the Thoreau Log.
1838
Æt. 21.
6 January 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  As a child looks forward to the coming of the summer, so could we contemplate with quiet joy the circle of the seasons returning without fail eternally. As the spring came round during so many years of the gods, we could go out to admire and adorn anew our Eden, and yet never tire. (Journal, 1:25)
15 January 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  After all that has been said in praise of the Saxon race, we must allow that our blue-eyed and fairhaired ancestors were originally an ungodly and reckless crew. (Journal, 1:25).
16 January 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Man is like a cork which no tempest can sink, but it will float securely to its haven at last. The world is nevertheless beautiful though viewed through a chink or knot-hole.(Journal, 1:25).
21 January 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Every leaf and twig was this morning covered with a sparkling ice armor, even the grasses in exposed fields were hung with innumerable diamond pendants, which jingled merrily when brushed by the foot of the traveller. (Journal, 1:25-6).
6 February 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes to a Mr. Hawkins (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:34).
7 February 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Zeno, the Stoic, stood in precisely the same relation to the world that I do now. He is, forsooth, bred a merchant— as how many still!—and can trade and barter, and perchance higgle, and moreover lie can  be shipwrecked and cast ashore at the Piracus, like one of your Johns or Thomases. (Journal, 1:26-7).
9 February 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To manage the small talk of a party is to make an effort to do what was at first done, admirably because naturally, at your fireside. (Journal, 1:27-8).

Thoreau also writes to David Greene Haskins. (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:34-5; MS, Robert H. Taylor Collection of English and American Literature. Firestone Library, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.).

10 February 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to his brother John:

Dear John,—

  Dost expect to elicit a spark from so dull a steel as myself, by that flinty subject of thine? Truly, one of your copper percussion caps would have fitted this nail-head better.

  Unfortunately, the “Americana” has hardly two words on the subject. The process is very simple. The stone is struck with a mallet so as to produce pieces sharp at one end, and blunt at the other. These are laid upon a steel line (probably a chisel’s edge), and again struck with the mallet, and flints of the required size are broken off. A skilled workman may make a thousand a day.

  So much for the “Americana.” Dr. Jacob Bigelow in his “Technology” says, “Gun-flints are formed by a skillful workman, who breaks them out with a hammer, a roller, and small chisel, with small repeated strokes.”

  Your ornithological commission shall be executed. When are you coming home?

Your affectionate brother,
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 23; Familiar letters of Henry David Thoreau (1894), 20–1)

11 February 1838. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  At the “teachers’ meeting” last night, my good Edmund [Hosmer], after disclaiming any wish to difference Jesus from a human mind suddenly seemed to alter his tone & said that Jesus made the world & was the Eternal God. Henry Thoreau merely remarked that “Mr Hosmer has kicked the pail over.” I delight much in my young friend, who seems to have as free & erect a mind as any I have ever met. He told as we walked this afternoon a good story about a boy who went to school with him, Wentworth, who resisted the school mistress’ command that the children should bow to Dr Heywood & other gentlemen as they went by, and when Dr Heywood stood waiting & cleared his throat with a Hem! Wentworth said, "You needn’t hem, Doctor; I shan’t bow."
(The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 5:452)

13 February 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is hard to subject ourselves to an influence. It must steal upon us when we expect it not, and its work be all done ere we are aware of it. If we make advances, it is shy; if, when we feel its presence, we presume to pry into its free-masonry, it vanishes and leaves us alone in our folly,—brimful but stagnant,—a full channel, it may be, but no inclination. (Journal, 1:28).
15 February 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The true student will cleave ever to the good, recognizing no Past, no Present; but wherever he emerges from the bosom of time, his course is not with the sun,—eastward or westward,—but ever towards the seashore. Day and night pursues lie his devious way, lingering by how many a Pierian spring, how many an Academus grove, how many a sculptured portico!—all which—spring, grove, and portico—lie not so wide but he may take there conveniently in his way. (Journal, 1:28-9).
16 February 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In imagination I hie me to Greece as to enchanted ground. No storms vex her coasts, no clouds encircle her Helicon or Olympus, no tempests sweep the peaceful Tempe or ruffle the bosom of the placid Aegean; but always the beams of the summer's sun gleam along the entablature of the Acropolis, or are reflected through the mellow atmosphere from a thousand consecrated groves and fountains; always her sea-girt isles are dallying with their zephyr guests, and the low of kine is heard along the meads, and the landscape sleeps—valley and hill and woodland—a dreamy sleep. Each of her sons created a new heaven and a new earth for Greece. (Journal, 1:29).
17 February 1838. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  My good Henry Thoreau made this else solitary afternoon sunny with his simplicity and clear perception. How comic is simplicity in this double-dealing, quacking world. Everything that boy says makes merry with society, though nothing can be graver than his meaning. I told him he should write out the history of his college life as Carlyle has his tutoring. We agreed that seeing the stars through a telescope would be worth all the astronomical lectures. Then he described Mr. Quimby’s electrical lecture here, and the experiment of the shock, and added that “College Corporations are very blind to the fact that that twinge in the elbow is worth all the lecturing.”
(The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 5:453-4)
18 February 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I had not been out long this morning when it seemed that a new Spring was already born,—not quite weaned, it is true, but verily entered upon existence. (Journal, 1:29).
19 February 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: 
Each summer sound
Is a summer round.(Journal, 1:30).
27 February 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:
  He [Goethe] jogs along at a snail's pace, but ever mindful that the earth is beneath and the heavens above him. His Italy is not merely the fatherland of lazzaroni and maccaroui but a solid turf-clad soil, daily illumined by a genial sun and nightly gleaming in the still moonshine,—to say nothing of the frequent showers which are so faithfully recorded. That sail to Palermo was literally a plowing through of the waves from Naples to Trinacria,—the sky overhead, and the sea, with its isles on either hand.(Journal, 1:30).
1 March 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  March fans it, April christens it, and May puts oil its Jacket and trousers. It never grows up, but Alexandrian-like "drags its slow length along," ever springing, bud following close upon leaf, and when winter comes it is not annihilated, but creeps oil mole-like under the snow, showing its face nevertheless occasionally by fuming springs and watercourses. (Journal, 1:30-1).
3 March 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Three thousand years and the world so little changed! The Iliad seems like a natural sound which has reverberated to our days. Whatever in it is still freshest in the memories of men was most childlike in the poet.(Journal, 1:31).
4 March 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Here at my elbow sit five notable, or at least noteworthy, representatives of this nineteenth century—of the gender feminine. (Journal, 1:31-3).
5 March 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Men may dispute about the fact whether a goddess did actually come down from heaven, calling it a poet's fancy, but was it not, considering the stuff that gods are made of, a very truth?(Journal, 1:33-5).

6 March 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How can a man sit down and quietly pare his nails, while the earth goes gyrating ahead amid such a din of sphere music, whirling him along about her axis some twenty-four thousand miles between sun and sun, but mainly in a circle some two millions of miles actual progress? (Journal, 1:35).

7 March 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  We should not endeavor coolly to analyze our thoughts, hut, keeping the pen even and parallel with the current, make an accurate transcript of them. Impulse is, after all, the best linguist, and for his logic, if not conformable to Aristotle, it cannot fail to be most convincing. The nearer we approach to a complete but simple transcript of our thought the more tolerable will be the piece, for we can endure to consider ourselves in a state of passivity or in involuntary action, but rarely our efforts, and least of all our rare efforts. (Journal, 1:35).

14 March 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal to prepare a lecture at the Concord Lyceum on 11 April (Journal, 1:36-40).
17 March 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to his brother John:

Dear John,

  Your box of relics came safe to hand, but was speedily deposited on the carpet I assure you. What could it be? Some declared it must be Taunton herrings Just nose it sir. So down we went onto our knees and commenced smelling in good earnest, now horizontally from this corner to that, now perpendicularly from the carpet up, now diagonally, and finally with a sweeping movement describing the entire circumference. But it availed not. Taunton herring would not be smelled. So we e'en proce[e]ded to open it vi et chisel. What an array of nails! Four nails make a quarter four quarters a yard,—i faith this isn't cloth measure.

  Blaze away old boy, clap in another wedge, then!—There! softly she begins to gape—Just give that old stickler with a black hat on a hoist. Aye! W'ell [sic] pare his nails for him. Well done old fellow there's a breathing hole for you. “Drive it in,” cries one, “rip it off,” cries another. Be easy I say. What's done, may be undone Your richest veins don't lie nearest the surface. Suppose we sit down and enjoy the prospect, for who knows but we may be disappointed? When they opened Pandora's box, all the contents escaped except hope, but in this case hope is uppermost and will be the first to escape when the box is opened. However the general voice was for kicking the coverlid off.

  The relics have been arranged numerically on a table. When shall we set up housekeeping? Miss Ward thanks you for her share of the spoils, also accept many thanks from your humble servant “for yourself.”

  I have a proposal to make. Suppose by the time you are released, we should start in company for the West and there either establish a school jointly, or procure ourselves separate situations. Suppose moreover you should get ready to start previous to leaving Taunton, to save time. Go I must at all events. Dr. Jarvis enumerated nearly a dozen schools which I could have — all such as would suit you equally well. I wish you would write soon about this. It is high season to start. The canals are now open, and travelling comparatively cheap. I think I can borrow the cash in this town. There’s nothing like trying

  Brigham wrote you a few words on the eig[h]th which father took the liberty to read, with the advice and consent of the family. He wishes you to send him those [numbers] of the library of health received since -38, if you are in Concord, othe[rw]ise, he says, you need not trouble you[rse]lf about it at present. [H]e is in C and enjoying better health than usual. But one number, and that you have, has been received.

  The bluebirds made their appearance the 14th day of March-robins and pigeons have also been seen. Mr. E[merson] has put up the bluebird box in due form.
All send their love. From
Y’r aff. brother
H. D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 24-5)

26 March 1838. Cambridge, Mass.

Josiah Quincy writes a letter of recommendation for Thoreau:

To Whom It May Concern, —

  I certify that Henry D. Thoreau, of Concord in this State of Massachusetts, graduated at this seminary in August, 1837; that his rank was high as a scholar in all branches, and his morals and general conduct unexceptionable and exemplary. He is recommended as well qualified as an instructor, for employment in any public or private school or private family.

Josiah Quincy, President of Harvard University

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 26; MS, The Raymond Adams collection in the Thoreau Society Collections at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.)

April 1838. Concord, Mass.?

Lidian Jackson Emerson writes to her sister Lucy Jackson Brown:

  Mr [Cornelius Conway] Felton was here too, yesterday—and we invited to meet them H. Thoreau—Rockwood H. [Hoar] & Mr [Barzillai?] Frost. So you see in the midst of hurried preparation for my journey I had to dine five gentlemen—give tea to two and also a room each at night.
(The Selected Letters of Lidian Jackson Emerson, 73).

1 April 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The Indians must have possessed no small share of vital energy to have rubbed industriously stone upon stone for long months till at length he had rubbed out an axe or pestle,—as though be had said in the face of the constant flux of things, I at least will live an enduring life. (Journal, 1:40).

2 April 1838. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson loans Thoreau $100 (Ralph Waldo Emerson journals and notebooks (MS Am 1280H, Series I, 112). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).
8 April 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “Friendship” in his journal:
I think awhile of Love, and, while I think,
Love is to me a world,
Sole meat and sweetest drink,
And close connecting link
'Tween heaven and earth.
I only know it is, not how or why,
My greatest happiness;
However hard I try,
Not if I were to die,
Can I explain. [. . .] (Journal, 1:40-3).
11 April 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau delivers his first lecture for the Concord Lyceum at the Mason’s Hall. The subject was “Society” (Concord Lyceum records. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

12 April 1838. Cambridge, Mass.

Josiah Quincy writes to Thoreau about a possible teaching position:

  Sir,—

  The School is at Alexandria; the students are said to be young men well advanced in ye knowledge of ye Latin and Greek classics; the requisitions are, qualification and a person who has had experience in school keeping. Salary $600. a year, besides washing and Board; duties to be entered on ye 5th or 6th of May. If you choose to apply, I will write as soon as I am informed of it. State to me your experience in school keeping.

Yours,
Josiah Quincy
(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 25-6; MS, The Raymond Adams collection in the Thoreau Society Collections at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; III.98.n.)

13 April 1838. Concord, Mass.

Prudence Ward writes to her sister Caroline Ward Sewall:

  Mrs. John Thoreau’s children are soon to leave her; Helen and Sophia to keep school in Roxbury. John and Henry to go West. They purpose instructing there, but have no fixed plan. They will go as far as Louisville in Kentucky, unless employment can be found nearer . . . To-day, April 13, Henry has had a letter from President Quincy, of Harvard, speaking of a school in Alexandria, Virginia, to be opened the 5th of May. He is willing to take it, and if accepted, this may alter or delay their journey.
(The Life of Henry David Thoreau (1917), 200-1)

15 April 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Thomas Fuller relates that "in Merionethshire, in Wales, there are high mountains, whose hanging tops come so close together that shepherds on the tops of several hills may audibly talk together, yet will it be a day's journey for their bodies to meet, so vast is the hollowness of the valleys betwixt them." As much may be said in a moral sense of our intercourse in the plains, for, though we may audibly converse together, yet is there so vast a gulf of hollowness between that we are actually many days' journey from a veritable communication. (Journal, 1:43).

24 April 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Men have been contriving new means and modes of motion. Steamships have been westering during these late days and nights on the Atlantic waves,—the fuglers of a new evolution to this generation. Meanwhile plants spring silently by the brooksides, and the grim woods wave indifferent; the earth emits no howl, pot on fire simmers and seethes, and men go about their business. (Journal, 1:43).

25 April 1838. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal on 26 April:

  Yesterday P.M. I went to the Cliff with Henry Thoreau. Warm, pleasant, misty weather which the great mountain amphitheatre seemed to drink in with gladness.
(The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 4:432).
26 April 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “The Bluebirds” in his journal (Journal, 1:43-6).
1 May 1838. Concord, Mass.

Ezra Ripley writes a letter of recommendation for Thoreau for possible teaching positions in Maine:

  TO THE FRIENDS OF EDUCATION,—The undersigned very cheerfully hereby introduces to public notice the bearer, Mr David Henry Thoreau, as a teacher in the higher branches of useful literature. He is a native of this town and a graduate of Harvard University. He is well disposed and well qualified to instruct the rising generation. His scholarship and moral character will bear the strictest scrutiny. He is modest and mild in his disposition and government, but not wanting in energy of character and fidelity in the duties of his profession. It is presumed his character and usefulness will be appreciated more highly as an acquaintance with him shall be cultivated. Cordial wishes for his success, reputation, and usefulness attend him, as an instructor and gentleman.

Ezra Ripley,
Senior Pastor of the First Church in Concord, Mass.

(Henry D. Thoreau (1882), 57-8)
2 May 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau borrows $10 from Ralph Waldo Emerson to travel to Maine in search of a teaching position (Ralph Waldo Emerson journals and notebooks (MS Am 1280H, Series I, 112). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

Emerson also writes a letter of recommendation for Thoreau to take on his Maine job search:

  I cordially recommend Mr. Henry D. Thoreau, a graduate of Harvard University in August, 1837, to the confidence of such parents or guardians as may propose to employ him as an instructor. I have the highest confidence in Mr. Thoreau’s moral character, and in his intellectual ability. He is an excellent scholar, a man of energy and kindness, and I shall esteem the town fortunate that secures his services.
(Henry D. Thoreau (1882), 59; MS, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, N.Y.)
Prudence Ward writes to her sister, Caroline Ward Sewall:

  Mr. Thoreau has begun to prepare his garden, and I have been digging the flower-beds. Henry has left this morning, to try and obtain a school at the eastward (in Maine). John has taken one in West Roxbury. Helen is in another part of Roxbury, establishing herself in a boarding and day-school. Sophia will probably be wanted there as an assistant; so the family are disposed of. I shall miss the juvenile members very much; for they are the most important part of the establishment.
(The Life of Henry David Thoreau (1917), 201)
3 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Boston to Portland . . . Midnight—head over the boat’s side-between sleeping and waking-with glimpses of one or more lights in the vicinity of Cape Ann. Bright moonlight—the effect heightened by seasickness.
(Journal, 1:46-7)
4 May 1838. Portland, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Portland. There is a proper and only right way to enter a city, as well as to make advances to a strange person; neither will allow of the least forwardness nor bustle. A sensitive person can hardly elbow his way boldly, laughing and talking, into a strange town, without experiencing some twinges of conscience, as when he has treated a stranger with too much familiarity. (Journal, 1:47).
5 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Portland to Bath—via Brunswick—Bath to Brunswick—May 5th (Journal, 1:47-8).
6 to 7 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Brunswick to Augusta via Gardiner & Hallowell (Journal, 1:48).
7 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  We occasionally meet an individual of a character and disposition so entirely the reverse of our own, that we wonder if he can indeed be another man like ourselves. We doubt if we ever could draw any nearer to him, and understand him. Such was the old English gentleman whom I met with to-day in H[allowell]. Though I peered in at his eyes I could not discern myself reflected therein. The chief wonder was how we could ever arrive at so fair-seeming an intercourse upon so small ground of sympathy. He walked and fluttered like a strange bird at my side, prying into and making a handle of the least circumstance. The bustle and rapidity of our communication were astonishing; we skated in our conversation. All at once he would stop short in the path, and, in an abstracted air, query whether the steamboat had reached Bath or Portland, addressing me from time to time as his familiar genius, who could understand what was passing in his mind without the necessity of uninterrupted oral communication. (Journal, 1:48)

8 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Augusta to Bangor via China (Journal, 1:48).

10 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Bangor to Oldtown. The rail-road from Bangor to Oldtown is civilization shooting off in a tangent into the forest. I had much conversation with an old Indian at the latter place, who sat dreaming upon a scow at the water side and striking his deer-skin moccasins against the planks, while his arms hung listlessly by his side. He was the most communicative man I had met. Talked of hunting and fishing, old times and new times. Pointing up the Penobscot, he observed, “Two or three mile up the river one beautiful country!” and then, as if he would come as far to meet me as I had gone to meet him, he exclaimed “Ugh, one very hard time!” But he had mistaken his man. (Journal, 1:48-9)

11 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Bangor to Belfast via Saturday Cove (Journal, 1:49).

12 May 1838. Belfast, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Belfast (Journal, 1:49).

13 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Castine by sailboat "Cinderilla" (Journal, 1:49).

14 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Castine to Belfast by packet, Captain Skinner. Found the the Poems of Burns and an odd volume of the "Spectator" in the cabin. (Journal, 1:49).

15 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Belfast to Bath via Thomaston (Journal, 1:49).

16 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Portland (Journal, 1:49).

17 May 1838.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Boston and Concord (Journal, 1:49).

21 May 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “May Morning” in his journal (Journal, 1:49-50).
28 May 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes to Henry Vose (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:43; MS, Clifton Waller Barrett collection (6345). Alderman Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.).
3 June 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “Walden” in his journal (Journal, 1:50).
14 June 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “Truth, Goodness, Beauty,—those celestial thrins” in his journal (Journal, 1:51).
mid-June 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau, with his brother John, starts a private school at the Thoreau house (The Life of Henry David Thoreau (1917), 201).
16 June 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “In the busy streets, domains of trade” in his journal (Journal, 1:51).
29 June 1838. Concord, Mass.

Prudence Ward writes to her brother Dennis:

  Mr T’s potatoes & squashes look [finely?]—& Henry’s melons are flourishing—He has over sixty hills, & we are like to have an abundance—He was much troubled with the cut-worm . . . J’s school is flourishing—There are four boys from Boston boarding with us. I don't doubt it would have been very pleasant to Ellen on several accounts to have passed the summer with you—but I am not surprised she couldn't be spared. I want she should make us a visit of [a] week or two . . . Tell little Mary that we have a black kitten, & that the martins have driven away the bluebirds & taken possession of their box.
(MS, Special Collections, Middlebury College Library, Middlebury, Vt.)
8 July 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes his poem “Cliffs” in his journal (Journal, 1:51-2).

Thoreau also writes to his brother John:
Dear John,  

  We heard from Helen today and she informs us that you are coming home by the first of August, now I wish you to write, and let me know exactly when your vacation takes place, that I may take mine at the same time. I am in school from 8 to 12 in the morning, and from 2 to 4 in the afternoon; after that I read a little Greek or English, or for a variety, take a stroll in the fields. We have not had such a year for berries this long time—the earth is actually blue with them. High blue[e]berries, three kinds of low—thimble and rasp-berries, constitute my diet at present. (Take notice—I only diet between meals.) Among my deeds of charity I may reckon the picking of a cherry tree for two helpless single ladies who live under the hill—but i’ faith it was robbing Peter to pay Paul—for while I was exalted in charity towards them, I had no mercy on my own stomach. Be advised, my love for currants continues. The only addition that I have made of late to my stock of ornithological information—is in the shape, not of a Fring. Melod. but surely a melodious Fringilla—the F. Iuncorum, or rush sparrow. I had long known him by his note but never by name. Report says that Elijah Stearns is going to take the town school.

I have four scholars, and one more engaged. Mr. Fenner left town yesterday. Among occurrences of ill omen, may be mentioned the falling out and cracking of the inscription stone of Concord monument. Mrs. Lowell and children are at Aunt’s. Peabody walked up last Wednesday—spent the night, and took a stroll in the woods. Sophia says I mu[st] leave off and pen a few lines for her to Helen. S[o] Good bye. Love from all and among them yr

aff’ brother
H D T

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 27; MS, Albert Edgar Lownes collection on Henry David Thoreau (Ms.80.1, Series 1, Box 1, Folder 1). John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence, R.I.)
11 July 1838. Concord, Mass.

James Russell Lowell writes to George Bailey Loring:

  I saw Thoreau last night, and it is exquisitely amusing to see how he imitates [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s tone and manner. With my eyes shut I shouldn’t know them apart.
(Victorian Knight Errant, 18-19).
David Greene Haskins writes of Thoreau:

  I happened to meet Thoreau in Emerson’s study at Concord. I think it was the first time we had come together after leaving college. I was quite startled by the transformation that had taken place in him. His short figure and general caste of countenance were, of course, unchanged; but, in his manners, in the tones and inflections of his voice, in his modes of expression, even in the hesitations and pauses of his speech, he had become the counterpart of Mr. Emerson. Mr. Thoreau’s college voice bore no resemblance to Mr. Emerson’s, and was so familiar to my ear that I could readily have identified him by it in the dark. I was so much struck with the change, and with the resemblance in the respects referred to between Mr. Emerson and Mr. Thoreau, that I remember to have taken the opportunity as we sat near together, talking, of listening to their conversation with closed eyes, and to have been unable to determine with certainty which was speaking. It was a notable instance of unconscious imitation.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson: His Maternal Ancestors, 121-2)
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal in 1864:

  Mrs Brown [Lucy Jackson Brown] who boarded with the Thoreaus, was one day talking with Mrs T. of the remarks made by many persons on the resemblances between Mr Emerson & Henry in manners, looks, voice, & thought. Henry spoke like Mr E. & walked like him &c. "O yes," said his mother, "Mr Emerson had been a good deal with David Henry, and it was very natural should catch his ways."
(The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 15:490).
13 July 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  What a hero one can be without moving a finger! Tile world is not a field worthy of us, nor can we be satisfied with the plains of Troy. A glorious strife seems waging within us, yet so noiselessly that we but just catch the sound of the clarion ringing of victory, borne to us on the breeze. There are in each the seeds of a heroic ardor, which need only to be stirred in with the soil where they lie, by an inspired voice or pen, to bear fruit of a divine flavor. (Journal, 1:52).

15 July 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  What though friends misinterpret your conduct, if it is right in sight of God and Nature. The wrong, if there be any, pertains only to the wrong doer, nor is the integrity of your relations to the universe affected, but you may gather encouragement from their mistrust. If the friend withhold his favor, yet does greater float gratuitous on the zephyr. (Journal, 1:52).

4 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Whatever of past or present wisdom has published itself to the world, is palpable falsehood till it come and utter itself by In side. (Journal, 1:52).

5 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Divine Service in the Academy-Hall. (Journal, 1:53).

10 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Nor can all the vanities that so vex the world alter one whit the measure that night has chosen, but ever it must be short particular metre. The human soul is a silent harp in God's quire, whose strings need only to be swept by the divine breath to chime in,with the harmonies of creation. Every pulse-beat is in exact time with the cricket's chant, and the tickings of the deathwatch in the wall. Alternate with these if you can. (Journal, 1:53).

13 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  If with closed cars and eyes I consult consciousness for a moment, immediately are all walls and barriers dissipated, earth rolls from under me, and I float, by the impetus derived from the earth and the system, a subjective, heavily laden thought, in the midst of an unknown and infinite sea, or else heave and swell like a vast ocean of thought, without rock or headland, where are all riddles solved, all straight lines making there their two ends to meet, eternity and space gam-bolling familiarly through my depths. I am from the beginning, knowing no end, no aim. No sun illumines me, for I dissolve all lesser lights in my own intenser and steadier light. I am a restful kernel in the magazine of the universe. (Journal, 1:53-4).

19 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The sound of the sabbath bell, whose farthest waves are at this instant breaking on these cliffs, does not awaken pleasing associations alone. Its muse is wonderfully condescending and philanthropic. (Journal, 1:54-5).

21 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Passion and appetite are always an unholy land in which one may wage most holy war. Let him steadfastly follow the banner of his faith till it is planted on the enemy's citadel. Nor shall he lack fields to display his valor in, nor straits worthy of him. For when he has blown his blast, and smote those within reach, invisible enemies will not cease to torment him, who yet may be starved out in the garrisons where they lie. (Journal, 1:55).

after 21 August 1838. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson includes Thoreau in a list of people to whom he sends his Divinity College Address.
(The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 12:180).
22 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How thrilling a noble sentiment in the oldest books,—in Homer, the Zendavesta, or Confucius! It is a strain of music wafted down to us on the breeze of time, through the aisles of innumerable ages. By its very nobleness it is made near and audible to us. (Journal, 1:55).

26 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How strangely sounds of revelry strike the ear from over cultivated fields by the woodside, while the sun is declining in the west. It is a world we had not known before. We listen and are capable of no mean act or thought. We tread on Olympus and participate in the councils of the gods. (Journal, 1:55-6).

27 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Verily I am a creature of circumstances. Here I have swallowed an indispensable tooth, and so am no whole man, but a lame and halting piece of manhood. I am conscious of no gap in my soul, but it would seem that, now the entrance to the oracle has been enlarged, the more rare and commonplace the responses that issue from it. I have felt cheap, and hardly dared hold up my head among men, ever since this accident happened. Nothing can I do as well and freely as before; nothing do I undertake but I am hindered and balked by this circumstance. What a great matter a little spark kindleth! I believe if I were called at this moment to rush into the thickest of the fight, I should halt for lack of so insignificant a piece of armor as a tooth. Virtue and Truth go undefended, and Falsehood and Affectation are thrown in my teeth,—though I am toothless. One does not need that the earth quake for the sake of excitement, when so slight a crack proves such an impassable moat. But let the lame man shake his leg, and match himself with the fleetest in the race. So shall he do what is in him to do. But let him who has lost a tooth open his mouth wide and gabble, lisp, and sputter never so resolutely. (Journal, 1:56)

29 August 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Here on top of Nawshawtuct, this mild August afternoon, I can discern no deformed thing. The profane hay-makers in yonder meadow are yet the hay-makers of poetry,—forsooth Faustus and Amyntas. (Journal, 1:57).

1 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his aunt Mary Moody Emerson:

  Henry Thoreau has just come, with whom I have promised to make a visit, a brave fine youth he is.
(Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:154).

2 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Some there are who find pleasure in the melody of birds and chirping of crickets,—aye, even the peeping of frogs. Such faint sounds as these are for the most part heard above the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth which sound hallow the Sabbath among us. The moan the earth makes is after all a very faint sound, infinitely inferior in volume to its creakings of joy and gleeful murmurs; so that we may expect the next balloonist will rise above the utmost range of discordant sounds into the region of pure melody. Never so loud was the wail but it seemed to taper off into a piercing melody and note of joy, which lingered not amid the clods, of the valley. (Journal, 1:58).

3 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The only faith that men recognize is a creed. But the true creed which we unconsciously live by, and which rather adopts us than we it, is quite different from the written or preached one. Men anxiously hold fast to their creed, as to a, straw, thinking this does them good service because their sheet anchor does not drag. (Journal, 1:58).

5 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  For the first time it occurred to me this afternoon what a piece of wonder a river is. A huge volume of matter ceaselessly rolling through the fields and meadows of this substantial earth, making haste from the high places, by stable dwellings of men and Egyptian pyramids, to its restless reservoir. (Journal, 1:58-9).

7 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  When Homer's messengers repair to the tent of Achilles, we do not have to wonder how they get there, but step by step accompany them along the shore of the resounding sea. (Journal, 1:59).

8 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  Henry Thoreau told a good story of Deacon Parkman, who lived in the house he now occupies, & kept a store close by. He hung out a salt fish for a sign, & it hung so long & grew so hard, black & deformed, that the deacon forgot what thing it was, & nobody in town knew, but being examined chemically it proved to be salt fish. But duly every morning the deacon hung it on its peg.
(Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:65)

14 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau places an advertisement in the Concord Freeman:

  CONCORD ACADEMY. The subscriber opened his school for the reception of a limited number of pupils, of both sexes, on Monday, September the tenth. Instruction will be given in the usual English branches, and the studies preparatory to a collegiate course. Terms—Six dollars per quarter. Henry D. Thoreau, Instructor.
(Concord Freeman, 14 September 1838:3)
The advertisement also runs in the Yeoman's Gazette 22 and 29 September.
15 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Youth grasps at happiness as an inalienable right. The tear does no sooner gush than glisten. Who shall say when the tear that sprung of sorrow first sparkled with joy? (Journal, 1:59).

20 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is a luxury to muse by a wall-side in the sunshine of a September afternoon,—to cuddle down under a gray stone, and harken to the siren song of the cricket. (Journal, 1:59).

23 September 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. (Journal, 1:60).

6 October 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to his sister Helen:

Dear Helen,

  I dropped Sophia’s letter into the box immediately on taking yours out, else the tone of the former had been changed.

  I have no acquaintance with “Cleavelands First Lessons,” though I have peeped into his abridged grammar, which I should think very well calculated for beginners, at least, for such as would be likely to wear out one book, before they would be prepared for the abstruser parts of Grammar. Ahem! As no one can tell what was the Roman pronunciation, each nation makes the Latin conform, for the most part, to the rules of its own language; so that with us, of the vowels, only a has a peculiar sound.

  In the end of a word of more than one syllable, it is sounded like ah—as pennah, Lydiah Hannah, &c. without regard to case.—but da is never sounded dah because it is a monosyllable.

  All terminations in es and plural cases in os, as you know, are pronounced long—as homines (hominēse) dominos (dominōse) or in English Johnny Vose. For information see Adam’s Latin Grammar—before the Rudiments This is all law and gospel to the eyes of the world—but remember I am speaking as it were, in the third person, and should sing quite a different tune, if it were I that made the quire. However one must occasionally hang his harp on the willows, and play on the Jew’s harp, in such a strange country as this.

  One of your young ladies wishes to study Mental Philosophy—hey? well tell her that she has the very best text book that I know of already in her possession. If she do not believe it, then she should have bespoken a better in another world, and not have expected to find one at “Little and Wilkins’.” But if she wishes to know how poor an apology for a Mental Philosophy men have tacked together, synthetically or analytically, in these latter days—how they have squeezed the infinite mind into a compass that would not nonpluss a surveyor of Eastern Lands—making Imagination and Memory to lie still in their respective apartments, like ink stand and wafers in a la[dy’s] escritoire—why let her read Locke or Stewart, or Brown. The fact is, Mental Philosophy is very like poverty—which, you know, begins at home; and, indeed, when it goes abroad, it is poverty itself.

  Chorus. I should think an abridgment of one of the above authors, or of Abercrombie, would answer her purpose. It may set her a-thinking.

  Probably there are many systems in the market of which I am ignorant.

  As for themes—say first “Miscellaneous Thoughts”—set one up to a window to note what passes in the street, and make her comments thereon; or let her gaze in the fire, or into a corner where there is a spider’s web, and philosophize—moralize—theorize, or what not.

  What their hands find to putter about, or their minds to think about, — that let them write about. To say nothing of Advantages or disadvantages—of this, that, or the other. Let them set down their ideas at any given Season — preserving the chain of thought as complete as may be.

  This is the style pedagogical.

  I am much obliged to you for your piece of information. Knowing your dislike to a sentimental letter I remain

Yr affectionate brother,
H D T

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 28-9; MS, Henry David Thoreau collection. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)
Thoreau also writes to Andrew Bigelow:

Sir,
  I learn from my brother and sister, who were recently employed as teachers in your vicinity, that you are at present in quest of some one to fill the vacancy in your high school, occasioned by Mr. Bellows’ withdrawal. As my present school, which consists of a small number of well advanced pupils, is not sufficiently lucrative, I am advised to make application for the station now vacant. I was graduated at Cambridge in —37, and have since had my share of experience in school-keeping.

  I can refer you to the President and Faculty of Harvard College-to Rev. Dr. Ripley, or Rev. R. W. Emerson-of this town, or to the parents of my present pupils, among whom I would mention—Hon. Samuel Hoar—Hon. John Keyes—& Hon. Nathan Brooks. Written recommendations by these gentlemen will be procured if desired.

  If you will trouble yourself to answer this letter immediately, you will much oblige your humble Servant,

Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 656; MS, private owner)
16 October 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poems “My Boots” and “Noon” in his journal (Journal, 1:60).
18 October 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau is elected secretary of the Concord Lyceum (Concord Lyceum records. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).
21 October 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Hector hurrying from rank to rank is likened to the moon wading in majesty from cloud to cloud. We are reminded of the hour of the day by the fact that the woodcutter spreads now his morning meal in the recesses of the mountains, having already laid his axe at the root of many lofty trees. (Journal, 1:60-1).

23 October 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Nestor's simple repast after the rescue of Machaon is a fit subject for poetry. The woodcutter may sit down to his cold victuals, the hero to soldier's fare, and the wild Arab to his dried dates and figs, without offense; but not so a modern gentleman to his dinner. (Journal, 1:61).

24 October 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It matters not whether these strains originate there in the grass or float thitherward like atoms of light from the minstrel days of Greece. (Journal, 1:61).

8 November 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau is elected curator of the Concord Lyceum (Concord Lyceum records. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).
10 November 1838. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  My brave Henry Thoreau walked with me to Walden this P.M. and complained of the proprietors who compelled him to whom as much as to any, the whole world belonged, to walk a strip of road & crowded him out of all the rest of God’s earth. He must not get over the fence: but to the building of that fence he was no party. Suppose, he said, some great proprietor, before he was born, had bought up the whole globe. So had he been hustled out of nature. Not having been privy to any of these arrangements, he does not feel called on to consent to them, and so cuts fishpoles in the woods without asking who has a better title to the wood than he.
(Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:143-4)

28 November 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes to Charles Stearns Wheeler (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:51).
early December 1838. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson includes Thoreau in a list of people to whom he gives tickets to his “Human Life” lecture series, which was delivered at the Masonic Temple in Boston from 5 December 1838 to 20 February 1839.
(The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 12:65-7).
7 December 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  We may believe it, but never do we live a quiet, free life, such as Adam's, but are enveloped in an-invisible network of speculations. Our progress is only from one such speculation to another, and only at rare intervals do we perceive that it is no progress. Could we for a moment drop this by-play, and simply wonder, without reference or inference! (Journal, 1:61).

8 December 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Nothing in nature is sneaking or chapfallen, as somewhat maltreated and slighted, but each is satisfied with its being, and so is as lavender and balm. If skunk-cabbage is offensive to the nostrils of men, still has it not drooped in consequence, but trustfully unfolded its leaf of two hands' breadth. What was it to Lord Byron whether England owned or disowned him, whether he smelled sour and was slunk-cabbage to the English nostril or violet.—like, the pride of the land and ornament of every lady's boudoir? Let not the oyster grieve that he has lost the race; he has gained as an oyster. (Journal, 1:62).

15 December 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “Fair-Haven” in his journal. (Journal, 1:62-4).
late December 1838. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes his essay “Sound and Silence” in his journal:

  Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel of all day discourses and all foolish acts, as balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as [after] disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure be may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum. (Journal, 1:64-9).

23 December 1838. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poems “Return of Spring” and “Cupid Wounded” in his journal:
 “Cupid Wounded”
Love once among roses
A sleeping bcc
Did not see, but was stung;
And, being wounded in the finger
Of his hand, cried for pain.
Running as well as flying
To the beautiful Venus,
I am killed, mother, said he,
I am killed, and I die.
A little serpent has stung me,
Winged, which they call
A bee,—the husbandmen.
And she said, If the sting
Of a bee afflicts vou,
How, think you, are they afflicted,
Love, whom you smite?
(Journal, 1:69-70).



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