"There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. Observe the ass,for instance: his character is about perfect, he is the choicest spirit among all the humbler animals, yet see what ridicule has brought him to. Instead of feeling complimented when we are called an ass, we are left in doubt."
"White Pond and Walden are great crystals on the surface of the earth, Lakes of Light.... They are too pure to have a market value;they contain no muck. How much more beautiful than our lives, how much more transparent than our characters are they! We never learned meanness of them."
"Men come tamely home at night only from the next field or street, where their household echoes haunt, and their life pines becauseit breathes its own breath over again; their shadows, morning and evening, reach farther than their daily steps. We should come home from far, from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day, with new experience and character."
"Of all the characters I have known, perhaps Walden wears best, and best preserves its purity. Many men have been likened to it, but few deserve that honor. Though the woodchoppers have laid bare first this shore and then that, and the Irish have built their sties by it, and the railroad has infringed on its border, and the ice-men have skimmed it once, it is itself unchanged, the same water which my youthful eyes fell on; all the change is in me."
"Have you not budged an inch, then? Such is the daily news. Its facts appear to float in the atmosphere.... We should wash ourselves clean of such news. Of what consequence, though our planet explode, if there is no character involved in the explosion? In health we have not the least curiosity about such events. We do not live for idle amusement. I would not run round a corner to see the world blow up."
"I often accuse my finest acquaintances of an immense frivolity; for, while there are manners and compliments we do not meet, we donot teach one another the lessons of honesty and sincerity that the brutes do, or of steadiness and solidity that the rocks do. The fault is commonly mutual; however, for we do not habitually demand any more of each other."
"It is the vice, but not the excellence of manners, that they are continually being deserted by the character; they are cast- off clothes or shells, claiming the respect which belonged to the living creature."