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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, Literature as an art. (search)
nd in the revision of one's work. The most brilliant mind needs a large accumulated capital of facts and images, before it can safely enter on its business. Addison, before beginning the Spectator, had accumulated three folio volumes of notes. The greater part of an author's time, said Dr. Johnson, is spent in reading in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book. Unhappily, with these riches comes the chance of being crushed by them, of which the agreeable Roman Catholic writer, Digby, is a striking recent example. There is no satisfaction in being told, as Charles Lamb told Godwin, that you have read more books that are not worth reading than any other man ; nor in being described, as was Southey by Shelley, as a talking album, filled with long extracts from forgotten books on unimportant subjects. One must not have more knowledge than one can keep in subjection; but every literary man needs to accumulate a whole tool-chest in his memory, and another
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, Fayal and the Portuguese. (search)
s of a young lady from St. Michael, English on the father's side, but still Roman Catholic, who had just read the New Testament, and thus naively gave it her indorsemwhen or where they were to occur. We saw many sights that are universal in Roman Catholic countries, and many that are peculiar to Fayal: we saw the Procession of tht, to hear the hardest things said against the priesthood, one must visit a Roman Catholic country. There was no end to the anecdotes of avarice and sensuality whichrch, crying, Ladro! Thief! But why this indignation? said an intelligent Roman Catholic to us; there is not a priest on either island who would not have done the ses there naturally lingers more undisturbed the simple, picturesque life of Roman Catholic society. Every hamlet is clustered round its church, almost always magnifiimpressive still was Holy Week, when there were some rites unknown to other Roman Catholic countries. For three days the great cathedral was closely veiled from with
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, The Greek goddesses. (search)
of the divine; and it was at this time that the images of the Virgin and Child were multiplied, to protest against the heretic who had the minority of votes. After all, Christian ritualism is but a palimpsest, and if we go an inch below the surface anywhere, there is some elder sanctity of Greece or Rome. I remember how this first flashed upon me, when I saw, in a photograph of the Pantheon, the whole soul of the ancient faith in the words, Deo: Opt: Max : and again, when in the first Roman Catholic procession I ever saw, a great banner came flapping round the windy corner with only the inscription S. P. Q. R. The phrase under which ancient Rome subdued the world still lingers in those borrowed initials, and the Church takes its goddess, like its banner, at second-hand. If we set aside its queen, the Church has added no new image. Martyrs are abundant in every faith, and saint and sibyl add but a few softer touches to the antique. Mary Magdalene is really the sole modern figur