Friday, April 21, 2017

100 REFLECTIONS: The Sages of Concord #14

A Re-post from Ten Years Ago

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I just discovered this account by Ralph Waldo Emerson about Henry David Thoreau (a hero
of mine since the day I accidentally did my homework in High School). All I can say is
"Hooray" for the, then, president of Harvard! I laughed until I cried.

"On one occasion he went to the [Harvard] University Library to procure some books.
The librarian refused to lend them. Mr. Thoreau repaired to the President, who stated
to him the rules and usages, which permitted the loan of books to resident graduates,
to clergymen who were alumni, and to some other residents within a circle of ten miles
radius from the College. Mr. Thoreau explained to the President that the railroad had destroyed the old scale of distances, — that the library was useless, yes, and President
and College useless, on the terms of his rules,— that the one benefit he owed to the
College was its library, — that, at this moment, not only his want of books was imperative,
but he wanted a large number of books, and assured him that he, Thoreau, and not the librarian, was the proper custodian of these. In short, the President found the petitioner
so formidable, and the rules getting to look so ridiculous, that he ended by giving him a privilege which in his hands proved unlimited thereafter." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I also just discovered this website: The Thoreau Reader:

I recommend a paragraph a day for sanity's sake.

                                                Thoreau’s Harvard Library Charging List


Bob Fisher said...$435i

Bob Fisher said...

July 12, 2013—The Harvard University Archives holds Library charging lists, including those from 1833 when Henry David Thoreau was a freshman at Harvard. Among the items he borrowed that year were Life of Erasmus, Peter the Great, Voyages of Columbus and American Colonies. (Thoreau was born David Henry but switched to Henry David after college, although he never changed his name legally.)