Genius borrows nobly.
~ in Letters and Social Aims
A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud. I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may drop even those undermost garments of dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which men never put off, and may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness, with which one chemical atom meets another. Sincerity is the luxury allowed, like diadems and authority, only to the hightest rank, that being permitted to speak truth, as having none above it to court or conform unto.
~ in Friendship
Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruit of his character.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Conduct of Life
What is civilization? I answer, the power of good women.
~ in Miscellanies: Woman
What you are speaks so loudly over your head that I cannot hear what you say.
~ Quoted by Madeleine L’Engle, in A Circle of Quiet (NY: Harper Collins, 1972), page 156.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.
All great men come out of the middle classes.
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.
As soon as there is life there is danger.
Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.
Common sense is genius dressed up in work clothes.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.
Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
Every artist was first an amateur.
Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.
I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.
I hate the giving of the hand unless the whole man accompanies it.
If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.
In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.
Men are what their mothers made them.
Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.
No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.
Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is million fathoms deep.
Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.
People only see what they are prepared to see.
Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
Skill to do comes of doing.
Tell me what a person believes and I’ll tell you what he’ll do.
The eloquent man is he who is no beautiful speaker, but who is inwardly and desperately drunk with a certain belief.
The louder he talked of his honor the faster we counted our spoons.
The worst of charity is that the lives you are asked to preserve are not worth preserving.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Unlovely, nay frightful, is the solitude of the soul without God in the world.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
Without ambition, one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.
You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.