All the empire of Great Britain
, circling the globe, affords to her poets or novelists but a petty and insular audience compared with that addressed by George Sand or Victor Hugo
A Roman Catholic
convert from America
, going from Paris
, and having audience with a former pope, is said to have been a little dismayed when his Holiness
instantly inquired, with eager solicitude, as to the rumored illness of Paul de Kock
—the milder Zola
of the last generation.
In contemporaneous fame, then, the mere accident of nationality and language plays an enormous part; but this accident will clearly have nothing to do with the judgment of posterity.
If any foreign country could stand for a contemporaneous posterity, one would think it might be a younger nation judging an older one.
Yet how little did the American
reputations of fifty years ago afford any sure prediction of permanent fame in respect to English writers!
True, we gave early recognition to Carlyle
, but scarcely greater than to authors now faded or fading into obscurity,—Milnes (Lord Houghton), Sterling