Manual Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes

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The poem, "Old Ironside," was a great success, both for Holmes as a poet and in saving the frigate.

Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes

However, his medical studies left Holmes little leisure for literature for the next 25 years. That changed, however, with the publication of an animated series of essays in the newly founded Atlantic Monthly in and , and afterwards published in book form as The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table Not only did these essays help secure the magazine's success, but also brought Holmes widespread popularity. Holmes as an essayist has been compared with all of the great writers in that genre, from Michel de Montaigne to Charles Lamb, but his compositions are closer to conversational than to formal prose.

Later volumesThe Professor at the Breakfast-Table , The Poet at the Breakfast-Table , and Over the Teacups extend the autocrat's delightfully egotistical talks, mainly of Boston and New England, in which Holmes was, by turns, brilliantly witty and extremely serious. Though undistinguished as literary documents, they are important early studies of that "mysterious borderland which lies between physiology and psychology," and they demonstrate that Holmes was advanced in his conception of the causes and progress of neuroses and mental disease.

Holmes died quietly after falling asleep in the afternoon of Sunday, October 7, As his son, the U. He simply ceased to breathe. The Common Law. Oliver Wendell Holmes. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. In more than opinions, he delineated an impressive legal philosophy that profoundly influenced American jurisprudence, particularly in the area of civil liberties and judicial restraint.

At the same time, his abilities as a prose stylist earned him a position among the literary elite.

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Showing Rating details. Sort order. Who among us who has seen Louis Calhern on the big screen and Alfred Lunt in the Hallmark Hall of Fame teleplay and hasn't got Holmes fixed in their minds. More remarkable was that Holmes began his Supreme Court career at the age of The Grandma Moses of law.

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Holmes was already the carrier of a distinguished name. The first Oliver Wendell Holmes, noted physician and part time poet, he authored that ode to the USS Constitution, was famous enough in the 19th century. His oldest boy and namesake was born in in Boston of the patrician class known as Brahmins. A great many of that kind thought their body waste didn't stink, but also many like Holmes had a sense of class responsibility.

He was always interested in the law as a profession but his people were the bedrock of abolitionism in the Union.

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Holmes was wounded at Ball's Bluff and at Chancellorsville, but he made it through. Holmes went to Harvard and Harvard Law as was expected, but the actual practice of it was not his cup of tea. Had Holmes never gotten a judicial appointment his fame and strictly in legal circles would have rested on his acclaimed work of commentary on the English Common Law.

A man who can write like this belongs on the bench. So he was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court in and eventually becoming its Chief Justice by the time the new century rolled around.

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Holmes may have been 60, but he was vigorous of mind and body until almost the end. He went on to an aged court that saw many changes. He would like to have become Chief Justice, but it wasn't in the cards for him. It was in dissent that Holmes made his greatest contributions.

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He fought the idea that social darwinism is the natural order of things and ordained by our Constitution. In one opinion he made it clear that the Constitution was not there to propigate Herbert Spencer's Social Statistics. He also in dissent fought for the rights of unpopular opinions to be heard. But with a bit of common sense for he also spoke for the court authoring that popular phrase about free speech not giving someone the right to yell fire in a crowded theater.

They had no children but were devoted especially as her health deteriorated faster than his. She died in Holmes retired in and it was like if the Washington Monument had retired, such a beloved institution as he had become.


He died in Sheldon Novick's book keeps the legend of Holmes intact, but he does become more real and approachable in this fine work. He became Interesting But Not Fascinating A well written synopsis of the long life of a Civil War officer, a lawyer, author, and long time jurist.

I would recommend reading "The Great Dissent" to get a fuller view of Justice Holmes' evolution as an arbiter of constitutional principles and liberties, especially the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment. The author here touched only briefly on opinions written by Holmes that require far more explication to be more fully appreciated. And he completely lef Interesting But Not Fascinating A well written synopsis of the long life of a Civil War officer, a lawyer, author, and long time jurist.

And he completely left out the very important chance meeting and discussion between Holmes and Judge Learned Hand on a long train ride which set the Supreme Court Justice to thinking more expensively about the First Amendment. Jan 25, John rated it really liked it.

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  • HONORABLE JUSTICE: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes by Sheldon M. Novick | Kirkus Reviews!
  • This was a very readable and informative bio of Mr. Interesting observations of his times, including the somewhat archaic state of the legal profession when he started, and the conservative views of the SC justices in his tenure on the high court. We have come a long way. Jun 03, Glenn Robinson rated it really liked it. A very thorough biography of one of the leading legal experts in American history.

    Judge Holmes' life experienced some of the most major changes in the history of the US. Shot 5 times in the Civil War fighting to save the Union and end slavery, travelling throughout Europe to meet leaders and discuss legal systems, tutoring Japanese students of law who went on to work to create a new system in Japan and experience the technological changes at the turn of the century-cars, phones and planes.