"BUILDING THOREAU'S CABIN"


A One-Semester Elective Course

1997-1998

Prepared by
Bill Schechter, LSRHS History Department,
with the support of the Seefurth Fund, EDCO (The Educational Collaborative for Greater Boston),
S.E.R.F. (Sudbury Education Resources Fund), and the Thoreau Institute


Updated: October 25, 1997
Maintained by Jed Winer


This is the curriculum given to the students enrolled in the Thoreau's Cabin project. Pages currently available on this site are linked and the rest will be put up soon:

See text from class discussions that took place in September.

New! ... Sidewalk Superintendent feature: pictures of how cabin contruction is progressing.


PREFACE FOR TEACHERS

This is the curriculum for an unusual course about Thoreau, to be taught in the 1997 fall semester at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, in Sudbury, Ma.

The course is unusual in several respects and this explains the approach taken in the pages that follow. The centerpiece of the course is the construction of a full-scale replica of Thoreau's cabin in one of the school's courtyards. This elective course will meet two, 75-minute periods a week. Because of weather considerations, construction must be completed by Thanksgiving. Throughout the semester, but especially toward the end, there will be an academic component to the course, introducing students to the life and ideas of Thoreau. Students will also be given the opportunity to participate in various "Thoreauvian experiences."

Because of time limitations, and because the course is an elective taken in addition to a student's full load of academic classes, fewer assignments can be given. In addition, the academic dimension of the course is complicated by the fact that the range of students in the class will be more heterogeneous than is usual. Enrolled in the class will be some very strong academic students as well those in the vocational track at the school.

Because of these factors, and the general lack of continuity available, each academic lesson will have to stand on its own and represent a quick foray into matters Thoreau. Students will also be given a form of Thoreau insurance: two copies of most readings, the original and an abridged version.

Bill Schechter

History Dept.

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"BUILDING THOREAU'S CABIN"

Introduction

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." (Walden)

This course involves building a replica of a simple wooden cabin as well as exploring the mind of the man--Henry David Thoreau--who constructed the original structure on the shores of Walden Pond, one-hundred and fifty-two years ago.

The construction of the cabin will follow the blueprints of the National Park Service which are in turn based on Thoreau's own detailed description in his famous book Walden. Insofar as possible, we will build the cabin using his methods. It's our hope that this aspect of the course will teach you something about working with your hands and the use of tools, facilities that helped Thoreau to earn a living and to shape the way he saw the world. The schedule for construction will be irregular, somewhat dependent on weather and other plans for the class. To help control noise in the courtyard, some fabrication and assembly will be done in the wood shop. We hope to complete the main aspects of construction by Thanksgiving, after which it will become too cold to do much work outdoors. We'll still be able to do some finish work on the inside of the cabin after that date.

Building the cabin will proceed in tandem with the other main goal of the course: exploring Thoreau's insights into nature, society, and the individual human experience. As you will see, Thoreau thought deeply and widely about environmental, philosophical, spiritual, and social issues. His thinking may enrich your own understanding of the world.

Texts: Thoreau In Print

"I wish to speak a word for nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil..." (Walking)

Each of you will receive three volumes: Civil Disobedience and Other Essays, Walden, and The Heart of Thoreau's Journals. In addition to these, you will receive some famous quotations drawn from Thoreau's work. Together, these will constitute the reading for the class.

For several of the essays assigned, you will also receive xeroxed abridgements. For these, you will have the choice of reading the edited versions or the originals. You can feel free to highlight the xeroxes or the books, but you will have to buy the latter at the end of the year. They are cheap, however, costing only $1, $2 , and $7 apiece, respectively.

The reason for the edited versions is as follows. While some of Thoreau's writings are very accessible, others can be difficult for the modern reader. His writing style can be very convoluted, with sentences branching out into clause upon clause, almost like a miniature river system. Thoreau was well-read and received a classical education at Harvard. Most of the references he makes to classical history and mythology have become rather obscure. Finally, in his writings, as in the woods, Thoreau liked to "saunter": to wander from subject to related subject. His wandering is never aimless, and often helps make important connections between the natural and social worlds. But the central meaning of his texts can still be appreciated in a shortened form.

In the abridged versions, the writing is all Thoreau's. There is no paraphrasing, but some of the classical references and secondary points have been edited out, shortening the essays by up to a third. You will always have the unedited version to see what has been cut. Most important is to read Thoreau and to see this semester as an introduction to his thought. Less important is which version you choose. It may be that you'll find the abridged versions more enjoyable and return to the original ones later in your life. That's fine.

For each reading (whether an essay, a journal selection, or a quotation), you will receive suggested questions to help you focus your own reflections. You will have no essays to write, but your thoughts must be recorded in a journal. It's important do the readings and journal entries by the assigned dates, because we will have formal discussions. (More about your journal below).

Though many students associate Thoreau with just a few essays, he kept a journal for his entire adult life. Ultimately, it grew to fourteen volumes and over two million words. This journal provided the material for most of his lectures and more formal writings. A definitive, scholarly edition of all of Thoreau's work is currently being prepared for publication and it will run to almost thirty volumes when completed.

Because Thoreau derived many of his ideas from direct and deliberate experience (boating on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, living at Walden Pond, "sauntering," helping fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad, observing nature, etc) reading his books can take you only so far in understanding the man. This is where the last part of the course comes in.

Thoreauvian Experiences

"Must be out-of-doors enough to get experience of wholesome reality, as a ballast to thought and sentiment." (Nov. 4, 1852)

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"So there is one thought for the field, another for the house. I would have my thoughts, like wild apples, to be food for walkers, and will not warrant them to be palatable, if tasted in the house." (Wild Apples)

In order to stimulate your own original reflections on nature and society, the course will involve experiences important to Thoreau. Though we probably won't be able to do everything on the list below (at least during regular school hours) we'll try to do as much as possible:

Of course, the significance of these experiences will become more apparent as you read more of Thoreau.

Taking A Stand

"Oh for a man who is a man, and, as my neighbor says, has a bone in his back, which you cannot pass your hand through!" (Civil Disobedience)

Thoreau not only sat down to write, he also stood up to take positions on the important issues of his time. He wrote and spoke against slavery, and also served as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. He refused to pay taxes to a government which, it seemed to him, was waging a pro-slavery war against Mexico. His defense of nature helped to inspire, many decades later, an American environmental movement, and he anticipated the idea of national parks. In his writings and through the example of his life, he denounced "lives without principle."

During this course, we will ask you to take a stand on an issue you feel compelling. You will hear more about this as the course proceeds. Also, as a class, we will investigate land use and development issues in Sudbury which threaten some of the beautiful landscape --such as Nobscot Mountain--that attracted Thoreau's notice. Can a town thrive and still protect its natural environment?

After The Cabin

In addition to serving as a visible reminder of Thoreau's credo, 'Simplify, simplify...," the cabin will also be available to students and staff who would like to experience the solitude which the cabin offers. It may also serve, during fall and spring, as a center for the peer mediation program.

After the cabin is completed, there will be a few indoor construction projects to finish. We want to build benches so that the area around the cabin can be used as an outdoor classroom. Insofar as possible, we would also like to build reproductions of the furniture in the cabin. The Concord Museum, which owns the artifacts, will provide us with the measurements.

After Thanksgiving, we will also have time to invite some of the many Thoreau experts in the area to speak to us.

Finally, if time permits and the requisite enthusiasm is present, we can bring the course to a very dramatic conclusion (literally) by putting on a production of the well-known play, 'The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail" for the school community. While the number of roles are limited, there would be opportunities to help build sets, assist with directing, costumes, advertising, ticket sales, etc.

The Journal

"'What are you doing now,' he asked. 'Do you keep a journal?' So I make my first entry today." (Oct.. 22, 1837)

It would be very helpful if you would keep a copy of your journal on a disk. If this isn't possible, long-hand will do. If the journals are to have any personal or educational value, it is important that they be written sincerely and thoughtfully. This is more important than length. It would not be useful if you approached the journal writing as a task to complete an hour before class. Apart from the readings, you will also be expected to react to the class-wide "Thoreauvian experiences." Reflections on your own life, your perceptions of

L-S, the country, and the world would also be much appreciated.

There will be no exams or formal papers required in this class. Your grade will depend on the quality of your involvement in all class activities, and the fullness and depth of your journal.

Documentation

"How vain to try to teach youth, or anyone, truths! They can only learn them out of their own fashion, and when they get ready...A man thinks as well through his legs and arms as his brain. We exaggerate the importance of the headquarters." (Dec. 31, 1860)

In the way that it brings together head and hand, this course is unusual.We believe that this kind of curriculum could inspire new courses in the future. For this reason, as well as the interest the school community will have in following our progress, we would like to find as many ways as possible to document the course. Here are some suggestions:

Are there those among you who would like to take responsibility for one of the above?

An Unusual Opportunity. Enjoy It.

"I have travelled a great deal in Concord..." (Walden) "I have never got over my surprise that I should have been born into the most estimable place in all the world, and in the very nick of time, too." (Dec. 5, 1856)

This course would not have been possible without the financial and educational support of three groups: The Seefurth Foundation, The Sudbury Education Resource Fund (S.E.R.F.), and The Thoreau Society.

Beyond the good fortune of receiving this support, we should be thankful for the opportunity to study Thoreau in the very area which gave him birth and which shaped his outlook on life.

To study Thoreau in the Concord/ Lincoln/Sudbury area is like having the chance to study the Industrial Revolution in Lowell, the Civil War in Gettysburg, the Great Depression in Oklahoma, or the sixties in Haight/Ashbury.

We embark on our course on Thoreau 150 years (possibly) to the day of his departure from Walden Pond, two years, two months, and two days after he first came there "to front the essential questions of life."

We hope that this course serves as the beginning of a lifetime encounter with Henry David Thoreau. So let's begin our "journey to Walden."

You too are in just the right place--and in the nick of time.

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An Introduction to Transcendentalism

YOUR VIEWS ON NATURE AND RELIGION

1. How can one find truth and, specifically, the meaning of life? Can you find it by reasoning? How would you define "reason"?

2. What is the relationship between these two words: "religion" and "spirituality"? Are they the same?

3. If you belive in God, how do you understand the problem of salvation? How does one find God? How is one to be "saved"? How does one find a place in Heaven?

4. Have you ever had a "religious experience"? Where and when?

5. How would you describe your own personal relationship to nature?

6. Do you support the current environment movement? If so, why?

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A brief sketch of

Transcendentalism

There is no understanding Henry David Thoreau--the source of his inspiration and the rationale for his life's work--without appreciating the ideas that shaped his view of the world.

Thoreau was a self-described "transcendentalist," one of a group of influential New England writers shaped by the intellectual movement of the same name. By the time of his graduation from Harvard, Thoreau had been introduced to transcendentalist ideas by his mentor and Concord neighbor, the eminent Concord writer Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The American transcendentalist movement, itself part of the broader 19th Century European Romantic movement, was inspired by the publication of Emerson's essay, "Nature" in 1836 and "Self-Reliance" in 1841. Like other Romantics, American transcendentalists rejected the prevailing "philosophy of empiricism" which held that all knowledge comes from experience, from information acquired by the fives senses and the intellectual capacity to reason.

While transcendentalists agreed that knowledge of the physical environment (or "matter") was acquired this way, they asserted that each and every individual could also learn about a higher reality, the "world of the spirit," through an inborn power. Known as common sense or "intuition," this trans-scendental power functioned above and beyond the five senses. The faculty of "intuition" provided every person with their own ability to know what is absolutely true.

Transcendentalists saw nature not only as beautiful, but as a reflection of divinity--literally, the face of God. They believed that the "macrocosm" (the universe) and the "microcosm" (the individual) were directly connected. Both also contained the divine, as well as all other objects, animate and inanimate. They believed that the purpose of human life was union with the so-called "over-soul" which embraced--and was reflected in-- everything in the world. People could develop their potential by immersing themselves in the beauty of the natural world. Beauty and truth could be experienced only through intuition, though careful observation of nature might help to uncover its laws and provide a glimpse into the divine.

Though transcendentalists were preoccupied with the "world of spirit," they tended to be anti-religious, that is, they felt that organized churches obstructed the individual's relationship to God. They felt that the authority of organized religion needed to be rejected and that people needed to find God within themselves, through the power of "intuition." In pursuit of this divine knowledge, seekers needed to be prepared to resist accepted social codes and customs. Truth could be found in nature and within one's self. Self-reliance and individuality--not obedience to outside authority--were the pathways to self-understanding and to the divine. Only by being true to one's spiritual quest, by being prepared to really "see" nature around and within one's self and to "listen" to one's intuitive power, could one find the truth--and God.

[This sketch relies heavily on the Encarta (1995) and World Book (1997) Electronic Encyclopedias for content and some phrasing.]

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HENRY DAVID THOREAU
1817-1862

"I am a Schoolmaster--a private Tutor, a Surveyor--a Gardener, a Farmer--a Painter, I mean a House Painter, A Carpenter, a Mason, a Day-Laborer, a Pencil-Maker, a Glass-paper Maker, a Writer, and sometimes a Poetaster [an inferior poet]"

No summary of a few pages can do justice to Thoreau's life. His own attempts, in his Journal, to record the meanderings of his mind ran to two million words and fourteen volumes. For those of you who might like to read a more complete biography of Thoreau, I would recommend The Days of Henry Thoreau by Walter Harding.

Thoreau was born in 1817, in Concord, Mass. For the next five years, his family moved around the area while his father searched for a way to make a living. In 1823, the family returned to Concord and the father settled into work as a pencil-maker. This business would eventually bring the family a measure of prosperity, with the help of the youngest son who helped invent new machines and processes for making pencils. David Henry (which he later changed to "Henry David") entered Harvard University in 1833, where the president chose to remind him that "You have barely got in." He did well enough at school, but was something less than a social success. His classmates found him cold, detached, and somewhat strange. For his part, Thoreau found his Harvard experience very forgettable, except for use of the school's library. Even after he graduated, he successfully fought for the right to keep his borrowing privileges.

Like even recent college graduates, Thoreau was unsure about his place in the world. Having done some teaching during his college years, he thought the classroom might be a hospitable place and accepted a job in the Concord public schools. He didn't last long. The school administration pressured him over his failure to apply corporal punishment to his students. Thoreau, who believed that education should be a pleasant experience for teachers and students, became disgusted. He chose six students at random, gave them a whack, and then wrote his letter of resignation to the Concord school committee, saying, basically, "OK, are you happy?" So much for public school teaching.

A year later, Thoreau opened his own school in Concord with his older brother John. The school seemed a success and earned the affections of its students. But this venture too came to an end after several years when his brother died of the same disease that would later claim his life, tuberculosis.

Though Thoreau would occasionally work as a tutor, his classroom teaching career was over.

In searching for a way to live--and to make a living, Thoreau did not have to look far. In Concord, he found an important mentor and patron: Ralph Waldo Emerson. By this time, Emerson--the latest in a line of ministers from an influential Concord family--had become one of America's most celebrated writers. His transcendental essays had inspired an intellectual movement and had made Concord its hub. This is one reason Thoreau spoke of being fortunate to have been raised in the town, and to have been born there "in the very nick of time." In Emerson, Thoreau found an example of an intellectual who made his living by lecturing and writing. In his transcendental philosophy, Thoreau found ideas which imparted a deeper purpose to his long-time interest in nature and which defined his life's purpose. It was also Emerson who suggested to Thoreau that he keep a journal.

By 1839, the landmarks in Thoreau's life are less outward events and more his literary work and intellectual explorations. In that year, Thoreau and his brother make a trip on local rivers, and this forms the basis of his first major work, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack. He begins to lecture at the Concord Lyceum. He publishes some magazine articles. Through it all, even as he moves from occupation to occupation, finally settling into surveying, he continues his most important work: sauntering through the fields and forests of Concord (and Lincoln and Sudbury!), studying nature, and finding in it important insights into life, society, and the higher purposes of the "the divine." His observations and reflections found their way into his journal, and from this record came his better known essays and lectures.

On July 4, 1845, Thoreau initiated his most deliberate experiment, building a simple cabin on the shores of Walden Pond and residing there for two years, two months, and two days. There he lived on close terms with nature, seeing what lessons it had to teach about the fundamental questions of human existence. He ultimately leaves because, simply, the time had come and "he had other lives to live." The story of his experiment can be found in his most famous essay, Walden which, with his other work, helped to develop an environmental consciousness in America.

Thoreau's idyllic Walden years were interrupted by a brief but famous stay in the Concord jail, following his arrest for refusing to pay taxes. He felt that he could not in good conscience help to finance the government's war on Mexico, which he believed would result in the expansion of slavery. Though his jailing lasted only one night (thanks to an anonymous samaritan who paid his fine--much to Thoreau's disgust!), the reverberations of this event would echo through the Twentieth Century. It would inspire Thoreau's essay On Civil Disobedience in which he argued that the individual human conscience was superior to any system of law. His political ideas would also profoundly influence the thinking of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1859, Thoreau entered the public political arena once again, coming to the defense of militant abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau's willingness to speak out--loudly, clearly, and repeatedly-- against slavery distinguished him from many in his transcendental circle of friends.

To the end of his life, Thoreau continued to "travel a great deal in Concord," studying its people, its fauna and flora. He also made important excursions to the Maine woods, to Cape Cod, and to the White Mountains.He became one of our great natural scientists (he would have preferred the term "natural historian"), and was the second person in the United States to read Darwin's Origin of Species. He came to support Darwin's theory about evolution and, in one of his last works (just recently published), Thoreau showed how it operated through the dispersion of seeds and forest succession.

Throughout his life, Henry Thoreau "marched to a different drummer," refusing to accept the social conventions and values of his neighbors that didn't make sense to him. In his walks, in his writing, in his political stands, he went his own way, trying to live a life of serious purpose and uncompromising principle.

Though he considered himself a poet, he never wrote the great verse he had hoped to. Perhaps he explained his own failure best:

"My life has been the poem I could have writ, But I could not both live and utter it."

He died on May 6, 1862, at the age of 44. In his eulogy, Emerson said that "no truer American existed than Thoreau" and that "the country does not know yet...how great a son it has lost." Here history provides a happier ending, for Thoreau's fame and importance has grown greatly since his time, receiving a large boost of appreciation during the 1960's. And in our own confusing times, on our own poor, polluted planet, it is still growing, as people continue to turn to the brilliant, eccentric mind of that Concord mystic to help illuminate the way ahead.

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READING QUESTIONS

(FOR DISCUSSIONS & JOURNAL)

On Civil Disobedience

1. You have been taught to follow the rules and obey the law. How does Thoreau argue against this?

2. Why did Thoreau believe the right to revolution was applicable in his time?

3. What moral obligation does he believe every citizen has? How does this apply to your own life? Does it?

4. What does Thoreau mean when he says, "Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine"?

5. How does he think that a just minority can work its will?

6. Do you agree with Thoreau's theory of civil disobedience, and his general view about the proper relationship between the government and the individual?

A Plea for Captain John Brown

1. How do Thoreau's neighbors and the newspapers characterize Brown?

2. How does Thoreau characterize him?

3. How does Brown illuminate, for Thoreau, the role of the individual in history? In what ways does Brown fulfill Thoreau's ideal of heroism? Does he fulfill your definition? Why or why not?

4. In what context does Thoreau mention Christ and the "divine"?

5. What position does Thoreau take regarding violence?

6. Is this article relevant to society today? To you? Is Thoreau too hard on people, in terms of expecting them to take action against social injustice?

Walking

1. How do you interpret the meaning of the first paragraph?

2. What adjective would you apply to his attitude toward walking, and how does he contrast himself with his neighbors?

3. Why "walk like a camel"?

4. What, according to him, are the preconditions (or requirements) for taking a good walk?

5. He took many walks in Sudbury during his lifetime. Could he take a good walk in Sudbury today?

6. Why, when he walks, is he drawn to the west?

7. Why does he think that "in wildness is the preservation of the world"? What is the main argument this essay?

8. Why does he call for a "Society for the Diffusion of Useful Ignorance"?

9. Why is his play on words with "sauntering" a key to the meaning of the piece?

10 What impact, if any, did this piece have on you?

Life Without Principle

1. In what way do many in society live without principle, according to Thoreau? How would he have them look at life differently?

2. Why is he so critical of those who have participated in the California gold rush? What kind of mining does he approve of?

3. In what ways does he find our culture shallow (see pages 5 &6)? Is any of this still relevant?

4. Does he state or imply a remedy? Is a remedy needed today? If so, what? Questions for Walden, and the creation of an abridged version will completed by the end of the summer.

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A SELECTION OF THOREAU QUOTATIONS

(FOR REFLECTION & THE JOURNAL)

This is a compilation of quotations from Thoreau's journals and essays. They can be used for your journal-writing when a "quotation assignment" is given:

My profession is to always be on the alert to find God in nature, to know his lurking places, to attend all the oratorios, the operas, in nature.

I went to the wood because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Man is the artificer of his own happiness.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

...[A]ny man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.

For an impenetrable shield, stand inside yourself.

Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birthright for a mess of pottage.

Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count a half a dozen , and keep you accounts on your thumb-nail.

The ways by which you get money almost without exception lead downward.To have done anything by which you earned money merely is to have been truly idle or worse.

Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.

In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they shall fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.

I wish to live ever as to derive my satisfactions and inspirations from the commonest events, every-day phenomena, so that what my senses hourly perceive, my daily walk, the conversation of my neighbors, may inspire me, and I may dream of no heaven but that which lies around me.

It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silences passes by as true today may turn out to be falsehood tomorrow, mere smoke of opinion...What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.

Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven.

In a pleasant spring morning all men's sins are forgiven. Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors.

I do not know how to distinguish between our waking life and a dream. Are we not always living the life that we imagine we are?

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. A man has not everything to do, but something: and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary he should do something wrong.

We are double-edged blades, and every time we whet our virtue the return stroke strops our vice.

As for conforming outwardly, and living your own life inwardly, I do not think much of that. When you get God to pulling one way, and the devil the other, each having his feet well-braced--to say nothing of the conscience sawing transversely--almost any timber will give way.

In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand at the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant? We should live in all the ages of the world in an hour; ay, in all the worlds of the ages. History! Poetry! Mythology!--I know of no reading of another's experience so startling and informing as this would be.

...[A] man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.

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

I suspect that the child plucks his first flower with an insight into its beauty and significance which the subsequent botanist never retains.

In wildness is the preservation of the world.

The use of the rainbow, who has described it?

Nothing stands up more free from blame in the world than a pine tree.

When I hear a robin sing at sunset, I cannot help contrast the magnanimity of nature with the bustle and impatience of man.

I must live above all in the present.

Any melodious sound apprises me of the infinite wealth of God.

There is a chasm between knowledge and ignorance which the arches of science can never span.

All wisdom is the reward of a discipline, conscious or unconscious.

What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

What is religion? That which is never spoken.

How prompt we are to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our bodies; how slow to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our souls.We cannot do well without our sins; they are the highway of our virtue.

Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe.

Truth is always paradoxical.

You conquer fate by thought.

In proportion as he simplifies his life, the law of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, no weakness weakness.

If a man were to place himself in an attitude to bear manfully the greatest evil that can be inflicted on him, he would find suddenly that there was no such evil to bear, his brave back would go a begging.

A brave man always knows the way, no matter how intricate the roads.

Fear creates danger, and courage dispels it.

Take time by the forelock. Now or never. You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, and find eternity in every moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this, or the like of this.

Do not stop to be scared yet; there are more terrible things to come, and ever to come. Men die of fright and live of confidence.

We all all stand in the front ranks of battle every moment of our lives; where there is a brave man, there is the thicket of the fight, there is the post of honor.

The universe expects every man to do his duty in his parallel of latitude.

Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rail. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation let company come and company go, let the bells ring and children cry--determined to make a day of it. Why should we knock under and go with the stream.

When we are unhurried and wise we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence--that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of reality. This is always exhilarating and sublime.

Drifting in a sultry day on the sluggish waters of the pond, I almost cease to live and begin to be.

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.

I know that I am. I know that another who knows more than I, who takes an interest in me, whose creature, and yet whose kindred in one sense, I am. I know that the enterprise is worthy. I know that things work well. I have heard no bad news. In order to avoid delusions, I would fain let man go and behold a universe in which man is but as a grain of sand.

How much of beauty--of color, as well as form--on which our eyes daily rest goes unperceived by us!

If you have built your castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

The question is not what you look at, but what you see.

I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to lead the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

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