Quotes from Walden

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    Profile photo of Bridger Putnam Bridger Putnam 

    Here are my highlights from Walden:

    “Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.”

    “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”

    “No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof.”

    “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

    “Confucius said, ‘To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.'”

    “Birds do not sing in caves, nor do doves cherish their innocence in dovecots.”

    “I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust.” — What was he doing with limestone on his desk???

    “I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

    “Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter? What does architecture amount to in the experience of the mass of men? I never in all my walks came across a man engaged in so simple and natural an occupation as building his house.”

    “This spending of the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it reminds me of the Englishman who went to India to make a fortune first, in order that he might return to England and live the life of a poet.”

    “I am wont to think that men are not so much the keepers of herds as herds are the keepers of men, the former so much the freer.”

    “A simple and independent mind does not toil at the bidding of any prince.”

    “Nations are possessed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave.”

    “One piece of good sense would be more memorable than a monument as high as the moon.”

    “As for the pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs.”

    “Yet men have come to such a pass that they frequently starve, not for want of necessaries, but for want of luxuries.”

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