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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Henry David Thoreau’s taste for life is, for me, unmatched in its perception, power, and vitality. From earnest to silly, most of it sings. His journal … it’s like watching Michelangelo whittle. The rippling strength of a master at play.

January 14, 1854

“I just had a coat come home from the tailor’s. Ah me! Who am I that should wear this coat? It was fitted upon one of the devil’s angels about my size. Of what use that measuring of me if he did not measure my character, but only the breadth of my shoulders, as it were a peg to hang it on. This is not the figure that I cut. This is the figure the tailor cuts. That presumptuous and impertinent fashion whispered in his ear, so that he heard no word of mine. As if I had said, “Not my will, O Fashion, but thine be done.” We worship not the Parcae, nor the Graces, but Fashion, offspring of Proteus and Vanessa, of Whim and Vanity. She spins and weaves and cuts with the authority of the Fates. Oh, with what delight I could thrust a spear through her vitals or squash he under my heel! Every village might well keep constantly employed a score of knights to rid it of this monster. It changes men into bears or monkeys with a single wave of its wand. The head monkey at Paris, Count D’Ornay, put on the traveller’s cap and now all the monkeys in the world do the same thing. He merely takes the breadth of my shoulders and proceeds to fit the garment to Puck, or some other grotesque devil of his acquaintance to whom he has sold himself.”

January 17, 1852

“One day two young woman—a Sunday—stopped at the door of my hut and asked for some water. I answered that I had no cold water but I would lend them a dipper. They never returned the dipper, and I had a right to suppose they came to steal. They were a disgrace to humanity. Pariahs of the moral world. Evil spirits that thirsted not for water but threw the dipper into the lake. Such as Dante saw. What the lake to them but liquid fire and brimstone? They will never know peace till they have returned the dipper. In all the worlds this is decreed.”

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