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Images from Works of Oliver W. Holmes   By: (1809-1894)

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Editor's Note This is the physician and poet, not his son of the same name who was a Supreme Court Justice and famous in his own right. Very early on Dr. Holmes became my mentor and guide in the philosophy of medicine. Though his world wide fame was based on his prose and poetry, he was an eminent leader in medicine. Many too many years ago I would often assign Holmes' "Medical Essays" to a medical student whose sharp edges of science needed some rounding off with a touch of humanity. I have no longer the privilege of assigning anything to anybody, yet encourage any of you, especially any who may be physicians, to read the thoughts of a family doctor of the early 1800's.

A misprint kills a sensitive author

Absolute, peremptory facts are bullies

Advised every literary man to have a profession.

Afraid of books who have not handled them from infancy

Age and neglect united gradually

Agreed on certain ultimata of belief

Algebraic symbols of minds which have grown too weak

All his geese are swans

All men are bores, except when we want them

All men love all women

All the forms of moral excellence, except truth

All want to reach old age and grumble when they get it

And now we two are walking the long path in peace together

Another privilege of talking is to misquote

Arc in the movement of a large intellect

As I understand truth

As to clever people's hating each other

As a child, he should have tumbled about in a library

Asked Solon what made him dare to be so obstinate

Assume a standard of judgment in our own minds

At the mercy of every superior mind

Audacious self esteem, with good ground for it

Automatic and involuntary actions of the mind

Babbage's calculating machine

Be very careful to whom you trust one of these keys

Beautiful effects from wit, all the prismatic colors

Been in the same precise circumstances before

Behave like men and gentlemen about it, if you know how.

Beliefs are rooted in human wants and weakness, and die hard

Bells which small trades people connect with their shop doors

Better for mankind, and all the worse for the fishes

Better too few words, from the woman we love

Bewitching cup of self quackery

Bill which will render pockets a superfluity in your next suit

Blank checks of intellectual bankruptcy

Bowing and nodding over the music

Brain often runs away with the heart's best blood

Brilliant flashes of silence!

Brute beasts of the intellectual domain

Bury in it beliefs, doubts, dreams, hopes, and terrors

But we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

But it was in talking of Life that we came most nearly together

Called an old man for the first time

Character is distinctly shown at the age of four months.


Clairvoyance which sees into things without opening them

Code of finalities is a necessary condition of profitable talk

Cold shower bath the world furnishes gratis

Comfort is essential to enjoyment

Commerce is just putting his granite foot upon them

Common sense, as you understand it.

Common sense was good enough for him

Compare the racer with the trotter

Conceit is just a natural thing to human minds

Conceit has the virtue of making them cheerful

Conclusion that he or she is really dull

Conflicting advice of all manner of officious friends

Consciousness of carrying a "settler" in the form of a fact


Conversation which is suggestive rather than argumentative

Conversational fungi spring up most luxuriantly

Conversational bully

Conversational blank checks or counters

Conversational soprano

Creative action is not voluntary at all

Crippled souls

Crow with a king bird after him

Cut your climate to your constitution

Dangerous subjects

Demand for intellectual labor is so enormous

Did I believe in love at first sight?

Didn't know Truth was such an invalid

Differ on the fundamental principles

Dishwater from the washings of English dandyism

Disputing about remainders and fractions

Do wish she would get well or something

Do you know how important good jockeying is to authors?

Do you ever wonder why poets talk so much about flowers?

Do not be bullied out of your common sense by the specialist

Don't make your moral staple consist of the negative virtues

Don't believe any man ever talked like that in this world

Don't begin to pry till you have got the long arm on your side

Don't ever think the poetry is dead in an old man

Don't be in a hurry to choose your friends

Doomed to the pangs of an undeceived self estimate

Dullest of teachers is the one who does not know what to omit

Dulness is not commonly a game fish

Earned your money by the dose you have taken

Easier to dispute it than to disprove it

Easier to say this than to prove it

Educational factory

Elysian abandonment of a huge recumbent chair... Continue reading book >>

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