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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, Literature as an art. (search)
here is not a really poor one in any language; each had originally some vivid meaning, but most of them have been worn smooth by passing from hand to hand, and hence the infinite care required in their use. Language, says Max Muller, is a dictionary of faded metaphors ; and every writer who creates a new image, or even reproduces an old one by passing it through a fresh mind, enlarges this vast treasure-house. And this applies not only to words of beauty, but to words of wit. All wit, said Mr. Pitt, is true reasoning ; and Rogers, who preserved this saying, added, that he himself had lived long before making the discovery that wit was truth. A final condition of literary art is thoroughness, which must be shown both in the preparation and 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. Th