Quotations From HENRY DAVID THOREAU


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  • I suppose that the great questions of "Fate, Freewill, Foreknowledge Absolute," which used to be discussed at Concord, are still unsettled.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, October 16, 1843, to Lidian Jackson Emerson, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 112, Houghton Mifflin (1906).

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  • The book has never been written which is to be accepted without any allowance.
    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. 74, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
  • As a true patriot, I should be ashamed to think that Adam in paradise was more favorably situated on the whole than the backwoodsman in this country.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Walking" (1862), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, p. 223, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
  • The language of excitement is at best picturesque merely. You must be calm before you can utter oracles.
    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. 132, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
  • It is true enough, Cambridge college is really beginning to wake up and redeem its character and overtake the age.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, November 14, 1847, to Ralph Waldo Emerson, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 138, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
  • The past is only so heroic as we see it. It is the canvas on which our idea of heroism is painted, and so, in one sense, the dim prospectus of our future field.
    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, pp. 310-311, Houghton Mifflin (1906).

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  • What would we not give for some great poem to read now, which would be in harmony with the scenery,—for if men read aright, methinks they would never read anything but poems. No history nor philosophy can supply their place.
    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. 93, Houghton Mifflin (1906).

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  • We do not learn much from learned books, but from true, sincere, human books, from frank and honest biographies.
    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. 101, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
  • In short, as a snow-drift is formed where there is a lull in the wind, so, one would say, where there is a lull of truth, an institution springs up. But the truth blows right on over it, nevertheless, and at length blows it down.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Life Without Principle" (1863), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 480, Houghton Mifflin (1906).

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  • In Canada an ordinary New England house would be mistaken for the château, and while every village here contains at least several gentlemen or "squires," there is but one to a seigniory.
    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. 100, Houghton Mifflin (1906).

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