The Emerson-Thoreau
Correspondence: Emerson In Europe

By F.B. Sanborn

The Atlantic Monthly, June 1892 

Note: These letters of Emerson and Thoreau are all from the 1840’s and 1850’s, and Sanborn's article was published many years after they were written. 

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    A FEW undated notes from Emerson to Thoreau may be of the years between 1843 and 1847, but I am inclined to place them as late as the latter year. Here is the only one which will be cited, and that to show how friendly was the service these two comrades required of  each other. The “Mr. Brownson” mentioned was Dr. Orestes A. Brownson, who had examined Thoreau for his first district school, when he went, during a college vacation, to teach in the town of Canton, near Boston, where Brownson was then a Universalist minister.  

Thursday. P.M.
DEAR HENRY, — I am not to-day quite so robust as I expected to be, and so have to beg that you will come down and drink tea with Mr. Brownson, and charge yourself with carrying him to the Lyceum and introducing him to the curators. I hope you can oblige me so far. 
Yours,  R.W.E.
[The rest of this page was not part of Sanborn's original article, but the 
pages listed below are as they appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, in 1892]
Letters I - V, 1847:
  • I - Thoreau in Concord to his sister in Maine - "I think you may have a grand time this winter pursuing some study,—keeping a journal, or the like, — while the snow lies deep without."
  • II - Thoreau in Concord to Emerson in England, in which Thoreau refers to a proposal of marriage from Sophia Ford, who was a teacher, and 15 years older than Thoreau
  • III - Thoreau in Concord to Emerson in England - Thoreau describes the attempt by Emerson's gardner, Hugh Whelan, to move Thoreau's Walden cabin from the pond, and convert it to home for his family 
  • IV - Emerson in England to Thoreau in Concord - "The Dial is absurdly well known here ... it is spoken of with the utmost gravity, and I do not laugh."
  • V - Thoreau in Concord to Emerson in England - "Next going to give an account to the Lyceum of my expedition to Maine ... We have had Whipple on Genius, — too weighty a subject for him."
Letters VI - X, 1848:
  • VI - Thoreau in Concord to Emerson in England - "Eddy climbed up the sofa, the other day, of his own accord, and kissed the picture of his father"
  • VII - Emerson in England to Thoreau in Concord - "I heard the best man in England make perhaps his best speech"
  • VIII - Thoreau in Concord to Emerson in England - "Lectures begin to multiply on my desk... I read one last week to the Lyceum, on The Rights and Duties of the Individual in Relation to Government" - probably referes to an early version of "Resistance to Civil Government", later called "Civil Disobedience" 
  • IX - Emerson in England to Thoreau in Concord - "My book, fortunately, did not find a publisher ready to undertake it, and you can imagine the effect of delay on an author’s estimate of his own work."
  • X - Thoreau in Concord to Emerson in England - "Ellen is already thinking what will be done when you come home ... Edith says that I shall come and see them, and always at teatime, so that I can play with her."
Letters XI - XV, 1848-1856:
  • XI and XII - Emerson in England to Thoreau in Concord, 1848 - "I admire the English, I think, never more than when I meet Americans"
  • XIII - Thoreau on Fire Island Beach, writing to Emerson about the tragic death by shipwreck of Margaret Fuller and her family, from the site of the wreck in 1850
  • XIV - Two notes from Emerson to Thoreau, 1855 - "It is so easy, at distance, or when going to a distance, to ask a great favor which one would haggle at near by."
  • XV - Thoreau in Eagleswood, New Jersey to his sister Sophia, 1856 - "I have been constantly engaged in surveying Eagleswood, — through woods, salt marshes, and along the shore, dodging the tide, through bushes, mud and beggar ticks, having no time to look up or think where I am."

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