I just came across one of my favorite quotes, and determined that I really don't understand it.
Emerson said, "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." I have taken that to mean that only little minds concern themselves with being consistent.
But that doesn't seem to be what the quotation says. I noticed this when I read the quote and realized that I don't know what a hobgoblin is. So I looked it up on www.thefreedictionary.com and found that a hobgoblin is "an object or a source of fear, dread, or harassment."
So, with that being the case, according to the quotation, little minds fear a foolish consistency. That doesn't seem to be what Emerson was trying to communicate; he was really trying to say that a foolish consistency is the preoccupation of little minds, and that expansive minds couldn't be troubled to worry about it.
So, unless my analysis is wrong, I think that quote that I've used so often literally means the opposite of what it was intended to mean.