disrespectfully of Menzel
in the Dial, and called him a Philistine—the first introduction into English
, so far as I know, of that word since familiarized by Arnold
We fancy France
to be a place where, if governments are changeable, literary fame, fortified by academies, rests on sure ground.
But Theophile Gautier
, in the preface to his ‘Les Grotesques,’ says just the contrary.
He declares that in Paris
all praise or blame is overstated, because, in order to save the trouble of a serious opinion, they take up one writer temporarily in order to get rid of the rest.
‘There are,’ he goes on, ‘strange fluctuations in reputations, and aureoles change heads.
After death, illuminated foreheads are extinguished and obscure brows grow bright.
Posterity means night for some, dawn to others.’
Who would to-day believe, he asks, that the obscure writer Chapelain
passed for long years as the greatest poet, not alone of France
, but the whole world (le plus grand poete, nonseule-ment de France
, mais du monde entier), and that nobody less potent than the Duchesse de Longueville
would have dared to go to sleep