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[263] be claimed that Longfellow was always ready to reaffirm his early attitude in respect to a national literature. It is not strange that after he had fairly begun to create one, he should sometimes be repelled by the class which has always existed who think that mere nationality should rank first and an artistic standard afterwards. He writes on July 24, 1844, to an unknown Correspondent:—

I dislike as much as any one can the tone of English criticism in reference to our literature. But when you say, ‘It is a lamentable fact that as yet our country has taken no decided steps towards establishing a national literature,’ it seems to me that you are repeating one of the most fallacious assertions of the English critics. Upon this point I differ entirely from you in opinion. A national literature is the expression of national character and thought; and as our character and modes of thought do not differ essentially from those of England, our literature cannot. Vast forests, lakes, and prairies cannot make great poets. They are but the scenery of the play, and have much less to do with the poetic character than has been imagined. Neither Mexico nor Switzerland has produced any remarkable poet.

I do not think a ‘Poets' Convention’ would

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