Quotation by Henry David Thoreau

The age of the world is great enough for our imaginations, even according to the Mosaic account, without borrowing any years from the geologist. From Adam and Eve at one leap sheer down to the deluge, and then through the ancient monarchies, through Babylon and Thebes, Brahma and Abraham, to Greece and the Argonauts; whence we might start again with Orpheus, and the Trojan war, the Pyramids and the Olympic games, and Homer and Athens, for our stages; and after a breathing space at the building of Rome, continue our journey down through Odin and Christ to—MAmerica. It is a wearisome while. And yet the lives of but sixty old women, such as live under the hill, say of a century each, strung together, are sufficient to reach over the whole ground. Taking hold of hands they would span the interval from Eve to my own mother. A respectable tea-party merely,—whose gossip would be Universal History. The fourth old woman from myself suckled Columbus,—the ninth was nurse to the Norman Conqueror,—the nineteenth was the Virgin Mary—the twenty-fourth was the Cumæan Sibyl,—the thirtieth was at the Trojan war and Helen her name,—the thirty-eighth was Queen Semiramis,—the sixtieth was Eve, the mother of mankind. So much for the
"Old woman that lives under the hill,
And if she's not gone she lives there still."
It will not take a very great-granddaughter of hers to be in at the death of Time.
Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, pp. 346-347, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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