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My Boyhood   By: (1837-1921)

Book cover

First Page:

Tonya Allen, Eric Eldred, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

MY BOYHOOD

BY

JOHN BURROUGHS

WITH A CONCLUSION BY HIS SON

JULIAN BURROUGHS

FOREWORD

In the beginning, at least, Father wrote these sketches of his boyhood and early farm life as a matter of self defense: I had made a determined attempt to write them and when I did this I was treading on what was to him more or less sacred ground, for as he once said in a letter to me, "You will be homesick; I know just how I felt when I left home forty three years ago. And I have been more or less homesick ever since. The love of the old hills and of Father and Mother is deep in the very foundations of my being." He had an intense love of his birthplace and cherished every memory of his boyhood and of his family and of the old farm high up on the side of Old Clump "the mountain out of whose loins I sprang" so that when I tried to write of him he felt it was time he took the matter in hand. The following pages are the result.

JULIAN BURROUGHS.

CONTENTS

MY BOYHOOD By John Burroughs

MY FATHER By Julian Burroughs

WAITING

Serene, I fold my hands and wait, Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea; I rave no more 'gainst Time or Fate, For lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays, For what avails this eager pace? I stand amid the eternal ways, And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day, The friends I seek are seeking me; No wind can drive my bark astray, Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone? I wait with joy the coming years; My heart shall reap where it hath sown, And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own, and draw The brook that springs in yonder heights; So flows the good with equal law Unto the soul of pure delights.

The stars come nightly to the sky; The tidal wave comes to the sea; Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high, Can keep my own away from me.

MY BOYHOOD

BY

JOHN BURROUGHS

You ask me to give you some account of my life how it was with me, and now in my seventy sixth year I find myself in the mood to do so. You know enough about me to know that it will not be an exciting narrative or of any great historical value. It is mainly the life of a country man and a rather obscure man of letters, lived in eventful times indeed, but largely lived apart from the men and events that have given character to the last three quarters of a century. Like tens of thousands of others, I have been a spectator of, rather than a participator in, the activities political, commercial, sociological, scientific of the times in which I have lived. My life, like your own, has been along the by paths rather than along the great public highways. I have known but few great men and have played no part in any great public events not even in the Civil War which I lived through and in which my duty plainly called me to take part. I am a man who recoils from noise and strife, even from fair competition, and who likes to see his days "linked each to each" by some quiet, congenial occupation.

The first seventeen years of my life were spent on the farm where I was born (1837 1854); the next ten years I was a teacher in rural district schools (1854 1864); then I was for ten years a government clerk in Washington (1864 1873); then in the summer of 1873, while a national bank examiner and bank receiver, I purchased the small fruit farm on the Hudson where you were brought up and where I have since lived, cultivating the land for marketable fruit and the fields and woods for nature literature, as you well know. I have gotten out of my footpaths a few times and traversed some of the great highways of travel have been twice to Europe, going only as far as Paris (1871 and 1882) the first time sent to London by the Government with three other men to convey $50,000,000 of bonds to be refunded; the second time going with my family on my own account... Continue reading book >>




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