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Oliver Wendell Holmes

C. S. Lewis, source unknown

The brilliant physician and writer Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and his brother John represent two radically different views on the subject of flattery. Dr. Holmes loved to collect compliments, and when he was older he indulged his pastime by saying to someone who had just praised his work, "I am a trifle deaf, you know. Do you mind repeating that a little louder?"

John, however, was unassuming and content to be in his older brother's shadow. He once said that the only compliment he ever received came when he was six. The maid was brushing his hair when she observed to his mother that little John wasn't all that cross-eyed! I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. If it were possible for a created soul fully to &ls;appreciate,' that is, to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme blessedness.

To praise God fully we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God, drowned in, dissolved by that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression. Our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds.