by Henry David Thoreau

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Nov. 12, 1841 to Nov. 20, 1853

Nov. 12 [?], 1841. Music is only a sweet striving to express character. Now that lately I have heard of some traits in the character of a fair and earnest maiden whom I had known only superficially, but who has gone hence to make herself more known by distance, these strains sound like a wild harp music. There is apology enough for all the deficiency and short coming in the world in the patient waiting of any bud of character to unfold itself.

Only character can command our reverent love. It is all mysteries in itself.

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

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

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

Or in the eastern skies is seen
Before the sun appears,
Foretelling of the summer heats
Which far away he bears.

Walden. p. m. I seem to discern the very form of the wind when, blowing over the hills, it falls in broad flakes upon the surface of the pond, this subtle element obeying the law of the least subtle. I cannot but be encouraged by the blithe activity of the elements. Who hears the rippling of the rivers will not utterly despair of anything. The wind in the wood yonder sounds like an incessant waterfall, the water dashing and roaring among the rocks.

Nov. 12, 1851. Write often, write upon a thousand themes, rather than long at a time, not trying to turn too many feeble summersets in the air, and so come down upon your head at last. Antaeus-like, be not long absent from the ground. Those sentences are good and well-discharged which are like so many little resiliences from the spring-floor of our life, each a distinct fruit and kernel springing from terra firma. Let there be as many distinct plants as the soil and the light can maintain. Take as many bounds in a day as possible, sentences uttered with your back to the wall. Those are the admirable bounds when the performer has lately touched the spring-board. A good bound into the air from the air is a good and wholesome experience, but what shall we say to a man's leaping off precipices in the attempt to fly. He comes down like lead. But let your feet be planted upon the rock, with the rock also at your back, and as in the case of King James and Roderick Dhu, you can say,—

"Come one, come all, this rock shall fly
From its firm base, as soon as I."

Such, uttered or not, is the strength of your sentences, sentences in which there is no strain, no fluttering inconstant and quasi aspiration, and ever memorable Icarian fall wherein your helpless wings are expanded merely by your swift descent into the pelagos beneath.

—— is one who will not stoop to rise. He wants something for which he will not pay the going price. He will only learn slowly by failure, not a noble, but disgraceful failure. This is not a worthy method of learning, to be educated by evitable suffering, like De Quincey, for instance. Better dive like a muskrat into the mud, and pull up a few weeds to sit on during the floods, a foundation of your own laying, a house of your own building, however cold and cheerless. Methinks the hawk that soars so loftily, and circles so steadily and apparently without effort, has earned this power by faithfully creeping on the ground as a reptile in a former state of existence. You must creep before you can run, you must run before you can fly. Better one effective bound upward with elastic limbs from the valley, than a jumping from the mountain-tops with attempt to fly. The observatories are not built high, but deep. The foundation is equal to the superstructure. It is more important to a distinct vision that it be steady, than that it be from an elevated point of view.

Walking through Ebby Hubbard's wood this afternoon with Minott, who was actually taking a walk for amusement and exercise, he said, on seeing some white pines blown down, that you might know that ground had been cultivated, for otherwise they would have rooted themselves more strongly. . . . He has a story for every woodland path. He has hunted in them all. Where we walked last, he had once caught a partridge by the wing.

7 p. m. To Conantum. A still cold night. The light of the rising moon in the east. The ground is frozen and echoes to my tread. There are absolutely no crickets to be heard now. They are heard, then, till the ground freezes. I hear no sound of any kind now at night, but sometimes some creature stirring, a rabbit, or skunk, or fox, betrayed by the dry leaves which lie so thick and light. The openness of the leafless woods is particularly apparent now by moonlight; they are nearly as light as the open field. It is worth the while always to go to the water, when there is but little light in the heavens, and see the heavens and the stars reflected. There is double the light that there is elsewhere, and the reflection has the force of a great silent companion. I thought to-night that I saw glow-worms in the grass on the side of the hill, was almost certain of it, and tried to lay my hands on them, but found it was the moonlight reflected from (apparently) the fine frost crystals on the withered grass. They were so fine that the reflections went and came like glow-worms. The gleams were just long enough for glow-worms, and the effect was precisely the same.

Nov. 12, 1852. 4 p. m. To Cliffs. It clears up. A very bright rainbow, three reds, two greens. I see its foot within half a mile in the southeast, heightening the green of the pines. From Fair Haven Hill, I see a very distant, long, low, dark-blue cloud still left in the northwest horizon, beyond the mountains, and against this I see, apparently, a narrow white cloud resting on every mountain, and conforming exactly to its outline, as if the white, frilled edge of the main cloud were turned up over them. In fact, the massive dark-blue cloud beyond revealed these distinct white caps resting on the mountains this side, for twenty miles along the horizon.

The sun having set, my long, dark-blue cloud has assumed the form of an alligator, and where the sun has just disappeared it is split into two tremendous jaws, between which glows the eternal city, its crenate lips all coppery-golden, its serrate fiery teeth. Its body lies a slumbering mass along the horizon.

Nov. 12, 1853. I cannot but regard it as a kindness in those who have the steering of me, that by the want of pecuniary wealth, I have been nailed down to this my native region so long and steadily, and made to study and love this spot of earth more and more. What would signify in comparison a thin and diffused love and knowledge of the whole earth instead, got by wandering? Wealth will not buy a man a home in nature. The man of business does not by his business earn a residence in nature. It is an insignificant, a merely negative good to be provided with thick garments against cold and wet, an unprofitable and weak condition compared with being able to extract some exhilaration, some warmth even, out of cold and wet themselves, and to clothe them with our sympathy. The rich man buys woolens and furs, and sits naked and shivering still, in spirit, but the poor lord of creation makes cold and wet to warm him, and be his garments.

The hylodes, as it is the first frog heard in the spring, so it is the last in the autumn. I heard it last, I think, about a month ago. I do not remember any hum of insects for a long time, though I heard a cricket to-day.

Nov. 12, 1858. It is much the coldest day yet, and the ground is a little frozen and resounds under my tread. All people move the brisker for the cold, are braced and a little elated by it. They love to say, "Cold day, sir." Though the days are shorter, you get more work out of a hired man than before, for he must work to keep warm. . . . We are now reduced to browsing on buds and twigs, and methinks with this diet and this cold, we shall appear to the stall-fed thinkers like those unkempt cattle in meadows now, grazing the withered grass.

I think the change to some higher color in a leaf is an evidence that it has arrived at a late, more perfect, and final maturity, answering to the maturity of fruits, and not to that of green leaves, etc., which merely serve a purpose. The word ripe is thought by some to be derived from the verb to reap, so that what is ripe is ready to be reaped. The fall of the leaf is preceded by a ripe old age.

Nov. 12, 1859. The first sprinkling of snow, which for a short time whitens the ground in spots.

I do not know how to distinguish between our waking life and a dream. Are we not always living the life that we imagine we are? Fear creates danger, and courage dispels it.

There was a remarkable sunset, I think the twenty-fifth of October. The sunset sky reached quite from west to east, and it was the most varied in its forms and colors that I remember to have seen. At one time the clouds were softly and delicately rippled like the ripple marks on sand. But it was hard for me to see its beauty then, when my mind was filled with Captain Brown. So great a wrong as his fate implied overshadowed all beauty in the world.

Nov. 13, 1837. Sin destroys the perception of the beautiful. It is a sure evidence of the health and innocence of the beholder, if the senses are alive to the beauty of nature. This shall be the test of innocence, if I can hear a taunt, and look out on this friendly moon pacing the heavens in queen-like majesty, with the accustomed yearning.

Truth is ever returning into herself. I glimpse one feature to-day, another to-morrow, and the next day they are blended.

Nov. 13, 1839. Make the most of your regrets. Never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it, till it come to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh. By so doing you will find yourself restored to all your emoluments.

Nov. 13 [?], 1841. We constantly anticipate repose. Yet it surely can only be the repose that is in entire and healthy activity. It must be a repose without rust. What is leisure but opportunity for more complete and entire action? Our energies pine for exercise. The time we spend in the discharge of our duties is so much leisure, so that there is no man but has sufficient of it.

This ancient Scotch poetry at which its contemporaries so marveled, sounds like the uncertain lisping of a child. When man's speech flows freest, it but stammers. There is never a free and clear deliverance; but read now when the illusion of smooth verse is destroyed by the antique spelling, and the sense is seen to stammer and stumble all the plainer. To how few thoughts do all these sincere efforts give utterance? An hour's conversation with these men would have done more. I am astonished to see how meagre that diet is which has fed so many men. The music of sound, which is all-sufficient at first, is speedily lost, and then the fame of the poet must rest on the music of the sense. A great philosophical and moral poet would give permanence to the language by making the best sound convey the best sense.

Nov. 13, 1851. To Fair Haven Hill. A cold and dark afternoon, the sun being behind clouds in the west. The landscape is barren of objects, the trees being leafless, and so little light in the sky for variety; such a day as will almost oblige a man to eat his own heart, a day in which you must hold on to life by your teeth. Now is the time to cut timber for yokes and ox-bows, leaving the tough bark on, yokes for your own neck, finding yourself yoked to matter and to time. Truly hard times, these! Not a mosquito left, not an insect to hum. Crickets gone into winter quarters. Friends long since gone there, and you left to walk on frozen ground with your hands in your pockets. Ah, but is not this a glorious time for your deep inward fires? Will not your green hickory and white oak burn clear in this frosty air? Now is not your manhood taxed by the great Assessor? taxed for having a soul, a rateable soul? A day when you cannot pluck a flower, cannot dig a parsnip, nor pull a turnip, for the frozen ground. What do the thoughts find to live on? What avails you now the fire you stole from heaven? Does not each thought become a vulture to gnaw your vitals? No Indian summer have we had this November. I see but few traces of the perennial spring. We have not even the cold beauty of ice crystals and snowy architecture. Nothing but the echo of your steps on the frozen ground, which, it is true, is being prepared for immeasurable snows. Still there are brave thoughts within you that shall remain to rustle the winter through, like white-oak leaves upon your boughs, or like shrub oaks that remind the traveler of a fire upon the hillsides, or evergreen thoughts, cold even in midsummer, by their nature. These shall contrast the more fairly with the snow. Some warm springs shall still tinkle and fume, and send their column of vapor to the skies.

The mountains are of an uncommonly dark blue to-day. Perhaps this is owing not only to the great clearness of the atmosphere, which makes them seem nearer, but to the absence of the leaves. A little mistiness occasioned by warmth would set them further off. I see snow on the Peterboro' Hills reflecting the sun. It is pleasant thus to look from afar into winter. We look at a condition which we have not reached. Notwithstanding the poverty of the immediate landscape, in the horizon it is simplicity and grandeur. I look into valleys white with snow and now lit up by the sun, while all this country is in shade. There is a great gap in the mountain range just south of the two Peterboro' Hills. Methinks I have been through it, and that a road runs there. Humble as these mountains are compared with some, at this distance I am convinced they answer the purpose of Andes. Seen at this distance, I know of nothing more grand and stupendous than that great mountain gate or pass, a great cleft or sinus in the blue banks, as in a dark evening cloud, fit portal to lead from one country, from one quarter of the world to another, where the children of Israel might file through. Little does the New Hampshire farmer who drives over that road realize through what a sublime gap he is passing. You would almost as soon think of a road as winding through and over a dark evening cloud. This prospect of the mountains from our low hills is what I would rather have than pastures on the mountain-side such as my neighbors have, aye, than townships at their base. Instead of driving my cattle up there in May, I simply turn my eyes thither. They pasture there, and the grass they feed on never withers.

Just spent a couple of hours (8 to 10) with Miss Mary Emerson at Holbrook's; the wittiest and most vivacious woman I know, certainly that woman among my acquaintance whom it is most profitable to meet, the least frivolous, who will most surely provoke to good conversation. She is singular among women, at least, in being really and perseveringly interested to know what thoughtful people think. She relates herself surely to the intellectual wherever she goes. It is perhaps her greatest praise and peculiarity that she more surely than any other woman gives her companion occasion to utter his best thought. In spite of her own biases, she can entertain a large thought with hospitality, and is not prevented by any intellectuality in it, as women commonly are. In short, she is a genius, as woman seldom is, reminding you less often of her sex than any woman whom I know. Thus she is capable of a masculine appreciation of poetry and philosophy. I never talked with any other woman who I thought accompanied me so far in describing a poetic experience. Miss Fuller is the only other I think of in this connection, and of her rather from her fame than from my knowledge of her. Miss Emerson expressed to-night a singular want of respect for her own sex, saying that they were frivolous, almost without exception, that woman was the weaker vessel, etc.; and that into whatever family she might go, she depended more upon the clown for society than upon the lady of the house. Men are more likely to have opinions of their own.

Just in proportion to the outward poverty is the inward wealth. In cold weather fire burns with a clearer flame.

Nov. 13, 1855. In mid-forenoon, 10.45, seventy or eighty geese, in three harrows, successively smaller, flying southwest, pretty well west, over the house. A completely overcast, occasionally drizzling forenoon. I at once heard their clangor, and rushed to and opened the window. The three harrows were gradually formed into one great one, before they were out of sight, the geese shifting their places without slacking their progress.

p. m. To Cardinal Shore. I saw in the pond by the roadside, a few rods before me, the sun shining bright, a mink swimming, the whole length of his back out. It was a rich brown fur, glowing internally as the sun fell on it, like some ladies' boas; not black, as it sometimes appears, especially on ice. It landed within three rods, showing its long, somewhat cat-like neck, and I observed, was carrying something by its mouth, dragging it overland. At first I thought it a fish, maybe an eeL, and when it had got half a dozen feet, I ran forward, and it dropped its prey, and went into the wall. It was a muskrat, the head and part of the legs torn off and gone, but the rest still fresh and quite heavy, including hind legs and tail. It had probably killed the muskrat in the brook, eaten so much, and was dragging the remainder to its retreat in the wall.

Nov. 13, 1858. It is wonderful what gradation and harmony there is in nature. The light reflected from bare twigs at this season, that is, since they began to be bare, in the latter part of October, is not unlike that from gossamer, and like that which will erelong be reflected from the ice that will incrust them. So the bleached herbage of the fields is like frost, and frost like snow, and one prepares for the other.

Nov. 14 [?], 1841. To find the sunset described by the old Scotch poet, Douglas, as I have seen it, repays me for many weary pages of antiquated Scotch. Nothing so restores and harmonizes antiquity and makes it blithe, as the discovery of some natural sympathy. Why is it that there is something melancholy in antiquity? We forget that it had any other future than our present, as if it were not as near to the future as ourselves. No, these ranks of men to right and left, posterity and ancestry, are not to be thridded by any earnest mortal. The heavens stood over the heads of our ancestors as near as to us. Any living word in their books abolishes the difference of time. It need only be considered from the present standpoint.

Nov. 14, 1851. In the evening I went to a party. It is a bad place to go to, thirty or forty persons, mostly young women, in a small room, warm and noisy. Was introduced to two young women. The first was as lively and loquacious as a chickadee, had been accustomed to the society of watering places, and therefore could get no refreshment out of such a dry fellow as I. The other was said to be pretty looking, but I rarely look people in their faces, and, moreover, I could not hear what she said, there was such a clacking; could not see the motion of her lips when I looked that way. I could imagine better places for conversation, where there should be a certain degree of silence surrounding you, and less than forty talking at once. Why, this afternoon even I did better. Old Mr. Joseph Hosmer and I ate luncheon of cracker and cheese together in the woods. I heard all he said, though it was not much, to be sure, and he could hear me; and then he talked out of such a glorious repose, taking a leisurely bite at the cracker and cheese between his words, and so some of him was communicated to me, and some of me to him, I trust.

These parties, I think, are a part of the machinery of modern society that young people may be brought together to form marriage connections.

What is the use in going to see people whom yet you never see, and who never see you?

I met a man yesterday afternoon in the road who behaved as if he were deaf, and I talked with him in the cold in a loud tone for fifteen minutes, but that uncertainty about his ears, and the necessity I felt to talk loudly, took off the fine edge of what I had to say, and prevented my saying anything satisfactory. It is bad enough when your neighbor does not understand you, but if there is any uncertainty as to whether he hears you, so that you are obliged to become your own auditor, you are so much the poorer speaker, and so there is a double failure.

Nov. 14, 1852. Still, yarrow, tall buttercup and tansy.

Nov. 14, 1855. Heard to-day in my chamber about 11 a. m. a singular sharp, crackling sound by the window, which made me think of an insect's snapping with its wings or striking something. It was produced by one of three small pitch-pine cones which I gathered November 7th, and which lay in the sun on the window-sill. I noticed a slight motion in the scales at the apex, when suddenly, with a louder crackling, it burst, or the scales separated with a crackling sound on all sides of it. It was a sudden and general bursting or expanding of all the scales with a sharp, crackling sound, and motion of the whole cone as by a force pent up within it. I suppose the strain only needed to be relieved at one point for the whole to go off.

Nov. 14, 1857. The principal flight of geese was November 8th, so that the bulk of them preceded this cold turn five days. I find my hands stiffened and involuntarily finding their way to my pockets. No wonder that the weather is a standing subject of conversation, since we are so sensitive. If we had not gone through several winters, we might well be alarmed at the approach of cold weather. With this keener blast my hands suddenly fail to fulfill their office, as it were, begin to die. We must put on armor against the new foe. I can hardly tie and untie my shoestrings. What a story to tell an inhabitant of the tropics, perchance, that you went to walk after many months of warmth, when suddenly the air became so cold and hostile to your nature that it benumbed you, so that you lost the use of some of your limbs, could not untie your shoestrings!

Nov. 14, 1858. Now while the frosty air begins to nip your fingers and your nose, the frozen ground rapidly wears away the soles of your shoes, as sandpaper might. The old she-wolf is nibbling at your very extremities. The frozen ground eating away the soles of your shoes is only typical of the vulture that gnaws your heart this month. Now all that moves migrates or has migrated, ducks are gone by, the citizen has sought the town.

Probably the witch hazel and many other flowers lingered till the eleventh, when it was colder. The last leaves and flowers (?) may be said to fall about the middle of November.

Snow and cold drive the doves to your door, and so your thoughts make new alliances.

Nov. 14, 1860. Yellow butterflies still.

Nov. 15, 1840. Over and above a man's business there must be a level of undisturbed serenity, only the more serene, as he is the more industrious, as within the reef encircling a coral isle there is always an expanse of still water where the depositions are going on which will finally raise it above the surface. He must preside over all he does. If his employment rob him of a serene outlook over his life, it is but idle, though it be measuring the fixed stars. He must know no distracting cares.

The bad sense is the secondary one.

Nov. 15 [?], 1841. A mild summer sun shines over forest and lake. The earth looks as fair this morning as the Valhalla of the gods. Indeed our spirits never go beyond nature. In the woods there is an inexpressible happiness. Their mirth is but just repressed. In winter when there is but one green leaf for many rods, what warm content is in them. They are not rude, but tender, even in the severest cold. Their nakedness is their defense. All their sights and sounds are elixir to my spirit. They possess a choice health. God is not more well. Every sound is inspiriting, and fraught with the same mysterious assurance from the creaking of the boughs in January to the soft sigh of the wind in July.

How much of my well-being, think you, depends on the condition of my lungs and stomach, such cheap pieces of Nature as they, which indeed she is every day reproducing with prodigality? Is that arrow indeed fatal which rankles in the breast of the bird on the bough, in whose eye all this fair landscape is reflected, and whose voice still echoes through the wood?

This is my argument in reserve for all cases. My love is invulnerable. Meet me on that ground, and you will find me strong. When I am condemned, and condemn myself, I think straightway, But I love some things. Therein I am whole and entire. Therein I am God-propped.

When I see the smoke curling up through the woods from some farmhouse invisible, it is more suggestive of the poetry of rural and domestic life than a nearer inspection can be. Up goes the smoke as quietly as the dew exhales in vapor, as busy as the housewife below, disposing itself in circles and wreaths. It is contemporary with a piece of human biography, and waves as a feather in some man's cap. Under that rod of sky there is some plot a-brewing, some ingenuity has planted itself, and we shall see what it will do. It tattles of more things than the boiling of a pot. It is but one of man's breaths. All that is interesting in history or fiction is transpiring beneath that cloud. The subject of all life and death, of happiness and grief, goes thereunder. When the traveler in the forest, attaining to some eminence, discovers a column of smoke in the distance, it is a very gentle hint to him of the presence of man. It seems as if it would establish friendly relations between them without more ado.

Nov. 15, 1851. Here is a rainy day which keeps me in the house. I am pleased to read in Stoerer's [?] "Life of Linnæus" (Trapp's translation) that his father, being the first learned man of his family, changed his family name, and borrowed that of Linnæus (Linden-tree man) from a lofty linden tree which stood near his native place; "a custom," he says, "not unfrequent in Sweden, to take fresh appellations from natural objects." What more fit than that the advent of a new man into a family should acquire for it and transmit to posterity a new patronymic! Such a custom suggests, if it does not argue, an unabated vigor in the race, relating it to those primitive times when men did indeed acquire a name as memorable and distinct as their characters. It is refreshing to find a man whom you cannot feel satisfied to call John's son or Johnson's son, but by a new name applicable to himself alone, he being the first of his kind. We may say there have been but so many men as there are surnames, and of all the John Smiths there has been but one true John Smith, and he of course is dead. Get yourself, therefore, a name, and better a nickname than none at all. There was one enterprising boy came to school to me whose name was "Buster," and an honorable name it was. He was the only boy in the school, to my knowledge, who was named.

What shall we say of the comparative intellectual vigor of ancients and moderns, when we read of Theophrastus, the father of botany, that he composed more than two hundred treatises in the third century before Christ and the seventeenth before printing, about twenty of which remain, and that these fill six volumes in folio printed at Venice; among the last are two works on natural history, and one on the generation of plants.

"By his own avowal" [Pliny the elder's] "Natural History is a compilation from about twenty-five hundred different authors."

Nov. 15, 1853. After having some business dealings with men, I am occasionally chagrined, and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance. I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard, and coarse. But the longest intercourse with Nature, though in her rudest moods, does not thus harden and make coarse. A hard, insensible man whom we liken to a rock, is indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft.

I was the other night elected a curator of our Lyceum, but was obliged to decline, because I did not know where to find good lecturers enough to make a course for the winter. We commonly think we cannot have a good journal in New England, because we have not enough writers of ability. But we do not suspect likewise that we have not good lecturers enough to make a Lyceum.

This afternoon has wanted no condition to make it a gossamer day, it seems to me, but a calm atmosphere. Plainly the spiders cannot be abroad on the water, unless it is smooth. The one I witnessed this fall was at time of flood. May it be that they are driven out of their retreats like muskrats and snowfleas, and spin these lines for their support? Yet they work on the causeway, too.

Nov. 15, 1857. p. m. To Holden swamp and C. Miles swamp. My walk is the more lonely when I perceive that there are no ants upon the hillocks in field or wood. These are deserted mounds. They have commenced their winter sleep. The water is frozen solid in the leaves of the pitcher plant. This is the thickest ice I have seen. This water was most exposed in the cool swamp.

Going by my owl-nest oak, I saw that it had broken off at the hole, and the top fallen, but seeing in the cavity some leaves, I climbed up to see what kind of nest it was. I took out the leaves slowly, watching to see what spoils had been left with them. Some were pretty green, and all had evidently been placed there this fall. When I had taken all out with my left hand, holding on to the top of the stump with my right, I looked round into the cleft, and there I saw sitting nearly erect at the bottom in one corner, a little mus leucopus, panting with fear, and with its large black eyes upon me. I held my face thus within seven or eight inches of it as long as I cared to hold on there, and it showed no sign of retreating. When I put in my hand, it merely withdrew downward into a snug little nest of hypnum and apparently the dirty-white, wool-like pappus of some plant, as big as a batting ball. Wishing to see its tail, I stirred it up again, when it suddenly rushed up the side of the cleft out over my shoulder and right arm, and leaped off, falling down through a thin hemlock spray some sixteen or eighteen feet to the ground on the hillside, where I lost sight of it. These nests, I suppose, are made when the trees are losing their leaves, as those of the squirrels are.

Nov. 15, 1859. A very pleasant Indian summer day. p. m. To Ledum swamp. I look up the river from the railroad bridge. It is perfectly smooth between the uniformly tawny meadows, and I see several muskrat cabins off Hubbard shore, distinctly outlined, as usual, in the November light. I hear in several places a faint cricket note, either a fine z-ing, or a distincter creak; also see and hear a grasshopper's crackling flight. The clouds were never more fairly reflected in the water than now, as I look up the cyanean reach from Clamshell. A fine gossamer is streaming from every fence, tree, and stubble, though a careless observer would not notice it. As I look along over the grass toward the sun at Hosmer's field beyond Lupine Hill, I notice the shimmering effect of the gossamer, which seems to cover it almost like a web, occasioned by its motion, though the air is so still. This is noticed at least forty rods off. I turn down Witherel Glade, only that I may bring its tufts of andropogon between me and the sun.

It is a fact proving how universal and widely related any transcendent greatness is, like the apex of a pyramid to all beneath it, that when I now look over my extracts of the noblest poetry, the best is oftenest applicable in part or wholly to this man's [Captain John Brown's] position. Almost any noble verse may be read either as his elegy or eulogy, or be made the text of an oration about him; indeed such are now first discovered to be parts of a divinely established liturgy applicable to these rare cases for which the ritual of no church has provided,—the case of heroes, martyrs, and saints. This is the formula established on high, their burial service, to which every great genius has contributed its line or syllable. Of course the ritual of no church which is wedded to the state can contain a service applicable to the case of a state criminal unjustly condemned, a martyr. The sense of grand poetry read by the light of this event is brought out distinctly, like an invisible writing held to the fire.

Nov. 16, 1850. I am accustomed to regard the smallest brook with as much interest, for the time being, as if it were the Orinoco or Mississippi, and when a tributary rill empties into it, it is like the confluence of famous rivers I have read of. When I cross one on a fence, I love to pause in mid-passage and look down into the water, and study its bottom, its little mystery. There is none so small but you may see a pickerel regarding you with a wary eye, or a pigmy trout dart from under the bank, or in spring perchance a sucker will have found its way far up the stream. You are sometimes astonished to see a pickerel far up some now shrunken rill where it is a mere puddle by the roadside. I have stooped to drink at a clear spring no bigger than a bushel basket, in a meadow, from which a rill was scarcely seen to dribble away, and seen lurking at its bottom two little pickerel not so big as my finger, sole monarchs of this their ocean, and who probably would never visit a larger water.

I hear deep amid the birches some row among the birds or the squirrels, where evidently some mystery is being developed to them. The jay is on the alert, mimicking every woodland note. "What has happened? who's dead?" The twitter retreats before you, and you are never let into the secret. Some tragedy surely is being enacted, but murder will out. How many little dramas are enacted in the depths of the woods at which man is not present!

There seems to be in the fall a sort of attempt at spring, a rejuvenescence, as if the winter were not expected by a part of nature. Violets, dandelions, and some other flowers blossom again, and mulleins and innumerable other plants begin again to spring, and are only checked by the increasing cold. There is a slight uncertainty whether there will be any winter this year.

Some of our richest days are those in which no sun shines outwardly, but so much the more a sun shines inwardly. I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me, it never jests, it is cheerfully, musically earnest. I lie and rely on the earth.

The sweet-scented life-everlasting has not lost its scent yet, but smells like the balm of the fields.

The partridge-berry leaves checker the ground on moist hillsides in the woods. Are not they properly called checker-berries?

My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of the things I love, my affection for an aspect of the world, what I love to think of. I have no more distinctness or pointedness in my yearnings than an expanding bud which does indeed point to flower and fruit, to summer and autumn, but is aware of the warm sun and spring influence only. I feel ripe for something, yet do nothing, can't discover what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seedtime with me. I have lain fallow long enough.

Notwithstanding a sense of unworthiness which possesses me not without reason, notwithstanding that I regard myself as a good deal of a scamp, yet for the most part the spirit of the universe is unaccountably kind to me, and I enjoy perhaps an unusual share of happiness. But I question sometimes if there is not some settlement to come.

Nov. 16, 1851. It is remarkable that the highest intellectual mood which the world tolerates is the perception of the truth of the most ancient revelations, now in some respects out of date, but any direct revelation, any original thought, it hates like virtue. So far as thinking is concerned, surely original thinking is the divinest thing. We should reverently watch for the least motions, the least scintillations of thought in this sluggish world, and men should run to and fro on the occasion more than at an earthquake. We check and repress the divinity that stirs within us to fall down and worship the divinity that is dead without us. I go to see many a good man or good woman, so called, and utter freely that thought which alone it was given me to utter, but there was a man who lived a long, long time ago and his name was Moses, and another whose name was Christ, and if your thought does not, or does not appear to, coincide with what they said, the good man or good woman has no ears to hear you. They think they love God! It is only his old clothes, which they make scarecrows for the children. When will they come nearer to God than in these very children? A man lately preached here against the abuse of the sabbath, and recommended to walk in the fields and dance on that day. Good advice enough, which may take effect after a while. But with the mass of men, the reason is convinced long before the life is. They may see the church and the sabbath to be false, but nothing else to be true. One woman in the neighborhood says, "Nobody can hear Mr. —— preach, hear him through, without seeing that he is a good man." "Well, is there any truth in what he says?" asks another. "Oh yes, it's true enough, but then it won't do, you know, it won't do. Now, there's our George, he's got the whole of it; and when I say, 'Come, George, put on your things, and go along to meeting,' he says, 'No, mother, I'm going out into the fields.' It won't do." The fact is, this woman has not character and religion enough to exert a controlling influence over her children by her example, and knows of no such police as the church and the minister.

If it were not for death and funerals, I think the institution of the church would not stand longer. The necessity that men be decently buried, our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters and children (notwithstanding the danger that they be buried alive), will long, if not forever, prevent our laying violent hands on it. If salaries were stopped off, and men walked out of this world bodily at last, the minister and his vocation would be gone.

That sounds like a fine mode of expressing gratitude referred to by Linnæus. Hermann was a botanist who gave up his place to Tournefort, who was unprovided for. "Hermann," says Linnæus, "came afterwards to Paris, and Tournefort in honor of him ordered the fountains to play in the royal garden."

Nov. 16, 1852. 9 a. m. Sail up river to Lee's bridge. Colder weather and very windy, but still no snow. Very little ice along the edge of the river which does not melt before night. Muskrat houses completed; interesting objects, looking down a river-reach at this season, and our river should not be represented without one or two of these cones. They are quite conspicuous half a mile distant, and are of too much importance to be omitted in the river landscape. I see one duck. The pines on shore look very cold, reflecting a silvery light. The waves run high with white caps, and communicate a pleasant motion to the boat. At Lee's Cliff the cerastium viscosum. We sailed up Well-meadow brook. The water is singularly grayish, clear and cold, the bottom of the brook showing great nuphar roots, like its ribs, with some budding leaves.

The water is frozen in the pitcher-plant leaf. The swamp pink and blueberry buds attract.

Nov. 16, 1854. p. m. Sailed to Hubbard's bridge. Almost every muskrat's house is covered by the flood, though they were unusually high as well as numerous, and the river is not nearly so high as last year. I see where they have begun to raise them another story. A few cranberries begin to wash up, and rails, boards, etc., may now be collected by wreckers.

Nov. 16, 1858. Preaching? lecturing? Who are ye that ask for these things? What do you want to hear, ye puling infants? A trumpet sound that would train you up to manhood? or a nurse's lullaby? The preachers and lecturers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves. Why, a free-spoken man, of sound lungs, cannot draw a long breath, without causing your rotten institutions to come toppling down, by the vacuum he makes. Your church is a baby-house made of blocks, and so of the state. It would be a relief to breathe one's self occasionally, among men. Freedom of speech! It hath not entered into your hearts to conceive what those words mean. The church, the state, the school, the magazine, think they are liberal and free! It is the freedom of a prison yard. What is it you tolerate, you church to-day? Not truth, but a life-long hypocrisy. The voice that goes up from the monthly concerts is not so brave and cheery as that which rises from the frog-ponds of the land. Look at your editors of popular magazines. I have dealt with two or three of the most liberal of them. They are afraid to print a whole sentence, a sound sentence, a free-spoken sentence. We want to get 30,000 subscribers, and will do anything to get them. They consult the D. D.'s and all the letters of the alphabet, before printing a sentence.

Nov. 17, 1837. If there is nothing new on earth, still there is something new in the heavens. We have always a resource in the skies. They are constantly turning a new page to view. The wind sets the types in their blue ground, and the inquiring may always read a new truth there.

Nov. 17, 1850. I found this afternoon in a field of winter rye, a snapping-turtle's egg, white and elliptical like a pebble, mistaking it for which I broke it. The little turtle was perfectly formed, even to the dorsal ridge, which was distinctly visible.

Nov. 17, 1851. All things tend to flow to him who can make the best use of them, even away from their legal owner. A thief, finding with the property of the Italian naturalist, Donati, whom he had robbed abroad, a collection of rare African seeds, forwarded them to Linnæus from Marseilles. Donati suffered shipwreck, and never returned.

Nov. 17, 1853. I notice that many plants about this season of the year or earlier, after they have died down at top, put forth fresh and conspicuous radical leaves against another spring; so some human beings in the November of their days, exhibit some fresh radical greenness, which, though the frosts may soon nip it, indicates and confirms their essential greenness. When their summer leaves have faded and fallen, they put forth fresh radical leaves which sustain the life in their root still, against a new spring. The dry fields have, for a long time, been spotted with the small radical leaves of the fragrant life-everlasting, not to mention the large primrose, John's-wort, etc. Almost every plant, although it may show no greenness above ground, if you dig about it, will be found to have fresh shoots already pointing upward, and ready to burst forth in the spring.

Nov. 17, 1854. Paddled up river to Clamshell, and sailed back. I think it must have been a fishhawk which I saw hovering over the meadow and my boat (a raw, cloudy afternoon), now and then sustaining itself in one place, a hundred feet or more above the water, intent on a fish, with a hovering or fluttering motion of the wings, somewhat like a kingfisher. Its wings were very long, slender, and curved in outline of front edge, {\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\overbrace {\quad \quad \quad } }} {\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\overbrace {\quad \quad \quad } }} thus, perhaps. I think there was some white on rump. It alighted near the top of an oak within rifle-shot of me, afterward on the tip top of a maple by waterside, looking very large.

Nov. 17, 1855. It is interesting to me to talk with Rice, he lives so thoroughly and satisfactorily to himself. He has learned that rare art of living, the very elements of which most persons do not know. His life has been not a failure, but a success. Seeing me going to sharpen some plane irons, and hearing me complain of the want of tools, he said I ought to have a chest of tools. But I said it was not worth the while. I should not use them enough to pay for them. "You would use, them more, if you had them," said he. "When I came to do a piece of work, I used to find commonly that I wanted a certain tool, and I made it a rule first always to make that tool. I have spent as much as $3,000 thus in my tools." Comparatively speaking, his life is a success; not such a failure as most men's. He gets more out of any enterprise than his neighbors, for he helps himself more, and hires less. Whatever pleasure there is in it he enjoys. By good sense and calculation he has become rich, and has in vested his property well, yet practices a fair and neat economy, dwells not in untidy luxury. It costs him less to live, and he gets more out of life than others. To get his living or keep it is not a hasty or disagreeable toil. He works slowly, but surely, enjoying the sweet of it. He buys a piece of meadow at a profitable rate, works it in pleasant weather, he and his son, when they are inclined, goes a-fishing or bee-hunting, or rifle-shooting quite as often, and thus the meadow gets redeemed, and potatoes get planted perchance, and he is very sure to have a good crop stored in his cellar in the fall, and some to sell. He always has the best of potatoes there. In the same spirit in which he and his son tackle up their Dobbin (he never keeps a fast horse) and go a-spearing or fishing through the ice, they also tackle up and go to their Sudbury farm to hoe or harvest a little, and when they return they bring home in their hay-rigging a load of stumps which had impeded their labors, but may supply them with their winter wood. All the woodchucks they shoot or trap in the bean-field are brought home also. Thus their life is a long sport, and they know not what hard times are.

Labaume says that he wrote his journal of the campaign in Russia each night in the midst of incredible danger and suffering, with "a raven's quill and a little gunpowder mixed with some melted snow, in the hollow of my hand," the quill cut and mended with "the knife with which I had carved my scanty morsel of horse flesh." Such a statement promises well for the writer's qualifications to treat such a theme.

Nov. 17, 1858. p. m. Up Assabet. The muskrats are more active since the cold weather. I see more of them about the river now, swimming across back and forth, and diving in the middle where I lose them. They dive off the round-backed black mossy stones, which when small and slightly exposed look much like themselves. In swimming, show commonly three parts, with water between. One, sitting in the sun, as if for warmth, on the opposite shore to me, looks quite reddish-brown. They avail themselves of the edge of the ice now found along the sides of the river, to feed on.

The very sunlight on the pale-brown bleached fields is an interesting object these cold days. I naturally look toward it as to a wood fire. Not only different objects are presented to our attention at different seasons of the year, but we are in a frame of body and of mind to appreciate different objects at different seasons. I see one thing when it is cold and another when it is warm.

We are interested at this season by the manifold ways in which the light is reflected to us. Ascending a little knoll covered with sweet fern, the sun appearing but little above the sweet fern, its light was reflected from a dense mass of the bare, downy twigs of this plant in a surprising manner which would not be believed, if described. It was quite like the sunlight reflected from grass and weeds covered with hoar frost. Yet in an ordinary light, these are but dark or dusky-looking with scarcely a noticeable downiness. But as I saw them, there was a perfect halo of light resting on the knoll. I moved to right or left. A myriad of surfaces are now prepared to reflect the light. This is one of the hundred silvery lights of November. The setting sun, too, is reflected from windows more brightly than at any other season. "November lights" would be a theme for me.

Nature is moderate, and loves degrees. Winter is not all white and sere. Some trees are evergreen to cheer us, and on the forest floor our eyes do not fall on sere brown leaves alone, but some evergreen shrubs are placed there to relieve the eye. Mountain laurel, lambkill, checkerberry, wintergreen, etc., keep up the semblance of summer still.

Nov. 17, 1859. Another Indian-summer day, as fair as any we have had. I go down the railroad to Andromeda Ponds this afternoon.

I have been so absorbed of late in Captain Brown's fate as to be surprised wherever I detected the old routine surviving still, met persons going about their affairs indifferent. It appeared strange to me that the little dipper should be still diving in the river as of yore, and it suggested to me that this grebe might be diving here when Concord shall be no more. Any affecting human event may blind our eyes to natural objects.

How fair and memorable this prospect, when you stand opposite the sun, these November afternoons, and look over the red andromeda swamp, a glowing, warm brown-red in the Indian summer sun, like a bed of moss in a hollow in the woods, with gray high-blueberry, and straw-colored grasses interspersed; and when, going round it, you look over it in the opposite direction, it presents a gray aspect.

Nov. 18, 1837. Nature makes no noise. The howling storm, the rustling leaf, the pattering rain, are no disturbance. There is an essential and unexplored harmony in them. Why is it that thought flows with so deep and sparkling a current when the sound of distant music strikes the ear? When I would muse I complain not of a rattling tune on the piano, a Battle of Prague even, if it be harmony, but an irregular, discordant drumming is intolerable.

When a shadow flits across the landscape of the soul, where is the substance? Has it always its origin in sin? and is that sin in me?

Nov. 18, 1841. Some men make their due impression upon their generation because a petty occasion is enough to call forth all their energies; but are there not others who would rise to much higher levels, whom the world has never provoked to make the effort? I believe there are men now living who have never opened their mouths in a public assembly, in whom nevertheless there is such a well of eloquence that the appetite of any age could never exhaust it, who pine for an occasion worthy of them, and will pine till they are dead, who can admire as well as the rest the flowing speech of the orator, but do yet miss the thunder and lightning, and visible sympathy of the elements which would garnish their own utterance. The age may well pine that it cannot put to use the gift of the gods. He lives on still unconcerned, not needing to be used. The greatest occasion will be the slowest to come.

If, in any strait, I see a man fluttered and his ballast gone, then I lose all hope of him, he is undone; but if he reposes still, though he do nothing else worthy of him, if he is still a man in reserve, there is then everything to hope of him.

Sometimes a body of men do unconsciously assert that their will is fate, that the right is decided by their fiat, without appeal, and when this is the case, they can never be mistaken; as when one man is quite silenced by the thrilling eloquence of another, and submits to be neglected, as to his fate, because such is not the willful vote of the assembly, but their instinctive decision.

Nov. 18, 1851. Surveying these days the Ministerial lot. Now at sundown I hear the hooting of an owl, hōō hóo hóo-hōōrer-hóo. It sounds like the hooting of an idiot or a maniac broke loose. This is faintly answered in a different strain, apparently from a greater distance, almost as if it were the echo, that is, so far as the succession is concerned. I heard it last evening. The men who help me, call it the hooting owl, and think it is the cat-owl. It is a sound admirably suited to the swamp and to the twilight woods, suggesting a vast undeveloped nature which men have not recognized.

The chopper who works in the woods all day for many weeks or months at a time, becomes intimately acquainted with them in his way. He is more open, in many respects, to the impressions they are fitted to make than the naturalist who goes to see them. He is not liable to exaggerate insignificant featured. He really forgets himself, forgets to observe, and at night he dreams of the swamp, its phenomena and events. Not so the naturalist; enough of his unconscious life does not pass there. A man can hardly be said to be there, if he knows that he is there, or to go there if he knows where he is going. The man who is bent upon his work is frequently in the best attitude to observe what is irrelevant to his work. (Mem. Wordsworth's observations on relaxed attention.) You must be conversant with things for a long time to know much about them, like the moss which has hung from the spruce, and as the partridge and the rabbit are acquainted with the thickets, and at length have acquired the color of the places they frequent. If the man of science can put all his knowledge into propositions, the woodman has a great deal of incommunicable knowledge.

Nov. 18, 1852. Yarrow and tansy still.

Nov. 18, 1853. Conchologists call those shells "which are fished up from the depths of the ocean" and are never seen on the shore, pelagii, but those which are cast on shore and are never so delicate and beautiful as the former, on account of exposure and abrasion, littorales. So is it with the thoughts of poets. Some are fresh from the deep sea, radiant with unimagined beauty,—pelagii; but others are comparatively worn, having been tossed by many a tide, scaled off, abraded, and eaten by worms,—littorales.

Nov. 18, 1854. Saw sixty geese go over the Great Fields in one waving line broken from time to time by their crowding on each other and vainly endeavoring to form into a harrow, honking all the while.

Nov. 18, 1855. Men foolishly prefer gold to that of which it is the symbol, simple, honest, independent labor. Can gold be said to buy food, if it does not buy an appetite for food? It is fouler and uglier to have too much than not to have enough.

Nov. 18 [?], 1857. Much cold slate-colored cloud, bare twigs seen gleaming toward the light like gossamer, pure green of pines where old leaves have fallen, reddish or yellowish-brown oak leaves rustling on the hillsides, very pale brown, bleaching almost hoary fine grass or hay in the fields, akin to the frost which has killed it, and flakes of clear yellow sunlight falling on it here and there,—such is November. The fine grass killed by the frost, and bleached till it is almost silvery, has clothed the fields for a long time.

Now, as in the spring, we rejoice in sheltered and sunny places. Some corn is left out still.

Flannery is the hardest-working man I know. Before sunrise and long after sunset he is taxing his unweariable muscles. The result is a singular cheerfulness. He is always in good spirits. He often overflows with his joy, when you perceive no occasion for it. If only the gate sticks, some of it bubbles up and overflows in his passing comment on that accident. How much mere industry proves! There is a sparkle often in his passing remark, and his voice is really like that of a bird.

In one light, these are old and worn-out fields that I ramble over, and men have gone to law about them long before I was born, but I trust that I ramble over them in a new fashion, and redeem them.

There are many ways of feeling one's pulse. In a healthy state, the constant experience is a pleasurable sensation or sentiment. For instance, in such a state I find myself in perfect connection with nature, and the perception and remembrance even, of any natural phenomena is attended with a gentle, pleasurable excitement. Prevailing sights and sounds make the impression of beauty and music on me. But in sickness all is deranged. I had yesterday a kink in my back and a general cold, and as usual it amounted to a cessation of life. I lost for the time my support or relation to nature. Sympathy with nature is an evidence of perfect health. You cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind. The cheaper your amusements, the safer and surer. They who think much of theatres, operas, and the like, are beside themselves. Each man's necessary path, though as obscure and apparently uneventful as that of a beetle in the grass, is the way to the deepest joys he is susceptible of. Though he converses only with moles and fungi, and disgraces his relatives, it is no matter, if he knows what is steel to his flint. Many a man who should rather describe his dinner imposes on us with a history of the Grand Khan.

Nov. 18, 1858. p. m. To Conantum. I look south from the Cliff, the westering sun just out of sight behind the hill. Its rays from those bare twigs across the pond are bread and cheese to me. So many oak leaves have fallen that the white birch stems are more distinct amid the young oaks. I see to the bone, see those bare birches prepared to stand the winter through on the hillsides. They never sing, What's this dull town to me? The maples skirting the meadows in dense phalanxes, look like light infantry advanced for a swamp fight. Ah, dear November, you must be sacred to the nine, surely. The willow catkins already peep out one fourth of an inch. Early crowfoot is reddened at Lee's.

Nov. 19, 1839.

Light-hearted, thoughtless, shall I take my way,
When I to thee this being have resigned,
Well knowing, on some future day,
With usurer's craft, more than myself to find.

Nov. 19 [?], 1857. I see where a mouse, which had a hole under a stump, has eaten out clean the inside of the little seeds of the Prinos verticillata berries. What pretty fruit for them, these bright berries! They run up the twigs in the night, and gather this shining fruit, take out the small seeds, and eat these kernels at the entrance to their burrows. The ground is strewn with them there.

Nov. 20, 1850. Desor, who has been among the Indians at Lake Superior this summer, told me the other day that they had a particular name for each species of tree, as of the maple, but they had but one word for flowers. They did not distinguish the species of the last.

It is often the unscientific man who discovers the new species. It would be strange if it were not so. But we are accustomed properly to call that only a scientific discovery which knows the relative value of the thing discovered, and uncovers a fact to mankind.

Nov. 20, 1851. It is often said that melody can be heard farther than noise, and the finest melody farther than the coarsest. I think there is truth in this, and that accordingly those strains of the piano which reach me here in my attic stir me so much more than the sounds which I should hear if I were below in the parlor, because they are so much purer and diviner melody. They who sit farthest off from the noisy and bustling world are not at pains to distinguish what is sweet and musical, for that alone can reach them, that chiefly comes down to posterity.

Hard and steady and engrossing labor with the hands, especially out of doors, is invaluable to the literary man, and serves him directly. Here I have been for six days surveying in the woods, and yet when I get home at evening somewhat weary at last, and beginning to feel that I have nerves, I find myself more susceptible than usual to the finest influences, as music and poetry. The very air can intoxicate me, or the least sight or sound, as if my finer senses had acquired an appetite by their fast.

Mr. J. Hosmer tells me that one spring he saw a red squirrel gnaw the bark of a maple, and then suck the juice, and this he repeated many times.

Nov. 20, 1853. I once came near speculating in cranberries. Being put to it to raise the wind, and having occasion to go to New York, to peddle some pencils which I had made, as I passed through Boston I went to Quincy market and inquired the price of cranberries. The dealer took me down cellar, asked if I wanted wet or dry, and showed me them. I gave it to be understood that I might want an indefinite quantity. It made a slight sensation among the dealers, and for aught I know, raised the price of the berry for a time. I then visited various New York packets, and was told what would be the freight on deck and in the hold, and one skipper was very anxious for my freight. When I got to New York, I again visited the markets as a purchaser, and "the best of eastern cranberries" were offered me by the barrel at a cheaper rate than I could buy them in Boston. I was obliged to manufacture $1,000 worth of pencils, and slowly dispose of, and finally sacrifice them, in order to pay an assumed debt of $100.

What enhances my interest in dew (I am thinking of summer) is the fact that it is so distinct from rain, formed most abundantly after bright, starlight nights, a product especially of the clear, serene air, the manna of fair weather, the upper side of rain, as the country above the clouds. That nightly rain, called dew, gathers and falls in so low a stratum that our heads tower above it like mountains in an ordinary shower. It only consists with comparative fair weather above our heads. Those warm volumes of air forced high up the hillsides in summer nights are driven thither to drop their dew, like kine to their yards to be milked, that the moisture they hold may be condensed, and so dew formed before morning on the tops of the hills. A writer in "Harper's Magazine," vol. vii., p. 505, says that the mist at evening does not rise, "but gradually forms higher up in the air." He calls it, the moisture of the air become visible, says there is most dew in clear nights because clouds prevent the cooling down of the air, they radiate the heat of the earth back to it, and that a strong wind, by keeping the air in motion, prevents its heat from passing off. He says also that bad conductors of heat have always most dew on them, and that wool or swan's down are "good for experimenting on the quantity of dew falling," weighed before and after; thinks it not safe to walk in clear nights, especially after midnight when the dew is most abundantly forming, better in cloudy nights, which are drier; also thinks it not prudent to venture out until the sun begins to rise, and warms the air; but I think this prudence begets a tenderness that will catch more cold at noonday than the opposite hardiness at midnight.

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