Oliver Wendell Holmes (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 38 pages of information about Oliver Wendell Holmes (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance).

That is bright, and friendly and eager too, for it is throughout the very expression of himself.  I think it is a pity if an author disappoints even the unreasonable expectation of the reader, whom his art has invited to love him; but I do not believe that Doctor Holmes could inflict this disappointment.  Certainly he could disappoint no reasonable expectation, no intelligent expectation.  What he wrote, that he was, and every one felt this who met him.  He has therefore not died, as some men die, the remote impersonal sort, but he is yet thrillingly alive in every page of his books.  The quantity of his literature is not great, but the quality is very surprising, and surprising first of all as equality.  From the beginning to the end he wrote one man, of course in his successive consciousnesses.  Perhaps every one does this, but his work gives the impression of an uncommon continuity, in spite of its being the effect of a later and an earlier impulse so very marked as to have made the later an astonishing revelation to those who thought they knew him.


It is not for me in such a paper as this to attempt any judgment of his work.  I have loved it, as I loved him, with a sense of its limitations which is by no means a censure of its excellences.  He was not a man who cared to transcend; he liked bounds, he liked horizons, the constancy of shores.  If he put to sea, he kept in sight of land, like the ancient navigators.  He did not discover new continents; and I will own that I, for my part, should not have liked to sail with Columbus.  I think one can safely affirm that as great and as useful men stayed behind, and found an America of the mind without stirring from their thresholds.


   Appeal, which he had come to recognize as invasive
   Appeared to have no grudge left
   Could make us feel that our faults were other people’s
   Hard of hearing on one side.  But it isn’t deafness
   Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Autocrat clashed upon homeopathy
   He was not bored because he would not be
   He was not constructive; he was essentially observant
   His readers trusted and loved him
   Men’s lives ended where they began, in the keeping of women
   Not a man who cared to transcend; he liked bounds
   Not much patience with the unmanly craving for sympathy
   Old man’s disposition to speak of his infirmities
   Old man’s tendency to revert to the past
   Person who wished to talk when he could listen
   Reformers, who are so often tedious and ridiculous
   Secret of the man who is universally interesting
   Sought the things that he could agree with you upon
   Spare his years the fatigue of recalling your identity
   Study in a corner by the porch
   Those who have sorrowed deepest will understand this best
   Times when a man’s city was a man’s country
   Turn of the talk toward the mystical
   Work gives the impression of an uncommon continuity

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Oliver Wendell Holmes (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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