The Arena

Not Available
The Arena, by Various

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Arena, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
Title: The Arena Volume 4, No. 20, July, 1891
Author: Various
Editor: B.O. Flower
Release Date: October 22, 2006 [EBook #19603]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier, Richard J. Shiffer and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

No. XX.
JULY, 1891.

[Illustration: (signed) Very truly Yours, Oliver Wendell Holmes.]

To the year 1809, the world is very much indebted for a band of notable recruits to the ranks of literature and science, statesmanship and military renown. One need mention only a few names to establish that fact, and grand names they are, for the list includes Darwin, Gladstone, Erastus Wilson, John Hill Burton, Manteuffel, Count Beust, Lord Houghton, Alfred Tennyson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Each of these has played an important part in the world's history, and impressed the age with a genius that marks an epoch in the great department of human activity and progress. The year was pretty well advanced, and the month of August had reached its 29th day, when the wife of Dr. Abiel Holmes presented the author of "The American Annals" with a son who was destined to take his place in the front line of poets, thinkers, and essayists. The babe was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the centre of a Puritan civilization, which could scarcely have been in touch and harmony with the emphasized Unitarianism emanating from Harvard. But Abiel Holmes was a genial, generous-hearted man, and despite the severity of his religious belief, contrived to live on terms of a most agreeable character with his neighbors. A Yale man himself, and the firm friend of his old professor, the president of that institution, who had given him his daughter Mary to wed (she died five years after her marriage), we may readily believe that for a time, Harvard University, then strongly under the sway of the Unitarians, had little fascination for him. But his kindly nature conquered the repugnance he may have felt, and he soon got on well with all classes of the little community which surrounded him. By his first wife he had no children. But five, three daughters and two sons, blessed his union with Sarah Wendell, the accomplished daughter of the Hon. John Wendell, of Boston. We may pass briefly over the early years of Oliver Wendell Holmes. He was educated at the Phillips Academy at Exeter, and subsequently entered Harvard University, where he was graduated, with high honors, in 1829, and belonged to that class of young fellows who, in after life, greatly distinguished themselves. Some of his noblest poems were written in memory of that class, such as "Bill and Joe," "A Song of Twenty-nine," "The Old Man Dreams," "Our Sweet Singer," and "Our Banker," all of them breathing love and respect for the boys with whom the poet studied and matriculated. Young Holmes was destined for the law, but Chitty and Blackstone apparently had little charm for him, for after a year's trial, he abandoned the field and took up medicine. His mind could not have been much impressed with statutes, for all the time that he was supposed to be conning over abstruse points in jurisprudence, he was sending to the printers some of the cleverest and most waggish contributions which have fallen from his pen. The Collegian,--the university journal of those days,--published most of these, and though no name was attached to the screeds, it was fairly well known that Holmes was the author. The companion writers in the Collegian were Simmons, who wrote over the signature of "Lockfast"; John O. Sargent, poet and essayist, whose nom de plume was "Charles Sherry"; Robert Habersham, the "Mr. Airy" of the group; and that clever young trifler, Theodore Snow, who delighted the readers of the periodical with the works of "Geoffrey La Touche." Of these, of course, Holmes was the life and soul, and though sixty years have passed away since he enriched the columns of the Collegian with the fruits of his muse, more than half of the pieces survive, and are deemed good enough to hold a place beside his maturer productions. "Evening of a Sailor," "The Meeting of the Dryads," and "The Spectre Pig,"--the latter in the vein of Tom Hood at his best,--will be remembered as among those in the collection which may be read to-day with the zest, appreciation, and delight which they inspired more than half a century
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 69
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.