The conclusion to Prentice Mulford's The Swamp Angel (1888),
an account of his attempt to imitate Thoreau's Walden (1854):
"I had imagined I could live happily alone with nature, and largely independent of the rest of the human race. I couldn't. I don't believe anybody can. Nature has taught me better. I found that the birds went in pairs and in flocks; that plants and trees grew in families; that ants live in colonies, and that everything of its kind had a tendency to live and grow together. But here I was, a single bit of the human race, trying to live alone and away from my kind. The birds and trees were possibly glad of my admira- tion for them, but they said: 'You don't belong to us. You shouldn't try to belong to us. You belong to your own race; go join them again; cultivate them. We live our own lives; you can't get wholly into our lives. You're not a bird, that you can live in a nest and on uncooked seeds; or a squirrel, that can live in a hole in a tree; or a tree, that can root itself in one place and stay there, as you've been trying to do. A hermit is one who tries to be a tree, and draw nourishment from one spot, when he is really a great deal more than a tree, and must draw life and recreation from many persons and places. A bear is not so foolish as to try and live among foxes; neither should a man try to live entirely among trees, because they cannot give him all that he must have to get the most out of life. So I left my hermitage, I presume for- ever, and carted my bed and pots and pans to the house of a friend perched on the brink of the Palisades opposite Tinker's."