Thoreau had no desire to be a clergyman or professor, though today he inspires plenty of both. He would not have thrived there, any more than he did teaching 5th graders. His speech, like Emerson’s, belongs outside church or university walls. Not that either he or Emerson were averse to public speaking. Here’s a reflection, posted today, from The Vitalist:
For [Clive] James, the Vienna of the early 20th century represents a model to counter the dullish atmosphere of contemporary academic intellectual life — a Viennese genius was as equally likely to pass his time playing chess and drinking coffee, while discussing the ideas of the day, rather than teaching undergraduates or hoping for tenure. . . . Whether we are examining Athens five hundred years before the birth of Christ or Vienna twenty-centuries after, what we notice is that art and science seem to be generated out of the rhythm of the life of those places, and not say, an abstract imperative to research or write. What James so admires about coffeehouse culture in Vienna is exactly what one could admire about Athenian philosophical discussion — it took place in public and was accessible to the general citizenry. Science, literature, art, and music were not esoteria known only to a few specialists, but the common clay out of which a public, general culture was formed.