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[134] what Thoreau would call a “committed man,” with family and household responsibilities, with a living to earn, and bound, like every professional writer and speaker, to have some measure of regard for his public. But Thoreau was ready to travel lightly and alone. If he should fail in the great adventure for spiritual perfection, it was his own affair. He had no intimates, no confidant save the multitudinous pages of his Journal, from which-and here again he followed Emerson's example — his future books were to be compiled. Many of his most loyal admirers will admit that such a quest is bound, by the very conditions of the problem, to be futile. Hawthorne allegorized it in Ethan Brand, and his quaint illustration of the folly of romantic expansion of the self apart from the common interests of human kind is the picture of a dog chasing its own tail. “It is time now that I begin to live,” notes Thoreau in the Journal, and he continued to say. it in a hundred different ways until the end of all his journalizing, but he never quite captured the fugitive felicity. The haunting pathos of his own allegory has moved every reader of Walden: “I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle-dove, and am still on their trail.” Precisely what he meant it is now impossible

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Henry D. Thoreau (3)
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