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


other a cup out of which the serpent sometimes drinks; but rather of
Hebe, cup-bearer to Jupiter, who was the daughter of Juno and wild
lettuce, and who had the power of restoring gods and men to the
vigor of youth. She was probably the only thoroughly sound-
conditioned, healthy, and robust young lady that ever walked the
globe, and wherever she came it was spring.

VISITORS.

I THINK THAT I love society as much as most, and am ready
enough to fasten myself like a bloodsucker for the time to any full-
blooded man that comes in my way. I am naturally no hermit, but
might possibly sit out the sturdiest frequenter of the bar-room, if my
business called me thither.

I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship,
three for society. When visitors came in larger and unexpected
numbers there was but the third chair for them all, but they generally
economized the room by standing up. It is surprising how many
great men and women a small house will contain. I have had twenty-
five or thirty souls, with their bodies, at once under my roof, and yet
we often parted without being aware that we had come very near to
one another. Many of our houses, both public and private, with their
almost innumerable apartments, their huge halls and their cellars for
the storage of wines and other munitions of peace, appear to be
extravagantly large for their inhabitants. They are so vast and
magnificent that the latter seem to be only vermin which infest them.
I am surprised when the herald blows his summons before some Tre-
mont or Astor or Middlesex House, to see come creeping out over
the piazza for all inhabitants a ridiculous mouse, which soon again
slinks into some hole in the pavement.

One inconvenience I sometimes experienced in so small a house, the
difficulty of getting to a sufficient distance from my guest when we
began to utter the big thoughts in big words. You want room for your
thoughts to get into sailing trim and run a course or two before they
make their port. The bullet of your thought must have overcome its
lateral and ricochet motion and fallen into its last and steady course
before it reaches the ear of the hearer, else it may plow out again
through the side of his head. Also, our sentences wanted room to
unfold and form their columns in the interval. Individuals, like
nations, must have suitable broad and natural boundaries, even a
considerable neutral ground, between them. I have found it a
singular luxury to talk across the pond to a companion on the
opposite side. In my house we were so near that we could not begin
to bear-we could not speak low enough to be heard; as when you
throw two stones into calm water so near that they break each otherís
undulations. If we are merely loquacious and loud talkers, then we
can afford to stand very near together, cheek by jowl, and feel each
otherís breath; but if we speak reservedly and thoughtfully, we want
to be farther apart, that all animal heat and moisture may have a
chance to evaporate. If we would enjoy the most intimate society
with that in each of us which is without, or above, being spoken to,
we must not only be silent, but commonly so far apart bodily that we
cannot possibly hear each otherís voice in any case. Referred to this
standard, speech is for the convenience of those who are hard of
hearing; but there are many fine things which we cannot say if we
have to shout. As the conversation began to assume a loftier and
grander tone, we gradually shoved our chairs farther apart till they
touched the wall in opposite corners, and then commonly there was
not room enough.

My "best" room, however, my withdrawing room, always ready for
company, on whose carpet the sun rarely fell, was the pine wood
behind my house. Thither in summer days, when distinguished
guests came, I took them, and a priceless domestic swept the floor
and dusted the furniture and kept the things in order.
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



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