Self Quotations


If I am not I, who will be?

Journal, 9 August 1841

I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else I knew as well.


I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.

Civil Disobedience 

My greatest skill has been to want but little.

Journal, 19 July 1851

I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion.

Civil Disobedience

Ah, that l have known! How hard it is to remember what is most memorable! We remember how we itched, not how our hearts beat.

Journal, 11 June 1851

I went to the woods because I wish to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Sparten-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.


I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.


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