Quotes by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr

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We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe. more...

Eloquence may set fire to reason. more...

General propositions do not decide concrete cases. The decision will depend on a judgment or intuition more subtle than any articulate major premise. more...

I dare say that I have worked off my fundamental formula on you that the chief end of man is to frame general propositions and that no general proposition is worth a damn. more...

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. more...

Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife. more...

We have been cocksure of many things that were not so. more...

To us who remain behind is left this day of memories. Every year-in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life-there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. more...

Why should you row a boat race? Why endure the long months of pain in preparation for a fierce half hour that will leave you all but dead? Does anyone ask the question? Is there anyone who would not go through all the costs, and more, for the moment when anguish breaks into triumph or even for the glory of having nobly lost? Is life less than a boat race? If a man will give the blood in his body to win the one, will he spend all the might of his soul to prevail in the other? more...

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

I think it not improbable that man, like the grub that prepares a chamber for the winged thing it never has seen but is to be - that man may have cosmic destinies that he does not understand. more...

Men are tattooed with their special beliefs like so many South Sea Islanders; but a real human heart with divine love in it beats with the same glow under all the patterns of all earth's thousand tribes. more...

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

The provisions of the Constitution are not mathematical formulas having their essence in their form; they are organic, living institutions transplanted from English soil. Their significance is vital, not formal; it is to be gathered not simply by taking the words and a dictionary, but by considering their origin and the line of their growth. more...

In my opinion, economists and sociologists are the people to whom we ought to turn more than we do for instruction in the grounds and foundations of all rational decisions. more...

Certitude is not the test of certainty. more...

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

Longevity is having a chronic disease - and taking care of it. more...

My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins. more...

The riders in a race do not stop when they reach the goal. There is a little finishing canter before coming to a standstill. There is time to hear the kind voices of friends and say to oneself, The work is done. more...

The character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done. more...

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

I confess that altruistic and cynically selfish talk seem to me about equally unreal. With all humility, I think whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, infinitely more important than the vain attempt to love one's neighbor as one's self. If you want to hit a bird on the wing you must have all your will in focus, you must not be thinking about yourself, and equally, you must not be thinking about your neighbor; you must be living with your eye on that bird. Every achievement is a bird on the wing. more...

Most of us retain enough of the theological attitude to think that we are little gods. 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 Constitution] is an experiment as all life is an experiment. more...

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

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

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

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...

Modesty and reverence are no less virtues of freemen than the democratic feeling which will submit neither to arrogance nor to servility. more...

Carve every word before you let it fall. more...

Deep-seated preferences cannot be argued about-you cannot argue a man into liking a glass of beer. more...

Young feller, you will never appreciate the potentialities of the English language until you have heard a Southern mule driver search the soul of a mule. more...

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

The history of what the law has been is necessary to the knowledge of what the law is. more...

War? War is an organized bore. more...

Who does not feel that Nansen's account of his search for the Pole rather loses than gains in ideal satisfaction by the pretense of a few trifling acquisitions for science? more...

The ideas of the classics, so far as living, are our commonplaces. It is the modern books that give us the latest and most profound conceptions. It seems to me rather a lazy makeshift to mumble over the familiar. more...

Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked. 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 to the real and the true. more...

It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough. more...

The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable. To curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views. more...

The individual will always be a minority. If a man is in a minority of one, we lock him up. more...

The world has its fling at lawyers sometimes, but its very denial is an admission. It feels, what I believe to be the truth, that of all secular professions this has the highest standards. more...

The greatest act of faith is when a man understands he is not God. more...

People talk fundamentals and superlatives and then make some changes of detail. more...

I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy - I don't disparage envy, but I don't accept it as legitimately my master. more...

I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country. more...

The rule of joy and the law of duty seem to me all one. more...

Men must turn square corners when they deal with the Government. more...

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

Any two philosophers can tell each other all they know in two hours. 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...

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

You make me chuckle when you say that you are no longer young, that you have turned twenty-four. A man is or may be young to after sixty, and not old before eighty. more...

The only prize much cared for by the powerful is power. more...

A new and valid idea is worth more than a regiment and fewer men can furnish the former than command the latter. more...

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

On the whole, I am on the side of the unregenerate who affirms the worth of life as an end in itself, as against the saints who deny it. more...

To have doubted one's own first principles is the mark of a civilized man. more...

What I wouldn't give to be seventy again! more...

Research and writing are lonely occupations. It is easy to become discouraged in solitary confinement. more...

If you can eat sawdust without butter, you can be a success in the law. more...

Be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. more...

Where we stand is not as important as the direction in which we are moving. more...

Three generations of imbeciles are enough. more...

Taxes are what we pay for civilized society more...

The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience. more...

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. more...

No generalization is wholly true-not even this one. more...

The thing I want to do is put as many new ideas into the law as I can, to show how particular solutions involve general theory, and to do it with style. I should like to be admitted to be the greatest jurist in the world. 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...

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

I have always sought to guide the future-but it is very lonely sometimes trying to play God. more...

Whatever disagreement there may be as to the scope of the phrase "due process of law" there can be no doubt that it embraces the fundamental conception of a fair trial, with opportunity to be heard. more...

Every idea is an incitement. It offers itself for belief, and if believed it is acted on unless some other belief outweighs it or some failure of energy stifles the movement at its birth. The only difference between the expression of an opinion and an incitement is the speaker's enthusiasm for the result. more...

But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe...that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market... That at any rate is the theory of our constitution. more...

The common law is not a brooding omnipresence in the sky, but the articulate voice of some sovereign or quasi sovereign that can be identified; although some decisions with which I have disagreed seem to me to have forgotten the fact. more...

Free competition is worth more to society than it costs. more...

One of the eternal conflicts out of which life is made up is that between the effort of every man to get the most he can for his services, and that of society, disguised under the name of capital, to get his services for the least possible return. more...

Our test of truth is a reference to either a present or imagined future majority in favour of our view. more...

To know is not less than to feel. 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...

If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought- not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate. more...

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

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

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

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

I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy. more...

It seems to me that at this time we need education in the obvious more than the investigation of the obscure. more...

Life is action and passion; therefore, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of the time, at peril of being judged not to have lived. more...

The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving. more...

The only prize much cared for by the powerful is power. The prize of the general is not a bigger tent, but command. more...

The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins. 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...

To be 70 years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old. more...

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

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

Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered that I was not God. more...

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

Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. more...

For, stripped of the temporary associations which gave rise to it, 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...

Behold - not him we knew! This was the prison which his soul looked through. more...

Nothing is so commonplace has the wish to be remarkable. more...

To an imagination of any scope the most far reaching form of power is not money, it is the command of ideas more...

If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I wouldn't pass it around. Wouldn't be doing anybody a favor. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't say 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...

The chief end of a man is to frame general ideas - and... no general idea is worth a damn. more...

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

I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy - I don't disparage envy but I don't accept it as legitimately my master. more...

I happen to prefer champagne to ditchwater, but there is no reason to suppose that the cosmos does. more...

There's a great deal of difference between a little bit and a lot. more...

The only simplicity for which I would give a straw is that which is on the other side of the complex - not that which never has divined it. more...

The aim of the law is not to punish sins, but is to prevent certain external results. more...

Great cases like hard cases make bad law. For great cases are called great, not by reason of their importance in shaping the law of the future, but because of some accident of immediate overwhelming interest which appeals to the feelings and distorts the judgement. more...

We see what you are driving at, but you have not said it, and therefore we shall go on as before. more...

Whatever disagreement there may be as to the scope of the phrase due process of law there can be no doubt that it embraces the fundamental conception of a fair trial, with opportunity to be heard. more...

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

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.... The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. more...

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

The power to tax is not the power to destroy while this Court sits. more...

It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.... Three generations of imbeciles are enough. more...

Courts are apt to err by sticking too closely to the words of a law where those words import a policy that goes beyond them. more...

The elaborate argument against the constitutionality of the Act if interpreted as we read it, in accordance with its obvious meaning does not need an elaborate answer. more...

The interpretation of constitutional principles must not be too literal. We must remember that the machinery of government would not work if it were not allowed a little play in its joints. more...

Every opinion tends to become a law. more...

General propositions do not decide concrete cases. more...

It is only the present danger of immediate evil or an intent to bring it about that warrants Congress in setting a limit to the expression of opinion where private rights are not concerned. more...

Only the emergency that makes it immediately dangerous to leave the correction of evil counsels to time warrants making any exception to the sweeping command, Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech. more...

But as precedents survive like the clavicle in the cat, long after the use they once served is at an end, and the reason for them has been forgotten, the result of following them must often be failure and confusion from the merely logical point of view. more...

The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience... 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...

State interference is an evil, where it cannot be shown to be a good. more...

Certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man. more...

For the rational study of the law the blackletter man may be the man of the present, but the man of the future is the man of statistics and the master of economics. more...

There is in all men a demand for the superlative, so much so that the poor devil who has no other way of reaching it attains it by getting drunk. more...

Our test of truth is a reference to either a present or an imagined future majority in favor of our view. 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 the country in return. more...

As I grow older I grow calm. If I feel what are perhaps an old man's apprehensions, that competition from new races will cut deeper than working men's disputes and will test whether we can hang together or can fight. more...

Life is action, the use of one's powers. As to use them to their height is our joy and duty, so it is the one end that justifies itself. more...

Certitude leads to violence. This is a proposition that has an easy application and a difficult one. The easy application is to ideoologues, dogmatists, and bullies-people who think that their rigtness justifies them in imposing on anyone who does not happen to suscribe to their particular ideology, dogma or notion of turf. If the conviction of rightness is powerful enough, resistance to it will be met, sooner or later by force. There are people like this in every sphere of life, and it is natural to feel that the world would be a better place without them! more...

The man of action has the present, but the thinker controls the future. more...

Our dead brothers and sisters 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...

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

To live is to function. That is all there is in living. more...

If you don't know what you want, you will probably never get it. more...

For my part I think it is a less evil that some criminals should escape, than that the government should play an ignoble part. more...

The mark of a civilized man is his willingness to re-examine his most cherished beliefs. more...

Anytime you see a Hungarian, kick him. He'll know why. Any two philosophers can tell each other all they know in two hours. more...

It takes me several days, after I get back to Boston, to realize that the reference "the president" refers to the president of Harvard and not to a minor official in Washington. more...

It is better to have a line drawn somewhere in the penumbra between darkness and light, than to remain in uncertainty. more...

The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow-men, have had a good deal more to do than the syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed. more...

Vengeance imports a feeling of blame, and an opinion, however distorted by passion, that a wrong has been done. It can hardly go very far beyond the case of a harm intentionally inflicted: even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked. more...

The truth is, that the law is always approaching, and never reaching, consistency. It is forever adopting new principles from life at one end, and it always retains old ones from history at the other, which have not yet been absorbed or sloughed off. It will become entirely consistent only when it ceases to grow. more...

The law, wherein, as in a magic mirror, we see reflected, not only our own lives, but the lives of all men that have been! more...

The external and immediate result of an advocate's work is but to win or lose a case. But remotely what the lawyer does is to establish, develop, or illuminate rules which are to govern the conduct of men for centuries; to set in motion principles and influences which shape the thought and action of generations which know not by whose command they move. more...

If you want to know the law and nothing else, you must look at it as a bad man, who cares only for the material consequences which such knowledge enables him to predict, not as a good one, who finds his reasons for conduct, whether inside the law or outside of it, in the vaguer sanctions of conscience. more...

The prophecies of what the courts will do in fact, and nothing more pretentious, are what I mean by the law. more...

For the rational study of the law the black-letter man may be the man of the present, but the man of the future is the man of statistics and the master of economics. 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. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past. more...

The remoter and more general aspects of the law are those which give it universal interest. It is through them that you not only become a great master in your calling, but connect your subject with the universe and catch an echo of the infinite, a glimpse of its unfathomable process, a hint of the universal law. more...

Great cases like hard cases make bad law. For cases are called great, not by reason of their real importance in shaping the law of the future, but because of some accident of immediate overwhelming interest which appeals to the feelings and distorts the judgment. These immediate interests exercise a kind of hydraulic pressure which makes what previously was clear seem doubtful, and before which even well settled principles of law will bend. more...

This case is decided upon an economic theory which a large part of the country does not entertain. If it were a question whether I agreed with that theory, I should desire to study it further and long before making up my mind. But I do not conceive that to be my duty, because I strongly believe that my agreement or disagreement has nothing to do with the right of a majority to embody their opinions in law. more...

The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact [the economic theories of ] Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics. more...

A constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory.... It is made for people of fundamentally differing views, and the accident of our finding certain opinions natural and familiar or novel and even shocking ought not to conclude our judgment upon the question whether statutes embodying them conflict with the Constitution of the United States. more...

We are very quiet there [at the Supreme Court], but it is the quiet of a storm centre, as we all know. more...

I do not think we need trouble ourselves with the thought that my view depends upon differences of degree. The whole law does so as soon as it is civilized.... Negligence is all degree- that of the defendant here degree of the nicest sort; and between the variations according to distance that I suppose to exist and the simple universality of the rules in the Twelve Tables of the Leges Barbarorum, there lies the culture of two thousand years. more...

I abhor, loathe, and despise these long discourses, and agree with Carducci the Italian poet who died some years ago that a man who takes half a page to say what can be said in a sentence will be damned. more...

Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to be perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition. 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. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. more...

I... probably take the extremest view in favor of free speech, (in which, in the abstract, I have no very enthusiastic belief, though I hope I would die for it). more...

Upon this point a page of history is worth a volume of logic. more...

It will need more than the Nineteenth Amendment to convince me that there are no differences between men and women, or that legislation cannot take those differences into account. more...

It is said that this manifesto is more than a theory, that it was an incitement. Every idea is an incitement. more...

Taxes are what we pay for civilized society. more...

The government ought not to use evidence obtained and only obtainable, by a criminal act.... For my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the Government should play an ignoble part. more...

The riders in a race do not stop short when they reach the goal. There is a little finishing canter before coming to a standstill. There is time to hear the kind voice of friends and to say to one's self: 'The work is done.' But just as one says that, the answer comes: 'The race is over, but the work never is done while the power to work remains.' The canter that brings you to a standstill need not be only coming to rest. It cannot be, while you still live. For to live is to function. That is all there is in living. more...

Life seems to me like a Japanese picture which our imagination does not allow to end with the margin. We aim at the infinite and when our arrow falls to earth it is in flames. more...

[Of Franklin D. Roosevelt:] A second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament. more...

No generalization is wholly true-not even this one. more...

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

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

If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate. more...

Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum. more...

The language of judicial decision is mainly the language of logic. And the logical method and form flatter that longing for certainty and for repose which is in every human mind. But certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man. more...

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

The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books. more...

A man is usually more careful of his money than of his principles. more...

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

Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke. 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...

Young man, the secret of my success is that an early age I discovered that I was not God. 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...

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

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

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

When in doubt, do it. more...

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

It seems to me that at this time we need education in the obvious more than investigation of the obscure. more...

The great act of faith is when a man decides he is not God. more...

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

I despise making the most of one's time. Half of the pleasures of life consist of the opportunities one has neglected. more...

Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been cocksure of many things that were not so. more...

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

There is no time like the old time, when you and I were young! more...

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

It's a good thing to be rich and a good thing to be strong, but it is a better thing to be beloved of many friends. 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...

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

There is a little plant called reverence in the corner of my soul's garden, which I love to have watered once a week. more...

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

We expect more of ourselves than we have any right to. more...

Apologizing - a very desperate habit - one that is rarely cured. Apology is only egotism wrong side out. 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...

The wind blows out, the bubble dies; The spring entomb'd in autumn lies; The dew dries up; the star is shot; The flight is past, and man forgot. more...

While we've youth in our hearts, we can never grow old. more...

There is no friend like the old friend, who has shared our morning days, No greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise: Fame is the scentless sunflower, with gaudy crown of gold; But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold. more...

To brag little, to lose well, / To crow gently if in luck, / To pay up, to own up, / To shut up if beaten, / Are the virtues of a sportingman. more...

Imitation is a necessity of human nature. more...

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

The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts. 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...

Success. Is not the position where you are standing, but which direction you are going. more...

The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas [and] the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market. more...

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

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

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

These are the hands whose sturdy labor brings The peasant's food, the golden pomp of kings; This is the page whose letters shall be seen, Changed by the sun to words of living green; This is the scholar whose immortal penSpells the first lesson hunger taught to men; These are the lines that heaven-commanded Toil Shows on his deed, - the charter of the soil! more...

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

If wine tells truth - and so have said the wise, It makes me laugh to think how brandy lies! more...

Blood is a destiny. One's genius descends in the stream from long lines of ancestry. more...

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

What a new face courage puts on everything. - Ralph Waldo Emerson To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old. 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...

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

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

Old age is like an opium dream. Nothing seems real except the unreal. more...

Systems die; instincts remain. more...

There is one gratification an old author can afford a certain class of critics; that namely, of comparing him as he is with what he was. It is a pleasure to mediocrity to have its superiors brought within range. more...

There is in all men a demand for the superlative, so much so that the poor devil that has no other way of reaching it attains it by getting drunk. more...

Most people 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...

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

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...

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...

A person of genius should marry a person of character. more...

I know of no teachers so powerful and persuasive as the little army of specialists. They carry no banners, they beat no drums; but where they are men learn that bustle and push are not the equals of quiet genius and serene mastery. 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 preacher's garment is cut according to the pattern of that of the hearers, for the most part. 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...

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...

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

Under bad manners, as under graver faults, lies very commonly an overestimate of our special individuality, as distinguished from our generic humanity. more...

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

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

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

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

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

Reason may be the lever, but sentiment gives you the fulcrum and the place to stand on if you want to move the world. more...

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

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

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

When a man holds his tongue it does not signify much. But when a woman dispenses with the office of the mighty member, when she sheathed her natural weapon at a trying moment, it means that she trusts to still more formidable enginery; to tears it may be, a solvent more powerful than that with which Hannibal softened the alpine rocks... more...

It is very grand to die in harness, but it is very pleasant to have the tight straps unbuckled and the heavy collar lifted from the neck and shoulders. more...

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

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

The very minute a thought is threatened with publicity it seems to shrink towards mediocrity. 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...

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...

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

There is something frightful in the way in which not only characteristic qualities, but particular manifestations of them, are repeated from generation to generation. more...

The root of joy, as of duty, is to put all one's powers towards some great end. more...

The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. more...

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are three natural anaesthetics: Sleep, fainting, and death. more...

If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it around. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. more...

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

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

Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves the necessity for perpetual choice which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded. more...

The noblest service comes from nameless hands; and the best servant does his work unseen. more...

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

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...

Go on, fair Science; soon to thee Shall Nature yield her idle boast; Her vulgar lingers formed a tree, But thou hast trained it to a post. more...

Science is the topography of ignorance. From a few elevated points we triangulate vast spaces, inclosing infinite unknown details. We cast the lead, and draw up a little sand from abysses we may never reach with our dredges. more...

As for the excellent little wretches who grow up in what they are taught, with never a scruple or a query, ... they signify nothing in the intellectual life of the race. more...

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

Pretty much all law consists in forbidding men to do something that they want to do. more...

We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. more...

For him in vain the envious seasons roll Who bears eternal summer in his soul. 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...

But the word "right" is one of the most deceptive of pitfalls; it is so easy to slip from a qualified meaning in the premise to an unqualified one in the conclusion. Most rights are qualified. more...

History has to be rewritten because history is the selection of those threads of causes or antecedents that we are interested in. more...


Jim Rogers Oliver Wendell Holmes Quotes Is That a Mind Stretched Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Quotes. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Oliver Wendell Holmes

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