2 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “8 A. M. - 15º below…” (Journal, 13:71).
3 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Baker’s Bridge via Walden. As we passed the almshouse brook this pleasant winter afternoon, at 2.30 P. M. (perhaps 20º, for it was 10º when I got home at 4.45), I saw vapor curling along over the open part by the roadside… Melvin speaks of seeing flocks of them on the river meadows in the fall, when they are of a different color… When a locomotive came in, just before the sun set, I saw a small cloud blown away from it which was a very rare but distinct violet purple…” (Journal, 13:71-2).
4 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To second stone bridge and down river…. Opposite Dodge's Brook I see on the snow and ice some fragments of frozen-thawed apples under an oak.” (Journal, 13:72-6).
5 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Via Turnpike to Smith’s and back by Great Road…. I see the dead stems of the water horehound just rising above the snow and curving outward over the bank of the Assabet, near the stone-heaps...” (Journal, 13:76-8).
7 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “From having been about 20º at midday, it is now (the thermometer) some 35º quite early, and at 2 P. M. 45º…” (Journal, 13:78-80).
8 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Walk to Walden. Thermometer 48 at 2 P. M… When returning from Walden at sunset, the only cloud we saw was a small purplish one, exactly conforming to the outline of Wachusett, - which it concealed, - as if on that mountain only the universal moisture was at that moment condensed…” (Journal, 13:80-3).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “Another fine warm day, - 48º at 2 P. M. P. M. - To Walden…” (Journal, 13:83-5).
Cincinnati, Ohio. R. Allison writes to Thoreau:
Mr. H. D. Thoreau Concord Mass.
Enclosed please find $10 Amt of your bill of 27 Ult. Please acknowledge recpt and oblige
Boston, Mass. Edward Bangs writes to Thoreau:
R. Allison Supt.
Your Aunts case vs. Miss Pallies will be tried tomorrow - will you please come down by the first train?
Very truly yours
Boston, Mass. Hobart & Robbins writes to Thoreau:
Mr. Henry D. Thoreaux Concord, Mass.
Enclosed are Nine Dollars, for which, please send at once 6 lbs best (ground) plumbago, with bill
Hobart & Robbins
11 January. Concord, Mass.
A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal: “Emerson, Alcott, Thoreau, Channing, Wasson, Sanborn, and Hawthorn, which comes to 7 persons. Opened once a week for conversations, without form, and from 7 till 10 in the evening, at private houses” (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 325)
12 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “I go forth to walk on the Hill at 3 P. M… I notice, as I am returning half an hour before sunset, the thermometer about 24º, much vapor rising from the thin ice which has formed over the snow and water to-day by the riverside…” (Journal, 13:85-7).
13 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Tuttle was saying to-day that he did remember a certain man’s living with him once, from something that occurred… One man at the post-office said that a crow would drive a fox… Farmer says that he remembers his father’s saying that as he stood in a field once, he saw a hawk soaring above and eying something on the ground…” (Journal, 13:88-9).
14 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “The snow having ceased falling this forenoon, I go to Holden Wood, Conantum, to look for tracks…” (Journal, 13:89-90).
15 January. New Bedford, Mass.
Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:
Friend Thoreau, -
We’ve been having a good deal of wintry weather for our section of late, and skating by both sexes is a great fashion. On the 26th of last month, Arthur, Walton, and I skated about fifteen miles. We rode out to the south end of Long pond (Aponoquet), and leaving our horse at a farmer’s barn, put on our skates, and went nearly in a straight line to the north end of said pond, up to the old herring weir of King Philip, where we were obliged to take off our skates, as the passage to Assawamset was not frozen. We stopped about an hour at the old tavern and had a good solid anti-slavery, and John Brown talk with some travellers. One, a square-set, red-bearded farmer, said among other rough things, that he would like to eat Southerners’ hearts! and drink their blood! for a fortnight, and would be willing to die if he could not live on this fare! This was said in reply to a spruce young fellow who had been in New Orleans, and knew all about slavery - damned the abolitionists most lustily, and John Brown and his associates in particular. Oaths flew like shot from one side to the other, but the renegade Northerner was no match for the honest farmer, who met him at every point with facts, statistics, oaths, and arguments, and finally swore his antagonist down flat. He “burst the bully” in good earnest. Occasionally I had interspersed a few words, and others present, but our farmer was the champion of the field, and a more complete annihilation of a doughface I never witnessed.
My boys seemed to enjoy it well. After this scene we again assumed our skates from the Assawamset shore, near by, and skated down to the end of the East Quitticus pond, the extreme southern end of the ponds; thence crossing to West Quitticus, we skated around it, which with the return from the south end of the former pond to our crossing place, we estimated at something over 15 miles. Taking off our skates we took a path through the woods, and walking about a mile came out in some old fields near our starting point. We put on our skates at 10.30 o’clock a.m., and at 3 p.m. were eating dinner at the old farm-house of William A. Morton, near the south shore of Long Pond.
I, as well as my boys, enjoyed the excursion very much. We saw our favorite pond under entirely new aspects, and visited many nooks that we had never before seen - sometimes under the boughs of the old cedars, draped in long clusters of moss, like bearded veterans, and anon farther out on the bosom of the lake, with broad and refreshing views of wild nature, taking the imagination back to the times of the Indians and early settlers of these parts - shooting by little islands and rocky islets, among them the one called “Lewis Island,” which you thought would do for a residence. I got a fresh hold of life that day, and hope to repeat the pleasure before winter closes his reign. I found myself not only not exhausted, as I had expected, but unusually fresh and cheerful on my arrival home about 5 p.m. The boys stood it equally well. So my friend we shall not allow you all the glory of the skating field, but must place our Aponoquet, Assawamset and Quitticus-et, in the skating account with your own beloved Musketaquid exploits.
Well, since I saw you, dear old John Brown has met, and O! how nobly, his death, at the hands of Southern tyrants. I honor him and his brave associates in my “heart of hearts”; but my voice is for peaceable measures henceforth, doubtful, alas! as their success appears.
I expect to be in Boston at the annual meeting of the Mass. A[nti] S[lavery] Society, near at hand, and hope to see you there, and if agreeable should like to have you return home with me, when, D.V., we may try our skates on the Middleborough ponds.
We all spoke of you and wished you were with us on our late excursion there.
With kind regard to your family and my other Concord friends, I remain,
16 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Down Boston road around Quail Hill. Very warm, - 45º at 2 P. M…” (Journal, 13:90-2).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Goose Pond and Walden… When I reached the open railroad causeway returning, there was a splendid sunset…” (Journal, 13:92-4).
18 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Fair Haven Pond, on river…” (Journal, 13:94-5).
19 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Down river. 2 P. M. - Thermometer 38…” (Journal, 13:95-6).
Thoreau also writes to Samuel Ripley Bartlett:
Mr S. Ripley Bartlett,
I send you with this a letter of introduction to Ticknor & Fields, as you request; though I am rather remote from them.
I think that your poem was well calculated for our lyceum, and the neighboring towns, but I would advise you, if it is not impertinent, not to have it printed, as you propose. You might keep it by you, read it as you have done, as you may have opportunity, and see how it wears with yourself. It may be in your own way if printed. The public are very cold and indifferent to such things, and the publishers still more so. I have found that the precept “Write with fury, and correct with flegm” required me to print only the hundredth part of what I had written. If you print at first in newspapers, you can afterward collect survives [survivors?] - what your readers demand. That, I should say, is the simplest and safest, as it is the commonest, way. You so get the criticism of the public, & if you fail, no harm is done.
You may think this harsh advice, but, believe me, it is sincere.
Henry D. Thoreau
20 January. Concord, Mass.
22 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Up river to Fair Haven Pond; returning via Andromeda Ponds and railroad… C. [William Ellery Channing] says that he followed the track of a fox all yesterday afternoon, though with some difficulty, and then lost it at twilight… Minott says that a hound which pursues a fox by scent cannot tell which way he is going; that the fox is very cunning and will often return on its track over which the dog had already run…” (Journal, 13:98-102).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “8 A. M. - On river… Minott says that pigeons alight in great flocks on the tops of hemlocks in March, and he thinks they eat the seed…” (Journal, 13:102-4).
Boston, Mass. Chauncey Smith writes to Thoreau:
Mr Henry Thoreau
Enclosed please find note of my brother L. L. Smith for $100 payable in three months with my endorsement and acknowledge the receipt thereof to him
24 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Tarbell, river, via railroad…” (Journal, 13:104-6).
Concord, Mass. A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:
My wife accompanies me to the Lyceum this evening, and we hear Higginson lecture on Barbarism and Civilization. He defends civilization against Thoreau’s prejudice for adamhood, and celebrates its advantages - of health chiefly, among the rest.
After the lecture Thoreau and I go to Emerson’s and talk further on it. Anna Whiting is there. I ask if civilization is not the ascendency of sentiment over brute force, the sway of ideas over animalism, of mind over matter. the more animated the brain, the higher is the man or creature in the scale of intelligence. The barbarian has no society; this begins in sympathy, the perception and sentiment of personality binding the general in one. Thoreau defends the Indian from the doctrine of being lost or exterminated, and thinks he holds a place between civilized man and nature, and must hold it. I say that he goes along with the woods and the beasts, who retreat before and are superseded by man and the planting of orchards and gardens. The savage succumbs to the superiority of the white man. No civilized man as yet, nor refined nations, for all ar brute largely still. Man’s victory over nature and himself is to overcome the brute beast in him.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 325)
25 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Saw A. Hosmer approaching in his pung…” (Journal, 13:106-8).
26 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Pretty good skating on the Great Meadows, slightly raised and smoothed by the thaw and also the rain of (I think) the 23d-24th… P. M. - To Eleazer Davis’s Hill, and made a fire on the ice, merely to see the flame and smell the smoke…” (Journal, 13:108).
27 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Up river to Fair Haven Pond, and return by Walden…” (Journal, 13:108-11).
29 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Fair Haven Pond and return via Andromeda Ponds and railroad…” (Journal, 13:111-3).
30 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Nut Meadow and White Pond road…” (Journal, 13:113-6).
31 January. Concord, Mass.
2 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “6º below at about 8 A. M… 2 P. M. - To Fair Haven Pond… About 3 P. M. I noticed a distinct fragment of rainbow, about as long as wide, on each side of the sun, one north and the [other] south and at the same height above the horizon with the sun, all in a line parallel with the horizon; and, as I thought, there was a slight appearance of a bow…” (Journal, 13:118-24).
3 February. Concord, Mass.
5 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Up Assabet. 2 P. M., 40º…” (Journal, 13:126-8).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “To Cambridge. A rainy day” (Journal, 13:128).
Cambridge, Mass. Thoreau checks out Aeliani sophistae variae historiae libri XIV, The historie of foure-footed beasts and serpents by Edward Topsell, and L’histoire de la nature des oyseaux by Pierre Belon from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 292).
[ ? ], Mass. James Redpath writes to Thoreau:
Henry D Thoreau
Dear Sir -
If you do not desire to know my address, (which you had better not know if you have any prospect of being summoned to Washington) please hand the enclose knot to F. B. S[anborn] who, perhaps, may wish to see me to consult as to our future course. I have been regularly summoned, but have resolutely refused to obey the summons; & am in the country, now, to have quiet until I shall complete the forthcoming Volume. I directed your Lecture to be sent to you for correction; which - I am told - has been done.
Can you furnish me with an a/c of the B[attle] of B[lack] J[ack]? I was very conscious of the defects of the a/c I copied; but as I recollect very little about the B, I cd not undertake to describe it from my own resources. I shall however yet obtain the testimony of the eye witnesses; as I have all their names (the “Orderly Book” that you allude to) & will either see or write to every man who was present, as soon as I can get their addresses or leave Mass. for K. Territory. I shall probably visit the ground in the spring.
For the Private Life I have already a number of very interesting letters from Kansas men, - just such plain, matter of fact statements as you are greedy for, & which, better than any rehetorical estimates of John Brown’s character or cause, exhibit to the intelligent reader the spirit & life of the old warrior.
The very numerous faults of language (there have been very few of facts) & the imperfect estimates of character which disfigure my book warn me - & I will heed the hint - to take more time in fixing another original volume. As for my forthcoming book, as it is an edited volume only, I have nothing to fear in that a/c.
I have not even yet attempted to arrange my voluminous newspaper materials, & do not see that I shall be able to commence it for some weeks to come This is my apology or reason rather for neglecting (in appearance) my promise with reference to Miss Thoreau’s Scrap Book.
I find that the extracts that [word] made in my book for your lecture were incorrectly reported. Do you desire that they shall be altered? If so, please return the volume I sent you properly marked; & I will return you as many vols as you desire with the latest corrections. The 33d thousand has been printed & contains many corrections not in the edition I sent you. The prospect is that it will reach over 50000 at least. I think it will do good among the masses; that is all I tried to do - for the educated have teachers enough; & over them I do not expect to have influence.
Remember me to Mrs Thoreau & thank her, in my own name & in behalf of my wife, also - for her kind invitation which we shall, as soon as possible, accept.
Very truly yours
8 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau lectures on “Wild Apples” for the Concord Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance 1996, 332-3).
Thoreau also writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Up river to Fair Haven Hill…” (Journal, 13:129-33).
A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal: “Thoreau and his lecture on ‘Wild Apples’ before the Lyceum. It is a piece of exquisite sense, a celebrating of the infinity of nature, exemplified with much learning and original observation, beginning with the apple in Eden and down to the wildings in our woods. I listened with uninterrupted interest and delight, and it told on the good company present” (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 326).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “A hoar frost on the ground this morning - for the open fields are mostly bare - was quite a novel sight. I had noticed some vapor in the air late last evening” (Journal, 13:133).
Boston, Mass. Henry Williams writes to Thoreau:
My Dear Sir:
At the last annual meeting of the Class of ’37, a vote was passed, that the members of the Class be requested to furnish the Secretary with their photographs, to be placed in the Class Book. Several fellows, in accordance with the above vote, have already sent me their pictures, and I trust that you will feel disposed, at an early date, to follow their example. You can send to me through the Post Office, at 18 Concord Square.
Very truly yours,
10 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - The river, where open, is very black, as usual when the waves run high, for each wave casts a shadow…” (Journal, 13:133-6).
11 February. Concord, Mass.
12 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M., 22º. Walk up river to Fair Haven Pond… Returning just before sunset, I see the ice beginning to be green, and a rose-color to be reflected from the low snow-patches… It is twenty above at 5.30, when I get home…” (Journal, 13:136-42).
13 February. Concord, Mass.
14 February. Bedford, Mass.
Thoreau lectures on “Wild Apples” for the Bedford Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance 1996, 333-4).
15 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - About 30º at 2 P. M. Skated to Bound Rock…” (Journal, 13:145-7).
16 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Walden… When we descend on to Goose Pond we find that the snow rests more thickly on the numerous zigzag and horizontal branches of the high blueberries that bend over it than on any deciduous shrub or tree, producing a very handsome snowy maze, and can thus distinguish this shrub, by the manner in which the snow lies on it, quite across the pond…” (Journal, 13:147-8).
17 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Cold and northwest wind, drifting the snow. 3 P. M., thermometer 14º… Minott says that he hears that Heard’s testimony in regard to Concord River in the meadow case was that ‘it is damned at both ends and cursed in the middle,’ i. e. on account of the damage to the grass there…” (Journal, 13:149-52).
18 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Melvin tells me that he went a day or two ago to where G. M. Barrett had placed a dead cow of his, and that he found the snow thickly tracked by foxes to within five feet around the carcass, and they appeared to have sat down there, but so suspicious of some trick were they that they had not touched it” (Journal, 13:152-6).
19 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Snow maybe near a foot deep, and now drifting” (Journal, 13:156).
20 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - I see directly in front [of] the Depot Lee [?] house, on the only piece of bare ground I see hereabouts, a large flock of lesser redpolls feeding… J. Farmer tells me that his grandfather once, when moving some rocks in the winter, found a striped squirrel frozen stiff. He put him in his pocket, and when he got home laid him on the hearth, and after a while he was surprised to see him running about the room as lively as ever he was…” (Journal, 13:156-7).
21 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer forty-six and snow rapidly melting…” (Journal, 13:157-8).
23 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 56º. Wind south. 3 P. M. - Thermometer 58º and snow almost gone… I walk over the moist Nawshawtuct hillside and see the green radical leaves of the buttercup, shepherd’s-purse (circular), sorrel, chickweed, cerastium, etc., revealed. About 4 P. M. a smart shower, ushered in by thunder and succeeded by a brilliant rainbow and yellow light from under the dark cloud in the west…” (Journal, 13:158-60).
24 February. Concord, Mass.
25 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Round via Clamshell to Hubbard’s Bridge…” (Journal, 13:161-2).
26 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 30; cold northwest wind. The water is about six inches above Hoar’s steps. That well covers the meadows generally. Cold and strong northwest wind this and yesterday” (Journal, 13:162).
27 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 50. To Abner Buttrick’s Hill… Heywood says that when the ground is regularly descending from the north to the railroad, a low fence a quarter of a mile off has been found to answer perfectly; if it slopes upward, it must be very near the road… C. [William Ellery Channing] found a skater-insect on E. Hubbard’s Close brook in woods to-day” (Journal, 13:162-5).
28 February. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 52; wind easterly. To Conantum… Passed a very little boy in the street to-day, who had on a home-made cap of a woodchuck-skin, which his father or elder brother had killed and cured, and his mother or elder sister had fashioned into a nice warm cap… C. [William Ellery Channing] saw a dozen robins to-day on the ground on Ebby Hubbard’s hill by the Yellow Birch Swamp. One tells me that George Hubbard told him he saw blackbirds go over this afternoon… As I go down the Boston road, I see an Irishman wheeling home from far a large damp and rotten pine log for fuel…” (Journal, 13:165-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Rain all day… I have thoughts, as I walk, on some subject that is running in my head, but all their pertinence seems gone before I can get home to set them down…” (Journal, 13:170).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 50º. To Witherell Glade via Clamshell; thence to Hubbard’s Close… C. [William Ellery Channing] has seen good bæomyces (?) lately… Hayden thinks he has seen bluebirds for a fortnight!!… Ed. Hoar says he heard a phœbe February 27th” (Journal, 13:171-6).
Thoreau writes in his journal: 2 P. M. - 50º; overcast and somewhat rain-threatening; wind southwest. To Abner Buttrick and Tarbell Hills… C. [William Ellery Channing] says that Walden began to be hard to get on to the first of March. I saw this afternoon a meadow below Flint’s willow-row still frozen over (at 3 P. M.)…” (Journal, 13:176-8).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Conantum via Clamshell…” (Journal, 13:178-80).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “George Buttrick thinks that forty musquash have been killed this spring between Hunt’s and Flint’s Bridge…” (Journal, 13:180-2).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “3 P. M. 44º… Going by Messer’s, I hear the well-known note and see a flock of F. hyemalis flitting in a lively manner about trees, weeds, walls, and ground, by the roadside, showing their two white tail-feathers… Mr. Stacy tells me that the flies buzzed about him as he was splitting wood in his yard to-day… Jonas Melvin says he saw hundreds of ‘speckled’ turtles out on the banks to-day in a voyage to Billerica for musquash… C [William Ellery Channing] hears the nuthatch… A still and mild moonlight night and people walking about the streets” (Journal, 13:182-3).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “3 P. M. - 34º… C. [William Ellery Channing] says that he saw a swarm of very small gnats in the air yesterday” (Journal, 13:183).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2.3o P. M. - 50º. To Cliffs and Walden… I meet some Indians just camped on Brister’s Hill…” (Journal, 13:183-7).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 and 3 P. M. - Thermometer 41º…” (Journal, 13:187-8).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Sleet, turning soon to considerable rain, - a rainy day…” (Journal, 13:189).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Quite overcast all day. Thermometer 36” (Journal, 13:189).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 39. Overcast, with a flurry of snow and a little rain, till 4.30 P. M. To Walden and Cliffs…” (Journal, 13:190-2).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 55; wind slight, west by south. To Abner Buttrick’s Hill… C. [William Ellery Channing] saw a green fly yesterday…” (Journal, 13:196-8).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Walden and Goose Pond…” (Journal, 13:198-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Quite a fog, - after three warm days, - lasting till 8 A. M. 2 P. M. - Thermometer 56… Go [to] Cold Pool (J. P. B.’s)… C. [William Ellery Channing] picks up at Clamshell a very thin piece of pottery about one eighth of an inch thick , which appears to contain much pounded shell… Pratt says that his bees come out in a pleasant day at any time in the winter; that of late they have come out and cased themselves, the ground being covered around the hives with their yellow droppings…” (Journal, 13:199-203).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 51; wind easterly, blowing slightly. To Everett’s Spring…” (Journal, 13:205).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “A. Buttrick says he saw and heard woodcocks the 5th of March this year, or much earlier than ever before… 2 P. M. - Thermometer about 49…” (Journal, 13:205-7).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Colder and overcast. did not look at thermometer; probably not far from 40º” (Journal, 13:207).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “At 4 P. M., 28; probably about 30 at 2 P. M…” (Journal, 13:207-10).
Newburyport, Mass. Jane Andrews writes to Thoreau:
Please send me by mail a copy of your “Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.”
Enclosed please find one dollar and a quarter ($1.25), which I believe you consider the pecuniary value of the book.
Address Jane Andrews, Newburyport, Mass. March 22, 1860.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - 35 º. To Well Meadow and Walden…” (Journal, 13:216-29).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 4 [sic]. To Second Division Brook…” (Journal, 13:229-34).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Calm, warmer, and pleasant at once” (Journal, 13:234).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “A very warm and pleasant day (at 2 P. M., 63º and rising)… At eve I go listening for snipe, but hear none… As I walk the street I realize that a new season has arrived…” (Journal, 13:234-5).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Surveying again for Ed. Hoar the woodland adjoining his farm… One tells me he found the saxifrage out a Lee’s Cliff this afternoon, and another, Ellen Emerson, saw a yellow or little brown snake, evidently either the Coluber ordinatus or else amænus, probably the first…” (Journal, 13:235-6).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “3 P. M. - Up Assabet in boat… As we paddle up the Assabet we hear the wood turtles - the first I have noticed - and painted turtles rustling down the bank into the water, and see where they have travelled over the sand and the mud…” (Journal, 13:237-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 31º, or fallen 40º since yesterday, and the ground slightly whitened by a flurry of snow… Walked to the Mayflower Path and to see the great burning of the 31st…” (Journal, 13:239-41).
Thoreau writes in his journal on 4 April: “Lodged at Sanborn’s last night after his rescue, he being away” (Journal, 13:241).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Row to Clamshell and walk beyond…” (Journal, 13:241-2).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Rainy, more or less, - April weather…” (Journal, 13:242-3).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Annursnack… As we were ascending the hill in the road beyond College Meadow, we saw the dust, etc., in the middle of the road at the top of the hill taken up by a small whirlwind…” (Journal, 13:243-4).
8 and 9 April. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “April 8 and 9. More or less rainy” (Journal, 13:244).
9 April. Cambridge, Mass.
Thoreau checks out Aeliani De natura animalum libri XVII from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 292).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - 44º and east wind…” (Journal, 13:244).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - I go up the Assabet to look at the sweet-gale, which is apparently [?] out at Merrick’s shore…” (Journal, 13:245-6).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - 44º. To Easterbrooks’s…” (Journal, 13:246).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Thermometer 37. To Conantum…” (Journal, 13:247).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “In afternoon afternoon a true April rain, dripping and soaking into the earth and head on the roof, which continuing, in the night it is very dark…” (Journal, 13:247-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Sail to Ball’s Hill. It is quite warm - 67 at 2 P. M. - and hazy, though rather strong and gusty northwest wind. We land at the Holt and walk a little inland… J. Brown says that he saw martins on his box on the 13th and 14th, and that his son saw one the 18th (?)…” (Journal, 13:249-51).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “46 at 2 P. M… Melvin says he has heard snipe some days, but thinks them scarce… As I go by the site of Staple’s new barn on the Kettle place, I see that they have just dug a well on the hillside and are bricking it up… Humphrey Buttrick, the sportsman, was at the bottom, bricking up the well; a Clark who had been mining lately in California, and who had dug the well, was passing down brick and mortar to him; and Melvin, with a bundle of apple scions in his hand, was sitting close by and looking over into the well from time to time…” (Journal, 13:251-2).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “Moore tells me that last fall his men, digging sand in that hollow just up the hill, dug up a parcel of snakes half torpid… C. [William Ellery Channing] sees bluets and some kind of thrush to-day, size of wood thrush, - he thought probably hermit thrush” (Journal, 13:254-5).
Philadelphia, Penn. L. Johnson & Company writes to Thoreau:
Mr. Henry D. Thoreau Concord, Mass.
Dear Sir -
Send us immediately by Express 10 lbs. Plumbago with bill to
L. Johnson & Co.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Row to Fair Haven… Land at Lee’s Cliff…” (Journal, 13:255).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “The river is only half an inch above summer level. The meadow-sweet and hardback have begun to leaf” (Journal, 13:256).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “A cold day, so that the people you meet remark upon it, yet the thermometer is 47 at 2 P. M… I fix a stake on the west side the willows at my boat’s place, the top of which is at summer level and is about ten and half inches below the stone wharf there… Mr. Stewart tells me that he has found a gray squirrel’s nest up the Assabet, in a maple tree… Minott says that, being at work in his garden once, he saw a mink coming up from the brook with a pout in her mouth, half-way across his land…” (Journal, 13:256-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Hear the ruby-crowned wren in the morning, near George Heywood’s. We have had no snow for a long long while, and have about forgotten it. Dr. Bartlett, therefore, surprises us by telling us that a man came from lincoln after him last night on the wheels of whose carriage was an inch of snow, for it snowed there a little, but not here… To-day it is 53º at 2 P. M., yet cold, such a difference is there in our feelings… P. M. - To Cliffs and Well Meadow…” (Journal, 13:259-61).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Ed. Hoar’s, Lincoln…” (Journal, 13:262-3).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “River two and seven eighths inches below summer level at 6 A. M… P. M. - Up Assabet…” (Journal, 13:263-8).
Thoreau also writes in his journal: “Surveying Emerson’s wood-lot to see how much was burned near the end of March, I find that what I anticipated is exactly true, - that the fire did not burn hard on the northern slopes, there being then frost in the ground, and where the bank was very steep, say t angle of forty-five degrees, which was the case with more than a quarter of an acre, it did not run down at all, though no man hindered it…” (Journal, 13:268-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Plant potatoes; the very midst of early potato planting… Ed. Emerson’s snails (the simplest kind) spawned March 28. I see young now as big as the head of a pin…” (Journal, 13:270).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “I notice this forenoon (11.30 A. M.) remarkably round-topped white clouds just like round-topped hills, on all sides of the sky, often a range of such, such as I do not remember to have seen before… P. M. - To stone-heaps and stone bridge… It was 63º at 2 P. M., and yet a good deal of coolness in the wind, so that I can scarcely find a comfortable seat…” (Journal, 13:270-3).
Philadelphia, Penn. L. Johnson & Company writes to Thoreau:
Mr. Henry D. Thoreau Concord Mass.
Dear Sir -
Enclosed find Fifteen dollars in notes amt of your bill of 21st ult. Please acknowledge receipt.
L. Johnson & Co
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Quite a warm day, - 70 at 6 P. M… P. M. - To Great Meadows by boat. I see Haynes with a large string of pickerel, and he says that he caught a larger yesterday…” (Journal, 13:274-7).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Assabet stone bridge… Met old Mr. Conant with his eye and half the side of his face black and blue, looking very badly…” (Journal, 13:282-3).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “I see a woodchuck in the middle of the field at Assabet Bath… C. [William Ellery Channing] has seen a brown thrasher and a republican swallow to-day” (Journal, 13:283-5).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “A boy brought me what I take to be a very red Rana sylvatica, caught on the leaves the 6th… P. M. - To Flint’s Pond… We sit by the shore of Goose Pond…” (Journal, 13:285-7).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Thermometer at 2 P. M., 71… P. M. - To Bateman’s Pond…” (Journal, 13:287-8).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - 77º… E. Hosmer, as a proof that ht river has been lower than now, says that his father, who was born about the middle of the last century, used to tell of a time, when he was a boy, when the river just below Derby’s Bridge did not run, and he could cross it dry-shod on the rocks, the water standing in pools when Conant’s mill (where the factory now is) was not running…” (Journal, 13:289-90).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - 82º; warmest day yet… Row to Bittern Cliff…” (Journal, 13:290-3).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “C. [William Ellery Channing] sees the chestnut-sided warbler and the tanager to-day, and heard a whip-poor-will last night…” (Journal, 13:293-4).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To sedge path and Cliffs…” (Journal, 13:294-5).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Copan and Beck Stow’s. 2 P. M. - 56º, with a cold east wind. Many people have fires again…” (Journal, 13:295-7).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Quite a fog till 8 A. M., and plowed ground blackened with the moisture absorbed. J. Farmer send me to-day what is plainly Cooper’s hawk… P. M. - To J. Farmer’s…” (Journal, 13:297-300).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “A. M. - River seven inches below summer level… 2 P. M. - To Second Division… I measure a bear’s boot which F. Monroe brought from Vermont, where it was killed in a trap within a few years…” (Journal, 13:301-5).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “A strong, cold west wind. 60º at 2 P. M. To Walden…” (Journal, 13:305-6).
Thoreau also writes to H. G. O. Blake:
I must endeavor to pay some of my debts to you.
To begin where we left off then.
The presumption is that we are always the same; our opportunities & Nature herself fluctuating. Look at mankind. No great difference between two, apparently; perhaps the same height and breadth and weight; and yet to the man who sits most E. this life is a weariness, routine, dust and ashes, and he drowns his imaginary cares (!) (a sort of friction among his vital organs), in a bowl. But to the man who sits most W., his contemporary (!) it is a field for all noble endeavors, an elysium, the dwelling place of heroes & knights. The former complains that he has a thousand affairs to attend to; but he does not realize, that his affairs, (though they may be a thousand,) and he are one.
Men & boys are learning all kinds of trades but how to make men of themselves. They learn to make houses, but they are not so well housed, they are not so contented in their houses, as the woodchucks in their holes. What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? If you can not tolerate the planet it is on? Grade the ground first. If a man believes and expects great things of himself, it makes no odds where you put him, or what you show him, (of course, you cannot put him anywhere nor show him anything), he will be surrounded by grandeur. He’s in the condition of a healthy & hungry man, who says to himself - How sweet this crust is!
If he despairs of himself, then Tophet is his dwelling place, and he is in the condition of a sick man who is disgusted with the fruits of finest flavor.
Whether he sleeps or wakes, whether he runs or walks, whether he uses a microscope or a telescope, or his naked eye, a man never discovers anything, never overtakes anything or leaves anything behind, but himself. Whatever he says or does he merely reports himself. If he is in love, he loves; if he is in heaven he enjoys, if he is in hell he suffers. It is his condition that determines his locality.
The principal, the only thing a man makes is his condition, or fate. Though commonly he does not know it, nor put up a sign to this effect, “My own destiny made & mended here.” [not yours] He is a master-workman in this business. He works 24 hours a day at it and gets it done. Whatever else he neglects or botches, no man was ever known to neglect this work. A great many pretend to make shoes chiefly, and would scout the idea that they make the hard times which they experience.
Each reaching and aspiration is an instinct with which all nature consists & cooperates, and therefore it is not in vain. But alas! each relaxing and desperation is an instinct too. To be active, well, happy, implies rare courage. To be ready to fight in a duel or a battle implies desperation, or that you hold your life cheap.
If you take this life to be simply what old religious folks pretend, (I mean the effete, gone to seed in a drought, mere human galls stung by the Devil once), then all your joy & serenity is reduced to grinning and bearing it. The fact is, you have got to take the world on your shoulders like Atlas and put along with it. You will do this for an idea’s sake, and your success will be in proportion to your devotion to ideas. It may make your back ache occasionally, but you will have the satisfaction of hanging it or twirling it to suit yourself. Cowards suffer, heroes enjoy. After a long day’s walk with it, pitch it into a hollow place, sit down and eat your luncheon. Unexpectedly, by some immortal thoughts, you will be compensated. The bank whereon you sit will be a fragrant and flowery one, and your world in the hollow a sleek and light gazelle.
Where is the “Unexplored land” but in our own untried enterprises? To an adventurous spirit any place, - London New York, Worcester, or his own yard, is “unexplored land,” to seek which Freemont & Kane travel so far. To a sluggish & defeated spirit even the Great Basin & the Polaris are trivial places. If they ever get there (& indeed they are there now) they will want to sleep & give it up, just as they always do. These are the regions of the Known & of the Unknown. What is the use of going right over the old track again? There is an adder in the path which your own feet have worn. You must make tracks into the Unknown. That is what you have your board & clothes for. Why do you ever mend your clothes, unless that, wearing them, you may mend your ways?
Let us sing
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Cold, - at 11 A. M. 50º; and sit by a fire. At 12 it begins to rain. P. M. - To Cambridge…” (Journal, 13:306).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “C. [William Ellery Channing] hears a cuckoo, and appears, by his account, to have seen the Sylvia maculosa…” (Journal, 13:306).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “6 A. M. - Water fallen about one inch. P. M. - To Cliffs…” (Journal, 13:310-2).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Gowing’s Swamp and Copan… 7 P. M. - River one inch below summer level” (Journal, 13:312-3).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “9 A. M. - To Easterbrooks Country… 5 P. M. - River five eighths of an inch below summer level” (Journal, 13:314).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “J. Farmer found a marsh hawk’s nest on the 16th, - near the Cooper’s hawk nest, - with three fresh eggs” (Journal, 13:314-5).
Thoreau surveys land near Walden Pond for Rufus Warren (A Catalog of Thoreau’s Surveys in the Concord Free Public Library, 12).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - After hawks with Farmer [Jacob Farmer] to Easterbrooks Country… C. [William Ellery Channing] has seen to-day an orange-breasted bird which may be the female (?) Blackburnian warbler…” (Journal, 13:316-20).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “At 6 P. M. the river has risen to half an inch below summer level, having been three to four inches below summer level yesterday morning…” (Journal, 13:322).
Ellen Emerson writes to her sister Edith: “Mr Thoreau came to tea and spent the evening” (The Letters of Ellen Tucker Emerson, 1:215).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “Farmer [Jacob Farmer] has heard the quail a fortnight. Channing [William Ellery Channing] yesterday…” (Journal, 13:323-4).
Boston, Mass. Chauncey Smith writes to Thoreau:
Mr Henry D Thoreau
I enclose to you my brothers note with my endorsement, at his request.
Please acknowledge to him its reception
Thoreau writes in his journal: “The past week has been Anniversary week in Boston.... P. M. - To river behind Hubbard’s Grove… 8 P. M. - Up Assabet…. Hear the sound of Barrett's sawmill first like a drum, then like a train of cars.” (Journal, 13:324-6).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “6 A. M. - River three and three sixteenth inches above summer level… 2 P. M. - To bayberry…” (Journal, 13:326).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Fair Haven Hill… One asks me to-day when it is that the leaves are fully expanded, so that the trees and woods look dark and heavy with leaves…” (Journal, 13:327-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “A. M. - Northeast wind and rain, steady rain…” (Journal, 13:329-30).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “6.30 P. M. - On river, up Assabet, after the rain…” (Journal, 13:330-2).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “6 A. M. - River nine and fifteen sixteenths above summer level; has risen one and three sixteenths inches since last evening at 6.30…. P. M. - To Gowing’s Swamp and Copan… Seeing house-leek on several rocks in the fields and by roadside in the neighborhood of Brooks Clark’s, Farmer [Jacob Farmer] told me that it was the work of Joe Dudley, a simple fellow who lives at one of the Clarks; that, though half-witted, he knew more medicinal plants than almost anybody in the neighborhood… A painted turtle beginning her hole for eggs at 4 P. M… Rver at 6 P. M., twelve and five eighths inches above summer level. To-night the toads ring loudly and generally, as do hylodes also, the thermometer being at 62 at 9 P. M…” (Journal, 13:333-6).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “River at 6 A. M. twelve and seven eighths inches above summer level. 2 P. M. - To Well Meadow via Walden… River 7 P. M. fourteen and a half above summer level” (Journal, 13:336-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “7 A. M. - River fourteen and one eighth above summer level only, though after considerable rain in the night… 6 P. M. - Paddle to Flint’s hedge… C. [William Ellery Channing] says that a fox stood near, watching him, in Britton’s Hollow to-day…” (Journal, 13:339-41).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Annursnack… At 6 P. M. it was 58º…” (Journal, 13:341-3).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “6 A. M. - River twelve inches above summer level at 10.30 A. M. Sail to Tall’s Island….With a north-west wind, it is difficult to sail from the willow-row to Hubbard's Bath, yet I can sail more westerly from the island point to Fair Haven Bay to the bath-place above: and though I could not do the first to-day, I did sail all the way from Rice's Bar to half a mile above Sherman's Bridge by all the windings of the river.... On our way up, we ate our dinner at Rice's shore.... A painted turtle laying, at 5 P. M… At 9 P. M., 54º, and no toads nor peepers heard.” (Journal, 13:343-8).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. Up Assabet… At 7.30 P. M. I hear many toads, it being a warm night, but scarcely any hylodes…” (Journal, 13:348).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. To M. Miles’s via Clamshell.
I first heard that tchuck sound - as of fish striking a pad - on the 2d of June, when there were very few weeds in the river, and have since heard it repeatedly.... I noticed as I sat in my boat by the riverside last evening [12 June.], half an hour after sunset, a very low and local, yet dense, fog close to the shore... a foot high by three or four wide for several rods.” (Journal, 13:349-51).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - River four and one half above summer level… I paddle to Clamshell…” (Journal, 13:353-6).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “At 2 P. M. 85º, and about same for several days past… At evening paddle to Clamshell… Channing [William Ellery Channing] found a marsh hawk’s nest on the Great Meadows this afternoon, with three eggs considerably developed…” (Journal, 13:356-7).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “About 1 P. M., notice thunder-clouds in west and hear the muttering…” (Journal, 13:358).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Walden and Cliffs…” (Journal, 13:358-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Flint’s Pond…. I follow a distinct fox-path amid the grass and bushes for some thirty rods beyond Britton's Hollow...” (Journal, 13:359-62).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Heavy rain (with holdings up) all day and part of hte following night…” (Journal, 13:362).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “6 A. M. - The river has risen to seven and a half inches above summer level (probably form about two or three above in the morning of yesterday).... Crossing William Brown's dry field in front of the schoolhouse.... At 7 P. M it is eleven and a half inches above summer level… At 12 M. it is only 59º above zero, and I am surprised to hear some toads ring… 2 P. M. - To Little Truro…” (Journal, 13:362-7).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “River at 6 A. M. eleven and fifteen sixteenths inches above summer level, having risen only seven sixteenths in the night. At 7 P. M. it is fifteen and one eighth above summer level… Rice tells me that he saw in a mud-hole near the river in Sudbury, about a fortnight ago, a pout protecting her ova, which were in a ball about as big as an apple, all exposed, not at all hatched (I think he said on a stick), under which she swam. There were also pouts of various sizes about there, some only two inches long (!), says his son William… 2 P. M. - To Great Meadows…” (Journal, 13:367-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “River at 7 A. M. fifteen inches above summer level, having fallen… 2 P. M. - To Bare Hill road… At 7 P. M. the river is fifteen and three fourths inches above summer level…” (Journal, 13:369-71).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Dugan Desert… At evening up the Assabet. 7 P. M., river twelve and a half inches above summer level…” (Journal, 13:373-4).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “At 5 P. M., - river ten and a half inches above summer level, - cross the meadow to the Hemlocks…” (Journal, 13:374-5).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Up Assabet to Farmer’s [Jacob Farmer]… River at 6 P. M. seven and five eighths inches above summer level…” (Journal, 13:375-7).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Assabet Bath and Sunset Interval…” (Journal, 13:377-8).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “At 6 P. M. 91º, the hottest yet, though a thunder-shower has passed northeast and grazed us, and, in consequence, at 6.30 or 7, another thunder-shower comes up from the southwest and there is a sudden burst from it with a remarkably strong, gusty wind, and the rain for fifteen minutes falls in a blinding deluge…” (Journal, 13:378-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “At 2.15 P. M. the atmosphere north of house is 83º above zero, and the same afternoon, the water of Boiling Spring, 45º; our well after pumping, 49º; Brister’s Spring, 49º; Walden Pond (at bottom, in four feet water), 71º; river at one rod from shore, 77º… At 2 P. M. the river is six inches above summer level…” (Journal, 13:379-81).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “A. M. - To lilies above Nut Meadow…” (Journal, 13:383).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Holbrook’s meadow and Turnpike to try springs…” (Journal, 13:384-5).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Look at springs toward Dugan’s and White Pond… 7 P. M., river is one and three eighths above summer level” (Journal, 13:385-6).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Rain last night and all to-day…” (Journal, 13:387).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “6 A. M., river two and seven sixteenths above summer level. 7 P M., three and five eighths above summer level…” (Journal, 13:387).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “7 A. M. River two and a half above summer level…” (Journal, 13:387-95).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “This morning there is a cold mist, which soon becomes rain, - at 2.30 P. M…” (Journal, 13:395).
Thoreau also writes to his sister Sophia:
Mother reminds me that I must write to you, if only a few lines, though I have sprained my thumb so that it is questionable whether I can write legibly, if at all. I can’t bear on much. What is worse, I believe that I have sprained my brain too - i.e it sympathizes with my thumb. But there is no excuse, I suppose, for writing a letter in such a case, is, like sending a newspaper, only a hint to let you know that “all is well” - but my thumb.
I hope that you begin to derive some benefit from that more mountainous air which you are breathing Have you had a distinct view of the Franconia Notch ruts (blue peaks in the N horizon)? which I told you that you could get from the road in Campton, & probably from some other points nearer. Such a view of the mts is more memorable than any other.
Have you been to Squam Lake, or overlooked it - I should think that you could easily make an excursion to some mt in that direction from which you could see the lake & the mts generally.
Is there no friend of N.P. Rogers who can tell you where the “lions” are. Of course I did not go to North Elba, but I sent some reminiscences of last fall
I hear that John Brown jr has just come to Boston for a few days. Mr Sanborn’s case, it is said, will come on after some murder cases have been disposed of - here.
I have just been invited, formally, to be present at the annual picnic of Theodore Parker’s society (that was) at Waverly next Wednesday, & to make some remarks. But that is wholly out of my line - I do not go to picnics even in Concord you know.
Mother & Aunt Sophia rode to Acton in time yesterday. I suppose that you have heard that Mr Hawthorne has come home. I went to meet him the other evening & found that he has not altered except that he was looking pretty brown after his voyage He is as simple & child-like as ever.
I believe that I have fairly scared the kittens away, at last, by my pretended fierceness - which was humane merely.
& now I will consider my thumb - & your eyes
(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 581-2)
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Clears up at noon… There is a smart shower at 5 P. M., and in the midst of it a hummingbird is busy about the flowers in the garden…” (Journal, 13:395-6).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Pleasant Meadow via Lincoln Bridge…” (Journal, 13:396).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Pine Hill… River at 7 P. M. eight and a half inches above summer level” (Journal, 13:396-8).
before 12 July. Rochester, N.Y.
Charles C. Morse writes to Thoreau:
Henry D. Thoreau
Dear Sir: I have been unable to obtain from our booksellers your “Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers” and therefore enclose you the supposed price. You will please send it to my address by mail.
I would also inquire if you are in the lecture field and whether you could be obtained to deliver two or more lectures upon some[?] scientific subjects before our association this coming winter?
Chas C. Morse
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Hear a nuthatch in the street… The river at 8 P. M. is eight and three quarters inches above summer level. Just after the sun is set I observe the dewdrops on the pontederia leaves… A Mr. Bradshaw, a taxidermist, carpenter, etc., etc., of Wayland, tells me that he finds the long-eared owl there in summer, and has set it up” (Journal, 13:398).
Thoreau also writes to Charles C. Morse:
Mr Charles C Morse
Dear Sir -
I mail to your address today a copy of my “Week” as you request -
I am in the lecture field - but my subjects are not scientific - rather [Transcendentalist & aesthetic. I devote myself to the absorption of nature generally.] Such as “Walking or the Wild” “Autumnal tints” &c - [Even if the utterances were scientific, the treatment would hardly bear that sense]
less in a popular vein if you think that your audience will incline or erect[?] their ears to such themes as these. I shall be happy to read to them.
Hen. D. Thoreau
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Botrychium Swamp… Returning, I notice on a large pool of water in A. Heywood’s cow-yard a thick greenish-yellow scum mantling it, an exceedingly rich and remarkable color, as if it were covered with a coating of sulphur… 7 P. M. - On river…” (Journal, 13:400-2).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Hill and Assabet Bath… Look down on a field of red-top now in full bloom, a quarter of a mile west of this hill, - a very dense and red field, - at 2.30 P. M. of this warm and slightly hazy but not dogdayish day, in a blazing sun…” (Journal, 13:402-4).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Great Meadows by boat…” (Journal, 13:404-6).
Thoreau also writes to Benjamin H. Austin, Jr.:
Mr Benjamin H Austin Jr
I shall be very happy to read to your association three lectures on the evenings named, but the question is about their character. They will not be scientific in the common, nor, perhaps, in any sense. They will be such as you might infer from reading my books. As I have just told Mr. Morse, they will be transcendental, that is, to the mass of bearers, probably moonshine. Do you think that this will do? Or does your audience prefer lamplight, or total darkness these nights? I dare say, however, that they would interest those who are most interested in what is called nature.
Mr Morse named no evenings & I have not had time to hear from, or make any arrangement with him.
Thoreau also writes to Charles Sumner:
Henry D. Thoreau
Allow me to thank you for your two speeches on the Hyatt case, & for two Patent Office Reports on Agriculture
Especially, I wish to thank you for your speech on the Barbarism of Slavery, which, I hope and suspect, commences a new era in the history of our Congress; when questions of national importance have come to be considered occasionally from a broadly ethical, and not from a narrowly political point of view alone.
It is refreshing to hear some naked truth, moral or otherwise, uttered there - which can always take care of itself when uttered, and of course belongs to no party. (That was the whole value of Gerrit Smith’s presence there, methinks, though be did go to bed early.) Whereas this has only been employed occasionally to perfume the wheel-grease of party or national politics.
The Patent Office Reports on Agriculture contain much that concerns me, & I am very glad to possess now a pretty complete series of them.
Henry D. Thoreau
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Second Division…” (Journal, 13:407).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Up river in boat… We come to a standstill and study the pads in the J. Hosmer bulrush bog….” (Journal, 13:407-10).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - 70º, and, with a breeze, cool. To Annursnack…” (Journal, 13:412-5).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “The carpenter working for Edward Hoar in Lincoln caught, two or three days ago, an exhausted or half-famished golden-winged warbler alive in their yard… Thermometer 72º at 2 P. M…” (Journal, 13:418-9).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Mr. Bradshaw’s, Wayland, with Ed. Hoar…” (Journal, 13:419-23).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “A. M. - Pretty heavy rain last night… 2 P. M. - Sail and paddle down river…” (Journal, 13:423-5).
Thoreau also writes to Welch, Bigelow & Company:
Messrs Welch, Bigelow, & Co
Below you will find my bill for plumbago. I will thank you to send a Draft for the amount on a Boston bank, as heretofore. Trusting that you will not require me to wait so long, without explanation, as the last time, I remain
Henry D. Thoreau
Concord July 27 1860
Messrs Welch Bigelow & Co
Bought of Henry D. Thoreau
Twenty-four lb of Plumbago
sent April 27
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Up Assabet to Annursnack…” (Journal, 13:425).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Lincoln Bridge by railroad…” (Journal, 13:425-6).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Martial Miles’s Swamp… Returning, we come through the midst of the nearly quite dry J. P. B.’s Cold Pool…” (Journal, 13:426-8).
Ellen Emerson writes to her sister Edith on 31 July: “Mr Thoreau was here; he had brought a sample of the service-berry to show us, and said that berries were sufficiently ripe on Anursnack” (The Letters of Ellen Tucker Emerson, 1:216).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “M. Pratt sends me Trifolium agrarium (a long time out) from a ditch-side on his land, - yellow hop clover… Mr. Bradford finds and brings to me what I judge from a plate in Loudon to be Potentilla recta of southern Europe… P. M. - Up Assabet… At mid-afternoon I am caught in another deluging rain as I stand under a maple by the shore… Now, in the still moonlight, the dark foliage stands almost stiff and dark against the sky. At 5 P. M. the river is nine and seven eighths inches above summer level…” (Journal, 13:428-30).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Up Assabet… At 2 P. M. the river is twelve and seven eighths above summer level, higher than for a long time, on account of the rain of the 31st… As we rest in our boat under a tree, we hear from time to time the loud snap of a wood pewee’s bill overhead, which is incessantly diving to this side and that after an insect and returning to its perch on a dead twig…” (Journal, 14:7-8).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “The knotty-rooted cyperus out some days at least” (Journal, 14:8).
Thoreau also writes to H. G. O. Blake:
Mr. Blake, -
I some time ago asked Channing [William Ellery Channing] if he would not spend a week with me on Monadnoc; but he did not answer decidedly. Lately he has talked of an excursion somewhere, but I said that now I must wait till my sister returned from Plymouth, N.H. She has returned, - and accordingly, on receiving your note this morning, I made known its contents to Channing, in order to see how far I was engaged with him. The result is that he decides to go to Monadnoc to-morrow morning; so I must defer making an excursion with you and Brown [Theophilus Brown] to another season. Perhaps you will call as you pass the mountain. I send this by the earliest mail.
P. S. - That was a very insufficient visit you made here the last time. My mother is better, though far from well; and if you should chance along here any time after your journey, I trust that we shall all do better.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “8.30 A. M. - Start for Monadnock… Choosing a place where the spruce was thick in this sunken rock yard, I cut out with a little hatchet a space for a camp in their midst, leaving two stout ones six feet apart to rest my ridge-pole on, and such limbs of these as would best form the gable ends…” (Journal, 14:8-11).
5 August. Mt. Monadnock, N.H.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “About an hour before sunrise we heard again the nighthawk… The rocks of the main summit were olive-brown, and C. [William Ellery Channing] called it the Mount of Olives… At 7.30 A. M. for the most part in cloud here, but country below in sunshine. We soon after set out to walk to the lower southern spur of the mountain… We heard the voices of many berry-pickers and visitors to the summit, but neither this nor the camp we built afterward was seen by any one. P. M. - Walked to the wild swamp at the northeast spur… Returned over the top at 5 P. M., after the visitors, men and women, had descended, and so to camp” (Journal, 14:11-16).
6 August. Mt. Monadnock, N.H.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “At 4 A. M. see local lake-like fogs in some valleys below, but there is none here… This forenoon, after a breakfast on cranberries, leaving, as usual, our luggage concealed under a large rock, with other rocks placed over the hole, we moved about a quarter of a mile along the edge of the plateau eastward and built a new camp there… At 5 P. M. we went to our first camp for our remaining baggage… Returned to enjoy the evening at the second camp…” (Journal, 14:16-22).
7 August. Mt. Monadnock, N.H.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Morning - dawn and sunrise - was another interesting season. I rose always by four or half past four to observe the signs of it and to correct my watch… After dinner, descended in to the gulf and swamp beneath our camp…” (Journal, 14:22-5).
8 August. Mt. Monadnock, N.H.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “8.30 A. M. Walk round the west side of the summit… Return to camp at noon. Toward night, walk to east edge of the plateau” (Journal, 14:25).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “At 6 A. M., leave camp for Troy, where we arrive, after long pauses, by 9 A. M., and take the cars at 10.5…” (Journal, 14:25-52).
11 August. Concord, Mass.
10 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - Air, 84º; Boiling Spring this afternoon, 46º; Brister’s, 49º; or where there is little or no surface water the same as in spring. Walden is at surface 80º (air over it 76)… Saw this evening, behind a picture in R. W. E.’s [Ralph Waldo Emerson] dining-room, the hoary bat…” (Journal, 14:52-3).
Ellen Emerson writes to her brother Edward on 11 August:
Here at home the greatest event of the week was Mr Thoreau’s arrival last night for he was extremely interesting on the subject of Monadnoc so that we all wanted to set off directly and go there, taking him for guide. All tea-time Mr Thoreau told most wonderful stories of the rocks etc. that were to be seen there, and of the profusion of berries. Then after tea I went out to see about the milk, and coming back, found Father and Milcah in full pursuit of something, nobody knew what, which seemed to rustle inside the chimney, or behind the closet-door, but couldn’t be found to the surprise of everybody and the extreme excitement of Milcah. Presently it began again louder than ever, just as I came to the mantle-piece and I was sure it was behind the “School of Philosophers”, which I lifted and there was a bat. Mr Thoreau was immediately anxious to see it, and everybody came round but Bat began to fly round in circles and all watched him. At last, Mr T. caught him and he began to grin and chatter and gnash his teeth with rage, adn Mother said “There, Batty, you shall have something to bite if it will make you feel better, I’m sure,” and presented her little finger which didn’t seem to satisfy him particularly, but at last he did bit it and hurt a little. He was then confined under a glass-dish and Mr Thoreau got the Report on such creatures and identified him as a “hoary bat”, and he was afterwards liberated. The Family went into the parlour and Mr Thoreau proceeded to tell us more about the Mountain, till we were all on fire to go. We should certainly set off on Wed. next, if we could only afford it - which we can’t.
(The Letters of Ellen Tucker Emerson, 1:216-7)
12 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “River at 5 P. M. three and three quarters inches below summer level…” (Journal, 14:53).
13 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Great Meadows and Gowing’s Swamp…” (Journal, 14:54).
14 August. Concord, Mass.
15 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Fair weather. See a blue heron” (Journal, 14:54).
16 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - River about ten and a half inches above summer level…” (Journal, 14:54).
17 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “See at Pout’s Nest two solitary tattlers, as I have seen them about the muddy shore of Gourgas Pond-hole and in the Great Meadow pools…” (Journal, 14:54).
18 August. Concord, Mass.
19 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “To-day I see it [brassica] in Minott Pratt’s, with the wild radish…” (Journal, 14:55).
21 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Soaking rains, and in the night. A few fireflies still at night” (Journal, 14:55).
A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal: “Thoreau is here in the evening and tells me of his trip to the Monadnock with Channing lately. He is always entertaining, and draws my wife and girls to hear what he says when he comes to see us” (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 329).
22 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Row to Bittern Cliff… Returning down the river, when I get to Clamshell I see great flocks of the young red-wings and some crow blackbirds on the trees and the ground…” (Journal, 14:55-60).
24 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Walden to get its temperature…” (Journal, 14:60-1).
25 August. Concord, Mass.
A. Bronson Alcott writes to Robert Montgomery Smith Jackson:
I owe you my hearty thanks for the gift of your Book on “The “Mountain… The first Parts I read a year since in Thoreau’s copy…
I hope the “Atlantic Monthly” is to speak the good word for you. Emerson will see that it does. My neighbour Hawthorne is now reading your Book admiringly: And Thoreau, who has been busty with Monadnoc, for the last ten days, tells me he shall acknowledge your gift presently.
26 August. Concord, Mass.
27 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Ministerial Swamp…” (Journal, 14:64-5).
28 August. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “About 6.20 P. M. paddled on Walden… At sunset the air over the pond is 62+…” (Journal, 14:65-7).
30 August. Concord, Mass.
1 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Walden… Hear that F. Hayden saw and heard geese a fortnight ago!…” (Journal, 14:69-71).
2 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Annursnack…” (Journal, 14:71).
3 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Bateman’s Pond. 2 P. M. - River six and seven eighths above [summer level]…” (Journal, 14:71-2).
4 September. Concord, Mass.
5 September. Concord, Mass.
Lowell, Mass. Charles P. Ricker writes to Thoreau:
Mr. H. D. Thoreau:
Yours of the 31st. is recieved. We shall expect you to address our people next Sabbath. Arriving at Lowell, you will find me at No 21 Central Street, or at residence No. 123 East Merrimack Street, or you can take a coach direct to Mr. Owen’s, No 52 East Merrimack Street, who will be in readiness to entertain you, and with whom you will find a pleasant home during your stay among us.
Hoping to see you soon I remain
Charles P. Ricker
7 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Cardinal Shore…” (Journal, 14:75).
Thoreau writes in his journal: “To Lowell via Boston…” (Journal, 14:75).
9 September. Lowell, Mass.
Thoreau gives two lectures at Welles Hall (Studies in the American Renaissance 1996, 336-8).
Thoreau also writes in his journal: “In Lowell. - My host says that the thermometer was at 80º yesterday morning, and this morning is at 52º…” (Journal, 14:75-6).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “Lowell to Boston and Concord… Leaving Lowell at 7 A. M. in the cars, I observed and admired the dew on a fine grass in the meadows, which was almost as white and silvery as frost when the rays of the newly risen sun fell on it…” (Journal, 14:76-7).
Cambridge, Mass. Thoreau checks out The herball or generall historie of plantes by John Gerard from Harvard College Library (Companion to Thoreau’s Correspondence, 292).
11 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “George Melvin came to tell me this forenoon that a strange animal was killed on Sunday, the 9th, near the north line of the town, and it was not known certainly what it was…” (Journal, 14:78-82).
12 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “The thermometer at 4 P. M. was 54º…” (Journal, 14:82).
13 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “I go early to pick up my windfalls… The river this morning, about 7 A. M., is already twenty-eight and a half inches above summer level, and more than twenty inches of this is owing to the rain of yesterday and last night!! By 1.30 P. M., when it has risen two or three inches more, I can just cross the meadow in a straight line to the Rock… A Carlisle man tells me of a coon he killed in Carlisle which weighed twenty-three and a half pounds and dressed fourteen pounds… On the 13th I go to J. Q. Adams’s [John Quincy Adams] again to see the lynx. Farmer [Jacob Farmer] said that if the skin was tainted the hair would come off… Dr. Reynolds tells me of a lynx killed in Andover… Rice tells me of a common wildcat killed in Sudbury some forty years ago… Mr. Boutwell of Groton tells me that a lynx was killed in Dunstable within two or three years…” (Journal, 14:82-7).
14 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “A. M. - River still rising; at 4 P. M. one and an eighth inches higher than in morning” (Journal, 14:87).
15 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “In morning river is three feet two and a half plus inches above summer level. 6 P. M., river is slightly higher than in morning, or at height… Joe Smith’s man brings me this forenoon a fish hawk which was shot on George Brooks’s pigeon-stand last evening… Looked at Mr. Davis’s museum…” (Journal, 14:87-8).
16 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “7 A. M. - River fallen one and a half inches…” (Journal, 14:88).
18 September. Concord, Mass.
19 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “4 P. M. - River fallen about one foot” (Journal, 14:90).
20 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau lectures on “The Succession of Forest Trees” at the Middlesex Cattle Show (Studies in the American Renaissance 1996, 339-47).
Thoreau also writes in his journal: “Cattle-Show. Rainy in afternoon” (Journal, 14:90).
21 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “See, at Reynold’s, Hungarian millet raised by Everett… P. M. - To Easterbrooks Country…” (Journal, 14:90-1).
22 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Clamshell by boat…” (Journal, 14:91-2).
23 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Cliffs… I hear that a large owl, probably a cat owl, killed and carried off a full-grown turkey in Carlisle a few days ago” (Journal, 14:92-3).
24 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Flint’s Pond via Smith’s chestnut grove… 2 P. M. - The river risen about thirty-three inches above summer level” (Journal, 14:93-5).
25 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Hard, gusty rain (with thunder and lightning) in afternoon. About seven eighths of an inch falls” (Journal, 14:95).
26 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Round Walden and Pleasant Meadow…” (Journal, 14:95-6).
27 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “A. M. - Sawing up my raft by river…” (Journal, 14:96-7).
28 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “This morning we had a very severe frost, the first to kill our vines, etc., in garden…” (Journal, 14:97).
29 September. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Another hard frost and a very cold day” (Journal, 14:97).
Thoreau also writes to Horace Greeley:
Knowing your interest in whatever relates to Agriculture, I send you with this a short address delivered by me before “the Middlesex Agricultural Society,” in this town, Sep. 20, on The Succession of Forest Trees. It is part of a chapter on the Dispersion of Seeds. If you would like to print it, please accept it. If you do not wish to print it entire, return it to me at once, for it is due to the Societys “Report” a month or 6 weeks hence.
Henry D. Thoreau
30 September. Concord, Mass.
1 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau also writes in his journal: “Remarkable frost and ice this morning; quite a wintry prospect. The leaves of trees stiff and white at 7 A. M… P. M. - Rain again… Water was prepared for ice, and C. [William Ellery Channing] saw the first Vanessa Antiopa since spring” (Journal, 14:98).
3 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau also writes in his journal: “Sam Barrett says that last May he waded across the Assabet River on the old dam in front of his house without going over his india-rubber boots, which are sixteen and a half inches high… Gathered to-day my apples at the Texas house…” (Journal, 14:98-9).
6 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Over hill to Woodis Park… Horace Mann tells me that he saw a painted turtle in this town eating a unio, in our river, in the shell, it evidently having just caught and opened it…” (Journal, 14:101-2).
7 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Hubbard’s Bath and Grove… Rice says that when a boy, playing with darts with his brother Israel, one of them sent up his dart when a flock of crows was going over. One of the crows followed it down to the earth, picked it up, and flew off with it a quarter of a mile before it dropped it…” (Journal, 14:102-4).
8 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Damon’s wood-lot, part of the burnt district of the spring…” (Journal, 14:104-7).
9 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Up Assabet… I met in the street afterward a young lady who rowed up the river after me, and I could tell exactly where she plucked the maple twig which she held in her hand…” (Journal, 14:107-9).
10 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Horace Mann shows me the skeleton of a blue heron… P. M. - Went to a fire - or a smoke - at Mrs. Hoar’s…” (Journal, 14:109-11).
11 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Sleepy Hollow and north of M. Pratt’s…” (Journal, 14:111-5).
13 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau also writes to Samuel Kneeland:
Dr. Samuel Kneeland
The members of the Nat. Hist. Soc. may be interested to hear, that a female Canada Lynx (L. Canadensis, or Loup Cervier) was killed, on the 9th of September, in Carlisle, about three miles from the middle of Concord. I saw the carcase, & have the skin & skull, which I have set up. It is as large as any of its kind which I find described. I was at first troubled to identify it in the books, because it has naked soles, though I believed it to be the Canadensis. Audubon & Bachman give “soles hairy” as one of the specific characters of this species, and “soles naked” as a specific character of L. Rufus. Emmons (in the Massachusetts’ Reports) says further & more particularly, "The two most remarkable characters of the Lynx [i .e . The Canadensis] are the beautiful pencils of black hair which ornament the ears, and the perfect hairiness of the soles of the feet, which have no naked spots or tubercles like the other species of the feline race."” And, speaking of the Bay Lynx, he says that it “is easily distinguished from the preceding by the shorter pencils of hair upon the ear, and by the nakedness of the balls of the toes. This last character, it appears to me, is sufficiently important in the borealis [i .e . Canadensis] to constitute it agenus by itself.”
At length, I obtained a copy of Bairds’ “Mammals”; but still I was not satisfied till I had read to near the end of his account, when he says that he has received a second specimen, “in summer pelage,” and that “the pads of the feet in this specimen are distinctly visible, not being at all overgrown, as in winter specimens.” This is my animal, both in this and in other respects. I am thus minute because it is not yet made quite distinct enough, that hairy soles are no more characteristic of this Lynx than naked soles are.
Judging from the above descriptions, the only peculiarity in my specimen is a distinct black line commencing at the eye and terminating in the black portion of the ruff.
I suspect that some of the Lynxes killed in this vicinity of late years, and called the Bay Lynx, were the Canada Lynx.
Henry D. Thoreau
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - Up Groton Turnpike… I examine the John Hosmer wood-lot (sprout-land) cut off last winter on the north side at Colburn Hill…” (Journal, 14:120-4).
New Bedford, Mass. Daniel Ricketson writes to Thoreau:
Friend Thoreau, -
Am I to infer from your silence that you decline any farther correspondence and intercourse with me? Or is it that having nothing in particular to communicate you deem silence the wiser course? Yet, between friends, to observe a certain degree of consideration is well, and as I wrote you last, and that some nine or ten months ago, inviting you to visit me, I have often felt disappointed and hurt by your almost sepulchral silence towards me.
I am aware that I have no claims upon you, that I voluntarily introduced myself to your notice, and that from the first you have always behaved toward me with a composure which leads me not to judge too severely your present neutrality. I know also that I have but little to give you in return for the edification and pleasure I have derived from your society, and of which to be deprived not only myself but my family would deem a great and irreparable loss. I readily admit that this gives me no claim upon your friendship, but having passed so much of my life in the want of rural companionship I cannot easily surrender the opportunity of occasionally conversing and rambling among the scenes of our beloved neighborhood, here and at Concord, with you. I trust you will now pardon me for again obtruding myself upon you. I am not accustomed to be humble, nor do I intend to be at this time, for I am not conscious of having committed any offence of sufficient magnitude to forfeit your regard for me.
I would, however, state, that you have probably never seen me under the most favorable circumstances, that is, in my calmest hours. I am by nature very easily disturbed, mentally and physically, and this tendency, or infirmity, has been increased by smoking. I have, at last, abandoned the use of the weed. It is now about four months since I have made any use whatever of tobacco, and nearly a year since I began to battle seriously with this enemy of my soul’s and body’s peace. When I was last at Concord, owing to bad sleep, and the consequent nervous irritability aggravated by smoking, I was particularly out of order, and like an intoxicated or crazed man, hardly responsible for my conduct. Wherefore, if I betrayed any want of kind or gentlemanly feeling, which, I fear, may have been the case, I trust you will pardon the same and attribute it to a source not normal with me.
In conclusion, I would add that it would give me much pleasure to continue our friendship and occasional intimacy. Still I would not press it, for in so doing I should be selfish, as I have so little to return you for your favors. But ah! me, what is this life worth, if those of congenial tastes and pursuits cannot exchange common courtesies with each other?
Channing [William Ellery Channing] is occasionally in New Bedford, but he never comes to see me, nor writes me. I endeavored to be to him a good friend, and his cold, strange ways hurt and grieve me. Would to God that he were able to be true to his higher nature, so beautiful and intelligent.
It is possible you may not have got the last letter I wrote you, which was in December last, if so, the cause of your silence will prove less painful to me.
I write under embarrassment, and must trust to your generosity for the want of felicity of expression in my attempt to convey to you my estimation of the value of your friendship, and my unwillingness to lose it.
I remain, truly and faithfully your friend,
Thoreau replies 4 November.
16 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To White Pond and neighborhood… Horace Mann tells me that he found in the crop or inside of the stake-driver killed the other day one grass-hopper, several thousand-legs one to one and a half inches long, and not much else…” (Journal, 14:124-33).
17 October. Concord, Mass.
18 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Merriam’s white pine grove… Mr. Alcott [A Bronson Alcott] tells me that the red squirrels which live in his elms go off to the woods (pitch pines behind his house) about June, and return in September, when the butternuts, etc., are ripe…” (Journal, 14:142-8).
19 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Conantum… Sophia tells me that the large swamp white oak acorns in their cups, which she gathered a fortnight ago, are now all mouldy about the cups, or base of the acorn…” (Journal, 14:148-55).
20 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “E. Hosmer tells me to-day that while digging mud at the Pokelogan the other day he found several fresh acorns planted an inch or two deep under the grass just outside the oaks and bushes there… P. M. - To Walden Woods to examine old stumps…” (Journal, 14:155-61).
22 October. Concord, Mass.
23 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Anthony Wright tells me that he cut a pitch pine on Damon’s land between the Peter Haynes road and his old farm, about ’41, in which he counted two hundred and seventeen rings, which was therefore older than Concord, and one of the primitive forest… Melvin thinks that a fox would not on an average weigh more than ten pounds…” (Journal, 14:167-8).
24 October. Concord, Mass.
25 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Eb. Hubbard’s wood and Sleepy Hollow…” (Journal, 14:171-5).
26 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Baker’s old chestnut lot near Flint’s Pond…” (Journal, 14:175-8).
27 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “I have come out this afternoon to get ten seedling oaks out of a purely oak wood, and as many out of a purely pine wood, and then compare them… I then searched in the large Woodis Park, the most oaken parts of it, wood some twenty-five or thirty years old, but I found only three…” (Journal, 14:178-83).
28 October. Concord, Mass.
29 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Eb. Hubbard’s old black birch hill…” (Journal, 14:187-91).
31 October. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Wheeler’s artificial pine wood…” (Journal, 14:198-202).
1 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Tommy Wheeler wood-lot…” (Journal, 14:203-8).
2 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To D. Wetherbee’s old oak lot… Lee of the Corner speaks of an oak lot of his in Sudbury, which he bought in ’31 and cut off (last and all of it last winter), but from the older stumps no sprouts have come up, but good ones from the younger…” (Journal, 14:208-12).
4 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To tommy Wheeler’s lot… Sophia brings me the drawer which held her acorns (almost all red oak)…” (Journal, 14:212-5).
Thoreau also writes to H. G. O. Blake:
I am glad to hear any particulars of your excursion. As for myself, I looked out for you somewhat on that Monday, when, it appears, you passed Monadnock - turned my glass upon several parties that were ascending the mountain half a mile on one side of us. In short, I came as near to seeing you as you to seeing me. I have no doubt that we should have had a good time if you had come, for I had, all ready, two good spruce houses, in which you could stand up, complete in all respects, half a mile apart, and you & B [Theophilus Brown] could have lodged by yourselves in one, if not with us.
We made an excellent beginning of our mt life. You may remember that the Saturday previous was a stormy day. Well, we went up in the rain - wet through, and found ourselves in a cloud there at mid pm. in no situation to look about for the best place for a camp. So I proceded at once, through the cloud, to that memorable stone “chunk yard,” in which we made our humble camp once, and there, after putting our packs under a rock, having a good hatchet, I proceded to build a substantial house, which C [William Ellery Channing] declared the handsomest he ever saw. (He never camped out before, and was, no doubt, prejudiced in its favor.) This was done about dark, and by that time we were nearly as wet as if we had stood in a hogshead of water. We then built a fire before the door, directly on the site of our little camp of two years ago, and it took a long time to burn thro’ its remains to the earth beneath. Standing before this, and turning round slowly, like meat that is roasting, we were as dry if not drier than ever after a few hours, & so, at last we “turned in.”
This was a great deal better than going up there in fair weather, & having no adventure (not knowing how to appreciate either fair weather or foul) but dull common-place sleep in a useless house, & before a comparatively useless fire - such as we get every night. Of course, we thanked our stars, when we saw them, which was about midnight, that they had seemingly withdrawn for a season. We had the mt all to ourselves that pm & night. There was nobody going up that day to engrave his name on the summit, nor to gather blueberries. The Genius of the mts. saw us starting from Concord & it said, - There come two of our folks. Let us get ready for them - Get up a serious storm, that will send a packing these holiday guests (They may have their say another time) Let us receive them with true mt. hospitality - kill the fatted cloud - Let them know the value of a spruce roof, & of a fire of dead spruce stumps. Every bush dripped tears of joy at our advent. Fire did its best & received our thanks. - What could fire have done in fair weather? - Spruce roof got its share of our blessings. And then such a view of the wet rocks with the wet lichens on them, as we had the next morning, but did not get again!
We & the mt had a sound season, as the saying is. How glad we were to be wet in order that we might be dried! - how glad we were of the storm which made our house seem like a new home to us! This day’s experience was indeed lucky for we did not have a thunder shower during all our stay. Perhaps our host reserved this attention in order to tempt us to come again.
Our next house was more substantial still. One side was rock, good for durability, the floor the same, & the roof which I made would have upheld a horse. I stood on it to do the shingling.
I noticed, when I was at the White Mts last, several nuisances which render travelling there-abouts unpleasant. The chief of these was the mt houses. I might have supposed that the main attraction of that region even to citizens, lay in its wildness and unlikeness to the city, & yet they make it as much like the city as they can afford to. I heard that the Crawford House was lighted with gas, & had a large saloon, with its band of music, for dancing. But give me a spruce house made in the rain.
An old Concord farmer tells me that he ascended Monadnock once, & danced on the top. How did that happen? Why, he being up there, a party of young men & women came up bringing boards & a fiddler, and having laid down the boards they made a level floor, on which they danced to the music of the fiddle. I suppose the tune was “Excelsior.” This reminds me of the fellow who climbed to the top of a very high spire, stood upright on the ball, &am; then hurrahed for - what? Why for Harrison & Tyler. That’s the kind of sound which most ambitious people emit when they culminate. They are wont to be singularly frivolous in the thin atmosphere they can’t contain themselves, though our comfort & their safety require it; it takes the pressure of many atmospheres to do this; & hence they helplessly evaporate there. It would seem, that, as they ascend, they breathe shorter and shorter, and at each expiration, some of their wits leave them, till, when they reach the pinnacle, they are so light headed as to be fit only to show how the wind sits. I suspect that Emersons criticism called Monadnock was inspired not by remembering the inhabitants of N. H. as they are in the valleys, so much as by meeting some of them on the mt top.
After several nights’ experience C came to the conclusion that he was “lying out doors,” and inquired what was the largest beast that might nibble his legs there. I fear that he did not improve all the night, as he might have done, to sleep. I had asked him to go and spend a week there. We spent 5 nights, being gone 6 days, for C suggested that 6 working days made a week, & I saw that he was ready to de-camp. However, he found his account in it, as well as I.
We were seen to go up in the rain, grim & silent like 2 Genii of the storm, by Fassett’s men or boys, but we were never identified afterward, though we were the subject of some conversation which we overheard. Five hundred persons at least came onto the mt. while we were there, but not one found our camp. We saw one party of three ladies & two gentlemen spread their blankets and spend the night on the top, & heard them converse, but they did not know that they had neighbors, who were comparatively old settlers. We spared them the chagrin which that knowledge would have caused them, & let them print their story in a newspaper accordingly.
From what I heard of Fassett’s infirmities I concluded that his partner was Tap. He has moved about thirty rods further down the mt., & is still hammering at a new castle there when you go by, while Tap is probably down cellar . Such is the Cerberus that guards this passage. There always is one you know. This is not so bad to go by as the Glen House. However, we left those Elysian fields by a short cut of our own which departed just beyond where he is stationed.
Yes, to meet men on an honest and simple footing, meet with rebuffs, suffer from sore feet, as you did, aye & from a sore heart, as perhaps you also did, - all that is excellent. What a pity that that young prince could not enjoy a little of the legitimate experience of travelling, be dealt with simply & truly though rudely. He might have been invited to some hospitable house in the country, had his bowl of bread & milk set before him, with a clean pin-a-fore, been told that there were the punt & the fishing rod, and be could amuse himself as he chose - might have swung a few birches, dug out a woodchuck, & had a regular good time, & finally been sent to bed with the boys, - and so never have been introduced to Mr. [Edward] Everett at all. I have no doubt that this would have been a far more memorable & valuable experience than he got.
The snow-clad summit of Mt. Washington must have been a very interesting sight from Wachusett. How wholesome winter is seen far or near, how good above all mere sentimental warm-blooded - short-lived, soft-hearted moral goodness, commonly so called. Give me the goodness which has forgotten its own deeds, - which God has seen to be good and let be. None of your just made perfect - pickled eels! All that will, save them will be their picturesqueness, as with blasted trees Whatever is and is not ashamed to be is good. I value no moral goodness or greatness unless it is good or great even as that snowy peak is. Pray how could thirty feet of bowels improve it? Nature is goodness crystalized. You looked into the land of promise. Whatever beauty we behold, the more it is distant, serene, and cold, the purer & more durable it is. It is better to warm ourselves with ice than with fire.
Tell Brown that he sent me more than the price of the book - viz a word from himself, for which I am greatly his debtor.
H. D. T.
Thoreau also writes to Daniel Ricketson in reply to his letter of 14 October:
I thank you for the verses. They are quite too good to apply to me. However, I know what a poet’s license is, and will not get in the way.
But what do you mean by that prose? Why will you waste so many regards on me, and not know what to think of my silence? Infer from it what you might from the silence of a dense pine wood. It is its natural condition, except when the winds blow, and the jays scream, & the chickadee winds up his clock. My silence is just as inhuman as that, and no more.
You know that I never promised to correspond with you, & so, when I do, I do more than I promised.
Such are my pursuits and habits that I rarely go abroad, and it is quite a habit with me to decline invitations to do so. Not that I could not enjoy such visits, if I were not otherwise occupied. I have enjoyed very much my visits to you and my rides in your neighborhood, and am sorry that I cannot enjoy such things oftener; but life is short, and there are other things also to be done. I admit that you are more social than I am, and far more attentive to “the common courtesies of life” but this is partly for the reason that you have fewer or less exacting private pursuits.
Not to have written a note for a year is with me a very venial offence. I think that I do not correspond with any one so often as once in six-months.
I have a faint recollection of your invitation referred to, but I suppose that I had no new nor particular reason for declining & so made no new statements. I have felt that you would be glad to see me almost whenever I got ready to come, but I only offer myself as a rare visitor, & a still rarer correspondent.
I am very busy, after my fashion, little as there is to show for it, and feel as if I could not spend many days nor dollars in travelling, for the shortest visit must have a fair margin to it, and the days thus affect the weeks, you know. Nevertheless, we cannot forego these luxuries altogether.
You must not regard me as a regular diet, but at most only as acorns, which too are not to be despised, which, at least, we love to think are edible in a bracing walk. We have got along pretty well together in several directions, though we are such strangers in others.
I hardly know what to say in answer to your letter.
Some are accustomed to write many letters, others very few. I am one of the last. At any rate, we are pretty sure, if we write at all, to send those thoughts which we cherish, to that one, who, we believe, will most religiously attend to them.
This life is not for complaint, but for satisfaction. I do not feel addressed by this letter of yours. It suggests only misunderstanding. Intercourse may be good, but of what use are complaints & apologies? Any complaint I have to make is too serious to be utterred, for the evil cannot be mended.
Turn over a new leaf
My out-door harvest this fall has been one Canada Lynx, a fierce looking fellow, which, it seems, we have hereabouts; eleven barrels of apples from trees of my own planting; and a large crop of white oak acorns which I did not raise.
Please remember me to your family. I have a very pleasant recollection of your fireside, and I trust that I shall revisit it - also of your shanty & the surrounding regions.
Henry D. Thoreau
5 November. Concord, Mass.
6 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Sawed off half of an old pitch pine stump at Tommy Wheeler’s hollow…” (Journal, 14:219-20).
Ralph Waldo Emerson gives Thoreau a copy of The Conduct of Life (The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 14:367). Emerson inscribes the book, “Henry D. Thoreau from the Author Nov. 6, 1860” (Concord Saunterer, vol. 13, no. 2 (Summer 1978):17).
8 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “2 P. M. - To Mt. Misery via sugar maples and Lee’s Bridge…” (Journal, 14:220-4).
9 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “12 M. - To Inches’ Woods in Boxboro…” (Journal, 14:224-7).
10 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Cheney gives me a little history of the Inches Woods… Collier tells me that his sunflower-head (now dried) measures just twenty-one and a half inches [in] diameter, - the solid part… Elijah Wood, senior, tells me that about 1814 (or before 1815, in which year he was married, and while he still lived at his father’s on Carlisle road), as he was riding to town on horseback in the evening alone to singing to prepare for Thanksgiving, he stopped to let his horse drink at the brook beyond Winn’s, when he heard a cry from some wild beast just across the river. It affected him so that he did not stop to let his horse drink much…” (Journal, 14:227-39).
11 November. Concord, Mass.
A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal: “Thoreau is here and discusses the suffrage. Thinks a freeman cannot vote for the President, candidates, etc.” (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 330).
14 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “River two feet four inches above summer level (and at height) on account of rain of 10th and 11th and 12th…” (Journal, 14:241).
16 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Inches Woods… We next walked across the open land by the road to the high hill northeast of Boxboro Centre… Frank Brown tells me of a chestnut in his neighborhood nineteen feet and eight (?) inches in circumference at three feet…” (Journal, 14:241-9).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Blood’s woods… Silas Hosmer tells me ho — and — sold the Heywood lot between the railroad and Fair Haven…” (Journal, 14:249-52).
19 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To Mt. Misery… Mr. Bradshaw says that he got a little auk in Wayland last week, and heard of two more, one in Weston and the other in Natick…” (Journal, 14:252-3).
20 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To R. W. E.’s [Ralph Waldo Emerson] hill…” (Journal, 14:253-5).
21 November. Concord, Mass.
22 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To northwest part of Sudbury… We journeyed into the foreign land of Sudbury to see how the Sudbury men - the Hayneses, and the Puffers, and the Brighams - live…” (Journal, 14:257-60).
23 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “George Minott tells me that sixty years ago wood was only two or three dollars a cord here - and some of that hickory… As I sail the unexplored sea of Concord, many a dell and swamp and wooded hill is my Ceram and Amboyna…” (Journal, 14:260-3).
24 November. Concord, Mass.
25 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “I count the rings in a spruce plank from the railroad bridge, which extend five and a half inches from the centre of the tree, and make them 146, - 1/26 + to a ring. This is slower growth than I find in a black spruce to-day at - Ministerial Swamp, P. M…” (Journal, 14:265-9).
Concord, Mass. Thoreau writes in his journal: “P. M. - To E. Hubbard’s Wood… Mother says that Lidy Bay, an Indian woman (so considered), used to live in the house beyond Cæsar’s and made baskets, which she brought to town to sell, with a ribbon about her hat…” (Journal, 14:269-75).
Cincinnati, Ohio. Moncure Conway writes to Thoreau:
My dear Mr. Thoreau,
We are thinking of issuing the Dial next year as a Quarterly instead of a Monthly; and I wish to ask if you will be so bountiful as to let me publish therein your Agricultural Address.
M. D. Conway.
28 November. Concord, Mass.
29 November. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Get up my boat, 7 A. M… P. M. - To Fair Haven Hill…” (Journal, 14:279-84).
11 December. Waterbury, Conn.
Thoreau lectures on “Autumnal Tints” at Hotchkiss Hall (Studies in the American Renaissance 1996, 348-53).
13 December. New York, N.Y.
Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau (New England Quarterly, vol. 66, no. 4 (December 1993):632-3).
15 December. Concord, Mass.
A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal: “Call on Thoreau, who has returned from Waterbury where, with a severe cold on him, he read his lecture on ‘Autumnal Tints’ to the Lyceum on Wednesday evening” (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 330).
17 December. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes to Louis A. Surette:
I am very sorry to say that the illness of my mother, who is confined to her bed, will prevent her showing to Mr Phillips the attention which she desired to. The prospect is also that I shall be kept at home Wednesday evening by an influenza - My mother wishes me to say, however, that Mrs Brooks will be happy to entertain Mr Phillips at her home.
Henry D. Thoreau
before 22 December. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “C. [William Ellery Channing] says that Walden was first frozen over on the 16th December” (Journal, 14:294).
22 December. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “This evening and night, the second important snow, there having been sleighing since the 4th…” (Journal, 14:294).
23 December. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “there is seven or eight inches of snow at least…” (Journal, 14:294).
25 December. Concord, Mass.
A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal: “P.M.: Thoreau is here and talks about Emerson’s last book. [The Conduct of Life] Thinks it is moderate, and wants the fire and force of the earlier books” (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 330).
Thoreau writes in his journal on 26 December: “Melvin sent to me yesterday a perfect Strix asio, or red owl of Wilson, - not at all gray” (Journal, 14:294).
27 December. Concord, Mass.
A. Bronson Alcott sends printed letters announcing his upcoming conversations at Franklin B. Sanborn’s house, of which Thoreau receives one (Over Thoreau’s Desk, 49-50, 52).
30 December. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Eben Conant’s sons tell me that there has been a turtle dove associating with their tame doves and feeding in the yard from time to time for a fortnight past. They saw it to-day…” (Journal, 14:295-302).
Thoreau also writes to Horace Greeley (New England Quarterly, vol. 66, no. 4 (December 1993):633-6).
11 January. Concord, Mass.
Thoreau writes in his journal: “Horace Mann brings me the contents of a crow’s stomach in alcohol…” (Journal, 14:309-10).
28 January. Concord, Mass.
A. Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:
Channing [William Ellery Channing] writes tenderly of Thoreau’s confinement, and I see him this morning and find his hoarseness forbids his going out as usual. ’Tis a serious thing to one who has been less a house-keeper than any man in town, has lived out of doors, for the best part of his life, has harvested more wind and storm, sun and sky, and has more weather in him, than any - night and day abroad with his leash of keen senses, hounding any game stirring, and running it down for certain, to be spread on the dresser of his page before he sleeps and served as a feast of wild meats to all sound intelligences like his. If any can make game for his confinement it must be himself, and for solace, if sauce of the sort is desired by one so healthy as he has seemed hitherto. We have been accustomed to consider him the salt of things so long that we are loath to believe it has lost savor; since if it has, then “Pan is dead” and Nature ails throughout.
I find him in spirits - busied, he tells me, with his Journal, and, bating his out-of-doors, in his usual trim. Fair weather and spring time, I trust, are to prove his best physicians, and the woods and fields know their old friend again presently.
(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 333)