What advice does Thoreau offer about buying a farm?

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chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In short: He doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

This vignette appears in the first six paragraphs of the chapter called “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.” The time comes in every life when the person considers buying a house or a property. Henry Thoreau once considered this. As a surveyor, he had a chance to go out and see many pieces of land and enjoy them for a short time, always knowing that they belonged to someone else. He could imagine living in these places; he could think about what trees and bushes he would keep, and which vegetation he would cut away. He tells us he came close to buying the Hollowell farm. It lay two miles away from the village and half a mile from the nearest neighbor. He had even bought a wheelbarrow and some seeds to plant. But the woman of the house changed her mind, and the sale was suddenly off. Thoreau was probably relieved, in the end. He bought no real estate in his lifetime. Even the plot his Walden Pond house sat on belonged to his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here he concludes his treatise on property ownership with two aphorisms: (1) “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” (2) “As long as possible live free and uncommitted.”

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