The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, Volume VII (of 20)

Page 96 of 99

I have thought, when walking in the woods through a certain retired dell, bordered with shrub oaks and pines, far from the village and affording a glimpse only through an opening of the mountains in the horizon, how my life might pass there, simple and true and natural, and how many things would be impossible to be done there. How many books I might not read!

Why avoid my friends and live among strangers? Why not reside in my native country?

Many a book is written which does not necessarily suggest or imply the phenomenon or object to explain which it professes to have been written.

Every child should be encouraged to study not man's system of nature but nature's.

Giles Fletcher knew how to write, and has left English verses behind. He is the most valuable imitator of the Spenserian stanza, and adds a moral tone of his own.


There is health in thy gray wing,

Health of nature's furnishing.

Say, thou modern-winged antique,

Was thy mistress ever sick? 472

In each heaving of thy wing

Thou dost health and leisure bring,

Thou dost waive disease and pain

And resume new life again.

Man walks in nature still alone,

And knows no one,

Discovers no lineament nor feature

Of any creature.

Though all the firmament

Is o'er me bent,

Yet still I miss the grace

Of an intelligent and kindred face.

I still must seek the friend

Who does with nature blend.

Who is the person in her mask,

He is the friend I ask;

Who is the expression of her meaning,

Who is the uprightness of her leaning,

Who is the grown child of her weaning.

We twain would walk together

Through every weather,

And see this aged Nature

Go with a bending stature.

The centre of this world,

The face of Nature, 473

The site of human life,

Some sure foundation

And nucleus of a nation,

At least, a private station.

It is the saddest thought of all, that what we are to others, that we are much more to ourselves,---avaricious, mean, irascible, affected,---we are the victims of these faults. If our pride offends our humble neighbor, much more does it offend ourselves, though our lives are never so private and solitary.

If the Indian is somewhat of a stranger in nature, the gardener is too much a familiar. There is something vulgar and foul in the latter's closeness to his mistress, something noble and cleanly in the former's distance. Yet the hunter seems to have a property in the moon which even the farmer has not. Ah! the poet knows uses of plants which are not easily reported, though he cultivates no parterre. See how the sun smiles on him while he walks in the gardener's aisles, rather than on the gardener.

Not only has the foreground of a picture its glass of transparent crystal spread over it, but the picture itself is a glass or transparent medium to a remoter background. We demand only of all pictures that they be perspicuous, that the laws of perspective have been truly observed. It is not the fringed foreground of the desert nor the intermediate oases that detain the eye and the imagination, but the infinite, level, and roomy horizon, where the sky meets the sand, and heavens and 474 earth, the ideal and actual, are coincident, the background into which leads the path of the pilgrim.

All things are in revolution; it is the one law of nature by which order is preserved, and time itself lapses and is measured. Yet some things men will do from age to age, and some things they will not do.

"Fisherman's Acct. for 1805[503] Began March 25
Dd Mr. Saml Potter 2 qts W I 3/ 1 lb sugar 10d $0.64
One Cod line 5/ 84
April 8 Qt W I 1/6 & 1 lb Sugar 10d & Brown Mug 48
9 Qt N E rum 1/ 10th Do. of Do 1/ 33
13 Qt N E rum & 1 lb Sugar 15th 2 Qts N E rum 2/ 62
17 Qt W I 1/6 Do N E 1/ lb Sugar 9d & Qt N E Rum 71
22 Qt N E rum 1/ lb sugar 9d & Qt N E rum 1/ 44
23 Qt N E rum 1/ Do of Do & sugar 5d 39
24 Qt N E rum 1/ lb sugar 9d 28
29 Qt N E rum 1/ & lb sugar 9d---30th Rum 1/ 44
May first Qt rum lb Sugar 1/5d 22
Qt N E rum 1/ & lb Loaf Sugar 9d 29
4 Qt rum 1/ Sugar 5d 22
6 Qt N E rum 1/ & lb good sugar 11d 31
7 Qt N E rum 1/8th Qt N E rum 1/ & lb Sugar 5d 40
11 Qt N E rum 11d lb Sugar 10d 29
15 Qt rum & lb Sugar 1/9 & Qt N E rum 44
16 To a Line for the Sceene 3/ 0.50
20 To Qt N E rum 11d lb Sugar 10d 0.29
21 To Qt N E rum 11d & lb Sugar 10d 0.29
27 To Qt W I 1/6 & lb Sugar 10d 0.39
June 5th 1805     Settled this acct by Recev.g Cash in Full $8.82

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