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!
Mark Twain once said he could go for two months on a good compliment.
one-time U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, when asked who he would like to be if he could
come back to earth again after he died, replied without an instant's hesitation:
"Mrs. Choate's second husband."
Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are and other
children's books, gets many letters from his young fans. A favorite was a
"charming" drawing sent on by a little boy's mother. "I loved
it," Sendak says. "I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on a post card and sent it to
him. His mother wrote back: 'Jim loved your card so much he ate it.' The little boy didn't
care that it was an original drawing. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it. That to me was
one of the highest compliments I've ever received."