Cite This Page
To Go
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
group rates for schools and districts

Henry David Thoreau Quotes

They Said It
"I dearly love to talk."
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden23

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden24

"If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go; perchance it will wear smooth - certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine."
- Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"25

"I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated me as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up. . . . I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through, before they could get to be as free as I was."
- Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"26

"[Thoreau] is as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and rustic, though courteous manners, corresponding very well with such an exterior. But his ugliness is of an honest and agreeable fashion, and becomes him much better than beauty."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, American Notebooks27

"Mr. Thoreau was equipped with a most adapted and serviceable body. He was of short stature, firmly built, of light complexion, with strong, serious blue eyes, and a grave aspect, - his face covered in the late years with a becoming beard."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Thoreau"28

"[Thoreau] stood in the doorway with hair which looked as if it had been dressed with a pine-cone, inattentive grey eyes, hazy with far-away musings, an emphatic nose and dishevelled attire that bore signs of tramps in woods and swamps."
- James Kendall Hosmer29

"He declined to give up his large ambition of knowledge and action for any narrow craft or profession, aiming at a much more comprehensive calling, the art of living well."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Thoreau"30

"A fine house, dress, the manners and talk of highly cultivated people were all thrown away on him. He much preferred a good Indian."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Thoreau"31

"When my hoe tinkled against the stones, that music echoed to the woods and the sky, and was an accompaniment to my labor which yielded an instant and immeasurable crop. It was no longer beans that I hoed, nor I that hoed beans; and I remembered with as much pity as pride, if I remembered at all, my acquaintances who had gone to the city to attend the oratorios."
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden32

"If it is necessary, omit one bridge over the river, go round a little there, and throw one arch at least over the darker gulf of ignorance which surrounds us."
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden33

Next Page: Resume
Previous Page: Facts

Need help with College?