When I consider how our houses are built and paid for, or not paid for, and their internal economy managed and sustained, I wonder that the floor does not give way under the visitor while he is admiring the gewgaws upon the mantelpiece, and let him through into the cellar, to some solid and honest though earthy foundation. As I did not teach for the good of my fellow-men, but simply for a livelihood, this was a failure. Economy 5a written: A rewritten: B Ronald Clapper But men labor under a mistake. Reading the work as a personal fantasia rather than as a manual or sermon allows us to brush aside a lot of the criticism that has been aimed at Walden from its first publication until now. I took down this dwelling the same morning, drawing the nails, and removed it to the pond-side by small cartloads, spreading the boards on the grass there to bleach and warp back again in the sun. Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures, for private reasons, as they must believe; and it may be that they have some faith left which belies that experience, and they are only less young than they were.
But I did not always use this staff of life. I was informed treacherously by a young Patrick that neighbor Seeley, an Irishman, in the intervals of the carting, transferred the still tolerable, straight, and drivable nails, staples, and spikes to his pocket, and then stood when I came back to pass the time of day, and look freshly up, unconcerned, with spring thoughts, at the devastation; there being a dearth of work, as he said. Shall the respectable citizen thus gravely teach, by precept and example, the necessity of the young man's providing a certain number of superfluous glow-shoes, and umbrellas, and empty guest chambers for empty guests, before he dies? If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again. He admires the simple architecture of the Indian wigwam. Out of greed, farmers use the labor of animals, but it is a great folly, he says, because whereas the farmer wants the animals to work for him, he ends up working for the animals. It would be easier for them to hobble to town with a broken leg than with a broken pantaloon.
Certainly no nation that lived simply in all respects, that is, no nation of philosophers, would commit so great a blunder as to use the labor of animals. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. For myself I found that the occupation of a day-laborer was the most independent of any, especially as it required only thirty or forty days in a year to support one. One early thrush gave me a note or two as I drove along the woodland path. Clapper to this page to this page to this page to this page to this page to this page to this page to spend borrowed time, borrowed stolen time, which is not your own, borrowed or stolen time, borrowed or stolen time, borrowed or stolen time, borrowed or stolen time, borrowed or stolen time, borrowed or stolen time, robbing your creditors of an hour.
There is actually no place in this village for a work of fine art, if any had come down to us, to stand, for our lives, our houses and streets, furnish no proper pedestal for it. These statistics, however accidental and therefore uninstructive they may appear, as they have a certain completeness, have a certain value also. What good I do, in the common sense of that word, must be aside from my main path, and for the most part wholly unintended. I lived there two years and two months. These are the female personification of destiny who could see all that would happen to anyone and spun the metaphorical threads of life. The exact cost of my house, paying the usual price for such materials as I used, but not counting the work, all of which was done by myself, was as follows; and I give the details because very few are able to tell exactly what their houses cost, and fewer still, if any, the separate cost of the various materials which compose them:-- Boards. I once heard a reverend lecturer on England, a man of learning and intelligence, after enumerating her scientific, literary, and political worthies, Shakespeare, Bacon, Cromwell, Milton, Newton, and others, speak next of her Christian heroes, whom, as if his profession required it of him, he elevated to a place far above all the rest, as the greatest of the great.
The student who secures his coveted leisure and retirement by systematically shirking any labor necessary to man obtains but an ignoble and unprofitable leisure, defrauding himself of the experience which alone can make leisure fruitful. . His highest duty to fodder and water his horses! The same is true of the more modern reformers and benefactors of their race. Thoreau urges that choice of clothing be led not by a taste for novelty or by the whims of fashion, which people adhere to do fanatically, but by utility and simplicity. There is actually no place in this village for a work of fine art, if any had come down to us, to stand, for our lives, our houses and streets, furnish no proper pedestal for it.
Thoreau, like other writers and philosophers in the 19th century, looked toward the East for alternative voices and ideas to European philosophy and religion. When I think of acquiring for myself one of our luxurious dwellings, I am deterred, for, so to speak, the country is not yet adapted to human culture, and we are still forced to cut our spiritual bread far thinner than our forefathers did their wheaten. It is the luxurious and dissipated who set the fashions which the herd so diligently follow. Philanthropy, Thoreau believes, is the selfish thing. When Phaeton, wishing to prove his heavenly birth by his beneficence, had the sun's chariot but one day, and drove out of the beaten track, he burned several blocks of houses in the lower streets of heaven, and scorched the surface of the earth, and dried up every spring, and made the great desert of Sahara, till at length Jupiter hurled him headlong to the earth with a thunderbolt, and the sun, through grief at his death, did not shine for a year. Think, also, of the ladies of the land weaving toilet cushions against the last day, not to betray too green an interest in their fates! But how happens it that he who is said to enjoy these things is so commonly a poor civilized man, while the savage, who has them not, is rich as a savage? Thoreau uses this expression here to note that the tedious things that prevent humans from enjoying life have existed forever. He argues that excess possessions not only require excess labor to purchase them, but also oppress us spiritually with worry and constraint.
A lady once offered me a mat, but as I had no room to spare within the house, nor time to spare within or without to shake it, I declined it, preferring to wipe my feet on the sod before my door. Towers and temples are the luxury of princes. Notwithstanding much cant and hypocrisy -- chaff which I find it difficult to separate from my wheat, but for which I am as sorry as any man -- I will breathe freely and stretch myself in this respect, it is such a relief to both the moral and physical system; and I am resolved that I will not through humility become the devil's attorney. I will only hint at some of the enterprises which I have cherished. Having explained much of the theory behind Walden and his motivations, he now asserts his claim that his time in the woods served a transactional purpose; that is, to provide him insight into the philosophical and practical necessities of humankind. Without clothes, a man's social rank would be rightfully indistinguishable.
Self-emancipation even in the West Indian provinces of the fancy and imagination- what Wilberforce is there to bring that about? But even if the rent is not mended, perhaps the worst vice betrayed is improvidence. The Harlequin is characterized by his checkered costume and played the role of comic relief as well as a nimble, clever servant. From what southern plains comes up the voice of wailing? As I preferred some things to others, and especially valued my freedom, as I could fare hard and yet succeed well, I did not wish to spend my time in earning rich carpets or other fine furniture, or delicate cookery, or a house in the Grecian or the Gothic style just yet. See how he cowers and sneaks, how vaguely all the day he fears, not being immortal nor divine, but the slave and prisoner of his own opinion of himself, a fame won by his own deeds. On the 1st of April it rained and melted the ice, and in the early part of the day, which was very foggy, I heard a stray goose groping about over the pond and cackling as if lost, or like the spirit of the fog. Thoreau makes a point here to state what is needed and that everything is not only intentional, but well thought out. But I have since learned that trade curses everything it handles; and though you trade in messages from heaven, the whole curse of trade attaches to the business.
. Man is an animal who more than any other can adapt himself to all climates and circumstances. Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. A man who has at length found something to do will not need to get a new suit to do it in; for him the old will do, that has lain dusty in the garret for an indeterminate period. But it is not enough to make choices based on received wisdom, even if those choices have been practiced through history and written about by the ancients. Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted, so enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles.