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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers by Henry David Thoreau

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These, and such as these, must be our antiquities, for lack of
human vestiges. The monuments of heroes and the temples of the
gods which may once have stood on the banks of this river are
now, at any rate, returned to dust and primitive soil. The
murmur of unchronicled nations has died away along these shores,
and once more Lowell and Manchester are on the trail of the

The fact that Romans once inhabited her reflects no little
dignity on Nature herself; that from some particular hill the
Roman once looked out on the sea. She need not be ashamed of the
vestiges of her children. How gladly the antiquary informs us
that their vessels penetrated into this frith, or up that river
of some remote isle! Their military monuments still remain on
the hills and under the sod of the valleys. The oft-repeated
Roman story is written in still legible characters in every
quarter of the Old World, and but to-day, perchance, a new coin
is dug up whose inscription repeats and confirms their fame.
Some "_Judaea Capta_" with a woman mourning under a palm-tree,
with silent argument and demonstration confirms the pages of

"Rome living was the world's sole ornament;
And dead is now the world's sole monument.
. . . . .
With her own weight down pressed now she lies,
And by her heaps her hugeness testifies."

If one doubts whether Grecian valor and patriotism are not a
fiction of the poets, he may go to Athens and see still upon the
walls of the temple of Minerva the circular marks made by the
shields taken from the enemy in the Persian war, which were
suspended there. We have not far to seek for living and
unquestionable evidence. The very dust takes shape and confirms
some story which we had read. As Fuller said, commenting on the
zeal of Camden, "A broken urn is a whole evidence; or an old gate
still surviving out of which the city is run out." When Solon
endeavored to prove that Salamis had formerly belonged to the
Athenians, and not to the Megareans, he caused the tombs to be
opened, and showed that the inhabitants of Salamis turned the
faces of their dead to the same side with the Athenians, but the
Megareans to the opposite side. There they were to be

Some minds are as little logical or argumentative as nature; they
can offer no reason or "guess," but they exhibit the solemn and
incontrovertible fact. If a historical question arises, they
cause the tombs to be opened. Their silent and practical logic
convinces the reason and the understanding at the same time. Of
such sort is always the only pertinent question and the only
satisfactory reply.

Our own country furnishes antiquities as ancient and durable, and
as useful, as any; rocks at least as well covered with lichens,
and a soil which, if it is virgin, is but virgin mould, the very
dust of nature. What if we cannot read Rome, or Greece, Etruria,
or Carthage, or Egypt, or Babylon, on these; are our cliffs bare?
The lichen on the rocks is a rude and simple shield which
beginning and imperfect Nature suspended there. Still hangs her
wrinkled trophy. And here too the poet's eye may still detect
the brazen nails which fastened Time's inscriptions, and if he
has the gift, decipher them by this clew. The walls that fence
our fields, as well as modern Rome, and not less the Parthenon
itself, are all built of _ruins_. Here may be heard the din of
rivers, and ancient winds which have long since lost their names
sough through our woods;--the first faint sounds of spring, older
than the summer of Athenian glory, the titmouse lisping in the
wood, the jay's scream, and blue-bird's warble, and the hum of

"bees that fly
About the laughing blossoms of sallowy."

Here is the gray dawn for antiquity, and our to-morrow's future
should be at least paulo-post to theirs which we have put behind
us. There are the red-maple and birchen leaves, old runes which
are not yet deciphered; catkins, pine-cones, vines, oak-leaves,
and acorns; the very things themselves, and not their forms in
stone,--so much the more ancient and venerable. And even to the
current summer there has come down tradition of a hoary-headed
master of all art, who once filled every field and grove with
statues and god-like architecture, of every design which Greece
has lately copied; whose ruins are now mingled with the dust, and
not one block remains upon another. The century sun and
unwearied rain have wasted them, till not one fragment from that
quarry now exists; and poets perchance will feign that gods sent
down the material from heaven.

What though the traveller tell us of the ruins of Egypt, are we
so sick or idle, that we must sacrifice our America and to-day to
some man's ill-remembered and indolent story? Carnac and Luxor
are but names, or if their skeletons remain, still more desert
sand, and at length a wave of the Mediterranean Sea are needed to
wash away the filth that attaches to their grandeur. Carnac!
Carnac! here is Carnac for me. I behold the columns of a larger
and purer temple.

This is my Carnac, whose unmeasured dome
Shelters the measuring art and measurer's home.
Behold these flowers, let us be up with time,
Not dreaming of three thousand years ago,
Erect ourselves and let those columns lie,
Not stoop to raise a foil against the sky.
Where is the spirit of that time but in
This present day, perchance the present line?
Three thousand years ago are not agone,
They are still lingering in this summer morn,
And Memnon's Mother sprightly greets us now,
Wearing her youthful radiance on her brow.
If Carnac's columns still stand on the plain,
To enjoy our opportunities they remain.

In these parts dwelt the famous Sachem Pasaconaway, who was seen
by Gookin "at Pawtucket, when he was about one hundred and twenty
years old." He was reputed a wise man and a powwow, and
restrained his people from going to war with the English. They
believed "that he could make water burn, rocks move, and trees
dance, and metamorphose himself into a flaming man; that in
winter he could raise a green leaf out of the ashes of a dry one,
and produce a living snake from the skin of a dead one, and many
similar miracles." In 1660, according to Gookin, at a great feast
and dance, he made his farewell speech to his people, in which he
said, that as he was not likely to see them met together again,
he would leave them this word of advice, to take heed how they
quarrelled with their English neighbors, for though they might do
them much mischief at first, it would prove the means of their
own destruction. He himself, he said, had been as much an enemy
to the English at their first coming as any, and had used all his
arts to destroy them, or at least to prevent their settlement,
but could by no means effect it. Gookin thought that he
"possibly might have such a kind of spirit upon him as was upon
Balaam, who in xxiii. Numbers, 23, said `Surely, there is no
enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination
against Israel.'" His son Wannalancet carefully followed his
advice, and when Philip's War broke out, he withdrew his
followers to Penacook, now Concord in New Hampshire, from the
scene of the war. On his return afterwards, he visited the
minister of Chelmsford, and, as is stated in the history of that
town, "wished to know whether Chelmsford had suffered much during
the war; and being informed that it had not, and that God should
be thanked for it, Wannalancet replied, `Me next.'"

Manchester was the residence of John Stark, a hero of two wars,
and survivor of a third, and at his death the last but one of the
American generals of the Revolution. He was born in the
adjoining town of Londonderry, then Nutfield, in 1728. As early
as 1752, he was taken prisoner by the Indians while hunting in
the wilderness near Baker's River; he performed notable service
as a captain of rangers in the French war; commanded a regiment
of the New Hampshire militia at the battle of Bunker Hill; and
fought and won the battle of Bennington in 1777. He was past
service in the last war, and died here in 1822, at the age of 94.
His monument stands upon the second bank of the river, about a
mile and a half above the falls, and commands a prospect several
miles up and down the Merrimack. It suggested how much more
impressive in the landscape is the tomb of a hero than the
dwellings of the inglorious living. Who is most dead,--a hero by
whose monument you stand, or his descendants of whom you have
never heard?

The graves of Pasaconaway and Wannalancet are marked by no
monument on the bank of their native river.

Every town which we passed, if we may believe the Gazetteer, had
been the residence of some great man. But though we knocked at
many doors, and even made particular inquiries, we could not find
that there were any now living. Under the head of Litchfield we

"The Hon. Wyseman Clagett closed his life in this town."
According to another, "He was a classical scholar, a good
lawyer, a wit, and a poet." We saw his old gray house just
below Great Nesenkeag Brook.--Under the head of Merrimack:
"Hon. Mathew Thornton, one of the signers of the Declaration
of American Independence, resided many years in this town." His
house too we saw from the river.--"Dr. Jonathan Gove, a man
distinguished for his urbanity, his talents and professional
skill, resided in this town [Goffstown]. He was one of the
oldest practitioners of medicine in the county. He was many
years an active member of the legislature."--"Hon. Robert
Means, who died Jan. 24, 1823, at the age of 80, was for a long
period a resident in Amherst. He was a native of Ireland. In
1764 he came to this country, where, by his industry and
application to business, he acquired a large property, and
great respect."--"William Stinson [one of the first settlers of
Dunbarton], born in Ireland, came to Londonderry with his
father. He was much respected and was a useful man. James
Rogers was from Ireland, and father to Major Robert Rogers. He
was shot in the woods, being mistaken for a bear."--"Rev.
Matthew Clark, second minister of Londonderry, was a native of
Ireland, who had in early life been an officer in the army, and
distinguished himself in the defence of the city of
Londonderry, when besieged by the army of King James II. A.
D. 1688-9. He afterwards relinquished a military life for the
clerical profession. He possessed a strong mind, marked by a
considerable degree of eccentricity. He died Jan. 25, 1735,
and was borne to the grave, at his particular request, by his
former companions in arms, of whom there were a considerable
number among the early settlers of this town; several of them
had been made free from taxes throughout the British dominions
by King William, for their bravery in that memorable
siege."--Col. George Reid and Capt. David M'Clary, also
citizens of Londonderry, were "distinguished and brave"
officers.--"Major Andrew M'Clary, a native of this town
[Epsom], fell at the battle of Breed's Hill ."--Many of these
heroes, like the illustrious Roman, were ploughing when the
news of the massacre at Lexington arrived, and straightway left
their ploughs in the furrow, and repaired to the scene of
action. Some miles from where we now were, there once stood a
guide-post on which were the words, "3 miles to Squire

But generally speaking, the land is now, at any rate, very barren
of men, and we doubt if there are as many hundreds as we read
of. It may be that we stood too near.

Uncannunuc Mountain in Goffstown was visible from Amoskeag, five
or six miles westward. It is the north-easternmost in the
horizon, which we see from our native town, but seen from there
is too ethereally blue to be the same which the like of us have
ever climbed. Its name is said to mean "The Two Breasts," there
being two eminences some distance apart. The highest, which is
about fourteen hundred feet above the sea, probably affords a
more extensive view of the Merrimack valley and the adjacent
country than any other hill, though it is somewhat obstructed by
woods. Only a few short reaches of the river are visible, but
you can trace its course far down stream by the sandy tracts on
its banks.

A little south of Uncannunuc, about sixty years ago, as the story
goes, an old woman who went out to gather pennyroyal, tript her
foot in the bail of a small brass kettle in the dead grass and
bushes. Some say that flints and charcoal and some traces of a
camp were also found. This kettle, holding about four quarts, is
still preserved and used to dye thread in. It is supposed to
have belonged to some old French or Indian hunter, who was killed
in one of his hunting or scouting excursions, and so never
returned to look after his kettle.

But we were most interested to hear of the pennyroyal, it is
soothing to be reminded that wild nature produces anything ready
for the use of man. Men know that _something_ is good. One says
that it is yellow-dock, another that it is bitter-sweet, another
that it is slippery-elm bark, burdock, catnip, calamint,
elicampane, thoroughwort, or pennyroyal. A man may esteem
himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine.
There is no kind of herb, but somebody or other says that it is
good. I am very glad to hear it. It reminds me of the first
chapter of Genesis. But how should they know that it is good?
That is the mystery to me. I am always agreeably disappointed;
it is incredible that they should have found it out. Since all
things are good, men fail at last to distinguish which is the
bane, and which the antidote. There are sure to be two
prescriptions diametrically opposite. Stuff a cold and starve a
cold are but two ways. They are the two practices both always in
full blast. Yet you must take advice of the one school as if
there was no other. In respect to religion and the healing art,
all nations are still in a state of barbarism. In the most
civilized countries the priest is still but a Powwow, and the
physician a Great Medicine. Consider the deference which is
everywhere paid to a doctor's opinion. Nothing more strikingly
betrays the credulity of mankind than medicine. Quackery is a
thing universal, and universally successful. In this case it
becomes literally true that no imposition is too great for the
credulity of men. Priests and physicians should never look one
another in the face. They have no common ground, nor is there
any to mediate between them. When the one comes, the other goes.
They could not come together without laughter, or a significant
silence, for the one's profession is a satire on the other's, and
either's success would be the other's failure. It is wonderful
that the physician should ever die, and that the priest should
ever live. Why is it that the priest is never called to consult
with the physician? Is it because men believe practically that
matter is independent of spirit. But what is quackery? It is
commonly an attempt to cure the diseases of a man by addressing
his body alone. There is need of a physician who shall minister
to both soul and body at once, that is, to man. Now he falls
between two souls.

After passing through the locks, we had poled ourselves through
the canal here, about half a mile in length, to the boatable part
of the river. Above Amoskeag the river spreads out into a lake
reaching a mile or two without a bend. There were many
canal-boats here bound up to Hooksett, about eight miles, and as
they were going up empty with a fair wind, one boatman offered to
take us in tow if we would wait. But when we came alongside, we
found that they meant to take us on board, since otherwise we
should clog their motions too much; but as our boat was too heavy
to be lifted aboard, we pursued our way up the stream, as before,
while the boatmen were at their dinner, and came to anchor at
length under some alders on the opposite shore, where we could
take our lunch. Though far on one side, every sound was wafted
over to us from the opposite bank, and from the harbor of the
canal, and we could see everything that passed. By and by came
several canal-boats, at intervals of a quarter of a mile,
standing up to Hooksett with a light breeze, and one by one
disappeared round a point above. With their broad sails set,
they moved slowly up the stream in the sluggish and fitful
breeze, like one-winged antediluvian birds, and as if impelled by
some mysterious counter-current. It was a grand motion, so slow
and stately, this "standing out," as the phrase is, expressing
the gradual and steady progress of a vessel, as if it were by
mere rectitude and disposition, without shuffling. Their sails,
which stood so still, were like chips cast into the current of
the air to show which way it set. At length the boat which we
had spoken came along, keeping the middle of the stream, and when
within speaking distance the steersman called out ironically to
say, that if we would come alongside now he would take us in tow;
but not heeding his taunt, we still loitered in the shade till we
had finished our lunch, and when the last boat had disappeared
round the point with flapping sail, for the breeze had now sunk
to a zephyr, with our own sails set, and plying our oars, we shot
rapidly up the stream in pursuit, and as we glided close
alongside, while they were vainly invoking Aeolus to their aid,
we returned their compliment by proposing, if they would throw us
a rope, to "take them in tow," to which these Merrimack sailors
had no suitable answer ready. Thus we gradually overtook and
passed each boat in succession until we had the river to
ourselves again.

Our course this afternoon was between Manchester and Goffstown.


While we float here, far from that tributary stream on whose
banks our Friends and kindred dwell, our thoughts, like the
stars, come out of their horizon still; for there circulates a
finer blood than Lavoisier has discovered the laws of,--the
blood, not of kindred merely, but of kindness, whose pulse still
beats at any distance and forever.

True kindness is a pure divine affinity,
Not founded upon human consanguinity.
It is a spirit, not a blood relation,
Superior to family and station.

After years of vain familiarity, some distant gesture or
unconscious behavior, which we remember, speaks to us with more
emphasis than the wisest or kindest words. We are sometimes made
aware of a kindness long passed, and realize that there have been
times when our Friends' thoughts of us were of so pure and lofty
a character that they passed over us like the winds of heaven
unnoticed; when they treated us not as what we were, but as what
we aspired to be. There has just reached us, it may be, the
nobleness of some such silent behavior, not to be forgotten, not
to be remembered, and we shudder to think how it fell on us cold,
though in some true but tardy hour we endeavor to wipe off these

In my experience, persons, when they are made the subject of
conversation, though with a Friend, are commonly the most prosaic
and trivial of facts. The universe seems bankrupt as soon as we
begin to discuss the character of individuals. Our discourse all
runs to slander, and our limits grow narrower as we advance. How
is it that we are impelled to treat our old Friends so ill when
we obtain new ones? The housekeeper says, I never had any new
crockery in my life but I began to break the old. I say, let us
speak of mushrooms and forest trees rather. Yet we can sometimes
afford to remember them in private.

Lately, alas, I knew a gentle boy,
Whose features all were cast in Virtue's mould,
As one she had designed for Beauty's toy,
But after manned him for her own strong-hold.

On every side he open was as day,
That you might see no lack of strength within,
For walls and ports do only serve alway
For a pretence to feebleness and sin.

Say not that Caesar was victorious,
With toil and strife who stormed the House of Fame,
In other sense this youth was glorious,
Himself a kingdom wheresoe'er he came.

No strength went out to get him victory,
When all was income of its own accord;
For where he went none other was to see,
But all were parcel of their noble lord.

He forayed like the subtile haze of summer,
That stilly shows fresh landscapes to our eyes,
And revolutions works without a murmur,
Or rustling of a leaf beneath the skies.

So was I taken unawares by this,
I quite forgot my homage to confess;
Yet now am forced to know, though hard it is,
I might have loved him had I loved him less.

Each moment as we nearer drew to each,
A stern respect withheld us farther yet,
So that we seemed beyond each other's reach,
And less acquainted than when first we met.

We two were one while we did sympathize,
So could we not the simplest bargain drive;
And what avails it now that we are wise,
If absence doth this doubleness contrive?

Eternity may not the chance repeat,
But I must tread my single way alone,
In sad remembrance that we once did meet,
And know that bliss irrevocably gone.

The spheres henceforth my elegy shall sing,
For elegy has other subject none;
Each strain of music in my ears shall ring
Knell of departure from that other one.

Make haste and celebrate my tragedy;
With fitting strain resound ye woods and fields;
Sorrow is dearer in such case to me
Than all the joys other occasion yields.


Is't then too late the damage to repair?
Distance, forsooth, from my weak grasp hath reft
The empty husk, and clutched the useless tare,
But in my hands the wheat and kernel left.

If I but love that virtue which he is,
Though it be scented in the morning air,
Still shall we be truest acquaintances,
Nor mortals know a sympathy more rare.

Friendship is evanescent in every man's experience, and
remembered like heat lightning in past summers. Fair and
flitting like a summer cloud;--there is always some vapor in the
air, no matter how long the drought; there are even April
showers. Surely from time to time, for its vestiges never
depart, it floats through our atmosphere. It takes place, like
vegetation in so many materials, because there is such a law, but
always without permanent form, though ancient and familiar as the
sun and moon, and as sure to come again. The heart is forever
inexperienced. They silently gather as by magic, these never
failing, never quite deceiving visions, like the bright and
fleecy clouds in the calmest and clearest days. The Friend is
some fair floating isle of palms eluding the mariner in Pacific
seas. Many are the dangers to be encountered, equinoctial gales
and coral reefs, ere he may sail before the constant trades. But
who would not sail through mutiny and storm, even over Atlantic
waves, to reach the fabulous retreating shores of some continent
man? The imagination still clings to the faintest tradition of


The smothered streams of love, which flow
More bright than Phlegethon, more low,
Island us ever, like the sea,
In an Atlantic mystery.
Our fabled shores none ever reach,
No mariner has found our beach,
Scarcely our mirage now is seen,
And neighboring waves with floating green,
Yet still the oldest charts contain
Some dotted outline of our main;
In ancient times midsummer days
Unto the western islands' gaze,
To Teneriffe and the Azores,
Have shown our faint and cloud-like shores.

But sink not yet, ye desolate isles,
Anon your coast with commerce smiles,
And richer freights ye'll furnish far
Than Africa or Malabar.
Be fair, be fertile evermore,
Ye rumored but untrodden shore,
Princes and monarchs will contend
Who first unto your land shall send,
And pawn the jewels of the crown
To call your distant soil their own.

Columbus has sailed westward of these isles by the mariner's
compass, but neither he nor his successors have found them. We
are no nearer than Plato was. The earnest seeker and hopeful
discoverer of this New World always haunts the outskirts of his
time, and walks through the densest crowd uninterrupted, and as
it were in a straight line.

Sea and land are but his neighbors,
And companions in his labors,
Who on the ocean's verge and firm land's end
Doth long and truly seek his Friend.
Many men dwell far inland,
But he alone sits on the strand.
Whether he ponders men or books,
Always still he seaward looks,
Marine news he ever reads,
And the slightest glances heeds,
Feels the sea breeze on his cheek,
At each word the landsmen speak,
In every companion's eye
A sailing vessel doth descry;
In the ocean's sullen roar
From some distant port he hears,
Of wrecks upon a distant shore,
And the ventures of past years.

Who does not walk on the plain as amid the columns of Tadmore of
the desert? There is on the earth no institution which
Friendship has established; it is not taught by any religion; no
scripture contains its maxims. It has no temple, nor even a
solitary column. There goes a rumor that the earth is inhabited,
but the shipwrecked mariner has not seen a footprint on the
shore. The hunter has found only fragments of pottery and the
monuments of inhabitants.

However, our fates at least are social. Our courses do not
diverge; but as the web of destiny is woven it is fulled, and we
are cast more and more into the centre. Men naturally, though
feebly, seek this alliance, and their actions faintly foretell
it. We are inclined to lay the chief stress on likeness and not
on difference, and in foreign bodies we admit that there are many
degrees of warmth below blood heat, but none of cold above it.

Mencius says: "If one loses a fowl or a dog, he knows well how to
seek them again; if one loses the sentiments of his heart, he
does not know how to seek them again. . . . The duties of
practical philosophy consist only in seeking after those
sentiments of the heart which we have lost; that is all."

One or two persons come to my house from time to time, there
being proposed to them the faint possibility of intercourse.
They are as full as they are silent, and wait for my plectrum to
stir the strings of their lyre. If they could ever come to the
length of a sentence, or hear one, on that ground they are
dreaming of! They speak faintly, and do not obtrude themselves.
They have heard some news, which none, not even they themselves,
can impart. It is a wealth they can bear about them which can be
expended in various ways. What came they out to seek?

No word is oftener on the lips of men than Friendship, and indeed
no thought is more familiar to their aspirations. All men are
dreaming of it, and its drama, which is always a tragedy, is
enacted daily. It is the secret of the universe. You may thread
the town, you may wander the country, and none shall ever speak
of it, yet thought is everywhere busy about it, and the idea of
what is possible in this respect affects our behavior toward all
new men and women, and a great many old ones. Nevertheless, I
can remember only two or three essays on this subject in all
literature. No wonder that the Mythology, and Arabian Nights,
and Shakespeare, and Scott's novels entertain us,--we are poets
and fablers and dramatists and novelists ourselves. We are
continually acting a part in a more interesting drama than any
written. We are dreaming that our Friends are our _Friends_ ,
and that we are our Friends' _Friends_. Our actual Friends are
but distant relations of those to whom we are pledged. We never
exchange more than three words with a Friend in our lives on that
level to which our thoughts and feelings almost habitually rise.
One goes forth prepared to say, "Sweet Friends!" and the
salutation is, "Damn your eyes!" But never mind; faint heart
never won true Friend. O my Friend, may it come to pass once,
that when you are my Friend I may be yours.

Of what use the friendliest dispositions even, if there are
no hours given to Friendship, if it is forever postponed to
unimportant duties and relations? Friendship is first, Friendship
last. But it is equally impossible to forget our Friends, and to
make them answer to our ideal. When they say farewell, then
indeed we begin to keep them company. How often we find
ourselves turning our backs on our actual Friends, that we may go
and meet their ideal cousins. I would that I were worthy to be
any man's Friend.

What is commonly honored with the name of Friendship is no very
profound or powerful instinct. Men do not, after all, _love_
their Friends greatly. I do not often see the farmers made seers
and wise to the verge of insanity by their Friendship for one
another. They are not often transfigured and translated by love
in each other's presence. I do not observe them purified,
refined, and elevated by the love of a man. If one abates a
little the price of his wood, or gives a neighbor his vote at
town-meeting, or a barrel of apples, or lends him his wagon
frequently, it is esteemed a rare instance of Friendship. Nor do
the farmers' wives lead lives consecrated to Friendship. I do
not see the pair of farmer Friends of either sex prepared to
stand against the world. There are only two or three couples in
history. To say that a man is your Friend, means commonly no
more than this, that he is not your enemy. Most contemplate only
what would be the accidental and trifling advantages of
Friendship, as that the Friend can assist in time of need, by his
substance, or his influence, or his counsel; but he who foresees
such advantages in this relation proves himself blind to its real
advantage, or indeed wholly inexperienced in the relation itself.
Such services are particular and menial, compared with the
perpetual and all-embracing service which it is. Even the utmost
good-will and harmony and practical kindness are not sufficient
for Friendship, for Friends do not live in harmony merely, as
some say, but in melody. We do not wish for Friends to feed and
clothe our bodies,--neighbors are kind enough for that,--but to
do the like office to our spirits. For this few are rich enough,
however well disposed they may be. For the most part we stupidly
confound one man with another. The dull distinguish only races
or nations, or at most classes, but the wise man, individuals.
To his Friend a man's peculiar character appears in every feature
and in every action, and it is thus drawn out and improved by

Think of the importance of Friendship in the education of men.

"He that hath love and judgment too,
Sees more than any other doe."

It will make a man honest; it will make him a hero; it will make
him a saint. It is the state of the just dealing with the just,
the magnanimous with the magnanimous, the sincere with the
sincere, man with man.

And it is well said by another poet,

"Why love among the virtues is not known,
Is that love is them all contract in one."

All the abuses which are the object of reform with the philanthropist,
the statesman, and the housekeeper are unconsciously amended in
the intercourse of Friends. A Friend is one who incessantly pays
us the compliment of expecting from us all the virtues, and who
can appreciate them in us. It takes two to speak the truth,--one
to speak, and another to hear. How can one treat with
magnanimity mere wood and stone? If we dealt only with the false
and dishonest, we should at last forget how to speak truth. Only
lovers know the value and magnanimity of truth, while traders
prize a cheap honesty, and neighbors and acquaintance a cheap
civility. In our daily intercourse with men, our nobler
faculties are dormant and suffered to rust. None will pay us the
compliment to expect nobleness from us. Though we have gold to
give, they demand only copper. We ask our neighbor to suffer
himself to be dealt with truly, sincerely, nobly; but he answers
no by his deafness. He does not even hear this prayer. He says
practically, I will be content if you treat me as "no better than
I should be," as deceitful, mean, dishonest, and selfish. For
the most part, we are contented so to deal and to be dealt with,
and we do not think that for the mass of men there is any truer
and nobler relation possible. A man may have _good_ neighbors,
so called, and acquaintances, and even companions, wife, parents,
brothers, sisters, children, who meet himself and one another on
this ground only. The State does not demand justice of its
members, but thinks that it succeeds very well with the least
degree of it, hardly more than rogues practise; and so do the
neighborhood and the family. What is commonly called Friendship
even is only a little more honor among rogues.

But sometimes we are said to _love_ another, that is, to stand in
a true relation to him, so that we give the best to, and receive
the best from, him. Between whom there is hearty truth, there is
love; and in proportion to our truthfulness and confidence in one
another, our lives are divine and miraculous, and answer to our
ideal. There are passages of affection in our intercourse with
mortal men and women, such as no prophecy had taught us to
expect, which transcend our earthly life, and anticipate Heaven
for us. What is this Love that may come right into the middle of
a prosaic Goffstown day, equal to any of the gods? that discovers
a new world, fair and fresh and eternal, occupying the place of
the old one, when to the common eye a dust has settled on the
universe? which world cannot else be reached, and does not exist.
What other words, we may almost ask, are memorable and worthy to
be repeated than those which love has inspired? It is wonderful
that they were ever uttered. They are few and rare, indeed, but,
like a strain of music, they are incessantly repeated and
modulated by the memory. All other words crumble off with the
stucco which overlies the heart. We should not dare to repeat
these now aloud. We are not competent to hear them at all times.

The books for young people say a great deal about the _selection_
of Friends; it is because they really have nothing to say about
_Friends_. They mean associates and confidants merely. "Know
that the contrariety of foe and Friend proceeds from God."
Friendship takes place between those who have an affinity for one
another, and is a perfectly natural and inevitable result. No
professions nor advances will avail. Even speech, at first,
necessarily has nothing to do with it; but it follows after
silence, as the buds in the graft do not put forth into leaves
till long after the graft has taken. It is a drama in which the
parties have no part to act. We are all Mussulmen and fatalists
in this respect. Impatient and uncertain lovers think that they
must say or do something kind whenever they meet; they must never
be cold. But they who are Friends do not do what they _think_
they must, but what they _must_. Even their Friendship is to
some extent but a sublime phenomenon to them.

The true and not despairing Friend will address his Friend in
some such terms as these.

"I never asked thy leave to let me love thee,--I have a right. I
love thee not as something private and personal, which is _your
own_, but as something universal and worthy of love, _which I
have found_. O, how I think of you! You are purely good, --you
are infinitely good. I can trust you forever. I did not think
that humanity was so rich. Give me an opportunity to live."

"You are the fact in a fiction,--you are the truth more strange
and admirable than fiction. Consent only to be what you are. I
alone will never stand in your way."

"This is what I would like,--to be as intimate with you as our
spirits are intimate,--respecting you as I respect my ideal.
Never to profane one another by word or action, even by a
thought. Between us, if necessary, let there be no

"I have discovered you; how can you be concealed from me?"

The Friend asks no return but that his Friend will religiously
accept and wear and not disgrace his apotheosis of him. They
cherish each other's hopes. They are kind to each other's

Though the poet says, "'Tis the pre-eminence of Friendship to
impute excellence," yet we can never praise our Friend, nor
esteem him praiseworthy, nor let him think that he can please us
by any _behavior_, or ever _treat_ us well enough. That kindness
which has so good a reputation elsewhere can least of all consist
with this relation, and no such affront can be offered to a
Friend, as a conscious good-will, a friendliness which is not a
necessity of the Friend's nature.

The sexes are naturally most strongly attracted to one another,
by constant constitutional differences, and are most commonly and
surely the complements of each other. How natural and easy it is
for man to secure the attention of woman to what interests
himself. Men and women of equal culture, thrown together, are
sure to be of a certain value to one another, more than men to
men. There exists already a natural disinterestedness and
liberality in such society, and I think that any man will more
confidently carry his favorite books to read to some circle of
intelligent women, than to one of his own sex. The visit of man
to man is wont to be an interruption, but the sexes naturally
expect one another. Yet Friendship is no respecter of sex; and
perhaps it is more rare between the sexes than between two of the
same sex.

Friendship is, at any rate, a relation of perfect equality. It
cannot well spare any outward sign of equal obligation and
advantage. The nobleman can never have a Friend among his
retainers, nor the king among his subjects. Not that the parties
to it are in all respects equal, but they are equal in all that
respects or affects their Friendship. The one's love is exactly
balanced and represented by the other's. Persons are only the
vessels which contain the nectar, and the hydrostatic paradox is
the symbol of love's law. It finds its level and rises to its
fountain-head in all breasts, and its slenderest column balances
the ocean.

"And love as well the shepherd can
As can the mighty nobleman."

The one sex is not, in this respect, more tender than the other.
A hero's love is as delicate as a maiden's.

Confucius said, "Never contract Friendship with a man who is not
better than thyself." It is the merit and preservation of
Friendship, that it takes place on a level higher than the actual
characters of the parties would seem to warrant. The rays of
light come to us in such a curve that every man whom we meet
appears to be taller than he actually is. Such foundation has
civility. My Friend is that one whom I can associate with my
choicest thought. I always assign to him a nobler employment in
my absence than I ever find him engaged in; and I imagine that
the hours which he devotes to me were snatched from a higher
society. The sorest insult which I ever received from a Friend
was, when he behaved with the license which only long and cheap
acquaintance allows to one's faults, in my presence, without
shame, and still addressed me in friendly accents. Beware, lest
thy Friend learn at last to tolerate one frailty of thine, and so
an obstacle be raised to the progress of thy love. There are
times when we have had enough even of our Friends, when we begin
inevitably to profane one another, and must withdraw religiously
into solitude and silence, the better to prepare ourselves for a
loftier intimacy. Silence is the ambrosial night in the
intercourse of Friends, in which their sincerity is recruited and
takes deeper root.

Friendship is never established as an understood relation. Do
you demand that I be less your Friend that you may know it? Yet
what right have I to think that another cherishes so rare a
sentiment for me? It is a miracle which requires constant
proofs. It is an exercise of the purest imagination and the
rarest faith. It says by a silent but eloquent behavior,--"I
will be so related to thee as thou canst imagine; even so thou
mayest believe. I will spend truth,--all my wealth on
thee,"--and the Friend responds silently through his nature and
life, and treats his Friend with the same divine courtesy. He
knows us literally through thick and thin. He never asks for a
sign of love, but can distinguish it by the features which it
naturally wears. We never need to stand upon ceremony with him
with regard to his visits. Wait not till I invite thee, but
observe that I am glad to see thee when thou comest. It would be
paying too dear for thy visit to ask for it. Where my Friend
lives there are all riches and every attraction, and no slight
obstacle can keep me from him. Let me never have to tell thee
what I have not to tell. Let our intercourse be wholly above
ourselves, and draw us up to it.

The language of Friendship is not words, but meanings. It is an
intelligence above language. One imagines endless conversations
with his Friend, in which the tongue shall be loosed, and
thoughts be spoken without hesitancy or end; but the experience
is commonly far otherwise. Acquaintances may come and go, and
have a word ready for every occasion; but what puny word shall he
utter whose very breath is thought and meaning? Suppose you go
to bid farewell to your Friend who is setting out on a journey;
what other outward sign do you know than to shake his hand? Have
you any palaver ready for him then? any box of salve to commit to
his pocket? any particular message to send by him? any
statement which you had forgotten to make?--as if you could
forget anything.--No, it is much that you take his hand and say
Farewell; that you could easily omit; so far custom has
prevailed. It is even painful, if he is to go, that he should
linger so long. If he must go, let him go quickly. Have you any
_last_ words? Alas, it is only the word of words, which you have
so long sought and found not; _you_ have not a _first_ word yet.
There are few even whom I should venture to call earnestly by
their most proper names. A name pronounced is the recognition of
the individual to whom it belongs. He who can pronounce my name
aright, he can call me, and is entitled to my love and service.
Yet reserve is the freedom and abandonment of lovers. It is the
reserve of what is hostile or indifferent in their natures, to
give place to what is kindred and harmonious.

The violence of love is as much to be dreaded as that of hate.
When it is durable it is serene and equable. Even its famous
pains begin only with the ebb of love, for few are indeed lovers,
though all would fain be. It is one proof of a man's fitness for
Friendship that he is able to do without that which is cheap and
passionate. A true Friendship is as wise as it is tender. The
parties to it yield implicitly to the guidance of their love, and
know no other law nor kindness. It is not extravagant and
insane, but what it says is something established henceforth, and
will bear to be stereotyped. It is a truer truth, it is better
and fairer news, and no time will ever shame it, or prove it
false. This is a plant which thrives best in a temperate zone,
where summer and winter alternate with one another. The Friend
is a _necessarius_, and meets his Friend on homely ground; not on
carpets and cushions, but on the ground and on rocks they will
sit, obeying the natural and primitive laws. They will meet
without any outcry, and part without loud sorrow. Their relation
implies such qualities as the warrior prizes; for it takes a
valor to open the hearts of men as well as the gates of castles.
It is not an idle sympathy and mutual consolation merely, but a
heroic sympathy of aspiration and endeavor.

"When manhood shall be matched so
That fear can take no place,
Then weary _works_ make warriors
Each other to embrace."

The Friendship which Wawatam testified for Henry the fur-trader,
as described in the latter's "Adventures," so almost bare and
leafless, yet not blossomless nor fruitless, is remembered with
satisfaction and security. The stern, imperturbable warrior,
after fasting, solitude, and mortification of body, comes to the
white man's lodge, and affirms that he is the white brother whom
he saw in his dream, and adopts him henceforth. He buries the
hatchet as it regards his friend, and they hunt and feast and
make maple-sugar together. "Metals unite from fluxility; birds
and beasts from motives of convenience; fools from fear and
stupidity; and just men at sight." If Wawatam would taste the
"white man's milk" with his tribe, or take his bowl of human
broth made of the trader's fellow-countrymen, he first finds a
place of safety for his Friend, whom he has rescued from a
similar fate. At length, after a long winter of undisturbed and
happy intercourse in the family of the chieftain in the
wilderness, hunting and fishing, they return in the spring to
Michilimackinac to dispose of their furs; and it becomes
necessary for Wawatam to take leave of his Friend at the Isle aux
Outardes, when the latter, to avoid his enemies, proceeded to the
Sault de Sainte Marie, supposing that they were to be separated
for a short time only. "We now exchanged farewells," says Henry,
"with an emotion entirely reciprocal. I did not quit the lodge
without the most grateful sense of the many acts of goodness
which I had experienced in it, nor without the sincerest respect
for the virtues which I had witnessed among its members. All the
family accompanied me to the beach; and the canoe had no sooner
put off than Wawatam commenced an address to the Kichi Manito,
beseeching him to take care of me, his brother, till we should
next meet. We had proceeded to too great a distance to allow of
our hearing his voice, before Wawatam had ceased to offer up his
prayers." We never hear of him again.

Friendship is not so kind as is imagined; it has not much human
blood in it, but consists with a certain disregard for men and
their erections, the Christian duties and humanities, while it
purifies the air like electricity. There may be the sternest
tragedy in the relation of two more than usually innocent and
true to their highest instincts. We may call it an essentially
heathenish intercourse, free and irresponsible in its nature, and
practising all the virtues gratuitously. It is not the highest
sympathy merely, but a pure and lofty society, a fragmentary and
godlike intercourse of ancient date, still kept up at intervals,
which, remembering itself, does not hesitate to disregard the
humbler rights and duties of humanity. It requires immaculate
and godlike qualities full-grown, and exists at all only by
condescension and anticipation of the remotest future. We love
nothing which is merely good and not fair, if such a thing is
possible. Nature puts some kind of blossom before every fruit,
not simply a calyx behind it. When the Friend comes out of his
heathenism and superstition, and breaks his idols, being
converted by the precepts of a newer testament; when he forgets
his mythology, and treats his Friend like a Christian, or as he
can afford; then Friendship ceases to be Friendship, and becomes
charity; that principle which established the almshouse is now
beginning with its charity at home, and establishing an almshouse
and pauper relations there.

As for the number which this society admits, it is at any rate to
be begun with one, the noblest and greatest that we know, and
whether the world will ever carry it further, whether, as Chaucer

"There be mo sterres in the skie than a pair,"

remains to be proved;

"And certaine he is well begone
Among a thousand that findeth one."

We shall not surrender ourselves heartily to any while we are
conscious that another is more deserving of our love. Yet
Friendship does not stand for numbers; the Friend does not count
his Friends on his fingers; they are not numerable. The more
there are included by this bond, if they are indeed included, the
rarer and diviner the quality of the love that binds them. I am
ready to believe that as private and intimate a relation may
exist by which three are embraced, as between two. Indeed, we
cannot have too many friends; the virtue which we appreciate we
to some extent appropriate, so that thus we are made at last more
fit for every relation of life. A base Friendship is of a
narrowing and exclusive tendency, but a noble one is not
exclusive; its very superfluity and dispersed love is the
humanity which sweetens society, and sympathizes with foreign
nations; for though its foundations are private, it is, in
effect, a public affair and a public advantage, and the Friend,
more than the father of a family, deserves well of the state.

The only danger in Friendship is that it will end. It is a
delicate plant, though a native. The least unworthiness, even if
it be unknown to one's self, vitiates it. Let the Friend know
that those faults which he observes in his Friend his own faults
attract. There is no rule more invariable than that we are paid
for our suspicions by finding what we suspected. By our narrowness
and prejudices we say, I will have so much and such of you, my
Friend, no more. Perhaps there are none charitable, none
disinterested, none wise, noble, and heroic enough, for a true
and lasting Friendship.

I sometimes hear my Friends complain finely that I do not
appreciate their fineness. I shall not tell them whether I do or
not. As if they expected a vote of thanks for every fine thing
which they uttered or did. Who knows but it was finely
appreciated. It may be that your silence was the finest thing of
the two. There are some things which a man never speaks of,
which are much finer kept silent about. To the highest
communications we only lend a silent ear. Our finest relations
are not simply kept silent about, but buried under a positive
depth of silence never to be revealed. It may be that we are not
even yet acquainted. In human intercourse the tragedy begins,
not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence
is not understood. Then there can never be an explanation. What
avails it that another loves you, if he does not understand you?
Such love is a curse. What sort of companions are they who are
presuming always that their silence is more expressive than
yours? How foolish, and inconsiderate, and unjust, to conduct as
if you were the only party aggrieved! Has not your Friend always
equal ground of complaint? No doubt my Friends sometimes speak
to me in vain, but they do not know what things I hear which they
are not aware that they have spoken. I know that I have
frequently disappointed them by not giving them words when they
expected them, or such as they expected. Whenever I see my
Friend I speak to him; but the expecter, the man with the ears,
is not he. They will complain too that you are hard. O ye that
would have the cocoa-nut wrong side outwards, when next I weep I
will let you know. They ask for words and deeds, when a true
relation is word and deed. If they know not of these things, how
can they be informed? We often forbear to confess our feelings,
not from pride, but for fear that we could not continue to love
the one who required us to give such proof of our affection.

I know a woman who possesses a restless and intelligent mind,
interested in her own culture, and earnest to enjoy the highest
possible advantages, and I meet her with pleasure as a natural
person who not a little provokes me, and I suppose is stimulated
in turn by myself. Yet our acquaintance plainly does not attain
to that degree of confidence and sentiment which women, which
all, in fact, covet. I am glad to help her, as I am helped by
her; I like very well to know her with a sort of stranger's
privilege, and hesitate to visit her often, like her other
Friends. My nature pauses here, I do not well know why. Perhaps
she does not make the highest demand on me, a religious demand.
Some, with whose prejudices or peculiar bias I have no sympathy,
yet inspire me with confidence, and I trust that they confide in
me also as a religious heathen at least,--a good Greek. I, too,
have principles as well founded as their own. If this person
could conceive that, without wilfulness, I associate with her as
far as our destinies are coincident, as far as our Good Geniuses
permit, and still value such intercourse, it would be a grateful
assurance to me. I feel as if I appeared careless, indifferent,
and without principle to her, not expecting more, and yet not
content with less. If she could know that I make an infinite
demand on myself, as well as on all others, she would see that
this true though incomplete intercourse, is infinitely better
than a more unreserved but falsely grounded one, without the
principle of growth in it. For a companion, I require one who
will make an equal demand on me with my own genius. Such a one
will always be rightly tolerant. It is suicide, and corrupts
good manners to welcome any less than this. I value and trust
those who love and praise my aspiration rather than my
performance. If you would not stop to look at me, but look
whither I am looking, and farther, then my education could not
dispense with your company.

My love must be as free
As is the eagle's wing,
Hovering o'er land and sea
And everything.

I must not dim my eye
In thy saloon,
I must not leave my sky
And nightly moon.

Be not the fowler's net
Which stays my flight,
And craftily is set
T'allure the sight.

But be the favoring gale
That bears me on,
And still doth fill my sail
When thou art gone.

I cannot leave my sky
For thy caprice,
True love would soar as high
As heaven is.

The eagle would not brook
Her mate thus won,
Who trained his eye to look
Beneath the sun.

Few things are more difficult than to help a Friend in matters
which do not require the aid of Friendship, but only a cheap and
trivial service, if your Friendship wants the basis of a thorough
practical acquaintance. I stand in the friendliest relation, on
social and spiritual grounds, to one who does not perceive what
practical skill I have, but when he seeks my assistance in such
matters, is wholly ignorant of that one with whom he deals; does
not use my skill, which in such matters is much greater than his,
but only my hands. I know another, who, on the contrary, is
remarkable for his discrimination in this respect; who knows how
to make use of the talents of others when he does not possess the
same; knows when not to look after or oversee, and stops short at
his man. It is a rare pleasure to serve him, which all laborers
know. I am not a little pained by the other kind of treatment.
It is as if, after the friendliest and most ennobling intercourse,
your Friend should use you as a hammer, and drive a nail with
your head, all in good faith; notwithstanding that you are a
tolerable carpenter, as well as his good Friend, and would use a
hammer cheerfully in his service. This want of perception is a
defect which all the virtues of the heart cannot supply:--

The Good how can we trust?
Only the Wise are just.
The Good we use,
The Wise we cannot choose.
These there are none above;
The Good they know and love,
But are not known again
By those of lesser ken.
They do not charm us with their eyes,
But they transfix with their advice;
No partial sympathy they feel,
With private woe or private weal,
But with the universe joy and sigh,
Whose knowledge is their sympathy.

Confucius said: "To contract ties of Friendship with any one, is
to contract Friendship with his virtue. There ought not to be
any other motive in Friendship." But men wish us to contract
Friendship with their vice also. I have a Friend who wishes me
to see that to be right which I know to be wrong. But if
Friendship is to rob me of my eyes, if it is to darken the day, I
will have none of it. It should be expansive and inconceivably
liberalizing in its effects. True Friendship can afford true
knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance. A want
of discernment cannot be an ingredient in it. If I can see my
Friend's virtues more distinctly than another's, his faults too
are made more conspicuous by contrast. We have not so good a
right to hate any as our Friend. Faults are not the less faults
because they are invariably balanced by corresponding virtues,
and for a fault there is no excuse, though it may appear greater
than it is in many ways. I have never known one who could bear
criticism, who could not be flattered, who would not bribe his
judge, or was content that the truth should be loved always
better than himself.

If two travellers would go their way harmoniously together, the
one must take as true and just a view of things as the other,
else their path will not be strewn with roses. Yet you can
travel profitably and pleasantly even with a blind man, if he
practises common courtesy, and when you converse about the
scenery will remember that he is blind but that you can see; and
you will not forget that his sense of hearing is probably
quickened by his want of sight. Otherwise you will not long keep
company. A blind man, and a man in whose eyes there was no
defect, were walking together, when they came to the edge of a
precipice. "Take care! my friend," said the latter, "here is a
steep precipice; go no farther this way."--"I know better," said
the other, and stepped off.

It is impossible to say all that we think, even to our truest
Friend. We may bid him farewell forever sooner than complain,
for our complaint is too well grounded to be uttered. There is
not so good an understanding between any two, but the exposure by
the one of a serious fault in the other will produce a
misunderstanding in proportion to its heinousness. The
constitutional differences which always exist, and are obstacles
to a perfect Friendship, are forever a forbidden theme to the
lips of Friends. They advise by their whole behavior. Nothing
can reconcile them but love. They are fatally late when they
undertake to explain and treat with one another like foes. Who
will take an apology for a Friend? They must apologize like dew
and frost, which are off again with the sun, and which all men
know in their hearts to be beneficent. The necessity itself for
explanation,--what explanation will atone for that?

True love does not quarrel for slight reasons, such mistakes as
mutual acquaintances can explain away, but, alas, however slight
the apparent cause, only for adequate and fatal and everlasting
reasons, which can never be set aside. Its quarrel, if there is
any, is ever recurring, notwithstanding the beams of affection
which invariably come to gild its tears; as the rainbow, however
beautiful and unerring a sign, does not promise fair weather
forever, but only for a season. I have known two or three
persons pretty well, and yet I have never known advice to be of
use but in trivial and transient matters. One may know what
another does not, but the utmost kindness cannot impart what is
requisite to make the advice useful. We must accept or refuse
one another as we are. I could tame a hyena more easily than my
Friend. He is a material which no tool of mine will work. A
naked savage will fell an oak with a firebrand, and wear a
hatchet out of a rock by friction, but I cannot hew the smallest
chip out of the character of my Friend, either to beautify or
deform it.

The lover learns at last that there is no person quite
transparent and trustworthy, but every one has a devil in him
that is capable of any crime in the long run. Yet, as an
Oriental philosopher has said, "Although Friendship between good
men is interrupted, their principles remain unaltered. The stalk
of the lotus may be broken, and the fibres remain connected."

Ignorance and bungling with love are better than wisdom and skill
without. There may be courtesy, there may be even temper, and
wit, and talent, and sparkling conversation, there may be
good-will even,--and yet the humanest and divinest faculties pine
for exercise. Our life without love is like coke and ashes. Men
may be pure as alabaster and Parian marble, elegant as a Tuscan
villa, sublime as Niagara, and yet if there is no milk mingled
with the wine at their entertainments, better is the hospitality
of Goths and Vandals.

My Friend is not of some other race or family of men, but flesh
of my flesh, bone of my bone. He is my real brother. I see his
nature groping yonder so like mine. We do not live far apart.
Have not the fates associated us in many ways? It says, in the
Vishnu Purana: "Seven paces together is sufficient for the
friendship of the virtuous, but thou and I have dwelt together."
Is it of no significance that we have so long partaken of the
same loaf, drank at the same fountain, breathed the same air
summer and winter, felt the same heat and cold; that the same
fruits have been pleased to refresh us both, and we have never
had a thought of different fibre the one from the other!

Nature doth have her dawn each day,
But mine are far between;
Content, I cry, for sooth to say,
Mine brightest are I ween.

For when my sun doth deign to rise,
Though it be her noontide,
Her fairest field in shadow lies,
Nor can my light abide.

Sometimes I bask me in her day,
Conversing with my mate,
But if we interchange one ray,
Forthwith her heats abate.

Through his discourse I climb and see,
As from some eastern hill,
A brighter morrow rise to me
Than lieth in her skill.

As 't were two summer days in one,
Two Sundays come together,
Our rays united make one sun,
With fairest summer weather.

As surely as the sunset in my latest November shall translate me
to the ethereal world, and remind me of the ruddy morning of
youth; as surely as the last strain of music which falls on my
decaying ear shall make age to be forgotten, or, in short, the
manifold influences of nature survive during the term of our
natural life, so surely my Friend shall forever be my Friend, and
reflect a ray of God to me, and time shall foster and adorn and
consecrate our Friendship, no less than the ruins of temples. As
I love nature, as I love singing birds, and gleaming stubble, and
flowing rivers, and morning and evening, and summer and winter, I
love thee, my Friend.

But all that can be said of Friendship, is like botany to
flowers. How can the understanding take account of its

Even the death of Friends will inspire us as much as their lives.
They will leave consolation to the mourners, as the rich leave
money to defray the expenses of their funerals, and their
memories will be incrusted over with sublime and pleasing
thoughts, as monuments of other men are overgrown with moss; for
our Friends have no place in the graveyard.

This to our cis-Alpine and cis-Atlantic Friends.

Also this other word of entreaty and advice to the large and
respectable nation of Acquaintances, beyond the

My most serene and irresponsible neighbors, let us see that we
have the whole advantage of each other; we will be useful, at
least, if not admirable, to one another. I know that the
mountains which separate us are high, and covered with perpetual
snow, but despair not. Improve the serene winter weather to
scale them. If need be, soften the rocks with vinegar. For here
lie the verdant plains of Italy ready to receive you. Nor shall
I be slow on my side to penetrate to your Provence. Strike then
boldly at head or heart or any vital part. Depend upon it, the
timber is well seasoned and tough, and will bear rough usage; and
if it should crack, there is plenty more where it came from. I
am no piece of crockery that cannot be jostled against my
neighbor without danger of being broken by the collision, and
must needs ring false and jarringly to the end of my days, when
once I am cracked; but rather one of the old-fashioned wooden
trenchers, which one while stands at the head of the table, and
at another is a milking-stool, and at another a seat for
children, and finally goes down to its grave not unadorned with
honorable scars, and does not die till it is worn out. Nothing
can shock a brave man but dulness. Think how many rebuffs every
man has experienced in his day; perhaps has fallen into a
horse-pond, eaten fresh-water clams, or worn one shirt for a week
without washing. Indeed, you cannot receive a shock unless you
have an electric affinity for that which shocks you. Use me,
then, for I am useful in my way, and stand as one of many
petitioners, from toadstool and henbane up to dahlia and violet,
supplicating to be put to my use, if by any means ye may find me
serviceable; whether for a medicated drink or bath, as balm and
lavender; or for fragrance, as verbena and geranium; or for
sight, as cactus; or for thoughts, as pansy. These humbler, at
least, if not those higher uses.

Ah, my dear Strangers and Enemies, I would not forget you. I can
well afford to welcome you. Let me subscribe myself Yours ever
and truly,--your much obliged servant. We have nothing to fear
from our foes; God keeps a standing army for that service; but we
have no ally against our Friends, those ruthless Vandals.

Once more to one and all,

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen, and Lovers."

Let such pure hate still underprop
Our love, that we may be
Each other's conscience.
And have our sympathy
Mainly from thence.

We'll one another treat like gods,
And all the faith we have
In virtue and in truth, bestow
On either, and suspicion leave
To gods below.

Two solitary stars,--
Unmeasured systems far
Between us roll,
But by our conscious light we are
Determined to one pole.

What need confound the sphere,--
Love can afford to wait,
For it no hour's too late
That witnesseth one duty's end,
Or to another doth beginning lend.

It will subserve no use,
More than the tints of flowers,
Only the independent guest
Frequents its bowers,
Inherits its bequest.

No speech though kind has it,
But kinder silence doles
Unto its mates,
By night consoles,
By day congratulates.

What saith the tongue to tongue?
What heareth ear of ear?
By the decrees of fate
From year to year,
Does it communicate.

Pathless the gulf of feeling yawns,--
No trivial bridge of words,
Or arch of boldest span,
Can leap the moat that girds
The sincere man.

No show of bolts and bars
Can keep the foeman out,
Or 'scape his secret mine
Who entered with the doubt
That drew the line.

No warder at the gate
Can let the friendly in,
But, like the sun, o'er all
He will the castle win,
And shine along the wall.

There's nothing in the world I know
That can escape from love,
For every depth it goes below,
And every height above.

It waits as waits the sky,
Until the clouds go by,
Yet shines serenely on
With an eternal day,
Alike when they are gone,
And when they stay.

Implacable is Love,--
Foes may be bought or teased
From their hostile intent,
But he goes unappeased
Who is on kindness bent.

Having rowed five or six miles above Amoskeag before sunset, and
reached a pleasant part of the river, one of us landed to look
for a farm-house, where we might replenish our stores, while the
other remained cruising about the stream, and exploring the
opposite shores to find a suitable harbor for the night. In the
mean while the canal-boats began to come round a point in our
rear, poling their way along close to the shore, the breeze
having quite died away. This time there was no offer of
assistance, but one of the boatmen only called out to say, as the
truest revenge for having been the losers in the race, that he
had seen a wood-duck, which we had scared up, sitting on a tall
white-pine, half a mile down stream; and he repeated the
assertion several times, and seemed really chagrined at the
apparent suspicion with which this information was received. But
there sat the summer duck still, undisturbed by us.

By and by the other voyageur returned from his inland expedition,
bringing one of the natives with him, a little flaxen-headed boy,
with some tradition, or small edition, of Robinson Crusoe in his
head, who had been charmed by the account of our adventures, and
asked his father's leave to join us. He examined, at first from
the top of the bank, our boat and furniture, with sparkling eyes,
and wished himself already his own man. He was a lively and
interesting boy, and we should have been glad to ship him; but
Nathan was still his father's boy, and had not come to years of

We had got a loaf of home-made bread, and musk and water melons
for dessert. For this farmer, a clever and well-disposed man,
cultivated a large patch of melons for the Hooksett and Concord
markets. He hospitably entertained us the next day, exhibiting
his hop-fields and kiln and melon-patch, warning us to step over
the tight rope which surrounded the latter at a foot from the
ground, while he pointed to a little bower at one corner, where
it connected with the lock of a gun ranging with the line, and
where, as he informed us, he sometimes sat in pleasant nights to
defend his premises against thieves. We stepped high over the
line, and sympathized with our host's on the whole quite human,
if not humane, interest in the success of his experiment. That
night especially thieves were to be expected, from rumors in the
atmosphere, and the priming was not wet. He was a Methodist man,
who had his dwelling between the river and Uncannunuc Mountain;
who there belonged, and stayed at home there, and by the
encouragement of distant political organizations, and by his own
tenacity, held a property in his melons, and continued to plant.
We suggested melon-seeds of new varieties and fruit of foreign
flavor to be added to his stock. We had come away up here among
the hills to learn the impartial and unbribable beneficence of
Nature. Strawberries and melons grow as well in one man's garden
as another's, and the sun lodges as kindly under his
hillside,--when we had imagined that she inclined rather to some
few earnest and faithful souls whom we know.

We found a convenient harbor for our boat on the opposite or east
shore, still in Hooksett, at the mouth of a small brook which
emptied into the Merrimack, where it would be out of the way of
any passing boat in the night,--for they commonly hug the shore
if bound up stream, either to avoid the current, or touch the
bottom with their poles,--and where it would be accessible
without stepping on the clayey shore. We set one of our largest
melons to cool in the still water among the alders at the mouth
of this creek, but when our tent was pitched and ready, and we
went to get it, it had floated out into the stream, and was
nowhere to be seen. So taking the boat in the twilight, we went
in pursuit of this property, and at length, after long straining
of the eyes, its green disk was discovered far down the river,
gently floating seaward with many twigs and leaves from the
mountains that evening, and so perfectly balanced that it had not
keeled at all, and no water had run in at the tap which had been
taken out to hasten its cooling.

As we sat on the bank eating our supper, the clear light of the
western sky fell on the eastern trees, and was reflected in the
water, and we enjoyed so serene an evening as left nothing to
describe. For the most part we think that there are few degrees
of sublimity, and that the highest is but little higher than that
which we now behold; but we are always deceived. Sublimer
visions appear, and the former pale and fade away. We are
grateful when we are reminded by interior evidence of the
permanence of universal laws; for our faith is but faintly
remembered, indeed, is not a remembered assurance, but a use and
enjoyment of knowledge. It is when we do not have to believe,
but come into actual contact with Truth, and are related to her
in the most direct and intimate way. Waves of serener life pass
over us from time to time, like flakes of sunlight over the
fields in cloudy weather. In some happier moment, when more sap
flows in the withered stalk of our life, Syria and India stretch
away from our present as they do in history. All the events
which make the annals of the nations are but the shadows of our
private experiences. Suddenly and silently the eras which we
call history awake and glimmer in us, and _there_ is room for
Alexander and Hannibal to march and conquer. In short, the
history which we read is only a fainter memory of events which
have happened in our own experience. Tradition is a more
interrupted and feebler memory.

This world is but canvas to our imaginations. I see men with
infinite pains endeavoring to realize to their bodies, what I,
with at least equal pains, would realize to my imagination,--its
capacities; for certainly there is a life of the mind above the
wants of the body, and independent of it. Often the body is
warmed, but the imagination is torpid; the body is fat, but the
imagination is lean and shrunk. But what avails all other wealth
if this is wanting? "Imagination is the air of mind," in which
it lives and breathes. All things are as I am. Where is the
House of Change? The past is only so heroic as we see it.
It is the canvas on which our idea of heroism is painted, and
so, in one sense, the dim prospectus of our future field. Our
circumstances answer to our expectations and the demand of our
natures. I have noticed that if a man thinks that he needs a
thousand dollars, and cannot be convinced that he does not, he
will commonly be found to have them; if he lives and thinks a
thousand dollars will be forthcoming, though it be to buy
shoe-strings with. A thousand mills will be just as slow to
come to one who finds it equally hard to convince himself that
he needs _them_.

Men are by birth equal in this, that given Themselves and
their condition, they are even.

I am astonished at the singular pertinacity and endurance of our
lives. The miracle is, that what is _is_, when it is so
difficult, if not impossible, for anything else to be; that we
walk on in our particular paths so far, before we fall on death
and fate, merely because we must walk in some path; that every
man can get a living, and so few can do anything more. So much
only can I accomplish ere health and strength are gone, and yet
this suffices. The bird now sits just out of gunshot. I am
never rich in money, and I am never meanly poor. If debts are
incurred, why, debts are in the course of events cancelled, as it
were by the same law by which they were incurred. I heard that
an engagement was entered into between a certain youth and a
maiden, and then I heard that it was broken off, but I did not
know the reason in either case. We are hedged about, we think,
by accident and circumstance, now we creep as in a dream, and now
again we run, as if there were a fate in it, and all things
thwarted or assisted. I cannot change my clothes but when I do,
and yet I do change them, and soil the new ones. It is wonderful
that this gets done, when some admirable deeds which I could
mention do not get done. Our particular lives seem of such
fortune and confident strength and durability as piers of solid
rock thrown forward into the tide of circumstance. When every
other path would fail, with singular and unerring confidence we
advance on our particular course. What risks we run! famine and
fire and pestilence, and the thousand forms of a cruel fate,--and
yet every man lives till he--dies. How did he manage that? Is
there no immediate danger? We wonder superfluously when we hear
of a somnambulist walking a plank securely,--we have walked a
plank all our lives up to this particular string-piece where we
are. My life will wait for nobody, but is being matured still
without delay, while I go about the streets, and chaffer with
this man and that to secure it a living. It is as indifferent
and easy meanwhile as a poor man's dog, and making acquaintance
with its kind. It will cut its own channel like a mountain
stream, and by the longest ridge is not kept from the sea at
last. I have found all things thus far, persons and inanimate
matter, elements and seasons, strangely adapted to my resources.
No matter what imprudent haste in my career; I am permitted to be
rash. Gulfs are bridged in a twinkling, as if some unseen
baggage-train carried pontoons for my convenience, and while from
the heights I scan the tempting but unexplored Pacific Ocean of
Futurity, the ship is being carried over the mountains piecemeal
on the backs of mules and lamas, whose keel shall plough its
waves, and bear me to the Indies. Day would not dawn if it were
not for


Packed in my mind lie all the clothes
Which outward nature wears,
And in its fashion's hourly change
It all things else repairs.

In vain I look for change abroad,
And can no difference find,
Till some new ray of peace uncalled
Illumes my inmost mind.

What is it gilds the trees and clouds,
And paints the heavens so gay,
But yonder fast-abiding light
With its unchanging ray?

Lo, when the sun streams through the wood,
Upon a winter's morn,
Where'er his silent beams intrude,
The murky night is gone.

How could the patient pine have known
The morning breeze would come,
Or humble flowers anticipate
The insect's noonday hum,--

Till the new light with morning cheer
From far streamed through the aisles,
And nimbly told the forest trees
For many stretching miles?

I've heard within my inmost soul
Such cheerful morning news,
In the horizon of my mind
Have seen such orient hues,

As in the twilight of the dawn,
When the first birds awake,
Are heard within some silent wood,
Where they the small twigs break,

Or in the eastern skies are seen,
Before the sun appears,
The harbingers of summer heats
Which from afar he bears.

Whole weeks and months of my summer life slide away in thin
volumes like mist and smoke, till at length, some warm morning,
perchance, I see a sheet of mist blown down the brook to the
swamp, and I float as high above the fields with it. I can recall
to mind the stillest summer hours, in which the grasshopper sings
over the mulleins, and there is a valor in that time the bare
memory of which is armor that can laugh at any blow of fortune.
For our lifetime the strains of a harp are heard to swell and die
alternately, and death is but "the pause when the blast is
recollecting itself."

We lay awake a long while, listening to the murmurs of the brook,
in the angle formed by whose bank with the river our tent was
pitched, and there was a sort of human interest in its story,
which ceases not in freshet or in drought the livelong summer,
and the profounder lapse of the river was quite drowned by its
din. But the rill, whose

"Silver sands and pebbles sing
Eternal ditties with the spring,"

is silenced by the first frosts of winter, while mightier
streams, on whose bottom the sun never shines, clogged with
sunken rocks and the ruins of forests, from whose surface comes
up no murmur, are strangers to the icy fetters which bind fast a
thousand contributary rills.

I dreamed this night of an event which had occurred long before.
It was a difference with a Friend, which had not ceased to give
me pain, though I had no cause to blame myself. But in my dream
ideal justice was at length done me for his suspicions, and I
received that compensation which I had never obtained in my
waking hours. I was unspeakably soothed and rejoiced, even after
I awoke, because in dreams we never deceive ourselves, nor are
deceived, and this seemed to have the authority of a final

We bless and curse ourselves. Some dreams are divine, as well as
some waking thoughts. Donne sings of one

"Who dreamt devoutlier than most use to pray."

Dreams are the touchstones of our characters. We are scarcely
less afflicted when we remember some unworthiness in our conduct
in a dream, than if it had been actual, and the intensity of our
grief, which is our atonement, measures the degree by which this
is separated from an actual unworthiness. For in dreams we but
act a part which must have been learned and rehearsed in our
waking hours, and no doubt could discover some waking consent
thereto. If this meanness had not its foundation in us, why are
we grieved at it? In dreams we see ourselves naked and acting
out our real characters, even more clearly than we see others
awake. But an unwavering and commanding virtue would compel even
its most fantastic and faintest dreams to respect its
ever-wakeful authority; as we are accustomed to say carelessly,
we should never have _dreamed_ of such a thing. Our truest life
is when we are in dreams awake.

"And, more to lulle him in his slumber soft,
A trickling streame from high rock tumbling downe,
And ever-drizzling raine upon the loft,
Mixt with a murmuring winde, much like the sowne
Of swarming bees, did cast him in a swowne.
No other noyse, nor people's troublous cryes,
As still are wont t' annoy the walled towne,
Might there be heard; but careless Quiet lyes
Wrapt in eternall silence farre from enemyes."



"He trode the unplanted forest floor, whereon
The all-seeing sun for ages hath not shone,
Where feeds the moose, and walks the surly bear,
And up the tall mast runs the woodpecker.
. . . .
Where darkness found him he lay glad at night;
There the red morning touched him with its light.
. . . .
Go where he will, the wise man is at home,
His hearth the earth,--his hall the azure dome;
Where his clear spirit leads him, there's his road,
By God's own light illumined and foreshowed."




When we awoke this morning, we heard the faint, deliberate, and
ominous sound of rain-drops on our cotton roof. The rain had
pattered all night, and now the whole country wept, the drops
falling in the river, and on the alders, and in the pastures, and
instead of any bow in the heavens, there was the trill of the
hair-bird all the morning. The cheery faith of this little bird
atoned for the silence of the whole woodland choir beside. When
we first stepped abroad, a flock of sheep, led by their rams,
came rushing down a ravine in our rear, with heedless haste and
unreserved frisking, as if unobserved by man, from some higher
pasture where they had spent the night, to taste the herbage by
the river-side; but when their leaders caught sight of our white
tent through the mist, struck with sudden astonishment, with
their fore-feet braced, they sustained the rushing torrent in
their rear, and the whole flock stood stock-still, endeavoring to
solve the mystery in their sheepish brains. At length,
concluding that it boded no mischief to them, they spread
themselves out quietly over the field. We learned afterward that
we had pitched our tent on the very spot which a few summers
before had been occupied by a party of Penobscots. We could see
rising before us through the mist a dark conical eminence called
Hooksett Pinnacle, a landmark to boatmen, and also Uncannunuc
Mountain, broad off on the west side of the river.

This was the limit of our voyage, for a few hours more in the
rain would have taken us to the last of the locks, and our boat
was too heavy to be dragged around the long and numerous rapids
which would occur. On foot, however, we continued up along the
bank, feeling our way with a stick through the showery and foggy
day, and climbing over the slippery logs in our path with as much
pleasure and buoyancy as in brightest sunshine; scenting the
fragrance of the pines and the wet clay under our feet, and
cheered by the tones of invisible waterfalls; with visions of
toadstools, and wandering frogs, and festoons of moss hanging
from the spruce-trees, and thrushes flitting silent under the
leaves; our road still holding together through that wettest of
weather, like faith, while we confidently followed its lead. We
managed to keep our thoughts dry, however, and only our clothes
were wet. It was altogether a cloudy and drizzling day, with
occasional brightenings in the mist, when the trill of the
tree-sparrow seemed to be ushering in sunny hours.

"Nothing that naturally happens to man can _hurt_ him,
earthquakes and thunder-storms not excepted," said a man of
genius, who at this time lived a few miles farther on our road.
When compelled by a shower to take shelter under a tree, we may
improve that opportunity for a more minute inspection of some of
Nature's works. I have stood under a tree in the woods half a
day at a time, during a heavy rain in the summer, and yet
employed myself happily and profitably there prying with
microscopic eye into the crevices of the bark or the leaves or
the fungi at my feet. "Riches are the attendants of the miser;
and the heavens rain plenteously upon the mountains." I can fancy
that it would be a luxury to stand up to one's chin in some
retired swamp a whole summer day, scenting the wild honeysuckle
and bilberry blows, and lulled by the minstrelsy of gnats and
mosquitoes! A day passed in the society of those Greek sages,
such as described in the Banquet of Xenophon, would not be
comparable with the dry wit of decayed cranberry vines, and the
fresh Attic salt of the moss-beds. Say twelve hours of genial
and familiar converse with the leopard frog; the sun to rise
behind alder and dogwood, and climb buoyantly to his meridian of
two hands' breadth, and finally sink to rest behind some bold
western hummock. To hear the evening chant of the mosquito from
a thousand green chapels, and the bittern begin to boom from some
concealed fort like a sunset gun!--Surely one may as profitably
be soaked in the juices of a swamp for one day as pick his way
dry-shod over sand. Cold and damp,--are they not as rich
experience as warmth and dryness?

At present, the drops come trickling down the stubble while we
lie drenched on a bed of withered wild oats, by the side of a
bushy hill, and the gathering in of the clouds, with the last
rush and dying breath of the wind, and then the regular dripping
of twigs and leaves the country over, enhance the sense of inward
comfort and sociableness. The birds draw closer and are more
familiar under the thick foliage, seemingly composing new strains
upon their roosts against the sunshine. What were the amusements
of the drawing-room and the library in comparison, if we had them
here? We should still sing as of old,--

My books I'd fain cast off, I cannot read,
'Twixt every page my thoughts go stray at large
Down in the meadow, where is richer feed,
And will not mind to hit their proper targe.

Plutarch was good, and so was Homer too,
Our Shakespeare's life were rich to live again,
What Plutarch read, that was not good nor true,
Nor Shakespeare's books, unless his books were men

Here while I lie beneath this walnut bough,
What care I for the Greeks or for Troy town,
If juster battles are enacted now
Between the ants upon this hummock's crown?

Bid Homer wait till I the issue learn,
If red or black the gods will favor most,
Or yonder Ajax will the phalanx turn,
Struggling to heave some rock against the host.

Tell Shakespeare to attend some leisure hour,
For now I've business with this drop of dew,
And see you not, the clouds prepare a shower,--
I'll meet him shortly when the sky is blue.

This bed of herd's-grass and wild oats was spread
Last year with nicer skill than monarchs use,
A clover tuft is pillow for my head,
And violets quite overtop my shoes.

And now the cordial clouds have shut all in
And gently swells the wind to say all's well
The scattered drops are falling fast and thin,
Some in the pool, some in the flower-bell.

I am well drenched upon my bed of oats;
But see that globe come rolling down its stem
Now like a lonely planet there it floats,
And now it sinks into my garment's hem.

Drip drip the trees for all the country round,
And richness rare distils from every bough,
The wind alone it is makes every sound,
Shaking down crystals on the leaves below.

For shame the sun will never show himself,
Who could not with his beams e'er melt me so,
My dripping locks,--they would become an elf,
Who in a beaded coat does gayly go.

The Pinnacle is a small wooded hill which rises very abruptly to
the height of about two hundred feet, near the shore at Hooksett
Falls. As Uncannunuc Mountain is perhaps the best point from
which to view the valley of the Merrimack, so this hill affords
the best view of the river itself. I have sat upon its summit, a
precipitous rock only a few rods long, in fairer weather, when
the sun was setting and filling the river valley with a flood of
light. You can see up and down the Merrimack several miles each
way. The broad and straight river, full of light and life, with
its sparkling and foaming falls, the islet which divides the
stream, the village of Hooksett on the shore almost directly
under your feet, so near that you can converse with its
inhabitants or throw a stone into its yards, the woodland lake at
its western base, and the mountains in the north and northeast,
make a scene of rare beauty and completeness, which the traveller
should take pains to behold.

We were hospitably entertained in Concord, New Hampshire, which
we persisted in calling _New_ Concord, as we had been wont, to
distinguish it from our native town, from which we had been told
that it was named and in part originally settled. This would
have been the proper place to conclude our voyage, uniting
Concord with Concord by these meandering rivers, but our boat was
moored some miles below its port.

The richness of the intervals at Penacook, now Concord, New
Hampshire, had been observed by explorers, and, according to the
historian of Haverhill, in the

"year 1726, considerable progress was made in the settlement,
and a road was cut through the wilderness from Haverhill to
Penacook. In the fall of 1727, the first family, that of
Captain Ebenezer Eastman, moved into the place. His team was
driven by Jacob Shute, who was by birth a Frenchman, and he is
said to have been the first person who drove a team through the
wilderness. Soon after, says tradition, one Ayer, a lad of 18,
drove a team consisting of ten yoke of oxen to Penacook, swam
the river, and ploughed a portion of the interval. He is
supposed to have been the first person who ploughed land in
that place. After he had completed his work, he started on his
return at sunrise, drowned a yoke of oxen while recrossing the
river, and arrived at Haverhill about midnight. The crank of
the first saw-mill was manufactured in Haverhill, and carried
to Penacook on a horse."

But we found that the frontiers were not this way any longer.
This generation has come into the world fatally late for some
enterprises. Go where we will on the _surface_ of things, men
have been there before us. We cannot now have the pleasure of
erecting the _last_ house; that was long ago set up in the
suburbs of Astoria City, and our boundaries have literally been
run to the South Sea, according to the old patents. But the
lives of men, though more extended laterally in their range, are
still as shallow as ever. Undoubtedly, as a Western orator said,
"Men generally live over about the same surface; some live long
and narrow, and others live broad and short"; but it is all
superficial living. A worm is as good a traveller as a
grasshopper or a cricket, and a much wiser settler. With all
their activity these do not hop away from drought nor forward to
summer. We do not avoid evil by fleeing before it, but by rising
above or diving below its plane; as the worm escapes drought and
frost by boring a few inches deeper. The frontiers are not east
or west, north or south, but wherever a man _fronts_ a fact,
though that fact be his neighbor, there is an unsettled
wilderness between him and Canada, between him and the setting
sun, or, farther still, between him and _it_. Let him build
himself a log-house with the bark on where he is, _fronting_
^it^, and wage there an Old French war for seven or seventy
years, with Indians and Rangers, or whatever else may come
between him and the reality, and save his scalp if he can.

We now no longer sailed or floated on the river, but trod the
unyielding land like pilgrims. Sadi tells who may travel; among
others, "A common mechanic, who can earn a subsistence by the
industry of his hand, and shall not have to stake his reputation
for every morsel of bread, as philosophers have said." He may
travel who can subsist on the wild fruits and game of the most
cultivated country. A man may travel fast enough and earn his
living on the road. I have at times been applied to to do work
when on a journey; to do tinkering and repair clocks, when I had
a knapsack on my back. A man once applied to me to go into a
factory, stating conditions and wages, observing that I succeeded
in shutting the window of a railroad car in which we were
travelling, when the other passengers had failed. "Hast thou not
heard of a Sufi, who was hammering some nails into the sole of
his sandal; an officer of cavalry took him by the sleeve, saying,
Come along and shoe my horse." Farmers have asked me to assist
them in haying, when I was passing their fields. A man once
applied to me to mend his umbrella, taking me for an
umbrella-mender, because, being on a journey, I carried an
umbrella in my hand while the sun shone. Another wished to buy a
tin cup of me, observing that I had one strapped to my belt, and
a sauce-pan on my back. The cheapest way to travel, and the way
to travel the farthest in the shortest distance, is to go afoot,
carrying a dipper, a spoon, and a fish-line, some Indian meal,
some salt, and some sugar. When you come to a brook or pond, you
can catch fish and cook them; or you can boil a hasty-pudding; or
you can buy a loaf of bread at a farmer's house for fourpence,
moisten it in the next brook that crosses the road, and dip into
it your sugar,--this alone will last you a whole day;--or, if you
are accustomed to heartier living, you can buy a quart of milk
for two cents, crumb your bread or cold pudding into it, and eat
it with your own spoon out of your own dish. Any one of these
things I mean, not all together. I have travelled thus some
hundreds of miles without taking any meal in a house, sleeping on
the ground when convenient, and found it cheaper, and in many
respects more profitable, than staying at home. So that some
have inquired why it would not be best to travel always. But I
never thought of travelling simply as a means of getting a
livelihood. A simple woman down in Tyngsborough, at whose house
I once stopped to get a draught of water, when I said,
recognizing the bucket, that I had stopped there nine years
before for the same purpose, asked if I was not a traveller,
supposing that I had been travelling ever since, and had now come
round again; that travelling was one of the professions, more or
less productive, which her husband did not follow. But continued
travelling is far from productive. It begins with wearing away
the soles of the shoes, and making the feet sore, and erelong it
will wear a man clean up, after making his heart sore into the
bargain. I have observed that the after-life of those who have
travelled much is very pathetic. True and sincere travelling is
no pastime, but it is as serious as the grave, or any part of the
human journey, and it requires a long probation to be broken into
it. I do not speak of those that travel sitting, the sedentary
travellers whose legs hang dangling the while, mere idle symbols
of the fact, any more than when we speak of sitting hens we mean
those that sit standing, but I mean those to whom travelling is
life for the legs, and death too, at last. The traveller must be
born again on the road, and earn a passport from the elements,
the principal powers that be for him. He shall experience at
last that old threat of his mother fulfilled, that he shall be
skinned alive. His sores shall gradually deepen themselves that
they may heal inwardly, while he gives no rest to the sole of his
foot, and at night weariness must be his pillow, that so he may
acquire experience against his rainy days.--So was it with us.

Sometimes we lodged at an inn in the woods, where trout-fishers
from distant cities had arrived before us, and where, to our
astonishment, the settlers dropped in at nightfall to have a chat
and hear the news, though there was but one road, and no other
house was visible,--as if they had come out of the earth. There
we sometimes read old newspapers, who never before read new ones,
and in the rustle of their leaves heard the dashing of the surf
along the Atlantic shore, instead of the sough of the wind among
the pines. But then walking had given us an appetite even for
the least palatable and nutritious food.

Some hard and dry book in a dead language, which you have found
it impossible to read at home, but for which you have still a
lingering regard, is the best to carry with you on a journey. At
a country inn, in the barren society of ostlers and travellers, I
could undertake the writers of the silver or the brazen age with
confidence. Almost the last regular service which I performed in
the cause of literature was to read the works of


If you have imagined what a divine work is spread out for the
poet, and approach this author too, in the hope of finding the
field at length fairly entered on, you will hardly dissent from
the words of the prologue,

"Ipse semipaganus
Ad sacra Vatum carmen affero nostrum."

I half pagan
Bring my verses to the shrine of the poets.

Here is none of the interior dignity of Virgil, nor the elegance
and vivacity of Horace, nor will any sibyl be needed to remind
you, that from those older Greek poets there is a sad descent to
Persius. You can scarcely distinguish one harmonious sound amid
this unmusical bickering with the follies of men.

One sees that music has its place in thought, but hardly as yet
in language. When the Muse arrives, we wait for her to remould
language, and impart to it her own rhythm. Hitherto the verse
groans and labors with its load, and goes not forward blithely,
singing by the way. The best ode may be parodied, indeed is
itself a parody, and has a poor and trivial sound, like a man
stepping on the rounds of a ladder. Homer and Shakespeare and
Milton and Marvell and Wordsworth are but the rustling of leaves
and crackling of twigs in the forest, and there is not yet the
sound of any bird. The Muse has never lifted up her voice to
sing. Most of all, satire will not be sung. A Juvenal or
Persius do not marry music to their verse, but are measured
fault-finders at best; stand but just outside the faults they
condemn, and so are concerned rather about the monster which they
have escaped, than the fair prospect before them. Let them live
on an age, and they will have travelled out of his shadow and
reach, and found other objects to ponder.

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