Henry David Thoreau


A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.


We live but a fraction of our lives.

Our life is frittered away by detail... Simplify, simplify.

Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.

Let your capital be simplicity and contentment.

Always you have to contend with the stupidity of men.

It is the marriage of the soul with Nature that makes the intellect fruitful, that gives birth to imagination.

Sweep away the clutter of things that complicate our lives.
Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.

In what concerns you much, do not think that you have companions: know that you are alone in the world.

I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

As long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm our the county jail.

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.

I feel the necessity of deepening the stream of my life. I must cultivate privacy. It is very dissipating to be with people too much.

Men have become the tools of their tools.

Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance... till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality ... Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business.

In wildness is the preservation of the world.

Most are engaged in business the greater part of their lives, because the soul abhors a vacuum and they have not discovered any continuous employment for man's nobler faculties.

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?

He is a rich man, and enjoys the fruits of riches, who summer and winter forever can find delight in his own thoughts.

The man I meet with is not often so instructive as the silence he breaks.