Henry David Thoreau Quotes

Nevertheless, our wild apple is wild only like myself, perchance, who belong not to the aboriginal race here, but have strayed into the woods from the cultivated stock. Wilder still, as I have said, there grows elsewhere in this country a native and aboriginal crab-apple, Malus coronaria, "whose nature has not yet been modified by cultivation."... But though these are indigenous, like the Indians, I doubt whether they are any hardier than those backwoodsmen among the apple trees, which, though descended from cultivated stocks, plant themselves in distant fields and forests, where the soil is favorable to them. I know of no trees which have more difficulties to contend with, and which more sturdily resist their foes. These are the ones whose story we have to tell.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Wild Apples" (1862), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, pp. 301-303, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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It is more manifest than ever that tyranny rules. I see this government to be effectually allied with France and Austria in oppressing mankind. There sits a tyrant holding four millions of slaves; here comes their heroic liberator. This most hypocritical and diabolical government looks up from its seat on the gasping four millions, and inquires with an assumption of innocence: "What do you assault me for? Am I not an honest man? Cease agitation on this subject, or I will make a slave of you, too, or else hang you."
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "A Plea for Captain John Brown" (1859), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 429, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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In 1694 a law was passed "that every settler who deserted a town for fear of the Indians should forfeit all his rights therein." But now, at any rate, as I have frequently observed, a man may desert the fertile frontier territories of truth and justice, which are the State's best lands, for fear of far more insignificant foes, without forfeiting any of his civil rights therein. Nay, townships are granted to deserters, and the General Court, as I am sometimes inclined to regard it, is but a deserters' camp itself.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 115, Houghton Mifflin (1906). "The Great and General Court" is the official title of the Massachusetts state legislature.
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If men will believe it, sua si bona norint, there are no more quiet Tempes, nor more poetic and Arcadian lives, than may be lived in these New England dwellings. We thought that the employment of their inhabitants by day would be to tend the flowers and herds, and at night, like the shepherds of old, to cluster and give names to the stars from the river banks.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 257, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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Some men are judges, these August days, sitting on benches, even till the court rises; they sit judging there honorably, between the seasons and between meals, leading a civil, politic life, arbitrating ... it may be, from highest noon until the red vesper sinks into the west. The fisherman, meanwhile, stands in three feet of water, under the same summer's sun, arbitrating in other cases between muck-worm and shiner, amid the fragrance of water-lilies, mint, and pontederia, leading his life many rods from the dry land, within a pole's length of where the larger fishes swim. Human life is to him very much like a river.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 21, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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However, our fates at least are social. Our courses do not diverge; but as the web of destiny is woven it is fulled, and we are cast more and more into the centre. Men naturally, though feebly, seek this alliance, and their actions faintly foretell it.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 280, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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A modern author would have died in infancy in a ruder age.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 402, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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"Having reached the term of his natural life"; Mwould it not be truer to say, Having reached the term of his unnatural life?
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 178, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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Where shall we look for standard English but to the words of a standard man?
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 107, Houghton Mifflin (1906). By "standard" Thoreau means "representative" in Emerson's sense of the word (e.g., a man of genius).
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Give me a country where it is the most natural thing in the world for a government that does not understand you to let you alone.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "A Yankee in Canada" (1853), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, p. 83, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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