the Thoreau Log.
Æt. 38.
January 1855.

Boston, Mass. Walden is reviewed in the North American Review.

Cambridge, Mass. Harvard Magazine reviews Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

1 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Skated to Pantry Brook with C. [William Ellery Channing]. All the tolerable skating was a narrow strip, often only two or three feet wide, between the frozen spew and broken ice of the middle.
(Journal, 7:99)

The Nantucket Inquirer reported on 1 January 1855:

  Notwithstanding the damp, uncomfortable weather of Thursday evening, and the muddy streets, a large audience assembled to listen to the man who has rendered himself notorious by living, as his book asserts, in the woods, at an expense of about sixty dollars per year, in order that he might there hold free communion with Nature, and test for himself the happiness of a life without manual labor or conventional restraints.
(“What Shall it Profit”)
2 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see, in the path near Goose Pond, where the rabbits have eaten the bark of the smooth sumachs and young locusts rising above the snow; also barberry. Yesterday we saw the pink light on the snow within a rod of us. The shadow of the bridges, etc., on the snow was a dark indigo blue.
(Journal, 7:99)
4 January 1855.

Worcester, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Worcester to lecture. Visited the antiquarian Library of twenty-two or twenty-three thousand volumes. It is richer in pamphlets and newspaper than Harvard . . . Saw after my lecture a young negro who introduced himself as a native of Africa, Leo L. Lloyd, who lectures on “Young Africa!!” . . . Higginson told me of a simple strong-minded man named Dexter Broad, who was at my lecture, who I should see.
(Journal, 7:99-100)

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

  Dear Walden,—  

  We should be glad to hear of your safe arrival home from your “perils by land and by flood,” and as we are not likely to know of this unless you receive a strong hint, I just drop a line for that end.

  Your visit, short as it was, gave us all at Brooklawn much satisfaction.

  I should be glad to have you come again next summer and cruise around with me.

  I regret I was unusually unwell when you were here, as you undoubtedly perceived by my complaints.

  I am just starting for a walk, and as I expect to pass our village post-office, thought it a good time to write you.

  I trust you and your comrade [Ellery] Channing will have many good times this winter.

  I may possibly drop in on you for a few hours at the end of this month, when I expect to be in Boston.

  Excuse haste.

  Yours very truly
  Daniel Ricketson

P.S. Mrs. R and children sent kind regards

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 361)

Thoreau replies 6 January.

5 January 1855. Worcester, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A. M.—Walked to Quinsigamond Pond via Quinsigamond Village, to southerly end, and returned by Floating Bridge . . . Higginson showed me a new translation of the Vishnu Sarma. Spoke of the autobiography of a felon older than Stephen Burroughs, one Fitch of Revolutionary days. R. W. E. [Ralph Waldo Emerson] told [of] Mr. Hill, his classmate, of Bangor, who was much interested in my Walden but relished it merely as a capital satire and joke, and even thought that the survey and map of the pond were not real, but a caricature of the Coast Survey . . .
(Journal, 7:100-103).
6 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Great Meadows. Saw one of those silver-gray cocoons which are so securely attached by the silk being wound round the leaf-stalk and the twig (Journal, 7:103-104).

Thoreau also writes to Daniel Ricketson in reply to his letter of 4 January:

Mr Ricketson,  

  I am pleased to hear from the shanty whose inside and occupant I have seen. I had a very pleasant time at Brooklawn, as you know,—and thereafter at Nantucket. I was obliged to pay the usual tribute to the sea, but it was more than made up to me by the hospitality of the Nantucketers.

  Tell Arthur [Ricketson] that I can now compare notes with him, for though I went neither before nor behind the mast, since we hadn’t any—I went with my head hanging over the side all the way. 

  In spite of all my experience I resisted in reading to the Nantucket people the lecture which I read at New Bedford, and I found them to be the very audience for me. I got home Friday night after being lost in the fog off Hyannis.

  I have not yet found a new jacknife but I had a glorious skating with Channing the other day on the skates found long ago.

  Mr. Cholmondeley sailed for England direct in the America on the 3d—after spending a night with me. He thinks even to go to the east & enlist!

  Last night I returned from lecturing at Worcester.

  I shall be glad to see you when you come to Boston, as will also my mother & sister who know something about you as an abolitionist. Come directly to our house. 

  Please remember me to Mrs. Ricketson, & also to the [young folks

  Henry D Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 362)

Ricketson replies 9 January.

Cambridge?, Mass. Franklin B. Sanborn writes in his journal:

  This morning I met Mr [A. Bronson] Alcott in Cambridge and had a talk with him in the book-store—I gave him the names of the writers for the H. M. [Harvard Magazine] he was pleased with Morton’s article on Thoreau . . .
(Transcendental Climate, 216)
7 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—J. P. Brown road and Hubbard’s Bridge. Cloudy and misty. On opening the door I feel a very warm southwesterly wind . . .

  The delicious soft, spring-suggesting air,—how it fills my veins with life! Life becomes again credible to me. A certain dormant life awakes in me, and I begin to love nature again. Here is my Italy, my heaven, my New England.

(Journal, 7:104-106)
8 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  7.30 A.M.—To river. Still warm and cloudy, but with a great crescent of clear sky increasing in the north by west. The streets are washed bare down to the, ice. It is pleasant to see the sky reflected in the open river-reach, now perfectly smooth.

  10 A.M.—To Easterbrooks place via old mill site. It is now a clear warm and sunny clay. The willow osiers by the Red Bridge decidedly are not bright now. There is a healthy earthy sound of cock-crowing. I hear a few chickadees near at hand . . .

(Journal, 7:106-107)
9 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum. A cloudy day, threatening snow; wet under foot. How pretty the evergreen radical shoots of the St.John’s-wort now exposed, partly red or lake, various species of it. Have they not grown since fall?
(Journal, 7:107-110)

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau in reply to his letter 6 January:

Dear Walden,—  

  I have just received your very welcome reply. I am also happy to learn of your safe arrival home, and was much amused by your account of your voyage to Nantucket—also that you found an appreciative audience there.

 Your address me as Mr. Ricketson. What did I do while you were here to warrant so much deference—I pass for a rather aristocratic man among big folk, but didn’t suppose you knew it! You should have addressed “Dear Brooklawn.” Johnson in his Tour of the Hebrides says that they have a custom, in those isles, of giving their names to their chieftans or owners—as Col. Rasay, Much, etc., of which they are the Lairds. You are the true and only Laird of Walden, and as such I address you. You certainly can show a better title to Walden Manor than any other. It is just as we lawyers say, and you hold the fee. You didn’t think of finding such knowing folks this way, altho you had travelled a good deal in Concord.

  By the way, I have heard several sensible people speak well of your lecture before the New Bedford Lyceum, but conclude it was not generally understood.

  My son Arthur and I have begun a series of pilgrimages to old farmhouses—we don’t notice any short of a hundred years old.

  I am much obligated to you and your mother for your kind invitation. My intention is to attend the Anti-slavery meetings in Boston, Wednesday and Thurday, 24th and 25th this month, and shall endeavor to get up to Concord for part of a day.

  I have had a present of a jack-knife found upon a stick of timer in an old house, “built in” and supposed to have been left there by the carpenter. The house is over one hundred years old, and the knife is very curious.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 363-364)
10 January 1855.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Beck Stow’s.The swamp is suddenly frozen up again, and they are carting home the mud which was dug out last fall, in great frozen masses. The twigs of the Andromeda Polifolia, with its rich leaves turned to a mulberry-color above by the winter . . .

  As I go toward the sun now at 4 P.M., the translucent leaves are lit up by it and appear of a soft red, more or less brown, like cathedral windows, but when I look back from the sun, the whole bed appears merely gray and brown . . .

(Journal, 7:110-111)

Worcester, Mass. The Worcester National Aegis reviews Thoreau’s lecture of 4 January (“What Shall it Profit”).

11 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Skated to Lee’s Bridge and Farrar’s Swamp—call it Otter Swamp. A fine snow had just begun to fall, so we made haste to improve the skating before it was too late. Our skates made tracks often nearly an inch broad in the slight snow which soon covered the ice. All along the shores . . .
(Journal, 7:111-112)
12 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond via Minott’s meadow . . .

  Perhaps what most moves us in winter is some reminiscence of far-off summer. How we leap by the side of the open brooks! What beauty in the running brooks! What life! What society! The cold is merely superficial; it is summer still at the core . . .

(Journal, 7:113-115)
13 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Warm and wet, with rain-threatening clouds drifting from southwest. Muddy, wet, and slippery. Surprised to see oak balls on a red oak.
(Journal, 7:115)
14 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Skated to Baker Farm with a rapidity which astonished myself, before the wind, feeling the rise and fall,—the water having settled in the suddenly cold night,—which I had not time to see . . .
(Journal, 7:115-116)
15 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Skated to Bedford. It had just been snowing, and this lay in shallow drifts or waves on the Great Meadows, alternate snow and ice. Skated into a crack, and slid on my side twenty-five feet . . .
(Journal, 7:116)
16 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Cambridge and Boston.

  Carried to [Thaddeus W.] Harris the worms—brown, light-striped—and fuzzy black caterpillars (he calls the first also caterpillars); also two black beetles; all which I have found within a week or two on ice and snow; thickest in a thaw. Showed one, in a German work, plates of the larvæ of dragon-flies and ephemeræ . . .

(Journal, 7:116-117)

Thoreau also checks out The History of English Birds by Thomas Bewick and Histoire du Canada by Gabriel Sagard from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 291).

17 January 1855. Worcester, Mass.

The Worcester Palladium reviews Thoreau’s lecture of 4 January (“What Shall It Profit”).

19 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I never saw the blue in the snow so bright as this damp, dark, stormy morning at 7 A.M., as I was coming down the railroad . . . At noon it is still a driving snow-storm, and a little flock of redpolls is busily picking the seeds of the pigweed, etc., in the garden . . .

  P.M.—The damp snow still drives from the northwest nearly horizontally over the fields, while I go with C. [William Ellery Channing] toward the Cliffs and Walden.

(Journal, 7:117-122)
20 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum and C. Miles with [William] Tappan . . .

  We cross the fields behind Hubbard’s and suddenly slump into dry ditches concealed by the snow, up to the middle, and flounder out again. How new all things seem! Here is a broad, shallow pool in the fields, which yesterday was slosh, now converted into a soft, white, fleecy snow ice, like bread that has spewed out and baked outside the pan.

(Journal, 7:122-128)
21 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  2.30 P.M.—The sky has gradually become overcast, and now it is just beginning to snow. Looking against a dark roof, I detect a single flake from time to time . . .

  P. M.—To Andromeda Ponds via railroad; return by base of Cliffs. The snow is turning to rain through a fine hail.

(Journal, 7:128-129)
22 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Heavy rain in the night and half of to-day, with very high wind from the southward . . .

  P.M.—To stone bridge, Loring’s Pond, Derby’s and Nut Meadow.

  It is a good lichen day, for the high wind has strewn the bark over the fields and the rain has made them very bright. In some places for fifteen rods the whole road is like a lake from three to fifteen inches deep. It is very exciting to see, where was so lately only ice and snow, dark wavy lakes, dashing in furious torrents . . .

(Journal, 7:129-131)
23 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—The water is still higher than yesterday. I found [it] just over the Red Bridge road, near the bridge. The willow-row near there is not now bright, but a dull greenish below, with a yard at the ends of the twigs red. The water in many hollows in the fields has suddenly fallen away . . .
(Journal, 7:131-132)

Thomas Chomondeley also writes to Thoreau:

My dear Thoreau

  You will be glad to hear that I am safe at my mothers home on Salop after a most disagreeable passage to England in the steamer America.

  I have accepted the offer of a Captaincy in the Salop Militia, & it is probably that we shall be sent before very long to relieve other troops who are proceeding to the seat of the war: but if the strife continue to consume men at its present rate of 1000 a week we shall be involved in it before the year is out by volunteering into the Line.

  Meanwhile I shall use my best diligence to learn all I can of my men & prepare myself for the active service to which I impatiently look forward. Nothing can be more awful than the position of our poor army. At the present rate of mortality they will be finished up by the time they are most wanted; & it will be reserved for the French to take Sevastopol.

  We are learning a tremendous lesson: I hope we shall profit by it & so far from receding I trust we shall continue hostilities with greater energy & greater wisdom than before.

  I would rather see the country decimated than an unglorious or even accommodating peace.

  My passion is to see the fellow crushed or to die in the attempt.

  Lord John [Russell] has resigned & the ministry is, we all think, breaking up. It was high time considering the mismanagement of New Castle.

  We are in the midst of a great snow (great at least for us). Colds are rifle in the Parish so that “coughing drowns the Parsons saw.”

  I find the red brick houses are the most striking feature in revisiting this country. Though a great deal smaller than your elegant villas or cottages on the whole please my eye & look more homey, a very suggestion of good cheer.

  There is such a quietness & excessive sleepiness about Shropshire—the only excitement being an occasional alehouse brawl—that is it hardly possible to imagine we are at war!

  The fact is the common people never see a newspaper—& such is their confidence in “the Queen’s army” that they believe prolonged resistance on the past of any power would be impossible & absurd. My cousin in the Crimea still serves contrary to my expectations. We have heard a good anecdote from him. Early on Christmas morning the remains of the regiment to wh. he belongs gathering painfully together, & as day dawned they all sung the fine English Carol “Christmas Awake.” It is rather touching.

  I find all here quite well & hearty & hope you people will be the same when this arrives at Concord—a place I shall often revisit in spirit. Pray remember me to your father mother & sister—to Mr. Emerson, Channing, & Do not forget your promise to come over sometime to England, which you will find a very snug & hospitable country—though perhaps decaying, & not on such a huge scale as America.

  My romance—the Dream of my life—without which it is not worth living for me—is—a glorious commonwealth. I am persuaded that things must in their way to this, be greatly worse before they can become better. Turn it how you will, our English nation no longer stands upon the Living Laws of the Eternal God—we have turned ourselves to an empire & cotton bags & leprosy of prodigious manufacture. Let that all go & let us grow great men again instead of dressing up dolls for the market. I feel we are strong enough to live a better life than this one which now festers in all our joints.

  So much for the confession of all thorough English conservative as you know me to be!

  You have my direction so pray write. Your letter will be forwarded to wherever I may be

  Dear Thoreau
  Ever affectionately yours
  Thos Cholmondeley

24 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am [reading] William Wood’s “New England’s Prospect”. He left New England August 15th, 1633, and the last English edition referred to in this American one of 1764 is that of London, 1639.

  The wild meadow-grasses appear to have grown more rankly in those days . . .

  P.M.—To Walden and Andromeda Ponds. The river is remarkably high for this season. Meeks, the carpenter, said that he could not get home to-night if he could not find Rhoades, with whom he rode into town, for the water was more than a foot deep over half the causeway. This was at 8 P. M. But the ice is not thick enough on the meadows, so I go to Walden a-skating.

  But the ice is not thick enough on the meadows, so I go to Walden a-skating. Yet, to my surprise, it
is thinly frozen over those parts of the river which are commonly open even in the coldest weather (as at Cheney’s), probably because, it being spread over the meadows, there is not so much current there now.

  On the 19th Walden was covered with slosh four or five inches deep.

(Journal, 7:132-141)
25 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Andromeda Ponds. This morning was a perfect hunter’s morn, for it snowed about three quarters of an inch last evening, covering land and ice. Is not good skating a sign of snow? In the swamps, however, where there was water oozed out over the ice, there is no snow, but frozen slosh . . .
(Journal, 7:141-144)
26 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  This morning it snows again,—a fine, dry snow with no wind to speak of, giving a wintry aspect to the landscape.

  What a Proteus is our weather! Let me try to remember its freaks. We had remarkably steady sleighing, on a little snow some six inches deep, from the .5th of December all through the month . . .

  P. M.—To Walden. A thick, driving snow, something like, but less than, that of the 19th. There is a strong easterly wind and the snow is very damp. In the deepest hollows on the Brister Hill path it has already lodged handsomely . . .

(Journal, 7:144-150)

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Sir,—

  I fully intended to have gone to Boston yesterday; but not being very well, deferred it until to-day, and now we are visited by a severe snowstorm, so that I fear the railway track may be obstructed. I shall not, therefore, be able to reach Concord this time. My only fear is that you may have gone to Boston in expectation of meeting me there; but as I have not heard from you to this effect I have no very strong reason to think so, and hope you have not.

  I should like very much to see Concord and its environs with the Laird of Walden, and hope at no very distant time to do so, should it meet his pleasure. I hope also to see your lordship again here, and to visit with you some of our rural retreats.

  D. Ricketson

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 366)
27 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  One is educated to believe, and would rejoice if the rising generation should find no occasion to doubt, that the State and the Church are on the side of morality, that the voice of the people is the voice of God. Harvard College was partly built by a lottery . . . New England is flooded with the “Official Schemes of the “Maryland State Lotteries,” and in this that State is no less unprincipled than in her slaveholding. Maryland, and every fool who buys a ticket of her, is bound straight to the bottomless pit . . .
(Journal, 7:150-153)
28 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Sunday. Grew warmer toward night and snowed; but this soon turned to heavy rain in the night, which washed all the snow off the ice, leaving only bare ground and ice the county over by next morning.
(Journal, 7:154)
29 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Not cold. Sun comes out at noon (Journal, 7:154).
30 January 1855.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Minott to-day enumerates the red, gray, black, and what he calls the Sampson fox. He says, “It’s a sort of yaller fox, but their pelts ain’t good for much.” He never saw one, but the hunters have told him of them.
(Journal, 7:154)

Hampton Falls, N.H. Franklin B. Sanborn writes to Thoreau:

My dear Sir,—

  I have had it in mind to write you a letter ever since the day when you visited me, without my knowing it, at Cambridge. I saw you afterward at the Library, but refrained from introducing myself to you, in the hope that I should see you later in the day. But as I did not, will you allow me to seek you out, when next I come to Concord?

  The author of the criticism in the “Harvard Magazine” is Mr. [Edwin] Morton of Plymouth, a friend and a pupil of your friend, Marston Watson, of that old town. Accordingly I gave him the book which you left with me, judging that it belongs to him. He received it with delight, as a gift of value in itself, and the more valuable for the sake of the giver.

  We who at Cambridge look towards Concord as a sort of Mecca for our pilgrimages, are glad to see that your last book finds such favor with the public. It has made its way where your name has rarely been heard before, and the inquiry, “who is Mr. Thoreau?” proves that the book has in part done its work. For my own part, I thank you for the new light it shows me the aspects of Nature in, and for the marvelous beauty of your descriptions. At the same time, if any one should ask me what I think of your philosophy, I should be apt to answer that it is not worth a straw. Whenever again you visit Cambridge, be assured, sir, that it would give me much pleasure to see you at my room. There, or in Concord, I hope soon to see you; if I may intrude so much on your time.

  Believe me always, yours very truly
  F.B. Sanborn

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 367-368)
31 January 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At 10 A.M., skated up the river to explore further than I had been.

  At 8 A.M., the river rising, the thin yellowish ice of last night, next the shore, is, as usual, much heaved up in ridges, as if beginning to double on itself, and here and there at 9 o’clock, being cracked thus in the lowest parts, the water begins to spurt up in some places in a stream, as form an ordinary pump, and flow along these valleys . . .

  As I skated near the shore under Lee’s Cliff, I saw what I took to be some scrags or knotty stubs of a dead limb lying on the bank beneath a white oak, close by me. Yet while I looked directly at them I could not but admire their close resemblance to partridges . . . I was not convinced that they were birds till I had pulled out my glass and deliberately examined them . . . I was much surprised at the remarkable stillness they preserved . . .

(Journal, 7:155-159)
February 1855. Buffalo, N.Y.
1 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  As I skated up the river so swiftly yesterday, now here now there, past the old kingdoms of my fancy, I was reminded of Landor’s ” Richard the First.” “I sailed along the realms of my family; on the right was England, on the left was France [on the right was Sudbury, on the left was Wayland;] little else could I discover than sterile eminences and extensive shoals. They fled behind me; so pass away generations; so shift, and sink, and die away affections.”
(Journal, 7:160-162)

Thoreau also writes to Daniel Ricketson:

Dear Sir,—

  I supposed, as I did not see you on the 24th or 25th, that some track or other was obstructed, but the solid earth still holds together between New Bedford and Concord, and I trust that as this time you stayed away, you may live to come another day.

  I did not go to Boston, for with regard to that place, I sympathize with one of my neighbors, an old man, who has not been there since the last war, when he was compelled to go—No, I have a real genius for staying at home.

  I have been looking of late Berwick’s tailpieces in the “Birds”—all they have of him at Harvard. Why will he be here a little vulgar at times?

  Yesterday I made an excursion up our river-skated some thirty miles in a few hours if you will believe it. So with reading and writing and skating the night comes round again.

  Henry D. Thoreau

“The elderly neighbor was George Minott.”

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 369)
2 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Brown is again filling his ice-house, which he commenced to do some weeks ago. I got another skate this afternoon, in spite of the thin coating of snow.  Snowed again half an inch more in the evening, after which, at ten o’clock, the moon still obscured, I skated on the river and meadows . . . Our skates make but little sound in this coating of snow about an inch thick, as if we had on woollen skates, and we can easily see our tracks in the night. We seem thus to go faster than before by day, not only because we do not see (but feel and imagine) our rapidity, but because of the impression which the mysterious muffled sound of our feet makes.
(Journal, 7:162-164)

Thoreau also writes to Franklin B. Sanborn:

Mr F. B. Sanborn.

  Dear Sir,

  I fear that you did not get the note which I left with the Librarian for you, and so will thank you again for your politeness. I was sorry that I was obliged to go into Boston almost immediately. However, I shall be glad to see you whenever you come to Concord, and I will suggest nothing to discourage your coming so far as I am concerned, trusting that you know what it is to take partridge on the wing.

  You tell me that the author of the criticism is Mr. Morton. I had heard as much, & indeed guessed more. I have latterly found Concord nearer to Cambridge than I believed I should, when I was leaving my Alma Mater, and hence you will not be surprised if even I feel some interest in the success of the Harvard Magazine.

  Believe me
  Yrs truly
  Henry D Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 369-370)
3 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  This morning it is snowing again, as if a squall. The snow has thus spit on the ice four since this last skating began on Tuesday, the 30th . . . This will deserve to be called the winter of skating.

  P. M.—Skating through snow . . . We went up the Pantry Meadow above the old William Wheeler house, and came down this meadow again with the wind and snow dust, spreading our coat-tails, like birds, though somewhat at the risk of our necks if we had struck a foul place.

  At Lee’s Cliff we made a fire, kindling with white pine cones, after oak leaves and twigs,—else we had lost it; these saved us, for there is a resinous drop at the point of each scale,—and then we forgot that we were outdoors in a blustering winter day.

(Journal, 7:164-169)
4 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Saw this afternoon a very distinct otter-track by the Rock, at the junction of the two rivers. The separate foot-tracks were quite round, more than two inches in diameter, showing the five toes distinctly in the snow, which was about half an inch deep. In one place, I notice my old skate-tracks . . .
(Journal, 7:169-171)
5 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In a journal it is important in a few words to describe the weather, or character of the day, as it affects our feelings. That which was so important at the time cannot be unimportant to remember.
(Journal, 7:171-172)
6 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The coldest morning this winter. Our thermometer stands at -14° at 9 A.M.; others, we hear, at 6 A. m. stood at -18°, at Gorham, N.H., -30°. There are no loiterers in the street, and the wheels of wood wagons squeak as they have not for a long time,—actually shriek. Frostwork keeps its place on the window within three feet of the stove all day in my chamber. At 4 P.M. the thermometer is at -10°; at six it is at -14°.

  I was walking at five, and found it stinging cold. It stung the face. When I look out at the chimneys, I see that the cold and hungry air snaps up the smoke at once . . . At 9 o’clock P. M., thermometer at -16°. They say it did not rise above -6° to-day.

(Journal, 7:172-173)
7 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The coldest night for a long, long time was last. Sheets froze stiff about the faces. Cat mewed to have the door opened, but was at first disinclined to go out . . . My pail of water was frozen in the morning so that I could not break it. Must leave many buttons unbuttoned, owing to numb fingers. Iron was like fire in the hands. Thermometer at about 7:30 A.M. gone into the bulb, -19° at least. The cold has stopped the clock.
(Journal, 7:173-175)

Thoreau also writes to Thomas Cholmondeley:

Dear Cholmondeley,

  I am glad to hear that you have arrived safely at Hodnet, and that there is a solid piece of ground of that name which can support a man better than a floating plank in that to me as yet purely historical England.

  But have I not seen you with my own eyes, a piece of England herself? And has not your letter come out to me thence? I have now reason to believe that Salop is as real a place as Concord, with, at least, as good an underpinning of granite floating in liquid fire. I congratulate you on having arrived safely at that floating isle, after your disagreeable passage in the steamer America. So are we not all making a passage, agreeable or disagreeable in the steamer Earth, trusting to arrive at last at some less undulating Salop or Brother’s house?

  I cannot say that I am surprised to hear that you have joined the militia after what I have heard from your lips, but I am glad to doubt if there will be occasion for your volunteering into the line. Perhaps I am thinking of the saying that it is always darkest just before the day. I believe that it is only necessary that England be fully awakened to a sense of her position, in order that he may right herself—especially as the weather will soon cease to be her foe.

  I wish I could believe that the cause in which you are embarked is the cause of the people of England. However, I have no sympathy with the idleness that would contrast this fighting with the teachings of the pulpit, for perchance more true virtue is being practiced at Sebastopol than in many years of peace. It is a pity that we seem to require a war from time to time to assure us that there is any manhood still left in man.

  I was much pleased by [J.J.G.] Wilkinson’s vigorous & telling assault on Allopathy, though he substitutes another and perhaps no stronger thigh for that. Something as good on the whole conduct of the war would be of service. Cannot Carlyle supply it? We will not require him to provide the remedy. Every man to his trade.

  As you know, I am not in any sense a politician. You who lives in that snug and compact isle may dream of a glorious Commonwealth, but I have some doubts whether I am the new king of the Sandwich Islands shall pull together. When I think of the gold-diggers and the Mormons, the slaves and the slave-holders, and the flibustiers, I naturally dream of a glorious private life. No—I am not patriotic; I shall not meddle with the gem of the Antilles; Gen. Quitman cannot count on my aid [in capturing Cuba], alas for him! nor can Gen. Pierce.

  I still take my daily walk or skate over Concord fields or meadows, and on the whole have more to do with nature than with man. We have not had much snow this winter, but have had some remarkable cold weather, the mercury Feb 6 not rising above 6° below zero during the day, and the next morning falling to 25°. Some ice is still 20 inches thick about us. A rise in the river has bade uncommonly good skating which I have improved to the extent of some 30 miles at a time, 15 out &15 in.

  Emerson is off westward, enlightened the Hamiltonians & others, mingling his thunder with that of Niagara. Since his themes are England & slavery some begin to claim him as a practical man.

  Channing still sits warming his 5 wits—his sixth you know is always limber—over that stove, with the dog down cellar.

  Lowell has just been appointed Professor of Belles Lettres in Harvard University, in place of Longfellow, resigned, and will go very soon to spend another year in Europe before taking his seat.

  I am from time to time congratulating myself on my general wants of success as a lecturer—apparent want of success, but it is not a real triumph? I do my work clean as I go along, and they will not likely to want me anywhere again. So there’s no danger of me repeating myself and getting to a varell of sermons which you must upset & begin again with.

  My father & mother & sister all desire to be remembered to you, & trust that you will never come within range of Russian bullets.

  Of course I would rather think of you as settled down there in Shropshire, in the camp of the English people, making acquaintance with your men—striking at the root of the evil—perhaps assaulting that rampart of cotton bags that you tell of. But it makes no odds where a man goes or stays if he is only about his business.

  Let me hear from you, wherever you are, and believe me yours ever in the good fight,—whether before Sebastopol or under the wreken—

  Henry D Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 370-372)
8 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Commenced snowing last evening about 7 o’clock,—a fine, dry snow,—and this morning it is about six inches deep and still snows a little. Continues to snow finely all day.
(Journal, 7:175)
9 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Snowed harder in the night and blowed considerably. It is somewhat drifted this morning. A very fine and dry snow, about a foot deep on a level.

  I was so sure this storm would bring snowbirds into the yard that I went to the window at ten to look for them, and there they were. Also a downy woodpecker—perhaps a hairy—flitted high across the street to an elm in front of the house and commenced assiduously tapping, his head going like a hammer.

(Journal, 7:175-178)
10 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Walden.

  A fine, dear day. There is a glare of light from the fresh, unstained surface of the snow, so that it pains the eyes to travel toward the sun.

  I go across Walden. My shadow is very blue. It is especially blue when there is a bright sunlight on pure white snow. It suggests that there may be something divine, something celestial, in me.

(Journal, 7:178-179)
11 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To J. Dugan’s via Tommy Wheeler’s.

  The atmosphere is very blue, tingeing the distant pine woods. The dog scared up some partridges out of the soft snow under the apple trees in the Tommy Wheeler orchard.

  Smith’s thermometer early this morning at -22°; ours at 8 A. M. -10°.

(Journal, 7:179)
12 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Walden.

  A very pleasant and warm afternoon. There is a softening of the air and snow. The eaves run fast on the south side of houses, and, as usual in this state of the air, the cawing of crows at a distance and the crowing of cocks fall on the air with a peculiar softness and sweetness . . .

(Journal, 7:179-181)
13 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  10 A. M.—To Walden Woods.

  Not cold; sky somewhat overcast. The tracks of partridges are more remarkable in this snow than usual, it is so light, being at the same time a foot deep. I see where one has waddled along several rods, making a chain-like track about three inches wide (or two and a half), and at the end has squatted in the snow, making a perfectly smooth and regular oval impression . . .

(Journal, 7:181-185)
14 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau delivered a slightly revised version of “What Shall It Profit” before the Concord Lyceum on Wednesday evening.

Thoreau also writes in his journal:

  Aunt Louisa says that her cousin Nahum Jones, son to that Nathan whom her mother and sisters visited with her down east, carried a cat to the West Indies, sold his vessel there; and though the same vessel did not return, and he came back in another vessel without the cat, the cat got home to Gouldsboro somehow, unaccountably, about the same time that he did. Captain Woodard told her that he carried the same cat three times round the world.
(Journal, 7:185-186)
15 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  All day a steady, warm, imprisoning rain carrying off the snow, not unmusical on my roof. It is a rare time for the student and reader who cannot go abroad in the afternoon, provided he can keep awake, for we are wont to be drowsy as cats in such weather. Without, it is not walking but wading.
(Journal, 7:186)
16 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Cliff via Spanish Brook.

  A thick fog without rain. Sounds sweet and musical through this air, as crows, cocks, and striking on the rails at a distance. In the woods by the Cut, in this soft air, under the pines draped with mist, my voice and whistling are peculiarly distinct and echoed back to me, as if the fog here a ceiling which made this hollow an apartment. Sounds are not dissipated and lost in the immensity of the heavens above you, but your voice, being confined by the fog, is distinct, and you hear yourself speak.

(Journal, 7:186-189)
17 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The bridge at Sam Barrett’s caved in; also the Swamp Bridge on back road.

  Waded through water in the road for eight or ten rods, beyond Loring’s little bridge. It was a foot deep this morning . . . The fact is, the water is in each case dammed not only by the bridges and causeways but by the ice, so that it stands at as many levels as there are causeways.

(Journal, 7:189-193)
18 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 A.M.—Water four and three quarters inches above truss, nearly two inches higher than yesterday at 2 P.M. . . . At 9 A.M. sun comes out . . .

  A man came to our house at noon and got something to eat, who set out this morning to go from Waltham to Noah Wheeler’s in Nine Acre Corner. He got as far as Lee’s Bridge on the side of Lincoln, or within three quarters of a mile of Wheeler’s, and could not get over the river on account of the freshet; so he came round through Concord village,—he might have come over the railroad a little nearer,—and I directed him over the railroad bridge, the first by which he could cross dry-shod down the stream, and up-stream he would have been obliged to go to Saxonville.

(Journal, 7:193-196)
19 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rufus Hosmer says that in the year 1820 (?) there was so smooth and strong an icy crust on a very deep snow that you could skate everywhere over the fields and for the most part over the fences.  Many will complain of my lectures that they are transcendental. “Can’t understand them.” “Would you have us return to the savage state?” etc., etc. A criticism true enough, it may be, from their point of view. But the fact is, the earnest lecturer can speak only to his like, and the adapting of himself to his audience is a mere compliment which he pays them. If you wish to know how I think, you must endeavor to put yourself in my place. If you wish me to speak as if I were you, that is another affair.

(Journal, 7:196-197)

Thoreau also writes to Elizabeth Oakes Smith in reply to her letter of 14 February:

My Dear Madam,  

  I presume you will like an early, though it should be an unfavorable, answer to your note. After due consultation and inquiry, I am sorry to be obliged to say that we cannot make it worth your while to come to Concord at this season. The curators of the Lyceum, before which you lectured three years ago, tell me that they have already exceeded their means—Our N.E. towns are not so enterprising as some Western ones, in this respect—and Mr. [Daniel?] Foster’s society which used to be our next resources, furnishing a meeting—house and an audience, no longer exists. He is settled in Princeton, in this state.

  Mrs. Emerson sends love, and wishes me to say that she would be glad to have you spend a day or two with her after Mr. E’s return, which will probably be before the middle of March,—and she will not forget that you have a lecture on Margaret Fuller in your bag.

  I remember well meeting you at Mr. Emerson’s, in company with Mr. Alcott, and that we did not fatally disagree. You were fortunate to be here at the same time with Mr. A, who diffuses sunshine wherever he goes. I hear that he says the times are so hard that the people cannot have him to converse. Are not those hard times indeed?

  As for the good time that is coming, let us not forget that there is a good time going too, and see that we dwell on that eternal ridge between the two which neither comes nor goes.

  Yrs truly
  Henry D. Thoreau

“Mrs. Smith was a professional feminist and one of the earliest female lecturers.”

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 372-373)
20 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I have caught another of those mice of February 16th and secured it entire,—a male. Hind legs the longest, though only the feet, about three quarters of an inch in length, are exposed, without the fur. Of the fore legs a little more is exposed than the hands or perhaps four to five eighths of an inch, clays concealed in tufts of white hair. The upper jaw projects about half an inch beyond the lower. The whole upper parts are brown, except the cars, from the snout to the tip of the tail . . .
(Journal, 7:197-202)
21 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another Arviicola Emmonsii, a male; whole length six inches, tail three inches. This is very little reddish on the sides, but general aspect above dark-brown; though not iron-gray . . .

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Hill.

  A clear air, with a northwesterly, March-like wind, as yesterday. What is the peculiarity in the air that both the invalid in the chamber and the traveller on the highway say these are perfect March days? . . . Now look for an early crop of arrowheads, for they will shine.

(Journal, 7:202-206)
22 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To J. Farmer’s.

  Remarkably warm and pleasant weather, perfect spring. I even listen for the first bluebird. I see a seething in the air over clean russet fields. The westerly wind is rather raw, but in sheltered places it is deliciously warm.

(Journal, 7:206-209)
23 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Saw at Walden this afternoon that that greyish ice which had formed over the large square where ice had been taken out for Brown’s ice-house had a decided pink or rosaceous tinge.

  Mr. Loring says that he and his son George fired at white swans in Texas on the water, and, though G. shot two with ball and killed them, the others each case gathered about them and crowded them off out of their reach.

(Journal, 7:209)
24 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Staples said the other day that he heard Phillips speak at the State-House. By thunder! he never heard a man that could speak like him. His words come so easy. It was just like picking up chips.

  Minott says that Messer tells him he saw a striped squirrel (!) yesterday. His cat caught a mole lately, not a star-nosed one, but one of those that heave up the meadow.

(Journal, 7:210-212)
25 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Clear, cold, and windy. Thermometer at 7° at 7:30 A.M. Air filled with dust blowing over the fields. Feel the cold about as much as when it was below zero a month ago. Pretty good skating.
(Journal, 7:212)
26 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Still clear and cold and windy. No thawing of the ground during the day. This and the last two or three days have been very blustering and unpleasant, though clear.  

  P.M.—To Clamshell Hill, across river.

I see some cracks in a plowed field,—Depot Field corn-field,—maybe recent ones. I think since this last cold snap, else I had noticed them before. Those great cakes of ice which the last freshet floated up on to uplands now lie still further from the edge of the recent ice. You are surprised to see them lying with perpendicular edges a foot thick on bare, grassy upland where there is no other sign of water, sometimes wholly isolated by bare grass there. In the last freshet the South Branch was only broken up on the meadows for a few rods in width next the shores. Where the ice did not rise with the water, but, apparently being frozen to the dry bottom, was covered by the water,—there and apparently in shallow places here, then far from the shore, the ground ice was at length broken and rose up in cakes . . .

(Journal, 7:212-215)
27 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another cold, clear day, but the weather gradually moderating (Journal, 7:215).

Thoreau also writes to Thaddeus W. Harris:

Dear Sir,

  I return to the Library, by Mr. Frost, the following books, viz
       Wood’s N. E. Prospect,
       Sagard’s “Histoire du Canada,”
&     Bewick’s “British Birds.”

Yrs respectfully
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 373)
28 February 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Still cold and clear. Ever since the 23d inclusive a succession of clear but very cold days in which, for the most part, it has not melted perceptibly during the day. My ink has frozen, and plants, etc., have frozen in the house, though the thermometer has not indicated nearly so great a cold as before.
(Journal, 7:215-219)
March 1855. New York, N.Y.

Knickerbocker Magazine reviews Walden.

John Lewis Russell writes an article entitled “Visit to the Locality of the Climbing Fern” in the Magazine of Horticulture. [See 16 August 1854].

1 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  10 A.M.—To Derby’s Bridge and return by Sam Barrett’s, to see ice cakes and meadow crust.

  The last day for skating. It is a very pleasant and warm day, the finest yet, with considerable coolness in the air, however,—winter still. The air is beautifully clear, and through [it] I love to trace at a distance the roofs and outlines of sober-colored farmhouses amid the woods.

(Journal, 7:220-224)
2 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another still, warm, beautiful day like yesterday.

  I made a burning-glass of ice, which produced a light sensation of warmth on the back of my hand, but was so untrue that it did not concentrate the rays to a sufficiently small focus. Returning over Great Fields, found half a dozen arrowheads, one with three scallops in the base.

(Journal, 7:224-227)
3 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  This afternoon it is somewhat overcast for the first time since February 18th inclusive. I see a dirty-white miller fluttering about over the winter-rye patch next to Hubbard’s Grove . . . (Journal, 7:227-229).
4 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  For some time, or since the ground has been bare, I have noticed the spider-holes in the plowed land. We go over the Cliffs. Though a cold and strong wind, it is very warm in the sun, and we can sit in the sun where sheltered on these rocks with impunity. It is a genial warmth.
(Journal, 7:229-230)
5 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A strong but warm southwesterly (?) wind, which has produced a remarkable haze. As I go along by Sleepy Hollow, this strong, warm wind, rustling the leaves on the hillsides, this blue haze, and the russet earth seen through it, remind me that a new season has come.
(Journal, 7:230)
6 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Second Division Brook.

  Still stronger wind, shaking the house, and rather cool. This is the third day of wind.

  Our woods are now so reduced that the chopping of this winter has been a cutting to the quick. At least we walkers feel it as such. There is hardly a woodlot of any consequence left but the chopper’s axe has been heard in it this season. They have even infringed fatally on White Pond, on the south of Fair Haven Pond . . .

(Journal, 7:230-232)
7 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is now difficult getting on and off Walden. At Brister’s Spring there are beautiful dense green beds of moss, which apparently has just risen above the surface of the water, tender and compact. I see many tadpoles of medium or full size in deep warm ditches in Hubbard’s meadow. They may probably be seen as soon as the ditches are open . . .

  We were walking along the sunny hillside on the south of Fair Haven Pond (on the 4th), which the choppers had just laid bare, when, in a sheltered and warmer place, we heard a rustling amid the dry leaves on the hillside and saw a striped squirrel eying us from its resting-place on the bare ground. It sat still till we were within a rod, then suddenly dived into its hole, which was at its feet, and disappeared. The first pleasant days of spring come out like a squirrel and go in again.

(Journal, 7:232-234)
8 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To old Carlisle road.

  Another fair day with easterly wind. This morning I got my boat out of the cellar and turned it up in the yard to let the seams open before I calk it. The blue river, now almost completely open . . .

  Daniel Clark tells me that on his part of the Great Meadows there is a hole just about the breadth and depth of a man, commonly full of water.

(Journal, 7:234-236)
9 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A cloudy, rain-threatening day, not windy and rather warmer than yesterday. Painted the bottom of my boat.

  P.M.—To Andromeda Ponds.

  C. [William Ellery Channing] says he saw yesterday the slate-colored hawk with a white bar across tail,—meadow hawk, i. e. frog hawk. Probably finds moles and mice. An overcast and dark night.

(Journal, 7:236-238)
10 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Snowed in the night, a mere whitening. In the morning somewhat overcast still, cold and quite windy. The first clear snow to whiten the ground since February 9th.

  Miss Minott says that Dr. Spring told her that when the sap began to come up into the trees, i.e. about the middle of February (she says) then the diseases of the human body come out. The idea is that man’s body sympathizes with the rest of nature, and his pent-up humors burst forth like the sap from wounded trees. This with the mass may be that languor or other weakness commonly called spring feelings.

(Journal, 7:238-241)
11 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Annursnack.

  Clear and rather pleasant; the ground again bare; wind northerly. I am surprised to see how rapidly that ice that covered the meadows on the 1st of March has disappeared under the influence of the sun alone. The greater part of what then lay on the meadows a foot thick has melted . . .

(Journal, 7:241-243)
12 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6.30 A.M.—To Andromeda Ponds.

  Elbridge Hayden and Poland affirm that they saw a brown thrasher sitting on the top of an apple tree by the road near Hubbard’s and singing after his fashion on the 5th. I suggested the shrike, which they do not know, but they say it was a brown bird.

  Hayden saw a bluebird yesterday.

  P.M.—To Great Meadows.

  Comes out pleasant after a raw forenoon with a flurry of snow, already gone.

(Journal, 7:243-244)

Thoreau also writes to Charles Sumner:

  Dear Sir

  Allow me to thank you for the Comp’d’m of the U. S. census, which has come safely to hand. It looks as full of facts as a chestnut of meat. I expect to nibble at it for many years.

  I read with pleasure your pertinent Address before the Merc. Lit. Association, sent me long ago.

Yrs truly
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 374)
13 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Northern lights last night. Rainbow in east this morning.

  6.30 A.M.—To Hill.

  Still, but with some wrack here and there. The river is low, very low for the season. It has been falling ever since the freshet of February 18th. Now, about sunrise, it is nearly filled with the thin, half-cemented ice-crystals of the night . . .

(Journal, 7:244-246)
14 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Three inches of snow in the morning, and it snows a little more during the day, with occasional gleams of sunshine. Winter back again in prospect, and I see a few sparrows, probably tree sparrows, in the yard.

  P.M.—To Andromeda Ponds.

  That ice of February has destroyed almost the whole of Charles Hubbard’s young red maple swamp in front of the Hollowell place. Full an acre of thrifty young maples, as well as alders and birches four to seven feet high, is completely destroyed . . .

(Journal, 7:246-248)
15 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Jacob Farmer gave me to-day the foot of an otter, also of a fisher,—to put with my pine marten’s foot. He cut them off of recent furs in Boston. He sells about a hundred mink skins in a year. Thinks not more than thirty or forty are caught in Concord in a year. He says (I think) a mink’s skin is worth two dollars! They are sent to Europe to be worn there, not for hats.

  Now, at 9 P.M., a clear sky. And so the storm which began evening of 13th ends.

  Mr. Rice tells me that when he was getting mud out of the little swamp at the foot of Brister’s Hill last [a blank space left for the day], he heard a squeaking and found that he was digging near the nest of what he called a “field mouse” . . .

(Journal, 7:248-249)
17 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  H. Hosmer [Henry Hosmer] says he has seen black ducks. Edmund Hosmer’s meadow, i.e. the Hunt house meadow, is covered with great pieces of meadow, the largest thick and dense cranberry meadow. It is piled three or four feet high for several rods. Higher up on the North Branch I see where the trees, especially the swamp white oaks, have been chafed smooth and white by the ice (at that time) . . .
(Journal, 7:253)
18 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Round by Hollowell place via Clamshell.

  I see with my glass as I go over the railroad bridge, sweeping the river, a great gull standing far away on the top of a muskrat-cabin which rises just above the water opposite the Hubbard Bath. When I get round within sixty rods of him, ten minutes later, he still stands on the same spot . . .

(Journal, 7:253-255)
19 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A fine clear and warm day for the season. Launched my boat.

  P.M.—Paddled to Fair Haven Pond.

  Very pleasant and warm, when the wind lulls and the water is perfectly smooth. I make the voyage without gloves. The snow of March 14th is about gone, and the landscape is once more russet. The thick ice of the meadows lies rotting on each side of the stream . . .

(Journal, 7:255-258)
20 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A flurry of snow at 7 A.M. I go turn my boat up. Four or five song sparrows are flitting along amid the willows by the waterside. Probably they came yesterday with the bluebirds. From distant trees and bushes I hear a faint tinkling . . .

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  It soon cleared off in the morning, and proved a fair but windy day. I see a willow six inches in diameter which was broken down by the ice . . . I notice this havoc along the stream on making my first voyages on it. The ice either freezes to the alders, etc., one half to two thirds up them, and settling, breaks them lower down, settling upon them, or else freezes to drooping limbs and so pulls them down.

(Journal, 7:258-260)
21 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Clear, but a very cold westerly wind this morning. Ground frozen very hard. Yet the song sparrows are heard from the willow and alder rows. Hear a lark far off in the meadow.

  P.M.—To Bare Hill by railroad.

  Early willow and aspen catkins are very conspicuous now. The silvery down of the former has in some places crept forth from beneath its scales a third of an inch at least. This increased silveriness was obvious, I think, about the first of March . . .

(Journal, 7:260-261)
22 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Overcast and cold. Yet there is quite a concert of birds along the river; the song sparrows are very lively and musical, and the blackbirds already sing . . .

  Going [along] the steep side-hill on the south of the pond about 4 P.M., on the edge of the little patch of wood which the choppers have not yet levelled,—though they have felled many an acre around it this winter,—I observed a rotten and hollow hemlock stump about two feet high and six inches in diameter, and instinctively approached with my right hand ready to cover it. I found a flying squirrel in it, which, as my left hand had covered a small hole at the bottom, ran directly into my right hand. It struggled and bit not a little, but my cotton glove protected me, and I felt its teeth only once or twice. It also uttered three or four dry shrieks at first . . .

(Journal, 7:261-262)
23 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Pond.

  Carried my flying squirrel back to the woods in my handkerchief. I placed it, about 3:30 P.M., on the very stump I had taken it from. It immediately ran about a rod over the leaves and up a slender maple sapling about ten feet, then after a moment’s pause sprang off . . .

  Kicking over the hemlock stump, which was a shell with holes below, and a poor refuge, I was surprised to find a little nest at the bottom, open above just like a bird’s nest, a mere bed . . . Audubon and Bachman quote one Gideon B. Smith, M.D., of Baltimore, who has had much to do with these squirrels and speaks of their curving upward at the end of their flight to alight on a tree-trunk and of their “flying” into his window.

(Journal, 7:265-267)
24 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I think that the celandine started as early as the 10th of March and has since been nibbled off by hens, etc., for it shows more green but [is] not longer.

  P.M.—Up Assabet by boat.

  A cold and blustering afternoon after a flurry of snow which has not fairly whitened the ground. I see a painted tortoise at the bottom moving slowly over the meadow. They do not yet put their heads out, but merely begin to venture forth . . .

  Passing up the Assabet, by the Hemlocks, where there has been a slide and some rocks have slid down into the river, I think I see how rocks come to be found in the midst of rivers. Rivers are continually changing their channels,—eating into one bank and adding their sediment to the other,—so that frequently where there is a great bend you see a high and steep bank or hill on one side, which the river washes, and a broad meadow on the other . . . But this does not explain how so many rocks lying in streams have been split in the direction of the current. Again, rivers appear to have travelled back and worn into the meadows of their creating, and then they become more meandering than ever. Thus in the course of ages the rivers wriggle in their beds, till it feels comfortable under them. Time is cheap and rather insignificant. It matters not whether it is a river which changes from side to side in a geological period or an eel that wriggles past in an instant.

(Journal, 7:267-269)
25 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ministerial Lot.

  Still cold and blustering. The ditches where I have seen salamanders last year before this are still frozen up. Was it not a sucker I saw dart along the brook beyond Jenny’s? I see where the squirrels have fed extensively on the acorns now exposed on the melting of the snow. The ground is strewn with the freshly torn shells and nibbled meat in some places.

(Journal, 7:269-270)
26 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—Still cold and blustering; wind southwest, but clear.

  I see a muskrat-house just erected, two feet or more above the water and sharp; and at Hubbard Bath, a mink comes teetering along the ice by the side of the river. I am between him and the sun, and he does not notice me.

  P.M.—Sail down to the Great Meadows.

  A strong wind with snow driving from the west and thickening the, air. The farmers pause to see me scud before it. At last I land and walk further down on the meadow-bank. I scare up several flocks of ducks.

(Journal, 7:270-272)
27 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6.30 A.M.—To Island.

  The ducks sleep these nights in the shallowest water which does not freeze, and there may be found early in the morning. I think that they prefer that part of the shore which is permanently covered.

  P.M.—To Hubbard’s Close and down brook.

  Measured a black oak just sawed down. Twenty-three inches in diameter on the ground, and fifty-four rings. It had grown twice as much on the east side as on the west . . . Saw a wood tortoise in the brook. Am surprised to see the cowslip so forward, showing so much green . . .

(Journal, 7:272-273)
28 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Cliffs, along river.

  It is colder than yesterday; wind strong from northwest. The mountains are still covered with snow. They have not once been bare. I go looking for meadow mice nests, but the ground is frozen so hard, except in the meadow below the banks, that I cannot come at them. That portion of the meadow next the upland, which is now thawed, has already many earthworms in it. I can dig a quantity of them . . .

(Journal, 7:273-274)

Franklin B. Sanborn writes in his journal:

  After tea, Mr E [Ralph Waldo Emerson] proposed to set Mr C [William Ellery Channing] and me to read newspapers while he went up to the Town Hall to lecture, but we would not listen to it and went along with him . . .Waiting in the Hall Mr E introduced me to Mr Thoreau, but we did not talk long. I shall see much of him if I live at Mr Channing’s as I think I shall do . . .
(Transcendental Climate, 221)
29 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond.

  Flint’s Pond is entirely open; may have been a day or two. There was only a slight opening about the boat-house on the 21st, and the weather has been very cold ever since.

  Walden is more than half open, Goose Pond only a little about the shores, and Fair Haven Pond only just open over the channel of the river. There is washed up on the shore of Flint’s some pretty little whorls of the radical leaves of the Lobelia Dortmanna, with its white root-fibres.

  As I stand on Heywood’s Peak, looking over Walden, more than half its surface already sparkling blue water, I inhale with pleasure the cold but wholesome air like a draught of cold water, contrasting it in my memory with the wind of summer, which I do not thus eagerly swallow.

(Journal, 7:274-275)
30 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6.30 A.M.—To Island.

  It is a little warmer than of late, though still the shallows are skimmed over.

  The pickerel begin to dart from the shallowest parts not frozen . I hear many phe-be notes from the chickadees, as if they appreciated this slightly warmer and sunny morning.

  A fine day. As I look through the window, I actually see a warmer atmosphere with its fine shimmer against the russet hills and the dry leaves, though the warmth has not got into the house and it is no more bright nor less windy than yesterday, or many days past. I find that the difference to the eye is a slight haze, though it is but very little warmer than yesterday.

(Journal, 7:275-277)
31 March 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see through the window that it is a very fine day, the first really warm one. I did not know the whole till I came out at 3 P.M. and walked to the Cliffs.

  The slight haze of yesterday has become very thick, with a southwest wind, concealing the mountains. I can see it in the air within two or three rods, as I look against the bushes. The fuzzy gnats are in the air, and bluebirds, whose warble is thawed out. I am uncomfortably warm, gradually unbutton both my coats, and wish that I had left the outside one at home. I go listening for the croak of the first frog . . .

  It is incredible what a revolution in our feelings and in the aspect of nature this warmer air alone has produced. Yesterday the earth was simple to barrenness, and dead,—bound out. Out-of-doors there was nothing but the wind and the withered grass and the cold though sparkling blue water, and you were driven in upon yourself . Now you would think that there was a sudden awakening in the very crust of the earth, as if flowers were expanding and leaves putting forth . . .

(Journal, 7:277-278)
1 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The month comes in true to its reputation. We wake, though late, to hear the sound of a strong, steady, and rather warm rain on the roof, and see the puddles shining in the road. It lasts till the middle of the day, and then is succeeded by a cold northwest wind. This pattering rain and Sabbath morning combined make us all sluggards.

  When I look out the window I see that the grass on the bank on the south side of the house is already much greener than it was yesterday. As it cannot have grown so suddenly, how shall I account for it? I suspect that the reason is that the few green blades are not merely washed bright by the rain, but erect themselves to imbibe its influence, and so are more prominent, while the withered blades are beaten down and flattened by it. It is remarkable how much more fatal to all superficial vegetation or greenness is a morning frost in March than a covering of snow or ice. In hollows where the ice is still melting I see the grass considerably green about its edges . . .

(Journal, 7:279-280)
2 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Not only the grass but the pines also were greener yesterday for being wet. To-day, the grass being dry, the green blades are less conspicuous than yesterday. It would seem, then, that this color is more vivid when wet, and perhaps all green plants, like lichens, are to some extent greener in moist weather. Green is essentially vivid, or the color of life, and it is therefore most brilliant when a plant is moist or most alive. A plant is said to be green in opposition to being withered and dead . . .
(Journal, 7:280-281)
3 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is somewhat warmer, but still windy, and—

  P.M.—I go to sail down to the Island and up to Hubbard’s Causeway.

  Most would call it cold to-day. I paddle without gloves. It is a coolness like that of March 29th and 30th, pleasant to breathe, and, perhaps, like that, presaging decidedly warmer weather. It is an amelioration, as nature does nothing suddenly.

(Journal, 7:281-282)
4 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A fine morning, still and bright, with smooth water and singing of song and tree sparrows and some blackbirds. A nuthatch is heard on the elms, and two ducks fly upward in the sun over the river.

  P. M.—To Clematis Brook via Lee’s.

  A pleasant day, growing warmer; a slight haze. Now the hedges and apple trees are alive with fox-colored sparrows, all over the town, and their imperfect strains are occasionally heard. Their clear, fox-colored backs are very handsome. I get quite near to them. Stood quite near to what I called a hairy woodpecker—but, seeing the downy afterward, I am in doubt about it . . .

(Journal, 7:282-285)
5 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Fast-Day. 9 A.M.—To Sudbury line by boat.

  A still and rather warm morning, with a very thick haze concealing the sun and threatening to turn to rain.

  It is a smooth, April-morning water, and many sportsmen are out in their boats. I see a pleasure boat, on the smooth surface away by the Rock, resting lightly as a feather in the air.

  By 4 P.M. it began to rain gently or mizzle. Saw this afternoon a great many of those little fuzzy gnats in the air.

(Journal, 7:285-286)
6 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It clears up at 8 P.M. warm and pleasant, leaving flitting clouds and a little wind, and I go up the Assabet in my boat.

  You can hear all day, from time to time in any part of the village, the sound of a gun fired at ducks. Yesterday I was wishing that I could find a dead duck floating on the water, as I had found muskrats and a hare, and now I see something bright and reflecting the light from the edge of the alders five or six rods off. Can it be a duck? I can hardly believe my eyes. I am near enough to see its green head and neck. I am delighted to find a perfect specimen of the Mergus merganser, or goosander, undoubtedly shot yesterday by the Fast-Day sportsmen . . .

(Journal, 7:287-290)
7 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In my walk in the afternoon of to-day, I saw from Conantum, say fifty rods distant, two sheldrakes, male and probably female, sailing on A. Wheeler’s cranberry meadow.

  I skinned my duck yesterday and stuffed it to-day. It is wonderful that a man, having undertaken such an enterprise, ever persevered in it to the end, and equally wonderful that he succeeded. To skin a bird, drawing backward, wrong side out, over the legs and wings down to the base of the mandibles! Who would expect to see a smooth feather again? This skin was very tender on the breast. I should have done better had I stuffed it at once or turned it back before the skin became stiff. Look out not to cut the ear and eyelid.

(Journal, 7:291-294)
8 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—Up Assabet

  A fine clear morning. The ground white with frost, and all the meadows also, and a low mist curling over the smooth water now in the sunlight, which gives the water a silver-plated look. The frost covers the willows and alders and other trees on the sides of the river fifteen or twenty feet high. Quite a wintry sight.

  When taking the brain out of my duck yesterday, I perceived that the brain was the marrow of the head, and it is probably only a less sentient brain that runs down the backbone,—the spinal marrow.

  P.M.—Up Assabet to G. Barrett’s meadow.

  Hear at a distance in the sprout-lands the croaks of frogs from some shallow pool. Saw six muskrats’ bodies, just skinned, on the bank,—two large yellowish, fatty-looking masses of (I suppose) musk on each side the lower part of the abdomen. Every part of the animal now emits a very strong scent of musk. A foot which I brought home (together with a head) scented me all over. The fore feet are small and white on the palm, while the hind ones are black. All the skin being stripped off except on the nose and feet, the fore feet look like hands clothed in gauntlets of fur.

(Journal, 7:294-297)
9 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  5:15 A.M.—To Red Bridge just before sunrise.

  Fine clear morning, but still cold enough for gloves. A slight frost, and mist as yesterday curling over the smooth water. I see half a dozen crows on an elm within a dozen rods of the muskrats’ bodies, as if eying them. I see thus often crows very early in the morning near the houses, which soon after sunrise take their way across the river to the woods again. It is a regular thing with them.

(Journal, 7:297-299)
10 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—To river.

  I see afar, more than one hundred rods distant, sailing on Hubbard’s meadow, on the smooth water in the morning sun, conspicuous, two male sheldrakes and apparently one female. They glide along, a rod or two apart in shallow water, alternately passing one another and from time to time plunging their heads in the water, but the female (whom only the glass reveals) almost alone diving. I think I saw one male drive the other back. One male with the female kept nearly together, a rod or two ahead of the other.

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Pond by boat.

  The morning of the 6th, when I found the skunk-cabbage out, it was so cold I suffered from numbed fingers, having left my gloves behind. Since April came in, however, you have needed gloves only in the morning.

(Journal, 7:299-302)
11 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rained in the night. Awake to see the ground white with snow, and it is still snowing, the sleet driving from the north at an angle of certainly not more than thirty or thirty-five degrees with the horizon, as I judge by its course across the window-panes. By mid-afternoon the rain has so far prevailed that the ground is bare. As usual, this brings the tree sparrows and F. hyemalis into the yard again.
(Journal, 7:302)

Franklin B. Sanborn writes in his journal:

  Tonight we had a call from Mr. Thoreau, who came at eight and staid till ten—He talked about a variety of things—about Latin and Greek, which he thought ought to be studied, and about other things. In his tones and gestures he seemed to me to imitate Emerson—so that it was annoying to listen to him, though he said many good things—He looks, too, like Emerson—coarser, but with something of that serenity—and—sagacity which E—has. Thoreau looks eminently sagacious—like a sort of wise wild beast. He dresses plainly, wears a beard on his throat, and has a brown complexion—
(Transcendental Climate, 1:222)

12 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Still falls a little snow and rain this morning, though the ground is not whitened. I hear a purple finch, nevertheless, on an elm, steadily warbling and uttering a sharp chip from time to time.

  P.M.—To Cliffs and Hubbard’s Close.

  As I sit in a sheltered place on the Cliffs, I look over the pond with my glass, but see no living thing. Soon after, I saw a boat on Lee’s meadow just inside the button-bushes on the west of the pond, about a mile distant, and, raising my glass, I saw one man paddling in the stern and another in white pantaloons standing up in the bow, ready to shoot. Presently I saw the last raise his gun, take aim, and fire into the bushes . . .

(Journal, 7:302-303)
13 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Second Division cowslips . . .

  Returning by the steep side-hill just south of Holden’s wood-lot and some dozen or fourteen rods west of the open land, I saw, amid the rattlesnake-plantain leaves, what I suspect to the Polygala paucifolia,—some very beautiful oval leaves of a dull green (green turned dark) above, but beneath—and a great many showed the under side—a clear and brilliant purple (or lake? ?), growing and looking like checkerberry leaves . . .

(Journal, 7:304-306)

Thoreau also writes to George William Curtis:

  Mr. Editor

  . . . I see that I was not careful enough to preserve the past tense. I suppose that your objection will be avoided by writing the passage this,—“Not one of those moderate Calvanist, said to be common in the writers day, who, by giving up or explaining away the peculiar doctrines of the party, became, like a porcupine disarmed of its quills, but a consistent Calvanist . . .” By “Scripture” I mean the bible. I suspected that the line was derived from Elliot’s Indian bible. It will be better if it is printed “the Scripture” . . .

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 374)
14 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—To Island.

  An overcast and moist day, but truly April—no sun all clay—like such as began methinks on Fast-Day, or the 5th. You cannot foretell how it will turn out. The river has been steadily rising since the first of April, though you would not think there had been rain enough to cause it. It now covers the meadows pretty respectably. It is perhaps because the warm rain has been melting the frost in the ground. This may be the great cause of the regular spring rise . . .

  At 8 A.M.—Took caterpillar’s eggs from the apple tree at the Texas house and found about thirty.

  It being completely overcast, having rained a little, the robins, etc., sing at 4:30 as at sundown usually. The waters, too, are smooth and full of reflections.

(Journal, 7:306-307)
15 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  9 A.M.—To Atkin’s boat house.

  No sun till setting. Another still, moist, overcast day, without sun, but all day a crescent of light, as if breaking away in the north. The waters smooth and full of reflections. A still cloudy day like this is perhaps the best to be on the water. To the clouds, perhaps, we owe both the stillness and the reflections, for the light is in great measure reflected from the water . . .

(Journal, 7:307-311)
16 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  5 A.M.—To Hill.

  Clear and cool. A frost whitens the ground; yet a mist hangs over the village. There is a thin ice, reaching a foot from the water’s edge, which the earliest rays will melt. I scare up several snipes feeding on the meadow’s edge. It is remarkable how they conceal themselves when they alight on a bare spit of the meadow. I look with my glass to where one alighted four rods off . . .

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond . . .

  When we reached Britton’s clearing on our return this afternoon, at sunset, the mountains, after this our warmest day as yet, had got a peculiar soft mantle of blue haze, pale blue as a blue heron, ushering in the long series of summer sunsets, and we were glad that we had stayed out so late and felt no need to go home now in a hurry.

(Journal, 7:311-317)
17 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  5 A.M.—Up Assabet.

  Very little frost; a clear morning. The oars still cold to the hand at this hour. Did I not hear an F. juncorum at a distance? ? Saw some crow blackbirds inspecting that old nest of theirs. I believe I see a tree sparrow still, but I do not remember an F. hyemalis for two days. Geese went over at noon, when warm and sunny.

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff.

  I leave off my greatcoat, though the wind rises rather fresh before I return. It is worth the while to walk so free and light, having got off both boots and greatcoat. Great flocks of grackles and red-wings about the Swamp Bridge Brook willows, perching restlessly on an apple tree all at once . . .

(Journal, 7:317-320)
18 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—See and hear tree sparrows, and hear hyemalis still. Rained last evening and was very dark. Fair this morning and warm. White-bellied swallow’s and martin’s twitter now at 9 A.M.

  P.M.—To Cliffs and Walden and Hubbard’s Close.

  The hillside and especially low bank-sides are now conspicuously green. Almost did without a fire this morning. Coming out, I find it very warm, warmer than yesterday or any day vet. It is a reminiscence of past summers. It is perfectly still and almost sultry, with wet-looking clouds hanging about, and from time to time hiding the sun. First weather of this kind. And as I sit on Fair Haven Hill-side, the sun actually burns my cheek; yet I left some fire in the house, not knowing behind a window how warm it was . . .

(Journal, 7:320-322)
19 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  5 A.M.—Up Assabet.

  Warm and still and somewhat cloudy. Am without greatcoat. The guns are firing and bells ringing. I hear a faint honk and, looking up, see going over the river, within fifty rods, thirty-two geese in the form of a hay-hook, only two in the hook, and they are at least six feet apart. Probably the whole line is twelve rods long. At least three hundred have passed over Concord, or rather within the breadth of a mile, this spring . . .

  P.M.—To Walden . . .

  From Heywood’s Peak I thought I saw the head of a loon in the pond, thirty-five or forty rods distant. Bringing my glass to bear, it seemed sunk very low in the water,—all the neck concealed,—but I could not tell which end was the bill. At length I discovered that it was the whole body of a little duck, asleep with its head in its back, exactly in the middle of the pond . . .

(Journal, 7:322-324)
20 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rains all day, taking out the frost and imprisoning me. You cannot set a post yet on account of frost (Journal, 7:324).
21 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  5 A.M.—To Cliffs.

  Fair and still. There is a fog over the river, which shows at a distance more than near by . . .

  Aunt Maria has put into my hands to-day for safekeeping three letters from Peter Thoreau, dated Jersey (the first July 1st 1801, the second April 22nd 1804, and the third April 11th 1806) and directed to his niece “Miss Elizabeth Thoreau, Concord, Near Boston,” etc.; also a “Vue de las Ville de St. Helier,” etc., accompanying the first. She is not certain that any more were received from him.

  The first is in answer to one from Elizabeth announcing the death of her father (my grandfather). He states that his mother died the 26th of June, 1801,—the day before he received E.’s letter,—though not till after he had heard from another source of the death of his brother . . .

(Journal, 7:324-328)
22 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Tree sparrows still. See a song sparrow getting its breakfast in the water on the meadow like a wader. Red maple yesterday,—an early one by further stone bridge. Balm-of-Gilead probably to-morrow. The black currant is just begun to expand leaf . . .

  The blossoms of the sweet-gale are now on fire over the brooks, contorted like caterpillars. The female flowers also out like the hazel, with more stigmas,—out at same time with the male. I first noticed my little mud turtles in the cellar out of their [sic], one of them, some eight days ago. I suspect those in the river begin to stir about that time? Antennaria probably yesterday, Skull-cap Meadow Ditch. Many yellow redpolls on the willows now. They jerk their tails constantly . . .

(Journal, 7:328-330)
23 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  River higher than before since winter. Whole of Lee Meadow covered. Saw two pigeon woodpeckers approach . . .

  P.M.—To Cedar Swamps via Assabet.

  Warm and pretty still. Even the riversides are quiet at this hour (3 P.M.) as in summer; the birds are neither seen nor heard. The anthers of the larch are conspicuous, but I see no pollen. White cedar to-morrow . . .

  C. says he has seen a yellow-legs.

  I have seen also for some weeks occasionally a brown hawk with white rump, flying low, which I have thought the frog hawk in a different stage of plumage; but can it be at this season? and is it not the marsh hawk? Yet it is not so heavy nearly as the hen-hawk.

(Journal, 7:330-331)
24 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond.

  Warm and quite a thick haze. Cannot see distant hills, nor use my glass to advantage . . . Young caterpillars’ nests are just hatched on the wild cherry. Some are an inch in diameter, others just come out. The little creatures have crawled at once to the extremity of the twigs and commenced at once on the green buds just about to burst, eating holes into them. They do not come forth till the buds are about to burst . . .

(Journal, 7:331-332)
25 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A moist April morning. A small native willow leafing and showing catkins to-day; also the black cherry in some places. The common wild rose to-morrow. Balm-of-Gilead will not shed pollen apparently for a day or more. Shepherd’s-purse will bloom to-day,—the first I have noticed which has sprung from the ground this season, or of an age. Say lilac begins to leaf with common currant.

  P.M.—To Beck Stow’s.

  Hear a faint cheep and at length detect the white-throated sparrow, the handsome and well-marked bird, the largest of the sparrows, with a yellow spot on each side of the front, hopping along under the rubbish left by the woodchopper. I afterward hear a faint cheep very rapidly repeated . . .

  After sunset paddled up to the Hubbard Bath. The bushes ringing with the evening song of song sparrows and robins, and the evening sky reflected from the surface of the rippled water like the lake grass on pools. A spearers’ fire seems three times as far off as it is.

(Journal, 7:332-334)
26 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see pigeon woodpeckers billing on an oak at a distance. Young apple leafing, say with the common rose, also some early large ones. Bayberry not started much. Fever-bush out apparently a day or two, between Black Birch Cellar and Easterbrook’s. It shows plainly now, before the leaves have come out . . .

  We see and hear more birds than usual this mizzling and still day, and the robin sings with more vigor and promise than later in the season.

(Journal, 7:334-335)
27 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  5 A.M.—S. tristis Path around Cliffs.

  Cold and windy, but fair . . . Heard a singular sort of screech, somewhat like a hawk, under the Cliff, and soon some pigeons flew out of a pine near me. The black and white creepers running over the trunks or main limbs of red maples and uttering their fainter oven-bird-like notes. The principal singer on this walk, both in wood and field away from town, is the field sparrow. I hear the sweet warble of a tree sparrow in the yard . . .

(Journal, 7:335)
28 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A second cold but fair day. Good fires are required to-day and yesterday.

  P.M.—Sail to Ball’s Hill . . .

  Landed at Ball’s Hill to look for birds under the shelter of the hill in the sun. There were a great many myrtle-birds there . . .

  I noticed on the 26th (and also to-day) that since this last rise of the river, which reached its height the 23d, a great deal of the young flag, already six inches to a foot long, though I have hardly observed it growing yet, has washed up all along the shore, and as to-day I find a piece of flag-root with it gnawed by a muskrat, I think that they have been feeding very extensively on the white and tender part of the young blades. They, and not ducks, for it is about the bridges also as much as anywhere. I think that they desert the clams now for this vegetable food. In one place a dead muskrat scents the shore, probably another of those drowned out in the winter. Saw the little heaps of dirt where worms had come out by river.

(Journal, 7:335-337)
29 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  This morning it snows, but the ground is not yet whitened. This will probably take the cold out of the air. Many chip-birds are feeding in the yard, and one bay-wing. The latter incessantly scratches like a hen, all the while looking about for foes . . .

  P.M.—by boat to Lupine Hill . . .

  I see a woodchuck on the side of Lupine Hill, eight or ten rods off. He runs to within three feet of his hole; then stops, with his head up. His whole body makes an angle of forty-five degrees as I look sideways at it. I see his shining black eyes and black snout and his little erect ears. He is of a light brown forward at this distance (hoary above, yellowish or sorrel beneath), gradually darkening backward to the end of the tail . . .

(Journal, 7:337-340)
30 April 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I observed yesterday that the barn swallows confined themselves to one place, about fifteen rods in diameter, in Willow Bay, about the sharp rock. They kept circling about and flying up the stream (the wind easterly), about six inches above the water,—it was cloudy and almost raining,—yet I could not perceive any insects there. Those myriads of little fuzzy gnats mentioned on the 21st and 28th must afford an abundance of food to insectivorous birds. Many new birds should have arrived about the 21st. There were plenty of myrtle-birds and yellow redpolls . . .
(Journal, 7:340-343)

Thoreau also writes to Ticknor & Fields:


  Is it not time to republish “A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers”? You said you would notify me when it was; but I am afraid that it will soon be too late for this season.

  I have, with what were sent to you, about 250 bound, and 450 in sheets.

  Yrs truly
  Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 375)
1 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rained some in the night; cloudy in the forenoon; clears up in the afternoon.

  P.M.—By boat with Sophia to Conantum, a maying.

  The water has gone down very fast and the grass has sprung up. There is a strong, fresh marsh scent wafted front the meadows, much like the salt marshes. We sail with a smart wind from the northeast, yet it is warm enough. Horse-mint is seen springing up, and for two or three days at the bottom of the river . . .

(Journal, 7:344-351)
2 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—By boat up Assabet.

  Quince begins to leaf, and pear; perhaps some of last earlier. Aspen leaves of young trees—or twenty to twenty-five feet high—an inch long suddenly; say yesterday began; not till the 11th last year. Leafing, then, is differently affected by the season from flowering. The leafing is apparently comparatively earlier this year than the flowering. The young aspens are the first of indigenous trees . . .

(Journal, 7:351-352)
3 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Assabet Bath.

  Hard-hack leafed two or maybe three days in one place. Early pyrus leafed yesterday or day before . . .

  I first observed the stillness of birds, etc., at noon, with the increasing warmth, on the 23d of April. Sitting on the bank near the stone-heaps, I see large suckers rise to catch insects,—sometimes leap. A butterfly one inch in alar extent, dark, velvety brown with slate-colored tips, on dry leaves. On the north of Groton Turnpike beyond Abel Hosmer’s . . .

(Journal, 7:352-354)

Concord, Mass. Franklin B. Sanborn writes in his journal:

  This afternoon at 4, Mr Emerson called at my school house door and we started on our long proposed walk to Baker Farm, whose beauties Ellery Channing has sung, and Thoreau hinted at . . . (Transcendental Climate, 225).
4 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A robin sings when I, in the house, cannot distinguish the earliest dawning from the full moonlight. His song first advertises me of the daybreak, when I thought it was night, as I lay looking out into the full moonlight I heard a robin begin his strain, and yielded the point to him, believing that he was better acquainted with the springs of the day than I,—with the signs of day . . .
(Journal, 7:354-357)
5 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Beck Stow’s.  Cold weather for several days. Canada plum and cultivated cherry and Missouri currant look as if they would bloom to-morrow. The sugar maples on the Common have just begun to show their stamens peeping out of the bud, but that by Dr. Barrett’s has them an inch and a half long or more.

  The trees and shrubs which I observe to make a show now with their green, without regard to the time when they began, are (to put them in the order of their intensity and generalness):—

Gooseberry, both kinds
Choke-cherry shoots
Some young trembles
Very young apples . . .

6 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The young sugar maples leafing are more conspicuous now than any maples. Black oak buds are large and silvery. Peach leafed yesterday.

  P.M.—To epigæa.

  Salix alba opened yesterday. Gilead not leafing yet, but perhaps to-morrow? A robin’s nest with two eggs, betrayed by peeping. On the 30th of April a phœbe flew out from under the arched bridge; probably building . . .

  Myrtle-birds very numerous just beyond Second Division. They sing like an instrument, teee teee te, t t t, t t t, on very various keys i. e. high or low, sometimes beginning like phe-be. As I sat by roadside one drew near, perched within ten feet, and dived once or twice with a curve to catch the little black flies about my head, coming once within three feet, not minding me much. I could not tell at first what attracted it toward me. It saw them from twenty-five feet off. There was a little swarm of flies, regularly fly-like with large shoulders, about my head.

(Journal, 7:359-361)
7 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  5 A.M.—To Island.

  Finger-cold and windy. The sweet-flags showed themselves about in the pads. Hear Maryland yellow-throat. Many grackles still in flocks singing on trees, male and female, the latter a very dark or black ash, but with silvery eye. I suspect the red-wings are building. Large white maples began to leaf yesterday at least, generally; one now shows considerably across the river. The aspen is earlier . . .

  A crow’s nest near the top of a pitch pine about twenty feet high, just completed, betrayed by the birds’ cawing and alarm. As on the 5th, one came and sat on a bare oak within forty feet, cawed, reconnoitred; and then both flew off to a distance, while I discovered and climbed to the nest . . .

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff via Hubbard’s Bath.

  Viola cucullata apparently a day or two. A lady-bug and bumblebee, the last probably some time. A lily wholly above water, and yellow, in Skull-Cap Meadow, ready to open . . .

(Journal, 7:361-368)
8 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  5 A.M.—To Gilead.

  Still finger-cold. I think I saw bank swallows.

  At noon begins a cold, drizzling rain, which continues at intervals through the next day. A cold May storm, wind easterly . . .

(Journal, 7:368)
9 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Annursnack.

  The black current will not bloom for five or six days. A large red maple just begun to leaf—its keys an inch and a half long—by Assabet Bridge. Castilleja show red,—one,—but will not blook under a week probably. The same of erigeron. Cornus alternifolia and paniculata begin to leaf. Scared up three quails in the stubble in G.M. Barrett’s orchard. . .

(Journal, 7:368)
10 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Canada plum opens petals to-day and leafs. Domestic plum only leafs. Summer yellowbird.

  P.M.—To Beeches.

  Young red maples are generally later to leaf than young sugar maples; hardly began before yesterday; and large white are not so forward as young sugar. Muhlenberg’s willow leafed for or five days. Young yellow birch leaf, say two days. In Callitriche Pool hear a bullfrog belch or dump. Is that a proserpinaea with finely divided leaves in this pool? Hear a tree-toad,—or maybe a woodpecker tapping . . .

(Journal, 7:368-369)
11 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To Island.

  Only the lower limbs of bass begin to leaf yet,—yesterday. A crow blackbird’s nest, about eight feet up a white maple over water,—a large, loose nest without, some eight inches high, between a small twig and main trunk, composed of coarse bark shreds and dried last year’s grass, without mud; within deep and size of a robin’s nest; with four pale-green eggs, streaked and blotched with black and brown. Took one. Young bird not begun to form . . .

 P.M.—To Andromeda Polifolia . . .

  I trod on a large black snake, which, as soon as I stepped again, went off swiftly down the hill toward the swamp, with head erect like a racer. Looking closely I found another left behind, partly concealed by the dry leaves. They were lying amid the leaves . . .

(Journal, 7:369-371)
12 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Cold enough for a fire this many a day.

  6 A.M.—To Hill.

  I hear the myrtle-bird’s te-e-e, te-e-e, t t t, t t t, clear flute-like whistle, and see eight or ten crow blackbirds together.

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff.

  C. [William Ellery Channing] says he saw upland plover two or three nights ago. the sweet-gale begins to leaf. I perceive the fragrance of the Salix alba, now in bloom, more than an eighth of a mile distant. They now adorn the cause-ways with their yellow blossoms and resound with the hum of bumblebees . . .

  Just before sundown, took our seats before the owl’s nest and sat perfectly still and awaited her appearance. We sat about half an hour, and it was surprising what various distinct sounds we heard there deep in the wood, as if the aisles of the wood were so many ear-trumpets,—the cawing of crows, the peeping of hylas in the swamp and perhaps the croaking of a tree-toad . . .

(Journal, 7:371-375)

Franklin B. Sanborn writes in his journal:

  Went to Cambridge in the morning with a baggage wagon, and came back with my furniture and [Edwin] Morton and Bliss. We went to dinner at Mrs Holbrook’s, and then went out on the river in Mr Thoreau’s boat . . .
(Transcendental Climate, 1:225)
13 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Down river and to Yellow Birch Swamp.

  Yesterday was the first warm day for a week or two, and to-day it is much warmer still and hazy—as much like summer as it can be without the trees being generally leafed. I saw a Fringilla hyemalis this morning and heard the golden robin, now that the elms are beginning to leaf . . .

  As we float down the river through the still and hazy air, enjoying the June-like warmth, see the first king-birds on the bare black willows with their broad white breasts and white-tipped tails; and the sound of the first bobolink was floated to us from over the meadows; now that the meadows are lit by the tender yellow green of the willows and the silvery-green fruit of the elms . . .

  At 9.30 P.M. I hear from our gate my night-warbler. Never heard it in the village before.

  I doubt if we shall at any season hear more birds singing than now . . .

(Journal, 7:375-377)
14 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Our peaches begin to bloom; others probably earlier. Domestic plums open; some maybe yesterday. Missouri currant open yesterday or day before. One apple on a roof open. The beech blossom in house opens; say to-morrow in woods, and probably will leaf generally by the next day. Second gooseberry in garden open. White ash begins to leaf . . .

  P.M.—To Cliffs via Hubbard’s Bath.

  See a male hen-harrier skimming low along the side of the river, often within a foot of the muddy shore, looking for frogs, with a very compact flock of small birds, probably swallows in pursuit. Occasionally he alights and walks or hops flutteringly a foot or two . . .

(Journal, 7:378-379)

A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 276).

15 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Beck Stow’s.

  Suddenly very warm. Hear a hummingbird in the garden. Pear blossomed,—some perhaps yesterday. Locust, black and scarlet oak, and some buttonwoods leaf. A yellow butterfly. I hear from the top of a pitch pine in the swamp that loud, clear, familiar whistle which I have sometimes wrongly referred to the wood pewee,—whip-ter-phe-ee . . .

  Minott says that some years ago, maybe ten or fifteen, a man in Bedford climbed to an owl’s nest (probably a cat owl’s), and the owl took out one of his eyes and nearly killed him. He read it in the papers.

(Journal, 7:379-380)
16 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  Trees generally leafing. black willow leafs. Bass leaf is an inch over; probably began about the 14th. Panicled andromeda leafed in some places, probably a day or two. Grape buds begin to open. Swamp white oak leaf, probably yesterday. Silky cornel leaf, two days or three. A woodcock, near river. A blue heron-like bird on a tree over river . . .

(Journal, 7:380)
17 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Waked up at 2.30 by peep of robins, which were aroused by a fire at the pail-factory about two miles west. I hear that the air was full of birds singing thereabouts. It rained gently at the same time, though not steadily.
(Journal, 7:380-381)
18 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Boat to Nut Meadow.

  Large devil’s-needle. Sassafras well open. How long? Celtis will probably shed pollen to-morrow; shoots already an inch long. Sorrel pollen. First veery strain. Green-briar leafed several days. Veronica serpyllifolia well out (how long?) at Ash Bank Spring. Saw the yellow-legs feeding on shore. Legs not bright-yellow. Goes off with the usual whistle . . .

(Journal, 7:381-382)

Franklin B. Sanborn writes in his journal:

  To-night Mr. Thoreau came in as I was reading Demosthenes, and we fell to talking about Greek, Latin, Milton, Wordsworth, Emerson, Ellery Channing, and other things . . . Since I came here I have often seen him—He is a sort of pocket edition of Mr. Emerson (as far as outward appearance goes) in coarser binding and with wood cuts instead of the fine steel engravings of Mr. E—He is a little under size—with a large Emersonian nose, bluish gray eyes, brown hair, and a ruddy weather-beaten face, which reminds one of that of some shrewd and honest animal—some retired, philosophic woodchuck or magnanimous fox—He dresses very plainly—wears his collar turned over like Mr. Emerson, and often an old dress coat, broad in the skirts and by no means as fit—He walks about with a brisk rustic air, and never seems tired. He talks like Mr. E—and so spoils the good things which he says, for what in Mr. E—is charming, becomes ludicrous in Thoreau because an imitation—
(Transcendental Climate, 1:225-226)
19 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Put my little turtles into the river. They had not noticeably increased in size,—or hardly. Three had died within a week for want of attention,—two mud turtles and one musk turtle. Two were missing,—one mud and one musk. Five musk were put into the river.
(Journal, 7:382)
20 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rains a little (Journal, 7:382).
21 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Island.

  Salix nigra leafs. Is that plump blue-backed, rufous-rumped swallow the cliff swallow, flying with barn swallows, etc., over the river? Nuttall apparently so describes it,—5 1/2 by 12. It dashes within a foot of me . . .

(Journal, 7:382)
22 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Bank swallows—ashy-brown above—have holes at Deep Cut. Have not surely distinguished them before, this season. Sage willow may have begun to leaf a week or ten days ago or more. Cuckoo. Scared up a nighthawk—from the white on the wings—amid the dry leaves . . . Harris [Thaddeus W. Harris] tells Emerson [Ralph Waldo Emerson] my cicada is the Noveboracensis (?), known to New-Yorkers. Lupine not open yet for two or three days. Not yet chinquapin oak.
(Journal, 7:382-383)
23 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To barberry via river.

  Myrica, not quite. Lousewort pollen, how long? (Journal, 7:383)

24 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To Beck Stow’s.

  Buttonwood not open. Celandine pollen. Butternut pollen, apparently a day or two. Black oak pollen yesterday, at least. Scarlet oak the same, but a little later. The staminate flowers of the first are on long and handsome tassels for three or four inches along the extremities of last year’s shoots . . .

  P.M.—To Cliffs.

  Wind suddenly changed to south this forenoon, and for the first time I think of a thin coat. It is very hazy in consequence of the sudden warmth after cold, and I cannot see the mountains . . .

(Journal, 383-386)
25 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A rather warm night the last; window slightly open. Hear buzz of flies in the sultryish morning air on awaking.

  8 A.M.—To Hill.

  Late rose shoots, two inches, say a fortnight since. Salix nigra pollen, a day at least. Wood pewee. Apparently yellowbirds’ nests just completed—one by stone bridge causeway, another on birch by mud turtle meadow. Veronica peregrina in Mackay’s strawberries, how long? Most of the robins’ nests I have examined this year had three eggs, clear bluish green . . .

  Fever-root one foot high and more, say a fortnight or three weeks. Scared it screech owl out of an apple tree on hill; flew swiftly off at first like a pigeon woodpecker and lit near by facing me; was instantly visited and spied at by a brown thrasher; then flew, into a hole high in a hickory near by . . .

(Journal, 7:386-388)
26 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 A.M.—By Boat to Kalmia glauca and thence to scouring-rush.

  Again a strong cold wind from the north by west, turning up the new and tender pads. The young white lily pads are now red and crimson above . . .

  At Kalmia Swamp.—Nemopanthes, apparently several days, and leaf say before tupelo. White spruce pollen one or two days at least, and now begins to leaf. To my surprise the Kalmia ylauca almost all out; perhaps began with rhodora. A very fine flower, the more interesting for being early . . .

(Journal, 7:388-392)
27 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Pond, taking boat opposite Puffer’s.

  Still a very strong wind from northerly, and hazy and rather cool for season. The fields now begin to wear the aspect of June . . .

(Journal, 7:392-393)
28 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How’s morus not yet, apparently, for two or three days, though the stigmas are obvious. Buttonwood stigmas are now brown, since the 24th.

  P.M.—To Middle Conantum Cliff . . .

  While we sit by the path in the depths of the woods three quarters of a mile beyond Hayden’s, confessing the influence of almost the first summer warmth, the wood thrush sings steadily for half an hour, now at 2.30 P.M., amid the pines,—loud and clear and sweet . . .

  I find the feathers apparently of a brown thrasher in the path, plucked since we passed here last night. You can generally find all the tail and quill feathers in such a case. The apple bloom is very rich now . . . C. [William Ellery Channing] says he has seen a green snake . . .

(Journal, 7:393-395)
29 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Island Neck . . .

  There are a great marry birds now on the Island Neck. The red-eye, its clear loud song in bars continuously repeated and varied . . . There is also the warbling vireo, with its smooth-flowing, continuous, one-barred, shorter strain . . .

  But what is that bird I hear much like the first part of the yellowbird’s strain, only two thirds as long and varied at end, and not so loud,—a-che che che, che-á, or tche tche tche, tche-a, or ah tche tche tche, chit-i-vet? It is very small, not timid, but incessantly changing its position on the pitch pines . . .

(Journal, 7:396-398)
30 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Saw bird’s nest on an apple by roadside, seven feet high: one egg . . .

  P.M.—Up railroad . . .

  Hear a familiar warbler not recognized for some years, in the thick copse in Dennis’s Swamp, south of the railroad; considerably yellowbird-like (the note)—tshe tshe tshar tshar tchit, tchit tit te vet. It has apparently a yellow head, bluish or slaty wings . . .

(Journal, 7:398-400)
31 May 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another windy, washing day, but warm. See a yellowbird building a nest on a white oak on the Island . . . (Journal, 7:400).
June 1855.

Putnam’s Magazine publishes Thoreau’s travel essays on Cape Cod, unattributed.

1 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A very windy day, the third, drowning the notes of birds, scattering the remaining apple blossoms . . . Surveying at Holden wood-lot . . .

  I find the Linnæa borealis growing near the end of the ridge in this lot toward the meadow . . . C. [William Ellery Channing] has found the arethusa out at Hubbard’s Close . . .

(Journal, 7:401)
2 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Still windier than before, and yet no rain. It is now very dry indeed, and the grass is suffering. Some springs commonly full at this season are dried up. The wind shakes the house night and day . . .

  P.M.—To Hill . . .

  Mr. Hoar tells me that Deacon Farrar’s son tells him that a white robin has her nest on an apple tree near their house. Her mate is of the usual color. All the family have seen her . . .

(Journal, 7:401-404)
3 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A rainy day at last. Caraway in garden apparently three days out (Journal, 7:404).
4 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hubbard’s Close . . .

  Ellen Emerson finds the Viola pubescens scarce to-day . . . (Journal, 7:404-406).

5 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Clamshell by river . . .

  Walking along the upper edge of the flat Clamshell meadow, a bird, probably a song sparrow (for I saw two chipping about immediately after), flew up from between my feet, and I soon found its nest remarkably concealed . . .

  I am much interested to see how Nature proceeds to heal the wounds where the turf was stripped off this meadow. There are large patches where nothing remained but pure black mud . . .

(Journal, 7:406-408)

Franklin B. Sanborn writes in his journal:

  Called this evening at Mr Emerson’s where I found Mr Alcott, and I spent two hours there before the companionable fire in the dining room alone with Mr Alcott and Mr Emerson . . . Besides [Thomas] Carlyle and the war, the conversation turned on Thoreau, [Barthold George] Niebuhr, Language, the [New-York] Tribune &c—and many good things were said.
(Transcendental Climate, 1:226; MS, Pierpont Morgan Library).
6 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet by boat to survey Hosmer’s field . . .

  You ice the dark eye and shade of June on the river as well as on land, and a dust-like tint on river, apparently from the young leaves and bud-scales, covering the waters, which begin to be smooth, and imparting a sense of depth . . .

(Journal, 7:408-409)
7 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:


  In afternoon—mizzling weather—to Abel Hosmer’s Woods . . . (Journal, 7:410).

8 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Goose Pond . . .

  In that pitch pine wood see two rabbit forms (?), very snug and well-roofed retreats formed by the dead pine-needles falling about the base of the trees . . . C. [William Ellery Channing] says he saw two other dark ducks here yesterday . . .

(Journal, 7:410-411)
9 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Wheeler’s azalea swamp, across meadow . . . (Journal, 7:411-413).

10 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To owl’s nest . . .

  C. [William Ellery Channing] finds an egg to-day, somewhat like a song sparrow’s, but a little longer and slenderer, or with less difference between the ends in form, and more finely and regularly spotted all over with pale brown. It was in a pensile nest of grape-vine bark, on the low branch of a maple. Probably a cowbird’s; fresh-laid . . .

(Journal, 7:413-416)
11 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How’s morus, staminate flowers apparently only a day or two (pollen); the pistillate a long time. The locust apparently two or three days open.

  When I would go a-visiting I find that I go off the fashionable street—not being inclined to change my dress—to where man meets man and not polished shoe meets shoe . . .

  What if we feel a yearning to which no breast answers? I walk alone. My heart is full. Feelings impede the current of my thoughts. I knock on the earth for my friend. I expect to meet him at every turn; but no friend appears, and perhaps none is dreaming of me. I am tired of frivolous society, in which silence is forever the most natural and the best manners. I would fain walk on the. deep waters, but my companions will only walk on shallows and puddles. I am naturally silent in the midst of twenty from day to day, from year to year. I am rarely reminded of their presence. Two yards of politeness do not make society for me. One complains that I do not take his jokes. I took them before he had done uttering them, and went my way. One talks to me of his apples and pears, and I depart with my secret untold. His are not the apples that tempt me . . .

(Journal, 7:416-418)
12 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Tuesday. Down river to swamp east of Poplar Hill.

  I hear the toad, which I have called “spray frog” falsely, still. He sits close to the edge of the water and is hard to find—hard to tell the direction, though you may be within three feet. I detect him chiefly by the motion of the great swelling bubble in his throat. A peculiarly rich, sprayey dreamer, now at 2 P.M.! How serenely it ripples over the water! What a luxury life is to him! I have to use a little geometry to detect him. Am surprised at my discovery at last, while C. sits by incredulous. . . .

  A hawthorn grows near by, just out of bloom, twelve feet high—Cratægus Oxyacantha. A veronica at Peetweet Rock; forget which kind. A crow blackbird’s nest high in an elm by riverside just below the Island. C. [William Ellery Channing] climbed to it and got it . . .

(Journal, 7:418-420)
13 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  C. [William Ellery Channing] finds a pigeon woodpecker’s nest in an apple tree, five of those pearly eggs, about six feet from the ground; could squeeze your hand in. Also a peetweet’s, with four eggs, in Hubbard’s meadow beyond the old swamp oak site . . .
(Journal, 7:420-421)
14 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Up river . . . There [were] only four eggs in this nest yesterday, and to-day, to C.’s [William Ellery Channing] surprise, there are the two eggs which he left and a young peetweet beside . . . It suddenly began to rain with great violence, and we in haste drew up our boat on the Clamshell shore, upset it, and got under, sitting on the paddles, and so were quite dry while our friends thought we were being wet to our skins . . .
(Journal, 7:421-423)
15 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Friday. To Moore’s Swamp . . .

  I see a strange warbler still in this swamp. A chestnut and gray backed bird, five or six inches long, with a black throat and yellow crown; note, chit chit chill le le, or chut chut a -wetter chut a wut, che che . . .

(Journal, 7:423-424)
16 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The cherry-bird’s egg was a satin color, or very pale slate, with an internal or what would be called black-and-blue ring about large end.

  P.M.—To Hubbard’s Grove, on river . . .

  A painted tortoise just burying three flesh-colored eggs in the dry, sandy plain near the thrasher’s nest. It leaves no trace on the surface . . .

(Journal, 7:424-425)
18 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Hemlocks.

  Sparganium. A yellowbird feigns broken wings. Woodcock.

  At 3 P.M., as I walked up the bank by the Hemlocks, I saw a painted turtle just beginning its hole . . . I stooped down over it, and, to my surprise, after a slight pause it proceeded in its work, directly under and within eighteen inches of my face. I retained a constrained position for three quarters of an hour or more for fear of alarming it . . .

(Journal, 7:425-428)
19 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  Mr. Bull found in his garden this morning a snapping turtle about twenty rods from the brook, which had there just made a round hole . . . (Journal, 7:428-429).

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his brother William Emerson:

  Henry Thoreau is feeble, & languishes this season, to our alarm. We have tried to persuade him to come & spend a week with us for a change (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 4:512).
20 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A catbird’s nest eight feet high on a pitch pine in Emerson’s heater piece, partly of paper. A summer yellowbird’s, saddled on an apple . . . (Journal, 7:429).
21 June 1855.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Saw a white lily in Everett’s Pond . . .

  On an apple at R.W.E.’s a small pewee’s nest . . . (Journal, 7:429).

Lincoln, Mass. Thoreau surveys a woodlot for Augustus Tuttle (Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

22 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At 6 P. M. the temperature of the air is 77º, of river one rod from shore 72º Warmest day yet (Journal, 7:429).
23 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Probably a redstart’s nest (?) on a white oak sapling . . . (Journal, 7:430).
25 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Under E. Wood’s barn, a phœbe’s nest, with two birds ready to fly . . . (Journal, 7:430).
27 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to H.G.O. Blake:

Mr Blake,

  I have been sick and good for nothing but to lie on my back and wait for something to turn up, for two or three months. This has compelled me to postpone several things, among them writing to you to whom I am so deeply in debt, and inviting you and Brown [Theophilus Brown] to Concord—not having brains adequate to such an exertion. I should feel a little less ashamed if I could give any name to my disorder, but I cannot, and our doctor cannot help me to it, and I will not take the name of any disease in vain. However, there is one consolidation in being sick, and that is the possibility that you may recover to be a better state than you were ever in before. I expected in the winter to be deep in the woods of Maine in my canoe long before this, but I am so far from that that I can only take the languid walk in Concord streets.

  I do not know how the mistake arose about the Cape Cod excursion. The nearest I have come to that with anybody is that about a month ago Charming proposed to me to go to Truro, on Cape Cod, with him & board there awhile, but I declined. For a week past however I have been a little inclined to go there & sit on the sea-shore a week or more, but I do not venture to propose myself as the companion of him or of any peripatetic man. Not that I should rejoice to have you and Brown or C. sitting there also. I am not sure that C. really wishes to go now—and as I go simply for the medicine of it, while I need it, I should not think it worth the whole to notify him when I am about to make my bitters.

  Since I began this, or within 5 minutes, I have begun to think that I will start for Truro next Saturday morning—the 30th. I do not know at what hour the packet leaves Boston, nor exactly what kind of accommodation I shall find at Truro.

  I should be singularity favored if you and Brown were there at the same time, and though you speak of the 20th of July, I will be so bold as to suggest your coming to Concord Friday night (when, by the way, Garrison & Phillips hold forth here) & going to the Cape with me. Though we take short walks together there we can have long talks, and you & Brown will have time enough for your own excursions besides.

  I received a letter from Cholmondeley last winter, which I should like to show you, as well as his book. He said that he had “accepted the offer to a captaincy in the Salop Militia,” and was hoping to take an active part in the war before long.

  I thank you again and again for the encouragement your letters are to me. But I must stop this writing, or I shall have to pay for it.

  Yours Truly
  H.D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 376-377)
28 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  On river.

  Two red-wings’ nests, four eggs and three—one without any black marks . . . (Journal, 7:430)

30 June 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  2 P.M. – Thermometer north side of house, 95º; in river where one foot deep, one rod from shore, 82º (Journal, 7:430).

New York, N.Y. “Cape Cod” is reviewed in the New-York Evening Post.

July 1855.

Putnam’s Monthly Magazine publishes Thoreau’s travel essays on Cape Cod, unattributed.

2 July 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At 2 P.M.—Thermometer north side of house . 93º

  Air over river at Hubbard’s Bath . . . 88º

  Water six feet from shore and one foot deep . . 84½º

  near surface in middle, where up to neck . . 83½º

  at bottom in same place, pulling it up quickly 83½º

  Yet the air on the wet body, there being a strong southwest wind, feels colder than the water.

(Journal, 7:431)
3 July 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  4 P.M.—Air out-of-doors generally, 86°. On the sand between rails in the Deep Cut, 103°. Near the surface of Walden, fifteen rods from shore, 80° . . . (Journal, 7:431).
4 July 1855. Boston, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Boston on way to Cape Cod with C. [William Ellery Channing].

  The schooner Melrose was advertised to make her first trip to Provincetown this morning at eight. We reached City Wharf at 8.30. “Well, Captain Crocker, how soon do you start?” “To-morrow morning at 9 o’clock.” “But you advertised to leave at 8 this morning.” “I know it but we are going to lay over till to-morrow.” ! ! ! So we spend the day in Boston,—at Athenaeum gallery, Alcott’s, [A. Bronson Alcott] and at the regatta. Lodged at Alcott’s, who is about moving to Walpole.

(Journal, 7:431-432)
5 July 1855. Cape Cod, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In middle of the forenoon sailed in the Melrose . . .

  Went to Gifford’s Union House (the old Tailor’s Inn) in Provincetown . . . Talked to Nahum Haynes, who is making fisherman’s boots there . . .

  Talked with a man who has the largest patch of cranberries here,—ten acres,—and there are fifteen or twenty acres in all . . .

(Journal, 7:432)
6 July 1855. Cape Cod, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rode to North Truro very early in the stage or covered wagon, on the new road, which is just finished as far as East Harbor Creek . . . Walked from post-office to lighthouse . . . Board at James Small’s, the lighthouse, at $3.50 the week . . .
(Journal, 7:432-433)
7 July 1855. North Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  C. [William Ellery Channing] says he saw in the catalogue of the Mercantile Library, New York, “Peter Thoreau on Book-keeping, London” . . . (Journal, 7:433-434).
8 July 1855. North Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A northeasterly storm. A great part of beach bodily removed and a rock five feet high exposed—before invisible—opposite lighthouse . . .

  Went over to Bay side. That pond at Pond Village three eighths of a mile long and densely filled with cat-tail flag seven feet high . . .

  S. [James Small] said that nineteen small yellow birds (probably goldfinches) were found dead under the light in the spring early.

(Journal, 7:434-436)

Thoreau also writes to H.G.O. Blake:

  There being no packet, I did not leave Boston till last Thursday, though I came down on Wednesday, and Channing with me. There is no public house here; but we are boarding with Mr. James Small, the keeper, in a little house attached to the Highland Lighthouse.It is true the table is not so clean as could be desired, but I have found it much superior in that respect to the Provincetown hotel. They are what is called “good livers.” Our host has another larger and very good house, within a quarter of a mine, unoccupied, where he says he can accommodate several more. He is a very good man to deal with,—has often been the representative of the town, and is perhaps the most intelligent man in it. I shall probably stay here as much as ten days longer: board $3.50 per week. So you and [Theo] Brown had better come down forth with. You will find either the schooner Melrose or another, or both, leaving Commerce Street, or else T wharf, at 9am (it commonly means 10), Tuesdays Thursdays, and Saturdays, if not other days. We left about 10 am, and reached Provincetown at 5pm,—a very good run. A stage runs up the Cape every morning but Sunday, starting 4 ½ am and reaches the postoffice in North Truro, seven miles from Provincetown, and one from the lighthouse, about 6 o’clock. If you arrive at P. before night, you can walk over, and leave your baggage to be sent. You can also come by car from Boston to Yarmouth, and thence be staged forty miles more,—though every day, but it costs much more, and is not so pleasant. Come by all means, for it is the best place to see the ocean in these states. I hope I shall be worth meeting.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 377-378)
9 July 1855. North Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Peterson brings word of blackfish. I went over and saw them . . . Uncle Same Small, half blind, sixty-six years old, remembers the building of the lighthouse and their prophecies about the bank wasting . . .
(Journal, 7:436-438)
10 July 1855. North Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Walked to marsh head of East Harbor Creek . . . (Journal, 7:438).
11 July 1855. North Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A bar wholly made within three months; first exposed about the first of May; as I paced, now seventy-five rods long and six or eight rods wide at high water . . . Bank at lighthouse one hundred and seventy feet on the slope, perpendicular one hundred and ten . . .
(Journal, 7:438-439)
12 July 1855. North Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Peterson says he dug one hundred and twenty-six dollars’ worth of small clams near his house in Truro one winter . . . Fog wets your beard till twelve o’clock . . . (Journal, 7:439-441).
13 July 1855. North Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Caught a box tortoise . . . (Journal, 7:441).
14 July 1855. North Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Go to Bay side . . . Found washed up, and saw swimming in the cove where we bathed, young mackerel two inches long . . . Uncle Sam [Sam Small] says there is most drift in the spring . . . (Journal, 7:441-442).

Thoreau also writes to H.G.O. Blake:

  You say that you hope I will excuse your frequent writing. I trust you will excuse my infrequent and curt writing until I am able to resume my old habits, which for three months I have been compelled to abandon. Methinks I am beginning to be better. I think to leave the Cape next Wednesday, and so shall not see you here; but I shall be glad to meet you in Concord, though I may not be able to go before the mast, in a boating excursion. This is an admirable place of coolness and sea-bathing and retirement. You must come prepared for cool weather and fogs.

  P.S.—There is no mail up till Monday morning.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 378)
16 July 1855. North Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Uncle Sam [Sam Small] tells of sea-turtles, which he regarded as natives, as big as a barrel, found on the marsh… The oak wood north of Rich’s or Dyer’s Hollow, say twenty years old, nine feet high . . . (Journal, 7:442-443).
18 July 1855. Boston, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Leave Small’s . . . Came up in the Olata, Captain Freeman, a fine yacht. Little wind; were half past eight into candle-light on water . . . (Journal, 7:443).
19 July 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In Concord.

  Young bobolinks; one of the first autumnalish notes. The early meadow aster out.

(Journal, 7:443)
21 July 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A red-eyed vireo nest on a red maple on Island Neck, ten feet from ground . . . (Journal, 7:443).
22 July 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I hear that many of those balls have been found at Flint’s Pond within a few days . . . (Journal, 7:444).
25 July 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  That piece of hollow kelp stem which I brought from the Cape is now shrivelled up and is covered and all white with crystals of salt a sixth of an inch long, like frost . . . (Journal, 7:444).
30 July 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Saw the lightning on the telegraph battery and heard the shock about sundown from our window,—an intensely white light (Journal, 7:444-746).
31 July 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mr. Derby, whose points of compass I go to regulate, tells me that he remembers when it rained for three weeks in haying time every day but Sundays. Rode to J. Farmer’s . . . Mr. Samuel Hoar tells me that about forty-eight years ago, or some two or three years after he came to Concord, where he had an office in the yellow store, there used to be a great many bullfrogs in the mill-pond . . .
(Journal, 7:444)
August 1855.

Putnam’s Monthly Magazine publishes Thoreau’s travel essay on Cape Cod, unsigned.

Early August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  Yet Washington, Adams, Quincy, Franklin, I would willingly adorn my hall with, & I will have daguerres of Alcott, [A. Bronson Alcott] Channing, [William Ellery Channing] Thoreau.
(The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 13:438)
1 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum by boat . . .

  Young Adams of Waltham tells me he has been moose-hunting at Chesuncook. Hunted with a guide in evening without horn . . . (Journal, 7:447).

2 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Silas Hosmer tells me of his going a-spearing in Concord River up in Southboro once with some friends of his . . . (Journal, 7:447-448).
3 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Dix and Edwards of Putnam’s Magazine:

Messrs Dix & Edwards

  Your check for thirty-five dollars in payment for my article in the August number of Putnam’s Monthly has come duly to hand – for which accept the acknowledgments of

Yrs respectfully
Henry D. Thoreau

  PS. Will you please forward the following note to the Editor

“’The Beach’ now a part of ‘Cape Cod’ appeared in the August 1855 number of Putnam’s Monthly magazine.”

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 379)
4 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Just after bathing at the rock near the Island this afternoon, after sunset, I saw a flock of thousands of barn swallows and some white-bellied, and perhaps others, for it was too dark to distinguish them . . .
(Journal, 7:448-449)
5 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  4 A.M.—On river to see swallows.

  They are all gone; yet Fay saw them there last night after we passed. Probably they started very early. I asked Minott if he ever saw swallows migrating, not telling him what I had seen . . .

  As I was paddling back at 6 A.M., saw, nearly half a mile off, a blue heron standing erect on the topmost twig of the great buttonwood on the street in front of Mr. Prichard’s house . . .

  8 P.M.—On river to see swallows . . .

(Journal, 7:449-450)
6 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Down river to Tarbell Hill with C. [William Ellery Channing] . . . (Journal, 7:451-452).
7 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Tarbell Hill again with the Emersons, a-berrying.

  Very few berries this year (Journal, 7:452).

8 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Blue-curls, how long? Not long (Journal, 7:452).

Thoreau also writes to George William Curtis:

Mr. Editor

  Will you allow me to trouble you once more about my Cape Cod paper. I would like to substitute the accompanying sheets for about ten pages of my MS, in the Chapter called “The Beach Again,” . . .

“Thoreau finally withdrew the manuscript of ‘Cape Cod’ before the chapter ‘The Beach Again’ could be published.”

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 379)
9 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  River is risen and fuller, and the weeds at bathing-place washed away somewhat . . . (Journal, 7:452).

Boston, Mass. The Christian Watchman and Reflector reprints an excerpt from the “Brute Neighbors” chapter of Walden.

ca. 10 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  H.D.T. asks fairly enough, when is it that the man is to begin to provide for himself? . . . H.D.T. notices that Franklin & Richardson of Arctic Expeditions outlived their robuster comrades by more intellect.
(The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 13:454, 456)
10 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Nagog. Middle of huckleberrying (Journal, 7:452).

The [Massachusetts state] census is taken in Concord (Thoreau Research Newsletter 1, no. 3 (July 1990):1).

13 August 1855. New York, N.Y.

The New York Evening Post publishes an article on Cape Cod natives’ reaction to Thoreau’s travel essays in Putnam’s Monthly Magazine.

17 August 1855. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

Friend Thoreau,

  There is a very small class in England who ought to know what you have written, and for whose sake I want a few copies of “Walden” sent to certain periodicals over the water—for instance, to

Westminster Review,
8 King Wm. St. Strand London.
The Reasoner, 147 Fleet St. London
Gerald Massey, office of The News
—Willy, Esq. of
Dickens’s Household Words,
Fleet. St. London

  I feel sure your publishers would not throw away copies sent to these periodicals; especially if your “Week on the Concord and Merrimac[k]” could accompany them. Chapman, Ed Westminster Rev. expressed surprise to me that your book had not been sent him, and I could find very few who had read or seen it. If a new edition should be called for, try to have it better known in Europe; but have a few copies sent to those worthy of it at all events.

Horace Greeley

“Thoreau took Greeley’s advice and a review of Walden by no less a person than George Eliot appeared in the Westminster Review.”

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 380)
19 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  See painted tortoise shedding scales,—half off and loose (Journal, 7:452).
22 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I hear of some young barn swallows in the nest still in R. Rice’s barn, Sudbury (Journal, 7:452).
24 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Scare up a pack of grouse (Journal, 7:452).
25 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In Dennis’s field this side of the river, I count about one hundred fifty cowbirds about eight cows . . . (Journal, 7:453).
29 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Saw two green-winged teal, somewhat pigeon-like, on a flat low rock in the Assabet (Journal, 7:453).
31 August 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  First frost in our garden. Passed in boat within fifteen feet of a great bittern . . . (Journal, 7:453).
August or September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau drafts a letter to George William Curtis:

Mr Editor

  You say that you had no idea that the Cape Cod paper “was to be expanded into a book”. It has not been expanded. It is no longer than it was when I sent you the first pages. I told you its length though you had not inquired about it. You say there is enough on hand for 4 numbers of your magazine. I have sent some 208 pages in all & you have printed about 137 of them in three numbers. I write this merely in self defence & not it induce you to print it.

  Will you please send me the remainder of the MSS. by express.

Henry D. Thoreau

(MS, Henry David Thoreau collection. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin)
September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau’s father pays off the mortgage on the Texas House:

Know all men by these presents, That I Augustus Tuttle within named, in consideration of the full payment of the debt secured by the within mortgage by the within named John Thoreau the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged do hereby release & quit-claim unto the said Thoreau the lands herein described and hold said Thoreau free & acquit from all & every claim that I may have upon him by virtue of the within deed of Mortgagery the note secured thereby. Executed in presence of Geo. M. Brooks Middlesex ss Sept., 1855. Then personally appeared Augustus Tuttle and acknowledged the foregoing instrument to be his free act and deed. Before me Geo. M. Brooks, Jus. of Peace Cambridge, Feb. 11, 1856. Rec’d & Recorded by Cabel Hayden, Reg.
(Thoreau Society Bulletin, no. 191 (Spring 1990):5-6)
2 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Small locusts touched by frost, probably of the 31st August; nothing else in the woodland hollows (Journal, 7:454).
4 September 1855. Cambridge, Mass.

Thoreau checks out Voyages de la Nouvelle France occidentale, dicte Canada and Les voyages du sieur du Champlain Xainctogeois by Samuel de Champlain and The Antigone of Sophocles in Greek and English, with introduction and notes by John William Donaldson from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 291).

5 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A stream of black ants a sixth of an inch long in the steep path beyond the Springs . . . (Journal, 7:454).
7 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Horace Greeley:

Friend Greeley,

  I have just returned from Boston where I showed your note to Ticknor. He says he will put the books into the next package which he sends to England. I did not send a single copy of Walden across the water, though Fields did two or three, to private persons alone I think.

  Thank you for the suggestion.

  I am glad to hear that you are on this side again – though I should not care if you had been detained somewhat longer, if so we could have had a few more letters from Clichy.

Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 381)
10 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  C. [William Ellery Channing] says he saw a painted tortoise a third grown, with a freshly killed minnow in his mouth as long as himself, eating it . . . (Journal, 7:454).
11 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Loudly the mole cricket creaks by midafternoon. Muskrat-houses begun (Journal, 7:454).
12 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A few clams freshly eaten. Some grapes ripe (Journal, 7:454).
14 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hubbard’s Close.

  I scare from an oak by the side of the Close a young hen-hawk, which, launching off with a scream and a heavy flight, alights on the topmost plume of a large pitch pine in the swamp northward, bending it down, with its back toward me, where it might be mistaken for a plume against the sky, the light makes all things so black . . .

(Journal, 7:455)
15 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . . (Journal, 7:455).

Franklin B. Sanborn writes in his journal:

  From that time [early in July] until the 25th August I was absent from Concord. Since I returned I have often met Mr E—[Ralph Waldo Emerson] either at his house or in the street and the other night at Mr Thoreau’s where there was a party . . .
(Transcendental Climate, 1:228; MS, Pierpont Morgan Library)
16 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  As I go up the Walden road, at Breed’s, Hubbard, driving his cows through the weed-field, scares a woodchuck, which comes running through the wall and down the road, quite gray, and does not see me in the road a rod off. He stops a rod off when I move in front of him . . .
(Journal, 7:455-456)
17 September 1855. Cambridge, Mass.

Thoreau checks out A memoir of Sebastian Cabot by Richard Biddle and Transactions of the American philosophical society, held at Philadelphia, for promoting useful knowledge from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 291).

Concord, Mass. Thoreau also copies two 16th century maps, entitled “Americae sive novi orbis, nova descriptio” and “Norumbega et Virginia 1597” (Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

19 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Up Assabet . . . (Journal, 7:456).
20 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up main stream . . . (Journal, 7:456).
21 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Stopped at the old Hunt house with Ricketson [Daniel Ricketson] and C.[William Ellery Channing] . . . (Journal, 7:456-457).
22 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Many tortoise-scales about the river now . . . (Journal, 7:457).
23 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 P.M.—I hear from my chamber a screech owl about Monroe’s house this bright moonlight night . . . A little wren-like (or female goldfinch) bird on a willow at Hubbard’s Causeway, eating a miller . . . (Journal, 7:457-458).

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Thoreau,—

  Here am I at home again seated in my Shanty. My mind is constantly reverting to the pleasant little visit I made you, and so I thought I would sit down and write you.

  I regret exceedingly that I was so interrupted in my enjoyment while at Concord by my “aches and pains.” My head troubled me until I had to go within about 20 miles of home, when the pain passed off and my spirits began to revive. I hope that your walks, &c, with me will not harm you and that you will soon regain your usual health and strength, which I trust the cooler weather will favor; would advise you not to doctor, but just use your own good sense. I should have insisted more on your coming on with me had I not felt so ill and in such actual pain the day I left—but I want you to come before the weather gets uncomfortably cool. I feel much your debtor, for through you and your Walden I have found my hopes and strength in those matters which I had before found none to sympathize with. You have more than any other to me discovered the true secret of living comfortably in this world, and I hope more and more be able to put into practice, in the meantime you will be able to extend your pity and charity. You are the only “millionaire” among my acquaintances. I have heard of people being “independently rich,” but you are the only one I have ever had the honor of knowing.

  How charming you, Channing, and I dovetailed together! Few men smoke such pipes as we did—the real Calumet—the tobacco that we smoked was free labor produce. I haven’t lost sight of Solon Hosmer, the wisest looking man in Concord, and the real “feelosopher”! I want you to see him and tell him not to take down the old house, where the feelosofers met. I think I should like to have the large chamber, for an occasional sojourn to Concord, It might me easily tinkered up so as to be a comfortable roost for a feelosopher—a few old chairs, a table, bed &c, would be all—sufficient, then you and C. could come over in your punt and rusticate. What think of it? In the mean time come down to Brooklawn, and look about with me. As you are a little under the weather, we will make our peregrinations with horse and wagon.

  With much regard to Channing and my kind remembrances to your parents and sister, I remain,

  Yours very truly
  D’l Ricketson

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 382-383)

Thoreau replies 27 September.

24 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up river to Conantum with C. [William Ellery Channing] . . .

  Above Hubbard Bridge we see coming from the south in loose array some twenty apparently black ducks . . .

  Brought home quite a boat-load of fuel,—one oak rail, on which fishers had stood in wet ground at Bittern Cliff, a white pine rider (?) with a square hole in [it] made by a woodpecker anciently, so wasted the sap as to leave the knots projecting, several chestnut rails; and I obtained behind Cardinal Shore a large oak stump which I know to have been bleaching there for more than thirty years, with three great gray prongs sprinkled with lichens . . .

(Journal, 7:458-460)
25 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Carry Aunt and Sophia a-berrying to Conantum . . .

  In evening went to Welch’s circus with C. [William Ellery Channing] Approaching, I perceived the peculiar scent which belongs to such places, a certain sourness in the air, suggesting trodden grass and cigar smoke . . .

(Journal, 7:460-461)
26 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Went up Assabet for fuel . . . (Journal, 7:462).

Thoreau also writes to H.G.O. Blake:

Mr. Blake,—

  The other day I thought that my health must be better,—that I gave at last a sign of vitality,—because I experienced a slight chagrin. But I do not see how strength is to be got into my legs again. These months of feebleness have yielded few, if any, thoughts, though they have not passed without serenity, such as our sluggish Musketaquid suggests.I hope that the harvest is to come. I trust that you have a least warped up the stream a little daily, holding fast by your anchors at night, since I saw you, and have kept my place for me while I have been absent.

  Mr. Ricketson of New Bedford has just made me a visit of a day and a half, and I have had a quite good time with him. He and Channing have got on particularly well together. He is a man of very simple tastes, notwithstanding his wealth; a lover of nature; but above all, singularly frank and plain-spoken. I think that you might enjoy meeting him.

  Sincerity is a great but rare virtue, and we pardon to it much complaining, and the betrayal of many weaknesses. R. says of of himself, that he sometimes thinks that he has all the infirmities of genius without the genius; is wretched without a hair-pillow, etc.: expresses a great and awful uncertainty with regard to “God,” “Death,” his “immortality”; says, “If I only knew,” etc. He loves Cowper’s “Task” better than any thing else; and thereafter, perhaps, Thomson, Gray, and even Howitt. He has evidently suffered for want of sympathizing companions. He says that he sympathizes with much in my book, but much in them is naught to him,—”namby-pamby,”—”stuff,”—”mystical.” Why will not I, having common sense, write in plain English always; teach men in detail how to live a simpler life, etc.; not go off into ————? But I say that I have no scheme about it, no designs on men at all; and if I had, my mode would be to tempt them with the fruit, and not with the manure. To what end do I lead a simple life at all, pray? That I may teach others to simplify their lives?—and so all our lives be simplified merely, like an algebraic formula? Or not, rather that I may make use of the ground I have cleared, to live more worthily and profitably? I would fainly lay the most stress forever on that which is the most important,—imports the most to me,—though it were only (what it is likely to be) a vibration in the air. As a preacher, I should be prompted to tell men, not so much to get their wheat-bread cheaper, as of the bread of life compared with which that is bran. Let a man only taste these loaves, and he becomes a skillful economist at once. He’ll not waste much time in earning those. Don’t spend your time drilling soldiers, who may turn out hirelings after all, but give to undrilled peasantry a country to fight for. The school begins with what they call the elements, and where do they end?

  I was glad to hear the other day that [T.W.] Higginson and _____ were gone to Ktaadn; it must be some much better to go to than a Woman’s Rights or Abolition Convention; better still, to the delectable primitive mounts within you, which you have reamed of from your youth up, and seen perhaps in the horizon, but never climbed.

  But how do you do? Is the air sweet to you? Do you find anything at which you can work, accomplishing something solid from day to day? Have you put sloth and doubt behind, considerable?—had one redeeming dream this summer? I dreamed, last night, that I could vault over any height it pleased me. That was something; and I contemplated myself with a slight satisfaction in the morning for it.

  Methinks I will write you. Methinks you will be glad to hear. We will stand on solid foundations to one another,—I a column planted on this shore, you on that. We meet the same sun in his rising We were built slowly, and have come to our bearing. We will not mutually fall over that we may meet, but will grandly and eternally guard the straits. Methinks I see an inscription on you, which the architect made, the stucco being morn off to it. The same of that ambitious worldly king is crumbling away. I see it toward sunset in favorable lights. Each must read for the other, as might a sailer-by. Be sure you are a star—y—pointing still. How is it on your side. I will not require an answer until you think I have paid my debts to you.

  I have just got your letter from Ricketson, urging me to come to New Bedford, which possibly I may do. He says I can wear my old clothes there.

  Let me be remembered in your quiet house.

(Letters to Harrison Gray Otis Blake (86-88) edited by Wendell Glick (from Great Short Works of Henry David Thoreau edited, with an introduction, by Wendell Glick (New York: Harper & Row, 1982). Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers)

27 September 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Collecting fuel again this afternoon up the Assabet . . . (Journal, 7:462).

Thoreau also writes to Daniel Ricketson in reply to his letter of 23 September:

Friend Ricketson,

  I am sorry that you were obliged to leave Concord without seeing more of it—its river and woods, and various pleasant walks, and its worthies. I assure you that I am none the worse for my walk with you, but on all accounts the better. Methinks I am regaining my health, but I would like to know first what it was that ailed me.

  I have not yet conveyed your message to Hosmer, but will not fail to do so. That idea of occupying the old house is a good one—quite feasible,—and you could bring your hair—pillow with you. It is an inn in Concord which I had not thought of—a philosophers inn. That large chamber might make a man’s ideas expand proportionately. It would be well to have interest in ‘some old chamber in’ a deserted house in every part of the country which attracted us. There would be no such place to receive one’s guests as that. If old furniture is fashionable, why not go to the whole—house at once? I shall endeavor to make Hosmer believe that the old house is the chief attraction of his farm, & that it is his duty to preserve it by all honest appliances. You might take a lease of it in perpetuo, and done with it.

  I am so wedded to my way of spending a day—require such broad margins of leisure, and such a complete ward-robe of old clothes, that I am ill fitted for going abroad. Pleasant is it sometimes to sit, at home, on a single egg all day, in your own nest, though it may prove at last be an egg of chalk. The old coat that I wear is Concord—it is my morning robe & study gown, my working dress and suit of ceremony, and my night—gown after all. Cleave to the simplest every—Home—home—home. Cars sound like cares to me.

  I am accustomed to think very long of going anywhere—am slow to move. I hope to hear a response of the oracle first.

  However I think that I will try the effect of your talisman on the iron horse next Saturday, and dismount at Tarkiln Hill. Perhaps your sea air will be good for me.

  I conveyed your invitation to Channing but he apparently will not come.

  Excuse my not writing earlier—but I had not decided.

  Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 385-386)
29 September 1855.

New Bedford, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Go to Daniel Ricketson’s, New Bedford.

  At Natural History Library saw Dr. Cabot, who says that he has heard either the hermit, or else the olivaceous, thrush sing,—very like a wood thrush, but softer . . .

  Get out at Tarkiln Hill, or Head of the River Station, three miles this side of New Bedford. Recognized an old Dutch barn. R’s sons Arthur and Walton were just returning from tautog-fishing in Buzzard’s Bay, and I tasted one at supper. Singularly curved from snout to tail.

(Journal, 7:463-465)

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Clear fine day, growing gradually cooler. Henry D. Thoreau of Concord arrived about 1 1/2 o’clock (Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 281).

Boston, Mass. Ticknor & Fields writes to Thoreau:

H. D. Thoreau

  In acc with W. D. Ticknor & Co.


  On hand last settlement 600 cops.

  Sold since last acc 344

  Remaining on hand 256

  Sales 344 Cops @ 15 cents is $51.60

Dear Sir,

  We regret for you sake as well as ours that a larger number of Walden has not been sold.

  We enclose our check for Fifty-one 60/100 Dollars for sales to date.

Ever Respy
W. D. Ticknor & Co.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 387)
30 September 1855. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rode with R. [Daniel Ricketson] to Sassacowens Pond, in the north part of New Bedford on the Taunton road, called also Toby’s Pond, from Jonathan Toby, who lives close by, who has a famous lawsuit about a road he built to Taunton years ago, which he has not got paid for . . .

  Thence we proceeded to Long Pond, stopping at the south end, which is in Freetown, about eight miles from R’s. The main part is in Middleborough . . .

  Went to a place easterly from the south end of the pond, called Joe’s Rock, just over the Rochester line… Went into an old deserted house, the Brady house, where two girls who had lived in the family of R. and his mother had been born and bred, their father Irish, and mother Yankee . . .

  Arthur Ricketson showed me in his collection what was apparently (?) an Indian mortar, which had come from Sampson’s in Middleborough . . .

(Journal, 7:465-468)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Rather unsettled, but quite a fine day. Visited with Thoreau Sassaquin and Long Ponds, also “Joe’s Rocks.” Left about ten A.M. and returned about six P.M. in buggy wagon with old Charley, who performed his work with great spirit.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 281)
1 October 1855. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Rode to New Bedford and called on Mr. Green, a botanist, but had no interview with him. Walked through Mrs. Arnold’s arboretum. Rode to the beach at Clark’s Cove where General Gray landed his four thousand troops in the Revolution . . .

  Returned by the new Point road, four miles long, and R. [Daniel Ricketson] said eighty feet wide (I should think from recollection more), and cost $50,000 . . .

(Journal, 7:469-471)
2 October 1855. New Bedord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rode to “Sampson’s” in Middleborough, thirteen miles . . . Passed over a narrow neck between the two Quitticus ponds, after first visiting Great Quitticus on right of road and gathering clamshells there . . .

  We soon left the main road and turned into a path on the right, leading to Assawampsett Pond, a mile distant . . .

  Returning along the shore, we saw a man and woman putting off in a small boat, the first we had seen . . .

  We left our horse and buggy at John Kingman’s and walked by Sampson’s to a hill called King Phillip’s Lookout, from which we got a good view of Assawampsett and Long Ponds . . .

(Journal, 7:471-480)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Cloudy and windy. Left home at 8 A.M. with H. D. Thoreau and visited several of the Middleboro Ponds, spending most part of the day among them. Home at 6 1/2, dark cloudy evening. Spent an hour on the shore by Betty’s Neck, so called; found the rock with the footmark on it, though not as distinct as when I visited it in 1847.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 281)
3 October 1855.

New Bedford, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Walked along shore of Acushnet looking for shells . . .

  P.M.—Rode to see some old houses in Fairhaven . . .

  Visited the studio in Fairhaven of a young marine painter, built over the water, the dashing and gurgling of it coming up through a grating in the floor. He was out, but we found there painting Van Best, a well-known Dutch painter of marine pieces whom he has attracted to him. He talked and looked particularly Dutchman-like. Then visited For Nobscot on the rocky point.

(Journal, 7:480-482)

England. Thomas Cholmondeley writes to Thoreau:

My dear Thoreau,

  I have been busily collecting a next of Indian Books for you, which, accompanied by this not Mr [John] Chapman will send you—& you will find them at Boston carriage-paid (mind that, & don’t let them cheat you) at Crosby & Nichols.

  I hope dear Thoreau you will accept this trife from one who has received so much from you & one who is so anxious to become your friend & to induce you to visit England. I am just about to start for the Crimea, being now a complete soldier—but I fear the game is nearly played out—& all my friends tell me I am just too late for the fair. When I return to England (if ever I do return) I mean to buy a little cottage somewhere on the south coast where I can swell in Mersonian leisure & where I have a plot to persuade you over.

  Give my love to your Father & Mother & sister & my respects to Mr. Emerson & Channing, & the painter who gave me Websters Head—

  I think I never found so much mindedness anywhere in all my travels as in your country of New England—& indeed—barrings its youth—it is very like our old country in my humble judgement

  Adieu dear Thoreau & immense affluence to you

  Ever Yours
  Thos Cholmondeley

P.S. Excuse my bad writing. Of course it is the pen. Chapman will send a list of your books—by which you can see whether they are all right because I hate to have anything lost or wasted, however small.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 387-388; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)

See entry 26 October.

East Bridgewater, Mass. William Allen writes to Thoreau (Studies in the American Renaissance 1982, 365; MS, private owner).

4 October 1855. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rode to Westport, where R. [Daniel Ricketson] wished to consult the Proprietors’ Records of Dartmouth to find the names, etc., of his ancestors . . .

  Returning, lunched by Westport Pond in Dartmouth, said to contain sixty acres but to [be] about two feet deep . . .

(Journal, 7:482)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Clear and fine most of the day; shower latter part afternoon. Rode to Westport with Thoreau and examined the old Proprietor’s Records of the old township of Dartmouth for the names of my ancestors.

  Returning stopped upon the shore of Westport Pond in a grove of young oaks, where ourselves and old Charley ate our dinner, arriving home about 4 1/2 P.M. Showery evening.

(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 282)
5 October 1855. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rode to Plymouth with R. [Daniel Ricketson], in his buggy. In the north part of Rochester, went into an old uninhabited house which once belonged to John Shearman . . .

  Lodged at Olney’s (the old Hedge) House in Plymouth.

(Journal, 7:483-484)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Clear and fine, warm for the season. Left home this morning at 8 o’clock with Henry D. Thoreau, who has been on a visit with us at Brooklawn during the past week, for Plymouth; went by way of Middleborough, crossing Long Pond into Carver; took our dinner on the way, under some pines by the wayside, where we also baited our horse, “Billy,” upon oats. Took tea at house of B. M. Watson, a friend of Thoreau, who has a nursery near Plymouth, a very pleasant place, and nice people,—Mr. and Mrs. W. and the mother of Mr. W. and three young children. Rode into Plymouth after tea, and stopped for the night at Olyn’s on Leyden Street.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 282-283)
6 October 1855.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Return to Concord via Natural History Library . . . (Journal, 7:484-485).

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Unsettled, rain in the evening. Left Plymouth at 11½ A. M., and arrived home much fatigued about 5 P.M. My friend, H. D. Thoreau, left for Boston and home (Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 283).
8 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  On river . . . (Journal, 7:485).
10 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A young man has just shown me a small duck which he shot in the river from my boat . . .

  Mr. William Allen, now here, tells me that when, some years ago, a stream near his house, emptying into the Taunton River, was drained, he found a plant on the bottom very similar to a sponge—of the same form and color—and say six inches wide.

(Journal, 7:485)
12 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .  Carried home a couple of rails which I fished out of the bottom of the river and left on the bank to dry about three weeks ago. One was a chestnut which I have noticed for some years on the bottom of the Assabet, just above the spring on the east side, in a deep hole. It looked as if it had been there a hundred years. It was so heavy that C. [William Ellery Channing] and I had as much as we could do to lift it, covered with mud, on to the high bank . . .

(Journal, 7:485-487)

Thoreau also writes to Daniel Ricketson:

Mr Ricketson,  

  I fear that you had a lonely and disagreeable ride back to New Bedford, through the Carver woods & so on,—perhaps in the rain too, and I am in part answerable for it. I feel very much in debt to you & your for the pleasant days I spent at Brooklawn. Tell Arthur & Walter [Waon; perhaps a slip of Thoreau’s pen] that the shells which they gave me are spread out, and make quite a show to inland eyes. Methinks I still hear the strains of the piano and violin & the flageolet blend together. Excuse me for the noise which I believe drove you to take refuge in the shanty. That shanty is indeed a favorable place to expand in, which I fear I did not enough improve.

  On my way through Boston I inquired for Gilpin’s work at Little Brown & Co’s, Monroes, Ticknor’s & Burnham’s. They have not got them. They told me at Little Brown & Co’s that his work (not complete in 12 vols 8vo, were imported & sold in this country 5 or 6 years ago for about 15 dollars. Their terms for importing at 10 per cent on the cost. I copied from “The London Catalogue of Books, 1816-51” at their shop, the following list of Gilpin’s books—

  I still see an image of those Middleborough Ponds in my mind’s eye—board shallow lakes with an iron mine at their bottom—comparatively unvexed by sails—only by Tom Smith & his squaw Sepit’s “sharper.” I find my map of the state to be the best I have seen of that district. It is a question whether the island of Long Pond or Great Quitteus offer the most attractions to a Lord of the Isles. That plant which I found on the Shore of Long Pond chances to be a rare & beautiful flower—the Sabbatia chlorides—referred to Plymouth.

  In a Description of Middleborough in the Hist. Coll vol 3d 1810—signed Nehemiah Bennet Middleborough 1793—it is said “There is on the easterly shore of Assawampsitt Pond on the shore of Bett’s Neck, two rocks which have curiously marks thereon (supposed to be done by the Indians) which appear like the stepping of a person with naked feet which settled into the ricks, likewise the prints of a land on several places, with a number of other marks; also there is a rock on a high hill a little to the eastward of the old stone fishing wear, where there is the print of a person’s hand in said rock.”
It would be well to look at those rocks again more carefully—also a the rock on the hill.

  I should think that you would like to explore Shipatuct Pond in Rochester [it] is so large & near. It is an interesting fact that the alewives used to ascend to it—if they so not still both from Mattapoisett & through Great Quitticus.

  There will be no trouble about the chamber in the old house, though, as I told you, Hosmer counts his coppers and may expect some compensation for it. He says “Give my respects to Mr R. & tell him that I cannot be at a large expense to preserve an antiquity or curiosity. Nature must do its work. “But” say I, [“] R asks you only not to assist Nature.”

  I find that Channing is gone to his wife at Dorchester—perhaps for the winter—& both may return to Concord in the Spring

  Henry D.Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 388-90).

Ricketson replies 13 October.

13 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum . . . (Journal, 7:487).

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes two letters to Thoreau:

Dear Thoreau,—  

  Your long lost letter came to hand last Monday, and I concluded that you had safely arrived in Concord and had forwarded it yourself.

  One week ago this morning we parted in Plymouth. I looked out of my indow and got the last glimpse of you going off with your umbrella and carpet-bag or valise.

  Your visit here was very agreeable to us all, and particularly to me. In fact your visit was highly successful except in duration—being much too short.

  But the principle object in my now writing is, to assure you that I expect to spend a few days in Concord next week, and shall leave here my the middle or towards the end of the next week. I shall bring my hair pillow and some old clothes. I shall not consider it obligatory on you to devote much time to me, particularly as you are an invalid, but such time as you can spare I shall be glad to avail myself of, but I hope that Channing, you, and I will be able to feelosophize a little occasionally.

  I shall go directly to the Tavern, and shall insist upon putting you to no trouble or attention.

  I conclude in haste, breakfast waiting.

  Yours truly,
  Dan’l Ricetson

Tell Channing I hope to smoke my pipe with him soon.

Dear Thoreau,—  

  I wrote a few line to you this morning before breakfast, which I took to the post-office, but since, I have received yours of yesterday, which rather changes my mind as to going to Concord. I thank you for your kindness in procuring for me information concerning Gilpin’s work, which I shall endeavor to procure.

  My ride home, as you anticipate, was somewhat full and dreary through Carver woods, but I escaped the rain which did not come until after my arrival home, about tea-time. I think that you hurried away from Brooklawn. We had just got our affairs in good train. I hope, however, that you will soon be able to come again and spend several weeks, when we will visit the pond in Rochester which you mentioned, and reviewing our rides and rambles. The Middleborough ponds and their surroundings never time me. I could go every day for a long time to them. I give my preference to the isles in Long Pond—we must get the Indian name of this favorite lake of ours.

  The principle reason for my changing my mind in regard to going to Concord is that you say Channing has gone, and perhaps for the winter. Although I intend to board and lodge at the Tavern, I expected to philosophize with you and C. by the wood-fire. But this is only a good reason for you to come to Brooklawn again. We have some weeks of good rambling weather yet before winter sets in. You will be very welcome to us all, and don’t feel the least hesitation about coming if you have the desire to do so.

  I am in the Shanty—Uncle James is here with me. He came up as soon as he heard you had gone. I have endeavored to convince him that you are perfectly harmless, but I think he still retains a portion of his fears. I think you would affiliate well if you should ever come together.

  Yours truly
  D. Ricketson

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 391-392)

Thoreau replies 16 October.

14 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . . (Journal, 7:488).
15 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Go to look for white pine cones, but see none . . . (Journal, 7:488-489).
16 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To white pine grove beyond Beck Stow’s . . .

  I look at a grass-bird on a wall in the dry Great Fields . . . (Journal, 7:489-490).

Thoreau also writes to Ricketson in reply to his letters of 13 October:

Friend Ricketson,

  I have got both of your letters at once. You must not think Concord so barren a place when Channing is away. There are the river & fields left yet, and I, though ordinarily a man of business, should have some afternoons and evenings to spend with you, I trust; that is: if you could stand so much of me. If you can spend your time profitably here, or without ennui, having an occasional ramble or tete-atete with one of the natives, it will give me pleasure to have you in the neighborhood. You see I am preparing you for our awful unsocial ways,—keeping in our dense a good part of the day, sucking or claws perhaps.—But then we make a religion of it, and that you cannot but respect.

  If you know the taste of your own heart and like it—come to Concord, and I’ll warrant you enough here to season the dish with,—aye, when though C and E[merson] and I were all away. We might paddle quietly up the river—then there are one or two more ponds to be seen, &c.

  I should very much enjoy further rambling with you in your vicinity, but I must postpone for the present. To tell the truth, I am planning to get seriously to work after these long months of inefficiency and idleness. I do not know whether you are haunted by any such demon which puts you on the alert to pluck the fruit of each day as it passes, and store it safely in your bin. True, it is will to live abandonedly from time to time, but to our working hours that must be as the spile to the bung. So for a long season I must enjoy only a low slanting glean in my mind’s eye from the Middleborough Pond far away.

  Methinks I am getting a little more strength into those knees of mine; and, for my part, I believe that God does delight into the strength of a man’s legs.

  Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 393; MS, Abernethy collection of American Literature. Middlebury College Special Collections, Middlebury, Vt.)

Ricketson replies 18 October.

17 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up river.

  A fine Indian-summer afternoon. There is much gossamer on the button-bushes, now bare of leaves, and on the sere meadow-grass, looking toward the sun, in countless parallel lines, like the ropes which connect the masts of a vessel . . .

(Journal, 7:490-491)

Thoreau also writes to Charles Sumner (MS, Whitewall collection [?], Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts).

18 October 1855.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Great Meadows to observe the hummocks left by the ice. They are digging the pond at the new cemetery. I go by Peter’s path . . . (Journal, 7:492-497).

Thoreau writes in his journal on 20 October:

  On the 18th I found the Great Meadows wet, yet Beck Stow’s was remarkably dry. Last summer the case was reversed (Journal, 7:501).

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau in reply to his letter of 16 October:

Dear Thoreau,—

  I received yours of the 16th inst. yesterday. I am very sorry that you did not conclude at once to come to Brooklawn and finish the visit which you so unceremoniously curtailed. But I cannot release you on so light grounds. I thought that you were a man of leisure. At any rate by your philosophy which I consider the best, you are so. You appear to be hugging your chains or endeavouring so to do. I approve of your courage, but cannot see the desperate need of your penance.

  But I must appeal to you as a brother man, a philanthropist too. I am in need of help. I want a physician, and I send for you as the one I have most confidence in. You can bring your writing with you, but I can furnish you with stationery in abundance, and you can have as much time for “sucking your claws” as you wish.

  Don’t fail to come by Saturday noon the 20th.

  Yours truly
  D. Ricketson.

  I am in need of a physician‚so Dr. Thoreau, come to my relief. I need dosing with country rides and rambles, lake scenery, cold viands and jack-knife dinners.

  I find the following in Sterne’s Koran, which is the best thing I have seen for a long time:—

  “Spare diet and clear skies are Apollo and the Muses.”

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 394)
19 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Pine Hill for chestnuts . . .

  I see Mrs. Riordan and her little boy coming out of the woods with their bundles of fagots on their backs . . .

  Therien tells me, when I ask if he has seen or heard any large birds lately, that he heard a cock crow this morning, a wild one, in the woods . . .

  Walking in E.’s [Ralph Waldo Emerson] path west of the pond . . .

  Talking with [Frank H. T.] Bellew this evening about Fourierism and communities, I said that I suspected any enterprise in which two were engaged together . . .

(Journal, 7:497-501)
20 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Nawshawtuct.

  Agreeable to me is the scent of the, withered and decaying leaves and pads, pontedcrias, on each side as I paddle up the river this still cloudy day, with the faint twittering or chirping of a sparrow still amid the bare button-bushes. It is the scent of the year . . .

  It is always a recommendation to me to know that a man has ever been poor, has been regularly born into this world, knows the language. I require to be assured of certain philosophers that they have once been barefooted, footsore, have eaten a crust because they had nothing better, and know what sweetness resides in it . . .

(Journal, 7:501-503)
21 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It began to rain about 10 o’clock last evening after a cloudy day, and it still rains, gently but steadily, this morning. The wind must be east, for I hear the church bell very plainly; yet I sit with an open window, it is so warm . . .

  I have been thinking over with Father the old houses in this street . . .

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  Almost all wild apples are handsome. Some are knurly and peppered all over or on the stem side with fine crimson spots on a yellowish-white ground; others have crimson blotches or eyes, more or less confluent and fiery when wet,—for apples, like shells and pebbles, are handsomest in a wet day . . .

(Journal, 7:503-508)
22 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven via Hubbard’s Grove . . .

  In Potter’s pasture, as you go to to Fair Haven Hill, where he had grain in the summer, the great mullein leaves are strewn as thick as turnips that have been sown . . .

(Journal, 7:508-512)
24 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Looked at the old picture of Concord at Mrs. Brook’s,—she says by a Minott, and uncle (or grand-uncle?) of hers . . . (Journal, 7:515-517).
25 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—I row up the river, which has risen eight or nine inches . . . (Journal, 7:517).
26 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum . . .

  I return by the way of the mocker-nut trees . . . (Journal, 7:517-520).

London, England. John Chapman writes to Thoreau:

Dear Sir,

  Enclosed is the list of book[s] referred to in Mr Thos Cholmondeley’s note. The parcel I have forwarded to Messrs Crosby Nichols & Co of Boston, and have requested them to deliver it to you free of all expense. As Mr Cholmondeley has gone to the East I should be glad of a note from you acknowledging the receipt of the parcel. I am, dear Sir

  Very truly yours
  John Chapman

Attached with this letter was a parcel of book which included:

Wilsons Rig Veda Sanhita Vols 1 and 2
Translation of Mandukya Upanishads
Nala & Damyanta by Milman
Vishnu Purana by Wolsin
Haughtons Institutes of Menu
Colebrookes Two Treatises
Sankhya Karika
Aphorisms of the Mimasma
Lecture on the Vedanta
Bhagavat Gheeta & translation 2 Volumes
Wilson’s “Theatre of Hindoos 2 Volumes Williams’ Translation of “Sakoontala,”
Colebrookes’ Miscellaneous Essays 2 Vols
Hardys Eastern Monachism
Manual of Buddhism
Mills’ History of British India 9 volumes
The Chevalier Bunses Christianity & Mankind
 I.“Hippolytus & his Age” 2 Vols
 II.“Outlines of the Philosophy of Universal Religion applied to Language & Religion” 2 Vols
 III.Analecta Ante Nicana 3 Vols
The Chevalier Bunsens Egypt’s Place in Universal History
The Bhagavita Purana
Lotus de la Bonnes Lois
Halsteads Code of Gentoo Laws

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 395-396; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers (Series IV). Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)

See entry 2 November. Thoreau receives the parcel 30 November.

27 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—A-chestnutting down the Turnpike.

  There are many fringed gentians, now considerably frost-bitten, in what was E. Hosmer’s meadow between his dam and the road. It is high time we came a-nutting, for the nuts have nearly all fallen, and you must depend on what you can fold on the ground, left by the squirrels, and cannot shake down any more to speak of . . .

  To appreciate, the flavor of those wild apples requires vigorous and healthv senses, papillæ firm and erect on the tongue and palete, not easily tamed and flattened. Some of those apples might be labelled, “To be eaten in the wind.”

(Journal, 7:520-521)
28 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—By boat to Leaning Hemlocks . . .

  As I paddle under the Hemlock bank this cloudy afternoon, about 3 o’clock, I see a screech owl sitting on the edge of a hollow hemlock stump about three feet high, at the base of a large hemlock. It sits with its head drawn in, eyeing me, with eyes partly open, about twenty feet off . . . After watching it ten minutes from the boat, I landed two rods above, and, stealing quietly up behind the hemlock, though from the windward, I looked carefully around it, and, to my surprise, saw the owl still sitting there. So I sprang round quickly, with my arm outstretched, and caught it in my hand. It was so surprised that it offered no resistance at first, only glared at me in mute astonishment with eyes as big as saucers. But ere long it began to snap its bill, making quite a noise, and, as I rolled it up in my handkerchief and put it in my pocket, it bit my finger slightly. I soon took it out of my pocket and, tying my handkerchief, left it on the bottom of the boat. So I carried it home and made a small cage in which to keep it, for a night . . .

(Journal, 7:521-524)
29 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  Carried my owl to the hill again. Had to shake him out of the box, for he did not go of his own accord. He had learned to alight on his perch, and it was surprising how lightly and noiselessly he would hop upon it.) There he stood on the grass, at first bewildered, with his horns pricked up and looking toward me. In this strong light the pupils of his eyes suddenly contracted and the iris expanded till then were two great brazen orbs, with a centre spot merely. His attitude expressed astonishment more than anything. I was obliged to toss him up a little that he might feel his wings, and then he flapped away . . .

  There is a wild apple on the lull which has to me a peculiarly pleasant bitter tang, not perceived till it is three quarters tasted. It remains on the tongue. As you cut it, it smells exactly like a squash-bug. I like its very acerbity. It is a sort of triumph to cat and like it, an ovation. In the fields alone are the sours and bitters of nature appreciated . . .

(Journal, 7:524-527)
30 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Going to the new cemetery, I see that the scarlet oak leaves have still some brightness; perhaps the latest of the oaks” (Journal, 7:527).

New York, N.Y. Kennedy Furlong writes to Thoreau (Studies in the American Renaissance 1982, 366; MS, private owner).

31 October 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau surveys land for the Mill Dam Company (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 9-10; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau continues surveying for the Mill Dam Company (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 9-10; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

1 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet, a-wooding . . .

  Returning in the twilight, I see a bat over the river (Journal, 8:3-5).

2 November 1855. London, England.

John Chapman writes to Thoreau:

H. D. Thoreau Esqr,

  Dear Sir

  The parcel of books advised by me on the 26th of October, as having been sent by the “Asia” Steamer, from Liverpool, has been shut out of that vessell on account of her cargo being complete several days previous to her sailing. Under these circumstances I have therefore ordered the parcel to be shipped by the “Canada” of the 10th proximo, and trust that you will not experience any inconvenience from this unavoidable delay—

  I am, dear Sir,

  Yours very truly

  John Chapman
  A D Ferguson

  I have written to Messrs Crosby Nichols & Co, Boston, respecting your package—

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 396-397; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers (Series IV). Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)
4 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hill by Assabet . . .

  The winter is approaching. The birds are almost all gone. The note of the dee de de sounds now more distinct, prophetic of winter, as I go amid the wild apples on Nawshawtuct. The autumnal dandelion sheltered by this apple-tree trunk is drooping and half closed and shows but half its yellow, this dark, late, wet day in the fall.

  Gathered a bag of wild apples . . .

  From my experience with wild apples I can understand that there may be a reason for a savage preferring many kinds of food which the civilized man rejects. The former has the palate of an outdoor man. It takes a savage or wild taste to appreciate a wild apple . . .

(Journal, 8:5-7)
5 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To foot of Fair Haven Hill via Hubbard’s Grove . . . Walked through Potter’s Swamp . . . (Journal, 8:7-12).
6 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A mizzling rain from the east drives me home from my walk . . .

  I can hardly resist the inclination to collect driftwood, to collect a great load of various kinds, which will sink my boat low in the water, and paddle or sail slowly home with it . . .

(Journal, 8:12)
7 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  I see a painted tortoise swimming under water, and to my surprise another afterward out on a willow trunk this dark day . . .

  I find it good to be out this still, dark, mizzling afternoon; my walk or voyage is more suggestive and profitable than in bright weather. The view is contracted by the misty rain, the water and the stillness is favorable to reflection. I am more open to impressions, more sensitive (not calloused or indurated by sun and wind), as if in a chamber still. My thoughts are concentrated; I am all compact. The solitude is real, too, for the weather keeps other men at home. This mist is like a roof and walls over and around, and I walk with a domestic feeling . . .

(Journal, 8:13-15)
8 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A quite warm and foggy morning. I can sit with my window open and no fire. Much warmer than this time last year. Though there is quite a fog over the river and doubtful weather behind, the reflection of the wool-grass, etc., is quite distinct, the reflection from the fog or mist making the water light for a background.
(Journal, 8:15-16)

Thoreau begins writing a letter to Thomas Cholmondeley, which he sends 1 December:

Dear Cholmondeley,

  I must endeavor to thank you for your magnificent, your princely gift to me. My father, with his hand in his pocket, and an air of mystery and importance about him suggests that I have another letter from Mr. Cholmondeley, and hands me a ship letter. I open eagerly upon a list of books (made up in one parcel) for Henry D. &c &c”; and my eye glances down a column half as long as my arm, where I already detect some emineces which I had not seen or heard of, standing out like the peak of the Himalayas. No! it is not Cholmondeley’s writing.—But what good angel has divined my thoughts? Has any company of the faithful in England passed a resolution to overwhelm me with their munificent regards “Wilson Rig veda Sanhitu” [sic] Vol 1 & 2no. “Translation of Mandukya Upanishads.” I begin to step from pinnacle to pinnacle. Ah! but here it is “Longon, King William Street. Truly yours John Chapman.” Enclosed is the list. “Mr Thomas Cholmondeley” and now I see through it, and here is a land I know and father was right after all. While he is gone to the market I will read a little further in this list “Nala & Damyanta” “Bhagavita Purana.” “Institutes of Menu.”—

  How they look far away and grand!

  That will do for the present: a little at a time of these rich dishes. I will look again by and by. “Per Asia” too they have come, as I read on the envelope! Was there any design in that? The very nucleus of her cargo; Asia carried them in her womb long ago. Immobility itself is tossed on Atlantic billows to present the gift to me. Was not there an omen for you? No Africa; no Europe—no Baltic, but it would have sunk. And now we will see if America can sustain it. Build new shelves—display, unfold your columns. What was that dim pleak that loomed for an instant far behind, representatives of a still loftier and more distant range. “Vishnu Purana,” an azure mountain in itself.—gone again, but surely seen for once. And what was that which dimmed the brightness of the day, like an apex of Cotopaxi’s cone, seen against the disk of the sun by the voyager of the south American coast” Bhagavat Geeta”! whose great unseen base I can faintly imagine spreading beneath. “History of British India nine vols”!! Chevalier Bunsen vols 8vo cloth”!! Have at them! who cares numbers in a just cause England expects every man to do his duty. Be sure you are right and then go ahead. I begin to think myself learned for merely possessing such works: If here is not the wealth of the Indies, of what stuff then is it made. They may keep their rupees this and the like of this is what the great company traded and fought for, to convey the light of the East into the West:—this their true glory and success.

  And now you have gone to the East or Eastward, having assisted its light to shine westward behind you; have gone towards the source of light! To which I pray that you may get nearer and nearer

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 397-399)
9 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  7 A.M.—Grass white and stiff with frost. 9 A.M.—With Blake [H.G.O. Blake] up Assabet.

  A clear and beautiful day after frost.

  Looking over the meadow westward from Merrick’s Pasture Shore, I see the alders beyond Dodd’s, now quite bare and gray (maple-like) in the morning sun (the frost melted off, though I found a little ice on my boat-seat),—that true November sight,—ready to wear frost leaves and to transmit (so open) the tinkle of tree sparrows. How wild and refreshing to see these old black willows of the river-brink, unchanged from the first, which man has never cut for fuel or for timber! Only the muskrat, tortoises, blackbirds, bitterns, and swallows use them . . .

(Journal, 8:16-19)
After 9 November 1855.

Crosby & Nichols [?] writes to Thoreau:

De Sir,

  The parcel of books referred to in your letter of the 9th has not yet reached us.

  We suppose that our case whi contained it was left behind at Liverpool and shall expect it by next Steamer.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 400; MS, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.)
10 November 1855. Nantucket, Mass.

Edward W. Gardiner writes to Thoreau (Studies in the American Renaissance 1989, 366; MS, private owner).

11 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  As long as the sun is out, it is warm and pleasant. The water is smooth. I see the reflections, not only of the wool-grass, but the bare button-bush, with its brown balls beginning to crumble and show the lighter inside, and the brittle light-brown twigs of the black willow, and the coarse rustling sedge, now completely withered (and hear it pleasantly whispering), and the brown and yellowish sparganium blades curving over like well-tempered steel . . .

(Journal, 8:19-22)
13 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In mid-forenoon (10.45), seventy or eighty geese, in three harrows successively smaller, flying southwest—pretty well west—over the house . . .

  P.M.—To Cardinal Shore. Going over Swamp Bridge Brook at 3 P.M., I saw in the pond by the roadside, a few rods before me, the sun shining bright, a mink swimming, the whole length of his back out . . .

(Journal, 8:22-23)
14 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Minott hears geese to-day.

  Heard to-day in my chamber, about 11 A.M., a singular sharp crackling sound by the window, which made me think of the snapping of an insect (with its wings, or striking something). It was produced by one of three small pitch pine cones which I gathered on the 7th, and which lay in the sun on the window-sill . . .

  I was remarking to-day to Mr. Rice on the pleasantness of this November thus far, when he remarked that he remembered a similar season fifty-four years ago . . .

  P.M.—Up Assabet with Sophia . . .

(Journal, 8:23-24)
15 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The river is rising. I see a spearer’s light to-night (Journal, 8:24).
16 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Minott speaks of the last fortnight as good weather to complete the harvesting . . . A part of to-day and yesterday I have been making shelves for my Oriental books, which I hear to-day are now on the Atlantic in Canada. Mr. Rice asked me to-night if I knew how hard a head a goat had . . .
(Journal, 8:25)
17 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Just after dark the first snow is falling, after a chilly afternoon with cold gray clouds, when
my hands were uncomfortably cold . . .

  It is interesting to me to talk with Rice, he lives so thoroughly and satisfactorily to himself . . .

  Saw Goodwin this morning returning from the river with minks, one trapped, the other shot, and half a dozen muskrats.

(Journal, 8:26-28)
18 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It [the snow] clears up at noon, and at 2 P.M. I go to Fair Haven Hill via Hubbard’s Grove. As I sat in the house, I was struck with the brightness and heat of the sun reflected from this our first snow . . .
(Journal, 8:28-31)
19 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A cold, gray day, once spitting snow. Water froze in tubs enough to bear last night.

  Minott had two cats on his knee. One given away without his knowledge a fortnight before had just found its way back. He says he would not kill a cat for twenty dollars,—no, not for fifty. Finally he told his women folks that he would not do it for five hundred, or any sum. He thought they loved life as well as we. Johnny Vose would n’t do it. He used to carry down milk to a shop every day for a litter of kittens . . .

  Rice says that that brook which crosses the road just beyond his brother Israel’s is called Cold Brook. It comes partly from Dunge Hole. When the river is rising it will flow up the brook a great way . . .

(Journal, 8:31-33)
20 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Again I hear that sharp, crackling, snapping sound . . . (Journal, 8:33).
24 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Geese went over on the 13th and 19th, on the 17th the first snow fell, and the 19th it began to be cold and blustering. That first slight snow has not yet gone off! and very little has been added. The last three or four days have been quite cold, the sidewalks a glare of ice and very little melting. To-day has been exceedingly blustering and disagreeable, as I found while surveying for Moore . . .
(Journal, 8:33-34)
26 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Bottom of boat covered with ice. The ice next the shore bore me and my boat (Journal, 8:34).
27 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—By river to [Jacob] Farmer’s. He gave me the head of a gray rabbit which his boy had snared . . .

  There is little now to be heard along the river but the sedge rustling on the brink. There is a little ice along most of the shore throughout the day . . .

(Journal, 8:34-36)
30 November 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  River skimmed over behind Dodd’s and elsewhere. Got in my boat. River remained iced over all day.

  This evening I received [Thomas] Cholmondeley’s gift of Indian books, forty-four volumes in all, which came by Canada, reaching Boston on the morning of the 24th. Left Liverpool the 10th.

  Goodwin and Farmer think that a dog will not ouch the dead body of a mink, it smells so strongly . . .

  I asked Aunt L. [Louisa Dunbar] to-night why Scheeter Potter was so called. She said, because his neighbors regarded him so small a man that they said in jest that it was his business to make mosquitoes’ bills. He was accused of catching his neighbor’s hens in a trap and eating them. But he was crazy.

  William Wheeler says that he went a-spearing on the 28th (night before Thanksgiving) and, besides pouts and pickerel, caught two great suckers . . .

(Journal, 8:36-37)
1 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau sends a letter to Thomas Cholmondeley that he began writing 8 November:

  After a fortnights delay, owing to the cargo of the Asia being complete when the parcel reached Liverpool, my Indian library was sent by the Canada and at length reached my door complete and in good order, last evening. After overhauling my treasures on the carpet, wading knee deep in Indian philosophy and poetry-with eager eyes around ready to admire the splendid binding and illumination at least, drawing them forth necessarily from amidst a heap of papers, every scrap of which bore some evidence of having come from that fabulous region the “Strand,” not far this side Colchis toward which you are gone. I placed them in the case which I had prepared, and went late to bed dreaming of what had happened. Indeed it was exactly like the realization of some dreams which I have had; but when I woke in the morning I was not convinced that it was reality until I peeped out and saw their bright backs. They are indeed there and I thank you for them, I am glad to receive them from you, though notwithstanding what you say, if I should stop to calculate I should find myself very much your debtor. I shall not soon forget your generous entertainment of some thoughts which I cherish and delight in an opportunity to express. If you thought that you met with any kindness in New England I fear that it was partly because you had lately come from New Zealand. At any rate cause our hard and cold New England Manners, lay it partly to the climate: granite and ice, you know, and our chief exports, B (of the mountain) was here when you note and the list of books arrived, and enjoyed the perusal with me. E. whose constant enquire for the last fortnight has been, “Have your books come?[“] is about starting for the west on a lecturing tour. The papers say he is to lecture in nine cities on the Mississippi.

  I hope that the trumpet and the drum will sound to you as they do in dreams, and that each night you may feel the satisfaction of having fought worthily in a worthy cause.

  I shall depend on hearing from you in the camp. My father and mother and sister send their hearty good wishes. If I am ever rich enough I shall think seriously of going to England and finding you out in your cottage on the south shore. That you may return home safely and in good time to carry out that project, your country’s glory being secured, is the earnest wish of one by whom you will ever be well remembered.

  Henry Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 397-399; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers (Series III). Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collections of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)
3 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A pleasant day. No snow yet (since that first whitening which lasted so long), nor do I see any ice to speak of.

  Hear and see, of birds, only a tree sparrow in the willows on the Turnpike . . . (Journal, 8:38).

4 December 1855.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Melvin says that he shot a sheldrake once in the act of swallowing a perch seven or eight inches long. He had got nothing to-day, for he forgot his caps. A pleasant day and yet no snow nor ice. The younger osiers on Shattuck’s row do shine” (Journal, 8:38-39).

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau (Studies in the American Renaissance 1982, 399; MS, private owner).

6 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  10 P.M.—Hear geese going over (Journal, 8:39).
8 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  This afternoon I go to the woods down the railroad, seeking the society of some flock of small birds, or some squirrel, but in vain . . .

  Met Therien coming from Lincoln on the railroad. He says that he carried a cat from Jacob Baker’s to Riordan’s shanty in a bag at night, but she ran home again . . .

  Jacob Farmer brought me the head of a mink to-night and took tea here.

(Journal, 8:39-41)
9 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A still, completely gray, overcast, chilly morning. At 8.30 a fine snow begins to fall, increasing very gradually, perfectly straight down, till in fifteen minutes the ground is white, the smooth places first, and thus the winter landscape is ushered in. And now it is falling thus all the land over . . .
(Journal, 8:41)

Thoreau also writes to H.G.O. Blake:

Mr. Blake,—

  Thank you! thank you for going a-wooding with me,—and enjoying it,—for being warmed by my wood fire. I have indeed enjoyed it much alone. I see how I might enjoy it yet more with company,—how we might help each other to live. And to be admitted to nature’s hearth costs nothing. None is excluded, but excludes himself. You have only to push aside the curtain.

  I am glad to hear that you were there too. There are many more such voyages, and longer ones, to be made on that river, for it is the water of life. The Ganges is nothing to it. Observe its reflections, no idea but is familiar to it. That river, though to dull eyes it seems terrestrial wholly, flows through Elysium. What powers bathe in it invisible to villagers! Talk of its shallowness,—that hay—carts can be driven through it at midsummer; its depth passeth my understanding. If, forgetting the allurements of the world, I could drink deeply enough of it; if, cast adrift from the shore, I could with complete integrity float on it, I should never be seen on the Mill-dam again. If there is any depth in me, there is a corresponding depth in it. It is the cold blood of the gods. I paddle and bathe in their artery.

  I do not want a stick of wood for so trivial a use as to burn even, but they get it over night, and carve a gild it that it may please my eye. What persevering lovers they are! What infinite pains to attract and delight us! They will supply us with fagots wrapped in the dantiest packages, and freight paid; sweet—scented woods, and bursting into flower, and resounding as if Orpheus had just left them, these shall be our fuel, and we still prefer to chaffer with the wood-merchant!

  The jug we found still stands draining bottom up on the bank, on the sunny side of the house. That river, —who shall say exactly whence it came, and whither it goes? Does aught that flows come from a higher source? Many things rift downward on its surface which would enrich a man. If you could only be on the alert all day, and every day! And the nights are as long as the days.

  Do you not think you could contrive this to get woody fibre enough to bake your wheaten bread with? Would you not perchance have tasted the sweet crust of another kind of break-fruit trees of the world?

  Talk of burning your smoke after the wood has been consumed! There is a far more important and warming heart, commonly lost, which precedes the burning of the wood. It is the smoke of industry, which is incense. I had been so thoroughly warmed in the body and spirit, that when at length my fuel was housed, I came near selling it to the ashman, as if I had extracted all its heat.

  You should have been here to help me get in my boat. The last time I used it, November 27th, paddling up the assabet, I saw a great round pine long sunk deep in the water, and with labor got it abroad. When I was floating this some so gently, it occurred to me why I had found it. It was to make wheels with to roll my boat into winter quarters upon. So I sawed off two thick rollers from one end, pierced them for wheels, and then of a joist which I had found drifting on the river in the summer I made an axletree, and on this I rolled my boat out.

  Miss Mary Emerson [R.W.’s aunt] is here, the youngest person in Concord, though about eighty,—and the most apprehensive of a genuine thought; earnest to know of your inner life; most stimulating society; and exceedingly witty withal. She says they call her old when she was young, and she has never grown any older. I wish you could see her.

  My books did not arrive till November 20th, the cargo of the Asia having been complete when they reached Liverpool, I have arranged them in a case which I made in the mean whole, partly of river boards. I have not dipped far into the news one yet. One is splendidly bound and illuminated. They are in English, French, Latin, Greek, and Sanscrit. I have not made out the significance of this godsend yet.

  Farewell, and bright dreams to you!

(Letters to Harrison Gray Otis Blake (88-90) edited by Wendell Glick (from Great Short Works of Henry David Thoreau edited, with an introduction, by Wendell Glick (New York: Harper & Row, 1982). Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers)

10 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Cambridge (Journal, 8:41).

Thoreau also checks out The history of the American Indian by James Adair, History of the mission of the United Brethren among the Indians in North America by George Henry Loskiel, and The journal of Christian Frederick Post, in his journey from Philadelphia to the Ohio from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 291).

11 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Holden Swamp, Conantum. For the first time I wear gloves, but I have not walked early this season . . . (Journal, 8:41-45).
13 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Sanborn [Franklin B. Sanborn] tells me that he was waked up a few nights ago in Boston, about midnight, by the sound of a flock of geese passing over the city, probably about the same night I heard them here . . .
(Journal, 8:45-46)
14 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It began to snow again last evening, but soon ceased, and now it has turned out a fine winter morning, with half an inch of snow on the ground, the air full of mist, through which the smokes rise up perfectly straight; and the mist is frozen in minute leafets on the fences and trees and the needles of the pines, silvering them . . .

  P.M.—To Pink Azalea Woods.

  The warm sun has quite melted the thin snow on the south aides of the hills, but I go to see the tracks of animals that have been out on the north sides . . .

(Journal, 8:46-50)
15 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Sometimes when I am going through the Deep Cut, I look up and see half a dozen black crows flitting silently across in front and ominously eying down . . . The snow turned to rain, and this afternoon I walk in it down the railroad and through the woods.
(Journal, 8:50-51)
16 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Steady, gentle, warm rain all forenoon, and mist and mizzling in the afternoon, when I go round by Abel Hosmer’s and back by the railroad . . . As we go over the bridge, admire the reflection of the trees and houses from the smooth open water over the channel, where the ice has been dissolved by the rain.
(Journal, 8:51-52)
17 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  9.30 A.M.—To Hill.

  A reararkably fine, springlike morning. The earth all bare; the sun so bright and warm; the steam curling up from every fence and roof, and carried off at [an] angle by the slight northwesterly air. After those rainy days the air is apparently uncommonly clear, and hence (?) the sound of cock-crowing is so sweet . . .

(Journal, 8:52)
18 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Saw to-day a dark-colored spider of the very largest kind on ice,—the mill-pond at E. Wood’s in Acton . . . (Journal, 8:52-53).
20 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Still no snow, and, as usual, I wear no gloves.

  P.M.—To Hubbard’s skating meadow . . .

  Boys are now devoted to skating after school at night, far into evening, going without their suppers. It is pretty good on the meadows, which are somewhat overflown, and the sides of the river, but the greater part of it is open. I walk along the side of the river, on the ice beyond the Bath Place. Already there is dust on this smooth ice, on its countless facets, revealed by the sun . . .

(Journal, 8:53-54)
21 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Going to the post-office at 9 A.M. this very pleasant morning, I hear and see tree sparrows on Wheildon’s pines . . .

  P.M.—Via Hubbard’s Grove and river to Fair Haven Pond. Return by Andromeda Ponds . . .

  I do not remember to have seen the Andromeda Ponds so low . . . What a primitive and swampy wilderness for the wild mice to run amidst!-the andromeda woods!

  Walden is skimmed over, all but an acre, in cove. It will probably be finished to-night.

  No doubt the healthiest man in the world is prevented from doing what he would like by sickness.

(Journal, 8:54-56)
22 December 1855.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Warm rain and frost coming out and muddy walking . . . (Journal, 8:56-57).

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau (Concord Saunterer 19, no. 1 (July 1987):25-6; MS, private owner). Thoreau replies 25 December.

23 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum-End.

  A very bright and pleasant day with remarkably soft wind from a little north of west. The frost has come out so in the rain of yesterchty that I avoid the muddy plowed fields and keep on the grass ground, which shines with moisture. I think I do not remember such and so much pleasant, springlike weather as this and some other days of this month . . .

  Think of the life of a kitten, ours for instance: last night her eyes set in a fit, doubtful if she will ever come out of it, and she is set away in a basket and submitted to the recuperative powers of nature; this morning running up the clothes-pole and erecting her back in frisky sport to every passer.

(Journal, 8:57-60)
25 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  9 A.M.—Snow driving almost horizontally from the northeast and fast whitening the ground, and with it the first tree sparrows I have noticed in the yard. It turns partly to rain and hail at midday.
(Journal, 8:60)

Thoreau also writes to Daniel Ricketson in reply to his letter of 23 December:

Friend Ricketson,

  Though you have not shown your face here, I trust that you did not interpret my last note to my disadvantage. I remember that, among other things, I wished to break it to you that, owing to engagements, I should not be able to show you so much attention as I could wish, or as you had shown to me.—How we did scour over the country! I hope your horse will live as long as one which I hear just died in the south of France at the age of 40. Yet I had no doubt you would get quite enough of me. Do yot give up so easily—the old house is still empty & Hosmer is easy to treat with.

  Channing was here about 10 days ago. I told him of my visit to you, and that he too must go and see you & your country. This may have suggested his writing to you.

  That island lodge, especially for some weeks in a summer, and new exploration in your vicinity are certainly very alluring; but such are my engagements to myself that I dare not promise to wend your way—but will for the present only heartily thank you for your kind & generous offer. When my vacation comes, then look out.

  My legs have grown considerably stronger, and that is all that ails me.

  But I wish now above all to inform you—though I suppose you will not be particularly interested—that Cholmondeley has gone to the Crimea “a complete soldier,” with a design when he returns, if he ever returns, to buy a cottage in the south of England and tempt me over,—but that, before going, he busied himself in buying, & had caused to me forwarded to me by Chapman, a royal gift, in the shape of 21 district works (one in 9 vols-44 vols in all) almost exclusively relating to ancient Hindoo literature, and scarcely one of them to be bought in America. I am familiar with many of them & know how to prize them.

  I send you information of this as I might of the birth of a child.

  Please remember me to all your family—

  Yrs truly
  Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 402-403)
26 December 1855.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The sun comes out at 9 A.M. and lights up the ice-incrusted trees, but it is pretty warm and the ice rapidly melts.

  I go to Walden via the almshouse and up the railroad . . .

  Now, at 10 A.M., there blows a very strong wind from the northwest, and it grows cold apace . . .

  4 P.M. – Up railroad . . .

(Journal, 8:60-64)

Boston, Mass. Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Henry,—

  It is so easy, at a distance, or when going to a distance, to ask a great favor which one would haggle at near by. I have been ridiculously hindered, and my book is not out, and I must go westward. There is one chapter yet to go to the printer; perhaps two, if I decide to send the second. I must ask you to correct the proofs of this or these chapters. I hope you can and will, if you are not going away. The printer will send you the copy with the proof; and yet, ‘t is likely you will see good cause to correct copy as well as proof. The chapter is Stonehenge, and I may not send it to the printer for a week yet, for I am very tender about the personalities in it, and of course you need not think of it till it comes. As we have been so unlucky asto overstay the market—day,—that is New Year’s—it is not important, a week or a fortnight, now.

  If anything puts it out of your power to help me at this pinch, you must dig up channing out of his earths, and hold him steady to this beneficence. Send the proofs, if they come, to Phillips, Samspon &co., Winter Street.

  We may well go away, if, one of these days, we shall really come home.

  R.W. Emerson

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 403-404)
27 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Recalled this evening, with the help of Mother, the various houses (and towns) in which I have lived and some various events of my life . . . (Journal, 8:64-67).

28 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Hollowell place and back near Hubbard’s Bridge.

  To-day and yesterday the boys have been skating on the crust in the streets,—it is so hard, the show being very shallow. Considerable ice still clings to the rails and trees . . . What do the birds do when the seeds and bark are thus encased in ice?

(Journal, 8:67)
29 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Down railroad to Andromeda Ponds . . .

  Am surprised to find eight or ten acres of Walden still open . . .

  A good time to walk in swamps, there being ice but no snow to speak of,—all crust. It is a good walk along the edge of the river, the wild side, amid the button-bushes and willows . . .

(Journal, 8:67-69)
30 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  About 9 A.M. it [the snow] ceases, and the sun comes out, and shines dazzlingly over the white surface . . .

  P.M.—Across the river and over Hill . . .

  Looking up over the top of the hill now, southwest, at 3.30 P. M., I see a few mother-o’-pearl tints . . .

  Recrossing the river behind Dodd’s, now at 4 P.M., the sun quite low, the open reach just below is quite green . . .

(Journal, 8:70-74)
31 December 1855. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is one, of the mornings of creation, and the trees, shrubs, etc., etc., are covered with a fine leaf frost, as if they left their morning robes on, seen against the sun. There has been a mist in the night. Now, at 8.30 A.M., I see, collected over the low grounds behind Mr. Cheney’s, a dense fog (over a foot of snow), which looks dusty like smoke by contrast with the snow . . .

  9 A.M.—To Partridge Glade . . .

  At ten the frost leaves are nearly all melted . . .

(Journal, 8:74-75)

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