Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."

"Colleges hate geniuses, just as convents hate saints."

"Character is higher than intellect. . . . A great soul will be strong to live, as well as to think."

"Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet."

"Each age . . . must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding."

"Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors."

"Every burned book enlightens the world."

"Why need I volumes, if one would suffice?"

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

"Every mind must make its choice between truth and repose. It cannot have both."

"Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret."

"Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee."

"Genius always finds itself a century too early. Happy is the hearing man; unhappy the speaking man."

"If you would lift me up you must be on higher ground."

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. . . . Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today.—'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.'—Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus
. . . and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that even took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."

"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow."

"Every man is a consumer, and ought to be a producer. He is by constitution expensive, and needs to be rich."

"No change of circumstance can repair a defect of character."

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

"One must be an inventor to read well. There is then creative reading as well as creative writing."

"People only see what they are prepared to see."

"Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding."

"The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet."

"All men have my blood, and I have all men's. Not for that will I adopt their petulance or folly, even to the extent of being ashamed of it. But your isolation must not be mechanical, but spiritual, that is, must be elevation. At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door, and say, 'Come out unto us.' But keep thy state; come not into their confusion.'"

"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."

"I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways."

"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till."