Quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 April 27, 1882) was a famous American essayist and one of America's most influential thinkers and writers. more

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The State must follow, and not lead, the character and progress of the citizen.

There is always room for a person of force and they make room for many.
The key to the age may be this, or that, or the other, as the young orators describe; the key to all ages is -- Imbecility; imbecility in the vast majority of men, at all times, and, even in heroes, in all but certain eminent moments; victims of gravity, custom, and fear.
Often a certain abdication of prudence and foresight is an element of success.
A strenuous soul hates cheap success.
If man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles, or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad, hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.
There is no way to success in art but to take off your coat, grind paint, and work like a digger on the railroad, all day and every day.
Sympathy is a supporting atmosphere, and in it we unfold easily and well.
It is a happy talent to know how to play.
Every man has his own vocation, talent is the call.
Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book; a personality which, by birth and quality, is pledged to the doctrines there set forth, and which exists to see and state things so, and not otherwise.
A man is known by the books he reads, by the company he keeps, by the praise he gives, by his dress, by his tastes, by his distastes, by the stories he tells, by his gait, by the notion of his eye, by the look of his house, of his chamber; for nothing on earth is solitary but every thing hath affinities infinite.
Knowledge exists to be imparted.
We are reformers in the spring and summer, but in autumn we stand by the old. Reformers in the morning, and conservers at night.
I like to be beholden to the great metropolitan English speech, the sea which receives tributaries from every region under heaven.
Man is a shrewd inventor, and is ever taking the hint of a new machine from his own structure, adapting some secret of his own anatomy in iron, wood, and leather, to some required function in the work of the world.
Everything intercepts us from ourselves.
A few strong instincts and a few plain rules suffice us.
Every thought which genius and piety throw into the world alters the world.
We live by our imagination, our admiration s, and our sentiments.
What is the imagination? Only an arm or weapon of the interior energy; only the precursor of the reason.
There is no prosperity, trade, art, city, or great material wealth of any kind, but if you trace it home, you will find it rooted in a thought of some individual man. --
Ideas must work through the brains and the arms of good and brave men, or they are no better than dreams.
Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous.
Not he is great who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind.
No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.
Repose and cheerfulness are the badge of the gentleman -- repose in energy.
A man of genius is privileged only as far as he is genius. His dullness is as insupportable as any other dullness.
Only an inventor knows how to borrow, and every man is or should be an inventor.
Liberty is slow fruit. It is never cheap; it is made difficult because freedom is the accomplishment and perfectness of man.
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.
Time dissipates to shining ether the solid angularity of facts.
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.
The world is upheld by the veracity of good men: they make the earth wholesome. They who lived with them found life glad and nutritious. Life is sweet and tolerable only in our belief in such society.
Tis a rule of manners to avoid exaggeration.
Coal is a portable climate. It carries the heat of the tropics to Labrador and the polar circle; and it is the means of transporting itself whithersoever it is wanted. Watt and Stephenson whispered in the ear of mankind their secret, that a half-ounce of coal will draw two tons a mile, and coal carries coal, by rail and by boat, to make Canada as warm as Calcutta, and with its comfort brings its industrial power.
An empire is an immense egotism.
Curses always recoil on the head of him who imprecates them. If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own.
Culture is one thing and varnish is another.
Men over forty are no judges of a book written in a new spirit.
Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass.
Crime and punishment grow out of one stem. Punishment is a fruit that, unsuspected, ripens with the flower of the pleasure that concealed it.
As men's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect.
That which builds is better than that which is built.
It is the privilege of any human work which is well done to invest the doer with a certain haughtiness. He can well afford not to conciliate, whose faithful work will answer for him.
Courtesy Life be not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.
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.
What a new face courage puts on everything!
Half a man's wisdom goes with his courage.
Courage consists in equality to the problem before us.
Shall we then judge a country by the majority, or by the minority? By the minority, surely. 'Tis pedantry to estimate nations by the census, or by square miles of land, or other than by their importance to the mind of the time.
Conversation is an art in which a man has all mankind for competitors.
In conversation the game is, to say something new with old words. And you shall observe a man of the people picking his way along, step by step, using every time an old boulder, yet never setting his foot on an old place.
Things said for conversation are chalk eggs. Don't say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.
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.
In every society some men are born to rule, and some to advise.

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