[Oliver Wendell Holmes; Walter Scott] Autograph Letter Signed OWHolmes to David Douglas, publisher and editor, a fine letter responding to the latter's gift of his editions of Scott's 'Journal' and 'Familiar Letters'.

Author: 
Oliver Wendell Holmes [August 29, 1809 – October 7, 1894), American physician, poet, and polymath based in Boston]
Publication details: 
[Headed] 296 Beacon Street. Boston, 5 Dec. 1893.
£950.00
SKU: 23403

Four pages, 12mo, good condition, tipped on to page removed from David Douglas's personal copy of his Familiar Letters of Sir Walter Scott (1894) (see my #23402). Text: The two beautiful volumes of Scott's Letters reached me [presumably pre-publication] some days ago, and I have found time to look into them and read many of the letters[.] Like alll the rest of the world, I find them full of all those delightful characteristics which run through his life as they do through all his works. No wonder that in the midst of all the changes of taste and in spite of the attractions of new formas and fashions of story telling, Scott still keeps his place as the most creative the genuine, wholesome painter of life as it has been in the ages we love to read about better, I think, than we should love to live them over again. | Too many of the novel-writers of our time tell of things which had better have been left untold, especially some of the French novelists who have furnished our people and I fear the British readers no less, with a good deal of their reading. What a fall, for instance, from Scott to Zola and his imitators! What an ascent it was from the coarseness and often shamelessness of Swift, of Smollett, of Fielding! You remember the guarded terms in which Carlyle praised him for his many qualities but because he did not come as a reformer, like John Knox, or a fault-finder with the vices and follies of his time, like the great dogmatist himself, did not fully recognise the great regenerating influence of his healthy mind on the literature of his own time and all the generations that have succeeded it. These letters show him as we love to think of him, one of the truest, simplest, sincerest, bravest, most human of men. Scotland had leaned too heavily on Burns, who mingled with his glorious quality too much that tended to [degrade?] their record. But the good and noble Sir Walter has left nothing in his writings of his life which posterity has to be ashamed of. | I do not want to think we are ungrateful to the writers of genius who have pleased and instructed us and kept up the best tradition of a literature which in the hands of Scott was pure, elevating, inspring. So it always gratifies me when I hear one whom I meet, - perhaps an old reader of Scott, who worships him as [we?] did of old; perhaps a young reader whose pure taste has never been vitiated by ill directed selection of his models, who finds in Scott the best companion of the hours he can spare from his graver duty. | I shall keep the volumes by me [...].