It is only the novice in political economy who thinks it is the duty of government to make its citizens happy. Government has no such office. To protect the weak and the minority from the impositions of the strong and the majorityto prevent any one from positively working to render the people unhappy, to do the labor not of an officious inter-meddler in the affairs of men, but of a prudent watchman who prevents outragethese are rather the proper duties of a government. Under the specious pretext of effecting the happiness of the whole community, nearly all the wrongs and intrusions of government have been carried through. The legislature may, and should, when such things fall in its way, lend its potential weight to the cause of virtue and happinessbut to legislate in direct behalf of those objects is never available, and rarely effects any even temporary benefit.
I cannot too often repeat that Democracy is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawakened, notwithstanding the resonance and the many angry tempests out of which its syllables have come, from pen or tongue. It is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten because that history has yet to be enacted.
I see great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us
At times it has been doubtful to me if Emerson really knows or feels what Poetry is at its highest, as in the Bible, for instance, or Homer or Shakespeare. I see he covertly or plainly likes best superb verbal polish, or something old or odd
Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud.
Let that which stood in front go behind, let that which was behind advance to the front, let bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new propositions, let the old propositions be postponed.
I think I could turn and live with the animals. They are so placid and self-contained. They do not sweat and whine about their condition. Not one is dissatisfied. Not one is demented with the mania of owning things. Not one is disrespectful or unhappy over the world.
Topics: Nature, Wilderness
Freedom – to walk free and own no superior.
I am an acme of things accomplished, and I am encloser of things to be.
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
Produce great men, the rest follows.
There is that indescribable freshness and unconsciousness about an illiterate person that humbles and mocks the power of the noblest expressive genius.
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself … , I see the elementary laws never apologize.
Sex contains all, bodies, souls,
Meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk,
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals, all the passions, loves, beauties,
delights of the earth.
I accept reality and dare not question it.
After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on—have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear—what remains? Nature remains.
Topics: Wilderness, Nature
A child said, “What is the grass?” fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? … I do not know what it is any more than he.
As for me, I know nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water, Or stand under the trees in the woods, Or talk by day with any one I love, Or sleep in bed at night with any one I love, Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon… Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, Or of stars shining so quiet and bright, Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring… What stranger miracles are there?
O lands! O all so dear to me—what you are, I become part of that, whatever it is.
All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Ralph Waldo Emerson American Philosopher
- Henry David Thoreau American Philosopher
- Edna St. Vincent Millay American Poet
- Gore Vidal American Novelist
- James Russell Lowell American Poet, Critic
- Christopher Morley American Novelist, Essayist
- Natalie Clifford Barney American Literary Figure
- John Jay Chapman American Writer
- Herman Melville American Novelist
- Gertrude Stein American Writer