the Thoreau Log.
1839
Æt. 22.
11 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “The Thaw” in his journal (Journal, 1:71).
12 January. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:
Let us call Goose Pond the Drop, or God’s Pond. Henry Thoreau says. “No; that will shock the people; call it Satan’s Pond and they will like it, or still better, Tom Wyman’s Pond.” Alas! say I, for the Personality that eats us up.
(Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:165)
20 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poems “The Dream Valley” and “Love” in his journal (Journal, 1:71-2).
3 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poems “The deeds of kings and meanest hedger” and “The Evening Wind” in his journal (Journal, 1:72-3).
8 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:73).
9 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:73).
Thoreau’s brother John advertises the Concord Academy in the Yeoman’s Gazette. The advertisements continue in every issue through 13 April.
Concord Academy.
  The Above School will be continued under the care of the subscriber, after the commencement of the spring term, Monday, March 11th.
  Terms for the Quarter:
  English branches, $4.00
  Languages included 6.00
  He will be assisted in the classical department by Henry D. Thoreau, the present instructor.

  N. B. Writing will be particularly attended to.

    John Thoreau, Jr., Preceptor.
    Concord, Feb. 9, 1838

(Yeoman’s Gazette, 9 Feb 1839:3)
10 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “The Peal of the Bells” in his journal (Journal, 1:73-4).
15 February. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thoreau:
My dear Sir
  The dull weather and some inflammation still hold me in the house, and so may cost you some trouble. I wrote Miss [Margaret] Fuller at Groton a week ago that as soon as Saturday (tomorrow) I would endeavor to send her more accurate answers to her request for information in respect to houses likely to be let in Concord. As I know that she & her family must be anxious to learn the facts, as soon as may be, I beg you to help me in procuring the information today, if your engagements will leave you space for this charity.
  My questions are

  1. Is Dr. Gallup’s [William Gallup] house to be vacant shortly, &, if so, what is the rent?
  It belongs, I believe, to Col. Shattuck. [Daniel Shattuck]
  2. What does Mrs Goodwin determine in regard to the house now occupied by Mr. [Francis R.?] Gourgas? Since, if she do not wish to apply for that house, I think that will suit Mrs. F. If it is to be had, what is the rent?
  Col. Shattuck is also the [lessor] of this house.
  3. What is the rent of your Aunts’ [Jane and Maria Thoreau] house, & when will it be rentable?
  4. Pray ask your father if he knows of any other houses in the village that may want tenants in the Spring.

  If sometime this evening you can without much inconvenience give me an answer to these queries, you will greatly oblige your imprisoned friend

R. W. Emerson

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 32; The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:331-2; MS, “Hosmer’s Grangerized Salt.” Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library)
15? February. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thoreau:
Dear Sir,
  Mrs [Lucy Jackson] Brown wishes very much to see you at her house tomorrow (Saturday) Evening to meet Mr [Amos Bronson] Alcott. If you have any leisure for the Useful Arts, L[idian] E[merson] is very desirous of your aid. Do not come at any risk of the Fine.

R. W. E.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 33)
25 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “A Shrike” in his journal (Journal, 1:74).
3 March. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:74-5).
4 April. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:75).
7 April. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:75-6).
8 April. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:76).
9 April. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:76-7).
14 April. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:77).
24 April. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:77-8).
25 April. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:78).
30 April. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:78).
Spring. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau and his brother John build a boat, which they name “Musketaquid,” for a trip on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (The Days of Henry Thoreau, 88).
3 May. Concord, Mass.
Amos Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:
Evening - met a circle of persons at Mrs. Thorow’s for Conversation. Topic, Futurity. Various points of sight were taken. Knowledge, Memory, Hope, Pre-existence, Faith, Elements of the Soul, Incarnation, Miracles, were spoken of in illustration of the future life.
  Emerson was far from being satisfied with this Conversation. He said the people were stupid, and that I did not meet them wisely.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 127)
11 May. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:78).
16 May. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:78-9).
17 May. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:79).
21 May. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:79).
27 May. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:
My brave Henry here who is content to live now, and feels no shame in not studying any profession, for he does not postpone his life but lives already, - pours contempt on these crybabies of routine & Boston. He has not one chance but a hundred chances. Now let a stern preacher arise who shall reveal the resources of Man, & tell men they are not leaning willows…
(Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:201-2)
4 June. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

My Attic.

I sit here this fourth of June - looking out on men and nature from this that I call my perspective window -through which all things are seen in their true relations. This is my upper empire - bounded by four walls - viz. three of boards yellow-washed, facing the north, west, and south respectively - and the fourth of plaster - likewise, fronting the sunrise - To say nothing of the purlieus, and out-lying provinces, unexplored as yet by rats.

(Journal, 1:80)
17 June. Concord, Mass.
Edmund Sewall arrives in Concord with his mother to visit his grandmother, the Thoreaus’ boarder, Mrs. Joseph Ward. Over the next several days, Thoreau takes him sailing on the Concord River, hiking to the Cliffs, and to Walden Pond (The Days of Henry David Thoreau, 77).
22 June. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “I have within the last few days come into contact with a pure, uncompromising spirit, that is somewhere wandering in the atmosphere, but settles not positively anywhere” (Journal, 1:80).
24 June. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “Sympathy” in his journal (Journal, 1:80-2).
4 July. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “The Book of Gems” in his journal (Journal, 1:82-3).
11 July. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “At length we leave the river and take to the road which leads to the hill top, if by any means we may spy out what manner of earth we inhabit” (Journal, 1:83-4).
18 July. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “The Assabet” in his journal (Journal, 1:84-6).
20 July. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “The Breeze’s Invitation” in his journal (Journal, 1:86-7).
Ellen Sewall writes to her father Edmund Quincy Sewall Sr. on 31 July:
I left Brookline on Saturday the twentieth as I expected… But to return to the day I left Brookline - Aunt Ann and Grandma and the rest were rather better [than] when I saw them before - I dined there, and cousin Joseph went to the stage office to secure my passage in the Concord stage. It came for me at twenty minutes of four - I was the first passenger taken up - soon after, Mr. and Mrs. Lowell, Aunt Maria’s friends, with their little boy got in, and Mr. Shattuck also. The ride to Concord was delightful. I never enjoyed a stage ride so much in my life. We had some gentle showers, but none to incommode us much. About noon there was a very violent shower, attended with a great deal of wind, which had laid the dust completely. You mention in your letter that the storm was very violent with you. Dear Aunt [Prudence Ward] and Grandmother [Prudence Bird Ward] I found well, and the rest of the family too.
(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; MS, private owner)
22 July. Concord, Mass.
Ellen Sewall writes to her father Edmund Quincy Sewall Sr. on 31 July:
On Monday I went with Mrs. Thoreau, [Cynthia Dunbar Thoreau] Aunt [Prudence Ward] and Mr. Henry T. to see the Giraffe which you must know spent that day in Concord. I was very glad to have an opportunity of seeing this famous animal. It answered my expectations completely, or rather it was even more remarkable looking than I supposed. The little gazelle, which was frisking about in the tent, interested me a good deal.
(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; MS, private owner)
23 July. Concord, Mass.
Ellen Sewall writes to her father Edmund Quincy Sewall Sr. on 31 July:
Henry Thoreau rowed Aunt and me in his boat a little way up the North Branch, as they call it, on Tuesday, which was very pleasant indeed to me, it being my first sail in a boat. We took tea at Mr. Frost’s [Barzillai Frost] with Mr. and Mrs. Thoreau that afternoon. Mr. Frost inquired about you after he found that I was your daughter, which he did not at first know. Mrs. Frost is quite a still little woman, but seemed amiable and pleasant.
(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; MS, private owner)
24 July. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “Stanzas” in his journal (Journal, 1:87-8).
Ellen Sewall writes to her father Edmund Quincy Sewall Sr. on 31 July:
Wednesday afternoon, it being a holiday with the young gentlemen, we, that is Aunt, [Prudence Ward] Messrs. John and Henry Thoreau, and I, walked to the cliffs, where Edmund went when he was here. We took the springs, in our way, where we refreshed ourselves with some most deliciously cool water. It was the best water I ever tasted, just such water as you, dear Father, would like. We stayed a long time at the cliffs, admiring the prospect, which is indeed beautiful, and then we proceeded to Fairhaven pond. This is a sweet little pond; I believe Edmund visited it. We returned by the way of Walden pond, which is much larger than Fairhaven. We enjoyed this walk exceedingly (perhaps I should speak for myself), and were not at all fatigued by it.
(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; MS, private owner)
between 24 and 29 July. Concord, Mass.
Ellen Sewall writes to her father Edmund Quincy Sewall Sr. on 31 July:
Besides numerous other little walks which I shall not now mention, we have visited a hill in the neighborhood called Anursnuck. We went by water three miles up the North Branch, which was the pleasantest part of the excursion. There is a fine view of the neighboring town from the top of the hill, and of the town of Concord, too. We found some berries there. We found the sail back still more pleasant than the sail there, as it was nearly sundown and quite cool and comfortable.
(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; MS, private owner)
25 July. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “There is no remedy for love but to love more” (Journal, 1:88).
29 July. Concord, Mass.
Ellen Sewall writes to her father Edmund Quincy Sewall Sr. on 31 July:
Grandmother’s [Prudence Bird Ward] foot has been quite troublesome again since I came, but is now better. It is really discouraging that it should keep breaking out so. She took a nice ride Monday. Aunt [Prudence Ward] and I accompanied her, with Henry Thoreau for driver. Dear grandmother seemed to enjoy it very much.
(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; MS, private owner)
30 July. Concord, Mass.
Ellen Sewall writes to her father Edmund Quincy Sewall Sr. on 31 July:
Yesterday I attended a “society meeting” three miles off. The ladies are very much engaged in preparing for the approaching fair at which they are to have a table. Sophia [Sophia Thoreau] and Helen [Helen Thoreau] have not yet arrived. They were expected last Saturday but sent word that they were going to Taunton, but should be here the middle of this week.
(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; MS, private owner)
31 July. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:
Last night came to me a beautiful poem from Henry Thoreau, “Sympathy.” The purest strain & the loftiest, I think, that has yet pealed from this unpoetic American forest. I hear his verse with as much triumph as I point to my Guido when they praise half-poets & half-painters.
(Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:230-1)
Ellen Sewall writes to her father Edmund Quincy Sewall Sr.:
Oh, I can not tell you half I have enjoyed here till I get home! I have had so many delightful walks with Aunt [Prudence Ward] and the Mr. Thoreaus that a full account of them all would fill half a dozen letters. I have wished Edmund [Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr.] with me again and again, and the rest of you too; he would have enjoyed these pleasant excursions as well as me and I should have admired to have him with us…
  She [Prudence Bird Ward] and Aunty send a great deal of love to you all and Mr’s John and Henry desire their respects. Mrs. Thoreau does not know I am writing or she would send love too.
  I shall certainly be with you Saturday unless there is a violent storm, which I trust will not be the case. They are all very urgent for me to remain another week, but I of course say decidedly no.
(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; MS, private owner)
8 August. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thomas Carlyle: “I have a young poet in this village named Thoreau, who writes the truest of verses” (The Correspondence of Emerson and Carlyle, 246).
31 August.
Thoreau and his brother John begin their voyage on the Concord River: “At length, on Saturday, the last day of August, 1839, we two, brothers, and natives of Concord, weighed anchor in this river port” (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 12-41).
Thoreau writes in his journal:
Made seven miles, and moored our boat on the west side of a little rising ground which in the spring forms an island in the river, the sun going down on one hand, and our eminence contributing its shadow to the night on the other. In the twilight so elastic is the air that the sky seems to tinkle over farmhouse and wood. Scrambling up the bank of our terra incognita we fall on huckleberries, which have slowly ripened here, husbanding the juices which the months have distilled, for our peculiar use this night. If they had been rank poison, the entire simplicity and confidence with which we plucked them would have insured their wholesomeness. The devout attitude of the hour asked a blessing on that repast. It was fit for the setting sun to rest on.
  From our tent here on the hillside, through that isosceles door, I see our lonely mast on the shore, it may be as an eternity fixture, to be seen in landscapes henceforth, or as the most temporary standstill of time, the boat just come to anchor, and the mast still rocking to find its balance.
  No human life is in night, - the woods, the boat, the shore, - yet is it lifelike. The warm pulse of a young life beats steadily underneath all. This slight wind is where one artery approaches the surface and is skin deep.
  While I write here, I hear the foxes trotting about me over the dead leaves, and now gently over the grass, as if not to disturb the dew which is falling. Why should we not cultivate neighborly relations with the foxes? As if to improve upon our seeming advances, comes one to greet us nosewise under our tent-curtain. Nor do we rudely repulse him. Is man powder and the fox flint and steel? Has not the time come when men and foxes shall lie down together?
  Hist! there, the musquash by the boat is taking toll of potatoes and melons. Is not the age of a community of goods? His presumption kindles in me a brotherly feeling. Nevertheless. I get up to reconoitre, and tread stealthily along the shore to make acquaintance with him. But on the riverside I can see only the stars reflected in the water, and now, by some ripple ruffling the disk of a star, I discover him.
  In the silence of the night the sound of a distant alarm bell is borne to these woods. Even now men have fires and extinguish them, and, with distant horizon blazings and barking of dogs, enact the manifold drama of life.
  We begin to have an interest in sun, moon, and stars. What time riseth Orion? Which side the pole gropeth the bear? East, West, North, and South, - where are they? What clock shall tell the hours for us? - Billerica, midnight.
(Journal, 1:88-90)
1 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal:
Under an oak on the bank of the canal in Chelmsford. From Ball’s Hill to Billerica meeting house the river is a noble stream of water, flowing between gentle hills and occasional cliffs, and well wooded all the way. It can hardly be said to flow at all, but rests in the lap of the hills like a quiet lake. The boatmen call it a dead stream. For many long reaches you can see nothing to indicate that men inhabit its banks. Nature seems to hold a sabbath herself to-day, - a still warm sun on river and wood, and not breeze enough to ruffle the water. Cattle stand up to their bellies in the river, and you think Rembrandt should be here. Camped under some oaks in Tyngsboro, on the east bank of the Merrimack, just below the ferry.
(Journal, 1:90-1; A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 42-120)
2 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Camped in Merrimack, on the west bank, by a deep ravine” (Journal, 1:91; A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 121-87).
3 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “In Bedford, on the west bank, opposite a large rock, above Coos Falls” (Journal, 1:91; A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 188-248).
4 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Wednesday. Hooksett, east bank, two or three miles below the village, opposite Mr. Mitchel’s’” (Journal, 1:91; A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 249-316).
5 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Walked to Concord [N.H.], 10 miles” (Journal, 1:91; A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 317-55).
6 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “By stage to Plymouth, 40 miles, and on foot to Tilton’s Inn, Thornton. The scenery commences on Sanbornton Square, whence the White Mountains are first visible. In Campton it is decidedly mountainous” (Journal, 1:91; A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 356-420).
7 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Walked from Thornton through Peeling and Lincoln to Franconia. In Lincoln visited Stone Flume and Basin, and in Franconia the Notch, and saw the Old Man of the Mountain” (Journal, 1:91).
Concord, Mass. An advertisement for Concord Academy with Thoreau’s brother John as preceptor appears in the Yeoman’s Gazette. The ad runs through 21 September (Yeoman’s Gazette, 7 September 1839:3).
8 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Walked from Franconia to Thomas J. Crawford’s” (Journal, 1:91).
9 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “At Crawford’s” (Journal, 1:91).
10 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Ascended the mountain and rode to Conway” (Journal, 1:91).
11 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Rode to Concord” (Journal, 1:91).
12 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Rode to Hooksett and rowed to Bedford, N. H., or rather to the northern part of Merrimack, near the ferry, by the large Island near which we camped” (Journal, 1:91).
13 September.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Rowed and sailed to Concord - about 50 miles” (Journal, 1:92).
14 September. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal: “Now here are my wise young neighbors who instead of getting like the wordmen into a railroad-car where they have not even the activity of holding the reins, have got into a boat which they have built with their own hands, with sails which they have contrived to serve as a tent by night, & gone up the river Merrimack to live by their wits on the fish of the stream & berries of the wood” (Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:238).
17 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:92).
24 September. Scituate, Mass.
Ellen Sewall writes to her aunt Prudence Ward on 29 September:
You do not know how much pleasure Mr. John’s [John Thoreau Jr.] visit here afforded us. As to my “household” affair I go along very well and found time, as perhaps he told you, to walk on Colman’s hill with him Tuesday afternoon… He gave us a very interesting account of his jaunt to the White Mountains - what a delightful time they must have has - should not you have liked to have gone? Georgie thought “Henry” (as he persisted in calling him) a most entertaining gentleman, for he had innumerable stories of wild animals to tell him which amused him very much.
Her brother Edward adds to the same letter: “We enjoyed Mr. Thoreau’s visit very much. He, George, and I had a nice walk on the beach” (transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner).
26 September. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his brother William: “My Henry Thoreau will be a great poet for such a company, & one of these days for all companies” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:225).
28 September. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal: “A lovely afternoon & I walked toward Fairhaven with H[enry] T[horeau]. & admired autumnal red & yellow and as of old Nature’s wonderful boxes in which she packs so workmanlike her pine seed & oak seed not less the keys of frost & rain & wind with which she unlocks them by & by” (Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:249).
30 September. Concord, Mass.
Prudence Bird Ward writes to a friend:
The young gentlemen returned from their expedition to the White Mountains in less than a fortnight; having gone nearly to Concord, N.H., in their boat, - from there they travelled most of the way on foot, returning to their boat by stage. Their return was very expeditious, - coming in the boat fifty miles the last day. Having so much of his vacation left, John thought he would go visit his sisters at Roxbury, and also go to Scituate. We knew not for certain whether Mr. Sewall would be gone. It seems he had set off that very day. John enjoyed himself, however, very well with Ellen and the boys. Caroline told you of the very pleasant visit we had from Ellen; and we have heard directly from there by John Thoreau. A slight notice of John’s visit also came from Ellen to her aunt, accompanying some flowers pressed in a pamphlet sermon, on the inside of which the maiden wrote, “I have enjoyed Mr. John’s visit exceedingly, though sorry that father and mother were not at home.” How sorry she was for their absence we may well imagine.
(The First and Last Journeys of Thoreau, 1:6-7)
3 October. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Samuel Gray Ward: “I shall not send you today Henry Thoreau’s verses which I am sure deserve your reading but I think I shall send them soon at least the Elegy which pleases me best” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:356).
22 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:92).
5 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:93-4).
ca. 6 November. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal: “I fancied that W’s [Samuel Gray Ward] objection to the verses which pleased me so much was really leveled against ethical verses & not against these particular strains. ‘There was no progress.’ Very well, the moral poet is subjective, & every sentence of his a round poem” (Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:293).
7 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:94).
8 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:94).
13 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:95).
14 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:95).
19 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes his poem “Farewell” in his journal (Journal, 1:95).
20 November. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal: “This afternoon in a very thick grove where H. D. T. showed me the bush of mountain laurel, the first I have seen in Concord, the stems of pine & hemlock & oak almost gleamed like steel upon the excited eye” (Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:313).
22 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:95-6).
26 November. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Samuel Gray Ward: “I have copied Thoreau’s Elegy that I told you pleased me so well. Some time you shall give it, if you please, to Miss Fuller” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:360).
29 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:96).
2 December. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal (Journal, 1:96-7).
3 December. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Samuel Gray Ward: “I see it will be vain for me to resist you, if you like Bettina so well, & my young poet too” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 7:361).
22 December. Concord, Mass.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his aunt, Mary Moody Emerson: “Then we have Henry Thoreau here who writes genuine poetry that rarest product of New England wit” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:244).
26 December. Scituate, Mass.
Ellen Sewall writes to her aunt Prudence Ward:
The poems Henry so kindly sent Father, came safely and pleased us much. Several of them I liked very much. “The fossil flower”, “The prayer”, and the sonnet entitled “Beauty”, are my favorites I think… I have wished you and John and Henry here a thousand times this week, for the ocean has, if possible, looked finer than it did last week… I hope dear Aunty you have had no more occasion for Thorough Wort, alias Thoreauwort… Does Dr. Thoreau continue to give advice gratis? I do not clean my brasses half as quick without the accompaniment of his flute.
(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)
31 December. Concord, Mass.
John Thoreau Jr. writes to George Sewall:
Master George, -
  I send you a letter for New Year’s Day, just such as they sell at the Post Office for ten cents, and you must ask Sister Ellen to read it to you, and let her pay the postage for the pleasure of looking into it.
  When we arrived at Concord we found the snow in the same state in which we left it, a foot and a half deep; still sticking to the trees and houses; the face of the clock upon the Meetinghouse being entirely covered with it. Should you not think it pretty strange to get into a stage at Scituate where there was not enough snow for your Donkey, and after riding a little while step out where the snow was too deep for the largest carts?
  We learned that Sammy Black had acted rather queerly during our absence, for the day before we got home, being in a fit, and anxious to get out of the room, he did not wait for the opening of a door, but dashed through a window, breaking a pane of glass without injuring himself at all; pretty nimble fellow, don’t you think he was?
  Our boys have amused themselves for a few days past with snowballing matches, and grand sport they made of it. The little fellows attacked some of the largest boys, and the giants were very tender to the small ones, and strove not to hurt them. The snow was very hard and the balls flew fast, and sometimes a little captain got a thump with a huge lump of it, but no one was foolish enough to get angry, and they had a fine time. The School went out Christmas day upon the river to skate, and played with some sticks bent up at the end which they call “Hawkies”, knocking a rubber ball about upon the ice. The boys here sometimes have bonfires while skating; the fire resting upon small hillocks sticking up in the meadows, and they gather around to warm themselves with great satisfaction, but if they are pretty lazy, and stand long in one spot, they are quite apt to get into the cellar; as in the story I told Edmund.
  Did you and Edmund hang up your stockings the night before Christmas? Perhaps you don’t know what I mean, but when I was a little boy I was told to hang my clean stocking with those of my brother and sister in the chimney corner the night before Christmas, and that “Santa Claus”, a very good sort of sprite, who rode about in the air upon a broomstick (an odd kind of horse I think) would come down the chimney in the night, and fill our stockings if we had been good children, with dough-nuts, sugar plums and all sorts of nice things; but if we had been naughty we found in the stocking only a rotten potato, a letter and a rod. I got the rotten potato once, had the letter read to me, and was very glad that the rod put into the stocking was too short to be used. And so we got something every year until one Christmas day we asked a girl at school what “Santa Claus” had left her the night before, but she did not understand us, and when we told her about all the nice things which he had left us, and showed her some candy, she said she did not believe it; that our mother had purchased the candy at her father’s shop the night before, for she saw her. We ran home as fast as we could scud to enquire about it, and learned that what the girl had said was true, that there was no “Santa Claus”, and that our mother had put all those good things into our stockings. We were very sorry, I assure you, and we have not hung up our stockings since, and “Santa Claus” never gives us anything now. If they tell you any stories about “Santa Claus” at Scituate, I advise you Master George to hang up the longest stocking you can find.
  I determined one night to sit up until morning that I might get a sight at him when he came down the chimney. I was just about your age George; I got a little cricket and sat down by the fireplace looking sharp up into the chimney, and there I sat about an hour later than my usual bed time, I suppose, when I fell asleep and was carried off to bed before I knew anything about it. So I have never seen him, and don’t know what kind of a looking fellow he was.
I am glad to hear that you are studying Geography; you must dig away hard at it and I think you will like it very much. Here is a picture of Master George Sewall studying Geography. [ drawing ]
  I send Miss Ellen some Opals, from South America, for her Cabinet, a couple of books for Edmund, the larger I give him; the smaller I throw in but will not recommend it. You must give my love to Father and Mother. I send you Sir nothing but a letter, and now if sister has read it through to you very carefully you may give her a kiss for me and wish her a Happy New Year!!
  So much from one who loves little boys but not brats.

John Thoreau Jr.

(transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, Lincoln, Mass.; MS, private owner)
See entry 21 January 1840.



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