The Henry D. Thoreau Mis-Quotation Page
|This page is devoted to those quotations either misquoted or erroneously attributed to Henry D. Thoreau|
Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.
Misattribution. By the poet, novelist and editor, John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890). Although the words appear as above in several collections of quotations and axioms, the line should read “Be true to your word and your work and your friend” as published in his poem, “Rules of the Road” in The Life of John Boyle O’Reilly by James Jeffrey Roche, together with his complete poems and speeches edited by Mrs. John Boyle O’Reilly (New York: Cassell Publishing Co., 1891) p. 533:
Be silent and safe — silence never betrays you;
Be true to your word and your work and your friend;
Put least trust in him who is foremost to praise you,
Nor judge of a road till it draw to the end.
|In wildess is the salvation of the world.
Misquotation. By Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There (London: Oxford University Press, 1949) p. 133, in which he wrote: "Perhaps this is behind Thoreau's dictum: In wildness is the salvation of the world."
From Thoreau's essay, "Walking": “The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the world.”
In wilderness is the preservation of the world.
Misquotation. From Thoreau's essay, "Walking": “The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the world.”
It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?
Variant: It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
Misquotation. From Thoreau's letter to his friend, H.G.O. Blake, on 16 November 1857: “It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the
life you have imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the
universe will be simpler.
Misquotation. From Thoreau's Walden: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. . . . In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness."
Friends are kind to each other's hopes, they cherish each other's dreams.|
Misquotation. From the "Wednesday" chapter of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers: “The Friend asks no return but that his Friend will religiously accept and wear and not disgrace his apotheosis of him. They cherish each other’s hopes. They are kind to each other’s dreams.”