Quotations by Emerson, Ralph Waldo


Ideas must work through the brains and the arms of good and brave men, or they are no better than dreams.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“American Civilization,” lecture, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (31 Jan 1862)
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Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Art,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Art,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Gross and obscure natures, however decorated, seem impure shambles; but character gives splendor to youth, and awe to wrinkled skin and gray hairs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Beauty,” The Conduct of Life (1860)
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What we have learned from others becomes our own by reflection.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Blotting Book 1,” (1826-1827)
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Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a thousand years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Books,” Society and Solitude (1870)
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We grant no dukedoms to the few,
We hold like rights and shall; —
Equal on Sunday in the pew,
On Monday in the mall.
For what avail the plough or sail,
Or land or life, if freedom fail?

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Boston” (1873)

Written and read for the 100th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.
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We boast our emancipation from many superstitions; but if we have broken any idols, it is through a transfer of idolatry. What have I gained, that I no longer immolate a bull to Jove or to Neptune, or a mouse to Hecate; that I do not tremble before the Eumenides, or the Catholic Purgatory, or the Calvinistic Judgment-day, — if I quake at opinion, the public opinion as we call it; or at the threat of assault, or contumely, or bad neighbors, or poverty, or mutilation, or at the rumor of revolution, or of murder? If I quake, what matters it what I quake at?

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Character,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Character,” Lectures and Biographical Sketches (1883)
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The virtues of society are the vices of the saint. The terror of reform is the discovery that we must cast away our virtues, or what we have always esteemed such, into the same pit that has consumed our grosser vices.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Circles,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Circles,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there is any hope for them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Circles,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Friendship, like the immortality of the soul, is too good to be believed.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Compensation,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Experienced men of the world know very well that it is best to pay scot and lot as they go along, and that a man often pays dear for a small frugality.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Compensation,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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In general, every evil to which we do not succumb is a benefactor. As the Sandwich Islander believes that the strength and valor of the enemy he kills passes into himself, so we gain the strength of the temptation we resist.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Compensation,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Most of the great results of history are brought about by discreditable means.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Considerations Along the Way,” The Conduct of Life (1860)
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Our chief want in life is someone who shall make us do what we can. This is the service of a friend. With him we are easily great.

Emerson - chief want in life - wist_info quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Considerations by the Way,” The Conduct of Life (1860)
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We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Considerations by the Way,” The Conduct of Life (1860)
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We acquire the strength we have overcome.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Considerations by the Way,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 7 (1860)
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The music that can deepest reach,
And cure all ill, is cordial speech.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Considerations by the Way,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 7 (1860)
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A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Culture,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 4 (1860)
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The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it. There is no event greater in life than the appearance of new persons about our hearth, except it be the progress of the character which draws them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Domestic Life,” Society and Solitude (1870)
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The opium of custom, whereof all drink and many go mad.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Education,” Lectures and Biographical Sketches (1883)
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If you would lift me, you must be on higher ground.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Eloquence,” Atlantic Monthly (Sep 1858)
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Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Eloquence,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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There is no calamity that right words will not begin to redress.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Eloquence,” Representative Men, Lecture 3 (1850)
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We boil at different degrees.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Eloquence,” Silence and Solitude (1870)
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Put the argument into a concrete shape, into an image — some hard phrase, round and solid as a ball, which they can see and handle and carry home with them — and the cause is half-won.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Eloquence,” Society and Solitude (1870)
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It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own. But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Ethics,” Lecture, Masonic Temple, Boston (17 Feb 1837)
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Let us treat men and women well; treat them as if they were real; perhaps they are.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Nature, as we know her, is no saint.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Nature, as we know her, is no saint.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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That which we call sin in others, is experiment for us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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We do what we must, and call it by the best names we can, and would fain have the praise of having intended the result which ensues.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity ….

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Fate,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 1 (1860)
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Let us be silent, — so we may hear the whisper of the gods.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Friendship,” Essays: First Series (1841)

Sometimes misquoted as "whispers of the gods."
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A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Friendship,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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The only way to have a friend is to be one.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Friendship,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Friendship,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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The only reward of virtue is virtue.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Friendship,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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We do not quite forgive a giver. The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Gifts,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, “Always do what you are afraid to do.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Heroism,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Be true to your own act, and congratulate yourself if you have done something strange and extravagant, and broken the monotony of a decorous age. It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, “Always do what you are afraid to do.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Heroism,” Essays: First Series (1841)

See also Schmich.
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Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool. It seems as if heaven had sent its insane angels into our world as to an asylum, and here they will break out into their native music and utter at intervals the words they have heard in heaven; and then the mad fit returns, and they mope and wallow like dogs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“History,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Illusions,” The Conduct of Life (1860)
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Sufficient to today are the duties of today. Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Immortality,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please — you can never have both.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Intellect,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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There comes now and then a bolder spirit, I should rather say, a more surrendered soul, more informed and led by God, which is much in advance of the rest, quite beyond their sympathy, but predicts what shall soon be the general fullness; as when we stand by the seashore, whilst the tide is coming in, a wave comes up the beach far higher than any foregoing one, and recedes; and for a long while none comes up to that mark; but after some time the whole sea is there and beyond it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Lecture on the Times,” Boston (2 Dec 1841)
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Let our affection flow out to our fellows; it would operate in a day the greatest of all revolutions.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Man the Reformer,” lecture, Boston (25 Jan 1841)
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Love would put a new face on this weary old world in which we dwell as pagans and enemies too long.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Man the Reformer,” lecture, Boston (25 Jan 1841)
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The trail of the serpent reaches into all the lucrative professions and practices of man, Each has its own wrongs. Each finds a tender and very intelligent conscience a disqualification for success. Each requires of the practitioner a certain shutting of the eyes, a certain dapperness and compliance, an acceptance of customs, a sequestration from the sentiments of generosity and love, a compromise of private opinion and lofty integrity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Man the Reformer,” lecture, Boston (25 Jan 1841)
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When I go into my garden with a spade and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health, that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Man the Reformer,” lecture, Boston (25 Jan 1841)
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Man helps himself by larger generalizations. The lesson of life is practically to generalize; to believe what the years and the centuries say, against the hours; to resist the usurpation of particulars; to penetrate to their catholic sense. Things seem to say one thing, and say the reverse. The appearance is immoral; the result is moral.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Montaigne; or, The Skeptic,” Representative Men, Lecture 4 (1850)
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Things seem to tend downward, to justify despondency, to promote rogues, to defeat the just; and by knaves as well as by martyrs the just cause is carried forward. Although knaves win in every political struggle, although society seems to be delivered over from the hands of one set of criminals into the hands of another set of criminals, as fast as the government is changed, and the march of civilization is a train of felonies, yet, general ends are somehow answered.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Montaigne; or, The Skeptic,” Representative Men, Lecture 4 (1850)
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Keep cool: it will be all one a hundred years hence.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Montaigne; or, The Skeptic,” Representative Men, Lecture 4 (1850)
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Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Montaigne; or, The Skeptic,” Representative Men, Lecture 4 (1850)
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As long as our civilization is essentially one of property, of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be mocked by delusions. Our riches will leave us sick; there will be bitterness in our laughter; and our wine will burn our mouth. Only that good profits which we can taste with all doors open, and which serves all men.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Napoleon; or, The Man of the World,” Representative Men, Lecture 6 (1850)
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Life is a perpetual instruction in cause and effect.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Natural Religion” (3 Feb 1861)
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We aim above the mark to hit the mark.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Great causes are never tried on their merits; but the cause is reduced to particulars to suit the size of the partisans, and the contention is ever hottest on minor matters.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” ch. 1, Nature: Addresses and Lectures (1849)
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The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.

emerson-miraculous-in-the-common-wist_info-quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” ch. 8, Nature: Addresses and Lectures (1849)
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A man is a god in ruins.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” ch. 8, Nature: Addresses and Lectures (1849)
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We must trust the perfection of the creation so far, as to believe that whatever curiosity the order of things has awakened in our minds, the order of things can satisfy.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” Introduction, Nature: Addresses and Lectures (1849)
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The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“New England Reformers,” lecture, Boston (3 Mar 1844), Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Reprinted in Essays: Second Series (1844).
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Men are conservatives when they are least vigorous, or when they are most luxurious. They are conservatives, after dinner, or before taking their rest; when they are sick, or aged: in the morning, or when their intellect or their conscience have been aroused, when they hear music, or when they read poetry, they are radicals.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“New England Reformers,” lecture, Boston (3 Mar 1844), Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Skill to do comes of doing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Old Age,” Society and Solitude (1870)
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A man’s action is only a picture-book of his creed.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Poetry and Imagination,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Politics,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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What the tender poetic youth dreams, and prays, and paints to-day, but shuns the ridicule of saying aloud, shall presently be the resolutions of public bodies, then shall be carried as grievance and bill of rights through conflict and war, and then shall be triumphant law and establishment for a hundred years, until it gives place, in turn, to new prayers and pictures.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Politics,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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This quotation is more often given as the paraphrase used by another speaker of the era, the abolitionist Wendell Phillips:

What the tender and poetic youth dreams to-day, and conjures up with inarticulate speech, is to-morrow the vociferated result of public opinion, and the day after is the charter of nations.

Phillips used this phrase, prefixed with, "As Emerson says," and in quotation marks, at least twice. First in his lecture "Harper's Ferry" (1 Nov 1859), Brooklyn. Second, in a different context, in "The Scholar in a Republic" (30 Jun 1881), a famous speech at the centennial of the Phi Beta Kappa society at Harvard University.

Emerson did not use this shorter phrasing, however, in any of his written works, and frequent attributions of it to him are in error.

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In our flowing affairs a decision must be made — the best, if you can, but any is better than none. There are twenty ways of going to a point, and one is the shortest; but set out at once on one. A man who has that presence of mind which can bring to him the instant all he knows, is worth for action a dozen men who know as much but can only bring it to light slowly.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Power,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 2 (1860)
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Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short, in all management of human affairs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Power,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 2 (1860)
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Every artist was first an amateur.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Progress of Culture,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)

Full text.

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How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew!

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Progress of Culture,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Prudence,” Essays: First Series, ch. 7 (1841)
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If the hive be disturbed by rash and stupid hands, instead of honey, it will yield us bees.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Prudence,” Essays: First Series, ch. 7 (1841)
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These times of ours are serious and full of calamity, but all times are essentially alike. As soon as there is life there is danger.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Public and Private Education,” lecture, Boston (27 Nov 1864)
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Our debt to tradition through reading and conversation is so massive, our protest or private addition so rare and insignificant, — and this commonly on the ground of other reading or hearing, — that, in a large sense, one would say there is no pure originality. All minds quote. Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no threat that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote.

Emerson - by necessity proclivity delight we all quote - wist.info quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Quotation and Originality,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Quotation and Originality,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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We cannot overstate our debt to the Past, but the moment has the supreme claim.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Quotation and Originality,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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The profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader. The profoundest thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until an equal mind and heart finds and publishes it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Quotation and Originality,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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Nature is too thin a screen, — the glory of the One breaks in everywhere.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Religion,” The Present Age Lecture 7, Boston (29 Jan 1840)
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Lecture series initially presented 4 Dec 1839 - 12 Feb 1840. This particular phrase can be found in Emerson's writing going back to 1837. It also was reused in his Cambridge lecture, "The Preacher" (5 May 1879), in a somewhat different context.

The phrase is also rendered "Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere."
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Your goodness must have some edge to it, — else it is none.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self Reliance,” Essays: First Series, (1841)
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With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think to-day in words as hard as cannon-balls and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,
Adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Cause and Effect, the chancellors of God.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Preliminary work, including this phrase, is found in Emerson's journal (13 Jan 1833).
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You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Insist on yourself; never imitate.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who, in the midst of the crowd, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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A man makes his inferiors his superiors by heat. […] Self-control is the rule.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Social Aims,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Social Aims,” lecture, Boston (4 Dec 1864), Letters and Social Aims (1875)
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