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Henry David Thoreau Quotes - Page 5 - Quotations Book

Quotes by Henry David Thoreau

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Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 - 1862) was an American essayist, poet, and naturalist. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism. more

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To say that a man is your Friend, means commonly no more than this, that he is not your enemy. Most contemplate only what would be the accidental and trifling advantages of Friendship, as that the Friend can assist in time of need by his substance, or his influence, or his counsel. Even the utmost goodwill and harmony and practical kindness are not sufficient for Friendship, for Friends do not live in harmony merely, as some say, but in melody.

One may discover a new side to his most intimate friend when for the first time he hears him speak in public. He will be stranger to him as he is more familiar to the audience. The longest intimacy could not foretell how he would behave then
We have not so good a right to hate any as our Friend.
A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend.
I have found it to be the most serious objection to coarse labors long continued, that they compelled me to eat and drink coarsely also.
The perch swallows the grub-worm, the pickerel swallows the perch, and the fisherman swallows the pickerel; and so all the chinks in the scale of being are filled.
Farmers are respectable and interesting to me in proportion as they are poor.
It is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in a government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one's being alone. It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar.
Whether the flower looks better in the nosegay than in the meadow where it grew and we had to wet our feet to get it! Is the scholastic air any advantage?
For many years I was a self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rainstorms and did my duty faithfully, though I never received payment for it.
The Artist is he who detects and applies the law from observation of the works of Genius, whether of man or Nature. The Artisan is he who merely applies the rules which others have detected.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonal experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations.
The fibers of all things have their tension and are strained like the strings of an instrument.
I have a great deal of company in my house; especially in the morning, when nobody calls.
Why level downward to our dullest perception always, and praise that as common sense? The commonest sense is the sense of men asleep, which they express by snoring.
The generative energy, which, when we are loose, dissipates and makes us unclean, when we are continent invigorates and inspires us. Chastity is the flowering of man; and what are called Genius, Heroism, Holiness, and the like, are but various fruits which succeed it.
If you give money, spend yourself with it.
We falsely attribute to men a determined character -- putting together all their yesterdays -- and averaging them -- we presume we know them. Pity the man who has character to support -- it is worse than a large family -- he is the silent poor indeed.
The universe seems bankrupt as soon as we begin to discuss the characters of individuals.
Pity the man who has a character to support --it is worse than a large family -- he is silent poor indeed.
We know but a few men, a great many coats and breeches.
Beware of all enterprises that require a new set of clothes.
If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself.
To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any other exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object.
For what are the classics but the noblest thoughts of man? They are the only oracles which are not decayed, and there are such answers to the most modern inquiry in them as Delphi and Dodona never gave. We might as well omit to study Nature because she is old.
Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man’s features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them.
On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend's life also, in our own, to the world.
We feel at first as if some opportunities of kindness and sympathy were lost, but learn afterward that any pure grief is ample recompense for all. That is, if we are faithful; -- for a spent grief is but sympathy with the soul that disposes events, and is as natural as the resin of Arabian trees. -- Only nature has a right to grieve perpetually, for she only is innocent. Soon the ice will melt, and the blackbirds sing along the river which he frequented, as pleasantly as ever. The same everlasting serenity will appear in this face of God, and we will not be sorrowful, if he is not.
After all the field of battle possesses many advantages over the drawing-room. There at least is no room for pretension or excessive ceremony, no shaking of hands or rubbing of noses, which make one doubt your sincerity, but hearty as well as hard hand-play. It at least exhibits one of the faces of humanity, the former only a mask.
Visit the Navy-Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts -- a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniments.
True, there are architects so called in this country, and I have heard of one at least possessed with the idea of making architectural ornaments have a core of truth, a necessity, and hence a beauty, as if it were a revelation to him. All very well perhaps from his point of view, but only a little better than the common dilettantism.
The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.
What is a country without rabbits and partridges? They are among the most simple and indigenous animal products; ancient and venerable families known to antiquity as to modern times; of the very hue and substance of Nature, nearest allied to leaves and to the ground.
The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.
How earthy old people become --moldy as the grave! Their wisdom smacks of the earth. There is no foretaste of immortality in it. They remind me of earthworms and mole crickets.
We seem but to linger in manhood to tell the dreams of our childhood, and they vanish out of memory ere we learn the language.
We do not learn by inference and deduction and the application of mathematics to philosophy, but by direct intercourse and sympathy.
I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.
He is the best sailor who can steer within fewest points of the wind, and exact a motive power out of the greatest obstacles.
Many of the phenomena of Winter are suggestive of an inexpressible tenderness and fragile delicacy. We are accustomed to hear this king described as a rude and boisterous tyrant; but with the gentleness of a lover he adorns the tresses of Summer.
All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong.
I would give all the wealth of the world, and all the deeds of all the heroes, for one true vision.
There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man.
That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another s. We see so much only as we possess.
In wildness is the preservation of the world.
Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.
Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.
I have a deep sympathy with war, it so apes the gait and bearing of the soul.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
The savage in man is never quite eradicated.
It takes two to speak the truth—one to speak, and another to hear.
Most of the stone a nation hammers goes toward its tomb only. It buries itself alive.
The fate of the country does not depend on … what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.
No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does.
Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them.
Death is beautiful when seen to be a law, and not an accident--It is as common as life.
The government of the world I live in was not framed, like that of Britain, in after-dinner conversations over the wine.
Sometimes we are inclined to class those who are once-and-a-half witted with the half-witted, because we appreciate only a third part of their wit.

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