the Thoreau Log.
3 January 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau lectures on “An Excursion to Ktaadn” at the Unitarian Church for the Concord Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance, 1995, 152-153).

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

  Evening—Mrs. A. accompanied me to the Lyceum where we heard a lecture from Thoreau on a jaunt of his to Kotarden, the highest mountain in Maine.—The lecture drew a lively picture of these wild scenes and of his adventure in ascending the rivers to reach the summit of Kotarden.
(Studies in the American Renaissance, 153; Amos Bronson Alcott Papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.)
12 January 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

  It is hard to believe that England is so near as from your letters it appears; and that this identical piece of paper has lately come all the way from there hither, begrimed with the English dust which made you hesitate to use it; from England, which is only historical fairyland to me, to America, which I have put my spade into, and about which there is no doubt.

  I thought that you needed to he informed of Hugh’s progress. He has moved his house, as I told you, and dug his cellar, and purchased stone of Sol Wetherbee for the last, though he has not hauled it; all which has cost sixteen dollars, which I have paid. He has also, as next in order, run away from Concord without a penny in his pocket, “crying” by the way—having had another long difference with strong beer, and a first one, I suppose, with his wife, who seems to have complained that he sought other society; the one difference leading to the other, perhaps, but I don’t know which was the leader. He writes back to his wife from Sterling, near Worcester, where he is chopping wood, his distantly kind reproaches to her, which I read straight through to her (not to his bottle, which he has with him, and no doubt addresses orally). He says that be will go on to the South in the spring, and will never return to Concord. Perhaps he will not. Life is not tragic enough for him, and he must by to cook up a more highly seasoned dish for himself. Towns which keep a bar-room and a gun-house and a reading-room should also keep a steep precipice whereoff impatient soldiers may jump. His sun went down, to me, bright and steady enough in the west, but it never came up in the east. Night intervened. He departed, as when a man dies suddenly; and perhaps wisely, if he was to go, without settling his affairs. They knew that that was a thin soil and not well calculated for pears: Nature is rare and sensitive on the score of nurseries. You may cut down orchards and grow forests at your pleasure. Sand watered with strong beer, though stirred with industry, will not produce grapes. He dug his cellar for the new part too near the old house, Irish like, though I warned him, and it has caved and let one end of the house down. Such is the state of his domestic affairs. I laugh with the Parcæ only. He had got the upland and the orchard and a part of the meadow ploughed by [Cyrus] Warren, at an expense of eight dollars, still unpaid, which of course is no affair of yours.

  I think that if an honest and small-familied man, who has no affinity for moisture in him, but who has an affinity for sand, can be found, it would be safe to rent him the shanty as it is, and the land; or you can very easily and simply let nature keep them still, without great loss . It may be so managed, perhaps, as to be a home for somebody, who shall in return serve yon as fencing stuff, and to fix and locate your lot, as we plant a tree in the sand or on the edge of a stream; without expense to you in the mean while, and without disturbing its possible future value.

  I read a part of the story of my excursion to Ktadn to quite a large audience of men and boys, the other night, whom it interested. It contains many facts and some poetry. I have also written what will do for a lecture on Friendship.

  I think that the article on you in Blackwood’s is a good deal to get from the reviewers,—the first purely literary notice, as I remember. The writer is far enough off, in every sense, to speak with a certain authority. It is a better judgment of posterity than the public had. It is singular how sure he is to be mystified by any uncommon sense. But it was generous to put Plato into the list of mystics. His confessions on this subject suggest several thoughts, which I have not room to express here. The old word seer,—I wonder what the reviewer thinks that means; whether that he was a man who could see more than himself.

  I was struck by Ellen’s asking me, yesterday, while I was talking with Mrs. Brown, if I did not use “colored words.” She said that she could tell the color of a great many words, and amused the children at school by so doing. Eddy climbed up the sofa, the other day, of his own accord, and kissed the picture of his father,—”right on his shirt, I did.”

  I had a good talk with Alcott this afternoon. He is certainly the youngest man of his age we have seen.—just on the threshold of life. When I looked at his gray hairs, his conversation sounded pathetic; but I looked again, and they reminded me of the gray dawn. He is getting better acquainted with Channing, though he says that, if they were to live in the same house, they would soon sit with their backs to each other.

  You must excuse me if I do not write with sufficient directness to yourself, who are a far-off traveler. It is a little like shooting on the wing, I confess.

Henry Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 203-205)
23 January 1848. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Thoreau came in while I was reading Thirwall’s [Connop Thirlwall] account of Pythagoras* and of his aims, philosophy, and endeavours, and we discussed a little the possibility of reaching the people by means of a similar character in our day.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 200)

* In his A History of Greece.

26 January 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau lectures on “The Relation of the Individual to the State” at the Unitarian Church for the Concord Lyceum (“The Relation of the Individual to the State”; Studies in the American Renaissance, 1995, 153-154).

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

  Heard Thoreau’s lecture before the Lyceum on the relation of the individual to the state—an admirable statement of the rights of individual to self-government, and an attentive audience. His allusions to the Mexican War, to Mr. Hoar’s expulsion from Carolina, his own imprisonment in Concord Jail for refusal to pay his tax, Mr. Hoar’s payment of mine when taken to prison for a similar refusal, were all pertinent, well considered, and reasoned. I took great pleasure in this deed of Thoreau’s.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 201)
28 January 1848. Manchester, England.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Henry,

  One roll of letters has gone today to Concord & to New York, and perhaps I shall still have time to get this into the leathern bag, before it is carted to the wharf. I have to thank you for your letter which was a true refreshment. Let who or what pass, there stands the dear Henry,—if indeed any body had a right to call him so,—erect, serene, & undeceivable. So let it ever be! I should quite subside into idolatry of some of my friends, if I were not every now & then apprised that the world is wiser than any one of its boys, & penetrates us with its sense, to the disparagement of the subtleties of private gentlemen. Last night, as I believe I have already told Lidian, I heard the best man in England make perhaps his best speech: Cobden, who is the cor cordis, the object of honor & belief to risen & rising England a man of great discretion, who never overstates, nor states prematurely, nor has a particle of unnecessary genius or hope to mislead him, no wasted strength, but calm, sure of his fact, simple & nervous in stating it, as a boy in laying down the rules of the game of football which have been violated—above all educated by his dogma of Free Trade, lead on by it to new lights & correlative liberalities, as our abolitionists have been by their principle to so many Reforms. Then this man has made no mistake he has dedicated himself to his work of convincing thus kingdom of the impolicy of corn laws, lectured in every town where they would hear him, & at last carried his point against immense odds, & yet has never accepted any compromise or stipulation from the Government. He might have been in the ministry. He will never go there, except with absolute empire for his principle, which cannot yet be awarded. He had neglected & abandoned his prosperous calico printing to his partners. And the triumphant League have subscribed between 60 & 80000 pounds, as the Cobden Fund; whereby he is made independent.—It was quite beautiful, even sublime, last night, to notice the moral radiations which this Free Trade dogma seemed to throw out, all-unlooked-for, to the great audience, who instantly & delightedly adopted them. Such contrasts of sentiments to the vulgar hatred & fear of France & jealousy of America, that pervaded the Newspapers. Cobden himself looked thoughtful & surprised, as if he saw a new Future. Old Col. Perronet Thompson, the Father of Free Trade, whose catechism on the Corn Laws set all these Brights & Cobdens first on cracking this nut, was present, & spoke in a very vigorous rasp-like tone. [Milner] Gibson, a member of the Brit. government, a great Suffolk Squire, & a convert to these opinions, made a very satisfactory speech and our old Abolition Friend, George Thompson, brought up the rear, though he, whom I now heard for the first time, is merely a piece of rhetoric & not a man of facts & figures & English solidity, like the rest. The audience play no inactive part, but the most acute & sympathizing, and the agreeable result was the demonstration of the arithmetical as well as the moral optimism of peace and generosity.

  Forgive, forgive this most impertient [sic] scribble.

Your friend,
R. W. E.

I really did not mean to put you off with a Report when I began. But—

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 205-206)

10 February 1848. Gateshead upon Tyne, England.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife Lidian:

  My reception here is really a premium often on authorship, & if Henry Thoreau means one day to come to England let him not delay another day to print his book [A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers] (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 4:16).
13 February 1848. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Passed an hour or two with Thoreau at [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s conversing on the State upon which he is now writing and preparing a Lecture for the Concord Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance, 1995, 154; Amos Bronson Alcott Papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).
16 February 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau lectures on “The Rights and Duties of the Individual in Relation to the State” at the Unitarian Church for the Concord Lyceum (“The Rights and Duties of the Individual in Relation to the State“; Studies in the American Renaissance, 1995, 154-155).

23 February 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Dear Waldo,

  For I think I have heard that that is your name,—My letter which was put last into the leathern bag arrived first. Whatever I may call you, I know you better than I know your name, and what becomes of the fittest name—if in any sense you are here with him who calls, and not there simply to be called.I believe I never thanked you for your lectures—one and all—which I beard formerly read here in Concord—I know I never have—There was some excellent reason each time why I did not—but it will never be too late. I have had that advantage at least, over you in my education.

  Lidian is too unwell to write to you and so I must tell you what I can about the children, and herself. I am afraid she has not told you how unwell she is, today perhaps we may say—has been. She has been confined to her chamber four or five weeks, and three or four weeks, at least to her bed—with the jaundice, accompanied with constant nausea, which makes life intolerable to her. This added to her general ill health has made her very sick. She is as yellow as saffron. The Doctor, who comes once a day does not let her read (nor can she now) nor hear much reading. She has written her letters to you till recently sitting up in bed—but he said that he would not come again if she did so. She has Abby and Almira to take care of her, & Mrs. Brown to read to her, and I also occasionally have something to read or to say. The Doctor says she must not expect to “take any comfort of her life” for a week or two yet. She wishes me to say that she has written 2 long and full letters to you about the household economies &c which she hopes have not been delayed.

  The children are quite well and full of spirits—and are going through a regular course of picture seeing with commentary by me—every evening—for Eddy’s behoof. All the annuals and “diadems” are in requisition, and Eddy is forward to exclaim when the hour arrives—”Now for the dem dems!” I overheard this dialogue when Frank came clown to breakfast, the other morning—Eddy—Why Frank, I am astonished that you should leave your boots in the dining-room.—Frank. “I guess you mean surprised, dont you? Eddy—”No-Boots!—”If Waldo were here,” said he the other night at bed-time, “we’d be four going upstairs.” Would he like to tell Papa anything? “No—not anything” but finally “Yes,”—he would—that one of the white horses in his new barouche is broken. Ellen and Edith will perhaps speak for themselves as I hear something about letters to be written by them.

  Mr. Alcott seems to be reading well this winter Plato—Montaigne—Ben Jonson—Beaumont & Fletcher—Sir Thomas Browne &c &c—”I believe I have read them all now—or nearly all”—Those English authors He is rallying for another foray with his pen, in his latter years, not discouraged by the past-into that crowd of unexpressed ideas of histhat undisciplined Parthian army-which as soon as a Roman soldier would face retreats on all hands—occasionally firing behind—easily routed—not easily subdued—hovering on the skirts of society. Another summer shall not be devoted to the raising of vegetables (Arbors?) which rot in the cellar for want of consumers—but perchance to the arrangement of the material—the brain-crop which the winter has furnished. I have good talks with him.

  His respect for Carlyle has been steadily increasing for some time. He has read him with new sympathy and appreciation.

  I see Channing often. He also goes often to Alcott’s, and confesses that he has made a discovery in him—and gives vent to his admiration or his confusion in characteristic exaggeration—but between this extreme & that you may get a fair report—& draw an inference if you can. Sometimes he will ride a broom stick still—though there is nothing to keep him or it up—but a certain centrifugal force of whim which is soon spent—and there lies your stick—not worth picking up to sweep an oven with now. His accustomed path is strewn with them. But then again & perhaps for the most part he sits on the Cliffs amid the lichens, or flits past on noiseless pinion like the Barred Owl in the daytime—as wise & unobserved.

  He brought me a poem the other day—for me—on “Walden Hermitage,” not remarkable.

  Lectures begin to multiply on my desk. I have one on Friendship which is new—and the materials of some others. I read one last week to the Lyceum on The Rights & Duties of the Individual in relation to Government—much to Mr. Alcott’s satisfaction.—Joel Britton has failed and gone into chancery—but the woods continue to fall before the axes of other men—Neighbor [Eseek] Coombs was lately found dead in the woods near Goose Pond—with his half-empty jug—after he had been missing a week.—Hugh [Whelan] by the last accounts was still in Worcester County.—Mr. Hosmer who is himself again, and living in Concord—has just hauled the rest of your wood—amounting to about 10½ cords.—The newspapers say that they have printed a pirated edition of your Essays in England. Is it as bad as they say—an undisguised unmitigated piracy?

  I thought that the printed scrap would entertain Carlyle—notwithstanding its history. If this generation will see out of its hindhead, why then you may turn your back on its forehead. Will you forward it to him from me?

  This stands written in your Day Book. “Sept. 3d Recd of Boston Savings Bank—on account of Charles Lane his deposit with interest 131.33 16th. Recd of Joseph Palmer on account of Charles Lane Three hundred twenty three 36/100 dollars being the balance of a note on demand for four hundred dollars with interest. $323.36.”

  If you have any directions to give about the trees you must not forget that spring will soon be upon us.

Farewell from your friend
Henry Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 207-209)
March 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau reworks the “Friendship” section and corrects other parts of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Revising Mythologies, 255).

1 March 1848. Concord, Mass.

Abigail May Alcott writes:

  I mentioned to Mr. Thoreau the possibility of our application from the “Lexington Lyceum” for his lecture—He said he should have no objection to reading it if it could be generally understood that the subject matter was local and personal in its character—His experience has been a peculiar and interesting one—He may truly be called the “Diogenes” of the 19th century—so humble—true and wise—His Hut being literally a Tub with a roof—but so comfortable—rural and classic.
(Thoreau Society Bulletin, no. 161 (Fall 1982):2)
8 March 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to James Elliot Cabot:

Dear Sir,—

  Mr. Emerson’s address is as yet, “R. W. Emerson, care of Alexander Ireland, Esq., Examiner Office, Manchester, England.” We had a letter from him on Monday, dated at Manchester, February 10, and he was then preparing to go to Edinburgh the next day, where he was to lecture. He thought that he should get through his northern journeying by the 25th of February, and go to London to spend March and April, and if he did not go to Paris in May, then come home. He has been eminently successful, though the papers this side of the water have been so silent about his adventures.

  My book, fortunately, did not find a publisher ready to undertake it, and you can imagine the effect of delay on an author’s estimate of his own work. However, I like it well enough to mend it, and shall look at it again directly when I have dispatched some other things.

  I have been writing lectures for our own Lyceum this winter, mainly for my own pleasure and advantage. I esteem it a rare happiness to be able to write anything, but there (if I ever get there) my concern for it is apt to end. Time & Co. are, after all, the only quite honest and trustworthy publishers that we know. I can sympathize, perhaps, with the barberry bush, whose business it is solely to ripen its fruit (though that may not be to sweeten it) and to protect it with thorns, so that it holds on all winter, even, unless some hungry crows come to pluck it. But I see that I must get a few dollars together presently to manure my roots. Is your journal able to pay anything, provided it likes an article well enough? I do not promise one. At any rate, I mean always to spend only words enough to purchase silence with; and I have found that this, which is so valuable, though many writers do not prize it, does not cost much, after all.

  I have not obtained any more of the mice which I told you were so numerous in my cellar, as my house was removed immediately after I saw you, and I have been living in the village since.

  However, if I should happen to meet with anything rare, I will forward it to you. I thank you for your kind offers, and will avail myself of them so far as to ask if you can anywhere borrow for me for a short time the copy of the “Revue den Deux Mondes,” containing a notice of Mr. Emerson. I should like well to read it, and to read it to Mrs. Emerson and others. If this book is not easy to be obtained, do not by any means trouble yourself about it.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 210-211)
14 March 1848. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  I asked Thoreau if it were not proof of our inefficiency that we had not as yet attracted some fine soul, some maid from the farmer’s hearth or youth from farm or workshop, to our houses, and found a proof undeniable of having a positive and real existence here in this world, in this 19th century, in this winter of 1848, in this little centre of Concord, Mass.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 204)
24 March 1848. Concord, Mass.

Concord, Mass. Lidian Jackson Emerson writes to her husband Ralph Waldo:

  Henry is well, but won’t write to you. I suppose because you don’t write to him (The Selected Letters of Lidian Jackson Emerson, 145).

Thoreau writes to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Dear Friend,

  Lidian says I must write a sentence about the children Eddie says he cannot sing “not till mother is agoing to be well.” We shall hear his voice very soon in that case I trust. Ellen is already thinking what will be done when you come home, but then she thinks it will be some loss that I shall go away. Edith says that I shall come and see them, and always at teatime so that I can play with her. Ellen thinks she likes father best because he jumps her sometimes

This is the latest news from your &c

P. S. I have received three newspapers from you duly which I have not acknowledged. There is an anti-sabbath convention held in Boston today to which Alcott has gone.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 211)
25 March 1848. London, England.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Henry,

  Your letter was very welcome and its introduction heartily accepted. In this city & nation of pomps, where pomps too are solid, I fall back on my friends with wonderful refreshment. It is pity, however, that you should not see this England, with its indiscribable material superiorities of every kind; the just confidence which immense successes of all pasts have generated in this Englishman that he can do everything, and which his manners, though he is bashful & reserved, betray; the abridgment of all expression, which dense population & the roar of nations enforces; the solidity of science & merit which in any high place you are sure to find (the Church & some effects of primogeniture excepted) but I cannot tell my story now. I admire the English I think never more than when I meet Americans—as, for example, at Mr Bancroft’s American Soiree, which be holds every Sunday night.—Great is the self-respect of Mr Bull. He is very shortsighted & without his eyeglasses cannot see as far as your eyes, to know how you like him, so that he quite neglects that point. The Americans see very well, too well, and the traveling portion are very light troops. But I must not vent my ill-humour on my poor compatriots. They are welcome to their revenge & I am quite sure have no weapon to shave me if they too are at this hour writing letters to their gossips. I have not gone to Oxford yet, though I still correspond with my friend there, Mr Clough. I meet many young men here, who come to me simply as one of their School o£ thought, but not often in this class any giants. A Mr [J. D.] Morell who has written a History of Philosophy, and [J. J. G.] Wilkinson who is a Socialist now & gone to France, I have seen with respect. I went last Sunclay for the first time to see [Charles] Lane at Ham & dined with him. He was full of friendliness & hospitality has a School of 16 children, one lady as matron, then Oldham, that is all the household. They looked just comfortable. Mr Galpin, tell the Shakers, has married. I spent the most of that day in visiting Hampton Court & Richmond & went also into Pope’s Grotto at Twickenham, & saw Horace Walpole’s Villa of Strawberry Hill.

Ever your friend,
Waldo E.


(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 212)
Before 27 March 1848. Worcester, Mass.

H. G. O. Blake writes to Thoreau:

  It [Thoreau’s Dial article on Aulus Persius Flaccus] has revived in me a haunting impression of you, which I carried away from some spoken words of yours . . . When I was last in Concord, you spoke of retiring farther from our civilization. I asked you if you would feel no longings for the society of your friends. Your reply was in substance, “No, I am nothing.” That reply was memorable to me. It indicated a depth of resources, a completeness of renunciation, a poise and repose in the universe, which to me is almost inconceivable; which in you seemed domesticated, and to which I look up with veneration. I would know of that soul which can say “I am nothing.” I would be roused by its words to a truer and purer life. Upon me seems to be dawning with new significance the idea that God is here; that we have but to bow before Him in profound submission at every moment, and He will fill our souls with his presence. In this opening o£ the soul to God, all duties seem to centre; what else have we to do? . . . If I understand rightly the significance of your life, this is it: You would sunder yourself from society, from the spell of institutions, customs, conventionalities, that you may lead a fresh, simple life with God. Instead of breathing a new life into the old forms, you would have a new life without and within. There is something sublime to me in this attitude,—far as I may be from it myself . . . Speak to me in this hour as you are prompted . . . I honor you because you abstain from action, and open your soul that you may be somewhat. Amid a world of noisy, shallow actors it is noble to stand aside and say, “I will simply be.” Could I plant myself at once upon the truth, reducing my wants to their minimum, . . . I should at once be brought nearer to nature, nearer to my fellow-men,—and life would be infinitely richer. But, alas! I shiver on the brink . . . 
(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 213)
27 March 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in reply to H. G. O. Blake’s previous letter, beginning:

  I am glad to hear that any words of mine, though spoken so long ago that I can hardly claim identity with their author, have reached you. It gives me pleasure, because I have therefore reason to suppose that I have uttered what concerns men, and that it is not in vain that man speaks to man. This is the value of literature. Yet those days are so distant, in every sense, that I have had to look at that page again, to learn what was the tenor of my thoughts then. I should value that article, however, if only because it was the occasion of your letter.
(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 214-217)

Read Letters to Harrison Gray Otis Blake edited by Wendell Glick (from Great Short Works of Henry David Thoreau edited, with an introduction, by Wendell Glick (New York: Harper & Row, 1982).

31 March 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Horace Greeley. Greeley replies 3 April (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 217).

3 April 1848. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

My Friend Thoreau:

  I have but this moment received yours of 31st ult. and was greatly relieved by the breaking of your long silence. Yet it saddens and surprises me to know that your article was not paid for by Graham; and, since my honor is involved in the matter, I will see that you are paid, and that at no distant day. I shall not forget the matter, and hope you will not feel annoyed at my interference in the business. I choose to speak about it, and don’t believe Graham will choose to differ with me. Don’t fear for my time; I expect to visit Philadelphia on my own business next week, and will have time to look into the matter.

  As to “Katahdin and the Maine Woods,” I will take it and send you the money if I cannot dispose of it more to your advantage within the week ensuing. I hope I can.

Horace Greeley

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 217)
15 April 1848. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott notes in his journal that Thoreau’s Walden house has been moved closer away from the pond (Amos Bronson Alcott Papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

16 April 1848. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes to Charles Lane in Ham, England:

  You appear hungry for some of our trans-atlantic “gossip.” But I am in the way of tasting little of this here in my retreat, passing for the most part studious days, meeting my daughters awhile in the morning, and enjoying an afternoons walk, with Thoreau or Channing, both of whom are occupied all their mornings in studyes also. I have seen more of them than formerly during these months, one or other passing an evening at my room once a week or sometimes oftener. Thoreau has a Book [A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers] nearly off his hands, which we think admirable . . . [Ralph Waldo] Emerson, I learn, has been at Ham, and is now at Chapman’s in London. We take a personal share in his success with your countrymen, and England is the dearer to us all on his account. The fruits will ripen in all the coming years.—Thoreau tells me your ‘Dials’ were forwarded by Munroe & Co to Chapman, and have been acknowledged by him in letters to Munroe.
(The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, 137)
17 April 1848. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

My Friend Thoreau,

  I have been hurried about a thousand things, including a Charter Election, and have not yet settled your business with Graham. I went to Philadelphia last Wednesday, and called twice at Graham’s office without finding him; and though I did see him in the evening, it was at a crowded dinner party where I had no chance to speak with him on business. But I have taken that matter in hand, and I will see that you are paid,—within a week, I hope, but at any rate soon.

  I enclose you $25 for your article on Maine Scenery, as promised. I know it is worth more though I have not yet found time to read it; but I have tried once to sell it without success. It is rather long for my columns and too fine for the million; but I consider it a cheap bargain, and shall print it myself if I do not dispose of it to better advantage. You will not of course consider yourself under any sort of obligation to me, for my offer was in the way of business and I have got more than the worth of my money. Send me a line acknowledging the receipt of the money, and say if all is right between us. I am a little ashamed of Graham’s tardiness, but I shall correct it, and I would have done so long ago if I had known he had neglected you. I shall make it come round soon.

  If you will write me two or three articles in the course of the summer, I think I can dispose of them for your benefit, But write not more than half as long as your article just sent me, for that is too long for the Magazines. If that were in two it would be far more valuable.

  What about your book? Is any thing going on about it now? Why did not Emerson try it in England? I think the Howitts could get it favorably before the British public. If you can suggest any way wherein I can put it forward, do not hesitate, but command me.

Horace Greeley

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 218-219)
20 April 1848. London, England.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife Lidian:

  Tis certain that the M[assachusetts]. Q[uarterly]. J[ournal]. will fail unless Henry Thoreau & [Amos Bronson] Alcott & [William Ellery] Channing and Charles Newcomb,—the fourfoldvisaged four,—fly to the rescue . . . I have not ventured at this long space to say anything of garden or orchard. Henry & Mr [Edmund?] Hosmer must advise & act or rather Henry by & with the counsel & practice of Hosmer The main object is the trees; and there is a good heap of manure, & more to be made by bringing peat to the sewer in the garden. But we ought, I suppose, to have good corn & potatoes also. I hope Henry will not decline to arrange it. He says I do not write to him, or you say it, but I have, almost sheet for sheet, as I believe.
(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 4:56-58)
2 May 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in reply to H. G. O. Blake’s letter of 27 March, beginning:

  “We must have our bread.” But what is our bread? Is it baker’s bread? Methinks it should be very home-made bread. What is our meat? Is it butcher’s meat? What is that which we must have? Is that bread which we are now earning sweet? Is it not bread which has been suffered to sour, and then been sweetened with an alkali, which has undergone the vinous, acetous, and sometimes the putrid fermentation, and then been whitened with vitriol? Is this the bread which we must have? Man must earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, truly, but also by the sweat of his brain within his brow. The body can feed the body only. I have tasted but little bread in my life. It has been mere grub and provender for the most part. Of bread that nourished the brain and the heart, scarcely any. There is absolutely none even on the tables of the rich

  There is not one kind of food for all men, You must and you will feed those faculties which you exercise. The laborer whose boy is weary does not require the same good with the scholar whose brain is weary. Men should not labor foolishly like brutes, the the brain and the body should always, or as much as possible, work and rest together, and then the work will be of such a kind that when the body is hungry the brain will be hungry also, and the same food will suffice for both; otherwise; otherwise the food which repairs the waste energy of the over-wrought body will oppress the secondary brain, and the degenerate scholar will come to esteem all food vulgar, and all getting living drudgery.

  How shall we earn our bread is a grave question; yet it is a sweet and inviting question. Let us not shirk it, as is usually done. It is the most important and practical question which is put to man. Let us not answer it hastily. Let us not be content to get our bread in some fross, careless, and hasty manner. Some men go a-hunting, some men go a-fishing, some a-gaming, some to war; but none have so pleasant a time as they who in earnest seek to earn their break. It is true actually as it is true really; it is true materially as it is true spiritually, that they who seek honestly and sincerely, with all their hearts and lives and strengths, to earn their bread, do earn it, and it is sure to be very sweet to them A very little bread,—a very few crumbs are enough, if it be of the right quality, for it is infinitely nutritious. Let each man, then, earn at last a crumb of bread for his body before he dies, and know the taste of it,—the it is identical with the bread of life, and that they both go down at one swallow.

  Our bread need not ever be sour or hard to digest. What Nature is to the mind she is also to the body. As she feeds my imagination, she will feed my body; for what she says she means, and is ready to do. She is not simply beautiful to the poet’s eye. Not only the rainbow and the sunset are beautiful, but to be fed and clothed, sheltered and warmed aright, are equally beautiful and inspiring. There is not necessarily any gross and ugly fact which may not be eradicated from the life of man. We should endeavor practically in our lives to correct all the defects which our imagination detects. The heavens are as deep as our aspirations are high. So high as a tree apries to grow, so high it will find an atmosphere suited to it. Every man should stand for a force which is perfectly irresistible. How can any man be weak who dares to be all? Even the tenderest plants force their way up through the hardest earth and the crevices of rocks; but a man no material power can resist. What a wedge, what a beetle, what a catapult, is an earnest man! What can resist him?

  It is a momentous fact that a man may be good, or he man be bad; his life may be true, or it may be false; it may be either a shame or a glory to him. The good man builds himself up; the bad man destroys himself.

  But whatever we do we must do it confidently (if we are timid, let us then, act timidly), not expecting more light, but having light enough. If we confidently expect more, then let us wait for it. But what is this which we have? Have we not already waited? Is this the beginning of time? Is there a man who does not see clearly beyond, though only a hair’s breadth beyond where he at any time stands?

  If one hesitates in his path, let him not proceed. Let him respect his doubts, too, may have some divinity in them. That we have but little faith is not sad, but that we have but little faithfulness. By faithfulness faith is earned. When, in the progress of a life, a man swerves, though only by an angle infinitely small, from his proper and allotted path (and this is never done quite unconsciously even at first; in fact, that was his board and scarlet sin,—ah, he knew of it more than he can tell), then the drama of his life turns to tragedy, and makes haste to its fifth act. When once we thus fall behind ourselves, there is no accounting for the obstacles which rise up in our path, and no one is so wise as to advise, and no one so powerful as to aid us while we abide on that ground. Such are cursed with duties, and other far more voluminous and terrible codes.

  These departures,—who have not made them?—for they are as faint as the parallax of a fixed star, and at the commencement we say they are nothing,—that is, they originate in a kind of sleep and forgetfulness of the soul when it is naught. A man cannot be too circumspect in order to keep in the straight road, and be sure that he sees all that he may at any time see, that so he may distinguish his true path.

  You ask if there is no doctrine of sorrow in my philosophy, Of acute sorrow I suppose that I know comparatively little. My saddest and most genuine sorrows are apt to be but transient regrets. The place of sorrow is supplied, perchance, by a certain hard and proportionally barren indifference. I am of kin to the sod, and partake largely of its dull patience,—in winter expecting the sun of spring. In my cheapest moments I am apt to think that it is not my business to be “seeking the spirit,” but as much its business to be seeking me. I know very well that the Goethe meant when he said that he never had chagrin but he made a poem out of it. I have altogether too much patience of this kind. I am too easily contented with a slight and almost animal happiness. My happiness is a good deal like that of the woodchucks.

  Methinks I am never quite committed, never wholly the creature of my moods, being always to some extent their critic, My only integral experience is in my vision. I see, perchance, with more integrity than I feel.

  But I need not to tell you what manner of man I am,—my virtues or my vices. You can guess if it worth the while; and I do not discriminate them well.

  I do not this at my hut in the woods. I am at present living with Mrs. Emerson, whose house is an old home of mine, for company during Mr. Emerson’s absence.

  You will perceive that I am as often talking to myself, perhaps as speaking to you.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 219-222)

Read Letters to Harrison Gray Otis Blake edited by Wendell Glick (from Great Short Works of Henry David Thoreau edited, with an introduction, by Wendell Glick (New York: Harper & Row, 1982).

4 to 5 May 1848. London, England.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife Lidian:

  Why Henry & [William] Ellery C[hanning] do not write, I know not. Have I not written to them Have they not had my letters?… Henry will not fail to order a large planting of melons, I hope (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 4:69).
17 May 1848.

New York, NY. Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

Dear Friend Thoreau,—  

  I trust you have not thought me neglectful or dilatory with regard to your business. I have done my very best, throughout, and it is only to-day that I have been able to lay my hand on the money due you from Graham. I have been to see him in Philadelphia, but did not catch him in his business office; then I have been here to meet him, and been referred to his brother, etc. I finally found the two numbers of the work in which your article was published (not easy, I assure you, for be has them not, nor his brother, and I hunted them up, and bought one of them at a very out-of-the-way place), and with these I made out a regular bill for the contribution; drew a draft on G. R. Graham for the amount, gave it to his brother here for collection, and to-day received the money. Now you see how to get pay yourself, another time, I have pioneered the way, and you can follow it easily yourself. There has been no intentional injustice on Graham’s part; but he is overwhwelmed with business, has too many irons in the fire, and we did not go at him the right way. Had you drawn a draft on him, at first, and given it to the Concord Bank to send in for collection, you would have received your money long since. Enough of this. I have made Graham pay you $75, but I only send you $50, for, having got so much for Carlyle, I am ashamed to take your “Maine Woods” for $25.

I have expectations of procuring it a place in a new magazine of high character that will pay. I don’t expect to get as much for it as for Carlyle, but I hope to get $50. If you are satisfied to take the $25 for your “Maine Woods,” say so, and I will send on the money; but I don’t want to seem a Jew, buying your articles at half price to speculate upon. If you choose to let it go that way, it shall be so; but I would sooner do my best for you, and send you the money.

Thoreau, if you will only write one or two articles, when in the spirit, about half the length of this, I can sell it readily and advantageously. The length of your papers is the only impediment to their appreciation by the magazines . Give me one or two shorter, and I will try to coin them speedily.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 222-223)

Thoreau replies 19 May.

Concord, Mass. Lidian Jackson Emerson writes to her husband Ralph Waldo:

  Henry [Thoreau] has helped Colombe remove the Apple tree, and has set out some of the pear trees from the heater-piece, in the garden or yard. He has planted the [?]—of which you, dear husband, will gather and eat the fruit, I hope. He said Colombe might dig the garden and he would plant it. But, Almira F. has done about a week’s work in hoeing and forking the ground and she will do all the weeding, probably, that Henry does not . . . Sunday eveg. Eddy is having his go-to-bed frolic with Henry, & has just informed me that Mr T. has first swallowed a book, then pulled it out of his (Eddy’s) nose, then put it into his (Mr T.’s) [“]pantalettes.” I tell Henry I shall send you word he is in his second childhood, a wearer of pantalettes. he says it is so, according to the younger Edda; the poetic, not the prose Edda . . . By the way Mrs Clarke is now a tenant of our barn house, and after much deliberation and consultation, Henry & I came to the conclusion that a pump costing 6.75 and warrented not to freeze or crack, with a little care, which I believe the pump-maker is to take in part would be better than a well sweep.
(The Selected Letters of Lidian Jackson Emerson, 153)
19 May 1848. Concord, Mass.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in reply to Horace Greeley’s letter of 17 May:

My Friend Greeley,

  I received from you fifty dollars today.—

  For the last five years I have supported myself solely by the labors of my hands—I have not received one cent from any other source, and this has cost me so little time, say a month in the spring and another in the autumn, doing the coarsest work of all kinds, that I have probably enjoyed more leisure for literary pursuits than any contemporary. For more than two years past I have lived alone in the woods, in a good plastered and shingled house entirely of my own building, earning only what I wanted, and sticking to my proper work. The fact is man need not live by the sweat of his brow—unless he sweats easier than I do—he needs so little. For two years and two months all my expenses have amounted to but 27 cents a week, and I have fared gloriously in all respects. If a man must have money, and he needs but the smallest amount, the true and independent way to earn it is by day—labor with his hands at a dollar a day.—I have tried many ways and can speak from experience.—Scholars are apt to think themselves privileged to complain as if their lot was a peculiarly hard one. How much have we heard about the attainment of knowledge under difficulties of poets starving in garrets—depending on the patronage of the wealthy—and finally dying mad. It is time that men sang another song. There is no reason why the scholar who professes to be a little wiser than the mass of men, should not do his work in the ditch occasionally, and by means of his superior wisdom make much less suffice for him. A wise man will not be unfortunate. How then would you know but he was a fool?

  This money therefore comes as a free and even unexpected gift to me—

  My Friend Greeley, I know not how to thank you for your kindness—to thank you is not the way—I can only assure you that I see and appreciate it—To think that while I have been sitting comparatively idle here, you have been so active in my behalf!

  You have done well for me. I only wish it had been a better cause—Yet the value of good deeds is not affected by the unworthiness of their object. Yes—that was the right way, but who would ever have thought of it? I think it might not have occurred to somewhat of a business man. I am not one in the common sense at all— that is, I am not acquainted with the forms—I might have way-laid him perhaps. I perceive that your way has this advantage too, that he who draws the draft determines the amount which it is drawn for. You prized it well, that was the exact amount.

  If more convenient the Maine article might be printed in the form of letters; you have only to leave off at the end of a day, and put the date before the next one. I shall certainly be satisfied to receive $25.00 for it—that was all I expected if you took it—but I do not by any means consider you bound to pay me that—the article not being what you asked for, and being sent after so long a delay. You shall therefore, if you take it, send me 25 dollars now, or when you have disposed of it, whichever is most convenient—that is, after deducting the necessary expenses which I perceive you must have incurred. This is all I ask for it.

  The carrier it is commonly who makes the money—I am concerned to see that you as carrier make nothing at all—but are in danger of losing a good deal of your time as well as some of your money.

  So I got off—rather so I am compelled to go off muttering my ineffectual thanks. But believe me, my Friend, the gratification which your letter affords me is not wholly selfish.

Trusting that my good genius will continue to protect me on this accession of wealth, I remain
Henry Thoreau

P.S. My book is swelling again under my hands, but as soon as I have leisure I shall see to those shorter articles. So, look out.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 223-225; MS, Rufus W. Griswold Papers. Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library; Box 17, Folder 1080)
21 May 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Dear Friend  

  Mrs. Emerson is in Boston whither she went with Eddy yesterday Saturday, and I do not know that my news will be worth sending alone. Perhaps she will come home in season to send with me from Concord. The Steam mill was burnt last night—it was a fine sight lighting up the rivers and meadows. The owners who bought it the other day for seven thousand dollars, though it was indeed insured for six, I hear since will be gainers rathers that losers—but some individuals who hired of them have lost—my Father probably more than any-from four to five hundred dollars, not being insured. Some think that it was set on fire. I have no doubt that the wise fates did set it on fire, I quite agree with them that that disgrace to Concord enterprise & skill needed to be burnt away. It was a real purification as far as it went, and evidence of it was come to every man’s door. I picked up cinders in your yard this morning 6 inches long—though there was no wind.

  Your trees are doing very well; but one died in the winter—the Watson pear, a native, which apparently grew more than any other last year, and hence it died. I am a constant foe to the caterpillars.

  Mr. Alcott recommenced work on the Arbor yesterday, or rather commenced repairs—But enough of this.

  Mr. [Cyrus] Warren tells me that he is on the point of buying the hill field for you perhaps for a hundred dollars, and he remembers that you would allow him and [Cyrus ?] Stow the privilege of a way to their fields—I should beware how I suffered him to transact this business with such an implied privilege for his compensation It would certainly greatly reduce the value of the field to you.

  Your island wood was severely burnt—but Reuben Brown say[s] that it may stand till winter without harm before it is cut. He suffered his own to stand last year. There are applications for the Walden field and house which await your attention when you come home.

  The proposition for a new journal is likely to fall among inflammable materials here—& excite another short and ineffectual blaze. As for me, I cannot yet join the journalists any more than the Fourierites—for I can not adopt their principles—one reason is because I do not know what they are. Men talk as if you couldn’t get good things printed, but I think as if you couldn’t get them written. That at least is the whole difficulty with me.

  I am more interested in the private journal than the public one, and it would be better news to me to hear that there were two or three valuable papers being written in England & America—that might be printed sometime—than that there were 30,000 dollars to defray expenses—& forty thousand men standing ready to write merely, but no certainty of anything valuable being written. The blacksmiths met together looking grim and voted to have a thunderbolt; if they could only get someone to launch it, but all the while there was not one man among them who could make anything better than a horse-shoe nail.

  Who has any desire to split himself any further up, by straddling the Atlantic? We are extremities enough already. There is danger of one’s straddling so far that he can never recover an upright position. There are certain men in Old & New England who aspire to the renown of the Colossus of Rhodes, and to have ships sail under then.

  Those who build castles in the air generally have one foot in the moon.

  What after all is the value of a journal, the best that we know—but a short essay once in 2 or 3 years which you can read—separated by impassable swamps of ink & paper—It is the combination that makes the swamp, but not the firm oasis—

  A journal 2 or 3 times as good as the best English one even would not be worth the while—It would not interest you nor me.

  To be sure there is no telling what an individual may do, but it is easy to tell what half a dozen men may not do unless they are to a certain extent united as one.

  How was it with the Mass. Quart. Rev., several men undertook to make a small book for mankind to read—& advertised then what they were about some months before hand—and after considerable delay they brought it out—& I read it, or what I could of it, and certainly if one man had written it all a wise publisher would not have advised to print it. It should have been suppressed for nobody was starving for that. It probably is not so good a book as the Boston Almanack—or that little book about the same size which Mr Spaulding has just put out called his Practical Thoughts—for Mr Spaulding’s contains more of autobiography at least. In this case there is nothing to come to the rescue of. Is it the publisher?—or the reputation of the editors? The journal itself has no character. Shall we make a rush to save a piece of paper which is falling to the ground? It is as good as anybody seriously designed that it should be or meant to make it.—But I am ashamed to write such things as these.

  I am glad to hear that you are writing so much. Lecturing is of little consequence. Dont forget to inquire after Persian and Hindoo books in London or Paris. Ellen & Edith are as well as flies. I have had earnest letters from H. G. O. Blake. Greeley has sent me $100 dollars and wants more manuscript.

But this and all this letter are nothing to the purpose.
H. Thoreau

P.S. 22nd Mrs. E. has come home tonight and opened your letter. I am glad to find that you are expecting a line from me, since I have better excuse for sending this hard scrawl. I trust however that the most prosaic Concord news acquires a certain value by the time it reaches London, as Concord cranberries have done. But don’t think that these berries have soured by the way, as did the first received—They are naturally harsh and sour. Yet I think that I could listen kindly and without selfishness to men’s projected enterprises if they were not too easy,—if they were struggles not into death but even into life. I read in a Texas paper sent to you that there was a farm for sale in that country “suitable for a man of small force.” You had better make a minute of thus for the benefit of some of your literary acquaintance.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 225-227)
25 May 1848. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes a letter to Thoreau:

   . . . Don’t scold at my publishing a part of your last private letter in this morning’s paper. It will do great good . . . I am so importuned by young loafers who want to be hired in some intellectual capacity so as to develope their minds—that is, get a broadcloth living without doing any vulgar labor—that I could not refrain from using against them the magnificent weapon you so unconsciously furnished me . . .

  Write me something shorter and when the spirit moves (never write a line otherwise, for the hack writer is a slaveish beast, I know), and I will sell it for you soon. I want one shorter article from your pen that will be quoted, as these long articles cannot be, and let the public know something of following out your thought in an essay “The Literary Life?” You need not make a personal allusion but I know you can write an article worth reading on that theme when you are in the vein.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 228-229)
30 May 1848. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes to Charles Lane in Ham, England:

  The Concordians are not quite content it seems with that Boston Massachusetts Quarterly Review, and would have a better or none. [William] Ellery Channing wrote from my room lately a proposition to edit a better for [John] Chapman, and we set down as contributors [Ralph Waldo] Emerson, Thoreau, Channing, [Charles King?] Newcomb, Alcott, on our side, with [James Anthony?] Froude, [Arthur Hugh] Clough, [Henry Septimus] Sutton, Lane, and some Oxonians whom Emerson writes of on yours.
(The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, 141)
4 June 1848. Concord, Mass.

Lidian Jackson Emerson writes to her husband Ralph Waldo:

  The plum trees blossomed—scantily, but all the blossoms seem to have been fertile — for there is promise of a good share of plums. Henry duly kills the curculios . . . Henry & Mr Channing [William Ellery Channing] have gone for a week’s walk—to somewhere. I have forgotten—and am ashamed of my forgetfulness. They have been making up Mr Thoreau’s loss, by subscription. I ventured to give 10 dollars, which I though was little enough where 500 were lost. I hope you will not disapprove . . . Charles [Jackson] has at last succeeded in getting his Defence written & printed, and all whom I hear speak of it say it is complete to the overthrow of M’s [William T. G. Morton] claim. Even Henry who has been perverse, & mystified me much, by his view of the matter, now says that “the claim of Dr J now stands as clear as if Morton had never tried to wrest it from him.”
(The Selected Letters of Lidian Jackson Emerson, 156)
July 1848.

“The Wilds of the Penobscot,” Thoreau’s first of five installments of “Ktaadn and the Maine Woods,” appears in Sartain’s Union Magazine.

24 August 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to George Thatcher:

Dear Cousin,

  If it is not too late I will thank you for your letter and your sympathy. I send you with this the third part, as they have chosen to call it, of that everlasting mountain story. I presume that the other two have reached you. They had bargained, as I thought to send me many copies for distribution, but I have received none. It should have been printed all together in some large newspaper—and then it would have gone down at one dose by its very gravity. I was sorry to hear that you came so near Concord without coming here. It always does us good to see you. Mr. [Ralph Waldo] Emerson came home on the Europa 3 or 4 weeks ago, in good health and spirits. I think that he has seen English men, such as are worth seeing, more thoroughly than any traveller. He has made them better acquainted with one another and with Americans. He had access to circles which are inaccessible to most travellers, but which are none the better for that. He has seen the elephant—or perhaps I should say the British lion now, and was made a lion of himself. He found Carlyle the most interesting man—as I expected he would-Stonehenge the most interesting piece of antiquity-and the London Times newspaper the best book which England is printing nowadays.

  Travelling is so cheap at present that I am tempted to make you a visit—but then, as usual, I have so much idle business that cannot be postponed—if any will believe it! The probable failure of the melon crop this season is melancholy—but fortunately our potatoes do not rot yet. I feel somewhat encouraged at the political prospects of the country, not because the new party have chosen such a leader, but because they are perhaps worthy of a better one. The N.E. delegation seems to have managed affairs in a bungling manner. If they had gone prepared they might have had their own man. But who is he? It is time to be done selecting available men ; for what are they not available who do thus?

Father desires to be remembered to you & to Mrs. Thatcher—and to the last named does also

yours sincerely
Henry Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 229-230)

26 August 1848. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau $5 for labor on Lucy Jackson Brown’s new house (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

August 1848.

“Life in the Wilderness,” Thoreau’s second of five installments of “Ktaadn and the Maine Woods,” appears in Sartain’s Union Magazine.

Late Summer 1848.

Thoreau and William Ellery Channing go on a walking trip through the southern New Hampshire area. The four day trip takes them to Tyngsborough, Dunstable, Moore’s Falls, Mount Uncanoonuc, Goffstown, and Hooksett before they stay one night at Caleb Harriman’s tavern in Hampstead and go through Plaistow and Haverhill on their way back to Concord, Mass.

(The Days of Henry Thoreau, 233-234)

Channing writes about their trek:

  Once walking in old Dunstable, he much desired the town history by C[harles]. J[ames]. Fox of Nashua [History of the old township of Dunstable: including Nashua, Nashville, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, and Merrimac, N.H.; Dunstable and Tyngsborough, Mass.]; and, knocking, as usual, at the best house, he went in and asked a young lady who made her appearance whether she had the book in question. She had,—it was produced. After consulting it, Thoreau in his sincere way inquired very modestly whether she “would not sell it to him.” I think the plan surprised her, and have heard that she smiled; but he produced his wallet, gave her the pistareen, and went his way rejoicing with the book, which remained in his small library.
(Thoreau the Poet-Naturalist, 34-35)
September 1848.

“Boating on the Lakes,” Thoreau’s third of five installments of “Ktaadn and the Maine Woods,” appears in Sartain’s Union Magazine.

7 September 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau’s Aunt Maria writes to the Edmund Quincy Ward family:

  I wish he [Thoreau] could find something better to do then walking off every now and then (Thoreau, 22, 459 n11).

Autumn 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau makes a list of books he intends to read in order to prepare for a vocation in surveying:

  • Bion, Nicolas. The Construction and Principal Uses of Mathematical Instruments
  • Bonnycastle, J. An Introduction to Mensuration and Practical Geometry
  • “Description of the Improved Patent Portable Theodolite, invented by Mr. Schmalcalder. . .” in The Quarterly Journal of Science and the Arts, vol. 6 no. 11 (1819)
  • Emerson, William. The Nature and Properties of Curve Lines
  • Emerson, William. The Mathematical Principles of Geography
  • Ewing, Alexander. A Synopsis of Practical Mathematics
  • Flint, Abel. A System of Geometry and Trigonometry
  • Galbraith, William. Mathematical and Astronomical Tables for the Use of Students of Mathematics, Practical Astronomers, Surveyors, Engineers, and Navigators
  • Gibson, Robert. A Treatise of Practical Surveying. . . Adapted to the Use of American Surveyors
  • Gregory, David. A Treatise of Practical Geometry
  • Hammond, John. The Practical Surveyor
  • Hassler, Ferdinand Rudolph. Principal Documents Relating to the Survey of the Coast of the United States 
  • Hawney, William. The Compleat Measurer; or the Whole Art of Measuring
  • Leybourn, William. The Compleat Surveyor, Containing the Whole Art of Surveying of Land
  • Love, John. Geodaesia: or, the Art of Surveying and Measuring of Land, Made Easie 
  • Martin, Benjamin. The New Art of Surveying by the Goniometer
  • Robertson, John. A Treatise of Such Mathematical Instruments, as are Usually put into a Portable Case
  • Talbot, Benjamin. The New Art of Land Measuring; or, A Turnpike Road to Practical Surveying

On the reverse side Thoreau has listed some of his needs and errands, including buying a hat and shoes, fixing his compass, buying a journal and a surveyor.

(The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 2:374-376)
October 1848.

“The Ascent of Ktaadn,” Thoreau’s fourth of five installments of “Ktaadn and the Maine Woods,” appears in Sartain’s Union Magazine.

16 October 1848. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to James Freeman Clarke:

  There is as good & better wine in Concord than any you know however and Henry Thoreau has an admirable lecture which he read to our Lyceum which I think your audience would prize as a quite new cordial (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 4:119).
21 October 1848. Salem, Mass.

Nathaniel Hawthorne writes to Thoreau:

My dear Sir,

  The Managers of the Salem Lyceum, some time ago, voted that you should be requested to deliver a Lecture before that Institution, during the approaching season. I know not whether Mr [George Francis] Chever, the late corresponding Secretary, communicated the vote to you; at all events, no answer has been received, and, as Mr Chever’s successor in office I am instructed to repeat the invitation. Permit me to add my own earnest wishes that you will accept it—and also, laying aside my official dignity, to express my wife’s desire and my own that you will be our guest, if you do come.

  In case of your compliance, the Managers would be glad to know at what time it will best suit you to deliver the Lecture.

Very truly Yours,
Nathl Hawthorne,
Cor. Secy Salem Lyceum.

P. S. I live at No 14 Mall Street—where I shall be very happy to see you. The stated fee for Lectures is $20.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 230-231)
25 October 1848.

James Russell Lowell’s A Fable for Critics is published in which he refers to Thoreau:

There comes—, for instance; to see him’s a rare sport,
Tread in Emerson’s tracks with legs painfully short;
How he jumps, how he strains, and gets red in the face,
To keep step with the mystagogue’s natural pace!
He follows as close as a stick to a rocket,
His fingers exploring the prophet’s each pocket.
Fie, for shame, brother bard; with good fruit of your own,
Can’t you let neighbor Emerson’s orchards alone?
Besides, ’tis no use, you’ll not find e’en a core,—
—has picked up all the windfalls before.
They might strip every tree, and E. never would catch ’em,
His Hesperides have no rude dragon to watch ’em;
When they send him a dishfull, and ask him to try ’em,
He never suspects how the sly rogues came by ’em;
He wonders why ’tis there are none such his trees on,
And thinks ’em best he has tasted this season.
(A Fable for Critics, 32)
28 October 1848. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

  I break a silence of some duration to inform you that I hope on Monday to receive payment for your glorious account of “Ktaadn and the Maine Woods,” which I bought of you at a Jew’s bargain, and sold to the “Union Magazine.” I am to get $75 for it, and, as I don’t choose to exploiter you at such a rate, I shall insist on inclosing you $25 more in this letter, which will still leave me $25 to pay various charges and labors I have incurred in selling your articles and getting paid for them,—the latter by far the more difficult portion of the business. You must write to the magazines in order to let the public know who and what you are. Ten years hence will do for publishing books.
(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 231-232)
31 October 1848. Salem, Mass.

The Salem Register, Salem Observer, and Salem Tri-Weekly Gazette note “Henry S. Thoreau, of Concord, N.H.” in a list of lecturers to be included in the program of the Salem Lyceum. The advertisements continue through the middle of November (Studies in the American Renaissance, 1995, 158).

16 November 1848. Concord, Mass.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes in his journal:

  Went to Concord to dine with [Ralph Waldo] Emerson, and met his philosophers, [A. Bronson] Alcott, Thoreau, and [William Ellery] Channing (The Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 2:128).
17 November 1848.

Thoreau writes to Horace Greeley. Greeley replies 19 November (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 232).

New York, N.Y. The New-York Daily Tribune publishes excerpts from The Maine Woods:


Under the title of “Ktaadn and the Maine Woods,” Mr. Henry D. Thoreau, of Concord, Mass. has been publishing a series of sketches in the Union Magazine, which are quite superior to any descriptions of wild-woods life that we have see for several years. There is all the freshness and odor of the pine-forests about them, and the language flows with as clear and sparkling a stream as the mountain rapids down which the author was whirled in his canoe. The region he traversed is almost entirely unvisited, except by trappers and lumbermen, and his narrative will be new to many of our readers. We have therefore made a number of extracts, characteristic of the life, scenery and soul of the wilderness. He commences as follows: . . .


18 November 1848. New York, N.Y.

New York, N.Y. The New-York Daily Tribune publishes further excerpts from The Maine Woods, continuing its series of excerpts from the previous day.

19 November 1848. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

Friend Thoreau,

  Yours of the 17th received. Say we are even on money counts, and let the matter drop. I have tried to serve you, and have been fully paid for my own disbursements and trouble in the business. So we will move on.

  I think you will do well to send me some passages from one or both of your new works, to dispose of to the magazines This will be the best kind of advertisement whether for a publisher or for readers. You may write with an angel’s pen, yet your writings have no mercantile, money value till you are known and talked of as an author. Mr. Emerson would have been twice as much known and read if he had written for the magazines a little, just to let common people know of his existence. I believe a chapter from one of your books printed in Graham or The Union will add many to the readers of the volume when issued. Here is the reason why British books sell so much better among us than American—because they are thoroughly advertised through the British Reviews, Magazines and journals which circulate or are copied among us.—However, do as you please. If you choose to send me one of your MSS. I will get it publisher, but I cannot promise you any considerable recompense; and, indeed, if Monroe will do it, that will be better. Your writings are in advance of the general mind here—Boston is nearer their standard.

  I never saw the verses you speak of. Won’t you send them again? I have been buried up in politics for the last six weeks.

  Kind regards to Emerson. It is doubtful about my seeing you this season.

Horace Greeley

“Thoreau’s ‘new works’ were his Week and Walden. Munroe did finally take the first and publish it at the author’s expense in 1849. Its complete failure postponed the publication of Walden until 1854. Then Thoreau, taking Greeley’s advice, permitted him to publish excerpts in the Tribune to arouse interest in the book.”

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 232-233)

20 November 1848. Boston, Mass.

Nathaniel Hawthorne writes to Thoreau:

My dear Thoreau,

  I did not sooner write you, because there were pre-engagements for the two or three first lectures, so that I could not arrange matters to have you come during the present month. But, as it happens, the expected lectures have failed us; and we now depend on you to come this very next Wednesday. I shall announce you in the paper of tomorrow, so you must come. I regret that I could not give you longer notice.

  We shall expect you on Wednesday, at No 14 Mall, Street.

Yours truly,
Nath Hawthorne.

If it is utterly impossible for you come, pray write me a line so that I may get it Wednesday morning. But, by all means, come.

This Secretaryship is an intolerable bore. I have travelled thirty miles, this wet day for no other business.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 233)
21 November 1848. Boston, Mass.

Nathaniel Hawthorne writes to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

  I will gladly come on Thursday. Thoreau is to be at my house, and I shall take the liberty to bring him with me, unless he has scruples about intruding on you. You would find him well worth knowing: he is a man of thought and originality; with a certain iron-poker-ishness, and uncompromising stiffness in his mental character, which is interesting, though it grows wearisome on close and frequent acquaintance.
(Hawthorne and his friends: Reminiscence and tribute, 28-29)
22 November 1848. Salem, Mass.

Thoreau delivers a lecture on “Student Life in New England, its Economy” at Lyceum Hall for the Salem Lyceum (“Student Life in New England, its Economy”; Historical Sketch of the Salem Lyceum, 50).

25 November 1848. Salem, Mass.

Thoreau’s lecture of 22 November is reviewed in the Salem Observer:

Mr. Thoreau, of Concord, gave his auditors a lecture on Wednesday evening, sufficiently Emersonian to have come from the great philosopher himself. We were reminded of Emerson continually. In thought, style and delivery, the similarity was equally obvious. There was the same keen philosophy running through him, the same jutting forth of “brilliant edges of meaning” as Gilfillan has it. Even in the tone of voice, Emerson was brought strikingly to the ear; and in personal appearance also, we fancied some little resemblance. The close likeness between the two would almost justify a charge of plagiarism, were it not that Mr. Thoreau’s lecture furnished ample proof of being a native product, by affording all the charm of an original. Rather than an imitation of Emerson, it was the unfolding of a like mind with his; as is if the two men had grown in the same soil and under the same culture.The reader may remember having recently seen an article from the N. Y. Tribune, describing the recluse life led by a scholar, who supported himself by manual labor, and on a regime which cost only Twenty seven cents a week, making it necessary to labor but six weeks to provide sufficient of the necessaries of life to serve the balance of the year. Mr. Thoreau is the hero of that story—although he claims no heroism, considering himself simply, an economist.

The subject of this lecture was Economy, illustrated by the experiment mentioned.—This was done in an admirable manner, in a strain of exquisite humor, with a strong under current of delicate satire against the follies of the times. Then there was interspersed observations, speculations, and suggestions upon dress, fashions, food, dwellings, furniture, &c., &c., sufficiently queer to keep the audience in almost constant mirth, and sufficiently wise and new to afford many good practical hints and precepts.

The performance has created “quite a sensation” amongst the Lyceum goers.

(American Transcendental Quarterly, no. 2 (2nd quarter 1969):21)
November 1848.

“The Return Journey,” Thoreau’s final installment of “Ktaadn and the Maine Woods,” appears in Sartain’s Union Magazine.

Ktaadn 5
Ktaadn No. V in Sartain’s Union Magazine(The Thoreau Collection of Kevin Mac Donnell)
11 December 1848. Lincoln, Mass.

James Lorin Chapin writes in his journal:

  Another pleasant day. Came home in the morning stopping in town to see Mr. Henry D. Thoreau and see if he would go and lecture before the Lyceum at Lincoln to morrow evening. he could not go and gave as a reason ill health. Said he would go at some future time.
(Concord Saunterer, 15, no. 3 (December 1984):23)
20 December 1848. Gloucester, Mass.

Thoreau lectures on “Economy—Illustrated by the Life of the Student” at Town Hall (“Economy—Illustrated by the Life of the Student”).

The Gloucester News and Semi-Weekly Messenger notes:

Mr. Thoreau lectures before the Lyceum this evening. This lecturer is one of the eccentric characters of the age, of whom Ralph W. Emerson predicted a few years since, that “He would be heard from.” From the notices we have seen of Mr. Thoreau, we think an original and highly entertaining lecture may be expected.
(Studies in the American Renaissance, 1995, 161)
23 December 1848.

Gloucester, Mass. Thoreau’s lecture of 20 December is reviewed in the Gloucester Telegraph:

  The lecture before our Lyceum on Wednesday evening last was rather a unique performance. Mr. Thoreau announced it as the first of a series which he had prepared upon the life of a student, and might well be styled—Economy. He apologized for the seeming egotism which would appear. It was commonly the custom for the “I” to be omitted. In this lecture the difference would be that the “I” would be inserted. He was to brag—brag for himself—brag for humanity. Perhaps the lecture would not be exactly suitable for a Gloucester audience, as it may have been prepared chiefly with regard to another locality. We thought so, too, when he gravely informed us that there were probably many present who were in debt for some of their dinners and clothes, and were then and there cheating their creditors out of an hour of borrowed time. If such were the case, we can only regret that any patrons of the Gloucester Lyceum are of that complexion. The lecturer gave a strange account of the state of affairs at Concord. In the shops and offices were large numbers of human beings suffering tortures to which those of the Brahmins are mere pastimes. We cannot say whether this was in jest or in earnest. If a joke, it was a most excruciating one—if true, the attention of the Home Missionary Society should be directed to that quarter forthwith.Mr. Thoreau then gave a minute account of his experience as a house builder and house keeper . . . From the details which he gave of indoor life, we should suppose that his housekeeping was in rather a primitive style . . .

  We believe that concerning this lecture there are various opinions in the community. With all deference to the sagacity of those who can see a good deal when there is little to be seen—hear much where there is hardly anything to be heard—perceive a wonderful depth of meaning where in fact nothing is really meant, we would take the liberty of expressing the opinion that a certain ingredient to a good lecture was, in some instances, wanting.

(Studies in the American Revolution, 1995, 162)

Thoreau’s lecture of 20 December is reviewed in the Gloucester News and Semi-Weekly Messenger:


The lecture on Wednesday evening was delivered by Henry S. Thoreau of Concord, as he announced, on the subject of economy. We conceived his object to be an attempt to prove that there is no necessity for mankind to labor but a small portion of their time, to earn the necessaries of life; and to show how their moral, intellectual and physical condition may be improved. In his introduction, which was somewhat long, he attacked with keen but good natured sarcasm, the customs and fashions of the present age, and ridiculed with much force the folly of men, who voluntarily undertake labors more than Herculean, and absolutely interminable, in pursuit of an object that can be attained with comparatively little cost and exertion. To illustrate his theory, he gave a humorous account of his doings, during a period of more than two years, spent in seclusion, on the shores of a pond in Concord. This sketch of a hermit’s life was highly entertaining, being interspersed with beautiful descriptions of natural scenery, well told anecdotes, many philosophical digressions, and quaint sentiments He proved by his experiment that a man can build a house with his own hands, in a few months, that will afford him all the shelter, warmth and comfort a mortal actually needs, at an expense of only about twenty-five or thirty dollars; that good, wholesome food, sufficient for one hermit can be procured for four cents a week; that to pay all the needful expenses of such a life, it is necessary to labor only six weeks in a year. The remainder of his time may be devoted to reading, and the development of his moral and intellectual nature. We would not object to live on Mr. Thoreau’s plan a year or two, but in the present state of society, its general adoption would be rather impracticable, had men a taste for it; but only the ardent devoted lover of nature could endure it three weeks. Mr. Thoreau and a few other men in the world, can despise the pleasures of society, worship God out doors in old clothes, can hear his voice in the whistling or gently sighing wind, and read eloquent sermons from the springing flowers; but the great mass of men do, and, will always laugh at such pursuits.

The lecturer’s remarks on the actual cost of living, were not at all startling, there are, we have been often told, families of eight or ten souls in this town, who live a year on one hundred and fifty dollars, which falls considerably within Mr. T.’s estimate. We were pleased with his observations on philanthropy; doing good, he said, does not agree with his constitution; and if he should see a man coming towards his house with such intentions towards himself, he would run for his life. There are many people in this world whose spiritual constitutions seem to lack all the elements of good, and when they undertake to be philanthropic, if they do not burn buildings in heaven and make deserts on earth, or commit any other havoc, ascribed to Phaethon by Mr. Thoreau, and not mentioned in Ovid, they scorch the souls of the hapless victims of their charity, and exert an influence fatal as the Sirce, on whatever they approach.

Mr. Thoreau’s lecture certainly lacked system, and some of his flights were rather too lofty for the audience; but in originality of thought, force of expression, and flow of genuine humor, he has few equals. His frequent and apposite classical allusions allowed that he is well versed in ancient lore, and possesses a retentive memory. His style and enunciation alternately dwelling on, and jerking out his words—are decidedly Emersonian, and it is evident that in this respect, he is an imitator; a consideration which always detracts much from the force of genius: the affectation of another’s style creates in the mind feelings akin to those which arise on beholding an ambitious urchin dressed in his father’s coat and boots. We guess Mr. Thoreau often relieved the “tedium” of his secluded life by frequent intercourse with his neighbor, Mr. [Ralph Waldo] Emerson. Some of the lecturer’s Latin Antitheses, and quaint puns, we fear, were not exactly appreciated; and many local allusions might have been omitted, having no interest of a Gloucester audience.

On the whole, though the lecture was entertaining and original, it was not calculated to do much good, and we think may be considered rather a literary curiosity, than a practical dissertation on economy.

(Studies in the American Renaissance, 1995, 162-164)

Salem, Mass. The Salem Observer notes:

H. S. Thoreau lectured in Gloucester on Wednesday evening (Studies in the American Renaissance, 1995, 164).
26 December 1848. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to George Thatcher:

  I hear that the Gloucester paper has me in print again, and the Republican—whatever they may say is not to the purpose only as it serves as an advertisement of me. There are very few whose opinion I value (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 234).

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