In the arrangement of the materials, the same conscious art is observable. Each of the sections of the essays of Taine and Renan is a firm and necessary foundation for those that succeed it. Not until Renan has described the secluded national existence of the Celts does he draw the resultant national traits of character, which thereupon we are ready to trace intelligently in the various branches of Celtic literature. The method of Taine’s essay is even more admirably logical. To understand the growth of literature, he tells us, we must know first “the visible man,” next “the invisible man,” then the race, environment, and epoch which determined his character, and finally the way in which those causes distribute their effects. Thus is our progress through unknown fields made easy: we are not asked to leap from point to point, or to retrace our way; our guide takes us step by step along the path of his discovery.

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