Kirk lectured on “Education in an EgalitarianrnSociety,” mentioning that therernwere still a few good universities for graduaternstudy in the humanities. I rememberrnhis brief account of InternationalrnCollege, a “university without walls”rnwhich offered an alternative to the typicalrnAmerican graduate-school programrnby reviving the old tutorial method,rnputting the student in direct contact withrnthe scholar. When I wrote to Dr. Kirk forrnmore information about this uniquernschool, he replied that he was a tutor ofrnhiternational College and that he occasionallyrntook students in literature. Thusrnthe groimd was prepared for my first visitrnto Piety Hill, a place to which I’ve returnedrnmany times over the years.rnAfter I visited with the Kirks in Augustrn1979 (to see if they could put up with mernand I with them), we decided that Irnwould study with Dr. Kirk for the master’srndegree. My studies commenced inrnMay 1980. Dr. Kirk’s gifts and abilihesrnastonished me then and now, for I havernnot yet met anyone like him. His broadrnand deep learning, his powerful memory,rnand his prodigious literar’ productivityrnwere amazing. He knew a little bitrnabout everything and a great deal aboutrnmany things. I believe he rememberedrnmost of what he read and heard. Herncould compose and type a single-spacedrnletter nearly as fast as I could read it, andrnhe would regularly work four to six hoursrnwithout leaving his desk and then, after arnshort break, work for another four to sixrnhours. His work ethic would shame thernproverbial ant, and it both shamed andrnastounded me. I was likewise amazed atrnthe energetic, vivacious, and indefatigablernAnnette, who somehow managed tornkeep Dr. Kirk’s busy schedule in orderrnwhile she supervised four daughters, directedrnanywhere from two to five residentrnassistants, and entertained frequentrn— and sometimes numerous —rnguests. I have not met anyone with herrncombination of energy, managementrnability, and generosity. Dr. Kirk and Annettern—the two of them together madernthe magic and charm of Pietv Hill. Theyrndeserve the admiration and gratitude ofrnthe many fortunate students who livedrnand studied with them in Mecosta.rnIt is amusing for me to reflect uponrnthe boundless and naive expectationsrnthat I had when Dr. Kirk began supervisingrnmy scholarly career. When we firstrndiscussed my program of studies, I toldrnDr. Kirk that I wanted to write a master’srnthesis on the idea of original sin in Westernrnliterature, beginning with the bookrnof Genesis, ending with William Eaulkner,rnand touching on all important writersrnand thinkers in between. Dr. Kirkrngently suggested a more modest approach,rnone befitting a budding scholar.rnWhy not treat the idea of original sin inrnconnection with one author, not all ofrnthe Western pantheon? he asked. Hernmentioned Samuel Johnson, NathanielrnHawthorne, or Richard Weaver as possiblernsubjects whose writings were informedrnin various ways and degrees byrnthe concept of original sin. Since I wasrnmost at home in the house of ficdon, Irnchose to work with Hawthorne.rnWith C.K. Chesterton, Dr. Kirk believedrnthat original sin was the one Christianrndoctrine empirically verifiable. Afterrnhe got to know me, he claimed that Irnwas pretty good evidence of its truth. Hernoccasionally said that my intimate acquaintancernwith sin, both original andrnactual, suited me for a stud’ of sin in thernwritings of the New England Romancer.rnNo doubt some of my students at I lillsdalernCollege (not to mention other peoplernwho know me) have also seen evidencernof original sin in me. I assure you,rnit is mutual. With Dr. Kirk and Chesterton,rnnot to mention St. Paul, I believernthat Old Man Adam is evident in all ofrnus.rnDr. Kirk, together with his neighborrnand friend Dr. Warren Fleischauer, supervisedrnthe early stages of my Hawthornernstudy. While Dr. Kirk recommendedrnbooks and discussed ideas withrnme. Dr. Fleischauer supervised my writing.rnI recall many painful but profitablernconferences with Dr. Eleisehauer, arnSamuel Johnson scholar with somethingrnof Johnson’s temperament and intolerancernfor foolishness and stupidity. Inrnshort, Warren Fleischauer did not sufferrnfools or bad writing gladly. Though Irnsmarted under his tutelage, I learnedrnmuch. He improved mv writing at thernrelatively small expense of my ego. Dr.rnKirk did not look at my writing until afterrnDr. Fleischauer’s criticism had been incorporatedrnin it. The day Dr. Kirk commendedrnme for the work I had done wasrnone of the most gratifying of my life.rnAfter two years of literary labor, I completedrnmy master’s thesis on “OriginalrnSin in the Short Stories and Essays ofrnNathaniel Hawthorne, With Ralph WaldornEmerson Serving as Hawthorne’srnFoil.” In December 1982,1 received myrndiploma from International College,rnwhich is now, I am sad to sav, defunct.rnIn those two ‘ears of reading, writing,rnand serving as Dr. Kirk’s literary assistant,rnI learned much about traditional conservatismrnfrom the Sage of Mecosta. I alsornlearned about Michigan. Before Irnmoved from western North Carolina uprnto Mecosta, the Great Lakes State didrnnot rank high in my list of attractivernplaces. The very name of the state conjuredrnup dismal industrial scenes fromrnthe great Motor City. I thought of what Irnhad seen in and around Detroit, in personrnand in the media: gargantuan factories,rnsprawling ghettos, race riots, pollutedrnlakes, and an urban area containingrnover four million people that stretchedrnthrough parts of five counties. With arnland area about the size of McDowellrnCount)’ (where I was born and raised),rnDetroit was glutted with 100 times thernpeople. Michigan, I thought, was arnplace where cars, Kellogg’s cereal, andrnAmway products were made. And so itrnis. But there is much more to the state, asrnanyone who has traveled off the fourlanernroads and busv streets knows. As Dr.rnKirk’s “chauffeur” —one of my numerousrnduties as his .student and assistant—Irncame to know the less-traveled areas ofrncentral Michigan in many drives fromrnrural Mecosta to regional airports inrnGrand Rapids and the Tri-Cities arearn(Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City). AtrnDr. Kirk’s insistence, we never used thernexpressways; instead, we always tookrnthe two-lane roads which went throughrnthe back countrv—through farmland,rnforests, and small towns and villages. Irnwas surprised to find that Michigan has arndiversified agricultural economy, a factrnwhich pleased Dr. Kirk. He called himselfrna “Northern Agrarian” (after thernSoutiiern Agrarians who wrote I’ll TakernMy Stand), and he enjoyed the rural andrneconomically humane features of centralrnMichigan. On these drives throughrnthe country. Dr. Kirk patronized locallyrnowned businesses—yet another indicationrnof his agrarianism.rnBut how could one help being agrarianrnif one lived in and loved Piety Hill?rnThe Kirk home overlooks Mecosta, arntiny village in the very heart or palm ofrnMichigan. When I was there, it boastedrna population of only 300 souls—somethingrnDr. Kirk frequently noted with obviousrnpleasme. It has not grown sincern1980. In the way of businesses and publicrnbuildings, Mecosta didn’t have muchrnto offer. But the countryside roundrnabout (and one did not have to go muchrnmore than 100 yards in any direction torn36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn