We have already seen the issue of the famous Brook Farm experiment, which was a practical outcome of the reforming agitation.
Emerson has had the name of being a leader in many movements in which he had very limited confidence, this among others to which the idealizing impulse derived from him lent its force, but for the organization of which he was in no sense responsible.
He says in the lecture we are considering:—
“These new associations are composed of men and women of superior talents and sentiments; yet it may easily be questioned whether such a community will draw, except in its beginnings, the able and the good; whether these who have energy will not prefer their choice of superiority and power in the world to the humble certainties of the association; whether such a retreat does not promise to become an asylum to those who have tried and failed rather than a field to the strong; and whether the members will not necessarily be fractions of men, because each finds that he cannot enter into it without some compromise.”
His sympathies were not allowed to mislead him; he knew human nature too well to believe in a Noah’s ark full of idealists.
All this time he was lecturing for his support, giving courses of lectures in Boston and other cities, and before the country lyceums in and out of New England.
His letters to Carlyle show how painstaking, how methodical, how punctual he was in the business which interested his distant friend. He was not fond of figures, and it must have cost him a great effort to play the part of an accountant.
He speaks also of receiving a good deal of company in the summer, and that some of this company exacted much time and attention,—more than he could spare,—is made evident by his gentle complaints, especially in his poems, which sometimes let out a truth he would hardly have uttered in prose.