. . . or at least, the author of the “bad-man theory” of the law. I was delighted to learn that Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., has his own wikiquote page. Here are some of his inspirational musings, which are sure to brighten your day:

  1. One has to try to strike for the jugular and let the rest go.
  2. A page of history is worth a volume of logic.
  3. Lawyers spend their professional careers shoveling smoke.
  4. A good catchword can obscure analysis for 50 years.
  5. The only simplicity for which I would give a straw is that which is on the other side of the complex — not that which never has divined it.
  6. A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.
  7. 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.
  8. State interference is an evil, where it cannot be shown to be a good. [Except when forced sterilization is involved–see item 9, below.]
  9. We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind….Three generations of imbeciles are enough.
  10. Get down, you fool! [A timely  suggestion to President Lincoln, who came under fire at Fort Stevens.]