Thoreau's Journal: 03-Sep-1851

As for walking, the inhabitants of large English towns are confined almost exclusively to their parks and to their highways. The few footpaths in their vicinities “are gradually vanishing” says Wilkinson, “under the encroachments of the proprietors.” He proposes that the people’s right to them to be asserted and defended and that they be kept in a passable state at the public expense. “This,” says he, “would be easily done by means of asphalt laid upon a good foundation”!!! So much for walking, in the neighborhood of English large towns.

Think of a man—he may be a genius of some kind—being confined to a highway and a park for his world to range in! I should die from mere nervousness at the thought of such confinement. I should hesitate before I were born, if those terms could be made known to me beforehand. Fenced in forever by those green barriers of fields, where gentlemen are seated! Can they be said to be inhabitants of this globe? Will they be content to inhabit heaven thus partially?

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