the Thoreau Log.
Æt. 39.
1 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I observe a shelf of ice—what arctic voyagers call the ice-belt or ice-foot (which they see on a very great scale sledging upon it)—adhering to the walls and banks at various heights, the river having fallen nearly two feet since it first froze. It is often two or three feet wide and now six inches thick.

  Am still surveying the W— or Lee farm. W— cleared out and left this faithful servant like a cat in some corner of this great house, but without enough to buy him a pair of boots, I hear. Parker was once a Shaker at Canterbury. He is now Captain E—’s right-hand man . . .

  E—, having lent W— money, was obliged to take the farm to save himself, but he is nearly blind and is anxious to get rid of it . . .

(Journal, 9:203)
2 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To-day I see Parker is out with horse and cart, collecting dead wood at the Rock and drawing it home over the meadow. I saw the English servant-girl with on of the children flat on the ice hard at work on the river cutting a hole with a hatchet, but as the ice was thick and the water gushed up too soon for her, I saw that she would fail and directed her to an open place. She was nearly beat out . . .
(Journal, 9:204)
3 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Snows all day, falling level, without wind, a moist and heavy snow. Snowed part of the night also. But to my surprise a high wind arose in the night and that and the cold so dried the snow that—

  (Jan. 4) this morning it is a good deal drifted.

(Journal, 9:204)
4 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It did not freeze together, or crust, as you might have expected. You would not suppose it had been moist when it fell. About eight inches have fallen, yet there is very little on the river. It blows off, unless where water has oozed out at the sides . . . Deep and drifted as the snow is, I found, when I returned from my walk, some dry burs of the burdock adhering to the lining of my coat. Even in the middle of winter, aye, in middle of the Great Snow, Nature does not forget these her vegetable economies . . .

  After spending four or five days surveying and drawing a plan incessantly, I especially feel the necessity of putting myself in communication with nature again . . . I wish again to participate in the serenity of nature, to share the happiness of the river and the woods. I thus from time to time break off my connection with eternal truths and go with the shallow stream of human affairs, grinding at the mill of the Philistines; but when my task is done, with never failing confidence I devote myself to the infinite again. It would be sweet to deal with men more, I can imagine, but where dwell they? Not in the fields which I traverse.

(Journal, 9:203-204)
5 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A cold, cutting northwest wind (Journal, 9:206).
6 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The river is now for the most part covered with snow again, which has blown from the meadows and been held by the water which has oozed out. I slump through snow into that water for twenty rods together, which is not frozen though the thermometer says -8°.
(Journal, 9:206)
7 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Walden down railroad and return over Cliffs.

  I should not be ashamed to have a shrub oak for my coat-of-arms.

  It is bitter cold, with a cutting northwest wind. The pond is now a plain snow-field, but there are no tracks of fishers on it. It is too cold for them. The surface of the snow there is finely waved and grained, giving it a sort of slaty fracture, the appearance which hard, dry blown. snow assumes. All animate things are reduced to their lowest terms. This is the fifth day of cold, blowing weather. All tracks are concealed in an hour or two . . .

(Journal, 9:207-211)
8 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I find hanging Smith’s thermometer on the same nail with ours that it stands 5° below ours.

  It was 18° by ours when I went out for a walk. I picked up on the bare ice of the river, opposite the oak in Shattuck’s land, on a small space blown bare of snow, a fuzzy caterpillar, black at the two ends and red-brown in the middle, rolled into a ball or close ring, like a woodchuck. I pressed it hard between my fingers and found it frozen. I put it into my hat, and when I took it out in the evening, it soon began to stir and at length crawled about, but a portion of it was not quite flexible. It took some time for it to thaw. This is the fifth cold day, and it must have been frozen so long. It was more than an inch long . . .

(Journal, 9:212)
10 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau surveys the Merrick’s Pastures for Daniel Shattuck.

11 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Began snowing yesterday afternoon, and it is still snowing this forenoon.

  Mother remembers the Cold Friday very well. She lived in the house where I was born. The people in the kitchen—Jack Garrison, Esther, and a Hardy girl—drew up close to the fire, but the dishes which the Hardy girl was washing froze as fast as she washed them, close to the fire. They managed to keep warm in the parlor by their great fires . . .

For some years past I have partially offered myself as a lecturer . . . Yet I have had but two or three invitations to lecture in a year, and some years none at all. I congratulate myself on having been permitted to stay at home thus, I am so much the richer for it . . .

(Journal, 9:214)
13 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I hear one thrumming a guitar below stairs. It reminds me of moments that I have lived. What a comment on our life is the least strain of music! It lifts me up above all the dust and mire of the universe. I soar or hover with clean skirts over the field of my life. It is ever life within life, in concentric spheres. The field wherein I toil or rust at any time is at the same time the field for such different kinds of life! The farmer’s boy or hired man has an instinct which tells him as much indistinctly, and hence his dreams and his restlessness; hence, even, it is that he wants money to realize his dreams with. The identical field where I am leading my humdrum life, let but a strain of music be heard there, is seen to be the field of some unrecorded crusade or tournament the thought of which excites in us an ecstasy of joy . . .

  P.M.—On the river to Bittern Rock.

  The river is now completely concealed by snow. I come this way partly because it is the best walking here, the snow not so deep. The only wild life I notice is a crow on a distant oak . . .

(Journal, 9:218)
14 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet on ice.

  I go slumping four or five inches in the snow on the river, and often into water above the ice, breaking through a slight crust under the snow, which has formed in the night. Each cold day is this concealed overflow, mixing with the snow beneath, is converted into ice, and so raises it, makes the surface snow shallower, and improves the walking; but unless it is quite cold, this snow and water is apt to get a slight crust only, through which you sink . . .

(Journal, 9:220)
15 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Pond and across to railroad . . .

  What is there ill music that it should so stir our deeps? We are all ordinarily in a state of desperation; such is our life; ofttimes it drives us to suicide. To how many, perhaps to most, life is barely tolerable, and if it were not for the fear of death or of dying, what a multitude would immediately commit suicide! But let us hear a strain of music, we are at once advertised of a life which no man had told us of, which no preacher preaches. Suppose I try to describe faithfully the prospect which a strain of music exhibits to me. The field of my life becomes a boundless plain, glorious to tread, with no death nor disappointment at the end of it. All meanness and trivialness disappear. I become adequate to any deed . . .

(Journal, 9:222)
16 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  I observe that the holes which I bored in the white maples last spring were nearly grown over last summer, commonly to within a quarter or an eighth of an inch, but in one or two instances, in very thriftily growing trees, they were entirely closed . . .

(Journal, 9:224)
17 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau has an ambrotype taken, documented by Ellen Emerson in a letter to her father:

  Mr Thoreau has been here twice this week, once to dinner and once to tea. He went to have his Ambrotype taken to-day, and such a shocking, spectral, black and white picture as Eddy brought home in triumph was never seen. I am to carry it back and poor Mr Thoreau has got to go again (ETE, 1:125).
18 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A very cold day. Thermometer at 7:30 A.M., -14° (Smith’s hanging on same nail -20°); at 1.15 P.M., -3°; 2.15 P. M., -4°; 3.45 P.M., 0°. It is cloudy and no sun all day, and considerable wind also. There was no Sabbath-school on account of the cold; could not warm the room.

  We sometimes think that the inferior animals act foolishly, but are there any greater fools than mankind? Consider how so many, perhaps most, races . . . treat the traveller; what fears and prejudices has he to contend with. So many millions believing that he has to come [to] do them some harm. Let a traveller set out to go round the world, visiting every race, and he shall meet with such treatment at their hands that he will be obliged to pronounce them incorrigible fools. Even in Virginia a naturalist who was seen crawling through a meadow catching frogs, etc. was seized and carried before the authorities . . .

(Journal, 9:225-226)
19 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A snow-storm with very high wind all last night and to-day. Though not much snow falls (perhaps seven or eight inches), it is exceedingly drifted, so that the first train gets down about noon . . .
(Journal, 9:226)
20 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  There probably is not more than twelve to fifteen inches of snow on a level, yet the drifts are very large. Neither milkman nor butcher got here yesterday, and to-day the milkman came with oxen, partly through the fields . . .

  At R. W. E.’s this evening, at about 6 P.M., I was called out to see Eddy’s cave in the snow. It was a hole about two and a half feet wide and six feet long, into a drift, a little winding, and he had got a lamp at the inner extremity. I observed, as I approached in a course at right angles with the length of the cave, that the mouth of the cave was lit as if the light were close to it, so that I did not suspect its depth . . . But, what was most surprising to me, when Eddy crawled into the extremity of his cave and shouted at the top of his voice, it sounded ridiculously faint, as if he were a quarter of a mile off, and at first I could not believe that he spoke loud, but we all of us crawled in by turns, and though our heads were only six feet from those outside, our loudest shouting only amused and surprised them . . .

(Journal, 9:227-228)

Ellen Emerson writes to her father, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

  Mr Thoreau was here night before last and Eddy illuminated his snow cave and called out to us; we couldn’t hear what he said though we were close to the mouth of the cave and Mr Thoreau said “Speak louder” so Eddy spoke again and we could hear some very feeble words. Then Mr Thoreau told him to holla as loud as he could, but we heard only very weak squeaks. Then Mr Thoreau was very surprised, as he said he could hardly believe Eddy was calling loud, and he went in himself and shouted and it sounded as if someone was in trouble over the brook near Mr Stow’s. And Eddy went in and peeped and that sounded very feeble. Mr Thoreau thought that the snow sucked up the sound. Then he said he should like to see how transparent snow was, and we dug into the snow-drift a hole with one side 4 inches thick and one 14 and about 6 inches from the top, then we put the lamp in and walled it up with a block of snow eight inches thick, through the four inches one could see to read, through the fourteen the lamp shone bright and shining like a lantern—a Norwegian would think it was a Troll-mount. Mr Thoreau was quite delighted and so we all were with our experiments.
(ETE, 1:127-28)
21 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up river to W. Wheeler’s Bridge and back by road . . .

  It is remarkable how many tracks of foxes you will see quite near the village, where they have been in the night, and yet a regular walker will not glimpse one oftener than once in eight or ten years.

(Journal, 9:228)
22 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   Snows all day, clearing up at night,—a remarkably fine and dry snow . . .

  P.M.—To Walden.

I asked M[inott]. about Cold Friday. He said, “it was plaguy cold; it stung like a wasp.” He remembers seeing them toss up water in a shoemaker’s shop, usually a very warm place, and when it struck the floor it was frozen and rattled like so many shot. Old John Nutting used to say, “When it is cold it is a sign it’s going to be warm,” and “When it’s warm it’s a sign it’s going to be cold.”

(Journal, 9:229-230)
23 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The coldest day that I remember recording, clear and bright, but very high wind, blowing the snow. Ink froze . . . Walking this afternoon, I notice that the face inclines to stiffen, and the hands and feet get cold soon. On first coming out in very cold weather, I find that I breathe fast, though without walking faster or exerting myself any more than usual . . .
(Journal, 9:230-231)
24 January 1857.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Thermometer about 6.30 A.M. in the bulb!! but Smith’s on the same nail, -30°; Wilds’, early, -16°; Emerson’s, the same; at 9 .15 A.M., ours, -18°; Smith’s, -22° . . . (Journal, 9:231).

Chicago, Ill. Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife:

  Two or three very agreeable persons I find here; among others, tell Henry T., Mr [Benjamin] Wiley, who remains loyal to him, & who, to be sure, invited me to a ride on the prairie; but I told him I had ridden on the prairie to my heart’s content. I advised him to invite Mr T. to a summer expedition with him to the Yellow Stone River, which, I told him, I doubted not Henry would like; & Wiley will, I think, propose something like that to him.
(EL, 5:38-39)
25 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Bittern Rock on river.

  The road beyond Hubbard’s Bridge has been closed by snow for two or three weeks; only the walls show that there has been a road there. Travellers take to the fields . . .

(Journal, 9:231)
26 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another cold morning. None looked early, but about eight it was -14°.

  A.M.—At Cambridge and Boston.

  Saw Boston Harbor frozen over (for some time) . . .

(Journal, 9:232)

Thoreau borrows Jesuit Relation, vols. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26, and Beverley’s or Campbell’s History of Virginia from Harvard Library (Cameron 1964, 291).

27 January 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Thawing a little at last. Thermometer 35°.

  The most poetic and truest account of objects is generally by those who first observe them, or the discoverers of them . . .

  I hear the unusual sound of pattering rain this afternoon, though it is not yet in earnest. Thermometer to-day commonly at 38°. Wood in the stove is slow to burn; often goes out with this dull atmosphere. But it is less needed.

  10 P.M.—Hear music below. It washes the dust off my life and everything I look at . . .

(Journal, 9:232-234)
28 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Walden.

  Notice many heaps of leaves on snow on the hillside southwest of the pond, as usual. Probably the rain and thaw have brought down some of them . . .

(Journal, 9:234)
31 January 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Snows fast, turning to rain at last (Journal, 9:234)
1 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  3 P.M.—Down railroad . . .

  A laborer on the railroad tells me it is Candlemas Day (February 2d) to-morrow and the winter half out. “Half your wood and half your hay,” . . . and as that day is, so will be the rest of the winter . . .

(Journal, 9:235)
2 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The snow-crust on all hills and knolls is now marked by the streams of water that have flowed down it, like a coarsely combed head; i.e., the unbroken crust is in alternate ridges and furrows from the tops of the hills to the bottoms . . .
(Journal, 9:235)
3 February 1857. Fitchburg, Mass.
Thoreau delivers a lecture, “Walking, or the Wild,” at Fitchburg City Hall.

He also writes in his journal:

  To Fitchburg to lecture.

  Observed that the Nashua at the bridge beyond Groton Junction was open for twenty rods, as the Concord is not anywhere in Concord. This must be owing to the greater swiftness of the former . . .

(Journal, 9:235-236)
4 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Met Theodore Parker in the cars, who told me that he had recently found in Lake Michigan a single ball, five inches in diameter, like those I presented to the Natural History Society, though he did not observe the eriocaulon. It was late in the season . . .  Sometimes when, in conversation or a lecture, I have been grasping at, or even standing and reclining upon, the serene and everlasting truths that underlie and support our vacillating life, I have seen my auditors standing on their terra firma, the quaking earth, crowded together on their Lisbon Quay, and compassionately or timidly watching my motions as if they were he antics of a rope-dance or mounteback pretending to walk on air: or here and there on creeping out upon an overhanging but cracking bough, unwilling to drop to the adamantine floor beneath, or perchance even venturing out a step or two, as if it were a dangerous kittly-bender, timorously sounding as he goes . . .

  So, when I have been resting and quenching my thirst on the eternal plains of truth, where rests the base of those beautiful columns that sustain the heavens, I have been amused to see a traveller who had long confined himself to the quaking shore, which was all covered with the traces of the deluge, come timidly tiptoeing toward me, trembling in every limb.

(Journal, 9:238-239)
5 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mizzling rain (Journal, 9:239).
6 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Down the railroad to see the glaze, the first we have had this year, but not a very good one. It is about a fifth or sixth of an inch thick on the northeast sides of twigs . . . not transparent, but of an opaque white, granular character . . .
(Journal, 9:240)

Thoreau writes a letter to H.G.O. Blake:

Mr. Blake,

  I will come to you on Friday Feb. 13th with that lecture. You may call it “The Wild”—or “Walking” or both—whichever you choose. I told [Theo] Brown that it had not been much altered since I read it in Worcester, but now I think of it, much of it must have been new to you, because, having since divided it into two, I am able to read what before I omitted. Nevertheless, I should like to have it understood by those whom it concerns, that I am invited to read in public (if it be so) what I have already read, in part, to a private audience.

  Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 465).
7 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am surprised to see over Walden Pond, which is covered with puddles, that seething or shimmering in the air which is observed over the fields in a warm day in summer, close over the ice for several feet in height, notwithstanding that the sky is completely overcast . . . It is so warm that I am obliged to take off my greatcoat and carry it on my arm . . .
(Journal, 9:243)
8 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I congratulate myself on my so-called poverty. I was almost disappointed yesterday to find thirty dollars in my desk which I did not know that I possessed, though now I should be sorry to lose it. The week that I go away to lecture, however much I may get for it, is unspeakably cheapened. The preceding and succeeding days are a mere sloping down and up from it.
In the society of many men, or in the midst of what is called success, I find my life of no account, and my spirits rapidly fall . . . But when I have only a rustling oak leaf, or the faint metallic cheep of a tree sparrow, for variety in my winter walk, my life becomes continent and sweet as the kernel of a nut . . .

  P.M.—To Hubbard Bath . . .

(Journal, 9:245-246)
10 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The thaw which began on the 4th lasted through the 8th.  When I surveyed Shattuck’s pasture fields, about January 10th. I was the more pleased wit the task because of the three will-rows about them. One, trimmed a year before, had grown about seven feet, a dense hedge of bright-yellow osiers. But MacManus, who was helping with me, said that he though the land would be worth two hundred dollars more if the willows were out of the way, they so filled the ground with their roots. He had found that you could not plow within five rods of them, unless at right angles with the rows . . .
(Journal, 9:250-251)
11 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The meadows, flooded by the that of the last half of last week and Sunday, are now frozen hard enough to bear, and it is excellent skating.  Near the other swamp white oak on Shattuck’s piece I found another caterpillar on the ice. [B]eing placed on the mantelpiece it soon became relaxed, and in fifteen minutes began to crawl . . .
(Journal, 9:253)

On 11 February 1857, the Worcester Daily Spy published an item praising Thoreau’s recent Fitchburg on “The Wild” the week before and notes that it will be repeated on 13 February at Brinley Hall.

12 February 1857. Worcester, Mass.

Thoreau travels to Worcester to deliver his lecture “Walking, or the Wild.”

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I observe that the Nashua in Lancaster has already fallen about three feet, as appears by the ice on the trees, walls, banks, ect., though the main stream of the Concord has not begun to fall at all (Journal, 9:254)
13 February 1857. Worcester, Mass.

On 14 February, Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Higginson told me yesterday of a large tract near Fayal and near Pico (Mountain), covered with the reindeer (?) (as I suggested and he assented) lichens, very remarkable and desolate, extending for miles, the effect of an earthquake, which will in course of time be again clothed with a larger vegetation . . .
(Journal, 9:254-255)

Thoreau delivers “Walking, or The Wild” at Brinley Hall, Worcester.

14 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Higginson told me yesterday of a large tract near Fayal and near Pico (Mountain), covered with the reindeer (?) (as I suggested and he assented) lichens, very remarkable and desolate, extending for miles . . .

  It is a fine, somewhat springlike day. The ice is softening so that skates begin to cut in, and numerous caterpillars are now crawling about on the ice and snow . . .

(Journal, 9:254-255)
15 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  About the 1st of January, when I was surveying the Lee farm, Captain Elwell, the proprietor, asked me how old I thought the house was.

  I looked into Shattuck’s History and found that, according to him, “Henry Woodhouse, or Woodis, as his name was sometimes written, came to Concord from London, about 1650, freeman 1656 . . .

When I returned from Worcester yesterday morning, I found that the Lee house, of which six weeks ago I made an accurate plan, had been completely burned up the evening before, i.e. the 13th, while I was lecturing in Worcester . . . There was nothing of the house left but the chimneys and cellar walls. The eastern chimney had fallen in the night . . .

  This morning (the 15th), it having rained in the night, and thinking the fire would be mostly out, I made haste to the ruins of the Lee house to read that inscription. By laying down boards on the bricks and cinders, which were quite too hot to tread on and covered a smothered fire, I was able to reach the chimney. The inscription was on the cast side of the east chimney (which had fallen) . . .

(Journal, 9:256-258)
16 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 A.M.—To Lee house site again.

  It was a rough-cast house when I first knew it. The fire still glowing among the bricks in the cellar. Richard Barrett says he remembers the inscription and the date 1650, but not the rest distinctly . . .

(Journal, 9:262-265)

Ticknor & Fields sends a check for $45.00 for sales in 1856 of 240 copies of Walden and 6 copies of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 465-466)
17 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Thermometer at 1 P.M., 60°.

  The river is fairly breaking up, and men are out with guns after muskrats, and even boats. Some are apprehending loss of fruit from this warm weather. It is as open as the 3d of April last year, at least.

  P.M.—To the old Hunt house . . .

(Journal, 9:265-266)

Isaiah Williams writes to Thoreau:

  I came home from Cleveland and found yours of the 7th inst. I had an idea the map of Superior [indecipherable word]” (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 466).
18 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another remarkably warm and pleasant day. The nights of late nearly as warm as the day.

  When I step out into the, yard I hear that earliest spring note from some bird, perhaps a pigeon woodpecker (or can it be a nuthatch, whose ordinary note I hear?), the rapid whar whar, whar whar, whar whar, which I have so often heard before any other note.

  I thought at one time that I heard a bluebird. Hear a fly buzz amid some willows.

  Thermometer at 1 P.M., 65.

  Sophia says that Mrs. Brooks’s spireas have started considerably! . . .

(Journal, 9:266-271)
19 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mr. Cheney tells me that Goodwin brought him a partridge to sell in the midst of the late severe weather. [William Ellery] C[hanning]. said it was a pity to kill it, it must find it hard to get a living. “I guess she did n’t find it any harder than I do,” answered G[oodwin] . . .
(Journal, 9:272-273)
20 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  this morning the ground is once more covered about one inch deep.

  Minott says that the house he framed and set up by Captain Isaac Hoar just beyond the old house by Moore’s, this side the one he was born in, his mother’s (?) house (whose well is that buried by Alcott on the sidewalk), and there the frame stood several years . . .

  I wish that there was in every town, in some place accessible to the traveller, instead [of] or beside the common directories, etc., a list of the worthies of the town, i.e. of those who are worth seeing . . .

(Journal, 9:273-275)
21 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Am surprised to see this afternoon a boy collecting red maple sap from some trees behind George Hubbard’s. It runs freely. The earliest sap I made to flow last year was March 14th. It must be owing to the warm weather we have had.

  The river for some days has been open and its sap visibly flowing, like the maple.

(Journal, 9:275)
22 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Dugan Desert.

  The Tonnmy Wheeler house, like the Hunt house, has the sills projecting inside. Its bricks are about the same size with those of the Lee chimney . . . I think that by the size of the bricks you cannot tell the age of an old house within fifty years.

(Journal, 9:275-276)

Thomas Cholmondeley writes to Thoreau:

Dear Thoreau

  You see I’ve saved this letter which is the best I ever wrote you (for I burnt the rest) & posted it in Town. For Rome being so uncertain a Post I thought `better wait till I get to Town’; & send it properly.

  I am just going now on an expedition to search for a little cottage somewhere in Kent or Sussex where I may henceforth dwell & endeavour to gather a little moss. I hope to get a few acres of land with it on lease—for as to buying, it is almost out of the question. They ask about £500 an acre now for anything like decent in the land in England. In fact land is worth too much. It is a shame. I suppose I could buy a good farm in new England for £2000 couldnt I? I shouldn’t wonder if I was to settle in New England after all—for ties which hold me here are very slender.

  However if I do succeed in getting my cottage in Kent remember there will be a room for you there, & as much as ever you can eat & drink. I am staying in town with my brother Reginald who is a painter, & has very agreeable rooms. He is very good to me & trots me out to see people whom otherwise I should scarcely be able to meet.

  I heard [Frederick] Maurice preach today in Lincolns Inn. It was on Faith, Hope, & Charity. He explained that this charity is not human—but Divine—& to be enjoyed in communion with God. It was a good & strictly orthodox sermon, & not extempore in any sense. I called at John Chapmans the other day, but he was out, being they said engaged in one of the Hospitals. He has turned Doctor it seems. The fact is I fear that Chapman has done himself mischief by publishing books containing new views & philosophy which the English from the Lord to the Cabmen hate & sneer at. The very beggars in the streets are all conservatives except on the subject of their sores. To speculate in thought in this country in ruin—& sure to lead if persuaded that the Turks & the Chinese are nothing to us. Perhaps we are more like the Japanese than any other people—I mean as regards what Swedenborg would call “our interiors.” The prophets prophesy as they did among the ancient Hebrews & the smooth prophets bear away the bells.

  I met [James] Spedding the other day & had much talk with him but nothing real—but he is a good man & in expression like your Alcott. He is now bringing out his Bacon the work of his whole life. Farewell

  Ever yrs
  Thos Chol.ley

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 466-467)
23 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—See two yellow-spotted tortoises in the ditch south of Trillium Wood . You saunter expectant in the mild air along the soft edge of a ditch filled with melted snow and paved with leaves, in some slucltered place, yet perhaps with some ice at one end still, and are thrilled to see stirring amid the leaves at the bottom, sluggishly burying themselves from your sight again, these brilliantly spotted creatures . . .  I have not yet known a friendship to cease, I think. I fear I experienced its decaying. Morning, noon, and night, I suffer a physical pain, an aching of the breast which unfits me for my tasks. It is perhaps most intense at evening. With respect to Friendship I feel like a wreck that is driving before the gale, with a crew suffering from hunger and thirst, not knowing what shore, if any, they may reach, so long have I breasted the conflicting waves of this sentiment, my seams open, my timbers laid bare. I float on Friendship’s sea simply because my specific gravity is less than its, but no longer that stanch and graceful vessel that careered so buoyantly over it . . .
(Journal, 9:276-278)

Bellvale, NY. John Burt writes to Thoreau:

Dear Sir,  If I was in a Lyceum Lecture Committee I would use my greatest efforts to engage you to deliver a Lecture as I perceive your name in among a list published a short time since. But as I do not occupy any such influential position in this Community I suppose I will have to forgo for the present a long cherished wish to see and hear you. To compensate for this deprivation I would most respectfully solicit your Autograph.

I have read your Hermit Life and also a very appropriate Fourth of July Oration on Slavery in Massachusetts. To say that I greatly admired both would be but an inadequate expression.

A compliance with the above request will be gratefully remembered by

Yours Truly
John Burt
Bellvale Orange Co N.Y.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 468)
24 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A fine spring morning. The ground is almost completely bare again. There has been a frost in the night. Now, at 8.30, it is melted and wets my feet like a dew. The water on the meadow this still, bright morning is smooth as in April. I am surprised to hear the strain of a song sparrow from the riverside, and as I cross from the causeway to the hill, thinking of the bluebird, I that instant hear one’s note from deep in the softened air . . .

  If I should make the least concession, my friend would spurn me. I am obeying his law as well as my own.

  Where is the actual friend you love? Ask from what hill the rainbow’s arch springs! It adorns and crowns the earth.

  Our friends are our kindred, of our species. There are very few of our species on the globe . . .

  P.M.—To Walden . . .

(Journal, 9:278-280)
25 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I hear of lilac buds expanding, but have not looked at them. I go through the woods behind the Kettle place. The leaves rustle and look all dry on the ground in the woods, as if quite ready to burn. The flies buzz out of doors. Though I left my outside coat at home, this single thick one is too much. I go across the Great Fields to Peter’s, but can see no ducks in the meadows . . .
(Journal, 9:280)
26 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Cold and windy. The river fast going down. Paint the bottom of my boat . . . (Journal, 9:281).

Thoreau replies to John Burt’s 23 February request for an autograph:

  ”Herein is the tragedy; that men doing outrage to their proper natures, even those called wise & good, lend themselves to perform the office of inferior and brutal ones. Hence come war and slavery in; and what else may not come in by this opening?”

  A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers-p 137.

  Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 469)

New York. Amos Bronson Alcott writes to his wife:

  Call again and find Rowse, whose portraits please me, for their fineness and delicacy. He has taken Henry Thoreau, but made a gentleman of him, which is no improvement plainly on Silenus; “gentle boy” though there be in the whistle of him some where, and apparently in the memory—, after he leaves the parlour often.
(ABAL, 234)
27 February 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Before I opened the window this cold morning, I heard the peep of a robin, that sound so often heard in cheerless or else rainy weather, so often heard first borne on the cutting March wind or through sleet or rain, as if its coming were premature.

  P.M.—To the Hill.

  The river has skimmed over again in many places. I see many crows on the hillside, with their sentinel on a tree . . .

(Journal, 9:281)

Ticknor & Fields of Boston requests 12 more copies of Week from Thoreau (The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 469).

28 February 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff.

  I see the track, apparently of a muskrat (?),—about five inches wide with very sharp and distinct trail of tail,—on the snow and thin ice over the little rill in the Miles meadow . . .

(Journal, 9:282-283)
February or March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau meets John Brown and spends the afternoon talking with him (EJ, 9:81-82; Sanborn 1909, 1:101-5).
[Brown was visiting Sanborn and took his noon meal at the Thoreau’s, He told Thoreau about his battle in Kansas the previous June. Emerson, returning from a lecture tour, was also introduced to Brown.]

2 March 1857. Cambridge, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At Cambridge. Very gusty day. An inch or two of snow falls,—all day about it,—and strangely blown away (Journal, 9:285).

Thoreau charges out Morton’s New English Canaan … Abstract of New England from Harvard Library (Cameron 1964, 291).

3 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Hill . . .

  The red maple sap, which I first noticed the 21st of February, is now frozen up in the auger-holes and thence down the trunk to the ground, except in one place where the hole was made in the south side of the tree . . . Skating yesterday and to-day.

(Journal, 9:285-287)
5 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hill.

  See the tracks of a woodchuck in the sand-heap about the mouth of his hole, where he has cleared out his entry (Journal, 9:287-288).

8 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hill.

  When I cut a white pine twig the crystalline sap in-stantly exudes. How long has it been thus? Get a glimpse of a hawk, the first of the season. The tree sparrows sing a little on this still sheltered and sunny side of the hill,but not elsewhere.

(Journal, 9:288)
11 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see and talk with [William] Rice, sawing off the ends of clapboards which he has planed, to make them square, for an addition to his house. He has got a fire in his shop, and plays at house-building there. His life is poetic. He does the work himself . . . Though he lived in a city, he would still be natural and related to primitive nature around him.
(Journal, 9:289)
12 March 1857. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hill.

  Observe the waxwork twining about the smooth sumach. It winds against the sun. It is at first loose about the stem, but this ere long expands to and overgrows it. Observed the track of a squirrel in the snow under one, of the apple trees on the southeast side of the hill, and, looking up, saw a red squirrel with a nut or piece of frozen apple (?) in his mouth . . .

(Journal, 9:289-290)
13 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Captain E. P. Dorr of Buffalo tells me that there is a rise and fall daily of the [Great] lakes about two or three inches, not accounted for. A difference between the lakes and sea is that when there is no wind the former are quite smooth . . .
(Journal, 290-291)
14 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A warmer day at last. It has been steadily cold and windy, with repeated light snows, since February 26th came in. This afternoon is comparatively warm, and the few signs of spring are more reliable . . .
(Journal, 9:292)
15 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hubbard’s Close and Walden (Journal, 9:293-294).
16 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Cambridge and Boston (Journal, 9:295).

Thoreau borrows Grey’s Memoria Technica; New Method of Artificial Memory from Harvard Library (Cameron 1964, 291).

On or near this date, Thoreau wrote to [Thomas] Cholmondeley to tell him that he cannot find the catalog [Thomas] Cholmondeley speaks of, but tells him that he might look at Obadia Rich’s Bibliothecae America Nova published in London (MS letter, NNPM).

17 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  These days, beginning with the 14th, more springlike. Last night it rained a little, carrying off nearly all the little snow that remained, but this morning it is fair, and I hear the note of the woodpecker on the elms (that early note) and the bluebird again. Launch my boat.

  No mortal is alert enough to be present at the first dawn of the spring, but lie will presently discover some evidence that vegetation had awaked some days at least before . . .

(Journal, 9:295-296)
18 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  9 A.M.—Up Assabet.

  A still and warm but overcast morning, threatening rain. I now again hear the song sparrow’s tinkle along the riverside, probably to be heard for a day or two, and a robin, which also has been heard a day or two. The ground is almost completely bare, and but little ice forms at night along the riverside.

  I meet Goodwin paddling up the still, dark river on his first voyage to Fair Haven for the season, looking for muskrats and from time to time picking up driftwood—logs and boards, etc.—out of the water and laying it up to dry on the bank, to eke out his wood-pile with . . .

(Journal, 9:296-298)
19 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [O]bserved yesterday a dead shiner by the riverside, and to-day the first sucker (Journal, 9:298).
20 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Dine with Agassiz at R.W.E.’s. He thinks that lie suckers die of asphyxia, having very large air-bladders and being in the habit of coining to the surface for air. But then, he is thinking of a different phenomenon from the one I speak of, which last is confined to the very earliest spring or winter . . .
(Journal, 9:298-299)
24 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Paddle up Assabet.

  The water is fast going down. See a small waterbug. It is pretty still and warm. As I round the Island rock, a striped squirrel that was out [on] the steel) polypody rock scampered up with a chuckle . . .

(Journal, 9:299-301)
26 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Walden an Fair Haven . . .

  As I come out of the Spring Woods I see Abiel Wheeler planting peas and covering them up on his warm sandy hillside, in the hollow next the woods.

(Journal, 9:301-304)
27 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  There is no snow now visible front my window, except on the heel of a bank in the swallowhole behind Dennis’s. A sunny day, but rather cold air.

  8.30 A.M.—Up Assabet in boat.

  At last I push myself gently through the smooth and sunny water, sheltered by the Island woods and hill, where I listen for birds, etc. There I may expect to hear a woodpecker tapping the rotten aspen tree. There I pause to hear the faint voice of some early bird amid the twigs of the still wood-side. You are pretty sure to bear a woodpecker early in the morning over these still waters. But now chiefly there comes borne on the breeze the tinkle of the song sparrow along the riverside, and I push out into wind and current. Leave the boat and run down to the white maples by the bridge . . .

(Journal, 9:304-307)
28 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8.30 A.M.—Up river to Fair Haven by boat.

  A pleasant morning; the song of the earliest birds, i.e. tree sparrows, (now decidedly) and song sparrows and bluebirds, in the air. A red-wing’s gurgle from a willow . . .

(Journal, 9:307-311)

Thoreau writes to Ricketson:

Friend Ricketson,—

  If it chances to be perfectly agreeable and convenient to you, I will make you a visit next week, say Wednesday or Thursday, and we will have some more rides to Assawampset and the seashore. Have you got a boat on the former yet? Who knows but we may camp out on the island?

  I propose this now, because it will be more novel to me at this season, and I should like to see your early birds, &c.

  Your historical papers have all come safely to hand, and I thank you for them. I see that they will me indispensable, memories por servier By the way, have you read Church’s History of Philip’s War, and looked up the localities? It should make part of a chapter.

  I had a long letter from Cholmondeley lately, which I should like to show you.

  I will expect an answer to this straightaway—but be sure you let your own convenience and inclination rule it.

  Yours truly,
  Henry D. Thoreau

P.S.—Please remember me to your family.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 470)
29 March 1857.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Walden and river.

  Walden open, say to-day, though there is still a little ice in the deep southern bay and a very narrow edging along the southern shore.

  Cross through the woods to my boat under Fair Haven Hill. How empty and silent the woods now, before the leaves have put forth or thrushes and warblers are come! . . .

(Journal, 9:311-312)

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Thoreau,—

  I have just received your note of the 28th at my brother’s, and hasten a reply for the Post Office before I leave for Brooklawn.

  Nothing would give me more pleasure than a visit from you at any time. It will be perfectly agreeable to myself and family at this present time, and I shall duly expect you on Wednesday or Thursday. Should this reach you in time for an answer, I will be at Tarkiln Hill station to meet you; if not, make your appearance as early as you wish. You can leave your baggage at the depot, and I will send for it if you do not find me or our carriage in waiting.

  As Channing did not make his usual appearance, yesterday p.m., I conclude that he is with you today, and if he leaves before Wednesday or Thursday, you may like to have his company hereward. We are getting on very nicely together.

  The early birds are daily coming. Song sparrows, bluebirds, robins, meadow larks, blackbirds (“Gen. Abercrombies”) are already here, frogs croaking, but not piping yet, and the spring quite genial.

  My historical sketches have kept me quite busy, but agreeably so during the past winter. They are quite to my surprise, very popular. I should have hardly supposed that my homely habits are homlier style of composition would have suited many.

  Should Channing be in Concord and in the humor, he can report my home affairs more fully, if you wish.

  Remember me to your parents and sister and other friends, particularly the Emersons.

  I write at my brother’s, and in the midst of conversation, in which I am participating. You will perceive this is not a Shanty letter, but I am none the less cordially yours,

D. Ricketson

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 471)
30 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau surveys land that his father bought from Julius M. Smith (Moss, 11; MS of plan for the lot, NNPM).

31 March 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A very pleasant day. Spent a part of it in the garden preparing to set out fruit trees. It is agreeable once more to put a spade into the warm mould . . .

  P.M.—To Hill.

  As I rise the east side of the Hill, I hear the distant faint peep of hylodes and the tut tut of croaking frogs from the west of the Hill . . .

  An Irishman is digging a ditch for a foundation wall to a new shop where James Adams shop stood. He tells me that he dug up three cannon-balls just in the rear of the shop lying within a foot of each other and about eighteen inches beneath the surface . . .

(Journal, 9:312-314)

Thoreau plots a cemetery lot for Louis A. Surrette (Moss, 11).

1 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 A.M.—Up Assabet.
See an Emys guttata sunning on the forgotten whether I ever saw it in this river. Hear a phoebe, and this morning the tree sparrows sing very sweetly about Keyes’s arbor-vitae and Cheney’s pines and apple trees . . .
(Journal, 9:315)

Thoreau writes to Daniel Ricketson:

Dear Ricketson,  

  I got your note of welcome night before last. Channing is not here, at least I have not seen nor heard of him, but depend on meeting him in New Bedford. I expect if the weather is favorable, to take the 4 :30 train from Boston tomorrow, Thursday, pm—for I hear of no noon train, and shall be glad to find your wagon at Tarkiln Hill, for I see it will be rather late for going across lots.

  Alcott was here last week, and will probably visit New Bedford withing a week or 2.

  I have seen all the spring signs you mention and a few more, even here. Nay I heard one frog peep nearly a week ago, methinks the very first one in all this region. I wish that there were a new more signs

  Spring in myself—however, I take it that there are as many within us as we think we hear without us. I am decent for steady pace but not yet for a race. I have a little cold at present, & you speak of rheumatism about the head & shoulders. Your frost is not quite out. I suppose that the earth itself has a little cold & rheumatism about these times, but all these things together produce a very fair general result. In a concert, you know, we must sing our parts feebly sometimes that we may not injure the general effect. I shouldn’t wonder if my two-year old invalidity has been a positively charming feature to some amateurs favorable located. Why not a blasted man, as well as a blasted tree, on your lawn? If you should happen not to see me by the train named, do not go again, but wait at home for me, or a note from

  Henry D Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 472-473)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Spend the day at home with Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott; I find him a genial, highly gifted man. H. D. Thoreau arrived to-night from Concord; met him at Tarkiln Hill . . . [It is possible Ricketson is in error about the date of Thoreau’s arrival, considering Thoreau’s 1 April letter.] (Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 300).
2 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Go to New Bedford.

  A great change in the weather. I set out apple trees yesterday, but in the night it was very cold, with snow, which is now several inches deep. On the sidewalk in Cambridge I see a toad, which apparently hopped out from under a fence last evening, frozen quite hard in a sitting posture. Carried it into Boston in my pocket, but could not thaw it into life . . .

(Journal, 9:315)

Amos Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Henry Thoreau comes to tea. Also [William] Ellery Channing . . . and all talk till into the evening late . . . (ABAJ, 298).
3 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In [Daniel] Ricketson’s shanty. [Daniel] R[icketson]. has seen white-bellied swallows more than a week. I walk down the side of the river and see Walton’s ice-boat left on the bank.

  Hear [Daniel] R[icketson]. describing to Alcott his bachelor uncle James Thornton. When he awakes in the morning he lights the fire in his stove (all prepared) with a match on the end of a stick, without getting up. When he gets up he first attends to his ablutions, being personally very clean, cuts off a head of tobacco to clean his teeth with, eats a hearty breakfast, sometimes, it was said, even buttering his sausages. Then he goes to a relative’s store and reads the Tribune till dinner, sitting in a corner with his back to those who enter. Goes to his boarding-house and dines, eats an apple or two, then in the afternoon frequently goes about the solution of some mathematical problem (having once been a schoolmaster), which often employs him a week.

(Journal, 9:316-317)

Amos Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  A.M. In house and shanty, Thoreau and [Daniel] Ricketson treating of nature and the wild. Thoreau has visited R. before and won him as a disciple, though not in the absolute way he has [Harrison Gray Otis] Blake if Worcester, whose love for his genius partakes of the exceeding tenderness of women, and is a pure Platonism in the fineness and delicacy of the devotee’s sensibilities. But [Daniel] R[icketson]. is himself, and plays the manly part in the matter, defending himself against the master’s twistiness and tough ‘thoroughcraft’ with spirit and ability.
(ABAJ, 298)

Ricketson also writes in his journal:

  Spent the day at home, in the Shanty during the forenoon with Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott and Thoreau talked on high themes, rather religious. Alcott walked to town this P.M. Thoreau and I walked as far as Woodlee with him, parted, and we crossed to the railroad and so up to Tarkiln Hill, and through the woods thence home. [William Ellery] Channing and [Amos Bronson]Alcott walked up from town together to tea.
(Ricketson, 300)
4 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Walk down the shore of the river.  A Dutchman pushes out in his skiff after quahogs . . . [Daniel] R[icketson. tells me that he found dead in his piazza the south side of his house, the 23rd of last January, the snow being very deep and the thermometer -12° at sunrise, a warbler, which he sent to Brewer . . .
(Journal, 9:317)
5 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Arthur R[icketson]. has been decking a new Vineyard boat which he has bought, and making a curb about the open part . . . Walked round by the ruins of the factory . . . (Journal, 9:318).
6 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To New Bedford Library. Mr. Ingraham, the librarian, says that he once saw frog-spawn in New Bedford the 4th of March. Take out Emmon’s Report on the insects injurious to vegetation in New York . . . (Journal, 9:319).
7 April 1857.

New Bedford, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Tuesday. Went to walk in the woods. When I had got half  a mile or more away in the woods alone, and was sitting on a rock, was surprised to be joined by [Daniel] R[icketson].’s large Newfoundland dog, Ranger, who had smelled me out and so tracked me. Would that I could add his woodcraft to my own . . . At sundown I went out to gather bayberries to make tallow of . . .
(Journal, 9:320-231)

From Woodlawn, New Bedford,  Amos Bronson Alcott writes to his wife:

  [William Ellery] Channing also passed the Sunday, and seems saner, & sounder than heretofore when Hillside and its inmates knew him and his caprices untold, if not unendurable . . . I know not whether he is the more solitary than others; no more so perhaps than Thoreau, whom Nature would marry if he would once consent to the nuptials; but the cold coy Boy will not listen it seems, still Adam still aloof naming his beasts and birds, his earliest flowers and friends; feeling, yet not finding himself alone without his Eve building from his side to animate and humanize the wilderness of his Paradise which without woman is solitary and desolate—the unbreasted Sphynx, weather—and way-sore, and a peril.—For nature, unless wooed and won through womanly love, is ever the fanged Dragon to snap up the mortal man or woman drawn toward her by the brute affections, these never solving life’s riddles.—But of this Gemini- of Thoreau and [William Ellery] Channing—for this present, more than enough of them and their significance here for you . . .
(ABAL, 240)

Chicago, Illinois. Benjamin B. Wiley writes to Thoreau:

Mr Thoreau

  In January I was in Providence a short time and had a walls with Newcomb at Narragansett Bay. Since you heard from me I have learned more of him and I find your statements fall short of the truth. He has thrown light on doubts with which I was wrestling. Reading is useful but it may be long before one finds what he is in search of and when a man or a saint appears who can help us solve the problem we cannot be too grateful. This acquaintance is one of the results of my pregnant Concord visit. Then Emerson told me that if we needed each other we should be brought together. I have had some illustrations of this and perhaps accept the remark as irrefrangably true.

  I want in this material atmosphere some breath from the hills of Concord. Will you favor me with a copy of the “Wild & Walking” Do not disappoint me. I want it for my own reading mainly, though I may sometimes read it to friends. I of course do not want it for publication. I trust I shall have a copy in your own hand

  I have read much Plato; some of it with almost a wild delight. Many of the biographies I have read with equal or perhaps greater interest. I like to have principles illustrated by actual life. He (Carlyle) is a wondrous clear & reverent thinker. S for an obscure faulty style in him, I have yet to discover it.

  Leaves of Grass I read and I appreciate Walt’s pure freedom & humanity

  Plutarch’s Morals I have more recently commenced. This I shall take in gradually as I did the Iliad. I could have wished that in the letter those good enough fellows had been less ready to annihilate each other with big stones “such as two men could not now lift.” The morning of the 1st we had a hard storm of the Lake and I walked along the “much—resounding sea” for a long distance seeing it dash grandly against the pier. I wish you had been there with me.

  Heroes & Hero Worship I intend to read soon. Montaigne I have read with much interest. I have given you those names to inquire whether you think of any other valuable books not too abstruse for me. Books of a half biographical character have great charm for me. I have read none of the German authors. I think Wilhelm Meister may be full of meaning to me. I hope Goethe is that great universal man that Carlyle accounts him. His auto-biography I suppose is valuable. Dont think I am reading at random. I have a place for all true thoughts on my own subjects. Now and then I return and read again and again my leading books so that they become my intimate friends and help me to test my own life. If it be not unfair to ask an author what he means I would inquire what I am to understand when in your list of employments given in Walden you say “I long ago lost a hound a bay-horse and a turtle-dove.” If I transgress let the question pass unnoticed.

  For myself I make fictitious employments. I am not satisfied with much that I do. Exultingly should I hail that wherein I could give exercise to my best powers for an end of unquestionable value.

   With one and only one here do I have really valuable hours. Rev R R Shippen. He is a true man—working, living, hoping, strong. I have not been to his church yet, wicked rebel that I am, but I may soon attend, though again I amy not In private however he tells me of his sermons and necessarily speaks to me as he could not in an assembly. He tells me that lately from “we are members one of another” he told the of their duties as members of a Christian church and threatened if he were not more zealously seconded to “shake off the dust from his feet and depart out of their city.” I am sorry that this is not mere rhetorical flourish. He will probably leave in the Fall as he must at any rate have rest.

  Among other works you recommended some of Coleridge. I took up his books, but was so repelled by the Trinitarian dogmas that I read almost none. I am very sensitive to that theological dist. As a child I was kept in too much

  Please give my love to Emerson. I trust he carried home pleasanter experiences than the measles

  Your friend
  B B Wiley

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 473-475)
8 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I discovered one convenient use the bayberries served, that if you got your hands pitched in pine woods, you had only rub a parcel of these berries between your hands to start the pitch off. Arthur [Ricketson] said the shoemakers at the Head of the River used to the tallow to rub the soles of their shoes with to make them shine. I gathered a quart in bout twenty minutes with my hands . . .
(Journal, 9:321)

Daniel Ricketson also writes in his journal:

  Clear and fine, spent the day at home. Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott dined at B. Rodman’s. Thoreau made some bayberry tallow in the shanty; walked with him to the rocky cliff beyond Acushnet . . .(Ricketson, 300).
9 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes about watching fishermen in New Bedford:

  A.M.—To the cove south of the town. See them haul two seines. They caught chiefly alewives, from sixty to a hundred at a haul, seine twelve to fifteen feet wide . . . Picked up many handsome scallop shells beyond the ice-houses . . . (Journal, 9:321-2).

Daniel Ricketson also writes in his journal:

  Unsettled. In town with Thoreau. Walton and Thoreau walked around the beach and the west side of Clark’s Cove. Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott’s first conversation at Mrs. Arnold’s this evening; attended with the children, Mr. A[mos Bronson Alcott]. riding with us. Subject, “Descent.: a successful opening . . . (Ricketson. 300).
10 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain. D[aniel]. R[icketson].’s shanty is about half a dozen rods southwest of his house (which may be forty rods from the road), nearly between his house and barn; is twelve by fourteen feet, with seven foot posts, with common pent-roof . . .
(Journal, 9:322-325)
11 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 P.M.—Went to the Head of the River to see them catch smelts. The water there is fresh when the tide is out. They use nets five or six feet square, stretched from the ends of crossed semicircular hoops, at the ends of poles about twelve feet long. The net bags down when raised. There were twenty or thirty fishermen standing close together, half on cash side of the narrow river, each managing one of these nets . . .
(Journal, 9:325-327)
13 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Middleborough ponds. There was no boat on Little Quitticus; so we could not explore it. Set out to walk round it, but, the water being high,—higher than anciently even, on account of dams,—we had to go round a swamp at the south end, about Joe’s Rocks, and [Daniel] R[icketson]. gave it up. I went to Long Pond and waited for him . . .
(Journal, 9:327-330)

Amos Bronson Alcott writes to his wife:

  Thoreau has taken my host away to Middleborough Pond for the day but brings him home to supper, and this evening’s conversation at Charles W. Morgans in town . . . (ABAL, 242).

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Rode to Quitticus Pond with Thoreau, also visited Long Pond, and took our dinner to the old Brady house. Channing came up to tea. Attended third conversation of Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott at C[harles]. W. Morgan’s this evening, the subject, “Diet and Health.” Owing to some supposed disrespect for Christianity and the customs of the Quakers, some members of the society left, although I think from what I know of Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott if they had remained through his course they would have been better satisfied.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 300-301)

In Concord, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote to James Elliot Cabot about books possibly available for the Boston Athenaeum Library:

  My list was so short that it did not seem worth bringing to you. I had marked down some important books, which, on new examination, I found had been added to the library . . . Thoreau has the Upanishads, which English [Thomas] Cholmondeley gave to him. Tis as inestimable little book,—good enough to make me hesitate to put it in the library . . .
(EL, 5:70-71)
14 April 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rains all day (Journal, 9:330).

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  In the Shanty and house conversing on high themes with Mr. [Amos Bronson] Alcott and Thoreau. Walked as far as the blacksmith’s shop (Terry’s) just at night. Talk after tea on races, &c. Dull for want of sleep (Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 301).
15 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Leave New Bedford.

  I had been surprised to find the season more backward, i.e. the vegetation, in New Bedford than in Concord. I could find no alder and willow and hazel catkins and no caltha and saxifrage so forward as in Concord. The ground was a uniform russet when I left, but when I had come twenty miles it was visibly greener, and the greenness steadily increased all the way to Boston. Coming to Boston, and also to Concord, was like coming from early spring to early summer. It was as if a fortnight at least had elapsed. Yet NeNv Bedford is much warmer in the winter. Why is it more backward than Concord? . . .

(Journal, 9:330-331)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  H[enry]. D[avid]. Thoreau and myself left home at 6 A.M. for Tarkiln Hill, but the cars not stopping long enough for him to get on board, he was left and returned home with me. Rode to the depot with him at 10 1/2 A.M. (Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 301).
16 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At Concord. Get birch sap,—two bottles yellow birch and five of black birch, now running freely, though not before I left Concord . . . (Journal, 9:331-332).

Thoreau also writes to Caroline C Andrews:

Miss Caroline C. Andrews,

  I send to you by the same mail with this copy of me “Week.” I was away from home when you arrived, and have but just returned; otherwise you would have received by book earlier.

  Henry D. Thoreau

17 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain. It rains about every other day now for a fortnight past (Journal, 9:332).

Thoreau writes to H.G.O. Blake:

Mr Blake,

  I returned from New Bedford night before last. I met Alcott there & learned from him that probably you had gone to Concord. I am very sorry that I missed you I bad expected you earlier, & at last thought that I should get back before you came, but I ought to have notified you of my absence. However, it would have been too late, after I had made up my mind to go. I hope you lost nothing by going a little round.

  I took out the Celtis seeds at your request, at the time we spoke of them, and left them in the chamber on some shelf or other. If you have found them, and left them in the chamber on some shelf or other. If you have found them, very well; if you have not found them, very well; but tell [Edward Everett] Hale of it, if you see him.
My Mother says that you & [Theo] Brown & [Seth] Rogers & [David A.] Wasson talk of “coming down on” me some day. Do not fail to to come one & all, and within a week or two, if possible, else I may be gone again. Give me a short notice, and then come & spend a day on Concord River—or say that you will come if it is fair, unless you are confident of bringing fair weather with you. Come & be Concord, as I have been Worcestered.

  Perhaps you came nearer to me for not finding me at home, for trains of thought the more connected wien trains of ears do not. If I had actually met you, you would have gone again, but now I have not yet dismissed you.
I hear what you say about personal relations with joy. It is as if you were to say, I value the best & finest part of you, & not the worst. I can even endure your very near & real appreach, & prefer it to a shake of the hand. This intercourse is not subject to time or dis[tance.

  I have a very long new and faithful le]tter from Chilmondeley which I wish to show you. He speaks of sending me more books!!

  If I were with you now I could tell you much of Ricketson, and my visit to New Bedford, but I do not know how it will be by & by. I should like to have you meet R—who is the frankest man I know. Alcott & he get along very well together. Channing has returned to Concord with me, probably for a short visit only. Consider this a business letter, which you know counts nothing in the game we play.

  Remember me particularly to Brown.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 476-477)
18 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M—To Conantum. Hear the huckleberry-bird, also the seringo. The beaked hazel, if that is one just below the little pine at Blackberry Sleep . . . (Journal, 9:332).
20 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Arbor-vitae apparently in full bloom (Journal, 9:332).
21 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mr. [Eben] Loomis writes me that he saw two barn swallows in Cambridge April 1st! I have Corema Conradii from Plymouth, in bloom.

  It snows hard all day. If it did not melt so fast, would be a foot deep . . . (Journal, 9:332).

22 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Fair again. To Sudbury Meadow by boat. The river higher than before and rising. [William Ellery] C[hanning]. and I sail rapidly before a strong northerly wind,—no need of rowing upward, only of steering,—cutting off great bends by crossing the meadows. We have to roll our boat over the road at the stone bridge, Hubbard’s causeway, (to save the wind), and at Pole Brook (to save distance) . . .

(Journal, 9:332-335)
23 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I saw at [Daniel] Ricketson’s a young woman, Miss Kate Brady, twenty years old, her father an Irishman, a worthless fellow, her mother a smart Yankee. The daughter formerly did sewing, but  now keeps school for a livelihood. She was born at the Brady house, I think in Freetown, where she lived til she was twelve years old and helped her father in the field. There she road horse to plow and was knocked off the horse by apple tree boughs, kept sheep, caught fish, etc., etc. I never heard a girl or woman express so strong a love for nature. She purposes to return to that lonely ruin, and dwell there alone, since her mother and sister will not accompany her; says that she knows all about farming and keeping sheep and spinning and weaving, though it would puzzle her to shingle the old house. There she thinks she can “live free.” I was pleased to hear of her plans, because they were quite cheerful and original, not professedly reformatory, but growing out of her love for “Squire’s Brook and the Middleborough ponds.” A strong love for outward nature is singularly rare among both men and women. The scenery immediately about her homestead is quite ordinary, yet she appreciates and can use that part of the universe as no other being can. Her own sex, so tamely bred, only jeer at her for entertaining such an idea, but she has a strong head and a love for good reading, which may carry her through. I would by no means discourage, nor yet particularly encourage her, for I would have her so strong as to succeed in spite of all ordinary discouragements . . .
(Journal, 9:335-338)
24 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Sail to Ball’s Hill.

  The water is at its height, higher than before this year. I see a few shad-flies on its surface. Scudding over the Great Meadows, I see the now red crescents of the red Ina.ples in their prime round about . . .

(Journal, 9:338)

Thoreau also surveys a pasture for John Keyes (Moss, 9).

25 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M. Down Turnpike to Smith’s Hill and return by Goose Pond.

  Saw a large old hollow log with the tipper side [gone], which [made] me doubt if it was riot a trough open at the ends, and suggested that the first trough was perhaps such a hollow log with one side split off and the ends closed.

  It is cool and windy this afternoon. Some sleet falls, but as we sit on the east side of Smith’s chestnut grove, the wood, though so open and leafless, makes a perfect lee for its, apparently by breaking the force of the wind . . .

(Journal, 9:339-342)
26 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [Most likely Johnny or Patrick] Riordan’s cock follows close after me while spading in the garden, and hens commonly follow the gardener and plowman, just as cowbirds the cattle in a pasture . . .

  P.M.—Up Assabet to White Cedar Swamp . . . We sit on the shore at Wheeler’s fence, opposite Merriams’s.  At this season we still go seeking the sunniest, the most sheltered, and warmest place. [William Ellery] C[hanning]. says this is the warmest place he has been in this year . . .

(Journal, 9:342-344)

Thoreau writes to Benajmin B. Wiley:

Dear Sir

  I have been spending a fortnight in New Bedford, and on my return find your last letter awaiting me.

  I was sure that you would find Newcomb inexhaustible, if you found your way into him at all. I might say, however, by the way of criticism, that he does not take firm enough hold on this world, where surely we are bound to triumph.

  I am sorry to say that I do not see how I can furnish you with a copy of my essay on the wild. It has not been prepared for publication, only for lectures, and would cover at least a hundred written pages. Even if it were ready to be dispersed, I could not easily find time to copy it. So I return the order.

  I see that you are turning a broad furrow among the books, but I trust that some very private journal all the while holds its own through their midst. Books can only reveal us to ourselves, and as often as they do us this service we lay them aside. I should say read Goethe’s Autobiography, by all means, also Gibbon’s Haydon the Painter’s —& our Franklin’s of course; perhaps also Alfieris, Benvenuto Cellini’s, & DeQuincey’s Confessions of an Opium Eater since you like Autobiography.

  I think you must read Coleridge again & further—skipping al his theology—i.e. If you value precise definitions and discriminating use of language. By the way, read DeQuincey’s reminiscences of Coleridge & Wordsworth.

  How shall we account for our pursuits if they are original. We get the language with which to describe our various lives out of a common mint. If others have their losses, which they are busy repairing, so have I mine, & their hound and horse may perhaps be the symbols of some of them. But also I have lost, or am in the danger of losing, a far finer & more etherial treasure, which commonly no loss of which they are conscious will symbolize—this I answer hastily & and with some hesitation, according as I now understand my own words.

  I take this occasion to acknowledge, & thank you for, your long letter of Dec. 21st. So poor a correspondent am I. If I wait for the fit time to reply, it commonly does not come at all, as you see. I require the presence of the other party to suggest what I shall say. Methinks a certain polygamy with its troubles is the fate of almost all men. They are married to two wives—their genius (a celestial muse) and also to some fair daughter of the earth. Unless these two were fast friends before marriage, and so are afterward, there will be but little peace in the house.

  In answer to your questions, I must say that I never made, nor had occasion to use a filter of any kind; but, no doubt, they can be brought in Chicago.

  You cannot surely identify a plant from a scientific description until after long practice.

  The “Millers” you speak of are the perfect or final state of the insect. The Chrysalis is the silken bag they spun when caterpillars, & occupied in the nymph state.

  Yrs truly
  Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 477-478)
28 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—Surveying for Willard Farrar by Walden.

  While standing by my compass over the supposed town bound beyond Wyman’s, Farrar having just gone along northeast on the town line, I saw with the side of my eye some black creature crossing the road, reminding me of a black cat two thirds grown. Turning, I saw it plainly for half a minute. It crossed to my side about twenty-five feet off, apparently not observing me, and disappeared in the goods. It was perfectly black, for aught I could see (not brown), some eighteen or twenty inches or more in length from tip to tip, and I first thought of a large black weasel, then of a large blade squirrel, then wondered if it could be a pine marten. I now try to think it a hunk; yet it appeared larger and with a shorter body . . .

(Journal, 9:346)
29 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Purple finch sings on R.W.E.’s trees.

  P.M.—To  Dugan Desert.

  At Tarbell’s watering-place, see a dandelion, its conspicuous bright-yellow disk in the midst of a green space on the moist bank. It is thus I commonly meet with the earliest dandelion set in the midst of some liquid green patch. It seems a sudden and decided progress in the season . . . Sweet fern at entrance of Ministerial Swamp. A partridge there drums incessantly. [William Ellery] C[hanning]. says it makes his heart beat with it, or he feels it in his breast . . .

(Journal, 9:347-348)
30 April 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—Surveying for Farrar and Heywood by Walden.

  Hear a kingfisher at Goose Pond. Hear again the same bird heard at Conantum April 18th, which I think must be the ruby-crowned wren As we stood looking for a bound by the edge of Goose Pond, a pretty large hawk alighted on an oak . . .

(Journal, 9:348)
1 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  2 P.M.—First notice the ring of the toad, as I am crossing the Common in front of the meeting-house . . . Bubo the Double-chinned inflates his throat. Attend to his message. Take off your greatcoats, swains! and prepare for the summer campaign. Hop a few paces further . . .
(Journal, 9:349-350)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal on May 2 regarding his activities with Thoreau on May 1:

  Walk yesterday, first day of May, with Henry Thoreau to Goose Pond, and to ‘Red Chokeberry Lane’ . . . From a white birch, Henry cut a strip of bark to show how a naturalist would make the best box to carry a plant or other specimen requiring care, and thought the woodman would make a better hat of birch-bark than of felt,—hat, with cockade of lichens thrown in. I told him the Birkebeiners of the Heimskringla had been before him. We will make a book on walking, ’tis certain, and have easy lessons for beginners. “Walking in ten Lessons.”
(EJ, 9:91-92)
2 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Building a fence between us and Mrs. Richardson. In digging the holes I find the roots of small apple trees, seven or eight feet distant and four or more inches in diameter, two feet underground, and as big as my little finger . . .
(Journal, 9:350-351)
3 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A remarkably warm and pleasant morning.

  A.M.—To Battle-Ground by river.

  I heard the ring of toads at 6 A.M. The flood on the meadows, still high, is quite smooth, and many are out this still and suddenly very warm morning, pushing about in boats. Now, thinks many a one, is the time to paddle or push gently far up or down the river, along the still, warm meadow’s edge, and perhaps we may see some large turtles, or muskrats, or otter, or rare fish or fowl. It will be a grand forenoon for a cruise, to explore these meadow shores and inundated maple swamps . . .

(Journal, 9:351-353)
4 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain. The barber tells me that the masons of New York tell him that they would prefer human hair to that of cattle mix with their plastering.

  Balm-of-Gilead pollen in house to-day; outdoors, say to-morrow, if fair.

  Minott tells me of one Matthias Bowers, a native of Chelmsford and cousin of C. Bowers, a very active fellow, who used to sleep with him and when he found the door locked would climb over tlne roof and come in at the dormer-window . . .

(Journal, 9:356-357)
5 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Building fence east of house.

 Hear the tull-lull of a myrtle-bird . . . (Journal, 9:357).

6 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A beautiful and warm day. I go to build an arbor for R[alph].W[aldo].E[merson] . . . (Journal, 9:357).
7 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A second fine day.

  Small pewee, and methinks, a golden robin? (Journal, 9:358).

8 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A third fine day. The sugar maple at Barrett’s is now in full bloom. I finish the arbor to-night . . . Walk to first stone bridge at sunset . . . such an evening makes a crisis in the year. I must make haste home and go out on the water. I paddle to the Wheeler meadow east of hill after sundown . . . Within a week I have had made a pair of corduroy pants, which cost when done $1.60. They are of that peculiar clay-color, reflecting the light from portions of their surface.  They have this advantage, that, besides being very strong, they will look about as well three months hence as now,—or as ill, some would say. Most of my friends are disturbed by my wearing them . . .
(Journal, 9:358-360)
10 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Cultivated cherry out.

  P.M.—Up river.

  Salix Babylonica behind Dodd’s, how long? Say with S. alba. I observe that the fertile flowers of many plants are more late than the barren ones . . .

  I went looking for snapping turtles over the meadow south of railroad. Now I see one large head like a, brown stake projecting three or four inches above the water four rods off, but it is slowly withdrawn, and I paddle tip and catch the fellow lying still in the dead grass there. Soon after I paddle within ten feet of one whose eyes like kncibs appear on the side of the stake, and touch him with my paddle . . .

(Journal, 9:361-362)
11 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Warbling vireo and chewink. A very cold northwest wind. I hear they had a snow storm yesterday in Vermont (Journal, 9:362).
12 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How rarely I meet with a man who can be free, even in thought! We live according to rule. Some, then are bedridden; all, world-ridden. I take my neighbor, an intellectual man, out into the woods and invite him to take a new and absolute view of things, to empty clean out of his thoughts all institutions of men and start again . . .

  To Miles Swamp, Conantum.

  The brother of Edward Garfield (after dandelions!) tells me that two years ago, when he was cutting wood at Bittern Cliff in the winter he saw something dark squatting on the ice, which he took to be a mink, and taking a stake he went out to inspect it. It turned out to be a bird, a new kind of duck, with a long, slender, pointed bill (he thought red). It moved off backwards, hissing at him . . .

(Journal, 9:362-366)
13 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Work in garden. I see a toad only an inch and a quarter long; so they must be several years growing.

  P.M.—To Leaning Hemlocks . . . (Journal, 9:368).

Thoreau also writes to Daniel Ricketson:

Friend Ricketson

  A recent neighbor of ours, Wm. W. Wheildon, having heard that you talked somewhat of moving to Concord (for such things will leak out) has just been asking me to inform you that he will rent his house, which is a furnished one, with a garden, or sell the same, if you like them. It is a large house, the third below (East of) us on the same side of the street—was built some 20 years ago partly of old material, & since altered. The garden is a very good one, of about 2 1/2 acres, with many fruit trees &c &c. Channing can tell you about it. When I ask his price, he merely answers “I think it worth $8000. But I would rather have Mr. R, see it before I speak of the price.” It could probably bought for a thousand or two less. Indeed I have heard $600 named. If you think seriously of coming to Concord to live, it will be worth your while to see it. His address is “Wm W. Wheildon, Editor of the Bunker Hill Aurora, Charlestown Mass.”—for he lives there at present. You would see his name over his office if you went there. Since you are so much attracted to New Bedford that it is doubtful if you can live any where else—would it not be safer—if you do anything about it—to hire first, with liberty to buy afterward at a price before agreed on?

  My mother & sister join with me in saying that if you think it worth your while to look at the premises, we shall be glad of the opportunity to receive you with any of your family under our roof.

  Since I left N B I have made several voyages equal to the circumnavigation of the Middleboro Ponds, and have done much work beside with my hands—In short, I am suddenly become much stouter than for the past 2 years.

  Let me improve this opportunity to acknowledge the receipt of “Tom Boling” & the May-flower”—for which convey my thanks to the donor. His souls is gone aloft—his body only is epigaea repens (creeping over the earth). It has been sung & encored several times—& is duly made over to my sister & her piano.

  In haste
  Yours truly
  Henry D Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 479-480)
14 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Assabet Bath and stone bridge.

  I hear two thrashers plainly singing in emulation of each other.

  At the temporary brush fence pond, now going down, amid the sprout-land and birches, I see, within a dozen rods along its shore, one to three rods from edge, thirteen wood tortoises on the grass, at 4 P.M. this cloudy afternoon. This is apparently a favorite resort for them . . .

(Journal, 9:366-368)
15 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Black current at R.W.E’s. 

  Abel Hosmer thought that the Salix alba roots might reach half a dozen rods into his field as big as your finger . . . (Journal, 9:368).

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson responds to Thoreau’s May 13th letter, stating that he will visit Concord to look at the farm Thoreau mentioned (CS 8, no. 2 [June 1973]: 4).

16 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hill for pines.

  The meadows are now mostly bare, the grass showing itself above the water that is left . . . (Journal, 9:368).

Thoreau replies to Daniel Ricketson’s letter, telling him that the owner of the farm wants to make an early decision regarding selling or renting the property.

17 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Round Walden.

  Gold-thread is abundantly out at Trillium Woods. The yellow birch catkins, now fully out or a little past prime, are very handsome now, numerous clusters of rich golden catkins hanging straight clown at a height from the ground on the end of the pendulous branches, amid the just expanding leaf-buds. It is like some great chandelier hung high over the underwood . . .

(Journal, 9:368-369)
18 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Bateman’s Pond via Yellow Swamp with Pratt.

  Pratt says he saw the first rhodora and cultivated pear out yesterday. Many are now setting out pines and other evergreens, transplanting some wildness into the neighborhood of their houses . . .

(Journal, 9:369-371)
19 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—Surveying D. Shattuck’s woodlot beyond Peter’s.

  See myriads of minute pollywogs, recently hatched, in the water of Moore’s Swamp on Bedford road. Digging again to find a stake in woods, came across a nest or colony of wood ants, yellowish or sand-color, a third of an inch long, with their white grubs, now squirming . . .

(Journal, 9:371-372)
20 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Began to rain the latter part of yesterday, and rains all day against all desire and expectation, raising the river and, in low land, rotting the seed. Gardeners wish that their land had not been planted nor plowed. Postpone your journey till the May storm is over.

  It has been confidently asserted and believed that if the cold in the winter exceeded a certain degree it surely killed the peach blossoms. Last winter we had greater cold than has ever been generally observed here, and yet it is a remarkable spring for peach blossoms; thus once for all disproving that assertion . . .

(Journal, 9:371-374)
21 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rains still, more or less, all day. But it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good; this weather is good for cuttings and transplanted trees.

  P.M.—To Hill.

  Sassafras (fertile) will apparently bloom to-morrow. These, too,—the Young trees,—have been killed the past winter, like the fever-bush.

  There is, leaning over the Assabet at the Grape Bower, an amelanchier variety Botryapium about five inches in diameter and some twenty-eight feet long, a light and graceful tree . . .

(Journal, 9:374-375)
22 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  After two or three days more of rainy weather, it is fair and warm at last. Thermometer seventy-odd degrees above zero. When the May storm is over, then the summer is fairly begun.

  9 A.M.—I go up the Assabet in boat to stone bridge.

  Is it not summer when we do not go seeking sunny and sheltered places, but also love the wind and shade?

  As I stand on the sand-bank below the Assabet stone bridge and look up through the arch, the river makes a pretty picture . . .

(Journal, 9:375-377)
23 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Holden Swamp by boat.

  River still high generally over the meadows. Can sail across the Hubbard meadow. Off Staples wood-lot, hear the ah tche tche chit-i-vet of the redstart.

  Tortoises out again abundantly. Each particularly warns and sunny day brings them out on to every floating rail and stump. I count a dozen within three or four feet on a rail It is a tortoise day . . .

(Journal, 9:376-377)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Left home at 10 A.M. for Concord, arriving there at 5 1/2/ P.M. Walked with Thoreau this evening, and called at Mr. [Ralph Waldo] Emerson’s. Slept at [William Ellery] Channing’s house upon an iron bedstead.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 302)
24 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To Hill.

  White ash, apparently yesterday, at Grape Shore but not at Conantum. What a singular appearance for some weeks its great masses of dark-purple anthers have made, fruit-like on the trees!

  A very warm morning. Now the birds sing more than ever, methinks, now, when the leaves are fairly expanding, the first really warm summer days . . .

(Journal, 9:377-378)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Sunday fine and warm—wind light. Thermometer at 86 above zero north side of Mr. Thoreau’s house at 2 P.M. Rowed upon the river with Thoreau this afternoon. Walked up Lee’s Hill and visited the old Lee farm, the house having been lately burned The barn and henhouses are complete affairs. Dined at Mr. Thoreau’s; spent part of the P.M. in my room at [William Ellery] Channing’s houses talking with Thoreau upon various topics. Took a long walk this P.M., leaving at four and returning at seven to the cliff with Mr. [Ralph Waldo Emerson] and Mrs. [Lydian Jackson] Emerson, their two daughters, Ellen and Edith, son Edward, and my friend Thoreau; had tea and spent the remainder of the evening with the Emerson’s. Much pleased with Mrs. E.’s fine sense and sensibility as well as humanity, topics relative to which were the principal part of my conversation with her on the walk this P.M.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 303)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal on 25 May about the events of 24 May:

  Yesterday at the Cliff, with a family party, and Henry Thoreau and [Daniel] Ricketson . . . At home,—Expressed some sad views of life and religion. A thunderstorm is a terror to him, and his theism is Judaical. Henry thought a new pear-tree was more to purpose, etc., but said better, that an ecstasy was never interrupted. A theology of this kind is as good a meter or yardstick as any other. If i can be scared by a highwayman or a thunderclap, I should say my performances were not very high, and should at once be mended.
(EJ, 9:94)
25 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  With Ricketson to my boat under Fair Haven Hill . . . Though the river is thus high, we bathe at Cardinal Shore and find the water unexpectedly warm and the air also delicious. Thus we are baptized into nature (Journal, 9:378-379).

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  On the river with Thoreau in his boat this P.M. The excursion upon the Concord River this P.M. with Thoreau in his boat and was very pleasant, although when we started I hardly felt able to walk to the boat, which was upon the shore, some distance up the river, near Fairhaven Bay. But after a bath and swim with T. I felt much refreshed and my dull headache passed gradually off . . . Thoreau accompanied me to my room, and after a long talk upon character, &c., I retired at 10.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 303-304)
26 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I have noticed that notional nervous invalids, who report to the community the exact condition of their heads and stomachs every morning, as if they alone were blessed or cursed with these parts: who are old betties and quiddles, if men; who can’t eat their breakfasts when they are ready, but play with their spoons, and hanker after ice-cream at irregular hours; who go more than half-way to meet any invalidity, and go to bed to be sick on the slightest occasion, in the middle of the brightest forenoon,— I observe that such are self-indulgent persons, without any regular or absorbing employment. They are nice, discriminating, experienced in all that relates to the bodily sensations. They come to you stroking their wens, manipulating their ulcers, and expect you to do the same for them. Their religion and humanity stick. They spend the day manipulating their bodies and doing no work; can never get their nails clean . . .
(Journal, 9:379-381)

London, England. Thomas Cholmondeley writes to tell Thoreau that he received the books Thoreau sent him.

My dear Thoreau

  I have received your four books & what is more I have read them. Olmstead was the only entire stranger. His book I think might have been shortened-& if he had indeed written only one word instead of ten—I should have liked it better. Of your own book I will say nothing but I will ask you a question, which perhaps may be a very ignorant one. I have observed a few lines about [sentence unfinished].

  Now there is something here unlike anything else in these pages. Are they absolutely your own, or whose? And afterward you shall hear what I think of them. Walt Whitmans poems have only been heard of in Eggland to be laughed at & voted offensive—Here are “Leaves” indeed which I can no more understand than the book of Enoch or the inedited Poems of Daniel! I cannot believe such a man lives unless I actually touch him. He is further ahead of me in yonder west than Buddha is behind me in the Orient. I find reality & beauty mixed with not a little violence & coarseness both of which are to me effeminate. I am amused at his views of sexual energy—which however are absurdly false. I believe that rudeness & excitement in the act of generation are injurious to the issue. The man appears to me not to know how to behave himself. I find the gentleman altogether left out of the book Altogether these leaves completely puzzle me. Is there actually such a man as Whitman? Has anyone seen or handled him? His is a tongue “not understanded” of the English people. It is the first book I have ever seen which I should call ‘a new book’ & this I would sum up the impression it makes upon me.

  While I am writing, Prince Albert & Duke Constantine are reviewing the guards in a corner of St James Park. I hear the music. About two hours ago I took a turn round the Park before breakfast & saw the troops formed. The varieties of colour gleamed fully out from their uniforms. They looked like an Army of soldier butterflies just dropped from the lovely green trees under which they marched. Never saw the trees look so green before as they do this spring. Some of the oaks incredibly so. I stool before some of the other day in Richmond & was obliged to punch myself & ask ‘is this oak tree really growing on the earth they call so bad & wicked an earth; & itself so undeniably & astonishingly fresh & fair”? It did not look like magic. It was magic.

  I have had a thousand strange experiences lately—most of them delicious & some almost awful. I seem to do so much in my life when I am doing nothing at all. I seem to be hiving up strength all the while as a sleeping man does; who sleeps & dreams & strengthens himself unconsciously; only sometimes half-awakes with a sense of cool refreshment. Sometimes it is wonderful to me that I say so little & somehow cannot speak even to my friends! Why all the time I was at Concord I never could tell you much of all I have seen & done! I never could somehow tell you anything! How ungrateful to my guardian genius to think of any of it trivial or superfluous! But it always seemed already told & long ago said. What is past & what is to come seems as it were all shut up in some very simple but very dear notes of music which I never can repeat.

  Tonight I intend to hear Mr. [Neal] Dow the American lecture in Exeter Hall. I believe it is tonight. But I go forearmed against him—being convinced in my mind that a good man is all the better for a bottle of Port under his belt every day of his life.

  I heard Spurgeon the Preacher the other day.He said some very good things: among others “If I can make the bells ring in one heart I shall be content.” Two young men not behaving themselves, he called them as sternly to order as if they were serving under tim. Talking of Jerusalem he said that “every good man had a mansion of his own there & a crown that would fit no other head save his.” That I felt was true. It is the voice of Spurgeon that draws more than his matter. His organ is very fine—but I fear he is hurting it by preaching to too large & frequent congregations. I found this out—because he is falling into two voices the usual clerical infirmity.

  The bells—church bells are ringing somewhere for the queens birthday they tell me. I have not a court-guide at hand to see if this is so. London is cram-full. Not a bed! Not a corner! After all the finest sight is to see such numbers of beautiful girls riding about & riing well. There are certainly no women in the world like ours. The men are far inferior to them.

  I am still searching after an abode & really my adventures have been most amusing. One Sussex farmer had a very good little cottage close to Battle—but he kept “a few horses & a score or two of Pigs” under the very windows. I remarked at his stables were very filthy. The man started hard at me -as an English farmer only can stare: ie, as a man stares who is trying to catch a thought which is always running away from him. At last he said striking his stick on the ground—“But that is why I keep the Pigs. I want their dung for my hop-grounds” We could not arrange it after that. I received a very kind note today from Concord informing me that there was a farm to be sold on the hill just over your river & nearly opposite your house. But it is out of the question of buying land by Deputy! I have however almost decided to settle finally in America. There are many reasons for it. I think of running over in the trial-trip of the Great Eastern which will be at the close of the year. She is either to be the greatest success -or else to sink altogether without more ado! She is to be something decided. I was all over her the other day. The immense creature musical with the incessant tinkling of hammers is as yet unconscious of like. By measurement she is larger than the ark. From the promenade of her decks you see the town & trade of London; the river—(the sacred river) —; Greenwich with its park & palace; the vast town of Southward & the continuation of it at Deptford; the Sydenham palace & the Surrey hills. Altogether a noble Poem. Only think I am losing all my teeth. All my magnificent teeth are going. I now begin to know I have had good teeth. This comes of too many cups of warm trash. If I had held to cold drinks—they would have lasted me out; but the effeminacy of tea coffee chocolate & sugar has been my bane. Miserable wretches were they who invented these comforters of exhaustion! They could not afford wine & beer. Hence God to punish them for their feeble heards takes away the grinders from their representatives one of whom I have been induced to come. But, Thoreau, if ever I live again I vow never so much as to touch anything warm. It is as dangerous as to take a Poll which I am convinced is a most immoral custom. Give me ale for breakfast & caret or Port or ale again for dinner. Should then have a better conscience & not fear to lose my teeth any more than my tongue.

  Farewell Thoreau. Success & the county of goods attend you

  Yrs ever
  Thos Chol.ley

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 480-483)
27 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I hear the sound of the fife and drum the other side of the village, and am reminded that it is May Training. Some thirty young men are marching in the streets in two straight sections, with each a very heavy and warm cap for the season on his head and a bright red stripe down the edge of his pantaloons, and at their head march two with white stripes down their pants, one beating a drum, the other blowing a fife.
(Journal, 9:381-383)
28 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain again in the night, and this afternoon, more or less. In some places the ground is strewn with apple blossoms, quite concealing it, as white and thick as if a snow-storm had occurred.
(Journal, 9:383)
29 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff.

A fine-grained air, June-like, after a cloudy rain threatening or rainy morning. Sufficient [sic] with a still, clear air in which the hum of insects is heard, and the sunniness contrasts with the shadows of the freshly expanded foliage, lilac the glances of an eye from under the dark eyelashes of June. The grass is not yet dry. The birds sing more lively than ever now after the rain, though it is only 2 P.M. . . .

(Journal, 9:383-390)
30 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To chestnut oaks.

  I think that there are many chestnut-sided warblers this season. They are pretty tame. One sits within six feet of me, though not still. He is much painted up . . .

Perhaps I could write mediation under a rock in a shower. When first I had sheltered myself under the rock, I began at once to look out on the pond with new eyes, as from my house. I was at Lee’s Cliff as I had never been there before, had taken up my residence there, as it were. Ordinarily we make haste away from all opportunities to be where we have instinctively endeavored to get. When the storm was over where I was, and only a few thin drops were falling around me, I plainly saw the rear of the rain withdrawing over the Lincoln woods south of the pond, and, above all, heard the grand rushing sound made by the rain falling on the freshly green forest, a very different sound when thus heard at a distance from what it is when we are in the midst of it . . .

  I sang “Tom Bowling” there in the midst of the rain and the dampness seemed to be favorable to my voice. There was a slight rainbow on my way home . . .

(Journal, 9:391-393)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  Walk this afternoon with Henry Thoreau . . . Henry thinks that planting acres of barren sand by running a furrow every four feet across the field, with a plough, and following it with a planter, supplied with pine seed, would be lucrative. He proposes to plant my Wyman lot so. Go in September, and gather white-pine cones with a hook at the end of a long pole, and let them dry and open in a chamber at home. Add acorns, and birch-seed, and pitch-pines. He thinks it would be profitable to buy cheap land and plant it so . . .
(EJ, 9:96-97)
31 May 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Gowing’s Swamp and to Pinus resinosa.

  In the ditches in Moore’s Swamp on the new Bedford road, the myriads of pollywogs, now three quarters of an inch long, crowding close to the edge, make a continuous black edging to the pool a foot wide . . .

(Journal, 9:393-395)
1 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hill.

  The weather has been less reliable for a few weeks past than at any other season of the year. Though fair in the forenoon, it may rain in the afternoon, and the continuance of the showers surpasses all expectation. After several (lays of rain a fair day may succeed, and you close your eyes at night on a starlit sky . . .

(Journal, 9:396)
2 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Sterile buttonwood, not yet generally, but some apparently several days at least.

  It was a portion of the natural surface of the earth itself which jutted out and became my roof the other day. How fit that Nature should thus shelter her own children! The first drops were dimpling the pond even as the fishes had done . . .

(Journal, 9:399)
3 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To White Cedar Swamp.

  Salix lucida out of bloom, but S. nigra still in bloom. I see a large branch of S. lucida, which has been broken off probably by the ice in the winter and come down from far up-stream and lodged, butt downward, amid some bushes, where it has put forth pink fibres from the butt end in the water, and is growing vigorously, though not rooted in the bottom . . .

I have several friends and acquaintances who are very good companions in the house or for an afternoon walk, but whom I cannot make up my mind to make a longer excursion with; for I discover, all at once, that they are too gentlemanly in manners, dress, and all their habits . . . Sometimes it is near shiftlessness or want of originality,—the clothes wear them; sometimes it is egotism, that cannot afford to be treated like a common man,—they wear the clothes . . .

(Journal, 9:400-401)

4 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Bare Hill.

  The early potentilla is now erect in the June grass. Salix tristis is going to seed, showing some cotton . . .

  One thing that chiefly distinguishes this season from three weeks ago is that fine serene undertone or earthsong as we go by sunny banks and hillsides, the creak of crickets, which affects our thoughts so favorably, imparting its own serenity. It is time now to bring our philosophy out of doors. Our thoughts pillow themselves unconsciously in the troughs of this serene, rippling sea of sound . . .

(Journal, 9:402)

Thoreau is paid $3.00 by Ralph Waldo Emerson for working on his arbor (EAB).

5 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Gowing’s Swamp and Poplar Hill.

  The shad-flies were very abundant probably last evening about the house, for this morning they are seen filling and making black every cobweb on the side of the house, blinds, etc. All freshly painted surfaces are covered with them . . .

  At evening, travel up Assabet. There are many ephemerae [mayflies] in the air; but it is cool, and their great fight is not yet. Pincushion gall on oak.

  I am interested in each contemporary plant in my vicinity, and have attained to a certain acquaintance with the larger ones. They are cohabitants with me of this part of the planet . . .

(Journal, 9:404-406)
6 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

8 A.M.—To Lee’s Cliff by river.  

  Salix pediccllaris off Holden’s has been out of bloom several days at least. So it is earlier to begin and to end than our S. lacida.

  This is June, the month of grass and leaves. The deciduous trees are investing the evergreens and revealing how dark they are. Already the aspens are trembling again, and a new summer is offered me. I feel a little fluttered in my thoughts, as if I might be too late. Each season is but an infinitesimal point. It no sooner comes than it is gone. It has no duration. It simply gives a tone and hue to my thought . . .

(Journal, 9:406)

Thoreau writes to Harrison Gray Otis Blake:

Mr. Blake,—  

  I have just got your note, but I am sorry to say that this very morning I sent a note to Channing, stating that I would go with him to Cape Cod next week on an excursion which we have been talking of for some time. If there were time to communicate with you, I should ask you to come to Concord on Monday, before I go; but as it is, I must wait till I come back, which I think will be about ten days hence. I do not like this delay, but there seems to be a fate in it. Perhaps Mr. Wasson will be well enough to come by that time. I will notify you of my return, and shall depend on seeing you all.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 484)

On 9 June Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal regarding the events of 6 June:

  On Sunday on our walk along the river-bank, the air full of ephemerides [mayflies], which Henry celebrates as the manna of the fishes (EJ, 9:100).
7 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To river and Ponkawtasset with M.[Minott] Pratt.

  Now I notice many bubbles left on the water in my wake, as if it were more sluggish or had more viscidity than earlier. Far behind me they rest without bursting . . .

  A small elm in front of Pratt’s which he says three years ago had flowers in flat cymes, like a cornel! I have pressed some leaves . . .

(Journal, 9:409)
8 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mother was saying to-day that she bough no new clothes for John until he went away into a store, but made them of his father’s old clothes, which made me say that country boys could get enough cloth for their clothes by robbing the scarecrows. So little it need cost to live . . .
(Journal, 9:410)
9 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A large fog. Celastrus scandens, maybe a day. Triosteum, apparently several days (not at all June 1st).

  Both kinds of sap, yellow birch and black, are now, in some bottles, quite aromatic and alike ; but this year, methinks, it has a more swampy taste and musty, and most of the bottles are merely sour.

  P.M.—To Violet Sorrel and Calla Swamp.

  A peetweet’s nest near wall by Shattuck’s barn, Merrick’s pasture, at base of a dock; four eggs just on the point of being hatched . . .

(Journal, 9:410)
10 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At R[alph]. W[aldo]. E[merson].’s a viburnum, apparently nudum var. cassinoides (?) (pyrifolium Pursh), four or five days at least . . .

  P.M.—To White Cedar Swamp.

  A wood tortoise making a hole for her eggs just like a pieta’s hole. The Leucothoё racemosa, not yet generally out, but a little (it being mostly killed) a day or two.

  In Julius Smith’s yard, a striped snake (so called) was running about this forenoon, and in the afternoon it was found to have shed its slough . . .

(Journal, 9:412)

12 June 1857. Cape Cod, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8:30 A.M.—Set out for CAPE COD.


  At Natural History Rooms. The egg found on ground in R. W. E.’s garden some weeks since cannot be the bobolink’s, for that is about as big as a bay-wing’s but more slender, dusky-white, with numerous brown and black blotches . . .

  P.M.—At [Benjamin Marston] Watson’s, Plymouth.

  W. has several varieties of the English hawthorn
(oxyacantha), pink and rose-colored, double and single, and very handsome now.

  His English oak is almost entirely, out of bloom, though I got some flowers. The biggest, which was set out in ’49, is about thirty feet high, and, as I measured, just twenty inches in circumference at four inches from the ground. A very rapid growth . . .

(Journal, 9:413-414)
13 June 1857. Plymouth, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see large mosses on the beach, crimson and lighter, already spread on the sand. See children going a-flagging and returning with large bundles, for the sake of the inmost tender blade. They go miles for them here (Journal, 9:415).
14 June 1857. Clark’s Island and Plymouth, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  B[enjamin]. M[arston]. Watson tells me that he learns from pretty good authority that Webster once saw the sea-serpent. It seems it was first seen, in the bay between Manomet and Plymouth Beach, by a perfectly reliable witness (many years ago), who was accustomed to look out on the sea with his glass every morning the first thing as regularly as he ate his breakfast. One morning he saw this monster, with a head somewhat like a horse’s raise six feet above the water, and his body the size of a cask trailing behind. He was careering over the bay, chasing the mackerel, which ran ashore in their fright and were washed up and died in great numbers . . .
(Journal, 9:415-417)

Benjamin Marston Watson’s daughter, Ellen, wrote of Thoreau’s travel to Clark’s Island:

  When Thoreau was a young man, he visited Plymouth and Duxbury, and as enthusiastic pedestrians never tire of walking, he attempted to continue his stroll around Captain’s Hill to the north shore of Clark’s Island. When the tide is at its lowest ebb, this does not look so impossible! The sand flats even invite one to pace their shining surface! The channel looks narrow enough to be jumped across, and the three miles, which at high tide are a foaming sea, or a level blue sheet of water, looked but a short stretch to traverse.

  Mr. Thoreau gauged everything by his beloved Concord River—there an island could be waded to; here was evidently an island—let us wade over there! But there are island and islands, channels and channels! And a rising tide on a flat in Plymouth Harbour is a swift river, full of danger.

  Fortunately for our Concord guest, a small fishing boat was on hand just at the nick of time to save him for his task of writing many volumes for the future joy of all lovers of nature! The skipper landed him at the North End—the back door of the island, so to speak, and here was greeted by the “lord of the isle,” known to all his friends as “Uncle Ed,” Edward Winslow Watson, and a worthy representative of the Pilgrims who spent their first Sunday on this island.

  Bluff and hearty was his welcome, and his first question was, “Where d’ye hail from?” Mr. Thoreau, fresh from the rescue, must have been breathless from climbing the cliffs and overcome with the mighty clap on his slender back that welcomed his answer. “From Concord, Sir, my name is Thoreau,” with “You don’t say so!” I’ve read somewhere in one of your books that you ‘lost a hound, a horse, and a dove.’ Now what do you mean by it?”

  Mr. Thoreau looked up with shy, dark blue eyes, as someone said he looked like a wild woodchuck ready to run back to his hole, and he was very ruddy of complexion, with reddish brown hair and wore a greatcoat—he looked up then in shy astonishment at this breezy, broad-shouldered, white-haired sea farmer, reader of his books. “Well, Sir, I suppose we have all had our loses.” “That’s a pretty way to answer a fellow,” replied the unsatisfied student of a fellow-poet and lover of nature.

(TSB, no. 21)
15 June 1857. Plymouth, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Walked to James Spooner’s farm in a valley amid the woods; also to a swamp where white cedars once grew, not far behind the town, and now full of their buried trunks, though I hear no tradition of trees here . . .

  2 P.M.—Ride to Manomet with [Benjamin Marston] Watson and wife, through Manomet Ponds village, about eight miles. At the mouth of Eel River, the marsh vetchling (Lathyrus palustris), apparently in prime, some done. The curve of the shore on the cast of Plymouth Beach is said to resemble the Bay of Naples. Manomet was quite a hill, over which the road ran in the woods. We struck the shore near Holmes’s Hotel about half a mile north of Manomet Point.

  There I shouldered my pack and took leave of my friends,—who thought it a dreary place to leave me,—and my journey along the shore was begun . . .

(Journal, 9:420)

16 June 1857. Manomet, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  7A.M.—I go along the sandy road through a region of small hills about half a mile from the sea, between slight gray fences either post and rail, or slanting rails, a foot apart, rest ing on two crossed stakes, the rails of unequal length, looking agreeably loose and irregular.

  Within half a mile I come to the house of an Indian, a gray one-storied cottage, and there were two or three more beyond. They were just beginning to build a meeting-house to-day! . . .

(Journal, 9:425)
17 June 1857. Harwich, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  This morning had for breakfast fresh eels from Herring River, caught in an eel-pot baited with horseshoe clams [sic] cut up.

  Crossed Herring River, and went down to the shore and walked a mile or more eastward along the beach. This beach seems to be laid down too long on the map. The sea never runs very much here, since the shore is protected from the swell by Monomoy . . .

  I go along the settled road, where the houses are interspersed with woods, in an unaccountably desponding mood, but when I come out upon a bare and solitary heath am at once exhilarated. This is a common experience in my traveling. I plod along, thinking what a miserable world this is and what miserable fellows that we inhabit it, wondering what tempts men to live in it; but anon I leave the towns behind and am lost in some boundless heath, and life becomes gradually more tolerable, if not even glorious . . .

(Journal, 9:431-432)

18 June 1857. Cape Cod, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  From Traveller’s home to Small’s in Truro.

  A mizzling and rainy day with thick driving fog; a drizzling rain, or “drisk,” as one called it. I struck across into the stage-road, a quarter of a mile east, and followed that a mile or more into an extensive bare plain tract called Silver Springs, in the southwest part of Wellfleet . . .

  Stopped to drv me about ll A.M. at a house near John Newcomb’s, who they told me died last winter, ninety-five years old (or would have been now had he lived?). I had shortly before picked up a Mother-Carey’s-chicken, which was just washed up dead on the beach. This I carried tied to the tip of my umbrella, dangling outside. When the inhabitants saw me come up from the beach this stormy day, with this emblem dangling from my umbrella, and saw me set it up in a corner carefully to be out of the way of cats, they may have taken me for a crazy man . . .

(Journal, 9:437-439)
19 June 1857. Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Fog still, but I walked about a mile north onward on the beach. The sea was still running considerably. It is surprising how rapidly the water soaks into the sand, and is even dried up between each undulation . . . (Journal, 9:442).
20 June 1857. Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Fog still.

  A man working on the lighthouse, who lives at the Pond Village, says that he raised potatoes and pumpkins there where a vessel once anchored. That was when they let the saltwater into the pond. Says the flags there now are barrel flags ; that the chair flag is smaller, partly three-sided, and has no bur; perhaps now all gone. Speaking of the effect of oil on the water, this man said that a boat’s crew came ashore safely from their vessel on the Bay Side of Truro some time ago in a storm, when the wind blowed square on to the land, only by heaving over oil . . .

(Journal, 9:444-445)
21 June 1857. Truro, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  About noon it cleared up, and after dinner I set out for Provincetown, straight across the country to the Bay where the new road strikes it, directly through the pine plantation about one mile from the lighthouse. The pines have apparently not done so well here as in some other places on the Cape. I observed a tuft of crow-berry, together with poverty-grass, about one mile west of the light. This part of Truro affords singularly interesting and cheering walks for me, with regular hollows or dimples shutting out the sea as completely as if in the midst of the continent, though when you stand on the plain you commonly see the sails of vessels standing up or clown the coast on each side or you, though you may not see the water. At first you may take them for the roofs of barns or houses . . .
(Journal, 9:450-454)
22 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Took the steamer Acorn about 9 A.M. for Boston, in the fog. The captain said that the mate to the whale taken on the 17th had been about the steamer all night. It was a thick fog with some rain, and we saw no land nor a single sail, till near Minot’s ledge. The monotony was only relieved by the numerous petrels, those black sea-swallows, incessantly skimming over the undulating [surface], a few inches above and parallel with it, and occasionally picking some food from it. Now they dashed past our stern and now across our bows, as if we were stationary, though going at the rate of a dozen knots an hour. It is remarkable what great solitudes there may be on this bay, notwithstanding all its commerce, and going from Boston to Provincetown you might be wrecked in clear weather, without being seen by any passing vessel . . .

  Get home at 5 P.M.

  It seems that Sophia found an Attacus Cecropia out in my chamber last Monday, or the 15th. It soon went to laying eggs on the window-sill, sash, books, etc., of which vide a specimen. Though the window was open (blinds closed), it did not escape . . .

(Journal, 9:454-455)
23 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Skinner, the harness-maker, tells me that he found a black duck’s nest Sunday before the last, i.e. the 14th, with perhaps a dozen eggs in it, a mere hollow on the top of a tussock, four or five feet within a clump of bushes forming an islet (in the spring) in Hubbard’s great meadow. He scared up the duck when within a few feet . . .

  P.M.—Looked for the black duck’s nest, but could find no trace of it . . .


Thoreau writes to Harrison Gray Otis (H.G.O.) Blake:

Mr Blake,

  I returned from Cape Cod last evening, and now take the first opportunity to invite you men of Worcester to this quiet Mediterranean shore. Can you come this week on Friday or next Monday? I mention the earliest days on which I suppose you can be ready. If more convenient name some other time within ten days. I shall be rejoiced to see you, and to act the part of skipper in the contemplated voyage. I have just got another letter from Cholmondeley, which may interest you somewhat.


(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 484)
24 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Farmer’s Owl-Nest Swamp.

  Melvin thinks there cannot be many black ducks’ nests in the town, else his dog would find them, for he will follow their trail as well as another bird’s, or a fox. The clog once caught live black ducks here but partly grown . harrnvr was ]loving corn with his Irishmen . . .

(Journal, 9:456)
25 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Most of the mountain-ash trees on the street are the European, as Prichard’s, Whiting’s, etc. The American ones (Pyrus Aucuparia is the European) in Cheney’s (from Winchendon) row have only opened within a day or two; that American one in Mrs. Hoar’s yard, apparently a week . . .
(Journal, 9:460)

26 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Stand over a bream’s nest close to the shore at Hubbard’s rear wood. At length she ventures back to it, after many approaches. The apparent young bream, hardly half an inch long, are hovering over it all the while in a little school, never offering to swim away from over that yellow sport; such is their instinct. The old one at length returns and takes up her watch beneath, but I notice no recognition of each other . . .
(Journal, 9:460)
27 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—Up Assabet.

  See apparently a young bobolink fluttering over the meadow. The garlic not even yet quite.

  In the Wheeler meadow, the bushy one southwest of Egg Rock, the coarse sedge—I think the same with that in the Great Meadows—evidently grows in patches with a rounded outline . . .

(Journal, 9:461)
29 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A. M.—Up Assabet with [H.G.O.] Blake.

  Allium Canadense in house and probably in field. The river is now whitened with the down of the black willow . . . (Journal, 9:461).

30 June 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To Ball’s Hill.

  Yesterday afternoon it was remarkably cool, with wind, it being easterly, and I anticipated a sea-turn. There was a little, a blue mistiness, ere long . . . (Journal, 9: 462-464).

2 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Gowing’s Swamp.

  Flannery says that there was a frost this morning in Moore’s Swamp on the Bedford road, where he has potatoes . He observed something white on the potatoes about 3.30 A.M. and, stooping, breathed on and melted it. Minott says he has known a frost every month in the year, but at this season it would be a black frost, which bites harder than a white one . . .

(Journal, 9:465)
3 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Minott says that old Joe Merriam used to tell of his shooting black ducks in the Dam meadows and what luck he had . . . [George] M[inott]. says that my pool in Gowing’s Swamp used to be call Duck Pond, though he does not know of ducks settling there. Perhaps they did anciently . . .
(Journal, 9:466-467)
4 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet with Brown and Rogers. Saw many pickerel near the boat. At length, near the upper Assabet bath place, I observed, “Stop! Was that a big pickerel we just passed?” for it was so large I could hardly believe my eyes . . .
(Journal, 9:467-468)
5 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To Lee’s Cliff by boat.

  Potentilla argata abundantly out. Partridges big as quails. At Clamshell I found three arrowheads and a Small Indian chisel for my guests. Rogers determined the rate of the boat’s progress by observing by his second-hand how long the boat was going its length past a pad . . .

  There came out this morning, apparently from one of those hard stem-wound cocoons on a black birch in my window, a moth whose wings are spread four and a quarter inches, and it is about an inch and three quarters long. It is black, wings and body, with two short, broad feathery antennae. The wings all have a clay-colored border behind . . .

(Journal, 9:468-471)
6 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rubus triflorus well ripe. The beach plums have everywhere the crescent-shaped mark made by the curculio,—the few that remain on (Journal, 9:471).
7 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Some of the inhabitants of the Cape think that the Cape is theirs and all occupied by them, but in my eyes it is no more theirs than it is the black-birds’, and in visiting the Cape there is hardly more need of my regarding or going through the villages than of going through the blackbirds’ nests. I am inclined to leave them both on one side, or perchance I just glance into them to see how they are built and what they contain. I know that they have spoken for the whole Cape, and lines are drawn on their maps accordingly, but I know these are imaginary, having perambulated many such, and they would have to get me or one of my craft to find them for them. For the most part, indeed with very trifling exceptions, there were no human beings there, only a few imaginary lines on a map . . .
(Journal, 9:471-472)
8 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Laurel Glen.

  A chewink’s nest with four young just hatched, at the bottom of the hyrola hollow and grove, where it is so dry, about seven feet southwest of a white pine . . .

(Journal, 9:472)

Thoreau writes to Calvin Greene:

Dear Sir,

  You are right in supposing that I have not been Westward. I am very little of a traveller. I am gratified to hear of the interest you take in my books; it is additional encouragement to write more of them. Though my pen is not idle, I have not published anything for a couple of years at least. I like a private life, & cannot bear to have the public in my mind.

  You will excuse me for not responding more heartily to your notes, since I realize what an interval there always is between the actual & imagined author, & feel that it would not be just for me to appropriate the sympathy and good will of my unseen readers.

  Nevertheless, I should like to meet you, & if I ever come into your neighborhood shall endeavor to do so . Cant you tell the world o£ your life also? Then I shall know you, at least as well as you me.

Yrs truly
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 485)
9 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Could see no yellow wasps about the nest over my window at 6 A.M., but did just before 6.30. I hear of still a second nest at Mrs. Brown’s and one at Julius Smith’s . . .

  P.M.—Up Assabet with Sophia.

  There is now but little black willow down left on the trees. They will be handsomest somewhat later than this, when there is no down on them, and the new growth has more invested the stem . . .

(Journal, 9:473-474)
10 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Put some more black willow seed in a tumbler of water at 9.30 A.M.

  P.M.—To Pratt’s and Peter’s.

  One flower on the Solanum nigrum at Pratt’s, which he says opened the 7th. He found, about a week ago, the Botrychium Virginianum in bloom . . .

(Journal, 9:475)
11 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Corner Spring and Cliffs.

  Haying is fairly begun, and for some days I have heard the sound of the mowing-machine, and now the lark must look out for the mowers . . .

  Thermometer at 93º+ this afternoon.

  Am surprised to find the water of Corner Spring spoiled for the present, however much I clear it out, by the numbers of dead and dying frogs in it (Rana palustris). There is a mortality among [them] which has made them hop to this spring to die . . .

(Journal, 9:476)

Thoreau writes to George Thatcher:

Dear Cousin,

  Finding myself somewhat stronger than for 2 or 3 years past, I am bent on making a leisurely & economical excursion into your woods—say in a canoe, with two companions, through Moosehead to the Allegash Lakes, and possibly down that river to the French settlements, & so homeward by whatever course we may prefer. I wish to go at an earlier season than formerly or within 10 days, notwithstanding the flies &c and we should want a month at our disposal.

  I have just written to Mr. [Eben J.] Loomis, one of the Cambridgeport men who went through Bangor last year, & callus on you, inviting him to me one of the party, and for a third have thought of your son Charles, who has had some fresh, as well as salt, water experience. The object of this note is to ask if he would like to go, and you would like to have him go, on such an excursion. If so I will come to Bangor, spend a day or 2 with you on my way, buy a canoe &c &c be ready the time my other man comes along. If Charles cannot go, we man find another man here, or possibly take an Indian. A friend of mine would like to accompany me, but I think that he has neither woodcraft nor strength enough.

  Please let me hear from you as soon as possible.

  Father has arrived safe & sound, and, he says, the better for his journey, though he has no longer his Bangor appetite. He intends writing to you.

Yours truly,
Henry D. Thoreau

“George Thatcher must have said no to the suggested excursion for it was finally made with a Concord neighbor, Edward Hoar, and an Indian guide, Joe Polis, as Thoreau’s only companion.”

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 485-486)
12 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It would be worth the while, methinks, to make a map of the town with all the good springs on it, indicating whether they were cool, perennial, copious, pleasantly located, etc. The farmer is wont to celebrate the virtues of some one on his own farm above all others. Some cool rills in the meadows should be remembered also, for some such in deep, cold, grassy meadows are as cold as springs. I have sometimes drank warm or foul water, not knowing such cold streams were at hand. By many a spring I know where to look for the dipper or glass which some mower has left. When a spring has been allowed to fill up, to be muddied by cattle, or, being exposed to the sun by cutting down the trees and bushes, to dry up, it affects me sadly, like an institution going to decay . . .
(Journal, 9:477-479)
13 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The price of friendship is the total surrender of yourself; no lesser kindness, no ordinary attentions and offerings will buy it. There is forever that purchase to be made with that wealth which you possess, yet only once in a long while are you advertised of such a commodity. I sometimes awake in the night and think of friendship and its possibilities, and a new life and revelation to me, which perhaps I had not experienced for many months. Such transient thoughts have been my nearest approach to realization of it, thoughts which I know of no one to communicate to. I suddenly direct myself in my thoughts, or find myself erected, infinite degrees above the possibility of ordinary endeavors, and see for what grand stakes the game of life may be played. Men, with their indiscriminate attentions and ceremonious good-will, offer you trivial baits, which do not temp; they are not serious enough for success or failure. I wake up in the night to these higher levels of life, as to a day that begins to dawn, as if my intervening life had been a long night. I catch an echo of the great strain of Friendship played somewhere, and feel compensated for months and years of commonplace. I rise into a diviner atmosphere, in which simply to exist and breath is a triumph, and my thoughts inevitably tend toward the grand and infinite . . .
(Journal, 9:479-481)
14 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet with Loomis and Wilde.

  Set fire to the carburetted hydrogen from the sawdust shoal with matches, and heard it flash. It must be an interesting sight by night.

(Journal, 9:481)
15 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Tephrosia is generally considerably past its prime. Vaccinium vacillans berries. Scare up a snipe (?) by riverside, which goes off with a dry crack, and afterward two woodcocks in the shady alder marsh at Well Meadow, which ao off with a whistling flight. Rhus glabra under Cliffs, not yet.

  When I entered the woods there, I was at once pursued by a swarm of those wood flies which gyrate around your head and strike your hat like rain-drops. As usual, they kept up with me as I walked, and gyrated about me still, as if I were stationary, advancing at the same time and receiving reinforcements from time to time. Though I switched them smartly for half a mile with some indigo-weed, they did not mind it in the least . . .

(Journal, 9:481-482)
16 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hemlocks.

  Geum album, apparently well out.

  As I walked through the pasture side of the hill, saw a mouse or two glance before me faint galleries in the grass. They are seldom seen, for these small deer. like the larger, disappear suddenly, as if they exploded before your eyes . . .

(Journal, 9:482)
17 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff.

  The young leaves of the slippery elm are a yellowish green and large, and the branches recurved or drooping. Hypericum corymbosum. Am caught in the rain and take shelter under the thick white pine by Lee’s Cliff. I see thereunder an abundance of chimaphila in bloom. It is a beautiful flower, with its naked umbel of crystalline purplish-white flowers, their disks at an angle with the horizon . . .

(Journal, 9:482-483)
18 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [George] Minott says that old Sam Nutting used to pinch off the first leaves of his melon wines as soon as they had three or four leaves, because they only attracted the bugs, and he was quite successful.

  George Bradford says he finds in Salem striped maple and Sambucus pubens. He (and Tuckerman?) found the Utricularia resupinata once in Plymouth, and it seems to correspond with mine at Well Meadow . . .

(Journal, 9:483-484)
19 July 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Smooth sumach out since the 16th (Journal, 9:484).
20 July 1857. Southern Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:


  At Natural History Library. Holbrook makes the Emys terrapin to be found from Rhode Island to Florida and South America . . .

  5 P.M.—Take cars for Portland. Very hot and dusty; as much need of a veil in the cars to exclude cinders as in the woods to keep off mosquitoes . . .

(Journal, 9:484-485)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

I STARTED on my third excursion to the Maine woods Monday, July 20, 1857, with one companion, arriving at Bangor the next day at noon. We had hardly left the steamer, when we passed Molly Molasses in the street. As long as she lives, the Penobscots may be considered extant as a tribe . . .

(The Maine Woods, 174)
21 July 1857. Bangor, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  1 P.M. At Bangor.—Thatcher’s moose-horns hanging in his barn spread two feet eight inches. There is one more prong on one side than the other. This is small (Journal, 9:485).

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

The succeeding morning, a relative of mine, who is well acquainted with the Penobscot Indians, and who had been my companion in my two previous excursions into the Maine woods, took me in his wagon to Oldtown, to assist me in obtaining an Indian for this expedition. We were ferried across to the Indian Island in a batteau . . .

(The Maine Woods, 174-175)
22 July 1857. Bangor, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am struck by the appearance of large canoe birch trees, even about houses, as an ornamental tree, and they are very enlivening, their trunks white as if whitewashed, though they rarely escape being barked and so disfigured more or less by mischievous fingers. Their white boles are in keeping with the fresh, cool air.

  At a mile and a half north of Bangor, passed the spot, at Treat’s Falls, where the first settler and fur trader, one Treat, lived . . .

(Journal, 9:486)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  At evening the Indian arrived in the cars, and I led the way while he followed me three quarters of a mile to my friend’s house, with the canoe on his head. I did not know the exact route myself, but steered by the lay of the land, as I do in Boston, and I tried to enter into conversation with him, but as he was puffing under the weight of his canoe, not having the usual apparatus for carrying it, but, above all, was an Indian, I might as well have been thumping on the bottom of his birch the while. In answer to the various observations which I made by way of breaking the ice, he only grunted vaguely from beneath his canoe once or twice, so that I knew he was there.

(The Maine Woods, 175-176)
23 July 1857. Moosehead Lake, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Some fifteen caribou were taken by one (?) man about Moosehead last winter. . . .

  [Mr. Leonard, of Bangor, a sportsman,] said that the horns of a moose would spread four feet, sometimes six ; would weigh thirty or forty pounds (the hide, fifty) ; squirrels and mice ate the horns when shed. (They told me that the horns were not grown at this season.) . . . [Leonard told] also of some panthers which appeared near a house in Foxcroft . . .

  There were two public houses near together, and they wanted to detain us at the first, even took off some of our baggage in spite of us; but, on our protesting, shouted “let them go! let them go!” as if it was any of their business. Whereupon we, thanking them for the privilege, rode on . . .

(Journal, 9:489)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

Early the next morning (July 23) the stage called for us, the Indian having breakfasted with us, and already placed the baggage in the canoe to see how it would go. My companion and I had each a large knapsack as full as it would held, and we had two large india-rubber hags which held our provision and utensils. As for the Indian, all the baggage he had, beside his axe and gun, was a blanket, which he brought loose in his hand. However, he had laid in a store o£ tobacco and a new pipe for the excursion. The canoe was securely lashed diagonally across the top of the stage, with bits of carpet tucked under the edge to prevent its chafing. The very accommodating driver appeared as much accustomed to carrying canoes in this way as bandboxes . . .

(The Maine Woods, 176-181)
24 July 1857. Moosehead Lake, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  As we paddled along, we saw many peetweets, also the common iris or blue flag, along the rocky shore, and here and afterwards great fields of epilobium or fire-weed, a mass of color . . . We looked down on the unpretending buildings and grounds of the Kinco House, as on a little flat map, oblong-square at out feet . . .

  It suggested to me how unexplored still are the realms of nature, that what we know and have seen is always an insignificant portion. We may any day take a walk as strange as Dante’s imaginary one to L’Inferno or Paradiso.

(Journal, 9:489-490)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

About four o’clock the next morning (July 24), though it was quite cloudy, accompanied by the landlord to the water’s edge, in the twilight, we launched our canoe from a rock on the Moosehead Lake. When I was there four years before, we had a rather small canoe for three persons, and I had thought that this time I would get a larger one, but the present one was even smaller than that . . .

(The Maine Woods, 181-201)
25 July 1857. Moosehead Lake, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   Very early this morning we heard the note of the wood thrush, on awaking, though this was a poor singer. I was glad to find that this prince of singers was so common in the wilderness. . . .

  The shores of this lake are rocky, rarely sandy, and we saw no good places for moose to come out on, i.e. no meadows. What P. called Caucomgomoc Mountain, with a double top, was seen north over the lake in mid-forenoon . . .

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

At breakfast this Saturday morning, the Indian, apparently curious to know what would be expected of him the next day, whether we should go along or not, asked me how I spent Sunday when at home. I told him that I commonly sat in my chamber reading, etc., in the forenoon, and went to talk in the afternoon. At which he shook his head and said, “Er, that is ver bad.” “How do you spend it?” I asked. He said that he did no work, that he went to church at Oldtown when he was at home; in short, he did as he had been taught by the whites. This lead to a discussion on which I found myself as the minority. He stated that he was a protestant, and asked me if I was. I did not at first know what to say, but I thought that I could answer with truth that I was . . .

(The Maine Woods, 182)
26 July 1857. Near Moosehead Lake, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Sunday. I distinguished more plainly than formerly the very sharp and regular dark tops of the fir trees, shaped like the points of bodkins. These give a peculiarly dark and sombre look to the forest. The spruce-top has a more ragged outline . . .
(Journal, 9:493-494)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  On reaching the Indian’s campingground, on the south side, where the bank was about a dozen feet high, I read on the trunk of a fir tree, blazed by an axe, an inscription in charcoal which had been left by him. It was surmounted by a drawing of a bear paddling a canoe, which he said was the sign which had been used by his family always. The drawing, though rude, could not be mistaken for anything but a bear, and he doubted my ability to copy it. The inscription ran thus, verbatim et literatim. I interline the English of his Indian as he gave it to me.
[The figure of a bear in a boat]

July 26
We alone Joseph
Polis e1ioi
Polis start
sia olta
for Oldtown
onke ni
right away
July 15
he added now below:—
July 26
Jo. Polis

  This was one of his homes. I saw where he had sometimes stretched his moose-hides on the opposite or sunny north side of the river, where there was a narrow meadow . . .

(The Maine Woods, 220-229)
27 July 1857. Near Moosehead Lake, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  There were some yellow lilies (Nuphar), Scutellaria gatericulata, clematis (abundant), sweet-gales, “great-smilicina” (Did I mean S. racemosa?), and beaked hazel, the only hazel I saw in Maine.
(Journal, 9:494)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  Having rapidly loaded the canoe, which the Indian always carefully attended to, that it might be well trimmed, and each having taken a look, as usual, to see that nothing was left, we set out again descending the Caucomgomoc, and turning northeasterly up the Umbazookskus. This name, the Indian said, meant Much Meadow River. We found it a very meadowy stream, and deadwater, and now very wide on account of the rains, though, he said, it was sometimes quite narrow . . .

(The Maine Woods, 229-248)
28 July 1857. Lake Chamberlain, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   As I remember, Hodge mistakes when he says that it “is erroneously represented on the charts, for it extends in a north-northeasterly, south-southwesterly direction about twelve miles.” He appears to be thinking of the easterly part. On the north side there is quite a clearing, as we had been advised to ascend the bare hill there for the sake of the prospect . . .
(Journal, 9:494-495)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  When we awoke, we found a heavy dew on our blankets. I lay awake very early, and listened to the clear, shrill ah, te te, te te, te of the white-throated sparrow, repeated at short intervals, without the least variation, for half an hour, as if it could not enough express its happiness. Whether my companions heard it or not, I know not, but it was a kind of matins to me, and the event of that forenoon.

  It was a pleasant sunrise, and we had a view of the mountains in the southeast. Ktaadn appeared about southeast by south. A double-topped mountain, about southeast by east, and another portion of the same, east-southeast . . .

(The Maine Woods, 248-266)
29 July 1857. Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am interested in an indistinct prospect, a distant view, a mere suggestion often, revealing an almost wholly new world to me . I rejoice to get, and am apt to present, a new view. But I find it impossible to present my view to most people. In effect, it would seem that they do not wish to take a new view in any ease. Heat lightning flashes, which reveal a distant horizon to our twilight eyes. But my fellows simply assert that it is not broad day, which everybody knows, and fail to perceive the phenomenon at all. I am willing to pass for a fool in my often desperate, perhaps foolish, efforts to persuade them to lift the veil from off the possible and future . . .
(Journal, 9:495-496)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  When we awoke it had done raining, though it was still cloudy. The fire was put out, and the Indian’s boots, which stood under the eaves of the tent, were half full of water. He was more improvident is such respects than either of us, and he had to thank us for keeping his powder dry . . .

  When we reached the shore, the Indian appeared from out the woods on the opposite side, but on account of the roar of the water it, was difficult to communicate with him . . . But to my surprise, when I rounded the precipice, though the shore was bare of trees, without rocks, for a quarter mile at least, my companion [Joseph Polis] was not to be seen. It was as if he had sunk into the earth. This was the more unaccountable to me, because I knew that his feet were, since our swamp walk, very sore, and that he wished to keep up with the party; and besides this was very bad walking, climbing over or about the rocks. I hastened along, hallooing and searching for him, thinking he might be concealed behind a rock, yet doubting if he had not taken the other side of the precipice, but the Indian had got along still faster in his canoe, til he was arrested by the falls, about a quarter of a mile below. He then landed, and said that we could go no farther that night . . .

(The Maine Woods, 266-288)
30 July 1857. Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To a philosopher there is a sense no great and no small, and I do not often submit to the criticism which objects to comparing so-called great things with small. It is often a question which is most dignified by the comparison, and, beside, it is pleasant to be reminded that ancient worthies who dealt with affairs of state recognized small and familiar objects known to ourselves. We are surprised at the permanence of the relation . . .
(Journal, 9:496)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  I aroused the Indian early this morning to go in search of our companion, expecting to find him within a mile or two, farther down the stream. The Indian wanted his breakfast first, but I reminded him that my companion had had neither breakfast nor supper . . .

  We had launched our canoe and gone but little way down the East Branch, when I heard an answering shout from my companion, and soon after saw him standing on a point where there was a clearing a quarter of a mile below, and the smoke of his fire was rising nearby . . .

  We all had good appetites for the breakfast which we made haste to cook here, and then, having partially dried our clothes, we glided swiftly down the winding stream toward Second Lake.

  As the shores became flatter with frequent gravel and sand-bars, and the stream more winding in the lower land near the lake, elms and ash trees made their appearance . . . The morning was a bright one, and perfectly still and serene, the lake as smooth as glass, we making the only ripple as we paddled into it. The dark mountains about it were seen through a glaucous mist, and the brilliant white stems of canoe birches mingled with the other woods around it. The wood thrush sang°on the distant shore, and the laugh of some loons, sporting in a concealed western bay, as if inspired by the morning, came distinct over the lake to us, and, what was more remarkable, the echo which ran round the lake was much louder than the original note ; probably because, the loon being in a regularly curving bay under the mountain, we were exactly in the focus of many echoes, the sound being reflected like light from a concave mirror. The beauty of the scene may have been enhanced to our eyes by the fact that we had just come together again after a night of some anxiety . . .

(The Maine Woods, 288-304)
31 July 1857. Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  This morning heard from the camp the red-eye, robin (P. [Polis] said it was a sign of rain), tweezer-bird, i.e. parti-colored warbler, chickadee, wood thrush, and soon after starting heard or saw a blue jay . . .

  P. said that his mother was a Province woman and as white as anybody. but his father a pure-blooded Indian. I saw no trace of white blood in his face, and others, who knew him well and also his father, were confident that his mother was an Indian and suggested that she was of the Quoddy tribe (belonged to New Brunswick), who are often quite light-colored . . .

(Journal, 9:497-499)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  It turned out that the mosquitoes were more numerous here than we had found them before, and the Indian complained a good deal, though he lay, as the night before, between three fires and his stretched hide . . .

  I noticed, as I had done before, that there was a lull among the mosquitoes about midnight, and that they began again in the morning. Nature is thus merciful. But apparently they need rest as well as we. Few, if any, creatures are equally active all night . . . We did not suffer so much from insects on this excursion as the statements of some who have explored these woods in midsummer led us to anticipate. Yet I have no doubt that at some seasons and in some places they are a much more serious pest . . .

(The Maine Woods, 304-311)
1 August 1857. Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I saw at the end of this carry small Apocynum cannabinum on the rocks, also more of the spurred gentian . . .

Here were many Canada blueberries and, on the rocks, a new Allium or garlic, with purple flowers, and the Lobelia Kalmii, both on bare rocks just below the falls. On the main land were Norway pines and sandy soil, and Baeromyees roseus and Desmodium Canadense,—a new soil for this river . . .

(Journal, 9:500)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  We were glad to embark once more, and leave some of the mosquitoes behind. We had passed the Wassataquoik without perceiving it. This, according to the Indian, is the name of the main East Branch itself, and not properly applied to this small tributary alone, as on the maps.

  We found that we had camped about a mile above Hunt’s, which is on the east bank, and is the last house for those who ascend Ktaadn on this side . . .

(The Maine Woods, 312-318)
2 August 1857. Penobscot River, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   At a small river coming in from the south a few miles below Nicketow, the Penobscot is crooked and the place is called Payt-gum-kiss, or Petticoat, according to [Joseph] P[olis] . . . (Journal, 9:500)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  Was a cloudy and unpromising morning. One of us observed to the Indian, “You did not stretch your moose-hide last night, did you, Mr. Polis?” Whereas he replied, in a tone of surprise, though perhaps not of ill humor: “What you ask me that question for? Suppose I stretch ’em, you see ’em. May be your way talking, may be all right, no Indian way.” I had observed that he did not wish to answer the same question more than once, and was often silent when it was put again for the sake of certainty, as if he were moody. Not that he was incommunicative, for he frequently commenced a long-winded narrative of his own accord . . .

(The Maine Woods, 318-321)
3 August 1857. Penobscot River, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Though for six weeks before leaving home we had been scarcely able to lie under more than a single sheet, we experienced no hot weather in Maine. The air was uniformly fresh, and bracing like that of a mountain to us, and, though the inhabitants like to make it out that it is as warm there as is in Massachusetts, we were not to be cheated. it is so much the more desirable at this season to breathe the raspberry air of Maine . . .
(Journal, 9:501)

Thoreau writes in “The Allegash and East Branch” chapter of The Maine Woods:

  The Penobscot Indians seem to be more social, even, than the whites. Ever and anon in the deepest wilderness of Maine, you come to the log but of a Yankee or Canada settler, but a Penobscot never takes up his residence in such a solitude. They are not even scattered about on their islands in the Penobscot, which are all within the settlements, but gathered together on two or three,—though not always on the best soil,—evidently for the sake of society. I saw one or two houses not now used by them, because, as our Indian Polis said, they were too solitary . . .

(The Maine Woods, 321-327)
4 August 1857. Pushaw Lake, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rode to Pushaw Lake with Thatcher and Hoar.

   Duck-meat, apparently a new kind, there. T. thinks there’s little if any red cedar about Bangor.

(Journal, 9:501)
5 August 1857. Near Bangor, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To my surprise found on the dinner-table at Thatcher’s the Vaccinium Oxycoccus. T. did not know it was anything unusual, but bought it at such a rate per bushel of Mr. Such-a-one, who brought it to market. They call it the “bog cranberry.” I did not perceive that it differed from the common, unless that it was rather more skinny . . .
(Journal, 9:502)
6 August 1857. Bucksport, Maine.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To the high hill and ponds in Bucksport, some ten or more miles out.

  A withdrawn, wooded, and somewhat mountainous country. There was a little trout-pond just over the highest hill, very muddy, surrounded by a broad belt of yellow lily pads. Over this we pushed with great difficulty on a rickety raft of small logs, using poles thirty feet long, which stuck in the mud . . .

(Journal, 9:502-503)
7 August 1857. Portland, Maine and Boston, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Take cars for Portland, and at the evening the boat for Boston. A great deal of cat-tail flag by railroad between Penobscot and Kennebec. Fine large ponds about Belgrade.
(Journal, 9:503)
8 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   Get home at 8:30 A.M.

  I find that B[enjamin]. M[arston]. Watson sent me from Plymouth, July 20th, six glow-worms, of which two remain, the rest having escaped. He says they were found by his family on the evenings of the 18th and 19th of July . . .

  I kept them in a sod, supplying a fresh one each day. They were invariably found underneath it by day, next the floor, still and curled up in a ring, with the head within or covered by the tail . Were apt to be restless on being exposed to the light. One that got away in the yard was found again ten feet off and down cellar . . .

(Journal, 10:3-5)
9 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see the blackbirds flying in flocks (which did not when I went away July 20th) and hear the shrilling of my alder locust (Journal, 10:5).
10 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How meanly and miserably we live for the most part! We escape fate continually by the skin of our teeth, as the saying is. We are practically desperate. But as every mean, in respect to material wealth, aims to become independent or wealthy, so, in respect to our spirits and imagination, we should have some spare capital and superfluous vigor, have some margin and leeway in which to move. What kind of gift is life unless we have spirits to enjoy it and taste its true flavor? if, in respect to spirits, we are to be forever cramped and in debt? In our ordinary estate we have not, so to speak, quite enough air to breathe, and this poverty qualifies our piety; but we should have more than enough and breathe it carelessly. Poverty is the rule. We should first of all be full of vigor like a strong horse, and beside have the free and adventurous spirit of his driver; i.e., we should have a reserve of elasticity and strength that we may at anytime be able to put ourselves at the top of our speed and go beyond our ordinary limits, just as an invalid hires a horse. Have the gods sent us into this world,—to this muster,—to do chores, hold horses, and the like, and not given us any spending money?
(Journal, 10:6-7)
11 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes, in his journal:

  Red cohosh berries well ripe in front of Hunt’s, perhaps a week or more,—a small round, conical spike, two and a half inches long by one and three quarters, of about thirty cherry-red berries. The berries oblong, seven sixteenths of an inch by six sixteenths, with a seam on one side, on slender pedicels about five eighths of an inch long . . .
(Journal, 10:8)
13 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  J. Farmer saw some days ago a black-headed gull, between a kingfisher and common gull in size, sailing lightly on Bateman’s Pond . . . (Journal, 10:8)
15 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Lycopodium lucidulum, how long (Journal, 10:8)?
16 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Myriophyllum ambiguum, apparently var. limosum, except that it is not nearly linear-leafed but pectinate, well out how long (Journal, 10:8)?
17 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Marston Watson:

Mr. Watson,

  I am much indebted to you for your glowing communication of July 20th. I had that very day left Concord for the wilds of Maine; but when I returned, August 8th, two out of the six worms remained nearly, if not quite, as bright as at first, I was assured. In their best estate they had excited the admiration of many of the inhabitants of Concord. It was a singular coincidence that I should find these worms awaiting me, for my mind was full of a phosphorescence which I had seen in the woods. I have waited to learn something more about them before acknowledging the receipt of them. I have frequently met with glow-worms in my night walks, but am not sure they were the same kind with these. Dr. [Thaddeus] Harris once describe to me a larger kind than I had found “nearly as bug as your little finger”; but he does not name them in his report.

  The only authorities on Glow-worms which I chance to have (and I am pretty well provided), are Kirby and Spence (the fullest), Knapp (“Journal of a Naturalist”), “The Library of Entertaining Knowledge” (Rennie), a French work, etc., et., but there is no minute, scientific description on any of these. This is apparently female of the genus Lampyris; but Kirby and Spence say that there are nearly two hundred species of this genus alone. The one commonly referred to by English writers is the Lampyris noctiluca; but judging from Kirby and Spence’s description, and from the description and plate in the French work, this is not that one, for besides other differences both say that the light proceeds from the abdomen. Perhaps the worms exhibited by Durkee (whose statement to the Boston Society of Natural History, second July meeting, in the Traveller” of August 12, 1857, I send you) were the same with these. I do not see how they could be the L. noctiluca, as he states.

  I expect to go to Cambridge before long, and if I get any more light on this subject I will inform you. The two worms are still alive.

  I shall be glad to receive the Drosera at any time, if you chance to come across it. I am looking over Loudon’s “Arboretum,” which we have added to our Library, and it occurs to me that it was written expressly for you, and that you cannot avoid placing it on your own shelves.

  I should have been glad to see the whale, and might perhaps have done so, if I had not at that time been seeing “the elephant” (or moose) in the Maine woods. I have been associating for about a month with one Joseph Polis, the chief man of the Penobscot tribe of Indians, and have learned a great deal from him, which I should like to tell you sometime.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 487-488)
18 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Daniel Ricketson:

Dear Sir,

  Your Wilson Flagg seems a serious person, and it is encouraging to hear of a contemporary who recognizes nature so squarely, and selects such a theme as “Barns.” (I would rather “Mt Auburn” were omitted.) But he is not alert enough. He wants stirring up with a pole. He should practice turning a series of somersets rapidly, or jump up & see bow many times he can strike his feet together before coming clown. Let him make the earth turn round now the other way—and whet his wits on it, whichever way it goes, as on a grindstone;—in short, see how many ideas he can entertain at once.

  His style, as I remember, is singularly vague ( I refer to the book) and before I got to the end of the sentences I was off the track. If you indulge in long periods you must be sure to have a snapper at the end. As for style of writing—if one has any thing to say, it drops from him simply & directly, as a stone falls to the ground for there are no two ways about it, but down it comes, and he may stick in the points and stop wherever he can get a chance. New ideas come into this world somewhat like falling meteors, with a flash as an explosion, and perhaps somebody’s castle roof perforated. To try to polish the stone in its descent, to give it a peculiar turn and make it whistle a tune perchance, would be of no use, if it were possible Your polished stuff turns out not to be meteoric, but of this earth.—However there is plenty of time and Nature is an admirable schoolmistress.

  Speaking of correspondence, you ask me if I “cannot turn over a new leaf in this time.” I certainly could if I were to receive it; but just then I looked up and saw that your page was dated “may 10th” though mailed in August, and it occurred to me that I had not seen you since that date this year . Looking again, it appeared that your note was written in ‘56!! However, it was a new leaf to me, and I turned it over with as much interest as if it had been written the day before. Perhaps you kept it so long in order that the MS & subject matter might be more in keeping with the old fashioned paper on which it was written.

  I travelled the length of Cape Cod on foot, soon after you were here, and within a few days have returned from the wolds of Maine, where I have made a journey of 325 miles with a canoe & canoe an Indian & a single white companion, Edward Hoar of this town, lately from California,—traversing the headwaters of the Jennebeck—Penobscot—& St Johns.

  Channing was just leaving Concord for Plymouth when I arrived, but said be should be here again in 2 or 3 days.

  Please remember me to your family & say that I have at length learned to sing Tom Bowling according to the notes.

Yrs truly
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 489-490)

Thoreau writes to H.G.O. Blake:

Mr. Blake,—

  Fifteenthly. It seems to me that you need some absorbing pursuit. IT does not matter much what it is, so it be honest. Such employment will be favorable to your development in more characteristic and important directions. You know there must be impulse enough for for steerage way, though it the not toward your port, to prevent your drifting helplessly on to rocks or shoals. Some sails are set for this purpose only. There is the large fleet of scholars and men of science, for instance, always to be seen standing off and on every coast, and saved thus from running on to reefs, who will at last run into their proper haven, we trust.

  It is a pity you were not here with [Theo] Brown and [B.B.] Wiley. I think that in this case, for a rarity, the more the merrier.

  You perceived that I did not entertain the idea of our going together to Maine on such an excursion as I had planned. The more I thought of it, the more imprudent it appeared to me. I did think to have written to you before going, though not to propose your going also; but I went at last very suddenly, and could only have written a business letter, if I had tried, when there was no business to be accomplished. I have now returned, and think I have had a quite profitable journey, chiefly from associating with an intelligent Indian. My companion Edward Hoar, also found his account in it, though he suffered considerable from being obliged to carry unusual loads over wet and rough “carries,”—in one instance five miles through a swamp, where the water was frequently up to our knees, and the fallen timber higher than our heads. He went over the ground three times, not being able to carry all his load at once. This prevented his ascending Ktaadn. Our best nights were those when it rained the hardest, on account of the mosquitoes. I speak of these things, which were not expected, merely to account for my not inviting you.

  Having returned, I flatter myself that the world appears in some respects a little larger, and not as usual, smaller and shallower, for having extended my range. I have made a short excursion into the new work which the Indian dwells in, or is. He begins where we leave off. It is worth the while to detect new faculties in man,—he is so much the more divine; and anything that fairly excites our admiration expands us. The Indian, who can find his way so wonderfully in the woods, possesses so much intelligence which the white man does not, and it increases my own capacity, as well as faith, to observe it. I rejoice to find that intelligence flows in other channels that I knew. It redeems for me portions of what seemed brutish before.

  It is a great satisfaction to find that your oldest convitious are permanent. With regards to essentials, I have never had occasion to change my mind. The aspect of the world varies from year to year, as the landscape is differently clothed, but I find that the truth is still true, and I never regret any emphasis which it may have inspired. Ktaadn is there still, but much more surely my old conviction is there, respecting with more than mountain breadth and weigh on the world, the source still of fertilizing streams, and affording glorious views from its summit, if I can get up to it again. As the mountains still stand on the plain, and far more unchangeable and permanent,—stand still grouped around farther or nearer to my maturer eye, the ideas which I have entertained,—the everlasting teats from which we draw our nourishment.

(Letters to Harrison Gray Otis Blake (98-99) 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)

20 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hubbard’s Close.

  The hillside at Clintonia Swamp is in some parts quite shingled with the rattlesnake-plantain (Goodyera pubescens) leaves overlapping one another. The flower is now apparently in its prime. As I stand there, I hear a peculiar sound which I mistake for a woodpecker’s tapping, but I soon sec a cuckoo hopping near suspiciously or inquisitively, at length within twelve feet, from once to time uttering a, hard, dry note . . .

(Journal, 10:8-9)
22 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [William Ellery] Channing has brought me from Plymouth and [Benjamin Marston] Watson Drosera filiformis, just out of bloom, from Great South Pond, Solidago tenuifolia in bloom, Sabbatia chlorides, and Coreopsis rosea . . .
(Journal, 10:9)
23 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum.

  Hear the mole crickets nowadays. Collinsonia (very little left) not out (Journal, 10:9).

24 August 1857. Natick, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—Ride to Austin Bacon’s, Natick.

  On the left hand, just this side the centre of Wayland, I measure the largest, or northernmost, of two large elms standing in front of an old house. At four feet from the ground, where, looking from one side, is the smallest place between the ground and the branches, it is seventeen feet in circumference . . .

  A[ustin]. Bacon showed me a drawing apparatus which he said he invented, very simply and convenient, also microscopes and many glasses for them which he made . . .

(Journal, 10:10-13)
25 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hill and meadow.

  Plucked a Lilium Canadense at three-ribbed goldenrod wall, six and eight twelfths feet high, with a pyramid of seed-vessels fourteen inches long by nine wide, the first an irregular or diagonal whorl of six, surmounted by a whorl of three. The upper two whorls of leaves are diagonal or scattered . . .

(Journal, 10:13-14)
26 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet with Bradford and Hoar.

  B[radford]. tells me he found the Malaxis lilifolia on Kineo. Saw there a tame gull as large as a hen, brown dove-color . . .

(Journal, 10:14)
27 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   P.M.—To Conantum, high-blackberrying.

   Detected a, to me, new kind of high blackberry on the edge of the cliff beyond Conant’s wall on Lee’s ground,—a long-peduncled (or pedicelled), leafy-racemed (somewhat panicced), erect blackberry. It has the aspect of R. Canadensis become erect, three or four feet high. The racemes (or panicles?) leafy, with simple ovate and broad-lanceolate leaves; loose, few flowered (ten or twelve); peduncles (or pedicels) one to two or more inches long, often branched, with bracts midway, in fruit, at least, drooping. Perhaps the terminal flowers open first . . .

(Journal, 10:14-15)
28 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I read the other day in the Tribune that a man apparently about seventy, and smart at that, went to the police in New York and asked for a lodging, having been left by the cars or steamboat when on his way to Connecticut. When they asked his age, native place, etc., he said his name was McDonald; he was born in Scotland in 1745, came to Plymouth, Mass., in 1760, was in some battles in the Revolution, in which he lost an eye; had a son eighty-odd years old, etc., but, seeing a reporter taking notes, he was silent. Since then I heard that an old man named McDonald, one hundred and twelve years old, had the day before passed through Concord and was walking to Lexington, and I said at once he must be a humbug . . .
(Journal, 10:15-17)
29 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Owl-Nest Swamp with C.

  Gerardia tenuifolia, a new plant to Concord, apparently in prime, at entrance to Owl-Nest Path and generally in that neighborhood. Also on Conantum height above orchard, two or three days later. This species grows on dry ground, or higher than the purpurea, and is more delicate . . .

(Journal, 10:17-18)
30 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum.

  Small botrychium, not long. The flower of Cicuta maculata smells like the leaves of the golden senecio . . . (Journal, 10:18-19).

31 August 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond.

   An abundance of fine high blackberries behind Britton’s old camp on the Lincoln road, now in their prime there, which have been overlooked. Is it not our richest fruit?

  Our first muskmelon to-day . . .

(Journal, 10:19-20)
1 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Pond by boat.

  Landing at Bittern Cliff, I see that fine purple grass; how long? At Baker’s shore, I at length distinguished fairly the Sagittaria simplex, which I have known so long, the small one with simple leaves. But this year there are very few of them, being nearly drowned out by the high water . . .

(Journal, 10:21-22)
2 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   P.M.—To Yellow Birches.

  Measured the thorn at Yellow Birch Swamp. At one foot from ground it is a foot and ten inches in circumference. The first branch is at two feet seven inches. The tree spreads about eighteen feet. The height is about seventeen feet . . .

(Journal, 10:22-23)
3 September 1857. Waltham, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Rode to Prospect Hill, Waltham.

The Polygonum Pennsylvanicum there. One Chimaphila maculate on the hill. Tufts of Woodsia Hvensis . . . (Journal, 10:24).

4 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Bateman’s Pond . . .

  Penetrating through the thicket of that swamp, I see a great many very straight and slender upright shoots, the slenderest and tallest that I ever saw. They are the Prinos lavigatus. I cut one and brought it home in a ring around my neck,—it was flexible enough for that,—and found it to be seven and a half feet long and quite straight, eleven fortieths of an inch in diameter at the ground and three fortieths diameter at the other end, only the last foot or so of this year’s growth. It had a light-grayish bark, rough dotted. Generally they were five or six feet high and not bigger than a pipe-stem anywhere. This comes of its growing in dense dark swamps, where it makes a good part of the underwood . . .

(Journal, 10:24-25)
5 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I now see those brown shaving-like stipules of the white pine leaves, which are falling, i.e. the stipules, and caught in cobwebs.

River falls suddenly, having been high all summer.

(Journal, 10:25)
6 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Assabet, west bank. Turned off south at Derby’s Bridge and walked through a long field, half meadow half upland . . . (Journal, 10:25-26).
7 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Dodge Brook Wood. It occurred to me some weeks ago that the river-banks were not quite perfect. It is too late then, when the mikania is in bloom, because the pads are so much eaten then. Our first slight frost in some places this morning . . .

  Returning to my boat, at the white maple, I see a small round flock of birds, perhaps blackbirds, dart through the air, as thick as a charge of shot,—now comparatively thin, with regular intervals of sky between them, like the holes in the strainer of a watering-pot . . .

(Journal, 10:26-28)

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Thoreau,—

  I wrote you some two weeks ago that I intended visiting Concord, but have not yet found the way there. The object of my now writing is to invite you to make me a visit. Walton’s small sail boat is now in Assawampset Pond. We took it up in our farm wagon to the south shore of Long Pond (Apponoquet), visited the islands in course and passed through the river that connects the said ponds. This is the finest season as to weather to visit the ponds, and I feel much stronger than when you were here last Spring. The boys and myself have made several excursions to our favorite region this summer, but we have left the best of it, so far as the voyage is concerned, for you to accompany us.

  We hear nothing of Channing, but conclude that he is with you—trust he has not left entirely, and hope to see him again before long.

  Now should my invitation prove acceptable to you, I should be glad to see you just as soon after the receipt of this as you like to come, immediately if you please.

  If you cannot come and should like to see me in Concord, please inform me, but we all hope to see you here.

  Mrs. R and the rest join in regards and invitation.

  Yours truly
  D. R

Remember me to Channing

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 492-493)
9 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To the Hill for white pine cones.

  Very few trees have any. I can only manage small ones, fifteen or twenty feet high, climbing til I can reach the dangling green pickle-like fruit in my right hand, while I hold to the main stem with my left. The cones are now all flowing with pitch, and my hands are so covered with it that I cannot easily cast down the cones where I would, they stick to my hands so. I cannot touch the basket, but carry it on my arm; nor can I pick up my coat, which I have taken off, unless with my teeth, or else I kick it up and catch it on my arm. Thus I go from tree to tree, from time to time rubbing my hands in brooks and mud-holes, in the hope of finding something that will remove pitch like grease, but in vain. It is the stickiest work I ever did. I do not see how the squirrels that gnaw them off and then open them scale by scale keep their paws and whiskers clean. They must know of, or possess, some remedy for pitch that we know nothing of. How fast I could collect cones, if I could only contract with a family of squirrels to cut them off for me! . . .

(Journal, 10:28-30)

Thoreau writes to Daniel Ricketson:

Friend Ricketson

  I thank you for your kind invitation to visit you-but I have taken so many vacations this year—at New Bedford—Cape Cod—& Maine—that any more relaxation, call it rather dissipation, will cover me with shame & disgrace. I have not earned what I have already enjoyed. As some heads cannot carry much wine, so it would seem that I cannot bear so much society as you can. I have an immense appetite for solitude, like an infant for sleep, and if I don’t get enough of it this year I shall cry all the next I believe that Channing is here still—he was two or three days ago—but whether for good & all, I do not know nor ask.

  My mother’s house is full at present; but if it were not, I should have no right to invite you hither, while entertaining such designs as I have hinted at. However, if you care to storm the town, I will engage to take some afternoon walks with you—retiring into profound solitude the most sacred part of the day

  Yrs sincerely
  H D T

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 493)
10 September 1857.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

   To Cardinal Ditch and Peter’s.

  Cardinal-flower, nearly done. beach plum, almost ripe. Squash vines on the Great Fields, generally killed and blackened by frost (though not so much in our garden), revealing the yellow fruit, perhaps prematurely . . .

(Journal, 10:30)

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Philosopher,

  I received your note of yesterday this A.M. I am glad you write me so frankly. I know well how dear one’s own time & solitude may be, and I would not on any consideration violate the sanctity of your prerogative.

  I fear too that I may have heretofore trespassed upon your time too much If I have please pardon me as I did it unwittingly I felt the need of congenial society-& sought yours I forgot that I could not render you an equivalent. It is good for one to be checked-to be thrown more and more upon his own resources. I have lived years of solitude (seeing only my own family, & Uncle James occasionally,) and was never happier. My heart however was then more buoyant and the woods and fields-the birds & flowers, but more than these, my moral meditations afforded me a constant source of the truest enjoyment. I admire your strength & fortitude to battle the world. I am a weak and broken reed. Have charity for me, if not sympathy. Can any one heart know another’s? If not let us suspend our too hasty judgement against those from whom we differ.

  I hope to see you in due time at Brooklawn where you are always a welcome & instructive guest.

  With my kind regards to your family, I remain

  Yours faithfully
  D Ricketson

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 494)
11 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Up railroad and to Clamshell.

  Solidago puberula apparently in prime, with the S. stricta, near gerardia oaks. Red choke-berry ripe; how long? On the cast edge of Dennis Swamp, where I saw the strange warbler once . . .

(Journal, 10:30)
12 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Owl Swamp (Farmer’s)

  In an open part of the swamp, started a very large wood frog, which gave one leap and squatted still. I put down my finger, and, though it shrank a little at first, it permitted me to stroke it as long as I pleased. Having passed, it occurred to me to return and cultivate its acquaintance. To my surprise, it allowed me to slide my hand under it and lift it up, while it squatted cold and moist on the middle of my palm, panting naturally. I brought it close to my eye and examined it. It was very beautiful seen thus early, not the dull dead-leaf color which I had imagined, but its back was like burnished bronze armor defined by a varied line on each side, where, as it seemed, the plates of armor united. It had four or five dusky bars which matched exactly when the legs were folded, showing that the painter applied his brush to the animal when in that position, and reddish-orange soles to its delicate feet. There was a conspicuous dark-brown patch along the head, whose upper edge passed directly through the eye horizontally, just above its centre, so that the pupil and all below were dark and the upper portion of the iris golden. I have since taken up another in the same way . . .

(Journal, 10:31-32)
13 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Nabaluls Fraseri, top of Cliffs,—a new plant,—yet in prime and not long out. The nabalus family generally, apparently now in prime (Journal, 10:32).
16 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To Great Yellow Birch, with the Watsons . . .

  Walked through that beautiful soft white pine grove on the west of the road in John Flint’s pasture. These trees are large, but there is ample space between them, so that the ground is left grassy. Great pines two or more feet in diameter branch sometimes within two feet of the ground on each side, sending out large horizontal branches on which you can sit. Like great harps on which the wind makes music. There is no finer tree . . .

  Watson gave me three glow-worms which he found by the roadside in Lincoln last night. They exhibit a greenish light, only under the caudal extremity, and intermittingly, or at will. As often as I touch one in a dark morning, it stretches and shows its light for a moment, only under the last segment . . .

(Journal, 10:32-34)
17 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I go to Fair Haven Hill, looking at the varieties of nabalus, which have a singular prominence now in all woods and roadsides. The lower leaves are very much eaten by insects. How perfectly each plant has its turn!—as if the seasons revolved for it alone . . .
(Journal, 10:35)
18 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Round Walden with C[hanning].

  We find the water cold for bathing. Coming out on to the Lincoln road at Bartlett’s path, we found an abundance of haws by the roadside, just fit to eat, quite an agreeable subacid fruit. We were glad to see anything that could be eaten so abundant. They must be a supply depended on by some creatures. These bushes bear a profusion of fruit, rather crimson than scarlet when ripe . . .

  Coming home through the street in a thunder-shower at ten o’clock this night, it was exceedingly dark. I met two person within a mile, and they were obliged to call out from a rod distant lest we should run against each other. When lightning lit up the street, almost as plain as day, I saw that it was the same green light that the glow-worm emits. Has the moisture something to do with it in both cases?

(Journal, 10:36)
19 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Still somewhat rainy,—since last evening (Journal, 10:36).
20 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another mizzling day.

  A.M.—To beach plums behind A. Clarke’s.

  We walked in some trodden path on account of the wet grass and leaves, but the fine grass overhanging paths, weighed down with dewy rain, wet our feet nevertheless. We cannot afford to omit seeing the beaded grass and wetting our feet. This is our first fall rain, and makes a dividing line between the summer and fall. Yet there has been no drought the past summer . . .

(Journal, 10:36-37)
21 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Carallorhiza rock and Tobacco-pipe Wood, northeast of Spruce Swamp.

  Peaches are now in their prime. Came through that thick white pine wood on the east of the spruce swamp.

  This is a very dense white pine grove, consisting of tall and slender trees which have been thinned, yet they are on an average only from three to six feet asunder. Perhaps half have been cut. It is a characteristic white pine grove, and I have seen many such . . .

(Journal, 10:37-39)
23 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The Ripley beeches have been cut. I can’t find them. There is one large one, apparently on Baker’s land, about two feet in diameter near the ground, but fruit hollow. I see yellow pine-sap, in the woods just cast of where the beeches used to stand . . .
(Journal, 10:39)
24 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Up the Assabet.

  The river is considerably raised and also muddied by the recent rains.

  I saw a red squirrel run along the bank under the hemlocks with a nut in its mouth. He stopped near the foot of a hemlock, and, hastily pawing a hole with his fore feet, dropped the nut, covered it up, and retreated part way up the trunk of the tree, all in a few moments. I approached the shore to examine the deposit, and he, descending betrayed no little anxiety for his treasure and made two or three motions to recover the nut before he retreated . . .

(Journal, 10:39-41)
25 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The red maple has fairly begun to blush in some places by the river. I see one, by the canal behind Barrett’s mill, all aglow against the sun. These first trees that change are most interesting, since they are seen against others still freshly green,—such brilliant red on green. I go half a mile out of my way to examine such a red banner. A single tree becomes the crowning beauty of some meadow vale and attracts the attention of the traveler from afar. At the eleventh hour of the year, some tree which has stood mute and inglorious in some distant vale thus proclaims its character as effectually as it stood by the highway-side, and it leads our thoughts away from the dusty road into those brave solitudes which it inhabits. The whole tree, thus ripening in advance of its fellow, attains a singular preeminence. I am thrilled at the sight of it, bearing aloft its scarlet standard for its regiment of green-clad foresters around. The forest is the more spirited . . .
(Journal, 10:41-44)
26 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The season is waning. A wasp just looked in upon me. A very warm day for the season.

   These are warm, serene, bright autumn afternoons. I see far off the various-colored gowns of cranberry pickers against the green of the meadow. The river stands a little way over the grass again, and the summer is over . . .

(Journal, 10:44-46)
27 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am surprised to find that, yesterday having been a sudden very warm day, the peaches have mellowed suddenly and wilted, and I find many more fallen than even after previous rains. Better if ripened more gradually.

  How out of all proportion to the value of an idea, when you come to one,—in Hindoo literature, for instance,—it the historical fact about it,—the when, where, etc., it was actually expressed, and what precisely it might signify to a sect of worshippers! Anything that is called history of India—or of the world—is impertinent beside any real poetry or inspired thought which is dateless . . .

(Journal, 10:46-49)
28 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see that E. Wood has sent a couple of Irishman, with axe and bush-whack, to cut off the natural hedges and sumach, Roxbuty waxwork, grapes, etc., which have sprung up by the walls on this hill farm, in order that his cows may get a little more green. And they have cut down two or three of the very rare celtis trees, not found anywhere else in town. The Lord deliver us from these vandalic proprietors! The botanist and lover of nature has, perchance, discovered some rare tree which has sprung up by a farmer’s wall-side to adorn and bless it, sole representative of its kind in these parts. Strangers send for a seed or a sprig from a distance, but, walking there again, he finds that the farmer has sent a raw Irishman, a hireling just arrived on these shores, who was never there before,—and we trust, will never be let loose there again,—who knows not whether he is hacking at the upas tree or the Tree of Knowledge, with axe and stub-scythe to exterminate it, and he will know it no more forever. What is trespassing? This hessian, the day after he was landed, was whirled twenty miles into the interior to do this deed of vandalism on our favorite hedge. I would as soon admit a living mud turtle into my herbarium. If some are prosecuted for abusing children, others deserve to be prosecuted for maltreating the face of nature committed to their care . . .
(Journal, 10:49-51)
29 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  All sorts of men come to Cattle-Show. I see one with a blue hat . . . (Journal, 10:51).
30 September 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Ground white with frost this morning.

  P.M.—To Walden.

  Young oaks generally reddening, etc., etc. Rhus Toxicodendron turned yellow and red, handsomely dotted with brown.

  At Wheeler’s Wood by railroad, heard a cat owl hooting at 3.30 P.M., which was repeatedly answered by another some forty rods off . . .

(Journal, 10:51-54)
1 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To second stone bridge and down Assabet home.

  The ash trees are a dull red, and some quite mulberry color. Methinks it has to do with the smart frost of yesterday morning; i.e., that after the maples have fairly begun, the young red oaks, ash trees, etc., begin with the first, smart frost. The pines now half turned yellow, the needles of this year are so much the greener by contrast . . .

(Journal, 10:55-56)
2 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The chief incidents in [George] Minott’s life must be more distinct and interesting to him now than  immediately after they occurred, for he has recalled and related them so often that they are stereotyped in his mind. Never having travelled far from his hillside, he does not suspect himself, but tell his stories with fidelity and gusto to the minutest details,—as much as Herodotus his histories . . .
(Journal, 10:56-58)
3 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How much more agreeable to sit in the midst of old furniture like [George] Minott’s clock and secretary and looking-glass, which have come down from other generations, than in that which was just brought from the cabinet-maker’s and smells of varnish, like a coffin! To sit under the face of an old clock that has been ticking one hundred and fifty years,—there is something mortal, not to say immortal, about it! A clock that began to tick when Massachusetts was a province. Meanwhile John Beatton’s heavy tombstone is cracked quite across and widely opened . . .
(Journal, 10:58-59)
4 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  While I lived in the woods I did various jobs about the town,—some fence-building, painting, gardening, carpentering, etc., etc. One day a man came from the east edge of the town and said that he wanted to get me to brick up a fireplace, etc., etc., for him. I told him that I was not a mason, but he knew that I had built my own house entirely and would not take no for an answer. So I went.

  It was three miles off, and I walked back and forth each day, arriving early and working as late as if I were living there. The man was gone away most of the time, but had left some sand dug up in his cow-yard for me to make mortar with. I bricked up a fireplace, papered a chamber,  but my principal work was whitewashing ceilings. Some were so dirty that many coats would not conceal the dirt. In the kitchen I finally resorted to yellow-wash to cover the dirt. I took my meals there, witting down with my employer (when he got home) and his hired men. I remember the awful condition of the sink, at which I washed one day, and when I came to look at what was called the towel I passed it by and wiped my hands on the air . . .

(Journal, 10:59-63)
5 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is evident that some phenomena which belong only to spring in that latitude, as the peeping of hylodes and blossoming of some flowers that long since withered here were there still freshly in bloom, in that fresher and cooler atmosphere,—the call for instance. To say nothing of the myrtle-bird and F. hyemalis which breed there, but only transiently visit us in spring and fall. Just as a river which here freezes only a certain distance from the shore . . .
(Journal, 10:66)
6 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The frontier houses preserve many of the features of the logging-camp . . .

  Looking up Trout Stream, it seems as a wild a place for a man to live as we had seen. What a difference between a residence there and within five minutes walk of the depot! What different men the two live must turn out!

(Journal, 10:66-70)
7 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Such is the dwelling place of man; but go to a caucus in the village to-night or to a church to-morrow, and see if there is anything said to suggest that the inhabitants of those houses know what kind of world they live in. But hark! I hear the tolling of a distant funeral bell, and they are conveying a corpse to the churchyard from one of the houses that I see, and its serious sound is more in harmony with this scenery than any ordinary bustle could be. It suggests that man must die to his present life before he can appreciate his opportunities and the beauty of the abode that is appointed him . . .
(Journal, 10:70-77)
8 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  Hemlock leaves are copiously falling. They cover the hillside like some wild grain. The changing red maples along the river are past their prime now, earlier than generally elsewhere. They are much faded, and many leaves are floating on the water . . .

(Journal, 10:77-78)
9 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It has come to this,—that the lover of art is one, and the lover of nature another, though true art is but the expression of our love of nature. It is monstrous when one cares but little about trees but much about Corinthian columns, and yet this is exceedingly common . . .
(Journal, 10:78-81)
10 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  This is the end of the sixth day of glorious weather, which I am tempted to call the finest in the years, so bright and serene the air and such a sheen from the earth, so brilliant the foliage, so pleasantly warm (except, perhaps, this day, which is cooler), too warm for a thick coat,—yet not sultry nor oppressive,—so ripe the season and our thoughts. Certainly these are the most brilliant days in the year, ushered in perhaps, by a frosty morning, as this. As a dewy morning in the summer compared with a parched and sultry, languid one, so a frosty morning at this season compared with a merely dry or foggy one. These days you may say the year has ripened like a fruit by frost, and puts on brilliant tints of maturity but not yet of decay . . .
(Journal, 10:82-85)
11 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mr. Conant of Acton tells me that there was a grist mill built over the river by Sam Barrett’s grandfather, and that he remembers going to it when he was fourteen. He went in at the Lee house and crossed the river by the bridge at the mill. he says that it is as much as sixty years since the mill was standing. [George] Minott thinks it is not quite so long since. He remembers the bridge there, not a town one, nor strong enough for a horse and cart . . .
(Journal, 10:85-87)
12 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

 Looking from the Hill. The autumnal tints generally are much duller now than three or four days ago, or before the last two frosts. I am not sure but the yellow now prevails over the red in the landscape, and even over the green. The general color of the landscape from this hill is now russet, i.e. red, yellow, etc., mingled. The maple fires are generally about burnt out . Yet I can see very plainly the colors of the sproutland, chiefly oak, on Fair Haven Hill, about four miles distant, and also yellows on Mt. Misery, five miles off, also on Pine Hill, and even on Mt. Tabor, indistinctly . . .
(Journal, 10:88-90)
13 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Maple fires are burnt out generally, and they have fairly begun to fall and look smoky in the swamps. When my eyes were resting on those smoke-like bare trees, it did not at first occur to me why the landscape was not as brilliant as a few days ago. The outside trees in the swamps lose their leaves first . . .
(Journal, 10:90-92)
14 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is indeed a golden autumn. These ten days are enough to make the reputation of any climate. A tradition of these days might be handed down to posterity. They deserve a notice in history, in the history of Concord. All kinds of crudities have a chance to get ripe this year. Was there ever such an autumn? . . .
(Journal, 10:92-98)
15 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain at last, and end of the remarkable days. The springs and rivers have been very low. Millers have not water enough to grind their grists . . .

  The ten days—at least—before this were plainly Indian summer. They were remarkably pleasant and warm. The latter half I sat and slept with an open window, though the first part of the time I had a little fire in the morning. These succeeded to days when you had worn thick clothing and sat by fires for some time . . .

(Journal, 10:98-99)
16 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  It clears up entirely by noon, having been cloudy in the forenoon, and is as warm as before now . . .

  I think that the principal stages in the autumnal changes of trees are these, thus far, as I remember, this year:—

  First, there were in September the few prematurely blushing white maples, or blazing red ones in water, that reminded us of October. Next, the red maple swamps blazed out in all their glory, attracting the eyes of all travellers and contrasting with other trees. And hard upon these came the ash trees and yellowing birches, and walnuts, and elms, and the sprout-land oaks, the last streaking the hillsides far off, often occupying more commanding positions than the maples. All these add their fires to those of the maples. But even yet the summer is unconquered . . .

(Journal, 10:99-102)
17 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The trainers are out with their band of music, and I find my account in it, though I have not subscribed for it. I am walking with a hill between me and the soldiers. I think, perhaps, it will be worth while to keep within hearing of these strains this afternoon, Yet I hesitate. I am wont to find music unprofitable; it is a luxury. It is surprising, however, that so few habitually intoxicate themselves with music, so many with alcohol. I think, perchance, I may risk it, it will whet my senses so; it will reveal a glory where none was seen before. It is remarkable that men too must dress in bright colors and march to music once in the year. Nature, too, assumes her bright hues now, and think you a subtile music may not be heard amid the hills? . . .
(Journal, 10:103-104)
18 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum.

  Clear and pleasant afternoon, but cooler than before. At the brook beyond Hubbard’s Grove, I stand to watch the water-bugs (Gyrinus). The shallow water appears now more than usually clear there, as the weather is cooler, and the shadows of these bugs on the bottoms, half a dozen times as big as themselves, with a narrow and well-defined halo about them . . .

(Journal, 10:104-107)
19 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mr. Sanborn tells me that he looked off from Wachusett last night, and that he saw the shadow of the mountain gradually extend itself eastward not only over the earth but finally on to the sky in the horizon. Though it extended as much as two diameters of the moon on to the sky, in a small cone . . .
(Journal, 10:108)
20 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  What a wild and rich domain that Easterbrooks Country! Not a cultivated, hardly a cultivatable field in it, and yet it delights all natural persons, and feeds more still. Such great rocky and moist tracts, which daunt the farmer, are reckoned as unimproved land, and therefore worth but little; but think of the miles of huckleberries, and of barberries, and of wild apples . . .
(Journal, 10:108-113)
21 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  First ice that I’ve seen or heard of, a tenth of an inch thick in yard, and the ground is slightly frozen.

  I see many myrtle-birds now about the house this forenoon, on the advent of cooler weather. They keep flying up against the house and the window and fluttering there . . .

(Journal, 10:113-116)
22 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—To Hill.

  Ground pretty white with frost. the stiffened and frosted weeds and grass have an aggrieved look. The lately free-flowing blades of grass look now like mourning tresses sculptured stiffly in marble; they lie stiff and dishevelled. A very narrow strip of ice has formed along the riverside, in which I see a pad or two, wearing the same aggrieved look, like the face of the child that cried for spilt milk, its summer irrevocably gone . . .

  Crossing my old bean-field, I see the blue pond between the green whit® pines in the field and am reminded that we are almost reduced to the russet (i.e. pale-brown grass tinged with red blackberry vines) of such fields as this, the blue of water, the green of pines, and the dull reddish brown o£ oak leaves. The sight of the blue water between the now perfectly green white pines, seen over the light-brown pasture, is peculiarly Novemberish, though it may be like this in early spring . . .

(Journal, 10:116-123)
23 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  I can find no bright leaves now in the woods. Witch-hazel, etc., are withered, turned brown, or yet green. See by the droppings in the woods where small migrating birds have roosted . . .

(Journal, 10:123-124)
24 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Smith’s chestnut grove . . .

  I get a couple of quarts of chestnuts by patiently brushing the thick beds of leaves aside with my hand in successive concentric circles till I reach the trunk . . .

  I find my account in this long-continued monotonous labor of picking chestnuts all the afternoon, brushing the leaves aside without looking up, absorbed in that, and forgetting better things awhile. my eye is educated to discover anything on the ground, as chestnuts, etc. It is probably wholesomer to look at the ground much than at the heavens. As I go stooping and brushing the leaves aside by the hour, I am not thinking of chestnuts merely, but I find myself humming a thought of more significance. This occupation affords a certain broad pause and opportunity to start again afterward,—turn over a new leaf . . .

(Journal, 10:124-125)
25 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A rainy day and easterly wind,—an easterly storm. I see flying very high over the meadow, from the east, eleven large birds, leisurely circling a little by the way, surveying the bare meadow. I think they must be fish hawks . . .
(Journal, 10:125-126)
26 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  These regular phenomena of the seasons get at last to be—they were at first, of course—simply and plainly phenomena or phases of my life. The seasons and all their changes are in me. I see not a dead eel or floating snake, or a gull, but it rounds my life and is like a line or accent in its poem. Almost I believe the Concord would not rise and overflow its banks again, were I not here. After a while I learn what my moods and seasons are. I would have nothing subtracted. I can imagine nothing added. My moods are thus periodical, not two days in my year alike. The perfect correspondence of Nature to man, so that he is at home in her! . . .
(Journal, 10:126-129)
27 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The real facts of a poet’s life would be more value to us than any work of his art. I mean that the very scheme and form of his poetry (so called) is adopted at a sacrifice of vital truth and poetry. Shakespeare has left us his fancies and imaginings, but the truth of his life, with its becoming circumstances, we know nothing about. The writer is reported, the liver not at all. Shakespeare’s house! how hollow it is! No man can conceive of Shakespeare in that house. But we want the basis of fact, of an actual life, to complete our Shakespeare, as much as a statue wants its pedestal. A poet’s life with this broad actual basis would be as superior to Shakespeare’s as a lichen, with its base or thallus, is superior in the order of being a fungus . . .
(Journal, 10:129-132)
28 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  All at once a low-slanted glade of sunlight from one of heaven’s west windows behind me fell on the bare gray maples, lighting them up with and incredibly intense and pure white light; then, going out there, it lit up some white birch stems south of the pond, then the gray rocks and the pale reddish young oaks of the lower cliffs, and then the very pale brown-meadow-grass, and at last the brilliant white breasts of two ducks, tossing on the agitated surface far off on the pond, which I had not detected before. It was but a transient ray, and there was no sunshine afterward, but the intensity of the light was surprising and impressive, like a halo, a glory in which only the just deserved to live.

  It was as if the air, purified by the long storm, reflected these few rays from side to side with a complete illumination, like a perfectly polished mirror, while the effect was greatly enhanced by the contrast with the dull dark clouds and somber earth. As if Nature did not dare at once to let in the full blaze of the sun to this combustible atmosphere. It was a serene, elysian light, in which the deeds I have dreamed of but not realized might be performed. At the eleventh hour, late in the year, we have visions of the life we might have lived. No perfectly fair weather ever offered such an arena for noble acts. it was such a light as we behold but dwell not in! . . .

(Journal, 10:132-139)
29 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  There are some things of which I cannot at once tell whether I have dreamed them or they are real; as if they were just, perchance, establishing, or else losing, a real basis in my world. This is especially the case in the early morning hours, when there is a gradual transition from dreams to waking thoughts, from illusions to actualities, as from darkness, or perchance moon and star light, to sunlight. Dreams are real, as is the light of the stars and moon, and theirs is said to be a dreamy light . . .

  Though the pleasure of ascending the mountain is largely mixed with awe, my thoughts are purified and sublimed by it, as if I had been translated.

I see that men may be well-mannered or conventionally polite toward men, but skeptical toward God.

Forever in my dream and in my morning thought,
  Eastward a mount ascends;
But when in the sunbeam its hard outline is sought,
  It all dissolves and ends.
The woods that way are gates, the pastures too slope up
  To an unearthly ground;
But when I ask my mates to take the staff and cup,
  It can no more be found.
Perhaps I have no shoes fit for the lofty soil
  Where my thoughts graze,
No properly spun clues, nor well-strained mid-day oil,
  Or must I mend my ways?
It is a promised land which I have not yet earned.
  I have not made beginning
With consecrated hand, nor have I ever learned
  To lay the underpinning.
The mountain sinks by day, as do my lofty thoughts,
  Because I’m not high-minded.
If I could think alway above these hills and warts,
  I should see it, though blinded.
It is a spiral path within the pilgrim’s soul
  Leads to this mountain’s brow;
Commencing at his hearth he climbs up to this goal
  He knows not when nor how.

  We see mankind generally either (from ignorance or avarice) toiling too hard and becoming mere machines in order to acquire wealth . . .

(Journal, 10:139-147)
30 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another, the eighth, day of cloudy weather, though no rain to-day . . .

  There’s a very large and complete circle round the moon this evening, which part way round is a faint rainbow. It is a clear circular space, sharply and mathematically cut out of a thin mackerel sky. You see no mist within it, large as it is, nor even a star . . .

(Journal, 10:147-148)
31 October 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Cloudy still and, in the afternoon, rain, the ninth day. The sugar maple and elm leaves are fallen, but I still see many large oaks, especially scarlet ones, which have lost very few leaves. Some scarlet oaks are pretty bright yet. The white birches, too, still retain many yellow leaves at their very tops, having a lively flame-like look when seen against the woods . . .
(Journal, 10:148-151)
1 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau write in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Pond Over Cliffs.

  Another cloudy afternoon after a clear morning.

  When I enter the woods I notice the drier crispier rustle of withered leaves on the oak trees,—a sharper susurrus . . .

  As I return by the Well Meadow Field and then Wheeler’s large wood, the sun shines from over Fair Haven Hill into the wood, and I see that the sun, when low, will shine into a thick wood, which you had supposed always dark, as much as twenty rods, lighting it all up, making the gray, lichen-clad sterns of the trees all warm and bright with light, and a distinct black shadow behind each. As if every grove, however dense, had its turn. A higher truth, though only dimly hinted at, thrills us more than a lower expressed . . .

(Journal, 10:152-153)
2 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Wild apples have lost some of their brilliancy now and are chiefly fallen.

  Returning, I see the red oak on R.W.E.’s shore reflected in the bright sky water. In the reflection the tree is black against the clear whitish sky, though as I see it against the opposite woods it is a warm greenish yellow. But the river sees it against the bright sky, and hence the reflection is like ink. The water tells me how it looks to it seen from below . . .

(Journal, 10:156-157)
3 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  There is a wild pear tree on the east side of Ponkawtasset, which I find to be four and a half feet in circumference at four feet from the ground.

  Looking westward now, at 4 P.M., I see against the sunlight, where the twigs of a maple and black birch intermingle, a little gossamer or fine cobwebs, but much more the twigs, especially of the birch, waving slightly, reflect the light like cobwebs. It is a phenomenon peculiar to this season,—when the twigs are bare and the air is clear. I cannot easily tell what is cobweb and what twig, but the latter often curve upward more than the other . . .

(Journal, 10:157-160)
4 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I leave the railroad at Walden Crossing and follow the path to Spanish Brook. How swift Nature is to repair the damage that man does! When he has cut down a tree and left only a white-topped and bleeding stump, she comes at once to the rescue with her chemistry, and covers it decently with a fresh coat of green cup and bright cockscomb lichens, and it becomes an object of new interest to the lover of nature! Suppose it were always to remain a raw stump instead! It becomes a shell on which this humble vegetation spreads and displays itself, and we forget the death of the larger in the life of the less . . .
(Journal, 10:160-162)
5 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I think that the man of science makes this mistake, and the mass of mankind along with him: that you should coolly give your chief attention to the phenomenon which excited you as something independent on you, and not as it is related to you. The important fact is its effect on me. He thinks that I have no business to see anything else but just what he defines the rainbow to be, but I care not whether my vision of truth is a waking thought or dream remembered, whether it is seen in the light or in the dark. It is the subject of the visions, the truth alone, that concerns me. The philosopher for whom rainbows, etc., can be explained away never them. With regard to such objects, I find that it is not the themselves (with which the men of science deal) that concern me; the point of interest is somewhere between me and them (i.e. the objects) . . .
(Journal, 10:163-166)
6 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Very warm  but rather cloudy weather, after rain in the night. Wind southwest. Thermometer on north of the house 70º at 12 M. Indian summer. The cocks crow in the soft air. They are very sensitive to atmospheric changes . . .
(Journal, 10:166-168)
7 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  You will sometimes see a sudden wave flow along a puny ditch of a brook, inundating all its shores, when a musquash is making his escape beneath. He soon plunges into some hole in the bank under water, and all is still again . . .

  [George] Minott adorns whatever part of nature he touches; whichever way he walks he transfigures the earth for me.  If a common man speaks of Walden Pond to me, I see only a shallow, dull-colored body of water without reflections or peculiar color, but if [George] Minott speaks of it, I see the green water and reflected hills at once, for he has been there . . .

(Journal, 10:168)
8 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A warm cloudy, rain-threatening morning.

  About 10 A.M., a flock of geese are going over from northeast to southwest, or parallel with the general direction of the coast and great mountain-ranges. The sonorous, quavering sounds of the geese are the voice of this cloudy air,—a sound that comes from directly between us and the sky, an aerial sound, and yet so distinct, heavy, and sonorous, a clanking chain drawn through the heavy air. I saw through my window some children looking up and pointing their tiny bows into the heavens, and I knew at once that the geese were in the air. It is always an exciting event. The children, instinctively aware of its importance, rushed into the house to tell their parents . . .

(Journal, 10:169-172)
9 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying for Stedman Buttrick and Mr. Gordon.

  Jacob Farmer says that he remembers well a particular bound (which is the subject of dispute between the above two men) from this circumstance: He, a boy, was sent, as the representative of his mother, to witness the placing of the bounds to her lot, and he remembers that, when they had fixed the stake and stones, old Mr. Nathan Barrett asked him if he had a knife about him, upon which he pulled out his knife and gave it to him. Mr. Barrett cut a birch switch and trimmed it in the presence of young Farmer, and then called out, “Boy, here’s your knife;” but as the boy saw that he was going to strike him when he reached his hand for the knife, he dodged into a bush which alone received the blow. And Mr. Barrett said that if it had not been for that, he would have got a blow which would have made him remember that bound as long as he lived, and explained to him that this was his design in striking him . . .

(Journal, 10:172-174)
11 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   Clear and fine Indian-summer day.

  P.M.—To Lincoln limestone with E. Hoar.

  Hoar showed me last evening the large fossil tooth of a shark, such as figured in Hitchcock, which he bought at Gay Head the other day. He also bought one or more other species . . .

(Journal, 10:174-175)
12 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to George Thatcher:

Dear Cousin,

  Father has received your letter of Nov. 10, but is at present unable to reply. He is quite sick with the jaundice, having been under the doctor’s care for a week; this, added to his long standing cold, has reduced him very much. He has no appetite, but little strength and gets very little sleep. We have written to aunts Maria & Jane to come up & see him.

  I am glad if your western experience has made you the more a New Englander -though your part of N.E. is rather cold -Cold as it is, however, I should like to see those woods and lakes, and & rivers in mid-winter, sometime.

  I find that the most profitable way to travel is, to write down your questions before you start, & be sure that you get them all answered, for when the opportunity offers you cannot always tell what you want to know, or, if you can will often neglect to learn it

  Edward Hoar is in Concord still. I hear that the moose horns which you have him make the principal or best part of an elaborate hat-tree

  Sophia sends much love to Cousin Rebecca & expects an answer to her letter.

  Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 495)
13 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I find that I can see the sun set from almost any hill in Concord, and some within the confines of the neighboring towns, and though this takes place at just about 5 P.M., when the cows come in, get to the post-office by the time the mail is distributed. See the sun rise or set if possible each day. Let that be your pill. How speedily the night comes on now! There is duskiness in the afternoon light before you are aware of it, the cows have gathered about the bars, waiting to be let out, and, in twenty minutes, candles gleam from distant windows, and the walk for this day is ended . . .
(Journal, 10:175-176)
14 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   P.M.—Ride to limestone quarries on old Carlisle road with E. Hoar.

  This morning it was considerably colder than for a long time, and by noon very much colder than heretofore, with a pretty strong northerly wind. The principal flight of geese was November 8th, so that the bulk of them preceded this cold turn five days. You need greatcoat and buffalo and gloves now, if you ride. I find my hands stiffened and involuntarily finding their way to my pockets. No wonder that the weather is a standing subject of conversation, since we are so sensitive. If we had not gone through several winters, we might well be alarmed at the approach of cold weather. With this keener blast from the north, my hands suddenly fail to fulfill their office, as it were begin to die. We must put on armor against the new foe. I am almost world-ridden suddenly. I can hardly tie and untie my shoe-strings. What a story to tell the inhabitants of the tropics . . .

(Journal, 10:177-181)
15 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The obvious falling of leaves (i.e. not to include the fall of the pitch pines and larches and the complete fall of the birches, white willows, etc.) ended about the first of November. A very few bright-colored leaves on small shrubs, such as oak sprouts, black cherry, blueberry, etc., have lingered up to this time in favorable places. by the first of November, or at most a few days later, the trees generally wear, in the main, their winter aspect, their leaves gradually fading until spring . . .
(Journal, 10:181-185)
16 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to H.G.O. Blake:

Mr. Blake,—

  You have got the start again. It was I that owed you a letter or two, if I mistake not.

  They make a great ado nowadays about hard times; but I think that the community generally, ministers and all, take a wrong view of the matter, though some of the ministers preaching according to a formula may pretend to take a right one. This general failure, both private and public, is rather occasion for rejoicing, as reminding us whom we have at the helm,—that justice is always done. If our merchants did not most of them fail, and the banks too, my faith in the old laws of the world would be staggered. The statement that ninety-six in a hundred doing such business surely break down is perhaps the sweetest fact that statistics have revealed,—exhilarating as the fragrance of swallows in spring. Does it not say somewhere, “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice”? If thousands are thrown out of employment, it suggests that they were not well employed. Why don’t they take the hint? It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?

  The merchants and company have long laughed at transcendentalism, high laws, etc., crying “None of your moonshine,” as if they were anchored to something not only definite, but sure and permanent. If there was any institution which was presumed to rest on a solid and secure basis, and more than any other represented this boasted common sense, prudence, and practical talent, it was the bank; and now those very banks are found to be mere reeds shaken by the wind. Scarcely one in the land has kept its promise. It would seem as if you only need live forty years in any age of this world, to see its most promising government become the government of Kansas, and banks nowhere. Not merely the Brook Farm and Fourierite communities, but now the community generally has failed. But there is the moonshine still, serene, beneficent, and unchanged. Hard times, I say, have this value, among others, that they show us what such promises are worth, where the sure banks are. I heard some merchant praised the other day because he had paid some of his debts, though it took nearly all he had (why I’ve done as much as that myself many times, and a little more), and then gone to board. What if he has? I hope he’s got a good boarding place, and can pay for it. It’s not everybody that can. However, in my opinion, it is cheaper to keep house, i.e., if you don’t keep too big a one.

  Men will tell you sometimes that “money’s hard.” That shows it was not made to eat, I say. Only think of a man in this new work, in his log cabin, in the midst of a corn and potato patch, with a sheepfold on one side, talking about money being hard! So are flints hard; there is no alloy in them. What has that to do with his raising his food, cutting his wood (or breaking it), keeping in-doors when it rains, and, if need be, spinning and weaving his clothes? Some of those who sank with the steamer the other day found out that money was heavy too. Think of a man’s priding himself on this kind of wealth, as if it greatly enriched him. As if one struggling in mid-ocean with a bag of gold on his back should gasp out, “I am worth a hundred thousand dollars.” I see them struggling just as ineffectually on dry land, nay, even more hopelessly for, in the former case, rather than sink, they will finally let the bag go; but in the latter they are pretty sure to hold and go down with it. I see them swimming about in their great-coats, collecting their rents, really getting their dues, drinking bitter draught which only increase their thirst, becoming more and more water-logged, till finally they sink plumb down to the bottom. But enough of this.

  Have you ever read Ruskin’s books? If not, I would recommend you to try the second and third volumes (not parts) of his “Modern Painters.” I am now reading the fourth, and have read most of his other books lately. They are singularly good and encouraging, though not without crudeness and bigotry. The themes in the volumes referred to are Infinity, Beauty, Imagination, Love of Nature, etc.,—all treated in a very living manner. I am rather surprised by them. It is remarkable that these things should be said with reference to painting chiefly, rather than literature. The “Seven Lamps of Architecture,” too, is made of good stuff; but, as I remember, there is too much about art in it for me and the Hottentots. We want to know about matters and things in general. Our house is as yet a hut.

  You must have been enriched by your solitary walk over the mountains. I suppose that I feel the same awe when on their summits that many do on entering a church. To see what kind of earth that is on which you have a house and garden somewhere, perchance! It is equal to the lapse of many years. You must ascend a mountain to learn your relation to matter, and so to your own body, for it is at home there, though you are not. It might have been composed there, and will have no farther to go to return to dust there, than in your garden; but your spirit inevitably comes away, and brings your body with it, if it lives. Just as awful really, and as glorious, is your garden. See how I can play my fingers! They are the funniest companions I have ever found. Where did they come from? What strange control I have over them! Who am I? Who are they?—those little peaks—call them Madison, Jefferson, Lafayette. What is the matter? My fingers ten, I say. Why, erelong they may form the top-most crystal of Mount Washington. I go up there to see my body’s cousins. There are some fingers, toes, bowels, etc., that I take an interest in, and therefore I am interested in all their relations.

  Let me suggest a theme for you: to state to yourself precisely and completely what that walk over the mountains amounted to for you,—returning to this essay again and again, until you are satisfied that all that was important in your experience is in it. Give this good reason to yourself for having gone over the mountains, for mankind is ever going over a mountain. Don’t suppose that you can tell it precisely the first dozen times you try, but at ‘em again, especially when, after a sufficient pause, you suspect that you are touching the heart or summit of the matter, reiterate your blows there, and account for the mountain to yourself. Not that the story needs to be long, but it will take a long while to make it short. It did not take very long to get over the mountain, you though; but have you got over it indeed? If you have been to the top of Mount Washington, let me ask, what did you find there? That is the way they prove witnesses, you know. Going up there and being blown on it nothing. We never do much climbing while we are there, but eat our luncheon, etc., very much as at home. It is after we get home that we really go over the mountain, if ever. What did the mountain say? What did the mountain do?

  I keep the mountain anchored off eastward a little way, which I ascend in my dreams both awake and asleep. Its broad base spreads over a village or two, which do not know it; neither does it know them, nor do I when I ascend it. I can see its general outline as plainly now in my mind as that of Wachusett. I do not invent in the least, but state exactly what I see. I find that I go up it when I am light-footed and earnest. It ever smokes like an altar with its sacrifice. I am not aware that a single villager frequents it or knows of it. I keep this mountain to ride instead of a horse.

  Do you not mistake about seeing Moosehead Lake from Mount Washington? That must be about one hundred and twenty miles distant, or nearly twice as far as the Atlantic, which last some doubt if they can see thence. Was it not Umbagog?

  Dr. [Reinhold] Soldier has been lecturing in the vestry in this town on Geography, to Sanborn’s scholars, for several months past, at five P.M.Emerson and Alcott have been to hear him. I was surprised when the former asked me, the other day, if I was not going to dear Dr. Soldier. What, to be sitting in a meeting-house collar at that time of day, when you might possibly be out-doors! I never thought of such a thing. What was the sun made for? If he does not prize daylight, I do. Let him lecture to owls and dormice He must be a wonderful lecturer indeed who can keep me indoords at such an hour, when the night is coming in which no man can walk.

  Are you in want of amusement nowadays? Then play a little at the game of getting a living. There never was anything equal to it. Do it temporarily, though, and don’t sweat. Don’t let this secret out, for I have a design against the Opera. OPERA!! Pass along the exclamations, devil.

  Now is the time to become conversant with your wood-pile (this comes under Wold for the Month), and be sure you put some warmth into it by your mode of getting it. Do not consent to be passively warmed. An intense degree of that is the hotness that is threatened. But a positive warmth within can withstand the fiery furnace, as the vital heat of a living man can withstand the heat that cooks meat.

“The starting point for this one of Thoreau’s many sermons to Blake is the panic of 1857, the worst the country had experienced in a generation.”

(Letters to Harrison Gray Otis Blake ed. Wendell Glick (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), 100-104)
17 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain last night (Journal, 10:185).
18 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The sunlight is a peculiarly thin and clear yellow, falling on the pale-brown bleaching herbage of the fields at this season. There is no redness in it. This is November sunlight. Much cold, skate-colored cloud, bare twigs seen gleaming toward the light like gossamer, pure green of pines whose old leaves rustling on the hillsides, very pale brown, bleaching, almost hoary fine grass or hay in the fields, akin to the frost which has killed it, and flakes of clear yellow sunlight falling on it here and there,—such is November . . .
(Journal, 10:185-188)
19 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In Stow’s sprout-land west of railroad cut, I see where a mouse which has a hole under a stump has eaten out clean the insides of the little Prinos verticillatus berries. These may be the doubtful seeds of the 14th. What pretty fruit for the mice, these bright prinos berries! They run up the twigs in the night and gather this shining fruit, take out the small seeds, and eat their kernels at the entrance to their burrows . . .
(Journal, 10:189)
20 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In books, that which is most generally interesting is what comes home to the most cherished private experience of the greatest number. It is not the book of him who has travelled the farthest over the surface of the globe, but of him who has lived the deepest and been the most at home. If an equal emotion is excited by a familiar homely phenomenon as by the Pyramids, there is no advantage in seeing the Pyramids. It is on the whole better, as it is simpler, to use the common language . . .
(Journal, 10:189-193)
21 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  Paddling along, a little above the Hemlocks, I hear, I think, a boy whistling upon the bank above me, but immediately perceive that it is the whistle of the locomotive a mile off in that direction. I perceived that it was distant, and therefore, the locomotive, the moment that the key was changed from a very high to a low one. Was it because distant sounds are commonly on a low key? . . .

(Journal, 10:193-195)
23 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Walked through Gowing’s Swamp from west to east. You may say it is divided into three parts,—first, the thin woody; second, the coarse bushy or gray; and third, the fine bushy or brown.

   First: The trees are larch, white birch, red maple, spruce, white pine, etc.

  Second: The coarse bushy part, or blueberry thicket, consists of high blueberry, panicled andromeda, Amelanchier Canadensis var. oblongifolia, swamp-pink, choke-berry, Viburnum nudum, rhodora, (and probably prinos, holly, etc., etc., not distinguishable easily now), but chiefly the first two. Much of the blueberry being dead gives it a very gray as well as scraggy aspect. It is a very bad thicket to break through, yet there are commonly, thinner places, or often opens, by which you may wind your way about the denser clumps. Small specimens of the trees are mingled with these and also some water andromeda and lambkill.

  Third: There are the smooth brown and wetter spaces where the water andromeda chiefly prevails, together with purplish lambkill about the sides of them, and hairy huckleberry . . .

(Journal, 10:195-199)
24 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Some poets have said that writing poetry was for youths only, but not so. In that fervid and excitable season we only get the impulse which is to carry us onward in our future career. Ideals are then exhibited to us distinctly which all our lives after we may aim at but not attain. The mere vision is little compared with the steady corresponding endeavor thitherward. It would be vain for us to be looking ever into promised lands toward which in the meanwhile we were not steadily and earnestly travelling, whether the way led over a mountain-top or through a dusky valley . . .
(Journal, 10:199-202)
25 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hubbard’s Close and thence through woods to Goose Pond and Pine Hill.

  A clear, cold, windy afternoon. The cat crackles with electricity when you stroke her, and the fur rises up to your touch.

  This is November of the hardest kind,—bare frozen ground covered with pale-brown or straw-colored herbage, a strong, cold, cutting northwest wind which makes inc seek to cover my ears, a perfectly clear and cloudless sky . . .

(Journal, 10:202-206)
26 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [George] Minott’s is a small, square, one-storied and unpainted house, with a hipped roof and at least one dormer window, a third the way up the south side of a long hill which is some fifty feet high and extends east and west. A traveler of taste may go straight through the village without being detained a moment by any dwelling, either in the form or surroundings being objectionable, but very few go by this house without being agreeably impressed, and many are therefore led to inquire who lives in it. Not that its form is so incomparable, nor even its weather-stained color, but chiefly, I think, because of its snug and picturesque position on the hillside, fairly lodged there, where all children like to be, and its perfect harmony with its surrounding and position . . .
(Journal, 10:207-208)
27 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Standing before Stacy’s large glass windows this morning, I saw that they were gloriously ground by the frost. I never saw such beautiful feather and fir-like frosting. His windows are filled with fancy articles and toys for Christmas and New-Year’s presents, but this delicate and graceful outside frosting surpassed them all infinitely. I saw countless feathers with very distinct midribs and fine pinnæ. The half of a to rise in each case up along the sash, and feathers branched off from it all the way, nearly horizontally. Other crystals looked like pine plumes the size of life. If glass could be ground to look like this, how glorious it would be! . . .
(Journal, 10:208-210)
28 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Around Ebby Hubbard’s woodlot . . .

  Spoke to Skinner about that wildcat which he says lie heard a month ago in Ebby Hubbard’s woods. He was going down to Walden in the evening, to see if geese had not settled in it (with a companion), when they heard this sound, which his companion at first thought it made by a coon, but S. said no, it was a wildcat. He says he has heard them often in the Adirondack region, where he has purchased furs . . .

(Journal, 10:211-213)
29 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Again I am struck by the singularly wholesome colors of the withered oak leaves, especially the shrub oak, so thick and firm and unworn, without speck or fret, clear reddish-brown (sometimes paler or yellowish brown), its whitish under sides contrasting with it in a very cheerful manner. So strong and cheerful, as if it rejoiced at the advent of winter, and exclaimed, “Winter, come on!” It exhibits the fashionable colors of the winter on the two sides of its leaves. It sets the fashions, colors good for bare ground or for snow, grateful to the eyes of rabbits and partridges. This is the extent of its gaudiness, red brown and misty white, and yet it is gay . . .
(Journal, 10:213-216)
30 November 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A still, warm, cloudy, rain-threatening day.

  Surveying the J. Richardson lot.

  The air is full of geese. I saw five flocks within an hour, about 10 A.M., containing from thirty to fifty each, and afterward two more flocks, making in all from two hundred and fifty to three hundred at least, all flying southwest over Goose and Walden Ponds . . .

(Journal, 10:216-217)
1 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Walking in Ebby Hubbard’s woods, I hear a red squirrel barking at me amid the pine and oak tops, and now I see him coursing from tree to tree. How securely he travels there, fifty feet from the ground, leaping from the slender, bending twig of one tree across an interval of three or four feet and catching at the nearest twig of the next, which so bends under him that it is at first hard to get up it. His travelling a succession of leaps in the air at that height without wings! . . .
(Journal, 10:218)
2 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I find that, according to the deed of Duncan Ingraham to John Richardson in 1797, my old bean-field on Walden Pond then belonged to George Minott. (Minott thinks he bought it off an Allen.) This was Deacon George Minott, who lived in the house next below the East Quarter schoolhouse, and was a brother of my grandfather-in-law. He was directly descended from Thomas Minott, who, according to Shattuck, was secretary of the Abbot of Walden (!) in Essex, and whose son  George was born at Saffron Walden (!) and afterwards was one of the earliest settlers of Dorchester . . .
(Journal, 10:218-219)
3 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying the Richardson lot, which bounds on Walden Pond, I turned up a rock near the pond to make a bound with, and found under it, attached to it, a collection of black ants (say a quarter of an inch long) an inch in diameter, collected around one monster black ant as big as four or five at least, and a small parcel of yellowish eggs(?). The large ant bad no wings and was probably their queen . . .
(Journal, 10:219-220)
4 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying the Richardson Fair Haven lot. Rufus Morse, who comes to find his bounds on R., accounts for his deed being tattered by saying that some tame flying squirrels got loose and into a chest where he kept his papers and nibbled them . . .
(Journal, 10:220)
5 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At noon a few flakes fell (Journal, 10:220).
6 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Flannery tells me he is cutting in Holbrook’s Swamp, in the Great Meadows, a lonely place . . . (Journal, 10:220).
7 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Running the long northwest side of Richardson’s Fair Haven Lot.

  It is a fair, sunny, and warm day in the woods for the season. We eat our dinners on the middle of the line, amid the young oaks in a sheltered and very unfrequented place. I cut some leafy shrub oaks and cast them clown for a dry and springy seat . . .

(Journal, 10:220-221)
8 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  [Sam] Staples says he came to Concord some twenty-four years ago a poor boy with a dollar and three cents in his pocket, and he spent the three cents for a drink at Bigelow’s tavern, and now he’s worth “twenty hundred dollars clear.” He remembers many who inherited wealth whom he can buy out to-day. I told him that he had done better than I in a pecuniary respect, for I had only earned my living . . .
(Journal, 10:221-222)
11 December 1857. New Bedford, Mass.

Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

Dear Thoreau,  
  I expect to go to Boston next week, Thursday 17th, with my daughters Anna and Ernma to attend the Anti-Slavery Bazaar. They will probably return home the next day, and I proceed to Malden for a day or two. After which I may proceed to Concord, if I have your permission, and if you will be at home, for without you Concord would be quite poor and deserted, like to the place some poet, perhaps Walter Scott, describes

“Where thro’ the desert walks the lapwing flies
And tires there echoes with unceasing cries.”

  Channing says I can take his room in the garret of his house, but I think I should take to the tavern. Were you at Walden I should probably storm your castle and make good an entrance, adn perhaps as an act of generous heroism allow you quarters while I remained. But in sober truth I should like to see you and sit or lie down in your room and ear yo growl once more, thou brave old Norseman—thou Thor, thundergod-man. I long to see your long beard, which for a short man is rather a stretch of imagination or understand. C[hanning’ says it is terrible to behold, but improves you mightily.

  How grandly your philosophy sits now in these trying times. I lent my Walden to a broken merchant lately as the best panacea I could offer him for his troubles.

  You should now come out and call together the lost sheep of Israel, though cool-headed pastor, no Corydon forsooth, but genuine Judean fulminate from the banks of Concord upon the banks of Discord and once more set ajog a pure current(t)cy whose peaceful tide may wash us clean once more again. Io Paean!

  Is “Father Alcott” in your city? I should count much on seeing him too-a man who is All-cot should not be without a home at least in his chosen land.

  Don’t be provoked at my nonsense, for anything better would be like “carrying coals to Newcastle.” I would sit at the feet of Gamaliel, so farewell for the present.

  With kind remembrances to your family, I remain,
  Faithfully your friend,
  D. Ricketson

P.S. If I can’t come please inform me.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 499-500)
13 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Goose Pond.

  This and the like ponds are just covered with virgin ice just thick enough to bear, though it cracks about the edges on the sunny sides. You may call it virgin ice as long as it is transparent . . .

(Journal, 10:222-223)
15 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Within a day or two, I saw another partridge in the snare of November 28th, frozen stiff . . . (Journal, 10:223-224).
16 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Begins to snow about 8 A.M., and in fifteen minutes the ground is white, but it soon stops. Plowed grounds show white first (Journal, 10:224).
20 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Easterbrooks Country with [Daniel] Ricketson.

  A hen-hawk circling over that wild region. See its red tail . . . (Journal, 10:224).

21 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Walking over the Andromeda Ponds between Walden and Fair Haven, which have only frozen just enough to bear me, I see in springy parts, where the ice is thin, good-sized pollywogs wiggling away . . .
(Journal, 10:224)
25 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying for heirs of J. Richardson, G. Heywood and A. Brooks accompanying.

  Skate on Goose Pond. Heywood says that some who have gone into Ebby Hubbard’s barn to find him have seen the rats run over his shoulders, they are so familiar with him . . .

26 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Snows all day,—first snow of any consequence, three or four inches in all . . . (Journal, 10:225).
27 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A clear, pleasant day.

  P.M.—To Goose Pond.

  Tree sparrows about the weeds in the yard. A snowball on every pine plume, for there has been no wind to shake it down. The pitch pines look like trees heavily laden with snow oranges. The snowballs on their plumes are like a white fruit When I thoughtlessly strike at a limb with my hatchet, in my surveying, down comes a sudden shower of snow, whitening my coat and getting into my neck. You must be careful how you approach and jar the trees thus supporting a light snow . . .

(Journal, 10:225-229)
31 December 1857. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Surveying Goose Pond.

  After some rain yesterday and in the night, there was a little more snow, and the ground is still covered. I am surprised to find Walden still closed since Sunday night, notwithstanding the warm weather since it skimmed over, and that Goose Pond bears, though covered with slosh; but ice under water is slow to thaw. it does not break up so soon as you would expect. Walking over it, I thought I saw an old glove on the ice or slosh, but, approaching, found it to be a bull-frog, flat on its belly with its legs stretched out…I found it to be alive, though it could only partially open its eyes…It was evidently nearly chilled to death and could not jump, though there was then no freezing. I looked round a good while and finally found a hole to put it into, squeezing it through . . .

(Journal, 10:229-232)

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