Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2014, Volume 35

A Digital Edition of Christopher Pearse Cranch's 'Journal. 1839.'

by Christopher M. Ohge

"Lest we get too transcendental": Christopher Pearse Cranch's Changes of Mind in "Journal. 1839."

If death be final, what is life, with all Its lavish promises, its thwarted aims, Its lost ideals, its dishonored claims, Its uncompleted growth? A prison wall, Whose heartless stones but echo back our call; An epitaph recording but our names; A puppet-stage where joys and griefs and shames Furnish a demon jester’s carnival; A plan without a purpose or a form; A roofless temple; an unfinished tale. And men like madrepores through calm and storm Toil, die to build a branch of fossil frail, And add from all their dreams, thoughts, acts, belief, A few more inches to a coral-reef.
Christopher Pearse Cranch, "Sonnet XXXL: Life and Death"[1]
A casual reader of this sonnet might suspect Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892) was a dark romantic, yet he was a transcendentalist with unique versatility, a man seemingly engrossed in second thoughts. He was humorous, playful, and uncommitted, yet earnest and philosophically resourceful; a rugged individualist in the Emersonian spirit, yet (as Coleridge said of Spenser) "a mind constitutionally tender, delicate," exhibiting a "melancholy grace" in much of his writings.[2] It was in Cranch’s 1839 "Journal" that he meticulously recorded his changes of mind in a watershed moment in his life: not yet a transcendentalist, he was about to quit the Unitarian Church, befriend his idol Emerson, and make a life for himself as a visual artist. His "Journal" clearly illustrates his intellectual development alongside the progress of transcendentalism when both were in flux.
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Cranch is an intriguing figure who warrants further scholarly attention, not merely for his status as an instrumental transcendentalist but also for his commendable artistic failures. As a relative to the storied Adamses, Greenleafs, and Eliots (and a great-uncle to T. S. Eliot), a close friend to Emerson, James Russell Lowell, the Brownings, and Margaret Fuller, one of the very few transcendentalists Edgar Allan Poe praised,[3] and the artist responsible for the famous parody of Emerson’s "transparent eye-ball" passage in Nature, Cranch has faded into near-obscurity.[4] But the wit and accessibility of his caricatures of New England transcendentalism eventually helped make what was then a fairly self-enclosed regional movement into a nationally identifiable aesthetic. Cranch’s characteristically transcendental expressions on the divinity of nature, juxtaposed with darker musings on the limits of human understanding, distinguishes him among a transcendentalist cohort that continues to be understood largely in terms of its unmitigated optimism.
Like Fuller, Cranch was one of the few transcendentalists to leave New England for substantial periods of time. While he saw the Boston area as an intellectual haven—"that little world, that vortex of life, that spot of all others in the country where life in all its various aspects is so concentrated and distilled"[5]—he often escaped it, traveling to the midwestern United States in the late 1830s as well as Europe in 1846–49, 1853–63, and 1880–82. His 1839 "Journal" mostly documents the end of his travels to the new frontiers of Kentucky and Ohio, as he trained to be a Unitarian minister while seeking "Independence of mind and of conduct. To be myself—and not another—to be natural and free."[6] He attended the Semi-Colon discussion groups, frequented the literary salon of George Keats (and was an early appreciator of his brother John), and spent substantial periods of time with James Freeman Clarke and John Sullivan Dwight. At the end of the "Journal" he records his return to the East Coast, trying yet again to find a better sense of purpose and career direction. Never ordained as a minister, Cranch instead traveled widely, was published in early issues of the Dial, continued to write in commonplace and sketch books, and spent the rest of his life painting in the manner of the Hudson River school and occasionally writing poetry and children’s literature. Throughout his life he endeavored to capture the material facts from which Emerson’s philosophy sprang, sometimes demonstrating Emerson’s thought more clearly in one drawing or painting than Emerson himself did in paragraphs. Yet he also defied exclusive association with any identifiable profession or artistic convention: he was, in the estimation of Van Wyck Brooks, "a man who had taken Emerson at his word and planted himself on his instincts, wherever they led him."[7] Cranch settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1873, and died in 1892 a minor transcendentalist in an era of realism. Herman Melville, who died only a year before Cranch, had written a poem toward the end of his life implying the plight of creating unappreciated art—
Craftsmen, in dateless quarries dim, Stones formless into form did trim, Usurped on Nature’s self with Art, And bade this dumb I AM to start, Imposing Him.[8]
Melville’s pun on "I AM" with iamb suggests the uneasy relationship between the crafting of poetry and identity, which imposes itself, one foot after another, on Nature in order to make sense of its place in a chaotic world. Although Cranch, like Melville, enjoyed only a brief period of notoriety in his lifetime, both of them saw art as the raison d’être of their everyday lives. Melville eventually got his recrudescence, yet Cranch still remains an oddity, an obscure American metaphysical artist. In 1917, Cranch’s daughter, Lenora Cranch Scott, published what remains the only comprehensive biography of him.[9] Despite the wealth of unedited materials available on this enigmatic figure, and some recent interest in Cranch’s children’s literature, a scholarly industry on him is still lacking.[10]
Until now, the most significant scholarly work on the "Journal" was Francis B. Dedmond’s transcription of it, which was published in 1983.[11] My purpose is to improve upon Dedmond’s work with updated technology and information, and to reopen a critical conversation that Dedmond likely had in mind with his publication. Dedmond lacked the advantages of TEI encoding, high-resolution images, and open access journals, and his transcription does not record manuscript changes, explain his editorial principles, or record all textual features (such as line and paragraph breaks). His transcription is also supported by only three low-quality black-and-white facsimiles.[12] Here presented is the entire "Journal 1839," digitized for the first time and encoded in TEI with an updated apparatus and a corrected reading text available for download.

Significance of the "Journal": Diffidence, Allusion, and the Fate of Transcendentalism

Cranch’s 1839 "Journal" presents an immediate, humane, and compelling account of his quest for personal advancement as a young man. It is the only surviving handwritten document from a crucial moment in Cranch’s life when he turned away from the Unitarian ministry and toward transcendentalism and the uncertain path of a multigenre artist. The "Journal" also demonstrates Cranch’s budding aesthetic process: working through his philosophical forefathers and using devices borrowed from Carlyle, Emerson, and the German romantics to convey a sense of self that is in frustrating progress, he echoes Horace’s plea to Maecenas to be patient and seek action, "To make the world serve me, not me the world" (Epistle I).[13]
In his "Journal" Cranch displays an allusiveness masked in a modesty topos that prefigures a similar tactic in T. S. Eliot’s prose, in addition to channeling a curious tradition of diffidence in English poetry.[14] The dominant view of Cranch is that he was a diffident man. The word "diffidence" (or "diffident") appears nine times in Scott’s biography; Julie M. Norko’s article has it four times, as to his "struggles with the muse"; and Dedmond twice, in relation to the "Journal." Cranch admitted to Clarke in an August 1837 letter that he is "reserved, secretive, proud, indolent, but above all diffident. This besetting diffidence lies at the root of all my reserve, and keeps me again and again silent and seemingly cold, when no one could tell how deep and strong the stream which ran hidden within."[15] Perhaps Cranch knew of Emerson’s warning in his 1838 "Literary Ethics" oration that "the diffidence of mankind in the soul has crept over the American mind."[16] Diffidence, in the currently rare sense, is a "Want of confidence or faith; mistrust, distrust, misgiving, doubt," and in the common usage, a "Distrust of oneself; want of confidence in one’s own ability, worth, or fitness; modesty, shyness of disposition" (Oxford English Dictionary). "Sickness," Pope once said in a letter to Richard Steele, "teaches us a diffidence in our earthly state."[17] Given the many untimely deaths Cranch witnessed in childhood, Pope’s words may shed some light on Cranch’s demeanor. Furthermore, Cranch's psychic "sickness" (otherwise referred to as his "problem" in his letters and reminiscences) usually follows a conceit about cosmic injustice, his lack of talent, or his longing for beauty. He may have known Countess Teresa Guiccioli's assessment of Byron's modesty, in which she quoted "a great moralist of the present day" who said that "no real modesty" exists "without the diffidence of self, inspired by a deep sense of the beautiful and by the fear of not being able to reach the perfection we conceive."[18] (Later in this essay I quote Cranch's thoughts on the "Byronic" nature of early transcendentalism.) The first sense of diffidence suggests that the person in question is plainly distrustful, but the meaning has shifted to apperception (a "distrust of oneself")—which is odd in Cranch's case, because his friends and acquaintances all found him immensely trustworthy and talented. Yet in An Essay on Criticism Pope takes the common sense of diffidence further: "Be silent always when you doubt your Sense; / And speak, tho’ sure, with seeming Diffidence" (lines 566–7)[19]. Diffidence can be part of a performance, a seeming shyness or modesty resulting from a calculated effort not to play the prattler. When Cranch first arrived in Cincinnati, he himself suggested that "I feel that I must be another man before I can enter into [the ministry] as I ought. At times I feel zealous, resolute & full of faith—but I am usually, while looking at it, in prospect, a perfect coward—the slave of self, the sport of habits, temperament, and a wavering faith and purpose."[20] Want of faith and trust in oneself, despite a zealous feeling—these are Cranch’s "problems" on first glance, yet they ought not to be confused with, for instance, a "spiritual depression."[21] Noticing Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s "diffidence" when he met her and Robert Browning in Florence in 1849, Cranch may have associated the term with an artistic temperament.[22] He sometimes uses the term not only to provoke action but also to weigh his words, again, in seeming diffidence. The modesty topos is to speak surely to himself, but with restraint, as a careful poet should. His self-deprecations lead to second thoughts, revisions of himself, avoiding the danger of self-satisfaction. He professes to be more of a searcher than an oracular bard or rigid philosopher.
Cranch’s diffidence conveys a subtle modesty, juxtaposed with his indebtedness to thinkers in the romantic tradition, including the principle that revelation comes after crisis (that joy and suffering go hand in hand). Cranch employs several romantic tropes—announcing himself ("I begin this day a Journal"; "I am Here"), espousing his individualism ("I must be a more independent thinker"), lambasting himself throughout for slothfulness, and exercising religious doubt ("I need to be based more firmly upon eternal truths. I want a sound philosophy to prop up my too wavering faith"). The void still haunts him at the end of the "Journal"; he does not capitalize "eternal truths," and still seeks a "sound philosophy" for an unmoored faith. His modesty in the "Journal" is analogous to Wordsworth’s tension between the transcendental ecstasy of the natural world and the works of great poets in The Prelude: "this only let me add / From heart-experience, and in humblest sense / Of modesty" (Book V, lines 584–86).[23] Triumph paradoxically breeds the deepest sadness; diffidence (or modesty) comes from this sadness, leaving one perplexed, and leading to rethinking. In the words of T. H. Green (on Wordsworth): "The natural man is the passive man." Cranch’s sense of "natural and free"—coupled with his diffidence—is a voice of his own nature as well as the humility of "perplexed persistence."[24] Cranch’s modesty sets the tenor for his earnest devotion to art and spiritual well-being, his contemplation of nature and the writers who attempted to channel it.[25] Therefore his diffidence is more complicated than merely a "conflict between religion and aestheticism" or a spiritual depression—it imitates Pope and Wordsworth.[26] It is a product of his devouring various ethical and aesthetic ideas, weighing them against himself, attempting, as Emerson says in Nature, to achieve the poet’s vision—"a property in the horizon which no man but he whose eye can integrate all the parts"—and then getting the whiff of mortality even if he believes he succeeds.[27]
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Cranch’s allusiveness constitutes another kind of rethinking, the necessary move to turn away from the dogma of Unitarianism and toward the spiritual, transcendental ideals of Carlyle, Emerson, and the German romantics who preceded him.[28] Leon Jackson has argued that Cranch's reading of Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus focused on "three very specific chapters of the book dealing with the protagonist’s spiritual journey out of context, but in an intensive fashion, using them as a guide to, or catalyst for, conversion."[29] Taking the book in parts, Cranch certainly made his "Journal" Sartorish, but a thorough reading of the "Journal" shows little evidence that Cranch read the book out of context or engaged in "selective appropriations." The following discussion and the footnotes in the edition of the "Journal" show that he understood Carlyle quite well. Carlyle does serve as a template for Emerson, and for Cranch’s ideal self, who aspires to key conversion experiences from Sartor.
Carlyle’s looming presence in the "Journal" suggests the pervasive value of "work" and the quest toward the Everlasting Yea. Whereas Emerson relied on Carlyle and European romanticism for its questions (and many of its answers), Cranch commiserates with his British and European counterparts, swinging on a pendulum of No and Yea throughout his "Journal" without settling the dispute.[30] That Cranch says on page 8 that Clarke "swallows all formulas" suggests that he read Carlyle closely, for he refers to the Duke of Mirabeau’s Memoirs, which was translated by Carlyle and quoted in his French Revolution.[31] Cranch’s idiosyncratic comparison is even more instructive if one considers the thrust of Carlyle’s passage, that human action cannot be quantified, contra the British sensibility of the hedonic calculus, so a formula for Seele (soul) or Geist (spirit) is a presumptuous endeavor. Cranch followed suit in the tradition of German idealism, though he would later deny that affiliation to his father;[32] and in 1839 he distinguished himself from utilitarian thinking. Ultimately Cranch’s journal is a spiritual autobiography in the mold of Sartor Resartus: passing through the "grim desert" of infidelity, he experiences the skepticism of hopeless despair, and with each and every turn, the world responds to his questions with negations.[33] What then is the intellectual significance of Cranch’s appropriating Carlyle’s mythology if he keeps returning to doubt?
Cranch’s journal-writing may be examined in relation to the dialectical method that he likely intuited from Emerson’s Nature (which Emerson borrowed from Coleridge)—namely, that the more one seeks to "realize," the "vaster the horizon assimilated by the Soul," and thus, the greater the freedom of being both in the world and above the throng of everyday perception. As in Coleridge’s The Friend, in which the "living soul" of "universal knowledge" is "sending sovereign glances to the circumference of things," Emerson responds with the idea that "The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough."[34] Emerson calls for a poetical kind of seeing, which Cranch attempts to realize in the "Journal." In "Self-Reliance" Emerson would call the work of genius "alienated majesty"; that is, genius recognizes its own "rejected thoughts" as much as we do. The idea of "alienated majesty" was itself a second thought, originating in his recognition of "Otherism" in Nature, which Geoffrey Hill writes has the double sense of Entfremdung (estrangement) and Verfremdung (artistic distancing).[35] Cranch’s sense of estrangement, distancing (especially in his eschewing the ministry to the poor), the need for a certain kind of seeing—all these are at play in the "Journal," two years before Emerson published "Self-Reliance."
The other crucial metaphors in Emerson’s dialectic are growth and compensation. In addition to his use of Coleridge’s distinction between Reason and Understanding, Emerson appropriated from The Friend and Aids to Reflection the concept of "polarity," which he links with spiritual development.[36] In the "Language" chapter of Nature, Emerson establishes a connection between logical thought and poetical language, saying that "man is an analogist, and studies relations in all objects. He is placed in the centre of beings, and a ray of relation passes from every other being to him." This unification of mythos and logos leads to "proper creation," the "blending of experience with the present action of the mind."[37] Like vision, growth involves the progress toward self-reliance: one moves farther away from the world in order to fully understand it.
Compensation is not merely the fruits of good acts (in the sense of karma and phala); it is a balanced wholeness. Following this line of thought, Cranch uses the word "compensation" on page 9 of the "Journal" while musing on traveling and respecting the land—which is intriguing, given the fact that Emerson’s poem-essay "Compensation" would not appear until 1841 in his Essays: First Series. Furthermore, Cranch’s nod to Wordsworth’s "Tintern Abbey" (to "see into the life of things")[38] also points to the intueri (literally, seeing into) of Milton’s archangel Raphael, who instructs Adam:
So from the root Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves More aerie, last the bright consummate floure Spirits odorous breathes: flours and thir fruit Mans nourishment, by gradual scale sublim’d To vital Spirits aspire, to animal, To intellectual, give both life and sense, Fansie and understanding, whence the Soule Reason receives, and reason is her being, Discursive, or Intuitive (Book V, lines 479–87)[39]
Milton’s metaphor of organic life—"one first matter all," which originates from the same divine source, and the "root" giving "flours and thir fruit"—allows for a different kind of reasoning. Milton's call for a well-nourished mind morphed into Coleridge's Reason and Understanding distinction, and Emerson’s intuition and growth. As Keane suggests, the ideas of Milton, "once ‘filtered’ through the transatlantic pipeline, Coleridge, and conveyed (by himself and through Wordsworth) to New England, came out as American Transcendentalism."[40] But Cranch himself said several times in 1839 that he was not yet a transcendentalist; he was merely absorbing the flow of ideas, and still wavering, to use Norko’s words, "between service to the Unitarian God and service to the Muses."[41] That Cranch quoted Wordsworth’s "Resolution and Independence" illustrates his struggle to reflect beauty, just as Wordsworth portrayed the leech-gatherer, one vagrant muse to another.[42] Wordsworth uses the "mind’s eye" to elevate the suffering of the wanderer. Geoffrey Hartman’s comments about Wordsworth’s poem (channeling Bradley)—"We feel the poet’s distraught perplexity, as if this could not be, or could not last"—suggests too that Cranch may sympathize with Wordsworth’s performance of a living mind open to the terror of indeterminacy.[43] Yet a spirit of striving abates the terror; on page 6 of the "Journal" Cranch says, "I must begin to Live. Then I shall begin to Realize —then to think, feel, act, grow." In this way Cranch illustrates what Coleridge said about Wordsworth that "his genius was not a spirit that descended to him through the air; it sprang out of the ground like a flower"—or, say, like flours and thir fruit, the outgrowth of the earth and the air, nature and imagination, in loving opposition.[44]
The point of Coleridge’s dialectic is that the opposition meets at some point to support the overall being, like the arch. Cranch used this metaphor about himself in an 1837 letter: "I must not feel myself detached from society, but as forming a stone in the arch, helping to support the building."[45] His talents may well have contributed to this detachment, and he likely remembered Emerson’s warning in the "The American Scholar" that American literary culture suffers from "men of talent, that is, who start wrong, who set out from accepted dogmas, not from their own sight of principles."[46] His life, in all its parts, aspired to a work of art, which explains his assorted engagements with art and literature in the "Journal," as well as his self-criticisms for slothfulness, but he struggled with the "sight" of his principles, and his responsibility to the public (what it meant to see himself in relation to the whole). And his self-absorption in the "Journal" does not exactly suggest a serious engagement with the natural world but a set of ethical concerns about how to live well (and make a living). He knew from Emerson that "Genius creates"; and so, in the "Journal" he attempts creation with what he calls "practical illustration," anticipates the doomed intimations of failure, and then fails to fail better. He nevertheless understood that action and growth lead to the "pure efflux" of the divine. It should be no surprise, then, that Cranch’s embrace of the Carlyle–Wordsworth–Coleridge phalanx led to two drawings of Emerson that depict vision and growth. While Emerson is Cranch’s foremost philosophical guide (only slightly more important than Carlyle), Cranch still engaged in an education of a well-balanced aesthetic livelihood, as well as the unencumbered musical mysticism of the German romantics.
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Besides Carlyle and Coleridge, Clarke and Dwight provided Cranch the most immediate conduit of German thought, which lends a new perspective to the "Journal."[47] Two years before his "Journal" Cranch told his sister Margaret that he "spent most of the evening with [Clarke], talking and looking over Retzsch’s illustrations of the Second Part of ‘Faust.’"[48] In 1839 Clarke published translations of Goethe’s "For Life," "Forever," "In Memory of Schiller," and "Orphic Sayings," and Schiller’s "Thekla: A Spirit’s Voice," so Goethe and Schiller must have been topics of conversation in Louisville.
Cranch also absorbed German music and musical criticism from Dwight.[49] In the words of J. Wesley Thomas, Dwight became "the greatest influence in the assimilation of this Romanticism into American culture" (as well as being the great arbiter of American music).[50] When he entered Harvard Divinity School in 1832, with his new friends and classmates Cranch and Theodore Parker, Dwight actively studied German culture, even though the Unitarian Church largely frowned upon German philosophers and artists.[51] The condemnation of New England divines did not concern Dwight and Cranch, who did not wholly adopt the strict philosophical systems of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. Both were censured by fellow friends in Unitarianism and transcendentalism alike for their aloofness, or "deficiency" in embracing the cult of self development.[52] Dwight and Cranch remained unpretentious, practical intellectuals, religiously open-minded mystics, and keenly attuned appreciators of music and lyric poetry.
Cranch probably knew Dwight’s translation of Schiller’s "Lied an die Freude," which was published in the May 1835 issue of New England Magazine. German romanticism provided the foundation for Dwight’s aesthetic sensibility in poetry and music; it also inspired Cranch in his "Journal" to capture the intuitive, sublime, indefinite, wogende Aussummen that characterizes the German aesthetic, uplifting Dichtkunst into Saiten und Töne. Some passages in the "Journal" illustrate a nebulous impressionism, where feeling aspires to the bliss of music, such as when he praises Clarke’s "poetic imagination with the tenderest feeling" (8). Cranch may have appropriated this sense from Dwight, whose commencement address at the Harvard Divinity School in 1836 struck the same chords:
The rare Lyric,—the choicest flower on poetic soil, which is not made but flows, which cannot be imitated, for it is the work of nature, which springs from feeling, shapes itself under the most delicate touch of the purest sense of the beautiful,—every drop in whose composition is from the soul’s depth, every tint and hue elaborated from wondrous machinery within, whose shadowy shapes suggested the eye but dimly sees, for it sees through tears, whose sound never comes to a determinate close upon the ear, for it touches the creative sympathies of every heart and lives on there forever.[53]
As the "natural expression of certain feelings," music ties to Cranch’s search in his "Journal" for being "natural and free"—another idea perhaps borrowed from Dwight, who once wrote in a letter to Carlyle that in his translations he "pondered and digested the substance, and in this way has the literal imitation become natural and free."[54] In the year of his "Journal" Cranch also saw the publication of his translation of Schiller’s "The Division of the Earth" in Dwight’s collection of the Select Minor Poems Translated from the German of Goethe and Schiller (which is dedicated to Carlyle).[55] This poem captures the same kinds of anxieties about his profession reflected in his "Journal": Jove tells his "elves," "HERE, Take the world!" and divide the wealth of the land among themselves. The farmers take to the land, merchants the "warehouse loads," and so on. Then,
Quite late, long after all had been divided, The Poet came, from distant wandering Alas! the thing was every where decided,— Proprietors for every thing! (lines 13–16)
The poet-wanderer is not concerned with material things, choosing instead to be close to the divine; and, appropriate to Cranch’s own experience, the poem comes with a conceit:
"Ah, woe is me! shall I alone of all Forgotten be —I, thy most faithful son?" In loud lament he thus began to bawl, And threw himself before Jove’s throne. (lines 14–17)
Jove reveals that the poet's "home" is with the divine spirit, and the poet suggests that poetry and music intermingle: "Mine eyes hung on thy countenance so bright, / Mine ear drank in thy Heaven’s harmony" (lines 22–23). He echoes this sentiment in his "Journal" when he recalls a musical evening: "My passion for music is such that I sometimes wonder tis not all-absorbing. No enjoyment of my existence is greater. When I sit down at twilight to the piano forte, and roam over the soul like chords of that glorious instrument, I can feel what perfect beauty is. What God is. I can feel what the language of the angels must be. That language must be music." Not just music but the language of the divine, just as he conveys in his rendering of the Schiller poem. Also in the "Journal," when Cranch quotes from "Tintern Abbey," he must also have in mind the way in which "harmony, and the deep power of joy" allows one to "see into the life of things." Schiller’s sentiment about "professions," his aestheticism as a poet, and the aspirations of his work to the power of harmony in music—all of these appealed to Cranch. Harmony and language find common ground in music, creating not only a congruity of feeling and sentiment but also tuneful sound. Poe shrewdly recognized Cranch’s capacity for "harmonious combinations of thought," but he compares those conceits to the metaphysical poets Donne and Cowley, suggesting, according to Poe, "uncommon pains to make a fool of himself." Nevertheless, Cranch’s "Journal" anticipates the harmony in his "Lines on Hearing Triumphant Music," where
a light Shines in to-night Round the good angels trooping to their posts, And the black cloud is rent in twain Before the ascending strain.
Even as Emerson attempted a harmonious combination of thought in the "The American Scholar," Cranch caricatured "This is my music; this is myself" with a chimera whose nose is a clarinet.[56]
Dwight suggests in his Goethe and Schiller edition that the Schiller–Beethoven collaboration in the "Ode to Joy" conclusion to the Ninth Symphony is the highest artistic achievement: "The boundless yearning, which is the foundation of our being, and which is nothing less than a yearning to embrace the whole, has found its natural language in music."[57] Cranch’s perpetual yearning in his "Journal" not only appropriates German romantic aesthetics from Dwight, it also subtly merges the project of self-development, literature, and music into the same language. Music, poetry, and ethics spring from the same fount. The "Journal" unpretentiously records the impressionistic Sturm und Drang, and the quasi-mystical zeal, of the German idols of his time—Goethe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Jean Paul, Beethoven, Schumann. Introductory comparisons between Cranch and Dwight must emphasize that they both sought a path toward the Unitarian ministry only to quit it for the agency of art. Both amalgamated the pursuit of philosophy and poetry into music, believing that the Dichtkunst could improve peoples’ spiritual lives. Not only was Cranch in the midst of his defining moment as a transcendentalist, not only was he using caricatures to humorously work through Emerson’s new philosophy—he was also attempting to achieve that musical sense that he learned from German romanticism.[58] When Cranch lambasts himself in the "Journal" for not reading enough, and then speaks of his pure love for music, he may be recalling Goethe’s "Lina" (as translated by Dwight): "Wildly set the chords to ringing, / And then o’er the book incline; — / But not reading —only singing: / So shall every leaf be thine." Rather than being the bookworm, Cranch aspired to the higher forms of musical bliss, as evident in his later poem "The Three Muses":
all the subtler shades of feeling live Perfected life, when wed to chord and tone. And thou shalt know how tone embodies love, As speech embodies thought, and haply reach The large, creative power of those who move The heart by music.
Cranch’s new philosophy was to be an amalgamation of Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus, Emerson's aphoristic artistry, and German romantic music, all of which, as he suggests in "Enosis," "Shall be all absorbed again, / Melting, flowing into one." Transcendentalism, Swedenborgianism, German idealism—these were unhelpful labels, "the glancing of a dream." He also surpassed Unitarianism, for Cranch seemed to only value social awareness and unique style of preaching, practiced best by William Henry Channing, as lasting Unitarian values.[59] His process of echoing others’ writings involves a peculiar form of anxiety; his acts of allusion and self-criticism couched in the modesty topos constitute "an imaginative form of second thought, itself revising or revisionary" that made the confidence of "Correspondences" and "Enosis" possible.[60] Nevertheless, Cranch’s journal might also be self-staging, just another performance of the dilettante on the other side of the mountains. Yet for this earnest truth-seeker, modesty and majesty (not ministry) rendezvous in the heart and mind.
Cranch’s growth narrative, coupled with his modesty topos, has him going forth into experience, wavering from the bale-fire Unitarianism of his 1838 poem "The True Christian"—where "The stars shine bright in eternal light, / Nor storm, nor rain, can ever blight / One ray of their purity"[61]—to a "dreadful indifference" and "night-mare life in death" (borrowed from Coleridge) in his 1839 "Journal." Whether coincidental or not, it is fitting that Cranch ends his "Journal" (at least in its present state) with the word "gesture."
The "Journal" attempts a conversion narrative using Sartor Resartus as a spiritual template; and, making use of the "noble doubt" in Nature that "perpetually suggests itself," he moves toward faith in himself, and then the world responds by producing doubt.[62] Carlyle’s No and Yea and the Coleridge-Emerson dialectic coalesce into a new ethical system of self-reliance. Cranch’s diffidence resembles Emersonian doubt, synthesizing faith and skepticism about nature into spirit. Like Emerson and Coleridge before him, he saw the "steps of thought" as an organic process, "as the life of the tree puts forth new branches and leaves through the pores of the old."[63] Yet Cranch undergoes no epiphany in the "Journal": still going far and wide, he had more traveling to do on his "life’s pilgrimage."
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Many years after writing his "Journal" Cranch reflected on this crucial time with his "Sermon on Transcendentalism and Emerson," which not only challenges the idea that he left the West as a full-fledged transcendentalist (as some have suggested)[64]—it also reveals his unique observations on transcendentalism's growing pains.
In his sermon Cranch indicates that Emerson’s Nature "was like the sunrise" and "seemed to open new and undiscovered vistas in a world of ideas, along which breathed all the perfume and hope of a morning in June."[65] After Nature came the "Divinity School Address," which Cranch said "was like a chapter from the Prophets," exceeding Nature, and illustrating "a dangerous error and delusion which the professors demanded from the pulpit":
It was this discourse that drew the dividing line between orthodox and heterodox Unitarianism, between schools of thought which daily seemed to see a chasm widening between them. I well remember at the time I made preaching my profession, and was in the West, talking with a young minister a little younger than myself, about this famous "Divinity School Address." To me it was profound and refreshing truth: to him it was delusion and heresy. And I saw at once there was a split in the Unitarian Church, a chasm destined never to be closed or bridged over, when the young were so divided as to the grounds and essence of authority in matters of faith.
When after two years I came East again, your pastor[66] was in the mélée of the fight. He had thrown down the gauntlet, and the lists were ringing with the shock of arms.
In my own imperfect way I spoke the truth as I conceived it, and found many who believed as I did. Gradually the pulpits were being closed to the Transcendentalists.
How slyly he speaks the truth in his "own imperfect way," while clearly staking his claim as one of the happy warriors. Cranch went on to clarify that the Unitarians succeeded with "the more peaceful and liberal attitude of that church which was then so belligerent and exclusive to the wide extension of liberal thought of today, to a revival of common sense in theological matters, to the gradual secularization of the Church and co-extensive sanctification of the platform, to the reforms of Temperance, of Anti-slavery societies, to the philanthropic institutions, to schools and colleges, [. . .] though with many signal failures, to a healthier tone in political organization." Nevertheless, the eventual triumph of transcendentalism came from its insistence on "first truths and first principles, without any meditation on the part of old authorities":
Transcendentalism is but one of the streams by which our time is blessed, blended with other familiar tendencies, and all flowing from this Divine Providence working with the human tendencies of the time, which we call the spirit of the age.
No doubt in the first stages of New England Transcendentalism there was a good deal that was mere restlessness under worn out conventions, or partly somewhat exaggerated individualism, if not egotism, forgetful that the individual is, after all, one member of a great societal body. Transcendentalism was sometimes very sentimental and Byronic. These were the infant mumps and measles. It outgrew them long before the war of our rebellion. That certainly did drive out all lingering vestiges of the complaint.
In hindsight, Cranch saw his early years when he was transitioning from Unitarian to transcendentalist as full of sentimentality and fervor, with the brashness of a new revolution.
From German romanticism to the Transcendentalist Club to the present age, they advocated, as Dwight said, "the insignificance of creeds compared with life and practice," providing the basis for pragmatism.[67] In 1883 William James responded to Cranch's avowed appreciation of his writings, saying "I naturally find myself pleased and flattered enough," and adding that his philosophy seeks to reinstate common sense "against more pretentious ways of formulating things."[68] The word cloud of the "Journal" shows the dominance of shall, not only inspired by Carlyle and Emerson ("To think is to act"), but also a main tenet in pragmatism—the implicitness of an ideal in action.

Word cloud of the 1839 "Journal"

Screenshot of a Cirrus word cloud produced with Voyant Tools

Implicitness entails that the full consequences of our values are not entirely in our consciousness when we embrace them (the act of embracing is the crucial thing). James delineates the personal aspect of implicitness in his Principles of Psychology—namely, "the emotion that beckons me on is indubitably the pursuit of an ideal social self, of a self that is at least worthy of approving recognition by the highest possible judging companion, if such companion there be."[69] Nietzsche, like James, was fond of Emerson for his "benevolent and intelligent serenity which discourages all severity"[70]—the positive willing in the spirit of Goethe. Despite all the emphases on Cranch’s diffidence, he was implicitly working toward transcendentalist ideals in a practical fashion, even in spite of his occasional ennui. Cranch was also an iconoclast, yet an inoffensive one. His open-mindedness in his 1839 "Journal" anticipates pragmatism—but what makes him unique in these recorded moments is the modesty topos in the face of serious artistic endeavor, and the grace and severity with which he strove for the ideals that the pragmatists eventually articulated.
Soon after his "Journal," Cranch found himself in the middle of Emerson’s "recruiting efforts." David Dowling has claimed that "Emerson was arguably the least successful promoter of aspiring writers of the entire American nineteenth century. Despite his lack of success in this area, Emerson's keen interest ‘in modifications to the various callings of men, and the customs of business,’ along with his own successful career shift from Unitarian minister to full-time writer and lecturer, made him particularly susceptible to the temptation of discovering and growing young authorial talent."[71] Dowling lists Cranch, along with Jones Very and William Ellery Channing, as Emerson’s "failed projects" during the years 1838–42.[72] The "Journal" situates him in the beginning of that endeavor: by 1840 Cranch is meeting and corresponding with Emerson,[73] and only two years later Cranch once again finds himself at a loss, and decides to be a painter.
Was Cranch was a "wasted talent" or a "minor artist"? Even Emerson told Cranch in 1874 that all the muses conspired against him, that he was "the victim of your own various gifts."[74] To use Samuel Johnson’s remark about Cowley, perhaps Cranch was "beloved by every muse he courted"—and he courted many muses, making him "equally qualified for sprightly sallies, and for lofty flights." Norko argues that the standard views of Cranch—his humor, multifaceted talents, and failures as an artist—are too simplistic.[75] Not just simplistic but vague; for the intelligence and grace in some of his poems rival the forcefulness of Jones Very, his diffidence anticipates the loafing spirit of Whitman, and the ideas-in-progress in the "Journal" should at least allow us to rethink Cranch’s "failures" as part of a protracted intellectual development. His intelligence is flush with second thoughts, his revisions of himself and his philosophy, and his talent was often masked in seeming diffidence, which became a self-fulfilling prophecy (in that he was accused of lacking the courage of his convictions).
A record of ministerial Unitarian life in the frontier lands, Cranch’s 1839 "Journal" is one of his few surviving journals, showing the original drafts of two of his best-known caricatures of Emerson and the crucibles of thought preceding his best-known poems, "Correspondences" and "Enosis." Critical speculation aside, the journal does exist in scraps, just as the caricatures exist in many scraps, which is a fine complement to Sartor Resartus; so we, like the editor of Herr Teufelsdröckh’s papers, must continue to patch the scraps together to make sense of his narrative, after the eccentric Mr. Cranch has long disappeared.

Versions of the Caricatures

Of particular interest in Cranch’s "Journal" are the two consecutive rough drafts of Emerson caricatures appearing on pages 10 and 11. Since F. DeWolfe Miller’s small book on Cranch's caricatures, and Dedmond’s transcription of the "Journal," very little attention has been paid to these caricatures, despite their widespread use in American literature courses. Most scholarship on these two caricatures cites not the original drawings in the "Journal" but published clips of the drawings from Clarke’s New Philosophy scrapbook at Harvard’s Houghton Library. A thorough study of Cranch’s drawings has yet to be published since Miller’s work.
The drawings reveal Cranch’s serious purpose—one of self-reliance and self-improvement—as well as a sense of humor that is not regularly associated with transcendentalists. As Cranch says on page 8, having just caricatured Wordsworth, he intends to produce "Illustrations which have a sense—Carlylean graphic-ness—and truth. There can be a touch of comicality in them too —to give them a relish." This "graphic-ness" began at a young age, and surviving evidence suggests that he considered his poetry and visual art to be equally important enterprises. For example, a draft of an illustrated poem called "Childe Christopher," which he wrote into a journal-book in 1836, is a playful send-up of Byron’s "Childe Harold," with annotations in the manner of Coleridge’s "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."
What did Cranch mean by "Illustrations which have a sense"? The "Transparent Eyeball" sketch reflects Cranch’s willingness to entertain multiple perspectives on the intellectual movement with which he was eventually identified. While Miller only devotes a few paragraphs to the "Transparent Eyeball" and "Corn and Melons" sketches, he nevertheless shows how they follow an interesting thread: in the paragraph in Nature where the "transparent eye-ball" appears (in CW, 1:10), Emerson distinguishes himself from Wordsworth, suggesting that "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit," which poetically renders the individual’s engagement with nature.[76] Nature is a mood intensifier for whatever the individual feels at the moment, so "the same scene which yesterday breathed perfume and glittered as for the frolic of the nymphs, is overspread with melancholy today."[77] Cranch’s sketch of Emerson’s bliss quotes the passage from the first edition of Nature that Emerson revised in the second edition: "Almost I fear to think how glad I am," when in the midst of the common, or the "bare ground."[78] Nature becomes almost Gothicized, and uncanny, yet further in the paragraph Emerson takes the mystical turn, where "all mean egotism vanishes," and the individual morphs into the "transparent eye-ball." The annihilation of ego follows the Hindu anatman doctrine, that the self in pure austerity becomes the no-self. Bliss is ego annihilation. Now Cranch likely saw this passage not in terms of its Hindu precursor, but in terms of pure ecstasy, the sheer optimism that "nothing can befall me in life." The drawing illuminates Cranch’s process of ethical growth, and the attainment of a less restrained self. He arrives at Emerson’s "new philosophy" of unmitigated delight and poetic exhilaration after starting with Wordsworth’s line to "see into the life of things" and Carlyle’s work and action. He approached Emerson’s passage with some irony: in a thought about losing oneself in the presence of the natural world, and attempting a direct relation with the Divine Presence (or the Over-Soul, as he would later call it), Cranch headed the drawing with the full name of the figure portrayed below, "Ralph Waldo Emerson." Miller rightly points out that Cranch caricatured "in the days of Thomas Nast when the practice of caricature was frequently vicious and underhanded and always caustic," so Cranch took pains to assure others that he meant no ridicule by the drawings.[79] Here again modesty plays a role, for Cranch probably obliterated the Emerson inscription so as not to seem too disrespectful to his forerunner. Comparing two versions of this drawing reveals some intriguing details: Christopher P. Cranch journal, 1839. Page 10. Original
                                    Manuscript from the Christopher P. Cranch Papers. Massachusetts
                                    Historical Society; Cranch, Christopher Pearse, 1813–1892.
                                    Illustrations of the New Philosophy: drawings,
                                    [ca. 1837–1839] (MS Am 1506). Houghton Library, Harvard
                                    University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. See the drawing (Image 4)

[Click on image to enlarge] Two versions of the "Transparent Eyeball" caricature: 1839 "Journal" (left), New Philosophy scrapbook (right).

Christopher P. Cranch journal, 1839. Page 10. Original Manuscript from the Christopher P. Cranch Papers. Massachusetts Historical Society; Christopher Pearse Cranch, 1813–1892. Illustrations of the New Philosophy: drawings, [ca. 1837–1839] (MS Am 1506). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. See the drawing (Image 4) at

The original draft lacks the tails on the coat, the details of the town in the valley, and perhaps a pair of trousers.[80] It also features a decidedly different gaze: whereas Clarke’s copy has a clear upward gaze, perhaps indicating the idealism intended in the passage, the original has the eyeball staring straight ahead, and the right foot appears to be lifting itself, about to walk. The unfinished business of Cranch’s travels out West suggests an uneasy perpetual motion, and Cranch’s own struggles seem to shine through much better in the original draft. Here again Cranch shows his sensitivity to his forbearers: the vacant gaze of the walking eyeball recalls Milton’s thoughts on blankness in Paradise Lost:
But cloud in stead, and ever-during dark Surrounds me, from the chearful wayes of men Cut off, and for the Book of knowledg fair Presented with a Universal blanc Of Natures works to mee expung’d and ras’d, And wisdome at one entrance quite shut out. (Book III, lines 45–50)[81]
Coleridge's interpretation of the "Universal blanc" shows in his "Dejection" ode—"And still I gaze—and with how blank an eye! / And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars, / That give away their motion to the stars" (which is more attuned to Virgil’s lacrimae rerum)—and Wordsworth’s "Immortality Ode" shows how the "Blank misgivings" lead to the sight of the immortal sea. Emerson’s understanding of Wordsworth's and Coleridge's readings of blankness in Nature culminates in the phrase that "The ruin or the blank, that we see when we look at nature, is in our own eye."[82] This shows how the "gentle shock of mild surprise" allows us to see into the life of things.[83] The final, most frequently cited Cranch drawing of the eyeball in Clarke’s scrapbook is a more mature rendering of the spirit of Emerson’s idea: the eyeball is about to lose himself in the clouds. Cranch’s original draft, however, with the blank eye staring straight ahead, implies that he is still on his way. Toward the end of the "Journal" (page 21), Cranch, having left the comforts of home life, curiously says that he is "once more be mistered," which suggests his attentiveness to blurred vision, the bemisting of his spirit.[84]
The "Corn and Melons" draft alongside Clarke’s copy in the New Philosophy scrapbook indicates the same optimism in the former sketch: "I have no hostility to nature, but a child’s love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons."[85] While the "Corn and Melons" drawings do not exhibit the striking differences between the "Transparent Eyeball," they still show different gazes: in the first draft the eyes are once again turned downward, looking content; the later iteration has a more stern face looking slightly upward. Christopher P. Cranch journal, 1839. Page 11. Original
                                    Manuscript from the Christopher P. Cranch Papers. Massachusetts
                                    Historical Society; Cranch, Christopher Pearse, 1813-1892.
                                    Illustrations of the New Philosophy: drawings,
                                    [ca.1837–1839] (MS Am 1506). Houghton Library, Harvard
                                    University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. See the drawing at

[Click on image to enlarge] Two versions of the "Corn and Melons" caricature: "Journal. 1839." (left), New Philosophy scrapbook (right).

Christopher P. Cranch journal, 1839. Page 11. Original Manuscript from the Christopher P. Cranch Papers. Massachusetts Historical Society; Christopher Pearse Cranch, 1813-1892. Illustrations of the New Philosophy: drawings, [ca.1837–1839] (MS Am 1506). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. See the drawing at

Miller suggests that the figure’s round head makes it unlikely to be a representation of Emerson (unlike the "Transparent Eyeball" and "Almost I fear to think how glad I am!" drawings)—so it is at once a more respectful rendering of Emerson as well as a clue that Cranch understood the thrust of the passage: man and vegetable, vegetable and man, are part of the same underlying unity.[86] The companion piece to the "Corn and Melons" drawing is a vegetable with the face of a man, so Cranch incorporates both the idealism and the commonsense materialism of Emerson’s passage in the closing paragraph in Nature.[87] With the full context of Emerson’s passages and Cranch’s "Journal" considered, these two drawings suggest his sympathy with Emerson's thought and a humorous tolerance of escapism. While both drawings depict vision and growth, vision clearly underlies the changes made from draft to revised scraps: seeing into the life of things meant to embrace the "doctrine that man is one," not to take himself too seriously, and not to blindly follow any dogma, whether religious or philosophical.
Soon afterward Cranch abandoned doing caricatures. On February 12, 1841, he wrote Dwight from Bangor, Maine, that "I use the pencil not for comical subjects or devils—I am out of that vein—but in landscape sketching."[88] Even if he did not caricature for long, his drawings took fresh eyes to Emerson. Cranch’s playfulness makes him a unique, more subtle thinker amidst a philosophical school that might be criticized for being too abstract, mystical, anti-intellectual, and optimistic. These caricatures expand the historical account of transcendentalism into a multifarious aesthetic.[89] A volume dedicated to his neglected paintings would add to his small literary reputation, showing how he transformed a transcendentalist poetic sensibility into the Hudson River school of painting.

Editorial Principles

Cranch fashioned the journal book, initially consisting of sixteen sheets (21 1/2 x 28 cm), into quarto segments and expanded it to thirty leaves. The resulting sixty-page soft cover notebook was bound with a gray cover of heavy stock paper and stitched at the fold with string. The journal survives in fifteen manuscript leaves, with handwritten text in pen on thirty pages (and six of those pages cut away) housed at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
My primary purpose is to provide a diplomatic transcription of each manuscript page that preserves most of the stylistic characteristics of this important piece of documentary evidence. Dedmond's transcription is not entirely faithful to the manuscript, leaving out aspects such as cancellations, insertions, line breaks, and false starts, among other things. His transcription also does not distinguish single- and double-underlined words (and his decision to italicize both kinds of underlining disregards Cranch's varying emphases). Against Tanselle's principles, Dedmond's work "is altering the nature of the document and is obscuring evidence of potential significance for interpreting the author's state of mind and motivation."[90] For this transcription I use the "plain text" rationale of the Mark Twain Project's letters edition, that "the editor essentially defines what is possible by deciding what can be transcribed legibly," and creates a critical text by making decisions about how the newly created text will differ from the document.[91] While the diplomatic transcription has retained as many textual features—line breaks, hyphenation, punctuation, variant spellings, and abbreviations—as possible in the source text, it was not possible to record all nuances. I did not render the ornamentation on the cover of the "Journal," because a high-resolution facsimile of the original is available, which does more work than an attempt at replicating the border in the transcription. See also, for example, the horizontal rule on page 19 of the edition that appears to morph into leaves, which reflects Cranch's interest in visual art and the natural world. The transcription follows Tanselle's principles of documentary editing—namely, to transcribe the document as faithfully as possible—while also adopting the plain text approach to critical editing, which gives the editor the impetus to decide what ought to be transcribed. This edition omits the notes in pencil (in the form of "X" marks and "use" notes), because they were probably written by Scott as she compiled notes for her biography.[92] As these marks do not aid in the legibility of the transcription, they are excluded as corruptions of the manuscript.
The document presented some transcription issues. The first involves Cranch's use of dashes. Because this is a journal not intended for publication, Cranch did not seem to engage in systematic dash-writing; instead, he used them frequently as arbitrary pauses (and sometimes full stops). This is not unusual for a nineteenth-century writer, but it bears explaining here that every dash was treated in the transcription as an em-dash (as that was probably Cranch's intended effect), and that sometimes it is unclear whether some horizontal markings were meant to be dashes or full stops.
I also did not choose to modernize and normalize the text.[93] For example, I retained capitalized nouns: as a nineteenth-century writer, Cranch frequently capitalized nouns, and I see no reason to change, for example, "Spirit" to lower case, especially as it is not consistently capitalized in the journal. I also retained minor oddities in Cranch's word usage, mostly concerning his compounds ("vestry room" versus "vestryroom" on pages 12 and 14, and "newyear" on page 2). In some cases, it appears that two words may be blended together (such as "of mind" on page 3), but Cranch sometimes made a continuous stroke of the pen after ending a word with an "f," and it seems unlikely that he meant those words to be compounded. Cranch also inconsistently dotted (and in one or two cases encircled) page numbers; it is not clear if those pages were meant to be more important than the unmarked ones, but these features were retained in the diplomatic transcription.
As for the few abbreviations Cranch used (e.g., "wh" for "which" and "shd" for "should"), I have left the words as seen on the page and coded them with abbr tags. Since Cranch did not engage in widespread or eccentric abbreviating, I saw little justification to include accompanying expan tags. The reading text, however, does expand some of the abbreviations that may be confusing.
Some words are unclear or scribbled hastily and difficult to identify with full confidence; a search of the accompanying XML file will show which words are unclear and which have high or low certainty values. In the edition unclear words are colored gray.
From the diplomatic transcription I have also established a new reading text for the purposes of making this the standard text for American literature researchers and students.
My principle regarding endnotes is to focus on contextual and intertextual instances that provide clarification of Cranch’s journey and intellectual development (i.e., context for understanding a major person or clarifying the subject of a given passage). As Cranch was steeped in the thoughts of Carlyle, Emerson, and the German romantics, among others, I considered it important to gloss instances in the "Journal" where he echoes or quotes from those writers. In most cases, I did not choose to put biographical information in endnotes; instead, that information is encoded within persName tags in the XML document (with the more prominent names and relevant information included within the TEI header under listPerson tags) and featured in the edition as optional hyperlinked notes separate from the endnotes. Some persons mentioned in the edition did not recieve notes, either because they were not essential to understanding the edition (e.g., Bertha Wood's sister Kate) or because they simply could not be identified (e.g., Mr. Lynch). Because I envisage a readership here that would know such literary luminaries as Wordsworth and Carlyle, it was also not necessary to provide elaborate notes on them (but I still find that birth and death dates are helpful).
As I indicate in the edition, the manuscript was altered: starting with the April 18 entry, three pages are cut in half or cut in thirds, and a total of fifteen leaves are entirely cut out. For each instance of excision I explain how much of the page was taken out, and whether or not the excised page or leaf contained writing in Cranch's hand, but I did not choose to transcribe the letters (and portions of letters) in the gutters of the excised pages because it would not aid in the intelligibility of the transcription. I hope that providing the manuscript images will satisfy the curiosity of those who wish to investigate the missing pages. The group of excised leaves nevertheless remains one of the most enigmatic aspects of the manuscript. We can never know who altered the journal, though it seems unlikely that Cranch did it himself: out of the five boxes of manuscript material, this journal is the only one that is altered in like fashion.


My thanks go to the Office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine, which provided financial support for the digitization of Cranch’s "Journal"; Amanda Gailey and Andrew Jewell, editors of Scholarly Editing, as well as my peer reviewers, for their helpful comments; Dr. Marcia Karp and Professor Christopher Ricks, both of whom commented on an early version of this project; Professor Steven Olsen-Smith, who helped me with my proposal and with moral and intellectual support; Rob Velella, of the Longfellow House in Cambridge, who commented on a draft of the edition, and led me to Cranch’s grave at Mount Auburn Cemetery (which does not list Cranch's grave as one of its prominent attractions); Professor Robert Brinkley, my colleague when I was at the University of Maine, who commented on the introduction and provided essential expertise to the Wordsworth and Coleridge connections; and finally, pride of last place to Jillian Saucier, who commented on this introduction and engaged in many conversations about Cranch.


  1. Ariel and Caliban, With Other Poems (Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin, 1887), 162.Go back
  2. Chapter 2 of Biographia Literaria: The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Walter Jackson Bate et al. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 7:36.Go back
  3. In the 1846 issue of Godey’s, Poe called Cranch "the least intolerable of the school of Boston transcendentalists—and, in fact, I believe that he has at last ‘come out from among them,’ abandoned their doctrines (whatever they are) and given up their company in disgust. [He] seems to me to possess unusual vivacity of fancy and dexterity of expression, while his versification is remarkable for its accuracy, vigor, and even for its originality of effect."Go back
  4. Cranch’s obscurity may be the result of articles such as J. C. Levinson’s "Christopher Pearse Cranch: The Case History of a Minor Artist in America," American Literature 21, no. 4 (January 1950): 415–26.Go back
  5. From an April 11, 1842, letter to Miss Julia Myers. Quoted in Lenora Cranch Scott, The Life and Letters of Christopher Pearse Cranch (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1917), 77.Go back
  6. "Journal. 1839," 7. For a biographical introduction to the "Journal," see Francis B. Dedmond, "Christopher Pearse Cranch's ‘Journal. 1839,’" in Studies in the American Renaissance 1983, ed. Joel Myerson (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983), 129–35.Go back
  7. See Hazen C. Carpenter, "Emerson and Christopher Pearse Cranch," New England Quarterly 37 (March 1964): 18–42; Van Wyck Brooks, The Flowering of New England, 1815–1865 (New York: Modern Library, 1941), 258.Go back
  8. "The Great Pyramid," Published Poems: The Writings of Herman Melville, ed. Robert C. Ryan et al (Chicago and Evanston: The Newberry Library and Northwestern University Press, 2002), 11:316. I am also reminded of Cranch when reading Melville’s ironic opening lines to "The Fiddler": "So my poem is damned, and immortal fame is not for me! I am nobody forever and ever. Intolerable fate!" In various aspects Cranch also resembles Jones Very (1813–1880): they were both spiritually attuned poets, good friends with leading Transcendentalists (including Emerson), devoted to the cultivation of the intellect and the spirit, and experienced brief moments of fame in their lifetime only to retire to very quiet, unassuming lives.Go back
  9. In his book Andrew Jackson Downing and the Architecture of Popular Antebellum Literature, 1835–1855 (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1996), 200, Adam Sweeting points out the need for a modern biography on Cranch. See also David Robinson’s essay "Christopher Pearse Cranch," in The Transcendentalists: A Review of Research and Criticism, Ed. Joel Myerson (New York: Modern Language Association, 1984), 123–30.Go back
  10. See Three Children’s Novels by Christopher Pearse Cranch, edited, with an introduction, by Greta D. Little and Joel Myerson (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993; reprint edition, 2010).Go back
  11. Dedmond, "Cranch’s ‘Journal. 1839,’" 136–49. The most effective critical work on the significance of the journal is Julie M. Norko’s "Christopher Pearse Cranch’s Struggles with the Muses," Studies in the American Renaissance 1992, ed. Joel Myerson (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1992), 209–27.Go back
  12. Dedmond’s transcription has quite a few minor errors—and a few substantive ones—which are recorded in the xml document under sic tags (within choice).Go back
  13. As translated by David Ferry in his Epistles of Horace: A Bilingual Edition (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001), 5.Go back
  14. I borrow the "modesty topos" idea from Christopher Ricks, Decisions and Revisions in T. S. Eliot (London: British Library, 2003). Go back
  15. Quoted in Scott, Life and Letters, 35. See also note 36 to the "Journal" edition.Go back
  16. "Literary Ethics: An Oration Delivered before the Literary Societies of Dartmouth College, July 24, 1838," in Nature, Addresses, and Lectures: Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Alfred R. Ferguson et al. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), 1:100. Cited hereafter as CW.Go back
  17. June 15, 1712, letter to Sir Richard Steele, in Mr. Pope’s Literary Correspondence for Thirty Years; from 1704 to 1734: Being a Collection of Letters Which Passed between Him and Several Eminent Persons (London, 1735), 1:166.Go back
  18. Countess Guiccioli, My Recollections of Lord Byron (London: Richard Bentley, 1869), 278.Go back
  19. The Poems of Alexander Pope, Volume I: Pastoral Poetry and An Essay on Criticism, ed. E. Audra and Aubrey Williams (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1961), 305.Go back
  20. Letter to Edward P. Cranch, January 1, 1839, quoted in Dedmond, "Cranch's 'Journal. 1839,'" 134.Go back
  21. Dedmond explains Cranch’s lack of boldness as "recurring seasons of doubt and spiritual depression" ("Cranch's 'Journal. 1839,'" 131).Go back
  22. See also Norko, "Cranch's Struggles with the Muses," 216.Go back
  23. For more on Wordsworth’s (and, by extension, the Romantics’), use of "sense," see William Empson's "Sense in the Prelude," in The Structure of Complex Words (London: Hogarth Press, 1985), 289–305. The word changes throughout Wordsworth’s career, going from the "wavering and untrammeled natural growth" in the early work to the "unrelaxing Will" (a la Milton) in the later work (294). In The Prelude, sense "means both the process of sensing and the supreme act of imagination, and unites them by a jump; the same kind of jump as that in the sentence about crossing the Alps, which identifies the horror caused by the immediate sensations with the exultation that developed from them" (304). Cranch uses "sense" in a similar way, not only relating to perception but also to that mix of imagination and indeterminacy in his writings and drawings.Go back
  24. The "perplexed persistence"—itself a borrowing of the "sad perplexity" from "Tintern Abbey"—comes from A. C. Bradley’s discussion of Wordsworth’s "Resolution and Independence" in Oxford Lectures On Poetry, 2nd ed. (1909; reprint, London: St. Martin's Press, 1965), 131; T. H. Green, Works of Thomas Hill Green, ed. R. L. Nettleship (London: Longmans, Green, 1888), 3:119.Go back
  25. While he was in Louisville, on October 14, Cranch wrote his sister Margaret as he was putting together the November number of the Western Messenger: "I have contributed several articles. . . . I would stuff it with more poetry but I am ashamed that so many pieces should go forth with ‘C.P.C.’ dangling at the end" (Scott, Life and Letters, 37–38). He continued to contribute for two more years.Go back
  26. See Norko, "Cranch's Struggles with the Muses," 212.Go back
  27. From the first chapter of Nature, in CW, 1:9.Go back
  28. This came just before the Andrews Norton–George Ripley controversy following Emerson’s "Divinity School Address" that would settle the chasm between the Unitarians and Transcendentalists. See F. DeWolfe Miller, Christopher Pearse Cranch and His Caricatures of New England Transcendentalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951), 51–54, for a more detailed account of Cranch’s involvement in this controversy after he returned to Boston in July 1839. Cranch’s caricaturing played a part in the controversy; he sent Clarke a sketch, which is supposed to be a fairly accurate representation of Norton, satirizing Norton’s claim that the Transcendentalists are not Christians because they deny miracles and the personality of God. See the image at back
  29. Leon Jackson, "The Reader Retailored: Thomas Carlyle, His American Audiences, and the Politics of Evidence," Book History 2 (1999): 151, 158–59.Go back
  30. See David Greenham’s Emerson’s Transatlantic Romanticism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), which discusses Emerson's reliance on European romanticism, yet he does not discuss Cranch, or how Emerson’s transatlanticism was interpreted by his followers. Cranch came under the spell of German literature—due to Harvard Divinity School, under the direction of Dr. Charles Follen—before he was entirely exposed to Emerson’s "transatlanticism."Go back
  31. See also note 22 of the edition.Go back
  32. On July 11, 1840, Cranch wrote his father to allay his concerns that he is "inclined to the Transcendental sentiments of the German theologist’s"; Cranch’s response offered a subtle distinction between him and the transcendentalists: "The Philosophy of Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, etc., which is what I suppose to be the Transcendental philosophy, has always, from the very slight idea I have of it, struck me as a cold, barren system of Idealism, not calculated to strengthen the soul’s faith in the external realities of the spiritual world, or enable it as a perfect philosophy should, to give a reason for the hope that is in us; although to some minds it may have this effect" (quoted in Scott, Life and Letters, 50).Go back
  33. Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdröckh, ed. Rodger L. Tarr et al. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 122.Go back
  34. CW, 1:13. See also Barry Wood, "The Growth of the Soul: Coleridge's Dialectical Method and the Strategy of Emerson's Nature," PMLA 91, no. 3 (May 1976): 387.Go back
  35. Emerson’s "Otherism" is recorded in a November 24, 1836 journal entry; see Geoffrey Hill, "Alienated Majesty: Ralph Waldo Emerson," in Collected Critical Writings, ed. Kenneth Haynes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 494.Go back
  36. Wood, "The Growth of the Soul," 389.Go back
  37. CW, 1:19, 20–21.Go back
  38. Coleridge’s concise analysis of "Tintern Abbey" is also analogous to Cranch’s absorption of intuition: in a February–March 1801 journal entry, Coleridge indicated that to "see into life of things" means, "By deep feeling we make our Ideas dim—& this is what we mean by our Life—ourselves [. . .] Now (let me) think of myself—of the thinking Being—the Idea becomes dim whatever it be—so dim that I know not what it is—but the Feeling is deep & steady—and this I call I" (Bollingen Series of The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Kathleen Coburn [New York: Pantheon Books, 1957], entry 921). Entry 923 also features the follow-up thought, "of Thinking as distinguished from Thoughts."Go back
  39. Milton, Paradise Lost, The Riverside Milton, ed. Roy Flannagan (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), 491.Go back
  40. Patrick J. Keane, Emerson, Romanticism, and Intuitive Reason: The Transatlantic "Light of All Our Day" (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2005), 3.Go back
  41. Norko, "Cranch's Struggles with the Muses," 219.Go back
  42. I owe the "vagrant muse" to Gary Lee Harrison’s Wordsworth’s Vagrant Muse: Poetry, Poverty, and Power (Detroit: Wayne State Press, 1994), 135, where he discusses how the leech gatherer’s "indeterminacy" disturbs the poet.Go back
  43. Geoffrey Hartman, Wordsworth’s Poetry: 1787–1814 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971), 268.Go back
  44. Wood connects the outgrowth idea in Coleridge’s dialectical method to Emerson’s interest in compensation: "The growth of a plant involves a seed in position (thesis), a nourishing environment in op-position (antithesis), an equilibrium of the two (mesothesis), and the composition (synthesis) of a plant out of this dialectic. The importance of this illustration for Emerson can hardly be over-stated, for it not only reinforced his earlier notion about the growth of the soul by assimilation, but also forced upon him the crucial connection between the growth of the soul and the logical method of thought. At one stroke the importance of the organic metaphor became clear: organic growth was a dialectical process; logical thought was dialectical thought [. . .]" ("The Growth of the Soul," 390). The concerns of philosophical essayist and poet coincide.Go back
  45. October 1837 letter to his sister (quoted in Scott, Life and Letters, 39).Go back
  46. CW, 1:56.Go back
  47. Greenham, 21–22, points out that Emerson changed his mind about the literal authority of the Bible under the influence of Dr. Edward Everett, who also taught Cranch and studied with the early philologist Johann Gottfried Eichhorn on the German Higher Criticism that called the accuracy of the Bible into question. Theodore Parker is another friend of Cranch’s who taught him about German literature. The New Philosophy scrapbook has a drawing of Parker going after an entire shelf of books at a German library. More evidence suggests that at this time Cranch was more affected by Dwight and Clarke. Dwight was a more effective communicator of German ideas, since he (like Cranch) was more of a poet-musician, whereas Parker had a more scholarly temperament. Go back
  48. Quoted in Scott, Life and Letters, 39.Go back
  49. Norko, "Cranch's Struggles with the Muses," 219, briefly mentions Cranch’s use of musical metaphor in his prose pieces, but she does not connect it to the source of German aesthetics vis-à-vis Dwight.Go back
  50. J. Wesley Thomas, "John Sullivan Dwight: A Translator of German Romanticism," American Literature 21, no. 4 (January 1950): 427.Go back
  51. See Thomas, "John Sullivan Dwight," 428Go back
  52. As to Dwight’s "deficiency," I quote from Thomas, "John Sullivan Dwight," 428–29. Cranch’s "deficiency" has received due attention most clearly from Norko, "Cranch's Struggles with the Muses."Go back
  53. "On the Proper Character of Poetry and Music for Public Worship," Christian Examiner 21, no. 262 (November 1836); quoted in Thomas, "John Sullivan Dwight," 431.Go back
  54. George Willis Cooke, John Sullivan Dwight (Boston, 1898), 23.Go back
  55. The poem appears on pp. 290–91 of Select Minor Poems Translated from the German of Goethe and Schiller, ed. John Sullivan Dwight (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, 1839).Go back
  56. CW, 1:63. For the drawing, see back
  57. Dwight, Select Minor Poems of Goethe and Schiller, 436.Go back
  58. For more on Cranch’s writings on German music, see Ora Frishberg Saloman’s "American Writers on Beethoven, 1838–1849: Dwight, Fuller, Cranch, Story," American Music, Music of the Nineteenth Century 8, no. 1, (Spring 1990): 12–28.Go back
  59. See David Robinson’s "William Henry Channing’s Political Oddysey," American Quarterly 34, no. 2 (Summer 1982): 165–84.Go back
  60. Ricks, Decisions and Revisions in T. S. Eliot, 3.Go back
  61. Published in the May 1838 edition of the Western Messenger, 5:182.Go back
  62. CW, 1:29. I owe the "conversion narrative" idea to Jackson’s "The Reader Retailored," 159–64.Go back
  63. CW, 1:38.Go back
  64. Miller makes this point in Cranch and His Caricatures, 12–13, which was then re-affirmed by Norko, "Cranch's Struggles with the Muses," 214. Furthermore, the poem in Appendix 2 of this edition at least shows his uneasiness with being called a transcendentalist in late 1839.Go back
  65. From here I quote from an unpublished typescript in Box 2 of the Cranch Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, an omitted section from Scott’s Life and Letters. Go back
  66. The "pastor" is probably Theodore Parker.Go back
  67. Quoted in Thomas, "John Sullivan Dwight," 434.Go back
  68. Quoted in Scott, Life and Letters, 342.Go back
  69. William James, Principles of Psychology (New York: Cosimo, 2007), 1:315. Toward the end of Cranch’s life, he knew and appreciated James, who initially inspired him to write a poem "suggested by a very remarkable article ["A Word to Philosophers"] which I have been re-reading for the fourth or fifth time, written by a friend of ours, Dr. William James, son of Henry James, senior, and published in the January number, 1878, of the St. Louis ‘Journal of Speculative Philosophy.’ I wish you would look it up and read it. It is a sharp and very able criticism of Herbert Spencer’s ‘Definition of Mind.’ Dr. James is also Professor James, Professor of Philosophy in Harvard,—and promises, I think, to make a great mark as a philosophical writer" (quoted in Scott, Life and Letters, 303). James was then a frequent guest in Cranch’s study, and they continued to exchange letters. For more on the Emerson–Nietzsche–Pragmatism connections, see the "Emerson and Pragmatism, Emerson and Nietzsche" section of Lawrence Buell’s Emerson (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 218–38.Go back
  70. From aphorism 13 of Twilight of the Idols, as translated by Hermann Hummel in his article "Emerson and Nietzsche," New England Quarterly 19, no. 1 (March 1946): 64.Go back
  71. David Dowling, Literary Partnerships and the Marketplace (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012), 117.Go back
  72. Dowling, Literary Partnerships and the Marketplace, 209–10. For more on this story, see William Moss, "‘So Many Promising Youths’: Emerson’s Disappointing Discoveries of New England Poet-Seers," New England Quarterly 49, no. 1 (1976): 47. Go back
  73. Scott’s fourth chapter of Life and Letters is devoted to the Cranch–Emerson correspondence.Go back
  74. Scott, Life and Letters, 281.Go back
  75. Norko, "Cranch's Struggles with the Muses," 209.Go back
  76. Cranch suggests a similar interpretation of this passage in one of his best sketches, where Emerson joyfully tosses his hat in the air amidst a bleak surrounding (Miller, Cranch and His Caricatures, 40–41):

    Cranch's caricature of Emerson tossing his hat

    This is a drawing from the New Philosophy Scrapbook depicting Emerson in ecstasy (printed as Figure 2 in Miller, Cranch and His Caricatures)

    Go back
  77. CW, 1:10.Go back
  78. CW, 1:10.Go back
  79. Miller, Cranch and His Caricatures, 51.Go back
  80. Another version of the "Transparent Eyeball" sketch is housed in the Joel Myerson Collection of American Literature at the University of South Carolina. It resembles the original draft more than the Houghton copy, suggesting that the Myerson sketch is the middle phase of Cranch’s revisions to the drawing. The Concord Library has featured an image of the sketch in the Myerson collection: Go back
  81. Milton, Paradise Lost, 417Go back
  82. CW, 1:43.Go back
  83. See also Keane, Emerson, Romanticism, and Intuitive Reason, 208.Go back
  84. See the Oxford English Dictionary, entry for "bemist": 1. "To overtake with, or involve in mist; fig. to confuse the senses of, bepuzzle, bewilder," as well as the sense of "becloud" in 2.Go back
  85. CW, 1:35.Go back
  86. Miller, Cranch and His Caricatures, 43.Go back
  87. The companion drawing on the frontispiece of the New Philosophy scrapbook can be accessed at back
  88. Quoted in Scott, Life and Letters, 69.Go back
  89. This is not to neglect the extensive exhibit on Cranch's transcendentalist landscapes, titled "At Home and Abroad," which was held at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Connecticut (2007–8). The exhibition catalogue, to which scholars such as David Robinson, Nancy Stula, Barbara Novak, and Joel Myerson made contributions, is a good starting point for studying Cranch's visual sense.Go back
  90. G. Thomas Tanselle, "Textual Scholarship," in Introduction to Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literatures, ed. Joseph Gibaldi (New York: Modern Language Association, 1981), 34.Go back
  91. See Tanselle, "Textual Scholarship," 32 and 47; and the Mark Twain Project's "Guide to Editorial Practice,";brand=mtp;style=letterGo back
  92. See in particular Jerome McGann's "extrapolation" of Tanselle's plea for more accurate documentary editing in "The Socialization of Texts" in The Textual Condition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 69–87. While I agree with McGann and McKenzie on the importance of visual and non-linguistic components of texts, Cranch's "Journal" stands outside of "the full range of social realities" that "directs us to consider the human motives and interactions which texts involve at every stage of their production, transmission, and consumption," because the "Journal" consists of the author's private papers, which were not originally meant to be transmitted and consumed, so my purpose is primarily documentary (D. F. McKenzie, Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999], 15). See also Tanselle's "Textual Criticism and Literary Sociology," Studies in Bibliography 44 (1991): 129n70, 142–43.Go back
  93. Dedmond silently modernized his text—e.g., his changing of Cranch's "shew" into "show."Go back