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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From Washington, proverbially ‘the city of distances,’ through all its cities, states, and territories, it is a country of beginnings, of projects, of designs, and expectations.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and the purity of its heart.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, 1824

Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer, has no invention; it is all memory. Reform has no gratitude, no prudence, no husbandry

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Conservative’

Conservatism is more candid to behold another’s worth; reform more disposed to maintain and increase its own.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Conservative’

Reform is affirmative, conservatism negative; conservatism goes for comfort, reform for truth.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are reformers in spring and summer; in autumn and winter, we stand by the old; reformers in the morning, conservers at night.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Conservative’

Conservatism stands on man’s confessed limitations; reform on his indisputable infinitude; conservatism on circumstance; liberalism on power; one goes to make an adroit member of the social frame; the other to postpone all things to the man himself; conservatism is debonnair and social; reform is individual and imperious.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Conservative’

The two parties which divide the state, the party of Conservatism and that of Innovation, are very old, and have disputed the possession of the world ever since it was made.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the matter of religion, people eagerly fasten their eyes on the difference between their own creed and yours; whilst the charm of the study is in finding the agreements and identities in all the religions of humanity.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The god of the cannibals will be a cannibal, of the crusaders a crusader, and of the merchants a merchant.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; Unbelief, in denying them.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

People wish to be settled: only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Truth is our element.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Shall we then judge a country by the majority, or by the minority? By the minority, surely.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is not marriage an open question, when it is alleged, from the beginning of the world, that such as are in the institution wish to get out, and such as are out wish to get in?

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We must be our own before we can be another’s.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some books leave us free and some books make us free.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are too civil to books. For a few golden sentences we will turn over and actually read a volume of four or five hundred pages.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The reality is more excellent than the report.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Money often costs too much.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are always getting ready to live but never living.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Great are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is a progress, and not a station.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The good lawyer is not the man who has an eye to every side and angle of contingency, and qualifies all his qualifications, but who throws himself on your part so heartily, that he can get you out of a scrape.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson
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