This curious world we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used.
—Henry David Thoreau
With what infinite & unwearied expectation and proclamations the cocks usher in every dawn, as if there had never been one before.
Philanthropy is. . . greatly overrated. A pain in the gut is not sympathy for the underprivileged, but the result of eating a green apple; the philanthropist gives to ease his own pain.
I have heard of a man lost in the woods and dying of famine and exhaustion at the foot of a tree, whose loneliness was relieved by the grotesque visions with which, owing to bodily...
Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. what a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.
The spruce and cedar on its shores, hung with gray lichens, looked at a distance like the ghosts of trees. Ducks were sailing here and there on its surface, and a solitary loon, like a...
In what concerns you much, do not think that you have companions: know that you are alone in the world.
La loi n’a jamais rendu les hommes plus justes d’un iota ; et, à cause du respect qu’ils lui marquent, les êtres bien disposés eux-même deviennent les agents de l’injustice.
Speech is for the convenience of those who are hard of hearing; but there are many fine things which we cannot say if we have to shout.
Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.
I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as savage tribes have left off eating each...
However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The...
What sort of philosophers are we, who know absolutely nothing of the origin and destiny of cats?
The animal merely makes a bed, which he warms with his body in a sheltered place; but man, having discovered fire, boxes up some air in a spacious apartment, and warms that, instead of robbing...
We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild,...
There is on the earth no institution which Friendship has established; it is not taught by any religion; no scripture contains its maxims. It has no temple nor even a solitary column…However, out fates at...
The only way to tell the truth is to speak with kindness. Only the words of a loving man can be heard
The preachers and lecturers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves. Why, a free-spoken man, of sound lungs, cannot draw a long breath without causing your rotten institutions to come...
Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.
It is difficult to begin without borrowing, but perhaps it is the most generous course thus to permit your fellow-men to have an interest in your enterprise. The owner of the axe, as he released...
Things do not change; we change.
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.
There is danger that we lose sight of what our friend is absolutely, while considering what she is to us alone.
To be awake is to be alive.
The doctors are all agreed that I am suffering from want of society. Was never a case like it. First, I did not know that I was suffering at all. Secondly, as an Irishman might...
I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also...
Those who have been bred in the school of politics fail now and always to face the facts.
Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let our affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand…Simplify, simplify!
We are constantly invited to be who we are.
A sentence should be read as if its author, had he held a plough instead of a pen, could have drawn a furrow deep and straight to the end.
How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.
The moose will perhaps one day become extinct; but how naturally then, when it exists only as a fossil relic, and unseen as that, may the poet or sculptor invent a fabulous animal with similar...
I delight to come to my bearings,—not walk in procession with pomp and parade, in a conspicuous place, but to walk even with the Builder of the universe, if I may,—not to live in this...
Le citoyen doit-il un seul instant, dans quelque mesure que ce soit, abandonner sa conscience au législateur ?(LA DÉSOBÉISSANCE CIVILE)
The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.
If it is asserted that civilization is a real advance in the condition of man — and I think that it is, though only the wise improve their advantages — it must be shown that...
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.
It is remarkable how long men will believe in the bottomlessness of a pond without taking the trouble to sound it.
Men are born to succeed, not to fail.
Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.
Be sure that you give the poor the aid they most need, though it be your example which leaves them far behind. If you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon...
Silence is the communing of a conscious soul with itself.
Your church is a baby-house made of blocks.
It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.
I have learned that the swiftest traveller is he that goes a-foot. I say to my friend, Suppose we try who will get there first. The distance is thirty miles, the fare ninety cents. That...
If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.
Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them.
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