thoreau: passing time at the pond

…One of his most frequent visitors was Alek Therien, the French-Canadian wood chopper later immortalized in Walden. Therien, almost exactly Thoreau’s age, had come down from Canada when he was in his teens. Although their backgrounds were very different, they found much in common. Thoreau admired Therien’s overflowing happy nature and the thorough way he went about his work with his axe. Therien delighted in stealing up to Thoreau’s cabin from the rear, firing off a stout charge from his gun, and laughing at Thoreau’s surprise.

---Henry David Thoreau Painting - Henry David Thoreau Fine Art Print - John Lautermilch---click image for source...

—Henry David Thoreau Painting – Henry David Thoreau Fine Art Print – John Lautermilch—click image for source…

Although Therien had little formal education, he was keen and alert. The two often talked of books. Quite naturally their discussion turned to one of Thoreau’s favorite authors- Homer. And when Therien told Thoreau that he thought Homer a great writer, “though what his writing was about he did not know,” Thoreau took down his Iliad and translated portions for him. Therien was so delighted that he later quietly borrowed Pope’s translation from the cabin and forgot to return it. Thoreau was to wonder in Walden where it had gone.

Emerson was, of course, a frequent visitor at the cabin, and showed his pleasure in Thoreau’s experiment by making out a new will naming him heir to the land on which the cabin was built. When there was a threat of further woodcutting at the pond, Emerson purchased an additional forty-one acres on the Lincoln side of the pond and Thoreau was asked to witness the signing of the deed.

Meanwhile Emerson frequently asked Thoreau to come into the village to help him. When he found he was to be out of town for a few days, he asked Thoreau to supervise the building of a house for Mrs. Lucy Jackson Brown near his own. When he purchased two acres adjacent to his house, he asked Thoreau to survey it and gave him a dollar for his trouble. When he wanted the yard beautified, Thoreau dug up seventy-three pines, hemlocks, and junipers in the Walden woods and transplanted them to an area surrounding the Emerson’s house. It was then that Emerson said, “It is worthwhile to pay Henry’s surveyor’s wages for doing other things. He is so thoughtful and he does so much more than is bargained for. When he does anything, I am sure the thing is done.” ( to be continued)…


(see link at end)…Thoreau said that if he saw a reformer coming his way he would run for his life. He had no need for reform. The man who identifies axioms with himself wants no preacher, while the preacher will have no influence with those who are constitutionally incapable of axioms. If the reformer justifies his calling on the ground that through education moral values that are lacking may be instilled, the answer is that all experience denies that possibility. Education can present choices; it cannot make decisions. No pedagogical system has ever succeeded in eliciting values which do not exist in the person.

Improving on Jefferson, Thoreau says, “That government is best which governs not at all.” Then he wisely adds, “and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.” Will they ever be prepared for it? Read More:

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