Annotations - Louisa May Alcott, "Transcendental Wild Oats" (1873)

struck into the conversation

This is a quotation from “The Consociate Family Life,” written by Charles Lane and Bronson Alcott, dated August 1843, and published in The New York Weekly Tribune (2 September 1843). The article was reprinted in The Liberator Vol. 13. xxxviii (22 September 1843): 152 and the New Age and Concordium Gazette Vol. 1. xi (1 November 1843): 116-120. These words are now attributed to Brother Lamb (Bronson Alcott), whereas the previous quotation was attributed to Brother Timon (Charles Lane). In the article, Lane and Alcott write:
In these steps of reform, we do not rely so much on scientific reasoning or physiological skill, as on the Spirit's dictates. The pure soul, by the law in its own nature, adopts a pure diet and cleanly customs ; nor needs detailed instruction for daily conduct. On a revision of our proceedings it would seem, that if we are in the right course in our particular instance, the greater part of man's duty consists in leaving alone much that he is in the habit of doing. It is a fasting from much of the present activity, rather than an increased indulgence in it, which, with patient watchfulness, tends to newness of life. —Shall I sip tea or coffee? the inquiry may be. —No. Abstain from all ardent, as from alcohol drinks. Shall I consume pork, beef, or mutton? Not if you value health or life. Shall I stimulate with milk? No. Shall I warm my bathing water? Not if cheerfulness is valuable. Shall I clothe in many garments? Not if purity is aimed at. Shall I prolong my dark hours, consuming animal oil, and losing bright daylight in the morning? Not if a clear mind is an object. Shall I teach my children the dogmas inflicted on myself, under the pretence that I am transmitting truth? Nay, if you love them, intrude not these between them and the Spirit of all Truth. Shall I become a hireling, or hire others? Shall I subjugate cattle? Shall I trade? Shall I claim property in any created things? Shall I adopt a form of religion? Shall I become a parent? Shall I interest myself in politics? To how many of these questions, could we ask them deeply enough, could they be heard as having relation to our eternal welfare, would the response be 'ABSTAIN?' (120)