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Walter Bagehot on Horace (From “Béranger,” 1857):

…the spirit of Horace is alive, and as potent as that of any man. His tone is that of prime ministers; his easy philosophy is that of courts and parliaments; you may hear his words where no other foreign words are ever heard. He is but the extreme and perfect type of a whole class of writers, some of whom exist in every literary age, and who give an expression to what we may call the poetry of equanimity, that is, the world’s view of itself; its self-satisfaction, its conviction that you must bear what comes, not hope for much, think some evil, never be excited, admire little, and then you will be at peace. This creed does not sound attractive in description. Nothing, it has been said, is so easy as to be “religious on paper”: on the other hand, it is rather difficult to be worldly in speculation; the mind of man, when its daily maxims are put before it, revolts from anything so stupid, so mean, so poor. It requires a consummate art to reconcile men in print to that moderate and insidious philosophy which creeps into all hearts, colours all speech, influences all action. We may not stiffen commonsense into a creed; our very ambition forbids: —

It hears a voice within us tell:

Calm’s not life’s crown, though calm is well,

’Tis all perhaps which man acquires;

But ’tis not what our youth desires”.

Still a great artist may succeed in making “calm” interesting. Equanimity has its place in literature; the poetry of equipoise is possible.