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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Chapter 1: Longfellow as a classic (search)
e. Such statistics could be easily multiplied; indeed, it will be readily admitted that no American poet can be compared to Longfellow in the place occupied by his poems in the English market. Readily admitting that this is not the sole or highest standard, it must at least be recognized as one of the side tests by which that standard may be determined. Some occasional expressions of distrust as to Longfellow's permanent fame have been based wholly upon his virtues. Many still cling to Dryden's maxim, Great wits are sure to madness near allied. Those who grew up during the period when the Lake poets of England were still under discussion can well recall that the typical poet was long supposed to be necessarily something of a reprobate, or at any rate wild and untamable; so that Byron and Shelley gained in fame by the supposition that the domestic and law-abiding gifts were far from them. The prominence of Wordsworth was developed in spite of this tradition, and even when the re