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[333] This they had done many months before any regular gatherings were contemplated. It was not until 1836 that these were begun when on 19 September-after a still smaller preliminary conference-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Henry Hedge, Convers Francis, James Freeman Clarke, and Amos Bronson Alcott met at the house of George Ripley and formed an organization to aid an exchange of thought among those interested in the “new views” in philosophy, theology, and literature. Among those who joined the group at later meetings were Theodore Parker, Margaret Fuller, Orestes A. Brownson, Elizabeth and Sophia Peabody, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Jones Very, Christopher P. Cranch, Charles T. Follen, and William Henry Channing. For a number of years, following 1836, this group, generally referred to as the Transcendental Club, continued occasionally to come together.

Of the less familiar names among its members, several, in a fuller treatment of the subject, would deserve discussion: Hedge and Clarke, for instance, Unitarian clergymen, the former a man of wide reading and sound scholarship who did much to spread a knowledge of German philosophy, the latter a leader of his denomination and of some contemporary standing as an author; Brownson, one of the most forceful but erratic figures of the time, minister, editor, politician, and novelist-beginning life as a Presbyterian and becoming in turn Universalist, Unitarian, transcendentalist, and Roman Catholic; Very and Cranch, two of the poets of the period, the former probably the extreme mystic of the whole group, a victim for a time of religious mania, the latter a picturesque figure, painter, musician, and ventriloquist, as well as poet. Some of these men attained considerable eminence in their own time, but for the present discussion these passing comments on them must suffice.

It is characteristic of the extreme individualism of the movement that the Transcendental Club was never a really formal organization. The transcendentalists, though most of them were Unitarians, did not leave the fold and form a new church-though such an event as Emerson's withdrawal from the ministry in 1832 is symbolic of a general spiritual secession then taking place. But in spite of the absence of definite organization, there was essential unity of belief among the

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