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Quotes » Ralph Waldo Emerson
Waldo Emerson is famous for having said the following quotes:
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Wit makes its own welcome, and levels all distinctions. No dignity,
no learning, no force of character, can make any stand against good wit.
man's wife has more power over him than the state has.
it is that makes slavery; freedom, freedom. The slavery of women happened when
the men were slaves of kings.
Men love to wonder and that is
the seed of our science.
It makes a great difference in the
force of a sentence, whether a man be behind it or no.
are alive; cut them and they bleed.
See only that thou work
and thou canst not escape the reward.
We must hold a man amenable
to reason for the choice of his daily craft or profession. It is not an excuse
any longer for his deeds that they are the custom of his trade. What business
has he with an evil trade?
Work and thou canst escape the reward;
whether the work be fine or course, planting corn or writing epics, so only it
be honest work, done to thine own approbation, it shall earn a reward to the senses
as well as to the thought.
Work is victory.
mark of the man of the world is absence of pretension. He does not make a speech;
he takes a low business-tone, avoids all brag, is nobody, dresses plainly, promises
not at all, performs much, speaks in monosyllables, hugs his fact. He calls his
employment by its lowest name, and so takes from evil tongues their sharpest weapon.
His conversation clings to the weather and the news, yet he allows himself to
be surprised into thought, and the unlocking of his learning and philosophy.
minds have little worries, big minds have no time for worries.
is no luck in literary reputation. They who make up the final verdict upon every
book are not the partial and noisy readers of the hour when it appears; but a
court as of angels, a public not to be bribed, not to be entreated, and not to
be overawed, decides upon every man's title to fame.
was first an amateur.
Trust your instinct to the end, though
you can render no reason.
Wisdom is like electricity. There
is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain
company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses
rubbed acquire electric power for a while.
Nature contains all the powers of Nature. Everything is made of hidden stuff.
Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it, so that one
babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults who prattle and play to it.
Famous Quotes from Nature - Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes
biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generation beheld God and
nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original
relation to the universe. Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight
and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history
- Undoubtedly we have
no questions to ask which are unanswerable. 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. Every man's condition
is a solution in hieroglyphic to those inquiries he would put. He acts it as life,
before he apprehends it as truth.
- If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe
and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God
which had been shown!
never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort her secret,
and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection.
- The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but
shines into the eye and the heart of a child.
- 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.
- Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous.
- Every natural fact
is a symbol of some spiritual fact.
- We are, like Nebuchadnezzar, dethroned, bereft of reason, and eating grass
like an ox.
- A man
is a god in ruins.
Quotes from The American Scholar - Ralph Waldo Emerson
treads on every right step. For the instinct is sure, that prompts him to tell
his brother what he thinks. He then learns, that in going down into the secrets
of his own mind, he has descended into the secrets of all minds. He learns that
he who has mastered any law in his private thoughts, is master to that extent
of all men whose language he speaks, and of all into whose language his own can
- Wherever Macdonald sits, there is the head of
- The world is nothing, the man is all; in yourself
is the law of all nature, and you know not yet how a globule of sap ascends; in
yourself slumbers the whole of Reason; it is for you to know all, it is for you
to dare all.
- What would we really know the meaning of? The
meal in the firkin; the milk in the pan; the ballad in the street; the news of
the boat; the glance of the eye; the form and the gait of the body; — show me
the ultimate reason of these matters; show me the sublime presence of the highest
spiritual cause lurking, as always it does lurk, in these suburbs and extremities
of nature; let me see every trifle bristling with the polarity that ranges it
instantly on an eternal law; and the shop, the plough, and the leger, referred
to the like cause by which light undulates and poets sing; — and the world lies
no longer a dull miscellany and lumber-room, but has form and order; there is
no trifle; there is no puzzle; but one design unites and animates the farthest
pinnacle and the lowest trench.
Quotes from Self-Reliance - Ralph Waldo Emerson
- I read
the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which were original and
not conventional. The soul always hears an admonition in such lines, let the subject
be what it may. The sentiment they instil is of more value than any thought they
may contain. 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. Speak your latent
conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes
the outmost,— and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of
the Last Judgment.
- A man should learn to detect and watch that
gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre
of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought,
because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts:
they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private
heart is true for all men, — that is genius.
- We but half
express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.
- There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at
the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that
he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide
universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but though
his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.
- Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place
the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the
connection of events. Great men have always done so.
everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society
is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing
of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the
eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion.
It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.
would be a man must be a nonconformist.
- Nothing is at last
sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
- No law can be sacred
to me but that of my nature.
- The doctrine of hatred must be
preached as the counteraction of the doctrine of love when that pules and whines.
I shun father and mother and wife and brother, when my genius calls me.
- 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.
- A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little
statesmen and philosophers and divines. 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 now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in
hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so
you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?
Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus,
and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.
To be great is to be misunderstood.
- Virtues are, in the
popular estimate, rather the exception than the rule. There is the man and his
virtues. Men do what is called a good action, as some piece of courage or charity,
much as they would pay a fine in expiation of daily non-appearance on parade.
Their works are done as an apology or extenuation of their living in the world,
— as invalids and the insane pay a high board. Their virtues are penances. I do
not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle.
- An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.
- I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.
- Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of
- Traveling is a fool's paradise...My giant goes with me
wherever I go.
- For every Stoic was a Stoic; but in Christendom
where is the Christian?
- Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
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