the Thoreau Log.
1859
Æt. 42.
January 1859.
The Massachusetts Teacher publishes the “Reading” chapter from Thoreau’s Walden.
1 January 1859. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes to H. G. O. Blake:
Mr. Blake,—

  It may interest you to hear that Cholmondeley has been this way again, via Montreal and Lake Huron, going to the West Indies, or rather to Weiss-nicht-wo, whither he urges me to accompany him. He is rather more demonstrative than before, and, on the whole, what would be called “a good fellow,”—is a man of principle, and quite reliable, but very peculiar. I have been to New Bedford with him, to show him a whaling town and Ricketson. I was glad to hear that you had called on R. How did you like him? I suspect that you did not see one another fairly.

  I have lately got back to that glorious society called Solitude, where we meet our friends continually, and can imagine the outside world also to be peopled. Yet some of my acquaintance would fain hustle me into the almshouse for the sake of society, as if I were pining for that diet, when I seem to myself a most befriended man, and find constant employment. However, they do not believe a word I say. They have got a club, the handle of which is in the Parker House at Boston, and with this they beat me from time to time, expecting to make me tender or minced meat, so fit for a club to dine off.

“Hercules with his club
The Dragon did drub;
But More of More Hall,
With nothing at all,
He slew the Dragon of Wantley.”
Ah! that More of More Hall knew what fair play was. Channing, who wrote to me about it once, brandishing the club vigorously (being set on by another, probably), says now, seriously, that he is sorry to find by my letters that I am “absorbed in politics,” and adds, begging my pardon for his plainness, “Beware of an extraneous life!” and so he does his duty, and washes his hands of me. I tell him that it is as if he should say to the sloth, that fellow that creeps so slowly along a tree, and cries ai from time to time, “Beware of dancing!”

 The doctors are all agreed that I am suffering from want of society. Was never a case like it. First, I did not know that I was suffering at all. Secondly, as an Irishman might say, I had thought it was indigestion of the society I got. It is indispensable that I should take a dose of Lowell & Agassiz & Woodman.

  As for the Parker House, I went there once, when the Club was away, but I found it hard to see through the cigar smoke, and men were deposited about in chairs over the marble floor, as thick as legs of bacon in a smoke-house. It was all smoke, and no salt, Attic or other. The only room in Boston which I visit with alacrity is the Gentlemen’s Room at the Fitchburg Depot, where I wait for the cars, sometimes for two hours, in order to get out of town. It is a paradise to the Parker House, for no smoking is allowed, and there is far more retirement. A large and respectable club of us hire it (Town and Country Club), and I am pretty sure to find some one there whose face is set the same way as my own.

  My last essay, on which I am still engaged, is called Autumnal Tints, I do not know how readable (i.e., by me to others) it will be.

  I met Mr. [Henry] James the other night at Emerson’s, at an Alcottian conversation, at which, however, Alcott did not talk much, being disturbed by James’s opposition. The latter is a hearty man enough, with whom you can differ very satisfactorily, on account of both his doctrines and his good temper . . .

  Have you found at last in your wanderings a place where the solitude is sweet?

  What mountain are you camping on nowadays? Though I had a good time at the mountains, I confess that the journey did not bear any fruit that I know of . . .

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 536-9)
2 January 1859. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Cliff and Walden . . . Minott says that a fox will lead a dog on to thin ice in order that he may get in . . . Looking from the southwest side of Walden toward Heywood’s Peak before sunset, the brown light on the oak leaves is almost dazzling (Journal, 11:384-7).
3 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I walked to Acton, but might have skated well half or two thirds the way . . . (Journal, 11:387).
4 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A northeast snow-storm, or rather a north snow-storm, very hard to face. P.M. to Walden in it. It snows very hard, driving along almost horizontally, falling but a foot or two in a rod. Nobody is in the street, or thinks of going out far except on important business. Most roads are trackless. The snow may be now fifteen to eighteen inches deep. As I go along the causeway, I find it is one thing to go south, or from the wind, another to face it . I can see through the storm a house or large tree only a quarter of a mile . . .
(Journal, 11:387-91)
5 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  As I go over the causeway, near the railroad bridge, I hear a fine busy twitter, and, looking up, see a nuthatch hopping along and about a swamp white oak branch, inspecting every side of it, as readily hanging head-downwards as standing upright, and then it utters a distinct gnah, as if to attract a companion . . .
(Journal, 11:391)
6 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To M. Miles’s . . . Miles had hanging in his barn a little owl (Strix Acadica) which he caught alive with his hands about a week ago. He had forced it to eat, but it died . . . (Journal, 11:391-2).
7 January 1859. Boston, Mass.

Henry Walker Frost writes to Thoreau:

Mr. H. D. Thoreau.

Dear Sir,

  Will you do me the favor of meeting me at the Probate Court in East Cambridge on Tuesday next (11th inst) at ten o’clock A.M. in order to prove my father’s will to which [page torn] sness. My mother [page torn]

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 539-40)
9 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At sundown to Walden. Standing on the middle of Walden I see with perfect distinctness the form and outlines of the low hills which surround it, though they are wooded, because they are quite white, being covered with snow, while the woods are for the most part bare or very thin-leaved . . . C. [William Ellery Channing] says the winter is the sabbath of the year . . .
(Journal, 11:393)
10 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—Up Assabet to Sam Barrett’s Pond . . . This is much the coldest afternoon to bear as yet, but, bold as it is,—four or five below at 3 P. M.,—I see, as I go round the Island, much vapor blowing from a bare space in the river just below, twenty rods off . . . At Sam Barrett’s Pond, where Joe Brown is now getting his ice, I think I see about ten different freezings in ice some fifteen or more inches thick . . . About half an hour before sunset this intensely clear cold evening (thermometer at five -6º), I observe all the sheets of ice (and they abound everywhere now in the fields), when I look from one side about at right angles with the sun’s rays, reflect a green light . . .
(Journal, 11:394-5)
The second Monday in January, 1859, there was a notable skating-party at Concord on Walden Pond, which on that day was smooth as a mirror. Mr. Stearns [George Luther Stearns] was present, enjoying the exercise as he might have done thirty years before on the Middlesex Canal. He spent most of the afternoon skating and talking with Emerson and Thoreau.
(The Life and Public Services of George Luther Stearns, 181).
11 January 1859.

Concord, Mass.Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At 6 A. M. -22º and how much more I know not, ours having gone into the bulb; but that is said to be the lowest… Going to Boston to-day, I find that the cracking of the ground last night is the subject of conversation in the cars, and that it was quite general . . . (Journal, 11:396).

Cambridge, Mass. Thoreau checks out New England’s Plantation. Or, A short and true description of the commodities and discommodities of that country by Francis Higginson and Des sauvages, ou, Voyage de Samuel Champlain, de Brovage, faict en la France nouvelle, l’an mil six cens trois by Samuel de Champlain from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 292).

12 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Mr. Farmer brings me a hawk which he thinks has caught thirty or forty of his chickens since summer, for he has lost so many . . . (Journal, 11:396-8).
13 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The mist lasts all this day, though it is far from warm (+11º at 8 A. M.) . . . I go to the river this morning and walk up it to see the trees and bushes along it . . . (Journal, 11:398-400).
14 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The fog-frosts and the fog continue, though considerable of the frostwork has fallen. This forenoon I walk up the Assabet to see it . . . (Journal, 11:400).
15 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   . . . The fog still continues through, and succeeding to, the rain. The third day of fog. The thermometer at 7.30 or 8 A. M. is at 33º (Journal, 11:400-1).
16 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Walden and thence via Cassandra Ponds to Fair Haven and down river . . . When, this evening, I took a split hickory stick which was very slightly charred or scorched, but quite hot, out of my stove, I perceived a strong scent precisely like that of a burnt or roasted walnut . . .
(Journal, 11:401-2)
18 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  That wonderful frostwork of the 13th and 14th was too rare to be neglected,—succeeded as it was, also, by two days of glaze,—but, having company, I lost half the advantage of it. It was remarkable to have a fog for four days in midwinter without wind. We had just had sudden severe cold weather, and I suspect that the fog was occasioned by a warmer air, probably from the sea, coming into contact with our cold ice-and-snow-clad earth. The hoar frost formed of the fog was such a one as I do not remember on such a scale . . .

  P.M.—Up Assabet to bridge . . .

(Journal, 11:402-9)
19 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Great Meadows via Sleepy Hollow . . . now, at 3.30 P. M., looking up, I perceive that almost the entire heavens are covered with a very beautiful mackerel sky . . . Coming up the street in the twilight, it occurs to me that I know of no more agreeable object o bound our view, looking outward through the vista of our elm-lined streets, than the pyramidal tops of a white pine forest in the horizon . . .
(Journal, 11:410-3)
Thoreau also writes to H. G. O. Blake:
Mr. Blake,—

  If I could have given a favorable report as to the skating, I should have answered you earlier. About a week before you wrote there was good skating; there is now none. As for the lecture, I shall be glad to come. I cannot now say when, but I will let you know, I think within a week or ten days at most, and will then leave you a week clear to make the arrangements in. I will bring something else than “What shall it profit a Man?” My father is very sick, and has been for a long time, so that there is the more need of me at home. This occurs to me, even when contemplating so short an excursion as to Worcester.

  I want very much to see or hear your account of your adventures in the Ravine [Tuckerman’s], and I trust I shall do so when I come to Worcester. Cholmondeley has been here again, returning from Virginia (for he went no farther south) to Canada; and will go thence to Europe, he thinks, in the spring, and never ramble any more, (January 29). I am expecting daily that my father will die, therefore I cannot leave home at present. I will write you again within ten days.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 540)
20 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—Up river . . . I learn from J. Farmer that he saw to-day in his wood-lot, on removing the bark of a dead white pine, an immense quantity of mosquitoes, moving but little, in a cavity between the bark and the wood made probably by some other insect . . . (Journal, 11:413-4).
21 January 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

   . . . Before night I heard of the river being over the road in one place, though it was rather low before. Saw Melvin buying an extra quantity of shot in anticipation of the freshet and musquash-shooting to-morrow (Journal, 11:414-6).

Boston, Mass. Thomas C. Cary and Henry G. Denny send a form letter to Thoreau:

Sir,

  In behalf of the library committee of the Association of the Alumni of Harvard College, we send you herewith copies of the circular which you have kindly undertaken to distribute among your class; together with copies of the report on the state of the library, which was presented to the association at their last annual meeting, to be forwarded to those who have not yet received it.

  The committee would suggest that a personal interview with each one who is applied to for a subscription is highly important, and should be had when practicable; it being likely to command more attention than a written communication, and to afford a better opportunity for a full explanation of the subject. They hope also, that, in every case where a personal application cannot be made, a letter will be forwarded with the circular, advancing such special arguments as may occur to the writer as likely to be effective, from his knowledge of the disposition, habits, or taste of the person addressed.

  It seems to the committee desirable that no graduate should be passed over in the distribution of the circulars, on account of any supposed inability or indisposition to contribute, as instances have come to their knowledge where interest in this movement has been expressed, and aid has been readily given, when there had seemed good reason to doubt the utility of any application for it.

  Information concerning the library and of the progress of the subscription can be had at the office of the secretary of the committee, 42, Court Street, where additional copies of the circular and of the pamphlet containing the report, together with the addresses of the graduates so far as known, can be obtained if needed.

  You are requested to make a return of the subscriptions procured by you, to the chairman of the committee or to the secretary, as often as once in three or four weeks, and to give immediate notice of any unusually large sum which may be subscribed, in order that accounts may from time to time be published for the information and encouragement of those engaged in this work.

  We are, Sir, respectfully yours,

Thomas G. Cary, Chairman.

Henry G. Denny, Secretary.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 541)

See entry before 11 February.

22 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8.30 A.M.—Go to the riverside . . . J. Farmer tells me that he once saw a musquash rest three or four minutes under the ice with his nose against the ice in a bubble of air about an inch in diameter, and he thinks that they can draw air through the ice, and that one could swim across Nagog Pond under the ice . . . P.M.I s—ee many caterpillars on the ice still, and those glow-worm-like ones . . .
(Journal, 11:416-25)
23 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Going over the Hosmer pasture this side of Clamshell southwestward, I thought I saw much gossamer on the grass, but was surprised to find that it was the light reflected from the withered grass stems which had been bent or broken by the snow (now melted) . . . (Journal, 11:425-6).
24 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  An abundance of excellent skating, the freshet that covered the meadows being frozen. Many boys and girls are skating on Mantatuket Meadow and on Merrick’s. Looking from this shore, they appear decidedly elevated,—not by their skates merely. What is the cause? Do we take the ice to be air?

  I see an abundance of caterpillars of various kinds on the ice of the meadows, many of those large, dark, hairy, with longitudinal light stripes, somewhat like the common apple one. Many of them are frozen in yet, some for two thirds their length, yet all are alive . . .

(Journal, 11:427-8)
25 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The river has gone down about eight niches, and the ice still adhering to the shore all about the meadows slants downward for some four or five feet till it meets the water, and it is there cracked . . . (Journal, 11:428-9).
26 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Over Cyanean Meadow on ice.

  These are remarkably warm and pleasant days. The water is going down, and the ice is rotting. I see some insects—those glow-worm-like ones—sunk half an inch or more into the ice by absorbed heat and yet quite alive in these little holes, in which they alternately freeze and thaw. At Willow Bay I see for many rods black soil a quarter of an inch deep, covering and concealing the ice (for several rods). This, I find, was blown some time ago from a plowed field twenty or more rods distant. This shows how much the sediment of the river may be increased by dust blown into it from the neighboring fields . . .

(Journal, 11:429-30)
27 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see some of those little cells, perhaps, of a wasp or bee, made of clay or clayey mud . . . (Journal, 11:430).
28 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Melvin tells me that one with whom he deals below says that the best musquash skins come from Concord River, and it is because our musquash are so fat . . . (Journal, 11:431).
30 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  How peculiar the hooting of an owl! It is not shrill and sharp like the scream of a hawk, but full, round, and sonorous, waking the echoes of the wood . . . (Journal, 11:431).
31 January 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up river across Cyanean Meadow . . . As I look south just before sunset, over this fresh and shining ice, I notice that its surface is divided, as it were, into a great many contiguous tables in different planes, somewhat like so many different facets of a polyhedron as large as the earth itself . . . Young Heywood told me that the trout which he caught in Walden was twenty-seven inches long and weighed five pounds, but was thin, not in good condition . . .
(Journal, 11:431-3)
1 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  The river having suddenly gone down since the freshet, I see cakes of ice eight or ten feet across left two feet high or more above the banks, frozen to four or five maples or oaks. Indeed, each shore is lined with them, where wooded, a continuous row attached to alders, maples, swamp white oaks, etc. . . .

(Journal, 11:434)
2 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see Peter Hutchinson cutting down a large red oak on A. Heywood’s hillside, west of the former’s house . . . (Journal, 11:434).
3 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Five minutes before 3 P. M., Father died.

  After a sickness of some two years, going down-town in pleasant weather, doing a little business from time to time, hoeing a little in the garden, etc., Father took to his chamber January 13th, and did not come down again . . .

  As far as I know, Father, when he died, was not only one of the oldest men in the middle of Concord, but, the one perhaps best acquainted with the inhabitants, and the local, social, and street history of the middle of the town, for the last fifty years. He belonged in a peculiar sense to the village street ; loved to sit in the shops or at the post-office and read the daily papers . . .

(Journal, 11:435-9)
5 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  When we have experience many disappointments, such as the loss of friends, the notes of birds cease to affect us as they did . . . (Journal, 11:439).
7 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Going along the Nut Meadow or Jimmy Miles road, when I see the sulphur lichens on the rails brightening with the moisture I feel like studying them again as a relisher or tonic, to make life go down and digest well, as we use pepper and vinegar and salads . . . (Journal, 11:439-41).

Thoreau writes to H. G. O. Blake:

Mr. Blake,

  I will come and read you an extract from “Autumnal Tints,” on Tuesday the 15th, of this month, if that is agreeable to you, – leaving here probably at noon. Perhaps you had better acknowledge the receipt of this.

H.D.T.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 542; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers (Series III). Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)
9 February 1859. New Bedford, Mass.

Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

My dear Friend,—

  I received last evening a Boston newspaper with your superscription, containing the record of the decease of your father. It had previously been published in the New Bedford Mercury, perhaps by Channing. [William Ellery Channing]

  You must all feel his loss very much, particularly your mother. I have rarely, if ever, met a man who inspired me with more respect. He appeared to me to be a real embodiment of honest virtue, as well as a true gentleman of the old school. I also recognized in him a fund of good fellowship, or what would perhaps better and more respectfully express it, kindly friendship. I remember with pleasure, a ramble I took with him about Concord some two or three years ago, at a time when you were away from home, on which occasion I was much impressed with his good sense, his fine social nature, and genuine hospitality. He reminded me much of my own father, in fact, I never saw a man more like him even in his personal appearance and manners—both bore upon their countenances the impress of care and sorrow, a revelation of the experience of life, written in the most legible characters, and one which always awakens my deepest sympathy and reverence.

  I doubt not but that he was a good man, and however we may be unable to peer beyond this sphere of experience, may we not trust that some good angel, perhaps that of his mother (was her name Jeanie Burns?), has already welcomed him to the spirit land? At any rate, if there be any award for virtue and well doing I think it is for such as he. Veiled as the future is in mystery profound, I think we may fully rely upon Divine Wisdom who has seen it proper not only to conceal from us knowledge beyond this life, but has also wrapped us in so much obscurity even here. But let us go on trustfully in Him—the sun yet shines, the birds sing, the flowers bloom, and Nature is still as exhaustless as ever in her charms and riches for those who love her.

  I trust that your mother and sister will find that consolation which they so much need. They as well as you have my warmest sympathy, and it is a pleasurable sorrow for me to bear my poor tribute to the memory and worth of him from whom you have so lately parted.

  It seems to me that Nature—and by this I always mean the out-o’-door life in woods and fields, by streams and lakes, etc.—affords the best balm for our wounded spirits. One of the best things written by Francis Jeffrey, and which I have tacked upon my Shanty wall, is, “If it were not for my love of beautiful nature and poetry, my heart would have died within me long ago.”

  Would not a little run from home soon, if you can be spared, be well for you? Can you not catch the early spring a little in advance? We are probably a week or two before you in her maiden steps. Soon shall we see the catkins upon the willows, and hear the bluebird and song sparrow again—how full of hope and cheer! Even this morning (a soft, drizzling one) I have heard the sweet, mellow, long-drawn pipe of the meadow lark. I have also seen robins occasionally during the winter, and a flock of quails several times, besides numerous partridges and rabbits.

  I see nothing of Channing of late.

  With my best regards to your mother and sister, believe me

Very truly your friend,
D. Ricketson

  P.S. Your letter indicates health of mind and good pluck. In fact, Dr. Pluck is a capital physician. Glory in whortle and blackberries; eat them like an Indian, abundantly and from the bushes and vines. When you can, smell of sweet fern, bayberry, sassafras, yellow birch, and rejoice in the songs of crickets and harvest flies.

Io Paean

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 543-4)
Thoreau replies 12 February.
before 11 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Henry G. Denny:

Henry G. Denny, Esq.

Dear Sir,

  Inclosed please find five dollars, for the object above described. I would gladly give more, but this exceeds my income from all sources together for the last four months.

Y’rs respectfully,
Henry D. Thoreau.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 545; MS, Henry David Thoreau Collection. Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin)
11 February 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ball’s Hill over ice.

  Among the common phenomena of the ice are those triangular points of thick ice heaved up a couple of feet where the ice has recently settled about a rock. The rock looks somewhat like a dark fruit within a gaping shell or bur. Also, now, as often after a freshet in cold weather, the ice which had formed around and frozen to the trees and bushes along the shore, settling, draws them down to the ground or water, often breaking them extensively . . .

(Journal, 11:441-442)

Boston, Mass. Henry G. Denny writes to Thoreau:

Henry D. Thoreau, Esq.,

Dear Sir,

  I am happy to acknowledge the receipt of five dollars from you, as a contribution to the fund for the public library of Harvard College.

Respectfully yours,

Henry G. Denny, Sec’y Library Committee

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 545)
12 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  You may account for that ash by the Rock having such a balanced and regular outline by the fact that in an open place their branches are equally drawn toward the light on all sides, and not because of a mutual understanding through the trunk. For there is Cheney’s abele, which stands just south of a large elm. It grows wholly southward, and in form is just half a tree . . .
(Journal, 11:442-443)

Thoreau replies to Daniel Ricketson’s 9 February letter:

Friend Ricketson,

  I thank you for your kind letter. I sent you the notice of my Father’s death as much because you knew him, as because you know me. I can hardly realize that he is dead. He had been sick about two years, and at last declined rather rapidly though steadily. Till within a week or ten days before he died, he was hoping to see another spring; but he then discovered that this was a vain expectation, and thinking that he was dying he took his leave of us several times within a week before his departure. Once or twice he expressed a slight impatience at the delay. He was quite conscious to the last, and his death was so easy, that though we had all been sitting around the bed for an hour or more, expecting that event, as we had sat before, he was gone at last almost before we were aware of it.

  I am glad to read what you say about his social nature. I think I may say that he was wholly unpretending; and there was this peculiarity in his aim, that, though the had pecuniary difficulties to contend with the greater part of his life, he always studied merely how to make a good article, pencil or other, (for he practised various arts) and was never satisfied with what he had produced,—nor was he ever in the least disposed to put off a poor one for the sake of pecuniary gain;—as if he labored for a higher end.

  Though he was not very old, and was not a native of Concord, I think that he was, on the whole, more identified with Concord street than any man now alive, having come here when he was about twelve years old, and set up for himself as a merchant here at the age of 21, fifty years ago.

  As I sat in a circle the other evening with my mother and sister, my mother’s two sisters & my Father’s two sisters, it occurred to me that my Father, though 71 belonged to the youngest four of the eight who recently composed our family.

  How swiftly, at last, but unnoticed, a generation passes away! Three years ago I was called with my Father to be a witness to the signing of our neighbor Mr Frost’s will. Mr Samuel Hoar, who was there writing it, also signed it. I was lately required to go to Cambridge to testify to the genuineness of the will, being the only one of the four who could be there; and now I am the only one alive.

  My Mother & Sister thank you heartily for your sympathy. The latter in particular agrees with you in thinking, that it is communion with still living & healthy nature alone which can restore to sane and cheerful views.

  I thank you for your invitation to New Bedford – but I feel somewhat confined here for the present. I did not know but we should see you the day after [William R.?] Alger was here. It is not too late for a winter walk in Concord.

  It does me good to hear of spring birds, and singing ones too, for spring seems far away from Concord yet. I am going to Worcester to read a parlor lecture on the 22nd, and shall see Blake [H. G. O. Blake] & Brown. [Theophilus Brown] What if you were to meet me there! or go with me from here! You would see them to good advantage.

  Cholmondeley [Thomas Cholmondeley] has been here again, after going as far south as Virginia, and left for Canada about three weeks ago. He is a good soul, and I am afraid that I did not sufficiently recognize him.

  Please remember me to Mrs Ricketson, and to the rest of your family

Yrs
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 546-547)
13 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—On ice to Fair Haven Pond.

  Yesterday there was no skating, unless you swept the snow from the ice; but to-day, though there has been no rain nor thaw, there is pretty good skating. Yesterday the water which had flowed, and was flowing, back over the ice on each side of the river and the meadows, a rod or two in width, was merely skimmed over, but last night it froze so that there is good skating there . . .

(Journal, 11:443-446)
14 February 1859. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—On ice up Assabet to railroad.

  The ice-belt which I still see along the steep bank of the Assabet is now some three weeks old, and though it was then six or eight inches thick, it is now only two or three, or much less, in many places nearly wasted away, and those once horizontal tables are often fallen aslant, like shields pierced with many holes . . .

(Journal, 11:446-448)
15 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up river to Fair Haven Pond.

  I thought, by the peculiar moaning sound of the wind about the dining-room at noon, that we should have a rain-storm . . .

  Against Bittern Cliff I feel the first drop strike the right slope of my nose and run down the ravine there. Such is the origin of rivers. Not till half a mile further my doubting companion feels another on his nose also, and I get one [in] my eye, and soon after I see the countless dimples in the puddles on the ice. So measured and deliberate is Nature always . . .

(Journal, 11:448-449)
16 February 1859. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—From the entrance of the Mill road I look back through the sun, this soft afternoon, to some white pine tops near Jenny Dugan’s . . . (Journal, 11:450-1).

Sophia Ripley writes to Thoreau:

My dear Mr Thoreau

  Mr Johnson [Samuel Johnson] will spend the night at our house tomorrow, and Mr Emerson [Ralph Waldo Emerson] and a few others are coming at six to take tea with him, and Mother [Sarah Alden Ripley] wants you to come very much. We hope you will be able to.

Yrs respectfully
Sophy Ripley

(Thoreau Society Bulletin 84 (Summer 1963):4)
20 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Have just read ‘Counterparts, or the Cross of Love,’ by the author of ‘Charles Auchester’ . . .

  P. M.—The rain ceases, and it clears up at 5 P. M. . . . (Journal, 11:451-3).

22 February 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Go to Worcester to lecture in a parlor (Journal, 11:453).

Worcester, Mass. Thoreau lectures on “Autumnal Tints” in Harrison Gray Otis (H.G.O.) Blake’s parlors (“Autumnal Tints“).

23 February 1859. Worcester, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—Walk to Quinsigamond Pond, where was good skating yesterday, but this very pleasant and warm day it is suddenly quite too soft. I was just saying to Blake [H. G. O. Blake] that I should look for hard ice in the shade, or [on the] north side, of some wooded hill close to the shore, though skating was out of the question elsewhere, when, looking up, I saw a gentleman and lady very gracefully gyrating and, as it were, courtesying to each other in a small bay under such a hill on the opposite shore of the pond . . .
(Journal, 11:453-454)

Thoreau lectures in H. G. O. Blake’s parlors, probably on “An Excursion to Maine Woods.”

Sallie Holley writes to a Mrs. Porter on 28 February:

  The last two evenings we had in Worcester, we were at two parlour lectures given by Mr. Henry D. Thoreau, the author of that odd book, Walden, or Life in the Woods. The first lecture was upon “Autumnal Tints,” and was a beautiful and, I doubt not, a faithful report of the colours of leaves in October. Some of you may have read his “Chesuncook,” in the Atlantic Monthly; if so you can fancy how quaint and observing, and humorous withal, he is as traveller—or excursionist—companion in wild solitudes. Several gentlemen, friends of his, tell us much of their tour with him to the White Mountains last summer, of his grand talk with their guide in “Tuckerman’s Ravine,” where they had their camp. He paid us the compliment of a nice long morning call after we heard him read his “Autumnal Tints,” and remembered our being once at his mother’s to tea, and Miss Putnam’s looking over his herbarium with his sister.
(A Life for Liberty: Anti-slavery and Other Letters of Sallie Holley, 167)
24 February 1859. Worcester, Mass.

A. Bronson Alcott writes to his wife Abigail:

  Thoreau left Blake’s [H. G. O. Blake] last Thursday morning. He read two lectures in B.’s [H. G. O. Blake] parlours, and won many praises from his auditors. Mr. B. as true and devoted as ever (The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, 300).
25 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Heard Staples, Tuttle, E. Wood, N. Barrett, and others this morning at the post-office talking about the profit of milk-farming… Joe Smith says that he saw blackbirds this morning . . .

  P.M.—Up river on ice . . . But, few as the trappers are here, it seems by Goodwin’s accounts that they steal one another’s traps . . . (Journal, 11:454-457).

27 February 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Cliffs.

  Though it was a dry, powdery snow-storm yesterday, the sun is now so high that the snow is soft and sticky this afternoon . . . (Journal, 11:457).

28 February 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Cambridge and Boston . . . (Journal, 11:457).

Cambridge, Mass. Thoreau checks out Voyages from Montreal, on the St. Laurence, through the continent of North America, to the frozen and Pacific Oceans; in the years 1789 and 1793, volumes 1 and 2 by Alexander Mackenzie, Historical notes respecting the Indians of North America by John Halkett, and A new voyage and description of the isthmus of America, giving an account of the author’s abode there by Lionel Wafer from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 292).

1 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau is chosen as executor of his father’s estate (The Transcendentalists and Minerva, 2:80).

2 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Cassandra Ponds and down river.

  It is a remarkably cold day for March, and the river, etc., are frozen as solidly as in the winter and there is no water to be seen upon the ice, as usually in a winter day, apparently because it has chiefly run out from beneath on the meadows and left the ice, for often, as you walk over the meadows, it sounds hollow under your tread . . .

(Journal, 12:3-6)

Thoreau also lectures on “Autumnal Tints” for the Concord Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance 1996, 297-8).

Ellen Emerson writes to her sister Edith on 3 March:

  Last night Mr Thoreau lectured a grand lecture on Autumnal Tints. Father [Ralph Waldo Emerson] and Mother, [Lidian Jackson Emerson] Mr Sanborn [Franklin B Sanborn] and Eddy [Edward Emerson] were equally delighted. It was funny and Father said there were constant spontaneous bursts of laughter and Mr Thoreau was applauded.
(The Letters of Ellen Tucker Emerson, 1:174)
3 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Going to Acton this morning, I saw some sparrows on the wall, which I think must have been F. hyemalis (?).

  P.M.—Up river to Nut Meadow Brook . . . Channing [William Ellery Channing] tells me he has met with a sassafras tree in New Bedford woods, which, according to a string which he put round it, is eleven and three quarters feet in circumference at about three feet from the ground . . .

(Journal, 12:6-11)
4 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Began to snow last evening, and it is now (early in the morning) about a foot deep, and raining.

  P.M.—To E. Hosmcr Spring. Down Turnpike and back by E. Hubbard’s Close.

  We stood still a few moments on the Turnpike below Wright’s (the Turnpike, which had no wheel-track beyond Tuttle’s and no track at all beyond Wright’s), and listened to hear a spring bird. We heard only the jay screaming in the distance and the cawing of a crow. What a perfectly New England sound is this voice of the crow! . . .

  C. [William Ellery Channing] thinks this is called a sap snow, because it comes after the sap begins to flow . . .

(Journal, 12:11-13)
5 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Going down-town this forenoon, I heard a white-bellied nuthatch on an elm within twenty feet, uttering peculiar notes and more like a song than I remember to have heard from it . . .

  P.M.—Up river to Well Meadow.

  The snow melts and sinks very rapidly. This spring snow is peculiarly white and blinding. The inequalities of the surface are peculiar and interesting when it has sunk thus rapidly. I see crows walking about on the ice half covered with snow in the middle of the meadows . . .

(Journal, 12:13-17)
6 March 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Yellow Birch Swamp. We go through the swamp near Bee-Tree, or Oak Ridge, listening for blackbirds or robins and, in the old orchards, for bluebirds . . . (Journal, 12:17-19).

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

Respected Friend,—

  This fine spring morning with its cheering influences brings you to my mind; for I always associate you with the most genial aspects of our beloved Nature, with the woods, the fields, lakes and rivers, with the birds and flowers. As I write, the meadow lark is piping sweetly in the meadows near by, and lo! at this instant, the very first I have heard this season, a bluebird has warbled on a tree near the Shanty. What salutation could be more welcome or more in unison with my subject? Yesterday, my son Walton saw and heard the red-winged Blackbird, and this morning robins are flying about. The song-sparrow (F. melodia) now singing, has also been in time since the 23d of February. Truly may we say, “Spring is come!”

  At my present writing, the thermometer at my north window indicates 44 degrees and is rising; yesterday p.m. 50 degrees, wind W. S. W. It seems to me quite time to stop the abuse of our climate. In my boyhood and even until after my marriage (1834), I do not remember it ever occurred to me but that our climate was a very good one. And had I never heard it complained of by others, should hardly have ever suspected it otherwise. A climate that has sustained such men as R.W.E., [Ralph Waldo Emerson] A.B.A., [A. Bronson Alcott] H.D.T., and other kindred natures, can’t be a very bad one, and may be the very best.

  March is to me the month of hope. I always look forward to its coming with pleasure, and welcome its arrival. Others may speak of it in terms of reproach, but to me it has much to recommend itself . . .

  During my walk, yesterday p.m., in a sunny spot, I found the “pussy willows” (S. eriocephala) and enclose one of the “catkins” or “woolly aments” in testimony thereof. I also enclose a pansy from the south side of the Shanty. How should I rejoice to have you as the companion of my walks!

  I suppose you have some time since returned from your literary exploit into Worcester, and trust that you had a good time with your disciples, Blake, [H. G. O. Blake] and Brown. [Theophilus Brown] They must be thoreauly brown by this time. “Arcades ambo” under your pupilage-though, I think, the classic term applies better to you and R. W. E. or W. E. C. [William Ellery Channing] May I not also claim as a birthright to rank in your fraternity, as a disciple, at least? Please not reject me. Failing in you I shall be bankrupt, indeed . . .

  I may make use of the elective franchise, but of this am as yet undetermined. It seems to me as though a crisis was approaching in the affairs of our government, when the use of every means that “God and nature affords” will be required to oppose tyranny. I trust that I shall have your sympathy in this matter.

  I shall seek no opportunity for the exercise of my opposition, but “bide my time.”

  A visit from you would be very welcome. With kind regards to your household and my Concord friends, one and all, I remain,

Yours truly,
D. R.

  Yours of 12th Feb. came duly to hand.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 547-50)
7 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6.30 A.M.—To Hill . . . A lady tells me that she saw, last Cattle-Show Day, — — putting up a specimen of hairwork in a frame (by his niece) in the exhibition hall . . . P. M.—To Ministerial Swamp . . . (Journal, 12:19-24).
8 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A rainy day.

  P. M.—To Hill in rain.

  To us snow and cold seem a mere delaying of the spring . How far we are from understanding the value of these things in the economy of Nature!

  The earth is still mostly covered with ice and snow. As usual, I notice large pools of greenish water in the fields, on an icy bottom, which cannot owe their greenness to the reflected blue mingled with the yellowish light at sundown . . .

(Journal, 12:24-28)
9 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Lee’s Cliff with C. [William Ellery Channing] C. says that he heard and saw a bluebird on the 7th, and R. W. E. [Ralph Waldo Emerson] the same . . . (Journal, 12:28-30).
10 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A. M.—To Hill.

  I sec at near [sic] the stone bridge where the strong northwest wind of last night broke the thin ice just formed, and set the irregular triangular pieces on their edges quite perpendicular and directed northwest and southeast and pretty close together . . .

  P. M.—To Witherell Vale.

  There are some who never do nor say anything, whose life merely excites expectation. Their excellence reaches no further than a gesture or mode of carrying themselves. They are a sash dangling from the waist, or a sculptured war-club over the shoulder. They are like fine-edged tools gradually becoming rusty in a shop-window. I like as well, if not better, to see a piece of iron or steel, out of which many such tools will be made, or the bush-whack in a man’s hand . . .

(Journal, 12:30-35)
11 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—By riverside I hear the song of many song sparrows, the most of a song of any yet . . .

  P. M.—To Hunt house.

  I go to get one more sight of the old house which Hosmer is pulling down, but I am too late to sec much of it. The chimney is gone and little more than the oblong square frame stands. E. Hosmer and Nathan Hosmer are employed in taking it down . . .

(Journal, 12:35-9)
12 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Walk in rain to Ministerial Swamp.

  Going up the railroad in this rain, with a south wind, I see a pretty thick low fog extending across the railroad only against Dennis’s Swamp. There being touch more ice and snow within the swamp, the vapor is condensed and is blown northward over the railroad . . . (Journal, 12:39-42).

13 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  7 A.M.—F. hyemalis in yard . . . Going down railroad, listening intentionally, I hear, far through the notes of song sparrows (which are very numerous), the song of one or two larks . . .

  P.M.—To Great Fields . . . Talking with Garfield to-day about his trapping, he said that mink brought three dollars and a quarter, a remarkably high price, and asked if I had seen any . . .

(Journal, 12:42-46)

Franklin B. Sanborn writes to Theodore Parker:

  On the 27th Mr. Emerson [Ralph Waldo Emerson] speaks again in the Music Hall, and he has recommended the committee to send for Mr. Thoreau, who read here ten days ago, a lecture on Autumnal Tints as good as anything he ever wrote (MS, Franklin Benjamin Sanborn papers (Series III, Folder 43). Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).
14 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hunt house . . . Saw E. Hosmer take up the cellar stairs . . . (Journal, 12:47-28).

Ellen Emerson writes to her sister Edith on 15 March:

I met Mr Thoreau who stopped and told me that he had come from Mr Hosmer’s. Mr Hosmer is pulling down his old house that stands in front of the house he lives in. I was very sorry to hear it. Mr Thoreau said that on the chimney was the date 1703, but the oldest part of the house, where the immense fire-place was, had dates on it, chalk tallies on the beams, date, the oldest of which was Feb 2 1666. And notes that the oxen had been working so many days, that something cost so many £-s-d. I thought I would go and see.
(The Letters of Ellen Tucker Emerson, 1:178)
15 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rainy day and southerly wind.

  I come home in the evening through a very heavy rain after two brilliant rainbows at sunset, the first of the year (Journal, 12:49).

16 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—The water is just over the slanting iron truss, four feet from its east end, and still rising.

  P. M.—Launch my boat and sail to Ball’s Hill . . . We meet one great gull beating up the course of the river against the wind, at Flint’s Bridge . . . (Journal, 12:49-52).

17 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6.30 A.M.—River risen still higher. It is seven and a half inches below the highest part of the truss and about fifteen and a half inches below the middle of the lower stone step of the railroad . It is not quite over Wood’s road . . .

  P.M.—To Flint’s Bridge by water.

  The water is very high, and smooth as ever it is. It is very warm. I wear but one coat on the water. The town and the land it is built on seem to rise but little above the flood. This bright smooth and level surface seems here the prevailing clement, as if the distant town were an island . . .

(Journal, 12:53-57)
18 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 A.M.—To stone bridge . . . Flood, who is saving rails, etc., at the stone bridge, remarks that old settlers say this stream is highest the third day after a rain . . . Rice thinks that he has seen two gulls on the Sudbury meadows,—the white and the gray gulls . . . (Journal, 12:57-60).
19 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  7 A.M.—Fair weather and a very strong southwest wind, the water not quite so high as day before yesterday . . .

  P. M.—To Tarbell’s via J. P. Brown’s . . . Melvin says that in skinning a mink you must cut round the parts containing the musk, else the operation will be an offensive one . . . (Journal, 12:60-67).

20 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  7 A.M.—Rain no higher than three days ago, notwithstanding the rain of two days ago, the wind being southwest and very strong.

  P.M.—I see under the east side of the house amid the evergreens, where they were sheltered from the cold northwest wind, quite a parcel of sparrows . . .

  P. M.—Up Assabet. Very strong northwest wind.

  When I get opposite the end of the willow-row, the sun comes out and they are very handsome, like a rossette, pale-tawnv or fawn-colored at base and a rich yellow or orange yellow in the upper three or four feet. This is, methinks, the brightest object in the landscape these days . . .

(Journal, 12:67-69)
21 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—The water has fairly begun to fall. It was at its height the 17th; fell a little—two
or three inches—the morning of the 18th. On the 18th it rained very considerably all day . . .

  P.M.—Sail to Fair Haven Pond.

  A strong northwest wind. Draw my boat over the road on a roller. Raising a stone for ballast from the south side of the railroad causeway, where it is quite sunny and warm, I find the under sides very densely covered with little ants . . .

(Journal, 12:69-70)
22 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—The wind changes to easterly and is more raw, i.e. cool and moist, and the air thickens as if it would rain.

  Returning from Poplar Hill through the west end of Sleepy Hollow, it is very still, the air thick, just ready to rain, and I hear there, on the apple trees and small oaks, the tree sparrows and hyemalis singing very pleasantly . . .

(Journal, 12:70-71)
23 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Walk to Cardinal Shore and sail to Well Meadow and Lee’s Cliff . . .

  As we sail upward toward the pond, we scare up two or three golden-eyes, or whistlers, showing their large black heads and black backs, and afterward I watch one swimming not far before us and see the white, spot, amid the black, on the side of his head . . .

(Journal, 12:71-78)
24 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Down railroad.

  Southeast wind. Begins to sprinkle while I am sitting in Laurel Glen, listening to hear the earliest wood frogs croaking . . . . It is a singular sound for awakening Nature to make, associated with the first warmer days, when you sit in some sheltered place in the woods amid the dried leaves. How moderate on her first awakening, how little demonstrative! You may sit half an hour before you will hear another . . .

  Returning, above the railroad causeway, I see a flock of goldfinches, first of spring, flitting along the causeway-bank . . .

  C. [William Ellery Channing] sees geese go over again this afternoon . . .

(Journal, 12:79-80)
25 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Clamshell.

  I heard the what what what what of the nuthatch this forenoon. Do I ever hear it in the afternoon? It is much like the cackle of the pigeon woodpecker and suggests a relation to that bird.

  Again I walk in the rain and see the rich yellowish browns of the moist banks. These Clamshell hills and neighboring promontories, though it is a dark and rainy day, reflect a certain yellowish light from the wet withered grass which is very grateful to my eyes . . .

(Journal, 12:81-83)
26 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum via Cardinal Shore and boat . . .

  Much earth has been washed away from the roots of grasses and weeds along the banks of the river, and many of those pretty little bodkin bulbs are exposed and so transported to new localities. This seems to be the way in which they are spread . . .

(Journal, 12:83-84)
27 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  7 A.M.—Was that the Alauda, shore lark (?), which flew up from the corn-field beyond Texas house, and dashed off so swiftly with a peculiar note,—a small flock of them?

  P. M.—Sail from Cardinal Shore up Otter Bay, close to Deacon Farrar’s . . .

  Cousin Charles says that he took out of the old Haverhill house a very broad panel from over the fireplace, which had a picture of Haverhill at some old period on it. The panel had been there perfectly sheltered in an inhabited house for more than a hundred years. It was placed in his shop and no moisture allowed to come near it, and yet it shrunk a quarter of an inch in width when the air came to both sides of it . . .

(Journal, 12:84-88)
28 March 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Paddle to the Bedford line . . . As we were paddling over the Great Meadows, I saw at a distance, high in the air above the middle of the meadow, a very compact flock of blackbirds advancing against the sun . . . When walking about on the low east shore at the Bedford bound, I heard a faint honk, and looked around over the water with my glass, thinking it came from that side or perhaps form a farmyard in that direction . . .
(Journal, 12:88-99)

Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University circulates a form letter advising Thoreau of his appointment to the Committee on Natural Science:

SIR:—

  I transmit to you herewith the subjoined copy of a Report made to the Board of Overseers, and accepted by that body.

  You will perceive your name in the list of the Committee, and you will be pleased to consider this communication as a notice of your appointment as a member of the Committee in which you name occurs.

I am, Sir, with great respect,

Your obedient servant,
JAMES WALKER, President

(Thoreau Society Bulletin 77 (Fall 1986):1)
29 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Driving rain and southeast wind, etc.

  Walden is first clear after to-day . . . (Journal, 12:99).

30 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—To Hill (across water).

  Hear a red squirrel chirrup at me by the hemlocks (running up a hemlock), all for my benefit; not that lie is excited by fear, I think, but so full is he of animal spirits that lie makes a great ado about the least event . . .

  P.M.—To Walden via Hubbard’s Close . . .

  I notice again in the spring-holes in Hubbard’s Close that water purslane, being covered with water, is an evergreen,—though it is reddish.

  Little pollywogs two inches long are lively there.

  Sec on Walden two sheldrakes, male and female, as is common. So they have for some time paired . . .

(Journal, 12:99-101)
31 March 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The frost is out of our garden, and I see one or two plowing early land. You walk dry now over this sandy land where the frost is melted, even after heavy rain, and there is no slumping in it . . .

  P.M.—To Holbrook’s improvements.

   Many painted turtles out along a ditch Swamp. These the first I have seen, the water is so high in the meadows. One drops into the water from some dead brush which lies in it, and leaves on the brush two of its scales. Perhaps the sun causes the loosened scales to curl up, and so helps the turtle to get rid of them . . .

(Journal, 12:101-103)
1 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Melvin, the sexton, says that when Loring’s Pond was drained once—perhaps the dam broke—he saw there about all the birds he has seen on a salt marsh . . . P.M.—To Assabet over meadows in boat . . . (Journal, 12:104-105).
2 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff (walking) . . . As I go down the street just after sunset, I hear many snipe to-night . . . (Journal, 12:106-109).
3 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To White Pond. C. [William Ellery Channing] says he saw a striped snake on the 30th. We go by Clamshell . . . (Journal, 12:109-113).
4 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Clear, cold, and very windy; wind northwest.

  For a fortnight past, or since the frost began to come out, I have noticed the funnel-shaped holes of the skunk in a great many places and their little mincing tracks in the sand. Many a grub and beetle meets its fate in their stomachs . . .

  Such an appetite have we for new life that we begin by nibbling the very crust of the earth. We betray our vegetable and animal nature and sympathies by our delight in water . . .

  P.M.—To Cliffs . . .

  I see several earthworms to-day under the shoe of the pump, on the platform. They may have come through the cracks from the well where the warm has kept them stirring . . .

(Journal, 12:113-115)
5 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In running a line through a wood-lot in the southwest part of Lincoln to-day, I started from an old pine stump, now mostly crumbled away, though a part of the wood was still hard above ground, which was described in his [sic] deed of 1813 (forty-six years ago) as a pine stump . . . Mr. Haines, who travelled over the lots with us this very cold and blustering day, was over eighty . . .
(Journal, 12:115).
6 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A fish hawk sails down the river, from time to time almost stationary one hundred feet above the water, notwithstanding the very strong wind . . . (Journal, 12:116).
7 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The Cheney elm looks as if it would shed pollen tomorrow, and the Salix purpurea will perhaps within a week.

  P.M.—Up Assabet with Pratt.

  Standing under the north side of the hill, I hear the rather innocent phe phe, phe phe, phe phe, phe of a fish hawk (for it is not a scream, but a rather soft and innocent note), and, looking up, see one come sailing from over the hill. The body looks quite short in proportion to the spread of the wings, which are quite dark or blackish above. IIe evidently has something in his talons. We soon after disturb him again, and, at length, after circling around over the hill and adjacent fields, he alights in plain sight on one of the half-dead white oaks on the top of the hill, where probably he sat before. As I look through my glass, he is perched on a large dead limb and is evidently standing on a fish (I had noticed something in his talons as lie flew), for he stands high and uneasily, finding it hard to keep his balance in the wind . . .

(Journal, 12:116-119)
8 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To epigæa and Well Meadow . . . C. [William Ellery Channing] says that he found a musquash’s skull (which he showed me) at the fox-burrow in Laurel Glen, from which it would appear that they kill the musquash . . . I saw Heavy Haynes fishing for trout down the Mill Brook this morning, cold and blustering as it was . . .
(Journal, 12:119-127)
9 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Goose Pond . . . We sit by the side of Little Goose Pond, which C. [William Ellery Channing] calls Ripple Lake or Pool, to watch the ripples on it . . . (Journal, 12:127-131).
10 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A calm day at last, the water almost smooth and now so low that I cannot cross the meadows. So ends the spring freshet (apparently), which began (not to include the winter one) March 8th and was at its height the 17th and 18th. It has lasted a month, and to-day, too, ends the windy spell. Since the 6th (q.v.) there have been two days, the 7th and 8th, of strong northwest wind, and one, the 9th, of very strong and yet colder and more northerly wind than before. This makes twenty-two days of windy weather in all . . .

P.M.—Paddle to Well Meadow.

  I see some remarkable examples of meadow-crust floated off on the A. Wheeler meadow and above, densely covered with button-bushes and willows, etc. one sunk in five feet of water on a sandy shore, which I must examine again . . .

(Journal, 12:131-133)
11 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain all day (Journal, 12:133).

A. Bronson Alcott writes to his wife Abigail:

  Life is full of compensations, so say the philosophers, and to make good the saying, comes the last of them, and I think, if not the wisest, very wise, certainly, and entertaining, Thoreau, to pass the afternoon and drink tea with Anna and myself, without you. And spend an hour after, talking delightfully.
(The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, 301)

Alcott also writes in his journal:

  Comes Thoreau and sups with us. We discuss thought and style. I think his more primitive than that of any of our American writers—in solidity, in organic robust quality unsurpassed, as if Nature had built them out for herself and breathed into them free and full, seasoning every member, articulating every sense with her salubrities and soul of soundness. He is rightly named Thorough, Through, the pervading Thor, the sturdy sensibility and force in things.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 315)
12 April 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Paddle to Cliffs . . . Pine warblers heard in the woods by C. [William Ellery Channing] to-day . . . (Journal, 12:134-140).

Pittsburgh, Penn. J. M. Macrum writes to Thoreau (The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (ucsb.edu); MS, private owner).

13 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The streets are strewn with the bud-scales of the elm, which they, opening, have lost off, and their tops present a rich brown already . . . P.M.—Paddle to Ball’s Hill and sail back . . . (Journal, 12:140-141).

Thoreau also drafts a letter to Charles C. Shackford (The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (ucsb.edu); MS, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

14 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Transplanting currant bushes to-day, I find that, though the leaf-buds have not begun to open, white shoots have shot up from the bottom of the stocks two to four inches, far below the surface as yet, and I think that they have felt the influence of the season, not merely through the thawed ground, but through that portion of the plant above ground . . .
(Journal, 12:141-142)
15 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Cliffs and Well Meadow . . . It is surprising how quickly the earth, which was covered half an inch deep this morning, and since so wet, has become comparatively dry, so that we sit on the ground or on the dry leaves in woods at 3 P. M. and smell the pines and see and hear the flies, etc., buzz about, though the sun did not come out till 12 M . . . (Journal, 12:142-147).
16 April 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Sheldrakes yet on Walden, but I have not identified a whistler for several weeks,—three or more (Journal, 12:147).

Thoreau also writes to Jonathan Buffum (The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (ucsb.edu); MS, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, N.Y.).

Lynn, Mass. Charles C. Shackford writes to Thoreau (The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (ucsb.edu); MS, Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

17 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  How pleasing and soothing are some of the first and least audible sounds of awakened nature in the spring, as this first humming of bees, etc., and the stuttering of frogs! They cannot be called musical . . . Nature has taken equal care to cushion our ears on this finest sound and to inspire us with the strains of the wood thrush and poet. We may say that each gnat is made to vibrate its wings for man’s fruition. In short, we hear but little music in the world which charms us more than this sound produced by the vibration of an insect’s wing and in some still and sunny nook in spring . . .

(Journal, 12:147-149)
18 April 1859.

Acton, Mass. Thoreau surveys a woodlot for Stedman Buttrick (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 6; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library, Concord).

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 A.M.—To the south part of Acton, surveying, with Stedman Buttrick . . . Ed. Emerson shows me his aquarium . . . Haynes (Heavy) says that trout spawn twice in a year,—once in October and again in spring . . . (Journal, 12:149-152).
19 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Channing [William Ellery Channing] sees the same small flock of sheldrakes, three bird, in Walden still . . . P.M.—Began to set white pines in R. W. E.’s [Ralph Waldo Emerson] Wyman lot (Journal, 12:152).
20 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Hear and see my ruby-crowned or crested wren singing at 6 A. M. on Wheildon’s pines.

  Setting pines all day (Journal, 12:152).

21 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Setting pines all day . . . R. W. E. [Ralph Waldo Emerson] has bought a quarter of a pound of white pine seed at $4.00 per pound . . . C. [William Ellery Channing] sees a cicindela to-day . . . (Journal, 12:152-154).
22 April 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—In a fine rain, around Walden . . . At Heywood’s meadow, by the railroad, this sedge, rising green and dense with yellow tips above the withered clumps, is very striking, suggesting heat, even a blaze, there . . . (Journal, 12:154-156).
Boston, Mass. Hobart & Robbins writes to Thoreau (The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (ucsb.edu); MS, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, N.Y.).
23 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain, rain . . . Clears up at 3 P.M., and a very strong south wind blows . . . (Journal, 12:156-158).
24 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Pine Hill and Heywood’s meadow . . . Mr. B. asked me what I found that was new these days, if I was still looking after the beautiful. I told [him] yes and that I wished to hire two or three good observers . . . (Journal, 12:158-161).
25 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Kalmia Swamp . . . E. Bartlett has found a crow’s nest with four eggs a little developed in a tall white pine in the grove east of Beck Stow’s . . . Young Stewart tells me that he saw last year a pout’s nest at Walden in the pond-hole by the big pond . . . (Journal, 12:161-164).
26 April 1859. Lynn, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Start for Lynn. Rice says that he saw a large mud turtle in the river about three weeks ago, and has seen two or three more since . . .

  P.M.—Walked with C. M. Tracy in the rain in the western part of Lynn, near Dungeon Rock . . . (Journal, 12:164).

Thoreau lectures on “Autumnal Tints” at Frazier Hall in Lynn, Mass (“Autumnal Tints“).

27 April 1859. Lynn, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Walk along Swampscott Beach from Red Rock northeast . . . Struck inland and passed over the west end of High Rock, through the cemetery, and over Pine Hill, where I heard a strange warbler, methought, a dark-colored, perhaps reddish-headed bird. Thence through East Saugus and Saugus to Cliftondale, I think in the southern part of Saugus . . . Saw at the Aquarium in Bromfield Street apparently brook minnows with the longitudinal dark lines bordered with light . . .
(Journal, 12:165)
28 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8.30 A.M.—Row to Carlisle Bridge with Blake [H. G. O. Blake] and Brown [Theophilus Brown] . . . Sit on Ball’s Hill . . . E. Emerson’s Salamandra dorsalis has just lost its skin (Journal, 12:165-166).
29 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  7 A.M.—To Walden, and set one hundred larch trees from England, all two years from seed, about nine inches high, just begun to leaf . . . First observe the dandelion well out in R. W. E.’s [Ralph Waldo Emerson] yard; also anemone at Sassafras Shore . . . (Journal, 12:166).
30 April 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Sail to Holden Swamp . . .

  Land at Holden Wood. That interesting small blue butterfly (size of small red) is apparently just out, fluttering over the warm dry oak leaves within the wood in the sun. Channing [William Ellery Channing also first sees them to-day . . .

  I notice under the southern edge of the Holden Wood, on the Arrowhead Field, a great many little birches in the grass, apparently seedlings of last year, and I take up a hundred and ten from three to six or seven inches high. They are already leafed, the little rugose leafets more than half an inch wide . . .

(Journal, 12:166-169)
1 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Hear the ruby-crowned wren.

  We accuse savages of worshipping only the bad spirit, or devil, though they may distinguish both a good and a bad; but they regard only that one which they fear and worship the devil only. We too are savages in this, doing precisely the same thing. This occurred to me yesterday as I sat in the woods admiring the beauty of the blue butterfly. We are not chiefly interested in birds and insects, for example, as they are ornamental to the earth and cheering to man, but we spare the lives of the former only on condition that they cat more grubs than they do cherries . . .

  P.M.—To Second Division . . .

  What is that rush at Second Division? It now forms a dense and very conspicuous mass some four rods long and one foot high. The top for three inches is red, and the impression at a little distance is like that made by sorrel . . .

(Journal, 12:170-174)
2 May 1859. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Small pewee and young lackey caterpillars.

  I see on the Salix rostrata by railroad many honeybees laden with large and peculiarly orange-colored pellets of its pollen.

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  A peetweet and its mate at Mantatuket Rock. The river seems really inhabited when the peetweet is back and those little light-winged millers (?). This bird does not return to our stream until the weather is decidedly pleasant and warm. He is perched on the accustomed rock. Its note peoples the river, like the prattle of cattle onece more in the yard of a house that has stood empty . . .

(Journal, 12:174-175)
3 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau surveys land on Lexington Road for John B. Moore (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 10; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

Thoreau also writes in his journal:

  Surveying the Bedford road.  

  Hear the te-e-e of a white-throat sparrow . . . (Journal, 12:175).

4 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff on foot . . . After crossing the Arrowhead Fields, we see a woodchuck run along and climb to the top of a wall and sit erect there,—our first . . . Looking up through this soft and warm southwest wind, I notice the conspicuous shadow of Middle Conantum Cliff, now at 3 P. M., and elsewhere the shade of a few apple trees,—their trunks and boughs . . .
(Journal, 12:175-180)
5 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Melvin’s Preserve.

  Red-wings fly in flocks yet. Near the oak beyond Jarvis land, a yellow butterfly,—how hot! this meteor dancing through the air. Also see a scalloped-edge dark-colored butterfly resting on the trunk of a tree, where, both by its form and color, its wings being closed, it resembles a bit of bark, or rather a lichen. Evidently their forms and colors, especially of the under sides of their wings are designed to conceal them when at rest with their wings closed . . .

(Journal, 12:180-182)
6, 7, 13, 14, and 16 May 1859. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau surveys a factory site for Edward Damon (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 6; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).
6 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying for Willis & Damon at the factory . . . My assistants, being accustomed to work indoors in the factory, are quite overcome by this sudden heat . . . At evening I hear the first sultry buzz of a fly in my chamber, telling of sultry nights to come (Journal, 12:182-184).
7 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying Damon’s Acton lot . . . (Journal, 12:184).
8 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Hotter still than the last two days, —90º and more. Summer yellowbird. C. [William Ellery Channing] sees a chimney swallow . . . Go on river . . . Hear a dor-bug in the house at evening (Journal, 12:184-185).
9 and 18 May 1859. Lincoln, Mass.

Thoreau surveys land for Cyrus Stow (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 11; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

9 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying for Stow near Flint’s Pond . . . (Journal, 12:185).
11 May 1859. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Golden robin yesterday. Fir-balsam well out in the rain; so say 9th.

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond.

  Arum triphyllum out. Almost every one has a little fly or two concealed within. One of the handsomestformed plants when in flower . . . (Journal, 12:185-187).

12 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Dug up to-day the red-brown dor-bugs. My red oak acorns have sent down long radicles underground . . . (Journal, 12:187).
13 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying Damon’s Acton lot . . .

  Apple in bloom (Journal, 12:187).

14 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying for Damon. Rhodora out, says C. [William Ellery Channing . . . (Journal, 12:187).
15 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Observe Coruus florida involucres. Sarsaparilla flower. Salix discolor seed, or down, begins to blow.

  A woodcock starts up with whistling sound.

  I have been struck of late with the prominence of the Viburnum nudism leaf in the swamps . . .

  I see an oak shoot (or sprout) already grown ten inches, when the buds of oaks and of most trees are but just burst generally. You are surprised to see such a sudden and rapid development when you had but just begun to think of renewed life, not yet of growth . . .

(Journal, 12:187-188)
16 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying Damon’s farm and factory lot.

  Our corydalis was out the 13th. Hear a tanager to-day, and one was seen yesterday. Sand cherry out . . . (Journal, 12:189).

17 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau surveys Factory Village land for Samuel Lees (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 9; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

18 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Surveying for Stow in Lincoln . . . That handsome spawn of Ed. Emerson’s aquarium—minute transparent ova in a double row on the glass or the stones—turns out to be snail-spawn . . . (Journal, 12:189).
before 19 May 1859. Brattleboro, Vt.?

Mary H. Brown writes to Thoreau:

tleboro sometime before long—Father and Mother send kind regards.

  Hoping the May flowers will be fresh when they reach you:

yours truly
Mary H. Brown

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 550-551)
19 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Our Azalea nudiflora flowers.

  It is a warm, muggy, rainy evening . . . (Journal, 12:189).

Thoreau also writes to Mary H. Brown:

Miss Mary H. Brown,

  Excuse me for not acknowledging before the receipt of your beautiful gift of may-flowers. The delay may prove that I did not fear I should forget it, though very busily engaged in surveying. The flowers were somewhat detained on the road, but they were not the less fragrant, and were very superior to any that we can show.

  It chanced that on the very day they arrived, while surveying in the next town, I found more of these flowers than I have ever seen hereabouts, and I have accordingly named a certain path “May-flower Path” on my plan. But a botanist’s experience is full of coincidences. If you think much about some flower which you never saw, you will be pretty sure to find it some day actually growing near by you. In the long run, we find what we expect. We shall be fortunate then if we expect great things.

  Please remember me to your Father & Mother

Yours truly
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 551-552; MS, Abernethy Library, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vt.)
22 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A warm, drizzling day, the tender yellow leafets now generally conspicuous, and contrasting with the almost black evergreens which they have begun to invest. The foliage is never more conspicuously a tender yellow than now . . . (Journal, 12:189-190).
23 May 1859. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau surveys land for Joseph Harrington (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 8).
24 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  What that brilliant warbler on the young trees on the side of the Deep Cut? Orange throat and beneath, with distinct black stripes on breast (i.e. on each side?), and, I think, some light color on crown . . . (Journal, 12:190).
25 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Meadow fox-tail grass abundantly out (how long?), front of E. Hosmer’s by bars and in E. Hubbard’s meadow, front of meeting-house . . . (Journal, 12:190-191).
26 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ledum Swamp and Lee’s Cliff.

  Eleocharis tenuis in bloom, apparently the earliest elcocharis. The rhodora at Ledum Swamp is now in its perfection, brilliant islands of color . . . (Journal, 12:191).

27 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . . Melvin and Skinner tell me of three wild geese, to their surprise seen within a week down the river,—a gander and two geese,—which must be breeding here . . . Went by Temple’s . . . (Journal, 12:191-193).
28 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Cliffs . . .

  At the extreme cast side of Trillium Wood, come upon a black snake, which at first keeps still prudently, thinking I may not see him,—in the grass in open land,—then glides to the edge of the wood and darts swiftly up into the top of some slender shrubs there . . .

  Cinnamon fern pollen [sic]. Lady’s-slipper pollen. These grow under pines even in swamps, as at Ledum Swamp.

  The lint from leaves sticks to your clothes now. Hear a rose-breasted grosbeak . . .

(Journal, 12:193-194)
29 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

   Coming out of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to-day, where I had just been to deposit the corpse of a man, I picked up an oak three inches high with the acorn attached . . . (Journal, 12:194).

30 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Gowing’s Swamp . . .

  When I entered the interior meadow of Gowing’s Swamp I heard a slight snort, and found that I had suddenly come upon a woodchuck amid the sphagnum, lambkill, Kalmia glauca, andromeda, cranberry, etc., there. It was only seven feet off, and, being surprised, would not run. It would only stand erect from time to time,—perfectly erect with its blackish paws held like hands near together in front,—just so as to bring its head, or eyes, above the level of the lambkill, kalmia, etc., and look round, turning now this ear toward me, then that; and every now and then it would make a short rush at me, half a foot or so, with a snort, and then draw back, and also grit its teeth—which it showed—very audibly, with a rattling sound, evidently to intimidate me . . .

(Journal, 12:194-196)
31 May 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Small black flies or millers over river, with long feelers, flying low in swarms now (Journal, 12:196).
1 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Some boys found yesterday, in tussock of sedge amid some flags in a wet place in Cyrus Hosmer’s meadow, west of the willow-row, six inches above the water, the nest evidently of a rail, with seven eggs. I got one to-day . . . (Journal, 12:197).
2 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond . . .

  Strawberries reddening on some hills.

  Found within three rods of Flint’s Pond a rose-breasted grosbeak’s nest. It was in a thicket where there was much cat-briar, in a high blueberry bush, some five feet from the ground, in the forks of the bush, and of very loose construction . . .

(Journal, 12:197-198)
3 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  A large vellow butterfly (somewhat Harris Papilio Asterias like but not black-winged) three and a half to four inches in expanse. Pale-yellow, the front wings crossed by three or four black bars; rear, or outer edge, of all wings widely bordered with black, and some yellow behind it; a short black tail to each hind one, with two blue spots in front of two red-brown ones on the tail . . .

(Journal, 12:198-199)
4 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond.

  Cornus alternifolia well out . . . (Journal, 12:199).

Simon Brown, et al. write to Thoreau (The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (ucsb.edu); MS, Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

5 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ball’s Hill.

  Cat-briar in flower, how long? Allium not out.

  See several ducks, I think both summer and black . . . (Journal, 12:199).

6 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Well Meadow . . . Hear of a kingfisher’s nest just found in a sandbank behind Abner Buttrick’s, with six fresh eggs, of which I have one. The boy said it was six or seven feet deep in the bank (Journal, 12:199-200).
8 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  See lightning-bugs to-night . . . (Journal, 12:200).
9 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A boy shows me one of three (apparent) hen-hawk’s eggs, fresh, obtained on the 6th from a pine near Breed’s house site (Journal, 12:200).

A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Sanborn, [Franklin B. Sanborn] Henry Thoreau, and Allen [William Allen] take tea and pass the evening with us. We discuss questions of philosophy and the Ideal Theory as applied to education. Thoreau is large always and masterly in his own wild ways. With a firmer grasp of the shows of Nature, he has a subtler sense of the essence and personality of the lowing life of things than most men, and he defended the Ideal Theory and Personal Identity to my great delight.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 317)
10 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau surveys land for Prescott Barrett (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 5; Henry David Thoreau papers, Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

Thoreau also writes in his journal:

  Surveying for D. B. Clark on ‘College Road,’ so called in Peter Temple’s deed in 1811, Clark thought from a house so called once standing on it . . . (Journal, 12:200-201).
11 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Owl Swamp . . . When I return, about 5 P.M., the shad-flies swarm over the river in considerable numbers, but there are very few at sundown . . . (Journal, 12:201).
12 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M. – To Gowing’s Swamp.

  I am struck with the beauty of the sorrel now, e.g. Lepidium campestre field. What a wholesome red! . . . (Journal, 12:201).

13 June 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Boston. My rail’s egg of June 1st looks like that of the Virginia rail in the Boston collection . . . (Journal, 12:201-202).

Boston, Mass. Thoreau checks out Flora of the state of New York, volume 2 by John Torrey from the Boston Society of Natural History (Emerson Society Quarterly 24 (March 1952):26).

14 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond.

  Early strawberries begin to be common. The lower leaves of the plant are red, concealing the fruit. Violets, especially of dry land, are scarce now . . . (Journal, 12:202-203).

15 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A. M.—To lead-mill, Acton . . . Sitting by Hubbard Bath [?] swamp wood and looking north, at 3 P. M., I notice the now peculiar glaucous color of the very water, as well as the meadow-grass (i.e. sedge), at a dozen or twenty rods’ distance, seen through the slight haze which accompanies this first June heat . . .
(Journal, 12:203-204)
16 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Paddle to Great Meadows.

  Small snapdragon, how long?

  Examined a kingfisher’s nest,—though there is a slight doubt if I found the spot. It was formed singularly like that of the bank swallow, i.e. flat-elliptical . . . (Journal, 12:204-205).

17 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain, especially heavy rain, raising the river in the night of the 17th (Journal, 12:205).
18 June1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Sail up river. Rain again, and we take shelter under a bridge, and again under our boat, and again under a pine tree . . . (Journal, 12:206).
19 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Heywood Meadow and Well Meadow.

  A flying squirrel’s nest and young on Emerson’s hatchet path, south of Walden, on hilltop, in a covered hollow in a small old stump at base of a young oak, covered with fallen leaves and a portion of the stump; nest apparently of dry grass. Saw three young run out after the mother and up a slender oak . . .

(Journal, 12:207-208)
20 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  River, on account of rain, some two feet above summer level . . . (Journal, 12:208).
21 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Derby’s pasture behind and beyond schoolhouse . . . (Journal, 12:208-209).
22 to 24 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau takes statistics of bridges on Concord River as part of a survey for the River Meadow Association (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 10-11; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

22 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Paddle up the river to Lee’s, measuring the bridges . . . (Journal, 12:209-210).
23 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Ride to Wayland, surveying the bridges . . . (Journal, 12:210).
24 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  To Billerica dam, surveying the bridges . . .

  The testimony of the farmers, etc., is that the river thirty to fifty years ago was much lower in the summer than now. Deacon Richard Heard spoke of playing when a boy on the river side of the bushes where the pads are, and of wading with great ease at Heard’s Bridge, and I hear that one Rice (of Wayland or Sudbury), an old man, remembers galloping his horse through the meadows to the edge of the river . . . Colonel David Heard, who accompanied me and is best acquainted of any with the details of the controversy,—has worked at clearing out the river (I think about 1820),—said that he did not know of a rock in the river from the falls near the Framingham line to perhaps the rear of Hubbard’s in Concord . . .

  Daniel Garfield, whom I met fishing on the river, and who has worked on Nine-Acre Corner and Lee’ s Bridges for fifty years or more, could remember one year when Captain Wheeler dug much mud from the river, when the water was so low that he could throw out pickerel on each side outside the bushes (where the pads now are) . . . Ebenezer Conant remembers when the Canal dam was built, and that before that it used to be dry at midsummer outside the bushes on each side. Lee says that about 1819 the bridge near him was rebuilt and the mud-sills taken up . . .

(Journal, 12:210-214)
26 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  The black willow down is now quite conspicuous on the trees, giving them a parti-colored or spotted white and green look, quite interesting, like a fruit . . . (Journal, 12:214).

27 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I find that the tops of my stakes in Moore’s Swamp are nearly two feet lower than a fortnight ago, or when Garfield began to fill it.

  P.M.—To Walden.

  At the further Brister’s Spring, under the pine, I find an rlttacus tuna, half hidden under a skunk-cabbage leaf, with its back to the ground and motionless, on the edge of the swamp. The under side is a particularly pale hoary green. It is somewhat greener above with a slightly purplish brown border on the front edge of its front wings, and a brown, yellow, and whitish eye-spot in the middle of each wing. It is very sluggish and allows rue to turn it over and cover it up with another leaf,—sleeping till the night come . . .

(Journal, 12:214-215)
29 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Walden.

  Very hot. The piper grass bloom in prime. Examined the flying squirrel’s nest at the base of a small white [oak] or two (sprouts), four inches through, in a small old white oak stump, half open above, just below the level of the ground, composed of quite a mass of old withered oak leaves and a few fresh green ones . . .

(Journal, 12:215)
30 June 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Cooler, with a northerly wind. The pads blown up by it already show crimson, it is so strong, but this not a fall phenomenon yet (Journal, 12:215).
1 July 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Second Division Brook.

  Have heard the peculiar peep of young tailless golden robins for a day or more.

  White water ranunculus in full bloom at least a week, in Second Division Brook, near the dam, in the shade of the bank, a clear day . . .

(Journal, 12:216)

Wayland, Mass. David Heard writes to Thoreau (The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (ucsb.edu); MS, Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

2 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Stow’s chestnut and Thaspium aurcum . . .

  Waded out thirteen rods from rock in Flint’s Pond, and was only up to my middle . . . (Journal, 12:216).

3 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Hubbard’s Grove.

  You see in rich moist mowing the yet slender, recurving unexpanded panicles or heads of the red-top (?), mixed with the upright, rigid herd’s-grass. Much of it is out in dry places . . . (Journal, 12:216-217).

4 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Fair Haven Pond, measuring depth of river.

  As you walk beside a ditch or brook, you see the frogs which you alarm launching themselves from a considerable distance into the brook. They spring considerably upward, so as to clear all intervening obstacles . . . (Journal, 12:217-218).

5 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Ball’s Hill, sounding river.

  Having sounded the river yesterday and to-day from entrance to Fair Haven Pond to oak at Ball’s Hill, the water being to-day three inches lower than yesterday,—or now a foot and a quarter above what I call summer level,—I make these observations . . . (Journal, 12:218-223).

6 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  My English cress (Nasturtium officinale) at Depot Field Brook is in bloom, and has already begun to go to seed, turning purplish, as it withers (from white).

  P.M.—To Lee’s Cliff.

  The fields are now purplish with the anthers of herd’s-grass, which is apparently at its height . . .

  The heart-leaf flower is now very conspicuous and pretty (3 P.M.) in that pool westerly of the old Conantum house . . .

(Journal, 12:223-224)
7 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Great Meadows.

  P. Hutchinson says he once found a wood duck’s nest in a hollow maple by Heywood’s meadow (now by railroad), and tried to get the young as soon as hatched, but they were gone too soon for him… Bathing at Barrett’s Bay, I find it to be composed in good part of sawdust, mixed with sand . . .

(Journal, 12:224-226)
8 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I see an emperor moth (Attacus Cecropia), which came out the 6th.

  P.M.—To Clamshell by river . . .

  The islands of the river, below the Assabet especially,—as Hosmer’s, and the one just below French’s Rock,—are now covered with canary grass, which has almost. entirely done and closed up . . .

(Journal, 12:226)

Thoreau also writes to David Heard:

Mr Heard

Dear Sir,

  You did not give me any data concerning the Town or Causeway Bridge—that is the old wooden one—whether it was longer than the present one—&c By the vote of the Committee I am requested “To learn, if possible, the time of erection of each bridge, and if any abutments have been extended since the building of any bridge, & when.” I think you told me that the stone one was built about 10 years ago.

  I have done with your map, and, if you so direct, will leave it with Dr. Reynolds.

Yrs truly
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 552; MS, Abernethy Library, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vt.)
9 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Paddle up river and sound a little above Fair Haven Pond.

  See young kingbirds which have lately flown perched in a family on the willows,—the airy bird, lively, twittering . . . (Journal, 12:227-230).

10 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  8 A.M.—Take boat at Fair Haven Pond and paddle up to Sudbury Causeway, sounding the river.

  To-dav, like yesterday, is very hot, with a blue haze concealing the mountains and hills, looking like hot dust in the air .
. . (Journal, 12:230-232).

11 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another hot day with blue haze, and the sun sets red, threatening still hotter weather, and the very moon looks through a somewhat reddish air at first . . . (Journal, 12:233-235).
12 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another hot day. 96° at mid-afternoon.

  P.M.—To Assabet Bath.

  The elm avenue above the Wheeler farm is one of the hottest places in the town ; the heat is reflected from the dusty road. The grass by the roadside begins to have a dry, hot, dusty look. The melted ice is running almost in a stream from the countryman’s covered wagon. . .

  In the evening, the moon being about full, I paddle up the river to see the moonlight and hear the bullfrogs . . . I see at 9.30 P. M. a little brood of four or five barn swallows, which have quite recently left the nest, perched close together for the night on a dead willow twig in the shade of the tree, about four feet above the water . . .

(Journal, 12:235-236)
13 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal on 14 July:

  Yesterday (the 13th) Frank Adams brought me a bird’s nest and egg from an apple tree near the road by Addison Fay’s house (Journal, 12:237).
14 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Sounded river from Ball’s Hill (i. e. off Squaw [?] Harbor) to Atkins’s boat-house corner . . . (Journal, 12:236-237).
15 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ledum Swamp . . .

  Gather a few Vaccinium Pennsylvanicum. Raspberries, in one swamp, are quite abundant and apparently at their height (Journal, 12:237-238).

16 and 18 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Afternoons, I sounded the Assabet as far up as the stone bridge (Journal, 12:238).
18 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  One tells me that he stopped at Stedman Buttrick’s on the 10th, and found him sitting under a cherry tree ringing a bell, in order to keep the birds off! . . .

  Nathan Hosmer remembers that when the two new stone piers at Hunt’s Bridge were built, about 1820, one Nutting went under water to place the stones, and he was surprised to see how long he would remain under about this business . . .

(Journal, 12:241-242)
19 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  The architect of the river builds with sand chiefly, not with mud. Mud is deposited very slowly, only in the stagnant places, but sand is the ordinary building material.

  It is remarkable how the river, while it may be encroaching on the bank on one side, preserves its ordinary breadth by filling up the other side . . .

(Journal, 12:242-244)
20 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The little Holbrook boy showed me an egg which I unhesitatingly pronounced a peetweet’s, given him by Joe Smith . . .

  P.M.—To Eddy Bridge.

  Abel Hosmer says that the Turnpike Company did not fulfill their engagement to build a new bridge over the Assabet in 1807; that the present stone bridge was not built till about the time the Orthodox meeting-house was built. (That was in 1826.) Benjamin says it was built soon after the meeting-house, or perhaps 1827, and was placed some fifty feet higher up-stream than the old wooden one . . .

  Jacob Farmer tells me that he remembers that when about twenty-one years old he and Hildreth were bathing in the Assabet at the mouth of the brook above Winn’s, and Hildreth swam or waded across to a sandbar (now the island there), but the water was so deep on that bar that he became frightened, and would have been drowned if he had not been dragged out and resuscitated by others . . .

(Journal, 12:244-247)
21 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Assabet, above factory . . .

  Harrington has what he calls his Elm Hole, where he thinks he finds the old bed of the river some ten rods from the present . . . (Journal, 12:247-248).

22 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Start just before 8 A. M. and sail to the Falls of Concord River . . .

  At Hills’ Bridge we begin to find ourselves shut in by hills, and the character of the shores is fairly changed . . .

  We lunched about 12 o’clock (having got to the Falls about eleven), sitting on the largest rocky islet there, which, as I remember, may have been four to six rods long, but though it was not six feet above the water, if so much, there was no trace of the water ever having washed over it . . .

  A carpenter who lives (?) at Billerica Corner says the water stood all around the nearest inhabited two-story house to the bridge last spring, so that you could go round it in a boat . . .

(Journal, 12:248-256)
23 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Walden.

  Going through Thrush Alley and beyond, I am pestered by flies about my head,—not till now (though I may have said so before). They are perfect imps, for they gain nothing for their pains and only pester me . . .

(Journal, 12:256-257)
24 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ledum Swamp.

  The hairy hueldeberry still lingers in bloom,—a few of them. The white orchis will hardly open for a week . . . (Journal, 12:257-258).

25 July 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The Rice boy brings me what he thought a snipe’s egg, recently taken from a nest in the Sudbury meadows . . .

  P.M.—Water three and a half inches above summer level. I measure the rapidity of the river’s current . . . (Journal, 12:258).

Billerica, Mass. [Jonah] Hill writes to Thoreau (The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (ucsb.edu); MS, Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

26 July 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Great Meadows . . .

  Now observe the darker shades, and especially the apple trees, square and round, in the northwest landscape. Dogdayish . . . (Journal, 12:258-259).

Baltimore, Md. Lucas Brothers writes to Thoreau:
Mr Henry D. Thoreau

D Sir

  We enclose Ten dollars, Rockland Bank, in settlement of your bill of 21st inst

  Please acknowledge & oblige

Yours Respy
Lucas, Bros

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 553)
28 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet.

  I see what I take to be young purple finches eating mountain-ash berries (ours). The kingbirds eat currants . . .

  The black willows are the children of the river. They do not grow far from the water, not on the steep banks which the river is wearing into, not on the unconverted shore, but on the bars and banks which the river has made. A bank may soon get to be too high for it. It grows and thrives on the river-made shores and banks, and is a servant which the river uses to build up and defend its, banks and isles. It is married to the river . . .

(Journal, 12:259-260)
29 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Hill shore . . .

  Tire river is very nearly down to summer level now, and I notice there, among other phenomena of low water by the river, the great yellow lily pads flat on bare mud . . . (Journal, 12:260-262).

30 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—On river to ascertain the rate of the current . . .

  This dog-day weather I can see the bottom where five and a half feet deep. At five feet it is strewn clear across with sium, heart-leaf, Ranunculus Parshii, etc. It is quite green and verdurous, especially with the first. I see the fishes moving leisurely about amid the weeds, their affairs revealed . . .

  P.M.—Left boat at Rice’s Bend. I spoke to him of the clapper rail . . .

(Journal, 12:262-265)

Thoreau also writes to William A. Wilson:

Mr. Wm. A. Wilson

Dear Sir,

  I send you by the same mail with this a copy of A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers. The price in $1.25. The change can be sent in postage stamps. I have no copies of “Walden” to spare; and I learn that it is out of print.

Yours respectfully
Henry D. Thoreau

  P.S. These are the only books I have published.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 553)
31 July 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  7.30 A.M.—Up river.

  C. [William Ellery Channing] and I, having left our boat at rice’s Bend last night, walk to it this forenoon on our way to Saxonville . . .

  A man fishing at the Ox-Bow said without hesitation that the stone-heaps were made by the sucker, at any rate that he had seen them made by the sucker in Charles River,—the large black sucker (not the horned one). Another said that the water rose five feet above its present level at the bridge on the edge of Framingham, and showed me about the height on the stone . . .

(Journal, 12:265-271)
1 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—River is at summer level . . .

  Now, at 5 P. M., the river has risen an inch and a half since 6 A. M., though we have not had a drop of rain for three days . . . (Journal, 12:272-273).

2 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I try the current above Dodd’s . . . (Journal, 12:273-275).
3 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  6 A.M.—River fallen one inch since 2.30 P. M. yesterday . . .

  P.M.—I see two or three birds which I take to be rose-breasted grosbeaks of this year . . . Warren Miles tells me that in mowing lately he cut in two a checkered “adder,” by his account it was the chicken snake,—and there was in its stomach a green snake, dead and partly digested, and he was surprised to find that they ate them . . .

(Journal, 12:275-278)

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Elizabeth Hoar:

  Henry T. occupies himself with the history of the river, measure it, weights it, & strains it through a colander to all eternity, I may say of such an immortal. Ellery C., to pass the time, goes with H to the river; and is fond of making elegant presents (The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 8:622; MS, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, N.Y.).
5 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  See many yellowed peach leaves and butternut leaves, which have fallen in the wind yesterday and the rain to-day . . . (Journal, 12:278-279).
8 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  Rice has had a little experience once in pushing a canal-boat up Concord river. Says this was the way they used to get the boat off a rock when by chance it had got on to one. If it had run quite on, so that the rock was partly under the main bottom of the boat, they let the boat swing round to one side and placed a stout stake underneath, a little aslant, with one end on the bottom of the river and the other ready to catch the bows of the boat . . .

(Journal, 12:279-281)
9 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Minott says that some used to wonder much at the windings of the Mill Brook and could not succeed in accounting for them, but his Uncle Ben Prescott settled the difficulty by saying that a great eel came out of Flint’s Pond and rooted its way through to the river and so made the channel of the Mill Brook . . .
(Journal, 12:281-282)
11 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—Up Assabet to stone bridge . . . (Journal, 12:283-284).
12 August 1859. Philadelphia, Penn.

Thomas H. Mumford writes to Thoreau:

Dear Sir

  Please send us ten pound of Plumbago for Electrotyping purposes, such as we got last from you—as it is some risk to send the money by mail, we would prefer paying the Express agent on delivery of the box—I suppose this arrangement will be satisfactory to you but if not please let us know at once as we have but a very little on hand.

Respectfully Yours &c
Tho. H. Mumford

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 554; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers (Series IV): Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)
14 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Barrett’s Bar . . .

  David Heard says that the cattle liked the pipes so well that they distinguished their rustle from that of other grass as he was bringing them to them, and were eager to get them . . . (Journal, 12:284-287).

15 August 1859. Cambridge, Mass.

Thoreau checks out Magnalia Christi Americana: or, the ecclesiastical history of New England, from its first planting in the year 1620, unto the year of Our Lord, 1698, volumes 1 and 2 by Cotton Mather and Principes d’hydraulique; et de pyrodynamique vérifiés par un grand nombre d’expériences, volume 1 by Pierre Louis George, comte de Du Buat from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 292).

17 August 1859.

Lincoln, Mass. Thoreau surveys land for Rufus Morse (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 10; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

Concord, Mass. Thoreau also writes in his journal:

  Frost in low ground this morning . . . (Journal, 12:287-288).
18 August 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Half the leaves of some cherries in dry places are quite orange now and ready to
fall (Journal, 12:288).

Cambridge, Mass. Welch, Bigelow & Company writes to Thoreau:

Mr Thoreau

Dear Sir

  Inclosed please find $15 00 for which send us 10 lbs Blacklead by return of express—directed as usual

Yours truly
Welch, Bigelow, & Co

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 554; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers (Series IV): Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)
21 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Walk over the Great Meadows and observe how dry they are . . . (Journal, 12:288-289).
22 August 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The circles of the blue vervain flowers, now risen near to the top, show how far advanced the season is . . .

  Riding to the factory, I see the leaves of corn, planted thick for fodder, so rolled by the drought that I mistook one row in grass for some kind of rush or else reed, small and terete . . .

(Journal, 12:289-290)

Boston, Mass. Hobart & Robbins writes to Thoreau:

Mr Henry D. Thoreaux Concord, Mass.

  Please send by return Express 6 lbs best Black Lead & Enclosed please find Nine Dollars to pay for the same—

  Send a receipt.

Yrs Resp’y &c
Hobart & Robbins

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 555; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers (Series IV): Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)
23 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Laurel Glen to see the effect of the frost of the 17th (and perhaps 18th) . . . (Journal, 12:290-291).
24 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum . . . (Journal, 12:291-292).
25 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Copious rain at last, in the night and during the day. A. M.—Mountain-ash berries partly turned . . . (Journal, 12:292).

Thoreau also writes probably to George Thatcher:

Dear Cousin,

  Mother unites with me in assuring Charles Benjamin & Caleb, that we shall be happy to see them, & trust that they will not be in a hurry to go hence to Peterboro, but will first exhaust at their leisure whatever entertainment the dull town may afford. Accommodations will be provided for them at any rate, and such visitors as come later must take their chance. The prospect is that Concord will not be herself that week. I fear it will be more like Discord. Thank fortune, the camp will be nearly 2 miles west of us; yet the scamps will be “all over the lot.” The very anticipation of this muster has greatly increased the amount of travel past our house, for a month; & now, at last, whole houses have begun to roll that way. I fear that we shall have no melons to speak of for either friends or foes, unless perchance the present rain may revive them, for we are in the midst of a severe drought. Sophia is on a short visit to Miss Swift in Roxbury. Please let aunts know that their letter to her reached us yesterday, & that we shall expect them muster [indecipherable word]. We hope that Aunt Jane will be able to travel without inconvenience. I believe that the soldiers will come over the road on Tuesday; & I hear that cars will be run between Boston & Concord at very short intervals on the days of the muster.

  I should think that you might have a very pleasant journey to New Brunswick, & for my own part, I would rather go to where men will be mustered less thickly than they will be hereabouts next month.

  Edward Hoar, with wife & sister, leave Liverpool for home the 27 inst.

  I know the fatigue of much concentrating, especially of drawing accurate plans. It is the hardest work I can do. While following it, I need to go to Moosehead every afternoon, & camp out every night.

Yrs truly
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 555-556)
26 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Hill . . . (Journal, 12:292-296).
27 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A little more rain last night.

  What were those insects, some winged, with short backs and say Half an inch long, others wingless and shorter, like little coils of brass wire (so marked), in dense droves together on trees and fences,—apparently harmless,—especially a week or ten days ago? . . .

  What is often called poverty, but which is a simpler and truer relation to nature, gives a peculiar relish to life, just as to be kept short gives us an appetite for food . . .

(Journal, 12:296-300)
28 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Walden.

  A cool day; wind northwest Need a half-thick coat. Thus gradually we withdraw into winter quarters. It is a clear, flashing air, and the shorn fields now look bright and yellowish and cool, tinkled and twittered over by bobolinks, goldfinches, sparrows, etc. . . .

  I saw a month or more ago where pine-needles which had fallen (old ones) stood erect on low leaves of the forest floor, having stuck in, or passed ass through, them. They stuck up as a fork which falls from the table. Yet you would not think that they fell with sufficient force . . .

(Journal, 12:300-301)
29 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I hear in the street this morning a goldfinch sing part of a sweet strain.

  It is so cool a morning that for the first time I move into the entry to sit in the sun. But in this cooler weather I feel as if the fruit of my summer were hardening and maturing a little, acquiring color and flavor like the corn and other fruits in the field. When the very earliest ripe grapes begin to be scented in the cool nights, then, too, the first cooler airs of autumn begin to waft my sweetness on the desert airs of summer . . .

(Journal, 12:301-303)
30 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  We start when we think we are handling a worm, and open our hands quickly, and this I think is designed rather for the protection of the worm than of ourselves.

  Acorns are not fallen yet. Some haws are ripe.

  The plants now decayed and decaying and withering are those early ones which grow in wet or shady places . . .

(Journal, 12:303-305)
31 August 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Hill. Was caught in five successive showers, and took refuge in Hayden’s barn, under the cliffs, and under a tree . . .

  There was another shower in the night (at 9 P. M.), making the sixth after 1.30 P. M. It was evidently one cloud thus broken into six parts, with some broad intervals of clear sky and fair weather. It would have been convenient for us, if it had been printed on the first cloud, “Five more to come!” Such a shower has a history which has never been written . . .

(Journal, 12:306-307)
1 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Saw Mill Brook and Flint’s Pond . . .

  The autumnal dandelion is a prevailing flower now, but since it shuts up in the afternoon it might not be known as common unless you were out in the morning or in a dark afternoon. Now, at 11 A.M., it makes quite a show, yet at 2 P.M. I do not notice it . . . (Journal, 12:308-312).

2 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ledum Swamp . . .

  The farmer is obliged to hide his melon-patch in the midst of his coat or potatoes, far away. I sometimes stutnhlc on it as I tern going across lots. I see one today where the watermelons are intermixed with carrots in a carrot-bed, and so concealed by the general resemblence of leaf, etc., at a little distance . . .

(Journal, 12:312-313)
3 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A strong wind, which blows down much fruit. R. W. E. [Ralph Waldo Emerson] sits surrounded by choice windfall pears (Journal, 12:313).
4 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Well Meadow and Walden.

  The purple culms and spikes of the. crab-grass or finger-grass, spreading and often almost prostrate under our feet in sandy paths and causeways, are where the purple cuticle of the earth again shows itself, and we seem to be treading in our vintage whether we will or not. Earth has donned the purple . . .

(Journal, 12:313-316)
5 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Spent a part of the forenoon in the woods in the northwest part of Acton, searching for a stone suitable for a millstone for my lead-mill (Journal, 12:316).

Thoreau also writes to E. G. Dudley:

E. G. Dudley Esq.

Dear Sir

  I will read a lecture to your company on the 9th of October, for the compensation named. I should prefer, however, to bring one which I call “Life Misspent,” instead of “Autumnal Tints.”

Yrs truly
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 557; MS, Brown University, Providence, R.I.)
6 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Hear the sounds nowadays—the lowing, tramps, and calls of the drivers—of cows coming down from up-country . . .

  I hear occasionally a half-warbled strain from a warbling vireo in the elm-tops, as I go down the street . . . (Journal, 12:316-317).

8 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The 7th, 8th, and 9th, the State muster is held here. The only observation I have to make is that [Concord] is fuller of dust and more uninhabitable than I ever knew it to be before. Not only the walls, fences, and houses are thickly covered with dust, but the fields and meadows and bushes; and the pads in the river for half a mile from the village are white with it. From a mile or two distant you see a cloud of dust over the town and extending thence to the muster-field . . .

  P.M.—To Fair Haven Pond.

  Grapes are turning purple, but are not ripe . . .

(Journal, 12:317-318)
9 September 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Now for hazelnuts,—where the squirrels have not got them . . . (Journal, 12:318).

New York, N.Y. Thoreau is included by the New-York Tribune in a list of lecturers for the upcoming season (New-York Daily Tribune, vol. 19, no. 5,735 (9 September 1859):3).
10 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal

  See wasps, collected in the sun on a wall, at 9 A. M. (Journal, 12:318).
11 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Conantum-end.

  The prinos berries are now seen, red (or scarlet), clustered along the stems, amid the as yet green leaves. A cool red . . . (Journal, 12:318-320).

12 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Moore’s Swamp and Great Fields . . . (Journal, 12:320-323).
13 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . . (Journal, 12:323-325).
14 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M. – To Cliffs via Hubbard’s Bath . . .

  They are catching pigeons nowadays. Coombs has a stand west of Nut Meadow, and he says that he has just shot fourteen hawks there, which were after the pigeons . . . (Journal, 12:325-327).

15 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  W. Richardson says that, when looking for insects this morning under the loose bark of an apple tree on Nawshawtuct, he found a bat hanging there which measured eleven feet [sic], alar extent.

  P.M.—To Annursnack . . . The Emersons tell me that their Irishman, James, held his thumb for the calf to suck, after dipping it in a pitcher of milk, but, the milk not coming fast enough, [the calf] butted (or bunted) the pitcher to make the milk come down, and broke it . . .

(Journal, 12:327-329)
16 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau surveys land on Bedford Road for Ralph Waldo Emerson (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 7; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

Thoreau also writes in his journal:

  P.M.—By the roadside, forty or fifty rods east of the South Acton station, I find the Aster Novæ-Anglicæ, apparently past prime . . . Young Nealy says that there are blue-winged teal about now . . . (Journal, 12:329-333).
18 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Grape Cliff . . . Rice, who walks with me, thinks that that fine early sedge grass would be a capital thing to stuff cushions and beds with, it is so tough . . . Dr. Bartlett handed me a paper to-day, desiring me to subscribe for a statue to Horace Mann . . . (Journal, 12:333-335).
19 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To Stow.

  Hear the note of the goldfinch on all sides this fine day after the storm. Butternuts have been falling for two or three weeks,—now mostly fallen,—but must dry and lose their outer shells before cracking them . . . (Journal, 12:335-336).

20 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To White Pond.

  The button-hushes by the river are generally overrun with the mikania. This is married to the button-bush as much as the vine to the elm, and more. I suspect that the button-bushes and black willows have been as ripe as ever they get to be . . . (Journal, 12:336).

21 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The farmers on all sides are digging their potatoes, so prone to their work that they do not see me going across lots. I sat near Coomb’s pigeon-place by White Pond . . . (Journal, 12:336-339).
22 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  As I went past the Hunt cellar, where Hosmer pulled down the old house in the spring, I thought I would see if any new or rare plants had sprung up in that place which had so long been covered from the light . . . (Journal, 12:339-342).
23 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  11 A.M.—River risen about fourteen inches above lowest this year . . . (Journal, 12:342-343).
24 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Melvin’s Preserve . . . As I stood looking over a wall this afternoon at some splendid red sumach bushes, now in their prime, I saw Melvin the other side of the wall and hailed him . . . (Journal, 12:344-352).
25 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Emerson’s Cliff . . . At 2 P. M. the river is sixteen and three quarters inches above my hub[?] by boat . . . (Journal, 12:352-354).
26 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Clamshell by boat . . . Heavy Haynes says he has seen one or two fish hawks within a day or two . . . (Journal, 12:354-356).

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

Mr. Blake,—

  I am not sure that I am in a fit mood to write to you, for I feel and think rather too much like a business man, having some very irksome affairs to attend to these months and years on account of my family. This is the way I am serving King Admetus, confound him! If it were not for my relations, I would let the wolves prey on his flocks to their bellies’ content. Such fellows you have to deal with! herdsmen of some other king, or of the same, who tell no tale, but in the sense of counting their flocks, and then lie drunk under a hedge. How is your grist ground? Not by some murmuring stream, while you lie dreaming on the bank; but, it seems, you must take hold with your hands, and shove the wheel round. You can’t depend on streams, poor feeble things! You can’t depend on worlds, left to themselves; but you’ve got to oil them and goad them along. In short, you’ve got to carry on two farms at once,—the farm on the earth and the farm in your mind. Those Crimean and Italian battles were mere boys play, they are the scrapes into which truants get. But what a battle a man must fight everywhere to maintain his standing army of thoughts, and march with them in orderly array through the always hostile country! How many enemies there are to sane thinking! Every soldier has succumbed to them before he enlists for those other battles. Men may sit in chambers, seemingly safe and sound, and yet despair, and turn out at last only hollowness and dust within, like a Dead Sea apple. A standing army of numerous, brave, and well-disciplined thoughts, and you at the head of them, marching straight to your goal,—how to bring this about is the problem, and Scott’s Tactics will not help you to it. Think of a poor fellow begirt only with a sword-belt, and no such staff of athletic thoughts! his brains rattling as he walks and talks! These are your prætorian guard. It is easy enough to maintain a family, or a state, but it is hard to maintain these children of your brain (or say, rather, these guests that trust to enjoy your hospitality), they make such great demands; and yet, he who does only the former, and loses the power to think originally, or as only he ever can, fails miserably. Keep up the fires of thought, and all will go well.

  Zouaves?-piste! How you can overrun a country, climb any rampart, and carry any fortress, with an army of alert thoughts!—thoughts that send their bullets home to heaven’s door,—with which you can take the whole world, without paying for it, or robbing anybody. See, the conquering hero comes! You fail in your thoughts, or you prevail in your thoughts only. Provided you think well, the heavens falling, or the earth gaping, will be music for yon to march by. No foe can ever see you, or you him; you cannot so much as think of him. Swords have no edges, bullets no penetration, for such a contest. In your mind must be a liquor which will dissolve the world whenever it is dropt in it. There is no universal solvent but this, and all things together cannot saturate it. It will hold the universe in solution, and yet be as translucent as ever. The vast machine may indeed roll over our toes, and we not know it, but it would rebound and be staved to pieces like an empty barrel, if it should strike fair and square on the smallest and least angular of a man’s thoughts.

  You seem not to have taken Cape Cod the right way. I think that you should have persevered in walking on the beach and on the bank, even to the land’s end, however soft, and so, by long knocking at Ocean’s gate, have gained admittance at last,—better, if separately, and in a storm, not knowing where you would sleep by night, or eat by day. Then you should have given a day to the sand behind Provincetown, and ascended the hills there, and been blown on considerably. I hope that you like to remember the journey better than you did to make it. I have been confined at home all this year, but I am not aware that I have grown any rustier than was to be expected. One while I explored the bottom of the river pretty extensively. I have engaged to read a lecture to [Theodore] Parker’s society on the 9th of October next. I am off-a barberrying.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 557-559; MS, Henry David Thoreau Collection. Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin)
28 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At Cattle-Show to-day I noticed that the ladies’ apple (small, one side green, the other red, glossy) and maiden’s-blush (good size, yellowish-white with a pink blush) were among the handsomest . . . (Journal, 12:356-357).
29 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Down railroad and to Fair Haven Hill . . .

  Having just dug my potatoes in the garden,—which did not turn out very well,—I took a basket and trowel and went forth to dig my wild potatoes, or ground-nuts, by the railroad fence . . . (Journal, 12:357-359).

30 September 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  Ever since the unusually early and severe frost of the 16th, the evergreen ferns have been growing more and more distinct amid the fading and decaying and withering ones, and the sight of those suggests a cooler season. They are greener than ever, by contrast. The terminal shield fern is one of the handsomest . . .

(Journal, 12:359-360)
1 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To the beeches.

  Looking down from Pine Hill, I see a fish hawk over Walden.

  The shrub oaks on this hill are now at their height, both with respect to their tints and their fruit . . . (Journal, 12:361-362).

2 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain in the night and cloudy this forenoon.

  We had all our dog-days in September this year. It was too dry before, even for fungi. Only the last three weeks have we lead any fungi to speak of. Nowadays I see most of the election-cake fungi, with crickets and slugs eating them . . .

  P.M.—To lygodium . . .

  I perceive in various places, in low ground, this afternoon, the sour scent of cinnamon ferns decaying.
It is an agreeable phenomenon, reminding me of the season and of past years.

  So many maple and pine and other leaves have now fallen that in the woods, at least, you walk over a carpet of fallen leaves . . .

(Journal, 12:362-364)
3 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Bateman’s Pond; back by hog-pasture and old Carlisle road . . .

Looking from the hog-pasture over the valley of Spencer Brook westward, we see the smoke rising from a huge chimney above a gray roof amid the woods, at a distance, where some family is preparing its evening meal . . . (Journal, 12:364-369).

4 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  When I have made a visit where my expectations are not met, I feel as if I owed my hosts an apology for troubling them so. If I am disappointed, I find that I have no right to visit them . . .

  P.M.—To Conantum . . .

  It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. I do not get nearer by a hair’s breadth to any natural object so long as I presume that I have an introduction to it from some learned man. To conceive of it with a total apprehension I must for the thousandth time approach it as something totally strange . . .

(Journal, 12:369-373)
5 October 1859. Boston, Mass.

Edward Bangs writes to Thoreau:

Mr. Henry Thoreau Concord

Dear Sir

  Your aunts wish you to come by the next train to the Superior Court 1st Session to testify that the family tradition is that they & you are descended from the Orrocks which is necessary to be proved in this case vs. Miss Palleis [Pallies.]

Very truly yours
Edward Bangs.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 559-560)
6 October 1859.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A. M. – To Boston. Examine the pigeon and sparrow hawks in the Natural History collection . . . (Journal, 12:373-374).

Cambridge, Mass. Thoreau checks out The substance of a journal during a residence at the Red River colony, British North America by John West, A Treatise on the esculent funguses of England by Charles David Badham, A History of British ferns by Edward Newman, and Histoire véritable et naturelle des moeurs et productions dú pays de la Nouvelle France, vulgairement dite la Canada by Pierre Boucher (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 292).

7 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The pontederia seeds which I dropped into a pitcher of water have now mostly sunk. As the outside decays they become heavier than water (Journal, 12:374).
9 October 1859. Boston, Mass.

Thoreau lectures on “Life Misspent” at the Music Hall for the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society (Studies in the American Renaissance 1996, 304-308).

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M. – Boston. Read a lecture to Theodore Parker’s society . . . (Journal, 12:374).
10 October 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  White-throated sparrows in yard and close up to house, together with myrtle-birds (which fly up against side of house and alight on window-sills) and, I think, tree sparrows?

  Colder weather, and the cat’s fur grows (Journal, 12:374).

Boston, Mass. The Boston Atlas and Daily Bee, the Boston Daily Courier, and the Banner of Light review Thoreau’s lecture of 9 October (Studies in the American Renaissance 1996, 304-6).

11 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Cliffs.

Looking under large oaks, black and white, the acorns appear to have fallen or been gathered by squirrels, etc I see in many distant places stout twigs (black or scarlet oak) three or four inches long which have been gnawed off by the squirrels, with four to seven acorns on each, and left on the ground . . .

(Journal, 12:374-375).
12 October 1859.
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Hubbard’s Close . . .

  The common goldenrods on railroad causeway have begun to look hoary or gray, the down showing itself,—that November feature. I see scattered flocks of bay-wings amid the weeds and on the fences . . . (Journal, 12:375-376).

New York, N.Y. The New-York Daily Tribune reprints the 10 October notice in the Boston Atlas and Daily Bee of Thoreau’s 9 October lecture (New-York Daily Tribune, vol. 19, no. 5,761 (12 October 1859):6).
13 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Up Assabet . . .

  I perceive the peculiar scent of the witch-hazel in bloom for several rods around, which at first I refer to the decaying leaves. I see where dodder was killed, with the button-bush, perhaps a week.

  British naturalists very generally apologize to the reader for having devoted their attention to natural history to the neglect of some important duty . . .

(Journal, 12:376-378)
14 October 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  9 A.M.—To and around Flint’s Pond with Blake [H. G. O. Blake].

  A fine Indian-summer day. The 6th and 10th were quite cool, and any particularly warm days since may be called Indian summer (‘), I think.

  We sit on the rock on Pine Hill overlooking Walden. There is a thick haze almost entirely concealing the mountains.

  There is wind enough to raise waves on the pond and make it bluer. What strikes me in the scenery here now is the contrast of the unusually blue water with the brilliant-tinted woods around it. The tints generally may be about at their height. The earth appears like a great inverted shield painted yellow and red, or with imbricated scales of that color, and a blue navel in the middle where the pond lies, and a distant circumference of whitish haze . . .

(Journal, 12:378-384)

New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:

Friend Thoreau,—

  Shall I break our long silence, silence so much more instructive than any words I may utter? Yet should my rashness procure a response from you, I, at least, may be the wiser. Solemn though the undertaking be, I would fain venture.

  Well, imprimis, you have been talking, as I learn from various sources, in Boston. I hope you were understood, in some small measure, at least, though I fear not; but this is not your business—to find understanding for your audience. I respect your benevolence in thus doing, for I esteem it one of the most gracious and philanthropic deeds, for a wise, thoughtful man, a philosopher, to attempt, at least, to awaken his fellow men from their drunken somnolence, perhaps to elevate them . . .

  It appears to me it is only, age after age, the working over of the old original compound-man. We appear to gain nothing. A few noble, wise ones, mark the lustrums of the past—a few also will mark what we call the present. The things men rate so highly in modern times do not appear to me to be of very great value after all. What is it for a ship to cross the ocean by steam if its passengers have no godlike errand to perform? We have enough to wonder at in Nature already, why seek new wonders?

  I have passed some peaceful hours of late, sawing wood by moonlight, in the field near the lane to our cow-pastures—the work does not interfere with, but rather favors meditation, and I have found some solace in the companionship of the woods near by, and the concert of their wind harps . . .

  I made the acquaintance of your friends, Blake [H. G. O. Blake] and Brown, [Theophilus Brown] very favorably at the Middleborough ponds, last June, on their way to Cape Cod. I had, however, seen Mr. Blake once before.

  I should be happy to have a visit from you. Can you not come soon?

  I have passed through some deep experiences since I last saw you. We are getting nearer. Is there not such a fact as human companionship? I need not add how much I owe you, and that I remain, faithfully your friend,

D. R.

  Bluebirds are still here, and meadow-larks are tuneful.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 560-561)
15 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Botrychium Swamp.

  A cold northwest wind.

  I see some black oak acorns on the trees still and in some places at least half the shrub oak acorns. The last are handsomer now that they have turned so much darker.

  I go along the east edge of poplar Hill. This very cold and windy clay, now that so many leaves have fallen . . .

(Journal, 12:384-388)
16 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Paddle to Puffer’s and thence walk to Ledum Swamp and Conant’s Wood . . . Where we landed in front of Puffer’s, found a jug which the haymakers had left in the bushes . . . The ledum smells like a bee,—that peculiar scent they have. C., [William Ellery Channing] too, perceives it . . .
(Journal, 12:388-396)
17 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A smart frost this morning. Ground stiffened. Hear of ice in a tub.

  P.M.—To Gowing’s Swamp.

  The water standing over the road at Moore’s Swamp, I see the sand spotted black with many thousands of little snails with a shell, and two feelers out, slowly dragging themselves over the bottom. They reminded me by their color, number, and form of the young tadpoles . . .

(Journal, 12:396-399)
18 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rains till 3 P. M., but is warmer.

  P.M.—To Assabet, front of Tarbell’s.

  Going by Dennis Swamp on railroad, the sour scent of decaying ferns is now very strong there. Rhus venenata is bare, and maples and some other shrubs, and more are very thin-leaved, as alder and birches, so that the swamp, with so many fallen leaves and migrating sparrows, etc., flitting through it, has a very late look . . .

(Journal, 12:399-400)
19 October 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  One comment I heard of by the postmaster of this village on the news of Brown’s [John Brown] death: ‘He died as the fool dieth.’ I should have answered this man, ‘He did not live as the fool liveth, and he died as he lived’ . . .

  It galls me to listen to the remarks of craven-hearted neighbors who speak disparagingly of Brown because he resorted to violence, resisted the government, threw his life away! . . . C. [William Ellery Channing] says that he saw a loon at Walden the 15th . . .

(Journal, 12:400-410)

Worcester, Mass. Theophilus Brown writes to Thoreau:

Friend Thoreau,

  The book came duly to hand, and as it was not for me, I intend to send you the money for it in this note—

  Blake [H. G. O. Blake] must speak for himself and not for me when speaking of that mountain walk of ours. I enjoyed it well enough, and ought to be ashamed of myself that I did, perhaps, since it yielded me so little.

  Our Cape Cod walk salts down better with me, & yet there wasn’t much salt in that,—enough to save it perhaps, but not enough of the sea & sand & sky. The good things I got in it were rather incidental—did not belong to the sea, But I did get some glimpses of the sea. I remember a smoke we had on a little barren knoll where we heard the plover, in North Dennis, in the twilight after a long & hot days walk. We heard the pounding of the surf against a shore twenty miles off (so said the man at whose house we passed the night,—) and we were expecting to arrive there the next day.

  I have been in the habit of thinking our journey culminated in that smoke, if it did’nt end there, for, though we arrived at the beach the next day according to programme & found the thirty miles stretch of it, with its accompaniments too large to complain of, yet—our anticipations were immense. But now in thinking of it the actual sea & sky loom up larger, while our smoke & dreams—hold their own pretty well—

Your friend
Theo Brown

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 562-563; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers (Series IV). Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)
20 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ripple Lake.

  Dug some artichokes behind Alcott’s, the largest about one inch in diameter. Now apparently is the time to begin to dig them, the plant being considerably frost-bitten. Tried two or three roots. The main root ran clown straight about six inches and then terminated abruptly . . .

(Journal, 12:410-411)
21 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Mason’s pasture . . .

  The government, its salary being insured, withdraws into the back shop, taking the Constitution with it, as farmers in the winter contrive to turn a penny by following the coopering business. When the reporter to the Herald (!) reports the conversation “verbatim,” he does not know of what undying words he is made the vehicle . . .

  The slave-ship is on her way, crowded with its dying hundreds ; a small crew of slaveholders is smothering four millions under the hatches ; and yet the politician asserts that the only proper way by which deliverance is to be obtained is by “the quiet diffusion of sentiments of humanity,” without any “outbreak”! And in the same breath they tell us that all is quiet now at Harper’s Ferry. What is that that I hear cast overboard? The bodies of the dead, who have found deliverance. That is the way we are diffusing humanity, and all its sentiments with it . . .

(Journal, 12:411-418)
22 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M.—To Cliffs and Fair Haven . . .

  It was evidently far from being a wild and desperate and insane attempt. It was a well-matured plan.

  The very fact that he had no rabble or troop of hirelings about him would alone distinguish him from ordinary heroes. His company was small indeed, because few could be found worthy to pass muster. He would have no rowdy or swaggerer, no profane swearer, for, as he said, he always found these men to fail at last. He would have only men of principle, and they are few . . .

  Each one who there laid down his life for the poor and oppressed was thus a picked man, culled out of many thousands, if not millions; a man of principle, of rare courage, and of devoted humanity; ready to lay down their lives any moment for the weak and enslaved. It may be doubted if there were any more their equals in all the land, for their leader scoured the land far and wide, seeking to swell his troop . . .

(Journal, 12:418-439)
28 October 1859. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Goldenrods and asters have been altogether lingering some days. Walnuts commonly fall, and the black walnuts at Smiths’ are at least half fallen . . . (Journal, 12:439-440).
29 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau surveys a woodlot, which he then divides into separate lots, for John Hosmer (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 8; Henry David Thoreau papers. Special Collections, Concord (Mass.) Free Public Library).

30 October 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau lectures on “The Character and Actions of Capt. John Brown” at the First Parish Meetinghouse.

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

  Thoreau reads a paper of his on John Brown, his virtues, spirit, and deeds, at the Vestry this evening, and to the delight of his company I am told – the best that could be gathered on short notice, and among them Emerson. I am not informed in season, and have my meeting at the same time. I doubt not of its excellence and eloquence, and wish he may have opportunities of reading it elsewhere.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 320)
31 October 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes to H. G. O. Blake:

Mr. Blake,

  I spoke to my townsmen last evening on “The character of Capt. Brown, now in the clutches of the slaveholder.” I should like to speak to any company in Worcester who may wish to hear me, & will come, if only my expenses are paid. I think that we should express ourselves at once, while Brown is alive. The sooner the better. Perhaps [T. W.] Higginson may like to have a meeting.

  Wednesday evening would be a good time.

  The people here are deeply interested in the matter.

  Let me have an answer as soon as may be.

Henry D. Thoreau

[The following was written in pencil]
  P. S. I may be engaged toward the end of the week.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 563; MS, Henry David Thoreau Collection. Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin)

Boston, Mass. Charles W. Slack writes to Thoreau by telegraph:

To Henry D. Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson. Concord.

  Thoreau must lecture for Fraternity Tuesday Evening—Douglas [Frederick Douglass] fails—Letter mailed

Charles W. Slack

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 564; MS, Henry David Thoreau papers (Series IV). Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library)
1 November 1859.

Boston, Mass. Thoreau lectures on “The Character and Actions of Capt. John Brown” at Tremont Temple (“The Character and Actions of Captain John Brown”).

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

  Thoreau goes to read his lecture tonight at the Music Hall, and again on Monday night at Worcester (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 320).

Boston, Mass. The Liberator later notes Thoreau’s lecture:

  FIFTH FRATERNITY LECTURE. The programme of this course of lectures had promised one by Frederick Douglass of Rochester, N. Y., as the fifth in order.—It was understood that he was to discourse on “Self-made Men,” a subject on which he is well qualified to speak. Mr. Douglass, however, did not appear, and the explanation of his absence by the committee gave us to understand that he does not now consider himself safe in any part of the United States, in consequence of his alleged implication in the Harper’s Ferry invasion.  The vacancy thus made at a late hour had been filled by the voluntary offer of Henry D. Thoreau of Concord, who took for his subject one in whom all mankind are now interested, “Captain John Brown of Ossawattomie.” This exciting theme seemed to have awakened “the hermit of Concord” from his usual state of philosophic indifference, and he spoke with real enthusiasm for an hour and a half, giving much information respecting Captain Brown’s earlier life, and bestowing hearty praise upon the enterprize at Harper’s Ferry, and as hearty dispraise upon the apathy and reserve shown in regard to it by those portions of the periodical press which did not take the equally shameful ground of direct censure.

Mr. Thoreau took special pains to include the Liberator is the censure which he had at first bestowed upon the press generally. In doing this, he ignored the fact that Mr. Garrison has bestowed high and hearty eulogy upon Captain Brown, representing him as not only (judged from the ordinary stand-point of patriotism) superior in nobleness to the heroes of the American Revolution, but entitled to the higher praise of faithfully practising towards the most oppressed people of our country the lessons of the Golden Rule; and, moreover, he distorted Mr. Garrison’s first statement, (made on receipt of the first day’s telegraphic reports,) that the attempt was apparently an insane one, into a charge that he had represented Captain Brown as insane.

A very large audience listened to this lecture, crowding the hall half an hour before the time of its commencement, and giving hearty applause to some of the most energetic expressions of the speaker.

C. K. W. [Charles King Whipple ?]

(The Liberator, vol. 29, no. 44 (4 November 1859):174)
New York, N.Y. The New-York Daily Tribune later notes Thoreau’s lecture:

  Henry D. Thoreau delivered a lecture on John Brown at the Tremont Temple on Tuesday evening. It was one of the ‘Fraternity’ course. There were some just and striking remarks in it, and many foolish and ill-natured ones. Sneers at the Republicans were quite frequent. men like Gne. Wilson, and editors like those of THE TRIBUNE and The Liberator, who, while the lecturer was cultivating beans and killing woodchucks on the margin of Walden pond, made a public opinion strong enough on Anti-Slavery grounds to tolerate a speech from him in defense of insurrection, deserve better treatment than they receive from some of the upstart Abolitionists of the day” (New-York Daily Tribune, vol. 19, no. 5,787 (9 November 1859):3).
3 November 1859. Worcester, Mass.
Thoreau lectures on “The Character and Actions of Capt. John Brown” at Washburn Hall (“The Character and Actions of Capt. John Brown“).
4 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Thoreau calls and reports about the reading of his lecture on Brown at Boston and Worcester. Thoreau has good right to speak fully his mind concerning Brown, and has been the first to speak and celebrate the hero’s courage and magnanimity. It is these which he discerns and praises. The men have much in common: the sturdy manliness, straight-forwardness and independence. It is well they met, and that Thoreau saw what he sets forth as no one else can. Both are sons of Anak, the dwellers in Nature – Brown taking more to the human side and driving straight at institutions whilst Thoreau contents himself with railing at them and letting them otherwise alone. He is the proper panegyrist of the virtues he owns himself so largely, and so comprehend sin another.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 321)
5 November 1859. Boston, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  In Boston.—The first Indian-summer day, after an unusually cold October. Sat at the end of Long Wharf for coolness, but it was very warm . . . (Journal, 12:441).
6 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The river is quite low, about four inches lower than the hub [?] I used in the summer, or lower than before, this year . . . (Journal, 12:441).

A. Bronson Alcott writes to Daniel Ricketson:

  Thoreau has just come back from reading a revolutionary Lecture on John Browne of Ossawatomee [sic], a hero and Martyr after his own heart and style. It was received here by our Concord folks with great favor, and he won praise for it also at Worcester. I wish the towns might become his auditors throughout the states and country (The Letters of Amos Bronson Alcott, 306).
7 November 1859. Bradford, N.H.

Mary Jennie Tappan writes to Thoreau (The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (ucsb.edu); MS, privately owned).

8 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Nut Meadow and Fair Haven Hill . . .

  Coombs says that quite a little flock of pigeons bred here last summer . . . (Journal, 12:441-442).

9 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A fine Indian-summer day. Have had pleasant weather about a week (Journal, 12:442).

A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Thoreau calls again. He thinks someone for the North should see Gov. Wise, or write concerning Capt. Brown’s character and motives, to influence the Governor in his favor. Thoreau is the man to write, or Emerson; but there seems little or no hope of pleas for mercy. Slavery must have its way, and Wise must do its bidding on peril of his own safety with the rest
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 321).
10 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rain; warm (Journal, 12:442).
11 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Windy and cooler . . . (Journal, 12:442-443).
12 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The first sprinkling of snow, which for a short time whitens the ground in spots . . . (Journal, 12:443).
15 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ledum Swamp. I look up the river from the railroad bridge . . .

  The clouds were never more fairly reflected in the water than now, as I look up the Cyanean Reach from Clamshell.

  A fine gossamer is streaming from every fence and tree and stubble, though a careless observer would not notice it. As I look along over the grass toward the sun at Hosmer’s field, beyond Lupine Hill, I notice the shimmering effect of the gossamer,—which seems to cover it almost like a web,—occasioned by its motion, though the air is so still . . .

  In the midst of Ledum Swamp I came upon a white cat under the spruces and the water brush, which evidently had not seen me till I was within ten feet. There she stood, quite still, as if hoping to be concealed, only turning her bead slowly away from and toward me, looking at me thus two or three times . . .

  All through the excitement occasioned by Brown’s remarkable attempt and subsequent behavior, the Massachusetts Legislature, not taking any steps for the defense of her citizens who are likely to be carried to Virginia as witnesses and exposed to the violence of a slaveholding mob . . .

  If any person, in a lecture or a conversation, should now cite any ancient example of heroism, such as Cato, or Tell, or Winkelried, passing over the recent deeds and words of John Brown, I am sure that it would be felt by any intelligent audience of Northern men to be tame and inexcusably far-fetched . . . .

(Journal, 12:443-447).
17 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another Indian-summer day, as fair as any we’ve had. I go down the railroad to Andromeda Ponds this afternoon. Captain Hubbard is having his large wood – oak and white pine, on the west of the railroad this side the pond—cut . . .

  I have been so absorbed of late in Captain Brown’s [John Brown] fate as to be surprised whenever I detected the old routine running still,—met persons going about their affairs indifferent . . .

(Journal, 12:447-448)
18 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A fog this morning and yesterday morning, lasting till about 10 A. M . . .

  An apothecary in New Bedford told R. [Daniel Ricketson] the other day that a man (a Mr. Leonard) of Springfield told him that he once attended a meeting in Springfield where a woman was exhibited as in a mesmeric state, insensible to pain . . .

(Journal, 12:448-449)
19 November 1859.

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

  Ricketson [Daniel Ricketson] from New Bedford arrives. He and Thoreau take supper with us. Thoreau talks truly and enthusiastically about Brown, denouncing the Union, President, the States, and Virginia particularly. Wishes to publish his late speech, and has been to Boston publishers, but failed to find any to print it for him.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 322).

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Left home for Concord at 10½ A. M., arrived at Concord at 5½ P. M., leaving cars at Concord depot, walked down to the village bookstore (Mr. Stacey’s) where I found Mr. Alcott, by whose invitation I was going to visit him; also saw Thoreau at the post-office. Received with much kindness by Mrs. Alcott and her two daughters, Louisa and Abby. Spent the evening with Mr. A. in his library, where he has a wood fire on the hearth.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 312).

Cincinnati, Ohio. Moncure Conway writes to Thoreau:

My dear Mr. Thoreau,

  I trust that you also, with Emerson, [Ralph Waldo Emerson] will be moved by old and high memories to help us in starting out here a new incarnation of the old Dial. It certainly will prove worthy to be so called if we can obtain help from R. W. E. yourself and others. We will not be able at once to pay contributors, and the Editor expects to lose; but in due time we shall reap if we faint not. Will you not give the babe a birth-present? One of those fresh wood-zephyrs that fan our fevered hearts and bring health to blasé cheeks! You are the man, the only man, who can make green grass and flowers grow upon the pages of our Dial.

  What is my chief wish of you? It is to have you interested in us: willing to send us a love-gift of thought: noting, now and then on paper, the form and [?] of some pearls, which I know you are constantly finding in that Oriental Sea of yours upstairs. So now Mr. Pearl-Diver, I await your word of cheer! May I say that I shall be assisted by H. D. Thoreau of Concord? Pray let me hear at once.

Your friend,
M. D. Conway.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 564-5)

Thoreau replies 23 November.

20 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  I walked this P. M. with Thoreau to Walden Pond land the woods around. Took tea with T. and called upon Channing [William Ellery Channing] and smoked a pipe with him; returned to Thoreau’s, met Edmund Hosmer, an intelligent farmer, there. Talked on religious faith, &c., returned to Mr. Alcott’s [A. Bronson Alcott] late in the evening.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 312)
21 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Left Mr. A’s [A. Bronson Alcott] hospitable roof after dinner to visit my friend Thoreau (Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 313).
22 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  C. [William Ellery Channing] says that he saw to-day a procession of minnows (one to two inches long) some three or four feet wide, about forty abreast, passing slowly along northerly, close to the shore, at Wharf Rock, Flint’s Pond . . .
(Journal, 12:449)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Called after breakfast on Channing, [William Ellery Channing] who left me below in his kitchen and went to his room in the attic. Proceeded to Mr. Alcott’s, [A. Bronson Alcott] dined with Thoreau, spent part of the afternoon with him at Mr. Alcott’s in the library, walked after with t. in the dark as far as the Hosmer farm, sat with Thoreau in his room talking till 11.
(Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 313)
23 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes to Moncure Conway in reply to his letter of 19 November:

Mr. Conway

  Let me thank you for your earthy and [word] of Capt. Brown. As for your new Dial I do not think of any Thing which I have available for your purpose & other engagements prevent my preparing it. While I wish you success I know at [word] your assistance knowing myself so well.

  I can only say that if I [word] [word] on any & the [word] I will remember your magazine.

  To follow out your simile I find in my sea some mother o’ pearl – it may be but very few pearls as yet—may I now good wishes & more [word] and [word] [word?] ment—

  But this will not be worth an advertisement

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 565-566)

Daniel Ricketson writes in his journal:

  Walked this P. M. with Thoreau to the Hallowell farm; returned to Thoreau’s room; plain talk, perhaps too much so (Daniel Ricketson and His Friends, 313).
24 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  See, on the railroad-slope by the pond, and also some days ago, a flock of goldfinches eating the seed of the Roman wormwood . . . (Journal, 12:450).

Thoreau also writes to Calvin Greene:

Dear Sir,

  The lectures which you refer to were reported in the newspapers, after a fashion, the last one in some half dozen of them, and if I possessed one, or all, of those reports I would send them to you, bad as they are. The best, or at least longest one of the Brown Lecture was in the Boston “Atlas & Bee” of Nov 2nd. Maybe half the whole. There were others in the Traveller – the Journal &c of the same date.

  I am glad to know that you are interested to see my things. & I wish that I had them in a printed form to send to you. I exerted myself considerably to get the last discourse printed & sold for the benefit of Brown’s family – but the publishers are afraid of pamphlets & it is now too late.

  I return the stamps which I have not used.

  I shall be glad to see you if I ever came your way

Yours truly
Henry D. Thoreau

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 566)
25 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Paddle to Baker Farm . . .

  Landing at the ash tree above the railroad, I thought I heard the peculiar not of grackles toward the willow-row across the field, and made a memorandum of it, never doubting; but soon after I saw some farmers at work there, and found that it was the squeaking of the wheel that rolled before their plow… We hear the clattering sound of two ducks – which rise and fly low at first – before we can see them though quite far off by the side of the pond . . .

(Journal, 12:450-451)
26 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Walk over the Colburn Farm wood-lot south [of] the road . . .

  The chickadee is the bird of the wood the most unfailing. When, in a windy, or in any, day, you have penetrated some thick wood like this, you are pretty sure to hear its cheery note therein. At this season it is almost their sole inhabitant.

  I see here to-day one brown creeper busily inspecting the pitch pines. It begins at the base, and creeps rapidly upward by starts, adhering close to the bark and shifting a little from side to side often till near the top, then suddenly darts off downward to the base of another tree, where it repeats the same course . . .

(Journal, 12:451-453)
27 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Colburn Farm wood-lot north of C. Hill . . .

  The Greeks and Romans made much of honey because they had no sugar; olive oil also was very important. Our poets (?) still sing of honey, though we have sugar, and oil, though we do not produce and scarcely use it . . .

(Journal, 12:453-454)
28 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To E. Hubbard’s Wood. Goodwin tells me that Therien, who live in a shanty of his own building and alone in Lincoln, uses for a drink only checkerberry-tea . . . Saw Abel Brooks there [Hubbard’s Wood] with a half-bushel basket on his arm . . .
(Journal, 12:455-456)

A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Evening, at Town Hall. A meeting called there to make arrangements for celebrating by appropriate services the day of Capt. Brown’s execution. Simon Brown, Dr. Bartlett, Keyes, Emerson, and Thoreau address the meeting, and Emerson, Thoreau, Brown, and Keyes are chosen a committee to prepare the services proper for the occasion. Sanborn is present also. Thoreau has taken a prominent part in this movement, and arranged for it chiefly.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 322)
29 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Copan . . .  

  Saw quite a flock of snow buntings not yet very white. They rose from the midst of a stubble-field unexpectedly. The moment they settled after wheeling around, they were perfectly concealed . . .

(Journal, 12:456-457)
30 November 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I am one of a committee of four, viz. Simon Brown (Ex-Lieutenant-Governor), R. W. Emerson, myself, and John Keyes (late High Sheriff), instructed by a meeting of citizens to ask liberty of the selectmen to have the bell of the first parish tolled at the time Captain Brown [John Brown] is being hung, and while we shall be assembled in the town house to express our sympathy with him. I applied to the selectmen yesterday. Their names are George M. Brooks, Barzillai Hudson, and Julius Smith. After various delays they at length answer me to-night that they “are uncertain whether they have any control over the bell, but that, in any case, they will not give their consent to have the bell tolled.” Beside their private objections, they are influenced by the remarks of a few individuals. Dr. Bartlett tells me that Rockwood Hoar said he “hoped no such foolish thing would be done,” and he also named Stedman Buttrick, John Moore, Cheney (and others added Nathan Brooks, senior, and Francis Wheeler) as strongly opposed to it; said that he had heard “five hundred” (!) damn me for it, and that he had no doubt that if it were done some counter-demonstration would be made . . .
(Journal, 12:457-458)

A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  See Thoreau again, and Emerson, concerning the Brown Services on Friday. We do not intend to have any speeches made on the occasion, but have selected appropriate passages from Brown’s words, from the poets, and from the Scriptures, to be read by Thoreau, Emerson, and myself, chiefly; and the selection and arrangement is ours.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 322)
1 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Again see Thoreau and Emerson. It is arranged that I am to read the Martyr Service, Thoreau selections from the poets, and Emerson from Brown’s words. Sanborn has written a dirge, which will be sung, and Rev. Mr. Sears from Wayland will offer prayer. I copy the passages I am to read from the Book of Solomon’s Wisdom, David’s Psalms, also from Plato.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 322)
2 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  2 P.M. Meet at Town Hall. Our townspeople present mostly, and many from the adjoining towns. Simon Brown, Chairman. Readings by Thoreau, Emerson, Bowers, Keyes, and Alcott, and Sanborn’s dirge is sung by the company, standing. The bells are not rung. I think not more than one or two of Brown’s friends wished them to be. I did not. It was more fitting to signify our sorrow in the subdued tones, and silent, then by any clamor of steeples and the awakening of angry feelings. Any conflict is needless as unamiable between neighbors, churchmen, and statesmen. The services are affecting and impressive; distinguished by modesty, simplicity, and earnestness; worthy alike of the occasion and of the man.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 323)

Thoreau speaks on “The Martyrdom of John Brown.”

3 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rode with a man this forenoon who said that if he did not clean his teeth when he got up, it made him sick all the rest of the day, but he had found by late experience that when he had not cleaned his teeth for several days they cleaned themselves . . . X [Francis Jackson Merriam] was betrayed by his eyes, which had a glaring film over them and no serene depth into which you could look. Inquired particularly the way to Emerson’s and the distance, and when I told him, said he knew it as well as if he saw it . . .

  When I hear of John Brown and his wife weeping at length, it is as if the rocks sweated.

(Journal, 13:3-4)
4 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Awake to winter, and snow two or three inches deep, the first of any consequence (Journal, 13:4).
5 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P. M. – Down Turnpike to Smith’s Hill. Rather hard walking in the snow . . .

  Returning from the post-office at early candle-light, I noticed for the first time this season the peculiar effect of lights in offices and shops seen over the snowy streets, suggesting how withdrawn and inward the life in the former, how exposed and outward in the latter . . .

(Journal, 13:5-7)
6 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Walden and Baker Bridge, in the shallow snow and mizzling rain.

  It is somewhat of a lichen day. The bright-yellow sulphur lichens on the walls of the Walden road look novel, as if I had not seen them for a long time. Do they not require cold as much as moisture to enliven them? What surprising forms and colors! Designed on every natural surface of rock or tree . . .

  Returning up the railroad, I see the great tufts of sedge in Heywood’s meadow curving over like locks of the meadow’s hair, above the snow . . . The death of Irving, which at any other time would have attracted universal attention, having occurred while these things were transpiring, goes almost unobserved . . .

(Journal, 13:8-14)

Washington Irving died 28 November 1859.

8 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Here is a better glaze than we have yet had, for it snowed and rained in the night.

  I go to Pleasant Meadow,—or rather toward the sun, for the glaze shows best so . . .

  When a noble deed is done, who is likely to appreciate it? They who are noble themselves. I am not surprised that certain of my neighbors speak of John Brown as an ordinary felon. Who are they? They have much flesh, or at least much coarseness of some kind. They are not ethereal natures, or the dark qualities predominate in them, or they have much office. Several of them are decidedly pachydermatous. How can a man behold the light who has no answering inward light? They are true to their sight, but when they look this way they see nothing, they are blind . . .

  Certain persons disgraced themselves by hanging Brown in effigy in this town on the 2d. I was glad to know that the only four whose names I heard mentioned in connection with it had not been long resident here, and had done nothing to secure the respect of the town . . .

(Journal, 13:14-18)
9 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The river and Fair Haven Pond froze over generally (I see no opening as I walk) last night, though they were only frozen along the edges yesterday . . . I observe at mid-afternoon, the air being very quiet and serene, that peculiarly softened western sky, which perhaps is seen commonly after the first snow has covered the earth . . .
(Journal, 13:18-19)
10 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Get in my boat, in the snow. The bottom is coated with a glaze (Journal, 13:19).
11 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At 2 P. M. begins to snow, and snows till night . . . See one sheldrake in Walden . . . (Journal, 13:19-20).

A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Thoreau calls, takes supper, and passes some hours, conversing on Emerson and the times. Tells me something of Redpath, [James Redpath] the Englishman, who has been here during the past week gathering information for his Life of Brown. His book, The Roving Editor, speaks freely of slavery and of the South. Perhaps the portraits are overdrawn sometimes, and tempered with prejudices unjust to all parties.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 323)
12 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Pine Hill and round Walden . . .

  As I talked with the woodchopper who had just cleared the top of Emerson’s [Ralph Waldo Emerson] I got a new view of the mountains over his pile of wood in the foreground. They were very grand in their snowy mantle, which had a slight tinge of purple . . .

(Journal, 13:20-22)
13 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—On river to Fair Haven Pond.

  My first true winter walk is perhaps that which I take on the river, or where I cannot go in the summer. It is the walk peculiar to winter . . .

  There is now, at 2.30 P. M., the melon-rind arrangement of the clouds. Really parallel columns of fine mackerel sky, reaching quite across the heavens from west to east, with clear intervals of blue sky, and a fine-grained vapor like spun glass extending in the same direction beneath the former. In half an hour all this mackerel sky is gone . . .

  Now that the river is frozen we have a sky under our feet also. Going over black ice three or four inches thick, only reassured by seeing the thickness at the cracks, I see it richly marked internally with large whitish figures suggesting rosettes of ostrich-feathers or coral . . .

(Journal, 13:22-27)
14 December 1859. Concord, Mass

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  At 2 P. M. begins to snow again. I walk to Walden.

  Snow-storms might be classified. This is a fine, dry snow, drifting nearly horizontally from the north, so that it is quite blinding to face, almost as much so as sand. It is cold also. It is drifting but not accumulating fast. I can see the woods about a quarter of a mile distant . . .

(Journal, 13:27-28)
15 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Slight as this snow was, these drifts now extend back four or five feet and as high as the wall, on the north side of the Corner Bridge road . . . I hear from J. [?] Moore that one man in Bedford has got eighteen minks the last fall . . . M. Miles, who came to collect his wood bill to-day, said, when I objected to the small size of his wood, that it was necessary to split wood fine in order to cure it well, that he had found that wood that was more than four inches in diameter would not dry, and moreover a good deal depended on the manner in which it was corded up in the woods . . .
(Journal, 13:28-29)
16 December 1859.

Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To Cambridge, where I read in Gerard’s Herbal . . .

  Bought a book at Little & Brown’s, paying a nine-pence more on a volume than it was offered me for elsewhere . . . (Journal, 13:29-30).

Cambridge, Mass. Thoreau checks out Histoire des animaux d’Aristotle, avec la traduction françois par M. Camus and Θεοφραστου Ερεσιου τα σωζομενα, volume 2 from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 292).

17 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Walden.

  The snow being some three or four inches deep, I see rising above it, generally, at my old bean-field, only my little white pines set last spring in the midst of an immense field of Solidago nemoralis, with a little sweet-fern (i.e. a large patch of it on the north side). What a change there will be in a few years, this little forest of goldenrod giving place to a forest of pines! . . .

(Journal, 13:30-33)
18 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Rains.

  P.M.—To Assabet opposite Tarbell’s, via Abel Hosmer’s . . .

  The thick, low cloud or mist makes novel prospects for us. In the southwest horizon I see a darker mass of it stretched along, seen against itself . . . (Journal, 13:33-34).

19 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Farmer has lately been riding about in the neighboring towns west and northwest, as far as Townsend, buying up their furs,—mink, musquash, and fox. Says that Stow is as good a town for mink as any, but none of them have more musquash than Concord . . . (Journal, 13:34-35).
20 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—To T. Wheeler wood-lot.

  Snows very fast, large flakes, a very lodging snow, quite moist; turns to rain in afternoon. If we leave the sleigh for a moment, it whitens the seat, which must be turned over. We are soon thickly covered, and it lodges on the twigs of the trees and bushes,—there being but little wind,—giving them a very white and soft, spiritual look. Gives them a still, soft, and light look . . .

(Journal, 13:36)
21 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A.M.—A fine winter day and rather mild. Ride to T. Wheeler’s lot. See a red squirrel out in two places. Do they not come out chiefly in the forenoon? Also a large flock of snow buntings . . . (Journal, 13:36-37).
22 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Another fine winter day.

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond. C. [William Ellery Channing] is inclined to walk in the road, it being better walking there, and says: “You don’t wish to see anything but the sky to-day and breathe this air” . . . Three men are fishing on Flint’s Pond, where the ice is seven or eight inches thick . . .

(Journal, 13:37-40)
23 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Ball’s Hill across meadow.

  The gardener at Sleepy Hollow says that they caught many small pouts and some pickerel that weighed half a pound (!) in the little pond lately dug there . . .

  I ascended Ball’s Hill to see the sun set. How red its light at this hour! I covered its orb with my hand, and let its rays light up the fine woollen fibres of my glove. They were a dazzling rose-color . . .

(Journal, 13:40-45)
24 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—To Flint’s Pond . . .

  I saw the tracks of a partridge more than half an inch deep in the ice, extending from this island to the shore, she having walked there in the slosh. They were quite perfect and reminded me of bird-tracks in stone . . . (Journal, 13:45-47).

25 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The last our coldest night, as yet. No doubt Walden froze over last night entirely.

  P.M.—To Carlisle Bridge on river and meadow . . .

  Standing by the side of the river at Eleazer Davis’s Hill,—prepared to pace across it,—I hear a sharp fine screep from some bird, which at length I detect amid the button-bushes and willows. The screep was a note of recognition meant for me. I saw that it was a novel bird to me. Watching it a long time, with my glass and without it . . .

  It was evidently the golden-crested wren, which I have not made out before. This little creature was contentedly seeking its food here alone this cold winter day on the shore of our frozen river . . .

(Journal, 13:47-53)
26 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  P.M.—Skate to Lee’s Bridge and there measure back, by pacing, the breadth of the river. After being uniformly overcast all the forenoon, still and moderate weather, it begins to snow very gradually, at first imperceptibly, this afternoon,—at first I thought I imagined it,—and at length begins to snow in earnest about 6 P. M., but last only a few minutes . . .
(Journal, 13:53-55)
27 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Grows cold in the evening, so that our breaths condense and freeze on the windows . . . (Journal, 13:56).
28 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  It is remarkable that the river should so suddenly contract at Pelham Pond. It begins to be Musketaquid there.

  The places where the river was certainly (i.e. except 4th) open yesterday were all only five feet or less in depth, according to my map, and all except 8th at bends or else below the mouth of a brook . . .

  Hence, I should say, if you wish to ascertain where the river is five feet, or less than five feet, deep in Concord, wait till it is open for not more than half a dozen rods below Nut Meadow . . .

(Journal, 13:56-57)
29 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  A very cold morning,—about -15º at 8 A. M. at our door.

  I went to the river immediately after sunrise I could [see] a little greenness in the ice, and also a little rose-color from the snow, but far less than before the sun set . . .

  P.M.—To Ball’s Hill, skating . . .

  To-night I notice the rose-color in the snow and the green in the ice at the same time, having been looking out for them.

  The clouds were very remarkable this cold afternoon, about twenty minutes before sunset, consisting of very long and narrow white clouds converging in the horizon (melon-rind-wise) both in the west and east. They looked like the skeletons and backbones of celestial sloths . . .

(Journal, 13:57-63)
30 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  I awake to find it snowing fast, but it slackens in a few hours . . .

  P.M.—Going by Dodd’s, I see a shrike perched on the tip-top of the topmost upright twig of an English cherry tree before his house, standing square on the topmost bud, balancing himself by a slight motion of his tail from time to time . . .

  I spoke to the barber to-day about that whirl of hair on the occiput of most (if not all) men’s heads. He said it was called the crown, and was of a spiral form, a beginning spiral, when cut short; that some had two, one on the right, the other on the left, close together. I said that they were in a sense double-headed. He said that it was an old saying that such were bred under two crowns . . .

(Journal, 13:63-65)
31 December 1859. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  Thermometer at 7.45 A. M., -1º, yet even more vapor is rising from the open water below my boat’s place than on the 29th, when it was -15º . . .

  At 10 A. M., thermometer 18º . . .

  P.M.—To the sweet-gale meadow or swamp up Assabet . . .

  A man may be old and infirm. What, then, are the thoughts he thinks? what the life he lives? They and it are, like himself, infirm. But a man may be young, athletic, active, beautiful. Then, too, his thoughts will be like his person. They will wander in a living and beautiful world. If you are well, then how brave you are! How you hope! You are conversant with joy! A man thinks as well through his legs and arms as his brain . . .

(Journal, 13:65-70)



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