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[226] will, reading in books rather than through them. ‘I like books,’ he told us later; ‘I was born and bred among them and have the easy feeling when I get into their presence, that a stable boy has among horses.’ When he was fifteen he was sent to Phillips Academy at Andover; and at sixteen he entered Harvard, graduating in 1829, eight years after Emerson and nine before Lowell. Among his classmates were James Freeman Clarke1 and S. F. Smith, the author of America (1832). He wrote freely for the college papers, both in prose and verse, preserving in his collected works only a very few of his earlier humorous lyrics.

Upon his graduation he hesitated as to his profession, spending a year at the Dana Law School without awakening any liking for the law, and confessing later that ‘the seduction of verse-writing’ had made this period ‘less profitable than it should have been.’ Yet it was while he was supposed to be studying law, and when he was just twenty-one, that he wrote the first of his poems to achieve an immediate and lasting popularity. This was the fiery lyric on Old Ironsides, protesting against the breaking up of the frigate Constitution, victor in the naval duel with the Guerriere. The glowing stanzas were written in a white heat of indignation against the proposed degradation of a national glory; they were published in 1830 in the Boston Advertiser; they were copied in newspapers all over the country; they were reprinted on broadsides; and they accomplished their purpose of saving the ship, which did not go out of commission for more than half a century after Holmes had rhymed his fervent appeal for its preservation.

At last he turned from the law to medicine, the profession of his grandfather. He studied for a while at the private school of Dr. James Jackson; and then he crossed the Atlantic to profit by the superior instruction to be had in Paris. Half a century later he recorded:

I was in Europe about two years and a half, from April, 1833, to October, 1835. I sailed in the packet ship Philadelphia from New York to Portsmouth, where we arrived after a passage of twenty-four days. . . . I then crossed the channel to Havre, from

1 See Book II, Chap. VIII.

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