Henry David Thoreau Quotes

At a tavern hereabouts the hostler greeted our horse as an old acquaintance, though he did not remember the driver.... Every man to his trade. I am not acquainted with a single horse in the world, not even the one that kicked me.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Chesuncook" (1858) in The Maine Woods (1864), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 3, pp. 98-99, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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When I came out of prison,—for some one interfered, and paid that tax,—I did not perceive that great changes had taken place on the common ... and yet a change had to my eyes come over the scene,—the town, and State, and country,—greater than any that mere time could effect. I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are; that in their sacrifices to humanity they ran no risks, not even to their property; that after all they were not so noble but they treated the thief as he had treated them, and hoped, by a certain outward observance and a few prayers, and by walking in a particular straight though useless path from time to time, to save their souls. This may be to judge my neighbors harshly; for I believe that many of them are not aware that they have such an institution as the jail in their village.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Civil Disobedience," originally published as "Resistance to Civil Government" (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, pp. 379-380, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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In all perception of the truth there is a divine ecstasy, an inexpressible delirium of joy, as when a youth embraces his betrothed virgin. The ultimate delights of a true marriage are one with this.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Essay on "Chastity and Sensuality" in letter, September 1852, to Harrison Blake, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 208, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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The lakes are something which you are unprepared for; they lie up so high, exposed to the light, and the forest is diminished to a fine fringe on their edges, with here and there a blue mountain, like amethyst jewels set around some jewel of the first water,—so anterior, so superior, to all the changes that are to take place on their shores, even now civil and refined, and fair as they can ever be.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Ktaadn" (1848) in The Maine Woods (1864), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 3, pp. 88-89, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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I am not afraid that I shall exaggerate the value and significance of life, but that I shall not be up to the occasion which it is.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, April 3, 1850, to Harrison Blake, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 179, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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We are all of us Apollos serving some Admetus.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, January 24, 1843, to Lucy Brown, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 44, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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The body can feed the body only.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, May 2, 1848, to Harrison Blake, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 164, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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Do we call this the land of the free? What is it to be free from King George and continue the slaves of King Prejudice? What is it to be born free and not to live free? What is the value of any political freedom, but as a means to moral freedom? Is it a freedom to be slaves, or a freedom to be free, of which we boast?
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Life Without Principle" (1863), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, pp. 476-477, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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Night is certainly more novel and less profane than day.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Night and Moonlight" (1863), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, p. 323, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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The effect of a good government is to make life more valuable; of a bad one, to make it less valuable.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Slavery in Massachusetts" (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 405, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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