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date: 27 May 2024

Henry David Thoreau 1817–62
American writer 

  1. There are more consequences to a shipwreck than the underwriters notice.
    Cape Cod (1865)
  2. I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least’…Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,— ‘That government is best which governs not at all.’
    Civil Disobedience (1849); see O'Sullivan
  3. Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.
    Civil Disobedience (1849)
  4. What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.
    Journal November 1850
  5. Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.
    Journal 11 November 1850
  6. The question is not what you look at—but how you look and whether you see.
    Journal 5 August 1851
  7. How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
    Journal 19 August 1851
  8. Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
    letter to Harrison Blake, 16 November 1857; see Pascal
  9. As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
    Walden (1854) ‘Economy’
  10. The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
    Walden (1854) ‘Economy’
  11. In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.
    Walden (1854) ‘Economy’
  12. Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
    Walden (1854) ‘Economy’
  13. We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the old world some weeks nearer to the new; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.
    on the value of the imminent transatlantic telegraph cable
    Walden (1854) ‘Economy’
  14. There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
    Walden (1854) ‘Economy’
  15. Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.
    Walden (1854) ‘Economy’
  16. Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body.
    Walden (1854) ‘Higher Laws’
  17. The three-o'-clock in the morning courage, which Bonaparte thought was the rarest.
    Walden (1854) ‘Sounds’; see Napoleon I
  18. We can never have enough of nature…We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.
    Walden (1854) ‘Spring’
  19. Wherever a man goes, men will pursue him and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate oddfellow society.
    Walden (1854) ‘The Village’
  20. I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.
    Walden (1854) ‘Visitors’
  21. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience.
    Walden (1854) ‘Where I lived, and what I lived for’
  22. Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplify, simplify.
    Walden (1854) ‘Where I lived, and what I lived for’
  23. I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulette I could have worn.
    Walden (1854) ‘Winter Animals’
  24. It is not worthwhile to go around the world to count the cats in Zanzibar.
    Walden (1854) ‘Conclusion’
  25. If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
    Walden (1854) ‘Conclusion’
  26. Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
    Walden (1854) ‘Conclusion’
  27. In wildness is the preservation of the world.
    Walking (1862)
  28. It takes two to speak the truth,—one to speak, and another to hear.
    A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849) ‘Wednesday’