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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Thoreau
 
  A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend.  1
  As all curves have reference to their centres or foci, so all beauty of character has reference to the soul, and is a graceful gesture of recognition or waving of the body toward it.  2
  As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.  3
  At death our friends and relatives either draw nearer to us and are found out, or depart farther from us and are forgotten. Friends are as often brought nearer together as separated by death.  4
  Be not simply good; be good for something.  5
  Books that are books are all that you want, and there are but half a dozen in any thousand.  6
  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.  7
  Decay and disease are often beautiful, like the pearly tear of the shellfish and the hectic glow of consumption.  8
  Did you ever hear of a man who had striven all his life faithfully and singly towards an object, and in mo measure obtained it? If a man constantly aspires, is he not elevated? Did ever a man try heroism, magnanimity, truth, sincerity, and find that there was no advantage in them—that it was a vain endeavor?  9
  Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.  10
  Duty is one and invariable: it requires no impossibilities, nor can it ever be disregarded with impunity.  11
  Even the best things are not equal to their fame.  12
  Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.  13
  Every leaf and twig was  *  *  *  covered with a sparkling ice armor. Even the grasses in exposed fields were hung with innumerable diamond pendants, which jingled merrily when brushed by the foot of the traveler.  *  *  *  It was as if some superincumbent stratum of the earth had been removed in the night, exposing to light a bed of untarnished crystals.  14
  Every sentence is the result of a long probation. The author’s character is read from title-page to end.  15
  Faith keeps many doubts in her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe.  16
  Friendship is the unspeakable joy and blessing that result to two or more individuals who from constitution sympathize. Such natures are liable to no mistakes, but will know each other through thick and thin. Between two by nature alike and fitted to sympathize, there is no veil, and there can be no obstacle. Who are the estranged? Two friends explaining.  17
  Genius is only as rich as it is generous. If it hoards, it impoverishes itself. What the banker sighs for, the meanest clown may have—leisure and a quiet mind.  18
  Goodness is the only investment that never fails.  19
  Homeliness is almost as great a merit in a book as in a house, if the reader would abide there. It is next to beauty, and a very high art.  20
 
 
  Humility, like darkness, reveals the heavenly lights.  21
  I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely; as the pursuits of the simpler nations are still the sports of the more artificial.  22
  I do not know at first what it is that charms me. The men and things of to-day are wont to be fairer and truer in to-morrow’s memory.  23
  I have myself to respect, but to myself I am not amiable; but my friend is my amiableness personified.  24
  I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.  25
  I saw a delicate flower had grown up two feet high between the horse’s path and the wheel track. An inch more to the right or left had sealed its fate, or an inch higher; and yet it lived to flourish as much as if it had a thousand acres of untrodden space around it, and never knew the danger it incurred. It did not borrow trouble, nor invite an evil fate by apprehending it.  26
  I think we may safely trust a good deal more than we do.  27
  I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than to be crowded on a velvet cushion.  28
  If we see nature as pausing, immediately all mortifies and decays; but seen as progressing, she is beautiful.  29
  If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.  30
  Impulse is, after all, the best linguist; its logic, if not conformable to Aristotle, cannot fail to be most convincing.  31
  In ancient days the Pythagoreans were used to change names with each other,—fancying that each would share the virtues they admired in the other.  32
  It is a natural resurrection, an experience of immortality.  33
  It is tranquil people who accomplish much.  34
  Let a man take time enough for the most trivial deed, though it be but the paring of his nails. The buds swell imperceptibly, without hurry or confusion,—as if the short spring days were an eternity.  35
  Let Harlequin be taken with a fit of the colic, and his trappings will have to serve that mood too.  36
  Love must be as much a light as a flame.  37
  Man is the artificer of his own happiness.  38
  Man’s moral nature is a riddle which only eternity can solve.  39
  Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature, if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you, know that the morning and spring of your life are past.  40
  Men are probably nearer to the essential truth in their superstitions than in their science.  41
  Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.  42
  No man ever stood lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes; yet I am sure there is greater anxiety to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience. I sometimes try my acquaintances by some such test as this—who could wear a patch, or two extra seams only, over the knee.  43
  Not by constraint or severity shall you have access to true wisdom, but by abandonment and childlike mirthfulness.  44
  Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.  45
  Nothing more strikingly betrays the credulity of mankind than medicine. Quackery is a thing universal, and universally successful. In this case it becomes literally true that no imposition is too great for the credulity of men.  46
  October is the month for painted leaves.  *  *  *  As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight.  47
  Only that traveling is good which reveals to me the value of home, and enables me to enjoy it better.  48
  Our sadness is not sad, but our cheap joys.  49
  Our science, so called, is always more barren and mixed with error than our sympathies.  50
  Our whole life is startlingly moral. There is never an instant’s truce between virtue and vice. Goodness is the only investment that never fails.  51
  Shall not a man have his spring as well as the plants?  52
  Simplicity is the law of Nature for man as well as for flowers. When the tapestry (corolla) of the nuptial bed (calyx) is excessive, luxuriant, it is unproductive. The fertile flowers are single, not double.  53
  Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge college is as solitary as a dervis in the desert.  54
  Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.  55
  That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.  56
  That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another’s. We see so much only as we possess.  57
  The church is a sort of hospital for men’s souls, and as full of quackery as the hospital for their bodies. Those who are taken into it live like pensioners in their Retreat or Sailors’ Snug Harbor, where you may see a row of religious cripples sitting outside in sunny weather.  58
  The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling.  59
  The friend asks no return but that his friend will religiously accept and wear, and not disgrace, his apotheosis of him.  60
  The greatest and saddest defect is not credulity, but an habitual forgetfulness that our science is ignorance.  61
  The heavens are as deep as our aspirations are high.  62
  The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?  63
  The present hour is always wealthiest when it is poorer than the future ones, as that is the pleasantest site which affords the pleasantest prospect.  64
  The very thrills of genius are disorganizing. The body is never quite acclimated to its atmosphere, but how often succumbs and goes into a decline.  65
  There are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.  66
  There is more of good nature than of good sense at the bottom of most marriages.  67
  There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. It is human, it is divine carrion.  68
  There is no rule more invariable than that we are paid for our suspicions by finding what we suspect.  69
  There may be something petty in a refined taste; it easily degenerates into effeminacy. It does not consider the broadest use. It is not content with simple good and bad, and so is fastidious and curious or nice only.  70
  Time is but a stream I go a fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom, and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper, fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars.  71
  Truth never turns to rebuke falsehood; her own straightforwardness is the severest correction.  72
  We are all of us more or less active physiognomists.  73
  We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man’s features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them.  74
  We are ashamed of our fear; for we know that a righteous man would not suspect danger nor incur any. Wherever a man feels fear, there is an avenger.  75
  We are not that we are, nor do we treat or esteem each other for such, but for that we are capable of being.  76
  We inspire friendship in men when we have contracted friendship with the gods.  77
  We only need to be as true to others as we are to ourselves, that there may be grounds enough for friendship.  78
  We perceive and are affected by changes too subtle to be described.  79
  Wealth cannot purchase any great private solace or convenience. Riches are only the means of sociality.  80
  What is commonly called friendship even is only a little more honor among rogues.  81
  Whatever your sex or position, life is a battle in which you are to show your pluck; and woe be to the coward! Whether passed on a bed of sickness or a tented field, it is ever the same fair play, and admits no foolish distinctions. Despair and postponement are cowardice and defeat. Men were born to succeed, not to fail.  82
  When a soldier is hit by a cannonball, rags are as becoming as purple.  83
  When I would go a-visiting, I find that I go off the fashionable street,—not being inclined to change my dress,—to where man meets man, and not polished shoe meets shoe.  84
  Would the face of nature be so serene and beautiful if man’s destiny were not equally so.  85
  You must have a genius for charity as well as for anything else.  86
 
 
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