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


of the qualities which I have named, which we all prize more than
those other productions, but which are for the most part broadcast
and floating in the air, had taken root and grown in him. Here comes
such a subtile and ineffable quality, for instance, as truth or justice,
though the slightest amount or new variety of it, along the road. Our
ambassadors should be instructed to send home such seeds as these,
and Congress help to distribute them over all the land. We should
never stand upon ceremony with sincerity. We should never cheat
and insult and banish one another by our meanness, if there were
present the kernel of worth and friendliness. We should not meet
thus in haste. Most men I do not meet at all, for they seem not to
have time; they are busy about their beans. We would not deal with a
man thus plodding ever, leaning on a hoe or a spade as a staff
between his work, not as a mushroom, but partially risen out of the
earth, something more than erect, like swallows alighted and
walking on the ground:

"And as he spake, his mings would now and then Spread, as he
meant to fly, then close again-"

so that we should suspect that we might be conversing with an angel.
Bread may not always nourish us; but it always does us good, it even
takes stiffness out of our joints, and makes us supple and buoyant,
when we knew not what ailed us, to recognize any generosity in man
or Nature, to share any unmixed and heroic joy.

Ancient poetry and mythology suggest, at least, that husbandry was
once a sacred art; but it is pursued with irreverent haste and
heedlessness by us, our object being to have large farms and large
crops merely. We have no festival, nor procession, nor ceremony,
not excepting our cattle-shows and so-called Thanksgivings, by
which the farmer expresses a sense of the sacredness of his calling,
or is reminded of its sacred origin. It is the premium and the feast
which tempt him. He sacrifices not to Ceres and the Terrestrial Jove,
but to the infernal Plutus rather. By avarice and selfishness, and a
grovelling habit, from which none of us is free, of regarding the soil
as property, or the means of acquiring property chiefly, the
landscape is deformed, husbandry is degraded with us, and the
farmer leads the meanest of lives. He knows Nature but as a robber.
Cato says that the profits of agriculture are particularly pious or just
(maximeque pius quaestus), and according to Varro the old Romans
"called the same earth Mother and Ceres, and thought that they who
cultivated it led a pious and useful life, and that they alone were left
of the race of King Saturn."

We are wont to forget that the sun looks on our cultivated fields and
on the prairies and forests without distinction. They all reflect and
absorb his rays alike, and the former make but a small part of the
glorious picture which he beholds in his daily course. In his view the
earth is all equally cultivated like a garden. Therefore we should
receive the benefit of his light and beat with a corresponding trust
and magnanimity. What though I value the seed of these beans, and
harvest that in the fall of the year? This broad field which I have
looked at so long looks not to me as the principal cultivator, but
away from me to influences more genial to it, which water and make
it green. These beans have results which are not harvested by me. Do
they not grow for woodchucks partly? The ear of wheat (in Latin
spica, obsoletely speca, from spe, hope) should not be the only hope
of the husbandman; its kernel or grain (granum from gerendo,
bearing) is not all that it bears. How, then, can our harvest fail? Shall
I not rejoice also at the abundance of the weeds whose seeds are the
granary of the birds? It matters little comparatively whether the
fields fill the farmerís barns. The true husbandman will cease from
anxiety, as the squirrels manifest no concern whether the woods will
bear chestnuts this year or not, and finish his labor with every day,
relinquishing all claim to the produce of his fields, and sacrificing in
his mind not only his first but his last fruits also.
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-Walden by Henry David Thoreau



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