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for on November 7, two days before Ellen replied to his letter, he wrote in his journal verses which conclude in this manner:
I did not think so bright a day
I thought by loving all beside,
A little over a year later, in January, 1842, John Thoreau died; and after his brother's death Henry learned for the first time that John also had loved Ellen Sewall. Miss Ward, who was Ellen Sewall's aunt, was an inmate of the Thoreau household. She had been the link between the Sewall and Thoreau families and had been the constant but not very strict chaperone of Ellen Sewall in her walks with the two brothers. She knew more about the whole situation than did Thoreau. When Thoreau discovered Miss Ward's knowledge of the affair, he told her that the references in the first chapter of Walden to "a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle-dove" which he had lost long ago were allusions to the boy Edmund Sewall, to John Thoreau, and to Ellen Sewall.
renewal of her She heard that Miss Sophia
These details came to Ellen Sewall during the intimacy with the Thoreaus after Henry's death. Thoreau had always remembered his love for her. Thoreau became an intimate friend and often talked of her brother. She was particularly desirous of correcting the current legend that Henry lived on his friends. She told Ellen that Henry had always earned enough for his simple wants and that in later years the proceeds from his books and other literary work had been sufficient to support him.
The rest of Ellen Sewall's story may be treated very briefly. In June, 1839, a little before her acquaintance with Thoreau, she
4 Autumn, p. 224. Writings of H. D. Thoreau, Vol. VII, New Riverside edition, Boston and New York, 1894. The poem from which this is an excerpt is marked before this passage occurs to indicate omissions, perhaps personal.
had casually met a young men named Joseph Osgood. During her friendship with Henry and John Thoreau she saw nothing of her casual acquaintance, but somewhat later the two became friends. The friendship continued and increased; and in 1842, two years after the relation with the Thoreau brothers had ended, Joseph Osgood was ordained minister of the Unitarian church at Cohasset, which is very near to Scituate, the home of the Sewalls. Soon after his ordination he asked Ellen Sewall to marry him. She was now twenty years old; and this time was not doubtful of her own feeling, as she had been in her girlish inclination toward Henry Thoreau. And in this case she had no need to expect the disapproval of her family. She accepted and was married in 1844. Her married life of nearly fifty years was very happy.
The love affair with Ellen Sewall adds a greater humanity to Thoreau, for which one is grateful. It seems to explain several interesting passages in his works, particularly in his poetry. Only the year before his proposal he had gone on the river excursion which he described later in the Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. The poems which seem to refer to Ellen Sewall all appeared in this book.
"On this same stream," he says," referring to the Concord, "a maiden once sailed in my boat, thus unattended but by invisible guardians, and as she sat in the prow there was nothing but herself between the sternsman and the sky. I would then say with the poet,
Sweet falls the summer air
Over her frame who sails with me;
Her way like that is beautifully free,
Her nature far more rare
And is her constant heart of virgin purity
At evening, still the very stars seem but this maiden's emissaries and reporters of her progress.
Low in the eastern sky
Is set thy glancing eye;
Ne'er riseth to my sight
The Week, p. 57, Riverside edition.
W. E. Channing. The verses which follow are Thoreau's own.
Eternity may not the chance repeat,
But I must tread my single way alone,
In sad remembrance that we once did meet,
In still another passage he speaks of his incomplete friendship with "a woman who possesses a restless and intelligent mind," from whom he is partly separated by lack of religious sympathy. The verses which follow seem to indicate Ellen Sewall again.
My love must be as free
As is the eagle's wing
The omissions are mine, not Thoreau's.
8 Week, p. 343.
Be not the fowler's net
That bears me on
I cannot leave my sky
For thy caprice,
True love would soar as high
As heaven is.
These poems are surely among the most attractive which Thoreau ever wrote and reveal a side of his character which deserves some emphasis. They do not, however, represent his most essential qualities and are partly incompatible with those qualities. One cannot entirely regret Thoreau's failure in love, at least so far as literature is concerned. His Spartan simplicity of life is essential to his character, and he could retain his contempt for poverty only if he remained a bachelor. Marriage might perhaps have been a very serious hindrance to his literary development, and it would certainly have modified the essential and unique qualities of his genius.
State College of Washington.
These three poems were all published first in The
THE NATURE AND INFLUENCE OF CHARLES NODIER'S PHILOLOGICAL ACTIVITY
BY A. H. SCHUTZ
Nodier belongs to that class of writers who fall short of greatness and yet are interesting subjects of study because of their rôle in the formation of great men. How he influenced the literary ideas of Hugo has been well discussed;1 of his philological work we have two detailed pictures. From these accounts, detailed though they be, one whose interest lies primarily in the history of the French language gets the feeling that there is still something lacking: the very nearness, so to speak, of the biographers to their subject has prevented them from getting a perspective, first, of the setting in which Nodier's linguistic ideas were developed, and second, of his influence, in matters linguistic, on the body of men who led the anti-puristic revolt. It is the purpose of this paper to review the subject of Nodier's philology with these two points in mind.
The century that saw the rise of literary Romanticism, witnessed, in France as well as in Germany, an inevitable flowering of what we may well call its concomitant linguistic phases. We know that, as early as the eighteenth century, when French and English fought for the mastery of India, there developed an exotic interest in Sanskrit which flourished throughout the unpropitious days of the French Revolution and even extended to other Oriental languages. The principal names are Langlès (the Orientalist), Chézy (the Sinologist), Remusat (also a Sinologist and the author of a History of Buddhism), Sylvestre de Sacy (noted, among many other activities, for his work in Arabic), later the Burnoufs, especially Eugène (the Orientalist), nor forgetting notable foreigners, Hamilton, Bopp, Humboldt, the Schlegels. The brilliancy of such masters and such disciples, the enthusiasm of the time, the admir
1 Schenck, E. M.—La part de Charles Nodier dans les idées romantiques de Victor Hugo, Paris, 1914.
Salomon, J., Charles Nodier et le groupe romantique, Paris, 1908; Larat, J., La tradition et l'exotisme dans l'oeuvre de Charles Nodier, Paris, 1923.
'Lefmann, Franz Bopp, p. 16 ff.