A Japanese Thoreau of the Twelfth Century (14)


  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 8
  • Chapter 9
  • Chapter 10
  • Chapter 11
  • Chapter 12
  • Chapter 13
  • Chapter 14
  • Chapter 15
  • Chapter 16

  • CHAPTER 14


    When I first came to this place I did not intend to stay long, but now I have dwelt here these five years. My cabin has weathered with the course of time, the eaves are loaded with dead leaves, the ground it stands on is green with moss. From time to time news of what takes place in City-Royal reaches me in my solitude, and I hear continually of the deaths of persons of importance; of smaller men who disappear the roll is endless. I hear, too, of houses burnt down in numbers, but my humble cabin remains a safe shelter for me. 'T is cramped, indeed, but it has a bed for me to sleep on at night, and a mat to sit on during the day, so I have no reason to be discontented. The hermit-crab is satisfied with a narrow shell for its home, which shows that it knows its own nature; the osprey dwells on high crags because it fears man. So is it with me. A man who knows himself and also the world he lives in has nothing to ask for, no society to long for; he aims only at a quiet life, and makes his happiness in freedom from annoyance. But those who live in the world, what do they do ? They build mansions, but not for their own pleasure; 't is for their wives and families, for their relatives and friends, for their masters or teachers, or to store their property, or to house cattle and horses. Now I have built my cabin for myself, not for any other man. And why have I done so ? As the world now goes I find no congenial minds in it, not even a servant to trust to. What profit, then, were a larger house to me ? whom should I invite to it ? whom could I take into it to
    serve me P One usually seeks the friendship of rich men,and thinks most of public personages; men of good hearts and honest souls are not sought after. More wisely, I make friends of lutes and flutes. One who serves another is apt to be always thinking of rewards and punishments, he hankers after favours, and is not content with more good treatment and kindness and the peace that ensuetb. To me, then, it seems better to be one's own master and one's own servant. If there is something to be done I prefer to use my own body to do it. This may be bothersome, but easier than to see that other folk do it for you. If I have to walk, I walk ; it means some toil, but less than that of looking after horses or carriages. In one body I possess two servants: my hands do what I want, and my feet bear me where I would go—both serve me just as I desire them. Again, my mind knows exactly what the body has to endure, so it lets it rest when tired, and does not task it save when fresh and vigorous. And when it does use the body it does not abuse it, nor would the mind be put out by the body being sometimes in a dull mood. And besides, plenty of exercise and plenty of work are good for the body; too much idleness is had for the body. In addition, to impose s burden upon another man, to constrain his will, is a sinful thing—we have no right to take possession of another' powers.



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    「A Japanese Thoreau of the Twelfth Century」は『南方熊楠全集 第10巻 』に所収。

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