“..the secret isolated joy…” Letters of Andrew Inglis Clark and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr (1890-1905)

If Andrew Inglis Clark had enjoyed the long life of his friend Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, Australians would know about their Constitution, Australia would be a republic with an Australian head of State.


Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr was the greatest Supreme Court Justice in American History. He served on the Supreme Court for 30 years from 1902-1932. For Holmes, A. Inglis Clark was an equal and someone to be envied and admired. Both served on the Supreme Court of their states/colonies during the time of their correspondence. But Clark had served as Attorney General and a Government Minister, had designed an electoral system and argued cases before the moribund Privy Council in London. For A. Inglis Clark, Holmes embodied the nobility of the Civil War - the cause, to end slavery - was worth dying for. Holmes embodied something that the Australian colonies had yet to discover, a nobility and maturity "touched with fire" and blood. Holmes infected Clark with the idea that the new Australian nation should not be like Canada, a simple alliance of provinces, but an organic whole in which the smallest colonies and communities would have representation at the most powerful national assembly.

As Judges, Holmes and Clark strove for clarity and understanding. Their judgements were written for every man. Law was not a static, black letter entity but a living, breathing experience that belonged to each generation. As the writer of the Australian Constitution Clark brought this gift to his thoughtful combination of the principles of Westminster "responsible government" with the organic soul of the American Republic.

The Clark family was also an alter ego for Fanny and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Riven by rheumatic fever Fanny Holmes could never have children. Grace and Andrew Clark were blessed with eight, rambunctuous Tasmanian children - all successful and all enjoyable, energy driven and full of life. There is no proof that there was a great empathy between Grace Clark and Fanny Holmes other than the fact that the summer stays of the Clarks with the Holmes at Beverley Farms were memorable for all. Fanny Holmes became a master landscape embroider in the Japanese style. Much misunderstood and perhaps melancholy for much of her life, Oscar Wilde owned one of her art works. The wives always remembered each other in the letters of their husbands.

Most of all the letters between Clark and Holmes illuminate the great birthing bond that exists between Australia and the United States.

The attached pdf is the first draft of a book to be released later in 2024. It is a special gift to working papers subscribers as a momento of your support over many years. Thank you.