“Children are heavenly because they are always in a kind of heaven. When they grow older and grow up, their heaven vanishes and then they fall out of their childishness into the dry calculating manner and tedious perceptions of adults. For the children of poor folk the country road in summer is like a playroom. Where else can they go, seeing that the gardens are selfishly closed to them? Woe to the automobiles blustering by, as they ride coldly and maliciously into the children’s games, into the child’s heaven, so that small innocent human beings are in danger of being crushed to a pulp. The terrible thought that a child actually can be run over by such a clumsy triumphal car, I dare not think it, otherwise my wrath will seduce me to coarse expressions, with which it is well known nothing much ever gets done.
To people sitting in a blustering dust-churning automobile I always present my austere and angry face, and they do not deserve a better one. Then they believe that I am a spy, a plainclothes policeman, delegated by high officials and authorities to spy on the traffic, to note down the numbers of vehicles, and later to report them. I always then look darkly at the wheels, at the car as a whole, but never at its occupants, whom I despise, and this in no way personally, but purely on principle; for I do not understand, and I never shall understand, how it can be a pleasure to hurtle past all the images and objects which our beautiful earth displays, as if one had gone mad and had to accelerate for fear of misery and despair.
In fact, I love repose and all that reposes. I love thrift and moderation and am in my inmost self, in God’s name, unfriendly toward any agitation and haste. More than what is true I need not say. And because of these words the driving of automobiles will certainly not be discontinued, nor its evil air-polluting smell, which nobody for sure particularly loves or esteems. It would be unnatural if someone’s nostrils were to love and inhale with relish that which for all correct nostrils, at times, depending perhaps on the mood one is in, outrages and evokes revulsion. Enough, and no harm meant. And now walk on. Oh, it is heavenly and good and in simplicity most ancient to walk on foot, provided of course one’s shoes or boots are in order.”
Walser loved long, lonely walks. On the 25th of December 1956 he was found, dead of a heart attack, in a field of snow near the Swiss mental asylum where he had lived for many years.