Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

A friend is one before whom I may think aloud.

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.

As we grow old...the beauty steals inward.

Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet.

Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors.

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

Let not a man guard his dignity, but let his dignity guard him.

The only way to have a friend is to be one.

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.

There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.

Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.

To be great is to be misunderstood.

Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great.

The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence.

Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.

The first thing a great person does, is make us realize the insignificance of circumstance.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Biography

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25, 1803. He was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet. He was the leader of the Transcendentalist movement during the mid-19th century. He was a champion of individualism and a critic of the pressures of society. He published dozens of essays and gave more than 1,500 lectures across the United States.

Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts on May 25, 1803. His father was the Reverend William Emerson, a Unitarian minister and his mother was Ruth Haskins. He was raised by his mother after his father died of stomach cancer before his eighth birthday. He began school at the Boston Latin School in 1812. At age 14, Emerson attended Harvard College and was the freshman messenger for the president. During his junior year he began a list of all of the books he had read. He served as Class Poet, and presented an original poem on Harvard's Class Day. He graduated in the middle of his class. He went on to help his brother in a school for young women that was established in his mother's house. He later established a school of his own.

Emerson met his first wife in Concord, New Hampshire in 1827. He married her, Ellen Louisa Tucker, when she was 18. She died two years lather. Emerson visited her grave daily. After Ellen's death, Emerson began to disagree with the church's methods, stating that they were antiquated. He resigned in 1832. He toured Europe in 1833 where he met with John Stuart Mill. He visited Voltaire's home in Ferney, then went on to Paris. He was influenced by Jussieu's system of classification and the idea that all objects are related and connected. He also met William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas Carlyle. In 1837, Emerson became friends with Henry David Thoreau. They had a lifelong friendship. On January 24, 1835 he wrote a letter to Lydia Jackson asking for her hand in marriage. She accepted and they were married on September 14, 1835. He changed her name to Lidian and would call her Queenie or Asia and she would call him Mr. Emerson. They had four children: Waldo, Ellen, Edith and Edward Waldo Emerson.

He wrote Nature anonymously on September 9, 1836. Nature is the essay upon which is the foundation of transcendentalism. Transcendentalism is a belief system that adopts a non-traditional appreciation of nature. It states that divinity is scattered among all nature and that people can only understand reality through studying nature. He delivered his Phi Beta Kappa address "The American Scholar," also known as "An Oration, Delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge." This address states that everyone is a fragment of a greater thing and that an individual may be in the divided or degenerate state whereby he doesn't have an identity outside of his occupation or in the right state whereby he is elevated to the status of "Man."

He believed that all things are connected to God and are therefore all divine. This was a very radical notion at the time because it was believed that he was trying to take away the central God figure and was instead establishing a more encompassing system of beliefs where everyone had the same divine status. This believe was highly criticized. Transcendentalism suggests that God doesn't have to reveal the truth but that the truth could be experienced in nature. Emerson is also well know for his essays: "Self-Reliance," "The Poet," and "Politics."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Author Details

  • › DOB: 05.25.1803
  • › DOP: 04.27.1882
  • › City: Boston, Massachusetts
  • › Country: United States
  • › Religion: Christian, Transcendentalist
  • › Profession: Writer, Philosopher

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