The Life and Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne, by Frank Stearns

Appendix C

The great poets and other writers of all nations whom I conceive to be superior to Hawthorne, may be found in the following list: Homer, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Pindar, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Theocritus, Plutarch; Horace, Virgil, Cicero, Tacitus; Dante, Tasso, Petrarch; Cervantes, Calderon, Camoens; Molière, Racine, Descartes, Voltaire; Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Kant; Swedenborg; Chaucer, Shakespeare, Bacon, Milton, and perhaps Burns and Byron; Alexander Hamilton, Napoleon.

These also may be placed more on an equality with Hawthorne, although there will of course always be wide differences of opinion on that point: Hesiod, Herodotus, Menander, Aristophases; Livy, Cæsar, Lucretius, Juvenal; Ariosto, Macchiavelli, Manzoni, Lope de Vega, Buthas Pato; Corneille, Pascal, Rousseau; Wieland, Klopstock, Heine, Auerbach; Spenser, Ben Jonson, Fletcher, Fielding, Pope, Scott, Wordsworth, Shelley, Carlyle, Browning, Tennyson, Froude; Webster, Emerson, Wasson. Sappho, Bion, Moschus, and Cleanthes were certainly poets of a high order, but only some fragments of their poetry have survived. Gottfried of Strassburg, the Minnesinger, might be included, and some of the finest English poetry was written by unknown geniuses of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Ballads like “Chevy Chace” and the “Child of Elle” deserve a high place in the rank of poetry; and the German “Reineke Fuchs” is in its way without a rival. There may be other French, German, and Spanish writers of exceptional excellence with whom I am unacquainted, but I do not feel that any French or German novelists of the last century ought to be placed on a level with Hawthorne — only excepting Auerbach. Victor Hugo is grandiloquent, and the others all have some serious fault or limitation. I suppose that not one in ten of Emerson’s readers has ever heard of Wasson, but he was the better prose writer of the two, and little inferior as a poet. More elevated he could not be, but more profound, just, logical and humane — that is, more like Hawthorne. Emerson could not have filled his place on the Atlantic Monthly and the North American Review.

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