Chapter 17


THE period from 1841 to 1846, when the Community at Putney was in its most plastic state, was also the period when more than a hundred years of sociological experimentation in America had reached an impassioned climax. A brief review of the theories and attempts of this idealistic era will show the relation between Noyes's scheme of social reconstruction and those of his contemporaries.

First there were several groups of religious non-conformists that had migrated from Europe to escape persecution and had adopted communism as the most practical means of securing the common welfare in pioneer America. The Ephratists were established in 1732, the Rappites in 1805, the Zoarites in 1819, and the Amana Society in 1842. The maximum membership ranged from three hundred at Ephrata to nearly eighteen hundred at Amana. But in America they made few converts and formed no branches. Economically they were highly successful and near the zenith of prosperity when Noyes was laying his foundations at Putney They attracted thousands of visitors. They were however European not merely in origin but in personnel, outlook, even in language, and consequently had less influence on American life than the groups that followed.

Next were the Shakers, founded in 1776. They also were an American Community with a background of European religious dissent. But they had more points of contact with contemporary life. Their personnel was recruited largely in America. They were active propagandists, having branch families in every part of the country and a membership that reached as high as thirty-nine hundred persons. Their religion with its strange dancing and shaking, its mediumistic manifestations, and its control of the living by the dead was akin to Modern Spiritualism. Their communism of property was not merely a means of combating the difficulties of pioneer life, but a cardinal principle of society. Their strict separa-


tion of the sexes appealed strongly to a class always present. Religious revivals, so notable a feature of mid-nineteenth century America, they called "hot-beds of Shakerism." Because of these characteristics the Shakers attracted unusual attention. Their steady but unostentatious prosperity stretching over a long period of years was an eloquent testimony to the possibility of Cbristian communism. Noyes, who visited them and studied their writings as early as 1835, said that Socialism was indebted to the Shakers more than to any other social architects of modern times.

In all these Communities communism was subordinated to religion, and could advance only so fast and so far as religious unity could be attained.

A communism that was free from the trammels of religion and could be multiplied within a measurable time to cover the earth was proposed by Robert Owen, called by Noyes the "father of Socialism." Born in Scotland in 1771, manager of the New Lanark Cotton Mills at the age of twenty-eight, a pioneer in the application of industrial welfare to production, Owen amassed a large fortune and won enormous prestige not only in Great Britain but throughout Europe. In 1820 he published a book describing the results of his administration at New Lanark and presenting a general scheme for the rational reconstruction of society on the basis of the idea that "man's character is formed for him by the circumstances that surround him, and that these circumstances are to a great extent under the control of human governments." He proposed to "cut the world up into villages of three hundred to two thousand souls; allot each person an area of land varying from one-half an acre to one and a half acres; place the dwellings of each village in the form of a parallelogram with common kitchens, eating apartments, schools and places of worship in the center; require every person to forswear individualism and work for the common benefit."

The Rappites, having determined in 1824 to move, sought out Owen in England, sold him Harmony, Indiana, with all its dwellings, factories and lands for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Thus in the spring of 1825 Owen, renaming the town "New Harmony," stepped into a theater ready-made for his unexampled feat in social engineering.

Owen then invited "the industrious and well-disposed of all nations" to emigrate to New Harmony. He spoke before large assemblies. His lectures in the Hall of Representatives at Washington were attended by the President, the President-elect, the judges of the Supreme Court, and many members of Congress. Within a


short time nine hundred persons were drawn together. Noyes's mother with thousands like her was electrified, and Noyes himself, though only a boy of thirteen, could in later years vividly recall the thrill of an impending social millennium which shot through the American nation.

The experiment lasted two years and two months. Explaining his failure Owen said that he wanted honesty of purpose but found dishonesty, wanted temperance but found intemperance, wanted industry but found idleness, wanted cleanliness but found dirt, wanted carefulness but found waste, wanted a desire for knowledge but found apathy, wanted the principles of the formation of character understood but found them misunderstood.

Tn addition to New Harmony nine Communities are known to have been formed about the year 1825 under the influence of Owen. The Yellow Springs Community, occupying the site of what is now Antioch College in Ohio, comprised seventy-five or a hundred families and lasted about a year. The Community founded by Frances Wright at Nashoba, Tennessee, based on Negro labor directed by benevolent whites, lasted a little more than two years. The rest, including some whose names even have been forgotten, survived but a few months.

In the transition from Owenism to later socialistic movements Noyes found that Josiah Warren functioned as a modulating chord. After seeing the wreck of communism at New Harmony, of which he was a member, Warren swung clear over to the quintessence of individualism. For the cure of all social ills he invented the formula, "the sovereignty of the individual, to be exercised at his own entire cost." This idea helped prepare the public mind for Fourierism, which carried the principle of individual sovereignty into industry and domestic life. Warren spent more than twenty-five years in the attempt to apply his formula to the property relation. His experiments failed, though they lasted long enough, Warren claimed, to demonstrate the practicability of his scheme. Disciples of Warren then applied individual sovereignty to the sexual relation. This phase of Warren's principle was taken up by Modern Spiritualists and produced in the eighteen-fifties a violent epidemic of "free-love."

The next group of socialistic innovations was the one to which the Putney Commtinity originally belonged. As the Putney Community was an offshoot from New England orthodoxy, so Brook Farm was an offshoot from New England Unitarianism, and Hopedale from New England Universalism. If we pass by in each case the period of preparation, the three began at about the same


time, the Putney Community in February 1841, Brook Farm in October 1841, Hopedale in April 1842. All were native American both in concept and execution. Yet they felt to some extent the impulse of the European importations, especially Fourierism, which at that time began to be known in America. Jt is noteworthy that this group, following Josiah Warren's individualism, adopted the joint-stock principle of property ownership. But the Putney Community in March 1845 abandoned this and set up complete communism of property.


In the year 1840 Dr. Channing took counsel with Mr. George Ripley on the point if it were possible to bring cultivated, thoughtful people together, and make a society that deserved the name. He early talked with Dr. John Collins Warren on the same thing, who admitted the wisdom of the purpose, and undertook to make the experiment. Dr. Channing repaired to his house with these thoughts; he found a well-chosen assembly of gentlemen; mutual greetings and introductions and chattings all around, and he was in the way of introducing the general purpose of the conversation, when a side-door opened, the whole company streamed in to an oyster supper with good wines, and so ended that attempt in Boston. Channing opened his mind then to Ripley, and invited a large party of ladies and gentlemen. I had the honor to be present.

I said the only result of the conversations which Dr. Channing had was to initiate the little quarterly called The Dial; but they had a further consequence in the creation of the society called the "Brook Farm" in 1841. Many of these persons who had compared their notes around in the libraries of each other upon speculative matters, became impatient of speculation, and wished to put it into practice. Mr. George Ripley with some of his associates established a society, of which the principle was that the members should be stockholders, and that while some deposited money others should


be allowed to give their labor in different kinds as an equivalent for money. It contained very many interesting and agreeable persons. Mr. Curtis of New York and his brother of English Oxford were members of the family; from the first also was Theodore Parker Mr. Morton of Plymouth-engaged in the fisheries~eccentric; he built a house upon the farm, and he and his family continued in it till the end; Margaret Fuller, with her joyous conversations and sympathies. Many persons gave character and attractiveness to the place. The farm consisted of 200 acres, and occupied some spot near Readville camp of later years. In and around it, whether as members, boarders, or visitors, were remarkable persons for character, intellect and accomplishment. . . . The Rev. Wm H. Channing, now of London, student of socialism in France and England, was a frequent sojourner here, and in perfect sympathy with the experiment. .

Brook Farm existed six or seven years, when the society broke up and the farm was sold, and all parties came out with a loss; some had spent on it the accumulations of years. At the moment all regarded it as a failure; but I do not think that all so regard it now, but probably as an important chapter in their experience, which has been of life-long value. What knowledge has it not afforded them! What personal power which the studies of character have given! What accumulated culture many members owe to it! What mutual pleasure they took of each other! A close union like that in a ship's cabin of persons in various conditions, clergymen, young collegians, merchants, mechanics, farmers' sons and daughters, with men of rare opportunities and culture.

Brook Farm in mid-career was converted to Fourierism, which was then at the flood tide of expectant experimentation. Having adopted the name and form of a regular Fourieristic Association, Brook Farm in June 1845 commenced publishing The Harbinger


as the successor and heir of Brisbane's paper, The Phalanx, thus taking over the literary responsibilities of Fourierism.

The destruction by fire of the nearly completed Phalanstery, or unitary dwelling, in March 1846 was a blow from which Brook Farm never recovered. The organization lingered and The Harbinger continued to be published until October 1847, when the final dispersion took place and the leaders entered the service of The New York Tnbnne.

"If I might suggest a transcendental reason for the failure," wrote Noyes, "I should say that Brook Farm had naturally a delicate constitution owing to the fact that its tendency to literature was stronger than its tendency to religions and social tinity. The tendency to literature as represented by Emerson, finding its sninnitirn bonuni in individualism and incoherent instead of Organic inspiration, is the farthest pole from Communism."



The Hopedale Community, originally called "Fraternal Community No. 1," was formed at Mendon, Massachusetts, January 28, 1841, by about thirty individuals from different parts of the State. In the course of that year they purchased what was called the "Jones farm," alias "The Dale," in Milford. This estate they named "Hopedale.". . . About the first of April 1842 a part of the members took possession of their farm and commenced operations under as many disadvantages as can well be imagined.

Their present domain . . . contains about 500 acres. Their village consists of about thirty new dwelling-houses, three mechanic shops with water-power . . . a small chapel .

and the old domicile with the barns and out-buildings much improved. There are now at Hopedale some thirty-six families, besides single persons . . . making in all a population of about 175 souls. . .

[Hopedale] is a church . . . based on a simple declaration of faith in the religion of Jesus Christ . . . and of acknowl-


edged subjection to all the moral obligations of that religion. No person can be a member who does not cordially assent to this comprehensive declaration. Having given sufficient evidence of truthfulness in making such a profession, each individual is left to judge for him or herself with entire freedom, what abstract doctrines are taught, and also what external religious rites are enjoined in the religion of Christ. . . . But in practical Christianity this church is precise and strict. . . . It insists on supreme love to God and man. . . . It enjoins total abstinence from all God-contemning words and deeds; all unchastity; all intoxicating beverages; all oath-taking; all slave-holding and pro-slavery compromises; all war and preparations for war; all capital and other vindictive punishments, all

violence against any government, society, family or individual; all voluntary participation in any antichristian government; . . . all resistance of evil with evil; in fine, all things known to be sinful against God or human nature. . . It does not expect immediate and exact perfection of its members, but holds up this practical Christian standard, that all may do their utmost to reach it, and at least be made sensible of their shortcomings. . .


It affords a theoretical and practical illustration of the way whereby all human beings, willing to adopt it, may become individually and socially happy.

It guarantees to all its members and dependents employment at least adequate to a comfortable subsistence; relief in want, sickness or distress; decent opportunities for religious, moral and intellectual culture; an orderly, well-regulated neighborhood; fraternal counsel, fellowship and protection under all circumstances, and a suitable sphere of individual enterprise


and responsibility, in which each one may by due self-exertion elevate himself to the highest point of his capabilities.

It solves the problem which has so long puzzled Socialists, the harmonization of just individual freedom with social coflperation. Here exists a system of arrangements, simple and effective, under which all capital, industry . . . skill and peculiar gifts may freely operate and cOo~perate, with no restrictions other than those which Christian morality everywhere rightfully imposes, constantly to the advantage of each and all.

Here property is pree~minently safe, useful and beneficent. It is Christianized. So in good degree are . . . skill and productive industry.

It affords small scope . . . for the unprincipled, corrupt, supremely selfish. . . . Such will hasten to more congenial localities, thus making room for the upright, useful and peaceable.

It affords a beginning . . . and a presage of a new and glorious social Christendom, a grand confederation of similar Communities, a world ultimately regenerated and Edenized. All this shall be in the forthcoming future.


Hopedale held on its way through the Fourieristic excitement, solitary and independent, and consequently never attained as much public distinction as Brook Farm and other Associations that affiliated themselves to Fourierism; but considered by itself as a Yankee attempt to solve the social problem it deserved more attention than any of them. . .

Let it not be thought that Ballou was a mere theorizer. Unlike Owen and Fourier he worked as well as wrote. Originally a clergyman and a gentleman, he gave up his salary and served in the ranks as a common laborer for his cause. Ofttimes in the early days of Hopedale he would be so tired at his work


in the ditch or on the mill-dam, that he would lie down on the sunny side of a haystack, wishing that he might go to sleep and never wake again. Then he would recuperate and go back to his work. Nearly all the recreation he had in those days was to go out occasionally into the neighborhood and preach a funeral sermon.

It will be noticed that Ballou carried his assurance to the verge of presumption. But in the end he manfully owned that Hopedale was a total failure. The men and women he brought together were not suitable for a Community. They were at first zealous and seemed sincere, but they did not know themselves.

The details of the break-up show the dangers of introducing the joint-stock principle into communism. One of those who came to Hopedale enthusiastic for the cause was Mr. E. D. Draper. He was a sharp, enterprising man, and soon became the managing spirit. He was at the same time associated in business with a brother who had no sympathy with the Community. They gained wealth by their outside operations, while the inside interests fell into neglect. Meanwhile Mr. Draper bought up three-fourths of the stock. In 1857 he became dissatisfied, and told Ballon that the Community must come to an end. "There was no other way," said Ballou, "but to submit." He asked but one condition, that Mr. Draper assume responsibility for the debts. Thus ended the Hopedale Community.

We come finally to the Fourieristic group of experiments, which in volume of enthusiasm, in number, in capital invested exceeded all that had gone before. Charles Fourier, a Frenchman, after pon dering for years in his study, brought forth a plan of social organization elaborated to the largest comprehensiveness and to the smallest detail, a plan that seemed to unite human beings in a concordant community just as the laws of harmony unite musical instruments in a symphony orchestra. Fourierism unlike Owenism contained a religious element, but unlike the Shakers and the other


strictly religious Communities it subordinated religion to association. No attempt was ever made to realize Fourierism in Europe save an abortive one disowned by Fourier from the start. For practical demonstrations the old-world dreamers turned once again to America. In 1840, three years after the death of Fourier, Albert Brisbane, a young American who had learned Fourierism in France from Fourier himself, published The Social Destiny of Man introducing Fourierism to America. Two years later, aided by Horace Greeley who gave him a daily column of The New York Tribune, he launched a publicity campaign that aroused a nation-wide excitement like the religious revivals of the preceding decade and led to the formation of Fourieristic Associations in plenty.


CONDENSED EXTRACTS FROM FOURIER'S Theory of Social Organization, AND ALBERT BRISBANE'S Concise Exposition of the Practical Part of Fourier's Social Science

The destiny of man is to elevate himself to universal unity by means of the three primary unities:

Unity of Man with God in true Religion.
Unity of Man with Man in true Society.
Unity of Man with Nature in creative Art and Industry.

The true order of society will enormously increase production by rendering labor at once attractive and efficient. It will introduce enormous economies by gathering people into large families and eliminating the following classes of non-producers: women, children, servants, armies and navies, fiscal agents, manufacturers in part, the commercial class, the transporting class, forced idlers, sophists, the idle rich, outcasts.

The organization of Association requires simply a knowledge of the art of forming and developing in complete accord a number of passional series, impelled by attraction alone, and occupied with the seven following functions: domestic indus-


try, agriculture, manufacturing, commerce, teaching, science, the fine arts.

A Group is a body of persons who combine from taste for the prosecution of any occupation. A full Group should be composed of at least seven persons, and form three Sub-Groups, the center one of which should be stronger than either of the two wings.

A Series is composed of a number of Groups, as Groups are composed of individuals. A Series must contain at least three Groups; and the central Group should be stronger than either of the wings. Twenty-four persons is the least number with which a Series can be formed. As there will be a strong emulation between the center and the wings, and as the wings will unite in their efforts to excel the center, the latter must be more numerous in order to be able to vie with the wings.

The members of an Association will choose freely the Groups which they wish to join. The members of the Groups and Series will choose the most skillful or experienced as officers, giving them titles like that of President and Vice-President. The emulation which will exist between Groups and between Series will be noble and friendly, and will give a powerful attractiveness to industry.

Every Group and every Series will be an independent body. As no coercive measures are admitted in the Combined Order, the works to be executed are indicated, not ordered, by the Supreme Council of Industry, which we will call the Areopagus. This Council is composed of the superior officers of the different Series. Its functions are advisory. It will not, for example, order a harvest. It will declare merely from certain observations that such or such a time is in its opinion favorable, after which each Group or Series will decide according to its own judgment.

Every person in Association will belong to several Groups,


engaged in different pursuits at different times of the year; Occupations will also be varied during the day. This variety of pursuits prosecuted with agreeable companions will exercise all the faculties of body and mind and lead every individual to form friendships with a large number.

Any lazy person will be informed by the Secretary of the Group, that it wishes no members who do not take a strong interest in its success, and he would in consequence be invited to withdraw. Numerous other Occupations more suited to his taste and capable of calling out his energies would be open to him.

An Association is a Series of Series, as a piano is a series of octaves; and we can no more have social harmony without a sufficient number of Series than we can have musical harmony without a sufficient number of octaves.

The Groups and Series are so adapted to human nature as to allow a free and harmonious development of all the passions; and they will, when applied to industry, render it attractive.

For an Association on the full scale about eighteen hundred persons are necessary. Such an Association requires for its domain a tract of land three miles square. This tract should be watered by a fine stream; its surface should be undulating and adapted to a great variety of branches of agriculture; it should, if possible, be flanked by a forest, and located near enough to a large city to admit of easy communication with it. Diversity and inequality of characters should be sought for; the greater the variety of characters that exists among the members, the easier it will be to associate and harmonize them. As many branches of agriculture as the soil will admit of should be prosecuted, so as to facilitate the formation of a large number of Series. At least three branches of manufactures should be selected to give occupation during the winter


months and rainy days. Several branches of art and science will also be cultivated independently of the schools.

In the center of the domain the Association will erect a commodious and elegant edifice, capable of accommodating comfortably the members, with spacious and convenient suites of apartments separated by division walls and at different prices to suit the fortunes of the inhabitants; also storehouses, granaries and other necessary outhouses. The edifice, rising in the midst of the finely cultivated fields and gardens of the domain, would present a beautiful spectacle of architectural unity.

The personal and real estate of the Association will be represented by stock divided into shares, which will be owned by those who furnish the capital pro rata according to the amount invested. By this means unity of interests will be secured jointly with the maintenance of individual property. Three million dollars, leaving aside the purchase of the land, the price of which cannot be determined, will be sufficient.

The reason for fixing at eighteen hundred the number of members for an Association on a complete scale is this: Theory indicates that there are 810 distinct types of human character, and 405 intermediate types. These characters constitute the collective man, possessing all the faculties necessary to the prosecution of industry, art and science, and all the varieties requisite to the creation of social harmony. To maintain this number of active members it will be necessary to add: children under five years of age, 250; the aged, 55; the sick, infirm and absent, 100. This makes a total of 1620 persons, which is the exact number indicated by theory; but Owing to the want of vigor, passional development, dexterity and skill on the part of our civilized population, the number of members will require to be increased during the first generation to i8oo.

The direction of internal affairs will, in the beginning, be


intrusted to a Council composed of the principal stockholders and of members distinguished for their industrial and scientific acquirements. Women will be on a level with men in all practical matters, provided they possess the skill and capacity.

The Association recognizes no community of interests nor of property. Families and groups of friends will be free to put into a common stock what they possess, if they desire to do so; but the Association opens on its books an account with each member, even with the child five years of age, at which time it begins to produce.

The profits of the Association, determined by a general inventory, are distributed once a year as follows five twelfths to labor; four twelfths to capital; three twelfths to skill. Each person may, according to his labor, capital and skill, participate in one or all of these three classes of profits.

The Association would guarantee the stockholders a revenue, clear of all charges, varying from six to eight per cent, and would at any time repurchase their shares at the price of the last inventory, with interest for the part of a year that has elapsed.

The tables will be of different prices, at least three. All equality and uniformity are a poison in social politics.

In Association there will be, as a general rule, no buying and selling between individuals. If a person desires, for instance, to purchase a suit of clothes, he goes to the Clothing Group and has them made, but does not pay the Group; they are charged to him on the books of the Association, with which he will settle. Just prices will be established for everything by the Council, and an individual would not have to bargain or be subject to the imposition and extortion of a seller. Each Series will be paid not out of the product of its particular work, but out of the total product of the Association.

The various branches of industry will be classed in three


categories: 1. repugnant but necessary; 2. moderately attractive; 3. attractive. As a general rule the more attractive a branch of industry, the less it will be paid. There are some exceptions however to this rule. Music and some of the fine arts, for example, will be found of such high importance in producing industrial attraction and in maintaining social unity, that they will probably be placed in the category of necessity.

Practical experiments will gradually show the class to which each branch of industry should belong. If a branch drew a larger number of persons than were required, the Series devoted to it would be lowered in rank and paid less. If on the other hand a branch tended to be neglected, additional incentives would be connected with it, one of which would be assigning it a higher rank. By this and other means equilibrium will be maintained.

In an Association domestic service will be performed, like every other branch of work, by Groups and Series. These when on duty will bear the title of Pages. Under this system the poorest individual of an Association will be as attentively served as the richest, for it is not the individu~ served who pays. A Page would be dishonored were he to receive any personal recompense. There will be nothing mercenary or servile in the domestic service of the Combined Order. To serve the Association as a Collective Being is to serve God; it is in this light that domestic service will be regarded. A Group of Chambermaids, a Group of Waiters is like any other Group, a free and honorable body, which is paid from the general product of the Association a sum proportionate to the value of its labors; and this sum is divided, as is customary in the Series, among the members according to their capacity and assiduity. Besides, a member of one of these Groups may an hour after his work is over in the dining-halls or elsewhere be found in other Groups coo~perating with members on whom he waited


previously, and who may hold an inferior position as regards capacity or skill.

The Group of Pages that wait upon the tables will be composed for the most part of young persons between the ages of nine and fifteen; they will perform the work with more alacrity and willingness than grown persons; besides, such service will have nothing dishonoring whatever for them.

There will be in Association a Series which will take upon itself from a sentiment of self-sacrifice and social charity the performance of those functions which are in themselves repulsive. This Series will be called "The Sacred Legion," and will take precedence of all other Series. It will be composed principally of boys of an ardent temperament from the age of nine to sixteen. Boys have at this age no natural antipathy to dirty or offensive contacts. The Series must be numerous enough so that the attention of the members will be required only an hour or two every other day, and admission must be made difficult and considered a signal favor.

The whole system of attractive industry and social harmony would fall prostrate if means were not found of connecting powerful incentives with the execution of all uncleanly, repulsive branches of work. If there existed in the Combined Order one single function which was deemed degrading for the persons that exercised it, this degradation would gradually extend from branch to branch, and the result would be that those persons who lived in idleness and were of no service to mankind would constitute as at present the polite and respected classes. The Sacred Legion will rank as the Servant of God in the maintenance of industrial unity. Preserver of social honor, it will purge from society a venom worse than that of the viper. In assuming all filthy and repulsive occupations it will smother that pride which in undervaluing any of the industrial classes would destroy general friendship and establish anew


the spirit of caste. It will be the center of all the social virtues, and will furnish one of the four supports (the third) on which Association will rest: industrial attraction, equilibrium in the division of profits, friendly intercourse between all classes, equilibrium of population without unnatural restraints.

The Sacred Legion will be paid by honors without end! In important industrial enterprises it will take the lead; it will receive from the highest authorities the first salute; in the church its place will be at the altar; and in all ceremonies it will occupy the post of honor.

MacDonald, called by Noyes the "Old Mortality" of American Socialisms, listed thirty-four Associations that were formed in America on the Fourieristic model during the period 1843-1846. Twenty-eight of these perished before the end of their second year. The Spring Farm Phalanx lasted three years, the Trumbull Phalanx three and a half years, the Northampton Community four and a half years, the Wisconsin Phalanx six years, the Brook Farm Association six years, and the North American Phalanx twelve and a half years.

The causes of failure, according to MacDonald's memoirs, were insincerity, selfishness, dishonesty, intemperance, uncleanliness, laziness, ignorance, religious differences and bad management. "In a word," says Noyes, "general depravity was the villain of the story." Brook Farm alone, apparently, was harmonious to the end. Its failure resulted from the fact that, in the pithy phrase of ChaHes A. Dana, "it did not pay."


The Perfectionist 1844-5

The Harbinger is one of the pleasantest of our exchanges. It is not a Bible paper, and therefore cannot be ranked among the necessaries of life, but it is one of the raciest luxuries in the market. If the "march of mind" be conceived of as the march of German and French mind with Fourierism, Mesmerism, Phrenology, Swedenborgianism, Goetheism and Bee-


thovenism for its advance guard, The Harbinger is the little drummer at the head of the column; and most cheerily he beats the charging step, whether he is going to victory or ruin. .

Fourierism as pictured in The Harbinger and as exemplified we suspect at Brook Farm is likely to make very fine butter of the cream of society, but will hardly save the skim-milk. .

We are free to avow that in many points the philosophy of Fourier agrees well with ours. But we have no hope of perfecting human nature by improving its external conditions. We think that the Fourierists have begun at the wrong end. They are trying to build a chimney by beginning at the top; and we think they will fail not because we do not believe that chimneys can and should be built, but because we do not believe that such heavy structures can be durably built on anything but a firm foundation and by beginning at the bottom. The great problems of our relation to God and of the relation of the sexes, which the Fourierists postpone as of no pressing importance, we consider the first to be solved. For this reason the philosophy of the New Testament seems to us more true, more profound, more practical than that of the Fourierists. .

We agree that a Christian order of society is necessary to the complete external embodiment of Christian life. But Christian life itself is as independent of physical circumstances as the horseman of his horse. It can ride an ass-colt or a wild Shetland pony as well as an Arabian steed. It can accommodate itself to any circumstances and triumph over their temptations. For more than thirty years Christ lived Christianity in a state of society at least as bad as the present. His perfection was manifested by the fact that he was strong enough to go into society as it was and live there without sin till he could prepare the elements of a better world. To our minds it is a


cowardly idea that the world in it. wickedness is too strong for us. The charge given to every soldier of Christ is to "overcome the world;" and shame will be the portion of him who faints in the battle and begs of the enemy the mercy of better circumstances.


Chapter 18: Swedenborgianism | Contents