But hospitality must be for service, and not for show, or it pulls down the host. The brave soul rates itself too high to value itself by the splendor of its table and draperies. It gives what it hath, and all it hath, but its own majesty can lend a better grace to bannocks and fair water than belong to city feasts.

Essays, First Series, "Heroism"

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More from Ralph Waldo Emerson

I should as soon think of swimming across Charles River when I wish to go to Boston, as of reading all my books in originals when I have them rendered for me in my mother tongue.

Books

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

Essays, First Series, "Self-Reliance"

Men achieve a certain greatness unawares, when working to another aim.

The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.

Essays: Second Series, New England Reformers (1844)