old fanatic of Ossawatomie changed Thoreau
into a complete citizen, arguing the case and glorifying to his neighbors the dead hero.
“It seems as if no man had ever died in America
before; for in order to die you must first have lived. ... I hear a good many pretend that they are going to die .... Nonsense!
I'll defy them to do it. They haven't got life enough in them.
They'll deliquesce like fungi, and keep a hundred eulogists mopping the spot where they left off. Only half a dozen or so have died since the world began.”
Such passages as this reveal a very different Thoreau
from the Thoreau who is supposed to have spent his days in the company of swampblackbirds and woodchucks.
He had, in fact, one of the highest qualifications for human society, an absolute honesty of mind.
“We select granite,” he says, “for the underpinning of our houses and barns; we build fences of stone; but we do not ourselves rest on an underpinning of granite truth, the lowest primitive rock.
Our sills are rotten.... In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the postoffice.
You may depend upon it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters, proud of his extensive ”