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Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841 – 1935)


American jurist; Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932; often called "The Great Dissenter"; son of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
To be 70 years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old.
Holmes quotes
We know that, if the armies of our war did anything worth remembering, the credit belongs not mainly to the individuals who did it, but to average human nature. We also know very well that we cannot live in associations with the past alone, and we admit that, if we would be worthy of the past, we must find new fields for action or thought, and make for ourselves new careers.
But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us.
Holmes
The major premise of the conclusion expressed in a statute, the change of policy that induces the enactment, may not be set out in terms, but it is not an adequate discharge of duty for courts to say: We see what you are driving at, but you have not said it, and therefore we shall go on as before.




I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.
Holmes Oliver Wendell Jr.
Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have had enough of it.
Oliver Wendell Holmes quotes
If you want to know the law and nothing else, you must look at it as a bad man, who cares only for the material consequences which such knowledge enables him to predict, not as a good one, who finds his reasons for conduct, whether inside the law or outside of it, in the vaguer sanctions of conscience.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
I always say you can get your tragedy of any desired length in England, from thirty seconds to a lifetime. I had one adorable one of twenty-nine minutes by the watch. At the end of that time I started for my train. Woman I'd had a glimpse of in London walk. She sat on a style, I below her, gazing into her eyes then, "remember this lane," "while memory holds its seat, etc." "Adieu." And I still do and ever shall remember her, and I rather think she does me a little bit. What imbecilities for an old fellow to be talking. But if one knows his place and makes way for younger men when he isn't sure, it is better perhaps not quite to abandon interest in the sports of life.
Every opinion tends to become a law.
Holmes
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 that man may have cosmic destinies that he does not understand.
Holmes Oliver Wendell Jr.
To have doubted one's own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been cocksure of many things that were not so.




Oliver Wendell Holmes quotes
I always say, as you know, that if my fellow citizens want to go to Hell I will help them. It's my job.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man's nose begins.
Holmes quotes
Certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man.
Holmes Oliver Wendell Jr.
It is only the present danger of immediate evil or an intent to bring it about that warrants Congress in setting a limit to the expression of opinion where private rights are not concerned.
Beware how you take away hope from any human being.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.
Oliver Wendell Holmes quotes
But as precedents survive like the clavicle in the cat, long after the use they once served is at an end, and the reason for them has been forgotten, the result of following them must often be failure and confusion from the merely logical point of view.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Great cases like hard cases make bad law. For great cases are called great, not by reason of their importance in shaping the law of the future, but because of some accident of immediate overwhelming interest which appeals to the feelings and distorts the judgement.
Holmes Oliver Wendell Jr.
Men must turn square corners when they deal with the Government.


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