The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, Volume VII (of 20)


Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

The following alternate spellings were noted, but retained:

  • contemporaries and cotemporaries
  • Bramins and Brahmins
  • Shakspeare and Shakespeare
  • Sanskrit and Sanscrit
  • Catskills and Caatskills



White Violets (page 304)

View from Annursnack Hill








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Aside from the use Thoreau himself made of his Journal in writing his more formal works, the first extensive publication of the Journal material began in 1881 with "Early Spring in Massachusetts." This volume consisted of extracts covering the month of March and parts of February and April, arranged according to the days of the month, the entries for the successive years following one another under each day. It was edited by Thoreau's friend Mr. H. G. O. Blake, to whom the Journal was bequeathed by Miss Sophia Thoreau, who died in 1876. It was succeeded in 1884 by a volume entitled "Summer," which in reality covered only the early summer, and that, in turn, by "Winter" in 1887 and "Autumn" in 1892, all made by Mr. Blake on the same principle. These volumes, from the first to the last, were received with delight by the ever-increasing body of Thoreau's admirers, but they have served to whet rather than satisfy the appetite of readers, and it has long been evident that they ought not to stand alone as representing this important phase of Thoreau's activity. The publishers therefore gladly seized the opportunity afforded, when the Journal, on the death of Mr. Blake, passed into the hands of Mr. E. H. Russell of Worcester, who was desirous of giving it to the public in its entirety, and they at once made arrangements with him to bring it out in extenso as soon as the long labor of copying and comparing the manuscripts could be completed. As editor the publishers have been so fortunate as to secure Mr. Bradford Torrey, who is eminently qualified to consider Thoreau both as a writer and as an observer of nature.


Concerning this first practically complete printing of Thoreau's Journal it seems proper to make the following explanations, in addition to those contained in the Publishers' Note:---

1. It has been found necessary, if the Journal was to be of comfortable use by ordinary readers, to punctuate it throughout. Otherwise each reader would have been compelled to do the work for himself. A literal reproduction, like the literal reproduction of Milton's minor poems, for example, may some day be of interest to antiquaries and special students; but such an edition could never be adapted, more than the literal reproduction of Milton's manuscripts, to the needs of those who read for pleasure and general profit.

2. Certain things have been omitted; i. e., incomplete sentences, where parts of pages have been torn out by the writer; long quotations, especially from Latin authors, entered without comment, as in a commonplace-book; Maine woods matter---"Chesuncook" and "The Allegash and East Branch"---already printed in extenso in the volume entitled "The Maine Woods;" a few long lists of plants, etc., recapitulating matter contained in the preceding pages; the word ultimo, or ult., which in hundreds of instances is written where the context makes it plain that instant was the word intended; a proper name here and there, out of regard for the feelings of possible relatives or descendants of the persons mentioned; guesses at the identification of particular plants,---willows, goldenrods, and the like,---often accompanied by tediously minute technical descriptions, the whole evidently meant as mere memoranda for the writer's possible future guidance, and believed to be of no interest now, even to the botanical reader.

3. In the case of passages which Thoreau had revised, mostly in pencil, the editor has commonly printed the original form when the amended one has been followed in already printed volumes. In other cases the amended version has been given. Corrections of error have always been allowed to stand, except that, where it is plain that the correction must have been made at a date later than that of the original entry, the correction has been printed as a footnote, without brackets.

4. The footnotes of the editor are always in brackets.

5. Where parts of the Journal have been printed in the author's books, the editor and his associate, as far as their knowledge has gone, have indicated the fact, citing first the present and then the Riverside edition,---thus: "Week, p. 305; Riv. 379." References to "Channing" are to "Thoreau, the Poet-Naturalist," by William Ellery Channing, new edition, edited by Mr. F. B. Sanborn. References to "Sanborn" are to "Henry D. Thoreau," by F. B. Sanborn, in the American Men of Letters.

6. The earlier manuscript volumes of the Journal, as we now have them, are evidently not the originals, but are made up of selections from volumes that appear to have been destroyed by the author.

It remains only to add the editor's very hearty acknowledgements to his associate, Mr. Francis H. Allen, who has overseen and verified the copying of the manuscript, an onerous task, and in every way, by counsel and labor, has facilitated, not to say made possible, the completion of the work. ix


CHAPTER I. 1837 (t. 20)

Opening of the Journal---Quotations from Goethe---Ducks at Goose Pond---The Arrowhead---With and Against the Stream---Discipline---Sunrise---Harmony---The World from a Hilltop---Hoar Frost---Measure---Thorns---Jack Frost---Druids---Immortality Post---The Saxons---Crystals---Revolutions---Heroes---The Interesting Facts in History.
CHAPTER II. 1838 (t. 20-21)

The Saxons---Hoar Frost---Zeno, the Stoic---Small Talk---Old Books---Greece---Goethe---Homer---A Sunday Scene---What to Do---Composition---Scraps from a Lecture on Society---The Indian Axe---Friendship---Conversation---The Bluebirds---Journey to Maine---May Morning---Walden---Cliffs---Heroism---Divine Service---The Sabbath Bell---Holy War---The Loss of a Tooth---Deformity---Crickets---Sphere Music---Alma Natura---Compensation---My Boots---Speculation---Byron---Fair Haven---Scraps from an Essay on Sound and Silence---Anacreon's Ode to the Cicada---Anacreontics.
CHAPTER III. 1839 (t. 21-22)

The Thaw---The Dream Valley---Love---The Evening Wind---The Peal of the Bells---The Shrike---Morning---The Teamster---Fat Pine for Spearing---Terra Firma in Society---The Kingdoms of the Earth---The Form of Strength---My Attic---Sympathy---Annursnack---The Assabet---The Breeze's Invitation---The Week on the Concord and Merrimack---The Walk to the White Mountains---The Wise Rest---schylus---Growth---Despondency---Linnus---Bravery---Noon---Scraps xi from a Chapter on Bravery---Friendship---Crickets.
CHAPTER IV. 1840 (t. 22-23)

The Fisher's Son---Friends---Poetry---A Tame Life---schylus---Truth---Duty---Beauty lives by Rhymes---Fishes---Muskrats---The Freshet---Important Events---Ornithology---Inward Poverty---Wild Ducks---The World as a Theatre for Action---Rain---Farewell, Etiquette!---War---The Beginning of the Voyage on the Concord and Merrimack---The Boat---End of the Journal of 546 Pages---Reflections---A Sonnet to Profane Swearing---Down the Concord---The Landscape through a Tumbler---Likeness and Difference---A Drum in the Night---The Inspired Body---Dullness---The Yankee Answer---Greek Philosophers---Rhythm and Harmony---Evening---Paradox---Sailing---A Stately March---Effort the Prerogative of Virtue---The True Poem---Sunrise---A Muster---The Great Ball---Fishing and Sporting---The Golden Mean---Grecian History---The Eye---True Art---Necessity---Dress---Bravery.
CHAPTER V. 1841 (t. 23-24)

Routine---Stillness---Seriousness cutting Capers---Wealth is Power---A Dream---Suspicion---Resistance---Rough Usage---Trust in God---Journalizing---The Snow on the Pitch Pines---A Team coming out of the Woods---The Tracks of a Fox---Chasing a Fox---End of the Journal of 396 Pages---Repetition---Weight---Sincerity---The Etiquette of Keeping One's Seat---The Human Voice---Swiss Singers---Costume---The Value of the Recess in a Public Entertainment---Assisting Nature---Prophecy---The Geniality of Cold---Recognition of Greatness---Victory and Defeat---The Lover's Court---The Measure of Time---My Journal---The Industriousness of Vice---Overpraising---Silence---True Modesty---The Helper and the Helped---A Poor Farm---Bronchitis---A Good Book---The Leisure of Society and Nature---The Grandeur of the Storm---Music---Friends---The xii Care of the Body---The Best Medicine---Life---Diversion and Amusement---Composition---The Sound of a Horn---Boarding---Thoroughfares of Vice---Reproof---An Interpretation of Emerson's "Sphinx"---Homeliness in Books---Aubrey---The Loneliness of our Life---Seriousness---Magnanimity---Moral Reflections in a Work on Agriculture---Tea-Kettle and Cow-Bell---Plowing---Eclipsing Napoleon's Career---The True Reformer---Seeing---Friendship's Steadfastness---The Gods side with no Man---A Profane Expression---The Silence of the Woods---The Civilization of the Woods---The Oppression of the House---Shoulders---Approaching a Great Nature---The Use of a Cane---Wachusett---Navigation---The Pine---Westward Ho!---The Echo of the Sabbath Bell heard in the Woods---Books---The Laws of Menu---A Vermonter---The Moon through a Telescope---Immemorial Custom---An Unchangeable Morning Light---The Book of the Hindoos---History and Biography---The Form of a Mountain---Art and Nature---The Strains of a Flute---Earnestness---Afternoon---Various Sounds of the Crickets---The Work of Genius---The Idea of Man in the Hindoo Scripture---The Hindoo's Conception of Creation---Taste and Poetry---The Austerity of the Hindoos---The Only Obligation---Seines in the River---Moonlight the Best Restorer of Antiquity---A Poem to be called "Concord"---A Boat floating amid Reflections---Poetry---Directions for setting out Peach Trees and Grape-Vines---Experience at the Harvard Library---The English Poets---Saxon Poetry---Character---The Inward Morning---Music and Character---The Form of the Wind---Ancient Scotch Poetry---My Redeeming Qualities---The Smoke from an Invisible Farmhouse---Latent Eloquence---Ghosts---Sacred Forests---Thoughts of a Life at Walden---The Rich Man---The Trade of Life---True Greatness---Chaucer---Snowflakes---Books of Natural History.
CHAPTER VI. 1842 (t. 24-25)

Good Courage---The Church the Hospital for Men's Souls---Chaucer---Popped Corn---The Literary Style of the Laboring xiii Man---Sir Walter Raleigh---Calmness---The Perfume of the Earth---Unhealthiness of Morality---Music from a Music-Box---Raleigh's Faults---Man's Puny Fences---The Death of Friends---Chaucer the Poet of Gardens---Character and Genius---The History of Music---Chaucer's Way of Speaking of God---My Life---Dying a Transient Phenomenon---The Memory of Departed Friends---The Game of Love---A New Day---The Eye---Originality of Nature---Raleigh---The Most Attractive Sentences---Law and the Right---An Old Schoolmate---Carlyle's Writing---The Tracks of the Indian---The Stars and Man---Friendship---The Roominess of Nature---The Exuberance of Plain Speech---Action and Reflection---Common Sense in Very Old Books---Thoughts like Mountains---Insufficiency of Wisdom without Love---I am Time and the World---My Errand to Mankind---Two Little Hawks and a Great One---Flow in Books---Nature's Leniency toward the Vicious---Intercourse---A Fish Hawk---Poetry---Lydgate's "Story of Thebes"---Humor---Man's Destiny---The Economy of Nature.
CHAPTER VII. 1845-1846 (t. 27-29)

The Beginning of the Life at Walden---A House in the Catskills---The Vital Facts of Life---Relics of the Indians---Auxiliaries and Enemies of the Bean-Field---Therien, the Canadian Woodchopper---A Visit from Railroad Men---Life of Primitive Man---Wild Mice---The Written and the Spoken Language---The Interest and Importance of the Classics---The Fragrance of an Apple---The Race of Man---The Mansions of the Air---Echo---"The Crescent and the Cross"---Carnac---The Heroic Books---Screech Owls---Bullfrogs---Nature and Art---Childhood Memories of Walden Pond---Truth---John Field, a Shiftless Irishman, and his Family---A Hard and Emphatic Life---Language---Plastering the House---Primitive Houses---The Cost of a House---The Romans and Nature---Jehovah and Jupiter---Some Greek Myths---Difficulty of Getting a Living and Keeping out of Debt---The Fox as an Imperfect Man---Reading suggested by Hallam's History of Literature---The Necessaries of Life---A xiv Dog Lost---Therien and the Chickadees---The Evening Robin---The Earth as a Garden---A Flock of Geese.
CHAPTER VIII. 1845-1847 (t. 27-30)

The Hero---At Midnight's Hour---Wordsworth---Dying Young---The Present Time---Exaggeration---Carlyle's Discovery that he was not a Jackass---Longevity---Life and Death of Hugh Quoil, a Waterloo Soldier---Quoil's Deserted House---Old Clothes---Former Inhabitants of the Walden Woods---The Loon on Walden Pond---Ducks and Geese---The Pack of Hounds---An Unsuccessful Village---Concord Games---Animal Neighbors---Carlyle's Use of the Printer's Art---Northern Slavery---Brister and Zilpha---Making Bread---Emerson and Alcott---A Rabbit---A Town Officer.
CHAPTER IX. 1837-1847 (t. 20-30)

Friends---The Loading and Launching of the Boat---Gracefulness---On the Merrimack---The Era of the Indian---Fate of the Indian---Criticism's Apology---Life---Suspicion---The Purple Finch---Gower's Poetry---Light---Indian Implements---Success in Proportion to Average Ability---Kindness---Fog---The Attitude of Quarles and his Contemporaries towards Nature---The Mystery of Life---Three-o'clock-in-the-Morning Courage---A Recent Book---Museums---Some Old English Poets---Our Kindred---Friendship---Skating after a Fox---To a Marsh Hawk in the Spring---The Gardener---A Fisherman's Account at the Store---Finny Contemporaries---Marlowe---Thaw---Modern Nymphs---Living by Self-Defense---The Survival of the Birds---The Slaughter-House---The Tragedy of the Muskrat---Carlyle not to be Studied---The Subject of the Lecture---The Character of our Life---The Sovereignty of the Mind---Coperation.
438 xvi


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