Thoreau’s Lectures Before Walden: Lecture 38



LECTURE 38

 

22 MARCH 1852, Monday
Boston, Massachusetts; Fisher’s Rooms
“ECONOMY”

 

 NARRATIVE OF EVENT: In his diary for 22 March 1852, Alcott wrote: “Thoreau is here, also Blake. Evening, Thoreau reads his papers on ‘The Sylvan Life,’ at Fisher’s Rooms to a company of 60 or more persons, to their great delight. He passes the night with me.”1 It should be noted that sometime before 15 April 1852, when Thoreau mentions the fact in his journal, Alcott had urged Thoreau to call what became Walden “Sylvania” (PEJ4, p. 451).
 ADVERTISEMENTS, REVIEWS, AND RESPONSES: Says Harding, “Alcott had advertised this lecture in the newspapers as a subject ‘peculiarly appropriate to Mr. Thoreau’s experience and views,’ one in which he could ‘disregard conventionalisms without being driven into controversies'” (Days, p. 287). A clipping from an unknown newspaper pasted in Alcott’s “Autobiographical Collections” for 1852 reads, “Mr. Thoreau will discourse this evening on Silvan Life at the rooms in which Mr. Alcott had his recent conversations.”2 The only response we have to the lecture is from the advertisements for his delivery of the second “Life in the Woods” lecture two weeks later, which noted that Thoreau would read again “by request of many of the auditors of his first (private) lecture in this city” (see lecture 39 below), which suggests that this delivery was at least somewhat successful.
 DESCRIPTION OF TOPIC: See lectures 18 and 35 above.



 1. Alcott, MS “Diary for 1852,” entry of 22 March, MH (*59M-308).
 2. Alcott, “Autobiographical Collections,” vol. 6, p. 174, MH (*59M-307).