Thomas Babington Macaulay–with Gibbon, one of Britain’s two greatest historians–in an 1840 review of Ranke’s History of the Popes:
The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour.
That’s perspective for you, no?
(With a tip of the hat to Mr. S., who reminded me of this splendid passage.)
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