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[228] Then quite unexpectedly, when he was forty-eight, an age when most men shrink from any new departure disconcerting to their indurated habits, he revealed himself in an entirely new aspect. The Atlantic monthly was started in 1857 with Lowell as its editor; and to its early numbers Holmes contributed The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table. Lowell had insisted as a condition precedent to his acceptance of the editorship that Holmes should be a constant contributor, awakening him ‘from a kind of lethargy in which’ he was ‘half-slumbering.’

Much of the vogue of the new magazine was due to the novel flavour of Holmes's series of papers; and he was persuaded to follow up his first success with kindred volumes entitled The Professor at the Breakfast-Table (1860), The Poet at the Breakfast-Table (1872), and Over the Teacups (1890). For the same monthly he wrote many disconnected essays, some of which he sent forth in 1863 under the appropriate name Soundings from the Atlantic. In the several volumes of the Breakfast Table series there is a thin thread of story and the obligatory wedding winds them up at the end; and in his three attempts at fiction, Elsie Venner (1861), The Guardian Angel (1867), and A Mortal Antipathy (1885), the thread is only a little strengthened and there is no overt abandonment of the leisurely method of the essayist. From the telling of fictitious biographies to the writing of the lives of two of his friends was only a step; and he published a memoir of John Lothrop Motley in 1878 and a study of Emerson in 1884.

It was in 1883, when he was seventy-four, that he resigned his professorship; and it was in 1886, when he was seventy-seven, that he paid his second visit to Europe. He spent the summer mainly in England, and in London he was ‘the lion of the season.’ It was almost exactly half a century since his first voyage across the ocean; and on his return from this second voyage he wrote out a pleasantly personal narrative of Our hundred days in Europe .At intervals, for nearly sixty years, he had sent forth volumes of verse; the latest to appear (in 1888) was aptly entitled Before the Curfew,—as Longfellow had called his final volume In the Harbor and Whittier had felicitously styled his last book At Sundown. On 7 October, 1894, Holmes died at the ripe age of eighty-five, unusual even

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