(Source: The Heart of Thoreau’s Journals, ed. Odell Shepard)
It is discouraging to talk with men who will recognize no principles. How little use is made of reason in this world!
He is in the lowest scale of laborers who is merely an able-bodied man and can compete with others only in physical strength.
It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature. Those qualities which bring you near to the one estrange you from the other.
I lose my respect for the man who can make the mystery of sex the subject of a coarse jest, yet, when you speak earnestly and seriously on the subject, is silent.
Most men can be easily transported from here to there, for they have so little root — no tap-root — or their roots penetrate so little way, that you can thrust a shovel quite under them and take them up, roots and all.
One man lies in his words, and gets a bad reputation; another in his manners, and enjoys a good one.
…[S]uch is the labor which the American Congress exists to protect — honest, manly toil.
Toil that makes his bread taste sweet.
I prefer to finish my education at a different school.
By my intimacy with nature I find myself withdrawn from man. My interest in the sun and the moon, in the morning and the evening, compels me to solitude.
Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it. It would not leave them narrow-minded and bigoted.
I find myself oftenest wise in little things and foolish in great ones.
I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him.
Observe how the greatest minds yield in some degree to the superstitions of their age.
The savages they described are really salvages, men of the woods.
…[L]ife is a battle in which you are to show your pluck, and woe be to the coward.
The blue sky is a distant reflection of azure serenity that looks out from under a human brow.
It is for man the seasons and all their fruits exist. The winter was made to concentrate and harden and mature the kernel of his brain, to give tone and firmness and consistency to his thought.