the Thoreau Log.
1834
Æt. 17.
8 January. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, volumes 1-4 by Washington Irving from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
22 January. Cambridge, Mass.
A. G. Peabody checks out Voyages and Discoveries of the Companions of Columbus by Washington Irving for Thoreau from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
29 January. Cambridge, Mass.
A. G. Peabody checks out Grecian Antiquities; or, An account of the public and private life of the Greeks by Thomas Harwood for Thoreau from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
2 February. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau begins an Italian class taught by Pietro Bachi, which only lasts six weeks, ending with the term on 16 March (Thoreau’s Harvard Years, part 1:14).
5 February. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Greek Exercises; containing the substance of the Greek syntax by Benjamin Franklin Fisk from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
12 February. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, volumes 1 and 2 by Washington Irving and An Epitome of Grecian Antiquities by Charles Dexter Cleveland from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
19 February. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out two books by Lydia Maria Child from the Harvard College Library: Hobomok, a tale of early times and The Rebels: or, Boston before the revolution (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
5 March. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out A Biographical memoir of the late Commodore Joshua Barney edited by Mary Barney and Journal of a residence and travels in Colombia during the years 1823, and 1824, volume 1 by Charles Stuart Cochrane from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
12 March. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Antar, a Bedoueen Romance, part 1, volumes 1-3 translated by Terrick Hamilton from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
16 March. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau finishes his second term at Harvard. He earns 1,414 points, which gives him a total to date of 2,629 and ranking him sixteenth in a class of 50 students.
He starts his third term with the following classes:

  • Plane Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry taught by Benjamin Peirce.
  • History; reading Elements of General History, Ancient and Modern by Alexander Fraser Tytler.
  • Greek composition, grammar, and antiquities taught by Christopher Dunkin; reading The Orations of Æschines and Demosthenes on the Crown by Alexander Negris.
  • Latin taught by Henry S. McKean; reading Livy by Charles Folsom.
  • Latin composition and antiquities taught by Charles Beck; reading Horace’s Odes and A Grammar of the Latin Language by Karl Gottlob Zumpt.
  • Italian taught by Pietro Bachi.
(Thoreau’s Harvard Years, part 1:13-14)
between 16 and 28 March. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau, along with 39 of his freshman classmates, signs a petition opposing the student ranking system at Harvard University:
To the Honourable Faculty of Harvard University,
  The undersigned members of the Freshman class, believing it to be the sole object of your honourable body to act in such manner as best to promote the interests of those under your immediate control, and deeming it their duty as well as privilege to make known to your body in conjunction with others their feelings ask leave to present for your consideration their views on the system of rank at present adopted. We have no doubt that the original design of this system was good, But at the present time instead of being as it was probably intended by those who introduced it a consequence resulting from labour with higher and nobler motive in view, it has become in a great degree the primary and sole object and with its attainment, in whatever manner, all exertion ceases. That this system tends to produce envy and jealousy among those whose interests require that they should at least in some degree be united we think is evident.
  We believe moreover that the time has arrived when literary standing must depend on something more than mere college rank, when a nobler motive must prompt the student to action than the petty emulation of the school-boy, when he must have a higher standard of action than the mere marks of his instructor. Again we think the direct tendency of this system to produce superficial scholars is as strong argument in favour of its abolition. So long as this system of rank is the criterion by which his scholarship is to be judged it will be his endeavour not so much to become thoroughly acquainted with a subject as to study it in such a manner as will best insure his success in the recitation room. Impressed with these views we submit them to your consideration with the request that some measures may be taken for the abolition of that system which has produced so universal disatisfaction.
(Emerson Society Quarterly 8 (1957):17-18)
19 March. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Six Month’s Residence and Travels in Mexico by William Bullock from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
26 March. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out The Vestal, or A Tale of Pompeii by Thomas Gray from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
23 April. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Elegant Extracts; or Useful and Entertaining Pieces of Poetry, Selected for the Improvement of Young Persons, volume 1 by Vicesimus Knox and Narrative of travels and discoveries in Northern and Central Africa, in the years 1822, and 1824, volume 1 by Dixon Denham and Hugh Clapperton from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
30 April. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Memoirs of the Life and Times of Daniel De Foe, volume 1 by Walter Wilson and Pinnock’s improved edition of Dr. Goldsmith’s abridgment of the History of England, from the invasion of Julius Caesar to the death of George II, with a continuation to the reign of George the Fourth, volumes 1 and 2 by Oliver Goldsmith from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
7 May. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Traits of the Aborigines of America: A Poem by Lydia Howard Sigourney from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
19 May. Cambridge, Mass.
A Harvard freshman refuses to complete his recitations in Christopher Dunkin’s Greek class, setting off a rebellion that continues for the following two weeks, during which the instructor’s recitation room is "torn in pieces by some students, all its furniture broken, and every window dashed out," a watchman is attacked with stones, daily prayers are interrupted by “scraping, whistling, groaning and other disgraceful noises” and firecrackers, and the entire sophomore class is expelled (On the Seminary of Harvard University June, 4, 1834, 1-7).
John Weiss, Thoreau’s classmate, recalled later:
We cannot recollect what became of [Thoreau] during the scenes of the Dunkin Rebellion. He must have slipped off into some “cool retreat or mossy cell.” We are half inclined to suppose that the tumult startled him into some metamorphose, that corresponded to a yearning in him of some natural kind, whereby he secured a temporary evasion till peace was restored… Thoreau disappeared while our young absurdity held its orgies, striping shutters from the lower windows of the buildings, dismantling recitation rooms, greeting tutors and professors with a frenzied and groundless indignation which we symbolized by kindling the spoils of sacked premises upon the steps.
(Christian Examiner 79 (July 1865): 101)
28 May. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out History of the Crusades for the Recovery and Possession of the Holy Land, volume 1 by Charles Mills from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
10 June. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out A History of the Colonies Planted by the English on the Continent of North America by John Marshall from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
1 July. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau finishes his third term at Harvard. He earns 1,409 points, giving him a total to date of 4,038 (Thoreau’s Harvard Years, part 1:14).
3 July. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau is voted into the Institute of 1770, a debating and fraternal organization (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:81-9).
7 July. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau attends a meeting of the Institute of 1770 (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:82).
11 July. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau attends a meeting of the Institute of 1770 (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:82).
17 July. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau is awarded $25 in “exhibition money” for his academic achievement by the Harvard Corporation (Thoreau’s Harvard Years, part 1:14).
sometime between 1 September 1834 and 27 June 1835. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau writes a note to Oliver Sparhawk:
Sir

  The occupants of Hollis 32 would like to have that room painted and whitewashed, also if possible to have a new hearth put in

yours respectfully
Thoreau & Richardson

(MS, Walden Woods Project Collection at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods)
Image of letter to Oliver Sparhawk from Thoreau and James Richardson
From the Walden Woods Project Collection. Not to be reproduced without permission.
1 September. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau starts his first term of his sophomore year at Harvard, rooming with James Richardson in Hollis Hall no. 32. He enrolls in the following classes:

  • Topography taught by Benjamin Peirce
  • Greek composition, grammar, and antiquities taught by Cornelius C. Felton; reading Œdipus Tyrannus and Œdipus
  • Coloneus by Sophocles
  • Latin composition taught by Charles Beck; reading De Officiis by Cicero
  • English taught by Edward T. Channing with bi-weekly themes and declamation every week; reading A Short Introduction to English Grammar with Critical Notes by Robert Lowth and Elements of Rhetoric by Richard Whately
  • French taught by Francis Surault
  • Italian taught by Pietro Bachi
(A Catalogue of Officers and Students at Harvard University for the Academical Year 1834-35, 19; Thoreau’s Harvard Years, part 1:14)
5 September. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau attends a meeting of the Institute of 1770. He is chosen to debate next meeting’s topic “Ought there to be any restrictions on the publication of opinions?” (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:82).
15 September. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau attends a meeting of the Institute of 1770, in which he presumably debates the topic “Ought there to be any restrictions on the publication of opinions?” and Jones Very delivers a poem (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:82).
16 September. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Essays on the Formation and Publication of Opinions, and on Other Subjects by Samuel Bailey and New and Improved Grammar of the Italian Language by Gasparo Grimani from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286).
30 September. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out A Voyage to Cochinchina in 1792 and 1793 by Sir John Barrow and Journal of a Visit to Parts of Ethiopia by George Waddington and Barnard Hanbury from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 286-7).
1 October. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau attends a meeting of the Institute of 1770 (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:82).
7 October. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Maunder’s Treasury of Knowledge and Library of Reference, parts 1 and 2 by Samuel Maunder from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 287).
14 October. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Dramas and Other Poems of the Abbé Pietro Metastasio translated by John Hoole, volume 1 from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 287).
Thoreau also attends a meeting of the Institute of 1770, in which the topic “Are the refined and cultivated happier in general than the ignorant?” is debated (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:82).
21 October. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians and Grecians, volume 1 by Charles Rollin from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 287).
28 October. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Novum Lexicon Manuale Graecum-Latinum and Latinum-Graecum by Benjamin Hederich from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 287).
Thoreau also attends a meeting of the Institute of 1770, in which the topic “Should manual labor be connected with institutions of learning?” is debated (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:82).
11 November. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Two Years and a Half in the Navy, volume 1 by Enoch Cobb Wines and either A Narrative of Four Voyages by Benjamin Morrell or Narrative of a Voyage to the Ethiopic and South Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Chinese Sea, North and South Pacific Ocean in the years 1829, 1830, 1831 by Abby Jane Morrell from Harvard College Library (the Harvard charging list shows only “Morrell, Narrative”) (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 287).
Thoreau also attends a meeting of the Institute of 1770, in which the topic “Is novel-reading beneficial?” is debated (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:82).
15 November. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau is given the assignment of writing an essay on the prompt “Give your idea of the anxieties and delights of a Discoverer of whatever class, Columbus, Herschel, Newton,” due on 6 December (Thoreau’s Harvard Years, part 2:8).
18 November. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau attends a meeting of the Institute of 1770, in which the topic “Do the dead languages deserve so much time as is required in our present course of study?” is debated (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:82).
6 December. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau submits an essay with the prompt “Give your idea of the anxieties and Delights of a Discoverer of whatever class, Columbus, Herschel, Newton,” for an assignment given to him on 15 November. Thoreau is also given the prompt for his next essay, “The different ideas we form of men whose pursuit is money, power, distinction, domestic happiness, and public good,” due on 20 December (Thoreau’s Harvard Years, part 2:8; Early Essays and Miscellanies, 4-5).
7 December. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau finishes his first term of his sophomore year ranking sixth in a class of 45. He had earned 1,568 points that should have given him a grand total of 5,606, but by an error that was never caught or corrected, he was given a grand total of 6,206. Starts his second term, with classes in mathematics, Greek, Latin, English, and French (Thoreau’s Harvard Years, part 2:14).
9 December. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau is absent from the meeting of the Institute of 1770 and its debate, “Is early marriage beneficial?” He is selected to debate the topic “Is political eminence more worthy of admiration than literary?” at the meeting to be held on 27 January 1835 (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 1:84).
20 December. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau’s college class organizes the Natural History Society at Harvard and he becomes a member (Three Centuries of Harvard: 1636-1936, 203).
Thoreau also submits an essay with the prompt “The different ideas we form of men whose pursuit is money, power, distinction, domestic happiness, public good,” for a class assignment given to him on 6 December. Thoreau is also given the prompt for his next essay, “Of keeping a private journal of our feelings, studies, thoughts and daily experience containing abstracts of books, and the opinions we formed on first reading them,” due on 17 January 1835 (Thoreau’s Harvard Years, part 2:8; Early Essays and Miscellanies, 5-7).



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