Henry S. Salt, the late Victorian Socialists, and Thoreau

Henry S. Salt, the late Victorian Socialists, and Thoreau

IT is now a commonplace that the late Victorian radicals and Socialists in England were much influenced by the writings of Henry Thoreau. A few key statements to this effect have been quoted and requoted and are now accepted without serious question. For example, Henry Canby, in his 1939 biography of Thoreau, wrote: “It seems probable that the first recognition of his [Thoreau’s] modest but certain place in world literature came from abroad, and in England, where the nascent British Labour Party, offspring of William Morris and Marx, used Walden as a pocket-piece and travelling Bible of their faith. And rightly, for this movement, truly Fabian in character, was social rather than narrowly economic, its purpose being to restore and create and distribute true values in everyday living. Robert Blatchford’s Merrie England (1895), one of the background books of English socialism, and much influenced by Thoreau, sold two million copies.”1 William Condry went over the same material in his essay, “A Hundred Years of Walden,” originally published in Dublin Magazine in 1955 and recently reprinted in Thoreau Abroad: “It was the early socialists who took up Walden in the days when they revered Shelley and Carlyle far more than Marx and Engels.”2 Walter Harding in A Thoreau Handbook restated what his predecessors had been saying: “It was ... the Fabians and early Labour party members who really popularized Thoreau in England. Robert Blatchford, whose Merrie England, with a sale of two million copies, was the first Labour party best seller, began his book with the injunction that if his readers first read Walden, they would more easily understand his book, and confessed that he slept with Walden under his pillow.”3

Canby, Condry, and Harding seemed puzzled by the diverse Socialist organizations and mixed them indiscriminately. Socialism had been known and practiced in England since the early Victorian days in Robert Owen’s cooperatives and in the revolutionary Chartist movement. But in the 1880’s Socialism causes were rapidly forming. The Democratic Federation, which became the Social Democratic Federation, was founded in 1881; H. M. Hyndman, the leader, was a Marxist, although his interpretations were not pleasing to Marx. The Fellowship of the New Life was founded on Ethical Socialist principles in 1883. The Fabian Society came into being in 1884, as did the Socialist League, strongly supported by William Morris. Also in that same year the Anglican Guild of St. Matthew adopted a Socialist program. In 1893 the working-class Independent Labour Party was founded, with Robert Blatchford one of its main spokesmen. The groups often warred internally and among themselves; policy changes were often dramatic; for example, the Socialist League and its journal Commonweal were taken over by the Anarchists.4 A consideration of Henry S. Salt–reformer, Socialist, Free-thinker, Humanitarian–a central figure in the spread of Thoreau’s reputation in England, may clarify Thoreau's influence on late-Victorian English Socialism.

I

For the first three decades of his life, Salt was the quintessential upper-middle-class Victorian. Born in India in 1851, he was sent at an early age to England, where he lived with his mother. Salt was admitted as a King’s scholar to Eton, and for twenty years Eton was to be the focus of his life, until he was charmed away by Vegetarianism and Socialism.

In his autobiography, Seventy Years Among Savages, Salt noted that although he had come to see the folly of public-school education, he had as a schoolboy been part of its “heedless existence,”5 rowdy, athletic, and anti-intellectual. Salt himself was a model pupil, diligent, studious. That he profited from the continual writing of Latin verse he doubted, but he developed a clear, unadorned English style. After leaving Eton for Cambridge, his years at King’s College were unhappy ones; he spent most of his time cramming. In 1875, after taking a First Class in the Classical Tripos, he was invited to return to Eton as a master with excellent prospects, a good income, and respectability.

Within a few years, however, Salt began to question the values of his world. He saw that only a few students were interested in intellectual matters and that new ideas were banned at Eton, “notwithstanding the specious invitations given to some distinguished men to lecture before the school. Gladstone, Arnold, Ruskin, Morris, and Lowell were among those who addressed the boys in the School Library.” Lowell was the most popular because of “his cheery contention that this world of ours is, after all, ‘not a bad world to live in,’ being delightedly received by an audience which had good personal reasons for concurring in such a sentiment.”6 Science was not taken seriously; the forms of organized religion were stressed, but the real creed at Eton was Respectability. Salt’s own fall from respectability was hastened by the “disgrace” of his brother-in-law and close friend, J. L. Joynes, Jr., also a master at Eton.

Impressed with Henry George’s Progress and Poverty, Joynes accompanied its author to Ireland in the summer of 1882, where George had been urging the nationalization of land. When they were almost immediately arrested under the Prevention of Crime Act, Joynes wrote a vivid account for the Times. After the editor refused to publish the later installments, Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. soon published the articles in a pamphlet entitled The Adventures of a Tourist in Ireland. The Times article caused a tremendous scandal at Eton, and when the advertisement announcing the pamphlet appeared, the Headmaster informed Joynes that “he must choose between his mastership and his book.”7 After Joynes resigned, he served briefly as coeditor of Christian Socialist; became a prominent member of the Social Democratic Federation and a contributor to Justice, the SDF weekly which was founded with Edward Carpenter’s financial help; and also worked with William Morris on The Commonweal. Joynes introduced his brother-in-law to many well-known Socialists and reformers of England: G. B. Shaw, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, H. M. Hyndman, John Burns, H. H. Champion, Belfort Bax, Eleanor Marx, and Dr. Aveling.

Not only was Salt being radicalized by his new acquaintances, he also became “tainted” with Vegetarianism, a cause adopted by several of his new friends. Vegetarianism was in some ways thought to be worse than Socialism for “it had to be practised as well as preached.” Salt was regarded as a lunatic for believing that eating flesh was cruel to animals and degrading to man. Gradually, he says, the conviction was “forced on me that we Eton masters, however irreproachable our surroundings, were but cannibals in cap and gown-almost literally cannibals, as devouring the flesh and blood of the higher non-human animals so closely akin to us, and indirectly cannibals, as living by the sweat and toil of the classes who do the hard work of the world.”8

No longer believing in upper middle-class values, and becoming critical of the educational system of Eton, Salt and his wife decided to leave. Bernard Shaw speculated that Salt had been trying to save enough money to “buy a pension of £800 a year.... When he read a book in which Edward Carpenter advocated ‘the simple life,’ and said that it could be lived on £160 a year, which was just what Salt had by that time accumulated, he instantly shook the dust of [Eton] off his feet....”9

Salt wrote in his Seventy Years Among Savages that he read Carpenter’s essays while at Eton and learned “it was possible to dispense with the greater part of the trappings with which we are encumbered, and to live far more simply and cheaply than was dreamed of in polite society.”10 Carpenter, who often quoted Thoreau in his essays, had discovered Thoreau’s works in 1883, just as he was beginning to write and lecture on social issues, and being converted to Socialism. His life at Millthorpe embodied many Thoreauvian elements, and it is clear that Carpenter’s version of Thoreau’s simplified life set an example for many young radicals. Carpenter’s own Socialistic views were Ethical rather than Marxist.

Salt’s account of his farewell interview with Dr. Warre, Eton’s Headmaster, is full of remarkable insights into the Respectability of Eton: “Most kindly he expressed his regret that I had lost faith in that public school system to which he himself, as all Etonians are aware, devoted a lifetime of unsparing service. ‘It’s the Vegetarianism,’ he gravely remarked; and I understood him to mean that it was the abandonment of the orthodox diet that had led ... to my apostasy in regard to Education. When I told him that Socialism must take its share of blame, as having been at least an auxiliary cause, he was really shocked. ‘Socialism!’ he cried in his hearty tones. ‘Then blow us up, blow us up! There's nothing left for it but that.’”11

Salt may have done no more than read about Thoreau before he left Eton for a cottage in Surrey. But at this cottage, where the Salts often entertained their new friends, he began a serious study of Thoreau. Among the visitors to the isolated cottage was W. J. Jupp, an ardent Thoreauvian, and one of the founding members of the Fellowship of the New Life. In Jupp’s autobiography, The Wayfarer, previously unnoticed by Thoreauvians, there is a long chapter devoted to Thoreau, presenting him not only as naturalist but as an individualist, as a “relentless Thinker and searcher for truth.”12 He characterized Thoreau as intent upon facing reality, on escaping the shams and shibboleths of civilization. Jupp’s appreciative essay, remarkably clear and full, demonstrates pointedly the Thoreauvian influence upon the Ethical Socialists.

Jupp and Joynes were founding members of the Fellowship of the New Life, an organization begun by the peripatetic philosopher Thomas Davidson, who had Transcendental and Utopian ideas about founding a colony along communistic lines. The Fellowship did not develop in that fashion, however; though it did maintain a communal house in London for a short time, it was primarily a discussion group.

As part of its program the Fellowship published a journal called Seed-time from 1889 to 1895. Ramsay MacDonald, later to be Prime Minister, wrote his version of the development of Socialism in England:

When the New Fellowship was started ten years ago, Progress and Poverty had just been published. There was then no organised Socialist body in this country, for the Democratic Federation, which in the following year changed its name to the Social Democratic Federation, and widened its principles, professed no more revolutionary creed than Land Nationalisation. But the Socialist movement grew rapidly. Within two years there were at least four militant Socialist societies in London; the provinces began to move, and the new gospel found acceptance in this country. The Socialists were full of fight, and Mr. Hyndman predicted an economic revolution as a centenary commemoration of the political revolution in France. Regimentalism was the order of the day. A moral new order was to follow economic and political change.

The Fellowship, influenced by Thoreau and Emerson rather than by Marx and Hyndman, stood somewhat aloof, although in sympathy with the ideals of the Socialist societies. At the risk of being called diletantist, whilst others were active it felt that it had to insist upon the necessity of moral reform, as well as of political and economic reform.13

Shaw picked up this latter idea when he noted: “The Fabian Society was warlike in its origin: it came into existence through a schism in an earlier society for the peaceful regeneration of the race by the cultivation of perfection of individual character. Certain members of that circle, modestly feeling that the revolution would have to wait an unreasonably long time if postponed until they personally had attained perfection, set up the banner of Socialism militant; seceded from the Regenerators; and established themselves independently as the Fabian Society.”14 Salt was to be a member of both groups, though his greater sympathies were with “the Regenerators.”

Salt actually began publishing on Thoreau in Justice, the newspaper of the SDF. In November of 1885, a few months after he left Eton, he published an article on Thoreau which has not previously been noticed:

Among those American writers who have denounced the anomalies and tyranny of Transatlantic government and society none have done so more eloquently than Henry Thoreau. Though not a professed Socialist, but appealing rather to the individual capabilities of man, Thoreau deserves to be attentively studied by every social reformer; his chief book, Walden, being not only remarkable for its intensity of moral purpose and high literary power, but containing also the record of a very interesting experiment in practical life.

After a short account of Thoreau’s career (he could not assume that many readers had ever heard of Thoreau), Salt continued:

In Walden we find the essence of Thoreau’s teaching, and also the record of his experience of unconventional life. He found that by working about six weeks in the year he could meet all the expenses of living, and have free time for study the whole of his winters as well as most of his summers–a discovery which might throw considerable light on the solution of certain social problems in our own country. Even if we allow an ample margin for the peculiar circumstances of his case, and the favourable conditions under which he made his experiment, the conclusion seems to be inevitable that the burden of labour which falls on the human race is not only very unfairly distributed but is also unnecessarily heavy. Thoreau did a real service to the cause of Socialism by practically demonstrating the truth of Socialist calculations, and proving how little labour is sufficient to support mankind. We may regret that he did not proceed to the question “What then becomes of all the immeasurable wealth produced by the vast labour of our toilers in town and country who are themselves left in a condition of life-long penury and want?” On this social question Thoreau does not enter; but confines himself to showing what every individual may do in the way of simplicity and self-help. He cannot claim therefore to give any complete solution of the great social problem; for it is obvious that no amount of self-help can by itself avail much in the overwhelming struggle for existence that is going on in every great town. An inhabitant of Concord might walk out a mile or two, and build himself a hut by Walden Pond; but there is no such refuge to the dweller in the East End of London; Victoria Park does not offer the advantages of Walden. Still there is no doubt that Thoreau's teaching is perfectly true as far as it goes; the world is not yet sufficiently awake to the fact that a great part of its evils are due to luxury, extravagance, and a foolish striving after unnecessary “comforts” and personal possessions. On many points Thoreau’s opinions will commend themselves to all Socialists. He insists on the advisability of some education, in manual work instead of the usual flimsy university education. He condemns the factory system where the condition of the workmen is daily becoming worse and worse.... He has discovered that “trade curses everything it handles,” and that the “model farms” of modern days are huge delusions and impostures.... Very severe too are his strictures on the profit-mongering, manslaughtering Railway systems of America.... But in no part of “Walden” is the writing more vigorous and trenchant than when Thoreau is expressing his contempt for the cant and humbug of “charity” and “philanthropy.” ...

Salt concluded with a paragraph, which could only have aroused the emotions of his Socialist audience:

I will conclude with a quotation from Walden which might easily be mistaken for one of the most eloquent passages in Henry George’s Progress and Poverty. It is on the subject of modem civilisation. “But how do the poor minority fare? Perhaps it will be found that just in proportion as some have been placed in outward circumstances above the savage, others have been degraded below him. The luxury of one class is counterbalanced by the indigence of another. On the one side is the palace, on the other are the almshouse and ‘silent poor.’ The myriads who built the Pyramids to be the tombs of the Pharaohs were fed on garlic and it may be were not decently buried themselves. The mason who finishes the cornice of the palace returns at night perchance to a hut not so good as a wigwam. It is a mistake to suppose that in a country where the usual evidences of civilization exist, the condition of a very large body of the inhabitants may not be as degraded as that of savages. Such to a greater or less extent is the condition of the operatives of every denomination in England, which is the great workhouse of the world.”

Although this essay is propagandistic, most of the SDF leaders never became Thoreauvians. Thoreau is not mentioned in the two volumes of H. M. Hyndman’s reminiscences, and it is safe to say that of American writers Henry George, not Thoreau or Whitman or Emerson, was more read by the rank-and-file SDF members.

Salt, after his first heady days adrift from Eton began to draw away from doctrinaire Socialism, and in his next essay on Thoreau, published in 1886 in Temple Bar, he took a much broader view of Thoreau for whom he was interested in gaining a wide general audience. He pointed out the lack of a good biography, and made careful use of much of the printed material on the subject. He had read most of Thoreau’s works then in print, although the collected works including the fourteen volumes of journals were not published until 1906. He had read also the memoirs or essays by H. A. Page, W. Ellery Channing, J. R. Lowell, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Emerson. After a brief biographical sketch, Salt analyzed Thoreau's main philosophic ideas. He emphasized Thoreau's belief in “the perfectibility of man,” his reverence for ancient philosophies and religions, his attempts to simplify life and to avoid luxuries, his individualism, and his humanitarian views. He stressed Thoreau the naturalist as well as the social thinker and saw the importance of the essay on Civil Disobedience.

It was a well-informed, balanced work, remarkably so in light of Salt’s having to rely entirely on printed sources. Since he decided to expand his essay into a full-length study, he began requesting information from those who had known Thoreau–or those who could provide information. For example, Salt wrote Daniel Ricketson, setting out in detail the purpose of his projected biography: “My object is to give (1) a clear and succinct account of Thoreau’s life, gathering up and arranging in their due order all the scattered records of him to be found in periodicals, as well as the information given by Messrs. Channing, Sanborn, and Page. (2) A fuller and more serious estimate of Thoreau’s doctrines than any hitherto published, and a critique of his literary qualities. The book will consist of about ten or twelve chapters, the first two-thirds of it being biographical and the remaining third critical. I shall aim throughout at interpreting rather than criticising in the ordinary sense, it being my belief that in the case of such a real man of genius as Thoreau, it is the duty of the critic to accept him thankfully, and not to carp unduly at his limitations, though of course not shutting his eyes to them.”15 Salt’s attempts to gather new information were successful, and F. B. Sanborn, H. G. O. Blake, Daniel Ricketson, Dr. E. W. Emerson, Edward Hoar, Col. T. W. Higginson, Dr. A. H. Japp (H. A. Page), John Burroughs, W. S. Kennedy, and Dr. Samuel A. Jones were mentioned for having contributed to the study.

Most noteworthy in the biography of Thoreau which Salt published in 1890 and revised in 1896, is its presentation of Thoreau as a human being, writer, and social thinker. Salt was able to convey the greatness of the man, to celebrate his individualism. The biography is remarkably sane in accepting Thoreau as he was; for using in an imaginative way sources available to illuminate the poet-naturalist's character; for emphasizing Thoreau’s simplicity, style, humour, love of paradox; and for presenting him as a deliberate artist.

Salt seriously considered the defects and character blemishes of Thoreau as cited by Lowell, Stevenson, Emerson, and others, but defended him when he found the attacks unjust. In the concluding paragraph of both the 1890 and 1896 editions, he observed: “We shall do wisely in taking him just as he is, neither shutting our eyes to his defects nor greatly deploring their existence, but remembering that in so genuine and distinctive an individuality the ‘faults’ have their due place and proportion no less than the ‘virtues.’”16

Salt read Thoreau with rare understanding; almost everything of Salt’s own humanitarian articles, biographies, pamphlets pleading for social justice, and his autobiographies are infused with a Thoreauvian spirit. Like that of Thoreau, his audience was small. Justice, for example, did not review the biography, perhaps because the overt Socialist slant was no longer present. In 1895 when he wrote Bentley for permission to revise the Thoreau for the Walter Scott edition of 1896, Salt noted, “I hope that a cheap edition may be the means of selling some copies of the original one. I am sorry, for your sake as well as my own, that the book fared so badly.”17

II

Thoreau’s fame was also being spread by Robert Blatchford, the journalist who became converted to Socialism in 1889 through reading A Summary of the Principles of Socialism by H. M. Hyndman and William Morris, and through his visits to slums. His fame as a Socialist popularizer grew; he was one of the founders of the Independent Labour Party, and in 1891 he began, with several others, the weekly journal, the Clarion. Stanley Pierson in Marxism and the Origins of British Socialism has noted that the newspaper and the societies and clubs which grew up around it “were symptomatic of heightened self-consciousness in the lower classes.”18 Blatchford in Merrie England set out to describe a “happier and more just society.” Merrie England first appeared in installments in the Clarion in 1893 and was soon available in inexpensive editions which sold about two million copies. Blatchford recommended the reading of Walden to enable readers to “be in a better position to follow me.”19 His essays are liberally laced with quotations from Thoreau, but the Thoreauvian element is largely in the call for the simplification of life and in throwing over old values in search for a more “spiritual” life. The quotations undoubtedly brought Walden to the attention of many working-class readers, and several sections are close paraphrases from Walden. As an example, in Chapter II of Merrie England, Blatchford wrote: “A life which consists of nothing but eating, and drinking, and sleeping, and working is not a human life–it is the life of a beast. Such a life is not worth living. If we are to spend all our days and nights in a kind of penal servitude, continually toiling and suffering in order to live, we had better break at once the chains of our bitter slavery, and die.”20 Although in his autobiography, My Eighty Years, Blatchford does not mention Thoreau, in his My Favourite Books, in a long essay on Gilbert White’s Selborne, he compared Thoreau unfavourably with White, complaining of Thoreau’s introspection and his “thrusting of his puny, greedy, eager soul betwixt one’s gaze and Nature.”21 Blatchford clearly did much to bring attention to Thoreau in England, but he should not be considered an ardent Thoreauvian, as Salt and Carpenter were.

III

Carpenter and Salt, among the Socialists, were the ones most directly influenced by Thoreau. Other Socialists were aware of Thoreau; for example, Shaw maintained that Salt never convinced him to read Thoreau, but he was aware of Thoreauvian enthusiasm. Shaw also wrote in the Preface to Salt and His Circle: “It was Salt who introduced William Archer to me. Both of them were Thoreau specialists: Salt wrote the life of Thoreau and William Archer called his cottage Walden.... I was never of the bird-watching or flower-hunting group but followed Thoreau and Carpenter in having a hut well away from the house in which to do my writing. My reason, however, was of a more practical kind. No woman likes a man about the house: men-in-house is a worse disease than meningitis. Neither Thoreau nor Carpenter had this difficulty.”22

Fabian Tract No. 29 (1901), entitled “What to Read on Social and Economic Subjects,” did not include Thoreau. There is no evidence that such influential Socialists as Sidney and Beatrice Webb, John Burns, Belfort Bax, or William Morris were influenced by Thoreau. Histories of Socialism in England such as Joseph Clayton’s The Rise and Decline of Socialism in Great Britain 1884-I924 (1926), Peter d'A. Jones’s The Christian Socialist Revival (1968), A. M. McBriar’s Fabian Socialism and English Politics 1884-1918 (1962), Edward R. Pease’s The History of the Fabian Society (1918), Stanley Pierson’s Marxism and the Origins of British Socialism (1973), and others, do not mention Thoreau’s influence on English Socialism.

It is true, however, that during the 1890’s in England, it became increasingly easy for Socialists and non-Socialists alike to read Thoreau. The Scott Library in 1896 advertised inexpensive editions (1s 6d) of Walden, A Week, and Thoreau’s Essays. Salt edited Thoreau’s Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers in 1890 and both Poems of Nature and Selections from Thoreau in 1895. There were many other cheap editions of Thoreau’s works.

The well-known accounts of Canby, Condry, and Harding are somewhat misleading, for the Social Democratic Federation, the Fabians, the Christian Socialist groups were not instrumental in spreading Thoreau’s reputation. It was Salt, Carpenter, and other Regenerators, and the Independent Labour Party popularizer Robert Blatchford who were the prime movers in bringing Thoreau to the attention of readers in late Victorian England.

Notes

1 Henry Seidel Canby, Thoreau (Boston, 1939), 447. Laurence Victor Thompson in Robert Blatchford: Portrait of an Englishman (London, 1951) says that Merrie England was first printed on Nov. 9, 1893. The British Museum does not have a copy but does have two editions dated 1894, one of which is listed as a sixth edition. Canby was following the incorrect dating of Merrie England and some of the questionable conclusions on Thoreau and Socialism in James Playsted Wood, “English and American Criticism of Thoreau,” THE NEW ENGLAND QUARTERLY, VI, 741 (Dec., 1933).
2 William Condry, “A Hundred Years of Walden,” reprinted in Eugene F. Timpe, editor, Thoreau Abroad (Hamden, Connecticut, 1971), 25.
3 Walter Harding, A Thoreau Handbook (New York, 1961), 194.
4 See M. Beer, A History of British Socialism (London, 1940); Joseph Clayton, The Rise and Decline of Socialism in Great Britain 1884-1924 (London, 1926); Henry Pelling, The Origins of the Labour Party 1880-1900 (London, 1965); Stanley Pierson, Marxism and the Origins of British Socialism (Ithaca, 1973); Philip P. Poirier, The Advent of the British Labour Party (New York, 1958); Peter d'A. Jones, The Christian Socialist Revival 1877-I9I4 (Princeton, 1968); A. M. McBriar, Fabian Socialism and English Politics 1884-1918 (Cambridge, 1962). For some first-hand accounts see Havelock Ellis, My Life (Boston, 1939); Ernest Belfort Bax, Reminiscences and Reflexions of a Mid and Late Victorian (New York, 1920); Henry Mayers Hyndman, The Record of an Adventurous Life (New York, 1911) and Further Reminiscences (London, 1912).
5 Henry S. Salt, Seventy Years Among Savages (London, 1921), 17.
6 Salt, 52.
7 Salt, 58.
8 Salt, 64.
9 Stephen Winsten, Salt and His Circle. With a Preface by Bernard Shaw (London, 1951), 9.
10 Salt, 73.
11 Salt, 65.
12 William J. Jupp, Wayfarings: A Record of Adventure and Liberation in the Life of the Spirit (London, [1918]), 120.
13 J. R. McDonald, “The New Fellowship,” Seed-time No. 12, 1 (April, 1892). “McDonald” is obviously the spelling of the printer.
14 G. Bernard Shaw, The Fabian Society: Its Early History. Fabian Tract No. 41, 3-4 (London, 1892).
15 Anna and Walton Ricketson (editors), Daniel Ricketson and his Friends (Boston, 1902), 249-250.
16 H. S. Salt, The Life of Henry David Thoreau (London, 1890), 297; Henry S. Salt, Life of Henry David Thoreau (London, 1896), 199.
17John T. Flanagan, “Henry Salt and his Life of Thoreau,” THE NEW ENGLAND QUARTERLY, XXVIII, 246 (June, 1955).
18 Stanley Pierson, Marxism and the Origins of British Socialism (Ithaca, 1973), 153.
19 Robert Blatchford, Merrie England (London, 1894), 12.
20 Blatchford, 16.
21 Robert Blatchford, My Favourite Books (London, 1901), 160. Salt does not discuss Blatchford in his autobiographies, but he wrote to Dr. Samuel Arthur Jones on March 1, 1901, “I am posting you Mr. Blatchford’s ‘My Favourite Books.’ Blatchford was a soldier who turned writer and socialist, and has a great vogue among a certain section of working men for a sort of serio-jocose journalistic style which he has elaborated in his weekly paper The Clarion. I do not like either his philosophy or his physiognomy.” Since Salt was a committed Socialist himself, he undoubtedly meant that he disagreed with Blatchford’s journalistic approach to Socialism and to Blatchford’s approach to Thoreau. In the copy of My Favourite Books which he mailed to Dr. Jones, Salt had pasted in his letter to The New Age, published on Nov. 15, 1900, which made a strong attack on Blatchford’s “unmerited sneer at one of the most single-hearted, self-restrained, and unambitious of men.” Salt believed that Blatchford had “no sympathy with a certain class of genius”–that is, Thoreau's genius. The late Mrs. P. V. B. Jones allowed me to examine the Thoreau materials from the collection of Dr. Jones in the library of her late husband, Professor P. V. B. Jones of the History Department of the University of Illinois and most kindly gave me permission to quote from those papers. Mr. Paul Haller Jones, son of Professor and Mrs. Jones, has generously continued that permission.
22 Winsten, 13-14.

George Hendrick

The New England Quarterly, 1977

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