Letter from James Kay Jr. to John Sullivan Dwight

ReadAboutContentsHelp
This is a scanned version of the original document in the Abernethy Manuscripts Collection at Middlebury College.

Pages

p.
Needs Review

p.

Philad., 14 March 1845.

My Dear Friend,

Your letter and communication by Mr Alvord came to my hands on the 5th init., and were read as speedily as possible You know, I presume, that I had supposed it necessary to return the copy of the constitution which had been sent to me; and hence, to my great regret, it was not in my power to determine whether a portion of that document might be erased or lifted out to make room for you, or not; and I was obliged to rely on a memory which is but frail for refernce, to it. Mr List aided me in the perusal and criticism of both projects. He has promised me to write to write to you about it; but whether he do or not, I know his thought.

It is not easy to express an opinion on the subject you have so kindly placed before me which shall lead to any action. I cannot say that your view should prevail, to the exclusion of the one reported by the Committee; not only for want of means of comparison, and of counsel, but because I feel a conviction that the cooption of the reported Constitution (in all respects substantially as it stands) is only one of a series of progressive reforms which will thereby be rendered both necessary & attainable. The fundamental law of your Phalanx cannot remain stationary; it need move onward, in even pace with the advancing science & experience of the body. I fear not that the present opportunity is the only one which will ever or for a long period of time offer for the presentiment of your proposition; and therefore I do not feel very anxious that it should win the victory now.

I cannot easily express my admiration of the beautiful structure which you have erected. If it were simply a literary exercise, with no practical object, it would win universal applause for its author. I have examined it as carefully as has been in my power in my isolated state; and my conclusion is, that you have not affirmed more than you prove, when you say, that your government would

Last edit 6 months ago by catslover
p.
Needs Review

p.

be one of spontaneous providential growth, and that every office under it would be strictly functional. I doubted for some time whether the Heads of the 3 Councils would not be of arbitary constitution; but the doubt, I think, has subsided. Your division of functions in the department of Finance I do not well understand; and I presume that we may acknowledge nearly equal ignorance on the details of this branch of knowledge: but the subject could be made clear enough by the aid of one or two friends of financial experience. My opinion generally is, that the great thought which stands embodied in your paper (irrespective of details) is the one to which Brook Farm Phalanx and all other Phalanxes must come at last; and that its parent, like Fourier, may well submit to wait, not until men are willing to acccept it, but until men & circumstances have grown up to it. How I should like to give a month to the fullest & free-est, and most deliberate & thorough discussion of it and its practical tendencies; and I believe that the occasion will yet present itself. I hope meanwhile that you wil labour to perfect your conception, and continue to preserve your faith in it. I am glad to believe, from what you say, that there is not much doubt of the adoption of the new constitution, with or without your amendments. I had feared that its advocates might be defeated; and with that defeat lose hope for the Association. Its success is the herald of the acceptance, at no distant day, of your scheme of government by all; and is perhaps the necessary precedent step. And what a magnificent step it is. Our associate Theophilus thinks that you have producd about the finest state paper in the Annals (?) of Association; and I have not denied myself the pleasure of lending it to your friend Lowell & his lady, whose admiration has likewise been elicited.

It is with profound regret that I state my inability to be with you at this time. Little as is the interest I feel in my business, and the attention which I bestow on it, a desire to extricate myself from it & to prepare for Association leaves me no alternative but to remain here at present. And this, notwithstanding the reference from Brook Farm of matters to my judgment which probably I ought not to have attempted to determine except in person & viva voce. As it was, what could I do? It was impossible that I should sanction, by indifference even, the adoption of

Last edit 6 months ago by catslover
p.
Needs Review

p.

measures, whose faulire would destroy the Association, whilst their success was almost beyond the bounds of possibility. Besides, where are the men who are to carry these projecst into execution? They do not, they can not, [underline]come[/underline] to you; they must belong to you; in your own words, they are of "providential growth." In no other way can you have them. My future for Brook Farm is development - slow, even imperceptibly slow - a quiet, silent, unobtrusive, enduring, waiting on God. Thus will the process of crystallization complete itself. I give five years to this work. And then the movement will widen and deepen in a manner which shall astonish those who at once lead and are [borne?] on it. If I possibly can, I will endeavour to be with you in the course of a month; but again, I am opposed, as I write the words, by the importunate claim of the hydropathic treatment not less for the soul's than the body's weal. I should commence at once, & give myself to it for four months. Well, we shall see. I write with great haste; as I hope to send this sheet tomorrow by Mr. Robert Owen, who will probably deliver it to you in person. I commend the venerable & gentle enthusiast to your love and good offices. He looks on Association with no evil eye.

With best memories of your mother & sister (all of whom are talked of with affection by my Hannah & Mary), and regards for your father, and most especially for Frank, I am, as ever,

Your affectionate friend and servant,

James Kay, Jr.

I am so glad to hear of any progress which Ally makes. I hope that your patience will be equal to his wilfulness. Phrenology prophesies a change (which must be favourable) in him in the lapse of the years. At least so Fowler said.

Last edit 6 months ago by catslover
p.
Needs Review

p.

[?] Mr. Robrt Dale Owen

John S. Dwight, Esquire Brook Farms West Roxbury near Boston Masachusetts

James Kay fr. March 14 1845. (3.)

Last edit 6 months ago by catslover
Displaying all 4 pages