Walden and Other Writings

By Henry David Thoreau; Brooks Atkinson | Go to book overview

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 me 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 Tremont 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

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Walden and Other Writings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Bibliographical Note xxiii
  • Walden 1
  • Economy 3
  • Where I Lived, and What I Lived For 73
  • Reading 90
  • Sounds 101
  • Solitude 117
  • Visitors 127
  • The Bean-Field 140
  • The Village 151
  • The Ponds 157
  • Baker Farm 181
  • Higher Laws 189
  • Brute Neighbors 201
  • House-Warming 214
  • Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors 230
  • Winter Animals 243
  • The Pond in Winter 253
  • Spring 267
  • Conclusion 285
  • A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers 299
  • Concord River 301
  • Saturday 308
  • Sunday 322
  • Rumors from an ÆOlian Harp 366
  • The Atlantides 373
  • The Inward Morning 402
  • Thursday 405
  • Friday 415
  • Cape Cod 437
  • The Shipwreck 439
  • The Wellfleet Oysterman 448
  • The Highland Light 466
  • Provincetown 488
  • The Allegash and East Branch 503
  • Walking 595
  • Civil Disobedience 633
  • Slavery in Massachusetts 661
  • A Plea for Captain John Brown 681
  • Life without Principle 709
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