Friday, September 01, 2006

a reaction of pain: Emerson's journal, 9/1/1823

From the Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson continues the travel diary of his return from Western Massachusetts:
[Monday, Sept. 1]
After a dreamless night, and a most hospitible entertainment, I parted from Greenfeld and through an unusually fine country, crossed the Connecticut (shrunk to a rivulet in this place somewhere in Montagu). My solitary way somewhat more dreary, as I drew nearer Wendell, and the only relief to hot sandy roads and a barren, monotonous region was one one forest with many straight, clean pine trees upwards of a hundred feet high, "fit for the mast of some great Admiral." [see note at bottom] All that day was a thoughtless, heavy pilgrimage, and Fortune deemed that such a crowded week of pleasure demanded a reaction of pain. At night I was quartered in the meanest caravansera which has contained my person since the tour began. Traveller! weary and jaded, who regardest the repose of thine earthly tenement; traveller, hungry and athirst, whose heart warms to the hope of animal gratification; traveller of seven or seventy years, beware, beware, I beseech you, of Haven's Inn in New Salem. Already he is laying a snare for your kindness or credulity in fencing in a mineral spring for your infirmities. Beware.


                         "The tallest are
Hewn on Norwegian Hills to be the mast
Of some great ammiral"

Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1
[Editors' note.]

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