20 September 2013

There Were Giants in Those Days

Francis Thompson (1859-1907), Health and Holiness (London: J. Masters & Co., 1905), pp. 24-25:
When we look at Italy of the Renascence, at England of the sixteenth century, we are amazed. There were giants in those days. Those were the days of virtu — when the ideal of men was vital force, to do everything with their whole strength. And they did it. In good and in evil they redounded. Pecca fortiter, said Luther; and they sinned strongly. Ezzelin fascinating men with the horror of his tyranny. Aretin blazoning his lusts and infamies, Sforza ravening his way to a throne, Caesar Borgia conquering Italy with a poisoned sword, would have sneered at the scented sins of the present day. The seething energies of our sixteenth century, — fighting, hating, stabbing, plotting, throwing out poetry in splendid reckless floods and cataracts, seem to emanate from beings of another order than ourselves.