previous next


Thus it was noticeable that his intimates seldom praised him for this or that special gift, except perhaps that of conversation, but always labored to carry their explanations back to some ultimate force, expressed or implied. And it is equally remarkable that their enthusiasm bore no reference to any expected success in any special direction. Usually the admiration and the predictions of young people go together; where they see gifts, they expect miracles. In his case they seemed to recognize a rarer quality than that which wins success, and they were content to allow him a whole eternity to grow in, demanding nothing meanwhile. They did not pretend to understand or explain or justify him; they only knew that there was but one Stephen Perkins. It was a dangerous form of admiration; a weaker person would have been spoiled by it. He only received it all with that same equanimity with which he took everything else. When his friends were pleased, they called this stoical mood philosophy; when they were a little provoked, they called it laziness; when very much provoked, they called it conceit,—and revoked the phrase in self-contrition the next day. For they knew very well that under all this motionless surface there was a nature absolutely noble, that would gladly give up all the superficial joys of life, could it but live itself out clearly and find its true career at last. And older men and women, whose society he always rather sought, found him modest, gentle and truthful, though they might miss something of that fresh enthusiasm which seems the proper birthright of youth.

It is almost needless to say, after what has been said of his temperament, that he had a choice taste in books, and knew his Emerson from beginning to end. He liked, too, to hear Theodore Parker preach, but would not acknowledge to any positive thrill of the blood from that powerful electric battery; and if moved thereby to any special act of courage or selfsacrifice, would have been sure to keep it out of sight. Habitually defending all who where attacked or criticised, he also habitually understated all emotions; and when the war came, treated it as he treated the rest of life, with only a sort of

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Stephen Perkins (1)
Theodore Parker (1)
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: