Henry David Thoreau Quotes

MY DEAR FRIEND,—I believe a good many conversations with you were left in an unfinished state, and now indeed I don't know where to take them up. But I will resume some of the unfinished silence. I shall not hesitate to know you. I think of you as some elder sister of mine, whom I could not have avoided,—a sort of lunar influence,—only of such age as the moon, whose time is measured by her light. You must know that you represent to me woman, for I have not traveled very far or wide,—and what if I had?... You have helped to keep my life "on loft," as Chaucer says of Griselda, and in a better sense. You always seemed to look down on me as from some elevation,—some of your high humilities,—and I was the better for having to look up. I felt taxed not to disappoint your expectation; for could there be any accident so sad as to be respected for something better than we are? It was a pleasure even to go away from you, as it is not to meet some, as it apprised me of my high relations; and such a departure is a sort of further introduction and meeting. Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, May 22, 1843, to Lidia Jackson Emerson, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 76, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Life Without Principle" (1863), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 464, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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It is no more dusky in ordinary nights than our mind's habitual atmosphere, and the moonlight is as bright as our most illuminated moments are.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Night and Moonlight" (1863), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, p. 332, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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Will mankind never learn that policy is not morality,—that it never secures any moral right, but considers merely what is expedient? chooses the available candidate,—who is invariably the devil,—and what right have his constituents to be surprised, because the devil does not behave like an angel of light? What is wanted is men, not of policy, but of probity,—who recognize a higher law than the Constitution, or the decision of the majority.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Slavery in Massachusetts" (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, pp. 402-403, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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It appeared that he had once represented his tribe at Augusta, and also once at Washington, where he had met some Western chiefs. He had been consulted at Augusta, and gave advice, which he said was followed, respecting the eastern boundary of Maine, as determined by highlands and streams, at the time of the difficulties on that side. He was employed with the surveyors on the line. Also he called on Daniel Webster in Boston, at the time of his Bunker Hill oration.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "The Allegash and East Branch" (1864) in The Maine Woods (1864), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 3, pp. 217-218, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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We seem to have forgotten that the expression "a liberal education" originally meant among the Romans one worthy of free men; while the learning of trades and professions by which to get your livelihood merely was considered worthy of slaves only. But taking a hint from the word, I would go a step further, and say that it is not the man of wealth and leisure simply, though devoted to art, or science, or literature, who, in a true sense, is liberally educated, but only the earnest and free man. In a slaveholding country like this, there can be no such thing as a liberal education tolerated by the State; and those scholars of Austria and France who, however learned they may be, are contented under their tyrannies have received only a servile education.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "The Last Days of John Brown" (1860), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 448, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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We do not live by justice, but by grace.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Thomas Carlyle and His Works" (1847), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 353, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Walden (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 2, p. 353, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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Those who have not learned to read the ancient classics in the language in which they were written must have a very imperfect knowledge of the history of the human race; for it is remarkable that no transcript of them has ever been made into any modern tongue, unless our civilization itself may be regarded as such a transcript. Homer has never yet been printed in English, nor Æschylus, nor Virgil even,—works as refined, as solidly done, and as beautiful almost as the morning itself; for later writers, say what we will of their genius, have rarely, if ever, equalled the elaborate beauty and finish and the lifelong and heroic literary labors of the ancients. They only talk of forgetting them who never knew them. It will be soon enough to forget them when we have the learning and the genius which will enable us to attend to and appreciate them.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Walden (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 2, p. 115, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Walden (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 2, pp. 99-100, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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