the Thoreau Log.
Æt. 30.
January. 1847.
William Ellery Channing’s Poems: Second Series is published, which includes the poem “Walden” that references Thoreau:


It is not far beyond the Village church,
After we pass the wood that skirts the road,
A Lake, -- the blue-eyed Walden, that doth smile
Most tenderly upon its neighbor Pines,
And they as if to recompense this love,
In double beauty spread their branches forth.
This Lake had tranquil loveliness and breadth,
And of late years has added to its charm,
For one attracted to its pleasant edge,
Has built himself a little Hermitage,
Where with much piety he passes life.
More fitting place I cannot fancy now,
For such a man to let the line run off
The mortal reel, such patience has the lake,
Such gratitude and cheer is in the Pines.
But more than either lake or forest’s depths,
This man has in himself; a tranquil man,
With sunny sides where well the fruit is ripe,
Good front, and resolute bearing to this life,
And some serener virtues, which control
This rich exterior prudence, virtues high,
That in the principles of Things are set,
Great by their nature and consigned to him,
Who, like a faithful Merchant, does account
To God for what he spends, and in what way.
Thrice happy art thou, Walden! in thyself,
Such purity is in thy limpid springs;
In those green shores which do reflect in thee,
And in this man who dwells upon thy edge,
A holy man within a Hermitage.
May all good showers fall gently into thee,
May thy surrounding forests long be spared,
And may the Dweller on thy tranquil shores,
There lead a life of deep tranquility
Pure as thy Waters, handsome as thy Shores
And which those virtues which are like the Stars. (Poems: Second Series, 157-8)
3 January. Walden Pond. 1847.
Bronson Alcott visits Thoreau at Walden Pond (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 186).
10 January. Walden Pond. 1847.
Bronson Alcott visits Thoreau at Walden Pond (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 186).
After 10 January. Concord, Mass. 1847.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal: “H.D.T. wants to go to Oregon, not to London. Yes surely; but what seeks he but the most energetic nature? & seeking that, he will find Oregon indifferently in all places; for it snows & blows & melts & adhere & repels all the world over” (The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 9:466)
17 January. 1847.
Bronson Alcott visits Thoreau at Walden Pond (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 186).Horatio Robinson Storer writes to Thoreau:

Dear Sir,
Understanding from my Father, Dr [David Humphreys] Storer, that you took a deep interest in the study of Ichthyology, and presuming that the other branches of the Animal Kingdom are not devoid of attraction to you, I have taken the liberty to ask a favor of you. I have for several years paid considerable attention to Oology and have made quite a respectable collection of bird’s eggs, and I should be much obliged for your cooperation in assisting me to augment it; from the situation of your residence you probably have many advantages during the building season of procuring specimens. If I can be of any assistance to you in your researches in Natural History, although I have but little time, being a student at Old Harvard, pray command me,
yr’s resp’ctfully

Horatio R. Storer (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:284; MS, privately owned letter)

Thoreau replies 15 February.
19 January. Lincoln, Mass. 1847.
Thoreau lectures -- probably on “A History of Myself” -- at the Centre School House for the Lincoln Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance 1995, 148-50).
24 January. Walden Pond. 1847.
Bronson Alcott visits Thoreau at Walden Pond (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 186).
31 January. Concord, Mass. 1847.
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to John Abraham Heraud in reply to his letter of 28 November 1846: “I received your letter & the accompanying programmes of the ‘Half Yearly Review.’ I have spread them abroad among such persons here, as I thought would like to know the design… we have very few writers, as yet, to add to the few already known to you… Mr H. D. Thoreau is man of profound & symmetrical nature, who, if he lives, will certainly be heard from in this country, & I think in yours also” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:369-70).
February. 1847.

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers has expanded to twice its original size by this date (Revising Mythologies, 255).

Concord, Mass. A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

The aged Cephales in the Republic says that “as the pleasures respecting the body languish, the desire and pleasure of conversation increase.” So vivid was my sense of escape from the senses while conversing with Henry today that the men, times, and occupations of coming years gave me a weary wish to be released from this scene and to pass into a state of noble companions and immortal labours. (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 190-1)
5 February. New York, N.Y. 1847.

Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

My dear Thoreau:

Although your letter only came to hand to-day, I attended to its subject yesterday, when I was in Philadelphia on my way home from Washington. Your article is this moment in type, and will appear about the 20th inst. as the leading article in Graham’s Mag. for next month. Now don’t object to this, nor be unreasonably sensitive at the delay. It is immensely more important to you that the article should appear thus (that is, if you have any literary aspirations,) than it is that you should make a few dollars by issuing it in some other way. As to lecturing, you have been at perfect liberty to deliver it as a lecture a hundred times if you had chosen - the more the better. It is really a good thing, and I will see that Graham pays you fairly for it. But its appearance there is worth far more to you than money.

I know there has been too much delay, and have done my best to obviate it. But I could not. A Magazine that pays, and hich it is desirable to be known as a contributor to, is always crowded with articles, and has to postpone some for others of even less merit. I do this myself with good things that I am not required to pay for.

Thoreau, do not think hard of Graham. Do not try to stop the publication of your article. It is best as it is. But just set down and write a like article about Emerson, which I will give you $25 for if you cannot do better with it; then one about Hawthorne at your leisure, &c. &c. I will pay you the money for each of these articles on delivery, publish them when and how I please, leaving to you the copyright expressly. In a year or two, if you take care not to write faster than you think, you will have the material of a volume worth publishing, and then we will see what can be done.

There is a text somewhere in St. Paul -- my scriptural reading is getting rusty - which says ‘Look not back to the things which are behind, but rather to these which are before,’ &c. Commending this to your thoughtful appreciation, I am,

Yours, &c.
Horace Greeley (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 173-4; MS, Abernethy collection. Middlebury College Library, Middlebury, Vt.)

7 February. Walden Pond. 1847.

Bronson Alcott visits Thoreau at Walden Pond (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 186).

10 February. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Bronson Alcott writes to his daughter, Anna: “For the rest, our friend Henry shall answer and explain in the Lecture you hear this evening” (The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, 129). 
Concord, Mass. Thoreau lectures on “A History of Myself” at the Unitarian Church for the Concord Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance 1995, 150-1).

14 February. Walden Pond. 1847.

Bronson Alcott visits Thoreau at Walden Pond (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 186).

15 February. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau replies to Horatio Robinson Storer’s letter of 17 January:

Dear Sir,

I have not forgotten your note which I received sometime since. Though I live in the woods I am not so attentive an observer of birds as I was once, but am satisfied if I get an occasional night of sound from them. My pursuits at present are such that I am not very likely to meet with any specimens which you will not have obtained. Moreover, I confess to a little squeamishness on the score of robbing their nests, though I could easily go to the length of abstracting an egg or two gently, now and then, and if the advancement of science obviously demanded it might be carried even to the extreme of deliberate murder.

I have no doubt that you will observe a greater number of species in or near the College yard than I can here. I have noticed that in an open country where there are but few trees, there are more attractions for many species of birds than in a wooded one. They not only find food there in greater abundance, but protection against birds of prey; and even if they are no more numerous than elsewhere, the few trees are necessarily more crowded with nests. Many of my classmates were quite successful in collecting birds nests and eggs and they did not have to go far from the college-yard to find them -- I remember a pigeon-woodpecker’s nest in the grove on the east side of the year, which annually yielded a number of eggs to collectors, while the bird steadily supplied the loss like a hen, until my chum demolished the whole with a hatchet. I found another in the next field chipped nearly two feet into a solid stump. And in one of the fields near the yard I used to visit daily in the winter the dwelling of an ermine-weasel in a hollow apple tree. But of course one must be a greater traveller than this if he would make anything like a complete collection.

There are many whipporwills & owls about my house, and perhaps with a little pains one might find their nests. I hope you have more nimble and inquisitive eyes to serve you than mine now are -- However, if I should chance to stumble on any rarer nest I will not forget your request. If you come to Concord again, as I understand you sometimes do, I shall be glad to see you at my hut -- . Trusting that you will feather your own nest comfortably without stripping those of the birds quite bare -- I am

Henry D. Thoreau (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 175-6; MS, Abernethy collection. Middlebury College Library, Middlebury, Vt.)

17 February. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau lectures on “A History of Myself” at the Unitarian Church for the Concord Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance 1995, 151-2; MS, Concord Lyceum records. Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

21 February. Walden Pond. 1847.

Bronson Alcott visits Thoreau at Walden Pond (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 186).

22 February. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau $1 on balance owed, including 42¢ for pencils sold (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

25 February. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau 50¢ for two copies of Graham’s Magazine (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

26 February. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Prudence Ward writes to her sister Caroline Ward Sewall:

Henry repeated his lecture to a very full audience a week since. It was an uncommonly excellent lecture -- tho’ of course few would adopt his notions -- I mean as they are shown forth in his life. Yet it was a very useful lecture, and much needed. There were some beautiful illustrations drawn from chemical lore. Maria happened to be well enough to go, -- by the way she could scarcely keep awake during Mr. Emerson’s lecture, and said she would not go fifteen rods to hear him again. In matters of taste etc., my friend Maria and I must agree to differ. (Transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)
27 February. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thomas Carlyle: “My friend Thoreau has written & printed in ‘Graham’s Magazine’ here an Article on Carlyle which he will send to you as soon as the second part appears in a next number, & which you must not fail to read. You are yet to read a good American book made by this Thoreau, & which is shortly to be printed, he says” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:376).

28 February. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller: “Henry Thoreau’s paper on Carlyle is printed in Graham’s Magazine: and his Book, ‘Excursion on Concord & Merrimack rivers’ will soon be ready. Admirable, though Ellery rejects it altogether. Mrs Ripley & other members of the opposition came down the other night to hear Henry’s account of his housekeeping at Walden Pond, which he read as a lecture, and were charmed with the witty wisdom which ran through it all” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:377-8).

Bronson Alcott visits Thoreau at Walden Pond (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 186).

March. 1847.

Part 1 of Thoreau’s “Thomas Carlyle and His Works” is published in Graham’s Magazine.

Walden Pond. Thoreau writes the Hannah Dustan section of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers while continuing revisions (Revising Mythologies, 255).

Concord, Mass. A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

I was conversing last evening with Thoreau, and it appears to us that, save for Emerson, we have no masters of pure thought and composition on this side of the Atlantic in these days. Nor were Emerson’s merits of the higher order. Continuity and flow were wanting, as we find them in some of the older poets…

Thoreau’s is a walking Muse, winged at the anklets and rhyming her steps. The ruddiest and nimblest genius that has trodden our woods, he comes amidst mists and exhalations, his locks dripping with moisture, in the sonorous rains of an ever-lyric day. His genius insinuates itself at every pore of us, and eliminates us into the old elements again. A wood-nymph, he abides on the earth and is a sylvan soul. If he could but clap wings to his shoulders or brow and spring forthright into the cope above sometimes, instead of beating the bush and measuring his tread along the march-sides and the river’s sedge and sand, and taking us to some Maine or indian wilderness, and peopling the woods with the Sileni and all the dryads!

But this fits him all the better for hsi special task of delineating these yet unspoiled American things, and of inspiring us with a sense of their homelier beauties - opening to us the riches of a nation scarcely yet discovered by her own population…

Thoreau took his position in Nature, where he was in deed and in spirit - a genius of the natural world, a savage mind amidst savage faculties, yet adorned with the graces of a civilization which he disowned, but celebrating thereby Nature still. (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 192-4)

1 March. Boston, Mass. 1847.

Henry Williams sends a form letter to Thoreau:

Dear Sir,

The following inquiries are made agreeably to a vote passed at the Last Annual Meeting of the Class, with a view to obtain authentic information concerning each one of its members, and to enable the Secretary to record facts now easily obtainable, but which, from year to year, it will be more and more difficult to collect.

You are respectfully requested to answer the questions proposed, as fully as may be convenient and agreeable to you, and to add such other facts concerning your life, before or after entering College, as you are willing to communicate. The answers are to be recorded in the Class Book for future reference.

Please to address Henry Williams, Jr. Boston; post paid.

Very Respectfully and Truly Yours,
Henry Williams, Jr., Class Secretary.

1. When and where were you born?
2. Where were you fitted for College, and by whom?
3. If married, when, where, and to whom?
4. What is your profession? If learned, with whom studied? If mercantile, where and with whom begun?
5. What are your present employment, and residence?
6. Mention any general facts of importance before or since graduating. (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 176-7)

Thoreau replies on 30 September.

7 March. Concord, Mass. 1847.
In the winter of ’46-47 there came a hundred men of Hyperborean extraction swoop down on our pond one morning, with many car-loads of ungainly-looking farming tools, - sleds, ploughs, drill-barrows, turf-knives, spades, saws, rakes, and each man was armed with a double-pointed pike-staff, such as is not described in the New-England Farmer or the Cultivator… They went to work at once, ploughing, harrowing, rolling, furrowing, in admirable order, as if they were bent on making this a model farm… So they came and went every day, with a peculiar shriek from the locomotive, form and to some point of the polar regions, as it seemed to me, like a flock of arctic snow-birds. But sometimes Squaw Walden had her revenge, and a hired man, walking behind his team, slipped through a crack in the ground down toward Tartarus, and he who was so brave before suddenly became but the ninth part of a man, almost gave up his animal heat, and was glad to take refuge in my house, and acknowledged that there was some virtue in a stove…

To speak literally, a hundred Irishman, with Yankee overseers, came from Cambridge every day to get out the ice… They told me that in a good day they could get out a thousand tons, which was the yield of about one acre… They stacked up the cakes thus in the open air in a pile thirty-five feet high on one side and six or seven rods square, putting hay between the outside layers to exclude the air… This heap, made in the winter of ‘46-7 and estimated to contain ten thousand tons, was finally covered with hay and boards; and though it was unroofed the following July, and a part of it carried off, the rest remaining exposed to the sun, it stood over that summer and the next winter, and was not quite melted till September 1848. (Walden, 324-7)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his brother William: “I am not without prospect that my woodlot by Walden Pond will get an increased value soon; as Mr [Frederic] Tudor has invaded us with a gang of Irishmen & taken 10,000 tons of ice from the pond in the last weeks” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:383).

12 March. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Evert Duyckinck:

Mr Henry D Thoreau of this town has just completed a book of extraordinary merit, which he wishes to publish. It purports to be the account of “An Excursion on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers,” which he made some time ago in the company of his brother, in a boat built by themselves. The book contains about the same quantity of matter for printing as Dickens Pictures of Italy. I have represented to Mr Thoreau, that his best course would undoubtedly be, to send the book to you, to be printed by Wiley & Putnam, that it may have a good edition & wide publishing.

This book has many merits. It will be attractive to lovers of nature, in every sense, that is, to naturalists, and to poets, as Isaak Walton. It will be attractive to scholars for its excellent literature, & to all thoughtful persons for its originality & profoundness. The narrative of the little voyage, though faithful, is a very slender thread for such big beads & ingots as are strung on it. It is really a book of results of the studies of years.

Would you like to print this book into your American Library? It is quite ready, & the whole can be sent to you at once. It has never yet been offered to any publisher. If you wish to see the MS. I suppose Mr Thoreau would readily send it to you. I am only desirous that you should propose to him good terms, & give his book the great advantages of being known which your circulation ensures.

Mr Thoreau is the author of an Article on Carlyle, now printed & printing in Graham’s last & coming Magazine, & some papers in the Dial; but he has done nothing half so good as his new book. He is well known to Mr. Hawthorn also. (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:384)

Duyckinck replies on 15 March.

15 March. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Evert Duyckinck writes in reply to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s letter of 12 March, that he would be glad to read Thoreau’s manuscript of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and offer his advice (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:384 n54).

16 March. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

This evening I pass with Thoreau at his hermitage on Walden, and he read me some passages from his manuscript volume, entitled ‘A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers.’ The book is purely American, fragrant with the life of New England woods and streams, and could have been written nowhere else. Especially am I touched by his sufficiency and soundness, his aboriginal vigor… Virgil and [Gilbert] White of Selborne, and Izaak Walton, and Yankee settler all in one. I came home at midnight through the snowy wood-paths, and slept with the pleasing dream that presently the press would give me two books to be proud of, -- [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s Poems and Thoreau’s Week. (A. Bronson Alcott: His Life and Philosophy, 2:446)
27 March. New York, N.Y. 1847.

New York N.Y. Literary World reports: “Henry D. Thoreau, Esq. whose elaborate paper on Carlyle, now published in Graham’s Magazine, is attracting considerable attention, has also completed a new work of which reports speak highly. It will probably be soon given to the public.” (The Literary World, 27 March 1847, 185)

30 March. Walden Pond. 1847.

Thoreau writes in his journal: “Saw a woodchuck out 30 March” (Journal (1984, Princeton), 2:377).

31 March. Walden Pond. 1847.

Thoreau writes in his journal: “snow fell 8 inches deep” (Journal (1984, Princeton), 2:377).


X.Walden Pond Winter_[WWP]
Walden Pond in Winter (Photographer: Herbert Gleason) (The Walden Woods Project Collection)
April. 1847.

Part 2 of Thoreau’s “Thomas Carlyle and His Works” is published in Graham’s Magazine.

2 April. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau $1 for surveying a small lot east of his house (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

Circa April 2. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal: “H.D.T. finds my boundary of woodlot on Walden Pond to measure 130 rods” (The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10:19).

6 April. Walden Pond. 1847.

Thoreau writes in his journal: “heard a hyla Ap. 6th” (Journal (1984, Princeton), 2:377).

8 April. Walden Pond. 1847.

Thoreau writes in his journal: “pond ice melted Ap 8th 1847” (Journal (1984, Princeton, 2:377).

“In 1845 Walden was first completely open on the 1st of April… in ‘47, the 8th of April” (Walden, 334).

14 April. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

Our proposed meeting of gentlemen disposed to Print a Journal, as a successor to the Dial, convened this morning at [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s, and discussed the subject all day. The company consisted of the following persons:

1 Emerson
2 Parker
3 Channing
4 Sumner
5 Cabot
6 Stone
7 Clarke (J. F.)
8 Weiss
9 Stetson
10 Dwight
11 Thoreau
12 Alcott (A. Bronson Alcott papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal on 15 April: “Yesterday Theodore Parker, W. H. Channing, Charles Sumner, Alcott, Thoreau, Elliot Cabot, Dwight, Stone, Weiss, J. F. Clarke, Stetson, & Mr Arrington of Texas spent the day with me & discussed the project of the journal. G. P. Bradford & I made fourteen”* (The Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10:54).

* A. Bronson Alcott, Alfred W. Arrington, George Partridge Bradford, James Elliot Cabot, William Henry Channing, James Freeman Clarke, John Sullivan Dwight, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker, Caleb Stetson, Thomas Treadwell Stone, Charles Sumner, Thoreau, and John Weiss (JMN, 10:54 n201).

3 May. Boston, Mass. 1847.

James Elliot Cabot writes to Thoreau:

I carried [the specimens] to Mr. Agassiz [Louis Agassiz], who was highly delighted with them, and began immediately to spread them out and arrange them for his draughtsman. Some of the species he had seen before, but never in so fresh condition; others, as the breams and the pout, he had seen only in spirits, and the little tortoise he knew only from the books. I am sure you would have felt fully repaid for your trouble, if you could have seen the eager satisfaction with which he surveyed each fin and scale. He said the small mud-turtle was really a very rare species, quite distinct from the snapping-turtle. The greams and pout seemed to please the Professor very much. Of the perch Agassiz remarked that it was almost identical with that of Europe, but distinguishable, on close examination, by the tubercles on the sub-operculum… More of the painted tortoises would be acceptable. The snapping turtles are very interesting to him as forming a transition from the turtles proper to the alligator and crocodile… We have received three boxes from you since the first. He would gladly come up to Concord to make a spearing excursion, as you suggested, but is drawn off by numerous and pressing engagements. (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 177-8)

Thoreau replies on 8 May.

8 May. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to James Elliot Cabot in reply to his letter of 3 May:

Dear Sir, --

I believe that I have not yet acknowledged the receipt of your notes, and a five dollar bill. I am very glad that the fishes afforded Mr. Agassiz so much pleasure. I could easily have obtained more specimens of the Sternothaerus odoratus; they are quite numerous here. I will send more of them erelong. Snapping turtles are perhaps as frequently met with in our muddy river as anything, but they are not always to be had when wanted. It is now rather late in the season for them. As no one makes a business of seeking them, and they are valued for soups, science may be forestalled by appetite in this market, and it will be necessary to bid pretty high to induce persons to obtain or preserve them. I think that from seventy-five cents to a dollar apiece would secure all that are in any case to be had, and will set this price upon their heads, if the treasury of science is full enough to warrant it.

You will excuse me for taking toll in the shape of some, it may be, impertinent and unscientific inquiries. There are found in the waters of the Concord, so far as I know, the following kinds of fishes: -

Pickerel. Besides the common, fishermen distinguish the Brook, or Grass Pickerel, which bites differently, and has a shorter snout. Those caught in Walden, hard by my house, are easily distinguished from those caught in the river, being much heavier in proportion to their size, stouter, firmer fleshed, and lighter colored. The little pickerel which I sent last, jumped into the boat in its fright.

Pouts. Those in the pond are of different appearance from those that I have sent.

Breams. Some more green, others more brown.

Suckers. The horned, which I sent first, and the black. I am not sure whether the Common or Boston sucker is found here. Are the three which I sent last, which were speared in the river, identical with the three black suckers, taken by hand in the brook, which I sent before? I have never examined them minutely.

Perch. The river perch, of which I sent five specimens in the box, are darker colored than those found in the pond. There are myriads of small ones in the latter place, and but few large ones. I have counted ten transverse bands on some of the smaller.

Lampreys. Very scarce since the dams at Lowell and Billerica were built.

Shiners. Leuciscus chrysoleucas, silver and golden.

What is the difference?

Roach or Chiverin, Leuciscus pulchellus, argenteus, or what not. The white and the red. The former described by [David H.] Storer, but the latter, which deserves distinct notice, not described, to my knowledge. Are the minnows (called here dace), of which I sent three live specimens, I believe, one larger and two smaller, the young of the species?

Trout. Of different appearance in different brooks in this neighborhood.


Red-finned Minnows, of which I sent you a dozen alive. I have never recognized them in any books. Have they any scientific name?

If convenient, will you let Dr. Storer see these brook minnows? There is also a kind of dace or fresh-water smelt i the pond, which is, perhaps, distinct from any of the above. What of the above does M. Agassiz particularly wish to see? Does he want more specimens of kinds which I have already sent? There are also minks, muskrats, frogs, lizards, tortoise, snakes, caddice-worms, leeches, muscles, etc., or rather, here they are. The funds which you sent me are nearly exhausted. Most fishes can now be taken with the hook, and it will cost but little trouble or money to obtain them. The snapping turtles will be the main expense. I should think that five dollars more, at least, might be profitably expended. (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 179-80)

Cabot replies on 27 May.

27 May. Boston, Mass. 1847.

James Elliot Cabot writes to Thoreau in reply to his letter of 8 May:

Mr. Agassiz was very much surprised and pleased at the extent of the collections you sent during his absence in New York; the little fox he has established in comfortable quarters in his backyard where he is doing well. Among the fishes there is one, and probably two, new species. The fresh-water smelt he does not know. He is very anxious to see the pickerel with the long snout, which he suspects may be the Esox estor, or Maskalongé; he has seen this at Albany… As to the minks, etc., I know they would all be very acceptable to him. When I asked him about these, and more specimens of what you have sent, he said, “I dare not make any request, for I do not know how much trouble I may be giving to Mr. Thoreau; but my method of examination requires many more specimens than most naturalists would care for.” (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 181)

Thoreau replies on 1 June.

28 May. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to Evert Duyckinck and sends a manuscript of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers:

Dear Sir,

I should not have delayed sending you my manuscript so long, if I had not known that delay would be no inconvenience to you, and advantage to the sender. I will remind you, to save time, that I wish to be informed for what term the book is to be the property of the publishers, and on what terms I can have 30 copies cheaply bound in boards without immediate expense. -- If you take it -- It will be a great convenience to me to get through with the printing as soon as possible, as I wish to take a journey of considerable length and should not be willing that any other than myself should correct the proofs.

If you will inform me as soon as may be, whether you want the manuscript, and what are the most favorable terms on which you will print & publish it, you will greatly oblige

Y’rs &c
Henry D. Thoreau (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 181-2)

1 June. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to James Elliot Cabot in reply to his letter of 27 May:

Dear Sir, --

I send you 15 pouts, 17 perch, 13 shiners, 1 larger land tortoise, and 5 muddy tortoises, all from the pond by my house. Also 7 perch, 5 shiners, 8 breams, 4 dace, 2 muddy tortoises, 5 painted do., and 3 land do., all from the river. One black snake, alive, and one dormouse caught last night in my cellar. The tortoises were all put in alive,; the fishes were alive yesterday, i.e., Monday, and some this morning. Observe the difference between those from the pond, which is pure water, and those from the river.

I will send the light-colored trout and the pickerel with the longer snout, which is our large one, when I meet with them. I have set a price upon the heads of snapping turtles, though it is late in the season to get them.

If I wrote red-finned eel, it was a slip of the pen; I meant red-finned minnow. This is their name here; though smaller specimens have but a slight reddish tinge at the base of the pectorals.

Will you, at your leisure, answer these queries?

Do you mean to say that the twelve banded minnows which I sent are undescribed, or only one? What are the scientific names of those minnows which have any? Are the four dace I send to-day identical with one of the former, and what are they called? Is there such a fish as the black sucker described, -- distinct from the common? (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 182-3)

Boston, Mass. James Elliot Cabot writes to Thoreau regarding the specimens Thoreau had sent for Louis Agassiz:

Agassiz is delightful to find one, and he thinks two, more new species; one is a Pomotis, - the bream without the red spot in the operculum, and with a red belly and fins. The other is the shallower and lighter colored shiner. The four dace you sent last are Leuciscus argenteus. They are different from that you sent before under this name, but which was a new species. Of the four kinds of minnow, two are new. There is a black sucker (Catastomus nigricans), but there has been no specimen among those you have sent, and A. has never seen a specimen. He seemed to know your mouse, and called it the white-bellied mouse. It was the first specimen he had seen. I am in hopes to bring or send him to Concord, to look after new Leucisci, etc. (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 183)
13 June. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Bronson Alcott writes to his mother in Oriskany Falls, N.Y.: “Emerson is busy in writing as ever; Thoreau lives a hermit by Walden Pond, and has a Book in press,* and the rest of Concord shall remain unspoken of” (The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, 130).

*Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers was not in press at this time and would not be published until 1849.

14 June. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to Evert Duyckinck regarding the manuscript of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, asking him to inform John Wiley that he "should like to make some corrections in the MSS" and to "send it to me by Harnden’s express to Boston and by Adams’ to Concord, and I will return it in ten days" (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:304).

Mid-June. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Evert Duyckinck returns the manuscript of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers to Thoreau.

July. Walden Pond. 1847.

Frederick L. H. Willis writes in his journal of his first meeting with Thoreau:

I have a keen recollection of the first time I met Henry David Thoreau. It was upon a beautiful day in July 1847, that Mrs. Alcott told us that we were to visit Walden. We started merrily a party of seven, Mr. and Mrs. Alcott, the four girls and myself, for the woods of oak and pine that encircled the picturesque little lake called Walden Pond. We found Thoreau in his cabin, a plain little house of one room containing a wood stove.

He gave us gracious welcome, asking us within. For a time he talked with Mr. Alcott in a voice and with a manner in which, boy as I was, I detected a something akin with Emerson. He was a tall and rugged-looking man, straight as a pine tree. His nose was strong, dominating his face, and his eyes as keen as an eagle’s. He seemed to speak with them, to take in all about him in one vigorous glance. His brows were shaggy as in people who observe rather than see… Then he took us five children upon the Pond in his boat, ceasing his oars after a little distance from the shore and playing his flute he had brought with him, its music echoing over the still and beautifully clear water. He suddenly laid the flute down and told us stories of the Indians that ‘long ago’ had lived about Walden and Concord; delighting us with simple, clear explanations of the wonders of Walden woods. Again he interrupted himself suddenly, speaking of the various kinds of lilies growing about Walden and calling the wood lilies, stately wild things. It was pond lily time and from the boat we gathered quantities of their pure white flowers and buds; upon our return to the shore he helped us gather other flowers and ladened with many sweet blossoms, we wended our way homeward rejoicingly. As we were going he said to me: “Boy, you look tired and sleepy; remember, sleep is half a dinner.” (Alcott Memoirs, 91-3)

3 July. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to Evert Duyckinck:

Dear Sir,

I sent you my Mss.* this (Saturday) morning by Augustus Adams’ and Harnden’s expresses, and now write this for greater security, that you may inform me if it does not arrive duly. If Mr. [George P.] Putnam is not likely to return for a considerable time yet, will you please inform

Yrs &c
Henry D. Thoreau (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 184)

* A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. See also entries 27 July and 28 August 1847.

Circa 10 July. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal: “T. sometimes appears only as a gen d’arme, good to know down a cockney with, but without that power to cheer & establish, which makes the value of a friend” (The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10:106-7).

14 July. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal: “Went with [Ralph Waldo] Emerson and Thoreau to Walden and cut some hemlock for columns to the Summer House, and brought them to the spot in Emerson’s field” (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 196).

15 July. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

Alcott, [A. Bronson Alcott] Thoreau & I went to the "island" in the Walden wood-lot, & cut down & brought home 20 hemlocks for posts of the arbour. And these have been growing when I was sleeping, fenced, bought, & owned by other men, and now in this new want of mine for an ornament to my grounds, their care and the long contribution of the great agents, sun & earth, rain & frost, supply this rich botanic wonder of our isle (The Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10:116).
27 July. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to Evert Duyckinck:

Dear Sir

It is a little more than three weeks since I returned my mss. sending a letter by mail at the same time for security, so I suppose that you have received it. If Messrs Wiley & Putnam are not prepared to give their answer now, will you please inform me what further delay if any, is unavoidable, that I may determine whether I had not better carry it elsewhere - for time is of great consequence to me.

Yours respectfully
Henry D. Thoreau (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 184)

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau $3.50 for work (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

6 August. Concord, Mass. 1847.

The manuscript of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers has expanded to 90,00 words from 70,000 in March (Revising Mythologies, 255).

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to William Henry Furness:

I write because Henry D. Thoreau has a book to print. Henry D. Thoreau is a great man in Concord, a man of original genius & character, who knows Greek, & knows Indian also, -- not the language quite as well as John Eliot -- but the history monuments & genius of the Sachems, being a pretty good Sachem himself, master of all woodcraft, & an intimate associate of the birds, beasts, & fishes, of this region. I could tell you many a good story of his forest life. -- He has written what he calls ‘A week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers,’ which is an account of an excursion made by himself & his brother (in a boat which he built) some time ago, from Concord, Mass., down the Concord river & up the Merrimack, to Concord, N. H. -- I think it a book of wonderful merit, which is to go far & last long. It will remind you of Izaak Walton, and, if it have not all his sweetness, it is rich, as he is not, in profound thought. -- Thoreau sent the manuscript lately to [Evert] Duyckinck, -- Wiley & Putnam’s literary Editor, who examined it, & “gave a favorable opinion of it to W. & P.” They have however declined publishing it. And I have promised Thoreau that I would inquire a little in N. Y. & Philadelphia before we begin to set our own types. Would Mr. Hart, or Mr. Kay like to see such a manuscript? It will make a book as big as my First Series of Essays. They shall have it on half profits or on any reasonable terms. Thoreau is mainly bent on having it printed in a cheap form for a large circulation… Will not Henry Thoreau serve as well as another apology for writing to you… It may easily happen that you have too many affairs even to ask the question of the booksellers. Then simply say that you do not; for my party is Anarcharsis the Scythian, and as imperturbable as Osceola. (Records of a Lifelong Friendship, 60-2)
Circa 8 August. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

Henry T. says that 12 lb of Indian meal, which one can easily carry on his back, will be food for a fortnight. Of course, one need not be in want of a living wherever corn grows, & where it does not, rice is as good…

H. D. T. when you talked of art, blotted a paper with ink, then doubled it over, & safely defied the artist to surpass his effect. (The Journals and Miscellaneous and Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10:151)

12 August. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal: “Began [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s arbour. Provided timbers for the platform and laid some of the planks. H. Thoreau assisted me” (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 196).

Ralph Waldo Emerson copies into his journal sometime in 1848: “H.D.T. working with A B A. [A. Bronson Alcott] on the summerhouse, said, he was nowhere, doing nothing” (The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 10:347).

23 August. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife Lidian: “Mr [A. Bronson] Alcott & Henry are laboring at the summer house, which, in spite of their joint activity, has not yet fallen. A few more spikes driven would to all appearance shatter the supporters. I think to call it Tumbledown-Hall” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:411).

28 August. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to James Munroe & Co.:

Dear Sir,

Mr Emerson has showed me your note to him and says that he thinks you must have misunderstood him. If you will inform me how large an edition you contemplated, and what will be the whole or outside of the expense -- (The book is about the size of one vol of Emerson’s essays) -- I will consider whether I will pay one half the same (or whatever of my part one half the profits has failed to pay) -- at the end of six months after the day of publication, if that is agreeable to you. This arrangement to affect only one edition. The MSS is quite ready and is now in New York.

Please answer this as soon as convenient.

Yours &c.
Henry D. Thoreau

PS. I should have said above -- that I decline your proposition as it now stands. (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 185)

29 August. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller: “Thoreaus book is not yet published, though now on the point of concluding the contract. [A. Bronson] Alcott (in whom do you know a Palladio was lost?) is building me (with Thoreau) a summerhouse of growing -- alarming dimensions -- peristyle gables, dormer windows, &c in the midst of my cornfield -- for I have pulled down my eastern fence, alas! & added 2 ½ acres to my lot in an evil hour” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:413).

30 August. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his brother William: “Lidian [Emerson] has invited Henry Thoreau to spend the winter here, & will probably take Mrs [Lucy Jackson] Brown to board. Perhaps she will be able to live with one domestic, Abby [Larkin Adams?], but probably not, -- With Henry T., she will need no thought for her table; but if she receive Mrs B -- why then other counsels & provisions & offsets” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:415).

6 September. Concord, Mass. 1847.
Thoreau leaves Walden Pond: “I lived there for two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again” (Walden, 3). He moves in with the Emerson Family while Ralph Waldo Emerson is in Europe.
17 September. Concord, Mass. 1847.
Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau $15 on account (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).
18 September. Concord, Mass. 1847.
Ralph Waldo Emerson enters into an agreement with his gardener, Hugh Whelan, who intends to move, enlarge, and occupy Thoreau’s house; Whelan will pay Emerson $10 per year to rent a lot near Walden Pond (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).
25 September. Concord, Mass. 1847.
Thoreau’s aunt Maria writes to Prudence Ward:
Mr. Emerson is going to Europe soon to lecture there, and in consequence Henry has sold his house to him, and is going to reside in his family this winter… Mr. [A. Bronson] Alcott’s going to Europe for the present seems to have blown over. He and H. is building an arbour for Mr. Emerson, but H. says A. pulls down as fast as he builds up (quite characteristic), but it is rather expensive [and] somewhat tedious to poor Henry, to say nothing of endangering life and limb, for if there had not been a comfortable haystack near, that he availed himself of by jumping into, when the top rafter was knock’d off, it might have been rather a serious affair. I do not know but I exaggerate a little, but at any rate jump he had to, and I believe it was in a hay mow. I hope they will find as soft a landing place, one and all, when they drop from the clouds, this expression is rather ambiguous you may take it as you [like?] -- but my letter is becoming quite too trancendental, I will decend a little. (Transcript in the Thoreau Society Archives at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods; MS, private owner)
29 September. Concord, Mass. 1847.
William Emerson writes to his brother, Ralph Waldo, regarding Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers: “Please say to Henry Thoreau, that I gave his last letter immediate attention, and am daily expecting an answer of some sort from the Harpers” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:413 n153).
30 September. Concord, Mass. 1847.
Thoreau writes to Henry Williams Jr. in reply to his letter of 1 March:
Dear Sir,
I confess that I have very little class spirit, and have almost forgotten that I ever spent four years at Cambridge. That must have been in a former state of existence. It is difficult to realize that the old routine is still kept up. However, I will undertake at last to answer your questions as well as I can in spite of a poor memory and a defect of information.
1st then, I was born, they say, on the 12th of July 1817, on what is called the Virginia Road, in the east part of Concord.
2nd I was fitted, or rather made unfit, for college, at Concord Academy & elsewhere, mainly by myself, with the countenance of Phineas Allen, Preceptor.
3d I am not married.
4th I dont know whether mine is a profession, or a trade, or what not. It is not yet learned, and in every instance has been practised before being studied. The mercantile part of it was begun here by myself alone.
-- It is not one but legion. I will give you some of the monster’s heads. I am a Schoolmaster -- a Private Tutor, a Surveyor -- a Gardener, a Farmer -- a Painter, I mean a House Painter, a Carpenter, a Mason, a Day-Laborer, a Pencil-Maker, a Glass-Paper Maker, a Writer, and sometimes a Poetaster. If you will act the part of Iolas, and apply a hot iron to any of these heads, I shall be greatly obliged to you.
5th My present employment is to answer such orders as may be expected from so general an advertisement as the above -- that is, if I see fit, which is not always the case, for I have found out a way to live without what is commonly called employment or industry attractive or otherwise. Indeed my steadiest employment, if such it can be called, is to keep myself at the top of my condition, and ready for whatever may turn up in heaven or on earth. For the last two or three years I have lived in Concord woods alone, something more than a mile from any neighbor, in a house built entirely by myself.
6th I cannot think of a single general fact of any importance before or since graduating
Yrs &c
Henry D Thoreau
P S. I beg that the Class will not consider me an object of charity, and if any of them are in want of pecuniary assistance, and will make known their case to me, I will engage to give them some advice of more worth than money. (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 185-6)
4 October. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau in full for his labor on the summer house, and gives him $30 in trust for Hugh Whelan for expenses associated with moving and rebuilding Thoreau’s Walden hut (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

5 October. Boston, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau sees Ralph Waldo Emerson off to Europe on the Washington Irving packet ship (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 187).

24 October. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to his sister Sophia:

Dear Sophia, --

I thank you for those letters about Ktaadn, and hope you will save and send me the rest, and anything else you may meet with relating to the Maine woods. That Dr. [Aaron] Young is both young and green too at traveling in the woods. However, I hope he got “yarbs” enough to satisfy him. I went to Boston the 5th of this month to see Mr. [Ralph Waldo] Emerson off to Europe. He sailed in the Washington Irving packet ship; the same in which Mr. [Frederic Henry] Hedge went before him. Up to this trip the first mate aboard this ship was, as I hear, one Stephens, a Concord boy, son of Stephens the carpenter, who used to live above Mr. [Samuel] Dennis’s. Mr. Emerson’s stateroom was like a carpeted dark closet, about six feet square, with a large keyhole for a window. The window was about as big as a saucer, and the glass two inches thick, not to mention another skylight overhead in the deck, the size of an oblong doughnut, and about as opaque. Of course it would be in vain to look up, if any contemplative promenader put his foot upon it. Such will be his lodgings for two or three weeks; and instead of a walk in Walden woods he will take a promenade on deck, where the few trees, you know, are stripped of their bark. The steam-tug carried the ship to sea against a head wind without a rag of sail being raised.

I don’t remember whether you have heard of the new telescope at Cambridge or not. They think it is the best one in the world, and have already seen more than Lord Rosse or Herschel. I went to see Perez Blood’s, some time ago, with Mr. Emerson. He had not gone to bed, but was sitting in the woodshed, in the dark, alone, in his astronomical chair, which is all legs and rounds, with a seat which can be inserted at any height. We saw Saturn’s rings, and the mountains in the moon, and the shadows in their craters, and the sunlight on the spurs of the mountains in the dark portion, etc., etc., When I asked him the power of his glass, he said it was 85. But what is the power of the Cambridge glass? 2000!!! The last is about twenty-three feet long.

I think you may have a grand time this winter pursuing some study, -- keeping a journal, or the like, -- while the snow lies deep without. Winter is the time for study, you know, and the colder it is the more studious we are. Give my respects to the whole Penobscot tribe, and tell them that I trust we are good brothers still, and endeavor to keep the chain of friendship bright, though I do dig up a hatchet now and then. I trust you will not stir from your comfortable winter quarters, Miss Bruin, or even put your head out of your hollow tree, till the sun has melted the snow in the spring, and “the green buds, they are a-swellin’.”

From your
Brother Henry (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 187-8)

3 November. Liverpool, England. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife Lidian: “If the shelves are not yet put in the closet, you must ask Henry to make them” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:432).

14 November. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Dear Friend, -

I am but a poor neighbor to you here, - a very poor companion am I. I understand that very well, but that need not prevent my writing to you now. I have almost never written letters in my life, yet I think I can write as good ones as I frequently see, so I shall not hesitate to write this, such as it may be, knowing that you will welcome anything that reminds you of Concord.

I have banked up the young trees against the winter and the mice, and I will look out, in my careless way, to see when a pale is loose or a nail drops out of its place. The broad gaps, at least, I will occupy. I heartily wish I could be of good service to this household. But I, who have only used these ten digits so long to solve the problem of a living, how can I? The world is a cow that is hard to milk, - life does not come so easy, - and oh, how thinly it is watered ere we get it! But the young bunting calf, he will get at it. There is no way so direct. This is to earn one’s living by the sweat of his brow. It is a little like joining a community, this life, to such a hermit as I am; and as I don’t keep the account, I don’t know whether the experiment will succeed or fail finally. At any rate, it is good for society, so i do not regret my transient no my permanent share in it.

Lidian and I make very good housekeepers. She is a very dear sister to me. Ellen and Edith and Eddy and Aunty Brown keep up the tragedy and comedy and tragic-comedy of life as usual. The two former have not forgotten their old acquaintance; even Edith carries a young memory in her head, I find. Eddy can teach us all how to pronounce. If you should discover any rare hoard of wooden or pewter horses, I have no doubt he will know how to appreciate it. He occasionally surveys mankind from my shoulders as wisely as ever Johnson did. I respect him not a little, though it is I that lift him up so unceremoniously. And sometimes I have to set him down again in a hurry, according to his “mere will and good pleasure.” He very seriously asked me, the other day, “Mr. Thoreau, will you be my father?” I am occasionally Mr. Rough-and-tumble with him that I may not miss him, and lest he should miss you too much. So you must come back soon, or you will be superseded.

[A. Bronson] Alcott has heard that I laughed, and so set the people laughing, at his arbor, though I never laughed louder than when I was on the ridgepole. But now I have not laughed for a long time, it is so serious. He is very grave to look at. But, not knowing all this, I strove innocently enough, the other day, to engage his attention to my mathematics. “Did you ever study geometry, the relation of straight lines to curves, the transition from the finite to the infinite? Fine things about it in Newton and Leibnitz.” But he would hear none of it, - men of taste preferred the natural curve. Ah, he is a crooked stick himself. He is getting on now so many knots an hour. There is one know at present occupying the point of highest elevation, - the present highest point; and as many knots as are not handsome, I presume, are thrown down and cast into the pines. Pray show him this if you meet him anywhere in London, for I cannot make him hear much plainer words here. He forgets that I am neither old nor young, nor anything in particular, and behaves as if I had still some of the animal heat in me. As for the building, I feel a little oppressed when I come near it. It has no great disposition to be beautiful; it is certainly a wonderful structure, on the whole, and the fame of the architect will endure as long as it shall stand. I should not show you this side alone, if I did not suspect that Lidian had done complete justice to the other.

Mr. [Edmund] Hosmer has been working at a tannery in Stow for a fortnight, though he has just now come home sick. It seems that he was a tanner in his youth, and so he has made up his mind a little at last. This comes of reading the New Testament. Was n’t one of the Apostles a tanner? Mrs. Hosmer remains here, and John looks stout enough to fill his own shoes and his father’s too.

Mr. [Perez] Blood and his company have at length seen the stars through the great telescope, and he told me that he thought it was worth the while. Mr. [Benjamin] Peirce made him wait till the crowd had dispersed (it was a Saturday evening), and then was quite polite, - conversed with him, and showed him the micrometer, etc.; and he said Mr. Blood’s glass was large enough for all ordinary astronomical work. [Rev.] Mr. [Barzillai] Frost and Dr. [Josiah] Bartlett seemed disappointed that there was no greater difference between the Cambridge glass and the Concord one. They used only a power of 400. Mr. Blood tells me that he is too old to study the calculus or higher mathematics. At Cambridge they think that they have discovered traces of another satellite to Neptune. They have been obliged to exclude the public altogether, at last. The very dust which they raised, “which is filled with minute crystals,” etc., as professors declare, having to be wiped off the glasses, would erelong wear them away. It is true enough, Cambridge college is really beginning to wake up and redeem its character and overtake the age. I see by the catalogue that they are about establishing a scientific school in connection with the university, at which any one above eighteen, on paying one hundred dollars annually (Mr. [Abbott] Lawrence’s fifty thousand dollars will probably diminish this sum), may be instructed in the highest branches of science, - in astronomy, “theoretical and practical, with the use of the instruments” (so the great Yankee astronomer may be born without delay), in mechanics and engineering to the last degree. Agassiz will erelong commence his lectures in the zoölogical department. A chemistry class has already been formed under the direction of Professor [Eben N.] Horsford. A new and adequate building for the purpose is already being erected. They have been foolish enough to put at the end of all this earnest the old joke of a diploma. Let every sheep keep but his own skin, I say.

I have had a tragic correspondence, for the most part all on one side, with Miss [Ford]. She did really wish to - I hesitate to write - marry me. That is the way they spell it. Of course I did not write a deliberate answer. How could I deliberate upon it? I sent back as distinct a no as I have learned to pronounce after considerable practice, and I trust that this no has succeeded. Indeed, I wished that it might burst, like hollow shot, after it had struck and buried itself and made itself felt there. There was no other way. I really had anticipated no such foe as this in my career.

I suppose you will like to hear of my book, though I have nothing worth writing about it. Indeed, for the last month or two I have forgotten it, but shall certainly remember it again. Wiley & Putnam, Munroe, the Harpers, and Crosby & Nichols have all declined printing it with the least risk to themselves; but Wiley & Putnam will print it in their series, and any of them, anywhere, at my risk. If I liked the book well enough, I should not delay; but for the present I am indifferent. I believe this is, after all, the course you advised, - to let it lie.

I do not know what to say of myself. I sit before my green desk, in the chamber at the head of the stairs, and attend to my thinking, sometimes more, sometimes less distinctly. I am not unwilling to think great thoughts if there are any in the wind, but what they are I am not sure. They suffice to keep me awake while the day lasts, at any rate. Perhaps they will redeem some portion of the night erelong.

I can imagine you astonishing, bewildering, confounding, and sometimes delighting John Bull with your Yankee notions, and that he begins to take a pride in the relationship at last; introduced to all the stars of England in succession, after the lecture, until you pine to thrust your head once more into a genuine and unquestionable nebula, if there be any left. I trust a common man will be the most uncommon to you before you return to these parts. I have thought there was some advantage even in death, by which we “mingle with the herd of common men.”

Hugh [Whelan] still has his eye on the Walden agellum, and orchards are waving there in the windy future for him. That’s the where-I’ll-go-next, thinks he; but no important steps are yet taken. He reminds me occasionally of this open secret of his, with which the very season seems to labor, and affirms seriously that as to his wants - wood, stone, or timber - I know better than he. That is a clincher which I shall have to avoid to some extent; but I fear that it is a wrought nail and will not break. Unfortunately, the day after cattle show - the day after small beer - he was among the missing, but not long this time. The Ethiopian cannot change his skin nor the leopard his spots, nor indeed Hugh - his Hugh.

As I walked over Conantum, the other afternoon, I saw a fair column of smoke rising from the woods directly over my house that was (as I judged), and already began to conjecture if my deed of sale would not be made invalid by this. But it turned out to be John Richardson’s young wood, on the southeast of your field. It was burnt nearly all over, and up to the rails and road. It was set on fire, no doubt, by the same Lucifer that lighted Brooks’s lot before. So you see that your small lot is comparatively safe for this season, the back fire having been already set for you.

They have been choosing between John Keyes and Sam Staples, if the world wants to know it, as representative of this town, and Staples is chosen. The candidates for governor - think of my writing this to you! - were Governor [George N.] Briggs and General [Caleb] Cushing, and Briggs is elected, though the Democrats have gained. Ain’t I a brave boy to know so much of politics for the nonce? But I should n’t have known it if Coombs had n’t told me. They have had a peace meeting here, - I should n’t think of telling you if I did n’t know anything would do for the English market, - and some men, Deacon [Reuben] Brown at the head, have signed a long pledge, swearing that they will “treat all mankind as brothers henceforth.” I think I shall wait and see how they treat me first. I think that nature meant kindly when she made our brothers few. However, my voice is still for peace. So goodby, and a truce to all joking, my dear friend, from


(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 188-92)

Emerson replies on 2 December.

15 November. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to Abel Adams on the back of a notice from the Fitchburg Railroad Company:

Dear Sir,

Mrs Emerson requests me to forward this circular to you. Mr. E. had anticipated it, and, as she thinks, said that you would take care of it. She is sure that he will take new shares.

She desires to be kindly remembered to your family, and would have written herself, if not prevented by a slight indisposition.

We have not yet heard from Mr. E.

Yrs respectfully
H. D. Thoreau (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 193)

The notice from the Fitchburg Railroad Company contained the following message:

You are hereby notified that the Directors of the Fitchburg Rail-Road Company have, this day, created New Stock, and every Stockholder holding Old Stock at the close of the twentieth day of November, current, is entitled to subscribe for the New Stock, in the proportion of One New Share for every Four Shares of Old Stock, which may be held by said Stockholder, provided notice is given to the Treasurer, in writing, on or before the first day of December next, after which time, all Shares and fractional parts of Shares not subscribed for, will be forfeited to the Company.

The First Assessment of Twenty-five Dollars on each of the New Shares created by said Directors of the Fitchburg Rail-road Company, has been laid, payable on the sixth day of December next.

And the Second Assessment of Twenty-five Dollars per share, has been laid, payable, on the Sixth day of January next, to the Treasurer of the Fitchburg Rail-Road Company; Office, No. 15, Merchants Exchange, State Street, Boston.

J. P. Welch, Treasurer.

And included the following enclosure:

To the Treasurer of the Fitchburg Rail-Road Company:

I hereby subscribe for Shares in the New Stock, created November 10, 1847, to which I am entitled as holder of Shares of the Old Stock in said Company. (The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:322-3)

21 November. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau visits Bronson Alcott (The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, 130-1).

25 November. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Lidian Jackson Emerson writes to her husband Ralph Waldo:

The three children & Mama at the worktable....

Edie. Mr Thoreau puts Eddy in a chair, and then takes up Eddy in it, and carries it about the room.

Eddy. Write to Father that Edie’s got a book & a cabinet on her birth day.

Edie. I had a wreath on my head, Thanksgiving; cause my birth day was on Monday. Mr Thoreau jumps us every night.

Eddy. Mother, and tell him Mr Thoreau jumped a chair over me tonight! ...

Why have you sent no news-papers that will tell us how you prosper with the English Brethren? Henry says I must make it a special request from him that you will not fail to do so. Pray send all. Surely you will not think it un-modest to send the good said of your lectures nor of course be unwilling to send the evil reports if such there they should be. (The Selected Letters of Lidian Jackson Emerson, 138-9)

28 November. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Bronson Alcott writes to his daughter Anna in Walpole, N.H.: “Sunday, you know, is my freest day of the seven; and but for Ellery Channing’s call a fortnight since, and, Henry Thoreau’s last Sunday, you would have had a word from me” (The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, 130-1).

2 December. Manchester, England. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife Lidian:

Here at last has come to me the gracious letter & its contents, Ellens & Mamma’s letters & my fine letters from [William] Ellery [Channing] & from Henry. All good news, some of it best and from dear heralds grown dearer by distance & - shall I say - by comparison…

For business matters:… Certainly let Henry use his discretion in letting Hugh [Whelan] have fencing stuff from the bottom of the garden or the remains of lumber which Mr Alcott throws out. (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:445)

Emerson also writes to Thoreau in reply to his letter of 14 November:

Dear Henry,

Very welcome in the parcel was your letter, very precious your thoughts & tidings. It is one of the best things connected with my coming hither that you could & would keep the homestead, that fireplace shines all the brighter, -- and has a certain permanent glimmer therefor. Thanks, evermore thanks for the kindness which I well discern to the youths of the house, to my darling little horseman of pewter, leather wooden, rocking & what other breeds, destined, I hope, to ride Pegasus yet, and I hope not destined to be thrown, to Edith who long ago drew from you verses which I carefully preserve, & to Ellen who by speech & now by letter I find old enough to be companionable, & to choose & reward her own friends in her own fashions. She sends me a poem today, which I have read three times! -- I believe, I must keep back all my communication on English topics until I get to London, which is England. Everything centralizes, in this magnificent machine which England is. Manufacturer for the world she is become or becoming one complete tool or engine in herself. - Yesterday the time all over the kingdom was reduced to Greenwich time. At Liverpool, where I was, the clocks were put forward 12 minutes. This had become quite necessary on account of the railroads which bind the whole country into swiftest connexion, and require so much accurate interlocking, intersection, & simultaneous arrival, that the difference of time produced confusion. Every man in England carries a little book in his pocket called “Bradshaws Guide,” which contains time tables of arrival & departure at every station on all railroads of the kingdom. It is published anew on the first day of every month & costs sixpence. The proceeding effects of Electric telegraph will give a new importance to such arrangements.

-- But lest I should not say what is needful, I will postpone England once for all, - and say that I am not of opinion that your book should be delayed a month. I should print it at once, nor do I think that you would incur any risk in doing so that you cannot well afford. It is very certain to have readers & debtors here as well as there. The Dial is absurdly well known here. We at home, I think, are always a little ashamed of it, -- I am, -- and yet here it is spoken of with the utmost gravity, & I do not laugh. Carlyle writes me that he is reading Doomsday Book, -- You tell me in your letter one odious circumstance, which we will dismiss form remembrance henceforward. Charles Lane entreated me, in London, to ask you to forward his Dials to him, which must be done, if you can find them. Three bound vols are among his books in my library. The 4th Vol is in unbound numbers at J Munroe & Co.’s Shop, received there in a parcel to my address a day or two before I sailed & which I forgot to carry to Concord It must be claimed without delay It is certainly there -- was opened by me, & left. And they can enclose all 4 vols to [John] Chapman for me. -- Well, I am glad the Pleasaunce at Walden suffered no more but it is a great loss as it is which years will not repair. -- I see that I have baulked you by the promise of a letter which ends in as good as none But I write with counted minutes & a miscellany of things before me.

Yours affectionately,
R. W. E. (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 194-5)

Thoreau apparently receives the letter on 27 December and replies on the 29th.

5 December. Manchester, England. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Margaret Fuller: “Oh I have good account, this week, from [William] Ellery [Channing], from Henry Thoreau, and all the good people of that bog of ours” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:447).

15 December. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Dear Friend,

You are not so far off but the affairs of this world still attach to you. Perhaps it will be so when we are dead. Then look out. -- Joshua R. Holman of Harvard, who says he lived a month with Lane at Fruitlands wishes to hire said Lane’s farm for one or more years, and will pay $125 rent, taking out the same what is necessary for repairs -- as, for a new bank-wall to the barn cellar, which he says is indispensable. [Joseph] Palmer is gone, Mrs Palmer is going. This is all that is known, or that is worth knowing.

Yes or no -
What to do?

Hugh [Whelan]’s plot begins to thicken. He starts thus. 80 dollars on one side - Walden field & house on the other. How to bring these together so as to make a garden & a palace....

-- for when one asks -- “What do you want? Twice as much room more,” the reply -- Parlor kitchen & bedroom - these make the palace. -- Well, Hugh, what will you do? Here are forty dollars to buy a new house 12 feet by 25 and add it to the old. -- Well, Mr Thoreau, as I tell you, I know no more than a child about it. It shall be just as you say. -- Then build it yourself -- get it roofed & get in. Commence at one end & leave it half done, and let time finish what money’s begun.

So you see we have forty dollars for a nest egg -- sitting on which, Hugh & I, alternately & simultaneously, there may in course of time be hatched a house, that will long stand, and perchance even lay fresh eggs one day for its owner, that is, if when he returns he gives the young chick 20 dollars or more in addition by way of “swichin” -- to give it a start in the world.

Observe this -- I got your check changed into thirty dollars the other day, & immediately paid away sixteen for Hugh. To-day Mr [John Milton] Cheney says that they in Boston refuse to answer it - not having funds enough to warrant it. There must be some mistake &c -- We shall pay back the thirty dollars & await your orders.

The Mass. Quart. Review came out on the 1st of Dec., but it does not seem to be making a sensation -- at least not hereabouts. I know of none in Concord who takes, or has seen, it yet.

We wish to get by all possible means some notion of your success or failure in England - more than your two letters have furnished -- Can’t you send a fair sample both of Young & of Old England’s criticism, if there is any printed? [A. Bronson] Alcott & [William Ellery] Channing are equally greedy with myself.

Henry Thoreau (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 196-7)

26 December. Manchester, England. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife Lidian: “Our Spartan-Buddhist Henry is a Père or bon-homme malgré lui. and it is a great comfort daily to think of him there with you” (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:455).

27 December. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to James Munroe & Co. at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s request:


In a letter from R. W. Emerson, which I received this morning, he requests me to send him Charles Lane’s Dials. Three bound vols accompany this letter to you -- ‘The fourth.’ to quote his own words, ‘is in unbound numbers at J Munroe & Co’s shop, received there in a parcel to my address a day or two before I sailed, and which I forgot to carry to Concord - It is certainly there, was opened by me, & left.’

-- And he wishes me to ask you to “enclose all four vols. to Chapman” for him (Emerson).

If all is right, will you please say so to the express-man -- or at any rate give me an opportunity to look for the fourth vol, if it is missing.

I may as well inform you that I do not intend to print my book* anywhere immediately.

Yrs Respectfully
Henry Thoreau (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 198)

*A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

29 December. Concord, Mass. 1847.

Thoreau writes to Ralph Waldo Emerson in reply to his letter of 2 December:

My Dear Friend,

I thank you for your letter. I was very glad to get it -- And I am glad again to write to you. However slow the steamer, no time intervenes between the writing and the reading of thoughts, but they come freshly to the most distant port.

I am here still, & very glad to be here -- and shall not trouble you with my complaints because I do not fill my place better. I have had many good hours in the chamber at the head of the stairs - a solid time, it seems to me. Next week I am going to give an account to the Lyceum of my expedition to Maine. Theodore Parker lectures tonight -- We have had [Edwin Percy] Whipple on Genius -- too weighty a subject for him -- with his antithetical definitions, -- new-vamped -- What it is, & what it is not -- but altogether what it is not. Cuffing it this way, & cuffing it that, as if it were an India rubber ball. Really, it is a subject which should - expand & accumulate itself before the speaker’s eyes, as he goes on, -- like the snow balls which boys roll in the street -- & when he stops, it should be so large that he cannot start it -- but must leave it there -- . [Henry Norman] Hudson too has been here with a dark shadow in the core of him, and his desperate wit so much indebted to the surface of him -- wringing out his words and snapping them off like a dish-cloth -- very remarkable but not memorable. Singular that these two best lecturers should have so much “wave” in their timber -- Their solid parts too be made and kept solid by shrinkage and contraction of the whole - with consequent checks & fissures -- Ellen and I have a good understanding -- I appreciate her genuineness -- Edith tells me after her fashion -- “By & by, I shall grow up to be a woman, and then I shall remember how you exercised me.” -- Eddie has been to Boston to Christmas -- but can remember nothing but the coaches -- all [Obadiah] Kendall’s coaches. There is no variety of that vehicle that he is not familiar with. -- He did try once to tell us something else, but, after thinking and stuttering a long time -- said -- “I dont know what the word is,” -- the one word, forsooth that would have disposed of all that Boston phenomenon. If you did not know him better than I -- I could tell you more. He is a good companion for me -- & I am glad that we are all natives of Concord -- It is Young Concord -- Look out -- World. -- Mr Alcott seems to have sat down for the winter. He has got Plato and other books to read. He is as large featured -- and hospitable to traveling thought & thinkers as ever -- but with the same creaking & sneaking Connecticut philosophy as ever, mingled with what is better. If he would only stand straight and toe the line! -- though he were to put off several degrees of largeness -- and put on a considerable degree of littleness. -- After all, I think we must call him particularly your man. -- I have pleasant walks and talks with [William Ellery] Channing. -- James Clark -- the Swedenborgian that was -- is at the Poor House -- insane with too large views, so that he cannot support himself -- I see him working with Fred and the rest. Better than be there not insane. It is strange that they will make an ado when a man’s body is buried -- and not when he thus really & tragically dies -- or seems to die. Away with your funeral procession, -- into the ballroom with them. I hear the bell toll hourly over there.

Lidian & I have a standing quarrel as to what is a suitable state of preparedness for a traveling Professor’s visits [John Pringle Nichol] -- or for whomsoever else -- but further than this we are not a war. We have made up a dinner -- we have made up a bed - we have made up a party -- & our own minds & mouths three several times for your Professor, and he came not -- Three several turkeys have died the death -- which I myself carved, just as if he had been there, and the company too, convened and demeaned themselves accordingly -- Everything was done up in good style, I assure you with only the part of the Professor omitted. To have seen the preparation though Lidian says it was nothing extraordinary - I should certainly have said he was a coming -- but he did not. He must have found out some shorter way to Turkey -- some overland rout[e] -- think. By the way, he was complimented at the conclusion of his course in Boston by the Mayor moving the appointment of a committee to draw up resolutions expressive of &c &c which was done.

I have made a few verses lately -- Here are some -- though perhaps not the best -- at any rate they are the shortest on that universal theme -- yours as well as min, & several other people’s

The good how can we trust?
Only the wise are just.
The good we use,
The wise we cannot choose,
These there are none above;
The good they know & love,
But are not known again
By those of lesser ken.
They do not charm us with their eyes,
But they transfix with their advice,
No partial sympathy they feel,
With private woe or private weal,
But with the Universe joy & sigh,
Whose knowledge is their sympathy.

Good night
Henry Thoreau

I am sorry to send such a medley as this to you. I have forwarded [Charles] Lane’s Dial to [James] Munroe with the proper instructions and he tells the express man that all is right (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 199-201)

31 December. Manchester, England. 1847.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife Lidian:

On this last evening of the year as I return from Worcester I have just received & read your letter of 10 Decr enclosing also Henry’s. I supposed I had made up my mails for this steamer before I left town two or three days ago & I should not now hurry to overtake this night’s mail, but for news in Henry’s letter, that my cheque was protested! Foul fall the faithless “Atlantic Bank”ers that would protest cheque of mine! I supposed I had taken accurate account, & had not overdrawn one cent: but if I blundered somewhere, they might have charged me interest, so easily. Meantime I have remitted money in two letters to Mr Abel Adams, thro the Barings, and I now write at the end of this letter an order for the amount on him, which Henry must forward after endorsing. I will immediately give attention to the particulars of his letter, & write again…

Tell Henry that [Joseph] Palmer & not [Charles] Lane is owner of Fruitla[nds.] He has already paid 3 or $400, and we only [hold m]ortgages. But has Palmer gone?

More money for Hugh [Whelan] by next letter perhaps. (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:460-2)

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