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Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

About Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life: 1803 - 1882

Country: us flag America

Profession: Poet; Writer;

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 - April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early 19th century. Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his 1836 essay, Nature. As a result of this ground breaking work he gave a speech entitled The American Scholar in 1837, which is considered to be America's "Intellectual Declaration of Independence." He once said "Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." Considered one of the great orators of the time, Emerson's enthusiasm and respect for his audience enraptured crowds. His support for abolitionism late in life created controversy, and he was subject to abuse from crowds while speaking on the topic. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was "the infinitude of the private man."

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Quotations

The good lawyer is not the man who has an eye to every side and angle of contingency, and qualifies all his qualifications, but who throws himself on your part so heartily, that he can get you out of a scrape.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Money often costs too much.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can anybody remember when the times were not hard and money not scarce?

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do not believe that possibly you can escape the reward of your action.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Skill to do comes of doing.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they be executed.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The ancestor of every action is a thought.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do not say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders, so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is the duty of men to judge men only by their actions. Our faculties furnish us with no means of arriving at the motive, the character, the secret self. We call the tree good from its fruits, and the man, from his works.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

- sermon, October 15, 1826

Be as beneficent as the sun or the sea, but if your rights as a rational being are trenched on, die on the first inch of your territory.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go put your creed into the deed,
Nor speak with double tongue.


~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are reformers in spring and summer; in autumn and winter, we stand by the old; reformers in the morning, conservers at night.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

- The Conservative


There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. 'Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night's lodging. 'Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So is cheerfulness, or a good temper, the more it is spent, the more remains.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbor's creed has lent.
All are needed by each one;
Nothing is fair or good alone.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The moral sense reappears today with the same morning newness that has been from of old the fountain of beauty and strength. You say there is no religion now. 'Tis like saying in rainy weather, There is no sun, when at that moment we are witnessing one of its superlative effects.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; Unbelief, in denying them.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, the worst. What is the right use? What is the end which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book than be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satelite instead of a system.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some books leave us free and some books make us free.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are too civil to books. For a few golden sentences we will turn over and actually read a volume of four or five hundred pages.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

To fill the hour - that is happiness.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I hate quotations.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every man is eloquent once in his life.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is no den in the wide world to hide a rogue. Commit a crime and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge, and fox, and squirrel.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What we call results are beginnings.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hitch your wagon to a star.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

- Civilization in Society and Solitude, 1870

America is a country of young men.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

- Old Age in Society and Solitude, 1870

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make yourself necessary to somebody.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The moment we indulge our affections, the earth is metamorphosed, there is no winter and no night; all tragedies, all ennuis, vanish, - all duties even.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The less America looks abroad, the grander its promise.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let the stoics say what they please, we do not eat for the good of living, but because the meat is savory and the appetite is keen.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some will always be above others. Destroy the equality today, and it will appear again tomorrow.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The aristocrat is the democrat ripe and gone to seed.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Noblesse oblige; or, superior advantages bind you to larger generosity.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Classic art was the art of necessity: modern romantic art bears the stamp of caprice and chance.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

In art the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can inspire.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Art is a jealous mistress, and if a man has a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perpetual modernness is the measure of merit in every work of art.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like the bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The torpid artist seeks inspiration at any cost, by virtue or by vice, by friend or by fiend, by prayer or by wine.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The true artist has the planet for his pedestal; the adventurer, after years of strife, has nothing broader than his shoes.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are born believing. A man bears beliefs, as a tree bears apples.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The human body is a magazine of inventions, the patent office, where are the models from which every hint is taken. All the tools and engines on earth are only extensions of its limbs and senses.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Only an inventor knows how to borrow, and every man is or should be an inventor.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every burned book enlightens the world.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What you are thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Give no bounties: make equal laws: secure life and prosperity and you need not give alms.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Health is the condition of wisdom, and the sign is cheerfulness - an open and noble temper.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

- The Conduct of Life

The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Conversation is an art in which man has all mankind for competitors.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Half a man's wisdom goes with his courage.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What a new face courage puts on everything!

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Blame is safer than praise.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Culture is one thing and varnish is another.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Culture, with us, ends in headache.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A cynic can chill and dishearten with a single word.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

As soon as there is life there is danger.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wilt thou seal up the avenues of ill? Pay every debt as if God wrote the bill.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man in debt is so far a slave.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard around the world.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

- Hymn Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, Concord, July 4, 1837

The ship of heaven guides itself and will not accept a wooden rudder.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Men are what their mothers made them.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is dainty to be sick, if you have leisure and convenience for it.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Extremes meet and there is no better example than the haughtiness of humility.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

An eye can threaten like a loaded and levelled gun, or it can insult like hissing or kicking; or, in its altered mood, by beams of kindness, it can make the heart dance for joy.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the most wonderful things in nature is a glance of the eye; it transcends speech; it is the bodily symbol of identity.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fame is proof that people are gullible.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We love force and we care very little how it is exhibited.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruit of his character.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

For what avail the plough or sail,
Or land or life, if freedom fail?

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The only way to have a friend is to be one.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

For everything you have missed you have gained something.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The only gift is a portion of thyself.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

When Nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

In every work of genius we recognise our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men - that is genius.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We sometimes meet an original gentleman, who, if manners had not existed, would have invented them.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

God enters by a private door into every individual.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man finds room in the few square inches of the face for the traits of all his ancestors; for the expression of all his history, and his wants.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not he is great who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few droips on yourself.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tell them dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for being:
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never sought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance suppose
The selfsame power that brought me there brought you.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Manners require time, and nothing is more vulgar than haste.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A good indignation brings out all one's powers.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every hero becomes a bore at last.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-trust is the essence of heroism.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

All history is but the lengthened shadow of a great man.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Man is physically as well as metaphysically a thing of shreds and patches, borrowed unequally from good and bad ancestors, and a misfit from the start.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every man alone is sincere; at the entrance of a second person hypocrisy begins.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

That man is idle who can do something better.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We boast our emancipation from many superstitions; but if we have broken any idols, it is through a transfer of idolatry.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Science does not know its debt to imagination.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The quality of the imagination is to flow and not to freeze.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Sky is the daily bread of the imagination.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every man is a borrower and a mimic; life is theatrical and literature a quotation.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Insist on yourself; never imitate.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man's growth is seen in the successive choir of his friends.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beware what you set your heart upon, for it shall surely be yours.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is the triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every man I meet is in some way my superior.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some have been thought brave because they were afraid to run away.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The truth, the hope of any time, must always be sought in minorities.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Things are pretty, graceful, rich, elegant, handsome, but until they speak to the imagination, not yet beautiful.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would be the use of immortality to a person who cannot use well a half an hour?

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one's self?

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every thought which genius and piety throw into the world alters the world.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few strong instincts and a few plain rules suffice us.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Machinery is aggressive. The weaver becomes a web, the machinist a machine. If you do not use the tools, they use you. All tools are in one sense edge-tools, and dangerous.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Intellect annuls fate. So far as a man thinks, he is free.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

If a man can write a better book, or preach a better sermon, or build a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

For every minute you remain angry, you give
up sixty seconds of peace of mind.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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