The Conscience by the Pond
Since Thoreau drafted both Walden and Civil Disobedience in the two years spent at Walden Pond, we must conclude that there was only one Thoreau, not an earlier nature writer and a later champion of Indians, Mexicans, tax-refusing war resisters, and violent abolitionists. The message linking all the issues Thoreau addressed was to live naturally wild and free, like the rest of Creation, not in conformity to institutions or dogma. "Action from principle," he wrote in Civil Disobedience, "the perception and the performance of right, -- changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with any thing which was." In essence, action -- the fully lived life -- creates an evidence of its own that the social order can change, just as the natural order changes through the drama of evolution.