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justified were it only for the pathetic figure of Little Boston, to say nothing of Iris, the young Marylander, the Model of all the Virtues, and the Koh-i-noor. It is something, too, to have seen the landlady's daughter appropriately wedded to an undertaker, and the young fellow called John also married, and in possession of one of them little 'articles' for which he had longed in the days of bachelorhood, to wit, a boy of his own.
The Poet at the Breakfast-Table, a storehouse of delightful inventions, proved the least attractive of the three to the public. But all of Holmes's old-time skill returned when he wrote Over the Teacups, his last book. The framework is simple but attractive, the characters have genuine vitality and pique the reader by suggesting that they must have been drawn from life. The Dictator is an old friend. Number Five, the Tutor, the Counsellor, the two Annexes, Number Seven, the Mistress and Delilah are agreeable acquaintances, and the misfortune is ours if we do not know them as well as the figures of The Autocrat.
All these books are personal, known as such, and deriving half their charm from the reader's ability to recognize Holmes himself under various disguises. In Our Hundred Days in Europe the author speaks in propria persona, and the volume may be described as a big printed letter addressed to the writer's friends, who, loving him as they do, will rejoice in his happiness and his triumphs.
The Autocrat's poetical works contain a generous measure of what elderly bards call their juvenilia.' We all understand the term. It means verses which the bards in question would gladly have left in the solitude of old magazines, and which admirers insist on dragging into light, poems that help to stock the school readers and speakers, and which, because the copyright has expired by the unjust law of the land, compilers of anthologies seize on and parade as representative.
That Holmes suffers but little by the persistence of his juvenilia' and 'early verses' is due to their frankly comic and grotesque character. The reader is spared faded sentiment, and he is heartily amused by the ingenuity of the conceits, the sparkle of the rhymes, the satire, the epigrammatic wit. There is mirth still in that brilliant essay in verbal gymnastics ‘The Comet' (a dyspeptic's dream), in ‘The September Gale' (a boy's lament for his Sunday breeches, blown from the line one fatal wash-day and never recovered), in “The "Spectre Pig' (a parody on Dana’s ‘Buccaneer '), in The Height of the Ridiculous,'' Daily Trials,' • The Treadmill Song,' 'The Dorchester Giant,
«The Music-Grinders,' and the heartlessly funny poem entitled ' My Aunt.'
Holmes was the readiest and the happiest of occasional' poets. No one was so apt as he in meeting the needs of the moment, in brightening with rhymed felicities the banquet, the class reunion, or in greeting the distinguished stranger. He had rare skill in fitting the word to the audience; it was impossible for him to be dull, and being good-humored, it was difficult for him to say 'No'when committees were importunate. Of his three hundred and twenty-seven poems, nearly one half are poems of occasion. He wrote th greeting to Charles Dickens, to the Prince Imperial, a poem for the Moore celebration, for the dedication of the Stratford Fountain, for the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Harvard College. His poems for the Class of 1829, forty-four in number, reflect the history of the times as well as the mood of the writer. The most famous of them is 'The Boys' (1859). Its motive, that boy-nature never quite dies in the man, and its defiant optimism were calculated to have rejuvenating effect on a group of classmates then thirty years out of college.
This art requires a quality of mind akin to that of the improvisatore. Holmes was Boston's poet laureate. His power to put an idea into self-singing measure saved the battle-ship ‘Constitution,' and did much to save the Old South' Church.
In his finer work there is a delicious blending of thoughtfulness and humorous fancy. Only Holmes could have given the lines on ‘Dorothy 'Q.’their most original touch, -asking what would have been the result for him had prospective greatgrandmother said 'No' instead of ‘Yes':
Should I be I, or would it be
One tenth another to nine tenths me?
Half the pathos in that fragile and beautiful piece of workmanship, ‘The Last Leaf,' derives from the humor, from the blending of laughter and tears. Even in the exquisite piece, attributed to Iris, ‘Under the Violets,' a description of a young girl's burial-place, the lighter touch is not wholly wanting :
When, turning round their dial-track,
Eastward the lengthening shadows pass,
clad in black,
His highest flights are represented by “The “Chambered Nautilus' and 'Musa,' by the quaint and fanciful ‘Homesick in Heaven,' and by the simple and pathetic little lament entitled 'Martha.' His claim to the name of poet must rest on these, on his fine setting of the romance of Agnes Surriage, and on his tributes to Bryant and to Everett.
Holmes wrote three novels. Although readable, original, based on a thorough comprehension of the scenes described, the life, antecedents, prejudices, habits, and manners of the people portrayed, nevertheless they strike one as being experiments in fiction rather than true novels. They may be classed with similar attempts by J. G. Holland and Bayard Taylor. Each of these writers was a practised craftsman. The trained man of letters can write a volume which he, his friends, his publishers, the public, and many fair-minded critics agree in calling a novel. But the book in question does not become a novel from having been cast in the orthodox form. It resembles a novel more nearly than it resembles anything else, nevertheless it is not a veritable novel. Any reader can feel it, though he may not be able to say just where the difference lies, or how there happens to be a difference. Many a writer, it would seem, has only to continue his efforts to arrive finally at the making of a true novel. He falls short because his mind is working in an unwonted medium rather than because he lacks inventive ability.
If Elsie Venner and The Guardian Angel fail of being true novels, they are at least highly suc