REMNANT TRUST COLLECTION
Henry David Thoreau
“This American government – what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity?”
b. 1817 CE – d. 1862 CE
American recluse, naturalist and writer, was born at Concord, Massachusetts. It was in 1845 he made the now famous experiment of Walden. He read considerably, wrote abundantly, thought actively if not widely, and came to know beasts, birds and fishes with an intimacy more extraordinary than was the case with St Francis of Assisi.
Some years before Thoreau took to Walden woods he made the chief friendship of his life, that with Emerson. He became one of the famous circle of the transcendentalists, always keenly preserving his own individuality amongst such more or less potent natures as Emerson, Hawthorne and Margaret Fuller. From Emerson he gained more than from any man, alive or dead, and, though the older philosopher both enjoyed and learned from the association with the younger, it cannot be said that the gain was equal.
“I heartily accept the motto, That government is best which governs least”, and I would like to see it acted up more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.