Quotes by Oliver Wendell Holmes

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It is a good plan to have a book with you in all places and at all times. If you are presently without, hurry without delay to the nearest shop and buy one of mine. more...

When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe... that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment. As all life is an experiment. Every year if not every day we wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. more...

Man is born a predestined idealist, for he is born to act. To act is to affirm the worth of an end, and to persist in affirming the worth of an end is to make an ideal. more...

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce. more...

Learn the sweet magic of a cheerful face. more...

The truth is that the whole system of beliefs which comes in with the story of the fall of man ... is gently falling out of enlightened human intelligence. more...

To obtain a man's opinion of you, make him mad. more...

Man has his will, but woman has her way. more...

For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn't give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have. more...

Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all. more...

When I think of talking, it is of course with a woman. For talking at its best being an inspiration, it wants a corresponding divine quality of receptiveness, and where will you find this but in a woman? more...

Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. more...

Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness. more...

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out. more...

But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold. more...

The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer. more...

Don't flatter yourselves that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. On the contrary, the nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. more...

There is no friend like an old friend who has shared our morning days, no greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise. more...

Without wearing any mask we are conscious of, we have a special face for each friend. more...

Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked. more...

To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor. more...

Fresh air is good if you do not take too much of it; most of the achievements and pleasures of life are in bad air. more...

A few can touch the magic string, and noisy fame is proud to win them: Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them! more...

I like children; I like 'em, and I respect 'em. Pretty much all the honest truth-telling there is in the world is done by them. more...

Beware how you take away hope from another human being. more...

Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening. more...

The mind of a bigot to the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it contracts. more...

A man may fulfill the object of his existence by asking a question he cannot answer, and attempting a task he cannot achieve. more...

Controversy equalizes fools and wise men in the same way - and the fools know it. more...

Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel. more...

The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men - from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms. more...

Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer. more...

The Amen of nature is always a flower. more...

It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. more...

Why can't somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks? more...

Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. more...

Stillness of person and steadiness of features are signal marks of good breeding. more...

Apology is only egotism wrong side out. more...

Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall. more...

To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old. more...

It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen. more...

A person is always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man for the first time. more...

Love prefers twilight to daylight. more...

People who honestly mean to be true really contradict themselves much more rarely than those who try to be 'consistent'. more...

Stupidity often saves a man from going mad. more...

Have the courage to act instead of react. more...

Do not be bullied out of your common sense by the specialist; two to one, he is a pedant. more...

Truth, when not sought after, rarely comes to light. more...

A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. more...

Don't be 'consistent,' but be simply true. more...

The world's great men have not commonly been great scholars, nor its great scholars great men. more...

I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived. more...

Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future. more...

A child's education should begin at least one hundred years before he is born. more...

A woman never forgets her sex. She would rather talk with a man than an angel, any day. more...

Don't you stay at home of evenings? Don't you love a cushioned seat in a corner, by the fireside, with your slippers on your feet? more...

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow. more...

Memory is a net: one that finds it full of fish when he takes it from the brook, but a dozen miles of water have run through it without sticking. more...

Sweet is the scene where genial friendship plays the pleasing game of interchanging praise. more...

The man who is always worrying about whether or not his soul would be damned generally has a soul that isn't worth a damn. more...

A goose flies by a chart which the Royal Geographical Society could not mend. more...

Chicago sounds rough to the maker of verse. One comfort we have - Cincinnati sounds worse. more...

Every event that a man would master must be mounted on the run, and no man ever caught the reins of a thought except as it galloped past him. more...

Every library should try to be complete on something, if it were only the history of pinheads. more...

I hate facts. I always say the chief end of man is to form general propositions - adding that no general proposition is worth a damn. more...

Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable. more...

Rough work, iconoclasm, but the only way to get at truth. more...

Simple people... are very quick to see the live facts which are going on about them. more...

The very aim and end of our institutions is just this: that we may think what we like and say what we think. more...

Our brains are seventy-year clocks. The Angel of Life winds them up once for all, then closes the case, and gives the key into the hand of the Angel of the Resurrection. more...

A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return. But if a blow were given for such cause, and death ensued, the jury would be judges both of the facts and of the pun, and might, if the latter were of an aggravated character, return a verdict of justifiable homicide. more...

Fame usually comes to those who are thinking about something else - very rarely to those who say to themselves, 'Go to, now, let us be a celebrated individual!'. more...

Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man's upper chamber, if he has common sense on the ground-floor. But if a man hasn't got plenty of good common sense, the more science he has, the worse for his patient. more...

What a blessed thing it is, that Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented her authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left! more...

Civilization is the process of reducing the infinite to the finite. more...

What refuge is there for the victim who is oppressed with the feeling that there are a thousand new books he ought to read, while life is only long enough for him to attempt to read a hundred? more...

Even a dog knows the difference between being kicked and being stumbled over. more...

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea! more...

Death tugs at my ear and says, 'Live. I am coming. more...

I hate paying taxes. But I love the civilization they give me more...

Love is the master-key that opens the gates of happiness, of hatred, of jealousy, and, most easily of all, the gate of fear. more...

Science is the topography of ignorance. more...

The books we read should be chosen with great care, that they may be, as an Egyptian king wrote over his library,'The medicines of the soul. more...

We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them. more...

I would never use a long word, even, where a short one would answer the purpose. more...

I firmly believe that if the whole material medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be better for mankind-and all the worse for the fishes. more...

Life as we call it, is nothing but the edge of the boundless ocean of existence when it comes upon soundings. more...

Cupid "the little greatest enemy." more...

Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust. more...

Yes, child of suffering, thou may'st well be sure He who ordained the Sabbath loves the poor! more...

See how he throws his baited lines about,/And plays his men as anglers play their trout. more...

Youth longs and manhood strives, but age remembers. more...

What we most want to ask of our Maker is an unfolding of the divine purpose in putting human beings into conditions in which such numbers of them would be sure to go wrong. more...

The sea drowns out humanity and time. It has no sympathy with either, for it belongs to eternity; and of that it sings its monotonous song forever and ever. more...

Whatever comes from the brain carries the hue of the place it came from, and whatever comes from the heart carries the heat and color of its birthplace. more...

The best servant does his work unseen. more...

We call those poets who are first to mark, Through earth's dull mist the coming of the dawn, Who see in twilight's gloom the first pale spark, While others only note that day is gone. more...

Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked. Good mental machinery ought to break its own wheels and levers, if anything is thrust among them suddenly which tends to stop them or reverse their motion. A weak mind does not accumulate force enough to hurt itself; stupidity often saves a man from going mad. more...

Trouble makes us one with every human being in the world - and unless we touch others, we're out of touch with life. more...

No families take so little medicine as those of doctors, except those of apothecaries. more...

Me wretched! Let me curr to quercine shades! Effund your albid hausts, lactiferous maids! O, might I vole to some umbrageous clump,- Depart,-be off,-excede,-evade,-erump! more...

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five. Georgius Secundus was then alive,- Snuffy old drone from the German hive. more...

And if I should live to be The last leaf upon the tree In the spring, Let them smile, as I do now, At the old forsaken bough Where I cling. more...

You may have genius. The contrary is, of course, probable. more...

As we grow older we think more and more of old persons and of old things and places. As to old persons, it seems as if we never know how much they have to tell until we are old ourselves and they have been gone twenty or thirty years. Once in a while we come upon some survivor of his or her generation that we have overlooked, and feel as if we had recovered one of the lost books of Livy or fished up the golden candlestick from the ooze of the Tiber. more...

The Indian is but a sketch in red crayon of a rudimental manhood. To the problem of his relation to the white race, there is one solution: extermination. more...

Leverage is everything-don't begin to pry until you've got the long arm on your side. more...

Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all. more...

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it,-but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor. more...

A few can touch the magic string, And noisy Fame is proud to win them; Alas for those that never sing, But die with all their music in them! more...

A great calamity is as old as the trilobites an hour after it has happened. more...

A new untruth is better than an old truth. more...

A person is always startled when he hears himself called old for the first time. more...

A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times. more...

Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force. more...

Controversy equalizes fools and wise men - and the fools know it. more...

Don't be "consistent" but be simple true. more...

Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. more...

Even for practical purposes theory generally turns out the most important thing in the end. more...

Every calling is great when greatly pursued. more...

Every idea is an incitement... Eloquence may set fire to reason. more...

Every real thought on every real subject knocks the wind out of somebody or other. more...

Fame usually comes to those who are thinking about something else. more...

Grow we must, if we outgrow all that loves us. more...

Happiness consists in activity. It is running steam, not a stagnant pool. more...

He has half the deed done who has made a beginning. more...

I don't generally feel anything until noon, then it's time for my nap. more...

I won't accept anything less than the best a player's capable of doing... and he has the right to expect the best that I can do for him and the team! more...

If I were dying my last words would be: Have faith and pursue the unknown end. more...

It is very lonely sometimes, trying to play God. more...

Knowledge like timber shouldn't be mush use till they are seasoned. more...

Love is the master-key that opens the gates of happiness, of hatred, of jealousy, and, most easily of all, the gate of fear. How terrible is the one fact of beauty! more...

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up. more...

Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing. more...

Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented her authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left. more...

Old age is fifteen years older than I am. more...

One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. more...

Pretty much all the honest truth-telling there is in the world is done by children. more...

Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man's upper chamber, if he has common sense on the ground-floor. more...

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. more...

The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts live. more...

The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size. more...

The mode in which the inevitable comes to pass is through effort. more...

The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius. more...

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions. more...

This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice. more...

Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. more...

To be civilized is to be potentially master of all possible ideas, and that means that one has got beyond being shocked, although one preserves one's own moral aesthetic preferences. more...

Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day, like a football, and it will be round and full at evening. more...

We do not quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing. more...

When in doubt, do it. more...

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. more...

Every event that a man would master must be mounted on the run, and no man ever caught the reins of a thought except as it galloped by him. more...

Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions. more...

The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it will contract. more...

Literature is full of coincidences, which some love to believe are plagiarisms. There are thoughts always abroad in the air which it takes more wit to avoid than to hit upon. more...

A question like the present should be disposed of without undue delay. But a State cannot be expected to move with the celerity of a private business man; it is enough if it proceeds, in the language of the English Chancery, with all deliberate speed. more...

A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure. more...

The general rule, at least, is that while property may be regulated to a certain extent, if regulation goes too far it will be recognized as a taking. more...

Every living sentence which shows a mind at work for itself is to be welcomed. It is not the first use but the tiresome repetition of inadequate catch words which I am observing - phrases which originally were contributions, but which, by their very felicity, delay further analysis for fifty years. That comes from the same source as dislike of novelty -intellectual indolence or weakness - a slackening in the eternal pursuit of the more exact. more...

O Damsel Dorothy! Dorothy Q.! Strange is the gift that I owe to you; Such a gift as never a king Save to daughter or son might bring, All my tenure of heart and hand, All my title to house and land; Mother and sister and child and wife And joy and sorrow and death and life! more...

Life is a romantic business. It is painting a picture, not doing a sum - but you have to make the romance, and it will come to the question how much fire you have in your belly. more...

Great constitutional provisions must be administered with caution. Some play must be allowed for the joints of the machine, and it must be remembered that legislatures are ultimate guardians of the liberties and welfare of the people in quite as great a degree as the courts. more...

It cannot be helped, it is as it should be, that the law is behind the times. more...

It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. more...

Nature has but one judgment on wrong conduct - if you can call that a judgment which seemingly has no reference to conduct as such - the judgment of death. more...

I do not think the United States would come to an end if we lost our power to declare an Act of Congress void. I do think the Union would be imperiled if we could not make that declaration as to the laws of the several States. more...

It is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for our country in return. more...

I always say, as you know, that if my fellow citizens want to go to Hell I will help them. Its my job. more...

Gentlemen, to the lady without whom I should never have survived for eighty, nor sixty, nor yet thirty years. Her smile has been my lyric, her understanding, the rhythm of the stanza. She has been the spring where - from I have drawn the power to write the words. She is the poem of my life. more...

But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas - that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. more...

Several years before birth, advertise for a couple of parents belonging to long-lived families. more...

Stillness and steadiness of features are signal marks of good breeding. Vulgar persons can't sit still, or at least must always work their limbs and features. more...

Every man is an omnibus in which his ancestors ride. more...

... the hydrostatic paradox of controversy. Don't you know what that means? Well, I will tell you. You know that, if you had a bent tube, one arm of which was of the size of a pipe-stem, and the other big enough to hold the ocean, water would stand at the same height in one as in the other. Controversy equalizes fools and wise men in the same way. And the fools know it. more...

The older author is constantly rediscovering himself in the more or less fossilized productions of his earlier years. more...

Beauty is the index of a larger fact than wisdom. more...

I hate being placed on committees. They are always having meetings at which half are absent and the rest late. more...

What I call a good patient is one who, having found a good physician, sticks to him till he dies. more...

All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called facts. They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain. Who does not know fellows that always have an ill-conditioned fact or two that they lead after them into decent company like so many bull-dogs, ready to let them slip at every ingenious suggestion, or convenient generalization, or pleasant fancy? I allow no facts at this table. more...

Unpretending mediocrity is good, and genius is glorious; but a weak flavor of genius in an essentially common person is detestable. It spoils the grand neutrality of a commonplace character, as the rinsings of an unwashed wine-glass spoil a draught of fair water. more...

In walking, the will and the muscles are so accustomed to working together and performing their task with so little expenditure of force that the intellect is left comparatively free. more...

A page of history is worth a pound of logic. more...

People can be divided into two classes: those who go ahead and do something, and those who sit still and inquire, why wasn't it done the other way? more...

What a comfort a dull but kindly person is, to be sure, at times! A ground-glass shade over a gas-lamp does not bring more solace to our dazzled eyes than such a one to our minds. more...

This is an inquisitive age, and if we insist on piling up beyond a certain height knowledge which is in itself mere trash and lumber to a man whose life is to be one long fight with death and disease, there will be some sharp questions asked by and by. more...

Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide -that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate meaning, which is its life -are alike forbidden. more...

It is faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth looking at. more...

Love is the master key which opens the gates of happiness. more...

I firmly believe that if the whole material medical could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind, and all the worse for the sea. more...

A good soldier, like a good horse, cannot be of a bad color. more...

Our brains our seventy year clocks, the angel of life winds them up once and for all, then closes the case, and gives the key into the hands of the angel of resurrection. more...

It is by no means certain that our individual personality is the single inhabitant of these our corporeal frames... We all do things both awake and asleep which surprise us. Perhaps we have co-tenants in this house we live in. more...

You commit a sin of omission if you do not utilize all the power that is within you. All men have claims on man, and to the man with special talents, this is a very special claim. It is required that a man take part in the actions and clashes of his time that the peril of being judged not to have lived at all. more...

Old books, you know well, are books of the world's youth, and new books are the fruits of its age. more...

The most foolish kind of a book is a kind of leaky boat on the sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in anyhow. more...

Our dead brothers still live for us and bid us think of life, not death-of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and glory of Spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil, our trumpets, sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will. more...

How many people live on the reputation of the reputation they might have made! more...

Revolutions are not made by men in spectacles. more...

Young men know the rules, but old men know the exceptions. more...

God's plan made a hopeful beginning. But man spoiled his chances by sinning. We trust that the story will end in God's glory. But, at present, the other side's winning. more...

The minute a phrase, becomes current, it becomes an apology for not thinking accurately to the end of the sentence. more...

The greatest tragedy in America is not the destruction of our natural resources, though that tragedy is great. The truly great tragedy is the destruction of our human resources by our failure to fully utilize our abilities, which means that most men and women go to their graves with their music still in them. more...

If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it around. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say: meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it, and had better be on speaking terms with it. more...

Even the wisest woman you talk to is ignorant of something you may know, but an elegant woman never forgets her elegance. more...

The world has to learn that the actual pleasure derived from material things is of rather low quality on the whole and less even in quantity than it looks to those who have not tried it. more...

Soft is the breath of a maiden's Yes: Not the light gossamer stirs with less; But never a cable that holds so fast Through all the battles of wave and blast. more...

Wit throws a single ray, separated from the rest, - red, yellow, blue, or any intermediate shade, - upon an object; never white light; that is the province of wisdom. We get beautiful effect from wit, - all the prismatic colors, - but never the object as it is in fair daylight. more...

War is a child that devours its nurses one after another, until it is claimed by its true parents. more...

When a strong brain is weighed with a true heart, it seems to me like balancing a bubble against a wedge of gold. more...

A man must get a thing before he can forget it. more...

It is the most momentous question a woman is ever called upon to decide, whether the faults of the man she loves are beyond remedy and will drag her down, or whether she is competent to be his earthly redeemer and lift him to her own level. more...

I like books. I was born and bred among them, and have the easy feeling when I get in their presence, that a stable-boy has among horses. more...

Freedom is the ferment of freedom. The moistened sponge drinks up water greedily; the dry one sheds it. more...

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down! Long has it waved on high, And many an eye has danced to see That banner in the sky. more...

One word can charm all wrongs away, - The sacred name of Wife. more...

The flowering moments of the mind Drop half their petals in our speech. more...

Sweet shadows of twilight! how calm their repose, While the dewdrops fall soft in the breast of the rose! How blest to the toiler his hour of release When the vesper is heard with its whisper of peace! more...

The summer's throbbing chant is done And mute the choral antiphon; The birds have left the shivering pines To flit among the trellised vines, Or fan the air with scented plumes Amid the love-sick orange blooms, And thou art here alone - alone - Sing, little bird! the rest have flown. more...

Ay, here her tattered ensign down! Long has it waved on high, And many an eye has danced to see That banner in the sky. more...

Winter is past; the heart of Nature warms Beneath the wrecks of unresisted storms; Doubtful at first, suspected more than seen, The southern slopes are fringed with tender green. more...

There is infinite pathos in unsuccessful authorship. The book that perishes unread is the deaf-mute of literature. The great asylum of Oblivion is full of such, making inaudible signs to each other in leaky garrets and unattainable dusty upper shelves. more...

Bleak are our shores with the blasts of December, Fettered and chill is the rivulet's flow; Throbbing and warm are the hearts that remember Who was our friend when the world was our foe. more...

We call those poets who are first to mark Through earth's dull mist the coming of the dawn, - Who see in twilight's gloom the first pale spark, While others only note that day is gone. more...

Books are the negative pictures of thought, and the more sensitive the mind that receives their images, the more nicely the finest lines are reproduced. more...

Science is a good piece of furniture for a man to have in an upper chamber, provided he has common sense on the ground floor. more...

His home! - the Western giant smiles, And turns the spotty globe to find it;- This little speck the British isles? 'Tis but a freckle, - never mind it. more...

When we plant a tree, we are doing what we can to make our planet a more wholesome and happier dwelling-place for those who come after us if not for ourselves. more...

Stop not, unthinking, every friend you meet To spin your wordy fabric in the street; While you are emptying your colloquial pack, The fiend Lumbago jumps upon his back. more...

If a man really loves a woman, of course he wouldn't marry her for the world, if he were not quite sure that he was the best person she could by any possibility marry. more...

Tears, except as n private demonstration, are an ill-disguised expression of self-consciousness and vanity, which is inadmissible !n good society. more...

Every real master of speaking or writing ores his personality as he would any other serviceable material; the very moment a speaker or writer begins to use it, not for his main purpose, but for vanity's sake, as all weak people are sure to do, hearers, and readers feel the difference in a moment. more...

As vessels starting from ports thousands of miles apart pass close to each other in the naked breadth of the ocean, nay, sometimes even touch in the dark. more...

The clear, cold question chills to frozen doubt; Tired of beliefs, we dread to live without; O then, if reason waver at thy side, Let humbler Memory be thy gentle guide, Go to thy birth-place, and, if faith was there, Repeat thy father's creed, thy mother's prayer. more...

The bore is the same eating dates under the cedars of Lebanon as over a plate of baked beans in Beacon Street. more...

To be seventy years young is something far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old. more...

Our Union is river, lake, ocean, and sky: Man breaks not the medal, when God cuts the die! Though darkened with sulphur, though cloven with steel, The blue arch will brighten, the waters will heal! more...

When o'er the street the morning peal is flung From yon tall belfry with the brazen tongue, Its wide vibrations, wafted by the gale, To each far listener tell a different tale. more...

The more we examine the mechanism of thought, the more we shall see that the automatic, unconscious action of the mind enters largely into all its processes. Our definite ideas are stepping-stones; how we get from one to the other, we do not know; something carries us; we do not take the step. more...

An artist that works in marble or colors has them all to himself and his tribe; but the man who moulds his thoughts in verse has to employ the materials vulgarized by everybody's use, and glorify them by his handling. more...

There is no possible success without some opposition as a fulcrum; force is always aggressive, and crowds something or other, if it does not hit and trample upon it. more...

One kindly deed may turn The fountain of thy soul To love's sweet day-star, that shall o'er thee burn Long as its currents roll. more...

Genius grafted on womanhood is like to overgrow it and break its stem, as you may see a grafted fruit-tree spreading over the stock which cannot keep pace with its evolutions. more...

The morning light, which rains its quivering beams Wide o'er the plains, the summits, and the streams, In one broad blaze expands its golden glow On all that answers to its glance below. more...

The bigot is like the pupil of the eye, the more light you put upon it, the more it will contract. more...

There are those who hold the opinion that truth is only safe when diluted, - about one-fifth to four-fifths lies, - as the oxygen of the air is with its nitrogen. Else it would burn us all up. more...

One of the greatest pleasures of childhood is found in the mysteries which it hides from the skepticism of the elders, and works up into small mythologies of its own. more...

See how he throws his baited lines about, And plays his men as anglers play their trout. more...

Not all the pumice of the polish'd town Can smooth the roughness of the barnyard clown; Rich, honor'd, titled, he betrays his race By this one mark - he's awkward in his face. more...

I think most readers of Shakespeare sometimes find themselves thrown into exalted mental conditions like those produced by music. more...

There comes a time when the souls of human beings, women more even than men, begin to faint for the atmosphere of the affections they are made to breathe. more...

When darkness gathers over all, And the last tottering pillars fall, Take the poor dust Thy mercy warms, And mould it into heavenly forms. more...

There are a good many real miseries in life that we cannot help smiling at, but they are the smiles that make wrinkles and not dimples. more...

How many women are born too finely organized in sense and soul for the highway they must walk with feet unshod. more...

The lengthening shadows wait The first pale stars of twilight. more...

The ghost of many a veteran bill Shall hover around his slumbers. more...

To hear him (Emerson) talk was like watching one crossing a brook on stepping-stones. His noun had to wait for its verb or its adjective until he was ready; then his speech would come down upon the word he wanted, and not Worcester nor Webster could better it from all the wealth of their huge vocabularies. more...

What would be the state of the highway of life, if we did not drive our thought-sprinklers through them, with valve open, sometimes? more...

Habit is the approximation of the animal system to the organic. It is a confession of failure in the highest function of being, which involves a perpetual self-determination, in full view of all existing, circumstances. more...

Poor conquer'd lion - from that haughty glance Still speaks the courage unsubdued by time, And in the grandeur of thy sullen tread Lives the proud spirit of thy burning clime. more...

And when you stick on conversation's burs, Don't strew your pathway with those dreadful urs. more...

Talking is one of the fine arts - the noblest, the most important, the most difficult - and its fluent harmonies may be spoiled by the intrusion of a single harsh note. more...

The first thing naturally when one enters a scholar's study or library, is to look at his books. One gets a notion very speedily of his tastes and the range of his pursuits by a glance round his book-shelves. more...

The foolishest book is a kind of leaky boat on a sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in anyhow. more...

The smallest word has some unguarded spot, and danger lurks in i without a dot. more...

The wisest woman you talk with is ignorant of something that you know; but an elegant woman never forgets her elegance. more...

Writing or printing is like shooting with a rifle; you may hit your reader's mind, or miss it - but talking is like playing at a mark with the pipe of an engine; if it is within reach, and you have time enough, you can't help hitting it. more...

It is not often that an opinion is worth expressing, which cannot take care of itself. more...

Love is sparingly soluble in the words of men, therefore they speak much of it; but one syllable of woman's speech can dissolve more of it than a man's heart can hold. more...

Science - in other words, knowledge - is not the enemy of religion; for, if so, then religion would mean ignorance. But it is often the antagonist of school-divinity. more...

The smaller the calibre of mind, the greater the bore of a perpetually open mouth. more...

The mossy marbles rest On the lips that he has pressed In their bloom; And the names he loved to hear Have been carved for many a year On the tomb. more...

Poetry uses the rainbow tints for special effects, but always keeps its essential object in the purest light of truth. more...

In his own verse the poet still we find, In his own page his memory lives enshrined, As in their amber sweets the smothered bees, - As the fair cedar, fallen before the breeze, Lies self-embalmed amidst the mouldering trees. more...

There is nothing in New England corresponding at all to the feudal aristocracies of the Old World. more...

I say that conceit is just as natural a thing to human minds as a centre to a circle. more...

Trouble makes us one with every human being in the world. more...

No, my friends, I go (always other things being equal) for the man that inherits family traditions and the cumulative humanities of at least four or five generations. more...

It cannot be repeated too often that the safety of great wealth with us lies in obedience to the new version of the Old World axiom - Richesse oblige. more...

Genius is always impatient of its harness; its wild blood makes it hard to train. more...

Easy-crying widows take new husbands soonest; there is nothing like wet weather for transplanting. more...

Immortal art! where'er the rounded sky Bends o'er the cradle where thy children lie, Their home is earth, their herald every tongue. more...

Society is a strong solution of books. It draws the virtue out of what is best worth reading, as hot water draws the strength of tea-leaves. more...

Vain? Let it be so! Nature was her teacher, What if a lovely and unsistered creature Loved her own harmless gift of pleasing feature. more...

Stick to your aim;, the mongrel's hold will slip, But only crow-bars loose the bull-dog's lip; Small as he looks, the jaw that never yields, Drags down the bellowing monarch of the fields. more...

The mind does not know what diet it can feed on until it has been brought to the starvation point. more...

Scarce one tall frigate walks the sea Or skirts the safer shores Of all that bore to victory Our stout old Commodores. more...

Ah, pensive scholar, what is fame? A fitful tongue of leaping flame; A giddy whirlwind's fickle gust, That lifts a pinch of mortal dust; A few swift years, and who can show Which dust was Bill, and which was Joe? more...

There are inscriptions on our hearts which, like that on, Dighton rock, are never to be seen, except at dead-low tide. more...

Children of wealth or want, to each is given One spot of green, and all the blue of heaven! more...

The one thing that marks the true artist is a clear perception and a firm, bold hand, in distinction from that imperfect mental vision and uncertain touch which give us the feeble pictures and the lumpy statues of the mere artisans on canvas or in stone. more...

The crack-brained bobolink courts his crazy mate, Poised on a bulrush tipsy with his weight. more...

Boston State-house is the hub of the solar system. You couldn't pry that out of a Boston man if you had the tire of all creation straightened out for a crow-bar. more...

What a strange thing an old dead sin laid away in a secret drawer of the soul is? Must it some time or other be moistened with tears, until it comes to life again, and begins to stir in our consciousness, as the dry wheat-animaleule, looking like a grain of dust, becomes alive if it is wet with a drop of water? more...

From thy dead lips a clearer note is born Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn. more...

Everything is twice as large, measured on a three-year-old's three-foot scale on a thirty-year-old's six-foot scale. more...

Faith always implies the disbelief of a lesser fact in favor of a greater. more...

Life, as we call it, is nothing but the edge of the boundless ocean of existence where it comes upon soundings. more...

Our old mother nature has pleasant and cheery tones enough for us when she comes in her dress of blue and gold over the eastern hill-tops; but when she follows us upstairs to our beds in her suit of black velvet and diamonds, every creak of her sandals and every whisper of her lips is full of mystery and fear. more...

Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that - one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery. more...

Grant us Thy truth to make us free, And kindling hearts that burn for Thee, Till all Thy living altars claim One holy light, one heavenly flame. more...

Call him not old whose visionary brain Holds o'er the post its undivided reign, For him in vain the envious seasons roll, Who bears eternal summer in this soul. more...

Storms, thunders, waves! Howl, crash, and bellow till ye get your fill; Ye sometimes rest; men never can be still But in their graves. more...

I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be better for mankind-and all the worse for the fishes. more...

Speak not too well of one who scarce will know Himself transfigured in its roseate glow; Say kindly of him what is, chiefly, true, Remembering always he belongs to you; Deal with him as a truant, if you will, But claim him, keep him, call him brother still! more...

On Thee we fling our burdening woe, O love Divine, forever dear: Content to suffer, while we know, Living and dying, Thou art near! more...

I would never use a long word, even, where a short one would answer the purpose. I know there are professors in this country who 'ligate' arteries. Other surgeons only tie them, and it stops the bleeding just as well. more...

God reigneth. All is well. more...

One unquestioned text we read, All doubt beyond, all fear above; Nor crackling pile nor cursing creed Can burn or blot it-God is love. more...

If we are only as the potter's clay Made to be fashioned as the artist wills, And broken into shards if we offend The eye of Him who made us, it is well. more...

The mossy marbles rest On the lips that he has prest In their bloom; And the names he loved to hear Have been carved for many a year On the tomb. more...

I know it is a sin For me to sit and grin At him here; But the old three-cornered hat, And the breeches, and all that, Are so queer! more...

Thou say'st an undisputed thing In such a solemn way. more...

And silence, like a poultice, comes To heal the blows of sound. more...

You think they are crusaders sent From some infernal clime, To pluck the eyes of sentiment And dock the tail of Rhyme, To crack the voice of Melody And break the legs of Time. more...

And since, I never dare to write As funny as I can. more...

When the last reader reads no more. more...

The freeman casting with unpurchased hand The vote that shakes the turrets of the land. more...

And when you stick on conversation's burrs, Don't strew your pathway with those dreadful urs. more...

Wake in our breast the living fires, The holy faith that warmed our sires; Thy hand hath made our nation free; To die for her is serving Thee. more...

Thine eye was on the censer, And not the hand that bore it. more...

Where go the poet's lines? Answer, ye evening tapers! Ye auburn locks, ye golden curls, Speak from your folded papers! more...

O hearts that break and give no sign Save whitening lip and fading tresses! more...

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea! more...

One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, One Nation evermore! more...

His home! the Western giant smiles, And twirls the spotty globe to find it; This little speck, the British Isles? 'T is but a freckle,-never mind it. more...

But Memory blushes at the sneer, And Honor turns with frown defiant, And Freedom, leaning on her spear, Laughs louder than the laughing giant. more...

You hear that boy laughing?-you think he's all fun; But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done; The children laugh loud as they troop to his call, And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all. more...

Good to the heels the well-worn slipper feels When the tired player shuffles off the buskin; A page of Hood may do a fellow good After a scolding from Carlyle or Ruskin. more...

Lean, hungry, savage anti-everythings. more...

Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay, That was built in such a logical way It ran a hundred years to a day? more...

A general flavor of mild decay. more...

It went to pieces all at once- All at once and nothing first, Just as bubbles do when they burst. more...

The brightest blades grow dim with rust, The fairest meadow white with snow. more...

When lawyers take what they would give And doctors give what they would take. more...

Fame is the scentless sunflower, with gaudy crown of gold; But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold. more...

Everybody likes and respects self-made men. It is a great deal better to be made in that way than not to be made at all. more...

-All generous minds have a horror of what are commonly called facts. They are the brute beasts of the intellectual domain. more...

Though fortune scowl, though prudence interfere, One thing is certain: Love will triumph here! Lords of creation, whom your ladies rule,- The world's great masters, when you 're out of school,- Learn the brief moral of our evening's play Man has his will,-but woman has her way! more...

I find that the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it- but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor. more...

Don't ever think the poetry is dead in an old man because his forehead is wrinkled, or that his manhood has left him when his hand trembles! If they ever were there, they are there still! more...

Even in common people, conceit has the virtue of making them cheerful; the man who thinks his wife, his baby, his house, his horse, his dog, and himself severally unequalled, is almost sure to be a good-humored person, though liable to be tedious at times. more...

I try his head occasionally as housewives try eggs,- give it an intellectual shake and hold it up to the light, so to speak, to see if it has life in it, actual or potential, or only contains lifeless albumen. more...

The axis of the earth sticks out visibly through the center of each and every town or city. more...

Boston State-house is the hub of the solar system. You could n't pry that out of a Boston man if you had the tire of all creation straightened out for a crow-bar. more...

Knowledge and timber shouldn't be much used, till they are seasoned. more...

Laughter and tears are meant to turn the wheels of the same machinery of sensibility; one is wind-power, and the other water-power; that is all. more...

Memory is a net; one finds it full of fish when he takes it from the brook; but a dozen miles of water have run through it without sticking. more...

Now habit is a labor-saving invention which enables a man to get along with less fuel,-that is all; for fuel is force... more...

You can hire logic, in the shape of a lawyer, to prove anything that you want to prove. more...

You know well enough what I mean by youth and age;-something in the soul, which has no more to do with the color of the hair than the vein of gold in a rock has to do with the grass a thousand feet above it. more...

It is by little things that we know ourselves; a soul would very probably mistake itself for another, when once disembodied, were it not for individual experiences which differ from those of others only in details seemingly trifling. more...

Little I ask, my wants are few; I only wish a hut of stone, (A very plain brown stone will do,) That I may call my own;- And close at hand is such a one, In yonder street that fronts the sun. more...

You may set it down as a truth which admits of few exceptions, that those who ask your opinion really want your praise, and will be contented with nothing less. more...

The hat is the ultimum moriens of respectability. more...

Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable. Fame usually comes to those who are thinking about something else, - very rarely to those who say to themselves, Go to, now, let us be a celebrated individual! more...

Be polite and generous, but don't undervalue yourself. You will be useful, at any rate; you may just as well be happy, while you are about it. more...

Leverage is everything,-was what I used to say;-don't begin to pry till you have got the long arm on your side. more...

We forget that weakness is not in itself a sin. We forget that even cowardice may call for our most lenient judgment, if it spring from innate infirmity. more...

All of us love companionship and sympathy; some of us may love them too much. All of us are more or less imaginative in our theology. more...

There isn't a text in the Bible better worth keeping always in mind than that one, 'Judge not, that ye be not judged. more...

We are very shy of asking questions of those who know enough to destroy with one word the hopes we live on. more...

What a miserable thing it is to be poor. more...

The Widow Rowens was now in the full bloom of ornamental sorrow. more...

Poets are never young, in one sense. Their delicate ear hears the far-off whispers of eternity, which coarser souls must travel towards for scores of years before their dull sense is touched by them. A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. more...

Most persons have died before they expire, - died to all earthly longings, so that the last breath is only, as it were, the locking of the door of the already deserted mansion. more...

Nobody talks much that doesn't say unwise things, - things he did not mean to say; as no person plays much without striking a false note sometimes. more...

The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a deal longer. more...

So from the heights of Will Life's parting stream descends, And, as a moment turns its slender rill, Each widening torrent bends, From the same cradle's side, From the same mother's knee, -One to long darkness and the frozen tide, One to the Peaceful Sea! more...

You don't know, perhaps, but I will tell you; the brain is the palest of all the internal organs, and the heart the reddest. Whatever comes from the brain carries the hue of the place it came from, and whatever comes from the heart carries the heat and color of its birthplace. more...

Time, time only, can gradually wean us from our Epeolatry, or word-worship, by spiritualizing our ideas of the thing signified. more...

I talk half the time to find out my own thoughts, as a school-boy turns his pockets inside out to see what is in them. One brings to light all sorts of personal property he had forgotten in his inventory. more...

Knowledge-it excites prejudices to call it science-is advancing as irresistibly, as majestically, as remorselessly as the ocean moves in upon the shore. more...

Men are idolaters, and want something to look at and kiss and hug, or throw themselves down before; they always did, they always will; and if you don't make it of wood, you must make it of words... more...

I suppose you are an entomologist? Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name. No man can be truly called an entomologist, sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp. more...

Science is good furniture for one's upper chamber, if there is common sense below. more...

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body. more...

Life is a fatal complaint, and an eminently contagious one. more...

There's nothing that keeps its youth, So far as I know, but a tree and truth. more...

The year is getting to feel rich, for his golden fruits are ripening fast, and he has a large balance in the barns, which are his banks. The members of his family have found out that he is well to do in the world. September is dressing herself in show of dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception. more...

One has to dismount from an idea, and get into the saddle again, at every parenthesis. more...

Thou art a female, Katydid! I know it by the trill That quivers through thy piercing notes So petulant and shrill. I think there is a knot of you Beneath the hollow tree, A knot of spinster Katydids, - Do Katydids drink tea? more...

Nail to the mast her holy flag, Set every threadbare sail, And give her to the God of storms, The lightning and the gale. more...

High on the world, see where religion stands And bears the open volume in her hands. more...

Yellow japanned buttercups and star-disked dandelions, - just as we see them lying in the grass, like sparks that have leaped from the kindling sun of summer. more...

He knew how to weaken his divinity, on occasion, as well as an old housewife to weaken her tea, lest it should keep people awake. more...

For nothing burns with such amazing speed, As the dry sticks of a religious creed. more...

If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it. more...

If you wish to keep as well as possible, the less you think about your health the better. more...

Lord, bid war's trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace. more...

From forty to fifty a man must move upward, or the natural falling off in the vigor of life will carry him rapidly downward. more...

The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many. more...

A pair of substantial mammary glands have the advantage over the two hemispheres of the most learned professor's brain in the art of compounding a nutritive fluid for infants. more...

The axis of the earth sticks out visibly through the centre of each and every town or city. more...

Most of the things we do, we do for no better reason than that our fathers have done them or that our neighbors do them, and the same is true of a larger part than we suspect of what we think. more...

The longer we live, the more we find we are like other persons. more...

Life, not the parson, teaches conduct. more...

Plain food is quite good enough for me. more...

On every stem, on every leaf,... and at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose business it was to devour that particular part. more...

Pretty much all the honest truth telling in the world is done by children. more...

The horses paw and prance and neigh, Fillies and colts like kittens play, And dance and toss their rippled manes Shining and soft as silken skeins;... more...

Most of us retain enough of the theological attitude to think that we are little gods. more...

The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics. more...

To be master of any branch of knowledge, you must master those which lie next to it; and thus to know anything you must know all. more...

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used. more...

There are many things which we can afford to forget which it is yet well to learn. more...

Leisure only means a chance to do other jobs that demand attention. more...

My experience with public libraries is that the first volume of the book I inquire for is out, unless I happen to want the second, when that is out. more...

Reason means truth and those who are not governed by it take the chance that someday the sunken fact will rip the bottom out of their boat. more...

Logic is logic. That's all I say. more...

Our morality seems to be only a check on the ultimate domination of force, just as our politeness is a check on the impulse of every pig to put his feet in the trough. more...

Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all. more...

Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith. more...

Day hath put on his jacket, and around His burning bosom buttoned it with stars. more...

But the moment you turn a corner you see another straight stretch ahead and there comes some further challenge to your ambition. more...

The worst of a modern stylish mansion is that it has no place for ghosts. more...

The woman about to become a mother, or with her newborn infant upon her bosom, should be the object of trembling care and sympathy wherever she bears her tender burden or stretches her aching limbs.... God forbid that any member of the profession to which she trusts her life, doubly precious at that eventful period, should hazard it negligently, unadvisedly or selfishly. more...

People who make puns are like wanton boys that put coppers on the railroad tracks. They amuse themselves and other children, but their little trick may upset a freight train of conversation for the sake of a battered witticism. more...

But I have long thought that if you knew a column of advertisements by heart, you could achieve unexpected felicities with them. You can get a happy quotation anywhere if you have the eye. more...

What gems of painting or statuary are in the world of art, or what flowers are in the world of nature, are gems of thought to the cultivated and thinking. more...

It is perfectly easy to be original by violating the laws of decency and the canons of good taste. more...

Talking is like playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hand on the strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out their music. more...

I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization. more...

Any tax is a discouragement and therefore a regulation so far as it goes. more...

In order to know whether a human being is young or old, offer it food of different kinds at short intervals. If young, it will eat anything at any hour of the day or night. more...

Old Time, in whose banks we deposit our notes Is a miser who always wants guineas for groats; He keeps all his customers still in arrears By lending them minutes and charging them years. more...

Pick my left pocket of its silver dime, but spare the right - it holds my golden time! more...

Truth is the breath of life to human society. It is the food of the immortal spirit. Yet a single word of it may kill a man as suddenly as a drop of prussic acid. more...

Beware of making your moral staple consist of the negative virtues. more...

And if I should live to be The last leaf upon the tree In the spring, Let them smile, as I do now, At the old forsaken bough Where I cling. more...

The state should, I think, be called 'Anaesthesia.' This signifies insensibility.... The adjective will be 'Anaesthetic.' Thus we might say the state of Anaesthesia, or the anaesthetic state. more...

What a satire, by the way, is that machine [Charles Babbage's calculating machine] on the mere mathematician! A Frankenstein-monster, a thing without brains and without heart, too stupid to make a blunder; that turns out results like a corn-sheller, and never grows any wiser or better, though it grind a thousand bushels of them! more...

End of the wonderful one-hoss shay. Logic is logic. That's all I say. more...

He comes of the Brahmin caste of New England. This is the harmless, inoffensive, untitled aristocracy referred to, and which many readers will at once acknowledge. more...

We are all sentenced to capital punishment for the crime of living, and though the condemned cell of our earthly existence is but a narrow and bare dwelling-place, we have adjusted ourselves to it, and made it tolerably comfortable for the little while we are to be confined in it. more...

Thou, O my country, hast thy foolish ways, Too apt to purr at every stranger's praise! more...

It is the peculiarity of the bore that he is the last person to find himself out. more...

What the mulberry leaf is to the silkworm, the author's book, treatise, essay, poem, is to the critical larvae that feed upon it. It furnishes them with food and clothing. more...

When I feel inclined to read poetry I take down my Dictionary. The poetry of words is quite as beautiful as that of sentences. The author may arrange the gems effectively, but their shape and lustre have been given by the attrition of ages. more...

Wilt Thou not take the doubt of Thy children whom the time commands to try all things in the place of the unquestioning faith of earlier generations? more...

Every person's feelings have a front-door and a side-door by which they may be entered. more...

A wise man recognizes the convenience of a general statement, but he bows to the authority of a particular fact. more...

One cannot help using his early friends as the seaman uses the log, to mark his progress. more...

After sixty years the stern sentence of the burial service seems to have a meaning that one did not notice in former years. There begins to be something personal about it. more...

It is mere childishness to expect men to believe as their fathers did; that is, if they have any minds of their own. The world is a whole generation older and wiser than when the father was of his son's age. more...

A person of genius should marry a person of character. Genius does not herd with genius. more...

Talent is a very common family trait; genius belongs rather to individuals - just as you find one giant or one dwarf in a family, but rarely a whole brood of either. more...

Talent is often to be envied, and genius very commonly to be pitied. It stands twice the chance of the other of dying in a hospital, in jail, in debt, in bad repute. more...

The whole essence of true gentle-breeding (one does not like to say gentility) lies in the wish and the art to be agreeable. Good-breeding is surface-Christianity. more...

A great man represents a great ganglion in the nerves of society, or, to vary the figure, a strategic point in the campaign of history, and part of his greatness consists in his being there. more...

If you mean to keep as well as possible, the less you think about your health the better. more...

Humility is the first of the virtues - for other people. more...

We must not roughly smash other people's idols because we know, or think we know, that they are of cheap human manufacture. more...

Any new formula which suddenly emerges in our consciousness has its roots in long trains of thought; it is virtually old when it first makes its appearance among the recognized growths of our intellect. more...

There never was an idea started that woke up men out of their stupid indifference but its originator was spoken of as a crank. more...

Little-minded people's thoughts move in such small circles that five minutes' conversation gives you an arc long enough to determine their whole curve. An arc in the movement of a large intellect does not sensibly differ from a straight line. more...

No stranger can get a great many notes of torture out of a human soul; it takes one that knows it well, - parent, child, brother, sister, intimate. more...

The joy of life is to put out one's power in some natural and useful or harmless way. There is no other. And the real misery is not to do this. more...

Judges commonly are elderly men, and are more likely to hate at sight any analysis to which they are not accustomed, and which disturbs repose of mind, than to fall in love with novelties. more...

The law is the witness and external deposit of our moral life. Its history is the history of the moral development of the race. more...

Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have enough of it. more...

We expect more of ourselves than we have any right to, in virtue of our endowments. more...

I should like to see any kind of a man, distinguishable from a gorilla, that some good and even pretty woman could not shape a husband out of. more...

Men, like peaches and pears, grow sweet a little while before they begin to decay. more...

Our system of morality is a body of imperfect social generalizations expressed in terms of emotion. more...

To be forgotten is to sleep in peace with the undisturbed myriads, no longer subject to the chills and heats, the blasts, the sleet, the dust, which assail in endless succession that shadow of a man which we call his reputation. more...

Envy not the old man the tranquillity of his existence, nor yet blame him if it sometimes looks like apathy. Time, the inexorable, does not threaten him with the scythe so often as with the sand-bag. He does not cut, but he stuns and stupefies. more...

With effervescing opinions, as with the not yet forgotten champagne, the quickest way to let them go flat is to let them get exposed to the air. more...

A man's opinions are generally of much more value than his arguments. more...

There is nothing like the dead cold hand of the Past to take down our tumid egotism and lead us into the solemn flow of the life of our race. more...

The only condition of peace in this world is to have no ideas, or, at least, not to express them. more...

The difference between gossip and philosophy lies only in one's way of taking a fact. more...

An artist who works in marble or colors has them all to himself and his tribe, but the man who moulds his thought in verse has to employ the materials vulgarized by everybody's use, and glorify them by his handling. more...

When you write in prose you say what you mean. When you write in rhyme you say what you must. more...

True poetry, the best of it, is but the ashes of a burnt-out passion. more...

Nothing can be so perfect while we possess it as it will seem when remembered. more...

Poverty comes pleading, not for charity, for the most part, but imploring us to find a purchaser for its unmarketable wares. more...

The preacher's garment is cut according to the pattern of that of the hearers, for the most part. more...

It is a very curious fact that, with all our boasted free and equal superiority over the communities of the Old World, our people [Americans] have the most enormous appetite for Old World titles of distinction. more...

The great end of being is to harmonize man with the order of things, and the church has been a good pitch-pipe, and may be so still. more...

It is well that the stately synagogue should lift its walls by the side of the aspiring cathedral, a perpetual reminder that there are many mansions in Father's earthly house as well as in the heavenly ones. more...

What if one does say the same things, - of course in a little different form each time, - over and over? If he has anything to say worth saying, that is just what he ought to do. more...

We don't know each other's secrets quite so well as we flatter ourselves we do. We don't always know our own secrets as well as we might. more...

A sick man that gets talking about himself, a woman that gets talking about her baby, and an author that begins reading out of his own book, never know when to stop. more...

Society is always trying in some way or other to grind us down to a single flat surface. more...

A poet on Pegasus, reciting his own verses, is hardly more to be dreaded than a mounted specialist. more...

Nothing is so frequent as to mistake an ordinary human gift for a special and extraordinary endowment. more...

There is one disadvantage which the man of philosophical habits of mind suffers, as compared with the man of action. While he is taking an enlarged and rational view of the matter before him, he lets his chance slip through his fingers. more...

We find it hard to get and to keep any private property in thought. Other people are all the time saying the same things we are hoarding to say when we get ready. more...

To think great thoughts you must be heroes as well as idealists. more...

To rest upon a formula is a slumber that, prolonged, means death. more...

I don't believe the Devil would give half as much for the services of a sinner as he would for those of one of these folks that are always doing virtuous acts in a way to make them unpleasing. more...

There is nothing earthly that lasts so well, on the whole, as money. A man's learning dies with him; even his virtues fade out of remembrance; but the dividends on the stocks he bequeaths to his children live and keep his memory green. more...

We must think things not words, or at least we must constantly translate our words into the facts for which they stand, if we are to keep the real and the true. more...

An old author is constantly rediscovering himself in the more or less fossilized productions of his earlier years. more...

Old people are a kind of monsters to little folks; mild manifestations of the terrible, it may be, but still, with their white locks and ridged and grooved features, which those horrid little eyes exhaust of their details like so many microscopes, not exactly what human beings ought to be. more...

America is the only place where man is full-grown! more...


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