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cessful studies in fiction and have given and will continue to give a world of pleasure. If A Mortal Antipathy falls short of the excellence attained by the other two, it has at least the virtue of having been written by a man who could not be uninteresting, no matter what was his age or his humor.
Elsie Venner is a study in prenatal influences. The motive is gruesome enough. A young woman, bitten by a snake, transmits certain tendencies thus derived to her child. The subject was better adapted to Hawthorne's pen than to the Autocrat's. A man of science knows too much. Imagination is hampered. “What is' and 'What might be' are in perpetual conflict. A poet (such as Hawthorne essentially was) throws science to the winds. Holmes goes at the problem in a brisk, businesslike way.
Hawthorne would have treated it as a mystery, not dragging it into broad light.
Elsie Venner was dramatized and staged. Holmes went to see it. What he thought of the play at the time is not recorded, but in after years he pronounced it bad, very bad.'
The Guardian Angel also deals with the question of heredity. The problem of how many of our ancestors come out in us, and just how they make themselves felt, was always fascinating to Holmes. There are no snakes in this story to account for *Myrtle Hazard's peculiarities, but something quite as enigmatical, namely, an Indian. One character in The Guardian Angel has come near to achieving
immortality — Gifted Hopkins, the minor poet, whose name was an inspiration. He represents a harmless and much-abused race. The successful in his own craft are even more impatient with him than the mockers among the laity, probably because Gifted, in the innocence of his heart, desires to have his verses read, and sends them to eminent poets under the mistaken impression that they will be welcome. Holmes confessed that he had been hard on Gifted Hopkins.
The memoir of John Lothrop Motley, in addition to being a formal record of personal history and literary achievement, is a spirited defence of a proud, a gifted, and (in the biographer's opinion) an ill-used man, a man who, after years of successful public service, was needlessly and wantonly humbled and mortified. Hence the note of fine indignation which vibrates through the narrative.
The life of Emerson contributed by Holmes to the series of American Men of Letters' was a surprise to the public. To call for judgment on the most transcendental of New England authors by the least transcendental, to invite the poet of •The One-Hoss Shay' to pronounce on the poet of 'The Sphinx,' seems an odd if not a humorous performance. Whoever suggested it did a wise thing, and the result of the suggestion was a useful and agreeable piece of biographical writing.
The work is thoroughly done, even to an analysis of the individual essays. Who will, may
view Emerson through the Autocrat's eyes. They had a close bond in their liking for the tangible facts of life. "Too much,' says Holmes, ‘has been 'made of Emerson's mysticism. He was an intel·lectual rather than an emotional mystic, and withal 'a cautious one. He never let go the string of his balloon.'
That we read Holmes on Emerson less for the sake of Emerson than for the sake of Holmes suggests the possibility that we read all the Autocrat's books in the same spirit. Without question his work is of value in the degree in which it reveals its author. He could not be impersonal, he could not be dramatic. But he was fortunate in that he could always be himself. He was one of the most delightful of men. And being likewise one of the friendliest of writers he is most successful when the form of his books, like The Autocrat and Over the Teacups, permits him, as it were, to bring his easy chair into the centre of the room while we gather about him anxious to have him begin to talk, hoping that he will be in no haste to leave off.