image of the walk up to the Old Manse, with house in background (Concord, MA)

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalist philosopher and critic of religion, was a popular lecturer in his day. Many have quoted him from his essays, journals, and speeches.

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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.

[Often paraphrased as: “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”]

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good: ‘Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Violence is not power, but the absence of power.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

God enters by a private door into every individual.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In failing circumstances no one can be relied on to keep their integrity.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The invariable mark of a dream is to see it come true.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-command is the main elegance.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins. We parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

No great man ever complains of want of opportunities.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

What your heart thinks is great, is great. The soul’s emphasis is always right.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be great is to be misunderstood.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

But it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy something, which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith’s.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The charming landscape which I saw this morning is indubitably made up of some 20 or 30 farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tis curious that we only believe as deeply as we live.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Truth, and goodness, and beauty are but different faces of the same all.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We ask for long life, but ’tis deep life, or noble moments that signify. Let the measure of time be spiritual, not mechanical.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The years teach much which the days never know.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The thing done avails, and not what is said about it.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everything in the universe goes by indirection. There are no straight lines.

— 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

If the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson
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