letters of Holmes
, one is struck with their far less brilliant and scintillating tone and, on the other hand, with their comparative evenness and equanimity.
Never by any combination of circumstances do they exhibit jealousy, suspicion, or a petty solicitude for personal fame, though they may be said, on the other hand, sometimes to verge upon the trite or even commonplace.
Yet they often have most felicitous touches, as where, for instance, Longfellow
speaks of “The old dull pain that runs through all of Hawthorne
's writings,” or describes Captain
— as “a fresh-ooking, mellow, drum-voiced Englishman,” and adds “we all look baked and dried in comparison;” or suggests that “a charming essay might be written on the Perfect Stranger
,” meaning the man who is always writing to you “to turn his grindstone.”
He sometimes gets very tired of people who send him large folios of poetry for “his private judgment,” and once meditates on “the great importance it is to a literary man to remain unknown till he gets his work fairly done.”