"It is a great satisfaction to find that your oldest convictions are permanent. With regard to essentials, I have never had occasion to change my mind. The aspect of the world varies from year to year, as the landscape is differently clothed, but I find that the truth is still true, and I never regret any emphasis which it may have inspired. Ktaadn is there still, but much more surely my old conviction is there, resting with more than mountain breadth and weight on the world, the source still of fertilizing streams, and affording glorious views from its summit, if I can get up to it again. As the mountains still stand on the plain, and far more unchangeable and permanent,--stand still grouped around, farther or nearer to my maturer eye, the ideas which I have entertained,--the everlasting teats from which we draw our nourishment."
"You may rely on it that you have the best of me in my books, and that I am not worth seeing personally, the stuttering, blunderingclod-hopper that I am. Even poetry, you know, is in one sense an infinite brag and exaggeration. Not that I do not stand on all that I have written,--but what am I to the truth I feebly utter?"
"It is a momentous fact that a man may be good, or he may be bad; his life may be true, or it may be false; it may be either a shame or a glory to him. The good man builds himself up; the bad man destroys himself."
"That excitement about Kossuth, consider how characteristic, but superficial, it was!--only another kind of politics or dancing. Men were making speeches to him all over the country, but each expressed only the thought, or the want of thought, of the multitude. No man stood on truth. They were merely banded together, as usual one leaning on another, and all together on nothing."
"I hardly know an intellectual man, even, who is so broad and truly liberal that you can think aloud in his society. Most with whomyou endeavor to talk soon come to a stand against some institution in which they appear to hold stock,--that is, some particular, not universal, way of viewing things. They will continually thrust their own low roof, with its narrow skylight, between you and the sky, when it is the unobstructed heavens you would view."
"In our science and philosophy, even, there is commonly no true and absolute account of things. The spirit of sect and bigotry hasplanted its hoof amid the stars. You have only to discuss the problem, whether the stars are inhabited or not, in order to discover it."
"In short, as a snow-drift is formed where there is a lull in the wind, so, one would say, where there is a lull of truth, an institution springs up. But the truth blows right on over it, nevertheless, and at length blows it down."
"Let us not underrate the value of a fact; it will one day flower in a truth. It is astonishing how few facts of importance are added in a century to the natural history of any animal. The natural history of man himself is still being gradually written."
"Whoever can discern truth has received his commission from a higher source than the chiefest justice in the world who can discernonly law. He finds himself constituted judge of the judge. Strange that it should be necessary to state such simple truths!"
"Knowledge, like matter, [my father] would affirm, was divisible in infinitum;Mthat the grains and scruples were as much a part ofit, as the gravitation of the whole world.--In a word, he would say, error was error,--no matter where it fell,--whether in a fraction,--or a pound,--'twas alike fatal to truth."
"So often has my judgment deceived me in my life, that I always suspect it, right or wrong,--at least I am seldom hot upon cold subjects. For all this, I reverence truth as much as any body; and ... if a man will but take me by the hand, and go quietly and search for it ... I'll go to the world's end with him:MBut I hate disputes."