Character Quotations


The universe seems bankrupt as soon as we begin to discuss the character of individuals. — A Week on the Concord and Merrimack RiversA Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
The vice of manners is that they are continually deserted by the character. They are castoff clothes or shells claiming the respect of the living creature. — Journal, 16 February 1851—Journal, 16 February 1851
The world rests on principles.—Thoreau to H. G. O. Blake, 19 December 1854
There are enough who will flatter me with sweet words, and anon use bitter ones to balance them, but they are not my friends. Simple sincerity and truth are rare indeed.—Journal, 9 September 1852
There are some who never do or say anything, whose life merely excites expectation. Their excellence reaches no further than a gesture or mode of carrying themselves. They are a sash dangling from the waist, or a sculptured war-club over the shoulder. They are like fine-edged tools gradually becoming rusty in a shop-window. I like as well, if not better, to see a piece of iron or steel, out of which many such tools will be made, or the bush-whack in a man’s hand.—Journal, 10 March 1859
They who are ready to go are already invited.—Journal, 2 July 1840
Those things for which the most money is demanded are never the things which the student most wants. Tuition, for instance, is an important item in the term bill, while for the far more valuable education which he gets by associating with the most cultivated of his contemporaries no charge is made.—Walden
Treat your friends for what you know them to be—regard no surfaces. Consider not what they did, but what they intended.—Journal, 31 December 1851
Virtue is incalculable, as it is inestimable. Well, man's destiny is but virtue, or manhood. It is wholly moral, to be learned only by the life of the soul. — Journal, 3 April 1842—Journal, 3 April 1842
Virtue is the deed of the bravest art which demands the greatest confidence and fearlessness. Only some hardy soul ventures upon it. Virtue is a bravery so hardy that it deals in what it has no experience in. — Journal, 1 January 1842—Journal, 1 January 1842
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