Walden Pond 1854

On August 9, 1854, Henry David Thoreau published his classic work, Walden.

What are the chances your ancestor read Walden when it was published in 1854?

In Walden, Thoreau wrote about the natural world while at the same time using his observations of nature to draw conclusions about the natural state of man.

In the Conclusion to his most famous work, he wrote:

“To the sick the doctors wisely recommend a change of air and scenery. Thank Heaven, here is not all the world. The buckeye does not grow in New England, and the mockingbird is rarely heard here. The wild goose is more of a cosmopolite than we; he breaks his fast in Canada, takes a luncheon in the Ohio, and plumes himself for the night in a southern bayou. Even the bison, to some extent, keeps pace with the seasons cropping the pastures of the Colorado only till a greener and sweeter grass awaits him by the Yellowstone. Yet we think that if rail fences are pulled down, and stone walls piled up on our farms, bounds are henceforth set to our lives and our fates decided. If you are chosen town clerk, forsooth, you cannot go to Tierra del Fuego this summer: but you may go to the land of infernal fire nevertheless. The universe is wider than our views of it. . .”

Our voyaging is only great-circle sailing, and the doctors prescribe for diseases of the skin merely. One hastens to southern Africa to chase the giraffe; but surely that is not the game he would be after. How long, pray, would a man hunt giraffes if he could? Snipes and woodcocks also may afford rare sport; but I trust it would be nobler game to shoot one’s self.”

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What are the chances your ancestor read Walden? In Walden, Thoreau wrote about the natural world while at the same time using his observations of nature to draw conclusions about the natural state of man.

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