Letter from Franklin Benjamin Sanborn to D. W. Wilder

This is a scanned version of the original document in the Abernethy Manuscripts Collection at Middlebury College.

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[copy] CONCORD, MASS., August 12, 1901.

My Dear Harris;

I wrote you from Greenacre to Glenmore, five weeks ago, but fear you never got the letter/- in which I promised to send you my little Emerson book, as soon as I knew it would reach you there. Not hearing from you I have held it back; but will now send it to your Washington address. It has been well received, so far as I know; and so has Mr. Albee's 'Remembrance of Emerson' which I greatly liked. I sent Albee another little book, now going thro' the press,- 'The Personality of Thoreau' - that is, the MS. of it, and he writes me this about it:

"It brough Thoreau nearer and more vivid than anything I have ever read about him, - the man, I mean, or, as you have more closely put it, his personality. Your life with him gives you a right to your knowledge, and I am thankful you have put it on record.

Unless we are very fallible, all that concerns the Concord men will become more and more valuable. You had a freer hand than in your Emerson, and what you have set down is newer and fresher, and I feel sure your book will have a wide circulation. It is a comforting fact that Thoreau is increasing in fame, -has, it would appear, almost caught up with Emerson's splendid chariot. It is due (in part, at least I think so), to the present popular enthusiasm for Nature and nature-studies; also to his practical solution of the way to live in the world, and yet above it. Emerson's ideas led the same way; but Thoreau's practice impresses more a certain class of minds. I think your book will set Thoreau on a higher pedestal than before, -especially in your proof of his uprightness in the common affairs of life.

It is so much to be regretted that Thoreau destroyed any of his verses. There must have been something in them; and in time he might have beaten the music into them. For there is music in some that are printed; but then, again, he perversely scorns it; he must have known better.

His reference and comparison of Emerson with Sir Thomas Browne interested me much; for I am a great lover of Browne, and know no writing that bears such repeated reading. Emerson has not his easy eloquence and subtile phrase, weird metaphor, etc. "Be substantially great in thyself, and more than thou appearest to others; and let the world be deceived in thee, as they are in the lights of heaven". I know of no English superior or equal to that, -the easy naturalness of the comparison, and the grandeur of it. And consider the depth of meaning and the happy phrase of a sentence I quote in my Emerson book, -"thoughts of things that thoughts but tenderly touch".

I do not quite agree with A. and with Thoreau in putting Browne on a level with Emerson; the rich quaintness of his style does not embody so much deep thought.

I hope I shall see the report of the Davidson day at Glenmore, and am

Yours ever, F. B. Sanborn

Dr. W. T. Harris, Washington, D. C.

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