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at of Tennyson's flowery squares. Even the country road, which is but an enlarged footpath, is never quite straight, as Thoreau long since observed, noting it with his surveyor's eye. I read in his unpublished diary: The law that plants the rushes at all the same thing; indeed, a spotted trail, marked only by the woodman's axe-marks on the trees, is not a footpath. Thoreau, who is sometimes foolishly accused of having sought to be a mere savage, understood this distinction well. A man changr woods are sylvan, and their inhabitants woodsmen and rustics; that is, a selvaggia and its inhabitants salvages. What Thoreau loved, like all men of healthy minds, was the occasional experience of untamed wildness. I love to see occasionally, her meads; or the few American paths that genius has yet idealized; that where Hawthorne's David Swan slept, or that which Thoreau found upon the banks of Walden Pond, or where Whittier parted with his childhood's playmate on Ramoth Hill. It is not h
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, April days (search)
—more especially if one goes armed with that best of fowling-pieces, a small spy-glass: the best,—since how valueless for purposes of observation is the bleeding, gasping, dying body, compared with the fresh and living creature, as it tilts, trembles, and warbles on the bough before you! Observe that robin in the oak-tree's top: as he sits and sings, every one of the dozen different notes which he flings down to you is accompanied by a separate flirt and flutter of his whole body, and, as Thoreau says of the squirrel, each movement seems to imply a spectator. Study that song-sparrow: why is it that he always goes so ragged in spring, and the bluebird so neat? Is it that the song-sparrow is a wild artist, absorbed in the composition of his lay, and oblivious of ordinary proprieties, while the smooth bluebird and his ash-colored mate cultivate their delicate warble only as a domestic accomplishment, and are always nicely dressed before sitting down at the piano? Then how exciting i
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, My out-door study (search)
nent, especially, people fancied that all must be tame and second-hand, everything long since duly analyzed and distributed and put up in appropriate quotations, and nothing left for us poor American children but a preoccupied universe. And yet Thoreau camps down by Walden Pond, and shows us that absolutely nothing in Nature has ever yet been described,—not a bird nor a berry of the woods, nor a drop of water, nor a spicula of ice, nor summer, nor winter, nor sun, nor star. Indeed, no persoo admit the full vibration of the great harmonies. The three human foster-children who have been taken nearest into Nature's bosom, perhaps,—an odd triad, surely, for the whimsical nursing mother to select,—are Wordsworth, Bettine Brentano, and Thoreau. Yet what wonderful achievements have some of the fragmentary artists performed! Some of Tennyson's wordpictures, for instance, bear almost as much study as the landscape. One afternoon, last spring, I had been walking through a copse of yo<
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, Water-Lilies (search)
in itself, couched in white expanded perfection, its reflection taking a faint glory of pink that is scarcely perceptible in the flower. As we glide gently among them, the air grows fragrant, and a stray breeze flaps the leaves, as if to welcome us. Each floating flower becomes suddenly a ship at anchor, or rather seems beating up against the summer wind in a regatta of blossoms. Early as it is in the day, the greater part of the flowers are already expanded. Indeed, that experience of Thoreau's, of watching them open in the first sunbeams, rank by rank, is not easily obtained, unless perhaps in a narrow stream, where the beautiful slumberers are more regularly marshalled. In our lake, at least, they open irregularly, though rapidly. But, this morning, many linger as buds, while others peer up, in half-expanded beauty, beneath the lifted leaves, frolicsome as Pucks or baby-nymphs. As you raise the leaf, in such cases, it is impossible not to imagine that a pair of tiny hands h
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, The life of birds (search)
ck again. He speaks with emphasis on these occasions, and then reverts, more sedately than ever, to his accustomed silence. We know but little, even now, of the local distribution of our birds. I remember that in my latest conversation with Thoreau, in December, 1861, he mentioned most remarkable facts in this department, which had fallen under his unerring eyes. The Hawk most common at Concord, the Red-Tailed species, is not known near the sea-shore, twenty miles off, —as at Boston or Plommonest note in Concord, except the Red-Eyed Flycatcher's; yet one of the best field-ornithologists in Boston had never heard it. The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak is seen not infrequently at Concord, though its nest is rarely found; but in Minnesota, Thoreau found it more abundant than any other bird, far more so than the Robin. But his most interesting statement, to my fancy, was, that, during a stay of ten weeks on Monadnock, he found that the Snow-Bird built its nest on the top of the mountain,
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, The procession of the flowers (search)
ion to the eye. I know not why shaded blues should be so beautiful in flowers, and yet avoided as distasteful in ladies' fancy-work; but it is a mystery like that which repudiates blue and green from all well-regulated costumes. while Nature yet evidently prefers it to any other combination in her wardrobe. Another constant ornament of the end of May is the large pink Lady's-Slipper, or Moccason-Flower, the Cypripedium not due till to-morrow, which Emerson attributes to the note-book of Thoreau,—to-morrow, in these parts, meaning about the twentieth of May. It belongs to the family of Orchids, a high-bred race, fastidious in habits, sensitive as to abodes. Of the ten species named as rarest among American endogenous plants by Dr. Gray, in his valuable essay on the statistics of our Northern Flora, all but one are Orchids. Even an abundant species, like the present, retains the family traits in its person, and never loses its high-born air and its delicate veining. I know a gro
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, Snow (search)
e fields are dank and ways are mire, With whom you might converse, and by the fire Help waste the sullen day. But our prevalent association with winter, in the Northern United States, is with something white and dazzling and brilliant; and it is time to paint our own pictures, and cease to borrow these gloomy alien tints. One must turn eagerly every season to the few glimpses of American winter aspects: to Emerson's Snow-Storm, every word a sculpture; to the admirable storm in Margaret; to Thoreau's Winter's Walk, in the Dial; and to Lowell's First Snow-Flake. These are fresh and real pictures, and carry us back to the Greek Anthology, where the herds come wandering down from the wooded mountains, covered with snow; and to Homer's aged Ulysses, his wise words falling like the snows of winter. Let me add to this scanty gallery of snow-pictures the quaint lore contained in one of the multitudinous sermons of Increase Mather, printed in 1704, entitled A Brief Discourse concerning th
The writings of John Greenleaf Whittier, Volume 7. (ed. John Greenleaf Whittier), Zzz Missing head (search)
sant to think of the Arab and his horse, whose friendship has been celebrated in song and romance. Of Vogelwied, the Minnesinger, and his bequest to the birds. Of the English Quaker, visited, wherever he went, by flocks of birds, who with cries of joy alighted on his broad-brimmed hat and his drab coat-sleeves. Of old Samuel Johnson, when half-blind and infirm, groping abroad of an evening for oysters for his cat. Of Walter Scott and John Brown, of Edinburgh, and their dogs. Of our own Thoreau, instinctively recognized by bird and beast as a friend. Emerson says of him: His intimacy with animals suggested what Thomas Fuller records of Butler, the apiologist, that either he had told the bees things, or the bees had told him. Snakes coiled round his legs; the fishes swam into his hand; he pulled the woodchuck out of his hole by his tail, and took foxes under his protection from the hunters. In the greatest of the ancient Hindu poemsthe sacred book of the Mahabharata—there is a
Medford Historical Society Papers, Volume 18., Turell Tufts and his family connections. (search)
e the famous club of Concord known as the Social Society and later as the Social Circle. This club was formed on a high plane, and its members were pledged to moderation in drink at their gatherings and to the serving of no refreshments. Ingraham deviated from this frugal line and served such elaborate and expensive suppers that he broke up the club, but it was reorganized. He built a colonial house on the road to Walden, but this large three-story house disappeared long ago, though in Thoreau's time there were traces of it and of the homes of several of his slaves whom he had allowed to build near by. That author says, East of my bean-field, across the road, lived Cato Ingraham, slave of Duncan Ingraham, Esquire, gentleman, of Concord village who built his slave a house, and gave him permission to live in Walden Woods. He served on the town committees and was Concord's representative, 1788-1791. As the success of the American cause grew his feelings became less ardent for t
. Gov. Buckingham, of Connecticut, has issued a call for four more regiments, to be enlisted for three years or the war. All of the diplomatic corps, except Lord Lyons and Assateague, are absent from Washington. The thousandth year of the existence of the Russian empire is to be celebrated next year. The Hon. Thomas F. Marshall fell down a flight of stairs at Newport, Ky. a few days ago and broke an arm. Samuel Ferguson Beach has been appointed and confirmed as purveyor of the port of Alexandria, Va. A clerk from Dunoan, Sherman & Co, New York banzers, was Thoreau at Nassau, in that State, for expressing and-war sentiments. Rev. James Carmichael, of the Episcopal Church, has been appointed Chaplain to the 30th Regiment Virginia Volunteers. Mr. Harvey, at last accounts, was waiting at Lisbon to near from the Government before presenting himself for reception by the King. Joseph Sands, and old importing merchant of New York, died last week.
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