Wednesday, July 29, 2009

true, honest and bold...

Charles Dickens, himself a Unitarian, was the rock star of his day and his tour of America in 1842 was an event. He would write of the experience:

"I can do nothing that I want to do, go nowhere where I want to go, and see nothing that I want to see. If I turn into the street, I am followed by a multitude."

Dickens wrote of his travels in his book "American Notes." This on his encounter with Transcendentalism:

"There has sprung up in Boston a set of philosophers known as the Transcendentalists. On inquiring what this appellation might be supposed to signify, I was given to understand that whatever was unintelligible would be certainly Transcendental. Not deriving much comfort from this elucidation, I pursued the inquiry still further, and found that the Transcendentalists are followers of my friend Mr. Carlyle, or, I should rather say, of a follower of his, Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson. This gentleman has written a volume of Essays, in which among much that be dreamy and fanciful (if he will pardon me for saying so), there is much more that is true and manly, honest and bold. Transcendentalism has its occasional vagaries (what school has not?) but it has good healthful qualities in spite of them; not least among the number a hearty disgust of Cant, and an aptitude to detect her in all the million varieties of her everlasting wardrobe. And, therefore, if I were a Bostonian, I think I would be a Transcendentalist."

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