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The Collected Writing of Thomas De Quincey - Volume 2

Thomas De Quincey

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ugh now forgotten) obtained, at the moment, most undue celebrity. For it is one of the infirmities of the public mind with us, that whatever is said or done by a public man,—any opinion given by a member of Parliament, however much out of his own proper jurisdiction and range of inquiry,—commands an attention not conceded even to those who speak under the known privilege of professional knowledge. Thus, Cowper was not discovered to be a poet worthy of any general notice until Charles Fox, a most slender critic, had vouchsafed to quote a few lines, and that not so much with a view to the poetry as to its party application. But now, returning to Demosthenes, I affirm that his case is the case of nearly all the classical writers,—at least, of all the prose writers. It is, I admit, an extreme one; that is, it is the general case in a more intense degree. Raised almost to divine honours, never mentioned but with affected rapture, the classics of Greece and . . . Read More