Henry David Thoreau Quotes

Concord is just as idiotic as ever in relation to the spirits and their knockings. Most people here believe in a spiritual world ... in spirits which the very bullfrogs in our meadows would blackball. Their evil genius is seeing how low it can degrade them. The hooting of owls, the croaking of frogs, is celestial wisdom in comparison.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, July 13, 1852, to Sophia Thoreau, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, pp. 193-194, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
I have hardly begun to live on Staten Island yet; but, like the man who, when forbidden to tread on English ground, carried Scottish ground in his boots, I carry Concord ground in my boots and in my hat,—and am I not made of Concord dust? I cannot realize that it is the roar of the sea I hear now, and not the wind in Walden woods. I find more of Concord, after all, in the prospect of the sea, beyond Sandy Hook, than in the fields and woods.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, May 22, 1843, to Lidian Jackson Emerson, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 77, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
It is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember!
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Life Without Principle" (1863), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, pp. 474-475, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(1) (0)
The Hindoos compare the moon to a saintly being who has reached the last stage of bodily existence. Great restorer of antiquity, great enchanter! In a mild night when the harvest or hunter's moon shines unobstructedly, the houses in our village, whatever architect they may have had by day, acknowledge only a master. The village street is then as wild as the forest. New and old things are confounded. I know not whether I am sitting on the ruins of a wall, or on the material which is to compose a new one. Nature is an instructed and impartial teacher, spreading no crude opinions, and flattering none; she will be neither radical nor conservative. Consider the moonlight, so civil, yet so savage!
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Night and Moonlight" (1863), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, pp. 331-332, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
What should concern Massachusetts is not the Nebraska Bill, nor the Fugitive Slave Bill, but her own slaveholding and servility. Let the State dissolve her union with the slaveholder.... Let each inhabitant of the State dissolve his union with her, as long as she delays to do her duty.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Slavery in Massachusetts" (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 403, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
It appeared as if ... he found his way very much as an animal does. Perhaps what is commonly called instinct in an animal, in this case is merely a sharpened and educated sense. Often, when an Indian says, "I don't know," in regard to the route he is to take, he does not mean what a white man would by those words, for his Indian instinct may tell him still as much as the most confident white man knows. He does not carry things in his head, nor remember the route exactly, like a white man, but relies on himself at the moment. Not having experienced the need of the other sort of knowledge, all labeled and arranged, he has not acquired it.
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, p. 205, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
When a noble deed is done, who is likely to appreciate it? They who are noble themselves.
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. 444, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(1) (0)
Translate a book a dozen times from one language to another, and what becomes of its style? Most books would be worn out and disappear in this ordeal. The pen which wrote it is soon destroyed, but the poem survives.
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. 330, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
If you are a seer, whenever you meet a man you will see all that he owns, ay, and much that he pretends to disown, behind him.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Walden (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 2, p. 73, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
It is now many years that men have resorted to the forest for fuel and the materials of the arts: the New Englander and the New Hollander, the Parisian and the Celt, the farmer and Robin Hood, Goody Blake and Harry Gill; in most parts of the world, the prince and the peasant, the scholar and the savage, equally require still a few sticks from the forest to warm them and cook their food. Neither could I do without them.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Walden (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 2, p. 277, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)