"What I Have Learned Is Mine; I've Had My Thought,
And Me The Muses Noble Truths Have Taught."
We do not learn much from learned books, but from true, sincere,
human books, from frank and honest biographies.
The life of a
good man will hardly improve us more than the life of a
freebooter, for the inevitable laws appear as plainly in the
infringement as in the observance, and our lives are sustained by
a nearly equal expense of virtue of some kind. The decaying
tree, while yet it lives, demands sun, wind, and rain no less
than the green one. It secretes sap and performs the functions
of health. If we choose, we may study the alburnum only. The
gnarled stump has as tender a bud as the sapling.
At least let us have healthy books, a stout horse-rake or a
kitchen range which is not cracked. Let not the poet shed tears
only for the public weal. He should be as vigorous as a
sugar-maple, with sap enough to maintain his own verdure, beside
what runs into the troughs, and not like a vine, which being cut
in the spring bears no fruit, but bleeds to death in the endeavor
to heal its wounds. The poet is he that hath fat enough, like
bears and marmots, to suck his claws all winter. He hibernates
in this world, and feeds on his own marrow. We love to think in
winter, as we walk over the snowy pastures, of those happy
dreamers that lie under the sod, of dormice and all that race of
dormant creatures, which have such a superfluity of life
enveloped in thick folds of fur, impervious to cold.
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