"I CONFESS, THAT PRACTICALLY SPEAKING, WHEN I HAVE LEARNED A MAN'S REAL DISPOSITION AND CHARACTER, I HAVE NO HOPES OF CHANGING THEM FOR THE BETTER OR WORSE IN THIS STATE OF EXISTENCE": WONDERFUL ORIGINAL AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT LEAF FROM THOREAU'S CLASSIC WALDEN, FROM THE CHAPTER "SOUNDS"
THOREAU, Henry David. Autograph manuscript leaf from Walden. Concord, Massachusetts, 1854. One leaf, measuring eight by ten inches, of blue paper, writing in ink and pencil on both recto and verso. Matted and window framed with a portrait, entire piece measures 15 by 18 inches. $39,500.
A wonderful item: an original autograph manuscript leaf from Henry David Thoreau's masterpiece, Walden, with an extensive passage from the chapter "Sounds" where Thoreau discusses the railroad on the other side of Walden Pond.
"Thoreau's Walden occupies a special place in our American heritage. Moreover, the book is still alive and vibrant, and it reaches out to touch the life of each one of us who is receptive… it has come to be thought a central document in the American experience" (Thorpe, Treasures of the Huntington Library). "For almost a hundred years an inspiration to nature-lovers, to philosophers, to sociologists… and to persons who love to read the English language written with clarity" (Grolier, 100 American, 63).
This autograph manuscript leaf is part of a larger passage where Thoreau discusses how the train tracks on the other side of Walden Pond connect him to a larger world— "I am refreshed and expanded when the freight train rattles past me, and I smell the stores which go dispensing their odors all the way from Long Wharf to Lake Champlain, reminding me of foreign parts, of coral reefs, and Indian oceans, and tropical climes, and the extent of the globe. I feel more like a citizen of the world," he says in a passage from earlier in the same paragraph as the one in this manuscript leaf. The leaf, written in both ink and pencil on both recto and verso—with passages that are in the manuscript but not in the final published form in brackets and text in the final published form but not in this manuscript in bold—reads in full:
…hues and qualities, the [last and] lowest condition to which cotton and linen [calico] descend, the final result of dress, [The Ethiopian's skin and the leopard's spots now changed. (note: crossed out in red)]—of patterns which [one wore and] are now no longer cried up, unless it be in Mil[l]waukie, as those splendid articles, English, French, or [and] American prints [note: italicized in pencil in manuscript], [poplins, muslein de Laine] ginghams, muslins, &c., longer are gathered from all quarters both of fashion and poverty, going to become paper of one color or a few shades only, on which forsooth will be written tales of real life, high and low, and founded on fact! This closed car smells of salt fish, the strong [N.E.] New England and commercial scent, reminding me of the Grand Banks and the fisheries [and fish flakes]. Who has not seen a salt fish, thoroughly cured for this world, so that nothing can spoil it, and putting the perseverance of the saints to the blush? with which you may sweep or pave [note: inserted in pencil in manuscript] the streets, and split your kindlings, and the teamster shelter himself and his lading [note: two words crossed out in manuscript] against sun wind and rain behind it,—and the trader, as a Concord trader once did, hang it up by his door for a sign when he commences business, until at last his oldest customer cannot tell surely whether it be animal, vegetable, or mineral, and yet it shall be as pure as a snowflake (note: inserted in pencil in manuscript), and if it be put into a pot and boiled, will come out an excellent dun fish for a Saturday's dinner. Next Spanish hides, with the tails still preserving their twist and the angle of elevation they had when the oxen that wore them were careering over the pampas of the Spanish main,—a type of all obstinacy, and evincing how almost hopeless and incurable are all constitutional vices. I confess, that practically speaking, when I have learned a man's real disposition [and character], I have no hopes of changing it [them] for the better or worse in this state of existence. As the Orientals say, "A cur's tail may be warmed, and pressed, and bound round with ligatures, and after a twelve years' labor bestowed upon it, still it will retain its natural form." The only effectual…
Beautifully matted and framed.