Oliver Wendell Holmes

United States writer of humorous essays (1809-1894)

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Beware how you take away hope from another human being.
Death tugs at my ear and says: "Live, I am coming."
Greatness is not in were we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind, and somtimes agaisnt it - but sail we must. And not drift, nor lie at anchor.
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.
Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.
The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.
Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times.
A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.
A person is always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man for the first time.
A person's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.
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.
Any two philosophers can tell each other all they know in two hours.
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.
Beat a man with the strength of you argument, not with the strength of your arm.
Between two groups of men that want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds I see no remedy except force... It seems to me that every society rests on the death of men.
Civilization is the process of reducing the infinite to the finite.
Consciously or unconsciously we all strive to make the kind of a world we like.
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. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies they are ready enough to tell them.
Every calling is great when greatly pursued.
Every pursuit is great when greatly pursued.
I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving -- we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it -- but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.
I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.
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.
If I were dying, my last words would be, Have faith and pursue the unknown end.
Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtaxed.
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 cotenants in this house we live in.
It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.
It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes life worth living.
Knowledge and timber shouldn't be much used till they are seasoned.
Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke.
Life is a fatal complaint, and an eminently contagious one.
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.
Man has his will - but woman has her way.
No families take so little medicine as those of doctors, except those of apothecaries.
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.
Old age is fifteen years older than I am.
One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
Our test of truth is a reference to either a present or imagined future majority in favour of our view.
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'
Pretty much all the honest truth-telling there is in the world is done by children.
Rough work, iconoclasm, but the only way to get at truth.
Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man's upper chamber, if he has common sense on the ground floor.
Speak clearly, if you speak at all carve every word before you let it fall.
Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.
The advice of their elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.
The character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done.
The great act of faith is when a man decides he is not God.
The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.
The individual will always be a minority. If a man is in a minority of one, we lock him up.
The life of the law has not been logic but experience.
The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.
The mode by which the inevitable comes to pass is effort.
The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
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.
There are one-story intellects, two-story intellects, and three-story intellects with skylights. All fact collectors with no aim beyond their facts are one-story men. Two-story men compare reason and generalize, using labors of the fact collectors as well as their own. Three-story men idealize, imagine, and predict. Their best illuminations come from above through the skylight.
There is no friend like an old friend who has shared our morning days, no greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise.
There's nothing that keeps its youth, So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
To be 70 years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old.
To obtain a man's opinion of you, make him mad.
We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe.
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
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?
Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

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