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The origins of a literary epoch differ according as that epoch is primal or derivative. There are those edifices of letters which start up, not indeed out of nothing, but out of things wholly different. Produced by a shock or a revelation, as two gases lit will, in a sharp explosion, unite to form a liquid wholly unlike either, so after a great conquest, a battle, the sudden preaching of a creed, these primal literatures appear in an epic or a dithyrambic code of awful law. Their first effort is their mightiest. They come mature. They are allied to that element of the catastrophic which the modern world (taking its general philosophy from its social condition) denies, but which is yet at the limits of all things separate and themselves; accompanies every birth, and strikes agony into every transition of death.