I had another friend, who, through a slight obtuseness, perchance, did not recognize a fact which the dignity of friendship would by no means allow me to descend so far as to speak of, and yet the inevitable effect of that ignorance was to hold us apart forever.—Journal, 4 March 1856
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 would remind my countrymen, that they are to be men first, and Americans only at a late and convenient hour. No matter how valuable law may be to protect your property, even to keep soul and body together, if it do not keep you and humanity together.—"Slavery in Massachusetts"
If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets.—Walden
In friendship we worship moral beauty without the formality of religion. —Journal, 1837-1847
It is a momentous fact that a man may be good, or he may be bad; his life may be true, or it may be false; it may be either a shame or a glory to him. The good man builds himself up; the bad man destroys himself. But whatever we do we must do confidently (if we are timid, let us, then, act timidly), not expecting more light, but having light enough. If we confidently expect more, then let us wait for it.—Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, 2 May 1848
It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and the medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.—Walden
It is with science as with ethics,—we cannot know truth by contrivance and method; the Baconian is as false as any other, and with all the helps of machinery and the arts, the most scientific will still be the healthiest and friendliest man, and possess a more perfect Indian wisdom.—"Natural History of Massachusetts"
Man flows at once to God as soon as the channel of purity, physical, intellectual, and moral is open.—Journal, 1850
Man's moral nature is a riddle which only eternity can solve.—Journal, 19 March 1842