Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes - Vol. 1

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes - Vol. 1

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes - Vol. 1

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes - Vol. 1

Excerpt

This volume has been written in delayed and partial fulfillment of an obligation which I assumed before World War II. At that time Mr. John G. Palfrey, the executor of Mr. Justice Holmes, asked me to prepare a biography of the Justice and offered to make the Justice's personal papers available to me. Mr. Palfrey had already done much to facilitate a biographer's task, for he had secured and had made copies of many of the Justice's letters to European and American friends. When, after the War, I commenced my work as biographer Mr. Palfrey had died and I had to proceed without the benefit of his guidance and advice. Continuing the task which he had so industriously begun, I succeeded, through the coöperation of others, in procuring further letters of the Justice's. I also endeavored to bring some order into the scattering of personal papers which had come into Mr. Palfrey's hands when Holmes had died in 1935.

Had I attempted to write a foreword before I began to write the biography I believe that I would have described a volume of much larger dimensions than this. I did not then contemplate the possibility of publishing as a separate volume a portion of the whole work covering such a brief span of time in Holmes's life as does this volume. Innocence often has a wisdom that is lost with knowledge, and perhaps I have learned so much about my problem as biographer that I have lost the judgment essential in an author. Two elements, however, have combined to convince me that Holmes's earliest years deserve the close attention and separate treatment which I have here given them. His years of education were years in which his convictions and his doubts took their per-

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