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Introductory note.

The title given to this volume is the same as that used in 1863 when, shortly after Thoreau's death, his sister collected for Messrs. Ticknor & Fields a number of his fugitive pieces and prefaced the volume with a biographical sketch by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The contents of the two volumes are with a few exceptions the same, the chief differences being that Mr. Emerson's sketch precedes the final volume of the series, and A Yankee in Canada, formerly published in a volume with Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers, is made here the first in the series of Excursions.

Thoreau made this excursion with his friend Ellery Channing, and sent his narrative to Mr. Greeley, who wrote him regarding it, March 18, 1852, "I shall get you some money for the articles you sent me, though not immediately. As to your long account of a Canadian tour, I don't know. It looks unmanageable. Can't you cut it into three or four, and omit all that relates to time? The cities are described to death, but I know you are at home with Nature, and that she rarely and slowly changes. Break this up, if you can, and I will try to have it swallowed and digested." Thoreau appears to have taken Greeley's advice, and the narrative was divided into chapters. But after it had been begun in Putnam's in January, 1853, where it was entitled Excursion to Canada, the author and the editor, who appears from the following letter to have been Mr. G. W. Curtis, disagreed regarding the expediency of including certain passages, and Thoreau withdrew all after the third chapter. The letter is as follows:--

New York, January 2, 1853.

Friend Thoreau. . . . I am sorry you and C. cannot agree so as to have your whole MS. printed. It will be worth nothing elsewhere after having partly appeared in Putnam's. I think it is a mistake to conceal the authorship of the several articles, making them all (so to speak) editorial; but if that is done, don't you see that the elimination of very flagrant heresies (like your defiant Pantheism) becomes a necessity? If you had withdrawn your MS. on account of the abominable misprints in the first number, your ground would have been far more tenable. However, do what you will. Yours, Horace Greeley.

Natural History of Massachusetts was contributed to The Dial, July, 1842, nominally as a review of a recent state report. A Walk to Wachusett was printed in The Boston Miscellany, 1843. Mr. Sanborn, in his volume on Thoreau, prints a very interesting letter written by Margaret Fuller in 1841, in criticism of the verses which stand near the beginning of the paper offered at that time for publication in The Dial. The Landlord was printed in The Democratic Review for October, 1843. A Winter Walk appeared in The Dial in the same month and year. Emerson in a letter to Thoreau, September 8, 1843, says: "I mean to send the Winter's Walk to the printer to-morrow for The Dial. I had some hesitation about it, notwithstanding its faithful observation and its fine sketches of the pickerel-fisher and of the woodehopper, on account of mannerism, an old charge of mine,--as if, by attention, one could get the trick of the rhetoric; for example, to call a cold place sultry, a solitude public, a wilderness domestic (a favorite word), and in the woods to insult over cities, armies, etc. By pretty free omissions, however, I have removed my principal objections." The address, The Succession of Forest Trees, was printed first in The New York Weekly Tribune, October 6, 1860, and was perhaps the latest of his writings which Thoreau saw in print.

After his death the interest which had already been growing was quickened by the successive publication in The Atlantic Monthly in 1862 of Autumnal Tints (October), Wild Apples (November), and Night and Moonlight (November, 1863). The last named appeared just before the publication of the volume Excursions which collected the several papers, but, as Channing remarks, though the contents of the volume had all been printed before, and some had been used also as lectures, they "are really descriptions drawn from his journals."

May Days has appeared before only in The Atlantic for May, 1878. Days and Nights in Concord was published in Scribner's Monthly, September, 1878. The time of the year covered by these last named extracts is that of August and September, and falls for the most part between the two volumes Summer and Autumn. Other extracts from the journal occur in a somewhat mosaic form in Thoreau, the Poet Naturalist, by W. Ellery Channing.
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Publication:Excursions
Article Type:Work overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:914
Next Article:A Yankee in Canada.
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