To those who are interested in Thoreau's life and thoughts—a company already somewhat large, and which, I trust, is becoming larger—a second volume of selections from his Journal is now offered. The same arrangement of dates has been followed, for the most part, as in "Early Spring in Massachusetts," in order to give here a picture of summer as there of spring. Thoreau seems himself to have contemplated some work of this kind, as appears on page 99 of this volume, where he speaks of "a book of the seasons, each page of which should be written in its own season and out-of-doors, or in its own locality, wherever it may be." Had his life continued, very likely he would have produced some such work from the materials and suggestions contained in his Journal, and this would have been doubtless far more complete and beautiful than anything we can now construct from fragmentary passages.
Thoreau has been variously criticised as a naturalist, one writer speaking of him as not by nature an observer, as making no discoveries, as being surprised by phenomena familiar to other people, though he adds that this " is one of his chief charms as a writer," since "everything grows fresh under his hand." Another, whose criticism is generally very favorable, says he was too much occupied with himself, not simple enough to be a good observer, that " he did not love nature for her own sake," "with an unmixed, disinterested love, as Gilbert White did, for instance," even "cannot say that there was any felicitous" "seeing." This last statement seems surprising. Still another is puzzled to explain how a man who was so bent upon self-improvement, who could so little forget himself and the conventions of society, could yet study nature so intelligently. But the very fact that Thoreau "did not love nature for her own sake" "with an unmixed, disinterested love," rather looked beyond and above, whither she points, to "a far Azore," to
"The cape never rounded, nor wandered o'er,"
and was not specially bent upon being an intelligent student of nature, an accurate scientific observer or natural historian, but sometimes lamented that his observation was taking too exclusively that turn; the very fact that he aimed rather at self-improvement, if one pleases to call it so (though this seems a somewhat prosaic account of the matter), that he was bent upon ever exploring his own genius and obeying its most delicate intimations, and in Iris love of nature found the purest encouragement in that direction, this constitutes to me the great charm of his Journal, as it does of all his writings, as it did also of his life and conversation.
I desire to express here my obligations to Mr. W. E. Channing, and Mr. F. B. Sanborn, of Concord, both of them friends and biographers of Thoreau, for indicating to me the position of places on the accompanying map, most of which are referred to in the Journal.
Worcester, May, 1884.
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