Home > Uncategorized > Oliver Wendell Holmes: Not so enamored of the drum and trumpet

Oliver Wendell Holmes: Not so enamored of the drum and trumpet

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Oliver Wendell Holmes: Hymn to Peace

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Oliver Wendell Holmes
From The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1859)

OliverWendellHolmesSr

They are playing with toys we have done with for whole generations. That silly little drum they are always beating on, and the trumpet and the feather they make so much noise and cut such a figure with, we have not quite outgrown, but play with much less seriously and constantly as they do.

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A man whose opinions are not attacked is beneath contempt.

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Justice! A good man respects the rights even of brute matter and arbitrary symbols.

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It is in the hearts of many men and women – let me add children – that there is a Great Secret waiting for them, – a secret of which they get hints now and then, perhaps oftener in early than in later years. These hints come sometimes in dreams, sometimes in sudden startling flashes, – second wakings, as it were, – a waking out of the waking state, which last is very apt to be a half-sleep. I have many times stopped short and held my breath, and felt the blood leaving my cheeks, in one of these sudden clairvoyant flashes. Of course I cannot tell what kind of a secret this is, but I think of it as a disclosure of certain relations of our personal being to time and space, to other intelligences, to the procession of events, and to their First Great Cause. This secret seems to be broken up, as it were, into fragments, so that we find here a word and there a syllable, and then again only a letter of it; but it never is written out for most of us as a complete sentence, in this life. I do not think it could be; for I am disposed to consider our beliefs about such a possible disclosure rather as a kind of premonition of an enlargement of our faculties in some future state than as an expectation to be fulfilled for most of us in this life…

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