Henry David Thoreau.

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bank, about nine o'clock of this bright moonlight night,
I kindled a fire, when they were gone, and, sitting on
the fir twigs, within sound of the falls, examined by its
light the botanical specimens which I had collected
that afternoon, and wrote down some of the reflections
which I have here expanded; or I walked along the
shore and gazed up the stream, where the whole space
above the falls was filled with mellow light. As I sat
before the fire on my fir- twig seat, without walls above
or around me, I remembered how far on every hand
that wilderness stretched, before you came to cleared or
cultivated fields, and wondered if any bear or moose was
watching the light of my fire ; for Nature looked sternly
upon me on account of the murder of the moose.

Strange that so few ever come to the woods to see
how the pine lives and grows and spires, lifting its
evergreen arms to the light, to see its perfect success;
but most are content to behold it in the shape of
many broad boards brought to market, and deem that
its true success ! But the pine is no more lumber than
man is, and to be made into boards and houses is no
more its true and highest use than the truest use of a
man is to be cut down and made into manure. There
is a higher law affecting our relation to pines as well
as to men. A pine cut down, a dead pine, is no more a
pine than a dead human carcass is a man. Can he who
has discovered only some of the values of whalebone
and whale oil be said to have discovered the true use
of the whale ? Can he who slays the elephant for his


ivory be said to have " seen the elephant " ? These are
petty and accidental uses; just as if a stronger race
were to kill us in order to make buttons and flageolets
of our bones ; for everything may serve a lower as well
as a higher use. Every creature is better alive than dead,
men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands
it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

Is it the lumberman, then, who is the friend and lover
of the pine, stands nearest to it, and understands its
nature best ? Is it the tanner who has barked it, or he
who has boxed it for turpentine, whom posterity will
fable to have been changed into a pine at last? No!
no! it is the poet; he it is who makes the truest use of
the pine, who does not fondle it with an axe, nor tickle
it with a saw, nor stroke it with a plane, who knows
whether its heart is false without cutting into it, who
has not bought the stumpage of the township on which
it stands. All the pines shudder and heave a sigh when
that man steps on the forest floor. No, it is the poet,
who loves them as his own shadow in the air, and lets
them stand. I have been into the lumber-yard, and the
carpenter's shop, and the tannery, and the lampblack
factory, and the turpentine clearing; but when at length
I saw the tops of the pines waving and reflecting the
light at a distance high over all the rest of the forest, I
realized that the former were not the highest use of the
pine. It is not their bones or hide or tallow that I love
most. It is the living spirit of the tree, not its spirit of
turpentine, with which I sympathize, and which heals
my cuts. It is as immortal as I am, and perchance will
go to as high a heaven, there to tower above me still.


Ere long, the hunters returned, not having seen a
moose, but, in consequence of my suggestions, bringing
a quarter of the dead one, which, with ourselves, made
quite a load for the canoe.

After breakfasting on moose meat, we returned down
Pine Stream on our way to Chesuncook Lake, which was
about five miles distant. We could see the red carcass
of the moose lying in Pine Stream when nearly half a
mile off. Just below the mouth of this stream were the
most considerable rapids between the two lakes, called
Pine Stream Falls, where were large flat rocks washed
smooth, and at this time you could easily wade across
above them. Joe ran down alone while we walked over
the portage, my companion collecting spruce gum for
his friends at home, and I looking for flowers. Near
the lake, which we were approaching with as much ex
pectation as if it had been a university, for it is not
often that the stream of our life opens into such expan
sions, were islands, and a low and meadowy shore
with scattered trees, birches, white and yellow, slanted
over the water, and maples, many of the white birches
killed, apparently by inundations. There was considera
ble native grass ; and even a few cattle whose move
ments we heard, though we did not see them, mistaking
them at first for moose were pastured there.

On entering the lake, where the stream runs south
easterly, and for some time before, we had a view of
the mountains about Ktaadn (Katahdinauquoh one says
they are called), like a cluster of blue fungi of rank
growth, apparently twenty-five or thirty miles distant,
in a southeast direction, their summits concealed by


clouds. Joe called some of them the Sowadnehunk
Mountains. This is the name of a stream there, which
another Indian told us meant " running between moun
tains." Though some lower summits were afterward
uncovered, we got no more complete view of Ktaadn
while we were in the woods. The clearing to which we
were bound was on the right of the mouth of the river,
and was reached by going round a low point, where the
water was shallow to a great distance from the shore.
Chesuncook Lake extends northwest and southeast, and
is called eighteen miles long and three wide, without
an island. We had entered the northwest corner of it,
and when near the shore could see only part way
down it. The principal mountains visible from the land
here were those already mentioned, between southeast
and east, and a few summits a little west of north, but
generally the north and northwest horizon about the
St. John and the British boundary was comparatively

Ansell Smith's, the oldest and principal clearing about
this lake, appeared to be quite a harbor for batteaux
and canoes; seven or eight of the former were lying
about, and there was a small scow for hay, and a capstan
on a platform, now high and dry, ready to be floated and
anchored to tow rafts with. It was a very primitive kind
of harbor, where boats were drawn up amid the stumps,
such a one, methought, as the Argo might have been
launched in. There were five other huts with small
clearings on the opposite side of the lake, all at this end
and visible from this point. One of the Smiths told me
that it was so far cleared that they came here to live and


built the present house four years before, though the
family had been here but a few months.

I was interested to see how a pioneer lived on this side
of the country. His life is in some respects more adven
turous than that of his brother in the West ; for he con
tends with winter as well as the wilderness, and there is
a greater interval of time at least between him and the
army which is to follow. Here immigration is a tide
which may ebb when it has swept away the pines ; there
it is not a tide, but an inundation, arid roads and other
improvements come steadily rushing after.

As we approached the log house, a dozen rods from
the lake, and considerably elevated above it, the pro
jecting ends of the logs lapping over each other irre
gularly several feet at the corners gave it a very rich
and picturesque look, far removed from the meanness
of weather-boards. It was a very spacious, low building,
about eighty feet long, with many large apartments.
The walls were well clayed between the logs, which were
large and round, except on the upper and under sides,
and as visible inside as out, successive bulging cheeks
gradually lessening upwards and tuned to each other
with the axe, like Pandean pipes. Probably the musical
forest gods had not yet cast them aside; they never do
till they are split or the bark is gone. It was a style of
architecture not described by Vitruvius, I suspect, though
possibly hinted at in the biography of Orpheus; none
of your frilled or fluted columns, which have cut such
a false swell, and support nothing but a gable end and
their builder's pretensions, that is, with the multitude;
and as for "ornamentation," one of those words with a


dead tail which architects very properly use to describe
their flourishes, there were the lichens and mosses and
fringes of bark, which nobody troubled himself about.
We certainly leave the handsomest paint and clapboards
behind in the woods, when we strip off the bark and
poison ourselves with white-lead in the towns. We get
but half the spoils of the forest. For beauty, give me
trees with the fur on. This house was designed and
constructed with the freedom of stroke of a forester's
axe, without other compass and square than Nature
uses. Wherever the logs were cut off by a window or
door, that is, were not kept in place by alternate over
lapping, they were held one upon another by very large
pins, driven in diagonally on each side, where branches
might have been, and then cut off so close up and down
as not to project beyond the bulge of the log, as if the
logs clasped each other in their arms. These logs were
posts, studs, boards, clapboards, laths, plaster, and nails,
all in one. Where the citizen uses a mere sliver or board,
the pioneer uses the whole trunk of a tree. The house
had large stone chimneys, and was roofed with spruce-
bark. The windows were imported, all but the casings.
One end was a regular logger's camp, for the boarders,
with the usual fir floor and log benches. Thus this house
was but a slight departure from the hollow tree, which
the bear still inhabits, being a hollow made with trees
piled up, with a coating of bark like its original.

The cellar was a separate building, like an ice-house,
and it answered for a refrigerator at this season, our
moose meat being kept there. It was a potato hole with
a permanent roof. Each structure and institution here


was so primitive that you could at once refer it to its
source; but our buildings commonly suggest neither
their origin nor their purpose. There was a large, and
what farmers would call handsome, barn, part of whose
boards had been sawed by a whip-saw; and the saw-pit,
with its great pile of dust, remained before the house.
The long split shingles on a portion of the barn were laid
a foot to the weather, suggesting what kind of weather
they have there. Grant's barn at Caribou Lake was said
to be still larger, the biggest ox-nest in the woods, fifty
feet by a hundred. Think of a monster barn in that
primitive forest lifting its gray back above the tree-tops '
Man makes very much such a nest for his domestic
animals, of withered grass and fodder, as the squirrels
and many other wild creatures do for themselves.

There was also a blacksmith's shop, where plainly a
good deal of work was done. The oxen and horses used
in lumbering operations were shod, and all the iron
work of sleds, etc., was repaired or made here. I saw
them load a batteau at the Moosehead Carry, the next
Tuesday, with about thirteen hundredweight of bar
iron for this shop. This reminded me how primitive
and honorable a trade was Vulcan's. I do not hear that
there was any carpenter or tailor among the gods. The
smith seems to have preceded these and every other
mechanic at Chesuncook as well as on Olympus, and
his family is the most widely dispersed, whether he be
christened John or Ansell.

Smith owned two miles down the lake by half a mile
in width. There were about one hundred acres cleared
here. He cut seventy tons of English hay this year on


this ground, and twenty more on another clearing, and
he uses it all himself in lumbering operations. The barn
was crowded with pressed hay, and a machine to press
it. There was a large garden full of roots, turnips,
beets, carrots, potatoes, etc., all of great size. They said
that they were worth as much here as in New York. I
suggested some currants for sauce, especially as they had
no apple trees set out, and showed how easily they could
be obtained.

There was the usual long-handled axe of the primitive
woods by the door, three and a half feet long, for my
new black-ash rule was in constant use, and a large,
shaggy dog, whose nose, report said, was full of porcu
pine quills. I can testify that he looked very sober. This
is the usual fortune of pioneer dogs, for they have to
face the brunt of the battle for their race, and act the
part of Arnold Winkelried without intending it. If he
should invite one of his town friends up this way, sug
gesting moose meat and unlimited freedom, the latter
might pertinently inquire, "What is that sticking in
your nose ? " When a generation or two have used up all
the enemies' darts, their successors lead a comparatively
easy life. We owe to our fathers analogous blessings.
Many old people receive pensions for no other reason, it
seems to me, but as a compensation for having lived a
long time ago. No doubt our town dogs still talk, in
a snuffling way, about the days that tried dogs' noses.
How they got a cat up there I do not know, for they are
as shy as my aunt about entering a canoe. I wondered
that she did not run up a tree on the way ; but perhaps
she was bewildered by the very crowd of opportunities.


Twenty or thirty lumberers, Yankee and Canadian,
were coming and going, Aleck among the rest,
and from time to time an Indian touched here. In the
winter there are sometimes a hundred men lodged here
at once. The most interesting piece of news that cir
culated among them appeared to be, that four horses
belonging to Smith, worth seven hundred dollars, had
passed by farther into the woods a week before.

The white pine tree was at the bottom or farther end
of all this. It is a war against the pines, the only real
Aroostook or Penobscot war. I have no doubt that they
lived pretty much the same sort of life in the Homeric
age, for men have always thought more of eating than
of fighting; then, as now, their minds ran chiefly on the
" hot bread and sweet cakes ; " and the fur and lumber
trade is an old story to Asia and Europe. I doubt if men
ever made a trade of heroism. In the days of Achilles,
even, they delighted in big barns, and perchance in
pressed hay, and he who possessed the most valuable
team was the best fellow.

We had designed to go on at evening up the Caucom-
gomoc, whose mouth was a mile or two distant, to the
lake of the same name, about ten miles off; but some
Indians of Joe's acquaintance, who were making canoes
on the Caucomgomoc, came over from that side, and
gave so poor an account of the moose-hunting, so many
had been killed there lately, that my companions con
cluded not to go there. Joe spent this Sunday and the
night with his acquaintances. The lumberers told me
that there were many moose hereabouts, but no caribou
or deer. A man from Oldtown had killed ten or twelve


moose, within a year, so near the house that they heard
all his guns. His name may have been Hercules, for
aught I know, though I should rather have expected to
hear the rattling of his club ; but, no doubt, he keeps pace
with the improvements of the age, and uses a Sharp's
rifle now ; probably he gets all his armor made and re
paired at Smith's shop. One moose had been killed
and another shot at within sight of the house within
two years. I do not know whether Smith has yet got
a poet to look after the cattle, which, on account of the
early breaking up of the ice, are compelled to summer in
the woods, but I would suggest this office to such of my
acquaintances as love to write verses and go a-gunning.
After a dinner at which apple-sauce was the greatest
luxury to me, but our moose meat was oftenest called for
by the lumberers, I walked across the clearing into the
forest, southward, returning along the shore. For my
dessert, I helped myself to a large slice of the Chesun-
cook woods, and took a hearty draught of its waters with
all my senses. The woods were as fresh and full of vege
table life as a lichen in wet weather, and contained many
interesting plants; but unless they are of white pine,
they are treated with as little respect here as a mildew,
and in the other case they are only the more quickly cut
down. The shore was of coarse, flat, slate rocks, often
in slabs, with the surf beating on it. The rocks and
bleached drift-logs, extending some way into the shaggy
woods, showed a rise and fall of six or eight feet, caused
partly by the dam at the outlet. They said that in win
ter the snow was three feet deep on a level here, and
sometimes four or five, that the ice on the lake was


two feet thick, clear, and four feet including the snow-
ice. Ice had already formed in vessels.

We lodged here this Sunday night in a comfortable
bedroom, apparently the best one; and all that I no
ticed unusual in the night for I still kept taking notes,
like a spy in the camp was the creaking of the thin
split boards, when any of our neighbors stirred.

Such were the first rude beginnings of a town. They
spoke of the practicability of a winter road to the Moose-
head Carry, which would not cost much, and would
connect them with steam and staging and all the busy
world. I almost doubted if the lake would be there,
the self-same lake, preserve its form and identity,
when the shores should be cleared and settled; as if
these lakes and streams which explorers report never
awaited the advent of the citizen.

The sight of one of these frontier houses, built of these
great logs, whose inhabitants have unflinchingly main
tained their ground many summers and winters in the
wilderness, reminds me of famous forts, like Ticonder-
oga or Crown Point, which have sustained memorable
sieges. They are especially winter-quarters, and at this
season this one had a partially deserted look, as if the
siege were raised a little, the snowbanks being melted
from before it, and its garrison accordingly reduced.
I think of their daily food as rations, it is called
"supplies;" a Bible and a greatcoat are munitions of
war, and a single man seen about the premises is a senti
nel on duty. You expect that he will require the counter
sign, and will perchance take you for Ethan Allen, come to
demand the surrender of his fort in the name of the Con-


tinental Congress. It is a sort of ranger service. Arnold's
expedition is a daily experience with these settlers.
They can prove that they were out at almost any time ;
and I think that all the first generation of them deserve
a pension more than any that went to the Mexican war.

Early the next morning we started on our return up
the Penobscot, my companion wishing to go about
twenty-five miles above the Moosehead Carry to a camp
near the junction of the two forks, and look for moose
there. Our host allowed us something for the quarter of
the moose which we had brought, and which he was glad
to get. Two explorers from Chamberlain Lake started
at the same time that we did. Red flannel shirts should
be worn in the woods, if only for the fine contrast which
this color makes with the evergreens and the water.
Thus I thought when I saw the forms of the explorers
in their birch, poling up the rapids before us, far off
against the forest. It is the surveyor's color also, most
distinctly seen under all circumstances. We stopped to
dine at Ragmuff, as before. My companion it was who
wandered up the stream to look for moose this time,
while Joe went to sleep on the bank, so that we felt sure
of him ; and I improved the opportunity to botanize and
bathe. Soon after starting again, while Joe was gone back
in the canoe for the frying-pan, which had been left, we
picked a couple of quarts of tree-cranberries for a sauce.

I was surprised by Joe's asking me how far it was to
the Moosehorn. He was pretty well acquainted with this
stream, but he had noticed that I was curious about dis
tances, and had several maps. He and Indians generally,
with whom I have talked, are not able to describe dimen-


sions or distances in our measures with any accuracy.
He could tell, perhaps, at what time we should arrive, but
not how far it was. We saw a few wood ducks, sheldrakes,
and black ducks, but they were not so numerous there
at that season as on our river at home. We scared the
same family of wood ducks before us, going and return
ing. We also heard the note of one fish hawk, somewhat
like that of a pigeon woodpecker, and soon after saw him
perched near the top of a dead white pine against the
island where we had first camped, while a company of
peetweets were twittering and teetering about over the
carcass of a moose on a low sandy spit just beneath.
We drove the fish hawk from perch to perch, each time
eliciting a scream or whistle, for many miles before us.
Our course being up-stream, we were obliged to work
much harder than before, and had frequent use for
a pole. Sometimes all three of us paddled together,
standing up, small and heavily laden as the canoe was.
About six miles from Moosehead, we began to see the
mountains east of the north end of the lake, and at four
o'clock we reached the carry.

The Indians were still encamped here. There were
three, including the St. Francis Indian who had come
in the steamer with us. One of the others was called
Sabattis. Joe and the St. Francis Indian were plainly
clear Indian, the other two apparently mixed Indian and
white ; but the difference was confined to their features
and complexion, for all that I could see. We here cooked
the tongue of the moose for supper, having left the
nose, which is esteemed the choicest part, at Chesun-
cook, boiling, it being a good deal of trouble to prepare


it. We also stewed our tree-cranberries (Viburnum
opulus), sweetening them with sugar. The lumberers
sometimes cook them with molasses. They were used in
Arnold's expedition. This sauce was very grateful to us
who had been confined to hard-bread, pork, and moose
meat, and, notwithstanding their seeds, we all three
pronounced them equal to the common cranberry; but
perhaps some allowance is to be made for our forest
appetites. It would be worth the while to cultivate them,
both for beauty and for food. I afterward saw them in
a garden in Bangor. Joe said that they were called

While we were getting supper, Joe commenced curing
the moose-hide, on which I had sat a good part of the
voyage, he having already cut most of the hair off with
his knife at the Caucomgomoc. He set up two stout
forked poles on the bank, seven or eight feet high, and
as much asunder east and west, and having cut slits
eight or ten inches long, and the same distance apart,
close to the edge, on the sides of the hide, he threaded
poles through them, and then, placing one of the poles
on the forked stakes, tied the other down tightly at the
bottom. The two ends also were tied with cedar bark,
their usual string, to the upright poles, through small
holes at short intervals. The hide, thus stretched, and
slanted a little to the north, to expose its flesh side to
the sun, measured, in the extreme, eight feet long by
six high. Where any flesh still adhered, Joe boldly
scored it with his knife to lay it open to the sun. It
now appeared somewhat spotted and injured by the
duck shot. You may see the old frames on which hides


have been stretched at many camping-places in these

For some reason or other, the going to the forks of the
Penobscot was given up, and we decided to stop here,
my companion intending to hunt down the stream at
night. The Indians invited us to lodge with them, but
my companion inclined to go to the log camp on the
carry. This camp was close and dirty, and had an ill
smell, and I preferred to accept the Indians' offer, if we
did not make a camp for ourselves; for, though they
were dirty, too, they were more in the open air, and were
much more agreeable, and even refined company, than
the lumberers. The most interesting question enter
tained at the lumberers' camp was, which man could
" handle " any other on the carry; and, for the most part,
they possessed no qualities which you could not lay
hands on. So we went to the Indians' camp or wigwam.

It was rather windy, and therefore Joe concluded to
hunt after midnight, if the wind went down, which the
other Indians thought it would not do, because it was
from the south. The two mixed-bloods, however, went

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