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[55] dissimilar poets, and compare Browning to all three of them, or, indeed, to either of the three. Yet it gives us the high-water mark of what ‘contemporaneous posterity’ has to offer. The criticism of another nation can, no doubt, offer some advantages of its own—a fresh pair of eyes and freedom from cliques; but a foreigner can be no judge of local coloring, whether in nature or manners. The mere knowledge of the history of a nation may be essential to a knowledge of its art.

So far as literature goes, the largest element of foreign popularity lies naturally in some kinship of language. Reputation follows the line of least resistance. The Germanic races take naturally to the literature of their own congeners, and so with the Latin. As these last have had precedence in organizing the social life of the world, so they still retain it in their literary sway. The French tongue, in particular, while ceasing to be the vehicle of all travelling intercourse, is still the second language of all the world. A Portuguese gentleman said once to a friend of mine that he was studying French ‘in order to have something ’

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