In what piece of work by Ralph Waldo Emerson can one find the following quote?

Nothing can work damage to me except myself; the damage that I sustain I carry about with me and never am a real sufferer except by my own fault.

1 Answer 1


In Emerson's Essays: First Series (1841), he wrote this phrase but attributed it to Saint Bernard (not the dog):

The gain is apparent; the tax is certain. But there is no tax on the knowledge that the compensation exists and that it is not desirable to dig up treasure. Herein I rejoice with a serene eternal peace. I contract the boundaries of possible mischief. I learn the wisdom of St. Bernard,--"Nothing can work me damage except myself; the harm that I sustain I carry about with me, and never am a real sufferer but by my own fault."

-- Emerson (source)

I wasn't able to find out where St. Bernard said this. It's not in his collected letters, but it has been attributed to him by others as well as Emerson.

  • 2
    Thank you. It has been bothering the hell out of me. I have a copy of "Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson." In that volume I know I read and first came across the quote. However, I have no longer been able to find that quote. When I first read the volume, I swear, it had the essay "Compensation". The volume I now have (Signet Classics, The New American Library a division of Penguin Classics, © 1965 that I have now in possession does not have this essay. The volume I purchased did. What happened? Thank you, once again, for answering my query and giving me a direction to proceed. Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 14:33

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