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.
Conversation is a game of circles. In conversation we pluck up the termini which bound the common of silence on every side.
The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship.
Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning, and under every deep a lower deep opens.
Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy.
Do not waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
The search after the great men is the dream of youth, and the most serious occupation of manhood.
Can anybody remember when the times were not hard and money not scarce?
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.
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.
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.
Presently we pass to some other object which rounds itself into a whole as did the first; for example, a well-laid garden; and nothing seems worth doing but the laying-out of gardens.
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.
These rabble at Washington … see, against the unanimous expression of the people, how much a little well-directed effrontery can achieve, how much crime the people will bear, and they proceed from step to step…
When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
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.
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in your reading have been like the blast of triumph out of Shakespeare, Seneca, Moses, John and Paul.
By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. In fact, it is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent.
The next thing to saying a good thing yourself, is to quote one.
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
Without a rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar.
Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.
There is properly no history; only biography.
Our distrust is very expensive.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
No matter how you seem to fatten on a crime, there can never be good for the bee which is bad for the hive.
The progress of religion is steadily to its identity with morals. Strength enters just as much as the moral element prevails.