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‘ [80] as bold, original thinkers, they have imbibed the degenerate spirit of modern English poetry.’

North American Review, XXXIV. 74,75.

What is meant by this last passage is seen when he goes on to point out that each little village then had ‘its little Byron, its self-tormenting scoffer at morality, its gloomy misanthropist in song,’ and that even Wordsworth, in some respects an antidote to Byron, was as yet ‘a very unsafe model for imitation;’ and he farther points out ‘how invariably those who have imitated him have fallen into tedious mannerisms.’ He ends with a moral, perhaps rather tamely stated: ‘We hope, however, that ere long some one of our most gifted bards will throw his fetters off, and relying on himself alone, fathom the recesses of his own mind, and bring up rich pearls from the secret depths of thought.’1

‘The true glory of a nation’—this is his final attitude—‘is moral and intellectual preeminence;’ thus distinctly foreshadowing the title of his friend Charles Sumner's later oration, ‘The True Grandeur of Nations.’ American literature had undoubtedly begun to exist before this claim was made, as in the prose of Irving and Cooper, the poetry of Dana and Bryant. But it had awaited the arrival of some one to formulate its claims, and this it found in Longfellow.

1 lb. 78.

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