JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. XIl, No. 1

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

October 2010

 

Welcome to the twelfth year–and perhaps the last lap around the Pond–for Journal Drippings. I am approaching the end of the Journal. If you turn the pages long enough, every book gets finished, even when it’s almost 8,000-long. I’d feel like I will be losing a dear companion but for the fact that this amazing record of one man’s mind–his unreeling thoughts, his deep perceptions, and his unique facility self-expression–can be revisited, and even without having to purchase an annual pass like the one that gets me into the Walden parking lot every year.

Though my journal saunter will soon be concluding, I am happy to announce that a new archive for all preceding Drips has been constructed, accompanied by an explanation of how I came to this project and how my “philosophy” of excerpting evolved. I hope all Thoreauvians will find the archive useful. Here is the link:

http://schechsplace.tripod.com/content/THOREAU/THOREAUJOURNALDRIPPINGS/index.htm

Fall has arrived in New England right on time and the “autumnal tints” are just beginning to turn the trees. What better time to turn the floor–and fields– over to Mr. Thoreau and to once again experience the miracle of looking at the world through his eyes.

*      *     *
“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

*******************

A crowd of men seem to generate vermin of a human kind. In great towns there is degradation undreamed of elsewhere–gamblers, dog-killers, rag-pickers. Some live by robbery or by luck. (May 2, 1860)

*******

The sun sets red, shorn of its beams. (May 4)

*******

[He notices dew-laden grass where dry, withered grass had been]: “Then surface of the earth is thus tremblingly alive.” (May 13)

*******

How perfectly new and fresh the world is seen to be, when we behold a myriad of sparkles of brilliant white sun-light on a rippled stream. So remote from dust and decay, more bright than the flash of an eye. (May 24)

*******

The time has come now when the laborers, having washed and put on their best suits, walk into the fields on the Sabbath, and lie on the ground at rest. (June 4)

*******

See tonight three dead (fresh) suckers on the Assabet. What has killed them? (June 6)

*******

Why have the mountains usually a peak? This is not the common form of hills. (June 8)

*******

Now perceive the smell of red-clover blossoms (June 13)

*******

[He hears an unusual bird song]: “It was the same note I heard so well on Cape Cod. In July ’55 and probably the same I heard in the Shawsheen Valley, May 15, 1858.” (June 15)

*******

Also the great bullfrogs that sit out on the stones every two or three rods around the pond are singularly clean and handsome bullfrogs, with fine yellow throats sharply separated from their pickle green heads by their firmly shut mouths, and with beautiful eyes. (July19)

*******

[He looks at a field with different color grasses]: “You thus have a sort of terrestrial rainbow. The farmer accustomed to look at his crops from a mercenary point-of-view is not aware of how beautiful they are.” (July 22)

*******

So far as leaves are concerned, one of the most noticeable features of this green-leaf season is the conspicuous reflection of light in clear hazy days from the undersides of some. (July 23).

*******

There is a great deal of life in this landscape. (Same)

*******

Is it not the height of summer when the locust is heard? (July 30)

 [JOURNAL VOLUME XIV-FINAL VOLUME]

How much of beauty–of color as well as form–on which our eyes daily rest goes unperceived by us! No one but a botanist is likely to perceive nicely the different shades of green which the open surface of the earth is clothed–not even a landscape painter if he does not know the species of sedges and grasses which paint it. (August 1)

*******

When your attention has been drawn to them, nothing is more charming than the common colors of the earth’s surface. (Same)

*******

[He is camping near the top of Monadnock. He says he hears a few sounds rise up to him: a church bell, a dog barking, an occasional sheep or cow, But he notes that the loudest is a farmhouse sound: a the crowing of a cock]: “It seems to wind its way through the layers of air as a sharp gimlet through soft wood and reached our ears with amusing distinctness.” (Aug. 6)

*******

[He hears nighthawks]: “I assume that their booming on a distant part of the mountain was the sound which I heard the first night which was like very distant thunder or the falling of a pile of lumber.” (August 9)

*******

Those who simply climb the peak of Monadnock have seen but little of the mountain. I came not to look off from it but at it. (Same)

*******

When I used to pick the berries for dinner on the East Quarter hills I did not eat one until I had done, for going a-berrying implies more things than eating the berries. They at home got only the pudding; I got the forenoon out of doors and the appetite for the pudding. (August 22)

*******

It is true, as is said, we have as good a right to make berries private property as to make trees and grass such; but what I chiefly regret is the, in effect, dog-in the-manger result, for at the same time that we exclude mankind from gathering berries in our field, we exclude them from gathering health and happiness and inspiration and a hundred other far finer and nobler fruits than berries, which yet we shall not gather ourselves there, nor even carry to market. We strike only one more blow at a simple and wholesome relation to nature...If it were left to the berries to say who should have them, is it not likely that they would prefer to be gathered by the party of children in the hay-rigging who have come to have a good time merely? (Same)

*******

I do not see clearly that these successive losses are ever quite made up to us. This is one of the taxes which we pay for having a railroad. Almost all of our improvements, so-called, tend to convert the country into the town. (Same)

*******

I am from time to time surprised by a melting heat on my back in the sun, though I am sure of a greater general coolness. The heat is less like that of an apartment equably warmed, and more like that [of] a red-hot iron carried about and which you occasionally come near. (August 26)

*******

[On algae]: “These minute green scales completely cover some ditches except where a careless frog has leapt-in or swam across and rent the veil. (Aug. 28)

*******

There was no prolonged melody of birds on the summit of Monadnock. They for the most par emitted sounds there more in harmony with the silent rocks–a faint chipping or chinking, often somewhat as two stones struck together. (Same)

*   *   *

“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

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest”   –HDT

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of  "Journal Drippings" to date,
please go to the Drippings Archive:
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/content/THOREAU/THOREAUJOURNALDRIPPINGS/index.htm
or email me at:
bill_schechter@lsrhs.net

*********

For L-S Alumni

LS HISTORY/CULTURE PAGE
http://www.lsrhs.net/publications/HistoryCulture/
FACEBOOK
The LS Alumni Association
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6467891635&ref=ts
Thoreau Journal Group
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202&ref=ts

***************************************************************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS  Vol. XII, No. 2

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
  The Adventure Continues!

              November 2010

 

*      *     *
“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

*******************

See how artfully the seed of a cherry is placed in order that a bird may be compelled to transport it. It is placed in the very midst of a tempting pericarp, so that the creature that would devour a cherry must take a stone into its mouth. The bird is bribed with this pericarp to take the stone with it and do this little service for Nature ...Thus a bird’s wing is added to the cherry-stone which was wingless, and it does not wait for winds to transport it. (September 1, 1860)

**********

It is cooler these days and nights, and I move into an eastern chamber in the morning that I may sit in the sun. The water, too, is cooler when I bathe in it, and I am reminded that this recreation has its period. I feel like a melon or other fruit laid in the sun to ripen. I grow, not gray, but yellow. (Sept. 4)

**********

Almost every plant, however humble, has thus its day and sooner or later becomes the characteristic feature of some part of the landscape or other. (Sept. 10)

**********

If you sit at an open attic window anywhere, about the 20th of September, you will see many a milkweed down go sailing by on a level with you... (Same)

**********

I am constantly assisted by the books in identifying a particular plant or learning 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. 22)

**********

Frost and ice. (Sept. 30)

**********

[On crows]: “They often burst up above the woods where they were perching, like the black fragments of a powder mill exploding.”  (Oct.6)

**********

Many people have a foolish way of talking about small things, and apologize for themselves or another having attended to a small thing, having neglected their ordinary business, and amused or instructed themselves by attending to a small thing; when, if the truth were known, their ordinary business was the small thing, and almost their whole lives were misspent, but they were such fools as not to know it.  (Oct 7)

**********

I wonder that the very cows and dogs in the street do not manifest recognition of the bright tints about and above them. I saw a terrier dog glance about and down the painted street before he turned in at his master’s gate, and I wondered what he thought of those lit trees,–if they did not touch his philosophy or spirits–but I fear he had only his common doggish thoughts after all. He trotted down the yard as if it were a matter of course after all, or else as if he deserved it all. (Oct 9)

**********

There was the most intensely bright golden light in the west end of the street, extending under the elms, and the very dust a quarter mile off was like gold dust.  I wondered how a child could stand quietly in that light, as if it had been a furnace. (Same)

**********

This haste to kill a bird or quadruped and make a skeleton of it, which many young men and some old ones exhibit, reminds me of the fable of the man who killed the hen that laid golden eggs, and so got no more gold. It is a perfectly parallel case. Such is the knowledge which you may get from the anatomy as compared with the knowledge you get from the living creature. (Same)

**********

You have only to dig a pond anywhere in the fields hereabouts, and you will soon have waterfowl, reptiles, and fishes in it, but also the usual water plants, as lilies, etc. You will no sooner have your pond dug than nature will begin to stock it. (Oct 10)

**********

[He sees men putting out a house fire with buckets of water that do extinguish the blaze but also damage the house]: “ Why is there not a little machine invented to throw the water out of a house?” (Same)

**********

I rejoice when the white oaks have an abundant crop. I speak of it to many whom I meet, but I find few to sympathize with me. They seem to care much more for potatoes. (Oct 13)

**********

All science is only a makeshift, a means to an end which is never achieved. After all the truest description, and that by which another living man can most readily recognize a flower, is the unmeasured and eloquent one which the sight of it inspires. No scientific description will supply the want of this though you should count and measure and analyze every atom that seems to compose it.  (Same)

**********

Which are the truest, the sublime conceptions of Hebrew poets and seers, or the guarded statements of modern geologists which we must modify or unlearn so fast? (Same)

**********

Truly this is a world of vain delights. We think that men have a substratum of common sense but sometimes are particularly frivolous.  But consider what value is seriously and permanently attached to gold and precious stones almost universally. (Same)

**********

Men seriously, and if possible religiously, believe in and worship gold. They hope to earn golden opinions, to celebrate their golden wedding. They dream of the golden age. Now it is not its intrinsic beauty and value, but its rarity and arbitrarily attached value, that distinguishes gold. You would think it was the reign of shams. (Same)

**********

Who [sic] describes the most familiar object with a zest and vividness of imagery as he saw it for the first time, the novelty consisting not in the strangeness of the object, but in the new and clear perception of it. (Same)

**********

[On the challenges faced by young trees]: “They have learned to endure and bide their time. When you see an oak fully grown and of fair proportions, you little suspect what difficulties it may have encountered in its early youth. What sores it has overgrown, how for years it was a feeble layer lurking under the leaves and scarcely daring to show its head above them, burnt, cut, and browsed by rabbits. Driven back to earth twenty times–as it aspired to the heavens.” (Oct 14)

*   *   *

“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

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest”   –HDT

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of  "Journal Drippings" to date,
please go to:

THE JOURNAL DRIPPINGS ARCHIVE
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/content/THOREAU/THOREAUJOURNALDRIPPINGS/index.htm

or email me at:
bill_schechter@lsrhs.net

FACEBOOK THOREAU JOURNAL GROUP
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202&ref=ts

*********

For L-S Alumni

LS HISTORY/CULTURE PAGE
http://www.lsrhs.net/publications/HistoryCulture/

FACEBOOK
The LS Alumni Association
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6467891635&ref=ts

***********************************************************************************************************

 

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS  Vol. XII, No. 3

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
              The Adventure Continues!

              December 2010

 

*      *     *

This is the next-to-last drip!

*      *     *

“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

*  *  *  *  *

[Thoreau is as angry as I have ever “seen” him. The entry develops in a close and sustained examination of forest succession and seed dispersal that remains his dominant preoccupation through the remainder of the Journal]: “I have come up here this afternoon to see _____’s dense white pine lot beyond the pond that was cut of last winter to know how the little oaks looks in it. To my surprise and chagrin, I find that the fellow who calls himself the owner has burned it all over and sowed winter rye there. He no doubts means to let it grow up in a year or two, but he thought it would be clear gain if he could extract a little rye from it in the meantime. What a fool! Here nature had got everything ready for this emergency, and kept them ready for many years–oaks half a dozen or more, with fusiform roots fully charged and tops already pointed skyward, only waiting to be touched off by the sun,– and he thought he knew better, and would get a little rye out of it first, which he could feel at once between his fingers, and so he burned it and dragged his harrow over it. As if oaks would bide his time and come at his bidding. Or as if he preferred to have a pine or beech wood here possibly a half century hence–for the land is ‘pine sick’–rather than an oak wood at once. So he trifled with nature. I am chagrined for him. That he should call himself an agriculturist! He needs to have a guardian placed over him. A forest warden should be appointed by the town. Overseers of poor husbandmen...Let us purchase a mass for his soul. A greediness that defeats it own ends (Oct 16, 1860)

*********

The history of a wood-lot is often if not commonly, here, a history of cross-purposes,–of steady and consistent endeavor on the part of Nature, blundering with a glimmering of intelligence at the 11th hour on the part of the proprietor. (Same)

*********

[In relation to the management of forests–and everything else?]: “What shall we say to that management that halts between two courses–does neither this nor that, botches both?” (Oct. 18))

*********

We find ourselves in a world that is already planted, but it is also still being planted as at first (Same)

*********

[With respect to forest succession]: “At this season of the year when each leaf acquires its peculiar color, Nature prints this history distinctly, as if it were an illuminated edition. (Oct. 19)

*********

Pines take the first and longest strides. Oaks march deliberately in the rear...The pines are the light infantry, voltigeiurs, supplying the scouts and skirmishers; the oaks are the grenadiers, heavy-paced and strong, that form the solid phalanx.  (Same)

*********

[By counting the rings on stumps]: “Thus you can unroll the rotten papyrus on which the history of the Concord Forest is written.” (Same)

*********

Yet what is the character of our gratitude to these squirrels, these planters of forests? We regard them as vermin and actually shoot and destroy them in great numbers because–if we have any excuse–they sometimes devour a little of our Indian-corn while, perhaps, they are planting their nobler oak-corn (acorn) in its place. In various parts of the country an army of grown-up boys assemble for a squirrel hunt. They choose sides and the side that kills the greatest number of thousands­ enjoys a supper at the expense of the other side and the whole neighborhood rejoices. Would it [not] be far more civilized and humane–not to say god-like–to recognize once in the year by some significant symbolical ceremony the part which the squirrel plays, the great service it performs, in the economy of the universe? (Oct. 22)

*********

[He writes about an ancient oak grove]: “Such wood, at the same time it suggests antiquity, imparts an unusual dignity to the earth.” (Nov. 2)

*********

I think it would be worth the while the while to introduce a school of children to such a grove, that they might get an idea of the primitive oaks before they are gone, instead of hiring botanists to lecture to them when it is too late. Why you do not often meet with a respectable oak, for they too have decayed. (Same)

*********

I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings. We do not wish to see children precocious, making great strides in their early years like sprouts, producing a soft and perishable timber, but better if they expand slowly at first, as if contending with difficulties, and so are solidified and perfected (Nov. 5)

*********

How little we insist on truly grand and beautiful natural features! How many have even heard of the Boxboro oak woods? (Nov. 10)

*********

Decidedly finger-cold tonight. (Nov 20)

*********

[Pulling up the last if the turnips]: “It is worth the while to see how green and lusty they are yet...” (Nov. 21)

*********

[On a “very beautiful November day”]: “You walk fast and far, and every apple left out is grateful to your invigorated taste.” (Nov. 22)

*********

Simply to see to a distant horizon through a clear air,–the fine outline of a distant hill or a blue mountain–top through some new vista–this is wealth enough for one afternoon. (Same)

*********

Summer is gone with all its infinite wealth, and still nature is genial to man...Though he no longer bathes in the stream, or reclines on the bank, or plucks berries on the hill, around him, still he beholds the same inaccessible beauty. What though he has no juice of the grape stored up for him in cellars; the air itself is wine of an older vintage, and far more sanely invigorating than any cellar affords. (Same)

*********

We journeyed to the foreign land of Sudbury to how the Sudbury men–the Haynes and the Puffers and the Binghams–live. We traversed their pastures and their wood-lots, and were home again at night. (Same)

*********

Most of us are still related to our natural fields as the navigator to undiscovered islands in the sea. We can any autumn discover a new fruit there which will surprise us by its beauty or sweetness. So long as I saw one or two kinds of berries in my walks, whose names I did not know, the proportion of the unknown seemed indefinitely if not infinitely great. (Same)

*********

We cultivate imported shrubs in our front yards for the beauty of their berries, when yet more beautiful berries grow unregarded by us in the surrounding fields. (Nov 23)

*********

The bittersweet of a white oak acorn which you nibble in a bleak November walk over the tawny earth is more to me than a slice of imported pineapple. We do not think much of table fruits. They are especially for alderman and epicures. They do not feed the imagination. (Nov. 24)

*   *   *

“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

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest”   –HDT

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of  "Journal Drippings" to date,
please go to the Drippings Archive:
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/content/THOREAU/THOREAUJOURNALDRIPPINGS/index.htm
or email me at:
bill_schechter@lsrhs.net

*********

For L-S Alumni

LS HISTORY/CULTURE PAGE
http://www.lsrhs.net/publications/HistoryCulture/
FACEBOOK
The LS Alumni Association
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6467891635&ref=ts
Thoreau Journal Group
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53875357202&ref=ts

***********************************************************************************************************

JOURNAL DRIPPINGS Vol. XII, No. 4

Excerpts from Thoreau’s Journal.
The Adventure Continues!

January 2011

* * *

These are the last drips...seek counseling!

* * *

“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

* * * * *

“Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?
Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.”-HDT

As this project draws to a close, please allow me a few more words than usual for this final issue of Journal Drippings.

I began reading and excerpting Thoreau’s Journal on July 17, 1997, and I finished the Journal, taking my last notes on its over 7,000 pages, on November 16, 2010. You might say I took my time, but the reading happened mostly during stolen moments, while grading papers or otherwise trying to escape what I was supposed to be doing. Parts of the Journal I read in a pine-scented reproduction of Thoreau’s Cabin built by a class of students at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional H.S., in Sudbury, Mass. What a rare privilege that was–and with Walden only five miles away!

During those 12 years, I sent my “Journal Drippings” out to subscribers at the beginning of each month in the academic year. Looking back on this “labor of love,” I see it now as one long saunter through a mind surpassed only by Nature for its infinite variety and inexhaustible vigor. I took a turn around the pond and ended up flying through the cosmos of one man’s thoughts about a world he tirelessly took the time not only to look at but to see.

Inexhaustible vigor...well, until the end. Increasingly, I noticed in the Journal that his friend Horace Mann was bringing him more specimens from the woods to examine. Then he set off on that fatiguing trip to Minnesota that his doctors hoped might improve his “consumption.” The last year of the Journal documented only scattered and occasional daily outings. The very last entry—May 14, 1861– appeared almost exactly a year before his death, and can be read below. How amazing that it seemed to suggest so much of the purpose behind his beloved compost pile of a journal!

His last strength was saved for other tasks. I have heard that Thoreau used what time remained to him to work with his sister on uncompleted manuscripts. He died on May 6, 1862, at the age of 44. His last unconscious words were “Moose ... Indian.” Perhaps he was dreaming of his trips to the Maine woods. Recently I learned that his last conscious words had also been recorded. According to Concord historian Tom Blanding, this is what happened:

“The morning Thoreau died... his thoughts were truly symbolic of this fact. His sister Sophia was reading to him out of ‘Friday’ ...[a chapter in his book] A Week On The Concord & Merrimac Rivers about the brothers’ swift return down the Merrimack to Concord. She had come to the sentence, ‘We glided past the mouth of the Nashua, and not long after, of Salmon Brook, without more pause than the wind,’ when Thoreau, just before he breathed his last, whispered, ‘Now comes clear sailing…’”

“Now comes clear sailing.” Thank you, readers for being my companions on this journey. See you at Walden!

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look
through each other's eyes for an instant?”-HDT

Lastly, thank you, Henry David Thoreau, for this unforgettable sunrise of a chance to look through your eyes.

Finis.

* * * * * *

How is any scientific discovery made? Why the discoverer takes it into his own head first. He must all but see it. (November 25, 1860)

***********

How often you make a man rich in spirit in proportion as you rob him of early luxuries and comforts! (Same)

***********

Of course it is the spirit in which you do a thing that makes it interesting whether it is sweeping a room or pulling turnips. (Nov 26)

***********

The value of any experience is measured, of course, not by the amount of money, but by the amount of development we get out of it. (Same)

***********

I am surprised when a young man who had undertaken to write the history of a country town,–his native place– the very name of which suggested a hundred things to me, referred to it, as the crowning fact of his story, that the town was the residence of General So-and-so, and the family mansion was still standing. (Nov. 29)

***********

Many seem to be constituted so they can respect only somebody who is dead or something which is distant. (Same)

***********

It is a grand fact that you cannot make the finer fruits or parts of fruits matters of commerce. You may buy a servant or slave short, but you cannot buy a friend. You cannot buy the finer part of any fruit–i.e., the highest use and enjoyment of it. You cannot buy the pleasure which it yields to him who truly plucks it; you can’t buy a good appetite even. (Same)

***********

The mass of men are very easily imposed on. (Same)

***********

[He notes that church and state extend recognition to great achievements of men. but...]: “What for instance are the blue juniper berries in the pasture, which the cowboy remembers, so far as they are beautiful merely to church and state? Mere trifles that deserve and get no protection. Though an object of beauty to those who really live in the country, they do not receive the protection of any community.” (Same)

***********

Talk of slavery! It is not the peculiar Institution of the South. It exists everywhere men are bought and sold. Wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or a tool, and surrender his inalienable rights of reason and conscience. Indeed this slavery is more complete than that which enslaves the body alone. (Dec. 4)

***********

[On judges who try fugitive slaves]: “I wouldn’t trust their courage to defend a sitting hen of mine against a weasel.” (Same)

***********

[More on these judges]: “They appear not to know what kind of justice that is which is to be done though the heavens fall.” (Same)

***********

To such a pass our civilization and division of labor have come that A., a professional huckleberry-picker has hired B.’s field, and, we will suppose, is now gathering the crop, perhaps with the aid of a patented machine. C., a professed cook, is superintending the cooking of a pudding, made of some of the berries, while Professor D, for whom the pudding is intended, is writing a book [Latin name of the berries]. And now the result of this downward course is seen in that book, which should be the ultimate fruit of the huckleberry field and account for the existence of the two professors who came between D. & A. It will be worthless. There will be none of spirit of the huckleberry in it. The reading of it will be a weariness to the flesh. To use a homely illustration this is to save at the spile but waste at the bung. I believe in a different kind of division of labor and that Professor D. should divide himself, between the library and the huckleberry field. (Dec. 26)

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[He lists some of the natural features that made the town beautiful]: “If the inhabitants of a town were wise, they would seek to preserve these things, though at considerable expense; for such things educate far more than any hired teachers or preachers, or any at present recognized system of education.” (January 3, 1861)

***********

It would be worth the while if in each town there were a committee appointed to see that the beauty of the town received no detriment. If we have the largest boulder in the county, then it should not belong to any individual nor be made into doorsteps. (Same)

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As in many countries, special metals belong to the crown, so her more precious natural objects of rare beauty should belong to the public. (Same)

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Not only the channel, but one or both banks of every river should be a public highway. (Same)

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[Why he thinks Mt. Washington should not be the private property of one man]: “...it should be left unappropriated for modesty and reverence’s sake or if only to suggest that the earth has higher uses than we put her to. (Same)

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[On the beauty of nature from which we are excluded by trespassing laws]: “No hired man can help us gather this crop.” (Same)

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How few ever get beyond feeding, clothing, and warming themselves in this world and begin to treat themselves as human beings, as intellectual and moral beings! Most seem not to any further–not to see over the ridge-poles of their barns– or to be exhausted and accomplishing nothing more than a full barn, though it may be accompanied by an empty head...it is safest to invest in knowledge, for the probability is that you can carry that wherever you go. (Same)

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Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste to the sky as well as the earth. (Same)

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As boys are sometimes required to show an excuse for being absent from school, so it seemed to me that men should show some excuse for being here. (Same)

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[Ominous portent]: “As I was confined to the house by sickness...” (Same)

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Nature is slow but sure; she works no faster than need be; she is the tortoise that wins the race by her perseverance; she knows that seeds have many other uses than to reproduce their kind. She works with a leisureliness and security answering to the age and strength of the trees. If every acorn in this crop is destroyed, never fear! She has more years to come...If Nature has a pine or oak wood to produce, she manifests no haste about it. (Jan. 14)

***********

Thus we should say that oak forests are produced by a kind of accident, i.e., by the failure of animals to reap the fruit of their labors. Yet who shall say that they have not a fair knowledge of the value of their labors–that the squirrel when it plants an acorn, or the jay when it lets one slip from under its foot, has not a transient thought for its posterity. (Same)

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[On his kitten]: “ How eloquent she can be with her tail.” (Feb 15)

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When I pass by a twig of a willow though of the slenderest kind rising above the sedge in some dry hollow early in December or in mid-winter above the snow, my spirits rise as if it were an oasis in the desert. (March 18)

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Ah willow! Willow! Would that I always possessed your good spirits. (Same)

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[Discusses how we don’t read for great themes except in the lives of others]: “...a genius–a Shakespeare for instance– could make the history of his parish more interesting than another’s history of the world.” (Same)

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Wherever men have lived, there is a story to be told and it depends chiefly on the story-teller or historian whether that is interesting or not. (Same)

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[On the abundance of seeds]: “Nature has left nothing to the mercy of man.” (March 22)

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Purple finch. (April 10)

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THE VERY LAST JOURNAL ENTRY...& THE VERY LAST DRIP!

[A driving rain creates striations in gravel that allows him to reconstruct the exact angle of the rain]: “All this is perfectly distinct to the observant eye, and yet could pass unnoticed by most. Thus each wind is self-registering. (May 14, 1861)

* * *

“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

**********

“Of all the strange and accountable things, this journalizing is the
strangest” –HDT

**************************************

If you would like a complete copy of "Journal Drippings" to date,
please go to the Drippings Archive:
http://schechsplace.tripod.com/content/THOREAU/THOREAUJOURNALDRIPPINGS/index.htmor email me at:
bill_schechter@lsrhs.net

*********

(Can you hear it?)

Thoreau's Flute
- Louisa May Alcott-

We sighing said, "Our Pan is dead;
His pipe hangs mute beside the river
Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,
But Music's airy voice is fled.

Spring mourns as for untimely frost;
The bluebird chants a requiem;
The willow-blossom waits for him;
The Genius of the wood is lost.”

Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
There came a low, harmonious breath:
"For such as he there is no death;
His life the eternal life commands;

Above man's aims his nature rose.
The wisdom of a just content
Made one small spot a continent
And turned to poetry life's prose.

"Haunting the hills, the stream, the wild,
Swallow and aster, lake and pine,
To him grew human or divine,
Fit mates for this large-hearted child.

Such homage Nature ne'er forgets,
And yearly on the coverlid
'Neath which her darling lieth hid
Will write his name in violets.

"To him no vain regrets belong
Whose soul, that finer instrument,
Gave to the world no poor lament,
But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.

O lonely friend! he still will be
A potent presence, though unseen,
Steadfast, sagacious, and serene;
Seek not for him -- he is with thee."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 


All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
Contact Bill Schechter