Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/207

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195
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

I humbly confess, does not quite touch me as it should, because it seems too ingenious. Like Blanco White's famous sonnet, it rather tempts me, at least, to think what reply I could make to the argument. But the Last Leaf might be made into the text of all that I wish to say. The exquisite pathos of the verse about the mossy marbles linked to the fun of the irresistible though sinful 'grin' is the typical instance of Holmes's special combination of qualities. He is one of the writers who are destined to live long—longer, it may be, than some of greater intellectual force and higher imagination, because he succeeds so admirably in flavouring the milk of human kindness with an element which is not acid, and yet gets rid of the mawkishness which sometimes makes good morality terribly insipid. This biography, in spite of the scantiness of material, falls in at every point with the impression derived from the books, and leaves us with the satisfactory conviction that we have no errata to correct in our previous judgment.