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them to be wiser than the so-called overseers of the poor and
selectmen of the town, and thought it was time that the tables were
turned. With respect to wit, I learned that there was not much
difference between the half and the whole. One day, in particular, an
inoffensive, simpleminded pauper, whom with others I had often
seen used as fencing stuff, standing or sitting on a bushel in the
fields to keep cattle and himself from straying, visited me, and
expressed a wish to live as I did. He told me, with the utmost
simplicity and truth, quite superior, or rather inferior, to anything
that is called humility, that he was "deficient in intellect." These
were his words. The Lord had made him so, yet he supposed the
Lord cared as much for him as for another. "I have always been so,"
said he, "from my childhood; I never had much mind; I was not like
other children; I am weak in the head. It was the Lord’s will, I
suppose." And there he was to prove the truth of his words. He was a
metaphysical puzzle to me. I have rarely met a fellow-man on such
promising ground-it was so simple and sincere and so true all that he
said. And, true enough, in proportion as he appeared to humble
himself was he exalted. I did not know at first but it was the result of
a wise policy. It seemed that from such a basis of truth and frankness
as the poor weak-headed pauper had laid, our intercourse might go
forward to something better than the intercourse of sages.

I had some guests from those not reckoned commonly among the
town’s poor, but who should be; who are among the world’s poor, at
any rate; guests who appeal, not to your hospitality, but to your
hospitality; who earnestly wish to be helped, and preface their appeal
with the information that they are resolved, for one thing, never to
help themselves. I require of a visitor that he be not actually starving,
though he may have the very best appetite in the world, however he
got it. Objects of charity are not guests. Men who did not know
when their visit had terminated, though I went about my business
again, answering them from greater and greater remoteness. Men of
almost every degree of wit called on me in the migrating season.
Some who had more wits than they knew what to do with; runaway
slaves with plantation manners, who listened from time to time, like
the fox in the fable, as if they heard the hounds a-baying on their
track, and looked at me beseechingly, as much as to say,

"O Christian, will you send me back?

One real runaway slave, among the rest, whom I helped to forward
toward the north star. Men of one idea, like a hen with one chicken,
and that a duckling; men of a thousand ideas, and unkempt heads,
like those hens which are made to take charge of a hundred chickens,
all in pursuit of one bug, a score of them lost in every morning’s
dew-and become frizzled and mangy in consequence; men of ideas
instead of legs, a sort of intellectual centipede that made you crawl
all over.

One man proposed a book in which visitors should write their
names, as at the White Mountains; but, alas! I have too good a
memory to make that necessary.

I could not but notice some of the peculiarities of my visitors. Girls
and boys and young women generally seemed glad to be in the
woods. They looked in the pond and at the flowers, and improved
their time. Men of business, even farmers, thought only of solitude
and employment, and of the great distance at which I dwelt from
something or other; and though they said that they loved a ramble in
the woods occasionally, it was obvious that they did not. Restless
committed men, whose time was an taken up in getting a living or
keeping it; ministers who spoke of God as if they enjoyed a
monopoly of the subject, who could not bear all kinds of opinions;
doctors, lawyers, uneasy housekeepers who pried into my cupboard
and bed when I was out-how came Mrs.- to know that my sheets
were not as clean as hers?- young men who had ceased to be young,
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