Accepting an invitation from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau agrees to lecture on his Cape Cod excursions. Fine autograph letter, signed Henry D. Thoreau, one page, 7.75 x 9.75, February 8, 1850. The letter was written to Charles Northend, from Concord, Massachusetts and reads in full.
Emerson that you invite me through him to read a lecture on Cape Cod before your Lyceum on Monday the 18th. I will do so if you do not inform me of a different arrangement before that time. On February 6, 1850, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote as follows to Thoreau. On behalf of Charles Northend, requesting that he give a lecture on his travels in Cape Cod at the South Danvers Lyceum.On Monday Evening, & promised Mr C. Northend, Secretary of the Lyceum, to invite you for Monday 18th Feb. To read a lecture to his institution. I told him there were two lectures to describe Cape Cod, which interested him & his friends, & they hoped that the two might somehow be rolled into one to give them some sort of complete story of the journey. I hope it will not quite discredit my negotiation if I confess that they heard with joy that Concord people laughed till they cried, when it was read to them. That there is a possibility but no probability that his absent colleague of the Lyceum has filled up that evening by an appointment But Mr N. Will be glad to hear from you that you will come, & if any cause exist why not, he will immediately reply to you. You will go from the Salem depot in an omnibus to Mr N. Do go if you can. Thoreau accepted that invitation to lecture in the February 8, 1850 letter offered here and delivered the talk on February 18, 1850.
The lecture was a combination of several he had prepared on his Cape Cod sojourns that he rolled. When he finished, instead of a course of three or even two lectures on Cape Cod, he had only one lecture on the subject. He delivered one or another version of this single lecture three times after reading it in South Danvers-first in Newburyport, then in Clinton, and finally in Portland, Maine. Specifically for South Danvers, and to comply with the request for a single lecture, Thoreau drafted the following preface to his lecture. "I purpose to read this evening as many extracts as the time "will permit from a long account of a visit to Cape Cod made last October, particularly those parts relating to Nauset beach.
Thoreau has read papers quite recently before the people in our cities and towns with a decided acceptance. Thoreau apparently collapsed the three main narrative components of his earlier three- and then two-lecture course-the shipwreck of the St. John, his and his companion Ellery Channing's walk along Nauset Beach, and their visit to Newcomb's house-into one apparently somewhat "unconnected and incomplete" lecture, which must have been a condensed version of the first five chapters in. With great references to Emerson and his famous Cape Cod lecture, this is an ideal handwritten letter by Thoreau.
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