"The heroic books, even if printed in the character of our mother tongue, will always be in a language dead to degenerate times ..."
"But, wherever a man goes, men will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions."
"I am convinced, that if all men were to live as simply as I then did, thieving and robbery would be unknown. These take place only in communities where some have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough."
"It is not all books that are as dull as their readers."
"I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."
"... instead of studying how to make it worth men's while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them. The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?"
"We worship not the Graces, nor the Parcae, but Fashion. ... The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveller's cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same."
"... men have become the tools of their tools."
"We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb."
"The cart before the horse is neither beautiful nor useful."
"There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? But alas! we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built ..."
"Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end ..."
"As for the Pyramids (of Egypt), there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs."
"I have since learned that trade curses every thing it handles ..."
"But I would say to my fellows, once for all, As long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail."
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"
"To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea."
"The farmer can work alone in the field or the woods all day, hoeing or chopping, and not feel lonesome, because he is employed; but when he comes home at night he cannot sit down in a room alone, at the mercy of his thoughts, but must be where he can "see the folks," and recreate, and as he thinks remunerate, himself for his day's solitude; and hence he wonders how the student can sit alone in the house all night and most of the day without ennui and "the blues;" but he does not realize that the student, though in the house, is still at work in his field, and chopping in his woods, as the farmer in his ..."
"In a pleasant spring morning all men's sins are forgiven. Such a day is a truce to vice."
"... as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness."
"Most think that they are above being supported by the town; but it oftener happens that they are not above supporting themselves by dishonest means, which should be more disreputable."
"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth."