Saturday, August 17, 2013


A Slave to My Own Freedom

Bradford Torrey (1843-1912), "Five Days on Mount Mansfield," The Footpath Way (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1892), pp. 90-110 (at 106-107):
I have spoken hitherto as if I were the only sojourner at the summit, but there was another man, though I seldom saw him; a kind of hermit, living in a little shanty under the lee of the Nose. Almost as a matter of course he was reputed to be of good family and to read Greek, and the fact that he now and then received a bank draft evidently gave him a respectable standing in the eye of the hotel clerk. Something—something of a very romantic nature, we may be sure—had driven him away from the companionship of his fellows, but he still found it convenient to be within reach of human society. Like all such solitaries, he had some half-insane notions. He could not sleep indoors, not for a night; it would ruin his health, if I understood him correctly; and because of wild animals—bears and what not—he made his bed on the roof of his hermitage. I had often dreamed of the enjoyment of a life in the woods all by one's self, but such a mode of existence did not gain in attractiveness as I saw it here in the concrete example. On the whole I was well satisfied to sleep in the hotel and eat at the hotel table. Liberty is good, but I thought it might be undesirable to be a slave to my own freedom.

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