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“Unhewn primeval timber, For knees so stiff, for masts so limber.” he seems to chase an image, already rather forced, into conceits.
“ Yet, now that I have some knowledge of the man, it seems there is no objection I could make to his lines (with the exception of such offenses against taste as the lines about the humors of the eye, as to which we are already agreed), which I would not make to himself. He is healthful, rare, of open eye, ready hand, and noble scope. He sets no limits to his life, nor to the invasions of nature; he is not willfully pragmatical, cautious, ascetic, or fantastical. But he is as yet a somewhat bare hill, which the warm gales of Spring have not visited. Thought lies too detached, truth is seen too much in detail; we can number and mark the substances imbedded in the rock. Thus his verses are startling as much as stern; the thought does not excuse its conscious existence by letting us see its relation with life; there is a want of fluent music. Yet what could a companion do at present, unless to tame the guardian of the Alps too early ? Leave him at peace amid his native spows. He is friendly ; he will find the generous office that shall educate him. It is not a soil for the citron and the rose, but for the whortleberry, the pine, or the heather.
“ The unfolding of affections, a wider and deeper human experience, the harmonizing influences of other natures, will mould the man and melt his verse. He will seek thought less and find knowledge the more. I can have no advice or criticism for a person so sincere ; but, if I give my impression of him, I will say, 'He says too constantly of Nature, she is mine.' She is not yours till you have been more hers. Seek the lotus, and take a draught of rapture. Say not so confidently, all places, all occasions are alike. This will never come true till you have found it false.
"I do not know that I have more to say now; perhaps these words will say nothing to you. If intercourse should continue, perhaps a bridge may be made between two minds so widely apart; for I apprehended you in spirit, and you did not seem to mistake me so widely as most of your kind do. If you should find yourself inclined to write to me, as you thought you might, I dare say, many thoughts would be suggested to me; many have already, by seeing you from day to day. Will you finish the poem in your own way, and send it for the • Dial'? Leave out
“And seem to milk the sky."
The image is too low ; Mr. Emerson thought so too.
“ Farewell! May trụth be irradiated by Beauty! Let me know whether you go to the lonely hut," and write to me about Shakespeare, if you read him there. I have many thoughts about him, which I have never yet been led to express.
MARGARET F. “ The penciled paper Mr. E. put into my hands. I have taken the liberty to copy it. You expressed one day my own opinion, — that the moment such a crisis is passed, we may speak of it. There is no need of artificial delicacy, of secrecy; it keeps its own secrets; it cannot be made false. Thus you will not be sorry that I have seen the paper. Will you not send me some other records of the good week ?”
« Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” This searching criticism would not offend Thoreau ; nor yet the plainness with which the same tongue told the faults of a prose paper - perhaps “ The Recruit,” — which Margaret rejected in this note:
“[CONCORD) 1st December (1841). “I am to blame for so long detaining your manuscript. But my thoughts have been so engaged that I have not found a suitable hour to reread it as I wished, till last night. This second reading only confirms my impression from the
1 The Hollowell Place, no doubt.
first. The essay is rich in thoughts, and I should be pained not to meet it again. But then, the thoughts seem to me so out of their natural order, that I cannot read it through without pain. I never once feel myself in a stream of thought, but seem to hear the grating of tools on the mosaic. It is true, as Mr. Emerson says, that essays not to be compared with this have found their way into the · Dial. But then, these are more unassuming in their tone, and have an air of quiet goodbreeding, which induces us to permit their presence. Yours is so rugged that it ought to be commanding.”
These were the years of Thoreau's apprenticeship in literature, and many were the tasks and mortifications he must endure before he became a master of the writer's art.
FRIENDS AND COMPANIONS.
" MARGARET FULLER,” says William Henry Channing, “ was indeed The Friend; this was her vocation.” It was no less the vocation of Thoreau, though in a more lofty, unvarying, and serene manner.
“ Literally,” says the friend who best knew him, “his views of friendship were high and noble. Those who loved him never had the least reason to regret it. He made no useless professions, never asked one of those questions that destroy all relation ; but he was on the spot at the time, and had so much of human life in his keeping to the last, that he could spare a breathing-place for a friend. He meant friendship, and meant nothing else, and stood by it without the slightest abatement; not veering as a weathercock with each shift of a friend's fortune, nor like those who bury their early friendships, in order to make room for fresh corpses.”
It is, therefore, impossible to sketch him