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Thoreau describes the cottage he constructed in woods near Walden Pond, about one mile from Concord, Mass.The dwelling is on the land of his friend, fellow writer Ralph Waldo Emerson.Occasionally, he opens the book and reads a few pages.
If you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to them. Often the poor man is not so cold and hungry as he is dirty and ragged and gross.
It is partly his taste, and not merely his misfortune.
Thoreau shortened the title to Walden upon publication of the second edition of the work in 1862.
Thoreau writes of his experiences at and near Walden Pond, a lake about twenty miles west of Boston and two miles south of Concord.
Walden is a book-length series of essays centering on the ideas and activities of Henry David Thoreau during his residence at Walden Pond in northeastern Massachusetts, near Concord, from July 1845 to September 1847.
The Boston firm of Ticknor and Fields published the work in 1854 under the title Walden, or Life in the Woods.Thoreau says of him, "A more simple and natural man it would be hard to find. John Field: Impoverished Irish-American farmhand in whose dwelling Thoreau takes shelter during a storm.Vice and disease, which cast such a sombre moral hue over the world, seemed to have hardly any existence for him. Thoreau describes him as honest and hard-working but aimless and inefficient.Although he lacks a formal education, he is interested in books.Thoreau translates a passage from Homer's Iliad for him.The cottage has a room fifteen feet long and ten feet wide, an attic, a closet, windows on each side of the cottage, and a brick fireplace. consisted of a bed, a table, a desk, three chairs, a looking-glass three inches in diameter, a pair of tongs and andirons, a kettle, a skillet, and a frying-pan, a dipper, a wash-bowl, two knives and forks, three plates, one cup, one spoon, a jug for oil, a jug for molasses, and a japanned lamp," Thoreau notes ("Economy").Thoreau paid .50 for the materials, which include boards and nails from the shanty of an Irishman with whom he struck a bargain. In addition, he borrows some needed items, such as an axe.He also incurred expenses for oil, clothing, household goods and tools, and various other items. Before completing the dwelling, he plants beans, potatoes, corn, peas, and turnips.Thoreau takes up residence in his new home on July 4, 1845. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my text.He was about twenty-eight years old, and had left Canada and his father's house a dozen years before to work in the States, and earn money to buy a farm . "He had rated it as a gain in coming to America, that here you could get tea, and coffee, and meat every day," Thoreau says."But the only true America is that country where you are at liberty to pursue such a mode of life as may enable you to do without these, and where the state does not endeavor to compel you to sustain the slavery and war and other superfluous expenses which directly or indirectly result from the use of such things" ("Baker Farm").