the Thoreau Log.
Æt. 28.
2 January 1845. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes to his brother Junius Alcott:

  Emerson, Thoreau &c are busy as usual. (The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, 117).

5 March 1845. Concord, Mass.

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

William Ellery Channing writes to Thoreau:

New York March 5, 45
My dear Thoreau,

  The hand-writing of your letter is so miserable, that I am not sure I have made it out. If I have it seems to me you are the same old sixpence you used to be, rather rusty, but a genuine piece.

  I see nothing for you in this earth but that field which I once christened “Briars”; go out upon that, build yourself a hut, & there begin the grand process of devouring yourself alive. I see no alternative, no other hope for you. Eat yourself up, you will eat nobody else, nor anything else.

  Concord is just as good a place as any other; there are indeed, more people in the streets of that village, than in the streets of this. This is a singularly muddy town; muddy, solitary, & silent.

  They tell us, it is March; it has been all March in this place, since I came. It is much warmer now, than it was last November, foggy, rainy, stupefactive weather indeed.

  In your line, I have not done a great deal since I arrived here; I do not mean the Pencil line, but the Staten Island line, having been there once, to walk on a beach by the Telegraph, but did not visit the scene of your dominical duties, Staten Island is very distant from No. 30 Ann St.

  I saw polite William Emerson in November last, but have not caught any glimpse of him since then. I am as usual offering the various alternations from agony to despair, from hope to fear, from pain to pleasure. Such wretched one-sided productions as you, know nothing of the universal man; you may think yourself well off.

  That baker,—[Isaac Thomas] Hecker, who used to live on two crackers a day I have not seen, nor [Rebecca Gray?] Black, nor Vathek [John Wilhelm Vethake], nor Danedaz nor [Isaiah] Rynders, or any of Emerson’s old cronies, excepting James [Henry James, Sr.], a little fat, rosy Swedenborgian amateur, with the look of a broker, & the brains & heart of a Pascal.-Wm [William Henry] Channing I see nothing of him; he is the dupe of good feelings, & I have all-too many of these now.

  I have seen something of your friends, [Giles] Waldo, and [William] Tappan, I have also seen our good man “McKean,” the keeper of that stupid place the “Mercantile Library.” I have been able to find there no book which I should like to read.

  Respecting the country about this city, there is a walk at Brooklyn rather pleasing, to ascend upon the high ground & look at the distant ocean. This is a very agreeable sight. I have been four miles up the island in addition, where I saw, the bay; it looked very well, and appeared to be in good spirits.

  I should be pleased to hear from Kamkatscha [i.e. Concord, Mass.] occasionally; my last advices from the Polar Bear [i.e. Ralph Waldo Emerson] are getting stale. In additions to this, I find that my corresponding members at Van Dieman’s land, [i.e. Fruitlands] have wandered into limbo. I acknowledge that I have not lately corresponded very much with that section.

  I hear occasionally from the World; everything seems to be promising in that quarter, business is flourishing, & the people are in good spirits. I feel convinced that the Earth has less claims to our regard, then formerly, these mild winters deserve a severe censure. But I am well aware that the Earth will talk about the necessity of routine, taxes, &c. On the whole, it is best not to complain without necessity.

  Mumbo Jumbo [Horace Greeley] is recovering from his attack of sore eyes, & will soon be out, in a pair of canvas trousers, scarlet jacket, & cocked hat. I understand he intends to demolish all the remaining species of Terichism at a meal; I think it’s probable it will vomit him. I am sorry to say, that Roly-Poly has received intelligence of the death of his only daughter, Maria; this will be a terrible wound to his paternal heart.

  I saw Teufelsdrock a few days since; he is wretchedly poor, has an attack of the colic, & expects to get better immediately. He said a few words to me, about you. Says he, that fellow Thoreau might be something, if he would only take a journey through the “Everlasting No”, thence for the North Pole. By God”, said the old clothes-bag “warming up”, I should like to take that fellow out into the Everlasting No, & explode him like a bomb-shell; he would make a loud report. He needs the Blumine flower business; that would be his salvation. He is too dry, too confused, too chalky, too concrete. I want to get him into my fingers. It would be fun to see him pick himself up.” I “camped” the old fellow in a majestic style.

  Does that execrable compound of sawdust & stagnation, Alcott still prose about nothing, & that nutmeg-grater of a [Edmund] Hosmer yet shriek about nothing,—does anybody still think of coming to Concord to live, I mean new people? If they do, let them beware of you philosophers.

Ever yrs my dear Thoreau,

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 161-163; MS, Abernethy Collection, Middlebury College Library, Middlebury, Vt.)
11 March 1845. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau attends Wendell Phillips’ Concord Lyceum lecture (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 163-166). See entries 12 and 28 March.

Wendell Phillips Carte de Visite (The Walden Woods Project Collection)
12 March 1845. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to the editor of The Liberator regarding Wendell Phillips’ speech of 11 March before the Concord Lyceum:

 Mr. Editor:
  We have now, for the third winter, had our spirits refreshed, and our faith in the destiny of the Commonwealth strengthened, by the presence and the eloquence of Wendell Phillps; and we wish to tender to him our thanks our sympathy. The admission of this gentleman into the Lyceum has been strenuously opposed by a respectable portion of our fellow-citizen, who themselves, we trust, whose descendants, at least, we know, will be as faithful conserver of the true order, whenever that shall be the order of the day,—and in each instance, the people have voted that they would hear him, by coming themselves and bringing their friends to the lecture room, and being very silent that they might hear. We saw some men and women, who had long ago come out, going in once more through the free and hospitable portals of the Lyceum; and many of our neighbors confessed, that they had had a ‘sound season’ this once.

  It was the speaker’s aim to show what the State and above all the Church had to do, and now, alas! Have done, with Texas and Slavery and how much, on the other hand, the individuals should have to do with Church and State. These were fair themes, and not mistimed; and his words were addressed to ‘fit audience, and not few.’

  We must give Mr. Phillips the credit of being a clean, erect, and what was once called a consistent man. He at least is not responsible for slaver, nor for American Independence; for the hypocrisy and superstition of the Church, nor the timity and selfishness of the State; nor for the difference and willing ignorance of any. He stands so distinctly, so firmly, and so effectively, alone, and one honest man is so much more than a host, that we cannot but feel that we cannot but feel that he does himself injustice when he reminds us of ‘the American Society, which he represents.’ It is rare that we have the pleasure of listening to so clear and orthadox a speaker, who obviously has so few crack or flaws in his moral nature—who, having words at his command in a remarkable degree, has much more than words, if there should fail, in his unquestionable earnestness and integrity— and, aside from their admiration at his rhetoric, secures the genuine respect of his audience. He unconsciously tells his biography as he proceeds, and we see him early and earnestly deliberating on these subjects, and wisely and bravely, without counsel or consent of any, occupying a ground at first, from which the varying tides of public opinion cannot drive him.

  No one could mistake the genuine modesty and truth with which he affirmed, when speaking of the framers of the Constitution,—‘I am wiser than they,’ who with him has improved these sixty years’ experience of its working; or the uncompromising consistency and frankness of the prayer which concluded, not like the Thanksgiving proclamations, with —‘God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,’ but God dash it into a thousand pieces, there there shall not remain a fragment on which a man can stand, and dare not to tell his name—referring to the case of Frederick—————; to our disgrace we know what to call him, unless Scotland will lend us the spoils of one of her Douglasses, out of history or fiction, for a season, till we be hospitable and brave enough to hear his proper name, a fugitive slave in one more sense than we; who has proved himself the possessor of a fair intellect, and has won a colorless reputation in these parts; and who, we trust, will be as superior to degradation from the sympathies of freedom, as from the anticipathies of Slavery. When, said Mr. Phillips, he communicated to a New-Bedford audience, the other day, his purpose of writing his life, and telling his name, and the name of his master, and the place he ran from, the murmur ran around the room, and was anxiously whispered by the sons of the Pilgrims, ‘He had better not!’ and it was echoed under the shadow of Concord monument, ‘He had better not!’

  We would fain express our appreciation of the freedom and steady wisdom, so rare in the reformer, with which he declared that he was not born to abolish slavery, but to do right, We have heard a few, a very few, good political speakers, who afforded us the pleasures of great intellectual power and acuteness, of soldier-like steadiness, and of a graceful and natural oratory; but in this man the audience might detect a sort of moral principle and integrity, which was more stable than their firmness, more discriminating that his own intellect, and more graceful than his rhetoric, which was not working for temporary or trivial ends. It is so rare and encouraging to listen to an orator, who is content with another alliance than with the popular party, or even with the sympathising school of the martyrs, who can afford sometimes to be his own auditor if the mob stay away, and hears himself without reproof, that we feel ourselves in danger of slandering all mankind by affirming, that here is one, who is at the same time an eloquent speaker and a righteous man.

  Perhaps, on the whole the most interesting fact elicited by these addresses, is the readiness of the people at large, of whatever sect or party, to entertain with good will and hospitality, the most revolutionary and heretical opinions, when frankly and adequately, and in some sort of cheerfully, expressed, Such clear and candid declarations of opinion served like an electuary to whet and clarify the intellect all parties and furnished each one with an additional argument for that right he asserted.

  We considered Mr. Phillips one of the most conspicuous and efficient champions of a true Church and State now in the field, and would say to him, such as are like him—‘God speed you.’ If you know of any champions in the ranks of his opponents, who has the valor and courtesy even of Paynim chivalry, if not the Christian graces and refinement of this knight, you will do us a service by directing hm to these fields forthwith, where the lists are now open, and he shall be hospitably entertained. For as yet the Red-cross knight has shown us only the gallant device upon his shield, and his admirable command of his steed, prancing and curvetting in the empty lists; but we wait to see who, in the actual breaking of lances, will come tumbling upon the plain.

The letter is published on the 28th of March.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 163-166)
25 March 1845. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau lectures on “Concord River” at the Unitarian Church for the Concord Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance 1995, 146).

28 March 1845. Boston, Mass.

The Liberator publishes Thoreau’s letter of 12 March to William Lloyd Garrison, editor, commending Wendell Phillips’ lecture of 11 March at the Concord Lyceum:

MR. EDITOR:—We have now, for the third winter, had our spirits refreshed, and our faith in the destiny of the Commonwealth strengthened, by the presence and the eloquence of Wendell Phillips; . . . [Read more]
Late March 1845. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in Walden:

  Near the end of March, 1845, I borrowed an axe and went down to the woods by Walden Pond, nearest to where I intended to build my house, and began to cut down some tall arrowy white pines, still in their youth, for timber. It is difficult to begin without borrowing, but perhaps it is the most generous course thus to permit your fellow-men to have an interest in your enterprise. The owner of the axe, as he released his hold on it, said that it was the apple of his eye; but I returned it sharper than I received it. It was a pleasant hillside where I worked, covered with pine woods through which I looked upon the pond, and a small open field in the woods where the pines and hickories were springing up. The ice in the pond was not yet dissolved, though there were some open spaces, and it was all dark colored and saturated with water. There were some slight flurries of snow during the days that I worked there; but for the most part when I came out on to the railroad, on my way home, its yellow sand heap stretched away gleaming in the hazy atmosphere, and the rails shone in the spring sun, and I heard the lark and pewee and other birds already come to commence another year with us. They were pleasant spring days, in which the winter of man’s discontent was thawing as well as the earth, and the life that had lain torpid began to stretch itself.
(Walden, 45)
1 April 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in Walden:

  In 1845 Walden was first completely open on the 1st of April . . . (Walden, 334).

Mid-April 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in Walden:

  By the middle of April, for I made no haste in my work, but rather made the most of it, my house was framed and ready for the raising. I had already bought the shanty of James Collins, an Irishman who worked on the Fitchburg Railroad, for boards. James Collins’ shanty was considered an uncommonly fine one. When I called to see it he was not at home. I walked about the outside, at first unobserved from within, the window was so deep and high. It was of small dimensions, with a peaked cottage roof, and not much else to be seen, the dirt being raised five feet all around as if it were a compost heap. The roof was the soundest part, though a good deal warped and made brittle by the sun. Door-sill there was none, but perennial passage for the hens under the door board. Mrs. C. came to the door and asked me to view it from the inside. The hens were driven in by my approach. It was dark, and had a dirt floor for the most part, dank, clammy, and aguish, only here a board and here a board which would not bear removal . . . The bargain was soon concluded, for James had in the mean while returned. I to pay four dollars and twenty five cents to-night, he to vacate at five to-morrow morning, selling to nobody else meanwhile: I to take possession at six. It were well, he said, to be there early, and anticipate certain indistinct but wholly unjust claims on the score of ground rent and fuel. This he assured me was the only encumbrance. At six I passed him and his family on the road. One large bundle held their all,—bed, coffee-mill, looking glass, hens,—all but the cat; she took to the woods and became a wild cat, and, as I learned afterward, trod in a trap set for woodchucks, and so became a dead cat at last.
(Walden, 47-48)
May 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in Walden:

  At length, in the beginning of May, with the help of some of my acquaintances, rather to improve so good an occasion for neighborliness than from any necessity, I set up the frame of my house. No man was ever more honored in the character of his raisers than I.
(Walden, 49)

Thoreau’s helpful acquaintances were Ralph Waldo Emerson, A. Bronson Alcott, William Ellery Channing, George William Curtis, Burrill Curtis, Edmund Hosmer, John Hosmer, Edmund Hosmer Jr., and Andrew Hosmer (The Days of Henry Thoreau, 181).

24 May 1845. Charlestown, Mass.

Daniel Waldo Stevens writes to Thoreau asking:

   . . . to have permission to reprint your translation of Prometheus Bound . . . It would be useless for me to pass any encomium on the merits of your translation since it corresponds in literal lines to the original, which needs no comment.
(The Correspondence (2013, Princeton, 1:272; MS, private owner)
1 July 1845. Concord, Mass.

Nathaniel Hawthorne writes to publisher Evert Duyckinck concerning Thoreau’s ability to write a book for Duyckinck’s American book series:

  As for Thoreau, there is one chance in a thousand that he might write a most excellent and readable book; but I should be sorry to take the responsibility, either towards you or him, of stirring him up to write anything for the series. He is the most unmalleable fellow alive—the most tedious, tiresome, and intolerable—the narrowest and most notional—and yet, true as all this is, he has great qualities of intellect and character. The only way, however, in which he could ever approach the popular mind, would be by writing a book of simple observation of nature, somewhat in the vein of White’s History of Selborne.
(The Letters, 1843–1853, 106)


4 July 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau goes to live at Walden Pond.

5 July 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Yesterday I came here to live. My house makes me think of some mountain houses I have seen, which seemed to have a fresher auroral atmosphere about them, as I fancy of the halls of Olympus (Journal, 1:361).
Summer 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in Walden:

  Before I finished my house, wishing to earn ten or twelve dollars by some honest and agreeable method, in order to meet my unusual expenses, I planted about two acres and a half of light and sandy soil near it chiefly, with beans, but also a small part with potatoes, corn, peas, and turnips.
(Walden, 60)


Edward Emerson beanfield map
Edward Emerson’s Map Showing Location of Thoreau’s Bean-Field (The Raymond Adams Collection in The Thoreau Society Collections)
6 July 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I wish to meet the facts of life—the vital facts, which are the phenomena or actuality the Gods meant to show us—face to face, and so I came down here. Life! who knows what it is, what it does? If I am not quite right here I am less wrong than before; and now let us see what they will have. The preacher, instead of vexing the ears of drowsy farmers on their day of rest, at the end of the week,—for Sunday always seemed to me like a fit conclusion of an ill-spent week and not the fresh and brave beginning of a new one,—with this one other draggletail and postponed affair of a sermon, form thirdly to fifteenthly, should teach them with a thundering voice pause and simplicity. ‘Stop! Avast! Why so fast?’ In all studies we go not forward but rather backward with redoubled pauses. We always study antiques with silence and reflection. Even time has a depth, and below its surface the waves do not lapse and roar. I wonder men can be so frivolous almost as to attend to the gross form of negro slavery, there are so many keen and subtle masters who subject us both. Self-emancipation in the West Indies of a man’s thinking and imagining provinces, which should be more than his island territory,—one emancipated heart and intellect! It would knock off the fetters from a million slaves.
(Journal, 1:362-363)
7 July 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am glad to remember to-night, as I sit by my door, that I too am at least a remote descendent of that heroic race of men of whom there is tradition. I too sit here on the shore of my Ithaca, a fellow wanderer and survivor of Ulysses.
(Journal, 1:363-364)
14 July 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Who should come to my lodge just now but a true Homeric boor, one of those Paphlagonian men? Alek Therien, he called himself; a Canadian now, a woodchopper, a post maker; makes fifty posts—holes them, i. e.—in a day; and who made his last supper on a woodchuck which his dog caught . . . He has a neat bundle of white oak bark under his arm for a sick man, gathered this Sunday morning. “I suppose there’s no harm in going after such a thing to-day.” The simple man. May the gods send him many woodchucks.

  And earlier to-day came five Lestrigones, railroad men who take care of the road, some of them at least. They still represent the bodies of men, transmitting arms and legs and bowels downward from those remote days to more remote. They have some got a rude wisdom withal, thanks to their dear experience. And one with them, a handsome younger man, a sailor-like, Greek-like man, says: “Sir, I like your notions. I think I shall live so myself. Only I should like a wilder country, where there is more game. I have been among the Indians near Appalachicola. I have lived with them. I like your kind of life. Good day. I wish you success and happiness.”

(Journal, 1:365-366)
16 July 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [Alek] Therien said this morning (July 16th, Wednesday), “If those beans were mine, I should n’t like to hoe them till the dew was off.” He was going to his wood chopping. “Ah!” said I, “that is one of the notions the farmers have got, but I don’t believe it.” “How thick the pigeons are!” said he. “If working every day were not my trade, I could get all the meat I should want by hunting,—pigeons, woodchucks, rabbits, partridges,—by George! I could get all I should want for a week in one day.” . . . Here is [a mouse] has had her nest under my house, and came when I took my luncheon to pick the crumbs at my feet. It had never seen the race of man before, and so the sooner became familiar. It ran over my shoes and up my pantaloons inside, clinging to my flesh with its sharp claws. It would run up the side of the room by short impulses like a squirrel, which [it] resembles, coming between the house mouse and the former. Its belly is a little reddish, and its ears a little longer. At length, as I leaned my elbow on the bench, it ran over my arm and round the paper which contained my dinner. And when I held it a piece of cheese, it came and nibbled between my fingers, and then cleaned its face and paws like a fly.
(Journal, 1:367-369)
After 16 July 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I have carried an apple in my pocket to-night—a sopsivine they call it—till, now that I take my handkerchief out, it has got so fine a fragrance that it really seems like a friendly trick of some pleasant dæmon to entertain me with. It is redolent of sweet scented orchards of innocent teeming harvests I realize the existence of a goddess Pomona, and that the gods have really intended that men should feed divinely, like themselves, on their own nectar and ambrosia. They have so painted this fruit, and freighted it with such a fragrance, that it satisfies much more than an animal appetite.
(Journal, 1:371-372)

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  When I play my flute to-night, earnest as if to leap the bounds [of] that narrow fold where human life is penned, and range the surrounding plain, I hear echo from a neighboring wood a stolen pleasure, occasionally not rightfully heard, much more for other ears than ours, for ‘t is the reverse of sound. It is not our own melody that comes back to us, but an amended strain. And I would only hear myself as I would hear my echo, corrected and repronounced for me. It is as when my friend reads my verse.
(Journal, 1:375)
July – Fall 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau completes the first draft of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Revising Mythologies, 254).

5 August 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau sends Benjamin Marston Watson three boxes with a cover note:

  One box is full of red huckleberries warranted not to change their hue, or lose their virtues in any climate, though I will not speak for the condition of this box when opened. The other contains half a dozen cherries (Sand Cherries, Bigelow ?) The last grew within a rod of my lodge, I plucked them all today. The third box-which should contain the seeds of the Carpinus Americana-hopwood-False Elm &c waits for their seeds to ripen.

Henry D. Thoreau

(Thoreau Society Bulletin, no. 162 (Winter 1983):1-2)
6 August 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I have just been reading a book called “The Crescent and the Cross,”* till now I am somewhat ashamed of myself. Am I sick, or idle, that I can sacrifice my energy, America, and to-day to this man’s ill-remembered and indolent story? . . . I sit here at my window like a priest of Isis, and observe the phenomena of three thousand years ago, yet unimpaired.
(Journal, 1:375-377)

* By Eliot Warburton.

After 6 August 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Twenty-three years since, when I was five years old, I was brought from Boston to this pond, away in the country,—which was then but another name for the extended world for me,—one of the most ancient scenes stamped on the tablets of my memory, the oriental Asiatic valley of my world, whence so many races and inventions have gone forth in recent times. That woodland vision for a long time made the drapery of my dreams . . . Somehow or other it at once gave the preference to this recess among the pines, where almost sunshine and shadow were the only inhabitants that varied the scene, over that tumultuous and varied city, as if it had found its proper nursery. Well, now, to-night my flute awakes the echoes over this very water, but one generation of pines has fallen, and with their stumps I have cooked my supper, and a lusty growth of oaks and pines is rising all around its brim and preparing its wilder aspect for new infant eyes.
(Journal, 1:380-381)
15 August 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The sounds heard at this hour, 8.30, are the distant rumbling of wagons over bridges,—a sound farthest heard of any human at night,—the baying of dogs, the lowing of cattle in the distant yards (Journal, 1:382).
23 August 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I set out this afternoon to go a-fishing for pickerel to eke out my scanty fare of vegetables. From Walden I went through the woods to Fair Haven, but by the way the rain came on again, and my fates compelled me to stand a half-hour under a pine, piling boughs over my head, and wearing my pocket handkerchief for an umbrella; and when at length I had made one cast over the pickerel-weed, the thunder gan romblen in the heven with that gristly steven that Chaucer tells of. (The gods must be proud, with such forked flashes and such artillery to rout a poor unarmed fisherman.) I made haste to the nearest hut for a shelter. This stood a half a mile off the road, and so much the nearer to the pond. There dwelt a shiftless Irishman, John Field, and his wife, and many children, from the broad-faced boy that ran by his father’s side to escape the rain to the wrinkled and sybil-like, crone-like infant, not knowing whether to take the part of age or infancy, that sat upon its father’s knee as in the palaces of nobles, and looked out from its home in the midst of wet and hunger inquisitively upon the stranger, with the privilege of infancy; the young creature not knowing but it might be the last of a line of kings instead of John Field’s poor starveling brat, or, I should rather say, still knowing that it was the last of a noble line and the hope and cynosure of the world. An honest, hard-working, but shiftless man plainly was John Field; and his wife, she too was brave to cook so many succeeding dinners in the recesses of that lofty stove; with round, greasy face and bare breast, still thinking to improve her condition one day; with the never absent mop in hand, and yet no effects of it visible anywhere. The chickens, like members of the family, stalked about the room, too much humanized to roast well. They stood and looked in my eye or pecked at my shoe. He told me his story, how hard he worked bogging for a neighbor, at ten dollars an acre and the use of the land with manure for one year, and the little broad-faced son worked cheerfully at his father’s side the while, not knowing, alas! how poor a bargain he had made. Living, John Field, alas! without arithmetic; failing to live. “Do you ever fish?” said I. “Oh yes, I catch a mess when I am lying by; good perch I catch.” “What’s your bait?” “I catch shiners with fish worms, and bait the perch with them.” “You’d better go now, John,” said his wife, with glistening, hopeful face. But poor John Field disturbed but a couple of fins, while I was catching a fair string, and he said it was his luck; and when he changed seats luck changed seats too. Thinking to live by some derivative old-country mode in this primitive new country, e.g. to catch perch with shiners . . . Toward evening, as the world waxes darker, I am permitted to see the woodchuck stealing across my path, and tempted to seize and devour it. The wildest, most desolate scenes are strangely familiar to me.
(Journal, 1:383-385)
24 August 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal: 

  Through want of confidence in the gods men are where they are-buying and selling-owning land-following trades-and spending their lives ignobly (Journal (Princeton, 1984) 2:179).
Early September 1845. Walden Pond.

Joseph Hosmer recalls:

  Early in September, 1845, (can it be so long,) on his invitation I spent a Sunday at his lake side retreat, as pure and delightful as with my mother.

  The building was not then finished, the chimney had no beginning—the sides were not battened, or the walls plastered. It stood in the open field, some thirty rods from the lake, and the “Devil’s Bar” and in full view of it.

  Upon its construction he had evidently bestowed much care, and the proportions of it, together with the work, were very much better than would have been expected of a novice, and he seemed well pleased with his effort.

  The entrance to the cellar was thro’ a trap door in the center of the room. The king-post was an entire tree, extending from the bottom of the cellar to the ridge-pole, upon which we descended, as the sailors do into the hold of a vessel.

  His hospitality and manner of entertainment were unique, and peculiar to the time and place.

  The cooking apparatus was primitive and consisted of a hole made in the earth and inlaid with stones, upon which the fire was made, after the manner at the sea-shore, when they have a clam-bake.

  When sufficiently hot remove the smoking embers and place on the fish, frog, etc. Our bill of fare included roasted horn pout, com, beans, bread, salt, etc. Our viands were nature’s own, “sparkling and bright.”

  I gave the bill of fare in English and Henry rendered it in French, Latin and Greek.

  The beans had been previously cooked. The meal for our bread was mixed with lake water only, and when prepared it was spread upon the surface of a thin stone used for that purpose and baked . . . It was according to the old Jewish law and custom of unleavened bread, and of course it was very, very primitive.

  When the bread had been sufficiently baked the stone was removed, then the fish placed over the hot stones and roasted—some in wet paper and some without—and when seasoned with salt, were delicious.

  He was very much disappointed in not being able to present to me one of his little companions—a mouse.

  He described it to me by saying that it had come upon his back as he leaned against the wall of the building, ran down his arm to his hand, and ate the cheese while holding it in his fingers; also, when he played upon the flute, it would come and listen from its hiding place, and remain there while he continued to play the same tune, but when he changed the tune, the little visitor would immediately disappear.

  Owing perhaps to some extra noise, and a stranger present, it did not put in an appearance, and I lost that interesting part of the show—but I had enough else to remember all my life.

(Joseph Hosmer. “Henry D. Thoreau” in The Concord Freeman: Thoreau Annex.  1-2)
17 September 1845. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to James Munroe & Co. on behalf of the Concord Women’s Anti-Slavery Society:

Dear Sir,

  The Ladies have concluded to pay you your dues, and take the remaining addresses* at once. Your bill has been mislaid and they may be mistaken in the amount. I noticed what seemed to me one error in the false correction (in the bill) of what was apparently the original & correct charge,—adding your 4 cents per copy to the 52 which Mr Emerson took. These of course were no more than the author usually takes, and properly speaking, were not left on sale. If they are not mistaken whole amount  = 16.96
False charge  =  2.08
14.88 Will you adjust this, and forward the remaining copies by express.Yrs respecly
Henry D Thoreau
agent for the Society

P.S. They are willing you should keep 25 copies on the original terms.

(The Correspondence (Princeton, 2013), 1:275)


*Ralph Waldo Emerson’s The Emancipation of the Negroes in the British West Indies. The address, which was delivered to the Concord Women’s Anti-Slavery Society, was published 9 September 1844.

Fall 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I went over to neighbor Hugh Quoil’s the waterloo soldier—the Colonels house the other day. He lay lately dead at the foot of the hill—the house locked up—and wife at work in town but before key reaches padlock or news wife-another door is unlocked for him and news is carried farther than to wife in town—

  In his old house—an ‘unlucky castle now’ pervious to wind & snow—lay his old clothes his outmost cuticle curled up by habit as it were like himself upon his raised plank bed. One black chicken still goes to roost lonely in the next apartment—stepping silent over the floor—frightened by the sound of its own wings—never-croaking—black as night and silent too, awaiting reynard—its God actually dead.

  And in his garden never to be harvested where corn and beans and potatoes had grown tardily unwillingly as if foreknowing that the planter would die—how how luxurious the weeds—cockles and burs stick to your clothes, and beans are hard to find—corn never got its first hoeing.

(Journal (Princeton, 1984), 2:207-210)

Walden Pond. Thoreau harvests beans and potatoes for a profit of $8.71½ after expenses (Walden, 60-61).

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thoreau:

Concord, Mass.

Dear Sir,

  Mrs Brown [Lucy Jackson Brown] wishes very much to see you at her house tomorrow (Saturday) Evening to meet Mr Alcott. If you have any leisure for the useful arts, L. E. [Lidian Emerson] is very desirous of your aid. Do not come at any risk of the Fine.

R. W. E.

(The Correspondence (Princeton, 2013), 1:277)
8 October 1845. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Henry

  Can you not without injurious delay to the shingling give a quarter or a half hour tomorrow morning to the direction of the Carpenter who builds Mrs [Lucy Jackson] Brown’s fence? [Isaac] Cutler has sent another man, & will not be here to repeat what you told him so that the new man wants new order. I suppose he will be on the ground at 7, or a little after & Lidian shall keep your breakfast warm.

  But do not come to the spoiling of your day.

  R. W. E.

(The Correspondence (Princeton, 2013), 1:276)
10 October 1845. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau $5 for building a fence (Ralph Waldo Emerson journals and notebooks. Houghton Library, Harvard University).

18 October 1845. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson loans Thoreau $7 (Ralph Waldo Emerson journals and notebooks. Houghton Library, Harvard University).

Early November 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in Walden:

  I built the chimney after my hoeing in the fall, before a fire became necessary for warmth, doing my cooking in the meanwhile out of doors on the ground, early in the morning: which mode I still think is in some respects more convenient and agreeable than the usual one.
(Walden, 50)
12 November to 6 December 1845. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Left house on account of plastering, Wednesday, November 12th, at night; returned Saturday, December 6th (Journal, 1:387).

12 December 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The pond skimmed over on the night of this day, excepting a strip from the bar to the northwest shore. Flint’s pond has been frozen for some time (Journal, 1:394).
18 December 1845. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau issues the following receipt to Sally Pierce Hosmer:

The Misses Hosmer & H.D. Thoreau
To surveying wood-lot, and making a plan of the same.
Recd — Payt
Henry D Thoreau
(Thoreau Society Bulletin, no. 157 (Fall 1981):1; MS, Abel Moore Papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library)
23 December 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The pond froze over last night entirely for the first time, yet so as not to be safe to walk upon (Journal, 1:395).
After 23 December 1845. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [Alek] Therien, the wood chopper, was here yesterday, and while I was cutting wood, some chickadees hopped near pecking the bark and chips and the potato-skins I had thrown out. “What do you call them,” he asked. I told him. “What do you call them,” asked I. “Mezezence,” I think he said. “When I eat my dinner in the woods,” said he, “sitting very still, having kindled a fire to warm my coffee, they come and light on my arm and peck at the potato in my fingers. I like to have the little fellers about me.” Just then one flew up from the snow and perched on the wood I was holding in my arms, and pecked it, and looked me familiarly in the face.


(Journal, 1:399)

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