Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

Born: 1817. Died: 1862.

Ideas

- The search for ultimate begins with simplification and the dispelling of the superfluities of life, and with the desire for clarity of vision and spiritual alertness.

- There exists within each human being a moral sense and an intuitive capacity for the apprehension of spiritual turths.

- Trancendental spiritual truths are revealed through nature.

- The divine source of all things exists in nature, yet divine reality is not exhausted by nature.

- Reformation, even the reformation of society, begins with the reforming of the individual.

- Action from principle brings about change in institutions and governments.

Biography

Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on 12th July, 1817. After attending Harvard University (1833-1837) he joined with his brother to establish his own school in Concord.

Thoreau loved nature and spent most of his free time exploring the local countryside. After the death of his brother in 1841, Thoreau was invited to stay with his friend, the philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau also began writing during this period and some of his poems appeared in The Dial.

In 1845 Thoreau built himself a house in the woods on land owned by Emerson. The following year he was imprisoned for refusing to pay his poll tax. His opposition to the Mexican War resulted in the influential essay, Civil Disobedience (1849). Thoreau's argument that it was morally justified to peacefully resist unjust laws inspired Americans involved in the struggle against slavery and the fight for trade union rights and women's suffrage.

Thoreau's most popular book, Walden (1854), was a long autobiographical essay in which he set out his ideas on how the individual should live his life. In the book he describes his two-year experiment in self-sufficiency (1845-1847). Thoreau wrote and lectured against slavery and for many years was a member of the Underground Railway. and was a close friend of the radical abolitionist, JOHN BROWN.

Most of Thoreau's work was published after his death from tuberculosis on 6th May, 1862.

Major Works of Henry David Thoreau

- A Plea for Captain John Brown, 1859
- A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 1849
- A Yankee in Canada, with Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers, 1866
- An Excursion to Canada, 1853
- Autumn, 1892
- Autumnal Tints, 1862
- Cape Cod, 1865
- Early Spring in Massachusetts, 1881
- Excursions, 1863
- Familiar Letters of Henry David Thoreau, 1894
- The First and Last Journeys of Thoreau, 1905
- The Highland Light, 1864
- Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1906
- The Landlord, 1843
- Letters to Various Persons, 1865
- Life Without Principle, 1863
- The Maine Woods, 1864
- Night and Moonlight, 1863
- Poems of Nature, 1895
- Resistance to Civil Government, or Civil Disobedience, 1849
- The Service, 1840
- Slavery in Massachusetts, 1854
- Some Unpublished Letters of Henry D. and Sophia E. Thoreau, 1898
- Summer, 1884
- Walden, or Life in the Woods, 1854
- Walking, 1861
- Wild Apples: The History of the Apple Tree, 1862
- Winter, 1888

Quotes from Henry David Thoreau

- "Heroes are famous or infamous because the progress of events has chosen to make them its steppingstones." (from his journal, 1837)

- ""What are you doing now?" [Ralph Waldo Emerson] asked. "Do you keep a journal?" So I make my first entry today." (from his journal, 1837)

- "As the truest society approaches always nearer to solitude, so the most excellent speech finally falls into silence." (from his journal, 1838)

- "What a hero one can be without moving a finger!." (from his journal, 1838)

- "We should be ready for all issues, not daring to die but daring to live. To the brave even danger is an ally." (from his journal, 1839)

- "Where there is a brave man, there is the thickest of the fight, there the post of honor." (from his journal, 1839)

- "An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." (from his journal, 1840)

- "An honest book's the noblest work of Man." (from a letter to Helen Thoreau, 1840)

- "Drifting in a sultry day on the sluggish waters of the pond, I almost cease to live and begin to be." (from his journal, 1839)

- "Go where we will, we discover infinite change in particulars only, not in generals." (from his journal, 1840)

- "He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul's estate." (from his journal, 1840)

- "He will get to the goal first who stands stillest." (from his journal, 1840)

- "The highest condition of art is artlessness." (from his journal, 1840)

- "In enthusiasm we undulate to the divine spiritus-as the lake to the wind." (from his journal, 1840)

- "Nothing was ever so unfamiliar and startling to me as my own thoughts." (from his journal, 1840)

- "The science of Human Nature has never been attempted, as the science of Nature has. The dry light has never shone on it, Neither physics nor metaphysics have touched it." (from his journal, 1840)

- "They who are ready to go are already invited." (from his journal, 1840)

- "The true laborer is recompensed by his labor, not by his employer. Industry is its own wages. ... Our true endeavor cannot be thwarted, nor we be cheated of our earnings unless by not earning them." (from his journal, 1840)

- "Truth is always paradoxical." (from his journal, 1840)

- "When a dog runs at you, whistle for him." (from his journal, 1840)

- "When we are shocked at vice, we express a lingering sympathy with it. Dry rot, rust, and mildew shock no man, for none is subject to them." (from his journal, 1840)

- "In a world of peace and love, music would be the universal language." (from "The Service", 1840)

- "The author's character is read from title page to end." (from his journal, 1841)

- "Friends will not only live in harmony, but in melody." (from his journal, 1841)

- "Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other." (from his journal, 1841)

- "I never was so rapid in my virtue but my vice kept up with me. ...
   We are double-edged blades, and every time we whet our virtue the return stroke straps our vice." (from his journal, 1841)

- "Let us know and conform only to the fashions of eternity." (from his journal, 1841)

- "My Journal is that of me which would else spill over and run to waste, gleanings from the field which in action I reap. I must not live for it, but in it for the gods. They are my correspondent[s], to whom daily I send off this sheet postpaid. I am clerk in their counting room, and at evening transfer the account from daybook to ledger." (from his journal, 1841)

- "Our whole life is taxed for the least thing well done." (from his journal, 1841)

- "There is always a single ear in the audience, to which we address ourselves." (from his journal, 1841)

- "To be of most service to my brother I must meet him on the most equal and even ground." (from his journal, 1841)

- "The truly beneficent never relapses into a creditor." (from his journal, 1841)

- "We go about mending the times, when we should be building the eternity." (from his journal, 1841)

- "Wealth, no less than knowledge, is power." (from his journal, 1841)

- "When an individual takes a sincere step, then all the gods attend, and his single deed is sweet." (from his journal, 1841)

- "You must not blame me if I talk to the clouds." (from a letter to Lucy Brown, 1842)

- "He listens equally to the prayers of the believer and the unbeliever." (from his journal, 1842)

- "How hard it is to be greatly related to mankind! They are only my uncles and aunts and cousins. I hear of some persons greatly related, but only he is so who has all mankind for his friend." (from his journal, 1842)

- "I am amused to see from my window here how busily man has divided and staked off his domain. God must smile at [the] puny fences running hither and thither everywhere over the land." (from his journal, 1842)

- "I have not succeeded if I have an antagonist who fails. It must be humanity's success." (from his journal, 1842)

- "The stars are God's dreams, thoughts remembered in the silence of the night." (from his journal, 1842)

- "There must be some narrowness in the soul that compels one to have secrets." (from his journal, 1842)

- "Virtue is a bravery so hardy that it deals in what it has no experience in. ... It goes singing to its work. Effort is its relaxation." (from his journal, 1842)

- "We cannot well do without our sins; they are the highway of our virtue." (from his journal, 1842)

- "The cost of a thing ... is the amount of life it requires to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run." (from his journal, 1845)

- "Men have become the tools of their tools." (from his journal, 1845)

- "For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rainstorms, and did my duty faithfully, though I never received one cent for it." (from his journal, 1845-1847)

- "Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something." (from a letter to Harrison Blake, 1848)

- "When you travel to the Celestial City, carry no letter of introduction. When you knock, ask to see God-none of the servants. In what concerns you much, do not think that you have companions: know that you are alone in the world." (from a letter to Harrison Blake, 1848)

- "A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "Action from principle, the perception and performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divides states and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "I heartily accept the motto-"That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe-"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. ... They only can force me who obey a higher law than I." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the state to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "If [the government] is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong I condemn." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplation, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man's shoulders." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man?" (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society which I have not joined." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "The more money, the less virtue." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "The rich man ... is always sold to the institution which makes him rich." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "There will never be a free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. ... the only house in a slave state in which a free man can abide with honor." (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "Why is [government] not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out faults. ... Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?" (from "Civil Disobedience", 1849)

- "A Friend is one who incessantly pays us the compliment of expecting from us all the virtues, and who can appreciate them in us." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "A simple woman down in Tyngsborough, at whose house I once stopped to get a draught of water, when I said, recognizing the bucket, that I had stopped there nine years before for the same purpose, asked if I was not a traveler, supposing that I had been traveling ever since, and had now come round again." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "A true poem is distinguished not so much by a felicitous expression, or any thought it suggests, as by the atmosphere which surrounds it." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "All good abides with him who waiteth wisely." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "All this worldly wisdom might be regarded as the once unamiable heresy of some wise man." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Behold how the evening now steals over the fields, the shadows of the trees creeping farther and farther into the meadow, and erelong the stars will come to bathe in these retired waters." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Books ... which even make us dangerous to existing institutions-such call I good books." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "But what is quackery? It is commonly an attempt to cure the diseases of a man by addressing his body alone." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "The church is a sort of hospital for men's souls, and as full of quackery as the hospital for their bodies." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Dreams are the touchstones of our characters. ... In dreams we see ourselves naked and acting out our real characters, even more clearly than we see others awake." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Everyone has a devil in him that is capable of any crime in the long run." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Friendship is ... a relation of perfect equality. ... Not that the parties to it are in all respects equal, but they are equal in all that respects or affects their Friendship." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "He who hears the rippling of rivers in these degenerate days will not utterly despair." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Here or nowhere is our heaven." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "In proportion to our truthfulness and confidence in one another, our lives are divine and miraculous, and answer to our ideal." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "It [would be] vain for me to endeavor to interpret the Silence. She cannot be done into English." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "The lawyer's truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Man tames Nature only that he may at last make her more free even than he found her." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Methinks my own soul must be a bright invisible green." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterwards. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "My life has been the poem I would have writ,
But I could not both live and utter it." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "My life is like a stroll upon the beach,
As near to the ocean's edge as I can go." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Only the Wise are just." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "The process of discovery is very simple. An unwearied and systematic application of known laws to nature causes the unknown to reveal themselves." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "The scholar may be sure that he writes the tougher truth for the calluses on his palms." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Scholars are wont to sell their birthright for a mess of learning." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Silence is the universal refuge, ... our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "[Silence] is when we hear inwardly; sound, when we hear outwardly." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "They cherish each other's hopes. They are kind to each other's dreams." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "This poor globe, how it must itch in many places! Will no god be kind enough to spread a salve of birches over its sores?." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "This world is but canvas to our imaginations." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Uncommon sense, that sense which is common only to the wisest." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "The unconsciousness of man is the consciousness of God." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "The universe is a sphere whose center is wherever there is intelligence. The sun is not so central as a man." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "We are still being born" (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "Who hears the fishes when they cry? It will not be forgotten by some memory that we were contemporaries." (from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", 1849)

- "As to conforming outwardly and living your own life inwardly, I do not think much of that." (from a letter to Harrison Blake, 1850)

- "It is not when I am going to meet him, but when I am turning away and leaving him alone, that I discover that God is." (from a letter to Harrison Blake, 1850)

- "A people who would begin by burning the fences and let the forest stand!" (from his journal, 1850)

- "I feel ripe for something, yet do nothing, can't discover what that thing is. I feel fertile merely. It is seedtime with me. I have lain fallow long enough." (from his journal, 1850)

- "If the race had never lived through a winter, what would they think was coming?" (from his journal, 1850)

- "Let me say to you and to myself in one breath, Cultivate the tree which you have found to bear fruit in your soil." (from his journal, 1850)

- "Men talk about Bible miracles because there is no miracle in their lives. Cease to gnaw that crust. There is ripe fruit over your head." (from his journal, 1850)

- "The newspapers are the ruling power. What Congress does is an afterclap." (from his journal, 1850)

- "We are ever dying to one world and being born into another." (from his journal, 1850)

- "A style in which the matter is all in all, and the manner nothing at all." (from his journal, 1851)

- "Ah, dear nature, the mere remembrance, after a short forgetfulness, of the pine woods! I come to it as a hungry man to a crust of bread." (from his journal, 1851)

- "All perception of truth is the detection of an analogy." (from his journal, 1851)

- "Do not seek expressions, seek thoughts to be expressed." (from his journal, 1851)

- "Hard and steady and engrossing labor with the hands, especially out of doors, is invaluable to the literary man and serves him directly." (from his journal, 1851)

- "Here I am thirty-four years old, and yet my life is almost wholly unexpanded. How much is in the germ! There is such an interval between my ideal and the actual in many instances that I may say I am unborn." (from his journal, 1851)

- "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!" (from his journal, 1851)

- "I thank you, God. I do not deserve anything, I am unworthy of the least regard; and yet I am made to rejoice. I am impure and worthless, and yet the world is gilded for my delight and holidays are prepared for me, and my path is strewn with flowers." (from his journal, 1851)

- "If misery loves company, misery has company enough." (from his journal, 1851)

- "The intimations of the night are divine, methinks. Men might meet in the morning and report the news of the night-what divine suggestions have been made to them. I find that I carry with me into the day often some such hint derived from the gods-such impulses to purity, to heroism, to literary effort even, as are never day-born. ..." (from his journal, 1851)

- "It would give me such joy to know that a friend had come to see me, and yet that pleasure I seldom if ever experience." (from his journal, 1851)

- "My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to commune with the spirit of the universe, to be intoxicated with the fumes, call it, of that divine nectar, to bear my head through atmospheres and over heights unknown to my feet, is perennial and constant." (from his journal, 1851)

- "Nothing is so much to be feared as fear." (from his journal, 1851)

- "Sentences which suggest far more than they say, which have an atmosphere about them, which do not merely report an old, but make a new, impression ...: to frame these, that is the art of writing." (from his journal, 1851)

- "There comes into my mind such an indescribable, infinite, all-absorbing, divine, heavenly pleasure, a sense of elevation and expansion, and [I] have nought to do with it. I perceive that I am dealt with by superior powers. This is a pleasure, a joy, an existence which I have not procured myself. I speak as a witness on the stand, and tell what I have perceived." (from his journal, 1851)

- "We live but a fraction of our life. Why do we not let on the flood, raise the gates, and set all our wheels in motion? He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Employ your senses." (from his journal, 1851)

- "Associate reverently and as much as you can with your loftiest thoughts. Each thought that is welcomed and recorded is a nest egg, by the side of which more will be laid. Thoughts accidentally thrown together become a frame in which more may be developed and exhibited. Perhaps this is the main value of a habit of writing, of keeping a journalthat so we remember our best hours and stimulate ourselves. ... Having by chance recorded a few disconnected thoughts and then brought them into juxtaposition, they suggest a whole new field in which it was possible to labor and to think. Thought begat thought." (from his journal, 1852)

- "The bluebird carries the sky on his back." (from his journal, 1852)

- "Discipline yourself only to yield to love." (from his journal, 1852)

- "Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love, and pay him well." (from his journal, 1852)

- "Go not so far out of your way for a truer life; keep strictly onward in that path alone which your genius points out. Do the things which lie nearest to you, but which are difficult to do. Live a purer, a more thoughtful and laborious life, more true to your friends and neighbors, more noble and magnanimous." (from his journal, 1852)

- "The hero obeys his own law." (from his journal, 1852)

- "I heard one boy say to another in the street today, "You don't know much more than a piece of putty."" (from his journal, 1852)

- "My friend is one ... who takes me for what I am." (from his journal, 1852)

- "No man stands on truth. They are merely banded together as usual, one leaning on another and all together on nothing." (from his journal, 1852)

- "Now if there are any who think that I am vainglorious, that I set myself up above others and crow over their low estate, let me tell them that I could tell a pitiful story respecting myself as well as them, if my spirits held out to do it; ... I could enumerate a list of as rank offenses as ever reached the nostrils of heaven; that I think worse of myself than they can possibly think of me, being better acquainted with the man. I put the best face on the matter." (from his journal, 1852)

- "Our charitable institutions are an insult to humanity. A charity which dispenses the crumbs that fall from its overloaded tables, which are left after its feasts." (from his journal, 1852)

- "Write while the heat is in you." (from his journal, 1852)

- "A man is wise with the wisdom of his time only, and ignorant with its ignorance. Observe how the greatest minds yield in some degree to the superstitions of their age." (from his journal, 1853)

- "He who cuts down woods beyond a certain limit exterminates birds." (from his journal, 1853)

- "It is most remarkable that those flowers which are most emblematical of purity should grow in the mud." (from his journal, 1853)

- "It is surprising how much room there is in nature-if a man will follow his proper path." (from his journal, 1853)

- "Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. ... Some men think that they are not well in spring, or summer, or autumn, or winter; it is only because they are not well in them." (from his journal, 1853)

- "Silence alone is worthy to be heard." (from his journal, 1853)

- "The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or perchance a palace or temple on the earth, and at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them." (from his journal, 1854)

- "Why should we ever go abroad, even across the way, to ask a neighbor's advice? There is a nearer neighbor within us incessantly telling us how we should behave. But we wait for the neighbor without to tell us of some false, easier way." (from a letter to Harrison Blake, 1854)

- "Every human being is the artificer of his own fate. ... Events, circumstances, etc., have their origin in ourselves. They spring from seeds which we have sown." (from his journal, 1854)

- "In Boston yesterday an ornithologist said significantly, "If you held the bird in your hand"; but I would rather hold it in my affections." (from his journal, 1854)

- "In my experience, at least of lute years, all that depresses a man's spirits is the sense of remissness-duties neglected, unfaithfulness-or shamming, impurity, falsehood, selfishness, inhumanity, and the like." (from his journal, 1854)

- "Most men are engaged in business the greater part of their lives because the soul abhors a vacuum, and they have not discovered any continuous employment for man's nobler faculties." (from his journal, 1854)

- "The effect of a good government is to make life more valuable; of a bad one, to make it less valuable." (from the "Slavery in Massachusetts" speech in Farmingham, 1854)

- "The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls-the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning." (from the "Slavery in Massachusetts" speech in Farmingham, 1854)

- "Probably no country was ever ruled by so mean a class of tyrants as, with a few noble exceptions, are the editors of the periodical press in this country. And as they live and rule only by their servility, and appealing to the worse, and not the better, nature of man, the people who read them are in the condition of the dog that returns to his vomit." (from the "Slavery in Massachusetts" speech in Farmingham, 1854)

- "Whatever the human law may be, neither an individual nor a nation can ever commit the least act of injustice against the obscurest individual without having to pay the penalty for it." (from the "Slavery in Massachusetts" speech in Farmingham, 1854)

- "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are the games and amusements of mankind." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "All memorable events ... transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "As if you could kill time without injuring eternity." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. Every man is the lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. ... Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Dashing the hopes of a morning with a cup of warm coffee." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Every nail driven should be as another rivet in the machine of the universe, you carrying on the work." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "For more than five years I maintained myself ... solely by the labor of my hands, and I found, that by working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I regret anything it is very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well? " (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I believe that what so saddens the reformer is not his sympathy with his fellows in distress, but, though he be the holiest son of God, is his private ail. Let this be righted, let the spring come to him, the morning rise over his couch, and he will forsake his generous companions without apology." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I cannot believe that our factory system is the best mode by which men may get clothing. The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that the corporations may be enriched." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. ... I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher or, if it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I have traveled a good deal in Concord." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulette I could have worn." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I prefer the natural sky to an opium eater's heaven." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "I went to the woods because I wished to live life deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "If anything ail a man, so that he does not perform his functions, if he have a pain in his bowels even-for that is the seat of sympathy-he forthwith sets about reforming the world." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "If I were confined to a corner of a garret all my days, like a spider, the world would be just as large to me while I had my thoughts about me." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. ... In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal-that is your success." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "It is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came into contact with the more civilized." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "It is never too late to give up your prejudices." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "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." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "The meeting of two eternities, the past and future ... is precisely the present moment." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Money is not required to buy one necessity] of the soul." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Moral reform is an effort to throw off sleep." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Morning brings back the heroic ages." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Only that day dawns to which we are awake." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Our life is frittered away by detail. ... Simplify, simplify, simplify! ... Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Our molting season, like that of the fouls, must be a crisis in our lives." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "The self-styled reformers, the greatest bores of all." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths. ... By closing the eyes and slumbering, and consenting to be deceived by shows, men establish and confirm their daily life of routine and habit everywhere, which still is built on purely illusory foundations." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "The sun is but a morning star." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "There are nowadays professors of philosophy but not philosophers. ... To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "There is a solid bottom everywhere. We read that the traveler asked the boy if the swamp before him had a hard bottom. The boy replied that it had. But presently the traveler's horse sank in up to the girths, and he observed to the boy. "I thought you said that this bog had a hard bottom." "So it has," answered the latter, "but you have not got half way to it yet."" (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged?" (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Things do not change; we change." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Trade curses everything it handles; and though you trade in messages from heaven, the whole curse of trade attaches to the business." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the old world some weeks nearer to the new; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "We may not arrive at our port within a calculable period, but we would preserve the true coursev." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "What recommends commerce to me is its enterprise and bravery." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music that he hears, however measured or far away." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "The works of the great poets have never yet been read by mankind, for only great poets can read them." (from "Walden; or Life in the Woods", 1854)

- "Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence." (from his journal, 1855)

- "What a delicious sound! It is not merely crow calling to crow, for it speaks to me too. I am part of one great creature with him." (from his journal, 1855)

- "God could not be unkind to me if he should try." (from his journal, 1856)

- "It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all. I found it invariably true, the poorer I am, the richer I am." (from his journal, 1856)

- "Only that traveling is good which reveals to me the value of home and enables me to enjoy it better." (from his journal, 1856)

- "New ideas come into this world somewhat like falling meteors, with a flash and an explosion." (from a letter to Daniel Ricketson, 1857)

- "It is not enough to be industrious, so are the ants. What are you industrious about?" (from a letter to Harrison Blake, 1857)

- "With regards to essentials, I have never had occasion to change my mind." (from a letter to Harrison Blake, 1857)

- "A higher truth, though only dimly hinted at, thrills us more than a lower expressed." (from his journal, 1857)

- "Again and again I congratulate myself on my so-called poverty. I was almost disappointed yesterday to find thirty dollars in my desk which I did not know that I possessed, though now I should be sorry to lose it." (from his journal, 1857)

- "The day after never, we will have an explanation." (from his journal, 1857)

- "It is a spiral path within the pilgrim's soul." (from his journal, 1857)

- "This poor, timid, unenlightened, thick-skinned creature, what can it believe? I am, of course, hopelessly ignorant and unbelieving until some divinity stirs within me. Ninety-nine one-hundredths of our lives we are mere hedgers and ditchers, but from time to time we meet with reminders of our destiny." (from his journal, 1857)

- "Was there ever such an autumn? And yet there was never such a panic and hard times in the commercial world. The merchants and banks are suspending and failing all the country over, but not the sandbanks, solid and warm, and streaked with bloody blackberry vines. You may run upon them as much as you please-even as the crickets do, and find their account in it. They are the stock holders in these banks, and I hear them creaking their content." (from his journal, 1857)

- "All the community may scream because one man is born who will not do as it does, who will not conform because conformity to him is death. ... In the course of generations, however, men will excuse you for not doing as they do, if you will bring enough to pass in your own way." (from his journal, 1858)

- "The church! it is eminently the timid institution, and the heads and pillars of it are constitutionally and by principle the greatest cowards in the community." (from his journal, 1858)

- "The last new journal thinks that it is very liberal, nay, bold. ... If it had been published at the time of the famous dispute between Christ and the doctors, it would have published only the opinions of the doctors and suppressed Christ's. There is no need of a law to check the license of the press. It is law enough, and more than enough, to itself. Virtually, the community have come together and agreed what things shall be uttered, have agreed on a platform and to excommunicate him who departs from it, and not one in a thousand dares utter anything else. ... [The journals] have been bribed to keep dark. They are in the service of hypocrisy." (from his journal, 1858)

- "Newspapers, magazines, colleges, and all forms of government and religion express the superficial activity of a few, the mass either conforming or not attending." (from his journal, 1858)

- "The settled lecturers are as tame as the settled ministers. The audiences do not want to hear any prophets. ... They ask for orators that will entertain them and leave them where they found them." (from his journal, 1858)

- "All our life ... is a persistent dreaming awake." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Dr. Josiah Bartlett handed me a paper today, desiring me to subscribe for a statue to Horace Mann. I declined, and said that I thought a man ought not any more to take up room in the world after he was dead." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Each town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest, of five hundred or a thousand acres, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Fear creates danger, and courage dispels it." (from his journal, 1859)

- "I went to the store the other day to buy a bolt for our front door, for, as I told the storekeeper, the Governor was coming here. "Aye," said he, "and the Legislature too." "Then I will take two bolts," said I. He said that there had been a steady demand for bolts and locks of late, for our protectors were coming." (from his journal, 1859)

- "It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Now or never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Princes and magistrates are often styled serene, but what is their turbid serenity to that ethereal serenity which the bluebird embodies? His Most Serene Birdship!" (from his journal, 1859)

- "We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success." (from his journal, 1859)

- "What we do best or most perfectly is what we have most thoroughly learned by the longest practice, and at length it falls from us without our notice, as a leaf from a tree. It is the last time we shall do itour unconscious leavings." (from his journal, 1859)

- "You know about a person who deeply interests you more than you can be told. A look, a gesture, an act, which to everybody else is insignificant tells you more about that one than words can." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Let us make distinctions, call things by the right names." (from his journal, 1860)

- "The stupid you have always with you." (from his journal, 1860)

- "Talk about slavery! It is not the peculiar institution of the South. It exists wherever men are bought and sold, wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or a tool, and surrenders his inalienable rights of reason and conscience. Indeed, this slavery is more complete than that which enslaves the body alone." (from his journal, 1860)

- "What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?" (from a letter to Harrison Blake, 1860)

- "The one great rule of composition-and if I were a professor of rhetoric, I should insist on this-is, to speak the truth. This first, this second, this third; pebbles in your mouth or not." (from "The Last Days of John Brown", 1860)

- "My affirmations or utterances come to me ready-made-not forethought-so that I occasionally awake in the night simply to let fall ripe a statement which I had never consciously considered before, and as surprising and novel and agreeable to me as anything can be. As if we only thought by sympathy with the universal mind, which thought while we were asleep. There is such a necessity [to] make a definite statement that our minds at length do it without our consciousness." (from his journal, 1860)

- "When I used to pick the berries for dinner on the East Quarter hills I did not eat one till I had done, for going a-berrying implies more things than eating the berries. They at home got only the pudding: I got the forenoon out of doors and the appetite for the pudding." (from his journal, 1860)

- "Nature is slow but sure; she works no faster than need be; she is the tortoise that wins the race by her perseverance." (from his journal, 1861)

- "Thank God, men cannot as yet fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!." (from his journal, 1861)

- "I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality." (from an article published in Atlantic, 1863)

- "If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!." (from an article published in Atlantic, 1863)

- "Is there any such thing as wisdom not applied to life?" (from an article published in Atlantic, 1863)

- "It is not enough to tell me that you worked hard to get your gold. So does the Devil work hard." (from an article published in Atlantic, 1863)

- "It is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember!" (from an article published in Atlantic, 1863)

- "Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now." (from an article published in Atlantic, 1863)

- "There is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business." (from an article published in Atlantic, 1863)

- "We should treat our minds, that is, ourselves, as innocent and ingenuous children, whose guardians we are, and be careful what objects and what subjects we thrust on their attention. Read not the Times. Read the Eternities." (from an article published in Atlantic, 1863)

- "When our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip." (from an article published in Atlantic, 1863)

- "For one that comes [into the wilderness] with a pencil to sketch or sing, a thousand come with an ax or rifle." (from "The Main Woods", 1864)

- "The broadest philosophy is narrower than the worst poetry." (from the journal of Ralph Waldo Emerson)

- "I look ... not into the night, but to a dawn for which no man ever rose early enough." (from the journal of Ralph Waldo Emerson)

- "I catch myself philosophizing most eloquently when first returning to consciousness in the night or morning. I make the truest observations and distinctions then when the will is yet wholly asleep, and mind works like a machine without friction. ... There is a moment in the dawn when the darkness of the night is dissipated, and before the exhalations of the day begin to rise, when we see all things more truly than at any other time." (from "Concord Days" by Bronson Alcott)

- "I have a commonplace book for facts, and another for poetry." (from "Concord Days" by Bronson Alcott)

- "That is mine which none can steal from me." (from "Concord Days" by Bronson Alcott)

- "To shut the ears to the immediate voice of God, and prefer to know him by report will be the only sin." (from by Isaiah Williams)

- "One world at a time." (from "Thoreau" by Henry Seidel Canby)

- "City life: millions of people being lonesome together."

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