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Walden’s Pond Chum

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 At the Wednesday, July 6 panel discussion titled “Is Thoreau really ‘Pond Scum’?” prompted by the article “Pond Scum” written by Katherine Schulz and published in the the October 19, 2015 issue of The New Yorker, Dr. Joseph L. Andrews (author of Literary Concord Uncovered) read the following letter that he sent to the magazine’s editor: Katherine Schulz’s unbalanced diatribe about Henry Thoreau (“Pond Scum,” October 19) was a hatchet job on Concord’s favorite, most articulate naturalist, environmentalist and human rights activist. Schulz painted Thoreau as primarily a misanthrope by selecting mainly the most solitary parts of his life. Had she presented a more balanced portrait, she might have included some of the following more humane facts about Thoreau. He loved children, taking a young Louisa May Alcott and Emerson’s children on huckleberry gathering hikes. He welcomed visitors to his cabin on Walden Pond, writing that he had three chairs there, “one for solitude, one for friendship and one for society.” He actively aided escaped slaves on the “underground railway,” putting them on trains to flee to Canada. He did have one lady love, Ellen Sewall, to whom he proposed marriage. (Unbeknownst to him, his brother John had also proposed to her. Unfortunately, Ellen’s minister father advised her to refuse both of them, since they were not wealthy enough. She finally married a minister.) Contrary to Ms. Schulz’s claim that he was “Pond scum…with moral myopia,” after a life time of devoted observation of and colorful writing about nature, Thoreau was indeed Walden’s best pond chum.

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Source: http://commons.digitalthoreau.org/tsag2016/wednesday-july-6/waldens-pond-chum/

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