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[226] the little circle of cultivated friends, assembled evening after evening, to compare notes and suggest improvements. For many years this was regarded by students and critics as having been almost an ideal method for the production of a great work, and especially of a translation, —a task where there is always the original text at hand for reference. As time has gone on, however, the admiration for the completed work has gradually been mingled with a growing doubt whether this species of joint production was on the whole an ideal one, and whether, in fact, a less perfect work coming from a single mind might not surpass in freshness of quality, and therefore in successful effort, any joint product. Longfellow had written long before to Freiligrath that making a translation was ‘like running a ploughshare through the soil of one's mind,’1 and it would be plainly impossible to run ploughshares simultaneously through half a dozen different minds at precisely the same angle. The mind to decide on a phrase or an epithet, even in a translation, must, it would seem, be the mind from which the phrase or statement originally proceeded; a suggestion from a neighbor might sometimes be most felicitous, but quite as often more tame and guarded; and the influence of several neighbors collectively

1 Life, II. 15.

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1)
Ferdinand Freiligrath (1)
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