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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, VII: Henry David Thoreau (search)
or a time to repress the publication of his manuscripts. Yet this plain, shy, retired student, who when thirty-two years old carried the unsold edition of his first book upon his back to his attic chamber; who died at forty-four still unknown to the general public; this child of obscurity, who printed but two volumes during his lifetime, has had ten volumes of his writings published by others since his death, while four biographies of him have been issued in America (by Emerson, Channing, Sanborn, and Jones), besides two in England (by Page and Salt). Thoreau was born in Boston on July 12, 1817, but spent most of his life in Concord, Massachusetts, where he taught school and was for three years an inmate of the family of Ralph Waldo Emerson, practicing at various times the art of pencil-making — his father's occupation — and also of surveying, carpentering, and housekeeping. So identified was he with the place that Emerson speaks of it in one case as Thoreau's native town. Yet
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, VIII: Emerson's foot-note person, --Alcott (search)
If he cannot make intelligent men feel the presence of a superior nature, the worse for them; I can never doubt him. Sanborn and Harris's Alcott, II, 66. It is suggested by Dr. W. T. Harris, one of the two joint biographers of Alcott, that the shine beyond the circle of his own city and nation. Emerson's is destined to be the high literary name of this age. Sanborn and Harris's Alcott, i, 264. No one up to that time, probably, had uttered an opinion of Emerson quite so prophetic hem all, and showed such mastery, and took up Time and Nature like a boy's marble in his hand, as to vindicate himself. Sanborn and Harris's Alcott, i, 262. A severe test of a man's depth of observation lies always in the analysis he gives of h : Many promises were not kept and travelling is costly; but I have opened the way, and another year shall do better. Sanborn and Harris's Alcott, 2.477. At any rate, his daughter thus pathetically described his appearance at this interview, as h