary mart, and the only law is to make them plausible....

      (pp. 310-313)
      John Sullivan Dwight

      The devout mind is a lover of nature. Where there is beauty it feels at home. It has not then to shut the windows of the senses and take refuge from the world within its own thoughts to find eternal life. Beauty never limits us, never degrades us. We are free spirits when with nature. The outward scenery of our life, when we feel it to be beautiful, is always commensurate with the grandeur of our inward ideal aspiration; it reflects encouragingly the heart’s highest, brightest dreams; it does not contradict the soul’s convictions of a higher life; it tells...

    • ORPHIC SAYINGS (1840)
      (pp. 314-323)
      Bronson Alcott

      Thou art, my heart, a soul-flower, facing ever and following the motions of thy sun, opening thyself to her vivifying ray, and pleading thy affinity with the celestial orbs. Thou dost

      the livelong day

      Dial on time thine own eternity.

      Believe, youth, that your heart is an oracle; trust her instinctive auguries, obey her divine leadings; nor listen top fondly to the uncertain echoes of your head. The heart is the prophet of your soul, and ever fulfills her prophecies; reason is her historian; but for the prophecy the history would not be. Great is the heart: cherish her; she...

    • QUESTIONS (1841)
      (pp. 324-325)
      Frederic Henry Hedge
      (pp. 326-329)
      Theodore Parker

      Opinions are divided respecting German literature. If we are to believe what is currently reported, and generally credited, there is, somewhere in New England, a faction of discontented men and maidens, who have conspired to love everything Teutonic, from Dutch skates to German infidelity. It is supposed, at least asserted, that these misguided persons would fain banish all other literature clean out of space; or, at the very least, would give it precedence of all other letters, ancient or modern. Whatever is German, they admire; philosophy, dramas, theology, novels, old ballads, and modern sonnets, histories, and dissertations, and sermons; but...

    • GLIMMERINGS (1841)
      (pp. 330-333)
      Christopher Pearse Cranch

      What is there in the full moon that it should disturb the soul with these thousand old dim recollections? Why should her long shadows point ever to the past? Why should they waken melancholy? Childhood and youth, romance and love, sad and merry hours—ye are all out there in the moonlight! Ye have gone out from my soul, and hang all around me in this silvered darkness. Mysterious power of association! How strangely nature mirrors the soul! How her phases reflect back, and give us again our long-lost dreams! He who has never hung with fond sadness on the...

      (pp. 334-336)
      Margaret Fuller

      Poet: Approach me not, man of cold, steadfast eye and compressed lips. At thy coming nature shrouds herself in dull mist; fain would she hide her sighs and smiles, her buds and fruits even in a veil of snow. For thy unkindly breath, as it pierces her mystery, destroys its creative power. The birds draw back into their nests, the sunset hues into their clouds, when you are seen in the distance with your tablets all ready to write them into prose.

      Critic: O my brother, my benefactor, do not thus repel me. Interpret me rather to our common mother;...

    • THOUGHTS ON LABOR (1841)
      (pp. 337-341)
      Theodore Parker

      . . . In a rational and natural state of society—that is, one in which every man went forward toward the true end he was designed to reach, toward perfection in the use of all his senses, toward perfection in wisdom, virtue, affection, and religion—labor would never interfere with the culture of what was best in each man. His daily business would be a school to aid in developing the whole man, body and spirit, because he would then do what nature fitted him to do. Thus his business would be really his calling. The diversity of gifts...

      (pp. 342-345)
      Elizabeth Palmer Peabody

      There are men and women . . . who have dared to say to one another, “Why not have our daily life organized on Christ’s own idea? Why not begin to move the mountain of custom and convention? Perhaps Jesus’ method of thought and life is the Saviour—is Christianity! For each man to think and live on this method is perhaps the second coming of Christ; to do unto the little ones as we would do unto him would be perhaps the reign of the saints—the kingdom of heaven. We have hitherto heard of Christ by the hearing...

      (pp. 346-354)
      R. W. Emerson and Albert Brisbane

      The increasing zeal and numbers of the disciples of Fourier, in America and in Europe, entitle them to an attention which their theory and practical projects will justify and reward. . . .

      We had lately an opportunity of learning something of these Socialists and their theory from the indefatigable apostle of the sect in New York, Albert Brisbane. Mr. Brisbane pushes his doctrine with all the force of memory, talent, honest faith, and importunacy. As we listened to his exposition, it appeared to us the sublime of mechanical philosophy; for the system was the perfection of arrangement and contrivance....

      (pp. 355-356)
      R. W. Emerson

      On the subject of the University we cannot help wishing that a change will one day be adopted which will put an end to the foolish bickering between the government and the students which almost every year breaks out into those uncomfortable fracases which are called “Rebellions.” Cambridge is so well endowed, and offers such large means of education, that it can easily assume the position of an university, and leave to the numerous younger colleges the charge of pupils too young to be trusted from home. This is instantly effected by the faculty’s confining itself to the office of...

    • ANACREON (1843)
      (pp. 357-362)
      H. D. Thoreau

      We lately met with an old volume from a London bookshop, containing the Greek minor poets, and it was a pleasure to read once more only the words—Orpheus—Linus—Musaeus—those faint poetic sounds and echoes of a name dying away on the ears of us modern men, and those hardly more substantial sounds, Mimnermus—Ibycus—Alcæus—Stesichorus—Menander. They lived not in vain. We can converse with these bodiless fames without reserve or personality.

      We know of no studies so composing as those of the classical scholar. When we have sat down to them, life seems as still...

      (pp. 363-372)
      Margaret Fuller

      . . . It is worthy of remark that, as the principle of liberty is better understood and more nobly interpreted, a broader protest is made in behalf of woman. As men become aware that all men have not had their fair chance, they are inclined to say that no women have had a fair chance. The French Revolution, that strangely disguised angel, bore witness in favor of woman, but interpreted her claims no less ignorantly than those of man. Its idea of happiness did not rise beyond outward enjoyment, unobstructed by the tyranny of others. The title it gave...

      (pp. 373-376)
      Samuel Gray Ward

      . . . What architecture must a nation situated as we are adopt? It has no indigenous architecture; it is not therefore a matter of religion with us, but a matter of taste. We may and must have all the architectures of the world, but we may ennoble them all by an attention to truth and a contempt of littleness. Nay, is not our position, if we will use our advantages properly, the more fortunate, inasmuch as we are not by the force of circumstance or example bound to be or to build in this or that particular way, but...


    • LETTER TO R. W. EMERSON (1840)
      (pp. 379-382)
      George Ripley

      My dear Sir: Our conversation in Concord was of such a general nature that I do not feel as if you were in complete possession of the idea of the association which I wish to see established. As we have now a prospect of carrying it into effect, at an early period, I wish to submit the plan more distinctly to your judgment, that you may decide whether it is one that can have the benefit of your aid and cooperation.

      Our objects, as you know, are to insure a more natural union between intellectual and manual labor than now...

      (pp. 383-384)
      R. W. Emerson

      My dear Sir: It is quite time I made an answer to your proposition that I should venture into your new community. The design appears to me noble and generous, proceeding, as I plainly see, from nothing covert or selfish or ambitious, but from a manly and expanding heart and mind. So it makes all men its friends and debtors. It becomes a matter of conscience to entertain it in a friendly spirit and examine what it has for us.

      I have decided not to join it, and yet very slowly and I may almost say with penitence. I am...

      (pp. 385-386)

      Dear Sir: I have an earnest and well-matured desire to join your community with my family, if I can do it under satisfactory circumstances—I mean satisfactory to all parties. I am pastor of the First Congregational Church in this town. My congregation is quiet, and in many respects very pleasant; but I have felt that my views of late are not sufficiently in accordance with the forms under which I have undertaken to conduct the ministry of Christian truth. This want of accordance increases, and I feel that a crisis is at hand. I must follow the light that...

      (pp. 387-388)
      George Ripley

      Dear Sir: It gives me the most sincere pleasure to reply to the inquiries proposed in your favor of the 31st instant. I welcome the extended and increasing interest which is manifested in our apparently humble enterprise, as a proof that it is founded in nature and truth, and as a cheering omen of its ultimate success. Like yourself, we are seekers of universal truth. We worship only reality. We are striving to establish a mode of life which shall combine the enchantments of poetry with the facts of daily experience. This we believe can be done by a rigid...

      (pp. 389-390)
      George Ripley

      . . . Although my present strong convictions are in favor of cooperative association rather than of community of property, I look with an indescribable interest on every attempt to redeem society from its corruptions. The evils arising from trade and money, it appears to me, grow out of the defects of our social organization, not from an intrinsic vice in the things themselves; and the abolition of private property, I fear, would so far destroy the independence of the individual as to interfere with the great object of all social reforms, namely, the development of humanity, the substitution of...

      (pp. 391-397)
      Elizabeth Palmer Peabody

      In the last number of the Dial were some remarks under the perhaps ambitious title of “A Glimpse of Christ’s Idea of Society,” in a note to which it was intimated that in this number would be given an account of an attempt to realize in some degree this great ideal by a little company in the midst of us as yet without name or visible existence. The attempt is made on a very small scale. A few individuals, who, unknown to each other, under different disciplines of life, reacting from different social evils, but aiming at the same object...

      (pp. 398-402)
      George Ripley, Minot Pratt and Charles A. Dana

      The Association at Brook Farm has now been in existence upward of two years. Originating in the thought and experience of a few individuals, it has hitherto worn for the most part the character of a private experiment, and has avoided rather than sought the notice of the public. It has, until the present time, seemed fittest to those engaged in this enterprise to publish no statements of their purposes or methods, to make no promises or declarations, but quietly and sincerely to realize, as far as might be possible, the great ideas which gave the central impulse to their...


      (pp. 405-413)
      Orestes A. Brownson

      . . . Transcendentalism is virtually the ground on which the enemies of the church, generally, are rallying and endeavoring to make a stand, and the ground on which they are to be met and vanquished. Protestantism, as set forth by the early reformers, is virtually no more. It yielded to the well-directed blows of Bossuet and other Catholic divines in the seventeenth century. But its spirit was not extinguished. It survived, and in the beginning of the eighteenth century reappeared in England under the form of infidelity, or the denial of all supernatural revelation from God to men; and,...

      (pp. 414-424)
      Theodore Parker

      . . . In due time I entered the Theological School at Cambridge, then under the charge of the Unitarians, or “Liberal Christians.” I found excellent opportunities for study: there were able and earnest professors who laid no yoke on any neck but left each man free to think for himself and come to such conclusions as he must. Telling what they thought they knew, they never pretended they had learned all that may be known, or winnowed out all error from their creed. They were honest guides, with no more sophistry than is perhaps almost universal in that calling,...

    (pp. 425-431)
    (pp. 432-433)