by Henry David Thoreau

Next Chapter

Sept. 21, 1854 to Sept. 30, 1858

September 21, 1854. I sometimes seem to myself to owe all my little success, all for which men commend me, to my vices. I am perhaps more willful than others, and make enormous sacrifices even of others happiness, it may be, to gain my own ends. It would seem as if nothing good could be accomplished without some vice to aid in it.

Sept. 21, 1859. Heard in the night a snap ping sound, and the fall of some small body on the floor from time to time. In the morning I found it was produced by the witch-hazel nuts on my desk springing open and casting their seeds quite across my chamber, hard and stony as these nuts were. For several days they are shooting black seeds about my chamber. . . . I suspect that it is not when the witch-hazel nut first gapes open that the seeds fly out, for I see many, if not most of them, open first with the seeds in them; but when I release a seed, it being still held by its base, it flies, as I have said. I think that its slippery base is compressed by the unyielding shell which at length expels it, just as I can make one fly by pressing it, and letting it slip from between my thumb and finger. It appears to fit close to the shell at its base, even after the shell gapes.

The ex-plenipotentiary refers in after speeches with complacency to the time he spent abroad, and the various lords and distinguished men he met, as to a deed done, and an ever memorable occasion. Of what account are titles and offices and opportunities, if you do no memorable deed?

Sept. 21, 1860. . . . p. m. To Easterbrook country. . . . The pods of the broom are nearly half of them open. I perceive that one just ready to open opens with a slight spring, on being touched, and the pod curls a little. I suspect that such seeds as these, which the winds do not transport, will turn out to be more sought by the birds, etc., and so transported by them, than those lighter ones which are furnished with a pappus, and so transported by the wind; i. e., that those which the wind takes are less generally the food of birds and quadrupeds than the heavier and wingless seeds.

Sept. 22, 1852. . . . In love we impart each to each, in subtlest, immaterial form of thought or atmosphere, the best of ourselves, such as commonly vanishes or evaporates in aspirations, and mutually enrich each other. The lover alone perceives and dwells in a certain human fragrance. To him humanity is not only a flavor, but an aroma and a flavor also.

Sept. 22, 1854. . . . p. m. Over Nawshawtuck. The river is peculiarly smooth, and the water clear and sunny, as I look from the stone bridge. A painted tortoise, with his head out, outside of the weeds, looks as if resting in the air in that attitude, or suggests it, at an angle of 45°, with head and flippers outstretched. . . . As I look off from the hilltop, I wonder if there are any finer days in the year than these, the air is so fine and bracing. The landscape has acquired some fresh verdure withal. The frosts come to ripen the days like fruits, persimmons. . . . Crossing the hill behind Minott's just as the sun is preparing to dip below the horizon, the thin haze in the atmosphere north and south along the western horizon reflects a purple tinge, and bathes the mountains with the same, like a bloom on fruits. I wonder if this phenomenon is observed in warmer weather, or before the frosts have come. Is it not another evidence of the ripe day? I saw it yesterday. . . .

By moonlight all is simple. We are enabled to erect ourselves, our minds, on account of the fewness of objects. We are no longer distracted. It is simple bread and water. It is simple as the rudiments of an art, a lesson to be taken before sunlight, perchance, to prepare us for that.

Sept. 22, 1858. A clear, cold day. . . . Leave Salem for Cape Ann on foot. . . . One mile southeast of the village of Manchester struck the beach of "musical sand," just this side of a large, high, rocky point called Eagle Head! This is a curving beach; may be one third of a mile long and some twelve rods wide. We found the same kind of sand on a similar but shorter beach on the east side of Eagle Head. We first perceived the sound when we scratched with an umbrella or the finger swiftly and forcibly through the sand; also still louder when we struck forcibly with our heels, "scuffing" along. The wet or damp sand yielded no peculiar sound, nor did that which lay loose and deep next the bank, but only the more compact and dry. The sound was not at all musical, nor was it loud. Fishermen might walk over it all their lives, as indeed they have done, without noticing it. R——, who had not heard it, was about right when he said it was like that made by rubbing wet glass with your finger. I thought it as much like the sound made in waxing a table as anything. It was a squeaking sound, as of one particle rubbing on another. I should say it was merely the result of the friction of peculiarly formed and constituted particles. The surf was high and made a great noise, yet I could hear the sound made by my companion's feet two or three rods distant, and if it had been still, probably could have heard it five or six rods.

Sept. 22, 1860. . . . Some of the early botanists, like Gerard, were prompted and compelled to describe their plants, but most nowadays only measure them, as it were. The former is affected by what he sees, and so inspired to portray it; the latter merely fills out a schedule prepared for him, makes a description pour servir. I am constantly assisted by the books in identifying a particular plant and learning some of its humbler uses, but I rarely read a sentence in a botany which reminds me of flowers or living plants. Very few, indeed, write as if they had seen the thing which they pretend to describe.

Sept. 23, 1855. 8 p. m. I hear from my chamber a screech-owl about Monroe's house, this bright moonlight night,—a loud, piercing scream, much like the whinner of a colt, perhaps, a rapid trill, then subdued or smothered, a note or two.

Sept. 23, 1859. . . . What an array of non-producers society produces! . . . Many think themselves well employed as charitable dispensers of wealth which somebody else earned, and these who produce nothing, being of the most luxurious habits, are precisely they who want the most, and complain loudest when they do not get what they want. They who are literally paupers, maintained at the public expense, are the most importunate and insatiable beggars. They cling like the glutton to a living man and suck his vitals up. To any locomotive man there are three or four deadheads clinging, as if they conferred a great favor on society by living upon it. Meanwhile, they fill the churches, and die and revive from time to time. They have nothing to do but sin and repent of their sins. How can you expect such blood-suckers to be happy?

Not only foul and poisonous weeds grow in our tracks, but our vileness and luxuriance make simple, wholesome plants rank and weed-like. All that I ever got a premium for was a monstrous squash, so coarse that nobody could eat it. Some of these bad qualities will be found to lurk in the pears that are invented in the neighborhood of great towns. "The evil that men do lives after them." The corn and potatoes produced by excessive manuring may be said to have not only a coarse, but a poisonous quality. . . . What creatures is the grain raised in the cornfields of Waterloo for, unless it be for such as prey upon men? Who cuts the grass in the graveyard? I can detect the site of the shanties that have stood all along the railroad by the ranker vegetation. I do not go there for delicate wild flowers. It is important, then, that we should air our lives by removals, excursions into the fields and woods. Starve your vices. Do not sit so long over any cellar hole as to tempt your neighbor to bid for the privilege of digging saltpetre there. So live that only the most beautiful wild flowers will spring up where you have dwelt, harebells, violets, and blue-eyed grass.

Sept. 23, 1860. . . . I hear that a large owl, probably a cat-owl, killed and carried off a full-grown turkey in Carlisle, a few days ago.

Sept. 24, 1851 8 a. m. To Lee's Bridge via Conantum. It is a cool and windy morning, and I have donned a thick overcoat for a walk. The wind is from the north, so that the telegraph harp does not sound where I cross. . . . This windy, autumnal weather is very exciting and bracing, clear and cold after the rain of yesterday, it having cleared off in the night. . . . The river washes up stream before the wind, with white streaks of foam on its dark surface diagonally to its course, showing the direction of the wind. Its surface, reflecting the sun, is dazzlingly bright. The outlines of the hills are remarkably distinct and fine, and their surfaces bare and hard, not clothed with a thick air. I notice one red tree, a red maple, against the woodside in Conant's meadow. It is a far brighter red than the blossoms of any tree in summer, and more conspicuous. The huckleberry bushes on Conantum are all turned red.

What can be handsomer for a picture than our river scenery now! First this smoothly shorn meadow on the west side of the stream, looking from Conantum Cliff, with all the swaths distinct, sprinkled with apple-trees casting heavy shadows, black as ink, such as can be seen only in this clear air, this strong light, one cow wandering restlessly about in it, and lowing; then the blue river, scarcely darker than, and hardly to be distinguished from, the sky, its waves driven southward or up stream by the wind, making it to appear to flow that way, bordered by willows and button bushes; then the narrow meadow beyond, with varied lights and shades from its waving grass, which for some reason has not been cut this year, though so dry, now at length each grass-blade bending south before the wintry blast, as if looking for aid in that direction; then the hill, rising sixty feet to a terrace-like plain, covered with shrub oaks, maples, etc., now variously tinted, clad all in a livery of gay colors, each bush a feather in its cap; and further in the rear, the wood-crowned cliff, some two hundred feet high, where gray rocks here and there project from amidst the bushes, with its orchard on the slope; and to the right of the cliff the distant Lincoln hills in the horizon; the landscape so handsomely colored, the air so clear and wholesome, and the surface of the earth so pleasingly varied that it seems rarely fitted for the abode of man.

Sept. 24, 1858. [Salem.] . . . Saw at the East India Marine Hall a Bay lynx killed in Danvers July 21st (I think in 1827); another killed in Lynnfield in March, 1832. These skins were now, at any rate, quite light, dirty whitish, or white wolfish color, with small pale brown spots. The animals much larger than I expected. Saw a large fossil turtle, some twenty inches in diameter, with the plates distinct, in a slate-colored stone from western New York; also a sword in its scabbard, found in the road near Concord, April 19, 1775, and supposed to have belonged to a British officer.

Sept. 24, 1859. p. m. To Melvin's Preserve. . . . I have many affairs to attend to, and feel hurried these days. Great works of art have endless leisure for a background, as the universe has space. Time stands still while they are created. The artist cannot be in a hurry. The earth moves round the sun with inconceivable rapidity, and yet the surface of the lake is not ruffled by it. It is not by compromise, it is not by a timid and feeble repentance, that a man will save his soul, and live at last. He must conquer a clear field, letting Repentance & Co. go, that well-meaning but weak firm that has assumed the debts of an old and worthless one. You are to fight in a field where no allowances will be made, no courteous bowing to one-handed knights. You are expected to do your duty, not in spite of every thing but one, but in spite of every thing. . . .

Going along this old Carlisle road—road for walkers, for berry-pickers, and no more worldly travelers; road for Melvin and Clark, not for the sheriff, nor butcher, nor the baker's jingling cart; road where all wild things and fruits abound, where there are countless rocks to jar those who venture in wagons; road which leads to and through a great but not famous garden, zoölogical and botanical, at whose gate you never arrive,—as I was going along there, I perceived the grateful scent of the Dicksonia fern now partly decayed. It reminds me of all up country, with its springy mountain sides and unexhausted vigor. Is there any essence of Dicksonia fern, I wonder? Surely that giant who my neighbor expects is to bound up the Alleghanies will have his handkerchief scented with that. The sweet fragrance of decay! When I wade through by narrow cow-paths, it is as if I had strayed into an ancient and decayed herb garden. Nature perfumes her garments with this essence now especially. She gives it to those who go a-barberrying and on dank autumnal walks. The very scent of it, if you have a decayed frond in your chamber, will take you far up country in a twinkling. You would think you had gone after the cows there, or were lost on the mountains. It is the scent the earth yielded in the saurian period, before man was created and fell, before milk and water were invented, and the mints. Rana sylvatica passed judgment on it, or rather that peculiarly scented Rana palustris. It was in his reign it was introduced.

A man must attend to nature closely for many years to know when, as well as where, to look for his objects, since he must always anticipate her a little. Young men have not learned the phases of nature. They do not know what constitutes a year, or that one year is like another. I would know when in the year to expect certain thoughts and moods, as the sportsman knows when to look for plover.

Though you may have sauntered near to heaven's gate, when at length you return toward the village you give up the enterprise a little, and you begin to fall into the old ruts of thought, like a regular roadster. Your thoughts very properly fail to report themselves to headquarters. They turn toward night and the evening mail, and become begrimed with dust, as if you were just going to put up at (with?) the tavern, or had even come to make an exchange with a brother clergyman on the morrow.

That old Carlisle road, which leaves towns behind; where you put off worldly thoughts; where you do not carry a watch nor remember the proprietor; where the proprietor is the only tres passer, looking after his apples, the only one who mistakes his calling there, whose title is not good; where fifty may be a-barberrying, and you do not see one. It is an endless succession of glades where the barberries grow thickest, successive yards amid the barberry bushes where you do not see out. There I see Melvin and the robins, and many a nut-brown maid. The lonely horse in its pasture is glad to see company, comes forward to be noticed, and takes an apple from your hand. Others are called great roads, but this is greater than they all. It is only laid out, offered to walkers, not accepted by the town and the traveling world; to be represented by a dotted line on charts, not indicated by guideboards, undiscoverable by the uninitiated, that it may be wild to a warm imagination.

Nature, the earth herself, is the only panacea. They bury poisoned sheep up to the neck in earth to take the poison out of them.

Sept. 25, 1840. Birds were very naturally made the subject of augury, for they are but borderers upon the earth, creatures of another and more ethereal element than our existence can be supported in, which seem to flit between us and the unexplored.

Prosperity is no field for heroism unless it endeavor to establish an independent and supernatural prosperity for itself. In the midst of din and tumult and disorder we hear the trumpet sound. Defeat is heaven's success. We cannot be said to succeed to whom the world shows any favor. In fact, it is the hero's point d'appui, which, by offering resistance to his action, enables him to act at all. At each step he spurns the world. He vaults the higher in proportion as he employs the greater resistance of the earth. It is fatal when an elevation has been gained by too wide a concession, retaining no point of resistance; for the hero, like the aeronaut, must float at the mercy of the winds, or cannot sail and steer himself for calm weather. When we rise to the step above, we tread hardest on the step below.

My friend must be my tent companion.

Sept. 25, 1851. I am astonished to find how much travelers both in the east and west permit themselves to be imposed on by a name; that the traveler in the east, for instance, presumes so great a difference between one Asiatic and another, because one bears the title of Christian, and the other not. At length he comes to a sect of Christians, Armenians or Nestorians, predicates of them a far greater civilization, civility, and humanity than of their neighbors, I suspect not with much truth. At that distance, and therefore impartially viewed, I see but little difference between a Christian and a Mahometan, and thus I perceive that European and American Christians are precisely like these heathenish Armenian and Nestorian Christians; not Christians, of course, in any true sense, but one other heathenish sect in the west, the difference between whose religion and that of the Mahometans is very slight and unimportant. That nation is not Christian where the principles of humanity do not prevail, but the prejudice of race. I expect the Christian not to be superstitious, but to be distinguished by the clearness of his knowledge, the strength of his faith, the breadth of his humanity. A man of another race, an African, for instance, comes to America to travel through it, and he meets with treatment exactly similar to or worse than that which the American meets with among the Turks, Arabs, and Tartars. The traveler in both cases finds the religion to be a mere superstition and frenzy or rabidness.

Examined a hornets' nest suspended from contiguous huckleberry bushes. The tops of the bushes appearing to grow out of it, little leafy sprigs, had a pleasing effect. It was an inverted cone, eight or nine inches by seven or eight. I found no hornets buzzing about it. Its entrance appeared to have been enlarged, so I concluded it had been deserted, but, looking nearer, I discovered two or three dead hornets, men of war, in the entry way. Cutting off the bushes which sustained it, I proceeded to open it with my knife. First there were half a dozen layers of waved brownish paper resting loosely on one another, occupying nearly an inch in thickness, for a covering. Within were the six-sided cells in three stories, suspended from the roof and from one another by one or two suspension rods only, the lower story much smaller than the rest; and in what may be called the attic of the structure were two live hornets, appearing partially benumbed with cold, but which in the sun seemed rapidly recovering themselves. Most of the cells were empty, but in some were young hornets still, their heads projecting, apparently still-born, perhaps over taken unexpectedly by cold weather. These insects appear to be very sensible to cold. The inner circles were of whitish, the outer of grayish, paper.

In these cooler, windier, crystal days, the note of the jay sounds a little more native. Standing on the cliffs, I see them flitting and screaming from pine to pine beneath. Hawks, too, I perceive, sailing about in the clear air, looking white against the green pines, like the seeds of the milkweed. There is almost always a pair of hawks. Their shrill scream and that of the owls and wolves are related to each other.

Sept. 25, 1852. The scarlet of the dogwood is the most conspicuous and interesting of the autumnal colors at present. You can now easily detect them at a distance. Every one in the swamps you have overlooked is revealed. The smooth sumach and the mountain ash are a darker, deeper, bloodier red. Found the fringed gentian November 7th last year.

Sept. 25, 1854. I suspect that I know on what the brilliancy of the autumnal tints will depend. On the greater or less drought of the summer. If the drought has been uncommonly severe, as this year, I should think it would so far destroy the vitality of the leaf that it would attain only to a dull, dead color in autumn; that to become brilliant in autumn, the plant should be full of sap and vigor to the last.

Do I see a Fringilla hiemalis in the Deep Cut? It is a month earlier than last year.

I am detained by the very bright red blackberry leaves strewn along the sod, the vine being inconspicuous. How they spot it!

On the shrub oak plain as seen from the Cliffs, the red at least balances the green. It looks like a rich, shaggy rug now, before the woods are changed.

There was a splendid sunset while I was on the water, beginning at the Clamshell reach. All the lower edge of a very broad dark slate cloud, which reached backward almost to the zenith, was lit up through and through with a dun golden fire, the sun being below the horizon, like a furze plain densely on fire a short distance above the horizon. There was a clear pale robin's-egg sky beneath, and some little clouds, on which the light fell, high in the sky, but nearer, seen against the upper part of the distant, uniform, dark slate one, were of a fine grayish silver color, with fine mother-of-pearl tints, unusual at sunset(?). The furze gradually burnt out on the lower edge of the cloud, changed into a smooth, hard, pale pink vermilion, which gradually faded into a gray, satiny pearl, a fine Quaker color. All these colors were prolonged in the rippled reflection to five or six times their proper length. The effect was particularly remarkable in the case of the reds, which were long bands of red perpendicular in the water.

Sept. 25, 1855. In the evening went to Welch's (?) circus with C——. Approaching, I perceived the peculiar scent which belongs to such places, a certain sourness in the air, suggesting trodden grass and cigar smoke. The curves of the great tent, at least eight or ten rods in diameter, the main central curve, and wherever it rested on a post, suggested that the tent was the origin of much of the Oriental architecture,—the Arabic, perhaps. There was the pagoda in perfection. It is remarkable what graceful attitudes feats of strength and agility seem to require.

Sept. 25, 1859. p. m. To Emerson's Cliff. Holding a white pine needle in my hand and turning it in a favorable light as I sit upon this cliff, I perceive that each of its three edges is notched or serrated with minute forward-pointing bristles. So much does nature avoid an unbroken line that even this slender leaf is serrated, though, to my surprise, neither Gray nor Bigelow mentions it. Loudon, however, says, "Scabrous and inconspicuously serrated in the margin; spreading in summer, but in whiter contracted, and lying close to the branches." Fine and smooth as it looks, it is serrated, after all. This is its concealed wildness, by which it connects with the wilder oaks.

Sept. 26, 1840. The day, for the most part, is heroic only when it breaks.

Every author writes in the faith that his book is to be the final resting-place, and sets up his fixtures as for a more than Oriental permanence; but it is only a caravansary, which we soon leave without ceremony. We read on his sign only refreshment for man and beast, and a drawn hand directs to Ispahan or Bagdad.

Sept. 26, 1852. Dreamed of purity last night. The thoughts seemed not to originate with me, but I was invested, my thought was tinged by another's thought. It was not I that originated, but I that entertained the thought. p. m. To Ministerial Swamp. The small cottony leaves of fragrant everlasting in the fields for some time, protected, as it were, by a little web of cotton against frost and snow; a little dense web of cotton spun over it, entangled in it, as if to restrain it from rising higher.

The increasing scarlet and yellow tints around the meadows and river remind me of the opening of a vast flower bud. They are the petals of its corolla, which are of the width of the valleys. It is the flower of autumn, whose expanding bud just begins to blush. As yet, however, in the forest there are very few changes of foliage.

The Polygonum articulatum, giving a rosy tinge to Jenny's desert, is very interesting now, with its slender dense racemes of rose-tinted flowers, apparently without leaves, rising cleanly out of the sand. It looks warm and brave, a foot or more high, and mingled with deciduous blue curls. It is much divided into many-spreading, slender-racemed branches, with in conspicuous linear leaves, reminding me, both by its form and its colors, of a peach orchard in blossom, especially when the sunlight falls on it; minute rose-tinted flowers that brave the frosts, and advance the summer into fall, warming with their color sandy hillsides and deserts, like the glow of evening reflected on the sand; apparently all flower and no leaf. Rising apparently with clean bare stems from the sand, it spreads out into this graceful head of slender rosy racemes, wisp-like. This little desert of less than an acre blushes with it.

The tree fern is in fruit now, with its delicate tendril-like fruit, climbing three or four feet over the asters, golden-rods, etc., on the edge of the swamp. The large ferns are yellow or brown now. Larks, like robins, fly in flocks. Succory in bloom; . . . it bears the frost well, though we have not had much.

Sept. 26, 1854. It is a warm and very pleasant afternoon. I walk along the river-side in Merrick's pasture. Some single red maples are very splendid now; the whole tree bright scarlet against the cold green pines, while very few trees are changed, is a most remarkable object in the landscape, seen a mile off. It is too fair to be believed, especially seen against the light. Some are a reddish or else greenish yellow, others with red or yellow cheeks. I suspect that the yellow maples had not scarlet blossoms.

Sept. 26, 1857. p. m. Up river to Clamshell. These are warm, serene, bright autumn afternoons. I see far off the various-colored gowns of cranberry pickers against the green of the meadow. The river stands a little way over the grass again, and the summer is over. The pickerel weed is brown, and I see muskrat houses. I see a large black cricket on the river, a rod from shore, and a fish is leaping at it. As long as the fish leaps it is motionless, as if dead; but as soon as it feels my paddle under it, it is lively enough. I sit on Clamshell bank and look over the meadows. Hundreds of crickets have fallen into a sandy gully, and now are incessantly striving to creep or leap up again on the sliding sand, out of this dusty road into those bare solitudes which they inhabit; such their business this September afternoon.

I watch a marsh hawk circling low along the edge of the meadow, looking for a frog, and now at last it alights to rest on a tussock.

Coming home, the sun is intolerably warm on my left cheek. I perceive it is because the heat of the reflected sun, which is as bright as the real one, is added to that of the real one, for when I cover the reflection with my hand the heat is less intense.

That cricket seemed to know that if he lay quietly spread out on the surface, either the fishes would not suspect him to be an insect, or, if they tried to swallow him, would not be able. What blundering fellows these crickets are, both large and small! They are not only tumbling into the river all along shore, but into this sandy gully, to escape from which is a Sisyphus labor. I have not sat there many minutes, watching two foraging crickets which have decided to climb up two tall and slender weeds almost bare of branches, as a man shins up a liberty pole sometimes, when I find that one has climbed to the summit of my knee. They are incessantly running about on the sunny bank. Their still larger cousins, the mole crickets, are creaking loudly and incessantly all along the shore. Others have eaten themselves cavernous apartments, sitting-room and pantry at once, in windfall apples.

Speaking to Rice of that cricket's escape, he said that he once, with several others, saw a small striped snake swim across a piece of water about half a rod wide to a half-grown bull-frog which sat on the opposite shore, and attempt to seize him, but he found that he had caught a Tartar, for the bull-frog, seeing him coming, was not afraid of him, but at once seized his head in his mouth and closed his jaws upon it, and he thus held the snake a considerable time before the latter was able, by struggling, to get away. When that cricket felt my oar he leaped without the least hesitation, or perhaps consideration, trusting to fall in a pleasanter place. He was evidently trusting to drift against some weed which should afford him a point d'appui.

Sept. 26, 1858. I observe that the seeds of the Panicum sanguinale and filiforme are perhaps half fallen, evidently affected by the late frosts as chestnuts, etc., will be by later ones; and now is the time, too, when flocks of sparrows begin to scour over the weedy fields, especially in the morning. I fancy they are attracted to some extent by this thin harvest of panic seed. The spikes of Panicum crus-galli also are partially bare. Evidently the small graminivorous birds abound more after these seeds are ripe. The seeds of the pigweed are yet apparently quite green. May be they are somewhat peculiar for hanging on all winter.

Sept. 26, 1859. To Clamshell by boat. The Solanum Dulcamara berries are another kind which grows in drooping clusters. I do not know any clusters more graceful and beautiful than these drooping cymes of scarlet or translucent, cherry-colored elliptical berries, with steel-blue or lead-colored (?) purple pedicels (not peduncles) like the leaves on the tips of the branches. No berries, I think, are so well spaced and agreeably arranged in their drooping cymes, somewhat hexagonally, like a honeycomb. Then what a variety of color! The peduncle and its branches are green, the pedicels and sepals only that rare steel-blue purple, and the berries a clear, translucent cherry-red. They hang more gracefully over the river's brim than any pendant in a lady's ear. Yet they are considered poisonous; not to look at, surely. Is it not a reproach that so much that is beautiful is poisonous to us? But why should they not be poisonous? Would it not be bad taste to eat these berries which are ready to feed another sense?

Sept. 27, 1852. p. m. To C. Smith's Hill. The flashing clearness of the atmosphere. More light appears to be reflected from the earth, less absorbed.

At Saw Mill Brook many finely cut and flat ferns are faded whitish and very handsome, as if pressed; very delicate.

The touch-me-not seed vessels go off like pistols, shoot their seeds off like bullets. They explode in my hat.

The arum berries are now in perfection,—cone-shaped spikes one and a half inches long, of scarlet or vermilion-colored, irregular, somewhat pear-shaped berries springing from a purplish core. They are exactly the color of bright sealing-wax, on club-shaped peduncles. The changed leaves are delicately white, especially beneath. Here and there lies prostrate on the damp leaves or ground this conspicuous red spike. The medeola berries are common now, and the large red berries of the panicled Solomon's seal.

It must have been a turtle-dove that eyed me so near, turned its head sidewise to me for a fair view, looking with a St. Vitus twitching of its neck, as if to recover its balance on an unstable perch. That is their way.

From Smith's Hill I looked toward the mountain line. Who can believe that the mountain peak which he beholds fifty miles off in the horizon, rising far and faintly blue above an intermediate range, while he stands on his trivial native hills or in the dusty highway, can be the same as that which he looked up at once near at hand from a gorge in the midst of primitive woods! For a part of two days we traveled across lots, loitering by the way, through primitive woods and swamps, over the highest peak of the Peterboro' Hills to Monadnock, by ways from which all landlords and stage-drivers endeavored to dissuade us. It was not a month ago. But now that I look across the globe in an instant to that dim Monadnock peak, and these familiar fields and copse-woods appear to occupy the greater part of the interval, I cannot realize that Joe Evely's house still stands there at the base of the mountain, and that I made the long tramp through the woods with invigorating scents before I got to it. I cannot realize that on the tops of those cool blue ridges are berries in abundance still, bluer than themselves, as if they borrowed their blueness from their locality. From the mountains we do not discern our native hills, but from our native hills we look out easily to the far blue mountain which seems to preside over them. As I look northwestward to that summit from a Concord cornfield, how little can I realize all the life that is passing between me and it, the retired up-country farmhouses, the lonely mills, wooded vales, wild rocky pastures, new clearings on stark mountain sides, and rivers murmuring through primitive woods. I see the very peak,—there can be no mistake,—but how much I do not see that is between me and it! In this way we see stars. What is it but a faint blue cloud, a mist that may vanish! But what is it, on the other hand, to one who has traveled to it day after day, has threaded the forest and climbed the hills that are between this and that, has tasted the raspberries and the blueberries that grow on it and the springs that gush from it, has been wearied with climbing its rocky sides, felt the coolness of its summit, and been lost in the clouds there.

When I could sit in a cold chamber, muffled in a cloak, each evening till Thanksgiving time, warmed by my own thoughts, the world was not so much with me.

Sept. 27, 1855. Yesterday I traced the note of what I have falsely thought the Rana palustris, or cricket frog, to its true source. As usual it sounded loud and incessant above all ordinary crickets, and led me at once to a bare and soft sandy shore. After long looking and listening, with my head directly over the spot from which the sound still came at intervals, as I had often done before, I concluded, as no creature was visible, that it must issue from the mud, or rather slimy sand. I noticed that the shore near the water was upheaved and cracked as by a small mole track, and, laying it open with my hand, I found a mole cricket, Gryllotalpa breviformis. Harris says their burrows "usually terminate beneath a stone or clod of turf." They live on the roots of grass and other vegetables, and in Europe the corresponding species does a great deal of harm. They "avoid the light of day, and are active chiefly during the night;" have their burrows "in moist and soft ground, particularly about ponds." "There are no house crickets in America." Among crickets, " the males only are musical." The "shrilling" is produced by shuffling their wing coverts together lengthwise. The French call crickets cri-cri. Most of them die on the approach of winter, but a few survive under stones.

See furrows made by many clams now moving into deep water.

Some single red maples now fairly make a show along the meadow. I see a blaze of red reflected from the troubled water.

Sept. 27, 1856. The bluebird family revisit their box and warble as in spring.

p. m. To Clamshell by boat. It is a very fine afternoon to be on the water, somewhat Indian-summer-like. I do not know what constitutes the peculiarity and charm of this weather; the broad water so smooth notwithstanding the slight wind, as if owing to some oiliness the wind slid over without rippling it. There is a slight coolness in the air, yet the sun is occasionally very warm. I am tempted to say that the air is singularly clear, yet I see it is quite hazy. Perhaps there is that transparency it is said to possess when full of moisture, before or after rain. Through this I see the trees beginning to put on their October colors, and the creak of the mole cricket sounds late along the shore.

The Aster multiflorus may be easily confounded with the Aster tradescanti. Like it, it whitens the roadside in some places. It has purplish disks, but a less straggling top than the tradescanti.

Sept. 27, 1857. How out of all proportion to the value of an idea, when you come to one, in Hindoo literature for instance, is the historical fact about it, the when, where, etc., it was actually expressed, and what precisely it might signify to a sect of worshipers! Anything that is called history of India or of the world is impertinent beside any real poetry or inspired thought which is dateless.

White birches have fairly begun to yellow, and blackberry vines here and there in sunny places look like a streak of blood in the grass. I sit on the hillside at Miles's Swamp. A wood bine, investing the leading stem of an elm in the swamp quite to its top, is seen as an erect, slender red column through the thin and yellowing foliage of the elm. As I sit there, I see the shadow of a hawk flying above and behind me. I think I see more hawks nowadays. Perhaps it is both because the young are grown, and their food, the small birds, are flying in flocks and are abundant. I need only sit still a few minutes on any spot which overlooks the river meadows before I see some black circling mote beating along the meadow's edge, now lost for a moment as it turns edgewise in a peculiar light, now reappearing farther or nearer.

It is most natural, i. e., most in accordance with the natural phenomena, to suppose that North America was discovered from the northern part of the eastern continent, for a study of the range of plants, birds, and quadrupeds points to a connection on that side. Many birds are common to the northern parts of both continents. Even the passenger pigeon has flown across there; and some European plants have been detected on the extreme northeastern coast and islands, which do not extend inland. Men in their migrations obey the same law.

Sept. 27, 1860. Sawing up my raft by river. Monroe's tame ducks sail along and feed near me, as I am working there. Looking up, I see a little dipper, about one half their size, in the middle of the river, evidently attracted by these tame ducks as to a place of security. I sit down and watch it. The tame ducks have paddled four or five rods down stream along the shore. They soon detect the dipper three or four rods off, and betray alarm by a twittering note, especially when it dives, as it does continually. At last, when it is two or three rods off, and approaching them by diving, they all rush to the shore and come out upon it in their fear; but the dipper shows itself close to the shore, and when they enter the water again joins them within two feet, still diving from time to time, and threatening to come up in their midst. They return up stream more or less alarmed, and pursued in this wise by the dipper, who does not know what to make of their fears. It is thus toled along to within twenty feet of where I sit, and I can watch it at my leisure. It has a dark bill, and considerable white on the sides of the head or neck with black between, no tufts, and no observable white on back or tail. When at last disturbed by me, it suddenly sinks low (all its body) in the water without diving. Thus it can float at various heights. So, on the 30th, I saw one suddenly dash along the surface from the meadow ten rods before me to the middle of the river, and then dive, and though I watched fifteen minutes and examined the tufts of grass, I could see no more of it.

Sept. 28, 1840. The world thinks it knows only what it comes in contact with, and whose repelling points give it a configuration to the senses; a hard crust aids its distinct knowledge. But what we truly know has no points of repulsion, and consequently no objective form, being surveyed from within. We are acquainted with the soul and its phenomena as a bird with the air in which it floats. Distinction is superficial and formal merely. We touch objects as the earth we stand on, but the soul as the air we breathe. We know the world superficially, but the soul centrally. In the one case our surfaces meet, in the other our centres coincide.

Sept. 28, 1851. Hugh Miller, in his "Old Red Sandstone," speaking of "the consistency of style which obtains among the ichthyolites of this formation" and the "microscopic beauty of these ancient fishes," says: "The artist who sculptured the cherry-stone consigned it to a cabinet, and placed a microscope beside it; the microscopic beauty of these ancient fishes was consigned to the twilight depths of a primeval ocean. There is a feeling which at times grows upon the painter and the statuary, as if the perception and love of the beautiful had been sublimed into a kind of moral sense. Art comes to be pursued for its own sake: the exquisite conception in the mind or the elegant and elaborate model becomes all in all to the worker, and the dread of criticism or the appetite for praise almost nothing; and thus, through the influence of a power somewhat akin to conscience, but whose province is not the just and the good, but the fair, the refined, the exquisite, have works, prosecuted in solitude, and never intended for the world, been found fraught with loveliness." The hesitation with which this is said, to say no thing of its simplicity, betrays a latent infidelity, more fatal far than that of the "Vestiges of Creation" which in another work this author endeavors to correct. He describes that as an exception which is in fact the rule. The supposed want of harmony between "the perception and love of the beautiful" and a delicate moral sense betrays what kind of beauty the writer has been conversant with. He speaks of his work becoming all in all to the worker in rising above the dread of criticism and the appetite of praise, as if these were the very rare exceptions in a great artist's life, and not the very definition of it.

2 p. m. To Conantum. For a week or ten days I have ceased to look for new flowers or carry my Botany in my pocket. The fall dandelion is now very fresh and abundant, in its prime.

This swamp [the spruce swamp in Conant's Grove] contains beautiful specimens of the sidesaddle flower, Sarracenia purpurea, better called pitcher plant. The leaves ray out around the dry scape and flower, which still remain, resting on rich uneven beds of a coarse reddish moss, through which the small-flowered andromeda puts up, presenting altogether a most rich and luxuriant appearance to the eye. Though the moss is comparatively dry, I cannot walk without upsetting the numerous pitchers, which are now full of water, and so wetting my feet. I once accidentally sat down on such a bed of pitcher plants, and found an uncommonly wet seat where I expected a dry one. These leaves are of various colors, from plain green to a rich striped yellow or deep red. No plants are more richly painted and streaked than the inside of the broad lips of these. Old Josselyn called this "hollow-leaved lavender." I think we have no other plant so singular and remarkable.

Here was a large hornets' nest which, when I went to take, first knocking on it to see if anybody was at home, out came the whole swarm upon me, lively enough. I do not know why they should linger longer than their fellows whom I saw the other day, unless because the swamp is warmer. They were all within, but not working.

What honest, homely, earth-loving, unaspiring houses people used to live in!—that on Conantum, for instance, so low you can put your hand on the eaves behind. There are few whose pride could stoop to enter such a house to-day. And then the broad chimney, built for comfort, not for beauty, with no coping of bricks to catch the eye, no alto or basso relievo.

Sept. 28, 1852. p. m. To the Boulder Field. I find the hood-leaved violet quite abundant in a meadow, and the pedata in the Boulder Field. Those now seen, all but the blanda, palmata, and pubescens, blooming again. Bluebirds, robins, etc., are heard again in the air. This is the commencement, then, of the second spring. Violets, Potentilla Canadensis, lambkill, wild rose, yellow lily, etc., begin again.

A windy day. What have these high and roaring winds to do with the fall? No doubt they speak plainly enough to the sap that is in these trees, and perchance check its upward flow.

Ah, if I could put into words that music which I hear; that music which can bring tears to the eyes of marble statues, to which the very muscles of men are obedient!

Sept. 28, 1858. p. m. To Great Fields via Gentian Lane. The gentian (Andrewsii) now generally in prime, on low, moist, shady banks. Its transcendent blue shows best in the shade and suggests coolness; contrasts there with the fresh green; a splendid blue, light in the shade, turning to purple with age. They are particularly abundant under the north side of the willow row in Merrick's pasture. I count fifteen in a single cluster there, and afterward twenty in Gentian Lane near Flint's Bridge, and there were other clusters below; bluer than the bluest sky, they lurk in the moist and shady recesses of the banks.

Sept. 28, 1859. In proportion as a man has a poor ear for music, or loses his ear for it, he is obliged to go far for it, or fetch it from far, or pay a great price for such as he can hear. Operas and the like only affect him. It is like the difference between a young and healthy appetite and the appetite of an epicure, an appetite for a sweet crust and for a mock-turtle soup.

As the lion is said to lie in a thicket or in tall reeds and grass by day, slumbering, and sally out at night, just so with the cat. She will ensconce herself for the day in the grass or weeds in some out-of-the-way nook near the house, and arouse herself toward night.

Sept. 29, 1840. Wisdom is a sort of mongrel between Instinct and Prudence, which, however, inclining to the side of the father, will finally assert its pure blood again, as the white race at length prevails over the black. It is minister plenipotentiary from earth to heaven, but occasionally Instinct, like a born celestial, comes to earth and adjusts the controversy.

All fair action in man is the product of enthusiasm. There is enthusiasm in the sunset. The shell on the shore takes new layers and new tints from year to year with such rapture as the bard writes his poem. There is a thrill in the spring when it buds and blossoms. There is a happiness in the summer, a contentedness in the autumn, a patient repose in the winter. All the birds and blossoms and fruits are the product of enthusiasm. Nature does nothing in the prose mood, though she acts sometimes grimly, with poetic fury, as in earthquakes, etc., and at other times humorously.

Sept. 29, 1851. The intense brilliancy of the red-ripe maples scattered here and there in the midst of the green oaks and hickories on the hilly shore of Walden is quite charming. They are unexpectedly and incredibly brilliant, especially on the western shore and close to the water's edge, where, alternating with yellow birches and poplars and green oaks, they remind me of a line of soldiers, redcoats and riflemen in green mixed together.

The pine is one of the richest of trees, to my eye. It stands like a great moss, a luxuriant mildew, the pumpkin pine, which the earth produces without effort.

Sept. 29, 1853. The witch-hazel at Lee's Cliff, in a favorable situation, has but begun to blossom, has not been long out, so that I think it must be later than the gentian. Its leaves are yellowed. Bluets [Houstonia] still. Lambkill blossoms again.

Sept. 29, 1854. When I look at the stars, nothing which the astronomers have said attaches to them, they are so simple and remote. Their knowledge is felt to be all terrestrial, and to concern the earth alone. This suggests that the same is the case with every object, however familiar; our so-called knowledge of it is equally vulgar and remote. One might say that all views through a telescope or microscope were purely visionary, for it is only by his eye, and not by any other sense, not by the whole man, that the beholder is there where he is presumed to be. It is a disruptive mode of viewing so far as the beholder is concerned.

Sept. 29, 1856. p. m. To Grape Cliff. I can hardly clamber along this cliff without getting my clothes covered with desmodium ticks, these especially, the rotundifolium and paniculatum. Though you were running for your life, they would have time to catch and cling to your clothes, often the whole row of pods of the Desmodium paniculatum, like a piece of saw-blade with three teeth. They will even cling to your hand as you go by. They cling like babes to a mother's breast, by instinct. Instead of being caught ourselves and detained by bird-lime, we are compelled to catch these seeds and carry them with us. These almost invisible nets, as it were, are spread for us, and whole coveys of desmodium and bidens seeds steal transportation out of us. I have found myself often covered, as it were, with an imbricated coat of the brown desmodium seeds or a bristling chevaux-de-frise of beggar ticks, and had to spend a quarter of an hour or more picking them off in some convenient spot; and so they get just what they wanted, deposited in another place. How surely the desmodium growing on some rough cliff-side, or the bidens on the edge of a pool, prophesy the coming of the traveler, brute or human, that will transport their seeds on his coat!

Dr. Reynolds told me the other day of a Canada lynx (?) killed in Andover, in a swamp, some years ago, when he was teaching school in Tewksbury, thought to be one of a pair, the other being killed or seen in Derry. Its large track was seen in the snow in Tewksbury, and traced to Andover and back. They saw where it had leaped thirty feet, and where it devoured rabbits. It was on a tree when shot.

Sept. 29, 1859. Juniper repens berries are quite green yet. I see some of last year's dark purple ones at the base of the branchlets. There is a very large specimen on the side of Fair Haven Hill, above Cardinal shore. It is very handsome this bright afternoon, especially if you stand on the lower and sunny side, on account of the various ways in which its surging flakes and leaflets, green or silvery, reflect the light. It is as if we were giants and looked down on an evergreen forest from whose flaky surface the light is variously reflected. Though so low, it is so dense and rigid that neither men nor cows think of wading through it. We got a bird's-eye view of this evergreen forest, as of a hawk sailing over, looking into its inapproachable clefts and recesses, reflecting a green or else a cheerful silvery light.

Having just dug my potatoes in the garden, which did not turn out very well, I took a basket and trowel and went forth to dig my wild potatoes, or ground nuts, by the railroad fence. I dug up the tubers of some half a dozen plants, and found an unexpected yield. One string weighed a little more than three quarters of a pound. There were thirteen that I should have put with the large potatoes this year, if they had been the common kind. The biggest was two and three quarters inches long, and seven inches in circumference the smallest way. Five would have been called good-sized potatoes. It is but a slender vine, now killed by the frost, and not promising such a yield; but deep in the soil, here sand, five or six inches, or sometimes a foot, you come to the string of brown and commonly knobby nuts. The cuticle of the tuber is more or less cracked longitudinally, forming meridional furrows, and the root or shoot bears a large proportion to the tuber. In case of a famine I should soon resort to these roots. If they increased in size, on being cultivated, as much as the common potato, they would become monstrous.

Sept. 30, 1851. The white ash has got its autumnal mulberry hue. What is the autumnal tint of the black ash? The former contrasts strongly with the other shade trees on the village street, the elms and buttonwoods, at this season, looking almost black at the first glance. The different characters of the trees appear better now, when their leaves, so to speak, are ripe, than at any other season; than in the winter, for instance, when they are little remarkable, and almost uniformly gray or brown, or in the spring and summer, when they are undistinguishably green. Now, a red maple, an ash, a white birch, a Populus grandidentata, etc., is distinguished almost as far as it is visible. It is with leaves as with fruits and woods, animals and men: when they are mature, their different characters appear.

Sept. 30, 1852. 10 a. m. To Fair Haven Pond, bee-hunting,—Pratt, Rice, Hastings, and myself in a wagon. A fine, clear day after the coolest night and severest frost we have had. Our apparatus was first a simple round tin box, about four and a half inches in diameter and one and a half inches deep, containing a piece of empty honeycomb of its own size and form, filling it within one third of an inch of the top; then a wooden box, about two and a half inches square, with a glass window occupying two thirds of the upper side under a slide, with a couple of narrow slits in the wood, each side of the glass, to admit air, but too narrow for the bees to pass, the whole resting on a circular bottom a little larger than the lid of the tin box, with a sliding door in it. We were earnest to go this week, before the flowers were gone, and we feared the frosty night might make the bees slow to come forth. . . . After eating our lunch we set out on our return [having been unsuccessful thus far]. By the roadside at Walden, on the sunny hillside sloping to the pond, we saw a large mass of golden-rod and aster, several rods square and comparatively fresh. Getting out of our wagon, we found it to be resounding with the hum of bees. It was about one o'clock. Here were far more flowers than we had seen elsewhere, and bees in great numbers, both bumble-bees and honey-bees, as well as butterflies, wasps, and flies. So pouring a mixture of honey and water into the empty comb in the tin box, and holding the lid of the tin box in one hand and the wooden box with the slides shut in the other, we proceeded to catch the honey-bees by shutting them in suddenly between the lid of the tin box and the large circular bottom of the wooden one, cutting off the flower stem with the edge of the lid at the same time. Then holding the lid still against the wooden box, we drew the slide in the bottom, and also the slide covering the window at the top, that the light might attract the bee to pass up into the wooden box. As soon as he had done so, and was buzzing against the glass, the lower side was closed, and more bees were caught in the same way. Then placing the open tin box close under the wooden one, the slide was drawn again, and the upper slide closed, making it dark, and in about a minute they went to feeding, as was ascertained by raising slightly the wooden box. Then the latter was wholly removed, and they were left feeding or sucking up the honey in broad daylight. In from two to three minutes one had loaded himself and commenced leaving the box. He would buzz round it back and forth a foot or more, and then sometimes, perhaps, finding that he was too heavily loaded, alight to empty himself or clear his feet. Then, starting once more, he would circle round irregularly at first, in a small circle, only a foot or two in diameter, as if to examine the premises, that he might know them again, till at length, rising higher and higher, and circling wider and wider, and swifter and swifter, till his orbit was ten or twelve feet in diameter, and as much from the ground, though its centre might be moved to one side (all this as if to ascertain the course to his nest), in a minute or less from his first starting, he darted off in a bee line, a waving or sinuous line right and left, toward his nest; that is, as far as I could see him, which might be eight or ten rods, looking against the sky. You had to follow his whole career very attentively indeed, to see when and where he went off at a tangent. It was very difficult to follow him, especially if you looked against a wood or the hill, and you had to lie low to fetch him against the sky. You must operate in an open place, not in a wood. We sent forth as many as a dozen bees, which flew in about three directions, but all toward the village, or where we knew there were hives. They did not fly almost straight, as I had heard, but within three or four feet of the same course, for half a dozen rods, or as far as we could see. Those belonging to one hive all had to digress to get round an apple-tree. As none flew in the right direction for us, we did not attempt to line them. In less than half an hour the first returned to the box, which was lying on a woodpile. Not one of the bees in the surrounding flowers had discovered it. So they came back one after another, loaded themselves and departed. But now they went off with very little preliminary circling, as if assured of their course. We were furnished with little boxes of red, blue, green, yellow, and white paint in dry powder, and with a stick we sprinkled a little of the red powder on the back of one while he was feeding, gave him a little dab, and it settled down amid the fuzz of his back, and gave him a distinct red jacket. He went off like most of them toward some hives about three quarters of a mile distant, and we observed, by the watch, the time of his departure. In just twenty-two minutes red jacket came back, with enough of the powder still on his back to mark him plainly. He may have gone more than three quarters of a mile. At any rate, he had a head wind to contend with while laden. They fly swiftly and surely to their nests, never resting by the way, and I was surprised, though I had been informed of it, at the distance to which the village bees go for flowers. The rambler in the most remote woods and pastures little thinks that the bees which are humming so industriously on the rare wild flowers he is plucking for the herbarium in some out-of-the-way nook, are, like himself, ramblers from the village, perhaps from his own yard, come to get their honey for his hives. All the honey-bees we saw were on the blue-stemmed golden-rod, Solidago cæsia, which lasts long and which emitted a sweet, agreeable fragrance, not on the asters. I feel the richer for this experience. It taught me that even the insects in my path are not loafers, but have their special errands, not merely and vaguely in this world, but in this hour each is about his business. If there are any sweet flowers still lingering on the hillsides, it is known to the bees, both of the forest and the village. The botanist should make interest with the bees if he would know when the flowers open and when they close. Those above named were the only common and prevailing flowers on which to look for them. Our red jacket had performed the voyage in safety. No bird had picked him up. Are the kingbirds gone? Now is the time to hunt bees and take them up, when their combs are full of honey, and before the flowers are so scarce that they begin to consume the honey they have stored. Forty pounds of honey was the most our company had got hereabouts. We also caught and sent forth a bumble-bee which manœuvred like the others, though we thought he took time to eat some before he loaded himself, and then he was so overloaded and bedaubed that he had to alight after he had started, and it took him several minutes to clear himself. It is not in vain that the flowers bloom, and bloom late, too, in favored spots. To us they are a culture and a luxury, but to bees meat and drink. The tiny bee which we thought lived far away there in a flower-bell, in that remote vale, is a great voyager, and anon he rises up over the top of the wood, and sets sail with his sweet cargo straight for his distant haven. How well they know the woods and fields, and the haunt of every flower! The flowers are widely dispersed, perhaps because the sweet which they collect from the atmosphere is rare and also widely dispersed, and the bees are enabled to travel far to find it, a precious burden which the heavens bear and deposit on the earth.

Sept. 30, 1858. A large flock of grackles amid the willows by the river-side, or chiefly concealed low in the button bushes beneath them, though quite near me. There they keep up their spluttering notes, though somewhat less loud, I fancy, than in spring. These are the first I have seen, and now for some time I think the redwings have been gone. These are the first arrivers from the north, where they breed.

I observe the peculiar steel-bluish purple of the night-shade, i. e., the tips of the twigs, while all beneath is green, dotted with bright berries over the water. Perhaps this is the most singular among the autumnal tints. It is almost black in some lights, distinctly steel-blue in the shade, contrasting with the green beneath; but seen against the sun, it is a rich purple, its veins full of fire. The form of the leaf is peculiar.

The pearly everlasting is an interesting white at present. Though the stem and leaves are still green, it is dry and unwithering like an artificial flower; its white flexuous stem and branches, too, like wire wound with cotton. Neither is there any scent to betray it. Its amaranthine quality is instead of high color. Its very brown centre now affects me as a fresh and original color. It monopolizes small circles in the midst of sweet fern, perchance, on a dry hillside.

In our late walk on the Cape [Ann], we entered Gloucester each time in the dark at mid-evening, traveling partly across lots till we fell into the road, and as we were simply seeking a bed, inquiring the way of villagers whom we could not see. The town seemed far more home-like to us than when we made our way out of it in the morning. It was comparatively still, and the inhabitants were sensibly or poetically employed, too. Then we went straight to our chamber, and saw the moonlight reflected from the smooth harbor and lighting up the fishing-vessels, as if it had been the harbor of Venice. By day we went remarking on the peculiar angles of the beveled roofs, of which there is a remarkable variety there. There are also many large square three-story houses, with short windows in the upper story, as if the third story were as good as a gig for respectability. When entering the town by moonlight, we could not always tell whether the road skirted the back yards or the front yards of the houses, and the houses did not so impertinently stare after the traveler and watch his coming as by day. Walking early in the day and approaching the rocky shore from the north, the shadows of the cliffs were very distinct and grateful, and our spirits were buoyant. Though we walked all day, it seemed the days were not long enough to get tired in. Some villages we went through or by, without communicating with any inhabitant, but saw them as quietly and distantly as in a picture.

Return to the Autumn Summary Return to the Henry David Thoreau Library

Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson