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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau


wholesomer to be warmed by the sun while you can be, than by an
artificial fire. I thus warmed myself by the still glowing embers
which the summer, like a departed hunter, had left.

When I came to build my chimney I studied masonry. My bricks,
being second-hand ones, required to be cleaned with a trowel, so that
I learned more than usual of the qualities of bricks and trowels. The
mortar on them was fifty years old, and was said to be still growing
harder; but this is one of those sayings which men love to repeat
whether they are true or not. Such sayings themselves grow harder
and adhere more firmly with age, and it would take many blows with
a trowel to clean an old wiseacre of them. Many of the villages of
Mesopotamia are built of secondhand bricks of a very good quality,
obtained from the ruins of Babylon, and the cement on them is older
and probably harder still. However that may be, I was struck by the
peculiar toughness of the steel which bore so many violent blows
without being worn out. As my bricks had been in a chimney before,
though I did not read the name of Nebuchadnezzar on them, I picked
out its many fireplace bricks as I could find, to save work and waste,
and I filled the spaces between the bricks about the fireplace with
stones from the pond shore, and also made my mortar with the white
sand from the same place. I lingered most about the fireplace, as the
most vital part of the house. Indeed, I worked so deliberately, that
though I commenced at the ground in the morning, a course of bricks
raised a few inches above the floor served for my pillow at night; yet
I did not get a stiff neck for it that I remember; my stiff neck is of
older date. I took a poet to board for a fortnight about those times,
which caused me to be put to it for room. He brought his own knife,
though I had two, and we used to scour them by thrusting them into
the earth. He shared with me the labors of cooking. I was pleased to
see my work rising so square and solid by degrees, and reflected,
that, if it proceeded slowly, it was calculated to endure a long time.
The chimney is to some extent an independent structure, standing on
the ground, and rising through the house to the heavens; even after
the house is burned it still stands sometimes, and its importance and
independence are apparent. This was toward the end of summer. It
was now November.

The north wind had already begun to cool the pond, though it took
many weeks of steady blowing to accomplish it, it is so deep. When
I began to have a fire at evening, before I plastered my house, the
chimney carried smoke particularly well, because of the numerous
chinks between the boards. Yet I passed some cheerful evenings in
that cool and airy apartment, surrounded by the rough brown boards
full of knots, and rafters with the bark on high overhead. My house
never pleased my eye so much after it was plastered, though I was
obliged to confess that it was more comfortable. Should not every
apartment in which man dwells be lofty enough to create some
obscurity overhead, where flickering shadows may play at evening
about the rafters? These forms are more agreeable to the fancy and
imagination than fresco paintings or other the most expensive
furniture. I now first began to inhabit my house, I may say, when I
began to use it for warmth as well as shelter. I had got a couple of
old fire-dogs to keep the wood from the hearth, and it did me good to
see the soot form on the back of the chimney which I had built, and I
poked the fire with more right and more satisfaction than usual. My
dwelling was small, and I could hardly entertain an echo in it; but it
seemed larger for being a single apartment and remote from
neighbors. All the attractions of a house were concentrated in one
room; it was kitchen, chamber, parlor, and keeping-room; and
whatever satisfaction parent or child, master or servant, derive from
living in a house, I enjoyed it all. Cato says, the master of a family
(patremfamilias) must have in his rustic villa "cellam oleariam,
vinariam, dolia multa, uti lubeat caritatem expectare, et rei, et virtuti,
et gloriae erit," that is, "an oil and wine cellar, many casks, so that it
may be pleasant to expect hard times; it will be for his advantage,
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



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