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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 32 pages of information about Oliver Wendell Holmes (from Literary Friends and Acquaintance).
if I may so express my sense of a mental attitude that misled many.  As I have said before, he was universally interested, and he studied the universe from himself.  I do not know how one is to study it otherwise; the impersonal has really no existence; but with all his subtlety and depth he was of a make so simple, of a spirit so naive, that he could not practise the feints some use to conceal that interest in self which, after all, every one knows is only concealed.  He frankly and joyously made himself the starting-point in all his inquest of the hearts and minds of other men, but so far from singling himself out in this, and standing apart in it, there never was any one who was more eagerly and gladly your fellow-being in the things of the soul.

IV.

In the things of the world, he had fences, and looked at some people through palings and even over the broken bottles on the tops of walls; and I think he was the loser by this, as well as they.  But then I think all fences are bad, and that God has made enough differences between men; we need not trouble ourselves to multiply them.  Even behind his fences, however, Holmes had a heart kind for the outsiders, and I do not believe any one came into personal relations with him who did not experience this kindness.  In that long and delightful talk I had with him on my return from Venice (I can praise the talk because it was mainly his), we spoke of the status of domestics in the Old World, and how fraternal the relation of high and low was in Italy, while in England, between master and man, it seemed without acknowledgment of their common humanity.  “Yes,” he said, “I always felt as if English servants expected to be trampled on; but I can’t do that.  If they want to be trampled on, they must get some one else.”  He thought that our American way was infinitely better; and I believe that in spite of the fences there was always an instinctive impulse with him to get upon common ground with his fellow-man.  I used to notice in the neighborhood cabman who served our block on Beacon Street a sort of affectionate reverence for the Autocrat, which could have come from nothing but the kindly terms between them; if you went to him when he was engaged to Doctor Holmes, he told you so with a sort of implication in his manner that the thought of anything else for the time was profanation.  The good fellow who took him his drives about the Beverly and Manchester shores seemed to be quite in the joke of the doctor’s humor, and within the bounds of his personal modesty and his functional dignity permitted himself a smile at the doctor’s sallies, when you stood talking with him, or listening to him at the carriage-side.

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