Perhaps the reader may ask, of what consequence is it whether the author's exact language is preserved or not, provided we have his thought? The answer is, that inaccurate quotation is a sin against truth. It may appear in any particular instance to be a trifle, but perfection consists in small things, and perfection is no trifle.
If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbor, tho' he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door. [Mrs. Yule stated in The Docket, Feb. 1912, that she copied this in her handbook from a lecture delivered by Emerson. The 'mouse-trap' quotation was the occasion of a long controversy, owing to Elbert Hubbard's claim to its authorship.]
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
Source: Mrs. Sarah S. B. Yule (1856–1916), Borrowings, 1889