But cowardice is unscientific; for there cannot be a science of ignorance. There may be a science of bravery, for that advances; but a retreat is rarely well conducted; if it is, then is it an orderly advance in the face of circumstances.—"Natural History of Massachusetts"
But education ordinarily so called - the learning of trades and professions which is designed to enable men to earn their living, or to fit them for a particular station in life- is servile.—Journal, 8 December 1859
Can there be any greater reproach than an idle learning? Learn to split wood, at least.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Early in the morning I worked barefooted, dabbling like a plastic artist in the dewy and crumbling sand, but later in the day the sun blistered my feet.—Walden
Even the poor student studies and is taught only political economy, while that economy of living which is synonymous with philosophy is not even sincerely professed in our colleges. The consequence is, that while he is reading Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Say, he runs his father in debt irretrievably.—Walden
Every incident is a parable of the great teacher.—Journal, 18 April 1852
Ex oriente lux may still be the motto of scholars, for the Western world has not yet derived from the East all the light which it is destined to receive thence.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
For one that comes with a pencil to sketch or sing, a thousand come with an axe or rifle.—The Maine Woods
For the true art is not merely a sublime consolation and holiday labor, which the gods have given to sickly mortals; but such a masterpiece as you may imagine a dweller on the tablelands of central Asia might produce, with threescore and ten years for canvas, and the faculties of a man for tools,—a human life; wherein you might hope to discover more than the freshness of Guido's Aurora, or the mild light of Titian's landscapes,—no bald imitation nor even rival of Nature, but rather the restored original of which she is the reflection.—"The Service"
He is the true artist whose life is his material—every stroke of the chisel must enter his own flesh and bone, and not grate dully on marble.—Journal, 23 June 1840