Thoreau’s Lectures Before Walden: Lecture 25



LECTURE 25

 

30 January 1850, Wednesday; 7:00 P.M.
Concord, Massachusetts; Unitarian Church, Vestry
“AN EXCURSION TO CAPE COD” (II)

 

NARRATIVE OF EVENT: See lecture 24 above. Thoreau’s lecture was the eighth in a course of sixteen that season at the Concord Lyceum (MassLyc, p. 164). The lyceum record of the event is, except for the date, identical to that of the first Cape Cod lecture delivered a week before (MassLyc, p. 164).
ADVERTISEMENTS, REVIEWS, AND RESPONSES: See lecture 24 above.
DESCRIPTION OF TOPIC: See lecture 24 above. Comparison of the various forms of evidence mentioned in our comments on lecture 24 above, with the summary from the Portland Transcript (see lecture 29 below), and with the remark by James Lorin Chapin that Thoreau “seems to have a great faculty of saying a great deal about a very small affair,” causes us to surmise that in this lecture Thoreau presented the narrative and speculative elements of most of the third and the entire fourth chapter in Cape Cod. His description of John Young Newcomb, the retired Wellfleet oysterman, seems to have been the climax of this lecture and was very likely what caused his audience to laugh “till they cried,” as Emerson reported
(C, p. 255).

 

Copyright © by Joel Myerson
Reprinted with permission