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OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, SR.
American author, wit and poet
(1809 - 1894)
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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.
      - [Truth]

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.
      - [Affection]

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.
      - [Authorship]

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.
      - [Opposition]

They govern the world, these sweet-lipped women, because beauty is the index of a larger fact than wisdom.
      - [Women]

Thou, O my country hast thy foolish ways!
  Too apt to purr at every stranger's praise,
    But if the stranger touch thy modes or laws,
      Off goes the velvet and out come the claws.
      - [Love of Country]

To be seventy years young is something far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.
      - on the seventieth birthday of Julia Ward Howe, May 27, 1889
        [Age]

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.
      - [Talking]

To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly.
      - [Secrecy]

To know whether a minister, young or still in flower, is in safe or dangerous paths, there are two psychometers, a comparison between which will give as infallible a return as the dry and wet bulks of the ingenious "Hygrodeik." The first is the black broadcloth forming the knees of his pantaloons; the second the patch of carpet before his mirror. If the first is unworn and the second is frayed and threadbare, pray for him; if the first is worn and shiny, while the second keeps its pattern and texture, get him to pray for you.
      - [Preaching]

Trouble makes us one with every human being in the world.
      - [Trouble]

Unpretending mediocrity is good, and genius is glorious; but the weak flavor of genius in a person essentially common is detestable.
      - [Genius]

Vulgar people can't be still.
      - [Repose]

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.
      - [Loyalty]

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

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.
      - [Superstition]

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!
      - [Critics]

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.
      - [Dullness]

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?
      - [Conscience]

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.
      - [Apothegms]

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

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

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

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 woman?
      - [Talking]

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.
      - [Bells]


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