Thursday, April 16, 2009

a soaring mind...

The bookplate in My old copy of William Phillips Tilden's "Leaflets for Lent," tells me that it was originally donated to The General Theological Library in Boston by Cyrus Bartol (1813–1900) a fascinating Boston Unitarian minister, transcendentalist, and supporter of free religionists. Octavius Brooks Frothingham said of Bartol:

"In the list of the Transcendentalists Cyrus Augustus Bartol must not be forgotten, a soaring mind enamored of thoughts on divine things, inextricably caught in the toils of speculation. Acute and brilliant, but wayward; with a quick eye for analogies, fanciful and eccentric, of clear intuitions, glimpses, perceptions astonishingly luminous; but without fixed allegiance to system, and therefore difficult to classify under any school. In the Unitarian controversy, which was a tryer of spirits, it was not always plain to observers in which camp he belonged; not that his fundamental principle was unsteady, but because his curious and critical mind was detained by considerations that others did not see; and his absolute sincerity gave expression to the moods of feeling as they passed over him. Some words in Parker’s farewell letter to him seem to imply that at critical junctures they had been on opposite sides, but the difference could scarcely have touched fundamental truths. No man was further from the school of Locke, Paley or Bentham than C. A. Bartol. His Transcendentalism had a cast of its own; it was not made after any pattern; it took its color from an original genius illuminated by various reading of books, and by deep meditation in the privacy of the closet, and the companionship of nature of which he is a child-like worshipper. No wealth of human sympathy prevents his being a solitary. His song is lyrical; his prophecy drops like a voice from the clouds. In the agitations of his time he has had small share; organized and associated effort did not attract him. To many he represents the model Transcendentalist, for he seems a man who lives above the clouds,—not always above them, either.
His faith in the soul has never known eclipse. It waxes strong by its wrestling, and becomes jubilant in proportion as nature and life try to stare it out of countenance. Ballast is wings to him."

Bartol will be our companion on the way the next few days. Blessings

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