Books, not which affords us a cowering enjoyment, but in which each thought is of unusual daring; such as an idle man cannot read, and a timid one would not be entertained by, which even make us dangerous to existing institutions—such call I good books.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
How important is a constant intercourse with nature and the contemplation of natural phenomena to the preservation of moral and intellectual health! The discipline of the schools or of business can never impart such serenity to the mind.—Journal, 6 May 1851
How much of the life of certain men goes to sustain—to make respected—the institutions of society.—Journal, 6 September 1851
I love mankind, I hate the institutions of their forefathers.—Journal, 20 June 1846
I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. if this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.—Journal, 3 January 1853
In my short experience of human life I have found that the outward obstacles which stood in my way were not living men but dead institutions.—Journal, 20 June 1846
In short, as a snow-drift is formed where there is a lull in the wind, so, one would say, where there is a lull of truth, an institution springs up.—"Life without Principle"
Talk about slavery! It is not the peculiar institution of the South. It exists wherever men are bought and sold, wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or a tool, and surrenders his inalienable rights of reason and conscience. Indeed, this slavery is more complete than that which enslaves the body alone.—Journal, 4 December 1860
The rich man . . . is always sold to the institution which makes him rich.—"Resistance to Civil Government"
To the thinker, all institutions of men, as all imperfection, viewed from the point of equanimity, are legitimate subjects of humor.—"Thomas Carlyle and His Works"