Feb.28. P .M. — Down Boston road under the hill. Air full of bluebirds as yesterday. The sidewalk is bare and almost dry the whole distance under the hill.
Turn in at the gate this side of Moore’s and sit on the yellow stones rolled down in the bay of a digging, and examine the radical leaves, etc.,etc. here the edges of grassy banks have the fine fibrous roots of the grass which have been washed bare during the winter extending straight downward two feet (and how much further within the earth I know not), — a pretty dense grayish mass.
The buttonwood seed has apparently scarcely begun to fall yet, — only two balls under one tree, but they loose and broken.’
Of two men, one of whom knows nothing about a subject, and, what is extremely rare, knows that he knows nothing, and the other really knows something but thinks that he knows all, — what great advantage has the latter over the former ? which is the best to deal with ? I do not know that knowledge amounts to anything more definite than a novel and grand surprise, or a sudden revelation of the insufficiency of all that we had called knowledge before; an indefinite sense of the grandeur and glory of the universe. It is the lighting up of the mist by the sun. But man cannot be said to know in any higher sense, [any more] than he can look serenely and with impunity in the face of the sun.
A culture which imports much muck from the meadows and deepens the soil, not that which trusts to heating manures and improved agricultural implements only.
Feb. 26. Cold and windy. The river fast going down. Paint the bottom of my boat.
What an accursed land, methinks unfit for the habitation of man, where the wild animals are monkeys!
I saw Mrs. Brooks’s spiraeas today grown half an inch (! !), whose starting I heard of on the 18th.
Feb. 23. P.M. — Walk to Quinsigamond Pond, where was good skating, yesterday, but this very pleasant and warm day it is suddenly quite too soft. I was just saying to Blake that I should look for hard ice in the shade, or [on the] north side, of some wooded hill close to the shore, though skating was out of the question elsewhere, when, looking up, I saw a gentleman and lady very gracefully gyrating and, as it were, courtesying to each other in a small bay under such a hill on the opposite shore of the pond. Intervening bushes and shore concealed the ice, so that their swift and graceful motions, their bodies inclined at various angles as they gyrated forward and backward about a small space, looking as if they would hit each other, reminded me of the circling of two winged insects in the air, or hawks receding and approaching.
Every man will take such views as he can afford to take. Views one would think were the most expensive guests to entertain. I perceive that the reason my neighbor cannot entertain certain views is the narrow limit within which he is obliged to live, on account of the smallness of his means. His instinct tells him that it will not do to relax his hold here and take hold where he cannot keep hold.
I read some of the speeches in Congress about the Nebraska Bill, — a thing the like of which I have not done for a year. What trifling upon a serious subject! while honest men are sawing wood for them outside. Your Congress halls have an ale-house odor, — a place for stale jokes and vulgar wit. It compels me to think of my fellow-creatures as apes and baboons.
This snow, as I have often noticed before, is composed of stars and other crystals with a very fine cotton intermixed. It lodges and rests softly on the horizontal limbs of oaks and pines. On the fruit and dry leaflets (?) of the alders that slant over the pond it is in the form of little cones two inches high, making them snowball plants. So many little crystalline wheels packed in cotton.