Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1856. Steel engravings. Unrecorded Reprint of 1849 Copyrighted Edition. Blind-stamped cloth. ASSOCIATION COPY SIGNED & INSCRIBED by the AUTHOR, Oliver Wendell Holmes, to "Joseph Roby, With the love of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Dec. 25th, 1856" on a front blank flyleaf; PLUS a further INSCRIPTION "For M o t h e r / O.W.H., Jr. / No. 4"--that is: by Oliver Wendell Holmes, JUNIOR [presumably the great future jurist] on a fine engraving (4 1/4" H x 3 1/2" W [c.1624?]) signed below engraving in the plate using the name of Dutch artist "Berghem / Dec 23 [d]" (aka Nicolaes Berchem: c.1624 - 1683), said engraving depicting a goatherd with broad hat and staff walking away from the viewer accompanied by a billy goat; engraving affixed as an apparent bookplate to the first blank endpaper; PLUS another PRESENTATION with Inscription on the next page [the blank recto of the frontispiece engraving], which states: "Dr. James Palmer / In Memoriam. / Mr. C.R. / Trinity Sunday - / 1860"; 12mo (7 x 4 3/4" / 17.5 x 11 cm); original blind-stamped brown publisher's embossed Morroco with spine lettered in gilt, raised bands & blindstamped circular pattern on front cover, illustrated with stipple-engraved frontispiece portrait of Oliver Wendell Holmes [plus tissue guard], marbled endpapers, all edges gilt, [i-v], vi,"'The Author to the Publishers, January 13th, 1849," [vii-x], [xi-xii] Dedication + 286 pages. Good / None. Item #6306
In Brief: this is a stereotyped likely unrecorded third impression of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes' expanded edition of his Poems (1849), now republished in a then fancy Morocco edition during 1857.
Though worn, the Poems' importance appears to be enhanced by three Associations: 1) one which we can Authenticate by Doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes given with "love" to the young son of a dear medical colleague; 2) the other possibly by the Doctor's son, Wendell, Junior to his mother [which we are unable to authenticate because it is printed, a small sample, and we have no comparables by O.W.H., Jr. during his teenage]; 3) The third inscription, because it mentions another doctor, and follows closely on the timing of the prior December / Christmas, 1857, inscriptions, suggests other medical associates of Dr. Holmes.. connected via his young friend, Joseph Roby.
Inscribed by the author on the front flyleaf, "Joseph Roby, With the love of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Dec. 25th, 1856." This Joseph Roby was the then young grandson of Joseph Roby (a participant in the Boston Tea Party).
Re; Joseph Roby. "'That friend of mine" was the late Joseph Roby, once a Fellow Teacher with me in the Medical School of Dartmouth College, afterward professor in the University of Maryland. He was a man of keen intellect & warm affection, but out of the range of his official duties seen of few & understood only by a very limited number of intimates. I used to refer to my wise friend so often, and he was so rarely visible, that some doubted if he was any such individual, or if he were not of the impersonal nature of Sairy Gamp's Mrs. Harris. I remember Emerson was one of those smiling skeptics." Note in "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," Riverside Press, 2 vols., 1895; vol. 2, pg 364. Said "Mrs. Harris" was the imaginary figure often invoked by Dickens' character "Sairy Gamp" in his novel Martin Chuzzlewit.
Beneath the inscription is mounted an etching of a goatherd from the rear and his goat, with a notation in the plate, "For M o t h e r, O.W.H., Jr. / No. 4." This may be by Dr. Holmes' son, "Oliver, Wendell, Holmes, Jr." Again, we are unable to authenticate this printed early signature. The image is an etching by the Netherlandish painter and engraver Nicolaes Berchem (c.1624-1683) here with his name penned below the engraving as "Berghem / Dec 2 3[d?]" possibly also by O.W.H., Junior.
If this engraving "For M o t h e r" was affixed and presented by JUNIOR (born March 8, 1841) with the date of "December 23d", , he would then have been fifteen years old. This gift came at a challenging time for Mrs. Holmes and the family.
In 1848, Mrs. Amelia Jackson Holmes had inherited the old paternal Wendell estate in Pittsfield, Western Massachusetts. Known as "Canoe Meadow," it became the Oliver Wendell Holmes' family summer home for the next seven years. Not only was it a beloved family retreat during long summers, the good doctor--who had given up private practice in 1849--loved to rusticate there. He chopped wood, fished, enjoyed driving a "flying" horse, and planted an avenue of trees. [Might he have also raised goats? We also wonder whether Joseph Roby and his physician father may have been guests?]
When away from Boston or "Canoe Meadow," Dr. Holmes also engaged in wearisome, though lucrative, lecturing on Lyceum circuits. Painfully, however, due to mounting maintenance expenses, the 280-acre estate was put up for sale in May, 1856.
During this time, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes was also deeply engaged with the Fireside Literary Group (among them: James Russell Lowell, John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Harriet Beecher Stowe). They founded The Atlantic Monthly in 1857, which Dr. Holmes named. Its first issues also contained unsigned popular essays by him entitled "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," which were later collected and published in 1858.
Near the turn of the 1857-58 year, a modest section of "Canoe Meadow" with the main house, which Mrs. Holmes had retained, was also sold. No doubt, the Christmas of 1856 thus became one of painful memories caused by the sales of family property, as well as new hopes, for the Holmes' family planned to move in 1857 from their old Boston home on Montgomery Place to 21 Charles Street.
One suspects that the etching of the goatherd with billygoat--with their backs turned to the viewer--which Wendell, Junior, had given to his "M o t h e r" may have been intended to artistically recall the loss of the family's and her country estate (perhaps also his father's rustication)?
Young Wendell, Junior would soon enter Harvard when sixteen and a half. His mother, Mrs. Amelia Jackson Holmes (born October, 20, 1843) remained a cheerful and bright mainstay of the family. She died much later in February, 1888, at the age of seventy.
On the blank recto of the frontispiece with the engraving of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, we find this inscription near the top of the page: "Dr. James Palmer / In Memoriam. / Mr. C.R. / Trinity Sunday - / 1860". We have not identified either Dr. James Palmer or "Mr. C.R." In 1860, Trinity Sunday fell on April 8th, eight weeks after Easter Sunday.
We venture but cannot confirm this possible sequence of associations:
1) Young 15-year old O.W.H., JUNIOR gave the latest book of his father's Poems as a Christmas present to his "M O T H E R" on 23 December just before Christmas, 1856, a period painful to the family though technically a joyous holiday.
2) She, in turn, gave the book to her husband, who regifted it [on his and the family's behalf?] to the young son, Joseph, Junior, of his dear old fellow teacher, Dr. Joseph Roby, of Dartmouth medical days.
3) Three years later, young Joseph had given the book to "C.R[oby?]" who presented it "In Memoriam" to a deceased physician in his [and Dr. Holmes' broad?] circle named "Dr. James Palmer." We haven't been able to identify this physician among the associates of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes but conjecture that "C.R." may have been a "Roby" and close relative of young Joseph.
RARE ASSOCIATION COPY with a VERY UNCOMMON unrecorded variant reprint dated 1856 in Roman numerals. Similar deluxe leather bindings of the Poems were limited to five copies.
Condition: Tight copy with considerable scuffing to joints and extremities; some darkening to contents, light staining to prelims; about Good. The inscriptions are all clear. We note a tiny clean nick in the front endpaper's edge near the goatherd's right side.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809 – 1894) was an American physician, poet, and polymath based in Boston. A member of the Fireside Poets, he was acclaimed by his peers as one of the best writers of the day. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (serialized in The Atlantic Monthly 1857ff; published in 1858).
He was also an important medical reformer initiating important work with the stethoscope and preventive measures for deadly puerperal fever that afflicted women in childbed. In addition to his work as an author and poet, Holmes also served as a physician, professor, lecturer and inventor and, although he never practiced, he had also received formal training in law.
The Joseph Roby to whom Dr. Holmes presented this volume is mentioned in The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858).
BAL 8753 unrecorded variant; likely a third impression reusing the plates from the second. Date on title page reads "M DCCC LVI" [1856 & NOT 1849 written in Roman lettering]. "Copyright page states "Damrell & Moore, Printers, Boston," NOT "George A. Curtis; and/or, Thurston, Torry & Co."
The sequence of additional poems ("The Only Daughter' [pp.182ff.], "Lexington" [pp.186ff.], "The Island Hunting Song" [pp. 189ff.], "Questions and Answers" [pp.191ff.], and "Song" [pp.193ff.] aka "A Song for the Centennial Celebration of Harvard College, 1836" may differ in sequence in this edition from those described.
References: Currier Tilton, Bibliography of Oliver Wendell Holmes, pp.43ff. Liva Baker, The Justice From Beacon Hill, The Life and Times of Oliver Wendell Homes [Junior], (1991), pp.65-72. Miriam Rossiter Small, Oliver Wendell Holmes, (1962), pp.67-73. Eleanor M. [ROBY] Tilton, Amiable Autocrat, A Biography of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, pp.203-246. One wonders if both Currier and Eleanor Tilton had Roby family roots? Curiously, neither mention the Roby family connection in their works.