Oliver Wendell Holmes Quotes on Man (18 Quotes)



    Men, like peaches and pears, grow sweet a little while Before they begin to decay.

    Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.

    A man may fulfill the object of his existence by asking a question he cannot answer, and attempting a task he cannot achieve.

    The world's great men have not commonly been great scholars, nor its great scholars great men.


    Men are idolaters, and want something to look at and kiss And hug, or throw themselves down before they always did, they always will, and if you don't make it of wood, you must make it of words.

    The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.

    Wisdom has taught us to be calm and meek, To take one blow, and turn the other cheek It is not written what a man shall do If the rude caitiff smite the other too.

    I should like to see any kind of a man, distinguishable from a gorilla, that some good and even pretty woman could not shape a husband out of.



    Everybody likes and respects self-made men. It is a great deal better to be made in that way than not to be made at all.

    I hate facts. I always say the chief end of man is to form general propositions - adding that no general proposition is worth a damn.

    I think it not improbable that man, like the grub that prepares a chamber for the winged thing it never has seen but is to be ... may have cosmic destinies that he does not understand. And so beyond the vision of battling races and an impoverished earth, I catch a dreaming glimpse of peace.

    For I say unto you in all 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 are a black gulf of solitude more isolating than that which surrounds the dying man, and in hope and despair have trusted to your own unshaken will then 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 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. And if this joy should not be yours, still it is only thus you can know that you have done what lay in you to do can say that you have lived, and be ready for the end.


    There is that glorious epicurean paradox uttered by my friend the historian, in one of his flashing moments 'Give us the luxuries of life, and we will dispense with its necessaries.' To this must certainly be added that other saying of one of the wittiest of men 'Good Americans when they die go to Paris.'

    The chief end of a man is to frame general ideas - and... no general idea is worth a damn.


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