Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Born: 1803. Died: 1882.


- The natural world is coursed through with the immanent flow of a deity - a 'world-soul' - both in and above the world.

- The divine spirit can be approached in the immediacies if experiential existence.

- The principle of immanence reveals that there is a democracy of spiritual possibility, that personal experience and vision have precedence over abstract intellect and tradition, and that each generation needs to find revelation anew.

- What prevents the full realization of the human soul is only the clouded and habitual 'sight; blocking imagination and insight of the gifts of spiritual fullness presented by the circumambient world.

- The tactic and horizon of human knowledge and possibility therefore reside in a complex form of self-reliance that can lead to a union of the human soul with the 'over-soul'.


In the early years of the nineteenth century, when Boston was as yet only a comfortable little seaport town, and its principal streets still gave room for gardens and cow pastures, there stood at the corner of what is now Summer and Chauncy streets a gambrel-roofed wooden building, shaded by elms and Lombardy poplars, and surrounded by ample grounds. This was the parish house of the oldest church in Boston, called the First or "Old Brick Church."

The minister of this church and occupant of this mansion was the Rev. William Emerson, who on the 25th of May, 1803, wrote in his diary: "This day, whilst I was at dinner at Governor Strong's, my son Ralph Waldo was born."

The Rev. William Emerson was one of the notable men of his day. Although his life was cut off at the early age of forty-two, he had accomplished a work the influence of which is still definitely, if unconsciously, felt, and always will be felt in the culture of Boston. Science and learning as represented by the Lowell Institute, literature as represented by the Athenæum, art as represented by the Museum, point back to that vivacious, liberal-minded, and eloquent young minister. He had been settled in the town of Harvard at a yearly salary of less than six hundred dollars, but Boston heard him preach, wanted him and, in 1799, bought him off from the Harvard parish for a bonus of a thousand dollars, giving rise to the epigram perpetrated at the expense of the Old Brick Church: "You bought your minister and sold your bell."

William Emerson traced his descent from Thomas Emerson, who emigrated from England to America in 1635, was thrifty, and left a large estate for those days. His son John, minister at Gloucester, was the common ancestor of Phillips Brooks and Wendell Phillips. His son Joseph, preacher successively at Wells, at Milton, and at Mendon, married Elizabeth, granddaughter of Peter Bulkeley, a wealthy and learned dissenting minister, who rounded Concord and Concord church. Edward, son of Joseph and Elizabeth, married Rebecca Waldo, and his son Joseph married Mary Moody and had ten children, the ninth of whom was William, who was the minister at Concord, and built the Old Manse celebrated by Hawthorne. When he died at the early age of thirty-three, his widow married his successor, the Rev. Ezra Ripley, who was a kindly and wise step-father to the lively young William, his mother's only son. It is said that he had no drawing to the ministry, but, on hearing Dr. Ripley pray for the fulfilment of his mother's desire, he studied divinity and was settled at Harvard at the age of twenty-three. His letters are full of wit and vivacity. He was extremely fond of society and liked to sing and to play on the bass viol. He was too poor to keep a horse, but in 1796, when his salary was only $330.30, he married Miss Ruth Haskins, sold his bass fiddle, took boarders, taught, and worked his farm. At the time of his death he was receiving $2500 a year, thirty cords of wood, and the rent on his house. He raised potatoes, corn, and other vegetables in his garden on Summer Street. He was the founder of the Philosophical Society, and the leading member of the Anthology Club, which established a library, a museum, a course of lectures, and a monthly magazine.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was eight at the time of his father's death. The parish voted to continue the salary to the widow for six months longer, to pay her $500 a year for seven years, and permitted her to occupy the parish house for more than three years. She took boarders, did her own work, and managed to educate the children, as she felt that they were born to be educated. The distance between her little vessel and the lee shore of poverty was very small. Mrs. Ripley found the family one day without any food, except the stories of heroic endurance with which their aunt, Mary Moody Emerson, was regaling them. Ralph and his brother Edward had but one overcoat between them, and had to take turns going to school.

This aunt, Miss Emerson, was a thorn in the spirit for the whole family. Of great intellect, of lofty views, ambitious, religious, sceptical, a burning brand in the household, she stimulated, she exasperated, she made herself and every one about her unhappy. She wanted every one but herself to be orthodox. Emerson said of her: "She tramples on the common humanities all day, and they rise as ghosts and torment her all night." Mr. Charles Eliot Cabot says: "She was an ever-present embodiment of the Puritan conscience." Her influence on the Emerson children was, on the whole, injurious. Even Ralph Waldo, who was less susceptible to it than the others, felt it severely.

Ralph was sent to school before he was three years old. At ten he writes his Aunt Mary of his studies in the Latin School, which were supplemented by two hours' attendance at a private school where he learned to write and cipher. Once or twice he played truant during this midday recess of extra work, and was punished for it by imprisonment with bread and water. He was not a brilliant scholar, nor was he inclined to mingle with his associates in play. He never owned a sled, and, though there was a good pond for skating not far away, he did not learn to skate till he was a freshman in college. According to Dr. Furness he held aloof from "Coram" and "Hy-spy," and other sports, simply because from his earliest years he dwelt in a higher sphere. He could not remember the time when Emerson was not literary in his pursuits. When he was thirteen his uncle, Samuel Ripley, asked him how it was that all the boys disliked him and quarrelled with him.

In 1814 the price of provisions became so high in Boston that Mrs. Emerson and her family took refuge in Concord with Dr. Ripley, with whom they spent a year. On their return to Boston they lived in a house on Beacon Hill lent by its owner in exchange for board for his wife and children. Emerson remembered driving the cow to pasture on Carver Street. That year he was reading "Télémaque" in French and Priestley's lectures on history, and his letters are pretty well peppered with original verse. In October, 1817, he went to Cambridge, having .passed a very good examination, and his mother rejoiced because he did not have to be admonished to study. He was appointed President's Freshman, a position which gave him a room free of charge. He waited at Commons, and this reduced the cost of board to one quarter, and he received a scholarship. He added to his slender means by tutoring and by teaching during the winter vacations at his Uncle Ripley's school in Waltham. Mr. Conway says that during his college course his mother moved to Cambridge and took student boarders, but Emerson had his room in the college buildings, occupying 5, 15, and 9 Hollis, during the last three years, respectively.

Even in his fourteenth year he was described as being "just what he was afterward, kindly, affable, but self-contained, receiving praise or sympathy without taking much notice of it."

He was fonder of desultory reading than of regular study, and naturally came into some disfavor with the authorities. In mathematics he confessed himself "a hopeless dunce," and laughingly declared that a possible English congener, William Emerson of Durham, a famous mathematician, must have appropriated all his talents in that line. "I can't multiply seven by twelve with security," he added.

George Ticknor, who taught modern languages, and Edward Everett, Greek professor, gave lectures, and Emerson attended them with profit. He took two Bowdoin prizes for dissertations, and the Boylston prize of $30 for declamation. He graduated just above the middle of a class of fifty-nine, and had one of the twenty-nine commencement parts, but, disgusted at its insignificance, took no pains to learn it, and had to be frequently prompted. He was not entitled to admission to the [Phi Beta Kappa] Society, but he was elected class poet, and his poem was regarded as a superior production. His future seemed indefinite. All he would promise was "to try to be a minister and have a house." The house was for his mother, so that he might "in some feeble degree repay her for the cares and woes and inconveniences she had so often been subject to on her son's account alone."

After he graduated he for two years assisted his brother William in a school for young ladies established in his mother's house, and when William went to Göttingen to study divinity, he remained another year in sole charge. During these three years he earned nearly $3000 and was enabled to help his mother and brothers. But he always remembered his terrors at entering the school, his timidities at French, "the infirmities of his cheek," and his occasional admiration of some of his pupils, and his vexation of spirit when the will of the pupils was a little too strong for the will of the teacher.

He regretted that his teaching was perfunctory. He wished that he had shown his pupils the poems and works of imagination which he himself delighted in. Then teaching might have been for him also "a liberal and delicious art." He always wondered why the poorest country college never offered him a professorship of rhetoric. He wrote in his journal: "I think I could have taught an orator, though I am none."

In 1823 Mrs. Emerson hired a house on Canterbury Lane, also called Light Lane, Dark Lane, or Featherbed Lane, Roxbury, about four miles from the State House. In Franklin Park a tablet in the Overlook on Schoolmaster Hill commemorates the fact that Emerson there, stretched out beneath the pines, wrote his poem. "Good-by, proud world; I'm going home." His letters from there show that the teaching in town, which he still kept up, was not much more irksome than the communion with nature which had been recommended to him. "I cannot find myself quite as perfectly at home on the rock and in the wood as my ancient, and I might say infant, aspirations led me to suspect he wrote on the 19th of June of that year. "When I took my book to the woods I found nature not half poetical, not half visionary, enough . . . . I found that I had only transplanted into the new place my entire personal identity, and was grievously disappointed."

In 1825 Emerson wrote his aunt that Channing was "preaching sublime sermons every Sunday morning in Federal Street." The influence of Channing may have determined him to fit for the ministry, though his brother William, much to his mother's grief, had found it impossible to subscribe to creeds and had decided against that profession. But Ralph Waldo confessed that, while he inherited from his "sire a formality of manners and speech," he also "derived from him or his patriotic parent a passionate love for the strains of eloquence." He therefore elected to study divinity. His brother William advised his going to Göttingen, but he wrote: "Unless I take the wings of the morning for a packet, and feed on wishes instead of dollars, and be clothed with imagination for raiment, I must not expect to go." And like a true philosopher— like the fox philosopher of the story—he adds: "It might not do me any good."

Certain lands in the city had increased in value and a little money was forthcoming from them; so he decided to go to Cambridge, where "the learned and reverend" had consented to admit him to the middle class. In February, 1825, on the eve of leaving his Canterbury home, he wrote that he had "learned a few more names and dates, additional facility of expression; the gauge of his own ignorance, its sounding-places and bottomless depths." He added that his "cardinal vice of intellectual dissipation— sinful strolling from book to book, from care to idleness "— was his cardinal vice still—was a malady which "belonged to the chapter of incurables."

He took a floor room in the cold, damp northeast corner of Divinity Hall, and within a month was obliged by ill health and weak eyes to suspend his studies. He went first to Newton and worked on his Uncle Ladd's farm. Here he fell in with an "ignorant and rude laborer" who was a Methodist, and it is chronicled that Emerson's first sermon was founded on this man's dictum, that "men were always praying and all their prayers were answered." But he added as a saving clause, "We must beware, then, what we ask!"

In the summer he instructed a few private pupils, and in September took charge of a public school in Chelmsford, which he left at the beginning of the next year to relieve his brother Edward of the care of his school in Roxbury, and then in April he returned to Cambridge, where his mother had again taken a house. He opened a school there and had among his pupils Richard Henry Dana, 2d, but he was afflicted with rheumatism and threatened with lung complaint.

He managed to attend some of the lectures at the Divinity School, and made a show of keeping along with his class. But he afterward declared that if the authorities had examined him on his studies they would not have passed him. They did not examine him, and he was "approbated to preach" by the Middlesex Association of Ministers in October, 1826, and on the fifteenth of that month delivered his first public sermon at Waltham.

As cold weather came on, he was obliged to go South. The deferring of his hopes made him heartsick. Mr. M. D. Conway says he preached in Charleston, which had the only Unitarian pulpit south of the Potomac. But the weather was cold and he took a sloop to St. Augustine, where he spent the winter "parading the beach and thinking of his brother barnacles at a distance." He was amused at the theological and civil manners of the place, where "the worthy father of the Catholic Church was arrested and imprisoned for debt, where the president of the Bible Society was notorious for his profanity, and its treasurer, the marshal of the district, combined meetings of the society with slave-auctions." Emerson made the acquaintance of Prince Achille Murat, "a philosopher, a scholar, a man of the world, very sceptical but very candid, and an ardent lover of truth." He long remembered him as "a type Of heroic manners and sweet-tempered ability."

When he reached Alexandria after a direfully tempestuous voyage, he wrote his aunt that he was not a jot better or worse than when he left home. In this same letter he describes how when he reads Walter Scott, a thousand imperfect suggestions arise in his mind, which, if he could give heed, would make him a novelist; and, when he chances to light on a verse of genuine poetry, even in the corner of a newspaper, a forcible sympathy awakened a legion of little goblins in the recesses of his soul, and if he had leisure to attend to the fine tiny rabble, he would straightway be a poet. He confessed that in his day-dreams he hungered and thirsted to be a painter.

On his return he "supplied" for some weeks at the First Church, during the absence of its regular minister. Then in the autumn of 1827 he supplied for Mr. Hall at Northampton, where he made the acquaintance of the Lymans. Mrs. Lyman was a descendant of Anne Hutchinson, whom Emerson's ancestor, Peter Bulkeley, had helped to drive out of Massachusetts; but a warm friendship quickly sprang up between the brilliant and beautiful woman and the pale young student, whom she called an angel unawares.

He had several "calls" to accept permanent positions, but his health was still so uncertain that he refused them all, and lived at Cambridge a desultory life, "lounging on a system," writing a sermon a month, strolling, courting the society of laughing persons, and trying to win "firmer health and solid powers."

He had not as yet shown evidence of remarkable ability; his brothers Edward and Charles entirely eclipsed him. He never jested (so Dr. Hedge said), was slow in speech and in movement, and was never known to run. Yet when his brother Edward, "the admired, learned, eloquent," lost first his reason and then his health, and died in self-imposed exile, Emerson wrote in his journal that he had little fear for such an evil, even in the line of the constitutional calamity of his family; "I have so much mixture of silliness in my intellectual frame, that I think Providence has tempered me against this."

He had preached temporarily at Concord, N. H., and there he met Miss Ellen Louisa Tucker, the daughter of a former Boston merchant. She had greatly impressed him, but he thought he had "got over his blushes and his wishes." But when he met her again in December, 1828, he "surrendered at discretion." "She is seventeen years old and very beautiful by universal consent," he wrote his brother William.

In March of the following year he was settled as colleague of the Rev. Henry Ware, Jr., over the Second or Old North Church, and in September was married and established in a house in Chardon Place. His happiness and success seemed to him too great to last. His intuitions were not ill founded. He found himself unable to administer the Communion in its concrete oral form, and when the church refused to let him continue the service, dropping "the use of the elements," he resigned, and his resignation was accepted by a vote of thirty against twenty-four. It must have been a relief to him to be free, for all that savored of ritual was distasteful to him, and even. extempore prayer was irksome. He did not excel in the usual pastoral relations. It is related of him that when he was summoned to administer consolation at the bedside of a Revolutionary veteran, and showed some awkwardness in the matter, the dying man rose in his wrath and exclaimed, "Young man, if you don't know your business, you had better go home." Even the sexton of the church declared that in his opinion he was not born to be a minister.

But his ability in the pulpit was marked, and many of his congregation greatly regretted the step that was forced on him. He had recently suffered the loss of his young wife, who even before her marriage was threatened with consumption. She died in February, 1831. He was like a ship adrift. But great schemes were floating in his mind. One of them was the establishment of "a magazine of his ownty-donty," in which there should be no coöperation, but only his personal individuality to unify it.

Again his health broke down. He was disheartened, and felt that the doom of his race was on him. At first it was suggested that he should go to the West Indies and visit his brother Edward, but at the last moment he found that a 236-ton brig was about to sail for the Mediterranean: he took passage on her and was landed at Malta on the 2d of February, 1832.

In his diary written on the vessel one can read the influence of Carlyle. Speaking of the clouds, he says: "What they said goest thou forth so far to seek— painted canvas, carved marble, renowned towns? Yes, welcome, young man, the universe is hospitable; the great God who is love hath made you aware of the forms and breeding of His wide house. We greet you well to the place of history, as you please to style it, to the mighty Lilliput or ant-hill of your genealogy." And so on quite in the style of "Sartor."

From Malta, where he with a tame curiosity looked about La Valetta, he crossed to Sicily, spent several days in sight of Etna, drank of the waters of Arethusa, plucked the papyrus on the banks of the Anopus, visited the Catacombs, heard Mass in the ancient Temple of Minerva, and fed on fragrant Hyblæan honey and Ortygian quails; but he felt tormented by his ignorance, wanted his Vergil and his Ovid, his history and his Plutarch. "It is the playground of the gods and goddesses." "The poor hermit who with saucer eyes had strayed from his study" found himself somewhat at a loss in those "out courts of the Old World." "Some faces under new caps and jackets," he says, "another turn of the old kaleidoscope."

He was not sure in the noise and myriads of people, amid the grandeur and poverty that he saw that he was growing much wiser or any better for his travels. "An hour in Boston and an hour in Naples have about equal value to the same person."

Even his judgment of people remind one of Carlyle in his peevish days. He hoped he should not always be "yoked with green, dull, pitiful persons." The "various little people" with whom he had been "cabined up by sea and land" may have been all better and wiser than he; still they did not help him. He longed for a teacher. He would "give all Rome for one man such as were fit to walk" there.

At Florence he dined and breakfasted with Landor, who, he thought, did "not quite show the same caliber in conversation as in his books." He hoped for better things of Carlyle to whom he was pilgriming through all such inanimate trifles as coliseums and duomos. Even Venice he called "a great oddity, a city for beavers . . . a most disagreeable residence"; and Paris was "a loud modern New York of a place." "Pray, what brought you here, grave sir?" "the moving Boulevard" seemed to ask him. A lecture at the Sorbonne, he complains, was far less useful to him than a lecture which he should write himself!

He stayed about three weeks in London. He attended service at St. Paul's. "Poor church," is his only comment. He visited Coleridge and Bowring and John Stuart Mill, and still in quest for Carlyle reached Edinburgh, where he preached in the Unitarian chapel, and at last, after peculiar difficulties, discovered his ideal living quietly at Craigenputtoch — the youth he sought he called "good and wise and pleasant," and his wife, "a most accomplished, agreeable woman." "Truth and peace and faith dwell with them." His visit with them he called "a white day in his years." Carlyle, on his part, always declared it was the most beautiful thing in his experience at Craigenputtoch. Yet even Carlyle was not the long-sought master. In the deepest matters the Scotchman had nothing to teach the Yankee. He had met with men, he wrote, of far less power who had got greater insight into religious truth.

But the interview on both sides was pleasing and resulted in a lifelong friendship.

At Rydal Mount he paid his respects to Wordsworth, and was not offended by the old poet's egotisms. (Note: For Emerson's own account of his experiences see "English Traits.") Having reached Liverpool, he confided to his journal his gratitude to the great God who had led him in safety and pleasure through "this European scene— this last schoolroom" in which He had pleased to instruct him. The sight of Landor, Coleridge, Carlyle, and Wordsworth, though he realized that not one of them was "a mind of the very first class, "had comforted and confirmed him in his convictions. He felt that he would be able to judge more justly, less timidly, of wise men for evermore.

It is odd and sounds almost prehistoric to read Emerson quoting the prediction that "the tithe will come when the ocean will be navigated by merchantmen by steam."

With health restored and established, he reached New York early in October, after a voyage which lasted more than a month; and, having rejoined his mother at Newton, where she was then living, he began to preach and lecture as occasion offered. On the second Sunday after his return he occupied his old pulpit in the Second Church and for four years supplied at various places. He might have had a call to New Bedford, but as he stipulated that he must not be expected to administer the Communion or to offer prayer unless the Spirit moved, the church withdrew its invitation. His first lecture was delivered in November, 1883, before the Boston Society of Natural History. His early lectures were on scientific subjects and before scientific bodies.

He was expecting to have his wife's share of her father's estate, and this expectation was soon satisfied, so that he made sure of a yearly income of about $1200, and he was meditating more seriously than ever the adventure of a periodical paper which should "speak the truth without fear or favor." This materialized afterward in The Dial.

In the summer of 1834 he was the chosen poet for the [Phi Beta Kappa] Society, and the verses contained a word portrait of Daniel Webster. His brother Edward, who had just died, had been Webster's private secretary and tutor to his children. He went to Bangor to preach for a few Sundays, and wrote to Dr. F. H. Hedge that he was seriously thinking of trying to persuade a small number of persons to join him in a colony thirty miles up the river; but this visionary project of a forest hermitage was never carried out, and in October he went to live in Concord, which was his home throughout the rest of his life. He lived with his mother in the Manse until, in 1835, having become engaged to Miss Lidia Jackson of Plymouth, he bought at a bargain the Coolidge house, which he said was a mean place, and would be till trees and flowers should give it a character of its own. It was a square mansion set rather low in a field, through which flowed a brook down to the sluggish Concord River.

In September he was called on as a townsman to deliver a discourse on the two hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the town, and he made special investigations for the purpose of imparting historic value to it. Two days after this event he drove to Plymouth and was married there at the Winslow house, which belonged to his bride. She would have liked to live in Plymouth, but he preferred Concord, and had written to her that "he was born a poet, though his singing was very husky and for the most Dart in prose," and therefore must guard and study his rambling propensities. Concord, he intimated, gave him sunsets, forests, snowstorms, and river views, which were more to him than friends, but Plymouth! — "Plymouth is streets!"

In the winters of 1835-1836, besides supplying the East Lexington church, he began a course of ten lectures on English literature, and this made such a favorable impression that henceforth his career was assured. Not only was the subject-matter original and unique, but the judgments expressed were sound, and the delivery was marked by a peculiar charm which those who heard him never forgot: "You are filled with delight at his clear demonstration. Each figure. word, gesture, just fits the occasion!" said Lowell.

In 1836 Emerson helped to introduce to American readers Carlyle's "Sartor Resartus," which had the distinction of selling the first edition and a thousand copies besides, before it was put into book form in England. His efforts in this practical direction elicited the little sneer in Lowell's "Fable for Critics," where he speaks of Emerson in these words :

His is, we may say,
A Greek head on right Yankee shoulders, whose range
Has Olympus for one pole, for t'other the Exchange.

Or again a little farther down he says he is composed of "one part pure earth, ninety-nine parts pure lecturer."

Lowell was even more severe on Emerson's poetry. After comparing his rich words to "gold nails in temples to hang trophies on, "he says, his —

Prose is grand verse. while his verse, the Lord knows,
Is some of it pr— No, 't is not even prose.

And he goes on:

In the worst of his poems are mines of rich matter,
But thrown in a heap with a crash and a clatter.

When Lowell was editor of the Atlantic Monthly, Emerson sent him his mystic "Song of Nature." But Lowell returned it to him, stating that certain lines in it would offend the religious susceptibilities of the community. The lines particularized were those where Homer, Shakespeare, and Plato were united with Christ in one:—

Twice have I moulded an image,
And thrice outstretched my hand;
Made one of day, and one of night,
And one of the salt sea-sand.
One in a Judean manger
And one by Avon stream,
One over against the mouths of Nile,
And one in the Academe.

Emerson was amazed, and took the poem to Miss Elizabeth Hoar, who was always his kindly censor, and asked her if she could see anything offensive in the lines.

Emerson said: "She read them carefully, but failed to help me out, concluding that they were not to be altered and must be allowed to stand. So they will not trouble the readers of the Atlantic."

In 1836, on the day of the two-hundredth anniversary of the founding of Harvard College, Emerson and others met and discussed the state of philosophy and theology. A few days later a project ripened of rounding a periodical to embody their views. Thus was started The Dial, which became the organ of the so-called transcendental movement, though the first number did not appear till July, 1840. Emerson's book, "Nature," is regarded as "the first document of that remarkable outburst of Romanticism on Puritan ground." It was published in September, 1836. Only a few copies were sold, and twelve years elapsed before a new edition was called for. But it was violently attacked by the champions of orthodoxy. Yet Dr. O. W. Holmes said Emerson took down men's "idols from their pedestals so tenderly that it seemed like an act of worship." This year was saddened by the death of Charles Emerson, whom Ralph Waldo called "his brother, his friend, his ornament, his joy, and pride"; he "has fallen by the wayside or rather has risen out of this dust," he wrote in his journal; "now commences a new and gloomy epoch of my life.... Who can ever supply his place to me?"

Charles Emerson was a born orator, who would have conferred on the Republic rare gifts of genius had he lived. Emerson's lament for him was one of the most touching things he ever wrote. This same year Emerson's first child, a boy "of wonderful promise," was born, but he lived only five years.

Within a few years Margaret Fuller and Amos Bronson Alcott came to him in Concord; but Margaret Fuller, in spite of her genius and in spite of his admiration for her genius, always "froze him to silence," and he had the same effect on her when they were on the point of coming nearer. But for Alcott he had the highest praise. He called him the most extraordinary man and the highest genius of his time. This admiration lasted till the end of his life. In his later days, when aphasia had so shattered his mind, there is a pathetic picture of him talking over the fence with Alcott with much of his old-time fluency; but in the afternoon Alcott returned and brought back to Emerson the philosophic bread that had been cast on the waters so abundantly. And Emerson, oblivious to the fact that it was his own, dilated with admiration, and exclaimed: "What a wonderful mind my friend over yonder "—he could not remember his name — "has!"

Thoreau was also one of Emerson's intimates, and frequently shared his week-day walks. Yet, curiously enough, Emerson objected to printing Thoreau's "Winter Walk" in The Dial. Hawthorne lived for four years in Concord, occupying the old Manse, but, though he was a great walker, he is known to have walked with Emerson only once, when they went together to visit the Shakers at Lebanon. Emerson said of Hawthorne, "Alcott and he together would make a man!"

Emerson's reading, as might be imagined, was peculiarly eclectic and erratic. Mr. Cabot says he cared nothing for Shelley, Aristophanes, Don Quixote, Miss Austen, Dickens, Dante, or French literature. He rarely read a novel. But the Neo-Platonists and the Sacred Books of the East particularly engaged him, and were the inspiration of many of his mystic lines.

Mr. Cabot says he lived among his books and was never comfortable away from them, yet they did not enter much into his life.

In 1836, having finished a course of twelve lectures on the "Philosophy of History," he was asked to repeat them in various places, though the one on "Religion" gave some offence. The substance of these twelve lectures afterward was included in his first series of "Essays." He still officiated occasionally as a minister, but the reception of his Phi Beta Kappa oration on "The American Scholar;" given August 31, 1837 cut the last thread of attachment. Lowell said of this: "It was an event without any former parallel in our literary annals .... What crowded and breathless aisles, what windows clustering with eager heads, what enthusiasm of approval, what grim silence of foregone dissent." Dr. Holmes called that oration "Our Intellectual Declaration of Independence."

In February he relinquished his charge at East Lexington, though his wife mourned "to see the froward man cutting the last threads that bound him to that prized gown and band, the symbols black and white of old and distant Judah."

A still greater shock came from the discourse which Emerson delivered in July, 1838, on the graduation day of the Divinity School. The Advertiser led in a bitter attack on him. Emerson described the stir that it made as "a storm in our wash-bowl." But it nearly resulted in excluding him from the lyceum as well as from the church; and he felt a little disturbed that it had placed him on an undeserved pedestal as a champion of heresy.

But his annual courses of lectures in Boston were not less popular. Theodore Parker wrote of the first one, given in the early winter of 1839: It "was splendid— better meditated and more coherent than any theory I have ever heard from him. Your eyes were not dazzled by a stream of golden atoms of thought such as he sometimes shoots forth —though there was no lack of these sparklers."

Emerson had at first declined to have editorial control of The Dial, but when, after two years of uphill struggle, Margaret Fuller relinquished it, he took hold most unwillingly and kept it along for two years more at some expense of money and much expense of worry. It lived till April, 1844. His own known contributions numbered not far from fifty. There may have been half as many again.

During three years the question of negro emancipation was coming to the fore. Emerson was at first more interested in having the right of free discussion upheld than in the deeper question beyond. In November, 1837, he spoke on Slavery in the vestry of the Second Church in Concord, but the Abolitionists thought his tone was too cool and philosophical; but in 1844 he delivered an address in the Concord courthouse in celebration of the anniversary of the liberation of the British West India Island slaves. All of the Concord churches refused to open their doors to the convention, so Thoreau secured the court-house, and is said to have rung the bell himself. And this time Emerson's trumpet gave forth no uncertain sound. He took a wise and common-sense view about woman suffrage, and, though he was not inveigled into any of the labor associations, such as Brook Farm and Fruitlands, in which his enthusiastic friends tried to interest him, he was not averse to developing a simpler and fairer way of living, and he invited the Alcotts to come and make common cause with them for a year. But Mrs. Alcott was wiser than the rest, and prevented the experiment being tried.

These years were not free from pecuniary anxieties. The most he ever received for a course of ten lectures before 1847 was $570. The country lyceums paid $10 and expenses. His family was increasing, and the town levied heavy taxes on him. His tax-bill for 1839 was more than $160. So he was constantly in debt, and his chief resource was the lecture field, though it revolted his nature to sell "good wine of Castaly." In 1843 he spent the whole winter away from home, lecturing in New York, Baltimore, and other places. Moreover, in order to preserve a hold on nature, he bought fourteen acres of woodland on Lake Walden, and this was a pecuniary burden for several years.

It comes with a sense of relief, like a sea-breeze on a sultry day, to read of him taking a vacation from that strenuous life of the platform by going to the seashore. He wrote his wife: "I read Plato, I swim, and be it known unto you, I did verily catch with hook and line yesterday morning two haddocks, a cod, a flounder, and a pollock, and a perch .... The sea is great!" This touch of the sea, "inexact and boundless," may be detected in the oration which he tried to write at Nantasket for delivery at Waterville, Me. But "the heat and happiness" of his inspiration were extinguished, as he long afterward confessed, by the cold reception with which it met. It was either at Waterville or in a Vermont town, perhaps both, that the minister at the end of the discourse prayed to be "delivered from ever again hearing such transcendental nonsense from the sacred desk." Afterward he went a number of times to the Adirondacks, where some of his sweetest poems were composed. He bought a rifle, but never used it.

Mr. Cabot says that lecturing, after all, was not the mode of utterance to which he aspired. Verse was, because he could get a larger and freer speech in rhyme. Some of his poems had been circulated, a few had been printed. And in December, 1843, a bookseller proposed to him to furnish a volume of his verses. But four years passed before the crucial impulse came to remedy "the corrigible and reparable places in them," and to put them together. "It was a small venture," he said. "My poems did not pay. My cranberry meadows paid much better." And when he made this remark he added, "My poems fell dead in England."

In 1847 he made his second journey to England, visited Carlyle for four days, and was amazed at "the great and constant stream" of his talk. "Carlyle and his wife," he says in a home letter, "live on beautiful terms." He breakfasted with Rogers, drank tea with James Martineau, and found profuse kindness and hospitality in Preston, Leicester, Chesterfield (where he dined with Stephenson, "the old engineer who built the first locomotive "), Birmingham— everywhere he went. At Edinburgh, where he lectured several times, he met all the notables, — "Christopher North," David Scott the painter, who made a portrait of him, Mrs. Jeffrey, Lord Jeffrey, Thomas De Quincey, and many more.

Still more brilliant was the society he met in London, — Macaulay, Bunsen, Milman, Milnes, Hallam, Lord Morpeth, "Barry Cornwall," Lord and Lady Ashburton, Thackeray, Disraeli, Lord Palmerston, and Tennyson. He was elected a member of the Athenæum Club, where he found some of the best men of England.

In May, 1848, he crossed to Paris and saw something of the Revolution and went to the theatre, where he heard Rachel. He complained humorously that his French was far from being as good as Madame de Staël's.

He returned to London in June and gave a course of lectures, at which he had most aristocratic audiences and dined with great lords and brilliant authors. But the pecuniary returns were smaller than he had reason to expect. For the Marylebone course of six he got only £80 instead of £200.

On his return to America he made the larger part of his income by lecturing. But he looked on the whole business as rather unseemly. He thought that it was a pity to drive young America to lecture, and as to the lecturer, he said that the "dragging of a decorous old gentleman out of home was tantamount to a bet of $50 a day that he would not leave his library and wade, and freeze, and ride, and run, and suffer all manner of indignities, and stand up for an hour each night reading in a hall."

But he did it, and his pictures of travel in the West in the pre-Pullman days are like the stories of the martyrs. Here we find him sleeping on the floor of a canal-boat, where the cushion allowed him for a bed was crossed at the knees by another tier of sleepers as long-limbed as he, "so that in the air was a wreath of legs"; again occupying a cabin, though in company with governors and legislators, and a cold of minus fifteen degrees. Again, flying through the forests of Michigan in company with college professors and wolverines. And again, ferried across the Mississippi in a skiff, where "much of the rowing was on the surface of fixed ice, in fault of running water."

In 1849 Emerson's separate addresses and "Nature" were published in one volume, and the next year came "Representative Men."

That year, 1850, also brought with it the Fugitive Slave Law, and Emerson's voice was lifted nobly against it. He here made a magnificent attack on Daniel Webster, for whose genius he had such an admiration as "the best and proudest, the first man of the North." He believed in confining slavery to the slave states, and then gradually and effectually making an end of it. He called on "the thirty nations" to do something besides ditching and draining. Said he, "Let them confront this mountain of poison and shovel it once for all down into the bottomless pit. A thousand millions were cheap!" History proved the truth of his prophetic words. At Cambridge he repeated the words containing these wise counsels, but was so interrupted by hisses and cat-calls that he could not go on. The college authorities, like the clergy and merchants, were generally Southern in sentiment.

When John Brown was in prison under sentence of death Emerson had the courage to call him "that new saint, than whom none purer or more brave was ever led by love of men into conflict and death— the new saint awaiting his martyrdom." His attitude on that burning question of the day militated against his success as a lecturer. Invitations to speak were withdrawn, and in 1861 at the meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society "the mob roared" whenever he tried to speak, and he had to withdraw. That was in his native Boston! The war also brought poverty pretty close to Emerson as to so many others. His books did not sell, his income from lecturing almost ceased, his real estate was unproductive, and he found himself struggling with the problem, how to pay three or four hundred dollars' worth of debts with fifty.

On January 1, 1863, when Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, a Jubilee Concert was given at the Music Hall, and Emerson read his "Boston Hymn." The time which he gave himself for its composition was so short that he was in despair, test he should not be able to do anything worthy of the occasion. But the inspiration flowed and a new treasure was added to English literature.

That same evening a gathering of the faithful took place at the house of Major George L. Stearns, at Medford, who perhaps did more than any man in Massachusetts to help along the cause of emancipation, who spent money like water, and himself raised the first two regiments of colored troops. Mrs. Stearns, who, with intellect as keen as ever, still lives to speak eloquently of those great days, thus tells the story of that epic gathering.

"Mr. Emerson was persuaded to repeat his poem, the 'Boston Hymn,' the original manuscript of which the Rev. Samuel Longfellow promptly begged of the author.

"It was a brilliant assembly, filled with exultation over the decree of emancipation which had been wired from Washington. The certainty of this great measure Wendell Phillips had announced as he entered the drawing-room. Instinctively the company burst into the John Brown song, greeting the newly unveiled bust of the martyr of freedom, which the sculptor J. Q. A. Brackett had just made.

"It was past midnight when the guests departed, every heart glowing with the sublime event, rejoicing with a mighty joy that deliverance from slavery at last had come."

Then occurred one of those charming little episodes so characteristic of Emerson's thoughtfulness and simplicity. Mrs. Stearns thus relates it: —

"Mr. Emerson and his friend, Mr. Alcott, remained overnight.

"When the hostess asked Mr. Emerson his preference of sleeping rooms, he said, 'Let Mr. Alcott and myself have the same room, then Vesta will have only one instead of two beds to make in the morning.'"

Another characteristic anecdote of the same kind may be related here, also from Mrs. Stearns's recollections: —

"On one occasion, after we had been visiting the Emersons, when we were preparing to drive home, the evening being rather chilly, for it was autumn, Mr. Emerson brought his overcoat from the hall, and, holding it up by the collar, said, 'I am always a little suspicious of the warmth of ladies' garments, the evening is cool, and the drive is one of seventeen miles; it will oblige me, Mrs. Stearns, if you will put on this overcoat, and wear it home. It can be recommended for warmth if not for elegance.'

"It was beautiful hospitality and consideration, but I instinctively drew back, saying:—

"'Oh, Mr. Emerson, how can I dare to wear the Lion 's Skin!'"

He could only be persuaded to withdraw the overcoat by being assured that sufficient wraps were stowed away in the carriage. "I have regretted," says Mrs. Stearns, "the modest scruples that hindered the wearing of the Poet's Coat, just for once."

In 1863 he was appointed one of the visitors to West Point, where John Burroughs, seeing him, took him to be "an inquisitive farmer." In 1866 he was granted the degree of Doctor of Laws by Harvard and elected one of the overseers. The following year he was orator for the [Phi Beta Kappa] Society —" not now," says Mr. Cabot, "as a promising young beginner from whom a fair poetical speech might be expected, but as the foremost man of letters of New England."

It was at this time rumored that he was drifting back from heretical to more conventional opinions in religious matters; and it is stated on good authority that, when it was proposed to dispense with compulsory prayers at Harvard, Emerson's vote prevented the innovation from prevailing. But he authorized his son to announce that he had not retracted any of his views.

Three years later he was gratified to be invited to give a course of university lectures in Cambridge, and for this he prepared his sketches of "The Natural History of the Intellect," but he was not satisfied with his attempt to make a system of philosophy. The fruit of Emerson's intellect was not cohesive, but granular, and his thoughts are not easily moulded into a consecutive logical form. Hence it was possible for him to begin a lecture or end it anywhere. In his latter days I remember hearing him read a paper before the Radical Club. Every little while he would stop, saying he had gone far enough. But the audience and his daughter would persuade him to continue. But when he finally paused, the subject had been neither begun nor exhausted. His mind was like a carbon point; when the electricity was turned on, it gave out light, and it was always ready to shine.

He repeated his Cambridge course the next year, but felt that he had not succeeded as he had hoped to do. In a letter to Carlyle he called it "a doleful ordeal," and when it was concluded, accepted with alacrity an invitation to visit California on a six weeks' trip with near friends and in the most delightful circumstances.

After 1870 the decay of his mental powers, particularly of his memory: was very noticeable. He spoke of himself as "a man who had lost his wits." His last effort of composition was an introduction to Plutarch's "Morals" edited by Professor Goodwin. He compared it carefully with the original Greek, which he was able to read.

In July, 1872, he had just returned from Amherst, where he had delivered an address, when he discovered that his house was on fire. The neighbors rushed to his aid and succeeded in saving the books, manuscript, and furniture; but the house was ruined by fire and water, and Emerson himself contracted a feverish attack from exposure to the dampness.

Friends rushed to his aid in even more substantial ways. Mr. Francis Cabot Lowell brought him an envelope containing $5000. Nearly $12,000 more were contributed to rebuild the house, and while the work was in progress he was persuaded to make another journey abroad, to visit London, Italy, and Egypt. He saw Carlyle once more and dined with the Khedive. He and his daughter went up the Nile to Philæ, but on the whole he was disappointed with the sacred land: "the people despise us," he wrote, "because we are helpless babies who cannot speak or understand a word they say; the sphynxes scorn dunces; the obelisks, the temple-walls, defy us with their histories which we cannot spell."

The journey did him good, however, and on his return to Italy he began to work on a new edition of his poems. In Paris he saw Renan, Taine, Turgenief, and James Russell Lowell; in England he declined all invitations but one to speak, but he breakfasted with Gladstone, and saw Browning and many other notables.

When he reached home in May he was surprised and touched by the spontaneous welcome of his townspeople. The church bells rang, the whole town assembled—babies and all—and he was escorted with music to his new house, where a triumphal arch had been erected. He found his study unchanged, but many improvements had been introduced in the restoration of the house.

The following year his anthology of collected poems, "Parnassus," was published, and he was asked to be one of the candidates for the lord rectorship of Glasgow University. For this he received five hundred votes. Disraeli was elected, however.

In March, 1875, he went to lecture in Philadelphia, and had a delightful visit with his old friends, Dr. Furhess and Samuel Bradford. The next month he made a little speech at the unveiling of Mr. Daniel C. French's "Minute Man," and this is believed to be the last piece written out with his own hand. After this time Mr. James Eliot Cabot served as his literary guide, shaping his lectures, and combining them, and helping him to arrange for the complete edition of his works.

Still occasionally reading from his lectures, still enjoying the serene calm of old age, where even his infirmity of memory may have made it all the serener, free from all worriment, he lived on till the spring of 1882, when he died of pneumonia on the 27th of April, at the very end of his seventy-eighth year.

One could fill many pages with testimonials of the influence of Emerson with contemporary descriptions of the man and his beneficent life.

Henry Crabbe Robinson declared that he had one of the most interesting countenances that he had ever beheld —a quite disarming combination of intelligence and sweetness. N. P. Willis grew enthusiastic over the voice, which he said was the utterance of his soul only, and his soul had sprung to the adult stature of a child of the universe.

Dr. Holmes said: "He was always courteous and bland to a remarkable degree; his smile was the well remembered line of Terence written out in living features." No one who ever heard him speak will forget the play of his features, the lighting up of his eyes with a rapt inner illumination, the emphatic stamp of his foot when some weighty thought required enforcement. He was one of the great souls of the century, and his works will be for all time a source of inspiration to young and old. They are indeed a mine of thought, all the more valuable, perhaps, that they are not welded into a system.

Many enthusiasts consider him to have been the greatest poet America has yet produced. Technically this thesis can never be supported. His disdain of mere form led him to produce verses which read with heaviness and halting but the beauty of the thought atones for missing symmetry and freshness of rhyme and Emerson as a poet will always have an audience of admirers and some worshippers, oblivious of his verse's fault. Once when some one praised his poetry Emerson interrupted, "You forget; we are damned for poetry." And he wrote to Carlyle that he was "not a poet, but a lover of poetry and poets"—a sort of harbinger of the poets to come.

Emerson's influence was always exerted in the line of the loftiest aspirations. Consequently he will always be dear to thinkers and to poets, and an inspiration to the young. His whole life, however closely examined, shows no flaw of temper or of foible. It was serene and lovely to the end.

Major Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson

- The American Scholar, 1837
- The Conduct of Life, 1860
- The Conservative, 1841
- The Divinity School Address, 1838
- The Fortune of the Republic, 1878
- Education, 1840
- English Traits, 1856
- Essays: First Series, 1841
- Essays: Second Series, 1841
- Lectures and Biographical Sketches, 1883
- Letters and Social Aims, 1876
- May Day and Other Poems, 1867
- The Method of Nature, 1841
- Nature, 1836
- Poems, 1847
- Representative Men, 1850
- Society and Solitude, 1870
- The Transcendentalism, 1840
- The Young American, 1844

Quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson

- "The human soul, the world, the universe are laboring on to their magnificent consummation. We are not fashioned ... marvelously for nought." (from his journal, 1820)

- "Let me consider this as a resolution by which I pledge myself to act in all variety of circumstances and to which I must recur often in times of carelessness and temptation-to measure my conduct by the rule of conscience." (from his journal, 1821)

- "We forget ourselves and our destinies in health, and the chief use of temporary sickness is to remind us of these concerns." (from his journal, 1821)

- "Look next from the history of my intellect to the history of my heart. A blank, my lord. I have not the kind affections of a pigeon." (from his journal, 1822)

- "My infant imagination was idolatrous of glory." (from his journal, 1822)

- "Envy is the tax which all distinction must pay." (from his journal, 1824)

- "A little praise
   Goes a great ways." (from "Encyclopedia", 1824-1836)

- "God hides things by putting them near us." (from "Encyclopedia", 1824-1836)

- "The man of genius inspires us with a boundless confidence in our own powers." (from "Encyclopedia", 1824-1836)

- "A standing army is of more danger to the state it protects than to that which it threatens." (from his journal, 1826)

- "My external condition may to many seem comfortable, to some enviable, but I think that few men ever suffered (in degree not in amount) more genuine misery than I have suffered." (from his journal, 1826)

- "What we have learned from others becomes our own by reflection." (from "Blotting Book 1", 1826-1827)

- "It is said public opinion will not bear it. Really? Public opinion, I am sorry to say, will bear a great deal of nonsense. There is scarce any absurdity so gross whether in religion, politics, science, or manners, which it will not bear." (from his journal, 1827)

- "It is said to be the age of the first person singular." (from his journal, 1827)

- "What is the matter with the world that it is so out of joint? Simply that men do not rule themselves but let circumstances rule them." (from his journal, 1828)

- "It is the office of the priest ... to see the creation with a new eye." (from his journal, 1829)

- "In a virtuous community men of sense and of principle will always be placed at the head of affairs. In a declining state of public morals men will be so blinded to their true interests as to put the incapable and unworthy at the helm. It is therefore vain to complain of the follies or crimes of a government. We must lay our hands on our own hearts and say, Here is the sin that makes the public sin." (from "The Individual and State", 1930)

- "The bible is a sealed book to him who has not first heard its laws from his soul." (from "Trust Yourself", a sermon, 1930)

- "How ridiculous is Caesar and Bonaparte wandering from one extreme of civilization to the other to conquer men-himself, the while, unconquered, unexplored, almost wholly unsuspected to himself." (from "Trust Yourself", a sermon, 1830)

- "The more finished the character, the more striking is its individuality." (from "Trust Yourself", a sermon, 1830)

- "Broadway is Trade and Vanity made flesh." (from his journal, 1831)

- "Education is the drawing out [of] the Soul." (from his journal, 1831)

- "Every fact depends for its value on how much we already know." (from his journal, 1831)

- "He that succeeds in the world loves it. He that fails in it hates it." (from his journal, 1831)

- "Light is but his shadow dim." (from his journal, 1831)

- "Our very defects are ... shadows of our virtues." (from his journal, 1831)

- "Riches are a trust ... ,
   Power is a trust ... .
   Talents are a trust too; that is the condition of their increase.
They must be put out to use, or they will ruin the steward." (from his journal, 1831)

- "There is a capacity of virtue in us, and there is a capacity of vice to make your blood creep." (from his journal, 1831)

- "To reflect is to receive truth immediately from God without any medium. That is living faith. To take on trust certain facts is a dead faith-inoperative. ... You are as one who has a private door that leads him to the King's chamber. You have learned nothing rightly that you have not learned so." (from his journal, 1831)

- "Trust to that prompting within you." (from his journal, 1831)

- "The best of all ways to make one's reading valuable is to write about it, and so I hope my Cousin Elizabeth has a blank book where she keeps some record of her thoughts." (from a letter to his cousin Elizabeth Tucker, 1832)

- "It is never too late to do right." (from a letter to his cousin Elizabeth Tucker, 1832)

- "America means opportunity, freedom, power." (from "Unpublished Lectures", 1932)

- "An impulse as irresistible as in the acorn to germinate is in the soul of the prophet to speak." (from his journal, 1833)

- "God will not have his work made manifest by cowards." (from his journal, 1833)

- "Happy the man who never puts on a face, but receives every visitor with that countenance he has on." (from his journal, 1833)

- "I like the sayers of No better than the sayers of yes." (from his journal, 1833)

- "In this world, if a man sits down to think, he is immediately asked if he has the headache." (from his journal, 1833)

- "The age of puberty is a crisis. ... It is the passage from the Unconscious to the Conscious; from the sleep of the Passions to their rage-, from careless receiving to cunning providing." (from his journal, 1834)

- "Blessed is the day when the youth discovers that Within and Above are synonyms." (from his journal, 1834)

- "Excite the soul, and the weather and the town and your condition in the world all disappear; the world itself loses its solidity, nothing remains but the soul and the Divine Presence in which it lives." (from his journal, 1834)

- "Every involuntary repulsion that arises in your mind, give heed unto. It is the surface of a central truth." (from his journal, 1834)

- "Four snakes gliding up and down a hollow for no purpose that I could see-not to eat, not for love, but only gliding." (from his journal, 1834)

- "Rain, rain. The good rain, like a bad preacher, does not know when to leave off." (from his journal, 1834)

- "Wherever the truth is injured, defend it." (from his journal, 1834)

- "A man plunges into politics to make his fortune, and only cares that the world should last his days." (from a letter to Thomas Carlyle, 1835)

- "The alternations of speaking and hearing make our education." (from his journal, 1835)

- "The unsaid part is the best of every discourse." (from his journal, 1835)

- "Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your reading have been to you like the blast of trumpet out of Shakespeare, Seneca, Moses, John, and Paul." (from his journal, 1836)

- "The more profound the thought, the more burdensome. What is in will out." (from his journal, 1836)

- "Nothing is useless. A superstition is a hamper or a basket to carry useful lessons in." (from his journal, 1836)

- "Observe the invincible tendency of the mind to unify. It is a law of our constitution that we should not contemplate things apart without the effort to arrange them in order with known facts and ascribe them to the same law." (from his journal, 1836)

- "The ocean is a large drop; the drop, a small ocean." (from his journal, 1836)

- "There is a difference between the waiting of the prophet and the standing still of the fool." (from his journal, 1836)

- "The Use of Nature is to awaken the feeling of the Absolute. Nature is perpetual effect. It is the shadow pointing to an unseen Sun." (from his journal, 1836)

- "You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud, and fruit." (from his journal, 1836)

- "The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language. ... In due time, the fraud is manifest, and words lose all power to stimulate the understanding or the affections." (from "Nature", 1836)

- "Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous." (from "Nature", 1836)

- "In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period so ever of life, is always a child. In the woods is a perpetual youth. ... In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life-no disgrace, no calamity, ... which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground-my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space-all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God." (from "Nature", 1836)

- "The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common." (from "Nature", 1836)

- "Man has access to the entire mind of the Creator, is himself the creator in the finite. This view ... animates me to create my own world through the purification of my soul." (from "Nature", 1836)

- "The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is because man is disunited with himself." (from "Nature", 1836)

- "So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes." (from "Nature", 1836)

- "Truth and goodness and beauty are but different faces of the same All. But beauty in nature is not ultimate. It is the herald of inward and eternal beauty." (from "Nature", 1836)

- "We are as much strangers in nature as we are aliens from God. We do not understand the notes of birds. The fox and the deer run away from us." (from "Nature", 1836)

- "A Day is a miniature Eternity." (from his journal, 1836)

- "The house praises the carpenter." (from his journal, 1836)

- "Concealment impossible
   In will out." (from "Notebook F No. 1", 1836-1840)

- "Men are the poetry of God." (from "Notebook F No. 1", 1836-1840)

- "Reward of an act is to have done it." (from "Notebook F No. 1", 1836-1840)

- "Serve self you serve society
   Serve society serve yourself." (from "Notebook F No. 1", 1836-1840)

- "Books are for the scholars' idle times. When he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men's transcripts of their readings. But when the intervals of darkness come, as come they must—we repair to the lamps which were kindled by their ray, to guide our steps to the East again, where the dawn is." (from "The American Scholar", 1837)

- "The great man makes the great thing. Wherever Macdonald sits, there is the head of the table." (from "The American Scholar", 1837)

- ""I learned," said the melancholy Pestalozzi, "that no man in God's wide earth is either willing or able to help any other man." Help must come from the bosom alone." (from "The American Scholar", 1837)

- "It is one light which beams out of a thousand stars. It is one soul which animates all men." (from "The American Scholar", 1837)

- "One must be an inventor to read well. ... There is then creative reading as well as creative writing." (from "The American Scholar", 1837)

- "The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters-a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man." (from "The American Scholar", 1837)

- "This world-this shadow of the soul, or other me-lies wide around. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thought and make me acquainted with myself." (from "The American Scholar", 1837)

- "A good style. Nothing can be added to it, neither can anything be taken from it." (from his journal, 1837)

- "Genius is the enemy of genius by overinfluence." (from his journal, 1837)

- "I knew a man scared by the rustle of his own hatband." (from his journal, 1837)

- "If a nation of men is exalted to that height of morals as to refuse to fight and choose rather to suffer loss of goods and loss of life than to use violence, they must be not helpless but most effective and great men; they would overawe their invader, and make him ridiculous; they would communicate the contagion of their virtue and inoculate all mankind." (from his journal, 1837)

- "It is very hard to be simple enough to be good." (from his journal, 1837)

- "Sad is the continual postponement of life." (from his journal, 1837)

- "There never was child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep." (from his journal, 1837)

- "The virtue of society is really the basis of its stability." (from his journal, 1837)

- "Value of a Journal. A sentence now; a sentence last year; a sentence yesterday. Tomorrow a question comes that for the first time brings together these three and shows them to be the three fractions of [a] Unit." (from "Notebook Delta", 1837-1862)

- "Men have come to speak of the revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead." (from "The Divinity School Address", 1838)

- "Speak the truth, and all nature and all spirits help you with unexpected furtherance. Speak the truth, and all things alive or brute are vouchers, and the very roots of the grass underground there do seem to stir and move to bear you witness." (from "The Divinity School Address", 1838)

- "To aim to convert a man by miracles is a profanation of the soul." (from "The Divinity School Address", 1838)

- "The world [is] the mirror of the soul." (from "The Divinity School Address", 1838)

- "After thirty a man is too sensible of the straight limitations which his physical constitution sets to his activity. The stream feels its banks, which it had forgotten in the run and overflow of the first meadows." (from his journal, 1838)

- "How soon the sunk spirits rise again, how quick the little wounds of fortune skin over and are forgotten." (from his journal, 1838)

- "I hate to be defended in a newspaper. As long as all that is said is said against me, I feel a certain sublime assurance of success but as soon as [honeyed] words of praise are spoken for me, I feel as one that lies unprotected before his enemies." (from his journal, 1838)

- "I stir in it for the sad reason that no other mortal will move, and if I do not, why, it is left undone.
  The amount of it, be sure, is merely a Scream; but sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." (referring to his efforts to stop the U.S. Government's forced expulsion of the Cherokee Nation from its land from his journal, 1838)

- "If we live truly, we shall see truly." (from his journal, 1838)

- "Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I air. persecuted whenever I am contradicted." (from his journal, 1838)

- "The meaning of good and bad ... is simply helping or hurting." (from his journal, 1838)

- "The more perfect the understanding between men, the less need of words." (from his journal, 1838)

- "One Mind. The ancients exchanged their names with their friends, signifying that in their friend they loved their own soul." (from his journal, 1838)

- "The only speech will at last be Action such as Confucius describes the Speech of God." (from his journal, 1838)

- "Society has no bribe for me, neither in politics, nor church, nor college, nor city." (from his journal, 1838)

- "Solitude is naught and society is naught. Alternate them and the good of each is seen." (from his journal, 1838)

- "The test of a religion or philosophy is the number of things it can explain: so true it is. But the religion of our churches explains neither art not society nor history, but itself needs explanation." (from his journal, 1838)

- "They will have Christ for a Lord and not for a Brother. Christ preaches the greatness of man, but we hear only the greatness of Christ." (from his journal, 1838)

- "We are wiser ... than we know." (from his journal, 1838)

- "The manhood that has been in war must be transferred to the cause of peace, before war can lose its charm, and peace be venerable to men." (from "War", 1838)

- "Revolutions go not backward." (from "War", 1838)

- "Lucky to get off from those you have served without a slap." (from "Notebook Phi", 1838-1851)

- "Music first before thought." (from "Notebook Phi", 1838-1851)

- "The orator masters us by being our tongue." (from "Genius", 1839)

- "A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist." (from his journal, 1839)

- "A walk in the woods is only an exalted dream." (from his journal, 1839)

- "All which liveth tendeth to good." (from his journal, 1839)

- "The heart in thee is the Heart of all." (from his journal, 1839)

- "The highest Beauty should be plain set." (from his journal, 1839)

- "I have regard to appearance still. So am I no hero." (from his journal, 1839)

- "I like my boy with his endless sweet soliloquies and iterations and his utter inability to conceive why I should not leave all my nonsense, business, and writing and come to tie up his toy horse, as if there was or could be any end to nature beyond his horse. And he is wiser than we when [he] threatens his whole threat "I will not love you."" (from his journal, 1839)

- "I will surrender to the Divine-to nothing less." (from his journal, 1839)

- "In nature nothing is done but in the cheapest way." (from his journal, 1839)

- "It is so easy to give a naughty boy a slap, overpower him in an instant, and make him obey, that in this world of hurry and distraction, who can possibly spend time to wait for the slow return of his reason and the conquest of himself in the uncertainty too whether that will ever come." (from his journal, 1839)

- "The new individual must work out the whole problem of science, letters and theology for himself; can owe his fathers nothing." (from his journal, 1839)

- "The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is that it scatters your force: loses your time, blears the impression of your character. ... Do your thing and I shall know you." (from his journal, 1839)

- "Traveling is a fool's paradise. We owe to our first travels the discovery that place is nothing. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples and there beside me is the Stern Fact, the Sad Self unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. ... My Giant goes with me wherever I go." (from his journal, 1839)

- "We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing." (from his journal, 1839)

- "We should be all kings and all queens." (from his journal, 1839)

- "With the exercise of self-trust new powers shall appear." (from his journal, 1839)

- "The world can never be learned by learning all its details." (from his journal, 1839)

- "The best picture makes us say, I am a painter also." (from "Education", 1840)

- "Conformity is the ape of harmony." (from his journal, 1840)

- "Do not say things. What you are stands over you the while and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary." (from his journal, 1840)

- "I accuse myself of sloth and unprofitableness day by day but when these waves of God flow into me, I no longer reckon lost time." (from his journal, 1840)

- "I dreamed that I floated at will in the great Ether, and I saw this world floating also not far off, but diminished to the size of an apple. Then an angel took it in his hand and brought it to me and said, "This must thou eat." And I ate the world." (from his journal, 1840)

- "J.L.S. has this fatal fault that he is too easily pleased." (from his journal, 1840)

- "Let every man shovel out his own snow and the whole city will be passable." (from his journal, 1840)

- "My page about "Consistency" would be better written thus: Damn Consistency!" (from his journal, 1840)

- "We are all boarders on one table-White man, black man, ox and eagle, bee and worm." (from his journal, 1840)

- "We are never so fit for friendship as when we cease to seek for it, and take ourselves to friend." (from his journal, 1840)

- "Every materialist will be an idealist; but an idealist can never go backward to be a materialist." (from "The Transcendentalism", 1840)

- "Whoso goes to walk alone, accuses the whole world; he declareth all to be unfit to be his companions; it is very uncivil, nay, insulting; Society will retaliate." (from "The Transcendentalist", 1840)

- "Conservatism stands on man's incontestable limitations; reform on his indisputable infinitude." (from "The Conservative", 1841)

- "The order of things is as good as the character of the population permits." (from "The Conservative", 1841)

- "There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact." (from "The Conservative", 1841)

- "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." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "A man often pays dear for a small frugality." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "All mankind love a lover." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "All reform aims, in some one particular, to let the soul have its way through us." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Always the thought is prior to the fact; all the facts of history preexist in the mind as laws." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. ... The very hopes of man, the thoughts of his heart, the religion of nations, the manners and morals of mankind, are all at the mercy of a new generalization." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Cause and effect are two sides of one fact." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Cause and Effect, the chancellors of God." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. ... His notebooks impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question; whether machinery does not encumber." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Deal so plainly with man and woman, as to constrain the utmost sincerity, and destroy all hope of trifling with you. [Sincerity] is the highest compliment you pay." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Dreams wherein often we see ourselves in masquerade." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Expect me not to show cause why I seek or why I exclude company." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Every chemical substance, every plant, every animal in its growth, teaches the unity of cause, the variety of appearance." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The faith that stands on authority is not faith. The reliance on authority measures the decline of religion, the withdrawal of the soul." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Friends are self-elected. Reverence is a great part of it." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please-you can never have both. Between these, as a pendulum, man oscillates." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "God screens us evermore from premature ideas." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "He that despiseth small things will perish by little and little." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The heart and soul of all men being one, this bitterness of His and Mine ceases. His is mine. I am my brother, and my brother is me." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "If he would know what the great God speaketh, he must "go into his closet and shut the door," as Jesus said [Matthew 6:6]. God will not make himself manifest to cowards. He must greatly listen to himself, withdrawing himself from all the accents of other men's devotion. Even their prayers are hurtful to him, until he hats] made his own." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "If I gain any good, I must pay for it. If I lose any good, I gain sons other." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Insist on yourself; never imitate." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "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." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "It is only as a man puts off all foreign support, and stands alone, that I see him to be strong and to prevail. He is weaker by every recruit to his banner." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Leave to the diamond its ages to grow, nor expect to accelerate the births of the eternal." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Let us be silent-so we may hear the whisper of the gods." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Life is a progress, and not a station." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Man is a stream whose source is hidden. Our being is descending into us from we know not whence." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Men ... measure their esteem of each other by what each has, not by what each is." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Men walk as prophecies of the next age." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The mob is man voluntarily descending to the nature of the beast." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The most wonderful inspirations die with their subject, if he has no hand to paint them to the senses." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Nature is a mutable cloud, which is always and never the same." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Nature is an endless combination and repetition of a very few laws." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "No one can come near me but through my act." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The only way to have a friend is to be one." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there is any hope for them." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Power is in nature the essential measure of right. Nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which cannot help itself." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The soul knows only the soul; the web of events is the flowing robe in which she is clothed." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Speak to his heart, and the man becomes suddenly virtuous." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The sweetest music is not in the oratorio, but in the human voice when it speaks from its instant life tones of tenderness, truth, or courage." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "That shudder of awe and delight with which the individual soul always mingles with the universal soul." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "There is no teaching until the pupil is brought into the same state or principle in which you are; a transfusion takes place; he is you, and you are he." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The thief steals from himself. The swindler swindles himself." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "To be great is to be misunderstood." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men-that is genius." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The universe is represented in an atom, in a moment of time." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Valor consists in the power of self-recovery." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The virtues of society are the vices of the saint." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "We distinguish the announcements of the soul, its manifestations of its own nature, by the term Revelation. ... This communication is an influx of the Divine mind into our mind." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "We gain the strength of the temptation we resist." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "We know better than we do. We do not yet possess ourselves, and we know at the same time that we are much more." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "We learn that God is; that he is in me; and that all things are shadows of him." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Welcome evermore to gods and men is the self-helping man. For him all doors are flung wide: him all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire. Our love goes out to him and embraces him because he did not need it." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "What is the hardest task in the world? To think." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The world globes itself in a drop of dew." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it." (from "Essays: First Series", 1841)

- "The difference between talent and genius is in the direction of the current: in genius, it is from within outward; in talent, from without inward." (from his journal, 1841)

- "In March many weathers. March always comes [even] if it doles] not come till May. May generally does not come at all." (from his journal, 1841)

- "In the Feejee [sic] islands, it appears, cannibalism is now familiar. They eat their own wives and children. We only devour widows' houses, and great merchants outwit and absorb the substance of small ones and every man feeds on his neighbor's labor if he can. It is a milder form of cannibalism." (from his journal, 1841)

- "It is only known to Plato that we can do without Plato." (from his journal, 1841)

- "Let a man not resist the law of his own mind, and he will be filled with the divinity which flows through all things." (from his journal, 1841)

- "Let us answer a book of ink with a book of flesh and blood." (from his journal, 1841)

- "Man is a Gate betwixt hell and heaven." (from his journal, 1841)

- "People say law, but they mean wealth." (from his journal, 1841)

- "Then the good river-god' [took] the form of my valiant Henry Thoreau here and introduced me to the riches of his shadowy, starlit, moonlit stream, a lovely new world lying as close and yet as unknown to this vulgar trite one of streets and shops as death to life, or poetry to prose. Through one field only we went to the boat and then left all time, all science, all history, behind us and entered into Nature with one stroke of a paddle. Take care, good friend! I said, as I looked west into the sunset overhead and underneath, and he with his face toward me rowed towards it-take care; you know not what you do, dipping your wooden oar into this enchanted liquid, painted with all reds and purples and yellows which glows under and behind you. Presently this glory faded and the stars came and said "Here we are," and began to cast such private and ineffable beams as to stop all conversation." (from his journal, 1841)

- "There is none without his foible. I verily believe if an angel should come to ravish [him] with the melodies of the moral law in speech sweeter and richer than Shakespeare's, he would eat too much gingerbread, or be moody when he was alone, or keep a capital lookout for number one, as the children say, or have some one or other pitiful hole in his coat." (from his journal, 1841)

- "We are very near to greatness: one step and we are safe: can we not take the leap?" (from his journal, 1841)

- "There comes now and then a bolder spirit, I should rather say, a more surrendered soul, more informed and led by God, which is much in advance of the rest, quite beyond their sympathy, but predicts what shall soon be the general fullness; as when we stand by the seashore, whilst the tide is coming in, a wave comes up the beach far higher than any foregoing one, and recedes; and for a long while none comes up to that mark; but after some time the whole sea is there and beyond it." (from "Lecture on the Times", 1841)

- "Let our affection flow out to our fellows; it would operate in a day the greatest of all revolutions. It is better to work on institutions by the sun than by the wind. ... Let the amelioration in our laws of property proceed from the concession of the rich, not from the grasping of the poor." (from "Man the Reformer", 1841)

- "Love would put a new face on this weary old world in which we dwell as pagans and enemies too long." (from "Man the Reformer", 1841)

- "Our expense is almost all for conformity. It is for cake that we run in debt; 'tis not the intellect, not the heart, not beauty, not worship, that costs so much." (from "Man the Reformer", 1841)

- "The trail of the serpent reaches into all the lucrative professions and practices of man, Each has its own wrongs. Each finds a tender and very intelligent conscience a disqualification for success. Each requires of the practitioner a certain shutting of the eyes, a certain dapperness and compliance, an acceptance of customs, a sequestration from the sentiments of generosity arid love, a compromise of private opinion and lofty integrity." (from "Man the Reformer", 1841)

- "When I go into my 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. But not only health but education is in the work." (from "Man the Reformer", 1841)

- "The current of inward life ... increases as it is spent." (from "The Method of Nature", 1841)

- "The one condition coupled with the gift of truth is its use." (from "The Method of Nature", 1841)

- "When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it." (from "The Method of Nature", 1841)

- "My son, a perfect little boy of five years and three months, had ended his earthly life. You can never sympathize with me; you can never know how much of me such a young child can take away. A few weeks ago I accounted myself a very rich man, and now the poorest of all." (from a letter to Thomas Carlyle, 1842)

- "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble." (from his journal, 1842)

- "As long as I am weak, I shall talk of Fate; whenever the God fills me with his fullness, I shall see the disappearance of Fate." (from his journal, 1842)

- "The Carpenter's cord, if you hold your ear close enough, is musical in the breeze." (from his journal, 1842)

- "First we eat, then we beget; first we read, then we write." (from his journal, 1842)

- "I am Defeated all the time; yet to Victory I am born." (from his journal, 1842)

- "The most Indian thing about the Indian is surely not his moccasins or his calumet, his wampum or his stone hatched, but traits of character and sagacity, skill, or passion." (from his journal, 1842)

- "Sorrow makes us all children again, destroys all difference of intellect. The wisest knows nothing." (from his journal, 1842)

- "We do not know whether today we are busy or idle. I have seemed to myself very indolent at times, when, as it afterwards appeared, much was accomplished in me." (from his journal, 1842)

- "With all progress this happens, that speech becomes less, and finally ceases in a nobler silence." (from his journal, 1842)

- "Work in every hour; paid or unpaid, see only that thou work; and thou canst not escape the reward." (from his journal, 1842)

- "Extremes meet: there is no straight line." (from his journal, 1843)

- "I think we are not quite yet fit for Flying Machines and therefore there will be none." (from his journal, 1843)

- "If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the Universe against me." (from his journal, 1843)

- "In Roxbury, in 1825, I read Cotton's translation of Montaigne. It seemed to me as if I had written the book myself in some former life, so sincerely it spoke my thought and experience." (from his journal, 1843)

- "My garden is an honest place. Every tree and every vine are incapable of concealment, and tell after two or three months exactly what sort of treatment they have had. The sower may mistake and sow his peas crookedly: the peas make no mistake but come and show his line." (from his journal, 1843)

- "Never strike a king unless you are sure you shall kill him." (from his journal, 1843)

- "One great wrong must soon disappear: this right to burden the unborn with state loans." (from his journal, 1843)

- "The Sky is the daily bread of the eyes." (from his journal, 1843)

- "That point of imperfection which we occupy-is it on the way up or down?." (from his journal, 1843)

- "Those who live for the future must always appear selfish to those who live for the present." (from his journal, 1843)

- "What sculpture in these hard clouds; what expression of immense amplitude in this dotted and rippled rack, here firm and continental, there vanishing into plumes and auroral gleams. No crowding; boundless, cheerful, and strong." (from his journal, 1843)

- "I have very joyful dreams which I cannot bring to paper, much less to any approach to practice, and I blame myself not at all for my reveries, but that they have not yet got possession of my house and barn." (from a letter to Thomas Carlyle, 1844)

- "All stealing is comparative. If you come to absolutes, pray who does not steal?" (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "All writing comes by the grace of God." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Character is that which can do without success." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "The definition of spiritual should be, that which is its own evidence." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "The first point of courtesy must always be truth." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Imagination is a very high sort of seeing." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Language is fossil poetry." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "The less government we have the better—the fewer laws, and the less confided power. The antidote to this abuse of formal Government is the influence of private character, the growth of the Individual. ... To educate the wise man, the State exists; and with the appearance of the wise man, the State expires. The appearance of character makes the State unnecessary." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Life must be lived on a higher platform, to which we are always invited to ascend; there, the whole aspect of things changes." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Men are conservatives when they are least vigorous, or when they are most luxurious. They are conservatives, after dinner, or before taking their rest; when they are sick, or aged: in the morning, or when their intellect or their conscience have been aroused, when they hear music, or when they read poetry, they are radicals." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Nature, as we know her, is no saint." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Of all debts, men are least willing to pay the taxes. What a satire is this on government!." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Spirit is matter reduced to an extreme thinness: O so thin!." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Surely nobody would be a charlatan who could afford to be sincere." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "That which we call sin in others, is experiment for us." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "Temperament is the iron wire on which the beads are strung." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "To finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "The true romance which the world exists to realize, will be the transformation of genius into practical power." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "The universal impulse to believe ... is the principal fact in the history of the globe." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "We boast our emancipation from many superstitions; but if we have broken any idols, it is through a transfer of idolatry." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "We do what we must, and call it by the best names we can." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "We fancy men are individuals; so are pumpkins; but every pumpkin in the field goes through every point of pumpkin history." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "We think our civilization near its meridian, but we are yet only at the cock-crowing and the morning star. In our barbarous society the influence of character is in its infancy." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "The wise through excess of wisdom is made a fool." (from "Essays: Second Series", 1844)

- "He who does his own work frees a slave. He who does not his own work is a slaveholder." (from his journal, 1844)

- "In Maine they have not a summer but a thaw." (from his journal, 1844)

- "Our people are slow to learn the wisdom of sending character instead of talent to Congress." (from his journal, 1844)

- "This morn the air smells of vanilla and oranges." (from his journal, 1844)

- "We rail at trade, but the historian of the world will see that it was the principle of liberty; that it settled America, and destroyed feudalism, and made peace and keeps peace; that it will abolish slavery." (from his journal, 1844)

- "Every observation of history inspires a confidence that we shall not go far wrong; that things will mend." (from "The Young American", 1844)

- "A flake of snow brought the avalanche down." (from his journal, 1844-1845)

- "It is by means of my vices that I understand yours." (from his journal, 1844-1845)

- "A mechanic is driven by his work all day, but it ends at night; it has an end. But the scholar's work has none." (from his journal, 1845)

- "The belief of the Buddhist [is] that no seed will die. Work on, you cannot escape your wages." (from his journal, 1845)

- "Black men built the railroads, not blue eyes." (from his journal, 1845)

- "Give me bareness and poverty, so that I know them as the sure signs of the coming muse. ... The solitude of the body is the populousness of the soul." (from his journal, 1845)

- "He only acquires [virtue] who endures routine and sweat and postponement of fancy to the achievement of a worthy end." (from his journal, 1845)

- "I am driven to express my faith by a series of skepticisms." (from his journal, 1845)

- "I woke this morn with a dream which perchance was true that I was living in the morning of history amidst barbarians, that right and truth had yet no voice, no letters, no law, everyone did what he would and grasped what he could." (from his journal, 1845)

- "Love has that temperance which asks for nothing which is not already [in] the moment granted." (from his journal, 1845)

- "Value of the Skeptic is the resistance to premature conclusions." (from his journal, 1845)

- "We are made of contradictions-our freedom is necessary." (from his journal, 1845)

- "Writing should be the settlement of dew on the leaf." (from his journal, 1845)

- "The cardinal virtue of a teacher [is] to protect the pupil from his own influence." (from "Notebook Platoniana", 1845-1848)

- "I like people who can do things." (from his journal, 1846)

- "It will not do to diminish personal responsibility: do not give money and teach the man to expect it. Do not give him a Bible, or a genius, to think for him." (from his journal, 1846)

- "Majorities, the argument of fools, the strength of the weak." (from his journal, 1846)

- "My friend Mr. Thoreau has gone to jail rather than pay his tax. On him they could not calculate. The abolitionists denounce the war and give much time to it, but they pay the tax." (from his journal, 1846)

- "Pines a thousand years old. Every year they must go farther for them: they recede, like beavers and Indians, before the white man." (from his journal, 1846)

- "Self-help the law of nature." (from his journal, 1846)

- "A man complained that [on] his way home to dinner he had every day to pass through that long field of his neighbor's. I advised him to buy it, and it would never seem long again." (from his journal, 1847)

- "Nature is saturated with deity." (from his journal, 1847)

- "The people are to be taken in very small doses." (from his journal, 1847)

- "Remarkable trait in the American Character is the union, not very infrequent, of Yankee cleverness with spiritualism." (from his journal, 1847)

- "Thought is like the weather, or birth, or death: we must take it as it comes." (from his journal, 1847)

- "When I see my friend after a long time, my first question is, Has anything become clear to you?" (from his journal, 1847)

- "By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
   Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmer stood,
   And fired the shot heard round the world." (from "Poems", 1847)

- "Earth laughs in flowers." (from "Poems", 1847)

- "Things are in the saddle,
   And ride mankind." (from "Poems", 1847)

- "Our greatest debt to woman is of a musical character, and not describable." (from his journal, 1847-1848)

- "A man must be in sympathy with society about him, or else, not wish to be in sympathy with it. If neither of these two, he must be wretched." (from his journal, 1848)

- "A successful man is a good hit, a lucky adjustment to the men about him and their aims. ... What is a great man, but the like felicity of adjustment on a higher platform?." (from his journal, 1848)

- "Beware of taking any one thing out of its connections, for that way folly lies." (from his journal, 1848)

- "Books are worth reading that sketch a principle, as lectures are. All others are tickings of a clock. And we have so much less time to live-the Robbers!" (from his journal, 1848)

- "Happy is he who ... writes from the love of imparting certain thoughts and not from the necessity of sale-who writes always to the unknown friend." (from his journal, 1848)

- "I suppose you could never prove to the mind of the most ingenious mollusk that such a creature as a whale was possible." (from his journal, 1848)

- "Nature uniformly does one thing at a time: if she will have a perfect hand, she makes head and feet pay for it. So now, as she is making railroad and telegraph ages, she starves the spirituel, to stuff the materiel and industriel." (from his journal, 1848)

- "The oceanic working of Nature which accumulates a momentary individual as she forms a momentary wave in a running sea." (from his journal, 1848)

- "Our dead Christianity." (from his journal, 1848)

- "People here [in England] expect a revolution. There will be no revolution, none that deserves to be called so. There may be a scramble for money. But as the people we see want the things we now have, and not better things, it is very certain that they will, under whatever change of forms, keep the old system.
   When I see changed men, I shall look for a changed world." (from his journal, 1848)

- "The private and the universal consciousness." (from his journal, 1848)

- "The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next Election, if we believe the newspapers." (from his journal, 1848)

- "Immortality. I notice that as soon as writers broach this question they begin to quote. I hate quotations. Tell me what you know." (from his journal, 1849)

- "In dreams last night, a certain instructive racehorse was quite elaborately shown off, which seemed marvelously constructed for violent running, and so mighty to go that he stood up continually on his hind feet in impatience and triumphant power. ... Then I noticed, for the first time, that he was a show horse, and had wasted all the time in this rearing on the hind legs, and had not run forward at all, I hope they did not mean to be personal." (from his journal, 1849)

- "No man has learned anything until he knows that every day is the Judgment Day." (from his journal, 1849)

- "Like the New England soil, my talent is good only whilst I work it. If I cease to task myself, I have no thoughts." (from his journal, 1849-1850)

- "Abuse is a proof that you are felt. If they praise you, you will work no revolution." (from his journal, 1850)

- "Every man finds room in his face for all his ancestors." (from his journal, 1850)

- "Games
What reason to think Charles I consented to his execution?
   They axed him whether he would or no. ...
How could the Children of Israel sustain themselves for forty days in the desert?
   Because of the sand-which-is there." (from his journal, 1850)

- "Memory, Imagination, [and] Reason are only modes of the same power." (from his journal, 1850)

- "You say, there is no religion now. 'Tis like saying, in rainy weather, there is no sun." (from his journal, 1850)

- "A drop of water has the properties of the sea, but cannot exhibit a storm." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Activity is contagious." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Although society seems to be delivered over from the hands of one set of criminals into the hands of another set of criminals, as fast as the government is changed, and the march of civilization is a train of felonies, yet, general ends are somehow answered." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "As long as our civilization is essentially one of property, of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be mocked by delusions. Our riches will leave us sick; there will be bitterness in our laughter; and our wine will burn our mouth. Only that good profits, which we can taste with all doors open, and which serves all men." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "The cheapness of man of every day's tragedy." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Every hero becomes a bore at last." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Having decided what was to be done, he did that with might and main. He put out all his strength. He risked everything, and spared nothing, neither ammunition, nor money, nor troops, nor generals, nor himself." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Here is great competition of rich and poor. We live in a market, where is only so much wheat, or wool, or land; and if I have so much more, every other must have so much less. I seem to have no good without breach of good manners. Nobody is glad in the gladness of another, and our system is one of war, of an injurious superiority. Every child of the Saxon race is educated to wish to be first. It is our system; and a man comes to measure his greatness by the regrets, envies, and hatreds of his competitor." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Here was an experiment, under the most favorable conditions, of the powers of intellect without conscience. Never was such a leader so endowed, and so weaponed. ... And what was the result of this vast talent and power, of these immense armies, burned cities, squandered treasures, immolated millions of men, of this demoralized Europe? It came to no result. All passed away, like the smoke of his artillery, and left no trace. He left France smaller, poorer, feebler, than he found it; and the whole contest for freedom was to be begun again. The attempt was, in principle, suicidal." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Keep cool: it will be all one a hundred years hence." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "The moral sentiment ... is the drop that balances the sea." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Napoleon knew his business. Here was a man who, in each moment and emergency, knew what to do next. It is an immense comfort and refreshment to the spirits, not only of kings, but of citizens. Few men have any next." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "[Napoleon] sees where the matter hinges, throws himself on the precise point of resistance, and slights all other considerations. He is strong in the right manner, namely, by insight. He never blundered into victory, but won his battles in his head before he won them on the field. His principle means are in himself. He asks counsel of no other." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Nature is good, but intellect is better, as the law-giver is before the law-receiver." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "One man appears whose nature is to all men's eyes conserving and constructive; his presence supposes a well-ordered society, agriculture, trade, large institutions, and empire. ... Men rightly go for him, and reject the reformer, so long as he comes only with ax and crowbar." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "The reputations of the nineteenth century will one day be quoted to prove its barbarism." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "The secret of genius is ... first, last, midst, and without end, to honor every truth by use." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "The shield against the stingings of conscience is the universal practice of our contemporaries. Again, it is very easy to be as wise and good as your companions." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "To the men of practical power ... the man of ideas appears out of his reason. They alone have reason." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "We swim, day by day, on a river of delusions. ... But life is a sincerity. In lucid intervals we say, "Let there be an entrance for me into realities; I have worn die fool's cap too long."." (from "Representative Men", 1850)

- "Give me bareness and poverty, so that I know them as the sure signs of the coming muse. ... The solitude of the body is the populousness of the soul." (from "The Fugitive Slave Law", 1851)

- "Nothing is impracticable to this nation, which it shall set itself to do. Were ever men so endowed, so placed, so weaponed? Their power of territory seconded by a genius equal to every work. By new arts the earth is subdued, roaded, tunnelled, telegraphed, gas-lighted. ... We are on the brink of more wonders." (from "The Fugitive Slave Law", 1851)

- "End [i.e., purpose] of Culture, Self-creation." (from his journal, 1851)

- "I think that a man should compare advantageously with a river, with an oak, with a mountain: endless flow, expansion, and grit." (from his journal, 1851)

- "It is as bad as going to Congress; none comes back innocent." (from his journal, 1851)

- "The moment a man says, "give up your rights, here is money," there is tyranny. It comes masquerading in monks' cowls, and in citizens' coats, comes savagely or comes politely. But it is tyranny." (from his journal, 1851)

- "To every reproach, I know now but one answer, namely, to go again to my own work.
   "But you neglect your relations." Yes, too true, then I will work the harder.
   "But you have no genius." Yes, then I will work the harder.
   "But you have no virtues." Yes, then I will work the harder." (from his journal, 1851)

- "The whole world is a series of balanced antagonisms." (from his journal, 1851)

- "A man [cannot] dupe others long, who has not duped himself first." (from his journal, 1852)

- "When we have arrived at the question, the answer is already near." (from his journal, 1852)

- "Which was the best age of philosophy? That in which there were yet no philosophers." (from his journal, 1852-1853)

- "English are they who do not stop until they have reached their aim." (from his journal, 1853)

- "For each artificial want that can be invented and added to the ponderous expense, there is new clapping of hands of newspaper editors, and the donkey public. To put one more rock to be lifted betwixt a man and his true ends." (from his journal, 1853)

- "Morning prospective: imagination.
   Evening retrospective: memory." (from his journal, 1853)

- "Went to Yarmouth Sunday 5; to Orleans Monday 6th; to Nauset Light on the back side of Cape Cod. Collins, the keeper, told us he found obstinate resistance on Cape Cod to the project of building a lighthouse on this coast, as it would injure the wrecking business." (from his journal, 1853)

- "Liberty is an accurate index, in men and nations, of general progress." (from the address for "The Fugitive Slave Law", 1854)

- "There is a divine Providence in the world, which will not save us but through our own cooperation." (from the address for "The Fugitive Slave Law", 1854)

- "The age has an engine, but no engineer." (from his journal, 1854)

- "It is by no means necessary that I should live, but it is by all means necessary that I should act rightly." (from his journal, 1854)

- "Our senator was of that stuff that our best hope lay in his drunkenness, as that sometimes incapacitated him from doing mischief." (from his journal, 1854)

- "Universities are, of course, hostile to geniuses, [who], seeing and using ways of their own, discredit the routine." (from his journal, 1854)

- "Dear Sir,
   I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of "Leaves of Grass." I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed. ... I find incomparable things said incomparably well, as they must be. I find the courage of treatment, which so delights us, and which large perception only can inspire. I greet you at the beginning of a great career. ..." (from a letter to Walt Whitman, 1855)

- "A Scholar is a man with this inconvenience, that when you ask him his opinion of any matter, he must go home and look up his manuscripts to know." (from his journal, 1855)

- "All the thoughts of a turtle are turtle." (from his journal, 1855)

- "He who has a thousand friends has not one friend to spare, And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere." (from his journal, 1855)

- "My best thought came from others. I heard in their words my own meaning, but a deeper sense than they put on them. And could well and best express myself in other people's phrases, but to finer purpose than they knew." (from his journal, 1855)

- "Here is the secret:
   A man is a very small thing whilst he works by and for himself but an immense and omnipotent worker as soon as he puts himself right with the law of nature. ...
   It is as when you come to a conflagration with your fire engine-no matter how good the machine, you will make but a feeble spray, whilst you draw from your own tub: But once get your hose ... dipped in the river, or in the harbor, and you can pump as long as the sea holds out." (from "Notebook WO Liberty", 1855)

- "To make good the cause of Freedom against Slavery you must be ... Declarations of Independence walking." (from "Notebook WO Liberty", 1855)

- "Let the laws be purged of every barbarous remainder, every barbarous impediment to women." (from "Woman", 1855)

- "Language has lost its meaning in the universal cant. Representative Government is really misrepresentative. ... They call it Chivalry and Freedom; I call it the stealing [of] all the earnings of a poor man and the earnings of his little girl and boy, and the earnings of all that shall come from him, his children's children forever.
   But this is Union, and this is Democracy; and our poor people, led by the nose by these fine words, dance and sing, ring bells and fire cannon, with every new link of the chain which is forged for their limbs by the plotters in the Capitol." (from a speech, 1856)

- "It is only when they cannot answer your reasons that they wish to knock you down." (from "The Assault upon Mr. Sumner", 1856)

- "All nobility in its beginnings was somebody's natural superiority." (from "English Traits", 1856)

- "There is always safety in valor." (from "English Traits", 1856)

- "We estimate the wisdom of nations by seeing what they did with their surplus capital." (from "English Traits", 1856)

- "Every Englishman expects to kick all those below him, and to be kicked by all those above him." (from his journal, 1856)

- "Most people prefer nuts in their shells, as they then have the pleasure of overcoming a small difficulty." (from his journal, 1856)

- "Must we always talk for victory, and never once for truth, for comfort, and joy?." (from his journal, 1856)

- "An Indian has his knowledge for use, and it only appears in use. Most white men that we know have theirs for talking purposes." (from his journal, 1857)

- "The hater of property and of government takes care to have his warranty deed recorded, and the book written against Fame and learning has the author's name on the title page." (from his journal, 1857)

- "I took such pains not to keep my money in the house, but to put it out of the reach of burglars by buying stock, and had no guess that I was putting it into the hands of these very burglars now grown wiser and standing dressed as Railway Directors." (from his journal, 1857)

- "Wisdom has its root in goodness and not goodness its root in wisdom." (from his journal, 1857)

- "Yesterday the best day of the year we spent in the afternoon on the river. A sky of Calcutta, light, air, clouds, water, banks, birds, grass, pads, lilies, were in perfection, and it was delicious to live." (from his journal, 1857)

- "A gentleman ... is the natural defender and raiser of the weak and oppressed." (from his journal, 1858)

- "Every new perception attended with a thrill of pleasure." (from his journal, 1858)

- "My dear Henry [David Thoreau],
   A frog was made to live in a swamp, but a man was not made to live in a swamp. Yours ever, R." (from his journal, 1858)

- "A man finds out that there is somewhat in him that knows more than he does.
   Then he comes presently to the curious question, who's who? which of these two is really me? the one that knows more, or the one that knows less? the little fellow or the big fellow?." (from his journal, 1859)

- "After you have pumped your brains for thoughts and verses, there is a better poetry hinted in whistling a tune on your walk." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Believe the faintest of your presentiments against the testimony of all sacred and profane history." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Courage charms us because it indicates that a man loves an idea better than all things in the world, that he is thinking neither of his bed, nor his dinner, nor his money, but will venture all to put in act the invisible thought of his mind." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Every principle is a war-note. Whoever attempts to carry out the rule of right and love and freedom must take his life in his hand." (from his journal, 1859)

- "I found the friends I went to seek on the way to my door." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Insanity [is] disproportion between means and ends." (from his journal, 1859)

- "The number of conceited people is so great that it must subserve great uses in nature, like sexual passion." (from his journal, 1859)

- "Strange that our government, so stupid as it is, should never blunder into a good measure." (from his journal, 1859)

- "A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "A just thinker will allow full swing to his skepticism." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "A man cannot utter two or three sentences without disclosing to intelligent ears precisely where he stands in life and thought." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Against all appearances the nature of things works for truth and right forever." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "All high beauty has a moral element in it." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "An ear which hears not what men say, but hears what they do not say." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The art of getting rich consists not in industry, much less in saving, but in a better order, a timeliness, in being at the right spot." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The babe in arms is a channel through which the energies we call fate, love and reason visibly stream." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The basis of political economy is non-interference. The only safe rule is found in the self-adjusting meter of demand and supply." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short, in all management of human affairs." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Every calamity is a spur and valuable hint." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Every man is a consumer, and ought to be a producer. He fails to make his place good in the world unless he not only pays his debt but also adds something to the common wealth." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Every man takes care that his neighbor shall not cheat him. But a day comes when he begins to care that he [does] not cheat his neighbor. Then all goes well. He has changed his market cart for a chariot of the sun." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The first lesson of history is the good of evil." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "God builds his temple in the heart on the ruins of churches and religions." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "He who aims high must dread an easy home and popular manners." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "If you please to plant yourself on the side of Fate, and say, Fate is all; then we say, a part of Fate is the freedom of man. Forever wells up the impulse of choosing and acting in the soul." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "In failing circumstances no man can be relied on to keep his integrity." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "In our flowing affairs a decision must be made-the best, if you can, but any is better than none. There are twenty ways of going to a point, and one is the shortest; but set out at once on one. A man who has that presence of mind which can bring to him on the instant all he knows, is worth for action a dozen men who know as much but can only bring it to light slowly." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Leave this hypocritical prating about the masses. Masses are rude, lame, unmade, pernicious in their demands and influence, and need not to be flattered but to be schooled. I wish not to concede anything to them, but to tame, drill, divide and break them up, and draw individuals out of them." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Life is a search after power." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Life is an ecstasy." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The line of beauty is the line of perfect economy." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The man that stands by himself, the universe stands by him also." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Mankind divides itself into two classes-benefactors and malefactors. The second class is vast, the first a handful." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Manners have been somewhat cynically defined to be a contrivance of wise men to keep fools at a distance." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The mechanic at his bench carries a quiet heart and assured manners, and deals on even terms with men of any condition." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Money often costs too much." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Most of the great results of history are brought about by discreditable means." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Nature has her own mode of doing each thing, and she has somewhere told it plainly, if we will keep our eyes and ears open." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Nature is reckless of the individual. When she has points to carry, she carries them." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "New York is a sucked orange." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Our reliance on the physician is a kind of despair of ourselves." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Poverty demoralizes." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The preservation of the species was a point of such necessity that Nature has secured it at all hazards by immensely overloading the passion, at the risk of perpetual crime and disorder." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The real and lasting victories are those of peace and not of war." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Repose and cheerfulness are the badge of the gentleman-repose in energy." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The superiority that has no superior; the redeemer and instructor of souls, as it is their primal essence, is love." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "'Tis weak and vicious people who cast the blame on Fate." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The true thrift is always to spend on the higher plane." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "To say ... the majority are wicked means no malice, no bad heart in the observer, but simply that the majority are unripe and have not yet come to themselves." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The tyrannical Circumstance!" (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "We acquire the strength we have overcome." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "We find a delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "We learn geology the morning after the earthquake." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "The weight of the Universe is pressed down on the shoulders of each moral agent to hold him to his task. The only path of escape known in all the worlds of God is performance. You must do your work, before you shall be released." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "What is true anywhere is true everywhere." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "When a god wishes to ride, any chip or pebble will bud and shoot out winged feet and serve him for a horse." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity." (from "The Conduct of Life", 1860)

- "Every soul is potentially Genius, if not arrested." (from his journal, 1861)

- "Gurowski asked "Where is this bog? I wish to earn some money: I wish to dig peat."-"O no, indeed, sir, you cannot do this kind of degrading work."-"I cannot be degraded. I am Gurowski."" (from his journal, 1861)

- "I wish the man to please himself, then he will please me." (from his journal, 1861)

- "In youth, the day is not long enough." (from his journal, 1861)

- "Things go by pairs.
   Thoughts go by pairs." (from his journal, 1861)

- "Government must not be a parish clerk, a justice of the peace. It has, of necessity, in any crisis of the state, the absolute powers of a Dictator." (from "American Civilization", 1862)

- "Ideas must work through the brains and the arms of good and brave men, or they are no better than dreams." (from "American Civilization", 1862)

- "Let the reader find that he cannot afford to omit any line of your writing because you have omitted every word that he can spare." (from his journal, 1862)

- "Our only safe rule in politics ... was always to believe that the worst would be done. Then we were not deceived." (from his journal, 1862)

- "When I was, introduced to [Abraham Lincoln], he said, "Oh Mr. Emerson, I once heard you say in a lecture that a Kentuckian seems to say by his air and manners, 'Here I am; if you don't like me, the worse for you.'"" (from his journal, 1862)

- "To look back is to relax one's vigil." (from "The Lonely Life: An Autobiography", 1862)

- "The best argument is not the accosting in front the hostile premises, but the flanking them by a new generalization which incidentally disposes of them." (from his journal, 1864)

- "Pay as you go is the only safe rule of private affairs." (from his journal, 1864)

- "When believers and unbelievers live in the same manner-I distrust the religion." (from his journal, 1864)

- "I like not the man who is thinking how to be good, but the man thinking how to accomplish his work." (from his journal, 1865)

- "I can find my biography in every fable that I read." (from his journal, 1866)

- "I find it a great and fatal difference whether I court the Muse, or the Muse courts me: That is the ugly disparity between age and youth." (from his journal, 1866)

- "The god of Victory is said to be one-handed, but Peace gives victory to both sides." (from his journal, 1867)

- "The good writer seems to be writing about himself, but has his eye always on that thread of the Universe which runs through himself and all things." (from his journal, 1867)

- "It is time to be old,
  To take in sail." (from "May-Day and Other Poems", 1867)

- "God said, I am tired of kings,
  I suffer them no more;
  Up to my ear the morning brings
  The outrage of the poor." (from "May-Day and Other Poems", 1867)

- "Spring still makes spring in the mind
    When sixty years are told:
Love wakes anew this throbbing heart,
    And we are never old.
Over the winter glaciers
    I see the summer glow,
And through the wild-piled snowdrift
    The warm rosebuds below." (from "May-Day and Other Poems", 1867)

- "Intelligence-yes, but of what kind and aim? There is the intelligence of Socrates, and the intelligence of a thief or a forger." (from his journal, 1868)

- "Conversation is the laboratory and workshop of the student." (from his journal, 1870)

- "My new book [Society and Solitude] sells faster, it appears, than either of its foregoers. This is not for its merit, but only shows that old age is a good advertisement. Your name has been seen so often that your book must be worth buying." (from his journal, 1870)

- "The writer is an explorer. Every step is an advance into new land." (from his journal, 1870)

- "Excellence is lost sight of in the hunger for sudden performance and praise." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Genius and virtue, like diamonds, are best plain set-set in lead, set in poverty. The greatest man in history was the poorest." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Hate at first sight." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "The machine unmakes the man. Now that the machine is so perfect, the engineer is nobody. Every new step in improving the engine restricts one more act of the engineer-unteaches him. Once it took Archimedes; now it only needs a fireman, and a boy to know the coppers, to pull up the handles or mind the water tank. But when the engine breaks, they can do nothing." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Manufacture of public opinion." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of our science." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Now that is the wisdom of a man, in every instance of his labor, to hitch his wagon to a star, and see his chore done by the gods themselves." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it. There is no event greater in life than the appearance of new persons about our hearth, except it be the progress of the character which draws them." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Our temperaments differ in capacity of heat, or, we boil at different degrees." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Practical power. Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "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." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Self-trust is the first secret of success." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Skill to do comes of doing." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Tacitus, the wisest of historians." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "Thought is the seed of action." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "The use of history is to give value to the present hour and its duty." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "What has been best done in the world-the works of genius-cost nothing. There is no painful effort, but it is the spontaneous flowing of the thought. Shakespeare made his Hamlet as a bird weaves its nest." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "What is the imagination? ... Only the precursor of the reason." (from "Society and Solitude", 1870)

- "The attraction and superiority of California are in its days. It has better days, and more of them, than any other country." (from his journal, 1871)

- "What silent wonder is waked in the boy by blowing bubbles from soap and water with a pipe." (from his journal, 1871-1872)

- "Dr. [Samuel] Johnson hearing that Adam Smith, whom he had once met, relished rhyme, said, "If I had known that, I should have hugged him."" (from a speech at the opening of the Concord Free Public Library (Massachusetts), 1873)

- "We all know the rule of umbrellas-if you take your umbrella, it will not rain; if you leave it, it will." (from his journal, 1873)

- "[The best service of books is] that they set us free from themselves also. We read a line, a word, that lifts us; we rise into a succession of thoughts that is better than the book." (from his journal, 1874)

- "The great poets are judged by the frame of mind they induce." (from "Parnassus", 1874)

- "A great style of hero draws equally all classes, all the extremes of society, till we say the very dogs believe in him." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "A religious poet once told me that he valued his poems, not because they were his, but because they were not. He thought the angels brought them to him." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "All history is the record of the power of minorities, and of minorities of one." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "By necessity, by proclivity and by delight, we all quote." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Condense some daily experience into a glowing symbol, and an audience is electrified." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "The delicate muses lose their head if their attention is once diverted. Perhaps if you were successful abroad in talking and dealing with men, you would not come back to your bookshelf and your task. When the spirit chooses you for its scribe to publish some commandment, it makes you odious to men and men odious to you, and you shall accept that loathsomeness with joy. The moth must fly to the lamp, and you must solve those questions though you die." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Extremes meet, and there is no better example than the haughtiness "of humility." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Every book is good to read which sets the reader in a working mood." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "For provocation of thought, we use ourselves and use each other. Some perceptions-I think the best-are granted to the single soul; they come from the depth and go to the depth and are the permanent and controlling ones. Others it takes two to find. We must be warmed by the fire of sympathy, to be brought into the right conditions and angles of vision." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Genius believes its faintest presentiment against the testimony of all history, for it knows that facts are not ultimates, but that a state of mind is the ancestor of everything." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Happy the natural college thus self-instituted around every natural teacher; the young men of Athens around Socrates." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "How cunningly nature hides every wrinkle of her inconceivable antiquity under roses and violets and morning dew!" (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "In dreams we are true poets." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "In the effort to unfold our thought to a friend we make it clearer to ourselves." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "In good conversation parties don't speak to the words, but to the meanings of each other." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "The lie is in the surrender of the man to his appearance; as if a man should neglect himself and treat his shadow on the wall with marks of infinite respect." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Noblesse oblige [literally, nobility has its obligations] or, superior advantages bind you to larger generosity." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "The only teller of news is the poet. When he sings, the world listens with the assurance that now a secret of God is to be spoken." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Poetry begins ... when we look from the center outward." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Quotation confesses inferiority." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "The right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours or ages that follow it." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "The sense of disproportion is comedy." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Talent for talent's sake is a bauble and a show. Talent working with joy in the cause of universal truth lifts the possessor to new power as a benefactor." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "The truth, the hope of any time, must always be sought in the minorities." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "We are as much informed of a writer's genius by what he selects as by what he originates." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "We cannot overstate our debt to the Past, but the moment has the supreme claim." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "We sink to rise." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "What a new face courage puts on everything!." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "What is said is the least part of the oration." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "When Carlini was convulsing Naples with laughter, a patient waited on a physician in that city, to obtain some remedy for excessive melancholy, which was rapidly consuming his life. The physician endeavored to cheer his spirits, and advised him to go to the theater and see Carlini. He replied, "I am Carlini."" (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Wit makes its own welcome and levels all distinctions. No dignity, no learning, no force of character, can make any stand against good wit." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck." (from "Letters and Social Aims", 1876)

- "Divine Providence sends the chiefest benefits under the mask of calamities." (from "The Fortune of the Republic", 1878)

- "Nations were made to help each other as much as families were." (from "The Fortune of the Republic", 1878)

- "Nature works in immense time and spends individuals and races prodigally to prepare new individuals and races." (from "The Fortune of the Republic", 1878)

- "What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." (from "The Fortune of the Republic", 1878)

- "A fact is an Epiphany of God." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "A little fact is worth a whole limbo of dreams." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "A low self-love in the parent desires that his child should repeat his character and fortune. ... I suffer whenever I see that common sight of a parent or senior imposing his opinion and way of thinking and being on a young soul to which they are totally unfit. Cannot we let people be themselves, and enjoy life in their own way? You are trying to make another you. One's enough." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "A self-trust ... is a trust in God himself." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "A skillful man reads his dreams for his self-knowledge; yet not the details, but the quality." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "A true talent delights the possessor first." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "All spiritual or real power makes its own place." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "All the religion we have is the ethics of one or another holy person; as soon as character appears, be sure love will, and veneration, and anecdotes, and fables about him, and delight of good men and women in him." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "All violence ... is not power but the absence of power." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "As certainly as water falls in rain on the tops of mountains and runs down into valleys, plains and pits, so does thought fall first on the best minds, and runs down, from class to class, until it reaches the masses, and works revolutions." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The clergy are as like as peas. I cannot tell them apart." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The crudest foe is a masked benefactor." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "[Dreams] pique us by independence of us, yet we know ourselves in this mad crowd, and owe to dreams a kind of divination and wisdom. My dreams are not me; they are not Nature, or the Not-me: they are both. They have a double consciousness, at once sub- and ob-jective. We call the phantoms that rise, the creation of our fancy, but they act like mutineers, and fire on their commander; showing that every act, every thought, every cause, is bipolar, and in the act is contained the counteraction. If I strike, I am struck; if I chase, I am pursued." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The finer the sense of justice, the better poet." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "From want of skill to convey quality, we hope to move admiration by quantity." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "Have the self-command you wish to inspire. Your teaching and discipline must have the reserve and taciturnity of Nature. Teach them to hold their tongues by holding your own. Say little; do not snarl; do not chide; but govern by the eye. See what they need, and that the right thing is done." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The history of man is a series of conspiracies to win from nature some advantage without paying for it." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "How many young geniuses we have known, and none but ourselves will ever hear of them for want in them of a little talent!" (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "I find nothing in fables more astonishing than my experience in every hour. One moment of a man's life is a fact so stupendous as to take the luster out of all fiction." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "Men run out of one superstition into an opposite superstition." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "Nature is always serious-does not jest with us." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "Nature provided for the communication of thought, by planting with it in the receiving mind a fury to impart it. ... One burns to tell the new fact, the other burns to hear it." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "Of course you will insist on modesty in the children, and respect to their teachers, but if the boy stops you in your speech, cries out that you are wrong and sets you right, hug him!" (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "Once we had wooden chalices and golden priests, now we have golden chalices and wooden priests." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The opium of custom, whereof all drink and many go mad." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The poor Jews of the wilderness cried: "Let not the Lord speak to us; let Moses speak to us." But the simple and sincere soul makes the contrary prayer: "Let no intruder come between thee and me; deal Thou with me; let me know it is thy will, and I ask no more." The excellence of Jesus, and of every true teacher is, that he affirms the Divinity in him and in us-not thrusts himself between it and us." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The power of a man increases steadily by continuance in one direction." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The soul contains in itself the event that shall presently befall it,, for the event is only the actualizing of its thoughts. It is no wonder that particular dreams and presentiments should fall out and be prophetic." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The terrible aristocracy that is in nature." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "That which I hate and fear is really in myself." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "There are always two parties, the party of the Past and the party of the Future; the Establishment and the Movement." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "There is no unemployed force in Nature. All decomposition is recomposition." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "There was never anything that did not proceed from a thought." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "To live without duties is obscene." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The value of a principle is the number of things it will explain." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "We are born too late for the old and too early for the new faith." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "We cannot afford to miss any advantage. Never was any man too strong for his proper work." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "We do not like those who unmask our illusions." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "We like cool people, who neither hope nor fear too much, but seem to have many strings to their bow, and can survive the blow well enough if stock should rise or fall, if parties should be broken up, if their money or their family should be dispersed; who can stand a slander very well; indeed on whom events make little or no impression, and who can face death with firmness." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "With [Henry David Thoreau's] great energy and practical ability he seemed born for great enterprise and for command; and I so much regret the loss of his rare powers of action, that I cannot help counting it a fault in him that he had no ambition. Wanting this, instead of engineering for all America, he was the captain of a huckleberry party." (from "Lectures and Biographical Sketches", 1883)

- "The great always introduce us to facts; small men introduce us always to themselves." (from "Natural History of Intellect and Other Papers", 1893)

- "The history of mankind is the history of arrested growth." (from "Natural History of Intellect and Other Papers", 1893)

- "I think that philosophy is still rude and elementary. It will one day be taught by poets." (from "Natural History of Intellect and Other Papers", 1893)

- "Idea and execution are not often entrusted to the same head." (from "Natural History of Intellect and Other Papers", 1893)

- "Of all the million images that are imprinted, the very one we want reappears in the center of the plate in the moment when we want it." (from "Natural History of Intellect and Other Papers", 1893)

- "There is indeed this vice about men of thought, that you cannot quite trust them ... because they have a hankering to play Providence and make a distinction in favor of themselves from the rules they apply to the human race." (from "Natural History of Intellect and Other Papers", 1893)

- "There is One Mind, and ... all the powers and privileges which lie in any, lie in all." (from "Natural History of Intellect and Other Papers", 1893)

- "We estimate a man by how much he remembers." (from "Natural History of Intellect and Other Papers", 1893)

- "The powers of the soul are commensurate with its needs." (from "Journey Into the Self" by Michael Dirda)

- "Most presidents are merely clerks of some real power which stands erect at their side and does its will by them." (from "Young Emerson Speaks: Unpublished Discourses on Many Subjects" edited by Arthur Cushman McGiffert)

- "If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door." (recorded by Mrs. Sarah S. B. Yule)

Nathan Haskell Dole, 1899 (Introduction to Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson)


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