The Concord Spirit
Article publication date: 1 April 1931
AN Englishman sees at once, with the New England landscapes about him, that he could easily make his home there—in the exhilaration of the moment he clean forgets the quota and the fact that he isn't wanted, and Al Capone, prohibition, and the slump. New England is as far from Hollywood as Old England is. Its hills are of granite and the harsher rocks. Its woods, with trees reminiscent of home, yet certainly foreign, are still savage, and the Indian place‐names remind you that the frame‐houses are recent invaders. See it under snow and the sun, when the temperature is dropping to zero though the sky is blue, and you begin to understand why so much New England poetry and thought is as delicate and austere as a flower on stoney ground. These people, for generations, have had to keep resolutely watchful and on their guard, knowing they could survive only if they could get corn enough to husband. They have some residue from the memories of their forefathers of the stockaded settlement, when the Indians were lurking in the dark swamps without. Their hope has been bleak enough in their fight against granite and snow, and the seas of the North. Enduring through long and relentless winters, when nature was arctic, they made more of any sign of spring in the heart, or in the fields, than we should. Mysticism, a sense of relationship with a purpose behind the harsh and unforgiving show of things, is natural and consolatory to lonely folk who, as Thoreau somewhere remarks, have to get through hard times, like bears, by sucking their own paws. There is nothing else. With all against them, they kept watch at the stockade, waiting for morning. What is heard in the silence of the mind, while enduring in loneliness, can be expressed only in austere images. Says Emerson: “What generous beliefs console. The brave whom Fate denies the goal! If others reach it, is content; To Heaven's high will his will is bent.” Emerson was not ironic; those words occur in a tribute to his dead brother.
TOMLINSON, H.M. (1931), "The Concord Spirit", Library Review, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 157-163. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb011935
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