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[339] inadequately representative of the man, and the critic pauses between the belief that admiring contemporaries grossly overrated the ability of an active and elevated but withal rather ordinary mind, and the opposite view that Alcott had a touch of real genius in him, a kinship in due degree with the inspired talkers of literary history. Carlyle's famous description of him gives us part of the truth:

The good Alcott: with his long, lean face and figure, with his grey worn temples and mild radiant eyes; all bent on saving the world by a return to acorns and the golden age; he comes before one like a kind of venerable Don Quixote, whom nobody can even laugh at without loving.

But Emerson probably came nearer than anyone else to doing justice to both sides of Alcott's nature when he called his friend a “tedious archangel.”

If Alcott embodied the extreme mystical and esoteric side of transcendentalism, the Brook Farm Association represents its social and experimental aspect.

George Ripley (1802-1880), the leader of this enterprise, was a graduate of Harvard and a Unitarian minister. A wide and increasing knowledge of European writers, however, gradually led his interest from theology into the sphere of social reform. He accordingly gave up his pastorate, and in 1841 he and his wife and a number of loyal friends established the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education on a farm at West Roxbury, nine miles from Boston. The association was a joint-stock company and financially it was inaugurated and conducted with considerable practical sagacity. On its theoretical side the enterprise, while the product in a general way of the speculations and example of Owen and Fourier, was not, especially at the beginning, in any precise sense an experiment in socialism. The hope of its founders was merely to make Brook Farm a self-supporting group of men and women, where all should share in the manual labour, the leisure, and the educational and cultural advantages, a place of “plain living and high thinking” where life might be lived in an atmosphere of fraternity, free from the strife and burdens of ordinary competitive society. That the attempt

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