Henry David Thoreau

(1817 - 1862)

On May 25, 1853, Thoreau and Emerson went for a walk together. They subsequently wrote about the event in their journal, each giving his own perspective of what happened. Although it may seem humorous now, at the time it most certainly didn't to them. It is offered here as an interesting demonstation of two human beings who were so different and yet shared so much, including a large amount of genius.

May 25, 1853 - from Thoreau's Journal

"Talked, or tried to talk, to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Lost my time – nay, almost my identity. He, assuming a false opposition where there was no difference of opinion, talked to the wind – told me what I know – and I lost my time trying to imagine myself somebody else to oppose him."

May 25, 1853 - from Emerson's Journal

"Henry is militant. He seems stubborn and implaccable; always manly and wise but rarely sweet. One would say that, as Webster could never speak without an antagonist, so Henry does not feel himself except in opposition. He wants a fallacy to expose, a blunder to pillory, requires a little sense of victory, a roll of the drum, to call his powers into full exercise."

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Last revised: July 29, 2008.