Trudging in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau…..
Thoreau Family burial plot in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Mass.
I’ll be quick to admit that I admire Henry David Thoreau. He was one smart man, and he didn’t have a lot of patience for those of us who weren’t as smart, or as well-read as he.
He set some awfully high standards for himself, and for the rest of
, and we
might do well to aim for those standards.
I’ve enjoyed walking around
over the past few
years. I’ve walked all around the Concord,
Massachusetts Concord River,
including the old , where the
Minutemen fired upon the British Redcoats, and the Revolutionary War began, on
April 19, 1775. You can feel that
Thoreau has been all over this place. North
I’ve walked in the woods all around
Walden Pond, and
visited the spot where Thoreau built the little cabin that he lived in from
July 4th, 1845 to September 6th, 1847.
I've been swimming in
a few times. One time I had my car keys
in the pocket of my bathing suit, which caused me to ruin a $100 remote key
Thoreau would not have had much patience with someone who (1) relied upon an automobile to get around, and (2) was so lazy as to use a remote operating device to lock the car.
I just came upon a copy of the Boston Olive Branch, the issue for April 15th, 1848, and that reminded me of a passage in Thoreau’s Walden. He was complaining about the fact that Americans spend far more time and money feeding their bodies than they do their minds.
“It is time that we had uncommon schools, that we did not leave off our education when we begin to be men and women. It is time that villages were universities, and their elder inhabitants the fellows of universities…”
“Why should our life be in any respect provincial? If we will read newspapers, why not skip the gossip of
and take the best
newspaper in the world at once? -–not be sucking the pap of “neutral family” (non-political)
papers, or browsing ‘Olive Branches’ here
in Boston New England.” [pp. 106-107, Walden, A Fully Annotated
Edition, Edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer,
Press, 2004.] Yale University
Thoreau looked down his nose at Olive Branch, but if you open up this 163-year-old newspaper, you may share my appreciation of its contents. Papers of the middle of the 19th century did a lot to educate their readers, as well as inform and entertain them.
This Olive Branch carries several commentaries about the Potato Disease (that was at that time causing many thousands in
to starve to death). Ireland
There’s a story blasting William Lloyd Garrison, (who later became a famous abolitionist) and another telling of how Benjamin Franklin handled a salon full of French intellectuals who were all ridiculing the Holy Bible, by pulling a little book from his pocket and reading them a passage which they all admired. “Tell us what this book is!”
“Certainly, gentlemen,” said Doctor Franklin. “It is no other than your good-for-nothing Bible; and I have read you the prayer of the prophet Habakkuk.”
This Olive Branch reports the numbers and nationalities of immigrants arriving in
Boston and recently, and provides recipes for
making your own toothpaste, shaving cream, and hair pomade. New York
I can imagine what Thoreau would say if he saw people following the noble movements of the Kardashians, pondering the coupling and de-coupling of celebrities in People Magazine, or the mindless back-and-forth of many on Facebook, Smartphones and the like.
Front page of Boston Olive Branch, Saturday, April 15, 1848
, Saturday, April 15, 1848;
Christianity, Mutual Rights, Polite Literature, General Intelligence,
Agriculture, the Arts. 1848 Publisher and Editor, Norris, Rev. Thomas
F. Boston Boston,
MA: Thomas F. Norris, Olive Branch. 4 pp. 46 x 60 cm. Boston Olive Branch was an
important weekly newspaper of the middle of the 19th century. Henry David Thoreau mentioned it in Walden, and Louisa May Alcott was
published in it in the 1850s. Original Poem written for the Olive Branch, "The Poet's Dream of Heaven"
by E.M. Tappan. Original Tale, written for the Olive Branch "Life in the Woods, An Indian
Tale" by J.H. Robinson. Discussion of "The Potato Disease" citing work by Dr. Klotsch of the
Royal Herbarium in Boston Berlin for prevention of
the disease, which at this time was devastating the potato crop in .
"Railroad Matters" reports
that Hon. Daniel Webster has made two long and eloquent speeches against the
Old Colony Railroad being extended. “The
Old Colony Railroad has been managed in a most rascally way, but Hon. E.H.
Derby has been at last wisely put at the head of its affairs.” Ireland Somerville--newspaper advocates for some of it to be
annexed to .
"The Humbug of Mesmerism" discusses supposed murder of young Bruce of
Winchendon, MA, last seen at Eastman's Stable in Deacon St. Report of "Anti-Sabbath Convention" led
by William Lloyd Garrison, "a name
associated with many of the wildest and most destructive schemes, which
radicalism, or diabolism, has invented. Mr. G. is the chief actor in all the
various movements of the 'come-out' factionists." Recipes for Patey's Orris Tooth Paste, Pomade
Divine, Rose Pomatum, Shaving Cream and Sovereign Remedy for a Cough. Newspaper,
edges quite wrinkled, several small holes in pages, poor. (8223) $38.00. Newspapers/History/Agriculture. Cambridge
Patey's Orris Tooth Paste. Take 1 pound
white, half pound
rose pink, 3 ounces orris root; alum, 1/2 ounce ; oil cloves and nutmegs, each
1 drachm. Use honey enough to form a paste. Paris
The Personal Navigator also offers these newspapers from Thoreau’s era:
Boston Daily Atlas, The; Boston, Monday Morning, November 18, 1844 Polk Wins, Clay defeated. 1844
Wm. Hayden & Thos. M. Brewer. New England Guards' Festival was held
September 17th. The Old Guards, who formed in 1812, had not borne arms or stood
in ranks for 32 years, but still presented a fine military appearance. Dinner
and Speeches. Hon. Abbott Lawrence rose
and told of how Commodore Bainbridge in 1814 had called upon the Guards to go
to Boston, MA
to protect the U.S. Frigate Constitution, which had been forced into the
harbor by two British men-of-war. Editorial reports vote totals in Marblehead New England, and several other states. Although all totals are not in, it appears
that Henry Clay, the Whig candidate, has been defeated by James Knox Polk, the
Democratic candidate. Editorial praises
the Whigs of the State, and there is pride in the old
that Locofocoism and Jacobinism have been expelled from our soil. [Locofocos
had been the radical wing of the Democratic Party, but soon were absorbed into
the whole party. They were against a national bank, paper currency, and tariffs.] Paper announces that an
exhibition of the new electro magnetic telegraph in Bay State has been continued for another week.
Interested persons are invited to see this exhibition of this astonishing
invention, which may prove useful.
Surveying on parts of the Boston to New
Haven Rail Road are going on now. There are two
long editorials about Henry Clay; newspaper is clearly disappointed that Polk
has been elected. Advertisement for Sale of the
Main Line of the Public Works of Pennsylvania,
The and Railroad Company. 4 pp. 58 x
74 cm. Newspaper, very good. (7435) $35.00. History Pennsylvania Canal
Poor Dr. Parkman
Christian Register. Devoted to Unitarian Christianity and Sound Morals, Literature and News, Saturday, May 4, 1844, Vol. XXIII No. 18
: Christian Register. Wealth and Luxury of the Masters
as it Affects the Slaves; Popery--of lording it over the consciences of others;
Treaty of Annexation of the State of Boston,
4 pp. 48 x 62 cm. Paper periodical, Very good. (3551) $23.00. History/Religious/Newspapers Texas
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