Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits)


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It has come to you over a new route, by a new and express train of associations. Sometimes, but rarely, one may be caught making the same speech twice over, and yet be held blameless. She pleasantly referred to his many wanderings in his new occupation. The lecturer visited the same place once more for the same purpose. Another social cup after the lecture, and a second meeting with the distinguished lady.

Oliver Wendell Holmes : sage of the Supreme Court - University Of Pikeville

What horrors, when it flashed over him that he had made this fine speech, word for word, twice over! Yet it was not true, as the lady might perhaps have fairly inferred, that he had embellished his conversation with the Huma daily during that whole interval of years. On the contrary, he had never once thought of the odious fowl until the recurrence of precisely the same circumstances brought up precisely the same idea. He ought to have been proud of the accuracy of his mental adjustments. A Frankenstein-monster, a thing without brains and without heart, too stupid to make a blunder; that turns out results like a corn-sheller, and never grows any wiser or better, though it grind a thousand bushels of them!

Sometimes I have been troubled that I had not a deeper intuitive apprehension of the relations of numbers.


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But the triumph of the ciphering hand-organ has consoled me. Nature is very wise; but for this encouraging principle how many small talents and little accomplishments would be neglected! Talk about conceit as much as you like, it is to human character what salt is to the ocean; it keeps it sweet, and renders it endurable.

When one has had all his conceit taken out of him, when he has lost all his illusions, his feathers will soon soak through, and he will fly no more. I am afraid you do not study logic at your school, my dear. It does not follow that I wish to be pickled in brine because I like a salt-water plunge at Nahant.

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

I say that conceit is just as natural a thing to human minds as a centre is to a circle. An arc in the movement of a large intellect does not sensibly differ from a straight line. Even if it have the third vowel as its centre, it does not soon betray it. The highest thought, that is, is the most seemingly impersonal; it does not obviously imply any individual centre. Audacious self-esteem, with good ground for it, is always imposing. Even in common people, conceit has the virtue of making them cheerful; the man who thinks his wife, his baby, his house, his horse, his dog, and himself severally unequalled, is almost sure to be a good-humored person, though liable to be tedious at times.

Want of ideas, want of words, want of manners, are the principal ones, I suppose you think. No men can have satisfactory relations with each other until they have agreed on certain ultimata of belief not to be disturbed in ordinary conversation, and unless they have sense enough to trace the secondary questions depending upon these ultimate beliefs to their source.

In short, just as a written constitution is essential to the best social order, so a code of finalities is a necessary condition of profitable talk between two persons. 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.

Let me lay down the law upon the subject. Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide —that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate meaning, which is its life—are alike forbidden. It implies utter indifference to or sublime contempt for his remarks, no matter how serious.

I speak of total depravity, and one says all that is written on the subject is deep raving.

Das Jahr Der Krisen

I have committed my self-respect by talking with such a person. I should like to commit him, but cannot, because he is a nuisance. A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return. But if a blow were given for such cause, and death ensued, the jury would be judges both of the facts and of the pun, and might, if the latter were of an aggravated character, return a verdict of justifiable homicide. Thus, in a case lately decided before Miller, J.

Roe replied by asking, When charity was like a top? It was in evidence that Doe preserved a dignified silence. The bound volume was forfeited as a deodand, but not claimed. People that make puns are like wanton boys that put coppers 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. I will thank you, B. A highly merited compliment. I wished to refer to two eminent authorities. Now be so good as to listen.

He who would violate the sanctities of his mother tongue would invade the recesses of the paternal till without remorse, and repeat the banquet of Saturn without an indigestion. And, once more, listen to the historian. The Bishops were notoriously addicted to them. The Lords Temporal carried them to the verge of license. Majesty itself must have its Royal quibble.

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Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits) Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits)
Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits) Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits)
Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits) Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits)
Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits) Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits)
Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits) Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits)
Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits) Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits)
Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits) Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits)
Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits) Oliver Wendell Holmes: Sage of the Supreme Court (Oxford Portraits)

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