Richard Henry Dana, Sr. was acutely conscious that he was a man out-of-step with the antebellum ethos, an American High Tory in an era of rising democracy. Yet Dana was not some grouchy obsolete curmudgeon, and his withering critiques of America often hit their mark, exposing the weaknesses of liberty, democracy, and equality and bullishly advocating for the poet over the magnate.

Richard Henry Dana, Sr. lamented the lengthening record of misery born of Thomas Jefferson and the Revolution of 1800. Outlines of the French Revolution could be seen in America’s changes. Quiet thoughtfulness and introspection had given way to busyness and constant activity, and individualism and acquisitiveness subsumed familial, neighborhood, and community attachments. Men now feared loss of personal property more acutely than the loss of national soul. Sociability disappeared as men competed fiercely with one another for worldly goods and bristled impatiently at any inequality of condition. “[D]istinctions are now done away; there must be no visible marks; all are now jumbled together, without affinities, into one huge, unsocial mass, and called—the people.” Lack of social distinctions led to social mobility, perpetual discontentedness, and hyper-sensitivity to perceived disrespect or snobbery. Social equality was “in the long run, more anti-social in its effects than the law of the Turk.” Relations between master and servant shifted from mutual respect (and self-respect) to animosity and mistrust. Youth lacked all reverence for age, experience, and the lessons of history. For Dana, America in the 1830s, the apogee of Andrew Jackson, was a social and political mess, sunk by “that all-pervading, all-absorbing love of gain, which is our besetting sin; that tyranny of opinion, which leaves to no man the freedom of his own thoughts; that prying spirit, which mouses him out in his most secret retirements; and that meddling disposition, which puts shackles upon the freedom of his words and acts.”[1]

The American Revolution and its aftermath turned sour because of the omnipresence of ill-understood, ill-defined, and socially destructive ideas that became commonplace by the Age of Jackson. The first of these was liberty. Since, in the Jeffersonian mind, man was by nature a good creature, he needed few authoritative institutions and laws to guide him and was at liberty to live as he pleased. Any imposition on that natural liberty represented a type of slavery. Against Jefferson, Dana posited the need for a “well-regulated liberty” (borrowing the phrase from the Georgia Loyalist minister John Joachim Zubly) that freed men to live fully through firm hand of historically-validated institutions. There was no freedom without restraint, and “doing as one pleases” left man a slave to arbitrary urges and passions. Obedience and restraint trained citizens in contentedness over vain aspiration and disappointment. Institutional restraint allowed for “a wise discernment” and more stable attachments to family, place, and vocation. Real liberty was obedience to one’s nature, playing the part you were designed to play, revealed by humble introspection and self-knowledge. “The spirit of obedience is the parent to the spirit of love,” Dana claimed. Well-regulated liberty built character; “doing as one pleases” led to dissolute unhappy lives. The only real liberty was not the absence of restraint and submission, but an ordered soul.[2]

Economic, political, and social equality followed liberty. If liberty meant “doing as one likes,” then men would naturally compete with one another, particularly in markets. Governments, with little other responsibilities, enacted laws to ensure the fulfillment of contracts. What began as formal legal equality in the marketplace inevitably led to complaints of inadequate protections, as market competition left discontented losers, who then squawked about disadvantages and privileges, and demanded equality of opportunity. This in turn also failed to satisfy, as many still failed to compete successfully, and ignited embittered calls for equality of results. Ultimately, liberty and equality contradict; one negated the other. In addition, if all men were endowed with equal natural rights, any political distinctions or limitations on men exercising their franchise was an abomination, be they property qualifications, religious tests, or the exclusion of women from voting. For Dana, overly broad and theoretical Jeffersonian conceptions of rights generalized where they should be specific,

[A]s if a Right were [a] universal, all-applicable something, irrespective of subject, attributes, differences, resemblances, relations, individuals, species. So, of its brother, Equality—which is supposed a sameness of condition, alike regardless of adaptedness, in the individual, of that principle of particular diversities and contrarieties, balances, repulsions, and affinities, through which discords and varieties combine, and result in beautiful and grand harmonic whole.

How can you have a “right” if it runs contrary to human nature to exercise it? It was “necessary to ascertain how one is internally constituted, before there is such a thing as knowing what are one’s external affinities.” Jackson’s “Era of the Common Man” introduced uneducated, ill-informed, and unvirtuous citizens into the American political process based on a collection of so-called “natural rights” that qualified the dirt farmer for office because he was a man, not because of talent, wisdom, or knowledge. When distinctions between men disappeared, unlimited social mobility followed—no ceilings blocked advancement, no ranks prevented anyone’s ascent, no aristocracy wielded advantages above the rest.[3]

Dana regarded talk of equality in all its forms as “an arbitrary assumption, a factitious right,” founded on theory rather than reality. Behind the calls for levelling all distinctions was not benevolence or concern for humanity, but hatred of differences and love of power.

In this exercise of power they have little to bound them beside their own wills. No established customs sanctified by time and associations awaken a kindly relucting in their hearts; no varieties of numerous orders, high or low, lie across their way: It is one level, broad, trampled road… [W]hile there is any thing above them in heaven or earth, there is no equality for them; they must be stirring, and forming into parties, after freemen’s rights, that is, Equality, and that is—Power.

Institutions, traditions, customs, and distinctions dropped away, and “the love of power strengthens as obstacles lessen.” Unclean motives prompted these drives for equality too—hatred of excellence and envy. Thereafter, barriers frustrated superior men of talent, perception, aspiration, and motivation. Power-hungry demagogues and a herd of mediocrities eclipsed the capable. Liberty and equality “deprive each individual for the free exercise of his moral endowments and intellectual powers—of his self-denial, his prudence, his sagacity, his enterprise, his industry, and his strength of will… there is no Liberty without settled limits and restraints, and without inequalities in the social system, no security to rights.” Like agitation for liberty incited passion to exceed limits, crusades for equality resisted institutional restraints based on the variable natures and self-control of men.[4]

His doubts over equality led to skepticism over the wisdom of universal public education. The idea gained currency in Dana’s time that everyone should have an equal chance to distinguish themselves because everyone held within them untapped potential, and that education could release this. But aptitude was widely variant and though “each expects to rise to the top as naturally as cork in water, though the course of events are against it, the thousand are educated for that which possibly may be the good luck of the one.” Not everyone had the equal chance to rise. Abilities differed from person to person and the mind was not a lump of clay awaiting hands to shape it. “Our mental being is not a mere somewhat, made subject to the Will, to be moved hither and thither, and to do this or that, only because we would have it so.” Raising hopes for attaining wisdom only created false expectations. Curriculum were also poorly constructed by “a score of teachers with a score of discordant systems.” Children slotted by ability and station for a host of vocations were taught subjects of little use to them, like “Embroidery, the piano-forte, bad French, and—for what is called composition—worse English.” All this created aspirations among young people to be what they can never be; “pretence to that which is not really ours unfits us for the use of that which is.”[5]

Dana was also highly critical of the women’s suffrage movement. He had no interest in female political equality, seeing behind it the erasure of natural, as opposed to socially constructed, differences between the sexes. “[T]his difference should be regarded as a law grounded in their several natures, and not to be broken without materially impairing them—a law and not an accident which has come about through peculiar circumstances, not as something arbitrarily instituted by man.” He viewed the social roles of men and women as woven into their natural states, with marriage as a “union of opposites.” Since humans were fallen imperfect creatures, everyone had a deficiency and an excess; our deficiencies were corrected by those we need, our excess helped fulfill others, “thus mutually alternating, till both are completed through a process of mutual imparting and receiving… every attempt of one order or sex of beings to find in itself, or to create in and for itself alone, that which properly belongs to its opposite, goes to diminish and, finally, destroy, attributes peculiar to itself.” These lacks and excesses were the sources of attraction, since “Sameness hath no affinities.”[6]

Respecting distinctions between men and women demonstrated a “sense of Reverence” and restraint. Just as healthy civilizations reverenced God, and the government and laws emanating from Him, so too should humans reverence social relations, of divine origin and sown into human nature. Lack thereof and instead exhibiting a “spirit of resistance” led to a disordered self and a disordered society. Dana feared “there would be no longer Man nor Woman—but the earth would be overrun by a new race—a race of moral and mental hybrids.” Resistance was part of a broader antebellum reformist trend questioning the tried and customary:

For restlessness at the restraints which general regulation imposes; a dislike of the authority which the old and established bears in its aspect; a self-gratulatory assumption that the new of our finding out must be better; the vague and admiring wonderment which novelty, wanting the modifying and humbling uses of experience, excites; a propensity to make duties abroad, rather than to fulfill duties at home; a busybody spirit and, its common yoke-fellow, love of notoriety—these are often mistaken for philanthropy and a call to some unusual work.

Though he criticized women’s rights activists, Dana took them seriously. Women like Lucretia Mott “never make their appearance, possessed by new theories, or exhibiting new forms of mind, independent of the age in which they live—These take more or less the hue of the sky then overhead.” On this issue, Dana well recognized he was rowing against the current.[7]

Dana was notably quiet about slavery. He never mused over the peculiar institution in his writings on equality. His broadsides against free society in 1833 and 1835, however, came at a time of roiling slavery controversies—Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831, the British abolition of slavery in the Empire in 1834, the Boston “Gentlemen’s Riot” against abolitionists and the burning of anti-slavery pamphlets in South Carolina in 1835, the Gag Rule of 1836, among others. Some readers and listeners no doubt believed Dana, at least tacitly, defended Southern slavery. But Dana was a staunch Northern Whig and later a Republican, and father of one of the North’s most eminent abolitionists. Dana was no New England George Fitzhugh advocating a universal slavery of white and black. His political and social commentary and observations on liberty, equality, and democracy were aimed at restoring an American aristocracy swallowed by Jeffersonian and Jacksonian populism. His eyes were firmly on the tragedy of 1800, not southern plantations.

Enlightenment natural rights and the liberty of men to do as they please led to democratic self-government, a system Dana called “tyranny of the many.” If men were fallen creatures who needed the restraint of guiding institutions, democracy with its broadening franchise and frequent elections invited disaster. First, the “popular principle” of government led to worship of the self, a narcissistic democratic voter who believed himself the font of all decisions rather than leaders, institutions, and laws. Democratic government “must destroy reverence in the soul, and generate pride… There is reason to fear that the sensitiveness of a man, upon all that touches the republic, is too often nothing else than self, and that it is he, in feeling, who stands for the body politic.” Self-centered democratic man became as fickle and demanding as a customer at a store, insisting from government that which it cannot reasonably give. “So those who are impatient under settled and old authority are the most capricious masters, and the most unreasonable and overbearing in their demands.” Second, democratic citizens who esteemed themselves in a political system of constant change, rotating leadership, and impermanent laws lacked all respect for government. Incessant elections and political leaders who only served a few years drew little reverence; political disorder earned no obedience. The “hot haste of innovation” eroded all loyalty for anything greater than man himself.[8]

Third, change and “progress” in democratic societies often moved hazardously fast with few thoughts on the larger (or unintended) consequences. Dana regarded rapid change as the “most reckless form of despotism.”

There are so many interests to be consulted, so many minor rights to be respected, so many different prejudices to be regarded, that change, to make its way at all, must work along slowly and deviously through these; and as some streams take the tinge of the soil, so change thus moving forward, takes a hue from the very things it is meant to affect, while, by an almost imperceptible alteration, society is preparing for this change, and change conforming itself, in a degree, to the nature of the society; and thus strangeness and an unsuitableness of parts are avoided, and an agreeable and healthy homogeneousness is the result.

But democracy hates the permanent things. Institutions, traditions, and customs impervious to change are anti-democratic and therefore ripe for destruction. “Change is a grand object with them,” Dana noted of democratic men, “because permanency in Law is, in itself, control. Whatever has stood for a length of time is not only in their way, but is an offense to their pride, as something not yet subjected to their power, nor bearing marks of their authority. To be older than they, is usurpation, insult, and wrong.” Like equality, democracy aimed for power.[9]

Americans steeped in egalitarian democratic ideas were fierce individualists and narcissists, resulting in a loathing of the past. If the present represented progress away from illiberal social systems and authoritarian government, the past necessarily became a distasteful place—a foreign country surveyed only to convince contemporary Americans how wonderful they were. Dana observed this hatred of history in the modernization and “renovation” of colonial homes, and the casual discarding of ancestral objects that no longer fit the times. In 1817, he composed an essay for the North American Review entitled “Old Times,” written, he claimed, sitting in an old gentleman’s chair, “which I found standing calm and stately upon its four legs, amidst the disordered rubbish of the garret. The mice have made a hole in the smooth leather bottom, which, however, I have never mended, as I keep it to remind me of the neglect and ingratitude of the world.” By abusing such objects, Dana believed we showed little sense of mortality—as if banishing chairs to the attic helped us avoid thinking of dead ancestors, and hence death itself—or contemplation of human frailty and the “portentous uncertainty of the future.” He recalled watching shadows slowly cross a room in an ancient house, “silent as midnight, till they seemed to me as monitors from the land of the dead, who had come in kindness to tell me of the vanity of present things.” The old chair had occupied its place near the fireplace so long, it acquired the space by “prescriptive right.” It remained there as a link in the great chain of being, connecting descendants to their ancestors.

It was no new-fangled thing, bought yesterday because in fashion, and set up for the gibes of the smart auctioneer to-day because out. It had been adored by the patient industry and quant fancy of our mothers, and had the honour of having sustained the weight of our ancestors for a century or more. Putting it away would have been neglecting our fathers, and the unkindly cutting off of remembrance that had taken root and grown up in the heart. Each piece of furniture had its story to tell, and every room in the antique mansion made the mind serious and busy with the past, and threw a sentiment and feeling, softening but cheerful, over present times.

But the old homes were renovated and physical reminders of the past, which allowed us “converse with the inanimate,” exiled from our lives.[10]

This type of historical narcissism, that berated the past to stroke the present, showed ingratitude towards ancestors. “For whatever has been touches on whatever is; the present would not be as it is, had the past been different from what it was… He who has no reverence for the past is an unnatural son, mocking at age, and foreswearing his own father.” Men who ignore, condemn, or mock history are not in “right relation to the past” but merely use it to flatter the present, and by extension themselves.[11]

The sum total of all these errors—liberty, democracy, equality, hatred of the past—was a nation sick with materialism and lack of culture. Dana mistrusted businessmen and believed Americans cared too little for the spirit of tradition and order, preferring instead the earthy “spirit of gain,” where outward appearance mattered more than inner contemplation. “Your thorough equalizers are, of all people, the most apt to estimate a man according to his outer rather than inner state, by his accidents rather than substance, by the circumstantial rather than the essential.” Americans held practicality as the highest virtue; all else was a waste of talent and time. “We hold every thing lightly, which is not perceived to go immediately to some practical good—to lessen labor, increase wealth, or add to some homely comfort,” Dana observed. “It must have an active, business-like air, or it is dreaded as a dangerous symptom of the decay of industry among us.” The United States in the time of Jefferson and Jackson was obsessed with business and profit to exclusion of all else, even the life of the mind.[12]

In the chase for profit, culture and literature became “mere amusements,” instrumental pastimes to relax people after a hard day. Dana condemned the attitude of mocking cultural creativity as the work of lazy men incapable of succeeding in business, law, or science. “[P]oets are set down as a sort of intellectual idlers, and sober citizens speak of them with a shake of the head, as they would talk of some clever idler about town, but, as to any serious purpose, is now lost to the world.” When artists produced popular works, “it is made a cause of lament that so much talent should be thus thrown away.” Skepticism of culture, much like hatred of the past, also cut people off from their cultural inheritance and fed self-regard. “[F]amiliarity with that [which] was great and beautiful in former times keeps in check that over-weening vanity with respect to our own day—which is only a form of self-adulation in the individual—and fits us better to discern its faults, and to stand clear of their infection.” This suspicion of culture was why America lagged for decades in creating its own cultural identity after the Revolution.[13]

Dana’s portrayal is unrelentingly pessimistic as well as partially autobiographic—his own family’s declining status and fortunes, as well as his literary travails, undoubtedly fed his gloominess. Yet he also mapped out a better America than the one ruined by Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, a distinctly Tory path not taken. Dana’s alternative was one of hierarchy, restraint, and reverence, one that learned from and venerated the past, and encouraged cultural creativity.

For Dana, the primary question was “What Form of Government, or Law, is best suited to the individual and social nature of man?” The Boston Tory believed it was the hierarchical society of delineated social rank and privilege, with social mobility open to those of demonstrated excellence—as opposed to classless, mobile, eternally restless democracy where everyone is told there is nothing you cannot achieve or height you cannot scale. Dana’s alternative America was one of limits, an organic society where everyone understood his place and worked to excel each in his own fitted role, led by a heritable, educated, talented aristocracy open to infusions of new blood. It was a restoration of Anglo-America before the unpleasantness of 1776, or even adapting the political and social order of feudal Europe to antebellum American shores.[14]

Dana’s orderly society depended upon and reinforced a number of essential civic virtues: permanence and majesty, obedience and submission, reverence and veneration. He rejected Locke’s contractual explanation of the origin of law and government, as it undermined the divine origin and unity of spiritual and temporal law: “How prone we are to cut those relations right athwart; to consider, for instance, our religious character one thing, and our political character another—One set of ties to God, another to man… This principle of severance will never do.” Submission to God implied an organic temporal order that demanded to submission to law. Law was not “a mere arbitrary institution, set up by man himself, out of convenience and choice, to be taken down, remodeled, and put up again, at his good pleasure,” but something more permanent. Basing law and government in divine edict rather than consent sacralized law and gave it the aura of permanence and majesty, similar to Burke’s cloaking of government origins behind a “well-wrought veil.” People respected the law precisely because it did not have human origin or was malleable by human hands.[15]

This natural law held within it “a creating power, producing offspring from itself, to take care that it be respected and obeyed,” leaders and “orders” of authority who were “impersonations of Law.” People naturally respected this authority, said Dana. Witness the awe men showed in the presence of those wrapped in authority, a sort of “involuntary respect” that emanated from the heart. Obedience allowed for the enjoyment of authentic liberty, the liberty born of restraint, as opposed to the slavery of the passions and “the unquieted craving of the soul.” Democratic men exhibited no such respect, as laws and leaders were fleeting, and thus democracies were inherently chaotic with citizens showing little veneration for government.

So, where all the representatives of Law are of our own election, they keep not our reverence; and through our want of this, Law itself becomes a mere thing of convenience, a somewhat upon which to make experiments, a caterer to the self-conceit of man, and thus Obedience, in time, dies, and Order, which holds all in place, is broken up.

Men will not revere what is here today and gone tomorrow. If, instead, we viewed leaders as administrators of permanent, majestic Law, “a sanctity is thrown around them, as its ministers, and Law itself is the more revered.”[16]

This organic society of “well-regulated liberty” and obedience to law allowed man to understand the connections between spiritual and temporal authority, and in so doing allowed him to see his place in Heaven as well as his place on earth.

It was Pride that rebelled against God; it is Humility that restores man to Obedience; and as the same spirit that prepares a man for heaven fits him for his duties and relations here, so humility, shown forth through obedience, brings out his good affections, and imparts a beauty and sentiment, and a wise calmness, to every station and relation of his life.

Life was filled with all variety of stations based on inheritance and aptitude, and whereas democratic man complained of his situation, men in Dana’s organic society relished their rank and excelled within it. They stood in awe of the Law as an extension of heavenly order and revered its concomitant institutions.[17]

Obedience, sacralization of law, and the resulting spiritualization of men transformed the attitude of citizens. In their particular order, they developed loving attachments to family, place, and vocation, as well as “steadiness,” “contentedness,” and “wise discernment” of character. “Thus attachments grow around the occupations, the cares, the pleasures, and the intercourses of daily life; and where quiet attachments grow, there will sentiment, to refine the character, spring up.” No matter how high or low one’s station, the fact that it was inherited between generations lightened its burden and led to a “softened pride, softened by the filial affections and gentle remembrances… by a desire of doing well, not only for the sake of his individual character, but for that, too, of the class to which he belongs.” Security of place within orders led also to magnanimity between ranks and less class conflict, as every station was linked by two great chains of being: a vertical chain that linked them with members past and a horizontal one that ensured respect, attachment, and obedience between ranks. Harking back to medieval Europe, Dana suggested that era bragged more good will, mutual trust, protection, respect, and liberty than his day.

[T]hus we see the great community divided up into small communities, each happy in itself, and the happier because it is itself. For it will for ever hold true, however cosmopolitan we may grow, that we shall be happier and easier within our peculiar circle than with the world at large, and that, however much we may try to equalize the condition of individuals, ease and good-fellowship will never find their home in the great, general state, and that, as the lesser societies are merged in it, individuality will be merged in it, too, and man will lose his naturalness and internal freedom.

These small communities of “Established Orders” were like a series of brotherhoods linked by vocation, traditions, and habits of mind, whose civil life was neither democratic nor materialistic.[18]

A society steeped in sacralized Law and immemorial traditions venerated history and its moral lessons. Unlike antebellum Americans who used history to flatter the present and demonstrate “progress,” Dana believed history played a didactic role, not only becoming second nature through continuous study—“imperceptibly inwrought with our accustomed associations of feelings and thoughts, and thus partakes of their common life, and, by sharing in it, adds to it”—but adding to self-understanding and character development. Understanding history aided in the creation of social unity and developed “strong individuality,” a sort of unity that tolerated differences because of their common origins; “it partakes of the character of that from which it springs, and all the nourishment it absorbs from without is transformed into this individuality, and then transfused through it to invigorate and expand it, but not to change it.” Appreciating the past was seeing life there, not dusty old homes and dead personages but real places inhabited by real people. “A cross-beam in an old ceiling, a decayed post, an old-walking stick, is endowed by us with feeling, and sentiment, and power of converse, and every thing around us become to us life: we move amid nothing but living things.” Veneration of this material past nurtured the “retrospective virtues,” where nothing was truly dead and the past was a treasured home rather than a foreign country. Respect for the past also encouraged the “spirit of reverence,” as past forms and ancient institutions, even if materially destroyed, continued have spiritual control over us—“the past comes shadowing over us with the calm awe of eternity in it, and man beholds and reveres. Eternity is present with him, not as an intellectual abstraction, but in the images of whatever has once been.” The past was a universal ancestor demanding “filial respect.”[19]

If history had a moralizing function, literature and the humanities had a civilizing one. Once freed from tiresome yarns on the impracticality of culture, America could learn from the arts. Study of poetry and literature made people proud of nation and place. It “tones the higher virtues,” “smooths [sic] down the petty roughness of domestic life,” distracts the mind from the “tainted and wearing pleasures of the world,” “shames us from the follies and crimes, turns us to the love and study of what is good,” and helps us understand “the beauty of order and security.” The United States was excessively rational, with citizens as “mere reasoning machines” frittering away their souls getting and spending rather than understanding that poetry was as necessary to civilization as the cotton mill.[20]

Assailing the Enlightenment, Dana hailed the revelatory power of the moral imagination:

Was there not a profounder truth at work in that state of society which peopled the twilight with witches, and fairies, and dragons, and the wonders of magic art, than in that condition of the world in which knowledge has advanced so far as to scatter these illusions—if they be illusions—but in which the pride of knowledge has made a spiritual void around itself, by virtually proclaiming that nothing can be but what may be comprehended—nothing is, but what is known?

Poetry and arts offered an escape, where “we are let out, from the exactly-cut hedges, artificial mounds, and straight canals nicely sloped and sodded to the very brink, to the free and careless sweep of hills, the winding run of the stream, to which God seems to have given instinct enough to work its way through a strange country to his home in the sea.” Mirroring his earlier remarks on law, the humanities bridged the spiritual and temporal.[21]

Dana was acutely conscious that he was a man out-of-step with the antebellum ethos, an American High Tory in an era of rising democracy. “There was certainly some mistake about the time of my birth—I’m an impersonated Anachronism,” he wrote to a friend. “Interiorly I’m a gothic Cathedral, or a baronial Castle entertaining nobles, knights & ladies, minstrels, gypsies, ghosts & familiar fairies [sic]… I look out, & all around me I see my oaks felled, my deep forests opened to the day, & cross-cut by turnpikes, canals & railroads—nothing left of what belonged to that within, nothing to wed sympathy with, nothing like what once was.” Yet Dana was not some grouchy obsolete curmudgeon and his writings still instruct. His withering critiques of America often hit their mark, exposing the weaknesses of liberty, democracy, and equality and bullishly advocating for the poet over the magnate. As such, he also occupies a central place in the New England intellectual counter tradition, that conservative school of letters linking backward to Loyalism and the High Federalism of his father, and forward to the anti-modernism of Barrett Wendell, Henry Adams, and Ralph Adams Cram. Dana’s life and work demonstrates that New England was not a transcendentalist wasteland but fostered a vibrant insurgency at odds with emerging modern America.[22]

This essay is the second in a two-part series. The first may be read here.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.


[1] Richard Henry Dana, Sr., “Law as Suited to Man,” Poems and Prose Writings, Volume II (New York, Baker and Scribner, 1849), 87-88, 94.

[2] Dana, “Law,” 65, 74; Richard Henry Dana, Sr., “Woman” lecture in Shakespeare series, Massachusetts Historical Society, 5.

[3] Dana, “Woman,” 2-3.

[4] Dana, “Law,” 71, 81-82, 96.

[5] Dana, “Law,” 89-90; Dana, “Woman,” 25-26.

[6] Dana, “Woman,” 1, 8-9, 14.

[7] Ibid., 15-17, 21-22, 26-27.

[8] Richard Henry Dana, Sr., “The Past and Present,” Poems and Prose Writings, Volume II (New York, Baker and Scribner, 1849), 46-47; Dana, “Law,” 83.

[9] Dana, “Law,” 74, 81.

[10] Richard Henry Dana, Sr., “Old Times,” Poems and Prose Writings, Volume II (New York, Baker and Scribner, 1849), 4, 10-11.

[11] Dana, “Past and Present,” 23, 26.

[12] Richard Henry Dana, Sr., “Allston’s Sylphs of the Seasons,” Poems and Prose Writings, Volume II (New York, Baker and Scribner, 1849), 102-103; Dana “Law,” 67; Doreen M. Hunter. Richard Henry Dana, Sr. (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987), 28-29.

[13] Dana, “Sylphs,” 102-103; Richard Henry Dana, Sr., “Society’s Influence on the Poet” lecture in Shakespeare series, Massachusetts Historical Society, 33.

[14] Dana, “Law,” 53

[15] Ibid., 58-59.

[16] Ibid., 61, 63.

[17] Ibid., 64.

[18] Ibid., 64-66, 71.

[19] Dana, “Past and Present,” 17-23; The phrase “retrospective virtues” is from Wordsworth’s “Churchyard among the Mountains”:

But Human-kind rejoices in the might
Of mutability; and airy hopes,
Dancing around her, hinder and disturb
Those meditations of the soul that feed
The retrospective virtues. Festive songs
Break from the maddened nations at the sight
Of sudden overthrow; and cold neglect
Is the sure consequence of decay.

[20] Dana, “Allston’s Sylphs,” 103-104; Richard Henry Dana, Sr., “Edgeworth’s Readings on Poetry,” Poems and Prose Writings, Volume II (New York, Baker and Scribner, 1849), 134.

[21] Dana, “Society’s Influence on the Poet,” 17; Dana, “Allston’s Sylphs,” 105.

[22] Hunter, Dana, 113.

The featured image is a portrait of Richard Henry Dana, Sr. by William M. Hunt and is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. It has been brightened for clarity.

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