27+ quotes from Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quotes from Self-Reliance and Other Essays

Ralph Waldo Emerson ·  117 pages

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“To be great is to be misunderstood.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I must be myself. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and if we follow the truth it will bring us out safe at last.—But so may you give these friends pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility. Besides, all persons have their moments of reason, when they look out into the region of absolute truth; then will they justify me and do the same thing.
The populace think that your rejection of popular standards is a rejection of all standard, and mere antinomianism; and the bold sensualist will use the name of philosophy to gild his crimes. But the law of consciousness abides.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Ne te quaesiveris extra." (Do not seek for things outside of yourself)”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore it if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Speak your latent conviction. . . Else tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“The student is to read history actively not passively.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Misunderstood! It is a right fool's word. Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“On my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested,--"But these impulses may be from below, not from above." I replied, "They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil's child, I will live then from the Devil." No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if everything were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Prayer that craves a particular commodity—anything less than all good, is vicious. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is theft and meanness. It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. 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.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“All men plume themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“What I must do, is all that concerns me, not what the people think.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“Another sort of false prayers are our regrets. Discontent is the way of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will. Regret calamities, if you can thereby help the sufferer; if not, attend your own work, and already the evil begins to be repaired.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is, that it scatters your force. It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character. If you maintain a dead church, contribute to a dead Bible-society, vote with a great party either for the government or against it, spread your table like base housekeepers, under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are.And, of course, so much force is withdrawn from your proper life. But do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. A man must consider what a blindman's-buff is this game of conformity. If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument. I hear a preacher announce for his text and topic the expediency of one of the institutions of his church.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


“That popular fable of the sot who was picked up dead drunk in the street, carried to the duke's house, washed and dressed and laid in the duke's bed, and, on his waking, treated with all obsequious ceremony like the duke, and assured that he had been insane, owes its popularity to the fact, that it symbolizes so well the state of man, who is in the world a sort of sot, but now and then wakes up, exercises his reason, and finds himself a true prince.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, quote from Self-Reliance and Other Essays


About the author

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Born place: in Boston, Massachusetts, The United States
Born date May 25, 1803
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