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HAT praises are, without reason, lavished on the dead, and that the honours due only to excellence are paid to antiquity, is a complaint likely to be always continued by those who, being able to add
nothing to truth, hope for eminence from the heresies of paradox; or those who, being forced by disappointment upon consolatory expedients, are willing to hope from posterity what the present age refuses, and flatter themselves that the regard which is yet denied by envy will be at last bestowed by time.
Antiquity, like every other quality that attracts the notice of mankind, has undoubtedly votaries that reverence it, not from reason, but from prejudice. Some seem to admire indiscriminately whatever has been long preserved, without considering that time has sometimes co-operated with chance; all, perhaps, are more willing to honour past than present excellence; and the mind contemplates genius through the shades of age, as the eye surveys the sun through artificial opacity. The great contention of criticism is to find the faults of the moderns and the beauties of the ancients. While an author is yet living, we estcem his powers by his worst performance, and when he is dead we rate them by his best.
The reverence due to writings that have long subsisted arises, therefore, not from any credulous confidence in the superior wisdom of past ages, or gloomy persuasion of the degeneracy of mankind, but is the consequence of acknowledged and indubitable positions, that what has been longest known has been most considered, and what is most considered is best understood.
(Long fellow.) the valley of the Pegnitz, where across broad
meadow-lands Rise the blue Franconian mountains, Nuremberg,
the ancient, stands.
Quaint old town of toil and traffic, quaint old town
of art and song, Memories haunt thy pointed gables, like the rooks that round them
Memories of the Middle Ages, when the emperors, rough and bold,
Everywhere I see around me rise the wondrous
world of Art :
in the common mart ;
And above cathedral doorways saints and bishops
carved in stone,
In the church of sainted Sebald sleeps enshrined his
to age their trust;
In the church of sainted Lawrence stands a pix of
the painted air.
Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple,
Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with
Emigravit is the inscription on the tombstone where
Fairer seems the ancient city, and the sunshine seems more fair,
Through these streets so broad and stately, these obscure and dismal
lanes, Walk'd of yore the Mastersingers, chanting rude poetic strains.
From remote and sunless suburbs, came they to the friendly guild, Building nests in Fame's great temple, as in spouts the swallows
As the weaver plied the shuttle, wove he too the mystic rhyme,
Thanking God, whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy
bloom In the forge's dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom.
Here Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, laureate of the gentle craft, Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters, in huge folios sang and laugh’d.
But his house is now an ale-house, with a nicely sanded floor,
Painted by some humble artist, as in Adam Puschman's song,