All laud to Labaume, going to such heroic lengths to write his journal. I will have to introduce this makeshift front-line writing into a story I’m concocting: gunpowder mixed with melted snow in the hollow of your hand, and your raven’s quill cut with the same knife you used to carve yourself a scanty morsel of meat.  Beat that!

‘Labaume says that he wrote his journal of the Campaign of Russia each night, in the midst of incredible danger and suffering, with “a raven’s quill, and a little gunpowder, mixed with some melted snow, in the hollow of my hand,” the quill cut and mended with “the knife with which I had carved my scanty morsel of horse-flesh.”‘  16 November 1855


Source: Henry David Thoreau, The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R. Stilgoe (New York: New York Review Books, 2009), p. 346


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