Oliver Wendell Holmes citations

Oliver Wendell Holmes foto
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Oliver Wendell Holmes

Date de naissance: 29. août 1809
Date de décès: 7. octobre 1894

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Oliver Wendell Holmes est un écrivain, médecin, essayiste et poète américain du XIXe siècle.

Olivier Wendell Holmes prêcha aux États-Unis une croisade en faveur des mains stériles mais sans grand résultat. Ignaz Semmelweis, médecin austro-hongrois, avait déjà défini de manière précise l'utilité du lavage des mains systématique et surtout lors d'accouchements. Cette mesure permit de diminuer considérablement le taux de mortalité dû à la fièvre puerpérale.

Son fils, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. fut un des juges influents de la Cour suprême des États-Unis.

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Citations Oliver Wendell Holmes

„I should be especially unwilling to tell a child that it could not recover; if the theologians think it necessary, let them take the responsibility. God leads it by the hand to the edge of the precipice in happy unconsciousness, and I would not open its eyes to what he wisely conceals.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: You can never be too cautious in your prognosis, in the view of the great uncertainty of the course of any disease not long watched, and the many unexpected turns it may take. I think I am not the first to utter the following caution : — Beware how you take away hope from any human being. Nothing is clearer than that the merciful Creator intends to blind most people as they pass down into the dark valley. Without very good reasons, temporal or spiritual, we should not interfere with his kind arrangements. It is the height of cruelty and the extreme of impertinence to tell your patient he must die, except you are sure that he wishes to know it, or that there is some particular cause for his knowing it. I should be especially unwilling to tell a child that it could not recover; if the theologians think it necessary, let them take the responsibility. God leads it by the hand to the edge of the precipice in happy unconsciousness, and I would not open its eyes to what he wisely conceals. Valedictory Address to medical graduates at Harvard University (10 March 1858), published in The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal Vol. LVIII, No. 8 (25 March 1858), p. 158; this has also been paraphrased "Beware how you take away hope from another human being".

„Call him not old whose visionary brain
Holds o’er the post its undivided reign“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: Call him not old whose visionary brain Holds o’er the post its undivided reign, For him in vain the envious seasons roll, Who bears eternal summer in this soul. "The Old Player" (1861), in Songs in Many Keys (1862).

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„Death only grasps; to live is to pursue, —
Dream on! there 's nothing but illusion true!“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: Dream on! Though Heaven may woo our open eyes, Through their closed lids we look on fairer skies; Truth is for other worlds, and hope for this; The cheating future lends the present's bliss; Life is a running shade, with fettered hands, That chases phantoms over shifting sands; Death a still spectre on a marble seat, With ever clutching palms and shackled feet; The airy shapes that mock life's slender chain, The flying joys he strives to clasp in vain, Death only grasps; to live is to pursue, — Dream on! there 's nothing but illusion true! "The Old Player" (1861), in Songs in Many Keys (1862).

„You can never be too cautious in your prognosis, in the view of the great uncertainty of the course of any disease not long watched, and the many unexpected turns it may take.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: You can never be too cautious in your prognosis, in the view of the great uncertainty of the course of any disease not long watched, and the many unexpected turns it may take. I think I am not the first to utter the following caution : — Beware how you take away hope from any human being. Nothing is clearer than that the merciful Creator intends to blind most people as they pass down into the dark valley. Without very good reasons, temporal or spiritual, we should not interfere with his kind arrangements. It is the height of cruelty and the extreme of impertinence to tell your patient he must die, except you are sure that he wishes to know it, or that there is some particular cause for his knowing it. I should be especially unwilling to tell a child that it could not recover; if the theologians think it necessary, let them take the responsibility. God leads it by the hand to the edge of the precipice in happy unconsciousness, and I would not open its eyes to what he wisely conceals. Valedictory Address to medical graduates at Harvard University (10 March 1858), published in The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal Vol. LVIII, No. 8 (25 March 1858), p. 158; this has also been paraphrased "Beware how you take away hope from another human being".

„A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times. It has come to you over a new route, by a new and express train of associations.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: He must be a poor creature that does not often repeat himself. Imagine the author of the excellent piece of advice, "Know thyself," never alluding to that sentiment again during the course of a protracted existence! Why, the truths a man carries about with him are his tools; and do you think a carpenter is bound to use the same plane but once to smooth a knotty board with, or to hang up his hammer after it has driven its first nail? I shall never repeat a conversation, but an idea often. I shall use the same types when I like, but not commonly the same stereotypes. A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times. It has come to you over a new route, by a new and express train of associations.

„If a man has a genuine, sincere, hearty wish to get rid of his liberty, if he is really bent upon becoming a slave, nothing can stop him.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: If a man has a genuine, sincere, hearty wish to get rid of his liberty, if he is really bent upon becoming a slave, nothing can stop him. And the temptation is to some natures a very great one. Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves that necessity for perpetual choice which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded. In common life we shirk it by forming habits, which take the place of self-determination. In politics party-organization saves us the pains of much thinking before deciding how to cast our vote.

„There isn't a text in the Bible better worth keeping always in mind than that one, 'Judge not, that ye be not judged.'“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: There isn't a text in the Bible better worth keeping always in mind than that one, 'Judge not, that ye be not judged.'.

„Be polite and generous, but don't undervalue yourself.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: Be polite and generous, but don't undervalue yourself. You will be useful, at any rate; you may just as well be happy, while you are about it.

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„It will take you a hundred or two more years to get decently humanized, after so many centuries of de-humanizing celibacy.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: You inherit your notions from a set of priests that had no wives and no children, or none to speak of, and so let their humanity die out of them. It didn't seem much to them to condemn a few thousand millions of people to purgatory or worse for a mistake of judgment. They didn't know what it was to have a child look up in their faces and say 'Father!' It will take you a hundred or two more years to get decently humanized, after so many centuries of de-humanizing celibacy.

„You inherit your notions from a set of priests that had no wives and no children, or none to speak of, and so let their humanity die out of them.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: You inherit your notions from a set of priests that had no wives and no children, or none to speak of, and so let their humanity die out of them. It didn't seem much to them to condemn a few thousand millions of people to purgatory or worse for a mistake of judgment. They didn't know what it was to have a child look up in their faces and say 'Father!' It will take you a hundred or two more years to get decently humanized, after so many centuries of de-humanizing celibacy.

„Though fortune scowl, though prudence interfere,
One thing is certain: Love will triumph here!“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: Though fortune scowl, though prudence interfere, One thing is certain: Love will triumph here! Lords of creation, whom your ladies rule,— The world's great masters, when you 're out of school,— Learn the brief moral of our evening's play Man has his will,—but woman has her way!

„We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were early implanted in his imagination; no matter how utterly his reason may reject them, he will still feel as the famous woman did about ghosts, Je n'y crois pas, mais je les crains,—"I don't believe in them, but I am afraid of them, nevertheless".

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„Man has his will,—but woman has her way!“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: Though fortune scowl, though prudence interfere, One thing is certain: Love will triumph here! Lords of creation, whom your ladies rule,— The world's great masters, when you 're out of school,— Learn the brief moral of our evening's play Man has his will,—but woman has her way!

„The god looked out upon the troubled deep
Waked into tumult from its placid sleep“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: The god looked out upon the troubled deep Waked into tumult from its placid sleep; The flame of anger kindles in his eye As the wild waves ascend the lowering sky; He lifts his head above their awful height And to the distant fleet directs his sight. "Translation From The Æneid, Book I" written while at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts (c. 1824).

„Treat bad men exactly as if they were insane.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: I do not know in what shape the practical question may present itself to you; but I will tell you my rule in life, and I think you will find it a good one. Treat bad men exactly as if they were insane. They are in-sane, out of health, morally. Reason, which is food to sound minds, is not tolerated, still less assimilated, unless administered with the greatest caution; perhaps, not at all. Avoid collision with them, so far as you honorably can; keep your temper, if you can,—for one angry man is as good as another; restrain them from violence, promptly, completely, and with the least possible injury, just as in the case of maniacs,—and when you have got rid of them, or got them tied hand and foot so that they can do no mischief, sit down and contemplate them charitably...

„A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.“

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Context: Poets are never young, in one sense. Their delicate ear hears the far-off whispers of eternity, which coarser souls must travel towards for scores of years before their dull sense is touched by them. A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. Ch. X.

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