hobos, hippies and henry david thoreau on the road

At a little distance they might have been taken for Quakers, with their broad-brimmed hats, and overcoats with broad capes, the spoils of bangor, seeking a settlement in this Sylvania: – or, nearer at hand, for fashionable gentlemen the morning after a spree.

 

Met face to face, these Indians in their native woods looked like the sinister and slouching fellows whom you meet picking up strings and paper in the street of a city. There is, in fact, a remarkable and unexpected resemblance between the degrated savage and the lowest classes in a great city.

 

The one is no more a child of nature than the other. In the progress of degradation the distinction of races is soon lost. Neptune at first was only anxious to know what we “kill,” seeing some partridges in the hands of one of the party, but we had assumed too much anger to permit of a reply.

 

We thought Indians had some honor before. But — “Me been sick. O, me unwell now. You make bargain, then me go.” They had in fact been delayed so long by a drunken frolic at the Five Islands, and they had not yet recovered from its effects.

 

They had some musquash in their canoes, which they dug out of the banks with hoe, for food, not for their skins, for musquash are their principal food on these expeditions. So they went on up the Millinocket, and we kept down the bank of the Penobscot, after recruiting ourselves with a draught of Tom’s beer, leaving Tom at his home.

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(henry david thoreau, the maine woods  1846)

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wednesday may 31 2017


 

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