Ralph Waldo Emerson (76-100)

rwe_04_img0262This week the By George Journal salutes Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), who is argumentatively the greatest, modern day thinker and wordsmith of our ages. Each morning, we will bring readers remarkable quotes from this remarkable man – leading to Friday’s list of our “Top-Ten RWE Insights.”

BGJ has chosen a hundred of our favourite gems. Today, here  are 25 of our top-100 Emerson quotes.

  • We can see well into the past; we can guess shrewdly in to the future; but that which is rolled up and muffled in impenetrable folds is today.
  • Good breeding, a union of kindness and independence.
  • The secret of success in society is a certain heartiness and sympathy.
  • Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
  • We acquire the strength we have overcome.
  • Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires … courage.
  • There are some men above grief and some men below it.
  • God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please; you can never have both.
  • When a man is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something; he has been put on his wits; on his manhood; he has gained the facts; learned his ignorance; is cured of the insanity of conceit; has got moderation and real skill.
  • Artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.
  • Men achieve a certain greatness unawares, when working to another aim.
  • People only see what they are prepared to see.
  • The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
  • What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
  • Men love to wonder and that is the seed of our science.
  • A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.
  • Sorrow makes us all children again.
  • Shall we judge a country by the majority, or by the minority? By the minority, surely.
  • For what avail the plough or sail, Or land, or life, if freedom fail?
  • We are very near to greatness: one step and we are safe; can we not take the leap?
  • We are as much informed of a writer’s genius by what he selects as by what he originates.
  • Every man supposes himself not to be fully understood or appreciated.
  • Pictures must not be too picturesque.
  • The surest poison is time.
  • It is doubtless a vice to turn one’s eyes inward too much, but I am my own comedy and tragedy.


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