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Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862)

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Books & Manuscripts - 2300
Date / Time :
October 30, 2005 11:00AM


Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862), Autograph manuscript fragment, undated, [circa December 1853], from the Lecture entitled "An Excursion to Moosehead Lake," delivered to the Concord Lyceum on December 14th, 1853 one page, discussing his lack of work and decrying the fact that their "higher faculties" go "unemployed," tipt to a mount.Text in full: "Much more earnestly as lecturer than as a surveyor. Yet, heretofore have not got any employment, to speak of, as a lecturer. I was not invited to lecture once out of my own town last winter and neither in nor out of it the winter before. I mention this neither in sorrow nor in anger - but I can get surveying enough - (this section redacted in one sense enough of that) at least as much as I want - which a hundred others in my county can do as well as I who have no call from within or without to lecture. In fact I am rarely if ever invited by our community to do anything quite worth the while to do./ But they who do not make the highest demand on you shall rue it. It is because they make a low demand on themselves. All the while that they use only your humbler faculties - your higher unemployed faculties like an invisible cimetar (sic) are cutting them in 'twain . Woe be to the generation that let's any higher faculty in it's midst go unemployed. That's to deny God and know him not (in a degree he accordingly will know not of them, (in pencil on the reverse, However, I have but little surveying to do for the most part and to tell the truth I like it right well"). Note: In his journal on December 18th, just four days after presenting his lecture before his fellow Concordians, Thoreau indicted his neighbors—and, by implication, his countrymen—for their valuing his talents as a surveyor above those as a lecturer and writer. It should be noted that prior to his just-delivered lecture he had not given any lectures for more than a year and a half. Thoreau's lecture manuscript would have taken him about an hour and a half to read. On 23 January 1858, he wrote a letter to James Russell Lowell, editor of the newly formed Atlantic Monthly, and said that the lecture "is an account of an excursion into the Maine woods in '53; the subjects of which are the Moose, the Pine Tree & the Indian ... It consists of about one hundred manuscript pages, or a lecture & a half, as I measure" (C, p. 504). When revising the manuscript for publication as the essay "Chesuncook" in early 1858, he seems only to have added more material to fill out the narrative of his excursion. (Courtesy of The Walden Woods Project and the Thoreau Institute as Walden Woods).
Estimate $5,000-7,000


surveyor , lecturer , Concord Lyceum, Moosehead Lake, lecturer and writer, James Russell Lowell, editor , Maine, Atlantic Monthly, Thoreau Institute, American poets, Civil disobedience, Classical liberals, Henry David Thoreau, Lecturers, Voluntaryists, Walden