Oliver Wendell Holmes.

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Jbcge::|^a9R ^Etntton



THE WRITINGS OF
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

IN THIRTEEN VOLUMES
VOLUME XIIL



?



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THE POETICAL WORKS



OF



OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES



IN THREE VOLUMES
VOLUME III



CAMBRIDGE

1891



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Al 1772. 12^- Z (l3)

3



IC.t*'-<l> '



> / . K ^ -^



Oopyright, I860, 1868, 18B9, 1881, 1882, 1866, 1874, 1875, ISH, 1878, 1880,
1881, 1882, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1889, 1800, and 1891,

Bt OLIVJEK WENDKLL HOLIOES; TICKNOB, BXBD & FDELDS;
JAMS8 B. OfiOOOD ft CO. ; avd HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN ft CO.



AU righU reserved




ICovo Huiibuli ftitb i^^tentp^JFitoc Copi^ {hiiiiud foe fUncnca

No. /73



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CX)NTENTS



Paoi

BUNEEB-HILL BATTLE AND OTHER FOEBIS.

Gbandmothkb'b Stobt of BuHKBB-Hnx Battls 1

At thb '* Atlahtio" Dniinat, Dboexbsb 15, 1874 12

"LuoT." Fob heb Goldbn Wedddtci, Ootobbb 18,

1876 16

HtMN rOB THB iNAUOUBATIOir OF THB StATUB OF

GovBBNOB Abdbbw, Hutgham, Ootobbb 7, 1876 . 17

A Mbmobial Tbibutb to Db. Samubl G. Howb . 18

JosBPH Wabbbk, M. D. 21

OlJ> CAMBBIDaB, JULT 3, 1876 22

Wbloomb to THB Natzobb, Philadblphia, July 4,

1876 26

A Famxliab Lbtteb 27

UiraATiaFiBD 31

How THB Old Hobsb wok thb Bbt ... 82

An Afpbai. fob " Thb Oij> SotJTH ** ... 39

Thb Fibst Fax 41

To R. B. H 46

Thb Ship of Statb 47

A Familt Rboobd 48

THE IRON GATE AND OTHER FOEIIS.

Thb Ibok Gatb 66

YbSTIOIA QuIHQUB RBTBOBSUlf 60

Mt Ayiabt W

On THB Thbbbhou) 70

To Gbobob Pbabodt 72



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'▼ CONTENTS

At the Paptbub Club 72

For Whittebh'b Sstbhtibtr Boktrdiat ... 74

Two SomnsTs: Habyabd 77

The GomNo Eba 73

Ik Rupokbb 80

Fob thb Moobb Gbbtenbial Gblkbratiov . 88

To Jahbb Fbbbxab Cijuub 86

Wbuximb to thb Cbicaoo Commbbciaii Club 88

Ambbigab Agademt Cbbtbhbiai. Cblebbatiob. . 90

The School-Bot 08

The Silbbt Mblody 106

OubHomb — OubCoubtbt 108

PoBx at tbb Centbnbial Abbiybbsabt Dihbbb
OF THB Mabbachubetts Mbdioai. Sogiett . Ill

Bhtxeb of a LxFE-TufB 118

BEFORE THE CURFEW.

At mt Fibbside 119

At the Satubdat Club 119

OcB Dead Sikobb. H. W. L. 125

Two PoEMB TO Habbtbt Bbbcbeb Stowb ok heb
Seventieth Bibthdat.

L At the Siwmit ...... 127

n. Thb Wobijo'b Homage 128

A Weloomb to 0b. BEHJAxnr Apthobp Gonij> . 180
To Fbedebigx Henbt Hedge ob hib Eeobtibth

Bibthdat 182

To Jaub Bubbell Lowell 188

To Jomr Gbbehlbaf Whittibb ob bib Eightieth

Bibthdat 186

Pbxlode to a Volume feinted in Raised Lbitbbb

FOB thb Bund 186

BoBTON TO Flobengb 187

At THE Unitabian Febtital, Mabch 8, 1882. 188

Poem fob the Two Hundbbd and Fiftieth Anni-

TB8SABT OF THE FOUNDING OF HaBYABD CoLLBOB 189



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CONTENTS ▼

Po0r-PBAjn>iAL: Pm Bsta Kaiva, 1881. 166

Thb FiJbfSDB: DuBDTO THB Trajsobt or Yxmm,

1882 167

Av» 182

Euro's Ghafkl. Bxad at thb Two Hu h obmb th

AmnvxBSABT 1^

Htxn vob thb samb OooAnoK .... 166
Htmn. — Thb WOBD OF Pbomibb .167

Htxn bbad at thb DBPiOAnoir of thb Oliybb

WbNDBIX HoUCBS HOflFFTAIi AT HdD0OV, WlBOOK-

fliN, JuMB 7, 1887 IW

On thb Dbaxh of Pbbsidbiit Gasixbld . .170

Thb Qoldbk Flowhb 178

Hail, ColuxbiaI 176

pobx fob thb dsdioatioir of thb foubtaib at

Stratfobikxk-Atok, pbxsbmtxd bt Gbobob W.

Childs, of Philadblfhia 177

To thb Pobts who only bbad axd lutbh . 180

Fob thb DBDioAnoir of thb Nbw Gitt Libbabt 181
Fob thb Wisdow nr St. Maboabxt'b ... 188
Jaxbb Rubsbll Lowbll: 1810-1801 . .188

POEMS FROM OVER TfiE TEACUPa

To THB EliBVJUi liADOn WHO FBBSBMTBD MB WITH

A SiLTBB Lomro Cup 186

Thb Pbau db Chagbik of Statb Sthebt . .187

Caoobthbs Sobibbbdi 188

Thb Rosb akd thb Fbbh 188

I LdLB TOir AND I LOTB TOU 180

La Mauoit d'Ob (Bab Habbob) 100

Too Young fob Loyb 100

Thb Bbooxbtiok Tbain ; ob, Thb Rbtubn of thb

WrrcHBi 101

Tabtabub 106

At thb Tubn of thb Road 197

iNTzrl MiNBByi 100



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▼1 CONTENTS

HEADINGS OYER THE TEACUPa

To MT Old Rbadsbs 200

Thb BAinata's Sbobbt 208

Thb Exilb's Sbgbxt 212

Thb Lotbb's SacoiKr 218

Thb Statbsxak's Sbgqebbt 222

Thb Mothbb'8 Sbgbet 225

Thb Sbgrbt of thb Stabs 290

VERSES FROM THE OLDEST PORTFOLIO.

FnurrYBBSEs: Tbajtbijltion fbom thb .£mbid 285

Thb Mbbtdto of thb Dbtadb 286

Thb Mybtbbioub Vibitob 289

Thb Toadbtooi. 242

Thb Spectbb Pio 244

To A Gaobd Lion 248

Thb Stab and thb Watbb-Lii.t .... 248
IixusTBATioK OF A Pkctubb: "A Spakibh Girl nr

Rbtbbib'* 261

A RoMAH Aqubduot 268

Fbom a Baohblob's Pbiyatb Joubkal .264

La Gbibbtte 256

OuB Yaioebb Giblb 257

LlNOomruB 258

Stanzib 269

Likbs bt a Ouebk 200

Thb Fhilo0Ophbb to ms Loyb 201

Thb Pobt's Lot 268

To A Blakk Shbbt of Pafbb 264

To THB POBTBATT OF ''A GbHTLBKAK" IN THB

Athbnaum GauiEBT 266

Thb Ballad of thb Otbtbbmax .... 268

A NooimDB Lybio 270

Thb Hot Sbabov 271

A POBTBATT 278

Av Eybniko Thought. Wbittbn at Sba . 274



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CONTENTS TO

Thb Wasp axb ram BxmMwr 876

"QuiVivB?" 277

K0TE3 279

INDEK OF FIBST LINES 281

INDEX OF TITLBS 291



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BUNKER-HILL BATTLE

AND OTHER POEMS
1874-1877



GRANDMOTHER'S STORY OP BUNKER-
HILL BATTLE

AB SHB SAW IT FBOM THE BELFBT

'T IS like stirring living embers when, at eighty,

one remembers
All the achings and the quakings of ^^ the times

that tried men's souls ";
When I talk of Whig and Tory, when I tell the

Sebd story,
To you the words are ashes, but to me they 're

burning coals.

I had heard the muskets' rattle of the April run-
ning battle ;

Lord Percy's hunted soldiers, I can see their red
coats still ;

But a deadly chill comes o'er me, as the day looms
up before me.

When a thousand men lay bleeding on the slopes
of Bunker's HilL



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2 BUNKER-HILL BATTLE

T was a peaoeful summer's moming, wlien the first

thing gave us warning
Was the booming of the cannon from the river and

the shore:
*^ Child,'' says grandma, ^^what 's the matter, what

is all this noise and clatter?
Have those scalping Indian devils come to murder

us once more ? "

Poor old soul ! my sides were shaking in the midst
of all my quaking,

To hear her talk of Indians when the guns b^;an
to roar:

She had seen the burning village, and the slaugh-
ter and the pillage,

When the Mohawks killed her father with their
bullets through his door.

Then I said, ^^ Now, dear old granny, don't you fret
and worry any,

For I 'U soon come back and tell you whether this
is work or play ;

There can't be mischief in it, so I won't be gone a
minute " —

For a minute then I started. I was gone the live-
long day.

No time for bodice -lacing or for looking-glass

grimacing;
Down my hair went as I hurried, tumbling half-way

to my heels ;



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GRANDMOTHER'S STORY 8

GkxL forbid your ever knowing, when there 's blood

around her flowing.
How the lonely, helpleae daughter of a quiet houae^

hold feels !

In the street I heard a thumping ; and I knew it

was the stumping
Of the Corporal, our old neighbor, on that wooden

leg he wore,
With a Imot of women round him, — it was lucky

I had found him.
So I followed with the others, and the Corporal

marched before.

They were making for the steeple, — the old soldier

and his people ;
The pigeons circled round us as we climbed the

creaking stair.
Just across the narrow river — oh, so close it made

me shiver 1 —
Stood a fortress on the hill-top that but yesterday

was bare.

Not slow our eyes to find it ; well we knew who

stood behind it.
Though the earthwork hid them from us, and the

stubborn walls were dumb :
Here were sister, wife, and mother, looking wild

upon each other,
And their lips were white with terror as they said.

The houb has comb I



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4 BUNKER-HILL BATTLE

The momiiig slowly wasted, not a morsel had we
tasted.

And our heads were almost splittmg with the
oamions' deafening thrill,

When a figure tall and stately round the rampart
strode sedately ;

It was Prescott, one sinee told me; he com-
manded on the hill.

Every woman's heart grew bigger when we saw his

manly figure,
With the banyan buckled round it, standing up

so straight and tall ;
like a gentleman of leisure who is strolling out

for pleasure.
Through the storm of shells and cannon-shot he

walked around the waU.

At eleven the streets were swarming, for the red-
coats' ranks were forming ;

At noon in marching order they were moving to
the piers ;

How the bayonets gleamed and glistened, as we
looked far down, and listened

To the trampling and the drum-beat of the belted
grenadiers I

At length the men have started, with a cheer (it

seemed faint-hearted).
In their scarlet regimentals, with their knapsadcs

on their backs.



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GRANDMOTHER'S STORY 6

And ihe xeddening, rippUng water, as after a 8ea>

fight's slangliter,
Bomnd the barges gliding onwaid Unsbed like Uood

along their tracks.

So they crossed to the other border, and again they
formed in order ;

And the boats came back for soldiers, came for
soldiers, soldiers still :

The time seemed everlasting to as women faint and
fasting, —

At last they 're moving, marching, marching proud-
ly up the hill.

We can see the bright steel glancing all along the
lines advancing, —

Now the front rank fires a volley, — they have
thrown away their shot ;

For behind their earthwork lying, all the balls
above them flying,

Onr people need not hurry ; so they wait and an-
swer not.

Then the Corporal, our old cripple (he would swear

sometimes and tipple), —
He had heard the bullets whistle (in the old French

war) before, —
CaUs out in words of jeering, just as if they all

were hearing, —
And his wooden leg thumps fiercely on the dusty

belfry floor : —



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6 BUNKER-HILL BATTLE

^ Oh I fire away, ye villains, and earn King George's
shillin's.

But ye '11 waste a ton of powder afore a *' rebel '
falls;

Yon may bang the dirt and welcome, they're as
safe as Dan'l Malcolm

Ten foot beneath the gravestone that yon Ve splin-
tered with your balls ! "

In the hush of expectation, in the awe and trepida-
tion

Of the dread approaching moment, we are well-
nigh breathless all ;

Though the rotten bars are baling on the rickety
belfry railing.

We are crowding up against them like the waves
against a walL

Just a glimpse (the air is clearer), they are nearer,
— nearer, — nearer.

When a flash — a curling smoke-wreath — then a
crash — the steeple shakes —

The deadly truce is ended; the tempest's shroud
is rended ;

Like a morning mist it gathered, like a thunder-
cloud it breaks I

Oh the sight our eyes discover as the blue-black

smoke blows over I
The red-coats stretched in windrows as a mower

rakes his hay ;



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GRANDMOTHER'S STORY 7

Here a scarlet heap is lying, there a headlong

erowd is flying
Like a billow that has broken and is shivered into

spray.

Then we cried, ^^ The troops are routed I they are

beat — it can't be doubted I
God be thanked, the fight is over I " — Ah ! the

grim old soldier's smile I
"Tell us, tell us why you look so?" (we could

hardly speak, we shook so), —
" Are they beaten ? Are they beaten ? Abb they

beaten ?'' — ** Wait a while."

Oh the trembling and the terror I for too soon we

saw our error :
They are baffled, not defeated; we have driven

them back in vain ;
And the columns that were scattered, round the

colors that were tattered.
Toward the sullen, silent fortress turn their belted

breasts again.

All at once, as we are gazing, lo the roofs of

Charlestown blazing !
They have fired the harmleas village ; in an hour it

will be down I
The Lord in heaven conf otmd them, rain his fire

and brimstone round them, —
The robbing, murdering xed-coats, that would bum

a peaceful town I



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8 BUNKER'-HILL BATTLE

They aro marching, stem and solemn ; we can see
each massive column

As they near the naked earih-mound with the shmt-
ing walls so steep.

Haye our soldiers got faint-hearted, and in noise-
less haste departed ?

Are they panio-stmck and helpless? Are they
palsied or asleep ?

Now I the walls they 're almost under I scarce a rod
the foes asunder I

Not a firelock flashed against them I up the earth-
work they will swarm I

But the words have scarce been spoken, when the
ominous calm is broken,

And a bellowing crash has emptied all the ven-
geance of the storm I

So again, with murderous slaughter, pelted back-
wards to the water,

ily Pigot's running heroes and the frightened
braves of Howe ;

And we shout, *^At last they're done for, it's
their barges they have run for :

They are beaten, beaten, beaten ; and the battle 's
over now ! "

And we looked, poor timid creatures, on the rough

old soldier's features,
Our lips afraid to question, but he knew what we

would ask :



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GRANDMOTHER'S STORY 9

**Not snre,^' he said ; ^^keep quiet, — once more, I

guess, they '11 try it —
Hete 's damnation to Ihe cut-throats ! '' — then he

handed me his flask.

Saying, ^* Gral, you 're looking shaky ; have a drop

of old Jamaiky ;
I 'm af eard there 11 be more trouble afore the job

is done " ;
So I took one scorching swallow ; dreadful faint I

felt and hollow,
Standing there from early morning when the firing

was begun*

All through those hours of trial I had watched a

calm dock dial.
As the hands kept creeping, creeping, — they were

creeping round to four,
When the old man said, *^ They 're forming with

their bagonets fixed for storming :
It's the death-grip that's a coming, — they will try

the works once more."

With brazen trumpets blaring, the flames behind
them glaring.

The deadly wall before them, in close array they
come;

Still onward, upward toiling, like a dragon's fold
uncoiling, —

Uke the rattlesnake's shrill warning the reverber-
ating drum I



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10 BUNKER-HILL BATTLE

Oyer heaps all torn and gory — shall I tell Use
fearful story,

How they surged above the breastwork, as a sea
breaks over a deck ;

How, driven, yet scarce defeated, our worn-out men
retreated.

With their powder-horns all emptied, like the swim-
mers from a wreck?

It has all been told and painted ; as for me, they

say I fainted.
And the wooden-legged old Corporal stumped with

me down the stair :
When I woke from dreams affrighted the evening

lamps were lighted, —
On the floor a youth was lying ; his bleeding breast

was bare.

And I heard through all the flurry, ^^ Send for

WabbenI hurry 1 hurry!
Tell him here 's a soldier bleeding, and he 'U come

and dress his wound I "
Ah, we knew not till the morrow told its tale of

death and sorrow.
How the starlight found him stiffened on the dark

and bloody ground.

Who the youth was, what his name was, where the

place from which he came was.
Who had brought him from the battle, and had left

him at our door.



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QRANDMOTHBR'S STORY 11

He could not speak to tell as ; but 'twas one of our

brave fellowB,
As the homespun plainly showed us which the

dying soldier wore.

For they all thought he was dying, as they gath-
ered round him crying, —

And they said, ^* Oh, how they 'U miss him I " and,
" What mil his mother do ? "

Then, his eyelids just unclosing like a child's that
has been dozing.

He faintly murmured, "Mother I " — and — I saw
his eyes were blue.

"Why, grandma, how you 're winking!" Ah,
my child, it sets me thinking

Of a story not like this one. Well, he somehow
lived along ;

So we came to know each other, and I nursed him
like a — mother.

Till at last he stood before me, tall, and rosy-
cheeked, and strong.

And we sometimes walked together in the pleasant

summer weather, —
"Please to tell us what his name was?" Just

your own, my little dear, —
There 's his picture Copley painted: we became so

well acquainted.
That — in short, that 's why I 'm grandma, and

you children all are here !



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12 AT THE ''ATLANTIC" DINNER

AT THE "ATLANTIC" DINNER

DECEMBER 15, 1874

I BUPPOSE it '8 myself that you 're makiiig allusion

to
And bringing the sense of dismay and confusion to.
Of oouise some must speak, — they are always

selected to,
But pray what 's the reason that I am expected to ?
I 'm not fond of wasting my breath as those fellows

do
That want to be blowing forever as bellows do ;
ITieir legs are uneasy, but why will you jog any
That long to stay quiet beneatii the mahogany?

Why, why call me up with your battery of flat-
teries?

You say "He writes poetry," — that 's what the
matter is I

"It costs him no trouble — a pen full of inker two

And the poem is done in the time of a wink or two ;

As for thoughts — neyer mind — take the ones that
lie uppermost.

And the rhymes used by Milton and Byron and
Tupper most ;

The lines come so easy I at one end he jingles 'em,

At the other with capital letters he shingles 'em, —

Why, the thing writes itself, and before he 's half
done with it

He hates to stop writing, he has such good fun
withitl"



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AT THE ''ATLANTIC DINNER 18

Ah) that is the way in which simple ones go about
And draw a fine piotnre of things they don't know

about!
We all know a kitten, but come to a catamount
The beast is a stranger when grown up to that

amount,
(A stranger we rather prefer should n't visit us,
Afelia whose advent is far from felicitous.)
The boy who can boast that his trap has just got a

mouse
Must n't draw it and write underneath ^^ hippopot-
amus " ;
Or say unveraciously, ^^ This is an elephant," —
Don't think, let me beg, these examples irrele-
vant, —
What they mean is just this — that a thing to be

painted well
Should always be something with which we're
acquamted welL

You call on your victim for ^^ things he has plenty
of,-

Those copies of verses no doubt at least twenty of ;

His desk is crammed full, for he always keeps
writing 'em

And reading to friends as his way of delighting
emi

I tell you this writing of verses means business, —

It makes the brain whirl in a vortex of dizziness :

You think they are scrawled in the languor of lazi-
ness —

I tell you they 're squeezed by a spasm of craziness,



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14 AT THE '* ATLANTIC DINNER

A fit half as bad as the staggering vertigCMi
That seize a poor fellow and down in the dirt he
goes!

And therefore it chimes with the word's etymology
That the sons of Apollo are great on apology,
For the writing of verse is a stm^le mysterious
And the gayest of rhymes is a matter that 's serious.
For myself, I 'm relied on by friends in extremities,
And I don't mind so much if a comfort to them it

is;
'Tis a pleasure to please, and the straw that can

tickle us
Is a source of enjoyment though slightly ridiculous.

lamupfora — something — and sincel Ve begun

with it,
I must give you a toast now before I have done

with it.
Let me pump at my wits as they pumped the Co-

chituate
That moistened — it maybe — the very last bit

you ate :
Success to our publishers, authors and editors
To our debtors good luck, — pleasant dreams to

our creditors ;
May the monthly grow yearly, till all we are grop-
ing for
Ebs reached the fulfilment we 're all of us hoping

for;
Till the bore through the tunnel — it makes me let

off a sigh



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^LUCY"* 16

To think it may possibly rain my piopheoy —

Has been panned on so often 't will ne^er provoke
again

One mild adolescent to make the old joke again ;

Till abstinent, all-go-to-meeting society

Has forgotten the sense of the word inebriety ;

Till the work that poor Hannah and Bridget and
Phillisdo

The humanized, civilized female gorillas do ;

Till the roughs, as we call them, grown loving and
dutiful.

Shall worship the true and the pure and the beau-
tiful.

And, preying no longer as tiger and vulture do.

All read the ^^ Atlantic " as persons of culture do I

"LUCY"

FOB HEB GOLDEN WEDDIKG, OCTOBEB 18, 1875

^^LuCT." — The old familiar name

Is now, as always, pleasant.
Its liquid melody the same

Alike in past or present ;
Let others call you what they will,

I know you ^11 let me use it ;
To me your name is Lucy still,

I cannot bear to lose it.

What visions of the past return
With Lucy's image blended I

What memories from the silent urn
Of gentle lives long ended!



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16 ^LUCy

Wliat dxeaniB of childhood's fleeting mom.

What stany aspirations,
That filled tiie misty days unborn

With &mcy's coruscations I

Ah, Lucy, life has swiftiy sped

F)x>m April to November ;
The summer blossoms all are shed

That you and I remember ;
But while the Tanished years we share

With mingling recollections,
How all their shadowy features wear

The hue of old affections I

Loye called you. He who stole your heart

Of sunshine half bereft us ;
Our household's garland fell apart

The morning that you left us ;
The tears of tender girlhood streamed

Through sorrow's opening sluices ;
Less sweet our garden's roses seemed,

Less blue its flower-de-luces.

That old regret is turned to smiles,

That parting sigh to greeting;


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Online LibraryOliver Wendell HolmesThe writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Volume 13 → online text (page 1 of 14)