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81 Smart Quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last updated on Jul 29th, 2018

81 Smart Quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American Transcendentalist poet, philosopher, lecturer and essayist during 19th century. Born on May 25, 1803, in Boston, Massachusetts, he was the son of Ruth Haskins and William Emerson, a Unitarian minister.

After studying at Harvard, Emerson entered the ministry, but after the death of his wife in 1831, he resigned his pastorate. In 1832, Emerson traveled to Europe, visiting Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. When he returned home in 1833, he began to lecture and most of his lectures during the 1830s he was published in the essays. These essays, especially “Nature” (1836), are perhaps the best expression of his Transcendentalism.

The 1840s were the most fertile years for Emerson. During that time he published two volumes of essays, Essays: First Series and Essays: Second Series. The first collection was published in 1841 and the second in 1844. These two collections represent the core of his thinking, and include some of well-known essays as Self-Reliance, The Over-Soul, Circles, The Poet and Experience.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was seen as a champion of individualism, and his work had a great impact on thinkers, writers and poets that have followed him. He presented his thoughts through lots of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

1

The only way to have a friend is to be one.'Friendship,' Essays: First Series (1841)

2

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.'Beauty,' Nature (1836)

3

Always do what you are afraid to do.'Heroism,' Essays: First Series (1841)

4

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.'Works and Days,' Society and Solitude (1870)

5

Men are what their mothers made them.'Fate,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

6

Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.'Considerations by the Way,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

7

We must be our own before we can be another’s.'Friendship,' Essays: First Series (1841)

8

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.'Worship,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

9

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.'Art,' Essays: First Series (1841)

10

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.Journals (1822–1863)

11

For every thing you have missed, you have gained something else; and for every thing you gain, you lose something.'Compensation,' Essays: First Series (1841)

12

Character is higher than intellect. Thinking is the function. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.The American Scholar (1837)

13

Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.'Beauty,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

14

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.'Self-Reliance,' Essays: First Series (1841)

15

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.'Prudence,' Essays: First Series (1841)

16

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.Journals (1822–1863)

17

To be great is to be misunderstood.'Self-Reliance,' Essays: First Series (1841)

18

Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.'Progress of Culture,' Letters and Social Aims (1876)

19

Money often costs too much.'Wealth,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

20

Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of our science.'Works and Days,' Society and Solitude (1870)

21

Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.'Plato; or, the Philosopher,' Representative Men (1844)

22

Friendship, like the immortality of the soul, is too good to be believed.'Friendship,' Essays: First Series (1841)

23

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world.'Progress of Culture,' Letters and Social Aims (1876)

24

We are always getting ready to live but never living.Journals (1822–1863)

25

Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.'Demonology,' Lectures and Biographical Sketches (1884)

26

Every man is a consumer, and ought to be a producer. He fails to make his place good in the world, unless he not only pays his debt, but also adds something to the common wealth. Nor can he do justice to his genius, without making some larger demand on the world than a bare subsistence. He is by constitution expensive, and needs to be rich.'Wealth,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

27

A great man is always willing to be little.'Compensation,' Essays: First Series (1841)

28

Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them.'Experience,' Essays: Second Series (1844)

29

Science does not know its debt to imagination.'Poetry and Imagination,' Letters and Social Aims (1876)

30

Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence.'Fate,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

31

In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.'Prudence,' Essays: First Series (1841)

32

The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.'Worship,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

33

Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams.Journals (1822–1863)

34

Every experiment, by multitudes or by individuals, that has a sensual and selfish aim, will fail.'Napoleon; or, the Man of the World,' Representative Men (1844)

35

Knowledge is the knowing that we can not know.'Montaigne; or, the Skeptic,' Representative Men (1844)

36

Our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual.'The Over-Soul,' Essays: First Series (1841)

37

All diseases run into one, namely, Old Age.Journals (1822–1863)

38

People only see what they are prepared to see.Journals (1822–1863)

39

Genius always finds itself a century too early.The Topical Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson

40

Wisdom has its root in goodness, & not goodness its root in wisdom.Journals (1822–1863)

41

Every burned book or house enlightens the world.'Compensation,' Essays: First Series (1841)

42

As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson

43

For every benefit which you receive, a tax is levied.'Compensation,' Essays: First Series (1841)

44

Truth is the property of no individual, but is the treasure of all men.'Quotation and Originality,' Letters and Social Aims (1876)

45

The faith that stands on authority is not faith.'The Over-Soul,' Essays: First Series (1841)

46

Every hero becomes a bore at last.'Uses of Great Men,' Representative Men (1844)

47

Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults.'Compensation,' Essays: First Series (1841)

48

We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. That is our permanent state.'Love', Essays: First Series (1841)

49

What we seek we shall find; what we flee from flees from us.'Fate,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

50

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.'Self-Reliance,' Essays: First Series (1841)

51

The reason why men do not obey us, is because they see the mud at the bottom of our eye.'Behavior,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

52

In every society some men are born to rule, and some to advise.The Young American (1844)

53

A man is the whole encyclopedia of facts.'History,' Essays: First Series (1841)

54

Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.'Plato; or, the Philosopher,' Representative Men (1844)

55

Cause and effect are two sides of one fact.'Circles,' Essays: First Series (1841)

56

Every sweet hath its sour; every evil its good.'Compensation,' Essays: First Series (1841)

57

Our knowledge is the amassed thought and experience of innumerable minds.'Quotation and Originality,' Letters and Social Aims (1876)

58

The key to every man is his thought. 'Circles,' Essays: First Series (1841)

59

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'Domestic Life,' Society and Solitude (1870)

60

Whatever limits us, we call Fate.'Fate,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

61

The first wealth is health.'Power,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

62

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.'Circles,' Essays: First Series (1841)

63

In the morning a man walks with his whole body; in the evening, only with his legs.Journals (1822–1863)

64

The revelation of Thought takes man out of servitude into freedom.'Fate,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

65

Happy is the hearing man; unhappy the speaking man.'Intellect,' Essays: First Series (1841)

66

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.'Self-Reliance,' Essays: First Series (1841)

67

Manners require time, and nothing is more vulgar than haste.'Behavior,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

68

Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.'History,' Essays: First Series (1841)

69

Children are all foreigners.Journals (1822–1863)

70

The secret of ugliness consists not in irregularity, but in being uninteresting.'Beauty,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

71

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.'Self-Reliance,' Essays: First Series (1841)

72

Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense.The Later Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1843 - 1871)

73

No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.'Character,' Essays: Second Series (1844)

74

Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding.The American Scholar (1837)

75

The value of a principle is the number of things it will explain.'The Preacher,' Lectures and Biographical Sketches (1884)

76

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.The American Scholar (1837)

77

Let not a man guard his dignity, but let his dignity guard him.Journals (1822–1863)

78

The measure of a master is his success in bringing all men round to his opinion twenty years later.'Culture,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

79

As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way.Journals (1822–1863)

80

Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are.'Worship,' The Conduct of Life (1860)

81

If a 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.Journals (1855)