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bed by his side and helped him out with his stories. They
were remarkably corpulent, with smooth, round faces,
apparently full of good-humor. Certainly our much-
abused climate had not dried up their adipose substance.
While we were there, for we stayed a good while,
one went over to Oldtown, returned and cut out a dress,
which she had bought, on another bed in the room. The
Governor said that " he could remember when the moose
were much larger; that they did not use to be in the
woods, but came out of the water, as all deer did.
Moose was whale once. Away down Merrimack way,
a whale came ashore in a shallow bay. Sea went out and
left him, and he came up on land a moose. What made
them know he was a whale was, that at first, before he
began to run in bushes, he had no bowels inside, but "
and then the squaw who sat on the bed by his side, as
the Governor's aid, and had been putting in a word
now and then and confirming the story, asked me what
we called that soft thing we find along the seashore.



164 THE MAINE WOODS

" Jelly-fish," I suggested. " Yes," said he, " no bowels,
but jelly-fish."

There may be some truth in what he said about the
moose growing larger formerly; for the quaint John
Josselyn, a physician who spent many years in this very
district of Maine in the seventeenth century, says that
the tips of their horns " are sometimes found to be two
fathoms asunder," and he is particular to tell us that
a fathom is six feet, " and [they are] in height, from
the toe of the fore foot to the pitch of the shoulder,
twelve foot, both which hath been taken by some of
my sceptique readers to be monstrous lies;" and he
adds, " There are certain transcendentia in every crea
ture, which are the indelible character of God, and
which discover God." This is a greater dilemma to be
caught in than is presented by the cranium of the young
Bechuana ox, apparently another of the transcendentia,
in the collection of Thomas Steel, Upper Brook Street,
London, whose "entire length of horn, from tip to tip,
along the curve, is 13 ft. 5 in.; distance (straight) be
tween the tips of the horns, 8 ft. 8J in." However, the
size both of the moose and the cougar, as I have found,
is generally rather underrated than overrated, and I
should be inclined to add to the popular estimate a part
of what I subtracted from Josselyn's.

But we talked mostly with the Governor's son-in-law,
a very sensible Indian ; and the Governor, being so old
and deaf, permitted himself to be ignored, while we
asked questions about him. The former said that there
were two political parties among them, one in favor
of schools, and the other opposed to them, or rather



CHESUNCOOK 165

they did not wish to resist the priest, who was opposed to
them. The first had just prevailed at the election and
sent their man to the legislature. Neptune and Aitteon
and he himself were in favor of schools. He said, " If
Indians got learning, they would keep their money."
When we asked where Joe's father, Aitteon, was, he
knew that he must be at Lincoln, though he was about
going a-moose-hunting, for a messenger had just gone to
him there to get his signature to some papers. I asked
Neptune if they had any of the old breed of dogs yet.
He answered, "Yes." "But that," said I, pointing to
one that had just come in, "is a Yankee dog." He
assented. I said that he did not look like a good one.
" Oh, yes ! " he said, and he told, with much gusto, how,
the year before, he had caught and held by the throat a
wolf. A very small black puppy rushed into the room
and made at the Governor's feet, as he sat in his stock
ings with his legs dangling from the bedside. The Gov
ernor rubbed his hands and dared him to come on,
entering into the sport with spirit. Nothing more that
was significant transpired, to my knowledge, during this
interview. This was the first time that I ever called on a
governor, but, as I did not ask for an office, I can speak
of it with the more freedom.

An Indian who was making canoes behind a house,
looking up pleasantly from his work, for he knew my
companion, said that his name was Old John Penny
weight. I had heard of him long before, and I inquired
after one of his contemporaries, Joe Four-pence-ha'
penny; but alas! he no longer circulates. I made a
faithful study of canoe-building, and I thought that I



166 THE MAINE WOODS

should like to serve an apprenticeship at that trade for
one season, going into the woods for bark with my
"boss," making the canoe there, and returning in it at
last.

While the batteau was coming over to take us off, I
picked up some fragments of arrowheads on the shore,
and one broken stone chisel, which were greater novel
ties to the Indians than to me. After this, on Old Fort
Hill, at the bend of the Penobscot, three miles above
Bangor, looking for the site of an Indian town which
some think stood thereabouts, I found more arrow
heads, and two little dark and crumbling fragments of
Indian earthenware, in the ashes of their fires. The
Indians on the island appeared to live quite happily and
to be well treated by the inhabitants of Oldtown.

We visited Veazie's mills, just below the island, where
were sixteen sets of saws, some gang saws, sixteen
in a gang, not to mention circular saws. On one side,
they were hauling the logs up an inclined plane by water-
power; on the other, passing out the boards, planks, and
sawed timber, and forming them into rafts. The trees
were literally drawn and quartered there. In forming
the rafts, they use the lower three feet of hard-wood
saplings, which have a crooked and knobbed butt-end,
for bolts, passing them up through holes bored in the
corners and sides of the rafts, and keying them. In
another apartment they were making fence-slats, such
as stand all over New England, out of odds and ends ;
and it may be that I saw where the picket-fence behind
which I dwell at home came from. I was surprised to
find a boy collecting the long edgings of boards as fast as



CHESUNCOOK 167

cut off, and thrusting them down a hopper, where they
were ground up beneath the mill, that they might be
out of the way ; otherwise they accumulate in vast piles
by the side of the building, increasing the danger from
fire, or, floating off, they obstruct the river. This was
not only a sawmill, but a gristmill, then. The inhabit
ants of Oldtown, Stillwater, and Bangor cannot suffer
for want of kindling stuff, surely. Some get their living
exclusively by picking up the driftwood and selling it
by the cord in the winter. In one place I saw where an
Irishman, who keeps a team and a man for the purpose,
had covered the shore for a long distance with regular
piles, and I was told that he had sold twelve hundred
dollars' worth in a year. Another, who lived by the
shore, told me that he got all the material of his out
buildings and fences from the river; and in that neigh
borhood I perceived that this refuse wood was fre
quently used instead of sand to fill hollows with, being
apparently cheaper than dirt.

I got my first clear view of Ktaadn, on this excursion,
from a hill about two miles northwest of Bangor, whither
I went for this purpose. After this I was ready to return
to Massachusetts.

Humboldt has written an interesting chapter on the
primitive forest, but no one has yet described for me
the difference between that wild forest which once
occupied our oldest townships, and the tame one which
I find there to-day. It is a difference which would be
worth attending to. The civilized man not only clears
the land permanently to a great extent, and cultivates



168 THE MAINE WOODS

open fields, but he tames and cultivates to a certain
extent the forest itself. By his mere presence, almost,
he changes the nature of the trees as no other creature
does. The sun and air, and perhaps fire, have been
introduced, and grain raised where it stands. It has lost
its wild, damp, and shaggy look; the countless fallen
and decaying trees are gone, and consequently that
thick coat of moss which lived on them is gone too. The
earth is comparatively bare and smooth and dry. The
most primitive places left with us are the swamps, where
the spruce still grows shaggy with usnea. The surface
of the ground in the Maine woods is everywhere spongy
and saturated with moisture. I noticed that the plants
which cover the forest floor there are such as are com
monly confined to swamps with us, the Clintonia
borealis, orchises, creeping snowberry, and others; and
the prevailing aster there is the Aster acuminatus, which
with us grows in damp and shady woods. The asters
cordifolius and macrophyllus also are common, asters
of little or no color, and sometimes without petals. I
saw no soft, spreading, second-growth white pines, with
smooth bark, acknowledging the presence of the wood-
chopper, but even the young white pines were all tall
and slender rough-barked trees.

Those Maine woods differ essentially from ours.
There you are never reminded that the wilderness which
you are threading is, after all, some villager's familiar
wood-lot, some widow's thirds, from which her ancestors
have sledded fuel for generations, minutely described in
some old deed which is recorded, of which the owner
has got a plan, too, and old bound-marks may be found



CHESUNCOOK 169

every forty rods, if you will search. 'T is true, the map
may inform you that you stand on land granted by the
State to some academy, or on Bingham's purchase; but
these names do not impose on you, for you see nothing to
remind you of the academy or of Bingham. What were
the " forests " of England to these ? One writer relates
of the Isle of Wight, that in Charles the Second's time
" there were woods in the island so complete and exten
sive, that it is said a squirrel might have traveled in
several parts many leagues together on the top of the
trees." If it were not for the rivers (and he might go
round their heads), a squirrel could here travel thus the
whole breadth of the country.

We have as yet had no adequate account of a primitive
pine forest. I have noticed that in a physical atlas lately
published in Massachusetts, and used in our schools,
the "wood land" of North America is limited almost
solely to the valleys of the Ohio and some of the Great
Lakes, and the great pine forests of the globe are not
represented. In our vicinity, for instance, New Bruns
wick and Maine are exhibited as bare as Greenland.
It may be that the children of Greenville, at the foot of
Moosehead Lake, who surely are not likely to be scared
by an owl, are referred to the valley of the Ohio to get
an idea of a forest; but they would not know what to
do with their moose, bear, caribou, beaver, etc., there.
Shall we leave it to an Englishman to inform us, that
" in North America, both in the United States and Can
ada, are the most extensive pine forests in the world " ?
The greater part of New Brunswick, the northern half of
Maine, and adjacent parts of Canada, not to mention the



170 THE MAINE WOODS

northeastern part of New York and other tracts farther
off, are still covered with an almost unbroken pine forest.
But Maine, perhaps, will soon be where Massachu
setts is. A good part of her territory is already as bare
and commonplace as much of our neighborhood, and
her villages generally are not so well shaded as ours.
We seem to think that the earth must go through the
ordeal of sheep-pasturage before it is habitable by man.
Consider Nahant, the resort of all the fashion of Boston,
which peninsula I saw but indistinctly in the twilight,
when I steamed by it, and thought that it was unchanged
since the discovery. John Smith described it in 1614 as
" the Mattahunts, two pleasant isles of groves, gardens,
and cornfields ; " and others tell us that it was once well
wooded, and even furnished timber to build the wharves
of Boston. Now it is difficult to make a tree grow there,
and the visitor comes away with a vision of Mr. Tudor's
ugly fences, a rod high, designed to protect a few pear
shrubs. And what are we coming to in our Middlesex
towns ? A bald, staring town-house, or meeting-house,
and a bare liberty-pole, as leafless as it is fruitless, for
all I can see. We shall be obliged to import the timber
for the last, hereafter, or splice such sticks as we have.
And our ideas of liberty are equally mean with these.
The very willow-rows lopped every three years for fuel
or powder, and every sizable pine and oak, or other
forest tree, cut down within the memory of man ! As if
individual speculators were to be allowed to export the
clouds out of the sky, or the stars out of the firmament,
one by one. We shall be reduced to gnaw the very crust
of the earth for nutriment.



CHESUNCOOK 171

They have even descended to smaller game. They
have lately, as I hear, invented a machine for chopping
up huckleberry bushes fine, and so converting them into
fuel ! bushes which, for fruit alone, are worth all the
pear trees in the country many times over. (I can give
you a list of the three best kinds, if you want it.) At
this rate, we shall all be obliged to let our beards grow
at least, if only to hide the nakedness of the land and
make a sylvan appearance. The farmer sometimes talks
of " brushing up," simply as if bare ground looked bet
ter than clothed ground, than that which wears its natu
ral vesture, as if the wild hedges, which, perhaps, are
more to his children than his whole farm beside, were
dirt . I know of one who deserves to be called the Tree-
hater, and, perhaps, to leave this for a new patronymic
to his children. You would think that he had been
warned by an oracle that he would be killed by the fall
of a tree, and so was resolved to anticipate them. The
journalists think that they cannot say too much in favor
of such "improvements" in husbandry; it is a safe
theme, like piety; but as for the beauty of one of these
" model farms," I would as lief see a patent churn and
a man turning it. They are, commonly, places merely
where somebody is making money, it may be counter
feiting. The virtue of making two blades of grass grow
where only one grew before does not begin to be super
human.

Nevertheless, it was a relief to get back to our smooth
but still varied landscape. For a permanent residence,
it seemed to me that there could be no comparison
between this and the wilderness, necessary as the latter



172 THE MAINE WOODS

is for a resource and a background, the raw material of
all our civilization. The wilderness is simple, almost to
barrenness. The partially cultivated country it is which
chiefly has inspired, and will continue to inspire, the
strains of poets, such as compose the mass of any litera
ture. Our woods are sylvan, and their inhabitants wood
men and rustics; that is selvaggia, and the inhabitants
are salvages. A civilized man, using the word in the
ordinary sense, with his ideas and associations, must at
length pine there, like a cultivated plant, which clasps
its fibres about a crude and undissolved mass of peat.
At the extreme north, the voyagers are obliged to dance
and act plays for employment. Perhaps our own woods
and fields, in the best wooded towns, where we need
not quarrel about the huckleberries, with the primi
tive swamps scattered here and there in their midst, but
not prevailing over them, are the perfection of parks and
groves, gardens, arbors, paths, vistas, and landscapes.
They are the natural consequence of what art and refine
ment we as a people have, the common which each
village possesses, its true paradise, in comparison with
which all elaborately and willfully wealth-constructed
parks and gardens are paltry imitations. Or, I would
rather say, such were our groves twenty years ago. The
poet's, commonly, is not a logger's path, but a wood
man's. The logger and pioneer have preceded him, like
John the Baptist ; eaten the wild honey, it may be, but
the locusts also ; banished decaying wood and the spongy
mosses which feed on it, and built hearths and human
ized Nature for him.

But there are spirits of a yet more liberal culture, to



CHESUNCOOK 173

whom no simplicity is barren. There are not only stately
pines, but fragile flowers^ like the orchises, commonly
described as too delicate for cultivation, which derive
their nutriment from the crudest mass of peat. These
remind us, that, not only for strength, but for beauty,
the poet must, from time to time, travel the logger's
path and the Indian's trail, to drink at some new and
more bracing fountain of the Muses, far in the recesses
of the wilderness.

The kings of England formerly had their forests "to
hold the king's game," for sport or food, sometimes
destroying villages to create or extend them; and I
think that they were impelled by a true instinct. Why
should not we, who have renounced the king's authority,
have our national preserves, where no villages need be
destroyed, in which the bear and panther, and some
even of the hunter race, may still exist, and not be
" civilized off the face of the earth," our forests, not
to hold the king's game merely, but to hold and pre
serve the king himself also, the lord of creation, not
for idle sport or food, but for inspiration and our own
true recreation ? or shall we, like the villains, grub them
all up, poaching on our own national domains ?



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH

JL STARTED on my third excursion to the Maine woods
Monday, July 20, 1857, with one companion, arriving
at Bangor the next day at noon. We had hardly left the
steamer, when we passed Molly Molasses in the street.
As long as she lives, the Penobscots may be considered
extant as a tribe. The succeeding morning, a relative of
mine, who is well acquainted with the Penobscot Indians,
and who had been my companion in my two previous
excursions into the Maine woods, took me in his wagon
to Oldtown, to assist me in obtaining an Indian for this
expedition. We were ferried across to the Indian Island
in a batteau. The ferryman's boy had got the key to it,
but the father, who was a blacksmith, after a little hesi
tation cut the chain with a cold-chisel on the rock. He
told me that the Indians were nearly all gone to the sea
board and to Massachusetts, partly on account of the
smallpox of which they are very much afraid hav
ing broken out in Oldtown, and it was doubtful whether
we should find a suitable one at home. The old chief
Neptune, however, was there still. The first man we saw
on the island was an Indian named Joseph Polis, whom
my relative had known from a boy, and now addressed
familiarly as " Joe." He was dressing a deer-skin in his
yard. The skin was spread over a slanting log, and he
was scraping it with a stick held by both hands. He was
stoutly built, perhaps a little above the middle height,
with a broad face, and, as others said, perfect Indian



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH 175

features and complexion. His house was a two-story
white one, with blinds, the best-looking that I noticed
there, and as good as an average one on a New England
village street. It was surrounded by a garden and fruit-
trees, single cornstalks standing thinly amid the beans.
We asked him if he knew any good Indian who would
like to go into the woods with us, that is, to the Allegash
Lakes, by way of Moosehead, and return by the East
Branch of the Penobscot, or vary from this as we pleased.
To which he answered, out of that strange remoteness
in which the Indian ever dwells to the white man, " Me
like to go myself; me wants to get some moose;" and
kept on scraping the skin. His brother had been into the
woods with my relative only a year or two before, and
the Indian now inquired what the latter had done to
him, that he did not come back, for he had not seen nor
heard from him since.

At length we got round to the more interesting topic
again. The ferryman had told us that all the best
Indians were gone except Polis, who was one of the
aristocracy. He to be sure would be the best man we
could have, but if he went at all would want a great
price; so we did not expect to get him. Polis asked at
first two dollars a day, but agreed to go for a dollar and
a half, and fifty cents a week for his canoe. He would
come to Bangor with his canoe by the seven o'clock train
that evening, we might depend on him. We thought
ourselves lucky to secure the services of this man, who
was known to be particularly steady and trustworthy.

I spent the afternoon with my companion, who had
remained in Bangor, in preparing for our expedition,



176 THE MAINE WOODS

purchasing provisions, hard-bread, pork, coffee, sugar,
etc., and some india-rubber clothing.

We had at first thought of exploring the St. John from
its source to its mouth, or else to go up the Penobscot
by its East Branch to the lakes of the St. John, and
return by way of Chesuncook and Moosehead. We had
finally inclined to the last route, only reversing the order
of it, going by way of Moosehead, and returning by the
Penobscot, otherwise it would have been all the way up
stream and taken twice as long.

At evening the Indian arrived in the cars, and I led
the way while he followed me three quarters of a mile to
my friend's house, with the canoe on his head. I did not
know the exact route myself, but steered by the lay of
the land, as I do in Boston, and I tried to enter into
conversation with him, but as he was puffing under the
weight of his canoe, not having the usual apparatus for
carrying it, but, above all, was an Indian, I might as
well have been thumping on the bottom of his birch the
while. In answer to the various observations which I
made by way of breaking the ice, he only grunted vaguely
from beneath his canoe once or twice, so that I knew he
was there.

Early the next morning (July 23) the stage called for
us, the Indian having breakfasted with us, and already
placed the baggage in the canoe to see how it would go.
My companion and I had each a large knapsack as full
as it would hold, and we had two large india-rubber
bags which held our provision and utensils. As for the
Indian, all the baggage he had, beside his axe and gun,
was a blanket, which he brought loose in his hand. How-



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH 177

ever, he had laid in a store of tobacco and a new pipe for
the excursion. The canoe was securely lashed diagonally
across the top of the stage, with bits of carpet tucked
under the edge to prevent its chafing. The very accom
modating driver appeared as much accustomed to carry
ing canoes in this way as bandboxes.

At the Bangor House we took in four men bound on a
hunting excursion, one of the men going as cook. They
had a dog, a middling-sized brindled cur, which ran
by the side of the stage, his master showing his head
and whistling from time to time ; but after we had gone
about three miles the dog was suddenly missing, and two
of the party went back for him, while the stage, which
was full of passengers, waited. I suggested that he had
taken the back track for the Bangor House. At length
one man came back, while the other kept on. This
whole party of hunters declared their intention to stop
till the dog was found ; but the very obliging driver was
ready to wait a spell longer. He was evidently unwilling
to lose so many passengers, who would have taken a
private conveyance, or perhaps the other line of stages,
the next day. Such progress did we make, with a journey
of over sixty miles to be accomplished that day, and a
rain-storm just setting in. We discussed the subject of
dogs and their instincts till it was threadbare, while we
waited there, and the scenery of the suburbs of Bangor
is still distinctly impressed on my memory. After full
half an hour the man returned, leading the dog by a rope.
He had overtaken him just as he was entering the Bangor
House. He was then tied on the top of the stage, but
being wet and cold, several times in the course of the



178 THE MAINE WOODS

journey he jumped off, and I saw him dangling by his
neck. This dog was depended on to stop bears with.
He had already stopped one somewhere in New Hamp
shire, and I can testify that he stopped a stage in Maine.
This party of four probably paid nothing for the dog's
ride, nor for his run, while our party of three paid two
dollars and were charged four for the light canoe
which lay still on the top.

It soon began to rain, and grew more and more
stormy as the day advanced. This was the third time
that I had passed over this route, and it rained steadily
each time all day. We accordingly saw but little of the
country. The stage was crowded all the way, and I


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