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American author, wit and poet
(1809 - 1894)
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The hat is the ultimatum moriens of respectability.
      - Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (VIII)

Our Union is river, lake, ocean, and sky:
  Man breaks not the medal, when God cuts the die!
    Though darkened with sulphur, though cloven with steel,
      The blue arch will brighten, the waters will heal!
      - Brother Jonathan's Lament for Sister Caroline

From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
  Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn.
      - Chambered Nautilus [Music]

Little I ask; my wants are few;
  I only wish a hut of stone
    (A very plain brown stone will do),
      That I may call my own;
        And close at hand is such a one
          In yonder street that fronts the sun.
      - Contentment [Wishes]

There is nothing in New England corresponding at all to the feudal aristocracies of the Old World.
      - Elsie Venner [Books (First Lines)]

Day hath put on his jacket, and around
  His burning bosom buttoned it with stars.
      - Evening [Evening]

Good to the heels the well-worn slipper feels
  When the tired player shuffles off the buskin;
    A page of Hood may do a fellow good
      After a scolding from Carlyle or Ruskin.
      - How not to Settle It [Change]

Vain? Let it be so! Nature was her teacher,
  What if a lovely and unsistered creature
    Loved her own harmless gift of pleasing feature.
      - Iris, Her Book--The Professor at the Breakfast-Table
         (X) [Vanity]

I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes.
      - Lecture before the Harvard Medical School

Thine eye was on the censer,
  And not the hand that bore it.
      - Lines by a Clerk [Eyes]

It is not often that an opinion is worth expressing, which cannot take care of itself.
      - Medical Essays (211) [Opinion]

Science is the topography of ignorance.
      - Medical Essays (211) [Science]

A man must get a thing before he can forget it.
      - Medical Essays (300) [Forgetfulness]

We call those poets who are first to mark
  Through earth's dull mist the coming of the dawn,--
    Who see in twilight's gloom the first pale spark,
      While others only note that day is gone.
      - Memorial Verses--Shakespeare [Poets]

Ah, pensive scholar, what is fame?
  A fitful tongue of leaping flame;
    A giddy whirlwind's fickle gust,
      That lifts a pinch of mortal dust;
        A few swift years, and who can show
          Which dust was Bill, and which was Joe?
      - Poems of the Class of '29--Bill and Joe
         (st. 7) [Students]

The lengthening shadows wait
  The first pale stars of twilight.
      - Poems of the Class of '29--Even Song
         (st. 6) [Twilight]

Old Time, in whose banks we deposit our notes,
  Is a miser who always wants guineas for groats;
    He keeps all his customers in arrears
      By lending them minutes and charging them years.
      - Poems of the Class of '29--Our Banker

Sweet shadows of twilight! how calm their repose,
  While the dewdrops fall soft in the breast of the rose!
    How blest to the toiler his hour of release
      When the vesper is heard with its whisper of peace!
      - Poems of the Class of '29--Our Banker
         (st. 12) [Twilight]

Everything is twice as large, measured on a three-year-old's three-foot scale on a thirty-year-old's six-foot scale.
      - Poet at the Breakfast Table (I)

There are a good many real miseries in life that we cannot help smiling at, but they are the smiles that make wrinkles and not dimples.
      - Poet at the Breakfast Table (III) [Misery]

Every library should try to be complete on something, if it were only the history of pinheads.
      - Poet at the Breakfast Table (VIII)

The first thing naturally when one enters a scholar's study or library, is to look at his books. One gets a notion very speedily of his tastes and the range of his pursuits by a glance round his book-shelves.
      - Poet at the Breakfast Table (VIII)

The foolishest book is a kind of leaky boat on a sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in anyhow.
      - Poet at the Breakfast-Table (XI) [Books]

As vessels starting from ports thousands of miles apart pass close to each other in the naked breadth of the ocean, nay, sometimes even touch in the dark.
      - Professor at the Breakfast Table [Meeting]

Cupid "the little greatest enemy."
      - Professor at the Breakfast Table [Love]

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