This refers to Thoreau’s outrage at the callous reaction of his neighbours to the death of John Brown on the grounds that he ‘threw his life away! – what way would they have thrown their lives, pray?’

‘It galls me to listen to the remarks of craven-hearted neighbors who speak disparagingly of…’ 19 Oct 1859

Source: Henry David Thoreau, The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R. Stilgoe (New York: New York Review Books, 2009), p. 584

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