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[194] young poets deal with “after-ages;” and it might be pointed out that Becky Sharp was practically a bigamist and probably an assassin; and why, moreover, select for condemnation a novelist who would have been meretricious even had he been a realist? The real question is whether there is only one kind of excellence. Because Miss Austen is good, is Scott without value? It being conceded that Becky Sharp is worth drawing, is Dorothea worthless?

The error lies, like most errors, in narrowness. Non constat, it does not follow, that there can be no faithful drawing except of commonplace things. That done, why not go a step farther and draw the uncommonplace? Because any well-trained French artist at Barbizon can go out and paint a peasant, does it follow that Millet's art is valueless when he draws that peasant at a moment when the Angelus touches his quiet soul, and makes him for a moment a sentient part of the great anthem of the universe; or when in sowing the seed he becomes a symbol of the grandeur and glory of all creative and beneficent power? Great is the little; but why not go a step farther, and say, “Greater is the great?” An artist is commissioned to unlock for us all the mysteries of the human soul. Is Silas Lapham everything, and Arthur Dimmesdale nothing?

“The sincere observer of man,” Mr. Howells says in “Their wedding Journey,” “will not desire to ”

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