A Backward Glance at Eighty eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about A Backward Glance at Eighty.
and there was no meaningless bric-a-brac, nor other objects of suspected beauty to distract attention.  As you enter the house, the library occupies the large right-hand corner room.  It was simple to the verge of austerity, and the farthest possible removed from a “collection.”  There was no effort at arrangement—­they were just books, for use and for their own sake.  The portfolio of fugitive notes and possible material for future use was interesting, suggesting the source of much that went to make up those fascinating essays where the “thoughts” often made no pretense at sequence, but rested in peaceful unregulated proximity, like eggs in a nest.  Here is a sentence that evidently didn’t quite satisfy him, an uncertain mark of erasure leaving the approved portion in doubt:  “Read proudly.  Put the duty of being read invariably on the author.  If he is not read, whose fault is it?  I am quite ready to be charmed—­but I shall not make believe I am charmed.”  Dear man! he never would “make believe.”  Transparent, sincere soul, how he puts to shame all affectation and pretense!  Mr. Jackson says his townsmen found it hard to realize that he was great.  They always thought of him as the kindly neighbor.  One old farmer told of his experience in driving home a load of hay.  He was approaching a gate and was just preparing to climb down to open it, when an old gentleman nimbly ran ahead and opened it for him.  It was Emerson, who apparently never gave it a second thought.  It was simply the natural thing for him to do.

Walden Pond is some little distance from the Emerson home, and the time at our disposal did not permit a visit.  But we had seen enough and felt enough to leave a memory of rare enjoyment to the credit of that precious day in Concord.


There are several degrees of rest, and there are many ways of resting.  What is rest to one person might be an intolerable bore to another, but when one finds the ultimate he is never after in doubt.  He knows what is, to him, the real thing.  The effect of a sufficient season, say five days, to one who had managed to find very little for a disgracefully long time, is not easy to describe, but very agreeable to feel.

My friend [Footnote:  Horace Davis] has a novel retreat.  He is fond of nature as manifested in the growth of trees and plants, and some seventeen years ago he bought a few acres, mostly of woods, in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  There was a small orchard, a few acres of hillside hayfield, and a little good land where garden things would grow.

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A Backward Glance at Eighty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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