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 lights and shadows in which she shines most beautiful.’
came nearest to a portrayal of himself in that exquisite prose-poem of ‘The Threefold Destiny,’ in which the world-weary man returns to his native village and finds all his early dreams fulfilled in the life beside his own hearthstone.
Margaret Fuller Ossoli
wrote the profoundest phrase of criticism which has yet proceeded from any American critic, when she said that in a work of fiction we need to hear the excuses that men make to themselves for their worthlessness.
And now that this early ideal movement has passed by, the far wider movement which is establishing American fiction, not in one locality alone, but on a field broad as the continent, unconsciously recognizes this one principle,— the essential dignity and worth of the individual man. This is what enables it to dispense