Fifty Quotations by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson’s house, “Bush,” in Concord, Massachusetts
  1. The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it. — “New England Reformers”
  2. A little integrity is better than any career. — “Behavior”
  3. Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. — “Self-Reliance”
  4. What is the hardest task in the world? To think. — “Intellect”
  5. I would study, I would know, I would admire forever. — “The Divinity School Address”
  6. Good criticism is very rare and always precious. — “Conduct”
  7. We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. This is our permanent state. — “Love”
  8. Fear always springs from ignorance. — “The American Scholar”
  9. Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well. — “Demonology”
  10. Love the day. — “Behavior”
  11. To think is to act. — “Spiritual Laws”
  12. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little  minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. — “Self-Reliance”
  13. We are always getting ready to live, but never living. — Journal, 12 April 1834
  14. Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. — “Prudence”
  15. Life only avails, not the having lived. — “Self-Reliance”
  16. Whatever limits us, we call Fate. — “Fate”
  17. Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. — Nature
  18. Every ship is a romantic object, except that we sail in. — “Experience”
  19. Dare to love God without mediator or veil. — “The Divinity School Address”
  20. In skating over thin ice, our safety is on our speed. — “Prudence”
  21. To be great is to be misunderstood. — “Self-Reliance”
  22. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. — “Circles”
  23. Hitch your wagon to a star. —”Civilization”
  24. Nature is the symbol of the spirit. — Nature
  25. There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination. — “Beauty”
  26. If a man owns land, the land owns him. — “Wealth”
  27. The only way to have a friend is to be one. — “Friendship”
  28. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. — Journal, November 1842
  29. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. — “Self-Reliance”
  30. The civility of no race can be perfect whilst another race is degraded. — “Emancipation in the British West Indies”
  31. Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not. — “Circles”
  32. There are three wants which can never be satisfied: that of the rich, who want something more; that of the sick, who want something different; and that of the traveler, who says, “Anywhere but here.” — “Considerations by the Way”
  33. It is better to be alone than in bad company. — “The Transcendentalist”
  34. I had better never see a book, than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. — “The American Scholar”
  35. The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. — “The Divinity School Address”
  36. Every revolution was first a thought in one man’s mind and when the same thought occurs in another man, it is the key to that era. — “History”
  37. Insist on yourself; never imitate. — “Self-Reliance”
  38. The three practical rules, then which I have to offer, are,—1. Never read any book that is not a year old. 2. Never read any but famed books. 3.  Never read any but what you like. — “Books”
  39. The essence of friendship is entireness, a total magnanimity and truth. — “Friendship”
  40. I cannot go to the houses of my nearest relatives, because I do not wish to be alone. Society exists by chemical affinity, and not otherwise. — “Society and Solitude”
  41. I respect cats, they seem to have so much else in their heads besides their mess. — Journal, August-September 1843
  42. For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. — “Self-Reliance”
  43. The Religion that is afraid of science dishonors God … — Journal, March 1831
  44. The one thing is the world, of value, is the active soul. — “The American Scholar”
  45. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. — “Self-Reliance”
  46. Where there is no vision, the people perish. — “The Method of Nature”
  47. Health, south wind, books, old trees, a boat, a friend.  — Journal, March 1847
  48. The foregoing generation beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should we  not also enjoy an original relation to the universe? — Nature
  49. We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds. — “The American Scholar”
  50. I hate quotation. Tell me what you know. — Journal, May 1849