Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) quotes

 

  • A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
  • Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.
  • All men are children, and of one family. The same tale sends them all to bed, and wakes them in the morning.
  • All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man.
  • Before printing was discovered, a century was equal to a thousand years.
  • Books can only reveal us to ourselves, and as often as they do us this service we lay them aside.
  • Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant.
  • Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.
  • Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it.
  • Every people have gods to suit their circumstances.
  • Faith never makes a confession.
  • I have seen how the foundations of the world are laid, and I have not the least doubt that it will stand a good while.
  • I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.
  • If a man walks in the woods for the love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.
  • If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious of doing me good, I should run for my life.
  • If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself.
  • If misery loves company, misery has company enough.
  • If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.
  • It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
  • It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil.
  • It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are... than to breathe in the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.
  • It is never too late to give up our prejudices.
  • It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
  • It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.
  • It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all.
  • It is usually the imagination that is wounded first, rather than the heart; it being much more sensitive.
  • It is what a man thinks of himself that really determines his fate.
  • It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak, and another to hear.
  • It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
  • Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.
  • Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
  • Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.
  • None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiam.
  • Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.
  • Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
  • Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.
  • Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.
  • The greatest compliment that was ever paid to me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.
  • The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.
  • The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
  • The rarest quality in an epitaph is truth.
  • The universe is wider than our views of it.
  • There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
  • Things do not change; we change.
  • Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors.
  • What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.
  • What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.
  • What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?

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