"Freedom of speech! It hath not entered into your
hearts to conceive what those words mean. It is not
leave given me by your sect to say this or that; it
is when leave is given to your sect to withdraw. The church,
the state, the school, the magazine, think they are liberal
and free! It is the freedom of a prison-yard. I ask only
that one fourth part of my honest thoughts be spoken
aloud. What is it you tolerate, you church to-day? Not
truth, but a lifelong hypocrisy. Let us have institutions
framed not out of our rottenness, but out of our soundness.
This factitious piety is like stale gingerbread. I would
like to suggest what a pack of fools and cowards we
mankind are.They want me to agree not to breathe too
hard in the neighborhood of their paper castles. If I should
draw a long breath in the neighborhood of these institutions,
their weak and flabby sides would fall out, for my own
inspiration would exhaust the air about them. The church!
it is eminently the timid institution, and the heads and
pillars of it are constitutionally and by principle the greatest
cowards in the community. The voice that goes up
from the monthly concerts is not so brave and so cheering
as that which rises from the frog-ponds of the land..."
Henry David Thoreau
November 16, 1858