That government is best which governs least. - from Civil Disobedience.

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

Profession: Author
Nationality: American

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Nor is it every apple I desire, Nor that which pleases every palate best; 'T is not the lasting Deuxan I require, Nor yet the red-cheeked Greening I request, Nor that which first beshrewed the name of wife, Nor that whose beauty caused the golden strife: No, no! bring me an apple from the tree of life.

We are all poor in respect to a thousand savage comforts, though surrounded by luxuries...for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.

We shall see but a little way if we require to understand what we see.

To many creatures there is in this sense but one necessary of life, Food.

'Tis healthy to be sick sometimes.

Others, craven-hearted, said disparagingly, that "he threw his life away," because he resisted the government. Which way have they thrown their lives, pray?—Such.

When it is time to die, let us not discover that we never lived.

The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions; whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for us. Let us spend our lives in conceiving then.

There is just as much beauty visible to us in the landscape as we are prepared to appreciate, and not a grain more. ... A man sees only what concerns him.

In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference.

However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.

Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.

We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will.

So thoroughly and sincerely are we compelled to live, reverencing our life, and denying the possibility of change. This is the only way, we say; but there are as many ways as there can be drawn radii from one centre.