JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. VIII, No. 2

Excerpts from Thoreau's Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

November 2006

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"Says I to myself" should be the motto of my journal."
-Journal, November 11, 1851

"Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me
as my own thoughts."
-HDT

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Generally with all our desires and restlessness, we are no more likely to embark in any new enterprise than a tree is to walk to a more favorable locality. (May 29, 1857)

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The Americans are very busy and adventuresome sailors, but all in somebody's employ-as hired men. I have not heard one setting out in his own bark, if only to run down our own coast on a voyage of adventure or observation, on his own account. (May 29)

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[On a Bobolink]: "Methinks these are the most liquidly sweet & melodious sounds I have ever heard. The meadow is all bespattered with melody. His notes fall with the apple blossoms in the orchard...It is the foretaste of such strains as never fall on mortal ears, to hear which we should rush to our doors and contribute all that we possess or are." (June 1)

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The Boblink's song affected me me as if as if one were endeavoring to keep down globes of melody down with a stick, but they slipped and came up one side. (June 2)

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I have several friends, acquaintances, who are very good companions in the house or for an afternoon walk, but whom I cannot make up my mind to make a longer excursion with, for I discover all at once that they are too gentlemanly in manners, dress, and all their habits. I see in my mind's eye that they wear black coats, considerable starched linen, glossy hats and shores, and it is out-of-the-question... It would be too much of a circumstance to enter a strange town or house with such a companion. You cannot travel incognito; you might get into the papers. You should travel as a common man. (June 3)

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[On early June]: It's time now to bring our philosophy out-of-doors. Our thoughts pillow themselves unconsciously in the troughs of this soft, rippling sea of sound. Now first we begin to be peripatetics. No longer our ears come in contact with the bold echoing earth, but everywhere recline on the spring cushion of a cricket's chirp. (June 4)

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I am interested in each contemporary plant in my vicinity, and have attained a certain acquaintanceship with the larger ones. They are cohabitants with me of this part of the planet, and they bear familiar names. (June 5)

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This is June, the month of grass and leaves...Already the aspens are trembling again and a new summer is offered to me. I feel a little fluttered in my thoughts as if I might be too late. Each season is but an infintesimal point. It no sooner comes than it is gone. It has no duration. It simply gives a hue and tone to my thought...Our thoughts and sentiments answer to the revolutions of the seasons, as two cog-wheels fit into each other...A year is made up of a certain series and number of sensations which have their language in nature. Now I am ice, now I am sorrel. (June 6)

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The price of friendship is the total surrender of yourself; no lesser kindness, no ordinary attentions and offerings will buy it...I sometimes awake in the night and think of friendship and its possibilities, a new life and revelation to me...Friendship is the fruit which the year should bear. It lends fragrance to the flowers, and it is vain if we only get a large crop of apples without it. (July 13)

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VOLUME X OF THOREAU'S JOURNAL COMMENCES
August 1857-June 1858

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How meanly and miserably we live for the most part! We escape fate continually by the skin of our teeth, as the saying is. We are practically desperate. Just as every man, in respect to material wealth, aims to become independent and wealthy, so in respect to our spirits and imagination, we should have the same spare capital and superfluous vigor, have some margin and leeway in which to move. What kind of gift is life, unless we have spirits to enjoy it, and taste its true flavor? If, in respect to spirits, we are forever cramped and in debt...Poverty is the rule...Have the gods sent us into this life to do chores, hold horses and the like, and not given us any spending money? (August 10)

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i heard some ladies the other day laughing about some one of their help who had helped herself to a real hoop from off a hogshead [barrel] for her gown. I laughed too, but which part do you think I laughed at? Isn't a hogshead as good a word as crinoline? (Same)

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[The beginning of his theory of seed dispersal?]: "I saw a red squirrel run along the bank under the hemlocks with a nut in his mouth. He stopped near the foot of the hemlock, and harshly pawing a hole with his forefeet, dropped the nut, covered it up...Thus then is the way forests are planted." (Sept 24)

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The red maple has fairly begun to blush in some places by the river...I am thrilled at the sight of it. (Sept 25)

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These are warm serene bight autumn afternoons. I see far off the various colored gowns of the cranberry pickers against the green of the meadow. The river stands a little way over the grass again, and summer is over. (Sept 26)

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"His journals should not be permitted to be read by any, as I think they
were not meant to be read. I alone might read them intelligently. To most
others they would only give false impressions. I have never been able to
understand what he meant by his life. Why did he care so much about being
a writer? Why did he pay so much attention to his own thoughts? Why
was he so dissatisfied with everyone else, etc?
Why was he so much interested in the river
and the woods and the sky, etc?

Something peculiar, I judge."

- Ellery Channing, friend of Thoreau's

"My journal should be the record of my love. I would write in it only of
the things I love, my affection for any aspect of the world, what I love
to think of...I feel ripe for something...yet can't discover what that
thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seed time with me. I have lain
fallow long enough." -HDT

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"Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest" -HDT

If you wish to get a copy of the complete "Journal Drippings" to date, just email me at bill_schechter@lsrhs.net

or go to the Thoreau Institute's web site



All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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