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[86] be more felicitous than his delineation of Emerson as “an iconoclast who took down our idols so gently that it seemed like an act of worship.” The Civil War on the one side and some tilts against theological prejudices, on the other, had the effect of throwing him in later life toward the party of attack, and, as almost always happens in such cases, this seemed a source of fresh life and happiness to him. His course of development was thus somewhat opposite to that of Lowell, who took his radicalism first and in a tolerably undiluted form, becoming afterward more conservative; while the even nature of Longfellow, tempted into no extremes, remained in much the same attitude during his whole life.

In regard to Holmes's intellectual life, it is a rare thing for a man nearly fifty years old to strike out a wholly new career; and this doubtless happened to Holmes on the publication of the “Autocrat of the breakfast table.” This is all the more remarkable from the fact that he had begun a similar venture long before without attracting much attention. It is common to say that the success of the Autocrat chapters

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O. W. Holmes (2)
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