Beacon Lights of History, Vol. 6


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Excerpt from Beacon Lights of History, Vol. 6: Renaissance and Reformation

The critics assign to Dante a pre-eminence over most of those we call immortal. Only two or three other poets in the whole realm of literature, ancient or mod ern, dispute his throne. We compare him with Homer and Shakspeare, and perhaps Goethe, alone. Civili zation glories in Virgil, Milton, Tasso, Racine, Pope, and Byron, all immortal artists; but it points to only four men concerning whose transcendent crea tive power there is unanimity of judgment, - prodigies of genius, to whose influence and fame we can assign no limits; stars of such surpassing brilliancy that we can only gaze and wonder, - growing brighter and brighter, too, with the progress of ages; so remarkable that no barbarism will ever obscure their brightness, so original that all imitation of them becomes impossi ble and absurd. So great is original genius, directed by art and consecrated to lofty sentiments.

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