Character Quotations


Character is Genius settled. It can maintain itself against the world, and if it relapses it repents. It is as a dog set to watch the property of Genius. Genius, strictly speaking, is not responsible, for it is not moral.—Journal, 2 March 1842
Circumstances are not rigid and unyielding, but our habits are rigid.—Thoreau to H. G. O. Blake, 17 March 1848
Compliments and flattery oftenest excite my contempt by the pretension they imply, for who is he that assumes to flatter me? To compliment often implies an assumption of superiority in the complimenter. It is, in fact, a subtle detraction.—Journal, 27 March 1857
Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love.—"Life without Principle"
Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Each reaching and aspiration is an instinct with which all nature consists and cooperates, and therefore it is not in vain. But alas! each relaxing and desperation is an instinct too. To be active, well, happy, implies rare courage. To be ready to fight in a duel or a battle implies desperation, or that you hold your life cheap.—Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, 20 May 1860
How much virtue there is in simply seeing!—Journal, 10 April 1840
How often are we wise as serpents without being harmless as doves!—Journal, 9 February 1851
I had two friends. The one offered me friendship on such terms that I could not accept it, without a sense of degradation.—Journal, 4 March 1856
I have faith that the man who redeemed some acres of land the past summer redeemed also some parts of his character.—Journal, 1 March 1852
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