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—Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, 20 May 1860
Especially the transcendental philosophy needs the leaven of humor to render it light and digestible.—"Thomas Carlyle and His Works"
Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour.—Walden
For a companion, I require one who will make an equal demand on me with my own genius.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Genius is inspired by its own works; it is hermaphroditic.—Journal, 10 October 1858
Genius is the worst of lumber, if the poet would float upon the breeze of popularity.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Go not so far out of your way for a truer life—keep strictly onward in that path alone which your genius points out. Do the things which lie nearest to you but which are difficult to do.—Journal, 12 January 1852
He sketches first, with strong, practical English pencil, the essential features in outline, black on white, more faithfully that Dryasdust would have done, telling us wisely whom and what to mark, to save time, and then with a brush of camel's hair, or sometimes with more expeditious swab, he lays on the bright and fast colors of his humor everywhere. — "Thomas Carlyle and His Works"—"Thomas Carlyle and His Works"