- It is a beautiful truth that all men contain something of the artist in them. And perhaps it is the case that the greatest artists live and die, the world and themselves alike ignorant what they possess. Who would not mourn that an ample palace, of surpassingly graceful architecture, fill’d with luxuries, and embellish’d with fine pictures and sculpture, should stand cold and still and vacant, and never be known or enjoy’d by its owner? Would such a fact as this cause your sadness? Then be sad. For there is a palace, to which the courts of the most sumptuous kings are but a frivolous patch, and, though it is always waiting for them, not one of its owners ever enters there with any genuine sense of its grandeur and glory.
I think of few heroic actions, which cannot be traced to the artistical impulse. He who does great deeds, does them from his innate sensitiveness to moral beauty.
- Talk not so much, then, young artist, of the great old masters, who but painted and chisell’d. Study not only their productions. There is a still higher school for him who would kindle his fire with coal from the altar of the loftiest and purest art. It is the school of all grand actions and grand virtues, of heroism, of the death of patriots and martyrs — of all the mighty deeds written in the pages of history — deeds of daring, and enthusiasm, devotion, and fortitude.
- "Talk to an Art-Union (A Brooklyn fragment)"
- I have just this moment heard from the front — there is nothing yet of a movement, but each side is continually on the alert, expecting something to happen.
O Mother, to think that we are to have here soon what I have seen so many times, the awful loads and trains and boatloads of poor, bloody, and pale and wounded young men again — for that is what we certainly will, and before very long. I see all the little signs, getting ready in the hospitals, etc.; it is dreadful when one thinks about it. I sometimes think over the sights I have myself seen: the arrival of the wounded after a battle, and the scenes on the field, too, and I can hardly believe my own recollections. What an awful thing war is! Mother, it seems not men but a lot of devils and butchers butchering each other.
- Letter to his mother (1864-03-22)
- We Americans have yet to really learn our own antecedents, and sort them, to unify them. They will be found ampler than has been supposed, and in widely different sources. Thus far, impress'd by New England writers and schoolmasters, we tacitly abandon ourselves to the notion that our United States has been fashion'd from the British Islands only, and essentially form a second England only — which is a very great mistake.
- I said: "Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic!" He was hilarious: "That's beautiful: the hurrah game! well — it's our game: that's the chief fact in connection with it: America's game: has the snap, go fling, of the American atmosphere — belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life."
- Conversation with Whitman (1889-04-07) as quoted in With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906) by Horace Traubel, Vol. IV
- I see great things in baseball, 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 those losses and be a blessing to us.
- This has been widely attributed to Whitman, and no one else, but without definite source. It has sometimes been cited as being from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (sometimes with a date of 23 July 1846), where Whitman had been an editor, but its presence on that date is not apparent in the online historical archives of that publication.
- Yes, Mexico must be thoroughly chastised! Let our arms now be carried with a spirit which shall teach the world that, while we are not forward for a quarrel, American knows how to crush, as well as expand!
- Editorial comment identified as from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (11 May 1846)