Chapter 2: old Cambridge in three literary epochs The literary epochs of New England may be said to have been three: the first issue of the North American Review (1815), that of the Dial (1840), and that of the Atlantic Monthly (1857). During each of these epochs a peculiarly important part was taken by Cambridge men.
1. the north American ReviewThe North American Review, though preceded in Boston by the short-lived Massachusetts Magazine and the Monthly Anthology, yet achieved an influence and a prominence which these did not reach, and is still issued, though in another city and in another form. Of the Anthology Club of Boston, Josiah Quincy saidknowing intimately most of the members:--
Its labors may be considered as a true revival of polite learning in this country, after that  decay and neglect which resulted from the distractions of the Revolutionary War, and as forming an epoch in the intellectual history of the United States.This epoch may, however, be better indicated by the foundation of the North American Review, which immediately followed. This periodical, during far the larger part of its early career, was under the editorship of Cambridge men. After the first editor, William Tudor, there came a long line of Cambridge successors — Willard Phillips, Edward Tyrrel Channing, Edward Everett, Jared Sparks, John Gorham Palfrey, Francis Bowen, and, after some interval, James Russell Lowell and Charles Eliot Norton. The list of chief contributors to the first forty volumes of the Review, as appears from the Index published in 1878, would include, in addition to those already given, C. C. Felton, George Bancroft, H. W. Longfellow, and the elder Norton —— all Harvard instructors. Its connection with Cambridge was therefore well defined and unquestionable. Judge Story, then head of the Harvard Law School, who had for many years a higher foreign reputation than any other American  author, thus wrote in 1819 to Sir William Scott: “So great is the call for talents of all sorts in the active use of professional and other business in America, that few of our ablest men have leisure to devote exclusively to literature or the fine arts, or to composition on abstract science. This obvious reason . . . will explain why we have few professional authors and those not among our ablest men.” He then speaks of a “review published in Boston,” and says: “The review is edited by gentlemen young in life, engaged in active business, and who have scarcely a moment of leisure to devote to these pursuits. The latter, too, is voluntary and without profit to themselves.” 1 This referred plainly to the North American Review. The articles which appeared in this Review had a wide influence, in their day, on both political and literary opinion. They were written, as a rule, in what may be called the Southey style, which then predominated in the London quarterlies — an orderly and clear-cut style, not wanting in vigor, but essentially academic. The early articles, if they brought  little profit to their authors, brought sometimes disaster. Bowen, for instance, whose self-willed and somewhat disputative temperament made him many enemies, lost the Professorship of American History in Harvard University through a series of attacks on the Hungarian revolutionists for whom Kossuth had aroused much interest in this country. Bowen's views were strongly contested by a man of uncommon ability, Robert Carter, also of Cambridge, who wrote a series of papers in the Boston Atlas (1850) in defence of Kossuth and his party; and these papers, being reprinted in a pamphlet, were said to have caused the refusal of the Board of Overseers to confirm Bowen's nomination as Professor of History. Three years later, however, he was appointed Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity, a position which he held until his death. He was a man of immense reading, keen mind, and was not without those qualities which Lord Byron thought essential to an historian,--wrath and partiality. For him alone Lowell made an essential change in his “Fable for critics,” leaving out in the revised  edition a pungent delineation of Professor Bowen. This Lowell did on becoming himself a Harvard professor; and if he had done the same, after Margaret Fuller's tragic death, with his personal attack on her, he would have averted much criticism on himself. Robert Carter, who thus defeated Bowen and was afterwards intimately associated with Lowell in both literature and life, was one of those gifted eccentrics who gravitated to Cambridge in earlier days, perhaps more freely than now. He had known extreme poverty, and used to tell the story of his mother and himself walking the streets of a city in central New York and spending their last half-dollar on a copy of Spenser's “Faerie Queene,” instead of a dinner. He was a man of wide reading, great memory, and great inventive power; his favorite work in embryo being a tale which was to occupy twelve volumes each as large as Sue's “Wandering Jew,” then widely read. Two of these volumes were to contain an incidental summary of the history of the world, told by a heavenly spirit to a man wandering among the Mountains of the Moon in Africa. He came  to Cambridge under Lowell's patronage and secured a place in the post-office at a salary of two hundred dollars, on which modest income he married a maiden as poor as himself, who brought him as a dowry two eagles,--formidable pets,--whose butcher's bills made great inroads on his pay. With all these peculiarities he was a capital journalist and had much organizing power, the main work of bringing into existence the Free Soil (afterward Republican) party falling upon him. He made, however, no permanent contribution to literature except in a little book so excellently done that it should prove a classic,--“A summer Cruise on the Coast of New England.” One of the controlling influences in the North American, and in all the Cambridge life of that period, was a man whose prominence is now merged in that of a yet more accomplished and eminent son. This was Professor Andrews Norton, admirably described by George Ripley, -the founder of Brook Farm,--who had nevertheless had with him a controversy so vehement that it would have annihilated the mutual appreciation of lesser men. Ripley's characterization is as follows:-- 
Mr. Norton may be said to have formed a connecting link between the past and the future in American literary cultivation. He appeared at the moment when the scholastic attainments since the period of the Revolution were about to ripen into a more generous development. In early life he was far in advance of most of his contemporaries in sound and exact learning, and in what was then deemed an excessive freedom of speculation. He was connected with Harvard, first as tutor, then as librarian, and afterward as Professor of Sacred Literature. In each of these offices his influence was marked and salutary. His thorough scholarship served to give form and substance to the literary enthusiasm which at that time prevailed in Cambridge. His refined and exquisite taste cast an air of purity and elegance around the spirit of the place. His habits were as severe as those of a mediaeval monk. His love of literature was a passion. The predominant qualities of his mind were clearness of perception, rigidity of judgment, accuracy of expression, and a chaste imagination. His  peculiar sphere was that of theology and criticism, but no department of elegant letters was foreign to his tastes. Every scholar in Cambridge received an inspiring impulse from his example. His sympathies were not easily won, nor was he lavish in the expression of even favorable judgments. He was free, perhaps, from what may be called moral suspicion, but he certainly often evinced an excess of intellectual caution. A man of stainless purity of purpose, of high integrity of life, with a profound sense of religion, and severe simplicity of manners, his example was a perpetual rebuke to the conceitedness of learning, the vanity of youthful scholarship, and the habit of “vain and shallow thought.” His influence is deeply stamped on the literature of Harvard.Side by side with the North American Review grew up another periodical which, though denominational, was a sort of adjunct to it,--the Christian Examiner, established in 1824. It was first edited by Rev. John G. Palfrey, D. D., of Cambridge, and afterwards for a long time by the Rev. William Ware  of Cambridge, better known by his historical romances “Zenobia” and “Probus.” These tales had long a high reputation, and reprints of them still appear in England. The Christian Examiner existed for forty-five years, and although for many years it paid nothing to contributors, it yet rendered distinct literary service, whatever may be thought of its theology. Nor must be forgotten another important annual publication always edited in Cambridge,--The American Almanac. Its main founder was another of those eccentric characters of whom the university town was then prolific. Among the various academic guests who used to gather in my mother's hospitable parlor on Sunday evenings, no figure is more vivid in my memory than one whom Lowell in his “Fireside Travels” has omitted to sketch. This was Dr. Joseph E. Worcester, whose “Elements of History, ancient and Modern,” I had faithfully studied at school; and who was wont to sit silent, literally by the hour, a slumbering volcano of facts and statistics, while others talked. He was tall, stiff, gentle, and benignant, wearing blue spectacles,  and with his head as it were ingulfed in the high coat collar of other days. He rocked to and fro, placidly listening to what was said, and might perhaps have been suspected of a gentle slumber, when the casual mention of some city in the West, then dimly known, would rouse him to action. He would then cease rocking, would lean forward, and say in his peaceful voice: “Chillicothe? What is the present population of Chillicothe?” or, “Columbus? What is the population of Columbus?” and then, putting away the item in some appropriate pigeon-hole of his vast memory, would relapse into his rocking-chair once more. These various periodicals, with their editors, gave to Cambridge the constant attitude of dawning knowledge, of incipient literature, which, indeed, properly belongs to a college town. It is to be observed that all new university centres, as Baltimore or Chicago, thus now signalize their arrival through the creation of new periodicals by the dozen. The North American Review existed at a time when the “Four Reviews,” as they were called, were still the foundation of all American  thought, and when sets of the “Modern British Essayists” had taken the place in young men's libraries of the “British Essayists” of Addison's period. The result was a well-bred, clearly written, somewhat prosaic style common to both nations, but practically brought to an end by Carlyle with his impetuous vigor and by what Holmes called “the Macaulay-flowers” of literature. These influences in England, with the rise of Emerson and Parker in America, brought a distinct change, and Lowell eminently contributed his share when Professor Bowen, editing the North American, complained of his articles as being “too brilliant.” Since that day authors have been allowed to be as brilliant as they can, in all periodicals, although they have not uniformly availed themselves of this privilege.
2. The Dial
Whatever may be said, in the light of changing schools of philosophy, as to the more or less shadowy opinions which lay behind the movement called Transcendentalism, there can be no doubt that, so far as literature went, it was the
beginning of a new era for America.
In the very first number of the Dial, upon its first page Emerson announced it as its primary aim “to make new demands on literature” ; and it is worth noticing that this original movement had its roots at several different points in Old Cambridge.
The plan of a new periodical had been discussed between Hedge and Margaret Fullerboth natives of Cambridge — as early as March 5, 1835, the latter writing, “Your periodical plan charms me.”
In the autumn of 1836, the bicentennial of Harvard University was held, and four young clergymen — Emerson, Hedge, Ripley, and Putnam-had an almost casual meeting at Willard's Hotel, now the electric railway station at Harvard Square in Cambridge; where began a series of consultations, afterwards adjourned to Boston and to Concord, culminating in a club called variously the Symposium Club, the Transcendental Club, and the Hedge Club,--the latter name because its meetings were timed to suit the occasional visit of Hedge, then settled in Bangor, Maine.
At a meeting of this club on September 18, 1839,
Mr. Alcott records in his memoranda that Margaret Fuller “gave her views of the proposed ‘Dial,’ which she afterwards edited.”
This is the first record, so far as I know, of the precise name of the periodical, this being apparently borrowed from a manuscript bearing the same name and composed by Mr. Alcott.2
Meanwhile, to accentuate the literary tendency of the new movement in a yet more marked way, a young Harvard graduate, Robert Bartlett of Plymouth, then Latin tutor at the University, who was an occasional member or visitor of the Symposium Club, had taken for his Master of Arts oration in 1839 this daring theme, “No good possible but shall one day be real,” and had thus boldly turned his searchlight upon the position and prospects of American literature :--
When Horace was affecting to make himself a Greek poet, the genius of his country, the shade of immortal Romulus, stood over him, post mediam noctem visus quum somnia vera, and forbade the perversion. ... Is everything so sterile and pygmy here in New England, that  we must all, writers and readers, be forever replenishing ourselves with the mighty wonders of the Old World? Is not the history of this people transcendent in the chronicles of the world for pure, homogeneous sublimity and beauty and richness? Go down some ages of ages from this day, compress the years from the landing of the Pilgrims to the death of Washington into the same span as the first two centuries of Athens now fill in our memories. Will men then come hither from all regions of the globe — will the tomb of Washington, the rock of the Puritans, then become classic to the world? will these spots and relics here give them inspiration, the theme, the image of the poet and orator and sculptor, and be the ground of splendid mythologies? . . . We do not express the men and the miracles of our history in our social action, and correspondingly, ay, and by consequence, we do not outwrite them in poetry or art. We are looking abroad and back after a literature. Let us come and live, and know in living a high philosophy and faith; so shall we find now, here, the elements, and in our own good souls the fire. Of every storied bay and  cliff and plain, we will make something infinitely nobler than Salamis or Marathon. This pale Massachusetts sky, this sandy soil and raw wind, all shall nurture us:--This was the attitude of mind which the new periodical was to represent; but Alcott writes of its prospects in his diary (November I, 1839): “Half a dozen men exhaust our list of contributors; Emerson, Hedge, Miss Fuller, Ripley, [W. H.] Channing, Dwight, [J. F.] Clarke, are our dependence.” It is to be noticed that, of this club of seven, Hedge and Miss Fuller were Cambridge born; Emerson and Channing had resided in Cambridge with their parents; while all but Miss Fuller were Harvard graduates. This certainly established at the outset a very close connection between the new literary movement and Old Cambridge; and among its later writers  Lowell, Cranch, and Miss S. S. Jacobs were residents of Cambridge, while others, as Parker, Dwight, Thoreau, and Ellery Channing had spent more or less time at the University. Sarah Margaret Fuller, afterward Countess of Ossoli, was quite as distinctly as either Holmes or Lowell the product of Cambridge; whose academic influences, though applied indirectly, were what trained her mind, impaired her health, and brought out certain hereditary qualities which were not altogether attractive. She left a fragment of autobiographical romance in which she vividly describes the horrors of the intellectual forcing process to which she had been subjected, and though this sketch, as her brother suggests, must not be taken too literally, and though it was only, as has since been pointed out, what was applied to all the professors' children, yet it would now be regarded as extreme and objectionable. When she was fifteen and had returned from a short experience of boarding-school, her actual mode of life was as follows: she rose before five in summer, walked an hour, practised an hour on the piano, breakfasted at seven, read Sismondi's  “European literature” in French till eight, then Brown's “Philosophy” till half-past 9, then went to school for Greek at twelve, then practised again till dinner. After the early dinner she read two hours in Italian, then walked or rode; and in the evening played, sang, and retired at eleven to write in her diary. All this was at the time of year when young girls are now entering upon their summer vacation or speeding over hill and vale on their bicycles. This was the period when she went to school with Dr. Holmes and overwhelmed him by beginning her first essay with the sentence, “It is a trite remark,” whereas he confesses that at that time he did not even know the meaning of the word trite. All this early Cambridge training, if it did not make her a systematic thinker, made her an inexhaustible reader and a patient editor. Her friend, Dr. Frederic Henry Hedge, who had been five years in Germany, had taken his Harvard degree, and had studied theology in the Cambridge Divinity School, was undoubtedly the best-trained and most methodical of the early Transcendentalists, and contributed  to the management of the Dial whatever of steadfastness it had. He, like his friend Margaret, had drunk deeply at the newly opened well of German literature, and he was one of the best translators of that language, so that they were both ready and willing to enrich American letters from this source. He also introduced her to Emerson, who had then removed from Cambridge to Concord, and the editorship of the Dial was always limited to these three. The magazine was, therefore, always kept substantially in Cambridge hands. The three papers, by these several editors, which gave the literary keynote to the new periodical, were the opening address, “The editors to the reader,” by Emerson, “An essay on critics,” by Margaret Fuller,--both these being in the first number,--and an essay in the second number called “The art of life; the scholar's calling,” by Hedge. The latter has passages distinctly bearing on our literary future as seen from 1840:-- “Hitherto our literature has been but an echo of other voices and climes. Generally, in the history of nations, song has preceded  science, and the feeling of a people has been sooner developed than its understanding. With us this order has been reversed. The national understanding is fully ripe, but the feeling, the imagination of the people, has found as yet no adequate expression. We have our men of science, our Franklins, our Bowditches, our Cleavelands; we have our orators, our statesmen; but the American poet, the American thinker, is yet to come. A deeper culture must lay the foundation for him who shall worthily represent the genius and utter the life of this continent. A severer discipline must prepare the way for our Dantes, our Shakespeares, our Miltons. ‘ He who would write an epic,’ said one of these, ‘must make his life an epic.’ This touches our infirmity. We have no practical poets,--no epic lives. Let us but have sincere livers, earnest, whole-hearted, heroic men, and we shall not want for writers and for literary fame. Then shall we see springing up, in every part of these Republics, a literature such as the ages have not known,--a literature commensurate with our idea, vast as our destiny, and varied as our theme.”  This was, it must be seen, a distinct reaffirmation of the position previously taken by Robert Bartlett and shows how definite and earnest, on the literary side at least, was the aim of the Transcendentalists. In temperament, no doubt, they differed enormously — Alcott and Parker, for instance, representing almost the opposite extremes of the ideal and practical; but so far as literature was concerned their aim was one. All wished to create such a literature, to hold it to a high standard and to make it representative of the new world in which it was born. Literature had in its plans a position which had been assigned to it in no previous outburst of the American mind. To these men and women, most of the New York Knickerbocker school probably appeared as triflers, and the North American contributors as merely academic. They reached doubtless but a limited audience, as do most reformers; they committed fantastic follies, but so do the saints everywhere. As a result they distinctly influenced the national literature; much, for instance, of the power now attributed to Emerson being  really the unconscious result of the total movement. Fame is very chary of personal rights; it is difficult to erect a new altar. Everything tends to concentrate on a single name, and just as for years every good thing said in Boston was ultimately attributed to Holmes or Motley or Tom Appleton, so one sees to this day phrases credited to Emerson which really belonged to Alcott or Parker or Hedge. The late John S. Dwight was perhaps more boldly robbed and complimented than any other of his circle; since his poem called “Rest,” --O Nature, less is all of thine,
Than are thy borrowings from our human breast.Rich skies, fair fields, shall come to us, suffused with the immortal hues of spirit, of beauteous act and thought. Unlike all the world before us, our own age and land shall be classic to ourselves.
Sweet is the pleasurestill appears periodically as an occasional resurrection in the newspapers, but always as a translation from some supposed poem of Goethe. Dwight was very probably a divinity student at Cambridge when this poem was composed, he having left that institution in 1836; and enough has at any rate been written to show that Cambridge was in many respects the seed-ground of that intellectual  impulse which was harvested later at the house of Emerson in Concord, whither he removed in 1834, having left Cambridge in 1826. It is to be observed also that, of the later writers in the Dial, Christopher Pearce Cranch, who wrote much in it, was in his later life a resident of Cambridge; that Lowell contributed several sonnets to the second volume; that William Henry Channing, who wrote the serial “Ernest the Seeker,” from time to time resided in Cambridge, where his mother dwelt permanently, being much of the time an occupant of the house now known as Fay House and the headquarters of Radcliffe College. It is also to be noticed that his cousin, William Ellery Channing, furnished for the last volume of the Dial a series of papers called “Youth of the poet and the Painter,” the scene of which was in part laid at Harvard College. It will thus be seen at what a variety of points the Dial touched Old Cambridge.
Itself cannot spoil;
Is not true leisure
One with true toil?
the Atlantic Monthly
I know of no book or essay in which the history of the Atlantic Monthly is carried far
Even the best of these narratives, that of Mr. J. T. Trowbridge in the Atlantic Monthly for January, 1895, entitled “The author of Quabbin,” speaks as if the Atlantic Monthly had no existence, even prospectively, before 1857, whereas it was really planned as to all its details in 1853, four years sooner.
The late Mr. Francis H. Underwood gave the fullest indication of this when he wrote in Our Day (December, 1891): “It was the project of a young enthusiast [Mr. Underwood himself], who desired to enlist the leading authors of New England in the crusade against slavery, and it had been the subject of conferences at intervals with Lowell, Longfellow, and Mrs. Stowe for more than three years.”
The following letters, both addressed to me,--I was then living in Worcester, Massachusetts,--will explain what occurred during these intervening years:--
 The magazine thus indicated, which was clearly identified in plan and material with the Atlantic, was delayed four years in its birth by the business failure of John P. Jewett & Co., who were to have been its publishers. Mr. Underwood himself says, in the same article, “After long efforts the due cooperation was secured and responsible publishers were found to take it up.” He elsewhere states, “It was planned at a dinner where fourteen persons were present.” This was presumably the dinner of which Longfellow says in his diary (May 20, 1857): “Dined in town with the new Magazine Club, discussing title, etc., with no result.” He has already spoken of a previous meeting (May 5), when he “dined in town with Emerson, Lowell, Motley, Holmes, Cabot, Underwood, and the publisher Phillips, to talk about the new magazine the last wishes to establish. It will no doubt be done; though I am not so eager about it as the rest.” 3 There were apparently but eight persons at this dinner, one-half of these being of Cambridge birth or  residence, since Underwood had lately removed thither. Assuming that the meeting of May 20th was that of which Underwood speaks, we know that Longfellow, Underwood, and Felton were there, and probably Holmes and Lowell, so that this company also was half or almost half made up of Cantabrigians. At any rate, the two original editors, Lowell and Underwood, were Cantabrigians by residence; and Lowell could now transfer to it, on a more liberal scale, the plans which he and Robert Carter had formed for the short-lived Pioneer. In the later period of the magazine, Howells at one time resided in Cambridge, as did, for a year, his successor, Aldrich. Its last two editors, Messrs. H. E. Scudder and W. H. Page, have been and still are denizens of the University city. There has thus been no editor of the magazine, except Fields, who has not at some time dwelt in Cambridge. The following list comprises many of those who were during at least some period of the Atlantic's existence, if not the whole, to be classed as Cambridge authors, together with the total of contributions credited to each in  the “Atlantic Index,” of 1888: W. D. Howells, 399; T. S. Perry, 355; H. E. Scudder, 196; O. W. Holmes, 18I; G. P. Lathrop, 168; W. F. Apthorp, 134; Henry James, Jr., 134; J. R. Lowell, 132; T. W. Higginson, 117; T. B. Aldrich, I I; John Fiske, 89; G. E. Woodberry, 73; H. W. Longfellow, 68; C. P. Cranch, 45; C. E. Norton, 44; N. S. Shaler, 32; R. W. Emerson, 29; Henry James, Sr., 19; W. W. Story, 17; Wilson Flagg, 14; William James, 12. This is, of course, a merely quantitative estimate, in which a brief critical paper may count for as much as the most important original work; but the point of interest is that it comprises almost every one of those who were, tried by this numerical standard, the main contributors. Thus judged, it may almost be said that the bulk of the magazine, for a long series of years, has been furnished by those who may in some sense be claimed as Cambridge authors. In fact, the only other person whose contributions reached the hundred mark was Whittier. It is thus evident that in the case of the Atlantic Monthly, as with the North American  Review and the Dial, nearly all the editors and most of the larger contributors were either natives of Cambridge or at some time residents there, apart from their mere college training. And it may fairly be claimed that their labors were not quite wasted, inasmuch as Motley, who was not a Cambridge resident, wrote from England on May 16, 1858, that the Atlantic Monthly was at that time “unquestionably the best magazine in the English language.” 4