Oliver Wendell Holmes.

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GIFT OF
Miss i^lla Castelhun




THE COMPLETE

POETICAL WORKS OF

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

Cambric Glutton




BOSTON AND NEW YORK

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
Che CxifcersiDe press, Cambridge



Copyright, 1850, 1858, 1859, 1861, 1862, 1865, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1886, 1887,
1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, and 1895.

BY OLIVEB WENDELL HOLMES ; TICKNOR, REED & FIELDS ; JAMES R. OSGOOD & CO. ;
AND HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.

All rights reserved.






The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U.S. A.
Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.




A






PUBLISHERS NOTE



Tins Cambridge Edition of The Complete Poetic Works of Olivet Wendell
Holmes is the fourth in a series which includes the poems and dramas of Longfel
low, Whittler, and Browning. It follows in its scheme the plan of the previous
volumes. The editor was at some disadvantage in not being able to avail himself
of the Life of Dr. Holmes which is now in preparation, but the frequent autobio
graphical passages in the writings of the author enabled him to illustrate a career-
devoid, even more than that of most poets, of adventure or dramatic incident.
The head-notes, in like manner, could frequently be supplied from comment occur
ring in the author s prose writings and in prefaces to separate publications of poems,
but very many of the poems are so self-explanatory that the reader requires no
introduction.

The policy has been pursued, as in the former cases, of taking the latest collec
tive edition issued in the poet s lifetime as the pattern to be followed both in text
and in arrangement, but the opportunity has been used to include a few poems
which were written after the latest edition appeared or had by some accident failed
to receive the author s attention when he was making up his final collection ; no
attempt, however, has been made, in gathering the early poems, to go outside of
the volumes in which they were originally included. It is assumed that Dr.
Holmes when making up these volumes intentionally disregarded some of the
poems scattered through periodicals. This is confirmed by the attitude which he
took when his attention was called to the omission upon the occasion of the issue
of the Riverside Edition. He refused to give them a refuge even in an appendix.
The arrangement here is the same as in the Riverside Edition, with some slight
modification, chiefly caused by the introduction of new material. In accordance
with the plan of this series and with Dr. Holmes s original intention when the
Riverside Edition was prepared, the Juvenilia are placed in an appendix in
smaller type. Throughout the volume, whether in head-notes or in those placed
in the appendix, the editor s work is distinguished by the use of brackets.

BOSTON, 4 PAKK STKEET, October 21, 1805.



TABLE OF CONTENTS



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .

TO MY HEADERS

EARLIER POEMS (1830-18315).

OLD IRONSIDES ....

THE LAST LEAF

THE CAMBRIDGE CHURCHYARD

To AN INSECT

THE DILEMMA

MY AUNT

REFLECTIONS OF A PROUD PEDES
TRIAN

DAILY TRIALS, BY A SENSITIVE
MAN

EVENING, BY A TAILOR .

THE DORCHESTER GIANT .

To THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY M

THE COMET

THE MUSIC-GRINDERS

THE TREADMILL SONG

THE SEPTEMBER GALE .

THE HEIGHT OF THE RIDICULOUS .

THE LAST READER ....

POETRY: A METRICAL ESSAY .
POEMS PUBLISHED BETWEEN 1837
AND 1S4S.

THE PILGRIM S VISION .

THE STEAMBOAT

LEXINGTON

ON LENDING A PUNCH-BOWL

A SONG FOR THE CENTENNIAL CEL
EBRATION OF HARVARD COLLEGE,
is3i>

THE ISLAND HUNTING-SONG

DEPARTED DAYS ....

THE ONLY DAUGHTER

SONG WRITTEN FOR THE DlNNER
GIVEN TO CHARLES DICKENS. BY
THE YOUNG MEN OF BOSTON, FEB
RUARY 1, 1842 ....

LINES RECITED AT THE BERKSHIRE

JUBILEE, PITTSFIELD, MASS., AUG
UST 23, 1844 ......

NUX POSTCCENATICA
VERSES FOR AFTER -DINNER



PAGE

xi



A MODEST REQUEST, COMPLIED WITH
AFTER THE DlNNER AT PRESIDENT
EVERETT S INAUGURATION . 37

THE PARTING WORD . . . .40
A SONG OF OTHER DAYS . . 41
SONG FOR A TEMPERANCE DINNER
TO WHICH LADIES WERE INVITED
(NEW YORK MERCANTILE LIBRARY
ASSOCIATION, NOVEMBER, 1842) . 42

A SENTIMENT 42

A RHYMED LESSON (URANIA) . . 43
AN AFTER-DINNER POEM (TERPSI
CHORE) 54

MEDICAL POEMS.

THE MORNING VISIT .... 58
THE Two ARMIES .... 59
THE STETHOSCOPE SONG . 00
EXTRACTS FROM A MEDICAL POEM OL
A POEM FOR THE MEETING OF THE
AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
AT NEW YORK, MAY 5, 18,"); ) . 02

A SENTIMENT 03

RIP VAN WINKLE, M. I). . . 03
POEM READ AT THE DlNNER GIVEN
TO THE AUTHOR BY THE MEDICAL
PROFESSION OF THE CITY OF NEW
YORK, APRIL 12, 1883 . . . 08

SONGS IN MANY KEYS (1849-1801).

PROLOGUE 72

AGNES ....... 72

THE PLOUGHMAN 79

SPRING 80

THE STUDY 82

THE BELLS 83

NON-RESISTANCE .... 83
THE MORAL BULLY .84

THE MIND S DIET .... 85

OUR LIMITATIONS .... 85

THE OLD PLAYER .... 85
A POEM : DEDICATION OF THE PITTS-
FIELD CEMETERY, SEPTEMBER 9,

1850 87

To GOVERNOR SWAIN ... 89
To AN ENGLISH FRIEND . -90



VI



CONTENTS



AFTER A LECTURE ON WORDS
WORTH 90

AFTER A LECTURE ON MOORE . . 91
AFTER A LECTURE ON KEATS . 92
AFTER A LECTURE ON SHELLEY . 92
AT THE CLOSE OF A COURSE OF

LECTURES 93

THE HUDSON . . . . .94
THE NEW EDEN . . . . 94
SEMI-CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF
THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY, NEW
YORK, DECEMBER 22, 1855 . .96
FAREWELL TO J. R. LOWELL . 97
FOR THE MEETING OF THE BURNS

CLUB, 185(5 97

ODE FOR WASHINGTON S BIRTHDAY 98
BIRTHDAY OF DANIEL WEBSTER . 98
THE VOICELESS . . . . .99
THE Two STREAMS . . . . 99
THE PROMISE . . . . .100

Avis 100

THE LIVING TEMPLE .... 101
AT A BIRTHDAY FESTIVAL : TO J. R.

LOWELL 102

A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO J. F.

CLARKE 102

THE GRAY CHIEF .... 102
THE LAST LOOK : W. W. SWAIN . 103
IN MEMORY OF CHARLES WENT-
WORTH UPHAM, JR. ... 103

MARTHA 104

MEETING OF THE ALUMNI OF HAR
VARD COLLEGE, 1857 . 104
THE PARTING SONG .... 106
FOR THE MEETING OF THE NATIONAL

SANITARY ASSOCIATION, I860 . 10G
FOR THE BURNS CENTENNIAL CEL
EBRATION, 1859 107

AT A MEETING OF FRIENDS . . 108
BOSTON COMMON ; THREE PICTURES 109
THE OLD MAN OF THE SEA . . 109
INTERNATIONAL ODE . . . .110
VIVE LA FRANCE .... no
BROTHER JONATHAN S LAMENT FOR
SISTER CAROLINE . . . .111

POEMS OF THE CLASS OF 29 (1851-
1889).

BILL AND JOE 113

A SONG OF "TWENTY-NINE" . .114
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS . . 115
AN IMPROMPTU . . . . .115
THE OLD MAN DREAMS . . . 115
REMEMBER FORGET .... 116
OUR INDIAN SUMMER ; . .117

MARE RUBRUM 117

THE BOYS 118



LINES 119

A VOICE OF THE LOYAL NORTH . 120

J. D. R 120

VOYAGE OF THE GOOD SHIP UNION 120
" CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY WHOM YE

WILL SERVE " 121

F. W. C 122

THE LAST CHARGE . . . .123
OUR OLDEST FRIEND . . .124
SHERMAN s IN SAVANNAH . . 124

MY ANNUAL 125

ALL HERE . . . . . .120

ONCE MORE . . . . .127

THE OLD CRUISER . . . .128

HYMN FOR THE CLASS-MEETING . 129

EVEN-SONG 130

THE SMILING LISTENER . . . 131
OUR SWEET SINGER : J. A. . . 133
H. C. M., H. S., J. K. W. . . 133
WHAT I HAVE COME FOR . .134

OUR BANKER 135

FOR CLASS MEETING .... 136

"Ao AMICOS" 137

HOW NOT TO SETTLE IT ... 138
THE LAST SURVIVOR . . .140
THE ARCHBISHOP AND GIL BLAS . 141

THE SHADOWS 142

BENJAMIN PEIRCE . . . . 143
IN THE TWILIGHT . . . .144
A LOVING-CUP SONG .... 145
THE GIRDLE OF FRIENDSHIP . 145
THE LYRE OF ANACREON . . .146
THE OLD TUNE .... 146
THE BROKEN CIRCLE . . . .147
THE ANGEL-THIEF .... 147
AFTER THE CURFEW .... 148

POEMS FROM THE AUTOCRAT OF
THE BREAKFAST-TABLE (1857-
1858).

THE CHAMBERED NAUTILUS . . JLiP
SUN AND SHADOW . . . .150

MUSA 150

A PARTING HEALTH : TO J. L. MOTLEY 151
WHAT WE ALL THINK . . .152
SPRING HAS COME .... 152

PROLOGUE 153

LATTER-DAY WARNINGS . . .154
ALBUM VERSES . .155
A GOOD TIME GOING ! ... 155
THE LAST BLOSSOM . . . 156

CONTENTMENT 157

./ESTIVATION 158

THE DEACON S MASTERPIECE ; on,
THE WONDERFUL "ONE-Hoss

SHAY" 158

PRELUDE 160



CONTENTS



vn



PARSON TURELL S LEGACY ; OR, THE
PRESIDENT S OLD ARM-CHAIR . 100

ODE FOR A SOCIAL MEETING, WITH
SLIGHT ALTERATIONS BY A TEE
TOTALER 1(12

POEMS FROM THE PROFESSOR AT
THE ERE AKFAST - TABLE (1858-
1859).

UNDER THE VIOLETS .... 103
HYMN OP TRUST .... 103
A SUN-DAY HYMN .... 103
THE CROOKED FOOTPATH . . 104

IRIS, HER BOOK 104

ROBINSON OF LEYDEN . . . 165
ST. ANTHONY THE REFORMER . . 100
THE OPENING OF THE PIANO 106

MIDSUMMER 107

I)E SAUTY 107

POEMS FROM THE POET AT THE
BREAKFAST-TABLE (1871-1872).
HOMESICK IN HEAVEN . . . lUil

FANTASIA

AUNT TABITHA .
WIND-CLOUDS AND STAR-DRIFTS .
EPILOGUE TO THE BREAKFAST-TABLE
SERIES 18.">

SONGS OF MANY SEASONS (1802-

1874).

OPENING THE WINDOW . . . 1S5
PROGRAMME 185

IN THE QUIET DAYS.
AN OLD-YEAR SONG 180
DOROTHY Q. : A FAMILY PORTRAIT . 180
THE ORGAN-BLOWER . . . 187

AFTER THE FIRE 188

AT THE PANTOMIME . . . 189
A BALLAD OF THE BOSTON TEA-
PARTY 100

NEARING THE SNOW-LINE . . 101

IN WAR TIME.

To CANAAN : A PURITAN WAR-
SONG 101

" THUS SAITH THE LORD, I OFFER
THEE THREE THINGS " . . 102

NEVER OR Now 102

HYMN WRITTEN FOR THE GREAT CEN
TRAL FAIR IN PHILADELPHIA, 1804 10. ?

ONE COUNTRY 103

GOD SAVE THE FLAG ! 104

HYMN AFTER THE EMANCIPATION

PROCLAMATION 104

HYMN FOR THE FAIR AT CHICAGO,
1805 104



UNDER THE WASHINGTON ELM, CAM
BRIDGE 105

FREEDOM, OUR QUEEN . . . 105

ARMY HYMN 100

PARTING HYMN .... 100
THE FLOWER OF LIBERTY . . 100
THE SWEET LITTLE MAN . . 107
L T NION AND LIBERTY . . . .108
SONGS OF WELCOME AND FAREWELL.
AMERICA TO RUSSIA . . . 108
WELCOME TO THE GRAND DUKE

ALEXIS 100

AT THE BANQUET TO THE GRAND

DUKE ALEXIS 100

AT THE BANQUET TO THE CHINESE

EMBASSY 200

AT THE BANQUET TO THE JAPANESE

E.MBASSY 201

BRYANT S SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY . 202
A FAREWELL TO AGASSIZ . . 203
AT A DINNER TO ADMIRAL FAR-

RAGUT 204

AT A DINNER TO GENERAL GRANT 205
To II. W. LONGFELLOW . . . 200
To CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED EHREN-

BERG 200

A TOAST TO WILKIE COLLINS . 207
MEMORIAL VERSES.
FOR THE SERVICES IN MEMORY OF
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, BOSTON, JUNE

1, 1805 208

FOR THE COMMEMORATION SERVICES,

CAMBRIDGE, JULY 21, 1805 . . 208
EDWARD EVERETT : JANUARY 30,

1805 210

SHAKESPEARE TERCENTENNIAL CELE
BRATION, APRIL 23, 1804 . .211
IN MEMORY OF JOHN AND ROBERT

WARE, MAY 25, 1804 . . . 212
HUMBOLDT S BIRTHDAY : CENTEN
NIAL CELEBRATION, SEPTEMBER 14,

1X00 213

POEM AT THE DEDICATION OF THE
HALLECK MONUMENT, JULY 8,

1800 214

HYMN FOR THE CELEBRATION AT THE
LAYING OF THE CORNER-STONE OF
HARVARD MEMORIAL HALL, CAM
BRIDGE, OCTOBER 0, 1870 . . 214
HYMN FOR THE DEDICATION OF ME
MORIAL HALL AT CAMBRIDGE, JUNE

2:;, 1874 215

HYMN AT THE FUNERAL SERVICES
OF CHARLES SUMNER, APRIL 20,
1874 215



Vlll



CONTENTS



RHYMES OF AN HOUR.
AN IMPROMPTU AT THE WALCKER
DINNER UPON THE COMPLETION OF
THE GREAT ORGAN FOR BOSTON
Music HALL IN 18G3. . . . 215
ADDRESS FOR THE OPENING OF THE
FIFTH AVENUE THEATRE, NEW
YORK, DECEMBER 3, 1873 . . 21G

A SEA DIALOGUE 218

CHANSON WITHOUT Music . . 219
FOR THE CENTENNIAL DINNER OF
THE PROPRIETORS OF BOSTON PIER,
OR THE LONG WHARF, APRIL 1G,

1873 .- 220

A POEM SERVED TO ORDER . . 221
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH . . . 222
No TIME LIKE THE OLD TIME . 222
A HYMN OF PEACE, SUNG AT THE
"JUBILEE," JUNE 15, 18G9, TO THE
Music OF KELLER S "AMERICAN
HYMN " 223



BUNKER - HILL BATTLE
OTHER POEMS (1874-1877).



AND



GRANDMOTHER S STORY OF BUNKER-
HILL BATTLE J224

AT THE "ATLANTIC" DINNER, DE
CEMBER 15, 1874 .... 227
"LUCY: " FOR HER GOLDEN WED
DING, OCTOBER 18, 1875 . . 228
HYMN FOR THE INAUGURATION OF
THE STATUE OF GOVERNOR AN
DREW, HINGHAM, OCTOBER 7, 1875 229
A MEMORIAL TRIBUTE TO DR. SAM
UEL G. HOWE , . 229
JOSEPH WARREN, M. D. . 230
OLD CAMBRIDGE, JULY 3, 1875 . 230
WELCOME TO THE NATIONS, PHILA
DELPHIA, JULY 4, 1876 . . .232
A FAMILIAR LETTER . . . 232

UNSATISFIED 234

How THE OLD HORSE WON THE BET 234
AN APPEAL FOR " THE OLD SOUTH " 236
THE FIRST FAN .... 237
To RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES 239
THE SHIP OF STATE . . .239
A FAMILY RECORD . . .239



THE IRON GATE
POEMS (1877-1881).



AND OTHER



THE IRON GATE . . ... 243
VESTIGIA QUINQUE RETRORSUM . 244

MY AVIARY 247

ON THE THRESHOLD . ^ . . . 249
To GEORGE PEABODY ... 249
AT THE PAPYRUS CLUB . . . 249



FOR WHITTIER S SEVENTIETH BIRTH
DAY 250

Two SONNETS : HARVARD . . . 251
THE COMING ERA .... 251

IN RESPONSE 252

FOR THE MOORE CENTENNIAL CELE
BRATION . . . . . . 253

To JAMES FREEMAN CLARKE . . 255
WELCOME TO THE CHICAGO COMMER
CIAL CLUB 255

AMERICAN ACADEMY CENTENNIAL

CELEBRATION ..... 256
THE SCHOOL-BOY .... 257
THE SILENT MELODY .... 263
OUR HOME OUR COUNTRY . . 263
POEM AT THE CENTENNIAL ANNI
VERSARY DINNER OF THE MASSA
CHUSETTS MEDICAL SOCIETY . . 264

HARVARD 268

RHYMES OF A LIFE-TIME . . .208

BEFORE THE CURFEW.

AT MY FIRESIDE .... 269
AT THE SATURDAY CLUB . . . 269
OUR DEAD SINGER. H. W. L. . 271
Two POEMS TO HARRIET BEECHER

STOWE ON HER SEVENTIETH

BIRTHDAY.

I. AT THE SUMMIT . . . 272
II. THE WORLD S HOMAGE . 272
A WELCOME TO DR. BENJAMIN AP-

THORP GOULD 273

To FREDERICK HENRY HEDGE ON HIS

EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY . . . 274
To JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL . . 274
To JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER ON

HIS EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY . 275
PRELUDE TO A VOLUME PRINTED IN

RAISED LETTERS FOR THE BLIND 276
BOSTON TO FLORENCE . . . 276
AT THE UNITARIAN FESTIVAL, MARCH

8, 1882 277

POEM FOR THE Two HUNDRED AND

FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE

FOUNDING OF HARVARD COLLEGE
POST-PRANDIAL : PHI BETA KAPPA,

1881

THE FLANEUR : DURING THE TRAN
SIT OF VENUS, 1882 . . .284

AVE 286

KING S CHAPEL : READ AT THE Two

HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY . 286
HYMN FOR THE SAME OCCASION . 287
HYMN THE WORD OF PROMISE . 288
HYMN READ AT THE DEDICATION OF

THE OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES



CONTENTS



HOSPITAL AT HUDSON, WISCONSIN,

JUNE 7, 1887 288

ON THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT GAR-
FIELD 280

THE GOLDEN FLOWER . . . 290

YOUTH 200

HAIL, COLUMBIA ! 200

POEM FOR THE DEDICATION OF THE
FOUNTAIN AT STRATFORD-ON-AVON,
PRESENTED BY GEORGE W- CH1LDS,
OF PHILADELPHIA .... 201
To THE POETS WHO ONLY READ AND

LISTEN 202

FOR THE DEDICATION OF THE NEW

CITY LIBRARY, BOSTON . . . 203
To JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL, AT THE
DINNER GIVEN IN HIS HONOR AT
THE TAVERN CLUB, ON HIS SEVEN
TIETH BIRTHDAY, FEBRUARY 22,

1X80 20:;

BUT ONE TALENT .... 205
FOR THE WINDOW IN ST. MARGA
RET S 21 K)

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL: lSlO-ls;ii . 20ti
IN MEMORY OF JOHN GREENLEAF
WHITTIEK: DECEMBER 17, 1807
SEPTEMBER 7, 1802 . . . 207
To THE TEACHERS OF AMERICA . 208
HYMN WRITTEN FOR THE TWENTY-
FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RE
ORGANIZATION OF THI: BOSTON
YOUNG MEN S CHRISTIAN UNION,

MAY ;il, 180:; L 08

FRANCIS PARKMAN: SEPTEMBER Hi,
1823 NOVEMBER 8, 1893 . . 208

POEMS FROM OVER THE TEACUPS.
To THE ELEVEN LADIES WHO PRE
SENTED ME WITH A SILVER LOV
ING CUP 300

THE PEAU DE CHAGRIN OF STATE

STREET ;5<>o

CACOETHES SCRIBENDI . . . 300
THE ROSE AND THE FERN . . 3oi
I LIKE YOU AND I LOVE YOU . 301
LA MAISON D OR (BAR HARBOR) . .">0l
Too YOUNG FOR LOVE . . . 30 1
THE BROOMSTICK TRAIN; OR, THE
RETURN OF THE WITCHES . . 301

TARTARUS ~304

AT THE TURN OF THE ROAD . . 304
IN VITA MINERVA .... 305

READINGS OVER THE TEACUPS.

To MY OLD READERS .... 306



THE BANKER S SECRET . . . 307
THE EXILE S SECRET .... 311
THE LOVER S SECRET . . . 313
THE STATESMAN S SECRET . . 315
THE MOTHER S SECRET . . . 317
THE SECRET OF THE STARS . . 319
APPENDIX.

I. VERSES FROM THE OLDEST PORT

FOLIO.
FIRST VERSES : TRANSLATION FROM

THE ^ENEID

THE MEETING OF THE DRYADS
THE MYSTERIOUS VISITOR

THE TOADSTOOL 323

THE SPECTRE PIG .... 3,23
To A CAGED LION .... 324
THE STAR AND THE WATER-LILY . 325
ILLUSTRATION OF A PICTURE : A

SPANISH GIRL IN REVERIE" . . 325
A ROMAN AQUEDUCT . . . 32<;
FROM A BACHELOR S PRIVATE JOUR
NAL 32C,

LA GRISETTE 32<>

OUR YANKEE GIRLS . . . ."27

I/INCONNUE 3,27

STANZAS .",27

LINES BY A CLERK .... 327
THE PHILOSOPHER TO HIS LOVE . 328
THE POET S LOT .... 3,28
To A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER. . 328
To THE PORTRAIT OF " A GENTLE
MAN " IN THE ATHEN.KUM GAL
LERY .",20

THE BALLAD OF THE OYSTERMAN . 329
A NOONTIDE LYRIC .... 3.3,0

THE HOT SEASON 330

A PORTRAIT 331

AN EVENING THOUGHT. WRITTEN

AT SEA 331

THE WASP" AND "TiiF, HORNET" 3.3,1
" Qui VIVE ? " . 33,1

A SOUVENIR 3,32

THE DYING SENECA .... 332
THE LAST PROPHECY OF CASSAN
DRA 332

To MY COMPANIONS .... 333

II. ASTR.EA : THE BALANCE OF ILLU
SIONS 333

III. NOTES AND ADDENDA . . . 337

IV. A CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF DR.

HOLMES S POEMS .... 341

INDEX OF FIRST LINES . . - 345
INDEX OF TITLES .... 349



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

DR. HOLMES had much to say in his writings of the problems of heredity, and was
apparently as ready to recognize the caprices as the regular action of inherited tenden
cies. He may have speculated over his own descent when he wrote, in The Poet at the
Breakfast-Table, "The various inherited instincts ripen in succession. You may he nine
tenths paternal at one period of your life, and nine tenths maternal at another. All at
once the traits of some immediate ancestor may come to maturity unexpectedly on one
of the branches of your character, just as your features at different periods of your life
betray different resemblances to your nearer or more remote relatives." One would
fain believe that the thin poetic blood of his early ancestor Anne Bradstreet had been
enriched by its secret passage through the veins of several generations before it issued
in the warm pulsations of this poet of our day; but as for those generous, even passionate
instincts of patriotism, and that strong impulse toward lawful freedom which character
ized the wit and philosopher, one may readily take into account the whole strain of Dr.
llolmes s ancestry on both sides.

With the exception of a Dutch strain a few generations before, these ancestors were of
New England origin, going back to the early colonial days. John Holmes, of Puritan
birth, settled in Woodstock, Connecticut, in 1G8G. His grandson, David Holmes, served
as captain of British troops in the French and Indian war and later as a surgeon in the
Revolutionary army. The son of this David was the Reverend Abiel Holmes, who was
graduated at Yale College in 1782, and after a six years pastorate in Georgia came to
Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was pastor over the first parish for forty years, and
during his pastorate beside other writings and lectures compiled The Annals of America,
a trustworthy and creditable historical survey. His second wife was a daughter of
Oliver Wendell, and her ancestry besides its Dutch strain was connected with the Pliil-
lipses, Quincys, and other well-known New England families.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, the third child and eldest son of Abiel and Mary Wendell
Holmes, was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 29, 1800. " The year 1809, he
says, in Our Hundred Days in Europe, " which introduced me to atmospheric existence, was
the birth-year of Gladstone, Tennyson, Lord Houghton, and Darwin." But the circum
stances of his birth were as distinct from those that attended the appearance of his illustri
ous contemporaries as New England was sharply discriminated from old England. The
atmosphere, however, into which he was born, was a fresh, clear, and not unscholarly one.
It was, moreover, charged with historical traditions. Cambridge was a village, but a
village dominated by college life. The house in which the poet was born shared until a
recent day the honors with the Craigie House, its neighbor. Eor in the early days of the
Revolution, when studies at Harvard College were suspended, this old gambrel-roofcd
house had been the headquarters of General Artemas Ward and of the Committee of
Safety. Upon the steps of the house stood President Langdon of Harvard College, so
tradition says, and prayed for the men, w r ho, halting there a few moments, marched



xii OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

forward under Colonel Prescott s lead to throw up entrenchments on Bunker Hill on the
night of June 16, 1775 ; and in this house the boy s father, who had passed his own
youth in the days of the Revolution, was collecting the memorabilia for his substantial
contribution to American history. His mother, too, had her memory of a hurried exit
from Boston during the siege, when she was six years old.

The appearance of the gambrel-roofed house has been preserved, fortunately, in various
sketches and photographs ; Dr. Holmes himself, who took a lively interest in the camera
long before amateur photography was the fashion, made several copies of it from differ
ent points of view. But the most indelible picture of the house is in the affectionate
portrait contained in Dr. Holmes s writings. It is a notable expression of the intense
ardor with which he clung to places and scenes identified with his life and that of his
forbears. By his literary workmanship he made the house, now vanished, a literary
shrine. Not only in the detailed description contained in The Poet at the Breakfast- Table,
but in random passages elsewhere, he delighted in recalling the dignified yet homely
structure which was his first outward shell. " The slaughter of the Old Gambrel-roofed
House," he says, "was a case of justifiable domicide," but he mourned over the necessity
of its destruction. " Personally," he adds, " I have a right to mourn for it as a part of
my life gone from me. . . . The house in which one drew his first breath and where he
one day came into the consciousness that he was a personality, an ego. a little universe
with a sky over him all his own, with a persistent identity, with the terrible responsibility
of a separate, independent, inalienable existence, that house does not ask for any
historical associations to make it the centre of the earth for him."

In the Introduction to A Mortal Antipathy, Dr. Holmes has dwelt upon the conditions
of his childish life, the rural simplicity of nature, the hills which were the playground
of his imagination, the glimpses of sails in the distance, even though the water itself
was invisible. " I am very thankful," he says, " that the first part of my life was not
passed shut in between high walls and treading the unimpressible and unsympathetic
pavement." The combination of almost rustic life with academic dignity and high breed
ing which he has witnessed to in autobiographic passages, which Lowell has described
so felicitously in his Cambridge Thirty Years Ago, and which struck Clough so forcibly
when he was a sojourner there a decade or two later, was a note of that culmination of
New England provincialism so notably reflected in much of Holmes s writings. As we
get farther away from the period roughly circumscribed between 1815 and 1850, we
shall see more clearly that it was the flowering time of the plant whose seeds were sown
in 1620-1640, and Holmes was instinctively its poet and historian, as he was in point of
years the last of the remarkable group always to be associated with New England s
intellectual aristocracy.

Holmes s early schooling after an initiation in a dame school, where a companion was
the late Bishop Lee of Delaware, was under Master William Bigelow, and when ten years
old he went to a school in Cambridgeport, where he had for schoolmates Margaret Fuller
and Richard Henry Dana, whose famous kinsman, Washington Allston, glorified the
rather unkempt Port with his studio. At fifteen he was sent for special preparation to
Phillips Academy at Andover. His life there, and the companionship he enjoyed, he
described in his pleasant paper Cinders from the Ashes, and touched with a kindly light
in his reminiscent poem The School-Boy.

He spent a year at Andover and then entered Harvard College with the class which
was to graduate in 1829. In those days the classes at college were smaller than now,
and as they all joined in common studies, the members of a class came to know one



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH



another familiarly and to have such a sense of organic unity that long- after college days,
when the members were scattered and rarely came together, each still felt himself a
member of his " class," as he might feel himself a citizen of some particular city. The
complete roll of this class will be found in the appendix at the close of this volume, and
though no titles or signs of honor are attached to the names, the reader will easily detect
the presence of men who afterward came to great distinction, George Tyler Bigelow, for
a while Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts; James Freeman Clarke,
the humane, independent, and courageous preacher and public-spirited citizen; Benjamin
Ivobbins Curtis, the eminent lawyer; Benjamin Peirce, the illustrious mathematician; Dr.



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