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[103]

It must be remembered that Holmes was constitutionally conservative, and the element of whim came in to make him even more so in appearance than he actually was. His favorite character, Little Boston, was a fanciful exaggeration of his own innocent cockneyism. In his day Beacon Street was still precisely what he called it, “The sunny street that holds the sifted few,” and young men and maidens in good society carried on their courtships while walking round the Common or down the long path or on the mill-dam. “Whom does Arabella walk with now?” was a question occasionally heard in careful circles of maiden aunts. Holmes did not really desire any larger social arena, and moreover got all the rural life he wanted through his summer visits in Pittsfield. He was conservative on the slavery question until the Civil War, hated quacks and fanatics with honest and unflinching hostility, and it was only the revolt of his kindly nature against Calvinism which threw him finally on the side of progress. The Saturday Club with all its attractions did not lead him in that direction. It brought together an agreeable set of cultivated men, but none of

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