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After all, however, you will come round upon me with the old question, ‘And what are your Germans, after all?’ They are a people who, in forty years, have created to themselves a literature such as no other nation ever created in two centuries; and they are a people who, at this moment, have more mental activity than any other existing. I have no disposition to conceal that this literature has many faults; but if you had read Goethe's Tasso, or his Iphigenia, or his ballads, you would never have said their poetry lacks simplicity; or if you had read the tales of Musaeus, or Wieland's Oberon,—even in Sotheby,—or fifty other things, you would not have said ‘the Germans do not know how to tell stories.’ I am not at all disposed to conceal from you that this mental activity is in my opinion very often misdirected and unenlightened,—but, even when in error, you see that it is the dark gropings of Polyphemus round his cave, and that when such ponderous strength comes to the light, it will leave no common monuments of its power and success behind it. So much for Germany,—a subject upon which I will thank you not to set me going again, for I do not know well when to stop, and have not time to run on. . . . . Farewell My respects to your mother.


The subject of the professorship at Harvard College, opened in the letter to his father, but left unmentioned in this later one to Mr. Channing, was henceforward an important element in Mr. Ticknor's thoughts and plans. It was under discussion for a year, as the length of time necessary for receiving answers to questions and propositions made on opposite sides of the Atlantic prolonged the period of uncertainty. It will not appear again in these pages till after his return to America. His acceptance of the place which he was asked to fill was written by him in Rome, and is dated November 6, 1817.

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