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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book 24 0 Browse Search
Bliss Perry, The American spirit in lierature: a chronicle of great interpreters 16 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Olde Cambridge 10 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Women and Men 6 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Margaret Fuller Ossoli 2 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays 2 0 Browse Search
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Browsing named entities in Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book. You can also browse the collection for H. D. Thoreau or search for H. D. Thoreau in all documents.

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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, Preface (search)
eprint such of the remaining chapters as appeared in their respective columns. Nothing is farther from the present writer's wish than to pander to any petty national vanity, his sole desire being to assist in creating a modest and reasonable self-respect. The civil war bequeathed to us Americans, twenty-five years ago, a great revival of national feeling; but this has been followed in some quarters, during the last few years, by a curious relapse into something of the old colonial and apologetic attitude; enhanced, no doubt, by the vexations and humiliations of the long struggle for international copyright. This is the frame of mind which is deprecated in this volume, because it is the last source from which any strong or self-reliant literary work can proceed. In the words of Thoreau, I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up. Cambridge, Mass., October 1, 1891.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, The New world and the New book (search)
of that early transcendental school which did so much to emancipate and nationalize American literature, did it by recognizing this same fact. From the depth of their so-called idealism they recognized the infinite value of the individual man. Thoreau, who has been so incorrectly and even cruelly described as a man who spurned his fellows, wrote that noble sentence, forever refuting such critics, What is nature, without a human life passing within her? Many joys and many sorrows are the lighluse woman of genius, Emily Dickinson —are the women who pass my house to their work, bearing Saviours in their arms. Words wait on thoughts, thoughts on life; and after these, technical training is an easy thing. The art of composition, wrote Thoreau, is as simple as the discharge of a bullet from a rifle, and its masterpieces imply an infinitely greater force behind them. What are the two unmistakable rifle-shots in American literature thus far? John Brown's speech in the court-room and L
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, VIII (search)
mpty Dumpty to Alice, that some human beings could be constructed with their features differently combined—the noses, for instance, being sometimes put above the eyebrows—in order to distinguish them more conspicuously. Yet each one becomes on acquaintance a perfectly defined personality; and it is complained by their professors that there is sometimes rather an excess of individuality, when it comes to discipline. It turns out, then, that individuality depends largely on the observer. Thoreau points out that no two oak-leaves are precisely alike; and Scudder says the same of the markings on butterflies' wings. Alexander von Humboldt remarked that this trait develops with civilization; a hundred wild dogs are more alike than their domesticated kindred, and so of a hundred wild men. If the step we have taken in America, away from courts and hereditary institutions, be a step in civilization, then it is certainly to lead to more individuality, not less. Even in England, where is
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, X (search)
apart from all drawbacks in the way of haste and shallowness, there is a profounder difficulty which besets the most careful critical work. It inevitably takes the color of the time; its study of the stars is astrology, not astronomy, to adopt Thoreau's distinction. Heine points out, in his essay on German Romanticism, that we greatly err in supposing that Goethe's early fame bore much comparison with his deserts. He was, indeed, praised for Werther and Gotz von Berlichingen, but the romancth half-reluctant modesty placed himself below Homer; that Miss Anna Seward and her contemporaries habitually spoke of Hayley as the Mighty Bard, and passed over without notice Hayley's eccentric dependant, William Blake; that but two volumes of Thoreau's writings were published, greatly to his financial loss, during his lifetime, and eight others, with four biographies of him, since his death; that Willis's writings came into instant acceptance, while Hawthorne's, according to their early pub
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XIII (search)
ey a distinct sensation of background. Of course, when this background obtrudes itself into the foreground, it becomes intolerable; and such books as Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy are tiresome, because they are all made up of background, and that of the craggiest description; but, after all, the books which offer only foreground are also insufficient. I do not see how any one can read the essays of Howells and James and Burroughs, for instance, after reading those of Emerson or Lowell or Thoreau, without noticing in the younger trio a somewhat narrowed range of allusion and illustration; a little deficiency in that mellow richness of soil which can be made only out of the fallen leaves of many successive vegetations; a want, in fact, of background. It is to be readily admitted that there is no magic in a college, and that any writer who has a vast love of knowledge may secure his background for himself, as did, for example, Theodore Parker. Yet he cannot obtain it without what
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XVI (search)
opposition. Of course we all view this drama of life around us through a medium varying with our temperaments. Heine says that he once went to see the thrilling tragedy of La Tour de Nesle, in Paris, and sat behind a lady who wore a large hat of rose-red gauze. The hat obstructed his whole view of the stage; he saw the play only through it, and all the horror of the tragedy was transformed by the most cheerful roselight. Some of us are happy in having this rose-tinted veil in our temperaments; but the plot and the tragedy are there. The innocent, says Thoreau speaking of life, enjoy the story. They should be permitted to enjoy it, which they cannot do unless they have it. Grant that character is the important thing; but character will soon dwindle and its delineation grow less and less interesting, if we detach it from life. We are all but coral-insects or sea-anemones forming a part of one great joint existence, and we die and dry up if torn from the reef where we belong.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XVIII (search)
e Cleveland catalogue. The actual works of the author himself are not included. The list is as follows:— Washington.48 Emerson, Lincoln (each)41 Franklin 37 Webster34 Longfellow33 Hawthorne25 Jefferson23 Grant22 Irving21 Clay19 Beecher, Poe, M. F. Ossoli (each)16 Theodore Parker, Lowell (each)15 John Adams, Sumner (each)14 Cooper, Greeley, Sheridan, Sherman (each)12 Everett11 John Brown, Channing, Farragut (each)10 Garrison, Hamilton, Prescott, Seward, Taylor (each) 9 Thoreau7 Bancroft6 Allston5 Edwards, Motley (each)5 This list certainly offers to the reader some surprises in its details, but it must impress every one, after serious study, as giving a demonstration of real intelligence and catholicity of taste in the nation whose literature it represents. When, for instance, we consider the vast number of log cabins or small farmhouses where the name of Lincoln is a household word, while that of Emerson is as unknown as that of Aeschylus or Catullus,
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XX (search)
him retrospectively with even one cipher more. The omnivorous student, who would gladly keep the touch of all branches of knowledge, finds them steadily slipping away from him, and may be glad if he can watch with fidelity the newest developments in some single minute field, such as fossil cockroaches or the genitive case. It is useless for Mr. Cabot to tell us that Emerson was not a great scholar; we knew it already, he could not in this age have been a great scholar and a great writer. Thoreau resolutely limited himself to the observation of external nature in one small township in Massachusetts; and he assigned himself a task so far beyond his grasp that we find him in his diaries puzzling over the common brown cocoon of the Attacus moth as if it was some wholly new phenomenon; indeed, he seems scarcely to have noticed the insect world at all. The best-trained observation, in presence of the vast advance of knowledge, is very limited; and the human memory, instead of being, as
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XXVI (search)
d by realists as real, by idealists as ideal, and perhaps forcing the pendulum in a new direction. Nothing, surely, since Hawthorne's death, has given us so much of the distinctive flavor of his genius as Tourgueneff's extraordinary Poems in Prose in the admirable version of Mrs. T. S. Perry. But the question, after all, recurs: why should we thus be slaves of the pendulum? Why should we not look at these vast variations of taste more widely, and, as it were, astronomically, to borrow Thoreau's phrase? In the mind of a healthy child there is no incongruity between fairy tales and the Rollo Books; and he passes without disquiet from the fancied heart-break of a tin soldier to Jonas mending an old rat-trap in the barn. Perhaps, after all, the literary fluctuation occurs equally in their case and in ours, but under different conditions. It may be that, in the greater mobility of the child's nature, the pendulum can swing to and fro in half a second of time and without the consci
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, Index (search)
8. Sumner, Charles, 70, 155. Sumner, W. G., 19. Swinburne, A. C., 68,158. T. Taine, H. A., 53. Taking ourselves seriously, on, 35. Talleyrand, C. M., 193. Tasso, Torquato, 187, 217. Taylor, Bayard, 67, 100. Taylor, Sir, Henry, 78, 167. Taylor, Thomas, 215. Temperament, an American, 2. Tennyson, Lord, 25, 29, 53, 56, 94, 95, 98, 124, 126, 184, 196, 203, 205. Test of the dime novel, the, 198. Thackeray, W. M., 93, 111. Thomas, Isaiah, 42. Thompson, Maurice, 67. Thoreau, H. D., VI., 9, 16, 73, 90, 114, 155, 175, 220. Ticknor, George, 19. Tocqueville, A. C. H. de, 32, 121. Tolstoi, Count, Leo, 35. Tonics, literary, 62. Touchstone quoted, 21. Tourgueneff, Ivan, 219. Town and gown, 161. Tracy, Uriah, 46. Transcendental school, the, 8. Translators, American, 144. Travers, W. R., 82. Trench, R. C., 57. Trollope, Frances, 24. Tupper, M. F., 98. Twain, Mark, see Clemens. Tyndall, John, 22. U, V. Urquhart, David, 208, 209. Vestri