Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Quotes

“I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“The young man knows the rules but the old man knows the exceptions.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

 

“Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

 

“The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are going.”
― Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr.

 

 

“The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

 

“A child’s education should begin at least 100 years before he was born.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“The man of action has the present, but the thinker controls the future.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

 

“We have shared the incommunicable experience of war, we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youth our hearts were touched with fire.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; 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.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“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.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

 

“A mind that is stretched by new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

 

“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.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“Every calling is great when greatly pursued.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“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.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

 

“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.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“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.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“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 superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win, we believed in the principle that the Union is indissoluable, we, or many of us at least, also believed that the conflict was inevitable, and that slavery had lasted long enough. But we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred conviction that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them as every men with a heart must respect those who give all for their belief.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“For I say to you in all the sadness of conviction, that to think great thoughts you must be heroes as well as idealists. Only when you have worked alone – when you have felt around you a black gulf of solitude more isolating than that which surrounds the dying man, and in hope and in despair have trusted to your own unshaken will – then only will you have achieved. Thus only can you gain the secret isolated joy of the thinker, who knows that, a hundred years after he is dead and forgotten, men who have never heard of him will be moving to the measure of his thought – the subtle rapture of a postponed power, which the world knows not because it has no external trappings, but which to his prophetic vision is more real than that which commands an army.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“The first requirement of a sound body of law is, that it should correspond with the actual feelings and demands of the community, whether right or wrong.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., The Common Law

 

 

“Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“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!”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

 

 

“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.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“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 birth. Eloquence may set fire to reason.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“I believe that there are no innate, intrinsic differences among a human being , a baboon or a grain of sand.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“Young man, the secret of my success is that at an early age I discovered that I was not God.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

 

“Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been cocksure of many things that were not so.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“Greatness is not in where we stand but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it—but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

 

“A goose flies by a chart the Royal Geographic Society could not improve.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“Every man has a right to do what he wills, provided he interferes not with a like right on the part of his neighbors.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“I detest a man who knows that he knows.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“We have to choose, and for my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“A man who called everyone a damn fool is like a man who damns the weather. He only shows that he is not adapted to his environment, not that the environment is wrong.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

 

“But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. 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.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“The very minute a thought is threatened with publicity it seems to shrink towards mediocrity.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

 

“The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

 

“Academic life is but half life it is a withdrawal from the fight to utter smart things that cost you nothing except the thinking them from a cloister.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“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.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“The petitioner may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be a policeman.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“We are very quiet there, but it is the quiet of a storm centre. .”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

“Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

 

“Law, being a practical thing, must found itself on actual forces. It is quite enough, therefore, for the law, that man, by an instinct which he shares with the domestic dog, and of which the seal gives a most striking example, will not allow himself to be dispossessed, either by force or fraud, of what he olds, without trying to get it back again. Philosophy may find a hundred reasons to justify the instinct, but it would be totally immaterial if it should condemn it and bid us surrender without a murmur.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

 

 

 

“I have never heard anyone profess indifference to a boat race. Why should you row a boat race? Why endure long months of pain in preparation of a fierce half hour, or even six minutes, that will leave you all but dead? Does anyone ask the question? Is there anyone who would not go through all its 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 all the blood in his body to win the one, will he not spend all the might of his soul to prevail in the other?”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

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