correspondence, has not heard from himself this long time.”
This hard, basic individualism was for Thoreau
the foundation of all enduring social relations, and the dullest observer of twentieth century America
can see that Thoreau
's doctrine is needed as much as ever.
His sharp-edged personality provokes curiosity and pricks the reader into dissent or emulation as the case may be, but its chief ethical value to our generation lies in the fact that here was a Transcendentalist who stressed, not the life of the senses, though he was well aware of their seductiveness, but the stubborn energy of the will.
The scope of the present book prevents more than a glimpse at the other members of the New England
They are a very mixed company, noble, whimsical, queer, impossible.
“The good Alcott
,” wrote Carlyle
, “with his long, lean face and figure, with his gray 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 venerable Don Quixote
, whom nobody can laugh at without loving.”
These words paint a whole company, as well as a single man. The good Alcott
still awaits an adequate biographer.