HISTORIC AND PERSONAL MEMOIRS
JOHN THOMAS CODMAN
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BROOK FARM MOVEMENT
Transcendentalism; Explained by Mr. Ripley,—The Proposition,—Members of the Transcendental Club—The first Persons at the Community— Constitution and Laws; Articles of Agreement—Description of Mr. Ripley, Mr. Pratt, Mr. Dwight, Mrs. Ripley, Mr. Dana, Mr. Bradford, Hawthorne and Others.
THE SECOND DEVELOPMENT
Thoughts on Reorganization—Fourier on Social Code—Mr. Ripley's Action—Progress of Society—Theories by Fourier, etc.—Closing of the Transcendental Period—Reorganization, and the Industrial Period.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AND DESCRIPTIONS
Departure from Boston, and Arrival at the Farm—Description of the Place—Attica—Personal Occupations, etc.—The Wild Flowers.
THE INDUSTRIAL PERIOD
Descriptions of Members: The "General,"; Ryckman, Blake, Drew, Orvis, Cheevers—William H. Charming, and Albert Brisbane,—S. Margaret Fuller—Ralph W. Emerson—Theodore Parker and Mr. Ripley's Joke.
THE RUSH AND HUM OF LIFE AND WORK
Many Visitors—An Odd Visitor—The Groups and Series, etc.—The Workshop—My first Spring—Death and Funeral—The Amusement Group, Dances, Walks and first Summer.
THE "HARBINGER," AND VARIOUS SUBJECTS
The Harbinger Published; Editors and Contributors, Its Characteristics and Effect—The Industrial Phalanx—The Phalanstery—A Financial Report—The Grahamites, and their Table—John Allen and Boy— The Visitation of Small-pox.
MY SECOND SPRING
Resumption of Building—The Crowded Conditions—Gardener's Department— Prince Albert—Jumping the Brook—Retrenchment—The Doves—The Gardener—The Position of Woman in Association—The Right to Vote—The Wedding—Lizzie Curson—Our Young Folks.
THE DRAMA AND IMPORTANT LETTERS
The Play in the Shop—The Associative Movement—Rev. Adin Ballou's Letter—Mr. Brisbane's, and Mr. Ripley's Letters—Mr. Pratt's Departure—The Great Party—Cyclops.
SOCIAL, AND PARLOR LIFE
Meetings in Boston, etc.—Two Lady Friends—Music at the Eyry— Consciousness of Self—The Great Snow Storm—C. P. Cranch's Imitations.
Fun at the Phalanx—Ripley's Quotation—On Punning—The Robbery, and the Waiting Group.
THE GREAT CATASTROPHE
The Last Dance, and the Fire—The Harbinger's Account of It— Feeding the Firemen—The Morning after the Fire.
SUMMING UP AND REVERIES
The Bearings of the Association and its Occupations—Slanders of the New York Press—Definition of the Associationists Position toward Fourier—Forebodings at the Farm—Personal Reveries.
THE FIRST BREAK
Peter's Departure—Mr. Dwight at the Association Meeting—Practical Christians—The Solidarity of the Race—Mr. Ripley's Harbinger Article.
THE DEPARTURES AND AFTER LIVES OF THE MEMBERS
Breaking up—Ripley's Poverty, after Life and Death—Mr. Pratt; Mr. Dana; Mr. Dwight, and various Persons—William H. Charming—A. Brisbane—C. Fourier—Letters of Approval.
STUDENTS' AND INQUIRERS' LETTERS
Student Life—Explanations and Answers to Objections—Letter on Social Equality—Religious Views.
There were two distinct phases in the Associated life at Brook Farm. The first was inaugurated by the pioneers, who introduced a school, and combined it with farm and household labors. The second phase began with an attempt to introduce methods of social science and to add mechanical and other industries to those already commenced. These different phases have been called the Transcendental and the Industrial periods.
Each individual had his special experiences of the life. The writer chronicles it from his standpoint. None, perhaps, was more interested in it than he, young as he was, but many were more able to elaborate it and write it in details, and did he not feel that it was an important duty neglected by all, these memoirs would have remained unwritten.
The record books of the institution are missing, and are doubtless long ago destroyed. These chapters have been compiled and written from few memoranda, at various times, very often after the arduous duties of days of professional life, and with a desire only to present the subject truthfully, faithfully and simply; and also, not wholly to gratify curiosity, or to record the doings of the noble men and women who were wise before their time, but to whisper courage to those who, like their predecessors, are seeking some solution of the social problems that involves neither the too sudden surrender of acquired rights, the reckless abandon of old ideas to untried and crude radicalism, or the more to-be-dreaded feuds between classes, that mean desperation on one side and war on the other; but to aid, if possible, in inspiring a belief that a peaceful adjustment of our surroundings will, in time, bring order out of chaos and harmony out of discord.
The reader will have observed long before he lays down this book, that the Brook Farm life and ideals were purely coperative and philosophical, that all the elements of true society were recognized, and that the attempt was for the better adjustment of them to the changing and changed relations of their fellow-men, brought about by the pervading moral, scientific and social growth of the past and present centuries.
The nation is older, richer and wiser, since the Brook Farm experiment began. It is more tolerant of one another's opinions, more enterprising, progressive and liberal, and surely a few weak trials made half a century ago, are not enough to solve the majestic problem of right living and how to shape the outward forms of society, so that within their environments all interests may be harmonized, and the golden rule begin to be, in a practical way, the measure of all human lives.
The author, in closing, will confide to his readers the wish of his heart, that this sketch of his early days may inspire some who can command influence and means with an interest to continue the experiments in social science, along lines laid out with more or less clearness by the Brook Farmers.
J. T. C.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BROOK FARM MOVEMENT.
Early in the present century, New England was the centre of progressive religious thought in America. A morbid theology had reigned supreme, but its forms were too cold, harsh and forbidding to attract or even retain the liberal-minded, educated and philosophic students of the rising generation, or hold in check the ardent humanitarian spirit, that embodied itself in ideals that were greater than the existing creeds.
Yet nowhere prevailed a more religious spirit. It showed itself in tender care of masses of the people, in public schools and seminaries, in lectures, sermons, libraries and in acts of general benevolence.
From these conditions developed the idea of greater freedom from social trammels; from African slavery, which had not then been abolished; from domestic slavery, which still exists; from the exploitations of trade and commerce; from the vicious round of unpaid labor, vice and brutality. Protestations were heard against all of these evils, not always coming from the poor and unlearned, but oftener from the educated and refined, who had pride that the republic should stand foremost among the nations for justice, culture and righteousness.
The old theology was crumbling. A new church was springing from its vitals based on freer thought, in which the intellect and heart had more share in determining righteousness. The fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man became the themes of discourse, oftener than those of the vengeance of an offended Deity; and pity and forgiveness, oftener than those on everlasting punishment.
In truth, the new departure which had begun, soon attracted to itself the most cultivated persons of the time, some of whom, Sept. 19, 1836, formed a club that met at one another's houses and discussed all the important social and religious topics of the day. They were mostly young people, college-bred, learned, artistic and thoughtful, and of high ideals in intellectual acquirement, religion and social life. They were all agreed that there were many evils to be eradicated from society; in what way—individualistic, governmental or socialistic, or by a combination of ways—few were agreed.
The problem was an open one. The theories proposed and the discussions were extremely interesting, but no record of them is at hand, except a few essays published in the Dial, a quarterly magazine which was edited by members of the organization, which finally took the name of "The Transcendental Club." One of the Dial editors, as well as one of the founders of the Club, and at whose house it had its first meeting, was Rev. George Ripley, a Unitarian minister who was born at Greenfield, Mass., in the beautiful valley of the Connecticut River. He was of good farmer stock and had a fine physical presence, though of medium stature. He was a lover of books, a graduate of Harvard college, and a well trained and religious scholar. He was then settled over a Unitarian church worshipping on Purchase Street, in Boston, and faithfully fulfilled his duties. Above all things his head and heart sought righteousness for all men. He believed in the justice of God and the divine nature of man His best creation. He believed man to be involved in an intricate and un-Christian social labyrinth, and with deep earnestness of purpose and thorough convictions of his personal duty in the case, set himself at work to evolve a way to extricate at least some of humanity from their vicious surroundings; and finally proposed to the Club a plan which he urged with his customary vigor and eloquence.
This plan was, in short, to locate on a farm where agriculture and education should be made the foundation of a new system of social life. Labor should be honored. All would take part in it. There should be no religious creeds adopted. The old, feeble and sick were to be cared for, the strong and able bearing the greater burden of the labor. There would be no rank, to entitle the owner of it to superior considerations because of the rank; and truth, justice and order were to be the governing principles of the society.
The theologians and philosophers of Europe, with whose writings and logic Mr. Ripley was well acquainted, had impressed him with the truth of the divinity of man's nature, or had convinced him more thoroughly that his own ideas of it were right. He had wrestled with progressively conservative giants, professors of colleges—notably Andrews Norton— and had won well-earned laurels. Norton was professor of sacred literature at Harvard, one of his own professors, sixteen years his senior, and made a point that the miracles of Christ and the writings of the gospel were the only sure proofs existing of spiritual truths.
The Transcendental philosophy to which Mr. Ripley had become a convert, claimed that there was in human nature an intuitive faculty which clearly discerned spiritual truths, which idea was in contradistinction to the beliefs of the day, which declared that spiritual knowledge came by special grace, and was proven by the divine miracles; this latter belief being largely joined to the doctrine of the innate depravity of man. Mr. Ripley's own words to his church on Purchase Street, declared that
"There is a class of persons who desire a reform in the prevailing philosophy of the day. These are called Transcendentalists, because they believe in an order of truth that transcends the sphere of the external senses. Their leading idea is the supremacy of mind over matter. Hence they maintain that the truth of religion does not depend on tradition nor historical facts, but has an unswerving witness in the soul. There is a light, they believe, which enlighteneth every man who cometh into the world. There is a faculty in all—the most degraded, the most ignorant, the most obscure—to perceive spiritual truth when distinctly presented; and the ultimate appeal on all moral questions is not to a jury of scholars, a hierarchy of divines or the prescriptions of a creed, but to the common sense of the human race.
"There is another class of persons who are devoted to the removal of the abuses that prevail in modern society. They witness the oppressions done under the sun and they cannot keep silence. They have faith that God governs man; they believe in a better future than the past; their daily prayer is for the coming of the kingdom of righteousness, truth and love; they look forward to a more pure, more lovely, more divine state of society than was ever realized on earth. With these views I rejoice to say I strongly and entirely sympathize."
The prevailing tone of New England life was Calvinistic. Its doctrines may be said to have entered every household, penetrated every sanctuary and influenced all the leaders of society. The new departure was not a going away from religious thought, but it joined intellect and heart. It ignored unreasonable extravagances of statement wherever found. It ignored faith alone. It did not believe that faith stood above works. It pointed always towards action. It summed up the lesson and meaning of all good doctrines, that man should lead a better life here, where the duties to our fellows should not be passed by as now, but fulfilled. It was a newer way of thinking, to be logical with religion and put it to the test of every-day life. If the new departure meant anything then, if it means anything to-day, its object is to accomplish a better life here on this earth. In his soul, penetrated by divine aspirations, Mr. Ripley heard these words ringing out: "A truer life, a more honest life, a juster life—accomplish it!"
It was at the Club that he again urged the realization of his plan. There gathered together were the brightest intellects, the highest minded, the most sympathetic, thoughtful and talented young men that New England contained. Preaching was good, but more than preaching was wanted—the Christian life; could it not be commenced? Could they not educate the young in practical duties as well as in books, and by their own good example so surround them that the interior life could be awakened—the soul's inward goodness and the power to discern the true destiny of man?
Encouraged by the sympathy of his wife, sister and a few earnest spirits, Mr. Ripley started on his project. He was in his fortieth year. He was neither too young nor too old. A few years of life he could possibly spare for the experiment. He would then be only in his prime. He had no children to embarrass his movements. He could give all his strength of body and mind to it. He loved the country life. It was to be the fulfilling of what he had preached so long and what is, alas, still preached to-day with not much attempt to realize it—the Christian life. People would laugh at him! I doubt if that gave him one disturbing thought. It was right; as it was right he would do it. But maybe in his secret heart he thought that more of those who seemed to have been awakened, as he had been, to the divine call, would follow and join with him than did; for, singularly enough, not one of the members of the Transcendental Club, who first met together, joined Mr. Ripley's movement. They were all radical to the prevailing theology, stiff, rigid as it was, and never, in America, was there a group assembled who aimed higher, or did more, first and last, to elevate humanity; for the Club contained a galaxy of mental talent.
Mr. Ripley led them all in practical endeavor to form the Christian commonwealth that many of them had preached.
William Ellery Channing, in whose veins ran the blood of one of the signers of the Declaration of American Independence, a beloved preacher, was there, full of earnestness, tenderness, faith and love. With vigor he poured out his eloquence to awaken thoughts for an enlarged theology, and with a sympathizing heart criticised chattel slavery, social slavery and domestic servitude, and afterward became one of the acknowledged leaders of liberal Christendom.
Young Ralph Waldo Emerson was there, very late from the ministry, known better as poet, philosopher and essayist; and James Freeman Clarke, talented writer and preacher; and faithful and independent Rev. Cyrus A. Bartol. Rev. Theodore Parker, son of a Lexington hero, doughty, bold and brave, on whose head fell the anathemas of the orthodox and the curses of the slaveholders at a later day, showed his ever calm, pleasant and earnest face at the board.
Rev. F. H. Hedge, Convers Francis, Thomas H. Stone, Samuel D. Robbins, Samuel J. May and another Channing—William Henry—were there; Christopher P. Cranch, divinity graduate, but now well known as painter, poet and story teller; and beloved John S. Dwight, famed mostly as writer on music, and musical critic; and Orestes A. Brownson, prominent essayist, who was, by turns, a Radical, Unitarian, Universalist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic.
All these above named persons were attached to the clergy. There were others who, like A. Bronson Alcott, were teachers, and sometimes lecturers. There was Henry D. Thoreau, a charming writer who spent two years in a hut in Walden woods; and Nathaniel Hawthorne, the writer of many familiar romances; also George Bancroft, the historian, Dr. Charles T. Follen, Samuel G. Ward, Caleb Stetson, William Russell, Jones Very, Robert Bartlett and S. V. Clevenger, sculptor. As an innovation in clubs there were lady members, among whom were Elizabeth P. Peabody, and her sister Sophia, who became the wife of Hawthorne; Miss S. Margaret Fuller, remarkable for her intellectual capacity, and who became the wife of Count D'Ossoli, of Italy; Miss Marianne Ripley, sister, and Mrs. Sophia Ripley, wife, of Rev. George Ripley.
Or if those persons were not all members of the Club, of which there seems to be no list extant, nearly every one was, and they can all be classed as belonging to the coterie or Transcendental circle; all at times attended the meetings, participated in the discussions, and wrote articles for the Dial and for what in those days were called the radical journals and magazines.
The winter of 1840 had been the time of talk. Early in the spring of the year 1841 it was announced that a location was chosen at Brook Farm, West Roxbury, nine miles from Boston, Mass. Mr. Ripley selected it. He and his wife had boarded there the former summer. It was retired and pretty. Mr. Ellis owned it; Mr. Parker, Mr. Russell and Mr. Shaw lived not far away, and a small amount of cash paid down would secure the place for an immediate commencement of the effort. The party who went earliest to settle at Brook Farm consisted of Mr. George Ripley; Sophia Willard Ripley, his wife; Miss Marianne Ripley, his elder sister; Mr. George P. Bradford, Mr. Warren Burton, Mrs. Minot Pratt with three children, Mr. Nathaniel Hawthorne and several others. Mr. William Allen acted as head farmer. There were in all about twenty persons. Doubtless there were blisters on the palms and aching bones, in the first raw days of labor, and the poetry of life was often lost in the fatigue of the body.
Of the men of the Transcendental Club only Hawthorne and Dwight joined what was called "Mr. Ripley's community"; and though Mr. Emerson talked favorably of it he finally declined to join when asked to do so by Mr. Ripley.
The farmhouse, the only dwelling there was on the place, must have resounded with remarkable echoes as the pioneers of the new social order alighted on its threshold. They were of cultivated families, and were nearly all from the city and neighborhood of Boston. Their hearts were open to the tender influence of buds and blossoms, the fresh springing grass and the bubbling brook. They watched the birds of various plumage; the oriole, who hung his basket nest from the pendant branches of the elm, the robin redbreast who built close in the thick branches of the firs, and the sparrow who was contented with a less prominent nest, as he picked up hairs from the stable or from underneath the windows.
They were fond of cows, pigs and poultry. There was a flower garden to work in. There was a plenty of wild flowers in the fields and in the woods near by. There was delightful solitude and delightful society, and there was a wonderful novelty in all. There were contrasts of character, deep, strong natures to reason with, cheerful hearts to talk with, and great hopes everywhere. What wonder that they laughed, frolicked and sang, and got up little parties and masquerades to entertain the wonderful, wonderstruck and remarkable visitors who came to see them? The place was a "milk farm" when the "Transcendentalists," as they were often called, entered on it. The surroundings were picturesque. Some one of the party started at an early hour in the morning with the milk for Boston, nine miles away.
All was new and had to be done by many for the first time. There was much hard work for the women, as it was not a well-proportioned family; pupils and visitors added to the labor, but poetry and enthusiasm changed plain names into elegance, as Deborah into "Ora," and beautified the laundry and kitchen with hopes and glories.
Immediately the school was set in operation. There were some promising pupils. The young and talented Dwight, whose heart was too full to preach what he might better practise in this ideal society, soon left his pastorate in Northampton, Mass., and joined as instructor, and was shortly followed by the capable Dana, who gained power for himself as well as gave it to the Association.
The following persons were nominated for positions in the Brook Farm School, fall term, 1842:—
George Ripley, Instructor in Intellectual and Natural Philosophy and Mathematics. George P. Bradford, Instructor in Belles Lettres. John S. Dwight, Instructor in Latin and Music. Charles A. Dana, Instructor in Greek and German. John S. Brown, Instructor in Theosophical and Practical Agriculture. Sophia W. Ripley, Instructor in History and Modern Languages. Marianne Ripley, Teacher of Primary School. Abigail Morton, Teacher of Infant School. Georgiana Bruce, Teacher of Infant School. Hannah B. Ripley, Instructor in Drawing.
The infant school was for children under six years of age; the primary school, for children under ten; the preparatory school for pupils over ten years of age, intending to pursue the higher branches of study in the institution.
A six years' course prepared a young man to enter college. A three years' course in theoretical and practical agriculture was also laid out. The studies were elective, and pupils could enter any department for which they were qualified.
There were various other details, the most striking of which was that every pupil was expected to spend from one to two hours daily in manual labor.
Before the Association started from Boston, a constitution was drawn up. The following is a copy of the original:—
Articles of Agreement and Association between the members of the Institute for Agriculture and Education.
In order more effectually to promote the great purposes of human culture; to establish the external relations of life on a basis of wisdom and purity; to apply the principles of justice and love to our social organization in accordance with the laws of Divine Providence; to substitute a system of brotherly cooperation for one of selfish competition; to secure to our children, and to those who may be entrusted to our care, the benefits of the highest physical, intellectual and moral education in the present state of human knowledge, the resources at our command will permit; to institute an attractive, efficient and productive system of industry; to prevent the exercise of worldly anxiety by the competent supply of our necessary wants; to diminish the desire of excessive accumulation by making the acquisition of individual property subservient to upright and disinterested uses; to guarantee to each other the means of physical support and of spiritual progress, and thus to impart a greater freedom, simplicity, truthfulness, refinement and moral dignity to our mode of life,—
We, the undersigned, do unite in a Voluntary Association, to wit:—
ARTICLE 1. The name and style of the Association shall be "(The Brook Farm) Institute of Agriculture and Education." All persons who shall hold one or more shares in the stock of the Association, and shall sign the articles of agreement, or who shall hereafter be admitted by the pleasure of the Association, shall be members thereof.
ART. 2. No religious test shall ever be required of any member of the Association; no authority assumed over individual freedom of opinion by the Association, nor by any member over another; nor shall anyone be held accountable to the Association except for such acts as violate rights of the members, and the essential principles on which the Association is founded; and in such cases the relation of any member may be suspended, or discontinued, at the pleasure of the Association.
ART. 3. The members of this Association shall own and manage such real and personal estate, in joint stock proprietorship, as may, from time to time, be agreed on, and establish such branches of industry as may be deemed expedient and desirable.
ART. 4. The Association shall provide such employment for all of its members as shall be adapted to their capacities, habits and tastes, and each member shall select and perform such operation of labor, whether corporal or mental, as he shall deem best suited to his own endowments, and the benefit of the Association.
ART. 5. The members of this Association shall be paid for all labor performed under its direction and for its advantage, at a fixed and equal rate, both for men and women. This rate shall not exceed one dollar per day, nor shall more than ten hours in the day be paid for as a day's labor.
ART. 6. The Association shall furnish to all its members, their children and family dependents, house-rent, fuel, food and clothing, and all other comforts and advantages possible, at the actual cost, as nearly as the same can be ascertained; but no charge shall be made for education, medical or nursing attendance, or the use of the library, public rooms or baths to the members; nor shall any charge be paid for food, rent or fuel by those deprived of labor by sickness, nor for food of children under ten years of age, nor for anything on members over seventy years of age, unless at the special request of the individual by whom the charges are paid, or unless the credits in his favor exceed, or equal, the amount of such charges.
ART. 7. All labor performed for the Association shall be duly credited, and all articles furnished shall be charged, and a full settlement made with every member once every year.
ART. 8. Every child over ten years of age shall be charged for food, clothing, and articles furnished at cost, and shall be credited for his labor, not exceeding fifty cents per day, and on the completion of his education in the Association at the age of twenty, shall be entitled to a certificate of stock, to the amount of credits in his favor, and may be admitted a member of the Association.
ART. 9. Every share-holder in the joint-stock proprietorship of the Association, shall be paid on such stock, at the rate of five per cent, annually.
ART. 10. The net profits of the Association remaining in the treasury after the payments of all demands for interest on stock, labor performed, and necessary repairs, and improvements, shall be divided into a number of shares corresponding with the number of days' labor, and every member shall be entitled to one share for every day's labor performed by him.
ART. 11. All payments may be made in certificates of stock at the option of the Association; but in any case of need, to be decided by himself, every member may be permitted to draw on the funds of the treasury to an amount not exceeding the credits in his favor.
ART. 12. The Association shall hold an annual meeting for the choice of officers, and such other necessary business as shall come before them.
ART. 13. The officers of the Association shall be twelve directors, divided into four departments, as follows: first, General Direction; second, Direction of Agriculture; third, Direction of Education; fourth, Direction of Finance; consisting of three persons each, provided that the same persons may be a member of each Direction at the pleasure of the Association.
ART. 14. The Chairman of the General Direction shall be presiding officer in the Association, and together with the Direction of Finance, shall constitute a Board of Trustees, by whom the property of the Association shall be managed.
ART. 15. The General Direction shall oversee and manage the affairs of the Association so that every department shall be carried on in an orderly and efficient manner. Each department shall be under the general supervision of its own Direction, which shall select, and, in accordance with the General Direction, shall appoint, all such overseers, directors and agents, as shall be necessary to the complete and systematic organization of the department, and shall have full authority to appoint such persons to these stations as they shall judge best qualified for the same.
ART. 16. No Directors shall be deemed to possess any rank superior to the other members of the Association, nor shall be chosen in reference to any other consideration than their capacity to serve the Association; nor shall they be paid for their official service except at the rate of one dollar for ten hours in a day, actually employed in official duties.
ART. 17. The Association may, from time to time, adopt such rules and regulations, not inconsistent with the spirit and purpose of the Articles of Agreement, as shall be found expedient and necessary.
[This was signed by]
GEO. RIPLEY, WARREN BURTON, SOPHIA W. RIPLEY, MINOT PRATT, SAML. D. ROBBINS, MARIA J. PRATT, D. MACK, GEO. C. LEACH, NATH. HAWTHORNE, MARIANNE RIPLEY, LEML. CAPEN, MARY ROBBINS.
Not all who signed this document entered on the work. Mr. David Mack, whose name is attached, for some reason did not, neither did Mr. and Mrs. Samuel D. Robbins. Mr. Mack afterward founded the Northampton Association at Northampton, Mass.
It would be interesting to give a history of and describe all the persons who signed this original document, but room will not permit it. Mr. Ripley's biography is published; I refer the reader to that book for particulars of his life, but cannot refrain from selecting one pen- picture of him by the author, Rev. O. B. Frothingham, who writes:—
"He was no unbeliever, no sceptic, no innovator in matters of opinion or observance, but a quiet student, a scholar, a man of books, a calm, bright-minded, whole-souled thinker, believing, hopeful, social, sunny, but absorbed in philosophical pursuits. Well does the writer of these lines recall the vision of a slender figure wearing in summer the flowing silk robe, in winter the long, dark blue cloak of the profession, walking with measured step from his residence in Rowe Street towards the meeting house in Purchase Street. The face was shaven clean, the brown hair curled in close, crisp ringlets; the face was pale as if in thought; the gold-rimmed spectacles concealed black eyes; the head was alternately bent and raised. No one could have guessed that the man had in him the fund of humor in which his friends delighted, or the heroism in social reform which a few years later amazed the community. He seemed a sober, devoted minister of the gospel, formal, punctilious, ascetic, a trifle forbidding to the stranger. But even then the new thoughts of the age were at work within him."
Minot Pratt was at one time foreman printer at the office of the Christian Register—a finely formed, large, graceful-featured, modest man. His voice was low, soft and calm. His presence inspired confidence and respect. Whatever he touched was well done. He was faithful and dignified, and the serenity of his nature welled up in genial smiles. In farm work he was Mr. Ripley's right hand. He was not far from him in age. They agreed in practical matters; indeed, Mr. Ripley deferred to him. His wife was an earnest, strong, faithful worker. They entered into the scheme with fervor, and it was often said of him that he was first to give Mr. Ripley the hand of fellowship in the practical work of organizing the society.
John Sullivan Dwight was born in Boston, and was keenly sensitive to harmony of all kinds; amiable, thoughtful, kind. Touched with the divine desire to do good to all, he entered into the work with his whole earnest soul. Modest to a fault, but singularly persistent in what he felt to be his duty, he never flinched or failed to act when occasion required it. His tastes were of the most refined order. He shrank from coarse contact with an unusual degree of sensitiveness, but his great heart embraced all mankind in brotherhood. He graduated at Harvard College, and rumor says that he had more than ordinarily the goodwill of his classmates. He studied and made some fine translations from French and German authors, and was ordained to the ministry. He soon left the pulpit, feeling that it was better to try to actualize a Christian life, preaching it by deeds himself, than to preach it by words to others. He was supremely musical, though his musical feeling sometimes showed itself in verse, and he stamped Brook Farm with his musical influence. Short in stature, delicate in physical organization, the school claimed the major part of his services.
Mrs. Ripley was born under favorable stars and had superior mental talent and training, with hosts of friends and relatives. Her devotion to the "Community" caused a great flutter in her social circle. Her relatives were noted for their position, their personal dignity, and generally for a haughtiness of manner unknown in these days. In person she was tall, slender and graceful, with rather light, smooth hair, worn in the plain style of the day. Being near-sighted she was obliged to use a glass when looking at a distant person or thing. Her manner was vivacious and she was a good conversationalist. Mr. Ripley had changed since the description given of his appearance in earlier days, and had grown stouter; had lost his pallor and gained a good, healthy color. He had allowed a vigorous beard to grow, and shaved only his upper lip.
A young man of education, culture and marked ability was Charles Anderson Dana when from Harvard College he presented himself at the farm. He was strong of purpose and lithe of frame, and it was not long before Mr. Ripley found it out and gave him a place at the front. He was about four and twenty years of age, and he took to books, language and literature. Social, good-natured and animated, he readily pleased all with whom he came in contact. He was above medium height; his complexion was light, and his beard, which he wore full but well trimmed, was vigorous and of auburn hue, and his thick head of hair was well cut to moderate shortness. His features were quite regular; his forehead high and full, and his head large. His face was pleasant and animated, and he had a genial smile and greeting for all. His voice was musical and clear, and his language remarkably correct. He loved to spend a portion of his time in work on the farm and in the tree nursery, and you might be sure of finding him there when not otherwise occupied. Enjoying fun and social life, there was always a dignity remaining which gave him influence and commanded respect. If you looked into his room you saw pleasant volumes in various languages peeping at you from the table, chair, bookcase, and even from the floor, and they gave one the impression that for so young a person he was remarkably studious and well informed.
George P. Bradford had the department of Belle Lettres. Of him, after his decease, his former friend and pupil, George William Curtis, wrote as follows in Harper's Monthly for May, 1890:—
"The recollection of George Bradford is that of a long life as serene and happy as it was blameless and delightful to others. It was a life of affection and many interests and friendly devotion; but it was not that of a recluse scholar like Edward Fitzgerald, with the pensive consciousness of something desired but undone. George Bradford was in full sympathy with the best spirit of his time. He had all the distinctive American interest in public affairs. His conscience was as sensitive to public wrongs and perilous tendencies as to private and personal conduct. He voted with strong convictions, and wondered sometimes that the course so plain to him was not equally plain to others.
"It was a life with nothing of what we call achievement, and yet a life beneficent to every other life that it touched, like a summer wind laden with a thousand invisible seeds that, dropping everywhere, spring up into flowers and fruit. It is a name which to most readers of these words is wholly unknown, and which will not be written, like that of so many of the friends of him who bore it, in our literature and upon the memory of his countrymen. But to those who knew him well, and who therefore loved him, it recalls the most essential human worth and purest charm of character, the truest manhood, the most affectionate fidelity. To those who hear of him now, and perhaps never again, these words may suggest that the personal influences which most envelop and sweeten life may escape fame, but live immortal in the best part of other lives."
Among the signers was also Nathaniel Hawthorne, the writer, and it may not be out of place to make here a few comments on his relation to the Brook Farm life, so often alluded to by writers.
Hawthorne was an idealist in its broad sense. The idea of a juster and more rational social state pleased him. He felt himself honored, and was very grateful for the appreciation of the men and women by whom he was surrounded in the literary circle of the Transcendental Club, but he never surrendered the well-matured plan of his youth, to be a writer of stories.
When, he went to Brook Farm he thought that his manual labors might in a small way do a trifle towards aiding the formation of the ideal state, and evidently felt that in his leisure hours he could compose, write for magazines, and the like; but the hard, unwonted though self- imposed labor, the peculiar surroundings, the buzz and hum of the large family in which he could not fail to take an interest, distracted him from his purpose. James T. Fields, the publisher, said of him, "He was a man who had, so to speak, a physical affinity with solitude." He could not put his mind to his special work. The seclusion in which he had worked before, he could not find, and though "no one intruded on him," as he says, yet he was not in his best element.
Had he stayed longer, this newness of situation would doubtless have worn off, and he would have found a seclusion little dreamed of at first acquaintance with the life. He was in haste to be at his writing; so after a few months of manual labor, bidding adieu to the farm, he found himself back in Boston. There were other interests that carried him there, for we find that in the next year he married Sophia Peabody of Salem, Mass. Critics have said that the Brook Farm life was hurtful to his genius. He never once intimated it, but said afterwards to Emerson that he was "almost sorry he did not stay with the Brook Farmers and see it out to the finish."
The most ingenuous, the most simple-minded of all men in matters of ordinary business, in relative values and exchanges, and unwilling to act as teacher, he could only be counted as an ordinary day-laborer, except where he could use the twin gifts of intellect and imagination with which he was so highly endowed. His allusion to his "having had the good fortune, for a time, to be personally connected with it," and "his old and affectionately remembered home at Brook Farm" speak volumes, as does also this little passage from "Blithedale Romance":—
"Often in these years that are darkening around me, I remember our beautiful scheme of a noble and unselfish life, and how fair in that first summer appeared the prospect that it might endure for generations, and be perfected, as the ages rolled by, into the system of a people and a world. Were my former associates now there—were there only three or four of those true-hearted men still laboring in the sun—I sometimes fancy that I should direct my world-weary footsteps thitherward, and entreat them to receive me for old friendship's sake. More and more I feel we struck upon what ought to be a truth. Posterity may dig it up and profit by it."
In "Years of Experience" the writer, Georgiana (Bruce) Kirby, one of the early associates, says:—
"Hawthorne, after spending a year at the Community, had now left. No one could have been more out of place than he in a mixed company, no matter how cultivated, worthy and individualized each member of it might be. He was morbidly shy and reserved, needing to be shielded from his fellows, and obtaining the fruits of observation at second-hand. He was therefore not amenable to the democratic influences at the Community which enriched the others, and made them declare, in after years, that the years or months spent there had been the most valuable ones in their lives."
Messrs. W. B. Allen, Minot Pratt, Warren Burton, Charles Hosmer, Isaac Hecker and George C. Leach, with Mr. Hawthorne, devoted most of their time to outdoor farm work.
Many of the pupils became interested in the new life with which they came in contact. It influenced them for good, and in after years they were full of gratitude and praise for the help and moral tone it imparted to them. An extract from a letter from Mr. Richard F. Fuller, the father of Margaret Fuller, to Mr. Ripley at this time reads as follows:—
"A lady asked me not long since where she should send her daughter to school. I said at once, to the Community, for there she would learn for the first time, perhaps, that all these matters of creed and morals are not quite so well settled as to make thinking nowadays a piece of supererogation, and would learn to distinguish between truth and the 'sense sublime,' and the dead dogmas of the past. This is the great benefit I believe you confer upon the young."
The pupil who became most prominent was George William Curtis, who always acknowledged the beneficial effect it had upon all his future career.
New England and New York sent in their share of pupils until the accommodations were crowded. The school flourished. It was not large, but select. It was necessary to have more room, and a neighbor's cottage was hired. Enthusiasts wished to build on the place. Plans of procedure for the Association were indefinite. The central idea of justice to all men and women was ever uppermost. Mrs. Olvord, a lady of means, built a small gabled cottage of wood, which, owing to ill health, she was able to occupy but a short time. At the highest point of the domain, on a ledge of "pudding-stone," the Association erected a small, square, wooden building which was named "the Eyrie," and at another period a large double or twin house was built to be conjointly occupied by two brothers from Plymouth, Mass., of the name of Morton; it was called "the Pilgrim House." The original farmhouse was christened "the Hive." The cultivation of the farm proceeded, and some ornamentation in the shape of flower-beds was done around the houses. It was soon found that much milk was needed at home, and the sale of it was discontinued.
A few individuals making a common family on a farm near a city, would seem to be too unimportant a matter to excite much comment now, even though the people who did it were superior in attainments, of high purpose, and above criticism in their moral and social standing; but at this date of our country's history, all thoughtful people in New England seemed to be gaping at them with curiosity and wonder, and comments were unlimited. As they were neither dogmatists, nor active fanatics who brandished anathemas of terror and destruction at those who followed not in their ways, but simply and unostentatiously attended to their own business, and seemed to care very little for what anyone said derogatory to their proceedings, the conditions appeared so unique, that interest in their doings increased day by day.
Mr. Ripley wrote of it a few months after its commencement: "We are now in full operation as a family of workers, teachers and students. We feel the deepest convictions that, for us, our mode of life is the true one, and no attraction would tempt any one of us to exchange it for that we have quitted lately." And it would be an impertinence now to penetrate into its private circles and bring its members and doings to the gaze of an investigating and curious public, were it not that its doings and its members have become, from their relation to social science, a part of public history.
The pressure of life was off at Brook Farm, for the nonce. What anyone did that was out of the common, might cause smiles and laughter but no frowns or scoldings. Each felt and believed in the demonstration of his or her own individuality, and, as a first consequence, there was something that was often mistaken, by strangers, for rudeness and want of order. Some forgot that it was especially work they came for, and were anxious to have their theories discussed. Independence in dress was universal. The Mrs. Grandys were all away, and if the young ladies thought it was prettier to exhibit the grace of flowing tresses than to bind them up in "pugs" behind their heads, who should, who could, object?
Prim Margaret Fuller, who was a visitor—and never a member of the community as has often been stated—professed herself disturbed, at first, by the easy and perhaps indifferent manner in which they listened to her long conversations, as they sat on the floor or on crickets; but on a later visit, she expressed herself as better pleased. Doubtless some of the individual angularities had been rubbed off, by this time, by the pleasant but close contact of the Community life—and some of hers as well.
THE SECOND DEVELOPMENT.
Two years of the experimental and "idyllic" life, ran rapidly away, and the Community had gained something of position and name in the outward world. Personal contact had modified the extreme views of many of the founders. Changes had taken place in the Individuals composing it; some had departed. Six of the original stockholders remained. The number had increased to about seventy, including some thirty who were pupils. The financial success had not been all that was desired. Everything else was getting more settled. The social life was charming. Improvements in material matters, in comforts, in discipline and in grace of manners were visible. But what was to be developed next among all the things desirable? Was it to push the school still further in progress, to attach mechanical industries to the organization, to work up the farm life into more prominence, or what?
It could not be expected that this large number of persons, whose early surroundings and ideas had been so varied, could at once agree as to what next steps were necessary to take, or to what definite end the Community should be shaped. There was need, certainly, of some central purpose strong enough for all to unite upon to inspire permanence.
Neither Mr. Ripley nor any of his co-workers had heard of Charles Fourier—the French exponent of industrial association—or his doctrines, unless in a most casual way, and certainly they had not studied them when they started the Community. They were independent workers in a field of social science; but when they became acquainted with his ideas, especially his ideas of industry made attractive by organized labor, and its relation to the higher standard of work and liberal belief they had adopted and maintained thus far, their enthusiasm was awakened for them and they resolved to graft some of his formulas on their institution. The little Community, with its bright, cheerful school and its happy members, was not paying its way. There were philosophers enough in it. There were plenty of sweet, charming characters and amateur workmen in it, but the hard-fisted toilers and the brave financiers were absent.
Still, it was not entirely absence of financial success that led the responsible men of the Community to make the change in the organization that they did, but truly because the grand and reasonable ideas of the distinguished Frenchman bore such internal evidences of harmony with human nature and with God's providence and laws that they carried conviction to the great and sympathetic minds of Brook Farm. Fourier argued that there was a sublime destiny for mankind on this earth, that the Creator was infinitely good, that all the instincts of our nature, when not subverted by bad conditions, pointed towards that destiny, and that humanity was on its way upward—that the past progress argued what the future might be.
I give as illustrations, a few extracts from "The Social Destiny of Man," by Albert Brisbane, page 269:—"Four societies have existed on the earth—the savage, patriarchal, barbarian and civilized. Under these general heads may be classed the various social forms through which man has progressed up to the present day. If four have existed may not a fifth, or even a sixth, be discovered and organized? Common sense would dictate that there could, although the world has entertained a different opinion."
Page 293: "If the barbarian asserts that the lash is the only means of forcing the slave to labor, the civilized is not far behind him in his reasoning, for he will assert with equal confidence that necessity and want are necessary stimulants to industry. The barbarian is as ignorant of the levers which civilization puts in play as is the civilized of the powerful incentives to action which the groups and series will call forth."
Page 464: "If He [God] has not known how or has not wished to give us a social code productive of justice, industrial attraction and passional harmony;—if he has not known how, how could he have supposed our weak reason would succeed in a task in which he himself doubted of success? If he has not wished, how can our legislators hope to organize a society which would lead to the results above mentioned, and of which he wished to deprive us.... What motive could he have had to refuse us such a code? Six views may be taken on the subject of this omission.
"First—either he has not known how to give us a social code guaranteeing truth, justice and industrial attraction; in this case why create in us the want of it, without having the means of satisfying that want which he satisfies in creatures inferior to us, to which he assigns a mode of existence adapted to their attractions and instincts:
"Second—or he has not wished to give us this code; which thus supposes the Creator to be the persecutor of mankind, creating in us wants which it is impossible to satisfy, inasmuch as none of our codes can extirpate our permanent scourges:
"Third—or he has known how and has not wished; in which case the Creator becomes a malignant being, knowing how to do good, but preferring the reign of evil:
"Fourth—or he has wished and has not known how; in this case he is incapable of governing us, knowing and wishing the good which he cannot realize, and which we still less can attain:
"Fifth—or he has neither wished nor known how; and we must attribute to him both want of genius and evil intention:
"Sixth—or he has known how and has wished; in this case the code exists, and he must have provided a mode for its revelation—for of what use would it be if it were to remain hidden from men for whom it is destined?"
Page 468: "If the human race were at the commencement of their social career—in the first ages of civilization—they would perhaps be excusable for founding some hope of social good upon human science, upon the legislation of man; but long experience has proved the impotency of human legislation, and shown clearly that the world has nothing to hope from human laws and civilized constitutions."
Page 260: "Either the passions are bad or the social mechanism is false, for evil prevails, and to a melancholy extent. If the former be true, then there is no hope of a better state of things, for every means of repression and constraint that human ingenuity could invent has been applied to regulate their action; but all in vain—they have remained unchanged, and in the eyes of the moralist as perverse as ever. If, however, the latter be true—that is, if the social mechanism be false—then there is a chance for a better future; for our incoherent and absurd societies are changing more or less with every century. They are at the mercy or whim of a tyrant, or of a revolution of the mass; they may therefore be reformed or done away with entirely."
These grand words and this powerful logic, if even too strong for some of the readers of this book, were not so for the brave hearts of the leaders of Brook Farm, and for Mr. Ripley in particular. The tentative feeling, the search for science to back up the social impulses, seemed at last to have found something solid in a society conceived by the Creator; the man created by him, fitted to it by him; the society fitted to the man; the one the counterpart of the other. Albert Brisbane, Parke Godwin and Horace Greeley, with the Tribune, were arousing the thinkers in New York; Gerritt Smith was agitating the land question and giving away to actual settlers vast tracts of land owned by him. The works of the communist Owen and others were read. Antislavery, anti-war and non-resistance societies were vigorously prosecuting their claims. It was an era of great social activity. Thousands were aroused. "Communities," "Associations" and "Phalanxes" were springing up in various quarters. It seemed that the tide of change from social chaos to order was fast rising. A great wave of reform was sweeping over the land. Should the Community moor itself where it was, or be borne on with the flood?
This was the question of moment; and while the young danced or played, acted in charade or masquerade, and the youths wove garlands of green around their straw hats, and amused themselves by wearing long tresses and tunics, the sedater heads were solving this important question. And they must decide it, but first of all Mr. Ripley's wishes must be consulted: the key to the situation was in his hands. What would he do? Would he, and should they, take among them men and women endowed only with practical, everyday talents, able to be honest and make shoes and sew garments; to strike with a sledge and a blacksmith's arm; to be adepts, maybe, in all the cares for the outward wants of the body, but who had never read Goethe or Schiller, and, possibly, neither Shakespeare, Scott nor Robert Burns; and might not care to read or study Latin, French, German or philosophy! It was for Mr. Ripley to decide.
Did he then think of the little church in Purchase Street, and of what he had solemnly said to the listening congregation? Had he not told them that in every soul was a divine fire that aspired to the right no matter how deeply it had been covered from sight or buried by the troubling cares and surroundings that environed it: that there was a divine equality of spirit at the base of all human lives?
Did he not hear reverberating in his soul the sublime passage, "If I be lifted up, I will lift all others up to me"? Had he not been lifted up? Had he not been supremely blest with health, strength, education, talent, friends, companionship with the great and his cup filled full of the sweet and sublime accords of the Christian faith? Had he not been lifted up, not in crucifixion, but by myriads of silent blessings, and was it not Christ-like to aid in lifting all others up also?
Alas for those who speak of Mr. Ripley's action at this time as "Ripley's fall"! These were the moments when he achieved his glory, when the greatness of his character arose, almost without exception, above all others of the Transcendental School, who hovered around, and wished to claim him as a bright example of a man separated from the common herd of humanity, as a leader of a select group of men and women, cultivated intellectually and socially. Then, as before, when he saw what he deemed right, or, rather, when the intuitions of his soul told him his duty, he did not hesitate.
Soon he was practically deserted by Emerson and his coterie, by some of the associates and pupils of the school, and boarders, who were scared out of their propriety by the fear of losing social caste, and they showed their disfavor by leaving him alone; but, intrenched as he was, and surrounded by a multitude of friends, new and old, and many secretly admiring his intrepid spirit, they could only vent their disfavor in sly sneers and hints that Mr. Ripley, and, of course, his followers with him, had fallen from their high estate. Yes, they who sat near by on the fences and crowed reform the loudest—they who had never soiled their ink-stained fingers with the grass-green sod of old Brook Farm in practical example of work—found most fault with him, because he chose to remain and risk his social standing still more than he had already done, in his magnificent work and experiment.
In order to show more clearly some of the philosophy under which the leaders of Brook Farm based the changes in their theories and organization, let us pause a few moments to give a slight sketch of the growth of human society from its primitive formation to the present time, trusting that the time spent on it may not be unworthily used, and the patience of those to whom these ideas are old is asked for the benefit of others to whom they are new.
It is evident that, at some time, there was a beginning of social life. To those who have full faith in the Mosaic record it was in the Garden of Eden; but that may be considered as before society, as such, was fairly begun. It was the very dawn of the childhood of our race. To those who recognize the fact that the primitive man was a weak, unskilled, uncultivated savage, the conclusion must come that the first social life of the race was very crude; that men lived in trees or in caves and rude huts, and that they formed societies or hordes for protection from the huge and formidable wild animals that roamed the uncultivated earth.
Upon the slain beasts, wild fruits and grains they existed. They hunted and fished, and although the passions of friendship, love and ambition implanted in their souls by their Creator shone out at times, at other times they quarrelled like the brutes they slaughtered. This state of crude society is named savagism.
But as the beasts became less formidable foes, and were much diminished in numbers by being slain and possibly from other causes, it is probable that at times the race suffered hunger, and finding that the ground readily produced from seed, the primitive race or races began to plant, and finding also that they had slain so many of the wild animals that they could keep herds of cattle without great danger of their destruction by them, the life of the herdsman began. But as the herds began to be numerous, it was found necessary to travel with them in order to give them new pasturage, and then the nomadic or wandering life was fully installed.
With their cattle and their wives, and their limited knowledge of cultivation, the patriarchal tribe moved from place to place; sometimes to find water, sometimes to find pasture for their horses and cattle, and at harvest time they returned to their fields to harvest the grain which had been planted for all. This, as you see, describes crudely the second state of society, which is the "patriarchal" state.
As population increased, the difficulty of constantly changing the place of residence was more and more apparent; and as some arts had sprung up, such as the manufacture of pottery, farming implements and defensive weapons, which could not be equally well carried on in all places, towns, and afterwards cities, sprang up, where the artisans resided; and being often liable to marauders, especially when the outside population or tribes were wandering away from them, they enclosed them with walls. By industry some wealth was acquired; some luxury and comparative splendor were introduced. Prominent and naturally ambitious individuals and families raised themselves into power, and, placing themselves at the head of armies, with the newest weapons of war, made by their own hands, went forth to conquer. Thus the third, or what is called the "barbaric" state was established.
Still moving on in the same direction, a great variety of class distinction was made. Woman arose steadily from a condition of almost hopeless slavery to be the one companion of man, and direct slavery of man to man was abolished. Invention was stimulated, and means of dissemination of knowledge, such as the printing press and the university, came to light. Kings and princes reign by law, which is fully established, and commerce and trade flourish. These things inaugurate the advent of civilization; but perhaps the most marked types of civilization are the independence of the individual, monogamic marriage and free competition. Thus was established the fourth societary condition.
Society having progressed so far, and gone through so many changes, is it reasonable that it must now stop at what we call "civilization" as the ultimatum of its progress? With a little thought it will be seen how surely man has, through all these changes, emancipated himself from physical surroundings until he stands forth free and independent, but without, however, any positive relation or duty binding him to maintain the independence of all the human brotherhood. His independence is for himself alone, and in that relation he is forced by conditions of his surroundings to neglect and trespass on the rights of his fellow-man to keep his individual supremacy, and to develop various promptings of his soul, which are ofttimes good, great and noble.
In the early days of civilization, free competition develops the resources of man. The prospect of wealth, and the power it brings with it, encourages trade to seek the ends of the earth, and from its products vast enterprises are built up. As every fruit has in it that which causes its final dissolution, and within it also the germs of a future and higher life, so civilized society carries in it the germs of its decay and dissolution, society being a natural product, as fruit is, of God's providence. Free competition is the destructive agent, or one of the most important agents in its dissolution. Observe that the power which ripens a natural fruit causes, in the end, its destruction. Observe also that free competition, which in the early stages of civilization glorifies and typifies it, by continuing at its work will finally destroy it.
There is another element which is called capital. In savage life there is hardly anything which can be called capital. The amount of capital depends on the wealth of the community. As society advances, wealth increases; from savagism to civilization, from early civilization to the present time. This wealth, this capital comes from the reserved products of labor; "dried labor," it has been called, for labor is its only source of production. This wealth belongs to the community that has earned it, saved it and inherited it. It is the grand moving power of society as it now stands, and without it we would return to the savage state. Society can never be too wealthy, any more than it can be too powerful, and the one is the synonym, to a great extent, of the other.
But capital with interest, as the agent and assistant of competition, is destructive. Capital joined with labor builds manufactories, railroads, towns, and is the great moving power of civilization; but in the growth of civilization vast amounts of it have accumulated, and being unevenly distributed, there are those who are constantly seeking its use to help them to business and to elevation, and have been ready to pay a royalty, which we call interest, for the use of it. This has made capital a commodity.
The progress of arts and inventions has been, in modern days, in such increased ratio to the increase of capital that it has created so great a demand that a monopoly has been made of it; more is paid for the use of it than its real worth, so that wealth, even in this democratic country, is piling up in colossal fortunes by being drawn from the great body of society. Consequently, classes of people grow relatively poorer as fast as other bodies of people or individuals grow richer; the extremes of riches and poverty constantly increasing.
Every advance in the producing capacity of machinery gives organized capital a better hold on labor, because capital owns the machinery, and, in homely phrase, labor "is the under dog in the fight" all of the time. It makes no practical difference to it whether the laborer becomes capitalist or no, for the moment he becomes so he is engaged in the same crusade. He is no better nor worse than the one whom we called capitalist yesterday. It is the unnatural position or relation of capital and labor that makes him what he is. To change this relation to a more just one was among the grandest ideas of the Brook Farmers, and the only way it could possibly be done, in their estimation, was by reorganizing society on a new basis; by combining the capital of the workers and others interested and using it so as finally to control machinery for the benefit of labor, and to reduce its hours of toil so that the laborer could have time for self- improvement.
Having traced the progress of society from its earliest forms to our present civilization, it can be easily shown how the supreme or governing power is first in the hands of the most powerful physically; then passes to the one most able by prowess to sway a tribe or people; then passes into the hierarchy of the church, that rules by swaying mental terrors; next into the hierarchy of the state, that rules by both mental and physical terrors; and, in our present civilization, has passed or is passing rapidly into the hands of a moneyed class ruling with powers according to the amount of capital swayed; and it can be proved that these changes are but the natural result of forces that are as sure and constant as sunlight and electricity.
This present form of social power, it is argued, is transient, and like the others, will pass away and be replaced, and can only be replaced by anarchy, or by a hierarchy of organized talent arranged in serial order from the most talented down to the humblest laborer, and this was another of the grand ideas of the Brook Farmers. From the seeds of this civilization will spring—is springing—a higher order. It is an order that the teacher Fourier called "guaranteeism." It is an order in which the governing power passes from the moneyed aristocracy into the hands of organized bodies. It is an order in which the spiritual and material truths are incorporated into organic societies and governments which guarantee to everyone support in sickness and protection from dangers of various sorts; an order which, in fact, abounds in mutual guarantees covering by degrees all the numerous necessities and wants of life—hence its name; and finally, in the process of time, placing all the material wants of the people under protective guarantees.
This fifth condition of society must pass into the sixth order, which is the associative order, or the coperative phase of society in which it will be proven by practical works that, by adherence to principles and proper organizations, we may avoid a large share of the miseries we have in the past so unsparingly laid to the charge of the Deity as discipline for us, but which are the results of our own ignorance. The "harmonic order" is associated life of a high type, and includes association of families, economy of means, unity of interests, labor made attractive, equitable distribution of profits, integral justice, etc., in such a way as to bring about very great happiness among all people, thus deserving its grand name. From the commencement of the age of harmony, which is a higher octave of life, society begins a new era, the beauties and accords of which no one can do more than speculate upon.
This sketch of the progress of the human race may seem trite to many readers. It may have a familiar sound, but it is necessary to our narrative. It was promulgated many years before our modern writers came into the field with their evolutionary theories, and it is at least a theoretic base for social scientists to build their hopes of present and future progress on. To the Brook Farm leaders it was new; it was sensible; it was reasonable. Communism they did not favor, for their motto was, "Community of property is the grave of individual liberty." Instinctively they rebelled against it.
The organized communities held everything in common—houses, lands, moneys and goods; even prescribing what garments should be worn, and also electing a religious creed for their members. It was not compatible with the greater ideas of freedom held at Brook Farm. It was not a free life and it could not be a true life, for they all believed in the motto, "The truth shall make you free," and instead of freedom, the "Communities" used mental constraint and tyranny to hold themselves together.
The Brook Farmers believed that the laborer owned the value of his labor; if it was used, it was credited to him, and a part of the increased value of the domain belonged to him. It never belonged to the organization;—that is, the value of it—but by mutual consent might be retained, invested and added to the laborer's stock. Theoretically the result would show that the person who was the most capable, active and industrious would in time own the most accrued capital. This the Brook Farmers claimed was right and according to nature, and, combined with yearly diminishing interest, could not be destructive, as capital is now.
They had fallen unwittingly, it may be said, on ideas that coincided with those of Charles Fourier. There was an agreement between them, unknown at the start. Their idea that certain mutual guarantees were to be in the constitution, such as immunity from labor in extreme age and youth, care in sickness—a certain "minimum" of rights according to the prosperity or wealth of the institution—and that an "integral education" was a duty of the Association—an education not of the mind alone, but of the hands, heart and affections—coincided exactly with Fourier, and it was easy to adopt his motto of "coperative labor," for they had already adopted the principle; also "association of families," for that had been agreed on. It was easy to adopt his formula of "honors according to usefulness"; they believed in it.
Usefulness, not wealth, station or any artificial distinction, was to receive the highest rank and the greatest honors and favors from the body politic. It might be an invention of the mind; it might be some Herculean or disagreeable labor of the body, or it might be some enthusiasm imparted from some brilliant soul, that would win the honor; but it could be given to none except those who had won it by superior usefulness, whether that usefulness came from doing the work in the "sacred legion"—who were a body of persons who did unattractive work from a sense of duty—or in any other body or group.
It was easy to adopt "attractive industry," another of Fourier's mottoes, for were they not trying mind and body to make it so? And finally, it was easy to adopt the aphorism that the attractions of life in the universe are in proportion to the destinies they assist in accomplishing—"attractions are proportionate to destinies," as it is translated. Certainly it was simple and easy to grasp and believe, when explained so well as it had been by Fourier, and by Brisbane and Godwin, his American translators. And lastly, if all these things were true, why not say so and adopt them? They were outside and free from modern society. They had one of their own. They were happy in it. They had adopted truth as their guide—truth as they saw it, and whenever and wherever they saw it.
Thus closed the first chapter in the history of this little society. They had gathered together without any idea of scientific organization, but from profound convictions of the present wrong relations of the human brotherhood, from religious convictions of duty, and in the belief that they would increase in love to one another, and draw to themselves by their example the good and wise; believing also that if they planted the seeds of truth and unity they would be watered with deeds of faith, and by degrees overtop and destroy the evil undergrowth that abounded in the so-called civilization all around them.
Now came to the leaders a new revelation! It was of science applied to society. Mr. Ripley had great faith in scientific agriculture. Was there to be science applied to society? Was it true that the actual laws applicable to social life had been discovered? Were they immutable as the laws of earthly bodies—of the sun, the stars and the universe? And did they actually agree with the laws of music, color and mathematics? It seemed so. They could but try them. And with a faith for which, during all these succeeding years, they have been, laughed at by cynical philosophers, they went to work to apply them, as far as possible, to the actual life they were then leading. All honor to them!
When the resolution was finally taken to join with the movements that seemed to be, as it were, a new impulse for humanity's sake—an outpouring of spirit upon the children of men, instanced by the very great and sudden interest taken by numerous bodies, societies and individuals along the line of social reform—it was not entirely palatable to all who had looked on the little Community as their pet property, their ideal home; for the sainted individualists, for cultivated book-worms, for theorists who could read Latin and Greek but whose ideas of labor extended only to planting flowers or washing with care a few muslins to adorn their beautiful selves; and fearing a loss of selectness some departed. The motive extended to the school, and, although many of the former pupils left, their places were soon filled by others.
The responsible men looked at the matter from another standpoint. They felt that the labor on the farm had been the least success of anything, and that to organize and improve it was one thing important, if not the one thing needful. Many good men stood at the outer gates waiting for entrance. The members of the "Direction" were firm, and brave. They felt that the experience of the first two years was a permanent advantage to them, and they reorganized under the same name as before. With the new constitution was published a preliminary statement from which the following is extracted:—
"All persons who are not familiar with the purposes of Association, will understand from this document that we propose a radical and universal reform rather than to redress any particular wrong, or to remove the sufferings of any single class of human beings. We do this in the light of universal principles in which all differences, whether of religion, or politics, or philosophy, are reconciled, and the dearest and most private hope of every man has the promise of fulfilment. Herein, let it be understood, we would remove nothing that is truly beautiful or venerable; we reverence the religious sentiment in all its forms, the family and whatever else has its foundation either in human nature or Divine Providence. The work we are engaged in is not destruction, but true conservation; it is not a mere resolution, but, as we are assured, a necessary step in the progress which no one can be blind enough to think has yet reached its limit.
"We believe that humanity, trained by these long centuries of suffering and struggle, led on by so many saints and heroes and sages, is at length prepared to enter into that universal order toward which it has perpetually moved. Thus we recognize the worth of the whole past, and of every doctrine and institution it has bequeathed us; thus also we perceive that the present has its own high mission, and we shall only say what is beginning to be seen by all sincere thinkers, when we declare that the imperative duty of this time and this country, nay, more, that its only salvation and the salvation of civilized countries, lies in the reorganization of society according to the unchanging laws of human nature, and of universal harmony.
"We look, then, to the generous and helpful of all classes for sympathy, for encouragement and for actual aid; not to ourselves only, but to all who are engaged in this great work. And whatever may be the result of any special efforts, we can never doubt that the object we have in view will be finally attained; that human life shall yet be developed, not in discord and misery, but in harmony and joy, and that the perfected earth shall at last bear on her bosom a race of men worthy of the name."
[Signed by the Directors.] GEORGE RIPLEY. MINOT PRATT. CHARLES A. DANA.
Brook Farm, Mass., Jan. 18, 1844.
This constitution was largely like the first one, but varied from it in the following particulars:—
"The department of Industry shall be managed in groups and series as far as is practicable, and shall consist of three primary series, to wit: Agricultural, Mechanical and Domestic Industry. The chief of each group to be elected weekly, and the chief of each series once in two months by the members thereof, subject to the approval of the General Direction."
"Persons wishing to become members must first reside on the place as applicants for one month."
"Applicants who have passed acceptably through their term may become candidates, and remain in this new relation a month more, when they may be admitted as Associates."
"Personal property may be received as stock by the Direction of Finance when it shall be deemed advantageous to the Association."
"Persons shall, on becoming residents on the domain, deliver an exact inventory of all the furniture and implements which they may retain as private property, to be filed for reference in the office of the Direction."
"New groups and series may be formed from time to time for the prosecution of different and new branches of industry."
"Three hundred days shall be considered a year's labor. The hours of labor shall be from the first of October to the first of April at least eight hours daily, and from the first of April to the first of October at least ten hours daily, and no person shall be credited for labor beyond that time."
"No debt shall be contracted in behalf of the Association by any person whatever."
"Articles furnished to the Associates shall be charged at cost as nearly as the same can be ascertained."
"The period of education shall extend from birth to the age of twenty years, and shall be divided into three stages: Infancy to six years, Pupilage from six to sixteen years, and Probation from sixteen to twenty. The education during probation shall be in the practical duties of Associates."
"No public meeting for business or amusement shall be protracted beyond the hour of ten P. M."
* * * * *
Many persons who have heard of the Community life at Brook Farm have idealized it into a little coterie of choice spirits who sat around the study lamp at early eve, after the light toil of the day had ceased, and discussed the intellectual problems of the German philosophers who had given much of the impulse to the Transcendental Club, and brought so many young men forward as leaders of thought; but this was only partially true.
Mr. Ripley at first endeavored to instruct the assembly and impart to them some of his own intellectual enthusiasm. Evening classes were formed; readings took place from some of the prominent poets—Goethe, Schiller, Shakespeare; from Carlyle and Cousin as well as Emanuel Kant; but when the industrial period began, he had more than his hands full, and he laid his books on the shelf. They were his tools—they were the ladders on which he had mounted to his high estate. Why should he worship them? They had taught him, as had the Hebrew writers, faith in the Creator; faith in His best creation, man; faith in reason, faith in right, faith, in a magnificent human destiny. Why should he spend his life in singing praises of them? To work! To begin to shape society to higher ends! That was indeed the worthiest end in life, and his worthiest homage to the writers and their books.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AND DESCRIPTIONS.
It was a pleasant afternoon in March, 1843, when I left Boston, in a small omnibus, that started from Brattle Street for West Roxbury Village and Brook Farm. My father's family of three had preceded me, he remaining behind to close his business; it was a question of but a few days when we should be all embarked in the new and untried life to which we were looking forward with pleasurable emotions.
The nine miles of interval was passed, riding through an undulating country, by pleasant farms surrounded with the stone walls so common in Massachusetts and the eastern states, and by pretty white houses, with green window blinds and little front flower gardens, with fruit and shade trees standing sentinels on their borders. Here and there a ledge of "pudding-stone" cropped out, and the scenery grew more primitive as we neared the vicinity of the farm. Slowly we rode on, leaving passengers and parcels by the way until it showed signs of deepening twilight, when we reached by a slight acclivity the door of the farmhouse that was at the entrance of the place, where I was soon joined by my relatives who took me in charge and made me presentable for supper; but I was too late to join with the family, and took my first meal with them the following day.
Looking out of the window the next morning, I found it overlooked the farm-yard and the broad meadow that lay south of the house. What awakened me was the sound of a trumpet or horn, blown by some one for rising or breakfast. I dressed leisurely, as I found it was the first or "rising horn," and went out of the front door for a survey. Before me was the driveway. A wooden fence, and a row of mulberry and spruce trees stood guarding the two embankments that were terraced down to the brook and meadow. On the embankments were shrubs and flower beds. A couple of rods to the right stood a graceful elm, beside a gateway that opened on a pathway to the garden and fields.
Passing by the front of the house I found that two wings had been added to it in the rear, leaving shed and carriage room beneath. Directly in front of me, and facing due east, was a large barn raised upon stone posts, which was open on the south side to the large barnyard, and between the barn and house was a driveway or road, leading over the premises.
In the kitchen, which was directly in the rear of the dining room, there was a clatter of dishes, and a few persons were going from place to place outside.
Some one was in the barn attending to the cattle. He had on a tarpaulin straw hat, and a farmer's frock of blue mixture that hung down below the tops of his cowhide boots. I looked sharply at the man, and found it was Mr. George Ripley. The "second horn" sounded; it aroused the dog, who howled pitifully or musically—in bad unison with it. Soon the persons from the other houses came to breakfast, strolling leisurely along.
I found that all the people, unless ill, took their meals at the farmhouse dining room. A little quaintness of dress, some picturesque costumes—such as the blue tunics with black belts of leather, that the men wore; the full beards, that were not common then as now; the broad hats and graceful, flowing hair of the young ladies; the varied style of garments of the students and the boarders—all interested me.
The long, low dining room had rows of tables, some six in number, seating on an average fourteen persons each. White painted benches supplied the place of chairs. The tables were neatly set in white ware; white mugs served for both cups and drinking glasses. There were white linen table cloths, and everything was scrupulously neat.
At the farther end of the room sat Mr. Ripley. The garments of the husbandman and farmer had all been laid aside, and, neatly dressed, he was smiling and laughing, his gleaming eyes seeming to reflect their brilliancy on the golden bows of his spectacles. At his right sat his wife, and near by his sister, who poured the morning libation of tea or coffee. Most of the pupils were at this table. Mrs. Ripley, tall, graceful and slim, was, like her husband, near-sighted, but only on occasions would she raise a gold-bowed eye-glass to look at some distant object or person. The fare at the table was plain; good bread, butter and milk from the farm were present. It is hardly necessary to say that I looked around with peculiar interest on those who were to be my new friends and companions. It was not a dismal or sober meal. There was a happy buzz that indicated to me a probability of great future happiness.
How well do I remember the old dining-room with its familiar forms and faces—too many to describe now! There were the young and pretty Misses Foord; the one a dimpled blonde, lovely, rosy-complexioned, with large, wonderful blue eyes; and her sister with her clear skin and dark hair and eyebrows, both wearing their contrasted and unbound tresses flowing over their graceful shoulders. And hark! 'tis Dolly, dear Dolly Hosmer, with her rollicking, noisy laugh. And pretty Mary Donnelly—oh, how pretty! with the dimples and the peach-bloom on her face, her white teeth and coal-black hair—ever pretty whether she was smiling at you or peeling potatoes. And Charles Newcomb, the mysterious and profound, with his long, dark, straight locks of hair, one of which was continually being brushed away from his forehead as it continually fell; with his gold-bowed eye-glass, his large nose and peculiar blue eyes, his spasmodic expressions of nervous horror, and his cachinnatious laugh. There were sturdy Teel, and heavy Eaton, and frisky Burnham, and bluff Rykman, with round-eyed Fanny Dwight and another graceful Fanny, and oh! so many more men and women, friends and workers striving for a sublime idea. I could describe very many of them and the minute details of all the houses and surroundings, but it would unwisely overcrowd these pages.