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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1780
AUTHOR: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82)
QUOTATION: If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.
ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to RALPH WALDO EMERSON by Sarah B. Yule, Borrowings, p. 138 (1889).

While this sentence has never been found in Emerson’s works, he is believed to have used it in a lecture either at San Francisco or Oakland, California, in 1871. Borrowings was an anthology compiled by women of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, and Sarah Yule contributed this sentence, which she had copied from an address years before. There has been some controversy because others, including Elbert Hubbard, have claimed authorship. See The Home Book of Quotations, ed. Burton Stevenson, 10th ed., pp. 630, 2275 (1967).