Writings of Henry David Thoreau (1906)/Volume 5

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THE WRITINGS OF
HENRY DAVID THOREAU

IN TWENTY VOLUMES

VOLUME V

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MANUSCRIPT EDITION

LIMITED TO SIX HUNDRED COPIES

NUMBER 470

 

Writings of Henry David Thoreau (1906) Volume 5 DjVu pg 10.jpg

Wild Apple Tree (page 300)

 

THE WRITINGS OF

HENRY DAVID THOREAU


EXCURSIONS
AND
POEMS

 
Thoreaustamp.png
 

BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
MDCCCCVI

 

 

COPYRIGHT 1865 AND 1866 BY TICKNOR AND FIELDS
COPYRIGHT 1893 AND 1906 BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.

All rights reserved

 

 

ILLUSTRATIONS


WILD APPLE TREE (page 300) Frontispiece
MONTREAL FROM MOUNT ROYAL 98
MOUNT WACHUSETT FROM THE WAYLAND HILLS 134
THE OLD MARLBOROUGH ROAD 214
FALLEN LEAVES 270
 

 

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

The "Excursions" of the present volume follow the arrangement of the volume bearing that title in the Riverside Edition, which differed somewhat as to contents from the "Excursions" collected by Thoreau's sister after his death, and published in 1863 by Messrs. Ticknor & Fields. The Biographical Sketch by Emerson which prefaced the latter appears in the first volume of the present edition.

"A Yankee in Canada," which here, as in the Riverside Edition, is made the first of the series of Excursions, was formerly published in a volume with "Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers." Thoreau made this excursion to Canada with his friend Ellery Channing, and sent his narrative to Mr. Greeley, who wrote him regarding it, March 18, 1852: "I shall get you some money for the articles you sent me, though not immediately. As to your long account of a Canadian tour, I don't know. It looks unmanageable. Can't you cut it into three or four, and omit all that relates to time? The cities are described to death, but I know you are at home with Nature, and that she rarely and slowly changes. Break this up, if you can, and I will try to have it swallowed and digested." Thoreau appears to have taken Greeley's advice, and the narrative was divided into chapters. But after it had been begun in Putnam's in January, 1853, where it was entitled "Excursion to Canada," the author and the editor, who appears from the following letter to have been Mr. G. W. Curtis, disagreed regarding the expediency of including certain passages, and Thoreau withdrew all after the third chapter. The letter is as follows:—


New York, January 2, 1853.

Friend Thoreau. . . . I am sorry you and C. cannot agree so as to have your whole MS. printed. It will be worth nothing elsewhere after having partly appeared in Putnam's. I think it is a mistake to conceal the authorship of the several articles, making them all (so to speak) editorial; but if that is done, don't you see that the elimination of very flagrant heresies (like your defiant Pantheism) becomes a necessity? If you had withdrawn your MS. on account of the abominable misprints in the first number, your ground would have been far more tenable. However, do what you will. Yours,


"Natural History of Massachusetts" was contributed to The Dial, July, 1842, nominally as a review of some recent State reports. "A Walk to Wachusett" was printed in The Boston Miscellany, 1843. Mr. Sanborn, in his volume on Thoreau, prints a very interesting letter written by Margaret Fuller in 1841, in criticism of the verses which stand near the beginning of the paper, offered at that time for publication in The Dial. "The Landlord" was printed in The Democratic Review for October, 1843. "A Winter Walk" appeared in The Dial in the same month and year. Emerson in a letter to Thoreau, September 8, 1843, says: "I mean to send the 'Winter's Walk' to the printer to-morrow for The Dial. I had some hesitation about it, notwithstanding its faithful observation and its fine sketches of the pickerel-fisher and of the woodchopper, on account of mannerism, an old charge of mine,—as if, by attention, one could get the trick of the rhetoric; for example, to call a cold place sultry, a solitude public, a wilderness domestic (a favorite word), and in the woods to insult over cities, armies, etc. By pretty free omissions, however, I have removed my principal objections." The address "The Succession of Forest Trees" was printed first in The New York Tribune, October 6, 1860, and was perhaps the latest of his writings which Thoreau saw in print.

After his death the interest which had already been growing was quickened by the successive publication in The Atlantic Monthly of "Autumnal Tints" and "Wild Apples" in October and November, 1862, and "Night and Moonlight" November, 1863. The last named appeared just before the publication of the volume "Excursions," which collected the several papers.

"May Days" and "Days and Nights in Concord," which were printed in the Riverside Edition, are now omitted as consisting merely of extracts from Thoreau's Journal and therefore superseded by the publication of the latter in its complete form.


A few of Thoreau's poems, taken from the "Week" and elsewhere, were added by Mr. Emerson to the volume entitled "Letters to Various Persons" which he brought out in 1865, but it was not till the volume of "Miscellanies" was issued in the Riverside Edition that the otherwise unpublished verse of his that had appeared in The Dial was gathered into a single volume. Besides the Dial contributions, the Riverside "Miscellanies" contained a few poems that first found publication in Mr. Sanborn's Life of Thoreau. But the collection was not intended to be complete.

Many of Thoreau's poems, including his translations from the Anacreontics, are imbedded in the "Week," "Walden," and "Excursions," and it seemed best not to reproduce them in another volume. In 1895, shortly after the publication of the Riverside Thoreau, Mr. Henry S. Salt and Mr. Frank B. Sanborn brought out a book entitled "Poems of Nature by Henry David Thoreau," in which were collected "perhaps two thirds of [the poems] which Thoreau preserved." "Many of them," says the Introduction to that volume, "were printed by him, in whole or in part, among his early contributions to Emerson's Dial, or in his own two volumes, the Week and Walden. . . . Others were given to Mr. Sanborn for publication, by Sophia Thoreau, the year after her brother's death (several appeared in the Boston Commonwealth in 1863); or have been furnished from time to time by Mr. Blake, his literary executor." This volume contained a number of poems which had not before appeared in any of Thoreau's published books. Such poems are now added to those of the Riverside Edition. The present collection, however, no more than its predecessors pretends to completeness. It includes only those of Thoreau's poems which have been previously published and which are not contained in other volumes of this series. A list of the poems and scattered bits of verse printed in the other volumes will be found in an Appendix. The Journal also contains, especially in the early part, a number of heretofore unpublished poems which it seems best to retain in their original setting.