The Diary of Caleb Wall

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 Biography
 Contents
 Responses to Lyceum Lectures

 

 

 

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Biographical Sketch

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Contents

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Wall's diary contains descriptions of nature and the things that he saw while on long walks to Leicester, Massachusetts to attend monthly Quaker meetings. Wall also reports of the lectures that he heard at the Worcester Lyceum. Some of the men that Wall talks about include Horace Mann and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The diary also includes astrological observations, details of annual exhibitions at Leicester Academy and, halfway through the journal, Wall writes short essays, poetry and a description of the Worcester area.

Responses

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Wall hears Horace Mann's lecture on education on November 21, 1840. Wall explains that education is the subject "which is the favorite of those who ardently feel for instruction and regeneration of their species, and who would see the whole of mankind pursuing this only road to happiness. The subject was remarkably well treated and illustrated by friend Mann, who showed himself worthy of the glorious cause in which he has been engaged. He dwelled mostly on the capability of our minds for receiving truth, and of the adaptation of external nature to the exercise of all our faculties, physical, intellectual, and moral, and illustrated by forcible instances the unspeakable advantages resulting from this exercise, as well as the degradation of which must accompany the neglect of it."

Wall later hears Ralph Waldo Emerson lecture in December of 1840, about domestic life. Wall explains that,
"Ralph Waldo Emerson, frequently a clergyman but who had since withdrawn himself from all religious church organizations. Subject, Domestic Life. It commenced with a beautiful and graphic description of Infancy, which he followed up to the growth of manhood. The lecturer's ideas seemed to be most engaged on a thorough reformation of the present mode of social life, so that a greater degree of equality could be maintained between the different orders of society. His language was some of it rather mystified, following the new philosophy of which he is a leader, which has received from others the name of Transcendentalism. Emerson's ideas were in general, correct, although he might have interfered greatly with some, especially with the "favored few" who are allowed to enrich themselves at the expense of the many. He may also have received the curses of some others, who worship idols in the shape of towering spires and velvet pulpits."

 

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