The Voice of Oliver Wendell Homes:
A commenter points out that a short audio of Justice Holmes was recorded in 1931 for his 90th birthday, and it's available online: Listen here.
Fascinating, I had no idea his voice was recorded anywhere. It's also interesting how you can hear a little British in the educated accents of his day.

/inb4 Holmes-haters saying "I even hate his voice"
8.20.2009 10:53pm
Quixotic (mail):
Holmes was anti-Librty, and here is once instance in which it's appropriate to say: anti-American.
8.20.2009 11:01pm
At least Holmes wrote in English, Quixotic.
8.20.2009 11:10pm
This address was actually presented live over the radio as part of a large American Bar Association event celebrating the life and career of Justice Holmes. Holmes was not present at the actual festivities. Special radio equipment was brought to his house, so he could speak from the comfort of his own study. One biography of Holmes notes that Holmes' cryptic quotation at the end to a "Latin Poet" sent cerebral attorneys across the nation thumbing through their volumes to find the unnamed source. These days, it's much easier to find the answer: Virgil.

It's interesting as this shows what a large celebrity Holmes was in his day and age. He was, for several decades, the one Supreme Court Justice most people could identify. Of course, their vision of him was as the grandfatherly and munificent "Yankee from Olympus" of hagiography. What other justice has been the subject of a major Hollywood film concerning his tenure on the Court? If the American public at the time had known of the real Holmes: dour, pessimistic, and Atheist, his stature might be considerably different today.
8.20.2009 11:49pm
Is there an MP3 available? I can't read this file.
8.20.2009 11:58pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

Download Realplayer and you'll be able to play the file.
8.21.2009 12:39am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
That is wonderful. Thanks for posting the link.
8.21.2009 12:40am
Mitchell J. Freedman (mail) (www):
Outstanding find! Holmes sounded just as I thought--which still shocked me. I felt like I was transported back to the 19th Century, not 1931, though...His 19th Century sensibility came through the words he chose.

...Though I still thought I was going to hear a young Richard Attenborough say, "Goodbye Mr. Chips!"
8.21.2009 2:19am
John Hazlett Anderson (mail):

I wouldn't download RealPlayer and install it if my life depended on it. It's worse than malware.
8.21.2009 8:37am
Hieronymous is incorrect that the Latin poet quoted by Holmes is Virgil. In fact it is an anonymous fragment, from a poet known today as Pseudo Virgil.

See here.
8.21.2009 9:38am
Andrew Hyman (mail) (www):
Hieronymous, I'm not so sure that Holmes was an atheist. Did he self-identify as one? Sure, he may have rejected Judeo-Christian dogma and tradition, but that does not make one an atheist. I have trouble imagining that he would express certitude about the non-existence of God, in contrast to an agnostic's lack of certitude. Here is a Holmes quote that perhaps indicates he was no atheist:

"For the Puritan still lives in New England, thank God! And will there so long as New England lives and keeps her old renown." --- 1884


"A university is a place from which men start for the Eternal City. In the university are pictured the ideals which abide in the City of God." ---1897
And also:

"Life is a roar of bargain and battle, but in the very heart of it there arises a mystic spiritual tone that gives meaning to the whole. It transmutes the dull details into romance. It reminds us that our only but wholly adequate significance is as parts of the whole. It suggests that even while we think we are egotists we are living to ends outside ourselves." ---1911

Are you sure that he was an atheist?
8.21.2009 10:24pm

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