to an old ruin with the ivy and the rich blue mould upon it.’
If the rest of the long planned book could have been as successful as for the time being was the ‘Golden Legend
,’ the dream of Longfellow
's poetic life would have been fulfilled.
In view of such praise as Ruskin
's, the question of anachronism more or less is of course quite secondary.
Errors of a few centuries doubtless occur in it. Longfellow
himself states the period at which he aims as 1230.
But the spire of Strassburg Cathedral of which he speaks was not built until the fifteenth century, though the church was begun in the twelfth, when Walter the Minnesinger flourished.
‘The Lily of Medicine,’ which Prince Henry is reading when Lucifer
drops in, was not written until after 1300, nor was St. John Nepomuck
canonized until after that date.
piracies did not begin until the sixteenth century.
There were other such errors; yet these do not impair the merit of the book.
Some curious modifications also appear in later editions.
In the passage where the monk Felix
is described in the first edition as pondering over a volume of St. Augustine
, this saint disappears in later editions, while the Scriptures are substituted and the passage reads:—