"This unlettered man's speaking and writing are standard English. Some words and phrases deemed vulgarisms and Americanisms before,he has made standard American; such as "It will pay." It suggests that the one great rule of composition--and if I were a professor of rhetoric I should insist on this--is, to speak the truth. This first, this second, this third; pebbles in your mouth or not. This demands earnestness and manhood chiefly."
"You have but little more to do than throw up your cap for entertainment these American days.... Farmers' sons will stare by the hour to see a juggler draw ribbons from his throat, though he tells them it is all deception. Surely, men love darkness rather than light."
"Exaggeration! was ever any virtue attributed to a man without exaggeration? was ever any vice, without infinite exaggeration? Do we not exaggerate ourselves to ourselves, or do we recognize ourselves for the actual men we are? Are we not all great men? Yet what are we actually, to speak of? We live by exaggeration."
"Men esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star, before Adam and after the last man. In eternitythere is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here. God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages."
"I fear chiefly lest my expression may not be extra-vagant enough, may not wander far enough beyond the narrow limits of my daily experience, so as to be adequate to the truth of which I have been convinced."
"Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous. If men would steadily observe realities only, andnot allow themselves to be deluded, life ... would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights' Entertainments."
"Tom Hyde, the tinker, standing on the gallows, was asked if he had anything to say. "Tell the tailors," said he, "to remember to make a knot in their thread before they take the first stitch." His companion's prayer is forgotten."
"In accumulating property for ourselves or our posterity, in founding a family or a state, or acquiring fame even, we are mortal; but in dealing with truth we are immortal, and need fear no change nor accident. The oldest Egyptian or Hindoo philosopher raised a corner of the veil from the statue of the divinity; and still the trembling robe remains raised, and I gaze upon as fresh a glory as he did, since it was I in him that was then so bold, and it is he in me that now reviews the vision. No dust has settled on that robe; no time has elapsed since that divinity was revealed. That time which we really improve, or which is improvable, is neither past, present, nor future."
"I love to weigh, to settle, to gravitate toward that which most strongly and rightfully attracts me;Mnot hang by the beam of the scale and try to weigh less,--not suppose a case, but take the case that is; to travel the only path I can, and that on which no power can resist me. It affords me no satisfaction to commence to spring an arch before I have got a solid foundation."
"I desire to speak somewhere without bounds; like a man in a waking moment, to men in their waking moments; for I am convinced thatI cannot exaggerate enough even to lay the foundation of a true expression."