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Why then should Lord Byron force the comparison between the modern and the ancient hero? It is because the slaves of power mind the cause they have to serve, because their own interest is concerned; but the friends of liberty always sacrifice their cause, which is only the cause of humanity, to their own spleen, vanity, and self-opinion. The league between tyrants and slaves is a chain of adamant; the bond between poets and the people is a rope of sand. Is this a truth, or is it not? If it is not, let Lord Byron write no more on this subject, which is beyond his height and his depth. Let him not trample on the mighty or the fallen!
–William Hazlitt, “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” first published in: The Yellow Dwarf, May 2, 1818, in: The Collected Works of William Hazlitt, vol. 3, p. 423 (1912).
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
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In Turlock, California, nearly 3,500 samples of bull semen were stolen from the back of a truck.
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“Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.”