Quotations From RALPH WALDO EMERSON

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  • I must feel pride in my friend's accomplishments as if they were mine,—and a property in his virtues. I feel as warmly when he is praised, as the lover when he hears applause of his engaged maiden.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Friendship," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).

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  • Do not shut up the young people against their will in a pew, and force the children to ask them questions for an hour against their will.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Spiritual Laws," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).

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  • Every word we speak is million-faced or convertible to an indefinite number of applications. If it were not so we could read no book. Your remark would only fit your case, not mine.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Quoted in Robert D. Richardson, Jr., Emerson: The Mind on Fire, ch. 16 (1995).
  • The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Lecture, March 3, 1884, in Amory Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. "New England Reformers," Essays, Second Series (1844).
  • We owe to genius always the same debt, of lifting the curtain from the common, and showing us that divinities are sitting disguised in the seeming gang of gypsies and peddlars.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Works and Days," Society and Solitude (1870).
  • Our theism is the purification of the human mind. Man can paint, or make, or think nothing but man. He believes that the great material elements had their origin from his thought.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Uses of Great Men," Representative Men (1850).
  • The learned and the studious of thought have no monopoly of wisdom. Their violence of direction in some degree disqualifies them to think truly.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "The Over-Soul," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
  • Best masters for the young writer and speaker are the fault- finding brothers and sisters at home who will not spare him, but will pick and cavil, and tell the odious truth.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. The Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. 10, ed. Edward Everett Emerson (1909-1914).

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  • Could Shakespeare give a theory of Shakespeare?
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Spiritual Laws," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847). Emerson's rhetorical answer is, no he could not. This quotation is therefore a gloss on Emerson's theory of action and its dialectical relationship to theory and reflection.
  • I do not speak with any fondness but the language of coolest history, when I say that Boston commands attention as the town which was appointed in the destiny of nations to lead the civilization of North America.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Boston," The Natural History of the Intellect (1893).

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