Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ

<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - by Henry David Thoreau

and virtue, and glory." I had in my cellar a firkin of potatoes, about
two quarts of peas with the weevil in them, and on my shelf a little
rice, a jug of molasses, and of rye and Indian meal a peck each.

I sometimes dream of a larger and more populous house, standing in
a golden age, of enduring materials, and without gingerbread work,
which shall still consist of only one room, a vast, rude, substantial,
primitive hall, without ceiling or plastering, with bare rafters and
purlins supporting a sort of lower heaven over oneís head-useful to
keep off rain and snow, where the king and queen posts stand out to
receive your homage, when you have done reverence to the prostrate
Saturn of an older dynasty on stepping over the sill; a cavernous
house, wherein you must reach up a torch upon a pole to see the
roof; where some may live in the fireplace, some in the recess of a
window, and some on settles, some at one end of the hall, some at
another, and some aloft on rafters with the spiders, if they choose; a
house which you have got into when you have opened the outside
door, and the ceremony is over; where the weary traveller may wash,
and eat, and converse, and sleep, without further journey; such a
shelter as you would be glad to reach in a tempestuous night,
containing all the essentials of a house, and nothing for house-
keeping; where you can see all the treasures of the house at one
view, and everything hangs upon its peg, that a man should use; at
once kitchen, pantry, parlor, chamber, storehouse, and garret; where
you can see so necessary a thin, as a barrel or a ladder, so convenient
a thing as a cupboard, and hear the pot boil, and pay your respects to
the fire that cooks your dinner, and the oven that bakes your bread,
and the necessary furniture and utensils are the chief ornaments;
where the washing is not put out, nor the fire, nor the mistress, and
perhaps you are sometimes requested to move from off the trapdoor,
when the cook would descend into the cellar, and so learn whether
the ground is solid or hollow beneath you without stamping. A house
whose inside is as open and manifest as a birdís nest, and you cannot
go in at the front door and out at the back without seeing some of its
inhabitants; where to be a guest is to be presented with the freedom
of the house, and not to be carefully excluded from seven eighths of
it, shut up in a particular cell, and told to make yourself at home
therein solitary confinement. Nowadays the host does not admit you
to his hearth, but has got the mason to build one for yourself
somewhere in his alley, and hospitality is the art of keeping you at
the greatest distance. There is as much secrecy about the cooking as
if he had a design to poison you. I am aware that I have been on
many a manís premises, and might have been legally ordered off, but
I am not aware that I have been in many menís houses. I might visit
in my old clothes a king and queen who lived simply in such a house
as I have described, if I were going their way; but backing out of a
modern palace will be all that I shall desire to learn, if ever I am
caught in one.

It would seem as if the very language of our parlors would lose all its
nerve and degenerate into palaver wholly, our lives pass at such
remoteness from its symbols, and its metaphors and tropes are
necessarily so far fetched, through slides and dumbwaiters, as it
were; in other words, the parlor is so far from the kitchen and
workshop. The dinner even is only the parable of a dinner,
commonly. As if only the savage dwelt near enough to Nature and
Truth to borrow a trope from them. How can the scholar, who dwells
away in the North West Territory or the Isle of Man, tell what is
parliamentary in the kitchen?

However, only one or two of my guests were ever bold enough to
stay and eat a hasty-pudding with me; but when they saw that crisis
approaching they beat a hasty retreat rather, as if it would shake the
house to its foundations. Nevertheless, it stood through a great many

I did not plaster till it was freezing weather. I brought over some
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - by Henry David Thoreau

All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page

In Association with