While Ralph Waldo Emerson’s reputation doesn’t shine as brightly as it did during his lifetime, his writings are still read and enjoyed. In particular, many of his aphorisms are delightfully pithy and insightful.
My personal favorite is “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Here are a few more:
“These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.”
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”
“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”
“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
And one final one, another favorite of mine:
“Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet.”