“The first question I am tempted to put to the proprietor of such great impropriety is, Who bolsters you? Are you one of the ninety-seven who fail, or the three who succeed? Answer me these questions, and then perhaps I may look at your bawbles and find them ornamental. The cart before the horse is neither beautiful nor useful. Before we can adorn our houses with beautiful objects, the walls must be stripped, and beautiful housekeeping and beautiful living be laid for a foundation; now, a taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors, where there is no house and no housekeeper.”
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Thoreau is again referring to the uselessness of extravagance. Do the expensive "baubles" or decorations come at the expense of the many poor? He says there is no beauty in things man made that don't fulfill the most basic needs. Thoreau questions whether anything in a home is beautiful if the foundation of the house is not begot from honest labour and toil.