Lot #793
Henry David Thoreau Autograph Letter Signed

Accepting an invitation from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau agrees to lecture on his Cape Cod excursions
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Estimate: $20000+


Accepting an invitation from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau agrees to lecture on his Cape Cod excursions

ALS signed “Henry D. Thoreau,” one page, 7.75 x 9.75, February 8, 1850. Handwritten letter to Charles Northend, written from Concord. In full: "I am informed by Mr. 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. P.S. The illegibility of my MSSs is mainly owing to a steel pen to which I am unused." In fine condition, with small old tape stains to the corners.

On February 6th, Ralph Waldo Emerson had written to Thoreau on behalf of Charles Northend, requesting that he give a lecture on his travels in Cape Cod at the South Danvers Lyceum. Thoreau accepted the offer—$10 plus travel expenses—and delivered the talk on February 18th. In a preface to the lecture, which was a combination of three he had prepared on his Cape Cod sojourns, he excused any apparent disjointedness: '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 two Nauset beach. As I had already condensed three lectures into two, and I am now invited to roll those two into one so as to give some sort of connected account of my journey, you can imagine how unconnected and incomplete this lecture may be.' Thoreau would later compile the stories of these excursions in his 1865 work Cape Cod. With great references to Emerson and his famous Cape Cod trips, this is an ideal handwritten letter by Thoreau.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Revolutionary War
  • Dates: #612 - Ended July 14, 2021

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