FERTILE AND STERILE FRONDS LEAF-LIKE AND SIMILAR;
with original thoughts? If the fragrance of the Dicksonia fern is so grateful and suggestive to us, how much more refreshing and encouraging, recreating, would be fresh and fragrant thoughts communicated to us from a man's experience ? I want none of his pity nor sympathy in the common sense, but that he should emit and communicate to me his essential fragrance … going a-huckleberrying in the fields of thought, and enriching all the world with his vision and his joys."
In connection with this fern Thoreau indulges in one of those whimsical, enchanting disquisitions with the spirit of which you are in complete accord, even though you may seem to contradict the letter.
"It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. I do not get nearer by a hairs-breadth to any natural object, so long as I presume that I have an introduction to it from some learned man. To conceive of it with a total apprehension, I must for the thousandth time approach it as something totally strange. If you would make acquaintance with the ferns, you must forget your botany. Not a single scientific term or distinction is the least to the purpose. You would fain perceive something, and you must approach the object totally unprejudiced. You must be aware that nothing is what you have taken it to be. In what book is this world and its beauty described? Who has plotted the steps toward the discovery of beauty? You must be in a different state from common. Your greatest success will be simply to perceive