to say, but surely he betrays a doubt in the ultimate efficacy of his own system of life.
He bends doggedly to the trail, for Henry Thoreau
is no quitter, but the trail leads nowhere, and in the latest volumes of the Journals
he seems to realize that he has been pursuing a phantom.
He dived fearlessly and deep into himself, but somehow he failed to grasp that pearl of great price which all the transcendental prophets assured him was to be had at the cost of diving.
This is not to say that this austere and strenuous athlete came up quite empty-handed.
Far from it. The by-products of his toil were enough to have enriched many lesser men, and they have given Thoreau
a secure fame.
From his boyhood he longed to make himself a writer, and an admirable writer he became.
“For a long time,” he says in Walden
, “I was reporter to a journal, of no very wide circulation, whose editor has never seen fit to print the bulk of my contributions, and, as is too common with writers, I got only my labor for my pains.
However, in this case my pains were their reward.”
Like so many solitaries, he experienced the joy of intense, long-continued effort in composition, and he was artist enough to know that his pages, carefully assembled from his notebooks,