Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Quotes

Most popular Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Quotes

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.

music

Apology is only egotism wrong side out.

apology

Science is the topography of ignorance.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

science

The Amen! of Nature is always a flower.

flowers

Man has his will, but woman has her way.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

women

Have the courage to act instead of react.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

courage

Age, like distance, lends a double charm.

age

Stupidity often saves a man from going mad.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

stupidity

Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
To obtain a man's opinion of you, make him angry.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

anger

Boston State-house is the hub of the solar system.
Youth longs and manhood strives, but age remembers.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

memory

Nothing is so commonplace as to wish to be remarkable.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

attitude

Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

ambition

Rough work, iconoclasm—but the only way to get at truth.
Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.

insight

The great act of faith is when a man decides he is not God.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

egotism faith

Lord, bid war's trumpet cease; fold the whole earth in peace.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

peace

The longer we live, the more we find we are like other persons.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

age equality human nature other people

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

silence

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

lies sin

But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

friendship

The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

rights

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

knowledge

Civilization is the process of reducing the infinite to the finite.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

age maturity

With most people life is like backgammon — half skill and half luck.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Knowledge and timber should not be much used until they are seasoned.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
A man's opinions are generally of much more value than his arguments.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
When once their slumbering passions burn,
The peaceful are the strong!
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

inner peace

Where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

home

Where we love is home. Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Our reverence is good for nothing if it does not begin with self-respect.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
We must have a weak spot or two in a character before we can love it much.

character

A mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Whatever comes from the heart carries the heat and color of its birthplace.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Speak clearly, if you speak at all;
Carve every word before you let it fall.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

speech

There's nothing that keeps its youth, so far as I know, but a tree and truth.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

youth

We must have a weak spot or two in our character before we can love others much.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

character love

Every language is a temple, in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined.

language

Fashion is only the attempt to realize art in living forms and social intercourse.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

fashion

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

thoughts

Pick my left pocket of its silver dime, but spare the right—it holds my golden time!
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

time

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

knowledge and ignorance

Without wearing any mask we are conscious of, we have a special face for each friend.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

appearances friendship

It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Society is always trying in some way or other to grind us down to a single flat surface.

society

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

health

Leverage is everything ... don't begin to pry till you have got the long arm on your side.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

leverage

The world's great men have not commonly been great scholars, nor its great scholars great men.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

action school

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

kiss

The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

moving forward self-improvement

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

ideas

To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
A person is always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man for the first time.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

age

Easy-crying widows take new husbands soonest; there is nothing like wet weather for transplanting.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

sorrow

[There are] one-story intellects, two-story intellects, and three-story intellects with skylights.

intellect

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

mother

The world's great people have not commonly been great scholars, nor its great scholars great people.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Everyone is the chief personage, the hero, of his own baptism, his own wedding, and his own funeral.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

heroism

Nine times out of ten, the first thing a man's companion knows of his shortcomings is from his apology.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

shortcomings

The advice of their elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

advice

A man's ignorance is as much his private property, and as precious in his own eyes, as his family Bible.

ignorance

A weak mind does not accumulate force enough to hurt itself.  Stupidity often saves a man from going mad.

stupidity

The air we breathe is made up of four elements, at least: oxygen, nitrogen, carbonic acid gas, and knowledge.

knowledge

A wise man recognizes the convenience of a general statement, but he bows to the authority of a particular fact.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

facts

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

science

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

authors

We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.

ideas mind

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

facts

We are all omnibuses in which our ancestors ride, and every now and then one of them sticks his head out and embarrasses us.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

ancestors

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

critics

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

happiness love

Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch. Nay, you may kick it about all day, and it will be round and full at evening.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

truth

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.

memory

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.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

memory

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.

laughter tears

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.

mother

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?"
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

action human nature

Under bad manners, as under graver faults, lies very commonly an overestimate of our special individuality, as distinguished from our generic humanity.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

manners

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.

coffee

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.

truth

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 our their music.

talking

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!
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

critics

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.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
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.

authors

A writer must make up his mind to the possible rough treatment of the critics, who swarm like bacteria whenever there is any literary material on which they can feed.

critics

I never saw an author in my life, saving perhaps one, that did not purr as audibly as a full-grown domestic cat on having his fur smoothed the right way by a skillful hand.

authors

Many 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 doors of the already deserted mansion.

death

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.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

adversity

A writer is so like a lover!  And a talk with the right listener is so like an arm-in-arm walk in the moonlight with the soft heartbeat just felt through the folds of muslin and broadcloth.

writers

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.

idolatry

A powerful preacher is open to the same sense of enjoyment—an awful, tremulous, goose-flesh sort of state, but still enjoyment—that a great tragedian feels when he curdles the blood of his audience.

clergy enjoyment

Here's a book full of words; one can choose as he fancies,
As a painter his tint, as a workman his tool;
Just think! all the poems and plays and romances
Were drawn out of this, like the fish from a pool!
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

dictionary

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.

friendship intimacy tact

I made a comparison at table some time since, which has often been quoted, and received many compliments. It was that of the mind of a bigot to the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it contracts.

bigotry

People that make puns are like wanton boys that put coppers [copper pennies] 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.

puns

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.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

genius

There are one-story intellects, two-story intellects, and three-story intellects with skylights. All fact collectors, who have no aim beyond their facts, are one-story men. Two-story men compare, reason, generalize, using the labors of the fact-collectors as well as their own. Three-story men idealize, imagine, predict; their best illumination comes from above, through the skylight.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

inspirational

The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius.  Talent is a docile creature.  It bows its head meekly while the world slips the collar over it.  It backs into the shafts like a lamb. It draws its load cheerfully, and is patient of the bit and of the whip.  But genius is always impatient of its harness; its wild blood makes it hard to train.

genius talent talent & genius