the Thoreau Log.
Æt. 23.
3 January 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Charles Stearns Wheeler (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:55; MS, Robert H. Taylor collection of English and American Literature (Series III, Box 19, Folder 34). Firestone Library, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.).

Wheeler replies 6 January.

6 January 1840. Cambridge, Mass.

Charles Stearns Wheeler writes in reply to Thoreau’s letter of 3 January (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:57; MS, private owner).

Thoreau replies 2 March.

10 January 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes his poem, “The Fisher’s Son,” in his journal:

. . .
My years are like a stroll upon the beach,
As near the ocean’s edge as I can go ;
My tardy steps its waves do oft o’erreach,
Sometimes I stay to let them overflow .
Infinite work my hands find there to do,
Gathering the relics which the waves upeast ;
Each storm doth scour the deep for something new,
And every time the strangest is the last . . .
(Journal, 1:110)
19 January 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

By a strong liking we prevail
Against the stoutest fort;
At length the fiercest heart will quail,
And our alliance court.
(Journal, 1:113)
21 January 1840. Scituate, Mass.

Ellen Sewall writes to her aunt Prudence Ward:

  Georgie was delighted with his letter from John, which I have read to him again and again. Henry’s piece on the bluebirds pleased him too very much. Edmund desired me to say that he is very much obliged for his book. Please thank John for me, for the beautiful specimens of opal he so kindly sent. They are the prettiest specimens of any kind that I have, and I value them much . . .

  Please remember us affectionately to the Thoreaus. I often wish you three here to walk with me to the beach and hills again. We had pleasant times that week, did we not? I hope Helen’s health is better. I cannot bear to think of her growing worse. Give my love to her and Sophia if they are at home . . . George wishes John and Henry to be told that he has a beautiful new sled.

(transcript in The Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)
23 January 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to his sister Sophia, with a note attached by their mother:

Care Soror,

  Est magnus acervus nivis ad limina, et frigus intolerable intus. Coelum ipsum ruit, credo, et terrain operit. Sero stratum linquo et maturè repeto; in fenestris multa pruina prospectum absumit, et hîc miser scribo, non currente calamo, nam digiti mentesque torpescunt. Canerem cum Horatio, si vox non faucibus haeserit—

“Vides, ut altâ stet nive candidum
Nawshawtuct, nec jam sustineant onus
Silvae laborantes, geluque
Flumina constiterint acuto
Dissolve frigus, ligna super foco
Large reponens; etc.”

Sed olim, Musâ mutatâ, et laetiore plectro,—

“neque jam stabulis gaudet pecus,
aut arator igni,
Nec prata canis albicant pruinis,
Jam Cytherea choros ducit Venus, imminente lunâ;”

  Quum turdus ferrugineus ver reduxerit, tu, spero, linques curas scholasticas, et negotio religato, desipere in loco audebis, aut mecum inter inter sylvas, aut super scopulos Pulchri-Portus, aut in cymba super lacum Waldensem, mulcens fluctus manu, aut specieum miratus sub undas.

  Bulwerius est mihi nomen incognitum, unus ex ignobile vulgo, nec refutandus nec laudandus. Certe alicui nonnullam honorem habeo qui insanabili Cacoëthe scribendi teneatur.

  Species flagrantis Lexingtonis non somnia deturbat? At non Vulcanum Neptunumque culpemus cum superstitioso grege. Natura curat animalculis aequê ac hominibus; cum serena, tum procellosa amica est.

  Si amas historian et fortia facta heroûm non depone Rollin, precor, ne Clio offendas nunc, nec illa det veniam olim.

  Quos libros Latinos legis? legis, inquam, non studes. Beatus qui potest suos libellos tractare et saepe perlegere sine metu domini urgentis! ab otio injurioso procul est; suos amicos et vocare et dimittere quandocunque velit potest. Bonus liber opus est nobilissimum hominis! Hinc ratio non modo cur legeres sed cur tu quoque scriberes. Nec lectores carent; ego sum. Si non librum meditaris, libellum certê. Nihil posteris proderit te spirâsse et vitam nunc lenîter nunc asperê egisse, sed cogitâsse praeciupue et scripsisse.
Vereor ne tibi peraesum hujus epistolae sit; Necnon alma lux caret,

“Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus umbrae.”
  Quamobrem vale, imô valete, et requiescatis placidê Sorores. [M]emento scribere.

H. D. Thoreaus.

Care Sophia,

  Samuel Niger crebis aegrotationibus, quae agilitatem et aequum animum abstulêre, obnoxius est; iis temporibus ad cellam descendit et multas horas (ibi) manet.

  Flores, ah crudelis pruina! parvo leti discrimine sunt. Cactus frigore ustus est, gerania vero adnuc vigent.

  Conventus sociabiles hac hieme reinstituti fuere. Conveniunt ad meum domum mense quarto vel quinto, ut tu hic esse possis. Matertera Sophia cum nobis remanet; quando urbem revertet non scio. Gravedine etiamnum, sed non tam aegre, laboramus.

  Adolescentula E. White apud pagum paulisper moratur. Memento scribere intra duas hebdomedas.

Te valere desiderium est
Tui Matris C. Thoreaus.

Amanuense, H. D. T.

P. S. Epistolam die solus proxima expectamus.

Translation by Franklin B. Sanborn:

Dear Sister,

  There is a huge snowdrift at the door, and the cold inside is intolerable. The very sky is coming down, I guess, and covering up the ground. I turn out late in the morning, and go to bed early; there is thick frost on the windows, shutting out the view; and here I write in pain, for fingers and brains are numb. I would chant with Horace, if my voice did not stick in my throat,—

See how Nashawtuck, deep in snow,
Stands glittering, while the bending woods
Scarce bear their burden, and the floods
Feel arctic winter stay their flow
Pile on the firewood, melt the cold,
Spare nothing, etc.

But soon, changing my tune, and with a cheerfuller note, I’ll say,—

No longer the flock huddles up in the stall, the plowman bends over the fire,
No longer frost whitens the meadow;
But the goddess of love, while the moon shines above,
Sets us dancing in light and in shadow.


  When Robin Redbreast brings back the springtime, I trust that you will lay your school-duties aside, cast off care, and venture to be gay now and then, roaming with me in the woods, or climbing the Fairhaven cliffs,—or else, in my boat on Walden, let the water kiss your hand, or gaze at your image in the wave.

  Bulwer is to me a name unknown,—one of the unnoticed crowd, attracting neither blame nor praise. To be sure, I hold any one in some esteem who is helpless in the grasp of the writing demon.

  Does not the image of the Lexington afire trouble your dreams? But we may not, like the superstitious mob, blame Vulcan or Neptune. Nature takes as much care for little animals as for mankind; first she is a serene friend, then a stormy friend.

  If you like history, and the exploits of the brave, don’t give up Rollin, I beg; thus would you displease Clio, who might not forgive you hereafter. What Latin are you reading? I mean reading, not studying. Blessed is the man who can have his library at hand, and oft peruse the books, without the fear of a taskmaster! he is far enough from harmful idleness, who can call in and dismiss these friends when he pleases. An honest book’s the noblest work of Man. There’s a reason, now, not only for your reading, but for writing something, too. You will not lack readers, – here am I, for one. If you cannot compose a volume, then try a tract. It will do the world no good, hereafter, if you merely exist, and pass life smoothly or roughly; but to have thoughts, and write them down, that helps greatly.

  I fear you will tire of this epistle; the light of day is dwindling, too,—

“And longer fall the shadows of the hills.”

  Therefore, good-by; fare ye well, and sleep in quiet, both my sisters! Don’t forget to write.

H. D. Thoreau

Dear Sophia,

  Sam Black (the cat) is liable to frequent attacks that impair his agility and good-nature; at such times he goes down cellar, and stays many hours. Your flowers—O, the cruel frost! are all but dead; the cactus is withered by cold, but the geraniums yet flourish. The Sewing Circles have been revived this winter; they meet at our house in April or May, so that you may then be here. Your Aunt Sophia remains with us,—when she will return to the city I don’t know. We still suffer from heavy colds, but not so much. Young Miss E. White is staying in the village a little while. Don’t forget to write within two weeks.

  That you may enjoy good health is the prayer of

Your mother,
C. Thoreau.

H.D.T. was the scribe.

P.S. We expect a letter next Sunday.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 35-38; Familiar Letters of Thoreau, 32-3; MS, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY.)
26 January 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Constantly, as it were through a remote skylight, I have glimpses of a serene friendship-land, and know the better why brooks murmur and violets grow. This conjunction of souls, like waves which meet and break, subsides also backward over things, and gives all afresh aspect. I would live hence forth with some gentle soul such a life as may be conceived, double for variety, single for harmony,—two, only that we may admire at our oneness,—one, because indivisible.

  Such community to be a pledge of holy living. How could aught unworthy be admitted into our society? To listen with one ear to each summer sound, to behold with one eye each summer scene, our visual rays so to meet and mingle with the object as to be one bent and doubled; with two tongues to be wearied, and thought to spring lessly from a double fountain.

  It has a logic more severe than the logician’s.

(Journal, 1:113-114)
27 January 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  What a tame life we are living!

  How little heroic it is! Let us devise never so perfect a system of living, and straightway the soul leaves it to shuffle along its own way alone. It is easy enough to establish a durable and harmonious routine; immediately all parts of nature consent to it. The sun-dial still points to the noon mark, and the sunrises and sets for it. The neighbors are never fatally obstinate when such a scheme is to be instituted; but forthwith all lend a hand, and ring the bell, and bring fuel and lights, and put by work and don their best garments, with an earnest conformity which matches the operations of nature. There is always a present and extant life which all combine to uphold, though its insufficiency is manifest enough. Still the sing-song goes on.

(Journal, 1:115)

29 January 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A friend in history looks like some premature soul. The nearest approach to a community of love in these days is like the distant breaking of waves on the seashore. An ocean there must be, for it washes our beach. This alone do all men sail for, trade for, plow for, preach for, fight for.
(Journal, 1:115-117)
10 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

11 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is never enough that our life is an easy one. We must live on the stretch; not be satisfied with a tame and undisturbed round of weeks and days, but retire to our rest like soldiers on the eve of a battle, looking forward with ardor to the strenuous sortie of the morrow. “Sit not down in the popular seats and common level of virtues, but endeavor to make them heroical. Offer not only peace offerings but holocausts unto God.” To the brave soldier the rust and leisure of peace are harder than the fatigues of war. As our bodies court physical encounters, and languish in the mild and even climate of the tropics, so our souls thrive best on unrest and discontent. He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul’s estate.
(Journal, 1:117-118)
12 February 1840.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Opposition is often so strong a likeness as to remind us of the difference.

  Truth has properly no opponent, for nothing gets so far up on the other side as to be opposite. She looks broadcast over the field and sees no opponent.

(Journal, 1:118-119)

Scituate, Mass. Ellen Sewall writes to her aunt Prudence Ward:

  My neglecting to thank Henry for his original poetry was entirely unintentional, and I regret it exceedingly. I wish you would give him to understand that we really were much pleased at receiving it. I was particularly pleased with the piece about Fairhaven Pond; “The Bluebirds” is very pretty too . . .

  I am glad Dotheboys flourishes and hope it will continue henceforth . . .

  George desires his love to Henry and John, and also to you and Grandmother. I am very glad to hear that Helen Thoreau is better, and trust she will soon be entirely well. All join me in best love to you and dear Grandmother, and regards to John and Henry.

(from a transcript in The Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)
13 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Duty belongs to the understanding, but genius is not dutiful, the highest talent is dutiful. Goodness results from the wisest use of talent. The perfect man has both genius and talent.

  The one is his head, the other his foot; by one he is, by the other he lives.

  The unconsciousness of man is the consciousness of God, the end of the world.

  The very thrills of genius are disorganizing. The body is never quite acclimated to its atmosphere, but how often succumbs and goes into a decline!

(Journal, 1:119)
14 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Beauty lives by rhymes. Double a deformity is a beauty. Draw this blunt quill over the paper, and fold it once transversely to the line, pressing it suddenly before the ink dries, and a delicately shaded and regular figure is the result, which art cannot surpass.
(Journal, 1:119-120)
15 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The good seem to inhale a more generous atmosphere and be bathed in amore precious light (Journal, 1:120).
16 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Divination is prospective memory (Journal, 1:120-121).
18 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  All romance is grounded on friendship. What is this rural,this pastoral, this poetical life but its invention? Does not the moon shine for Endymion? Smooth pastures and mild airs are for some Corydon and Phyllis. Paradise belongs to Adam and Eve. Plato’s republic is governed by Platonic love.
(Journal, 1:121)
20 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The coward’s hope is suspicion, the hero’s doubt a sort of hope. The gods neither hope nor doubt (Journal, 1:121).
22 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The river is unusually high owing to the melting of the snow. Men go in boats over their gardens and potato-fields, and all the children in the village are on tiptoe to see whose fence will be carried away next (Journal, 1:121-122).
24 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes his poem “The Freshet” in his journal:

A stir is on the Worcester hills,
And Nobscot too the valley fills;
Where scarce you’d fill an acorn cup
In summer when the sun was up,
No more you’ll find a cup at all,
But in its place a waterfall.

O that the moon were in conjunction
To the dry land’s extremest unction,
Till every (like and pier were flooded,
And all the land with islands studded,
For once to teach all human kind,
Both those that plow and those that grind,
There is no fixture in the land,
That all unstable is as sand . . .

(Journal, 1:122-124)
26 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The most important events make no stir on their first taking place, nor indeed in their effects directly. They seem hedged about by secrecy. It is concussion, or the rushing together of air to fill a vacuum, which makes a noise. The great events to which all things consent, and for which they have prepared the way, produce no explosion, for they are gradual, and create no vacuum which requires to be suddenly filled; as a birth takes place in silence, and is whispered about the neighborhood, but an assassination, which is at war with the constitution of things, creates a tumult immediately.

  Corn grows in the night.

(Journal, 1:124)
27 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Some geniuses seem to hover in the horizon, like heat lightning, which is not accompanied with fertilizing rain to us, but we are obliged to rest contented with the belief that it is purifying the air somewhere. Others make known their presence by their effects, like that vivid lightning which is accompanied by copious rain and thunder and, though it clears our atmosphere, sometimes destroys our lives. Others still impart a steady and harmless light at once to large tracts, as the aurora borealis; and this phenomenon is hardest to be accounted for some thinking it to be a reflection of the polar splendor, others a subtle fluid which pervades all things and tends always to the zenith. All are agreed that these are equally electrical phenomena, as some clever persons have shown by drawing a spark with their knuckles. Modern philosophy thinks it has drawn down lightning from the clouds.
(Journal, 1:124-125)
28 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  On the death of a friend, we should consider that, the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have hence forth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.
(Journal, 1:125)
29 February 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A friend advises by his whole behavior, and never condescends to particulars; another chides away a fault, he loves it away. While he sees the other’s error, he is silently conscious of it, and only the more loves truth himself, and assists his friend in loving it, till the fault is expelled and gently extinguished.
(Journal, 1:125)
2 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Love is the burden of all Nature’s odes. The song of the birds is an epithalamium, a hymeneal. The marriage of the flowers spots the meadows and fringes the hedges with pearls and diamonds. In the deep water, in the high air, in woods and pastures, and the bowels of the earth, this is the employment and condition of all things.
(Journal, 1:125)

Thoreau also replies to Charles Stearns Wheeler’s letter of 6 January (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:63-4; MS missing). Wheeler replies 4 March.

3 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  Henry Thoreau has given me lately to read a fine critique on Persius. It is well worthy of Weeks Jordan & Co. if he will surrender it (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:259).
4 March 1840.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I learned to-day that my ornithology had done me no service. The birds I heard, which fortunately did not come within the scope of my science, sung as freshly as if it had been the first morning of creation, and had for background to their song an untrodden wilderness, stretching through many a Carolina and Mexico of the soul.
(Journal, 1:117-118)

Cambridge, Mass. Charles Stearns Wheeler writes to Thoreau (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:64-5; MS, private owner).

6 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  There is no delay in answering great questions; for them all things have an answer ready. The Pythian priestess gave her answers instantly, and ofttimes before the questions were fairly propounded (Journal, 1:126).

An advertisement for Concord Academy appears in the Concord Freeman (Concord Freeman, 6 March 1840:3), which runs in every issue through 17 April, with the exception of the 13 March and 27 March issues. The same advertisement runs concurrently in the Yeoman’s Gazette from 7 March through 2 May, except in the 25 April issue.

8 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes his poem “The Poet’s Delay” in his journal:

Two years and twenty now have flown;
Their meanness time away has flung;
These limbs to man’s estate have grown.
But cannot claim a manly tongue.

Amidst such boundless wealth without
I only still am poor within;
The birds have sung their summer out,
But still my spring does not begin . . .

(Journal, 1:126-128)
16 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The ducks alight at this season on the windward side of the river, in smooth water, and swim about by twos and threes, pluming themselves and diving to peck at the root of the lily and the cranberries which the frost has not loosened.
(Journal, 1:128-129)
20 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In society all the inspiration of my lonely hours seems to flow back on me, and then first have expression.

  Love never degrades its votaries, but lifts them up to higher walks of being. They over-look one another. All other charities are swallowed up in this; it is gift and reward both.

  We will have no vulgar Cupid for a go-between, to make us the playthings of each other, but rather cultivate an irreconcilable hatred instead of this.

(Journal, 1:129)
21 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The world is a fit theatre to-day in which any part may be acted. There is this moment proposed to me every kind of life that men lead anywhere, or that imagination can paint. By another spring I may be a mail-carrier in Peru, or a South African planter, or a Siberian exile, or a Greenland whaler, or a settler on the Columbia River, or a Canton merchant, or a soldier in Florida, or a mackerel-fisher off Cape Sable, or, a Robinson Crusoe in the Pacific, or a silent navigator of any sea. So wide is the choice of parts, what a pity if the part of Hamlet be left out!

  I am freer than any planet; no complaint reaches round the world. I can move away from public opinion, from government, from religion, from education, from society. Shall I be reckoned a ratable poll in the county of Middlesex, or be rated at one spear under the palm trees of Guinea? Shall I raise corn and potatoes in Massachusetts, or figs and olives in Asia Minor? sit out the clay in my office in State Street, or ride it out on the steppes of Tartary? For my Brobdingnag I may sail to Patagonia; for my Lilliput, to Lapland. In Arabia and Persia, my day’s adventures may surpass the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments. I may be a logger on the head waters of the Penobscot, to be recorded in fable hereafter as an amphibious river-god, by as sounding a name as Triton or Proteus; carry furs from Nootka to China, and so be more renowned than Jason and his golden fleece; or go on a South Sea exploring expedition, to be hereafter recounted along with the periplus of Ianno. I may repeat the adventures Marco Polo or Mandeville.

  These are but few of my Chances, and how many more things may I do with which there are none to be compared!

(Journal, 1:129-131)
22 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  While I bask in the sun on the shores of Walden Pond, by this heat and this rustle I am absolved from all obligations to the past (Journal, 1:131).
23 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal on 28 March:

  I came here last Monday afternoon in the stage. I left Father at Boston whither we had come in the chaise. I am to go to Messrs Thoreaus school for 3 months. There are three other boys who board here and go to the school–Charles [Henry Cummings] Jesse [Harding] & Joseph. Charles came up with me in the stage.
(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
27 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How many are now standing on the European coast whom another spring will find located on the Red River, or Wisconsin! To-day we live an antediluvian life on our quiet homesteads, and tomorrow are transported to the turmoil and bustle of a crusading era (Journal, 1:131-132).
28 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  I study in the morning Solid Geometry, Geography and grammar and in the afternoon read, spell or say definition from the reading lesson, say Latin & Algebra. I write every other morning. Saturday is given to writing composition. We boarders write home once a fort-night if we choose. I wrote to mother today.

  This was a day of misfortunes. At noon Charles & I fired upon a party of boys going by in the road. A skirmish ensued and we being inferior in force although Joseph and Jesse had joined us were driven into the house except Charles who was chased away by the boys.

  We boys in the house being desirous of seeing the marauders ran into the entry where there was an open window and (as we afterwards found) a pudding cooling to look out of the window. None of us saw the pudding till it was lying bottom upwards on the ground and each declared that he was not conscious of knocking it over. As for myself I did not know anything about there being any pudding till some body called out that the pudding was knocked over.

  I had therefore to make a dinner on salt fish which I hate. After dinner we took a walk along the river and eat some cranberries and checkerberries. When we got back I carried my letter to the Post Office and solaced myself with two apples and two figs procured at the “Exchange.” When I got home Mr. John gave me another fig so I did very well till supper time. Just before supper Joseph who was leaning the back of his chair against the wall slipped down hurt him self some and the chair more for one of the upright rods at the back was started. I believe nobody knows of this but us boys and I hope it will not be discovered before its time. In the evening a small bottle of blue ink was upset on the table cloth. P.S. I’m sorry the pudding was lost for it was a baked rice one such as I should have liked.

(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
30 March 1840.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A long soaking rain, the drops trickling down the stubble, while I lay drenched on a last year’s bed of wild oats, by the side of some bare hill, ruminating (Journal, 1:132).

Providence, R.I. Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  I do not wish any colleagues whom I do not love, and though the Journal we have all regarded as something gay & not something solemn, yet were I responsible, I would rather trust for its wit & its verses to the eight or nine persons in whose affections I have a sure place . . . then on Thoreau, whom I shall now seriously ask to give his aid.
(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:271)
31 March 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal on 1 April:

  I had a nice sail on the river yesterday after school. Messrs John and Henry T. rowed and Jesse [Harding] and I were passengers. We went up the river against the wind and then sailed down to the monument where we got out with the intention of all embarking again, but Mr. J and Jesse being near the monument and Mr H. and I near the boat we jumped in and went across to the abutment of the former bridge on the opposite side. I suppose that we should have come back for them if they had staid but they went off with the sail which we had left on the bank. Mr. H. rowed up the river a little way and got out. We had not the keys of the boat and should have been obliged to leave her without being securely fastened or have hauled her up on the shore if Joseph had not come down with the keys. He got two wet feet for his pains. Mr. T had sent for some clams and in the evening Mr. J. and I had a fire in our room to cook some clams for our private eating. We roasted a few and then he went down and got some in a nondescript vessel which they call a monkey to boil. We eat the clams and then he put a little butter into the broth to make it taste good and brought up two hunks of brown bread crust to eat. But alas! as we were sipping the broth out of clamshells (the monkey being put on two sticks of wood across our knees) Mr. John got something in his throat which made him cough and shake so that it upset all on to the floor. We wiped up what little went on the carpet and gave the rug a beat to make it dry.

  We soon went to bed after this and I dreamed of eating clams.

(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
1 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  I received a “Hingham Patriot” from home today. I bought two oranges and gave Joseph Keyes one and Jesse [Harding] half of another. Jesse gave me some raisons. In the evening we had a nice time.

  Before supper Mr John had made a fire in our room and we boiled a “monkey” full of clams leaving them to cool while we eat supper.

  After supper we went and eat them and they were delicious. Then we put some more clams into the broth to boil and Mr John went down and got the boys and they all came up into the room.

  When they were done and cool we eat them broth and all and then put on another lot which we eat also. We had been rendered cautious by our last nights misfortune and had a box for a table when eating and a seat when waiting for them to be done. We also set the monkey into a tin pan so that if it did upset it might be saved if possible from going on the carpet. We met with no accident however saving that a single clam dropped out of the window where they were put to cool which was afterwards brought in and eaten by Charles [Henry Cummings].

  We then went to the Lyceum expecting that a Phrenologist would lecture. His apparatus was there but the lecturer had not arrived. A man there set out his casts and several real skulls on the desk but immediately put them back again. One of the skulls was that of a British soldier who fell in the Battle of Concord. It was dug up in Lincoln. It was only the upper half of the head. There was the bullet hole through which the ball which killed him had passed. A Mr. [David Greene] Haskins lectured on Roger Williams the founder of Rhode Island—a description of his life. Bought 2 cents worth of burnt almonds going home. I forgot to say while speaking of the lecture that he said that the Pilgrims were so poor that when a man had invited his neighbor to a dish of clams (very apropos to our clam feast) he returned thanks that they were permitted “such of the abundance of the seas and of treasures hid in the sand.”

(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
2 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  April 2d is fast-day. We had very unappropriately the best breakfast we have had since I came here consisting of flap-jacks. I went to meeting all day and to a Anti-Slavery lecture by Mr [James Trask] Woodbury in the evening. Dr [Ezra] Ripley was at meeting in the afternoon.
(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
3 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  Mr John had the colic so badly last night that he did not come into school in the morning.

  In the evening went to the phrenological lecture which was pretty interesting. (N.B. I made an erroneous statement about this lecturer a few days ago. I said he had not come up from Boston. He had been engaged on the supposition that Mr Haskins would not come but as Mr H. did come he had to give place).

(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
4 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  We look to windward for fair weather (Journal, 1:132).

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  Wrote composition about birds. Mr Thoreau said that he should give me something to write about of which I did not know much about so I wrote on the Ostrich the Eagle and Falcon which every body knows some thing about. I suppose he thought I should write about Bobolinks and Chicadees of which I am wholly ignorant. I cunningly took half a sheet of paper to write on so on the whole I managed to fill out my pages.
(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)

5 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes to his cousin Mary Sewall Ward:

  I am going to school here now to a Mr Thoreau who is a very pleasant school-master. Saturdays we do nothing but write composition . . .

  I have been out to sail once since I have been here in Mr. Thoreau’s boat. He has a very good boat which he and his brother made themselves. The river was then quite high and we sailed very fast a part of the way.

(Concord Saunterer, OS vol. 17, no. 3 (December 1984): 2–3)
6 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to David Greene Haskins (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:65; MS missing).

8 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How can I help myself? By withdrawing into a garret, and associating with spiders and mice—determining to meet myself face to face sooner or later (Journal, 1:132-133).
9 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I read in Cudworth how “Origen determines that the stars do not make but signify; and that the heavens are a kind of divine volume, in whose characters they that are skilled may read or spell out human events.” Nothing can be truer, and yet astrology is possible. Men seem to be just on the point of discerning a truth when the imposition is greatest.
(Journal, 1:133)
11 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  In the afternoon we went off into the woods with a parcel of the boys of the school where I played a while and drank out a jug of lemonade we had carried with us. We then left the jug till we came back and started for Walden pond. As we were coming back we saw Aunt and Mr. Thoreau and I went and joined her while the rest of the boys kept on.

  We went to Goose pond where we heard a tremendous chirping of frogs. It has been disputed whether the noise was caused by frogs so we were very curious to know what it was. Mr Thoreau however caught 3 very small frogs two of them in the very act of chirping. While bringing them home one of them chirped in his hat. He carried them to Mr Emerson in a tumbler of water. They chirped there also.

  On Sunday morning I believe he put them into a barrel with some rainwater in it. he threw in some sticks for them to rest on. They some times rested on these sticks. They sometimes crawled up the side of the barrel. I saw one of them chirping he had swelled out the loose skin of his chest like a little bladder.

(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
12 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  At night we heard the frogs peeping and on Monday morning they were nowhere to be seen. They had probably crawled out of some hole in the cover of the barrel and made for the river as Mrs Thoreau affirmed that when she heard them in the night their voices seemed to recede in that direction. Mr Thoreau intended to have preserved them in spirits.
(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
15 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  In the afternoon the boys and I went down to see Messrs Thoreau tar the bottom of their boat with a mixture of resin and tallow 4 pounds of the former to half a pound of the latter. I got very angry with Jesse [Harding] for rubbing my face with water while we were trying to spatter and wet each other. Acted as foolishly as naughtily—laid down on my face on the grass and cried. After a while I got up and we were all friends again. The expedition cost me however a pair of wet feet. Mr John went in the boat and got Thursday some sweet briars when he had fixed it.

Charles [Henry Cummings] Joseph & I went down with a wheelbarrow and got them out of the boat.

(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  Henry Thoreau has too mean an opinion of ‘Persius’ or any of his pieces to care to revise them but he will give us Persius as it is, if we will do the revising (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:280-1).
16 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  Mr Thoreau had his land ploughed. The boys are at work fixing their gardens. They have bought them some little hoes to work with. Mrs. Thoreau is also fixing her flower garden. After school Mrs. T, Aunt, Mr H.T. and I went to Mr Alcott’s. His little girl [Anna] comes to our school she is my second cousin. I had the honor of carrying some yeast in a bottle for Mrs. A. Mr Alcott has plenty of seeds and tools as Mr Henry says.
(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
17 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Farewell, etiquette! My neighbor inhabits a hollow sycamore, and I a beech tree. What then becomes of morning calls with cards, and deference paid to door-knockers and front entries, and presiding at one’s own table? (Journal, 1:133).
18 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  At noon Mr John and I went to the post office. He bought some oranges and gave me one. We got weighed in at Mr Shattuck’s store he weighed 117 lbs. He invited Alexander and Andrew Beath (from Cuba) to go to sail with him. He also invited me. In the afternoon we went accordingly. Alexander came up and said that Andrew had gone to eat his dinner and would wait for us on a bridge. Accordingly we got in and sometimes rowed, sometimes sailed down the stream. We found the wind was not exactly fair to go to Bedford as we intended. Once when we were rounding a point we were right broadside to the wind and waves and Mr T and Alex could hardly keep the boat from driving right on shore. The waves beat in and splattered us all over. At last we got round. We went with very great speed sometimes when we were sailing. When we got to the bridge we hauled up the boat and tipped the water out of her. Andrew was there. We stayed there a little while. The boat soon dried. We got into her again and went under the bridge. The river being now high a great deal of meadow was overflowed. We got aground several times and sometimes took down the sail and Mr. T & A rowed. We could see the cranberries at the bottom. So we went on till we got below Ball’s hill in Bedford. There we fastened hauled up the boat and got out. We looked round in a field for arrowheads but none were found except one which was broken and the point of another. Mr Thoreau found a young turtle no bigger than a cent. We determined to go to the top of a hill to see the prospect. Andrew went back to the boat. Mr Thoreau gave him the turtle to put in the water. We went in towards the hill. We passed near the house of [Benjamin W.] Lee one of the scholars and saw him and his father [Eliab Lee] at work in a field. He was rolling in grass seed with a heavy roller drawn by oxen. He said that he had found a piece of an Indian implement that morning. Mr T. stood and talked so long with Mr L. that I became tired and went back to the boat where I found Andrew and cut me a stick and picked cranberries but the latter were a combinations of bad tastes and I threw them into the river. I tied my hand kerchief to a big pine stick and set it up occasionally for a flag. After a good while Mr T. and Alexander came back. They had not been to the hill after all. They had the piece of an Indian tool which Lee had given to Mr Thoreau and which Mr T has given to me. It seems to have been used for digging at least Mr John thinks. He says he has a whole one with a hole to put the thumb through and marks for the fingers. Mr Henry thinks it is not probable that the Indians would have used it and that they would be much more likely to use a piece of slate or some other flat stone. I do not know whether I shall preserve it or not. At length we set out to come back having eaten a small luncheon which Mr John produced from one of the cuddies of his boat. I sat in the cow to be pilot and Andrew in the stern the other two rowed. We got aground once or twice but had not much trouble in getting off again. We fastened the boat again near Mr [?] Barrett’s house and hid the oars. We then walked home. We found some housatonias a little flower which Aunt [Prudence Ward] has looked for unsuccessfully several times. We got home about 7 oclock and had some supper. Aunt had an attack of the colic. I washed me of course and then went to bed.
(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
19 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The infinite bustle of Nature of a summer’s noon, or her infinite silence of a summer’s night, gives utterance to no dogma. They do not say to us even with a seer’s assurance, that this or that law is immutable and so ever and only can the universe exist. But they are the indifferent occasion for all things and the annulment of all laws.
(Journal, 1:133)
20 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day (Journal, 1:133-134).

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  In the morning early we heard the sound of bells and cannon and found that they were celebrating the 19th of April. I got up and went to see the fire. The cannon was opposite the gunhouse and they were firing it as fast as they could load. When they had done they put the cannon into the gunhouse again and I came back.

  Some of the boys had been up ringing the Academy bell.

(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
21? April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  I believe I shall roll up with this, Thoreau’s paper [on Persius]. I read it through this morning & foresee that it may give you some hesitations. There is too much manner in it—as much as in Richter—& too little method, in any common sense of that word—Yet it has always a spiritual meaning even when the literal does not hold; & has so much brilliancy & life in it that in our bold bible for The Young America, I think it ought to find a place. I wish it were shorter. But the three divisions of the piece may be marked in the typography; & nobody need read it who cannot transpierce the imagery. Besides, when one article is too long, why not print a few pages more than the rubric, so that any thing material shd. not be excluded.

  There is surely time for you to send this paper back to Thoreau for any corrections: a few words I noticed, but thought I would not keep it for them.

(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:287)
22 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Thales was the first of the Greeks who taught that souls are immortal, and it takes equal wisdom to discern this old fact to-day. What the first philosopher taught, the last will have to repeat. The world makes no progress (Journal, 1:134).
23 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes to his father:

  In the morning I recite Solid Geometry. I draw figures and write down the demonstration on the slate after Mr. Henry has taken the book and when I have done carry it to him. He examines it to see that it is right. Geography comes next, immediately after recess. Smith’s geography is the one used. I borrow it of one of the boys who has done studying it. Grammar comes next. Parker and Fox’s is used. It is in two parts. I have been through the first part and have begun the second. I borrow it of Mr. Thoreau . . .

  In the afternoon I am exclusively under Mr. Henry’s jurisdiction. I recite in Algebra and Latin generally before recess. In the afternoon Mr. Henry’s classes go up into the hall over the schoolroom to recite. In Latin I am in company with Miss Hine. We are now on the life of Alcibiades in Nepos and in the exception in conjugation in the grammar.

  Geography is studied by a good many. We draw maps of the states. Saturday morning is devoted to writing composition. The two that I have written have been on birds and berries.

  The school hours are from half past eight to half past twelve in the morning and from two to four in the afternoon. Mr. Thoreau reads [a]loud those compositions which he thinks will please the scholars, which sometimes occasions a great deal of laughter. The boys sometimes write their lives or those of some venerable Aunt Hannah or Uncle Ichabod.

(The Days of Henry Thoreau (1965), 81-2; MS, private owner)
25 April 1840. Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Margaret Fuller writes to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

  The Persius shall go into the first number. I am sure they ought to be glad of it! How beautiful, how appropriate is your motto. I should think you would always have a regard for Persius who has furnished you with it (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:291 note).
27 April 1840. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  Henry Thoreau has taken his Persius once more for re-correction but it is excellent now (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:293).
5 May 1840. Concord, Mass.

Ellen Sewall writes in her diary:

  Edmund seems to be very happy indeed. I am very glad he is with the Thoreaus and Grandma and Aunt . . .

  Grandma sent me a nice pair of cotton stockings in the bundle and John Thoreau sent me an arrowhead. Anything from him is acceptable. He sent Georgie some goldleaf.

(transcript in The Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)
8 May 1840. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  Next Wednesday the club of clubs [the Transcendental Club] meet at my house. Will you not come & see me & inspire our reptile wits. Mr [George] Ripley said he should like to bring you. I have asked Mrs Ripley & Sarah Clark. Henry Hedge, Theodore Parker, [A. Bronson] Alcott, & Henry Thoreau will certainly be here.
(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:293)
9 May 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  In the evening I washed me in our room and locked the doors. I forgot to unlock them again though I am quite sure I attempted to latch but the button probably slipped down again and the other escaped my mind completely. Mr John came to bed very late when all the other folks were in bed except Aunt [Prudence Ward]. He came to one door and tried to open it but it was fastened. He then went to the other door and not being able to open that had to call to me so loud to wake me up and make me comprehend that he waked all the other grown up folks although I do not think the boys heard him.
(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
10 May 1840. Concord, Mass.

Edmund Quincy Sewall Jr. writes in his journal:

  After supper Mr John and I went to the red bridge. The railing was all cut over with names many of which were effaced by time and weather. I saw Ellen’s name cut in the wood between the initials of Mr J. and Mr. H Thoreau which bore date 1830 and ‘35. Mr Henry’s initials was cut very neatly and deep.
(MS, “E. Q. Sewall Diary,” Sewall Family papers. American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.)
14 May 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A kind act or gift lays us under obligation not so much to the giver as to Truth and Love. We  must then be truer and kinder ourselves. Just in proportion to our sense of the kindness, and pleasure at it, is the debt paid. What is it to be grateful but to be gratified,—to be pleased? The nobly poor will dissolve all obligations by nobly accepting a kindness.

  If we are not sensible of kindness, then indeed we incur a debt. Not to be pleased by generous deeds at any time, though done to another, but to sit crabbedly silent in a corner, what is it but a voluntary imprisonment for debt? It is to see the world through a grating. Not to let the light of virtuous actions shine on us at all times, through every crevice, is to live in a dungeon. War is the sympathy of concussion. We would fain rub one against another. Its rub may be friction merely, but it would rather be titillation. We discover in the quietest scenes how faithfully war has copied the moods of peace. Men do not peep into heaven but they see embattled hosts there. Milton’s heaven was a camp. When the sun bursts through the morning fog I seem to hear the din of war louder than when his chariot thundered on the plains of Troy. Every man is a warrior when he aspires. He marches on his post. The soldier is the practical idealist; he has no sympathy with matter, he revels in the annihilation of it. So do we all at times. When a freshet destroys the works of man, or a fire consumes them, or a Lisbon earthquake shakes them down, our sympathy with persons is swallowed up in a wider sympathy with the universe. A crash is apt to grate agreeably on our ears.

  Let not the faithful sorrow that he has no car for the more fickle harmonies of creation, if he is awake to the slower measure of virtue and truth. If his pulse: does not beat in unison with the musician’s quips and turns, it accords with the pulse-beat of the ages.

(Journal, 1:134-136)
11 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  We awake to a warm, drizzling rain which threatens delay to our plans, but at length the leaves and grass are dried, and it comes out a mild afternoon, of such a sober serenity and freshness that Nature herself seems maturing some greater scheme of her own. All things wear the aspect of a fertile idleness. It is the eventide of the soul. After this long dripping and oozing from every pore Nature begins to respire again more healthily than ever.
(Journal, 1:136-138)
13 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to his sister Helen:

Dear Helen,—

  That letter to John, for which you had an opportunity doubtless to substitute a more perfect communication, fell, as was natural, into the hands of his “transcendental brother,” who is his proxy in such cases, having been commissioned to acknowledge and receipt all bills that may be presented. But what’s in a name? Perhaps it does not matter whether it be John or Henry. Nor will those same six months have to be altered, I fear, to suit his case as well. But methinks they have not passed entirely without intercourse, provided we have been sincere though humble worshipers of the same virtue in the mean time. Certainly it is better that we should make ourselves quite sure of such a communion as this by the only course which is completely free from suspicion,—the coincidence of two earnest and aspiring lives,—than run the risk of a disappointment by relying wholly or chiefly on so meagre and uncertain a means as speech, whether written or spoken, affords. How often, when we have been nearest each other bodily, have we really been farthest off! Our tongues were the witty foils with which we fenced each other off. Not that we have not met heartily and with profit as members of one family, but it was a small one surely, and not that other human family. We have met frankly and without concealment ever, as befits those who have an instinctive trust in one another, and the scenery of whose outward lives has been the same, but never as prompted by an earnest and affectionate desire to probe deeper our mutual natures. Such intercourse, at least, if it has even been, has not condescended to the vulgarities of oral communication, for the ears are provided with no lid as the eye is, and would not have been deaf to it in sleep. And now glad am I, if I am not mistaken in imagining that some such transcendental inquisitiveness has traveled post thither,—for, as I observed before, where the bolt hits, thither was it aimed,—any arbitrary direction notwithstanding.

  Thus much, at least, our kindred temperament of mind and body—and long family-arity—have done for us, that we already find ourselves standing on a solid and natural footing with respect to one another, and shall not have to waste time in the so often unavailing endeavor to arrive fairly at this simple ground.

  Let us leave trifles, then, to accident; and politics, and finance, and such gossip, to the moments when diet and exercise are cared for, and speak to each other deliberately as out of one infinity into another,—you there in time and space, and I here. For beside this relation, all books and doctrines are not better than gossip or the turning of a spit.

Equally to you and Sophia, from

Your affectionate brother,
H. D. Thoreau.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 39-40; MS, Clifton Waller Barrett collection, Alderman Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.)
14 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  ”In glory and in joy, Behind his plough, upon the mountain-side!” I seemed to see the woods wave on a hundred mountains, as I read these lines, and the distant rustling of their leaves reached my ear (Journal, 1:139).
15 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I stood by the river to-day considering the forms of the elms reflected in the water. (Journal, 1:139-40).
16 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It seems insensibly to grow lighter as night shuts in; the furthest hamlet begins to be revealed, which before lurked in the shade of the noon. It twinkles now through the trees like some fair evening star darting its ray across valley and wood.
(Journal, 1:141-142)
17 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Men are inclined to lay the chief stress on likeness and not on difference. We seek to knowhow a thing is related to us, and not if it is strange. We call those bodies warm whose temperature is many degrees below our own, and never those cold which are warmer than we. There are many degrees of warmth below blood heat, but none of cold above it.
(Journal, 1:142-143)
18 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I should be pleased to meet man in the woods. I wish he were to be encountered like wild caribous and moose. (Journal, 1:143-144).

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  I like Henry Thoreau’s statement on Diet: ‘If a man does not believe that he can thrive on board nails, I will not talk to him.’ (Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 5:414).
19 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The other day I rowed in my boat a free, even lovely young lady, and, as I plied the oars, she sat in the stern, and there was nothing but she between me and the sky (Journal, 1:144-145).
20 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Perfect sincerity and transparency make a great part of beauty, as in dewdrops, lakes, and diamonds. A spring is a cynosure in the fields. All Muscovy glitters in the minute particles of mica on its bottom, and the ripples cast their shadows flickeringly oil the white sand, as the clouds which flit across the landscape.
(Journal, 145-147)

Thoreau also writes a letter to an unknown recipient:

Dear Sir,

  I have made inquiry of sundry songlovers and songwrights in the neighborhood, with a view to your proposals, with what result, favorable or unfavorable, will appear. Mr. [Elijah] Wood pronounces in his cool experience way that the scholars will not be forthcoming—for why? The town or parish contemplate a school the next winter which should be public, and open equally to old and young-learned and unlearned. The people, he says, have been accustomed to look to the parish for these things, and to them a dollar even has lost some of its weight when it has passed once through the assessors’ hands.

  Mr [William] Whiting, the Superintendent of the Sabbath School, affirms that there are whole platoons of children, whom the parish would be glad to have in a condition to do singing, but have never yet accomplished the thing by voting it, or once correctly pitching the tune. So he stands ready to render smooth official assistance by public notice to the school—and the like.

  But of what avail all this ballancing of reasons—depend upon it nothing good was ever done in accordance with, but rather in direct opposition to—advice. Have you not the sympathy of parish votes—that it will have singing? Or rather have you not the assurance of your own resolution that you will give it them at any rate?

  Mr. Wood then, who more than any man has gaged all throats—Juvenile and senile—in the vicinity—raises the cold water bucket.

  Mr. Whiting—and [Albert Hobart] Nelson and others rely mainly on the incalculable force there is in a man—who has sternly resolved to do what is in him to do,—the phial of laudanum—and nodding poppy—and Concord river running nine times round—to the contrary notwithstanding.

  At present I read in the faces of the children neither encouragement nor discouragement they having had no hint of the future.

Yrs to command
Henry D. Thoreau.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 40-41; MS, Grenville H. Norcross autograph collection. Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Mass.)
21 June 1840.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I never feel that I am inspired unless my body is also. It too spurns a tame and commonplace life. They are fatally mistaken who think, while they strive with their minds, that they may suffer their bodies to stagnate in luxury or sloth. The body is the first proselyte the Soul makes. Our life is but the Soul made known by its fruits, the body. The whole duty of man may be expressed in one line,—Make to yourself a perfect body.
(Journal, 1:147)

Scituate, Mass.? Ellen Sewall writes in her diary on 8 March 1841:

  This is the first time he [Edmund Quincy Sewall Sr.] has had spasms since last June. On the 21st of June he was taken in the pulpit and brought home as today. Then Aunt & Grandmother and John Thoreau were with us to cheer & comfort us. Today we were alone.
(transcript in The Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)
22 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Nothing can shock a truly brave man but dullness. One can tolerate many things. What mean these sly, suspicious looks, as if you were an odd fish, a piece of crockery-ware to be tenderly handled? Surely people forget how many rebuffs every man has experienced in his day,—perhaps has fallen into a horse pond, eaten freshwater clams, or worn one shirt for a week without washing. Cannot a man be as calmly tolerant as a potato field in the sun, whose equanimity is not disturbed by Scotch thistles over the wall, but there it smiles and waxes till the harvest, lot thistles mount never so high? You cannot receive a shock, unless you have an electric affinity for that which shocks you. Have no affinity for what is shocking.
(Journal, 1:147-149)
23 June 1840. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  We Yankees are not so far from right, who answer one question by asking another. Yes and No are lies. A true answer will not aim to establish anything, but rather to set all well afloat. All answers are in the future, and day answereth to day. Do we think we can anticipate them?

  In Latin, to respond is to pledge one’s self before the gods to do faithfully and honorably, as a man should, in any case. This is good.

(Journal, 1:149-150)
24 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Cliff. Evening.—Though the sun set a quarter of an hour ago, his rays are still visible, darting half-way to the zenith (Journal, 1:150-152).
25 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Let me see no other conflict but with prosperity. If my path run on before me level and smooth, it is all a mirage; in reality it is steep and arduous as a chamois pass.I will not let the years roll over me like a Juggernarnt car (Journal, 1:152-153).
26 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The best poetry has never been written, for when it might have been, the poet forgot it, and when it was too late remembered it; or when it might have been, the poet remembered it, and when it was too late forgot it (Journal, 1:153).
27 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am living this 27th June, 1840, a dull cloudy day and no sun shining. The clink of the smith’s hammer sounds feebly over the roofs, and the wind is sighing gently, as if dreaming of cheerfuler days. The farmer is plowing in yonder field, craftsmen are busy in the shops, the trader stands behind the counter, and all works go steadily forward. But I will have nothing to do; I will tell fortune that I play no game with her, and she may reach me in my Asia of serenity and indolence if she can.
(Journal, 1:153-154)
28 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The prophane never hear music; the holy ever hear it. It is God’s voice, the divine breath audible. Where it is heard, there is a sabbath. It is omnipotent; all things obey  it as they obey virtue. It is the herald of virtue. It passes by sorrow, for grief hangs its sharp on the willows.
(Journal, 1:154)
29 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal on 30 June:

  I sailed from Fair Haven last evening as gently and steadily as the clouds sail through the atmosphere. The wind came blowing blithely from the southwest fields, and stepped into the folds of our sail like a winged horse, pulling with a strong and steady impulse (Journal, 1:155).
30 June 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A man’s life should be a stately march to a sweet but unheard music, and when to his fellows it shall seem irregular and inharmonious, he will only be stepping to a livelier measure, or his nicer ear hurry him into a thousand symphonies and concordant variations. There will be no halt ever, but at most a marching on his post, or such a pause as is richer than any sound, when the Melody runs into such depth and wildness as to he no longer heard, but implicitly consented to with the whole life and being. He will take a false step never, even in the most arduous times, for then the Music will not fail to swell into greater sweetness and volume, and itself rule the movement it inspired.
(Journal, 1:155-157)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thomas Carlyle:

  In this number what say you to the Elegy [i.e. “Sympathy”] written by a youth who grew up in this town and lives near me,—Henry Thoreau? A criticism on Persius is his also (The Correspondence of Emerson and Carlyle, 273).
1 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau’s “Sympathy” and “Aulus Persius Flaccus” appear in the first issue of the Dial (The Dial (1961), 1:71-2, 117-21).

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The true poem is not that which the public read. There is always a poem not printed on paper, coincident with the production of this, which is stereotyped in the poet’s life, is what be has become through his work. Some symbol of value may shape itself to the senses in wood, or marble, or verse, but this is fluctuating as the laborer’s hire, which may or may not be withheld. His very material is not material but supernatural. Perhaps the hugest and most effective deed may have no sensible result at all on earth, but paint itself in heavens in new stars and constellations. Its very material lies out of nature. When, in rare moments, we strive wholly with one consent, which we call a yearning, we may not hope that our work will stand in airy artist’s gallery. That his true work will stand in any prince’s gallery.
(Journal, 1:157-158)
2 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am not taken up, like Moses, upon a mountain to learn the law, but lifted up in my seat here, in the warm sunshine and genial light.

  They who are ready to go are already invited.

  Neither men nor things have any true mode of invitation but to be inviting.

  Can that be a task which all things abet, and to postpone which is to strive against nature?

(Journal, 1:158)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  I intended to ask you what rules of distribution do you adopt [for the Dial]. Here is Henry Thoreau who subscribed; but I told Weeks & Co. that he is a contributor & not to be charged; for he ought not to pay . . . One thing more—they made sad typographical errors. In Thoreau’s Persius they have printed nature for satire p. 118—(Do correct it where you see the book) and in the Latin per for pes recretam for secretam.
(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:310-231)
3 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In music are the centripetal and centrifugal forces. The universe needed only to hear a divine harmony that every star might fall into its proper place and assume a true sphericity (Journal, 1:158-160).
4 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  4 o’clock, A.M. The Townsend Infantry encamped last night in my neighbor’s inclosure. The night still breathes slumberously over field and wood, when a few soldiers gather about one tent in the twilight, and their band plays an old Scotch air, with bugle and drum and fife attempered to the season. It seems like the morning hymn of creation. The first sounds of the awakening camp, mingled with the chastened strains which so sweetly salute the dawn, impress me as the morning prayer of an army. And now the morning gun fires. The soldier awakening to creation and awakening it . . . When to-day I saw the “Great Ball” rolled majestically along, it seemed a shame that man could not move like it. All dignity and grandeur has something of the undulatoriness of the sphere.
(Journal, 1:160-161)

Boston, Mass. Thoreau’s poem “Sympathy” from the Dial is reprinted in the Boston Morning Post.

5 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Go where we will, we discover infinite change in particulars only, not in generals.

  You cannot rob a man of anything which he will miss (Journal, 1:162).

6 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man.

  I observe a truly wise practice on every hand, in education, in religion, and the morals of society,—enough embodied wisdom to have set up many an ancient philosopher.

  This society, if it were a person to be met face to face, would not only be tolerated but courted, with its so impressive experience and admirable acquaintance with things.

  Consider society at any epoch, and who does not see that heresy has already prevailed in it?

(Journal, 1:162-163)
7 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  When I hear a sudden burst from a horn, I am startled, as if one bad provoked such wildness as he could not rule nor tame. He dares to wake the echoes which he cannot put to rest (Journal, 1:163).
8 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Doubt and falsehood are yet good preachers. They affirm roundly, while they deny partially (Journal, 1:163-165).

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller about the first issue of the Dial:

  It is not my wish to magnify print & paper beyond the sun & moon and I should even like some thing decided in the other way,—a coarse tract on brown paper,—but Alcott & Thoreau talked it [the Dial] over here, & I judged the book from the ground that competition with other journals was attempted.
(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:313)
9 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In most men’s religion the ligature which should be its muscle and sinew is rather like that thread which the accomplices of Cylon held in their hands, when they went abroad from the temple of Minerva, the other end being attached to the statue of the goddess. But frequently, as in their case, the thread breaks, being stretched, and they are left without an asylum.

  The value of many traits in Grecian history depends not so much on their importance history, as [on]the readiness with which they accept a wide interpretation, and illustrate the poetry and ethics of mankind. When they announce no particular truth, they are yet central to all truth. They are like those examples by which we improve, but of which we never formally extract the moral. Even the isolated and unexplained facts are like the ruins of the temples which in imagination we restore, and ascribe to some Phidias, or other master.

  The Greeks were boys in the sunshine, the Romans were men in the field, the Persians women in the house, the Egyptians old men in the dark.

  He who receives an injury is an accomplice of the wrong-doer.

(Journal, 1:165)
10 July. Concord, Mass. 1840.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me as my own thoughts (Journal, 1:165-166).
11 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The true art is not merely a sublime consolation and holiday labor which the gods have given to sickly mortals, to be wrought at in parlors, and not in stithies amid soot and smoke, but such a masterpiece as you may imagine a dweller on the table-lands of Central Asia might produce, with threescore and ten years for canvas, and the faculties of a man for tools,—a human life, where in you might hope to discover more than the freshness of Guido’s Aurora, or the mild light of Titian’s landscapes; not a bald imitation or rival of Nature, but the restored original of which she is the reflection. For such a work as this, whole galleries of Greece and Italy are a mere mixing of colors and preparatory quarrying of marble.

  Not how is the idea expressed in stone or on canvas, is the question, but how far it has obtained form and expression in the life of the artist.

(Journal, 1:167-168)
12 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  What first suggested that necessity was grim, and made fate so fatal? The strongest is always the least violent. Necessity is a sort of Eastern cushion on which I recline. I contemplate its mild, inflexible countenance, as the haze in October days. When I am vexed I only ask to be left alone with it. Leave me to my fate.
(Journal, 1:168-170)
14 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Our discourse should be ex tem pore, but not pro tem pore“(Journal, 1:170).
16 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  As I picked blackberries this morning by starlight, the distant yelping of a dog fell on my inward ear, as the cool breeze on my cheek. (Journal, 1:170).
19 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  These two days that I have not written in my journal, set down in the calendar as the 17th and 18th of July, have been really an aeon in which a Syrian empire might rise and fall. How many Persias have been lost and won in the interim. Night is spangled with fresh stars.
(Journal, 1:170)
21 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  Here are two or three on Henry Thoreau’s to fill spaces. “Nature resumes her dawn each day” ought to stand by itself for its merit: He is trying to give you a piece of prose out of his “Brave Men,” an Essay which he read to Caroline [Sturgis Tappan] . . . Thoreau never received & so never sent back the proofs which you think were sent to him. There is one blunder in his poem for which I am accountable. He tells me that he wrote it “ports,” & I always read & copied it posts. I am very sorry.
(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:315-17)
26 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  When I consider how, after sunset, the stars come our gradually in troops from behind the hills and woods. I confess that I could not have contrived a more curious and inspiring night (Journal, 1:170).
27 July 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Much credit is due to a brave man’s eye. It is the focus in which all rays are collected. It sees from within, or from the centre, just as we scan the whole concave of the heavens at a glance, but can compass only one side of the pebble at our feet.
(Journal, 1:170-171)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  I must hunt up Thoreau & make him answer for his lines . . . In H. D. T.’s verse “climb to see” is, I believe his. “Climb & see” is better, and we must mend him if we can. “Snug” in the present line is only passable; as it stood, I thought it not inelegant:
“mouse doth lie
Snug in the last year’s heath”
(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:318-320)
4 August 1840. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller:

  Thoreau was in my house this eve. & when I repeated to him some of your criticisms on his lines, he boggled at Nature “relumes,” and prefers his own honest “doth have,” which I told him should be restored. Othello’s melodious verses “that can thy light relume,” make that word sacred always in my ear. But our tough Yankee must have his tough verse, so I beg you will replace it. You need not print it, if you have anything better. He has left me with a piece of prose for you, which I will send now or presently. I am to read it first.
(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:322)
10 August 1840. Concord, Mass.

Theodore Parker writes in his journal:

  In our walk [Ralph Waldo] E[merson] expressed to me his admiration of Thoreau, & his foolish article on Aulus Persius Flaccus in the Dial. He said it was full of life. But alas the life is Emerson, not Thoreau’s, & so it had been lived before. However he says T is but a boy. I hope that he will write for the newspapers more & less for the Dial. I would recommend him to the editor of the New World to keep the youth out of mischief. I count this evening wasted—so few good things been said, by our Philosopher & Prophet.
(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 2:324 note)
18 September 1840. Concord, Mass.

An advertisement for Concord Academy appears in the Concord Republican. The advertisement appears in every issue through 20 November, with the exception of the 9 October issue.

Fall 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau declines the offices of curator and secretary of the Concord Lyceum (Concord Lyceum records. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

26 October 1840. Watertown, N.Y.

Ellen Sewall writes to her aunt Prudence Ward:

  What great work is Henry engaged in now, and does the vegetable diet continue to suit? Will the school go on as usual this winter? (transcript in The Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)
4 November 1840. Concord, Mass.

Anna Alcott writes in her diary:

  Louis and I went to meeting and father too. We sat in Mr. Emerson’s seat. When we were coming home it was raining and Mr. Thoreau asked us to go in and wait till it had done raining so we went in and took dinner there.
(The Father of Little Women, 233)
10 November 1840. New York, N.Y.
Ellen Sewall writes in her diary on 16 November:

  Tuesday was quite unpleasant but notwithstanding the mud Mary & I went up in the village in the evening to see our friend Elizabeth Hunt . . . That evening I received a letter of business from Father, Tuesday eve (transcript in The Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)

Sewall also writes to her aunt Prudence Ward on 18 November:

  Last week Tuesday, the day I sent my last letter to you I received one from Father. He wished me to write immediately in a “short, explicit and cold manner to Mr. T.” He seemed very glad I was of the same opinion as himself with regard to the matter. I wrote to H. T. that evening. I never felt so badly at sending a letter in my life. I could not bear to think that both those friends whom I have enjoyed so much with would now no longer be able to have the free pleasant intercourse with us as formerly. My letter was very short indeed. But I hope it was the thing. It will not be best for either you or me to allude to this subject in our letters to each other. Your next letter may as well be to Mother perhaps, or Edmund. By that time the worst of this will be passed and we can write freely again. I do feel so sorry H. wrote to me. It was such a pity. Though I would rather have it so than to have him say the same things on the beach or anywhere else. If I had only been at home so that Father could have read the letter himself and have seen my answer, I should have liked it better. But it is all over now. We will say nothing of it till we meet . . . Burn my last
(transcript in The Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)
1 December 1840.

Margaret Fuller writes to Thoreau:

  I am to blame for so long detaining your manuscript. But my thoughts have been so engaged that I have not found a suitable hour to reread it as I wished till last night. This second reading only confirms my impression from the first. The essay is rich in thoughts, and I should be pained not to meet it again. But then the thoughts seem to be so out of their natural order, that I cannot read it through without pain. I never once feel myself in a single stream of thought, but seem to hear the grating of tools on the mosaic. It is true, as Mr. E[merson] says, that essays not to be compared with this have found their way into the Dial. But then these are more unassuming in their tone, and have an air of quiet good-breeding which induces us to permit their presence. Yours is so rugged that it out to be commanding. Yet I hope you will give it to me again, and if you see no force in my objections disregard them.
S.M. Fuller
(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 41-42)
17 December 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau pays his father $5 toward a debt (The Personality of Thoreau (1901), 28).

27 December 1840. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau retires as secretary of the Concord Lyceum (Concord Lyceum records. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

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