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2006-07-28 18:43

  For a long time I was reporter to a journal, of no very wide circulation, whose editor has never yet seen fit to print the bulk of my contributions, and, as is too common with writers, I got only my labor for my pains.  However, in this case my pains were their own reward.

  For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snow-storms and rain-storms, and did my duty faithfully; surveyor, if not of highways, then of forest paths and all across-lot routes, keeping them open, and ravines bridged and passable at all seasons, where the public heel had testified to their utility.

  I have looked after the wild stock of the town, which give a faithful herdsman a good deal of trouble by leaping fences; and I have had an eye to the unfrequented nooks and corners of the farm;though I did not always know whether Jonas or Solomon worked in a particular field to-day; that was none of my business.  I have watered the red huckleberry, the sand cherry and the nettle-tree,the red pine and the black ash, the white grape and the yellow violet, which might have withered else in dry seasons.

  In short, I went on thus for a long time (I may say it without boasting), faithfully minding my business, till it became more and more evident that my townsmen would not after all admit me into the list of town officers, nor make my place a sinecure with a moderate allowance.  My accounts, which I can swear to have kept faithfully,I have, indeed, never got audited, still less accepted, still less paid and settled.  However, I have not set my heart on that.

  Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood.  "Do you wish to buy any baskets?" he asked.  "No, we do not want any," was the reply.  "What!" exclaimed the Indian as he went out the gate, "do you mean to starve us?"  Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off —— that the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed —— he had said to himself:I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do.  Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man's to buy them.  He had not discovered that it was necessary for him to make it worth the other's while to buy them, or at least make him think that it was so, or to make something else which it would be worth his while to buy.  I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth any one's while to buy them.  Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men's while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them.  The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind.  Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?






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