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[42] Isaiah Thomas founded the American Antiquarian Society, he gave it as one of his avowed objects ‘that the library should contain a complete collection of the works of American authors.’ There was nothing extravagant, at that time, in the supposition that a single library of moderate size might do this; and the very impossibility of such an inclusion, at this day, is in part the result of the honest zeal with which Isaiah Thomas recognized the ‘importance’ of our nascent literature. A disparaging opinion of any of these American books, or of all of them, does no more harm than the opinion of Pepys, that ‘Comus’ was ‘an insipid, ridiculous play.’ In many cases the opinion will be well deserved; in few cases will it do any permanent harm. Since Emerson, we have ceased to be colonial, and have therefore ceased to be over-sensitive. The only danger is that, Emerson being dead, there should be a slight reaction toward colonial diffidence once more; that we should again pass through the apologetic period; that we should cease for a time to take ourselves seriously.

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