Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrisetill noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around orflitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in atmy west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distanthighway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasonslike corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of thehands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, butso much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientalsmean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, Iminded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light somework of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothingmemorable is accomplished.
But men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon plowed into the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool's life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before.
As for Doing-good, that is one of the professions which are full. Moreover, I have tried itfairly, and, strange as it may seem, am satisfied that it does not agreewith my constitution. Probably I should not consciously and deliberatelyforsake my particular calling to do the good which society demands ofme, to save the universe from annihilation; and I believe that a likebut infinitely greater steadfastness elsewhere is all that now preservesit.
Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly por all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have. As if one were to wear any sort of coat which the tailor might cut out for him, or gradually leaving off palm-leaf hat or cap of woodchuck skin, complain of hard times because he could not afford to buy him a crown! It is possible to invent a house still more convenient and luxurious than we have, which yet all would admit that man could not afford to pay for. Shall we always study to obtain more of these things, and not sometimes be content with less?
In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line. You will pardon some obscurities, for there are more secrets in my trade than in most men's, and yet not voluntarily kept, but inseparable from its very nature.
Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that musty old cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. We meet at the post office, and at the sociable, and at the fireside every night; we live thick and are in each other's way, and stumble over one another, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another.
?'If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!