23 May


The following is a hodgepodge of various quotes attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, selected from various journals, essays, and speeches. I've used bolding to seperate quotes from each other, for some are multiple sentences long. For a man who said: "Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day," there is an odd consistency.

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The sublime is excited in me by the great stoical doctrine, Obey thyself. The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The inventor did it because it was natural to him, and so in him it has a charm. In the imitator something else is natural, and he bereaves himself of his own beauty, to come short of another man's. A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking. It is easy to live for others; everybody does. I call on you to live for yourselves.

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples. Explore, and explore, and explore. Be neither chided nor flattered out of your position of perpetual inquiry. Neither dogmatise yourself, nor accept another's dogmatism.  An original sentence, a step forward, is worth more than all the censures.

Character teaches above our wills. Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. Character is higher than intellect...A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think. You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity. Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society. 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.


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So, what do you think?