John Burroughs, Winter Sunshine
, VII (The Apple
Emerson, I believe, has spoken of the apple as the social fruit of New England. Indeed, what a promoter or abettor of social intercourse among our rural population the apple has been, the company growing more merry and unrestrained as soon as the basket of apples was passed round!
But the apple failed to promote or abet social intercourse among the company at Emerson's house during the soiree described by Walter Harding, The Days of Henry Thoreau
(1970; rpt. New York: Dover, 1982), p. 174:
Emerson, delighted to have so many stimulating young men gathered around him, decided in the fall of 1844 to organize a weekly discussion group, which was to meet Monday evenings in his library. Alcott, Hawthorne, Thoreau, George Bradford, the Curtis brothers, and Channing were all invited to attend. The first Monday evening there was an uneasy silence as though, as George Curtis recalls, each were asking, "Who will now proceed to say the finest thing that has ever been said?" Finally Alcott made one of his most orphic sayings. Silence. Thoreau made a brief observation. More silence. Emerson beamed and said nothing. Hawthorne shrunk further into the shadowed corner of the room. Finally a bowl of apples was brought in and each munched in silence. When the end of the long evening came, each disappeared his own way into the darkness. Two more Monday evenings they assembled but with no more success.