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influence of the home was not religious in the scriptural sense of that term. Mr. Parker was not a member of the Church, was an inconsistent believer in miracles and the inspiration of the Scriptures, rejected the deity of Jesus Christ and those notions of experimental piety which depend entirely upon that dogma, and, I fear, hated the religious life of Edwards and Paley quite as much as their erroneous doctrines. Such was the intellectual and theological atmosphere in which the active mind of Theodore expanded. It is not to be supposed that such notions were an autochthonous growth in the mind of this sturdy yeoman. The air was full of them. TJnitarianism was not, like the prophet's gourd, the growth of a single night. Any reader of the sermons of that period knows how utterly the real and grand inspiration of Puritanism had deserted the pulpit of Eastern Massachusetts. The clergy was a virtual aristocracy, and, like every privileged class, inclined rather to ease than to action. They naturally favored such doctrines as could be reconciled with a life of comfortable and respectable leisure. For two generations no man had lifted up his voice with the fervor that made Robinson's hearers inquire after every sermon, "Whose heart has the Lord touched to-day?" When Whitefield, more than a century ago, preached with his wonted energy and effect in Cambridge, the faculty of Harvard College printed their testimony against him as a dangerous innovator. Most of the churches were closed to him, and what good was accomplished by his efforts was well-nigh swallowed up in the controversy that ensued on the lawfulness of his itinerant labors. The clergy fell into a reaction against Puritan piety. The deity of Christ, the utter sinfulness of human nature, the atoning character of Christ's sufferings and death, the need and the possibility of regeneration, the eternity of punishment for sin, the consciousness of pardon, the reality of the Spirit's presence with the true Church, all were more or less clearly denied. It was the most natural thing in the world, then, that a man like John Parker should have gleaned up these ideas from sermons in church and from conversation out of it.
Mrs. Parker was not of sufficient intellectual ability to correct these erroneous notions of religion. She admired her husband and shared his views. But she had a natural instinct for godliness, and under better circumstances might have matched the mothers of Augustine and Wesley or the wife of Edwards. So far as her influence went, it seems to me pure as water and sweet as bread. But I am struck with the absence of certain elements in her religious instruction. She taught her children to say their prayers, and that was all; to read the Scriptures, but not to recognize in" them the law of life; to do right, but not their need of righteousness before God. When Theodore was so startled at the voice of conscience she neither told him to pray, nor prayed with him that grace might.be ever given him to obey its solemn behests. Such were the mature parents to whom on the 10th of August, 1810, Theodore Parker was bora. The father was in his fiftieth year, the mother in her forty-seventh.
The place where he passed his early years could only be attractive to one who had fond associations connected with it. The writer recalls with amusement his only visit, eight years since, to the spot. After a week of those easterly winds and chilly rains that vex the eastern coasts of New England, the weather cleared and nature smiled in sudden gladness. The earth was fragrant with flowers; the heaven was soft and of an unusually deep blue, flecked with fleecy clouds; the brooks were noisier than usual with their sweet bubble; the distant fields beyond Waltham were clad in tender green, which contrasted admirably with the light pinkish tints of the oak groves that lined the hillsides, and choirs of tuneful birds filled the air with various melody; the blackbird, the thrush, and catbird were trilling their best notes; the yellowbird and an occasional meadow-lark were on duty as vocalists; while bobolinks deluged the ear with their rollicking strains. Such was the scene through which the road meandered to the birthplace of Parker. Reaching a crossing, a man and a boy mending the highway were challenged with the inquiry, "Where was Theodore Parker born?" Both leaned on their spades, stared at the traveler, looked at each other, and then the man said, "Dunno." "Are you new-comers here?" "No, sir—lived here man an' boy nigh on to forty year." "Well, are there no Parkers about here?" After consultation the man said, "Yes, there's tew lots on 'em." "I wish to find the old Parker place," said the tourist. "Older'n creation, both on 'em," lie responded. "The Captain Parker place," the inquirer added. "They run to cappens," said he; "but I guess you had better take that ar road to the left and go about a mile, then turn down a lane, and at the end there's a monnerment that must be set up for Cappen Parker." "O yes," said I, "he was captain in the Revolution." "Was he? Waal! I dunno; some fellers from Baws'n cum up and did it a while ago." Thus directed the place was soon found, and a sight obtained of the monument set up by the care of John R. Manley to his deceased minister. Verily, the places that know us shall know us no more!
The farm is small and poor. The house is not the one in which Theodore was born, but smaller than that as pictured in Weiss's Life. The old bell-tower remains. The broad ledge, the distant double-headed pine; the ash-treo planted by Theodore, which always bore two crops of leaves until the year of his death and then ceased its freak; the broad meadow, the orchard, and the woods, all were there much as he had known them. But, best of all, Isaac Parker, a brother ten years older than the famous minister, was still there, more than glad to tell all he could remember about his junior's early life. But, as Weiss had seen him, no new facts were elicited from his lips. Yet to see him, to hear him talk of his mother and of Theodore, was truly a revelation. Here was another Parker with all the natural traits of the deceased— prompt and easy speech; warm, quick feelings, that often made the voice husky and the eyes tearful. It was a good place to be born in for bodily and moral health.
Theodore learned to handle tools in his father's shop, and to wield the implements of toil on the farm. Thus were acquired habits of industry, a well-developed frame, and great physical endurance.
The boy was sent to the district school summer and winter until 1817; after that date he attended only the winter sessions. The boy is the man in germ. Theodore was rough and ungainly as a bear in his school-day sports, awkward in behavior, bashful in the presence of strangers, was dreaded on account of his powers of mimicry; he was not beloved by his companions, yet he would not see any body abused. He was no bully. At eight he was one of the greatest readers in town, had a prodigious memory, and began that course of versewriting which proved so severe an affliction to his fond biographer. He had already read Rollin, Homer, and Plutarch, all the poetry he could lay hands on, and many odd volumes of history. He began to study Latin when ten years old, and at fifteen had mastered the usual elementary books, with Virgil, Cicero's Select Orations, and Sallust. He began Greek at eleven years, but does not record his progress. Natural philosophy, astronomy, chemistry, and rhetoric, he studied by himself. In his seventeenth year he added algebra to Latin and Greek at the Lexington Academy. Such was his equipment when he began to teach school at Quincy in the winter of 1827. It had been obtained through about three years of solid schooling and an indefinite amount of private study. His father was not able to purchase the books needed by the young scholar, and the hitter levied on the whortleberry-bushes for the requisite funds. He taught every winter for four years; after Quincy came North Lexington, then Concord, and finally Waltham. His services on the farm were of no great value to his father during the winter months, and so he was free to teach. When he taught in other seasons of the year he hired a hand to take his place in the field. This was done three several times. At Waltham he began to teach French after taking a very few lessons himself, and afterward he applied himself to Spanish. When just twenty he went to Cambridge to be examined for admission to Harvard College. He was admitted and returned to inform his father. "But, Theodore, you know I cannot support you there!" was the response that greeted him. "I know that, father; I mean to stay at home and keep up with my class." He did so; but, being a nonresident and unable to pay the tuition fees, he was not entitled to the degree of "A.B." The degree of "A.M." was conferred upon him at Harvard in 1840, honoris causa.
On the 23d of March, 1831, he came to Boston in fulfillment of an engagement to assist in the instruction of a private school. He transported hither eleven octavo volumes, his entire library, and fell to work with indomitable resolution and energy. He had fifteen dollars a month and his board for teaching Latin, Greek, French, and Spanish, the mathematics, and all sorts of philosophy. He taught six hours a day, and from May to September seven hours. He boarcted in Blossom-street. He hired a man to do his work on the farm from March till August, when he became of age. Thus was he fairly launched on the busy tides of life. He tells Dr. Howe that he used to spend from ten to twelve hours each day in private studies. He also suffered from loneliness and want of affection. A beloved sister passed away, and none came to claim a tender place in his heart. He remained in Boston just one year—whether the engagement was closed on his motion or not we do not know. He next opened a private school in Watertown,. where he found much to encourage him—pleasant social relations, the friendship of the Rev. Dr. Francis, the Unitarian clergyman there, and the promise of a wife in Miss Lydia D. Cabot.
There is some difficulty in finding out precisely what he achieved in this or at any subsequent stage of his progress. Had Mr. Weiss spared us eulogy and dissertation to give exact facts he would have laid us under a twofold obligation of gratitude. It is probable, however, that this vagueness of information is the fault of Mr. Parker himself. He had a trick of magnifying real facts with high-sounding phrases, and then drawing on his imagination to an unlimited extent for additional ones. If he has to say that his father was something of a mathematician, he states it thus: "He had studied algebra and geometry, was particularly fond of mathematics, and 'was great at figures.'" That he had a turn for metaphysics is told in these lofty but sphynx-like terms: "He liked metaphysics, psychology, and all departments of intellectual and moral philosophy, and he had read all the English books on philosophy." Here we obtain some notion of the father's attainments, but it would seem that he knew much more than it is at all probable he did. The last phrase undoubtedly tells us all that the father really knew, perhaps more. Of himself Theodore writes, "I read Homer and Plutarch before I was eight, Rollin's Ancient History about the same time, and lots of histories, with all the poetry I could find, before ten. I took to metaphysics about eleven or twelve." Weiss writes of him, "He pushed his way to Greece and Home, and far outread the average for his years." He claims also that he never laid aside any book until he had studied and mastered it. Hardly a page would be required to say what books he