|Oliver Wendell Holmes in war-time Something of Holmes' gracious personality and his fastidious care for personal appearance may be traced in the portrait. The writer of Brother Jonathan, the first selection in this volume, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1809. He graduated from Harvard at the age of twenty. At twenty-one he was famous for the stiring verses, Old Ironsides, which preserved the old frigate Constitution from destruction. In 1836, after several years spent in studying medicine both in Harvard and abroad, he began practice in Boston. It is said that he made the announcement, ‘The smallest fevers thankfully received.’ Certainly he is best known as a humorist. After some twenty years he was an honored professor in the Harvard Law School and a much sought after poet for social occasions. But in 1857 his series of essays in The Atlantic Monthly, under the title The Autocrat of the breakfast table, brought him national recognition. Their wit and humor have made them the most popular essays written in America, and they have gained wide reception in England. He also wrote three novels, the best known of which is Elsie Venner. Many of his poems, such as The last Leaf and Dorothy will long continue to give him a warm place in the public heart. The poem in this volume, Brother Jonathan's lament for sister Caroline, is characteristic of Holmes' kindly disposition—striking as a piece of prophecy before the war had really begun. The last thirty-four years of his life, ending in 1894, were filled with a large variety of literary work.|
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