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Victor Hugo

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Yesterday was the 75th birthday ot j Víctor Hugo, and yesterday ; lication of his new poem, the second part of "La Legende des Siecles." It is ft little strange to reflect that France still poasesses her greatest poet, and that in great age his lyrio foroe is not abated. Yet it will probably be allowed by foreigners, if not by Frenchmen, that Víctor Hugo is the greatest name in the roll of French literary worthies. Other countries must look back to some distant time to flnd the singer whom they chiefly delight to honor. England possesses in Shakspeare a poet whose place seems set above the reach of mortal ambition. Each generation has its f avorites, -whom new generations may accept or reject, but Shakspeare is always outside the risk of rivalrv. In Germany a more recently developed literature finds lier chiet triumphs in the plays andpoeiflsof Goethe, and of his far-reaching tranquil knowledge oi men and things. In Italy no flfth name has for centuries been audrd to those of the four chief poets, and among them Dante holds the chief place, unchallenged and unapproachod. But France has waited until this centnry for her poet of widest range, of most precious value, of most musical tongue, a " mighty-voiced inventor of harmonies. The diïi of the controversy in -which Frenoh poetry awakened to a brief life in the restoration has fallen silent, the ,i,-,o+. lnB r-lnnred a-wav. and the renown of Víctor Hugo is as soiid as los partisans long ago -vero quarrelsome and noisy Wc come, a later generation, and sce and liear tlie poet as if with the eyes and ears of posterity. Foreigners are not ternpted greatly to take one or otlier of tlie sidos in which politics, religión, fashion had as much to say as pure appreciation of literature. And foreigners iind in Victor Hugo- we are speaking of ldm as a poet - the qualities that they gladly recognize, and the oÜier qualities whose absence they lament, in the carlier classes of Franco.


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