‘The Golden Legend’ which is Part Second of ‘Christus,’ representing the mediaeval period.
He afterwards wished, on reading Kingsley
's Tragedy,’ that he had chosen the theme of Elizabeth of Hungary
in place of the minor one employed (Der Arme Heinrich
), although if we are to judge by the comparative interest inspired by the two books, there is no reason for regret.
At any rate his poem was published— the precursor by more than twenty years of any other portion of the trilogy of ‘Christus.’
The public, and even his friends, knew but little of his larger project, but ‘The Golden Legend’ on its publication in 1851 showed more of the dramatic quality than anything else he had printed, and Ruskin
gave to it the strong praise of saying, ‘Longfellow
in his “Golden Legend
” has entered more closely into the temper of the monk, for good or for evil, than ever yet theological writer or historian, though they may have given their life's labor to the analysis.’1
It is to be noted that the passage in the book most criticised as unjust is taken from a sermon of an actual Italian
preacher of the fifteenth century.
But its accuracy or depth in this respect was probably less to the general public than its quality of readableness or that which G. P. R. James
, the novelist, described as ‘its resemblance ’