By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: From Chaucer to Tennyson
Author: Beers, Henry A. (Henry Augustin), 1847-1926
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "From Chaucer to Tennyson" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Chautauqua Reading Circle Literature








_Professor of English Literature in Yale University_.



In so brief a history of so rich a literature, the problem is how to get
room enough to give, not an adequate impression--that is impossible--but
any impression at all of the subject. To do this I have crowded out
every thing but _belles lettres_. Books in philosophy, history, science,
etc., however important in the history of English thought, receive the
merest incidental mention, or even no mention at all. Again, I have
omitted the literature of the Anglo-Saxon period, which is written in a
language nearly as hard for a modern Englishman to read as German is, or
Dutch. Cædmon and Cynewulf are no more a part of English literature than
Vergil and Horace are of Italian. I have also left out the vernacular
literature of the Scotch before the time of Burns. Up to the date of the
union Scotland was a separate kingdom, and its literature had a
development independent of the English, though parallel with it.

In dividing the history into periods, I have followed, with some
modifications, the divisions made by Mr. Stopford Brooke in his
excellent little _Primer of English Literature_. A short reading course
is appended to each chapter.






THE AGE OF MILTON, 1608-1674















_The required books of the C.L.S.C. are recommended by a Council of
six. It must, however, be understood that recommendation does not
involve an approval by the Council, or by any member of it, of every
principle or doctrine contained in the book recommended._




The Norman conquest of England, in the 11th century, made a break in the
natural growth of the English language and literature. The Old English
or Anglo-Saxon had been a purely Germanic speech, with a complicated
grammar and a full set of inflections. For three hundred years following
the battle of Hastings this native tongue was driven from the king's
court and the courts of law, from Parliament, school, and university.
During all this time there were two languages spoken in England. Norman
French was the birth-tongue of the upper classes and English of the
lower. When the latter got the better of the struggle, and became, about
the middle of the 14th century, the national speech of all England, it
was no longer the English of King Alfred. It was a new language, a
grammarless tongue, almost wholly stripped of its inflections. It had
lost half of its old words, and had filled their places with French
equivalents. The Norman lawyers had introduced legal terms; the ladies
and courtiers words of dress and courtesy. The knight had imported the
vocabulary of war and of the chase. The master-builders of the Norman
castles and cathedrals contributed technical expressions proper to the
architect and the mason. The art of cooking was French. The naming of
the living animals, _ox, swine, sheep, deer_, was left to the Saxon
churl who had the herding of them, while the dressed meats, _beef, pork,
mutton, venison_, received their baptism from the table-talk of his
Norman master. The four orders of begging friars, and especially the
Franciscans or Gray Friars, introduced into England in 1224, became
intermediaries between the high and the low. They went about preaching
to the poor, and in their sermons they intermingled French with English.
In their hands, too, was almost all the science of the day; their
_medicine, botany_, and _astronomy_ displaced the old nomenclature of
_leechdom, wort-cunning_ and _star-craft._ And, finally, the translators
of French poems often found it easier to transfer a foreign word bodily
than to seek out a native synonym, particularly when the former supplied
them with a rhyme. But the innovation reached even to the commonest
words in every-day use, so that _voice_ drove out _steven, poor_ drove
out _earm_, and _color, use_, and _place_ made good their footing beside
_hue, wont_, and _stead_. A great part of the English words that were
left were so changed in spelling and pronunciation as to be practically
new. Chaucer stands, in date, midway between King Alfred and Alfred
Tennyson, but his English differs vastly more from the former's than
from the latter's. To Chaucer, Anglo-Saxon was as much a dead language
as it is to us.

The classical Anglo-Saxon, moreover, had been the Wessex dialect, spoken
and written at Alfred's capital, Winchester. When the French had
displaced this as the language of culture, there was no longer a "king's
English" or any literary standard. The sources of modern standard
English are to be found in the East Midland, spoken in Lincoln, Norfolk,
Suffolk, Cambridge, and neighboring shires. Here the old Anglian had
been corrupted by the Danish settlers, and rapidly threw off its
inflections when it became a spoken and no longer a written language,
after the Conquest. The West Saxon, clinging more tenaciously to ancient
forms, sank into the position of a local dialect; while the East
Midland, spreading to London, Oxford, and Cambridge, became the literary
English in which Chaucer wrote.

The Normans brought in also new intellectual influences and new forms of
literature. They were a cosmopolitan people, and they connected England
with the Continent. Lanfranc and Anselm, the first two Norman
archbishops of Canterbury, were learned and splendid prelates of a type
quite unknown to the Anglo-Saxons. They introduced the scholastic
philosophy taught at the University of Paris, and the reformed
discipline of the Norman abbeys. They bound the English Church more
closely to Rome, and officered it with Normans. English bishops were
deprived of their sees for illiteracy, and French abbots were set over
monasteries of Saxon monks. Down to the middle of the 14th century the
learned literature of England was mostly in Latin, and the polite
literature in French. English did not at any time altogether cease to be
a written language, but the extant remains of the period from 1066 to
1200 are few and, with one exception, unimportant. After 1200 English
came more and more into written use, but mainly in translations,
paraphrases, and imitations of French works. The native genius was at
school, and followed awkwardly the copy set by its master.

The Anglo-Saxon poetry, for example, had been rhythmical and
alliterative. It was commonly written in lines containing four
rhythmical accents and with three of the accented syllables

    _R_este hine thâ _r_úm-heort; _r_éced hlifade
    _G_eáp and _g_óld-fâh, _g_äst inne swäf.

  Rested him then the great-hearted; the hall towered
  Roomy and gold-bright, the guest slept within.

This rude, energetic verse the Saxon _scôp_ had sung to his harp or
_glee-beam_, dwelling on the emphatic syllables, passing swiftly over
the others, which were of undetermined number and position in the line.
It was now displaced by the smooth metrical verse with rhymed endings,
which the French introduced and which our modern poets use, a verse
fitted to be recited rather than sung. The old English alliterative
verse continued, indeed, in occasional use to the 16th century. But it
was linked to a forgotten literature and an obsolete dialect, and was
doomed to give way. Chaucer lent his great authority to the more modern
verse system, and his own literary models and inspirers were all
foreign, French or Italian. Literature in England began to be once more
English and truly national in the hands of Chaucer and his
contemporaries, but it was the literature of a nation cut off from its
own past by three centuries of foreign rule.

The most noteworthy English document of the 11th and 12th centuries was
the continuation of the Anglo-Saxon chronicle. Copies of these annals,
differing somewhat among themselves, had been kept at the monasteries in
Winchester, Abingdon, Worcester, and elsewhere. The yearly entries are
mostly brief, dry records of passing events, though occasionally they
become full and animated. The fen country of Cambridge and Lincolnshire
was a region of monasteries. Here were the great abbeys of Peterborough
and Croyland and Ely minster. One of the earliest English songs tells
how the savage heart of the Danish king Cnut was softened by the singing
of the monks in Ely.

  Merie sungen muneches binnen Ely
  Tha Cnut chyning reu ther by;
  Roweth, cnihtes, noer the land.
  And here we thes muneches sang.

  Merrily sung the monks in Ely
  When King Canute rowed by.
  'Row boys, nearer the land,
  And let us hear these monks' song.'

It was among the dikes and marshes of this fen country that the bold
outlaw Hereward, "the last of the English," held out for some years
against the conqueror. And it was here, in the rich abbey of Burgh or
Peterborough, the ancient Medeshamstede (meadow-homestead), that the
chronicle was continued nearly a century after the Conquest, breaking
off abruptly in 1154, the date of King Stephen's death. Peterborough had
received a new Norman abbot, Turold, "a very stern man," and the entry
in the chronicle for 1070 tells how Hereward and his gang, with his
Danish backers, thereupon plundered the abbey of its treasures, which
were first removed to Ely, and then carried off by the Danish fleet and
sunk, lost, or squandered. The English in the later portions of this
Peterborough chronicle becomes gradually more modern, and falls away
more and more from the strict grammatical standards of the classical
Anglo-Saxon. It is a most valuable historical monument, and some
passages of it are written with great vividness, notably the sketch of
William the Conquerer put down in the year of his death (1086) by one
who had "looked upon him and at another time dwelt in his court." "He
who was before a rich king, and lord of many a land, he had not then of
all his land but a piece of seven feet....Likewise he was a very stark
man and a terrible, so that one durst do nothing against his will....
Among other things is not to be forgotten the good peace that he made in
this land, so that a man might fare over his kingdom with his bosom full
of gold unhurt. He set up a great deer preserve, and he laid laws
therewith that whoso should slay hart or hind, he should be blinded. As
greatly did he love the tall deer as if he were their father."

With the discontinuance of the Peterborough annals, English history
written in English prose ceased for three hundred years. The thread of
the nation's story was kept up in Latin chronicles, compiled by writers
partly of English and partly of Norman descent. The earliest of these,
such as Ordericus Vitalis, Simeon of Durham, Henry of Huntingdon, and
William of Malmesbury, were contemporary with the later entries of the
Saxon chronicle. The last of them, Matthew of Westminster, finished his
work in 1273. About 1300, Robert, a monk of Gloucester, composed a
chronicle in English verse, following in the main the authority of the
Latin chronicles, and he was succeeded by other rhyming chroniclers in
the 14th century. In the hands of these the true history of the Saxon
times was overlaid with an ever-increasing mass of fable and legend. All
real knowledge of the period dwindled away until in Capgraves's
_Chronicle of England_, written in prose in 1463-1464, hardly any thing
of it is left. In history as in literature the English had forgotten
their past, and had turned to foreign sources. It is noteworthy that
Shakspere, who borrowed his subjects and his heroes sometimes from
authentic English history, sometimes from the legendary history of
ancient Britain, Denmark, and Scotland--as in Lear, Hamlet, and Macbeth,
respectively--ignores the Saxon period altogether. And Spenser, who
gives in the second book of his _Faerie Queene_ a _resumé_ of the reigns
of fabulous British kings--the supposed ancestors of Queen Elizabeth,
his royal patron--has nothing to say of the real kings of early England.
So completely had the true record faded away that it made no appeal to
the imaginations of our most patriotic poets. The Saxon Alfred had been
dethroned by the British Arthur, and the conquered Welsh had imposed
their fictitious genealogies upon the dynasty of the conquerors.

In the _Roman de Rou_, a verse chronicle of the dukes of Normandy,
written by the Norman Wace, it is related that at the battle of Hastings
the French _jongleur_, Taillefer, spurred out before the van of
William's army, tossing his lance in the air and chanting of
"Charlemagne and of Roland, of Oliver and the peers who died at
Roncesvals." This incident is prophetic of the victory which Norman
song, no less than Norman arms, was to win over England. The lines which
Taillefer sang were from the _Chanson de Roland_, the oldest and best of
the French hero sagas. The heathen Northmen, who had ravaged the coasts
of France in the 10th century, had become in the course of one hundred
and fifty years completely identified with the French. They had accepted
Christianity, intermarried with the native women, and forgotten their
own Norse tongue. The race thus formed was the most brilliant in Europe.
The warlike, adventurous spirit of the vikings mingled in its blood with
the French nimbleness of wit and fondness for display. The Normans were
a nation of knights-errant, with a passion for prowess and for courtesy.
Their architecture was at once strong and graceful. Their women were
skilled in embroidery, a splendid sample of which is preserved in the
famous Bayeux tapestry, in which the conqueror's wife, Matilda, and the
ladies of her court wrought the history of the Conquest.

This national taste for decoration expressed itself not only in the
ceremonious pomp of feast and chase and tourney, but likewise in
literature. The most characteristic contribution of the Normans to
English poetry were the metrical romances or chivalry tales. These were
sung or recited by the minstrels, who were among the retainers of every
great feudal baron, or by the _jongleurs_, who wandered from court to
castle. There is a whole literature of these _romans d'aventure_ in the
Anglo-Norman dialect of French. Many of them are very long--often
thirty, forty, or fifty thousand lines--written sometimes in a strophic
form, sometimes in long Alexandrines, but commonly in the short,
eight-syllabled rhyming couplet. Numbers of them were turned into
English verse in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. The translations
were usually inferior to the originals. The French _trouvere_ (finder
or poet) told his story in a straightforward, prosaic fashion, omitting
no details in the action and unrolling endless descriptions of dresses,
trappings, gardens, etc. He invented plots and situations full of fine
possibilities by which later poets have profited, but his own handling
of them was feeble and prolix. Yet there was a simplicity about the old
French language and a certain elegance and delicacy in the diction of
the _trouveres_ which the rude, unformed English failed to catch.

The heroes of these romances were of various climes: Guy of Warwick, and
Richard the Lion Heart of England, Havelok the Dane, Sir Troilus of
Troy, Charlemagne, and Alexander. But, strangely enough, the favorite
hero of English romance was that mythical Arthur of Britain, whom Welsh
legend had celebrated as the most formidable enemy of the Sassenach
invaders and their victor in twelve great battles. The language and
literature of the ancient Cymry or Welsh had made no impression on their
Anglo-Saxon conquerors. There are a few Welsh borrowings in the English
speech, such as _bard_ and _druid_; but in the old Anglo-Saxon
literature there are no more traces of British song and story than if
the two races had been sundered by the ocean instead of being borderers
for over six hundred years. But the Welsh had their own national
traditions, and after the Norman Conquest these were set free from the
isolation of their Celtic tongue and, in an indirect form, entered into
the general literature of Europe. The French came into contact with the
old British literature in two places: in the Welsh marches in England
and in the province of Brittany in France, where the population is of
Cymric race, and spoke, and still to some extent speaks, a Cymric
dialect akin to the Welsh.

About 1140 Geoffrey of Monmouth, a Benedictine monk, seemingly of Welsh
descent, who lived at the court of Henry the First and became afterward
bishop of St. Asaph, produced in Latin a so-called _Historia Britonum_,
in which it was told how Brutus, the great grandson of Æneas, came to
Britain, and founded there his kingdom called after him, and his city of
New Troy (Troynovant) on the site of the later London. An air of
historic gravity was given to this tissue of Welsh legends by an exact
chronology and the genealogy of the British kings, and the author
referred, as his authority, to an imaginary Welsh book given him, as he
said, by a certain Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford. Here appeared that line
of fabulous British princes which has become so familiar to modern
readers in the plays of Shakspere and the poems of Tennyson: Lear and
his three daughters; Cymbeline; Gorboduc, the subject of the earliest
regular English tragedy, composed by Sackville and acted in 1562;
Locrine and his Queen Gwendolen and his daughter Sabrina, who gave her
name to the river Severn, was made immortal by an exquisite song in
Milton's _Comus_ and became the heroine of the tragedy of _Locrine_,
once attributed to Shakspere; and above all, Arthur, the son of Uther
Pendragon, and the founder of the Table Round. In 1155 Wace, the author
of the _Roman de Rou_, turned Geoffrey's work into a French poem
entitled _Brut d'Angleterre_, "brut" being a Welsh word meaning
chronicle. About the year 1200 Wace's poem was Englished by Layamon, a
priest of Arley Regis, on the border stream of Severn. Layamon's _Brut_
is in thirty thousand lines, partly alliterative and partly rhymed, but
written in pure Saxon English with hardly any French words. The style is
rude but vigorous, and, at times, highly imaginative. Wace had amplified
Geoffrey's chronicle somewhat, but Layamon made much larger additions,
derived, no doubt, from legends current on the Welsh border. In
particular, the story of Arthur grew in his hands into something like
fullness. He tells of the enchantments of Merlin, the wizard; of the
unfaithfulness of Arthur's queen, Guenever, and the treachery of his
nephew, Modred. His narration of the last great battle between Arthur
and Modred; of the wounding of the king--"fifteen fiendly wounds he had,
one might in the least three gloves thrust"--; and of the little boat
with "two women therein, wonderly dight," which came to bear him away to
Avalun and the Queen Argante, "sheenest of all elves," whence he shall
come again, according to Merlin's prophecy, to rule the Britons; all
this left little, in essentials, for Tennyson to add in his _Passing of

This new material for fiction was eagerly seized upon by the Norman
romancers. The story of Arthur drew to itself other stories which were
afloat. Walter Map, a gentleman of the court of Henry II., in two French
prose romances connected with it the church legend of the Sangreal, or
holy cup, from which Christ had drunk at his last supper, and which
Joseph of Arimathea had afterward brought to England. Then it
miraculously disappeared and became thenceforth the occasion of knightly
quest, the mystic symbol of the object of the soul's desire, an
adventure only to be achieved by the maiden knight, Galahad, the son of
that Launcelot who in the romances had taken the place of Modred in
Geoffrey's history as the paramour of Queen Guenever. In like manner the
love-story of Tristan and Isolde, which came probably from Brittany or
Cornwall, was joined by other romancers to the Arthur-saga.

Thus there grew up a great epic cycle of Arthurian romance, with a fixed
shape and a unity and vitality which have prolonged it to our own day
and rendered it capable of a deeper and more spiritual treatment and a
more artistic handling by such modern English poets as Tennyson in his
_Idyls of the King_, Matthew Arnold, Swinburne, and many others. There
were innumerable Arthur romances in prose and verse, in Anglo-Norman and
continental French dialects, in English, in German, and in other
tongues. But the final form which the saga took in mediæval England was
the prose _Morte Dartur_ of Sir Thomas Malory, composed at the close of
the 15th century. This was a digest of the earlier romances, and is
Tennyson's main authority.

Beside the literature of the knight was the literature of the cloister.
There is a considerable body of religious writing in early English,
consisting of homilies in prose and verse, books of devotion, like the
_Ancren Riwle_ (Rule of Anchoresses), 1225, and the _Ayenbite of Inwyt_
(Remorse of Conscience), 1340, in prose; the _Handlyng Sinne_, 1303, the
_Cursor Mundi_, 1320, and the _Pricke of Conscience_, 1340, in verse;
metrical renderings of the Psalter, the Pater Noster, the Creed, and the
Ten Commandments; the Gospels for the Day, such as the _Ormulum_, or
Book of Orm, 1205; legends and miracles of saints; poems in praise of
virginity, on the contempt of the world, on the five joys of the Virgin,
the five wounds of Christ, the eleven pains of hell, the seven deadly
sins, the fifteen tokens of the coming judgment; and dialogues between
the soul and the body. These were the work not only of the monks, but
also of the begging friars, and in smaller part of the secular or parish
clergy. They are full of the ascetic piety and superstition of the
Middle Age, the childish belief in the marvelous, the allegorical
interpretation of Scripture texts, the grotesque material horrors of
hell with its grisly fiends, the vileness of the human body and the
loathsome details of its corruption after death. Now and then a single
poem rises above the tedious and hideous barbarism of the general level
of this monkish literature, either from a more intensely personal
feeling in the poet, or from an occasional grace or beauty in his verse.
A poem so distinguished is, for example, _A Luve Ron_ (A Love Counsel),
by the Minorite friar, Thomas de Hales, one stanza of which recalls the
French poet Villon's _Balade of Dead Ladies_, with its refrain--

Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
"Where are the snows of yester year?"

Where is Paris and Heléyne
  That weren so bright and fair of blee[1]
Amadas, Tristan, and Idéyne
  Yseudë and allë the,[2]
Hector with his sharpë main,
  And Cæsar rich in worldës fee?
They beth ygliden out of the reign[3]
  As the shaft is of the clee.[4]

A few early English poems on secular subjects are also worthy of
mention, among others, _The Owl and the Nightingale_, generally assigned
to the reign of Henry III. (1216-1272), an _estrif_, or dispute, in
which the owl represents the ascetic and the nightingale the aesthetic
view of life. The debate is conducted with much animation and a spirited
use of proverbial wisdom. _The Land of Cokaygne_ is an amusing little
poem of some two hundred lines, belonging to the class of _fabliaux_,
short humorous tales or satirical pieces in verse. It describes a
lubber-land, or fool's paradise, where the geese fly down all roasted on
the spit, bringing garlic in their bills for their dressing, and where
there is a nunnery upon a river of sweet milk, and an abbey of white
monks and gray, whose walls, like the hall of little King Pepin, are "of
pie-crust and pastry crust," with flouren cakes for the shingles and fat
puddings for the pins.

There are a few songs dating from about 1300, and mostly found in a
single collection (Harl. MS., 2253), which are almost the only English
verse before Chaucer that has any sweetness to a modern ear. They are
written in French strophic forms in the southern dialect, and sometimes
have an intermixture of French and Latin lines. They are musical, fresh,
simple, and many of them very pretty. They celebrate the gladness of
spring with its cuckoos and throstle-cocks, its daisies and woodruff.

[Footnote 1: Hue.]
[Footnote 2: Those.]
[Footnote 3: Realm.]
[Footnote 4: Bowstring.]

  When the nightingalë sings the woodës waxen green;
  Leaf and grass and blossom spring in Averil, I ween,
  And love is to my hertë gone with a spear so keen,
  Night and day my blood it drinks, my hertë doth me tene.[5]

Others are love plaints to "Alysoun" or some other lady whose "name is
in a note of the nightingale;" whose eyes are as gray as glass, and her
skin as "red as rose on ris." [6] Some employ a burden or refrain.

  Blow, northern wind,
  Blow thou me my sweeting,
  Blow, northern wind, blow, blow, blow!

Others are touched with a light melancholy at the coming of winter.

  Winter wakeneth all my care
  Now these leavës waxeth bare,
  Oft I sigh and mournë sare
  When it cometh in my thought
  Of this worldes joy, how it goeth all to nought.

Some of these poems are love songs to Christ or the Virgin, composed in
the warm language of earthly passion. The sentiment of chivalry united
with the ecstatic reveries of the cloister had produced Mariolatry, and
the imagery of the Song of Solomon, in which Christ wooes the soul, had
made this feeling of divine love familiar. Toward the end of the 13th
century a collection of lives of saints, a sort of English _Golden
Legend_, was prepared at the great abbey of Gloucester for use on
saints' days. The legends were chosen partly from the hagiology of the
Church Catholic, as the lives of Margaret, Christopher, and Michael;
partly from the calendar of the English Church, as the lives of St.
Thomas of Canterbury, and of the Anglo-Saxons, Dunstan, Swithin--who is
mentioned by Shakspere--and Kenelm, whose life is quoted by Chaucer in
the _Nonne Preste's Tale_. The verse was clumsy and the style
monotonous, but an imaginative touch here and there has furnished a hint
to later poets. Thus the legend of St. Brandan's search for the earthly
paradise has been treated by Matthew Arnold and William Morris.

[Footnote 5: Pain.]
[Footnote 6: Branch.]

About the middle of the 14th century there was a revival of the Old
English alliterative verse in romances like _William and the Werewolf_,
and _Sir Gawayne_, and in religious pieces such as _Clannesse_ (purity),
_Patience_, and _The Perle_, the last named a mystical poem of much
beauty, in which a bereaved father sees a vision of his daughter among
the glorified. Some of these employed rhyme as well as alliteration.
They are in the West Midland dialect, although Chaucer implies that
alliteration was most common in the north. "I am a sotherne man," says
the parson in the _Canterbury Tales_. "I cannot geste rom, ram, ruf, by
my letter." But the most important of the alliterative poems was the
_Vision of William concerning Piers the Plowman_.

In the second half of the 14th century French had ceased to be the
mother-tongue of any considerable part of the population of England. By
a statute of Edward III., in 1362, it was displaced from the law courts.
By 1386 English had taken its place in the schools. The Anglo-Norman
dialect had grown corrupt, and Chaucer contrasts the French of Paris
with the provincial French spoken by his prioress, "after the scole of
Stratford-atte-Bowe." The native English genius was also beginning to
assert itself, roused in part, perhaps, by the English victories in the
wars of Edward III. against the French. It was the bows of the English
yeomanry that won the fight at Crecy, fully as much as the prowess of
the Norman baronage. But at home the times were bad. Heavy taxes and the
repeated visitations of the pestilence, or Black Death, pressed upon the
poor and wasted the land. The Church was corrupt; the mendicant orders
had grown enormously wealthy, and the country was eaten up by a swarm
of begging friars, pardoners, and apparitors. That social discontent was
fermenting among the lower classes which finally issued in the
communistic uprising of the peasantry under Wat Tyler and Jack Straw.

This state of things is reflected in the _Vision of Piers Plowman_,
written as early as 1362, by William Langland, a tonsured clerk of the
west country. It is in form an allegory, and bears some resemblance to
the later and more famous allegory of the _Pilgrim's Progress_. The poet
falls asleep on the Malvern Hills, in Worcestershire, and has a vision
of a "fair field full of folk," representing the world with its various
conditions of men. There were pilgrims and palmers; hermits with hooked
staves, who went to Walsingham--and their wenches after them--great
lubbers and long that were loth to work; friars glossing the Gospel for
their own profit; pardoners cheating the people with relics and
indulgences; parish priests who forsook their parishes--that had been
poor since the pestilence time--and went to London to sing there for
simony; bishops, archbishops, and deacons, who got themselves fat
clerkships in the Exchequer, or King's Bench; in short, all manner of
lazy and corrupt ecclesiastics. A lady, who represents holy Church, then
appears to the dreamer, explains to him the meaning of his vision, and
reads him a sermon the text of which is, "When all treasure is tried,
truth is the best." A number of other allegorical figures are next
introduced, Conscience, Reason, Meed, Simony, Falsehood, etc., and after
a series of speeches and adventures, a second vision begins in which the
seven deadly sins pass before the poet in a succession of graphic
impersonations; and finally all the characters set out on a pilgrimage
in search of St. Truth, finding no guide to direct them save Piers the
Plowman, who stands for the simple, pious laboring man, the sound heart
of the English common folk. The poem was originally in eight divisions
or "passus," to which was added a continuation in three parts, _Vita Do
Wel, Do Bet, and Do Best_. About 1377 the whole was greatly enlarged by
the author.

_Piers Plowman_ was the first extended literary work after the Conquest
which was purely English in character. It owed nothing to France but the
allegorical cast which the _Roman de la Rose_ had made fashionable in
both countries. But even here such personified abstractions as
Langland's Fair-speech and Work-when-time-is, remind us less of the
Fraunchise, Bel-amour, and Fals-semblaunt of the French courtly
allegories than of Bunyan's Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and even of such
Puritan names as Praise-God Barebones, and Zeal-of-the-land Busy. The
poem is full of English moral seriousness, of shrewd humor, the hatred
of a lie, the homely English love for reality. It has little unity of
plan, but is rather a series of episodes, discourses, parables, and
scenes. It is all astir with the actual life of the time. We see the
gossips gathered in the ale-house of Betun the brewster, and the pastry
cooks in the London streets crying "Hote pies, hote! Good gees and
grys.[7] Go we dine, go we!" Had Langland not linked his literary
fortunes with an uncouth and obsolescent verse, and had he possessed a
finer artistic sense and a higher poetic imagination, his book might
have been, like Chaucer's, among the lasting glories of our tongue. As
it is, it is forgotten by all but professional students of literature
and history. Its popularity in its own day is shown by the number of
MSS. which are extant, and by imitations, such as _Piers the Plowman's
Crede_ (1394), and the _Plowman's Tale_, for a long time wrongly
inserted in the _Canterbury Tales_. Piers became a kind of typical
figure, like the French peasant, _Jacques Bonhomme_, and was appealed to
as such by the Protestant reformers of the 16th century.

The attack upon the growing corruptions of the Church was made more
systematically, and from the stand-point of a theologian rather than of
a popular moralist and satirist, by John Wiclif, the rector of
Lutterworth and professor of divinity in Baliol College, Oxford. In a
series of Latin and English tracts he made war against indulgences,
pilgrimages, images, oblations, the friars, the pope, and the doctrine
of transubstantiation. But his greatest service to England was his
translation of the Bible, the first complete version in the
mother-tongue. This he made about 1380, with the help of Nicholas
Hereford, and a revision of it was made by another disciple, Purvey,
some ten years later. There was no knowledge of Hebrew or Greek in
England at that time, and the Wiclifite versions were made not from the
original tongues but from the Latin Vulgate. In his anxiety to make his
rendering close, and mindful, perhaps, of the warning in the Apocalypse,
"If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy,
God shall take away his part out of the book of life," Wiclif followed
the Latin order of construction so literally as to make rather awkward
English, translating, for example, _Quib sibi vult hoc somnium?_ by
_What to itself wole[8] this sweven?_[9] Purvey's revision was somewhat
freer and more idiomatic. In the reigns of Henry IV. and V. it was
forbidden to read or to have any of Wiclif's writings. Such of them as
could be seized were publicly burned. In spite of this, copies of his
Bible circulated secretly in great numbers. Forshall and Madden, in
their great edition (1850), enumerate one hundred and fifty MSS. which
had been consulted by them. Later translators, like Tyndale and the
makers of the Authorized Version, or "King James's Bible" (1611),
followed Wiclif's language in many instances; so that he was, in truth,
the first author of our biblical dialect and the founder of that great
monument of noble English which has been the main conservative influence
in the mother-tongue, holding it fast to many strong, pithy words and
idioms that would else have been lost. In 1415, some thirty years after
Wiclif's death, by decree of the Council of Constance, his bones were
dug up from the soil of Lutterworth chancel and burned, and the ashes
cast into the Swift. "The brook," says Thomas Fuller, in his _Church
History_, "did convey his ashes into Avon; Avon into Severn; Severn into
the narrow seas; they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wiclif
are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world

[Footnote 7: Pigs.]
[Footnote 8: Will.]
[Footnote 9: Dream.]

Although the writings thus far mentioned are of very high interest to
the student of the English language and the historian of English manners
and culture, they cannot be said to have much importance as mere
literature. But in Geoffrey Chaucer (died 1400) we meet with a poet of
the first rank, whose works are increasingly read and will always
continue to be a source of delight and refreshment to the general reader
as well as a "well of English undefiled" to the professional man of
letters. With the exception of Dante, Chaucer was the greatest of the
poets of mediæval Europe, and he remains one of the greatest of English
poets, and certainly the foremost of English story tellers in verse. He
was the son of a London vintner, and was in his youth in the service of
Lionel, Duke of Clarence, one of the sons of Edward III. He made a
campaign in France in 1359-60, when he was taken prisoner. Afterward he
was attached to the court and received numerous favors and appointments.
He was sent on several diplomatic missions by the king, three of them to
Italy, where, in all probability, he made the acquaintance of the new
Italian literature, the writings of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. He
was appointed at different times comptroller of the wool customs,
comptroller of petty customs, and clerk of the works. He sat for Kent in
Parliament, and he received pensions from three successive kings. He was
a man of business as well as books, and he loved men and nature no less
than study. He knew his world; he "saw life steadily and saw it whole."
Living at the center of English social and political life, and
resorting to the court of Edward III., then the most brilliant in
Europe, Chaucer was an eye-witness of those feudal pomps which fill the
high-colored pages of his contemporary, the French chronicler,
Froissart. His description of a tournament in the _Knight's Tale_ is
unexcelled for spirit and detail. He was familiar with dances, feasts,
state ceremonies, and all the life of the baronial castle, in bower and
hall: the "trompes with the loude minstralcie," the heralds, the ladies,
and the squires. He knew--

  What hawkës sitten on the perch above,
  What houndës liggen[10] on the floor adown.

But his sympathy reached no less the life of the lowly; the poor widow
in her narrow cottage, and that "trewe swynkere[11] and a good," the
plowman whom Langland had made the hero of his vision. He is, more than
all English poets, the poet of the lusty spring, of "Aprillë with her
showrës sweet" and the "foulës song;" of "May with all her flourës and
her green;" of the new leaves in the wood, and the meadows new powdered
with the daisy, the mystic Marguerite of his _Legend of Good Women_. A
fresh vernal air blows through all his pages.

[Footnote 10: Lie.]
[Footnote 11: Laborer.]

In Chaucer's earlier works, such as the translation of the _Romaunt of
the Rose_ (if that be his), the _Boke of the Duchesse_, the _Parlament
of Foules_, the _Hous of Fame_, as well as in the _Legend of Good
Women_, which was later, the inspiration of the French court poetry of
the 13th and 14th centuries is manifest. He retains in them the mediæval
machinery of allegories and dreams, the elaborate descriptions of
palaces, temples, portraitures, etc., which had been made fashionable in
France by such poems as Guillaume de Lorris's _Roman de la Rose_, and
Jean Machault's _La Fontaine Amoureuse_. In some of these the influence
of Italian poetry is also perceptible. There are suggestions from
Dante, for example, in the _Parlament of Foules_ and the _Hous of Fame_,
and _Troilus and Cresseide_ is a free handling rather than a translation
of Boccaccio's _Filostrato_. In all of these there are passages of great
beauty and force. Had Chaucer written nothing else, he would still have
been remembered as the most accomplished English poet of his time, but
he would not have risen to the rank which he now occupies, as one of the
greatest English poets of all time. This position he owes to his
masterpiece, the _Canterbury Tales_. Here he abandoned the imitation of
foreign models and the artificial literary fashions of his age, and
wrote of real life from his own ripe knowledge of men and things.

The _Canterbury Tales_ are a collection of stories written at different
times, but put together, probably, toward the close of his life. The
frame-work into which they are fitted is one of the happiest ever
devised. A number of pilgrims who are going on horseback to the shrine
of St. Thomas à Becket, at Canterbury, meet at the Tabard Inn, in
Southwark, a suburb of London. The jolly host of the Tabard, Harry
Bailey, proposes that on their way to Canterbury, each of the company
shall tell two tales, and two more on their way back, and that the one
who tells the best shall have a supper at the cost of the rest when they
return to the inn. He himself accompanies them as judge and "reporter."
In the setting of the stories there is thus a constant feeling of
movement and the air of all outdoors. The little "head-links" and
"end-links" which bind them together give incidents of the journey and
glimpses of the talk of the pilgrims, sometimes amounting, as in the
prologue of the _Wife of Bath_, to full and almost dramatic
character-sketches. The stories, too, are dramatically suited to the
narrators. The general prologue is a series of such character-sketches,
the most perfect in English poetry. The portraits of the pilgrims are
illuminated with the soft brilliancy and the minute loving fidelity of
the miniatures in the old missals, and with the same quaint precision in
traits of expression and in costume. The pilgrims are not all such as
one would meet nowadays at an English inn. The presence of a knight, a
squire, a yeoman archer, and especially of so many kinds of
ecclesiastics, a nun, a friar, a monk, a pardoner, and a sompnour or
apparitor, reminds us that the England of that day must have been less
like Protestant England, as we know it, than like the Italy of some
fifty years ago. But however the outward face of society may have
changed, the Canterbury pilgrims remain, in Chaucer's descriptions,
living and universal types of human nature. The _Canterbury Tales_ are
twenty-four in number. There were thirty-two pilgrims, so that if
finished as designed the whole collection would have numbered one
hundred and twenty-eight stories.

Chaucer is the bright consummate flower of the English Middle Age. Like
many another great poet he put the final touch to the various literary
forms that he found in cultivation. Thus his _Knight's Tale_, based upon
Boccaccio's _Teseide_, is the best of English mediæval romances. And yet
the _Rime of Sir Thopas_, who goes seeking an elf queen for his mate,
and is encountered by the giant Sir Olifaunt, burlesques these same
romances with their impossible adventures and their tedious rambling
descriptions. The tales of the prioress and the second nun are saints'
legends. The _Monk's Tale_ is a set of dry, moral apologues in the
manner of his contemporary, the "moral Gower." The stories told by the
reeve, miller, friar, sompnour, shipman, and merchant belong to the
class of _fabliaux_, a few of which existed in English, such as _Dame
Siriz_, the _Lay of the Ash_, and the _Land of Cokaygne_, already
mentioned. The _Nonne Preste's Tale_, likewise, which Dryden modernized
with admirable humor, was of the class of _fabliaux_, and was suggested
by a little poem in forty lines, _Dou Coc et Werpil_, by Marie de
France, a Norman poetess of the 13th century. It belonged, like the
early English poem of _The Fox and the Wolf_, to the popular animal saga
of _Reynard the Fox_. The _Franklin's Tale_, whose scene is Brittany,
and the _Wife of Bath's Tale_ which is laid in the time of the British
Arthur, belong to the class of French _lais_, serious metrical tales
shorter than the romance and of Breton origin, the best representatives
of which are the elegant and graceful _lais_ of Marie de France.

Chaucer was our first great master of laughter and of tears. His serious
poetry is full of the tenderest pathos. His loosest tales are
delightfully humorous and life-like. He is the kindliest of satirists.
The knavery, greed, and hypocrisy of the begging friars and the sellers
of indulgences are exposed by him as pitilessly as by Langland and
Wiclif, though his mood is not, like theirs, one of stern, moral
indignation, but rather the good-natured scorn of a man of the world.
His charity is broad enough to cover even the corrupt sompnour, of whom
he says,

  And yet in sooth he was a good felawe.

Whether he shared Wiclif's opinions is unknown, but John of Gaunt, the
Duke of Lancaster and father of Henry IV., who was Chaucer's life-long
patron, was likewise Wiclif's great upholder against the persecution of
the bishops. It is, perhaps, not without significance that the poor
parson in the _Canterbury Tales_, the only one of his ecclesiastical
pilgrims whom Chaucer treats with respect, is suspected by the host of
the Tabard to be a "loller," that is, a Lollard, or disciple of Wiclif,
and that, because he objects to the jovial innkeeper's swearing "by
Goddes bones."

Chaucer's English is nearly as easy for a modern reader as Shakspere's,
and few of his words have become obsolete. His verse, when rightly read,
is correct and melodious. The early English was, in some respects, "more
sweet upon the tongue" than the modern language. The vowels had their
broad Italian sounds, and the speech was full of soft gutterals and
vocalic syllables, like the endings ën, ës, ë, which made feminine
rhymes and kept the consonants from coming harshly together.

Great poet as Chaucer was, he was not quite free from the literary
weakness of his time. He relapses sometimes into the babbling style of
the old chroniclers and legend writers; cites "auctours" and gives long
catalogues of names and objects with a _naïve_ display of learning; and
introduces vulgar details in his most exquisite passages. There is
something childish about almost all the thought and art of the Middle
Ages--at least outside of Italy, where classical models and traditions
never quite lost their hold. But Chaucer's artlessness is half the
secret of his wonderful ease in story-telling, and is so engaging that,
like a child's sweet unconsciousness, one would not wish it otherwise.

The _Canterbury Tales_ had shown of what high uses the English language
was capable, but the curiously trilingual condition of literature still
continued. French was spoken in the proceedings of Parliament as late as
the reign of Henry VI. (1422-1471). Chaucer's contemporary, John Gower,
wrote his _Vox Clamantis_ in Latin, his _Speculum Meditantis_ (a lost
poem), and a number of _ballades_ in Parisian French, and his _Confessio
Amantis_ (1393) in English. The last named is a dreary, pedantic work,
in some fifteen thousand smooth, monotonous, eight-syllabled couplets,
in which Grande Amour instructs the lover how to get the love of Bel

       *       *       *       *       *

1. Early English Literature. Bernhard ten Brink. Translated
from the German by H.M. Kennedy. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1883.

2. Morris and Skeat's Specimens of Early English. (Clarendon
Press Series.) Oxford.

3. The Vision of William concerning Piers the Plowman.
Edited by W.W. Skeat. Oxford, 1886.

4. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Tyrwhitt's Edition. New
York: D. Appleton & Co., 1883.

5. The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Edited by
Richard Morris. London: Bell & Daldy (6 volumes.)




The 15th century was a barren period in English literary history. It was
nearly two hundred years after Chaucer's death before any poet came
whose name can be written in the same line with his. He was followed at
once by a number of imitators who caught the trick of his language and
verse, but lacked the genius to make any fine use of them. The _manner_
of a true poet may be learned, but his style, in the high sense of the
word, remains his own secret. Some of the poems which have been
attributed to Chaucer and printed in editions of his works, as the
_Court of Love_, the _Flower and the Leaf_, the _Cuckow and the
Nightingale_, are now regarded by many scholars as the work of later
writers. If not Chaucer's, they are of Chaucer's school, and the first
two, at least, are very pretty poems after the fashion of his minor
pieces, such as the _Boke of the Duchesse_ and the _Parlament of

Among his professed disciples was Thomas Occleve, a dull rhymer, who, in
his _Governail of Princes_, a didactic poem translated from the Latin
about 1413, drew, or caused to be drawn, on the margin of his MS. a
colored portrait of his "maister dere and fader reverent."

  This londës verray tresour and richesse
  Dethe by thy dethe hath harm irreparable
  Unto us done; hir vengeable duresse
  Dispoilëd hath this londe of the swetnésse
  Of Rhetoryk.

Another versifier of this same generation was John Lydgate, a
Benedictine monk of the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk, a very
prolix writer, who composed, among other things, the _Story of Thebes_,
as an addition to the _Canterbury Tales_. His ballad of _London
Lyckpenny_, recounting the adventures of a countryman who goes to the
law courts at Westminster in search of justice--

  But for lack of mony I could not spede--

is of interest for the glimpse that it gives us of London street life.

Chaucer's influence wrought more fruitfully in Scotland, whither it was
carried by James I., who had been captured by the English when a boy of
eleven, and brought up at Windsor as a prisoner of state. There he wrote
during the reign of Henry V. (1413-1422) a poem in six cantos, entitled
the _King's Quhair_ (King's Book), in Chaucer's seven-lined stanza,
which had been employed by Lydgate in his _Falls of Princes_ (from
Boccaccio), and which was afterward called the "rime royal," from its
use by King James. The _King's Quhair_ tells how the poet, on a May
morning, looks from the window of his prison chamber into the castle
garden full of alleys, hawthorn hedges, and fair arbors set with

  The sharpë, greenë, sweetë juniper.

He was listening to "the little sweetë nightingale," when suddenly
casting down his eyes he saw a lady walking in the garden, and at once
his "heart became her thrall." The incident is precisely like Palamon's
first sight of Emily in Chaucer's _Knight's Tale_, and almost in the
very words of Palamon the poet addresses his lady:

  Ah, sweet, are ye a worldly crëatúre
  Or heavenly thing in likeness of natúre?
  Or are ye very Nature, the goddéss,
  That have depainted with your heavenly hand
  This garden full of flowrës as they stand?

Then, after a vision in the taste of the age, in which the royal
prisoner is transported in turn to the courts of _Venus_, _Minerva_,
and _Fortune_, and receives their instruction in the duties belonging to
Love's service, he wakes from sleep and a white turtle-dove brings to
his window a spray of red gilly flowers, whose leaves are inscribed, in
golden letters, with a message of encouragement.

James I. may be reckoned among the English poets. He mentions Chaucer,
Gower, and Lydgate as his masters. His education was English, and so was
the dialect of his poem, although the unique MS. of it is in the Scotch
spelling. The _King's Quhair_ is somewhat overladen with ornament and
with the fashionable allegorical devices, but it is, upon the whole, a
rich and tender love song, the best specimen of court poetry between the
time of Chaucer and the time of Spenser. The lady who walked in the
garden on that May morning was Jane Beaufort, niece to Henry IV. She was
married to her poet after his release from captivity and became queen of
Scotland in 1424. Twelve years later James was murdered by Sir Robert
Graham and his Highlanders, and his wife, who strove to defend him, was
wounded by the assassins. The story of the murder has been told of late
by D.G. Rossetti, in his ballad, _The King's Tragedy_. The whole life of
this princely singer was, like his poem, in the very spirit of romance.

The effect of all this imitation of Chaucer was to fix a standard of
literary style, and to confirm the authority of the East-Midland English
in which he had written. Though the poets of the 15th century were not
overburdened with genius, they had, at least, a definite model to
follow. As in the 14th century, metrical romances continued to be
translated from the French, homilies and saints' legends and rhyming
chronicles were still manufactured. But the poems of Occleve and Lydgate
and James I. had helped to polish and refine the tongue and to prolong
the Chaucerian tradition. The literary English never again slipped back
into the chaos of dialects which had prevailed before Chaucer.

In the history of every literature the development of prose is later
than that of verse. The latter being, by its very form, artificial, is
cultivated as a fine art, and its records preserved in an early stage of
society, when prose is simply the talk of men, and not thought worthy of
being written and kept. English prose labored under the added
disadvantage of competing with Latin, which was the cosmopolitan tongue
and the medium of communication between scholars of all countries. Latin
was the language of the Church, and in the Middle Ages churchman and
scholar were convertible terms. The word _clerk_ meant either priest or
scholar. Two of the _Canterbury Tales_ are in prose, as is also the
_Testament of Love_, formerly ascribed to Chaucer, and the style of all
these is so feeble, wandering, and unformed that it is hard to believe
that they were written by the same man who wrote the _Knight's Tale_ and
the story of Griselda. _The Voiage and Travaile of Sir John
Maundeville_--the forerunner of that great library of oriental travel
which has enriched our modern literature--was written, according to its
author, first in Latin, then in French, and, lastly, in the year 1356,
translated into English for the behoof of "lordes and knyghtes and
othere noble and worthi men, that conne[12] not Latyn but litylle." The
author professed to have spent over thirty years in Eastern travel, to
have penetrated as far as Farther India and the "iles that ben abouten
Indi," to have been in the service of the Sultan of Babylon in his wars
against the Bedouins, and, at another time, in the employ of the Great
Khan of Tartary. But there is no copy of the Latin version of his
travels extant; the French seems to be much later than 1356, and the
English MS. to belong to the early years of the 15th century, and to
have been made by another hand. Recent investigations make it probable
that Maundeville borrowed his descriptions of the remoter East from many
sources, and particularly from the narrative of Odoric, a Minorite
friar of Lombardy, who wrote about 1330. Some doubt is even cast upon
the existence of any such person as Maundeville. Whoever wrote the book
that passes under his name, however, would seem to have visited the Holy
Land, and the part of the "voiage" that describes Palestine and the
Levant is fairly close to the truth. The rest of the work, so far as it
is not taken from the tales of other travelers, is a diverting tissue of
fables about gryfouns that fly away with yokes of oxen, tribes of
one-legged Ethiopians who shelter themselves from the sun by using their
monstrous feet as umbrellas, etc.

[Footnote 12: Know.]

During the 15th century English prose was gradually being brought into a
shape fitting it for more serious uses. In the controversy between the
Church and the Lollards Latin was still mainly employed, but Wiclif had
written some of his tracts in English, and, in 1449, Reginald Peacock,
Bishop of St. Asaph, contributed, in English, to the same controversy,
_The Repressor of Overmuch Blaming of the Clergy_. Sir John Fortescue,
who was chief-justice of the King's Bench from 1442-1460, wrote during
the reign of Edward IV. a book on the _Difference between Absolute and
Limited Monarchy_, which may be regarded as the first treatise on
political philosophy and constitutional law in the language. But these
works hardly belong to pure literature, and are remarkable only as
early, though not very good, examples of English prose in a barren time.
The 15th century was an era of decay and change. The Middle Age was
dying, Church and State were slowly disintegrating under the new
intellectual influences that were working secretly under ground. In
England the civil wars of the Red and White Roses were breaking up the
old feudal society by decimating and impoverishing the baronage, thus
preparing the way for the centralized monarchy of the Tudors. Toward the
close of that century, and early in the next, happened the four great
events, or series of events, which freed and widened men's minds, and,
in a succession of shocks, overthrew the mediæval system of life and
thought. These were the invention of printing, the Renaissance, or
revival of classical learning, the discovery of America, and the
Protestant Reformation.

William Caxton, the first English printer, learned the art in Cologne.
In 1476 he set up his press and sign, a red pole, in the Almonry at
Westminster. Just before the introduction of printing the demand for MS.
copies had grown very active, stimulated, perhaps, by the coming into
general use of linen paper instead of the more costly parchment. The
scriptoria of the monasteries were the places where the transcribing and
illuminating of MSS. went on, professional copyists resorting to
Westminster Abbey, for example, to make their copies of books belonging
to the monastic library. Caxton's choice of a spot was, therefore,
significant. His new art for multiplying copies began to supersede the
old method of transcription at the very head-quarters of the MS. makers.
The first book that bears his Westminster imprint was the _Dictes and
Sayings of the Philosophers_, translated from the French by Anthony
Woodville, Lord Rivers, a brother-in-law of Edward IV. The list of books
printed by Caxton is interesting, as showing the taste of the time,
since he naturally selected what was most in demand. The list shows that
manuals of devotion and chivalry were still in chief request, books like
the _Order of Chivalry_, _Faits of Arms_, and the _Golden Legend_, which
last Caxton translated himself, as well as _Reynard the Fox_, and a
French version of the _Aeneid_. He also printed, with continuations of
his own, revisions of several early chronicles, and editions of Chaucer,
Gower, and Lydgate. A translation of _Cicero on Friendship_, made
directly from the Latin, by Thomas Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, was
printed by Caxton, but no edition of a classical author in the original.
The new learning of the Renaissance had not, as yet, taken much hold in
England. Upon the whole the productions of Caxton's press were mostly
of a kind that may be described as mediæval, and the most important of
them, if we except his edition of Chaucer, was that "noble and joyous
book," as Caxton called it, _Le Morte Dartur_, written by Sir Thomas
Malory in 1469, and printed by Caxton in 1485. This was a compilation
from French Arthur romances, and was by far the best English prose that
had yet been written. It may be doubted, indeed, whether, for purposes
of simple story telling, the picturesque charm of Malory's style has
been improved upon. The episode which lends its name to the whole
romance, the death of Arthur, is most impressively told, and Tennyson
has followed Malory's narrative closely, even to such details of the
scene as the little chapel by the sea, the moonlight, and the answer
which Sir Bedwere made the wounded king, when bidden to throw Excalibur
into the water, "'What saw thou there?' said the king. 'Sir,' he said,
'I saw nothing but the waters wap and the waves wan.'"

  I heard the ripple washing in the reeds
  And the wild water lapping on the crag.

And very touching and beautiful is the oft-quoted lament of Sir Ector
over Launcelot, in Malory's final chapter: "'Ah, Launcelot,' he said,
'thou were head of all Christian knights; and now I dare say,' said Sir
Ector, 'thou, Sir Launcelot, there thou liest, that thou were never
matched of earthly knight's hand; and thou were the courtiest knight
that ever bare shield; and thou were the truest friend to thy lover that
ever bestrode horse; and thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that
ever loved woman; and thou were the kindest man that ever strake with
sword; and thou were the goodliest person that ever came among press of
knights; and thou were the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in
hall among ladies; and thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe
that ever put spear in the rest.'"

Equally good, as an example of English prose narrative, was the
translation made by John Bourchier, Lord Berners, of that most brilliant
of the French chroniclers, Chaucer's contemporary, Sir John Froissart.
Lord Berners was the English governor of Calais, and his version of
Froissart's _Chronicles_ was made in 1523-1525, at the request of Henry
VIII. In these two books English chivalry spoke its last genuine word.
In Sir Philip Sidney the character of the knight was merged into that of
the modern gentleman. And although tournaments were still held in the
reign of Elizabeth, and Spenser cast his _Faerie Queene_ into the form
of a chivalry romance, these were but a ceremonial survival and literary
tradition from an order of things that had passed away. How antagonistic
the new classical culture was to the vanished ideal of the Middle Age
may be read in _Toxophilus_, a treatise on archery published in 1545, by
Roger Ascham, a Greek lecturer in Cambridge, and the tutor of the
Princess Elizabeth and of Lady Jane Grey: "In our forefathers' time,
when papistry as a standing pool covered and overflowed all England, few
books were read in our tongue saving certain books of chivalry, as they
said, for pastime and pleasure, which, as some say, were made in
monasteries by idle monks or wanton canons: as one, for example, _Morte
Arthure_, the whole pleasure of which book standeth in two special
points, in open manslaughter and bold bawdry. This is good stuff for
wise men to laugh at or honest men to take pleasure at. Yet I know when
God's Bible was banished the court, and _Morte Arthure_ received into
the prince's chamber."

The fashionable school of courtly allegory, first introduced into
England by the translation of the _Romaunt of the Rose_, reached its
extremity in Stephen Hawes's _Passetyme of Pleasure_, printed by
Caxton's successor, Wynkyn de Worde, in 1517. This was a dreary and
pedantic poem, in which it is told how Graunde Amoure, after a long
series of adventures and instructions among such shadowy personages as
Verite, Observaunce, Falshed, and Good Operacion, finally won the love
of La Belle Pucel. Hawes was the last English poet of note whose culture
was exclusively mediæval. His contemporary, John Skelton, mingled the
old fashions with the new classical learning. In his _Bowge of Courte_
(Court Entertainment or Dole), and in others of his earlier pieces, he
used, like Hawes, Chaucer's seven-lined stanza. But his later poems were
mostly written in a verse of his own invention, called after him
_Skeltonical_. This was a sort of glorified doggerel, in short, swift,
ragged lines, with occasional intermixture of French and Latin.

  Her beautye to augment.
  Dame Nature hath her lent
  A warte upon her cheke,
  Who so lyst to seke
  In her vyságe a skar
  That semyth from afar
  Lyke to the radiant star,
  All with favour fret,
  So properly it is set.
  She is the vyolet,
  The daysy delectáble,
  The columbine commendáble,
  The jelofer[13] amyáble;
  For this most goodly floure,
  This blossom of fressh coloúr,
  So Jupiter me succoúr,
  She flourysheth new and new
  In beaute and vertéw;
  _Hac claritate gemina,
  O gloriosa femina_, etc.

[Footnote 13: Gilliflower.]

Skelton was a rude railing rhymer, a singular mixture of a true and
original poet with a buffoon; coarse as Rabelais, whimsical, obscure,
but always vivacious. He was the rector of Diss, in Norfolk, but his
profane and scurrilous wit seems rather out of keeping with his
clerical character. His _Tunnyng of Elynoure Rummyng_ is a study of very
low life, reminding one slightly of Burns's _Jolly Beggars_. His
_Phyllyp Sparrowe_ is a sportive, pretty, fantastic elegy on the death
of a pet bird belonging to Mistress Joanna Scroupe, of Carowe, and has
been compared to the Latin poet Catullus's elegy on Lesbia's sparrow. In
_Spake, Parrot_, and _Why Come ye not to Courte?_ he assailed the
powerful Cardinal Wolsey with the most ferocious satire, and was, in
consequence, obliged to take sanctuary at Westminster, where he died in
1529. Skelton was a classical scholar, and at one time tutor to Henry
VIII. The great humanist, Erasmus, spoke of him as the "one light and
ornament of British letters." Caxton asserts that he had read Vergil,
Ovid, and Tully, and quaintly adds, "I suppose he hath dronken of
Elycon's well."

In refreshing contrast with the artificial court poetry of the 15th and
first three quarters of the 16th century, was the folk poetry, the
popular ballad literature which was handed down by oral tradition. The
English and Scotch ballads were narrative songs, written in a variety of
meters, but chiefly in what is known as the ballad stanza.

  In somer, when the shawes[14] be shene,[15]
    And leves be large and longe,
  Hit is full merry in feyre forést,
    To here the foulys song.

  To se the dere draw to the dale,
    And leve the hillës hee,[16]
  And shadow them in the levës grene,
    Under the grene-wode tree.

[Footnote 14: Woods.]
[Footnote 15: Bright.]
[Footnote 16: High.]

It is not possible to assign a definite date to these ballads. They
lived on the lips of the people, and were seldom reduced to writing till
many years after they were first composed and sung. Meanwhile they
underwent repeated changes, so that we have numerous versions of the
same story. They belonged to no particular author, but, like all
folk-lore, were handled freely by the unknown poets, minstrels, and
ballad reciters, who modernized their language, added to them, or
corrupted them, and passed them along. Coming out of an uncertain past,
based on some dark legend of heart-break or bloodshed, they bear no
poet's name, but are _ferae naturae_, and have the flavor of wild game.
In the form in which they are preserved, few of them are older than the
17th or the latter part of the 16th century, though many, in their
original shape, are doubtless much older. A very few of the Robin Hood
ballads go back to the 15th century, and to the same period is assigned
the charming ballad of the _Nut Brown Maid_ and the famous border ballad
of _Chevy Chase_, which describes a battle between the retainers of the
two great houses of Douglas and Percy. It was this song of which Sir
Philip Sidney wrote, "I never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas
but I found myself more moved than by a trumpet; and yet it is sung but
by some blind crouder,[17] with no rougher voice than rude style." But
the style of the ballads was not always rude. In their compressed energy
of expression, in the impassioned way in which they tell their tale of
grief and horror, there reside often a tragic power and art superior to
any thing in English poetry between Chaucer and Spenser; superior to any
thing in Chaucer and Spenser themselves, in the quality of intensity.
The true home of the ballad literature was "the north country," and
especially the Scotch border, where the constant forays of moss-troopers
and the raids and private warfare of the lords of the marches supplied
many traditions of heroism, like those celebrated in the old poem of the
_Battle of Otterbourne_, and in the _Hunting of the Cheviot_, or _Chevy
Chase_, already mentioned. Some of these are Scotch and others English;
the dialect of Lowland Scotland did not, in effect, differ much from
that of Northumberland and Yorkshire, both descended alike from the old
Northumbrian of Anglo-Saxon times. Other ballads were shortened, popular
versions of the chivalry romances, which were passing out of fashion
among educated readers in the 16th century and now fell into the hands
of the ballad makers. Others preserved the memory of local country-side
tales, family feuds, and tragic incidents, partly historical and partly
legendary, associated often with particular spots. Such are, for
example, _The Dowie Dens of Yarrow_, _Fair Helen of Kirkconnell_, _The
Forsaken Bride_, and _The Twa Corbies_. Others, again, have a coloring
of popular superstition, like the beautiful ballad concerning _Thomas of
Ersyldoune_, who goes in at Eildon Hill with an elf queen and spends
seven years in fairy land.

[Footnote 17: Fiddler.]

But the most popular of all the ballads were those which cluster about
the name of that good outlaw, Robin Hood, who, with his merry men,
hunted the forest of Sherwood, where he killed the king's deer and
waylaid rich travelers, but was kind to poor knights and honest workmen.
Robin Hood is the true ballad hero, the darling of the common people as
Arthur was of the nobles. The names of his confessor, Friar Tuck; his
mistress, Maid Marian; his companions, Little John, Scathelock, and
Much, the miller's son, were as familiar as household words. Langland in
the 14th century mentions "rimes of Robin Hood," and efforts have been
made to identify him with some actual personage, as with one of the
dispossessed barons who had been adherents of Simon de Montfort in his
war against Henry III. But there seems to be nothing historical about
Robin Hood. He was a creation of the popular fancy. The game laws under
the Norman kings were very oppressive, and there were, doubtless, dim
memories still cherished among the Saxon masses of Hereward and Edric
the Wild, who had defied the power of the Conqueror, as well as of later
freebooters, who had taken to the woods and lived by plunder. Robin
Hood was a thoroughly national character. He had the English love of
fair play, the English readiness to shake hands and make up, and keep no
malice when worsted in a square fight. He beat and plundered the fat
bishops and abbots, who had more than their share of wealth, but he was
generous and hospitable to the distressed, and lived a free and careless
life in the good green wood. He was a mighty archer with those national
weapons, the long-bow and the cloth-yard shaft. He tricked and baffled
legal authority in the person of the proud sheriff of Nottingham,
thereby appealing to that secret sympathy with lawless adventure which
marked the free-born, vigorous yeomanry of England. And, finally, the
scenery of the forest gives a poetic background and a never-failing
charm to the exploits of "the old Robin Hood of England" and his merry

The ballads came, in time, to have certain tricks of style, such as are
apt to characterize a body of anonymous folk-poetry. Such is their use
of conventional epithets; "the red, red gold," "the good green wood,"
"the gray goose wing." Such are certain recurring terms of phrase like,

  But out and spak their stepmother.

Such is, finally, a kind of sing-song repetition, which doubtless helped
the ballad singer to memorize his stock, as, for example,

    She had'na pu'd a double rose,
    A rose but only twae.

Or again,

  And mony ane sings o' grass, o' grass,
    And mony ane sings o' corn;
  An mony ane sings o' Robin Hood,
    Kens little whare he was born.

  It was na in the ha', the ha',
    Nor in the painted bower;
  But it was in the gude green wood,
    Amang the lily flower.

Copies of some of these old ballads were hawked about in the 16th
century, printed in black letter, "broadsides," or single sheets. Wynkyn
de Worde printed in 1489 _A Lytell Geste of Robin Hood_, which is a sort
of digest of earlier ballads on the subject. In the 17th century a few
of the English popular ballads were collected in miscellanies called
_Garlands_. Early in the 18th century the Scotch poet, Allan Ramsay,
published a number of Scotch ballads in the _Evergreen_ and _Tea-Table
Miscellany_. But no large and important collection was put forth until
Percy's _Reliques_ (1765), a book which had a powerful influence upon
Wordsworth and Walter Scott. In Scotland some excellent ballads in the
ancient manner were written in the 18th century, such as Jane Elliott's
_Lament for Flodden_, and the fine ballad of _Sir Patrick Spence_.
Walter Scott's _Proud Maisie is in the Wood_, is a perfect reproduction
of the pregnant, indirect method of the old ballad makers.

In 1453 Constantinople was taken by the Turks, and many Greek scholars,
with their manuscripts, fled into Italy, where they began teaching their
language and literature, and especially the philosophy of Plato. There
had been little or no knowledge of Greek in western Europe during the
Middle Ages, and only a very imperfect knowledge of the Latin classics.
Ovid and Statius were widely read, and so was the late Latin poet,
Boethius, whose _De Consolatione Philosophiæ_ had been translated into
English by King Alfred and by Chaucer. Little was known of Vergil at
first hand, and he was popularly supposed to have been a mighty wizard,
who made sundry works of enchantment at Rome, such as a magic mirror and
statue. Caxton's so-called translation of the _Aeneid_ was in reality
nothing but a version of a French romance based on Vergil's epic. Of the
Roman historians, orators, and moralists, such as Livy, Tacitus, Cæsar,
Cicero, and Seneca, there was almost entire ignorance, as also of poets
like Horace, Lucretius, Juvenal, and Catullus. The gradual rediscovery
of the remains of ancient art and literature which took place in the
15th century, and largely in Italy, worked an immense revolution in the
mind of Europe. Manuscripts were brought out of their hiding places,
edited by scholars, and spread abroad by means of the printing-press.
Statues were dug up and placed in museums, and men became acquainted
with a civilization far more mature than that of the Middle Age, and
with models of perfect workmanship in letters and the fine arts.

In the latter years of the 15th century a number of Englishmen learned
Greek in Italy and brought it back with them to England. William Grocyn
and Thomas Linacre, who had studied at Florence under the refugee,
Demetrius Chalcondylas, began teaching Greek at Oxford, the former as
early as 1491. A little later John Colet, Dean of St. Paul's and the
founder of St. Paul's School, and his friend, William Lily, the
grammarian, and first master of St. Paul's (1500), also studied Greek
abroad; Colet in Italy, and Lily at Rhodes and in the city of Rome.
Thomas More, afterward the famous chancellor of Henry VIII., was among
the pupils of Grocyn and Linacre at Oxford. Thither also, in 1497, came,
in search of the new knowledge, the Dutchman, Erasmus, who became the
foremost scholar of his time. From Oxford the study spread to the sister
university, where the first English Grecian of his day, Sir John Cheke,
who "taught Cambridge and King Edward Greek," became the incumbent of
the new professorship founded about 1540. Among his pupils was Roger
Ascham, already mentioned, in whose time St. John's College, Cambridge,
was the chief seat of the new learning, of which Thomas Nashe testifies
that it "was an universitie within itself; having more candles light in
it, every winter morning before four of the clock, than the four of
clock bell gave strokes." Greek was not introduced at the universities
without violent opposition from the conservative element, who were
nicknamed Trojans. The opposition came in part from the priests, who
feared that that new study would sow seeds of heresy. Yet many of the
most devout churchmen were friends of a more liberal culture, among them
Thomas More, whose Catholicism was undoubted and who went to the block
for his religion. Cardinal Wolsey, whom More succeeded as chancellor,
was also a munificent patron of learning, and founded Christ Church
College at Oxford. Popular education at once felt the impulse of the new
studies, and over twenty endowed grammar schools were established in
England in the first twenty years of the 16th century. Greek became a
passion even with English ladies. Ascham in his _Schoolmaster_, a
treatise on education, published in 1570, says that Queen Elizabeth
"readeth here now at Windsor more Greek every day, than some prebendarie
of this Church doth read Latin in a whole week." And in the same book he
tells how, calling once on Lady Jane Grey, at Brodegate, in
Leicestershire, he "found her in her chamber reading _Phædon Platonis_
in Greek, and that with as much delite as some gentlemen would read a
merry tale in _Bocase_," and when he asked her why she had not gone
hunting with the rest, she answered, "I wisse,[18] all their sport in
the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato."
Ascham's _Schoolmaster_, as well as his earlier book, _Toxophilus_, a
Platonic dialogue on archery, bristles with quotations from the Greek
and Latin classics, and with that perpetual reference to the authority
of antiquity on every topic that he touches, which remained the fashion
in all serious prose down to the time of Dryden.

One speedy result of the new learning was fresh translations of the
Scriptures into English out of the original tongues. In 1525 William
Tyndal printed at Cologne and Worms his version of the New Testament
from the Greek.

[Footnote 18: Surely; a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon _gewis_.]

Ten years later Miles Coverdale made, at Zurich, a translation of the
whole Bible from the German and Latin. These were the basis of numerous
later translations, and the strong beautiful English of Tyndal's
Testament is preserved for the most part in our Authorized Version
(1611). At first it was not safe to make or distribute these early
translations in England. Numbers of copies were brought into the
country, however, and did much to promote the cause of the Reformation.
After Henry VIII. had broken with the pope the new English Bible
circulated freely among the people. Tyndal and Sir Thomas More carried
on a vigorous controversy in English upon some of the questions at issue
between the Church and the Protestants. Other important contributions to
the literature of the Reformation were the homely sermons preached at
Westminster and at Paul's Cross by Bishop Hugh Latimer, who was burned
at Oxford in the reign of Bloody Mary. The English Book of Common Prayer
was compiled in 1549-1552. More was, perhaps, the best representative of
a group of scholars who wished to enlighten and reform the Church from
the inside, but who refused to follow Henry VIII. in his breach with
Rome. Dean Colet and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, belonged to the
same company, and Fisher was beheaded in the same year (1535) with More,
and for the same offense, namely, refusing to take the oath to maintain
the act confirming the king's divorce from Catharine of Arragon and his
marriage with Anne Boleyn. More's philosophy is best reflected in his
_Utopia_, the description of an ideal commonwealth, modeled on Plato's
_Republic_, and printed in 1516. The name signifies "no place" [Greek:
oy thopst], and has furnished an adjective to the language. The _Utopia_
was in Latin, but More's _History of Edward V. and Richard III._ written
1513, though not printed till 1557, was in English. It is the first
example in the tongue of a history as distinguished from a chronicle;
that is, it is a reasoned and artistic presentation of an historic
period, and not a mere chronological narrative of events.

The first three quarters of the 16th century produced no great original
work of literature in England. It was a season of preparation, of
education. The storms of the Reformation interrupted and delayed the
literary renascence through the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., and
Queen Mary. When Elizabeth came to the throne, in 1558, a more settled
order of things began, and a period of great national prosperity and
glory. Meanwhile the English mind had been slowly assimilating the new
classical culture, which was extended to all classes of readers by the
numerous translations of Greek and Latin authors. A fresh poetic impulse
came from Italy. In 1557 appeared _Tottel's Miscellany_, containing
songs and sonnets by a "new company of courtly makers." Most of the
pieces in the volume had been written years before by gentlemen of Henry
VIII.'s court, and circulated in manuscript. The two chief contributors
were Sir Thomas Wiat, at one time English embassador to Spain, and that
brilliant noble, Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, who was beheaded in
1547 for quartering the king's arms with his own. Both of them were dead
long before their work was printed. The verses in _Tottel's Miscellany_
show very clearly the influence of Italian poetry. We have seen that
Chaucer took subjects and something more from Boccaccio and Petrarch.
But the sonnet, which Petrarch had brought to perfection, was first
introduced into England by Wiat. There was a great revival of
sonneteering in Italy in the 16th century, and a number of Wiat's poems
were adaptations of the sonnets and _canzoni_ of Petrarch and later
poets. Others were imitations of Horace's satires and epistles. Surrey
introduced the Italian blank verse into English in his translation of
two books of the _Aeneid_. The love poetry of _Tottel's Miscellany_ is
polished and artificial, like the models which it followed. Dante's
Beatrice was a child, and so was Petrarch's Laura. Following their
example, Surrey addressed his love complaints, by way of compliment, to
a little girl of the noble Irish family of Geraldine. The Amourists, or
love sonneteers, dwelt on the metaphysics of the passion with a tedious
minuteness, and the conventional nature of their sighs and complaints
may often be guessed by an experienced reader from the titles of their
poems: "Description of the restless state of a lover, with suit to his
lady to rue on his dying heart;" "Hell tormenteth not the damned ghosts
so sore as unkindness the lover;" "The lover prayeth not to be
disdained, refused, mistrusted nor forsaken," etc. The most genuine
utterance of Surrey was his poem written while imprisoned in Windsor--a
cage where so many a song-bird has grown vocal. And Wiat's little piece
of eight lines, "Of his Return from Spain," is worth reams of his
amatory affectations. Nevertheless the writers in _Tottel's Miscellany_
were real reformers of English poetry. They introduced new models of
style and new metrical forms, and they broke away from the mediæval
traditions which had hitherto obtained. The language had undergone some
changes since Chaucer's time, which made his scansion obsolete. The
accent of many words of French origin, like _natúre_, _couráge_,
_virtúe_, _matére_, had shifted to the first syllable, and the _e_ of
the final syllables _ës_, _ën_, _ëd_, and _ë_, had largely disappeared.
But the language of poetry tends to keep up archaisms of this kind, and
in Stephen Hawes, who wrote a century after Chaucer, we still find such
lines as these:

  But he my strokës might right well endure,
  He was so great and huge of puissánce.[19]

Hawes's practice is variable in this respect, and so is his
contemporary, Skelton's. But in Wiat and Surrey, who wrote only a few
years later, the reader first feels sure that he is reading verse
pronounced quite in the modern fashion.

[Footnote 19: Trisyllable--like crëatúre neighëboúr, etc., in Chaucer.]

But Chaucer's example still continued potent. Spenser revived many of
his obsolete words, both in his pastorals and in his _Faerie Queene_,
thereby imparting an antique remoteness to his diction, but incurring
Ben Jonson's censure, that he "writ no language." A poem that stands
midway between Spenser and the late mediæval work of Chaucer's
school--such as Hawes's _Passetyme of Pleasure_--was the induction
contributed by Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, in 1563 to a collection
of narrative poems called the _Mirrour for Magistrates_. The whole
series was the work of many hands, modeled upon Lydgate's _Falls of
Princes_ (taken from Boccaccio), and was designed as a warning to great
men of the fickleness of fortune. The _Induction_ is the only noteworthy
part of it. It was an allegory, written in Chaucer's seven-lined stanza,
and described, with a somber imaginative power, the figure of Sorrow,
her abode in the "griesly lake" of Avernus, and her attendants, Remorse,
Dread, Old Age, etc. Sackville was the author of the first regular
English tragedy _Gorboduc_; and it was at his request that Ascham wrote
the _Schoolmaster_.

Italian poetry also fed the genius of Edmund Spenser (1552-1599). While
a student at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, he had translated some of the
_Visions of Petrarch_, and the _Visions of Bellay_, a French poet, but
it was only in 1579 that the publication of his _Shepheard's Calendar_
announced the coming of a great original poet, the first since Chaucer.
The _Shepheard's Calendar_ was a pastoral in twelve eclogues--one for
each month in the year. There had been a revival of pastoral poetry in
Italy and France, but, with one or two insignificant exceptions,
Spenser's were the first bucolics in English. Two of his eclogues were
paraphrases from Clement Marot, a French Protestant poet, whose psalms
were greatly in fashion at the court of Francis I. The pastoral
machinery had been used by Vergil and by his modern imitators, not
merely to portray the loves of Strephon and Chloe, or the idyllic charms
of rustic life; but also as a vehicle of compliment, elegy, satire, and
personal allusion of many kinds. Spenser, accordingly, alluded to his
friends, Sidney and Harvey, as the shepherds Astrophel and Hobbinol;
paid court to Queen Elizabeth as Cynthia; and introduced, in the form of
anagrams, names of the High-Church Bishop of London, Aylmer, and the
Low-Church Archbishop Grindal. The conventional pastoral is a somewhat
delicate exotic in English poetry, and represents a very unreal Arcadia.
Before the end of the 17th century the squeak of the oaten pipe had
become a burden, and the only poem of the kind which it is easy to read
without some impatience is Milton's wonderful _Lycidas_. The
_Shepheard's Calendar_, however, though it belonged to an artificial
order of literature, had the unmistakable stamp of genius in its style.
There was a broad, easy mastery of the resources of language, a grace,
fluency, and music which were new to English poetry. It was written
while Spenser was in service with the Earl of Leicester, and enjoying
the friendship of his nephew, the all-accomplished Sidney and it was,
perhaps, composed at the latter's country seat of Penshurst. In the
following year Spenser went to Ireland as private secretary to Arthur,
Lord Grey of Wilton, who had just been appointed Lord Deputy of that
kingdom. After filling several clerkships in the Irish government,
Spenser received a grant of the castle and estate of Kilcolman, a part
of the forfeited lands of the rebel Earl of Desmond. Here, among
landscapes richly wooded, like the scenery of his own fairy land, "under
the cooly shades of the green alders by the Mulla's shore," Sir Walter
Raleigh found him, in 1589, busy upon his _Faerie Queene_. In his poem,
_Colin Clout's Come Home Again_, Spenser tells, in pastoral language,
how "the shepherd of the ocean" persuaded him to go to London, where he
presented him to the queen, under whose patronage the first three books
of his great poem were printed, in 1590. A volume of minor poems,
entitled _Complaints_, followed in 1591, and the three remaining books
of the _Faerie Queene_ in 1596. In 1595-1596 he published also his
_Daphnaida, Prothalamion,_ and the four hymns on _Love_ and _Beauty_,
and on _Heavenly Love_ and _Heavenly Beauty_. In 1598, in Tyrone's
rebellion, Kilcolman Castle was sacked and burned, and Spenser, with his
family, fled to London, where he died in January, 1599.

The _Faerie Queene_ reflects, perhaps, more fully than any other English
work, the many-sided literary influences of the Renascence. It was the
blossom of a richly composite culture. Its immediate models were
Ariosto's _Orlando Furioso_, the first forty cantos of which were
published in 1515, and Tasso's _Gerusalemme Liberata_, printed in 1581.
Both of these were, in subject, romances of chivalry, the first based
upon the old Charlemagne epos--Orlando being identical with the hero of
the French _Chanson de Roland_: the second upon the history of the first
crusade, and the recovery of the Holy City from the Saracen. But in both
of them there was a splendor of diction and a wealth of coloring quite
unknown to the rude mediæval romances. Ariosto and Tasso wrote with the
great epics of Homer and Vergil constantly in mind, and all about them
was the brilliant light of Italian art, in its early freshness and
power. The _Faerie Queene_, too, was a tale of knight-errantry. Its hero
was King Arthur, and its pages swarm with the familiar adventures and
figures of Gothic romance: distressed ladies and their champions,
combats with dragons and giants, enchanted castles, magic rings, charmed
wells, forest hermitages, etc. But side by side with these appear the
fictions of Greek mythology and the personified abstractions of
fashionable allegory. Knights, squires, wizards, hamadryads, satyrs, and
river gods, Idleness, Gluttony, and Superstition jostle each other in
Spenser's fairy land. Descents to the infernal shades, in the manner of
Homer and Vergil, alternate with descriptions of the Palace of Pride in
the manner of the _Romaunt of the Rose_. But Spenser's imagination was a
powerful spirit, and held all these diverse elements in solution. He
removed them to an ideal sphere "apart from place, withholding time,"
where they seem all alike equally real, the dateless conceptions of the
poet's dream.

The poem was to have been "a continued allegory or dark conceit," in
twelve books, the hero of each book representing one of the twelve moral
virtues. Only six books and the fragment of a seventh were written. By
way of complimenting his patrons and securing contemporary interest,
Spenser undertook to make his allegory a double one, personal and
historical, as well as moral or abstract. Thus Gloriana, the Queen of
Faery, stands not only for Glory but for Elizabeth, to whom the poem was
dedicated. Prince Arthur is Leicester, as well as Magnificence. Duessa
is Falsehood, but also Mary Queen of Scots. Grantorto is Philip II. of
Spain. Sir Artegal is Justice, but likewise he is Arthur Grey de Wilton.
Other characters shadow forth Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Philip Sidney,
Henry IV. of France, etc.; and such public events as the revolt of the
Spanish Netherlands, the Irish rebellion, the execution of Mary Stuart,
and the rising of the northern Catholic houses against Elizabeth are
told in parable. In this way the poem reflects the spiritual struggle of
the time, the warfare of young England against popery and Spain.

The allegory is not always easy to follow. It is kept up most carefully
in the first two books, but it sat rather lightly on Spenser's
conscience, and is not of the essence of the poem. It is an ornament put
on from the outside and detachable at pleasure. The "Spenserian stanza,"
in which the _Faerie Queene_ was written, was adapted from the _ottava
rima_ of Ariosto. Spenser changed somewhat the order of the rimes in
the first eight lines and added a ninth line of twelve syllables, thus
affording more space to the copious luxuriance of his style and the
long-drawn sweetness of his verse. It was his instinct to dilate and
elaborate every image to the utmost, and his similies, especially--each
of which usually fills a whole stanza--have the pictorial amplitude of
Homer's. Spenser was, in fact, a great painter. His poetry is almost
purely sensuous. The personages in the _Faerie Queene_ are not
characters, but richly colored figures, moving to the accompaniment of
delicious music, in an atmosphere of serene remoteness from the earth.
Charles Lamb said that he was the poet's poet, that is, he appealed
wholly to the artistic sense and to the love of beauty. Not until Keats
did another English poet appear so filled with the passion for outward
shapes of beauty, so exquisitively alive to all impressions of the
senses. Spenser was, in some respects, more an Italian than an English
poet. It is said that the Venetian gondoliers still sing the stanzas of
Tasso's _Gerusalemme Liberata_. It is not easy to imagine the Thames
bargees chanting passages from the _Faerie Queene_. Those English poets
who have taken strongest hold upon their public have done so by their
profound interpretation of our common life. But Spenser escaped
altogether from reality into a region of pure imagination. His aerial
creations resemble the blossoms of the epiphytic orchids, which have no
root in the soil, but draw their nourishment from the moisture of the

  _Their_ birth was of the womb of morning dew,
  And _their_ conception of the glorious prime.

Among the minor poems of Spenser the most delightful were his
_Prothalamion_ and _Epithalamion_. The first was a "spousal verse," made
for the double wedding of the Ladies Catherine and Elizabeth Somerset,
whom the poet figures as two white swans that come swimming down the
Thames, the surface of which the nymphs strew with lilies, till it
appears "like a bride's chamber-floor."

  Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,

is the burden of each stanza. The _Epithalamion_ was Spenser's own
marriage song, written to crown his series of _Amoretti_ or love
sonnets, and is the most splendid hymn of triumphant love in the
language. Hardly less beautiful than these was _Muiopotmos; or, the Fate
of the Butterfly_, an addition to the classical myth of Arachne, the
spider. The four hymns in praise of _Love_ and _Beauty_, _Heavenly Love_
and _Heavenly Beauty_, are also stately and noble poems, but by reason
of their abstractness and the Platonic mysticism which they express, are
less generally pleasing than the others mentioned. Allegory and
mysticism had no natural affiliation with Spenser's genius. He was a
seer of visions, of _images_ full, brilliant, and distinct; and not,
like Bunyan, Dante, or Hawthorne, a projector into bodily shapes of
_ideas_, typical and emblematic; the shadows which haunt the conscience
and the mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

1. English Writers. Henry Morley. Cassell & Co., 1887.
4 vols.

2. Skeat's Specimens of English Literature, 1394-1579
(Clarendon Press Series.) Oxford.

3. Morte Darthur. London: Macmillan & Co., 1868.
(Globe Edition.)

4. English and Scottish Ballads. Edited by Francis J.
Child. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1859. 8 vols.

5. Spenser's Poetical Works. Edited by Richard Morris.
London: Macmillan & Co., 1877. (Globe Edition.)

6. "A Royal Poet." In Washington Irving's Sketch
Book. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1864.




The great age of English poetry opened with the publication of Spenser's
_Shepheard's Calendar_, in 1579, and closed with the printing of
Milton's _Samson Agonistes_, in 1671. Within this period of little less
than a century English thought passed through many changes, and there
were several successive phases of style in our imaginative literature.
Milton, who acknowledged Spenser as his master, and who was a boy of
eight years at Shakspere's death, lived long enough to witness the
establishment of an entirely new school of poets, in the persons of
Dryden and his contemporaries. But, roughly speaking, the dates above
given mark the limits of one literary epoch, which may not improperly be
called the Elizabethan. In strictness the Elizabethan age ended with the
queen's death, in 1603. But the poets of the succeeding reigns inherited
much of the glow and splendor which marked the diction of their
forerunners; and "the spacious times of great Elizabeth" have been, by
courtesy, prolonged to the year of the Restoration (1660). There is a
certain likeness in the intellectual products of the whole period, a
largeness of utterance and a high imaginative cast of thought which
stamp them all alike with the queen's seal.

Nor is it by any undue stretch of the royal prerogative that the name of
the monarch has attached itself to the literature of her reign and of
the reigns succeeding hers. The expression "Victorian poetry" has a
rather absurd sound when one considers how little Victoria counts for in
the literature of her time. But in Elizabethan poetry the maiden queen
is really the central figure. She is Cynthia, she is Thetis, great queen
of shepherds and of the sea; she is Spenser's Gloriana, and even
Shakspere, the most impersonal of poets, paid tribute to her in _Henry
VIII._, and, in a more delicate and indirect way, in the little allegory
introduced into _Midsummer Night's Dream_.

  That very time I saw--but thou could'st not--
  Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
  Cupid all armed. A certain aim he took
  At a fair vestal thronëd by the west,
  And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow
  As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts.
  But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
  Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
  And the imperial votaress passed on
  In maiden meditation, fancy free--

an allusion to Leicester's unsuccessful suit for Elizabeth's hand.

The praises of the queen, which sound through all the poetry of her
time, seem somewhat overdone to a modern reader. But they were not
merely the insipid language of courtly compliment. England had never
before had a female sovereign, except in the instance of the gloomy and
bigoted Mary. When she was succeeded by her more brilliant sister the
gallantry of a gallant and fantastic age was poured at the latter's
feet, the sentiment of chivalry mingling itself with loyalty to the
crown. The poets idealized Elizabeth. She was to Spenser, to Sidney, and
to Raleigh, not merely a woman and a virgin queen, but the champion of
Protestantism, the lady of young England, the heroine of the conflict
against popery and Spain. Moreover Elizabeth was a great woman. In spite
of the vanity, caprice, and ingratitude which disfigured her character,
and the vacillating, tortuous policy which often distinguished her
government, she was at bottom a sovereign of large views, strong will,
and dauntless courage. Like her father, she "loved a _man_," and she
had the magnificent tastes of the Tudors. She was a patron of the arts,
passionately fond of shows and spectacles, and sensible to poetic
flattery. In her royal progresses through the kingdom, the universities,
the nobles, and the cities vied with one another in receiving her with
plays, revels, masques, and triumphs, in the mythological taste of the
day. "When the queen paraded through a country town," says Warton, the
historian of English poetry, "almost every pageant was a pantheon. When
she paid a visit at the house of any of her nobility, at entering the
hall she was saluted by the _penates_. In the afternoon, when she
condescended to walk in the garden, the lake was covered with tritons
and nereids; the pages of the family were converted into wood-nymphs,
who peeped from every bower; and the footmen gamboled over the lawns in
the figure of satyrs. When her majesty hunted in the park she was met by
Diana, who, pronouncing our royal prude to be the brightest paragon of
unspotted chastity, invited her to groves free from the intrusions of
Acteon." The most elaborate of these entertainments of which we have any
notice were, perhaps, the games celebrated in her honor by the Earl of
Leicester, when she visited him at Kenilworth, in 1575. An account of
these was published by a contemporary poet, George Gascoigne, _The
Princely Pleasures at the Court of Kenilworth_, and Walter Scott has
made them familiar to modern readers in his novel of _Kenilworth_.
Sidney was present on this occasion, and, perhaps, Shakspere, then a boy
of eleven, and living at Stratford, not far off, may have been taken to
see the spectacle; may have seen Neptune riding on the back of a huge
dolphin in the castle lake, speaking the copy of verses in which he
offered his trident to the empress of the sea; and may have

       heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back
  Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
  That the rude sea grew civil at her song.

But in considering the literature of Elizabeth's reign it will be
convenient to speak first of the prose. While following up Spenser's
career to its close (1599) we have, for the sake of unity of treatment,
anticipated somewhat the literary history of the twenty years preceding.
In 1579 appeared a book which had a remarkable influence on English
prose. This was John Lyly's _Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit_. It was in
form a romance, the history of a young Athenian who went to Naples to
see the world and get an education; but it is in substance nothing but a
series of dialogues on love, friendship, religion, etc., written in
language which, from the title of the book, has received the name of
_Euphuism_. This new English became very fashionable among the ladies,
and "that beauty in court which could not parley Euphuism," says a
writer of 1632, "was as little regarded as she which now there speaks
not French."

Walter Scott introduced a Euphuist into his novel the _Monastery_, but
the peculiar jargon which Sir Piercie Shaft on is made to talk is not at
all like the real Euphuism. That consisted of antithesis, alliteration,
and the profuse illustration of every thought by metaphors borrowed from
a kind of fabulous natural history. "Descend into thine own conscience
and consider with thyself the great difference between staring and
stark-blind, wit and wisdom, love and lust; be merry, but with modesty;
be sober, but not too sullen; be valiant, but not too venturous." "I see
now that, as the fish _Scolopidus_ in the flood _Araxes_ at the waxing
of the moon is as white as the driven snow, and at the waning as black
as the burnt coal; so Euphues, which at the first increasing of our
familiarity was very zealous, is now at the last cast become most
faithless." Besides the fish _Scolopidus_, the favorite animals of
Lyly's menagerie are such as the chameleon, "which though he have most
guts draweth least breath;" the bird _Piralis_, "which sitting upon
white cloth is white, upon green, green;" and the serpent _Porphirius_,
"which, though he be full of poison, yet having no teeth, hurteth none
but himself."

Lyly's style was pithy and sententious, and his sentences have the air
of proverbs or epigrams. The vice of Euphuism was its monotony. On every
page of the book there was something pungent, something quotable; but
many pages of such writing became tiresome. Yet it did much to form the
hitherto loose structure of English prose, by lending it point and
polish. His carefully balanced periods were valuable lessons in
rhetoric, and his book became a manual of polite conversation and
introduced that fashion of witty repartee, which is evident enough in
Shakspere's comic dialogue. In 1580 appeared the second part, _Euphues
and his England,_ and six editions of the whole work were printed before
1598. Lyly had many imitators. In Stephen Gosson's _School of Abuse_, a
tract directed against the stage and published about four months later
than the first part of _Euphues_, the language is directly Euphuistic.
The dramatist, Robert Greene, published, in 1587, his _Menaphon;
Camilla's Alarum to Slumbering Euphues_, and his _Euphues's Censure to
Philautus_. His brother dramatist, Thomas Lodge, published, in 1590,
_Rosalynde: Euphues's Golden Legacy_, from which Shakspere took the plot
of _As You Like It_. Shakspere and Ben Jonson both quote from _Euphues_
in their plays, and Shakspere was really writing Euphuism when he wrote
such a sentence as "'Tis true, 'tis pity; pity 'tis 'tis true."

[Illustration: Chaucer, Spenser, Bacon, Milton.]

That knightly gentleman, Philip Sidney, was a true type of the lofty
aspiration and manifold activity of Elizabethan England. He was scholar,
poet, courtier, diplomatist, soldier, all in one. Educated at Oxford and
then introduced at court by his uncle, the Earl of Leicester, he had
been sent to France when a lad of eighteen, with the embassy which went
to treat of the queen's proposed marriage to the Duke of Alençon, and
was in Paris at the time of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, in 1572.
Afterward he had traveled through Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands,
had gone as embassador to the emperor's court, and every-where won
golden opinions. In 1580, while visiting his sister Mary, Countess of
Pembroke, at Wilton, he wrote, for her pleasure, the _Countess of
Pembroke's Arcadia_, which remained in manuscript till 1590. This was a
pastoral romance, after the manner of the Italian _Arcadia_ of
Sanazzaro, and the _Diana Enamorada_ of Montemayor, a Portuguese author.
It was in prose, but intermixed with songs and sonnets, and Sidney
finished only two books and a portion of the third. It describes the
adventures of two cousins, Musidorus and Pyrocles, who were wrecked on
the coast of Sparta. The plot is very involved and is full of the stock
episodes of romance: disguises, surprises, love intrigues, battles,
jousts and single combats. Although the insurrection of the Helots
against the Spartans forms a part of the story, the Arcadia is not the
real Arcadia of the Hellenic Peloponnesus, but the fanciful country of
pastoral romance, an unreal clime, like the fairy land of Spenser.

Sidney was our first writer of poetic prose. The poet Drayton says that

                            did first reduce
  Our tongue from Lyly's writing, then in use,
  Talking of stones, stars, plants, of fishes, flies,
  Playing with words and idle similes.

Sidney was certainly no Euphuist, but his style was as "Italianated" as
Lyly's, though in a different way. His English was too pretty for prose.
His "Sidneian showers of sweet discourse" sowed every page of the
_Arcadia_ with those flowers of conceit, those sugared fancies which his
contemporaries loved, but which the taste of a severer age finds
insipid. This splendid vice of the Elizabethan writers appears in
Sidney, chiefly in the form of an excessive personification. If he
describes a field full of roses, he makes "the roses add such a ruddy
show unto it, as though the field were bashful at his own beauty." If he
describes ladies bathing in the stream, he makes the water break into
twenty bubbles, as "not content to have the picture of their face in
large upon him, but he would in each of those bubbles set forth a
miniature of them." And even a passage which should be tragic, such as
the death of his heroine, Parthenia, he embroiders with conceits like
these: "For her exceeding fair eyes having with continued weeping got a
little redness about them, her round sweetly swelling lips a little
trembling, as though they kissed their neighbor Death; in her cheeks the
whiteness striving by little and little to get upon the rosiness of
them; her neck, a neck of alabaster, displaying the wound which with
most dainty blood labored to drown his own beauties; so as here was a
river of purest red, there an island of perfectest white," etc.

The _Arcadia_, like _Euphues_, was a lady's book. It was the favorite
court romance of its day, but it surfeits a modern reader with its
sweetness, and confuses him with its tangle of adventures. The lady for
whom it was written was the mother of that William Herbert, Earl of
Pembroke, to whom Shakspere's sonnets are thought to have been
dedicated. And she was the subject of Ben Jonson's famous epitaph.

  Underneath this sable herse
  Lies the subject of all verse,
  Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
  Death, ere thou hast slain another
  Learn'd and fair and good as she,
  Time shall throw a dart at thee.

Sidney's _Defense of Poesy_ composed in 1581, but not printed till 1595,
was written in manlier English than the _Arcadia_, and is one of the
very few books of criticism belonging to a creative and uncritical time.
He was also the author of a series of love sonnets, _Astrophel and
Stella_, in which he paid Platonic court to the Lady Penelope Rich
(with whom he was not in love), according to the conventional usage of
the amourists.

Sidney died in 1586, from a wound received in a cavalry charge at
Zutphen, where he was an officer in the English contingent sent to help
the Dutch against Spain. The story has often been told of his giving his
cup of water to a wounded soldier with the words, "Thy necessity is yet
greater than mine." Sidney was England's darling, and there was hardly a
poet in the land from whom his death did not obtain "the meed of some
melodious tear." Spenser's _Ruins of Time_ were among the number of
these funeral songs; but the best of them all was by one Matthew Royden,
concerning whom little is known.

Another typical Englishman of Elizabeth's reign was Walter Raleigh, who
was even more versatile than Sidney, and more representative of the
restless spirit of romantic adventure, mixed with cool, practical
enterprise that marked, the times. He fought against the queen's enemies
by land and sea in many quarters of the globe; in the Netherlands and in
Ireland against Spain, with the Huguenot army against the League in
France. Raleigh was from Devonshire, the great nursery of English
seamen. He was half-brother to the famous navigator, Sir Humphrey
Gilbert, and cousin to another great captain, Sir Richard Grenville. He
sailed with Gilbert on one of his voyages against the Spanish treasure
fleet, and in 1591 he published a report of the fight, near the Azores,
between Grenville's ship, the _Revenge_, and fifteen great ships of
Spain, an action, said Francis Bacon, "memorable even beyond credit, and
to the height of some heroical fable." Raleigh was active in raising a
fleet against the Spanish Armada of 1588. He was present in 1596 at the
brilliant action in which the Earl of Essex "singed the Spanish king's
beard," in the harbor of Cadiz. The year before he had sailed to Guiana,
in search of the fabled El Dorado, destroying on the way the Spanish
town of San José, in the West Indies; and on his return he published
his _Discovery of the Empire of Guiana_. In 1597 he captured the town of
Fayal, in the Azores. He took a prominent part in colonizing Virginia,
and he introduced tobacco and the potato plant into Europe.

America was still a land of wonder and romance, full of rumors,
nightmares, and enchantments. In 1580, when Francis Drake, "the
Devonshire Skipper," had dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor, after his
voyage around the world, the enthusiasm of England had been mightily
stirred. These narratives of Raleigh, and the similar accounts of the
exploits of the bold sailors, Davis, Hawkins, Frobisher, Gilbert, and
Drake; but especially the great cyclopedia of nautical travel, published
by Richard Hakluyt in 1589, _The Principal Navigations, Voyages, and
Discoveries made by the English Nation_, worked powerfully on the
imaginations of the poets. We see the influence of this literature of
travel in the _Tempest_, written undoubtedly after Shakspere had been
reading the narrative of Sir George Somers's shipwreck on the Bermudas
or "Isles of Devils."

Raleigh was not in favor with Elizabeth's successor, James I. He was
sentenced to death on a trumped-up charge of high treason. The sentence
hung over him until 1618, when it was revived against him and he was
beheaded. Meanwhile, during his twelve years' imprisonment in the Tower,
he had written his _magnum opus_, the _History of the World_. This is
not a history, in the modern sense, but a series of learned
dissertations on law, government, theology, magic, war, etc. A chapter
with such a caption as the following would hardly be found in a
universal history nowadays: "Of their opinion which make Paradise as
high as the moon; and of others which make it higher than the middle
regions of the air." The preface and conclusion are noble examples of
Elizabethan prose, and the book ends with an oft-quoted apostrophe to
Death. "O eloquent, just and mighty Death! Whom none could advise, thou
hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the
world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised;
thou hast drawn together all the far-fetched greatness, all the pride,
cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two
narrow words, _hic jacet_."

Although so busy a man, Raleigh found time to be a poet. Spenser calls
him "the summer's nightingale," and George Puttenham, in his _Art of
English Poesy_ (1589), finds his "vein most lofty, insolent, and
passionate." Puttenham used _insolent_ in its old sense, _uncommon_; but
this description is hardly less true, if we accept the word in its
modern meaning. Raleigh's most notable verses, _The Lie_, are a
challenge to the world, inspired by indignant pride and the weariness of
life--the _saeva indignatio_ of Swift. The same grave and caustic
melancholy, the same disillusion marks his quaint poem, _The
Pilgrimage_. It is remarkable how many of the verses among his few
poetical remains are asserted in the manuscripts or by tradition to have
been "made by Sir Walter Raleigh the night before he was beheaded." Of
one such poem the assertion is probably true--namely, the lines "found
in his Bible in the gate-house at Westminster."

  Even such is Time, that takes in trust,
    Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
  And pays us but with earth and dust;
    Who in the dark and silent grave,
  When we have wandered all our ways,
  Shuts up the story of our days;
  But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
  My God shall raise me up, I trust!

The strictly _literary_ prose of the Elizabethan period bore a small
proportion to the verse. Many entire departments of prose literature
were as yet undeveloped. Fiction was represented--outside of the
_Arcadia_ and _Euphues_ already mentioned--chiefly by tales translated
or imitated from Italian _novelle_. George Turberville's _Tragical
Tales_ (1566) was a collection of such stories, and William Paynter's
_Palace of Pleasure_ (1576-1577) a similar collection from Boccaccio's
_Decameron_ and the novels of Bandello. These translations are mainly of
interest as having furnished plots to the English dramatists. Lodge's
_Rosalind_ and Robert Greene's _Pandosto_, the sources respectively of
Shakspere's _As You Like It_ and _Winter's Tale_, are short pastoral
romances, not without prettiness in their artificial way. The satirical
pamphlets of Thomas Nash and his fellows, against "Martin Marprelate,"
an anonymous writer, or company of writers, who attacked the bishops,
are not wanting in wit, but are so cumbered with fantastic
whimsicalities, and so bound up with personal quarrels, that oblivion
has covered them. The most noteworthy of them were Nash's _Piers
Penniless's Supplication to the Devil_, Lyly's _Pap with a Hatchet_, and
Greene's _Groat's Worth of Wit_. Of books which were not so much
literature as the material of literature, mention may be made of the
_Chronicle of England_, published by Ralph Holinshed in 1580. This was
Shakspere's English history, and its strong Lancastrian bias influenced
Shakspere in his representation of Richard III. and other characters in
his historical plays. In his Roman tragedies Shakspere followed closely
Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives, made in 1579 from
the French version of Jacques Amyot.

Of books belonging to other departments than pure literature, the most
important was Richard Hooker's _Ecclesiastical Polity_, the first four
books of which appeared in 1594. This was a work on the philosophy of
law, and a defense, as against the Presbyterians, of the government of
the English Church by bishops. No work of equal dignity and scope had
yet been published in English prose. It was written in sonorous,
stately, and somewhat involved periods, in a Latin rather than an
English idiom, and it influenced strongly the diction of later writers,
such as Milton and Sir Thomas Browne. Had the _Ecclesiastical Polity_
been written one hundred, or perhaps even fifty, years earlier, it would
doubtless have been written in Latin.

The life of Francis Bacon, "the father of inductive philosophy," as he
has been called--better, the founder of inductive logic--belongs to
English history, and the bulk of his writings, in Latin and English, to
the history of English philosophy. But his volume of _Essays_ was a
contribution to general literature. In their completed form they belong
to the year 1625, but the first edition was printed in 1597 and
contained only ten short essays, each of them rather a string of
pregnant maxims--the text for an essay--than that developed treatment of
a subject which we now understand by the word essay. They were, said
their author, "as grains of salt, that will rather give you an appetite
than offend you with satiety." They were the first essays, so called, in
the language. "The word," said Bacon, "is late, but the thing is
ancient." The word he took from the French _essais_ of Montaigne, the
first two books of which had been published in 1592. Bacon testified
that his essays were the most popular of his writings because they "came
home to men's business and bosoms." Their alternate title explains their
character: _Counsels Civil and Moral_, that is, pieces of advice
touching the conduct of life, "of a nature whereof men shall find much
in experience, little in books." The essays contain the quintessence of
Bacon's practical wisdom, his wide knowledge of the world of men. The
truth and depth of his sayings, and the extent of ground which they
cover, as well as the weighty compactness of his style, have given many
of them the currency of proverbs. "Revenge is a kind of wild justice."
"He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune." "There
is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the
proportion." Bacon's reason was illuminated by a powerful imagination,
and his noble English rises now and then, as in his essay _On Death_,
into eloquence--the eloquence of pure thought, touched gravely and afar
off by emotion. In general, the atmosphere of his intellect is that
_lumen siccum_ which he loved to commend, "not drenched or bloodied by
the affections." Dr. Johnson said that the wine of Bacon's writings was
a dry wine.

A popular class of books in the 17th century were "characters" or "witty
descriptions of the properties of sundry persons," such as the Good
Schoolmaster, the Clown, the Country Magistrate; much as in some modern
_Heads of the People_, where Douglas Jerrold or Leigh Hunt sketches the
Medical Student, the Monthly Nurse, etc. A still more modern instance of
the kind is George Eliot's _Impressions of Theophrastus Such_, which
derives its title from the Greek philosopher, Theophrastus, whose
character-sketches were the original models of this kind of literature.
The most popular character-book in Europe in the 17th century was La
Bruyère's _Caractères_. But this was not published till 1688. In England
the fashion had been set in 1614, by the _Characters_ of Sir Thomas
Overbury, who died by poison the year before his book was printed. One
of Overbury's sketches--the _Fair and Happy Milkmaid_--is justly
celebrated for its old-world sweetness and quaintness. "Her breath is
her own, which scents all the year long of June, like a new-made
hay-cock. She makes her hand hard with labor, and her heart soft with
pity; and when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her merry wheel,
she sings defiance to the giddy wheel of fortune. She bestows her year's
wages at next fair, and, in choosing her garments, counts no bravery in
the world like decency. The garden and bee-hive are all her physic and
surgery, and she lives the longer for it. She dares go alone and unfold
sheep in the night, and fears no manner of ill, because she means none;
yet to say truth, she is never alone, but is still accompanied with old
songs, honest thoughts and prayers, but short ones. Thus lives she, and
all her care is she may die in the spring-time, to have store of flowers
stuck upon her winding-sheet."

England was still merry England in the times of good Queen Bess, and
rang with old songs, such as kept this milkmaid company; songs, said
Bishop Joseph Hall, which were "sung to the wheel and sung unto the
pail." Shakspere loved their simple minstrelsy; he put some of them into
the mouth of Ophelia, and scattered snatches of them through his plays,
and wrote others like them himself:

  Now, good Cesario, but that piece of song.
  That old and antique song we heard last night.
  Methinks it did relieve my passion much,
  More than light airs and recollected terms
  Of these most brisk and giddy-paced times.
  Mark it, Cesario, it is old and plain.
  The knitters and the spinners in the sun
  And the free maids that weave their threads with bones
  Do use to chant it; it is silly sooth[20]
  And dallies with the innocence of love
  Like the old age.

[Footnote 20: Simple truth.]

Many of these songs, so natural, fresh, and spontaneous, together with
sonnets and other more elaborate forms of lyrical verse, were printed in
miscellanies, such as the _Passionate Pilgrim, England's Helicon_, and
Davison's _Poetical Rhapsody_. Some were anonymous, or were by poets of
whom little more is known than their names. Others were by well-known
writers, and others, again, were strewn through the plays of Lyly,
Shakspere, Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, and other dramatists. Series of
love sonnets, like Spenser's _Amoretti_ and Sidney's _Astrophel and
Stella_, were written by Shakspere, Daniel, Drayton, Drummond,
Constable, Watson, and others, all dedicated to some mistress real or
imaginary. Pastorals, too, were written in great number, such as
William Browne's _Britannia's Pastorals_ and _Shepherd's Pipe_
(1613-1616) and Marlowe's charmingly rococo little idyl, _The Passionate
Shepherd to his Love_, which Shakspere quoted in the _Merry Wives of
Windsor_, and to which Sir Walter Raleigh wrote a reply. There were love
stories in verse, like Arthur Brooke's _Romeo and Juliet_ (the source of
Shakspere's tragedy), Marlowe's fragment, _Hero and Leander_, and
Shakspere's _Venus and Adonis_, and _Rape of Lucrece_, the first of
these on an Italian and the other three on classical subjects, though
handled in any thing but a classical manner. Wordsworth said finely of
Shakspere, that he "could not have written an epic: he would have died
of a plethora of thought." Shakspere's two narrative poems, indeed, are
by no means models of their kind. The current of the story is choked at
every turn, though it be with golden sand. It is significant of his
dramatic habit of mind that dialogue and soliloquy usurp the place of
narration, and that, in the _Rape of Lucrece_ especially, the poet
lingers over the analysis of motives and feelings, instead of hastening
on with the action, as Chaucer, or any born story-teller, would have

In Marlowe's poem there is the same spendthrift fancy, although not the
same subtlety. In the first two divisions of the poem the story does, in
some sort, get forward; but in the continuation, by George Chapman (who
wrote the last four "sestiads"),[21] the path is utterly lost, "with
woodbine and the gadding vine o'ergrown." One is reminded that modern
poetry, if it has lost in richness, has gained in directness, when one
compares any passage in Marlowe and Chapman's _Hero and Leander_ with
Byron's ringing lines:

  The wind is high on Helle's wave,
  As on that night of stormy water,
  When love, who sent, forgot to save
  The young, the beautiful, the brave,
  The lonely hope of Sestos' daughter.

[Footnote 21: From Sestos on the Hellespont, where Hero dwelt.]

Marlowe's continuator, Chapman, wrote a number of plays, but he is best
remembered by his royal translation of Homer, issued in parts from
1598-1615. This was not so much a literal translation of the Greek, as a
great Elizabethan poem, inspired by Homer. It has Homer's fire, but not
his simplicity; the energy of Chapman's fancy kindling him to run beyond
his text into all manner of figures and conceits. It was written, as has
been said, as Homer would have written if he had been an Englishman of
Chapman's time. Keats's fine ode, _On First Looking into Chapman's
Homer_, is well known. In his translation of the _Odyssey_, Chapman
employed the ten-syllabled heroic line chosen by most of the standard
translators; but for the _Iliad_ he used the long "fourteener."
Certainly all later versions--Pope's and Cowper's and Lord Derby's and
Bryant's--seem pale against the glowing exuberance of Chapman's English,
which degenerates easily into sing-song in the hands of a feeble
metrist. In Chapman it is often harsh, but seldom tame, and in many
passages it reproduces wonderfully the ocean-like roll of Homer's

  From his bright helm and shield did burn a most unwearied fire,
  Like rich Antumnus' golden lamp, whose brightness men admire
  Past all the other host of stars when, with his cheerful face
  Fresh washed in lofty ocean waves, he doth the sky enchase.

The national pride in the achievements of Englishmen, by land and sea,
found expression, not only in prose chronicles and in books, like Stow's
_Survey of London_, and Harrison's _Description of England_ (prefixed to
Holinshed's _Chronicle_), but in long historical and descriptive poems,
like William Warner's _Albion's England_, 1586; Samuel Daniel's _History
of the Civil Wars_, 1595-1602; Michael Drayton's _Barons' Wars,_ 1596,
_England's Heroical Epistles_, 1598, and _Polyolbion,_ 1613. The very
plan of these works was fatal to their success. It is not easy to digest
history and geography into poetry. Drayton was the most considerable
poet of the three, but his _Polyolbion_ was nothing more than a
"gazeteer in rime," a topographical survey of England and Wales, with
tedious personifications of rivers, mountains, and valleys, in thirty
books and nearly one hundred thousand lines. It was Drayton who said of
Marlowe, that he "had in him those brave translunary things that the
first poets had;" and there are brave things in Drayton, but they are
only occasional passages, oases among dreary wastes of sand. His
_Agincourt_ is a spirited war-song, and his _Nymphidia; or, Court of
Faery_, is not unworthy of comparison with Drake's _Culprit Fay_, and is
interesting as bringing in Oberon and Robin Goodfellow, and the popular
fairy lore of Shakspere's _Midsummer Night's Dream_.

The "well-languaged Daniel," of whom Ben Jonson said that he was "a good
honest man, but no poet," wrote, however, one fine meditative piece, his
_Epistle to the Countess of Cumberland,_ a sermon apparently on the text
of the Roman poet Lucretius's famous passage in praise of philosophy,

  Suave, mari magno, turbantibus æquora ventis,
  E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem.

But the Elizabethan genius found its fullest and truest expression in
the drama. It is a common phenomenon in the history of literature that
some old literary form or mold will run along for centuries without
having any thing poured into it worth keeping, until the moment comes
when the genius of the time seizes it and makes it the vehicle of
immortal thought and passion. Such was in England the fortune of the
stage play. At a time when Chaucer was writing character-sketches that
were really dramatic, the formal drama consisted of rude miracle plays
that had no literary quality whatever. These were taken from the Bible,
and acted at first by the priests as illustrations of Scripture history
and additions to the church service on feasts and saints' days.
Afterward the town guilds, or incorporated trades, took hold of them,
and produced them annually on scaffolds in the open air. In some English
cities, as Coventry and Chester, they continued to be performed almost
to the close of the 16th century. And in the celebrated Passion Play at
Oberammergau, in Bavaria, we have an instance of a miracle play that has
survived to our own day. These were followed by the moral plays, in
which allegorical characters, such as Clergy, Lusty Juventus, Riches,
Folly, and Good Demeanaunce were the persons of the drama. The comic
character in the miracle plays had been the Devil, and he was retained
in some of the moralities side by side with the abstract vice, who
became the clown or fool of Shaksperian comedy. The "formal Vice,
Iniquity," as Shakspere calls him, had it for his business to belabor
the roaring Devil with his wooden sword:

  ...with his dagger of lath
  In his rage and his wrath
  Cries 'Aha!' to the Devil,
  'Pare your nails, Goodman Evil!'

He survives also in the harlequin of the pantomimes, and in Mr. Punch,
of the puppet shows, who kills the Devil and carries him off on his
back, when the latter is sent to fetch him to hell for his crimes.

Masques and interludes--the latter a species of short farce--were
popular at the court of Henry VIII. Elizabeth was often entertained at
the universities or at the inns of court with Latin plays, or with
translations from Seneca, Euripides, and Ariosto. Original comedies and
tragedies began to be written, modeled upon Terence and Seneca, and
chronicle histories founded on the annals of English kings. There was a
master of the revels at court, whose duty it was to select plays to be
performed before the queen, and these were acted by the children of the
Royal Chapel, or by the choir boys of St. Paul's Cathedral. These early
plays are of interest to students of the history of the drama, and
throw much light upon the construction of later plays, like Shakspere's;
but they are rude and inartistic, and without any literary value.

There were also private companies of actors maintained by wealthy
noblemen, like the Earl of Leicester, and bands of strolling players,
who acted in inn-yards and bear-gardens. It was not until stationary
theaters were built and stock companies of actors regularly licensed and
established, that any plays were produced which deserve the name of
literature. In 1576 the first London play-houses, known as the Theater
and the Curtain, were erected in the suburb of Shoreditch, outside the
city walls. Later the Rose, the Hope, the Globe, and the Swan were built
on the Bankside, across the Thames, and play-goers resorting to them
were accustomed to "take boat." These locations were chosen in order to
get outside the jurisdiction of the mayor and corporation, who were
Puritans, and determined in their opposition to the stage. For the same
reason the Blackfriars, belonging to the company that owned the
Globe--the company in which Shakspere was a stockholder--was built,
about 1596, within the "liberties" of the dissolved monastery of the

These early theaters were of the rudest construction. The six-penny
spectators, or "groundlings," stood in the yard or pit, which had
neither floor nor roof. The shilling spectators sat on the stage, where
they were accommodated with stools and tobacco pipes, and whence they
chaffed the actors or the "opposed rascality" in the yard. There was no
scenery, and the female parts were taken by boys. Plays were acted in
the afternoon. A placard, with the letters "Venice," or "Rome," or
whatever, indicated the place of the action. With such rude appliances
must Shakspere bring before his audience the midnight battlements of
Elsinore and the moonlit garden of the Capulets. The dramatists had to
throw themselves upon the imagination of their public, and it says much
for the imaginative temper of the public of that day, that it responded
to the appeal. It suffered the poet to transport it over wide intervals
of space and time, and "with aid of some few foot and half-foot words,
fight over York and Lancaster's long jars." Pedantry undertook, even at
the very beginnings of the Elizabethan drama, to shackle it with the
so-called rules of Aristotle, or classical unities of time and place, to
make it keep violent action off the stage and comedy distinct from
tragedy. But the playwrights appealed from the critics to the truer
sympathies of the audience, and they decided for feedom and action,
rather than restraint and recitation. Hence our national drama is of
Shakspere and not of Racine. By 1603 there were twelve play-houses in
London in full blast, although the city then numbered only one hundred
and fifty thousand inhabitants.

Fresh plays were produced every year. The theater was more to the
Englishmen of that time than it has ever been before or since. It was
his club, his novel, his newspaper, all in one. No great drama has ever
flourished apart from a living stage, and it was fortunate that the
Elizabethan dramatists were, almost all of them, actors, and familiar
with stage effect. Even the few exceptions, like Beaumont and Fletcher,
who were young men of good birth and fortune, and not dependent on their
pens, were probably intimate with the actors, lived in a theatrical
atmosphere, and knew practically how plays should be put on.

It had now become possible to earn a livelihood as an actor and
playwright. Richard Burbage and Edward Alleyn, the leading actors of
their generation, made large fortunes. Shakspere himself made enough
from his share in the profits of the Globe to retire with a competence,
some seven years before his death, and purchase a handsome property in
his native Stratford. Accordingly, shortly after 1580, a number of men
of real talent began to write for the stage as a career. These were
young graduates of the universities, Marlowe, Greene, Peele, Kyd, Lyly,
Lodge, and others, who came up to town and led a bohemian life as actors
and playwrights. Most of them were wild and dissipated and ended in
wretchedness. Peele died of a disease brought on by his evil courses;
Greene, in extreme destitution, from a surfeit of Rhenish wine and
pickled herring, and Marlowe was stabbed in a tavern brawl.

The Euphuist Lyly produced eight plays between 1584 and 1601. They were
written for court entertainments, mostly in prose and on mythological
subjects. They have little dramatic power, but the dialogue is brisk and
vivacious, and there are several pretty songs in them. All the
characters talk Ephuism. The best of these was _Alexander and Campaspe_,
the plot of which is briefly as follows. Alexander has fallen in love
with his beautiful captive, Campaspe, and employs the artist Apelles to
paint her portrait. During the sittings Apelles becomes enamored of his
subject and declares his passion, which is returned. Alexander discovers
their secret, but magnanimously forgives the treason and joins the
lovers' hands. The situation is a good one, and capable of strong
treatment in the hands of a real dramatist. But Lyly slips smoothly over
the crisis of the action and, in place of passionate scenes, gives us
clever discourses and soliloquies, or, at best, a light interchange of
question and answer, full of conceits, repartees, and double meanings.
For example:

  "_Apel_. Whom do you love best in the world?"

  "_Camp_. He that made me last in the world."

  "_Apel_. That was God."

  "_Camp_. I had thought it had been a man," etc.

Lyly's service to the drama consisted in his introduction of an easy and
sparkling prose as the language of high comedy, and Shakspere's
indebtedness to the fashion thus set is seen in such passages as the wit
combats between Benedict and Beatrice in _Much Ado about Nothing_,
greatly superior as they are to any thing of the kind in Lyly.

The most important of the dramatists who were Shakspere's forerunners,
or early contemporaries, was Christopher or--as he was familiarly
called--Kit Marlowe. Born in the same year with Shakspere (1564), he
died in 1593, at which date his great successor is thought to have
written no original plays, except the _Comedy of Errors_ and _Love's
Labour's Lost_. Marlowe first popularized blank verse as the language of
tragedy in his _Tamburlaine_, written before 1587, and in subsequent
plays he brought it to a degree of strength and flexibility which left
little for Shakspere to do but to take it as he found it. _Tamburlaine_
was a crude, violent piece, full of exaggeration and bombast, but with
passages here and there of splendid declamation, justifying Ben Jonson's
phrase, "Marlowe's mighty line." Jonson, however, ridiculed, in his
_Discoveries_, the "scenical strutting and furious vociferation" of
Marlowe's hero; and Shakspere put a quotation from _Tamburlaine_ into
the mouth of his ranting Pistol. Marlowe's _Edward II_. was the most
regularly constructed and evenly written of his plays. It was the best
historical drama on the stage before Shakspere, and not undeserving of
the comparison which it has provoked with the latter's _Richard II._ But
the most interesting of Marlowe's plays, to a modern reader, is the
_Tragical History of Doctor Faustus_. The subject is the same as in
Goethe's _Faust_, and Goethe, who knew the English play, spoke of it as
greatly planned. The opening of Marlowe's _Faustus_ is very similar to
Goethe's. His hero, wearied with unprofitable studies, and filled with a
mighty lust for knowledge and the enjoyment of life, sells his soul to
the Devil in return for a few years of supernatural power. The tragic
irony of the story might seem to lie in the frivolous use which Faustus
makes of his dearly bought power, wasting it in practical jokes and
feats of legerdermain; but of this Marlowe was probably unconscious. The
love story of Margaret, which is the central point of Goethe's drama, is
entirely wanting in Marlowe's, and so is the subtle conception of
Goethe's Mephistophiles. Marlowe's handling of the supernatural is
materialistic and downright, as befitted an age which believed in
witchcraft. The greatest part of the English _Faustus_ is the last
scene, in which the agony and terror of suspense with which the magician
awaits the stroke of the clock that signals his doom are powerfully

  O, _lente, lente currite, noctis equi_!
  The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike....
  O soul, be changed into little water-drops,
  And fall into the ocean, ne'er be found!

Marlowe's genius was passionate and irregular. He had no humor, and the
comic portions of _Faustus_ are scenes of low buffoonery.

George Peele's masterpiece, _David and Bethsabe_, was also, in many
respects, a fine play, though its beauties were poetic rather than
dramatic, consisting not in the characterization--which is feeble--but
in the Eastern luxuriance of the imagery. There is one noble chorus--

 O proud revolt of a presumptuous man,

which reminds one of passages in Milton's _Samson Agonistes_, and
occasionally Peele rises to such high Æschylean audacities as this:

  At him the thunder shall discharge his bolt,
  And his fair spouse, with bright and fiery wings,
  Sit ever burning on his hateful bones.

Robert Greene was a very unequal writer. His plays are slovenly and
careless in construction, and he puts classical allusions into the
mouths of milkmaids and serving boys, with the grotesque pedantry and
want of keeping common among the playwrights of the early stage. He has,
notwithstanding, in his comedy parts, more natural lightness and grace
than either Marlowe or Peele. In his _Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay_,
there is a fresh breath, as of the green English country, in such
passages as the description of Oxford, the scene at Harleston Fair, and
the picture of the dairy in the keeper's lodge at merry Fressingfield.

In all these ante-Shaksperian dramatists there was a defect of art
proper to the first comers in a new literary departure. As compared not
only with Shakspere, but with later writers, who had the inestimable
advantage of his example, their work was full of imperfection,
hesitation, experiment. Marlowe was probably, in native genius, the
equal at least of Fletcher or Webster, but his plays, as a whole, are
certainly not equal to theirs. They wrote in a more developed state of
the art. But the work of this early school settled the shape which the
English drama was to take. It fixed the practice and traditions of the
national theater. It decided that the drama was to deal with the whole
of life, the real and the ideal, tragedy and comedy, prose and verse, in
the same play, without limitations of time, place, and action. It
decided that the English play was to be an action, and not a dialogue,
bringing boldly upon the mimic scene feasts, dances, processions,
hangings, riots, plays within plays, drunken revels, beatings, battle,
murder, and sudden death. It established blank verse, with occasional
riming couplets at the close of a scene or of a long speech, as the
language of the tragedy and high comedy parts, and prose as the language
of the low comedy and "business" parts. And it introduced songs, a
feature of which Shakspere made exquisite use. Shakspere, indeed, like
all great poets, invented no new form of literature, but touched old
forms to finer purposes, refining every thing, discarding nothing. Even
the old chorus and dumb show he employed, though sparingly, as also the
old jig, or comic song, which the clown used to give between the acts.

Of the life of William Shakspere, the greatest dramatic poet of the
world, so little is known that it has been possible for ingenious
persons to construct a theory--and support it with some show of
reason--that the plays which pass under his name were really written by
Bacon or some one else. There is no danger of this paradox ever making
serious headway, for the historical evidence that Shakspere wrote
Shakspere's plays, though not overwhelming, is sufficient. But it is
startling to think that the greatest creative genius of his day, or
perhaps of all time, was suffered to slip out of life so quietly that
his title to his own works could even be questioned only two hundred and
fifty years after the event. That the single authorship of the Homeric
poems should be doubted is not so strange, for Homer is almost
prehistoric. But Shakspere was a modern Englishman, and at the time of
his death the first English colony in America was already nine years
old. The important known facts of his life can be told almost in a
sentence. He was born at Stratford-on-Avon in 1564, married when he was
eighteen, went to London probably in 1587, and became an actor, play
writer, and stockholder in the company which owned the Blackfriars and
the Globe theaters. He seemingly prospered, and retired about 1609 to
Stratford, where he lived in the house that he had bought some years
before, and where he died in 1616. His _Venus and Adonis_ was printed in
1593, his _Rape of Lucrece_ in 1594, and his _Sonnets_ in 1609. So far
as is known, only eighteen of the thirty-seven plays generally
attributed to Shakspere were printed during his life-time. These were
printed singly, in quarto shape, and were little more than stage books,
or librettos. The first collected edition of his works was the so-called
"First Folio" of 1623, published by his fellow-actors, Heming and
Condell. No contemporary of Shakspere thought it worth while to write a
life of the stage-player. There is a number of references to him in the
literature of the time; some generous, as in Ben Jonson's well-known
verses; others singularly unappreciative, like Webster's mention of "the
right happy and copious industry of Master Shakspere." But all these
together do not begin to amount to the sum of what was said about
Spenser, or Sidney, or Raleigh, or Ben Jonson. There is, indeed, nothing
to show that his contemporaries understood what a man they had among
them in the person of "Our English Terence, Mr. Will Shakespeare." The
age, for the rest, was not a self-conscious one, nor greatly given to
review writing and literary biography. Nor is there enough of
self-revelation in Shakspere's plays to aid the reader in forming a
notion of the man. He lost his identity completely in the characters of
his plays, as it is the duty of a dramatic writer to do. His sonnets
have been examined carefully in search of internal evidence as to his
character and life, but the speculations founded upon them have been
more ingenious than convincing.

Shakspere probably began by touching up old plays. _Henry VI_. and the
bloody tragedy of _Titus Andronicus_, if Shakspere's at all, are
doubtless only his revision of pieces already on the stage. The _Taming
of the Shrew_ seems to be an old play worked over by Shakspere and some
other dramatist, and traces of another hand are thought to be visible in
parts of _Henry VIII., Pericles_, and _Timon of Athens_. Such
partnerships were common among the Elizabethan dramatists, the most
illustrious example being the long association of Beaumont and Fletcher.
The plays in the First Folio were divided into histories, comedies, and
tragedies, and it will be convenient to notice them briefly in that

It was a stirring time when the young adventurer came to London to try
his fortune. Elizabeth had finally thrown down the gage of battle to
Catholic Europe, by the execution of Mary Stuart, in 1587. The following
year saw the destruction of the colossal Armada, which Spain had sent to
revenge Mary's death; and hard upon these events followed the gallant
exploits of Grenville, Essex, and Raleigh.

That Shakspere shared the exultant patriotism of the times, and the
sense of their aloofness from the continent of Europe, which was now
born in the breasts of Englishmen, is evident from many a passage in his

  This happy breed of men, this little world,
  This precious stone set in a silver sea,
  This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
  This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,
  England, bound in with the triumphant sea!

His English histories are ten in number. Of these _King John_ and _Henry
VIII._ are isolated plays. The others form a consecutive series, in the
following order: _Richard II._ the two parts of _Henry IV., Henry V.,_
the three parts of _Henry VI.,_ and _Richard III._ This series may be
divided into two, each forming a tetralogy, or group of four plays. In
the first the subject is the rise of the house of Lancaster. But the
power of the Red Rose was founded in usurpation. In the second group,
accordingly, comes the Nemesis, in the civil wars of the Roses, reaching
their catastrophe in the downfall of both Lancaster and York, and the
tyranny of Gloucester. The happy conclusion is finally reached in the
last play of the series, when this new usurper is overthrown in turn,
and Henry VII., the first Tudor sovereign, ascends the throne and
restores the Lancastrian inheritance, purified, by bloody atonement,
from the stain of Richard II.'s murder. These eight plays are, as it
were, the eight acts of one great drama; and, if such a thing were
possible, they should be represented on successive nights, like the
parts of a Greek trilogy. In order of composition the second group came
first. _Henry VI_. is strikingly inferior to the others. _Richard III_.
is a good acting play, and its popularity has been sustained by a series
of great tragedians, who have taken the part of the king. But, in a
literary sense, it is unequal to _Richard II.,_ or the two parts of
_Henry IV_. The latter is unquestionably Shakspere's greatest historical
tragedy, and it contains his master-creation in the region of low
comedy, the immortal Falstaff.

The constructive art with which Shakspere shaped history into drama is
well seen in comparing his _King John_ with the two plays on that
subject which were already on the stage. These, like all the other old
"Chronicle histories," such as _Thomas Lord Cromwell_ and the _Famous
Victories of Henry V._, follow a merely chronological, or biographical,
order, giving events loosely, as they occurred, without any unity of
effect, or any reference to their bearing on the catastrophe.
Shakspere's order was logical. He compressed and selected, disregarding
the fact of history oftentimes, in favor of the higher truth of fiction;
bringing together a crime and its punishment as cause and effect, even
though they had no such relation in the chronicle, and were separated,
perhaps, by many years.

Shakspere's first two comedies were experiments. _Love's Labour's Lost_
was a play of manners, with hardly any plot. It brought together a
number of _humors_, that is, oddities and affectations of various sorts,
and played them off on one another, as Ben Jonson afterward did in his
comedies of humor. Shakspere never returned to this type of play,
unless, perhaps, in the _Taming of the Shrew_. There the story turned on
a single "humor," Katharine's bad temper, just as the story in Jonson's
_Silent Woman_ turned on Morose's hatred of noise. The _Taming of the
Shrew_ is, therefore, one of the least Shaksperian of Shakspere's plays;
a _bourgeois_ domestic comedy, with a very narrow interest. It belongs
to the school of French comedy, like Molière's _Malade Imaginaire_, not
to the romantic comedy of Shakspere and Fletcher.

The _Comedy of Errors_ was an experiment of an exactly opposite kind. It
was a play purely of incident; a farce, in which the main improbability
being granted, namely, that the twin Antipholi and twin Dromios are so
alike that they cannot be distinguished, all the amusing complications
follow naturally enough. There is little character-drawing in the play.
Any two pairs of twins, in the same predicament, would be equally droll.
The fun lies in the situation. This was a comedy of the Latin school,
and resembled the _Mennaechmi_ of Plautus. Shakspere never returned to
this type of play, though there is an element of "errors" in _Midsummer
Night's Dream_. In the _Two Gentlemen of Verona_ he finally hit upon
that species of romantic comedy which he may be said to have invented or
created out of the scattered materials at hand in the works of his
predecessors. In this play, as in the _Merchant of Venice, Midsummer
Night's Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, As You Like It, Twelfth Night,
Winter's Tale, All's Well that Ends Well, Measure for Measure_, and the
_Tempest_, the plan of construction is as follows. There is one main
intrigue carried out by the high comedy characters, and a secondary
intrigue, or underplot, by the low comedy characters. The former is by
no means purely comic, but admits the presentation of the noblest
motives, the strongest passions, and the most delicate graces of
romantic poetry. In some of the plays it has a prevailing lightness and
gayety, as in _As You Like It_ and _Twelfth Night_. In others, like
_Measure for Measure_, it is barely saved from becoming tragedy by the
happy close. Shylock certainly remains a tragic figure, even to the end,
and a play like _Winter's Tale_, in which the painful situation is
prolonged for years, is only technically a comedy. Such dramas, indeed,
were called, on many of the title-pages of the time, "tragi-comedies."
The low comedy interlude, on the other hand, was broadly comic. It was
cunningly interwoven with the texture of the play, sometimes loosely,
and by way of variety or relief, as in the episode of Touchstone and
Audrey, in _As You Like It_; sometimes closely, as in the case of
Dogberry and Verges, in _Much Ado about Nothing_, where the blundering
of the watch is made to bring about the denouement of the main action.
The _Merry Wives of Windsor_ is an exception to this plan of
construction. It is Shakspere's only play of contemporary, middle-class
English life, and, is written almost throughout in prose. It is his only
pure comedy, except the _Taming of the Shrew_.

Shakspere did not abandon comedy when writing tragedy, though he turned
it to a new account. The two species graded into one another. Thus
_Cymbeline_ is, in its fortunate ending, really as much of a comedy as
_Winter's Tale_--to which its plot bears a resemblance--and is only
technically a tragedy because it contains a violent death. In some of
the tragedies, as in _Macbeth_ and _Julius Cæsar_, the comedy element is
reduced to a minimum. But in others, as _Romeo and Juliet_, and
_Hamlet_, it heightens the tragic feeling by the irony of contrast. Akin
to this is the use to which Shakspere put the old Vice, or Clown, of the
moralities. The Fool in Lear, Touchstone in _As You Like It_, and
Thersites in _Troilus and Cressida_, are a sort of parody of the
function of the Greek chorus, commenting the action of the drama with
scraps of bitter, or half-crazy, philosophy, and wonderful gleams of
insight into the depths of man's nature.

The earliest of Shakspere's tragedies, unless _Titus Andronicus_ be his,
was, doubtless, _Romeo and Juliet_, which is full of the passion and
poetry of youth and of first love. It contains a large proportion of
riming lines, which is usually a sign in Shakspere of early work. He
dropped rime more and more in his later plays, and his blank verse grew
freer and more varied in its pauses and the number of its feet. _Romeo
and Juliet_ is also unique, among his tragedies, in this respect, that
the catastrophe is brought about by a fatality, as in the Greek drama.
It was Shakspere's habit to work out his tragic conclusions from within,
through character, rather than through external chances. This is true of
all the great tragedies of his middle life, _Hamlet, Othello, Lear,
Macbeth_, in every one of which the catastrophe is involved in the
character and actions of the hero. This is so, in a special sense, in
_Hamlet_, the subtlest of all Shakspere's plays, and, if not his
masterpiece, at any rate the one which has most attracted and puzzled
the greatest minds. It is observable that in Shakspere's comedies there
is no one central figure, but that, in passing into tragedy, he
intensified and concentrated the attention upon a single character. This
difference is seen even in the naming of the plays; the tragedies always
take their titles from their heroes, the comedies never.

Somewhat later, probably, than the tragedies already mentioned were the
three Roman plays, _Julius Cæsar, Coriolanus,_ and _Anthony and
Cleopatra_. It is characteristic of Shakspere that he invented the plot
of none of his plays, but took material that he found at hand. In these
Roman tragedies he followed Plutarch closely, and yet, even in so doing,
gave, if possible, a greater evidence of real creative power than when
he borrowed a mere outline of a story from some Italian novelist. It is
most instructive to compare _Julius Cæsar_ with Ben Jonson's _Catiline_
and _Sejanus_. Jonson was careful not to go beyond his text. In
_Catiline_ he translates almost literally the whole of Cicero's first
oration against Catiline. _Sejanus_ is a mosaic of passages from Tacitus
and Suetonius. There is none of this dead learning in Shakspere's play.
Having grasped the conceptions of the characters of Brutus, Cassius, and
Mark Anthony, as Plutarch gave them, he pushed them out into their
consequences in every word and act, so independently of his original,
and yet so harmoniously with it, that the reader knows that he is
reading history, and needs no further warrant for it than Shakspere's
own. _Timon of Athens_ is the least agreeable and most monotonous of
Shakspere's undoubted tragedies, and _Troilus and Cressida_, said
Coleridge, is the hardest to characterize. The figures of the old
Homeric world fare but hardly under the glaring light of modern
standards of morality which Shakspere turns upon them. Ajax becomes a
stupid bully, Ulysses a crafty politician, and swift-footed Achilles a
vain and sulky chief of faction. In losing their ideal remoteness the
heroes of the _Iliad_ lose their poetic quality, and the lover of Homer
experiences an unpleasant disenchantment.

It was customary in the 18th century to speak of Shakspere as a rude
though prodigious genius. Even Milton could describe him as "warbling
his native wood-notes wild." But a truer criticism, beginning in England
with Coleridge, has shown that he was also a profound artist. It is true
that he wrote for his audiences, and that his art is not every-where and
at all points perfect. But a great artist will contrive, as Shakspere
did, to reconcile practical exigencies, like those of the public stage,
with the finer requirements of his art. Strained interpretations have
been put upon this or that item in Shakspere's plays; and yet it is
generally true that some deeper reason can be assigned for his method in
a given case than that "the audience liked puns," or, "the audience
liked ghosts." Compare, for example, his delicate management of the
supernatural with Marlowe's procedure in _Faustus_. Shakspere's age
believed in witches, elves, and apparitions; and yet there is always
something shadowy or allegorical in his use of such machinery. The ghost
in _Hamlet_ is merely an embodied suspicion. Banquo's wraith, which is
invisible to all but Macbeth, is the haunting of an evil conscience. The
witches in the same play are but the promptings of ambition, thrown into
a human shape, so as to become actors in the drama. In the same way, the
fairies in _Midsummer Night's Dream_ are the personified caprices of the
lovers, and they are unseen by the human characters, whose likes and
dislikes they control, save in the instance where Bottom is "translated"
(that is, becomes mad) and has sight of the invisible world. So in the
_Tempest_, Ariel is the spirit of the air and Caliban of the earth,
ministering, with more or less of unwillingness, to man's necessities.

Shakspere is the most universal of writers. He touches more men at more
points than Homer, or Dante, or Goethe. The deepest wisdom, the sweetest
poetry, the widest range of character, are combined in his plays. He
made the English language an organ of expression unexcelled in the
history of literature. Yet he is not an English poet simply, but a
world-poet. Germany has made him her own, and the Latin races, though at
first hindered in a true appreciation of him by the canons of classical
taste, have at length learned to know him. An ever-growing mass of
Shakespearian literature, in the way of comment and interpretation,
critical, textual, historical, or illustrative, testifies to the
durability and growth of his fame. Above all, his plays still keep, and
probably always will keep, the stage. It is common to speak of
Shakespeare and the other Elizabethan dramatists as if they stood, in
some sense, on a level. But in truth there is an almost measureless
distance between him and all his contemporaries. The rest shared with
him in the mighty influences of the age. Their plays are touched here
and there with the power and splendor of which they were all joint
heirs. But, as a whole, they are obsolete. They live in books, but not
in the hearts and on the tongues, of men.

The most remarkable of the dramatists contemporary with Shakespeare was
Ben Jonson, whose robust figure is in striking contrast with the other's
gracious impersonality. Jonson was nine years younger than Shakespeare.
He was educated at Westminster School, served as a soldier in the low
countries, became an actor in Henslowe's company, and was twice
imprisoned--once for killing a fellow-actor in a duel, and once for his
part in the comedy of _Eastward Hoe_, which gave offense to King James.
He lived down to the time of Charles I (1635), and became the
acknowledged arbiter of English letters and the center of convivial wit
combats at the Mermaid, the Devil, and other famous London taverns.

                    What things have we seen
  Done at the Mermaid; heard words that have been
  So nimble and so full of subtle flame,
  As if that every one from whom they came
  Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest,
  And had resolved to live a fool the rest
  Of his dull life.[22]

The inscription on his tomb in Westminster Abbey is simply

  O rare Ben Jonson!

[Footnote 22: Francis Beaumont. _Letter to Ben Jonson_.]

Jonson's comedies were modeled upon the _vetus comædia_ of Aristophanes,
which was satirical in purpose, and they belonged to an entirely
different school from Shakspere's. They were classical and not romantic,
and were pure comedies, admitting no admixture of tragic motives. There
is hardly one lovely or beautiful character in the entire range of his
dramatic creations. They were comedies not of character, in the high
sense of the word, but of manners or humors. His design was to lash the
follies and vices of the day, and his _dramatis personæ_ consisted for
the most part of gulls, impostors, fops, cowards, swaggering braggarts,
and "Pauls men." In his first play, _Every Man in his Humor_ (acted in
1598), in _Every Man Out of his Humor, Bartholomew Fair_, and, indeed,
in all of his comedies, his subject was the fashionable affectations,
the whims, oddities, and eccentric developments of London life. His
procedure was to bring together a number of these fantastic humorists,
and "squeeze out the humor of such spongy souls," by playing them off
upon each other, involving them in all manner of comical misadventures,
and rendering them utterly ridiculous and contemptible. There was thus a
perishable element in his art, for manners change; and, however
effective this exposure of contemporary affectations may have been
before an audience of Jonson's day, it is as hard for a modern reader to
detect his points as it will be for a reader two hundred years hence to
understand the satire upon the aesthetic craze in such pieces of the
present day as _Patience_, or the _Colonel_. Nevertheless, a patient
reader, with the help of copious footnotes, can gradually put together
for himself an image of that world of obsolete humors in which Jonson's
comedy dwells, and can admire the dramatist's solid good sense, his
great learning, his skill in construction, and the astonishing fertility
of his invention. His characters are not revealed from within, like
Shakspere's, but built up painfully from outside by a succession of
minute, laborious particulars. The difference will be plainly manifest
if such a character as Slender, in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, be
compared with any one of the inexhaustible variety of idiots in Jonson's
plays; with Master Stephen, for example, in _Every Man in his Humor_;
or, if Falstaff be put side by side with Captain Bobadil, in the same
comedy, perhaps Jonson's masterpiece in the way of comic caricature.
_Cynthia's Revels_ was a satire on the courtiers and the _Poetaster_ on
Jonson's literary enemies. The _Alchemist_ was an exposure of quackery,
and is one of his best comedies, but somewhat overweighted with
learning. _Volpone_ is the most powerful of all his dramas, but is a
harsh and disagreeable piece; and the state of society which it depicts
is too revolting for comedy. The _Silent Woman_ is, perhaps, the easiest
of all Jonson's plays for a modern reader to follow and appreciate.
There is a distinct plot to it, the situation is extremely ludicrous,
and the emphasis is laid upon a single humor or eccentricity, as in some
of Molière's lighter comedies, like _Le Malade Imaginaire_, or _Le
Médecin malgré lui_.

In spite of his heaviness in drama, Jonson had a light enough touch in
lyric poetry. His songs have not the careless sweetness of Shakspere's,
but they have a grace of their own. Such pieces as his _Love's Triumph,
Hymn to Diana_, the adaptation from Philostratus,

  Drink to me only with thine eyes,

and many others entitle their author to rank among the first of English
lyrists. Some of these occur in his two collections of miscellaneous
verse, the _Forest_ and _Underwoods_; others in the numerous masques
which he composed. These were a species of entertainment, very popular
at the court of James I., combining dialogue with music, intricate
dances, and costly scenery. Jonson left an unfinished pastoral drama,
the _Sad Shepherd_, which contains passages of great beauty; one,
especially, descriptive of the shepherdess

  Who had her very being and her name
  With the first buds and breathings of the spring,
  Born with the primrose and the violet
  And earliest roses blown.

1. A History of Elizabethan Literature. George Saintsbury.
London: Macmillan & Co., 1877.

2. Palgrave's Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics. London:
Macmillan & Co., 1877.

3. The Courtly Poets from Raleigh to Montrose. Edited
by J. Hannah. London: Bell & Daldy, 1870.

4. The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia. London: Sampson
Low, Son & Marston, 1867.

5. Bacon's Essays. Edited by W. Aldis Wright. Macmillan
& Co. (Golden Treasury Series.)

6. The Cambridge Shakspere. (Clark & Wright.)

7. Charles Lamb's Specimens of English Dramatic Poets.

8. Ben Jonson's Volpone and Silent Woman. Cunningham's
Edition. London: J.C. Hotten, (3 vols.)




The Elizabethan age proper closed with the death of the queen, and the
accession of James I., in 1603, but the literature of the fifty years
following was quite as rich as that of the half-century that had passed
since she came to the throne, in 1557. The same qualities of thought and
style which had marked the writers of her reign prolonged themselves in
their successors, through the reigns of the first two Stuart kings and
the Commonwealth. Yet there was a change in spirit. Literature is only
one of the many forms in which the national mind expresses itself. In
periods of political revolution, literature, leaving the serene air of
fine art, partakes the violent agitation of the times. There were seeds
of civil and religious discord in Elizabethan England. As between the
two parties in the Church there was a compromise and a truce rather than
a final settlement. The Anglican doctrine was partly Calvinistic and
partly Arminian. The form of government was Episcopal, but there was a
large body of Presbyterians in the Church who desired a change. In the
ritual and ceremonies many "rags of popery" had been retained, which the
extreme reformers wished to tear away. But Elizabeth was a
worldly-minded woman, impatient of theological disputes. Though
circumstances had made her the champion of Protestantism in Europe she
kept many Catholic notions; disapproved, for example, of the marriage of
priests, and hated sermons. She was jealous of her prerogative in the
State, and in the Church she enforced uniformity. The authors of the
_Martin Marprelate_ pamphlets against the bishops were punished by
death or imprisonment. While the queen lived things were kept well
together and England was at one in face of the common foe. Admiral
Howard, who commanded the English naval forces against the Armada, was a

But during the reign of James I. (1603-1625) and Charles I. (1625-1649)
Puritanism grew stronger through repression. "England," says the
historian Green, "became the people of a book, and that book the Bible."
The power of the king was used to impose the power of the bishops upon
the English and Scotch Churches until religious discontent became also
political discontent, and finally overthrew the throne. The writers of
this period divided more and more into two hostile camps. On the side of
Church and king was the bulk of the learning and genius of the time. But
on the side of free religion and the Parliament were the stern
conviction, the fiery zeal, the exalted imagination of English
Puritanism. The spokesman of this movement was Milton, whose great
figure dominates the literary history of his generation, as Shakspere
does of the generation preceding.

The drama went on in the course marked out for it by Shakspere's example
until the theaters were closed by Parliament, in 1642. Of the Stuart
dramatists the most important were Beaumont and Fletcher, all of whose
plays were produced during the reign of James I. These were fifty-three
in number, but only thirteen of them were joint productions. Francis
Beaumont was twenty years younger than Shakspere, and died a few years
before him. He was the son of a judge of the Common Pleas. His
collaborator, John Fletcher, a son of the bishop of London, was five
years older than Beaumont, and survived him nine years. He was much the
more prolific of the two and wrote alone some forty plays. Although the
life of one of these partners was conterminous with Shakspere's, their
works exhibit a later phase of the dramatic art. The Stuart dramatists
followed the lead of Shakspere rather than of Ben Jonson. Their plays,
like the former's, belong to the romantic drama. They present a poetic
and idealized version of life, deal with the highest passions and the
wildest buffoonery, and introduce a great variety of those daring
situations and incidents which we agree to call romantic. But, while
Shakspere seldom or never overstepped the modesty of nature, his
successors ran into every license. They sought to stimulate the jaded
appetite of their audience by exhibiting monstrosities of character,
unnatural lusts, subtleties of crime, virtues and vices both in excess.

Beaumont and Fletcher's plays are much easier and more agreeable reading
than Ben Jonson's. Though often loose in their plots and without that
consistency in the development of their characters which distinguished
Jonson's more conscientious workmanship, they are full of graceful
dialogue and beautiful poetry. Dryden said that after the Restoration
two of their plays were acted for one of Shakspere's or Jonson's
throughout the year, and he added that they "understood and imitated the
conversation of gentlemen much better, whose wild debaucheries and
quickness of wit in repartees no poet can ever paint as they have done."
Wild debauchery was certainly not the mark of a gentleman in Shakspere,
nor was it altogether so in Beaumont and Fletcher. Their gentlemen are
gallant and passionate lovers, gay cavaliers, generous, courageous,
courteous--according to the fashion of their times--and sensitive on the
point of honor. They are far superior to the cold-blooded rakes of
Dryden and the Restoration comedy. Still the manners and language in
Beaumont and Fletcher's plays are extremely licentious, and it is not
hard to sympathize with the objections to the theater expressed by the
Puritan writer, William Prynne, who, after denouncing the long hair of
the cavaliers in his tract, _The Unloveliness of Lovelocks_, attacked
the stage, in 1633, with _Histrio-mastix: the Player's Scourge_; an
offense for which he was fined, imprisoned, pilloried, and had his ears
cropped. Coleridge said that Shakspere was coarse, but never gross. He
had the healthy coarseness of nature herself. But Beaumont and
Fletcher's pages are corrupt. Even their chaste women are immodest in
language and thought. They use not merely that frankness of speech which
was a fashion of the times, but a profusion of obscene imagery which
could not proceed from a pure mind. Chastity with them is rather a
bodily accident than a virtue of the heart, says Coleridge.

Among the best of their light comedies are _The Chances, The Scornful
Lady, The Spanish Curate_, and _Rule a Wife and Have a Wife_. But far
superior to these are their tragedies and tragi-comedies, _The Maid's
Tragedy, Philaster, A King and No King_--all written jointly--and
_Valentinian_ and _Thierry and Theodoret_, written by Fletcher alone,
but perhaps, in part, sketched out by Beaumont. The tragic masterpiece
of Beaumont and Fletcher is _The Maid's Tragedy_, a powerful but
repulsive play, which sheds a singular light not only upon its authors'
dramatic methods, but also upon the attitude toward royalty favored by
the doctrine of the divine right of kings, which grew up under the
Stuarts. The heroine, Evadne, has been in secret a mistress of the king,
who marries her to Amintor, a gentleman of his court, because, as she
explains to her bridegroom, on the wedding night,

                  I must have one
  To father children, and to bear the name
  Of husband to me, that my sin may be
  More honorable.

This scene is, perhaps, the most affecting and impressive in the whole
range of Beaumont and Fletcher's drama. Yet when Evadne names the king
as her paramour, Amintor exclaims:

  O thou hast named a word that wipes away
  All thoughts revengeful. In that sacred name
  "The king" there lies a terror. What frail man
  Dares lift his hand against it? Let the gods
  Speak to him when they please; till when, let us
  Suffer and wait.

And the play ends with the words

                On lustful kings,
  Unlooked-for sudden deaths from heaven are sent,
  But cursed is he that is their instrument.

Aspatia, in this tragedy, is a good instance of Beaumont and Fletcher's
pathetic characters. She is troth-plight wife to Amintor, and after he,
by the king's command, has forsaken her for Evadne, she disguises
herself as a man, provokes her unfaithful lover to a duel, and dies
under his sword, blessing the hand that killed her. This is a common
type in Beaumont and Fletcher, and was drawn originally from Shakspere's
Ophelia. All their good women have the instinctive fidelity of a dog,
and a superhuman patience and devotion, a "gentle forlornness" under
wrongs, which is painted with an almost feminine tenderness. In
_Philaster, or Love Lies Bleeding_, Euphrasia, conceiving a hopeless
passion for Philaster--who is in love with Arethusa--puts on the dress
of a page and enters his service. He employs her to carry messages to
his lady-love, just as Viola, in _Twelfth Night_, is sent by the duke to
Olivia. Philaster is persuaded by slanderers that his page and his lady
have been unfaithful to him, and in his jealous fury he wounds Euphrasia
with his sword. Afterward, convinced of the boy's fidelity, he asks
forgiveness, whereto Euphrasia replies,

  Alas, my lord, my life is not a thing
  Worthy your noble thoughts. 'Tis not a life,
  'Tis but a piece of childhood thrown away.

Beaumont and Fletcher's love-lorn maids wear the willow very sweetly,
but in all their piteous passages there is nothing equal to the natural
pathos--the pathos which arises from the deep springs of character--of
that one brief question and answer in _King Lear_.

  _Lear_. So young and so untender?

  _Cordelia_.                       So young, my lord, and true.

The disguise of a woman in man's apparel is a common incident in the
romantic drama; and the fact that on the Elizabethan stage the female
parts were taken by boys made the deception easier. Viola's situation in
_Twelfth Night_ is precisely similiar to Euphrasia's, but there is a
difference in the handling of the device which is characteristic of a
distinction between Shakspere's art and that of his contemporaries. The
audience in _Twelfth Night_ is taken into confidence and made aware of
Viola's real nature from the start, while Euphrasia's _incognito_ is
preserved till the fifth act, and then disclosed by an accident. This
kind of mystification and surprise was a trick below Shakspere. In this
instance, moreover, it involved a departure from dramatic probability.
Euphrasia could, at any moment, by revealing her identity, have averted
the greatest sufferings and dangers from Philaster, Arethusa, and
herself, and the only motive for her keeping silence is represented to
have been a feeling of maidenly shame at her position. Such strained and
fantastic motives are too often made the pivot of the action in Beaumont
and Fletcher's tragi-comedies. Their characters have not the depth and
truth of Shakspere's, nor are they drawn so sharply. One reads their
plays with pleasure, and remembers here and there a passage of fine
poetry, or a noble or lovely trait, but their characters, as wholes,
leave a fading impression. Who, even after a single reading or
representation, ever forgets Falstaff, or Shylock, or King Lear?

The moral inferiority of Beaumont and Fletcher is well seen in such a
play as _A King and No King_. Here Arbaces falls in love with his
sister, and, after a furious conflict in his own mind, finally succumbs
to his guilty passion. He is rescued from the consequences of his
weakness by the discovery that Panthea is not, in fact, his sister. But
this is to cut the knot and not to untie it. It leaves the denouement to
chance, and not to those moral forces through which Shakspere always
wrought his conclusions. Arbaces has failed, and the piece of luck which
keeps his failure innocent is rejected by every right-feeling spectator.
In one of John Ford's tragedies the situation which in _A King and No
King_ is only apparent becomes real, and incest is boldly made the
subject of the play. Ford pushed the morbid and unnatural in character
and passion into even wilder extremes than Beaumont and Fletcher. His
best play, the _Broken Heart_, is a prolonged and unrelieved torture of
the feelings.

Fletcher's _Faithful Shepherdess_ is the best English pastoral drama
with the exception of Jonson's fragment, the _Sad Shepherd_. Its choral
songs are richly and sweetly modulated, and the influence of the whole
poem upon Milton is very apparent in his _Comus_. The _Knight of the
Burning Pestle,_ written by Beaumont and Fletcher jointly, was the first
burlesque comedy in the language, and is excellent fooling. Beaumont and
Fletcher's blank verse is musical, but less masculine than Marlowe's or
Shakspere's, by reason of their excessive use of extra syllables and
feminine endings.

In John Webster the fondness for abnormal and sensational themes, which
beset the Stuart stage, showed itself in the exaggeration of the
terrible into the horrible. Fear, in Shakspere--as in the great murder
scene in _Macbeth_--is a pure passion; but in Webster it is mingled with
something physically repulsive. Thus his _Duchess of Malfi_ is presented
in the dark with a dead man's hand, and is told that it is the hand of
her murdered husband. She is shown a dance of mad-men and, "behind a
traverse, the artificial figures of her children, appearing as if
dead." Treated in this elaborate fashion, that "terror," which Aristotle
said it was one of the objects of tragedy to move, loses half its
dignity. Webster's images have the smell of the charnel house about

  She would not after the report keep fresh
  As long as flowers on graves.

  We are only like dead walls or vaulted graves,
  That, ruined, yield no echo.
                         O this gloomy world I
  In what a shadow or deep pit of darkness
  Doth womanish and fearful mankind live!

Webster had an intense and somber genius. In diction he was the most
Shaksperian of the Elizabethan dramatists, and there are sudden gleams
of beauty among his dark horrors which light up a whole scene with some
abrupt touch of feeling.

  Cover her face: mine eyes dazzle: she died young,

says the brother of the Duchess, when he has procured her murder and
stands before the corpse. _Vittoria Corombona_ is described in the old
editions as "a night-piece," and it should, indeed, be acted by the
shuddering light of torches, and with the cry of the screech-owl to
punctuate the speeches. The scene of Webster's two best tragedies was
laid, like many of Ford's, Cyril Tourneur's, and Beaumont and
Fletcher's, in Italy--the wicked and splendid Italy of the Renaissance,
which had such a fascination for the Elizabethan imagination. It was to
them the land of the Borgias and the Cenci; of families of proud nobles,
luxurious, cultivated, but full of revenge and ferocious cunning; subtle
poisoners, who killed with a perfumed glove or fan; parricides,
atheists, committers of unnamable crimes, and inventors of strange and
delicate varieties of sin.

But a very few have here been mentioned of the great host of dramatists
who kept the theaters busy through the reigns of Elizabeth, James I.,
and Charles I. The last of the race was James Shirley, who died in 1666,
and whose thirty-eight plays were written during the reign of Charles I.
and the Commonwealth.

In the miscellaneous prose and poetry of this period there is lacking
the free, exulting, creative impulse of the elder generation, but there
are a soberer feeling and a certain scholarly choiceness which commend
themselves to readers of bookish tastes. Even that quaintness of thought
which is a mark of the Commonwealth writers is not without its
attraction for a nice literary palate. Prose became now of greater
relative importance than ever before. Almost every distinguished writer
lent his pen to one or the other party in the great theological and
political controversy of the time. There were famous theologians, like
Hales, Chillingworth, and Baxter; historians and antiquaries, like
Selden, Knolles, and Cotton; philosophers, such as Hobbes, Lord Herbert
of Cherbury, and More, the Platonist; and writers in natural
science--which now entered upon its modern, experimental phase, under
the stimulus of Bacon's writings--among whom may be mentioned Wallis,
the mathematician; Boyle, the chemist; and Harvey, the discoverer of the
circulation of the blood. These are outside of our subject, but in the
strictly literary prose of the time, the same spirit of roused inquiry
is manifest, and the same disposition to a thorough and exhaustive
treatment of a subject, which is proper to the scientific attitude of
mind. The line between true and false science, however, had not yet been
drawn. The age was pedantic, and appealed too much to the authority of
antiquity. Hence we have such monuments of perverse and curious
erudition as Robert Burton's _Anatomy of Melancholy_, 1621; and Sir
Thomas Browne's _Pseudodoxia Epidemica_, or _Inquiries into Vulgar and
Common Errors_, 1646. The former of these was the work of an Oxford
scholar, an astrologer, who cast his own horoscope, and a victim
himself of the atrabilious humor, from which he sought relief in
listening to the ribaldry of bargemen, and in compiling this _Anatomy_,
in which the causes, symptoms, prognostics, and cures of melancholy are
considered in numerous partitions, sections, members, and subsections.
The work is a mosaic of quotations. All literature is ransacked for
anecdotes and instances, and the book has thus become a mine of
out-of-the-way learning in which later writers have dug. Lawrence Sterne
helped himself freely to Burton's treasures, and Dr. Johnson said that
the _Anatomy_ was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours
sooner than he wished to rise.

The vulgar and common errors which Sir Thomas Browne set himself to
refute were such as these: That dolphins are crooked, that Jews stink,
that a man hath one rib less than a woman, that Xerxes's army drank up
rivers, that cicades are bred out of cuckoo-spittle, that Hannibal split
Alps with vinegar, together with many similar fallacies touching Pope
Joan, the Wandering Jew, the decuman or tenth wave, the blackness of
negroes, Friar Bacon's brazen head, etc. Another book in which great
learning and ingenuity were applied to trifling ends was the same
author's _Garden of Cyrus; or, the Quincuncial Lozenge or Network
Plantations of the Ancients_, in which a mystical meaning is sought in
the occurrence throughout nature and art of the figure of the quincunx
or lozenge. Browne was a physician of Norwich, where his library,
museum, aviary, and botanic garden were thought worthy of a special
visit by the Royal Society. He was an antiquary and a naturalist, and
deeply read in the school-men and the Christian Fathers. He was a
mystic, and a writer of a rich and peculiar imagination, whose thoughts
have impressed themselves upon many kindred minds, like Coleridge, De
Quincey, and Emerson. Two of his books belong to literature, _Religio
Medici_, published in 1642, and _Hydriotaphia; or, Urn Burial_, 1658, a
discourse upon rites of burial and incremation, suggested by some Roman
funeral urns dug up in Norfolk. Browne's style, though too highly
latinized, is a good example of Commonwealth prose; that stately,
cumbrous, brocaded prose which had something of the flow and measure of
verse, rather than the quicker, colloquial movement of modern writing.
Browne stood aloof from the disputes of his time, and in his very
subjects there is a calm and meditative remoteness from the daily
interests of men. His _Religio Medici_ is full of a wise tolerance and a
singular elevation of feeling. "At the sight of a cross, or crucifix, I
can dispense with my hat, but scarce with the thought or memory of my
Saviour." "They only had the advantage of a bold and noble faith who
lived before his coming." "They go the fairest way to heaven that would
serve God without a hell." "All things are artificial, for nature is the
art of God." The last chapter of the _Urn Burial_ is an almost
rhythmical descant on mortality and oblivion. The style kindles slowly
into a somber eloquence. It is the most impressive and extraordinary
passage in the prose literature of the time. Browne, like Hamlet, loved
to "consider too curiously." His subtlety led him to "pose his
apprehension with those involved enigmas and riddles of the
Trinity--with incarnation and resurrection;" and to start odd inquiries:
"what song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid
himself among women;" or whether, after Lazarus was raised from the
dead, "his heir might lawfully detain his inheritance." The quaintness
of his phrase appears at every turn. "Charles the Fifth can never hope
to live within two Methuselahs of Hector." "Generations pass while some
trees stand, and old families survive not three oaks." "Mummy is become
merchandise; Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for balsams."

One of the pleasantest of old English humorists is Thomas Fuller, who
was a chaplain in the royal army during the civil war, and wrote, among
other things, a _Church History of Britain;_ a book of religious
meditations, _Good Thoughts in Bad Times_; and a "character" book, _The
Holy and Profane State._ His most important work, the _Worthies of
England,_ was published in 1662, the year after his death. This was a
description of every English county; its natural commodities,
manufactures, wonders, proverbs, etc., with brief biographies of its
memorable persons. Fuller had a well-stored memory, sound piety, and
excellent common sense. Wit was his leading intellectual trait, and the
quaintness which he shared with his contemporaries appears in his
writings in a fondness for puns, droll turns of expression and bits of
eccentric suggestion. His prose, unlike Browne's, Milton's, and Jeremy
Taylor's, is brief, simple, and pithy. His dry vein of humor was
imitated by the American Cotton Mather, in his _Magnolia_, and by many
of the English and New England divines of the 17th century.

Jeremy Taylor was also a chaplain in the king's army, was several times
imprisoned for his opinions, and was afterward made, by Charles II.,
bishop of Down and Connor. He is a devotional rather than a theological
writer, and his _Holy Living_ and _Holy Dying_ are religious classics.
Taylor, like Sidney was a "warbler of poetic prose." He has been called
the prose Spenser, and his English has the opulence, the gentle
elaboration, the "linked sweetness long drawn out" of the poet of the
_Faerie Queene_. In fullness and resonance Taylor's diction resembles
that of the great orators, though it lacks their nervous energy. His
pathos is exquisitely tender, and his numerous similes have Spenser's
pictorial amplitude. Some of them have become commonplaces for
admiration, notably his description of the flight of the skylark, and
the sentence in which he compares the gradual awakening of the human
faculties to the sunrise, which "first opens a little eye of heaven, and
sends away the spirits of darkness, and gives light to a cock, and calls
up the lark to matins, and by and by gilds the fringes of a cloud, and
peeps over the eastern hills." Perhaps the most impressive single
passage of Taylor's is the opening chapter in _Holy Dying_. From the
midst of the sickening paraphernalia of death which he there accumulates
rises that delicate image of the fading rose, one of the most perfect
things in its wording in all our prose literature. "But so have I seen a
rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood, and at first it was as
fair as the morning, and full with the dew of heaven as a lamb's fleece;
but when a ruder breath had forced open its virgin modesty, and
dismantled its too youthful and unripe retirements, it began to put on
darkness and to decline to softness and the symptoms of a sickly age; it
bowed the head and broke its stock; and at night, having lost some of
its leaves and all its beauty, it fell into the portion of weeds and
outworn faces."

With the progress of knowledge and discussion many kinds of prose
literature, which were not absolutely new, now began to receive wider
extension. Of this sort are the _Letters from Italy_, and other
miscellanies included in the _Reliquiæ Wottonianæ_, or remains of Sir
Henry Wotton, English embassador at Venice in the reign of James I., and
subsequently Provost of Eton College. Also the _Table Talk_--full of
incisive remarks--left by John Selden, whom Milton pronounced the first
scholar of his age, and who was a distinguished authority in legal
antiquities and international law, furnished notes to Drayton's
_Polyolbion_, and wrote upon Eastern religions, and upon the Arundel
marbles. Literary biography was represented by the charming little
_Lives_ of good old Izaak Walton, the first edition of whose _Compleat
Angler_ was printed in 1653. The lives were five in number; of Hooker,
Wotton, Donne, Herbert, and Sanderson. Several of these were personal
friends of the author, and Sir Henry Wotton was a brother of the angle.
The _Compleat Angler_, though not the first piece of sporting literature
in English, is unquestionably the most popular, and still remains a
favorite with "all that are lovers of virtue, and dare trust in
Providence, and be quiet, and go a-angling." As in Ascham's
_Toxophilus_, the instruction is conveyed in dialogue form, but the
technical part of the book is relieved by many delightful digressions.
Piscator and his friend Venator pursue their talk under a honeysuckle
hedge or a sycamore-tree during a passing shower. They repair, after the
day's fishing, to some honest ale-house, with lavender in the window and
a score of ballads stuck about the wall, where they sing
catches--"old-fashioned poetry but choicely good"--composed by the
author or his friends, drink barley wine, and eat their trout or chub.
They encounter milkmaids, who sing to them and give them a draft of the
red cow's milk and they never cease their praises of the angler's life,
of rural contentment among the cowslip meadows, and the quiet streams of
Thames, or Lea, or Shawford Brook.

The decay of a great literary school is usually signalized by the
exaggeration of its characteristic traits. The manner of the Elizabethan
poets was pushed into mannerism by their successors. That manner, at its
best, was hardly a simple one, but in the Stuart and Commonwealth
writers it became mere extravagance. Thus Phineas Fletcher--a cousin
of the dramatist--composed a long Spenserian allegory, the _Purple
Island_, descriptive of the human body. George Herbert and others made
anagrams, and verses shaped like an altar, a cross, or a pair of Easter
wings. This group of poets was named, by Dr. Johnson, in his life of
Cowley, the metaphysical school. Other critics have preferred to call
them the fantastic or conceited school, the later Euphuists or the
English Marinists and Gongorists, after the poets Marino and Gongora,
who brought this fashion to its extreme in Italy and in Spain. The
English _conceptistas_ were mainly clergymen of the established church:
Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, Quarles, and Herrick. But Crashaw was a Roman
Catholic, and Cowley--the latest of them--a layman.

The one who set the fashion was Dr. John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's, whom
Dryden pronounced a great wit, but not a great poet, and whom Ben Jonson
esteemed the best poet in the world for some things, but likely to be
forgotten for want of being understood. Besides satires and epistles in
verse, he composed amatory poems in his youth, and divine poems in his
age, both kinds distinguished by such subtle obscurity, and far-fetched
ingenuities, that they read like a series of puzzles. When this poet has
occasion to write a valediction to his mistress upon going into France,
he compares their temporary separation to that of a pair of compasses:

  Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like the other foot obliquely run;
  Thy firmness makes my circle just,
    And makes me end where I begun.

If he would persuade her to marriage he calls her attention to a flea--

  Me it sucked first and now sucks thee,
  And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.

He says that the flea is their marriage-temple, and bids her forbear to
kill it lest she thereby commit murder, suicide and sacrilege all in
one. Donne's figures are scholastic and smell of the lamp. He ransacked
cosmography, astrology, alchemy, optics, the canon law, and the divinity
of the school-men for ink-horn terms and similes. He was in verse what
Browne was in prose. He loved to play with distinctions, hyperboles,
parodoxes, the very casuistry and dialectics of love or devotion.

  Thou canst not every day give me my heart:
  If thou canst give it then thou never gav'st it:
  Love's riddles are that though thy heart depart
  It stays at home, and thou with losing sav'st it.

Donne's verse is usually as uncouth as his thought. But there is a real
passion slumbering under these ashy heaps of conceit, and occasionally a
pure flame darts up, as in the justly admired lines:

                  Her pure and eloquent blood
  Spoke in her cheek, and so divinely wrought
  That one might almost say her body thought.

This description of Donne is true, with modifications, of all the
metaphysical poets. They had the same forced and unnatural style. The
ordinary laws of the association of ideas were reversed with them. It
was not the nearest, but the remotest, association that was called up.
"Their attempts," said Johnson, "were always analytic: they broke every
image into fragments." The finest spirit among them was "holy George
Herbert," whose _Temple_ was published in 1633. The titles in this
volume were such as the following: Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, Holy
Baptism, The Cross, The Church Porch, Church Music, The Holy Scriptures,
Redemption, Faith, Doomsday. Never since, except, perhaps, in Keble's
_Christian Year_, have the ecclesiastic ideals of the Anglican
Church--the "beauty of holiness"--found such sweet expression in
poetry. The verses entitled _Virtue_--

  Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,

are known to most readers, as well as the line,

  Who sweeps a room as for thy laws makes that and the action fine.

The quaintly named pieces, the _Elixir_, the _Collar_, and the _Pulley_,
are full of deep thought and spiritual feeling. But Herbert's poetry is
constantly disfigured by bad taste. Take this passage from _Whitsunday_,

  Listen, sweet dove, unto my song,
    And spread thy golden wings on me,
  Hatching my tender heart so long,
    Till it get wing and fly away with thee,

which is almost as ludicrous as the epitaph written by his
contemporary, Carew, on the daughter of Sir Thomas Wentworth, whose soul

            ...grew so fast within
  It broke the outward shell of sin,
  And so was hatched a cherubin.

Another of these church poets was Henry Vaughan, "the Silurist," or
Welshman, whose fine piece, the _Retreat_, has been often compared with
Wordsworth's _Ode on the Intimations of Immortality_. Frances Quarles's
_Divine Emblems_ long remained a favorite book with religious readers
both in old and New England. Emblem books, in which engravings of a
figurative design were accompanied with explanatory letterpress in
verse, were a popular class of literature in the 17th century. The most
famous of them all were Jacob Catt's Dutch emblems.

One of the most delightful of the English lyric poets is Robert Herrick,
whose _Hesperides_, 1648, has lately received such sympathetic
illustration from the pencil of an American artist, Mr. E.A. Abbey.
Herrick was a clergyman of the English Church and was expelled by the
Puritans from his living, the vicarage of Dean Prior, in Devonshire. The
most quoted of his religious poems is, _How to Keep a True Lent._ But it
may be doubted whether his tastes were prevailingly clerical; his poetry
certainly was not. He was a disciple of Ben Jonson, and his boon
companion at

                  ...those lyric feasts
  Made at the Sun,
  The Dog, the Triple Tun;
  Where we such clusters had
  As made us nobly wild, not mad.
  And yet each verse of thine,
  Outdid the meat, outdid the frolic wine.

Herrick's _Noble Numbers_ seldom rises above the expression of a
cheerful gratitude and contentment. He had not the subtlety and
elevation of Herbert, but he surpassed him in the grace, melody,
sensuous beauty, and fresh lyrical impulse of his verse. The conceits of
the metaphysical school appear in Herrick only in the form of an
occasional pretty quaintness. He is the poet of English parish festivals
and of English flowers, the primrose, the whitethorn, the daffodil. He
sang the praises of the country life, love songs to "Julia," and hymns
of thanksgiving for simple blessings. He has been called the English
Catullus, but he strikes rather the Horatian note of _Carpe diem_ and
regret at the shortness of life and youth in many of his best-known
poems, such as _Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may_, and _To Corinna, To
Go a Maying._

Richard Crashaw was a Cambridge scholar who was turned out of his
fellowship at Peterhouse by the Puritans in 1644, for refusing to
subscribe the Solemn League and Covenant; became a Roman Catholic, and
died in 1650 as a canon of the Virgin's Chapel at Loretto. He is best
known to the general reader by his _Wishes for his Unknown Mistress_,

  That not impossible she

which is included in most of the anthologies. His religious poetry
expresses a rapt and mystical piety, fed on the ecstatic visions of St.
Theresa, "undaunted daughter of desires," who is the subject of a
splendid apostrophe in his poem, _The Flaming Heart_. Crashaw is, in
fact, a poet of passages and of single lines, his work being exceedingly
uneven and disfigured by tasteless conceits. In one of his Latin
epigrams occurs the celebrated line upon the miracle at Cana:

  Vidit et erubuit nympha pudica Deum:

as englished by Dryden,

  The conscious water saw its Lord and blushed.

Abraham Cowley is now less remembered for his poetry than for his
pleasant volume of essays, published after the Restoration; but he was
thought in his own time a better poet than Milton. His collection of
love songs--the _Mistress_--is a mass of cold conceits, in the
metaphysical manner; but his elegies on Crashaw and Harvey have much
dignity and natural feeling. He introduced the Pindaric ode into
English, and wrote an epic poem on a biblical subject--the
_Davideis_--now quite unreadable. Cowley was a royalist, and followed
the exiled court to France.

Side by side with the church poets were the cavaliers--Carew, Waller,
Lovelace, Suckling, L'Estrange, and others--gallant courtiers and
officers in the royal army, who mingled love and loyalty in their
strains. Colonel Richard Lovelace, who lost every thing in the king's
service, and was several times imprisoned, wrote two famous songs--_To
Lucasta on going to the Wars_--in which occur the lines,

  I could not love thee, dear, so much,
    Loved I not honor more--

and to _Althæa from Prison_, in which he sings "the sweetness, mercy,
majesty, and glories" of his king, and declares that "stone-walls do not
a prison make, nor iron bars a cage." Another of the cavaliers was Sir
John Suckling, who formed a plot to rescue the Earl of Strafford, raised
a troop of horse for Charles I., was impeached by the Parliament and
fled to France. He was a man of wit and pleasure, who penned a number of
gay trifles, but has been saved from oblivion chiefly by his exquisite
_Ballad upon a Wedding_. Thomas Carew and Edmund Waller were poets of
the same stamp--graceful and easy, but shallow in feeling. Carew,
however, showed a nicer sense of form than most of the fantastic school.
Some of his love songs are written with delicate art. There are noble
lines in his elegy on Donne and in one passage of his masque _Coelum
Britannicum_. In his poem entitled _The Rapture_ great splendor of
language and imagery is devoted to the service of an unbridled
sensuality. Waller, who followed the court to Paris, was the author of
two songs, which are still favorites, _Go, Lovely Rose_, and _On a
Girdle_, and he first introduced the smooth, correct manner of writing
in couplets, which Dryden and Pope carried to perfection. Gallantly
rather than love was the inspiration of these courtly singers. In such
verses as Carew's _Encouragements to a Lover_, and George Wither's _The
Manly Heart_,

  If she be not so to me,
  What care I how fair she be?--

we see the revolt against the high, passionate, Sidneian love of the
Elizabethan sonneteers, and the note of _persiflage_ that was to mark
the lyrical verse of the Restoration. But the poetry of the cavaliers
reached its high-water mark in one fiery-hearted song by the noble and
unfortunate James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, who invaded Scotland in
the interest of Charles II., and was taken prisoner and put to death at
Edinburgh in 1650.

  My dear and only love, I pray
    That little world of thee
  Be governed by no other sway
    Than purest monarchy.

In language borrowed from the politics of the time, he cautions his
mistress against _synods_ or _committees_ in her heart; swears to make
her glorious by his pen and famous by his sword; and, with that fine
recklessness which distinguished the dashing troopers of Prince Rupert,
he adds, in words that have been often quoted,

  He either fears his fate too much,
    Or his deserts are small,
  That dares not put it to the touch
    To gain or lose it all.

John Milton, the greatest English poet except Shakspere, was born in
London in 1608. His father was a scrivener, an educated man, and a
musical composer of some merit. At his home Milton was surrounded with
all the inflences of a refined and well-ordered Puritan household of
the better class. He inherited his father's musical tastes, and during
the latter part of his life he spent a part of every afternoon in
playing the organ. No poet has written more beautifully of music than
Milton. One of his sonnets was addressed to Henry Lawes, the composer,
who wrote the airs to the songs in _Comus_. Milton's education was most
careful and thorough. He spent seven years at Cambridge, where, from his
personal beauty and fastidious habits, he was called "The lady of
Christ's." At Horton, in Buckinghamshire, where his father had a country
seat, he passed five years more, perfecting himself in his studies, and
then traveled for fifteen months, mainly in Italy, visiting Naples and
Rome, but residing at Florence. Here he saw Galileo, a prisoner of the
Inquisition "for thinking otherwise in astronomy than his Dominican and
Franciscan licensers thought." Milton was the most scholarly and the
most truly classical of English poets. His Latin verse, for elegance and
correctness, ranks with Addison's; and his Italian poems were the
admiration of the Tuscan scholars. But his learning appears in his
poetry only in the form of a fine and chastened result, and not in
laborious allusion and pedantic citation, as too often in Ben Jonson,
for instance. "My father," he wrote, "destined me, while yet a little
child, for the study of humane letters." He was also destined for the
ministry, but, "coming to some maturity of years and perceiving what
tyrany had invaded the Church,...I thought it better to prefer a
blameless silence, before the sacred office of speaking, bought and
begun with servitude and forswearing." Other hands than a bishop's were
laid upon his head. "He who would not be frustrate of his hope to write
well hereafter," he says, "ought himself to be a true poem." And he adds
that his "natural haughtiness" saved him from all impurity of living.
Milton had a sublime self-respect. The dignity and earnestness of the
Puritan gentleman blended in his training with the culture of the
Renaissance. Born into an age of spiritual conflict, he dedicated his
gift to the service of Heaven, and he became, like Heine, a valiant
soldier in the war for liberation. He was the poet of a cause, and his
song was keyed to

                              the Dorian mood
  Of flutes and soft recorders such as raised
  To height of noblest temper, heroes old
  Arming to battle.

On comparing Milton with Shakspere, with his universal sympathies and
receptive imagination, one perceives a loss in breadth, but a gain in
intense personal conviction. He introduced a new note into English
poetry: the passion for truth and the feeling of religious sublimity.
Milton's was an heroic age, and its song must be lyric rather than
dramatic; its singer must be in the fight and of it.

Of the verses which he wrote at Cambridge the most important was his
splendid ode _On the Morning of Christ's Nativity_. At Horton he wrote,
among other things, the companion pieces, _L'Allegro_ and _Il
Penseroso_, of a kind quite new in English, giving to the landscape an
expression in harmony with the two contrasted moods. _Comus_, which
belongs to the same period, was the perfection of the Elizabethan court
masque, and was presented at Ludlow Castle in 1634, on the occasion of
the installation of the Earl of Bridgewater as Lord President of Wales.
Under the guise of a skillful addition to the Homeric allegory of Circe,
with her cup of enchantment, it was a Puritan song in praise of chastity
and temperance. _Lycidas_, in like manner, was the perfection of the
Elizabethan pastoral elegy. It was contributed to a volume of memorial
verses on the death of Edward King, a Cambridge friend of Milton's, who
was drowned in the Irish Channel in 1637. In one stern strain, which is
put into the mouth of St. Peter, the author "foretells the ruin of our
corrupted clergy, then at their height."

  But that two-handed engine at the door
  Stands ready to smite once and smite no more.

This was Milton's last utterance in English verse before the outbreak
of the civil war, and it sounds the alarm of the impending struggle. In
technical quality _Lycidas_ is the most wonderful of all Milton's poems.
The cunningly intricate harmony of the verse, the pressed and packed
language, with its fullness of meaning and allusion, make it worthy of
the minutest study. In these early poems, Milton, merely as a poet, is
at his best. Something of the Elizabethan style still clings to them;
but their grave sweetness, their choice wording, their originality in
epithet, name, and phrase, were novelties of Milton's own. His English
masters were Spenser, Fletcher, and Sylvester, the translator of Du
Bartas's _La Semaine_, but nothing of Spenser's prolixity, or Fletcher's
effeminacy, or Sylvester's quaintness is found in Milton's pure,
energetic diction. He inherited their beauties, but his taste had been
tempered to a finer edge by his studies in Greek and Hebrew poetry. He
was the last of the Elizabethans, and his style was at once the crown of
the old and a departure into the new. In masque, elegy, and sonnet he
set the seal to the Elizabethan poetry, said the last word, and closed
one great literary era.

In 1639 the breach between Charles I. and his Parliament brought Milton
back from Italy. "I thought it base to be traveling at my ease for
amusement, while my fellow-countrymen at home were fighting for
liberty." For the next twenty years he threw himself into the contest,
and poured forth a succession of tracts, in English and Latin, upon the
various public questions at issue. As a political thinker, Milton had
what Bacon calls "the humor of a scholar." In a country of endowed
grammar schools and universities hardly emerged from a mediæval
discipline and curriculum, he wanted to set up Greek gymnasia and
philosophical schools, after the fashion of the Porch and the Academy.
He would have imposed an Athenian democracy upon a people trained in the
traditions of monarchy and episcopacy. At the very moment when England
had grown tired of the Protectorate and was preparing to welcome back
the Stuarts, he was writing _An Easy and Ready Way to Establish a Free
Commonwealth_. Milton acknowledged that in prose he had the use of his
left hand only. There are passages of fervid eloquence, where the style
swells into a kind of lofty chant, with a rhythmical rise and fall to
it, as in parts of the English Book of Common Prayer. But in general his
sentences are long and involved, full of inversions and latinized
constructions. Controversy at that day was conducted on scholastic
lines. Each disputant, instead of appealing at once to the arguments of
expediency and common sense, began with a formidable display of
learning, ransacking Greek and Latin authors and the Fathers of the
Church for opinions in support of his own position. These authorities he
deployed at tedious length, and followed them up with heavy scurrilities
and "excusations," by way of attack and defense. The dispute between
Milton and Salmasius over the execution of Charles I. was like a duel
between two knights in full armor striking at each other with ponderous
maces. The very titles of these pamphlets are enough to frighten off a
modern reader: _A Confutation of the Animadversions upon a Defense of a
Humble Remonstrance against a Treatise, entitled Of Reformation_. The
most interesting of Milton's prose tracts is his _Areopagitica: A Speech
for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing_, 1644. The arguments in this are
of permanent force; but if the reader will compare it, or Jeremy
Taylor's _Liberty of Prophesying_, with Locke's _Letters on Toleration_,
he will see how much clearer and more convincing is the modern method of
discussion, introduced by writers like Hobbes and Locke and Dryden.
Under the Protectorate Milton was appointed Latin Secretary to the
Council of State. In the diplomatic correspondence which was his
official duty, and in the composition of his tract, _Defensio pro
Popululo Anglicano_, he overtaxed his eyes, and in 1654 became totally
blind. The only poetry of Milton's belonging to the years 1640-1660 are
a few sonnets of the pure Italian form, mainly called forth by public
occasions. By the Elizabethans the sonnets had been used mainly in love
poetry. In Milton's hands, said Wordsworth, "the thing became a
trumpet." Some of his were addressed to political leaders, like Fairfax,
Cromwell, and Sir Henry Vane; and of these the best is, perhaps, the
sonnet written on the massacre of the Vaudois Protestants--"a collect in
verse," it has been called--which has the fire of a Hebrew prophet
invoking the divine wrath upon the oppressors of Israel. Two were on his
own blindness, and in these there is not one selfish repining, but only
a regret that the value of his service is impaired--

  Will God exact day labor, light denied?

After the restoration of the Stuarts, in 1660, Milton was for a while in
peril, by reason of the part that he had taken against the king. But

  On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues,
  In darkness and with dangers compassed round
  And solitude,

he bated no jot of heart or hope. Henceforth he becomes the most heroic
and affecting figure in English literary history. Years before he had
planned an epic poem on the subject of King Arthur, and again a sacred
tragedy on man's fall and redemption. These experiments finally took
shape in _Paradise Lost_, which was given to the world in 1667. This is
the epic of English Puritanism and of Protestant Christianity. It was
Milton's purpose to

                 assert eternal Providence
  And justify the ways of God to men,

or, in other words, to embody his theological system in verse. This
gives a doctrinal rigidity and even dryness to parts of the _Paradise
Lost_, which injure its effect as a poem. His "God the father turns a
school divine:" his Christ, as has been wittily said, is "God's good
boy:" the discourses of Raphael to Adam are scholastic lectures: Adam
himself is too sophisticated for the state of innocence, and Eve is
somewhat insipid. The real protagonist of the poem is Satan, upon whose
mighty figure Milton unconsciously bestowed something of his own nature,
and whose words of defiance might almost have come from some Republican
leader when the Good Old Cause went down.

       What though the field be lost?
  All is not lost; the unconquerable will
  And study of revenge, immortal hate,
  And courage never to submit or yield.

But when all has been said that can be said in disparagement or
qualification, _Paradise Lost_ remains the foremost of English poems and
the sublimest of all epics. Even in those parts where theology
encroaches most upon poetry, the diction, though often heavy, is never
languid. Milton's blank verse in itself is enough to bear up the most
prosaic theme, and so is his epic English, a style more massive and
splendid than Shakspere's, and comparable, like Tertullian's Latin, to a
river of molten gold. Of the countless single beauties that sow his page

  Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks
  In Valombrosa,

there is no room to speak, nor of the astonishing fullness of substance
and multitude of thoughts which have caused the _Paradise Lost_ to be
called the book of universal knowledge. "The heat of Milton's mind,"
said Dr. Johnson, "might be said to sublimate his learning and throw off
into his work the spirit of science, unmingled with its grosser parts."
The truth of this remark is clearly seen upon a comparison of Milton's
description of the creation, for example, with corresponding passages in
Sylvester's _Divine Weeks and Works_ (translated from the Huguenot
poet, Du Bartas), which was, in some sense, his original. But the most
heroic thing in Milton's heroic poem is Milton. There are no strains in
_Paradise Lost_ so absorbing as those in which the poet breaks the
strict epic bounds and speaks directly of himself, as in the majestic
lament over his own blindness, and in the invocation to Urania, which
open the third and seventh books. Every-where, too, one reads between
the lines. We think of the dissolute cavaliers, as Milton himself
undoubtedly was thinking of them, when we read of "the sons of Belial
flown with insolence and wine," or when the Puritan turns among the
sweet landscapes of Eden, to denounce

                                   court amours
  Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
  Or serenade which the starved lover sings
  To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.

And we think of Milton among the triumphant royalists when we read of
the Seraph Abdiel "faithful found among the faithless."

  Nor number nor example with him wrought
  To swerve from truth or change his constant mind,
  Though single. From amidst them forth he passed,
  Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained
  Superior, nor of violence feared aught:
  And with retorted scorn his back he turned
  On those proud towers to swift destruction doomed.

_Paradise Regained_ and _Samson Agonistes_ were published in 1671. The
first of these treated in four books Christ's temptation in the
wilderness, a subject that had already been handled in the Spenserian
allegorical manner by Giles Fletcher, a brother of the Purple Islander,
in his _Christ's Victory and Triumph_, 1610. The superiority of
_Paradise Lost_ to its sequel is not without significance. The Puritans
were Old Testament men. Their God was the Hebrew Jehovah, whose single
divinity the Catholic mythology had overlaid with the figures of the
Son, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. They identified themselves in
thought with his chosen people, with the militant theocracy of the Jews.
Their sword was the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. "To your tents, O
Israel," was the cry of the London mob when the bishops were committed
to the Tower. And when the fog lifted, on the morning of the battle of
Dunbar, Cromwell exclaimed, "Let God arise and let his enemies be
scattered: like as the sun riseth, so shalt thou drive them away."

_Samson Agonistes_, though Hebrew in theme and spirit, was in form a
Greek tragedy. It has chorus and semi-chorus, and preserved the
so-called dramatic unities; that is, the scene was unchanged, and there
were no intervals of time between the acts. In accordance with the rules
of the Greek theater, but two speakers appeared upon the stage at once,
and there was no violent action. The death of Samson is related by a
messenger. Milton's reason for the choice of this subject is obvious. He
himself was Samson, shorn of his strength, blind, and alone among
enemies; given over

      to the unjust tribunals, under change of times,
  And condemnation of the ungrateful multitude.

As Milton grew older he discarded more and more the graces of poetry,
and relied purely upon the structure and the thought. In _Paradise
Lost_, although there is little resemblance to Elizabethan work--such as
one notices in _Comus_ and the Christmas hymn--yet the style is rich,
especially in the earlier books. But in _Paradise Regained_ it is severe
to bareness, and in _Samson_, even to ruggedness. Like Michelangelo,
with whose genius he had much in common, Milton became impatient of
finish or of mere beauty. He blocked out his work in masses, left rough
places and surfaces not filled in, and inclined to express his meaning
by a symbol, rather than work it out in detail. It was a part of his
austerity, his increasing preference for structural over decorative
methods, to give up rime for blank verse. His latest poem, _Samson
Agonistes_, is a metrical study of the highest interest.

Milton was not quite alone among the poets of his time in espousing the
popular cause. Andrew Marvell, who was his assistant in the Latin
secretaryship and sat in Parliament for Hull, after the Restoration, was
a good Republican, and wrote a fine _Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return
from Ireland_. There is also a rare imaginative quality in his _Song of
the Exiles in Bermuda_, _Thoughts in a Garden_, and _The Girl Describes
her Fawn_. George Wither, who was imprisoned for his satires, also took
the side of the Parliament, but there is little that is distinctively
Puritan in his poetry.

       *       *       *       *       *

1. Milton's Poetical Works. Edited by David Masson.
London: Macmillan & Co., 1882. 3 vols.

2. Selections from Milton's Prose. Edited by F.D. Myers.
New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1883. (Parchment Series.)

3. England's Antiphon. By George Macdonald. London:
Macmillan & Co., 1868.

4. Robert Herrick's Hesperides. London: George Routledge
& Sons, 1885. (Morley's Universal Library).

5. Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici and Hydriotaphia.
Edited by Willis Bund. Sampson Low & Co., 1873.

6. Thomas Fuller's Good Thoughts in Bad Times. Boston:
Ticknor & Fields, 1863.

7. Walton's Complete Angler. Edited by Sir Harris
Nicolas. London: Chatto & Windus, 1875.




The Stuart Restoration was a period of descent from poetry to prose,
from passion and imagination to wit and the understanding. The serious,
exalted mood of the civil war and Commonwealth had spent itself and
issued in disillusion. There followed a generation of wits, logical,
skeptical, and prosaic, without earnestness, as without principle. The
characteristic literature of such a time is criticism, satire, and
burlesque, and such, indeed, continued to be the course of English
literary history for a century after the return of the Stuarts. The age
was not a stupid one, but one of active inquiry. The Royal Society, for
the cultivation of the natural sciences, was founded in 1662. There were
able divines in the pulpit and at the universities--Barrow, Tillotson,
Stillingfleet, South, and others: scholars, like Bentley; historians,
like Clarendon and Burnet; scientists, like Boyle and Newton;
philosophers, like Hobbes and Locke. But of poetry, in any high sense of
the word, there was little between the time of Milton and the time of
Goldsmith and Gray.

The English writers of this period were strongly influenced by the
contemporary literature of France, by the comedies of Molière, the
tragedies of Corneille and Racine, and the satires, epistles, and
versified essays of Boileau. Many of the Restoration writers--Waller,
Cowley, Davenant, Wycherley, Villiers, and others--had been in France
during the exile, and brought back with them French tastes. John Dryden
(1631-1700), who is the great literary figure of his generation, has
been called the first of the moderns. From the reign of Charles II.,
indeed, we may date the beginnings of modern English life. What we call
"society" was forming, the town, the London world. "Coffee, which makes
the politician wise," had just been introduced, and the ordinaries of
Ben Jonson's time gave way to coffee-houses, like Will's and Button's,
which became the head-quarters of literary and political gossip. The two
great English parties, as we know them to-day, were organized: the words
Whig and Tory date from this reign. French etiquette and fashions came
in, and French phrases of convenience--such as _coup de grace_, _bel
esprit_, etc.--began to appear in English prose. Literature became
intensely urban and partisan. It reflected city life, the disputes of
faction, and the personal quarrels of authors. The politics of the great
rebellion had been of heroic proportions, and found fitting expression
in song. But in the Revolution of 1688 the issues were constitutional
and to be settled by the arguments of lawyers. Measures were in question
rather than principles, and there was little inspiration to the poet in
Exclusion Bills and Acts of Settlement.

Court and society, in the reign of Charles II. and James II., were
shockingly dissolute, and in literature, as in life, the reaction
against Puritanism went to great extremes. The social life of the time
is faithfully reflected in the diary of Samuel Pepys. He was a
simple-minded man, the son of a London tailor, and became, himself,
secretary to the admiralty. His diary was kept in cipher, and published
only in 1825. Being written for his own eye, it is singularly outspoken;
and its _naïve_, gossipy, confidential tone makes it a most diverting
book, as it is, historically, a most valuable one.

Perhaps the most popular book of its time was Samuel Butler's _Hudibras_
(1663-1664), a burlesque romance in ridicule of the Puritans. The king
carried a copy of it in his pocket, and Pepys testifies that it was
quoted and praised on all sides. Ridicule of the Puritans was nothing
new. Zeal-of-the-land Busy, in Ben Jonson's _Bartholomew Fair_, is an
early instance of the kind. There was nothing laughable about the
earnestness of men like Cromwell, Milton, Algernon Sidney, and Sir Henry
Vane. But even the French Revolution had its humors; and as the English
Puritan Revolution gathered head and the extremer sectaries pressed to
the front--Quakers, New Lights, Fifth Monarchy Men, Ranters, etc.,--its
grotesque sides came uppermost. Butler's hero is a Presbyterian justice
of the peace who sallies forth with his secretary, Ralpho--an
Independent and Anabaptist-like Don Quixote with Sancho Panza, to
suppress May games and bear-baitings. (Macaulay, it will be remembered,
said that the Puritans disapproved of bear-baiting, not because it gave
pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.) The
humor of _Hudibras_ is not of the finest. The knight and the squire are
discomfited in broadly comic adventures, hardly removed from the rough
physical drolleries of a pantomime or circus. The deep heart-laughter of
Cervantes, the pathos on which his humor rests, is, of course, not to be
looked for in Butler. But he had wit of a sharp, logical kind, and his
style surprises with all manner of verbal antics. He is almost as great
a phrase-master as Pope, though in a coarser kind. His verse is a smart
doggerel, and his poem has furnished many stock sayings, as for example,

  'Tis strange what difference there can be
  'Twixt tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.

_Hudibras_ has had many imitators, not the least successful of whom was
the American John Trumbull, in his revolutionary satire, _M'Fingal_,
some couplets of which are generally quoted as Butler's, as, for

  No man e'er felt the halter draw
  With good opinion of the law.

The rebound against Puritanism is seen no less plainly in the drama of
the Restoration, and the stage now took vengeance for its enforced
silence under the Protectorate. Two theaters were opened under the
patronage, respectively, of the king and of his brother, the Duke of
York. The manager of the latter, Sir William Davenant--who had fought on
the king's side, been knighted for his services, escaped to France, and
was afterward captured and imprisoned in England for two years--had
managed to evade the law against stage plays as early as 1656, by
presenting his _Siege of Rhodes_ as an "opera," with instrumental music
and dialogue in recitative, after a fashion newly sprung up in Italy.
This he brought out again in 1661, with the dialogue recast into riming
couplets in the French fashion. Movable painted scenery was now
introduced from France, and actresses took the female parts formerly
played by boys. This last innovation was said to be at the request of
the king, one of whose mistresses, the famous Nell Gwynne, was the
favorite actress at the King's Theater.

Upon the stage, thus reconstructed, the so-called "classical" rules of
the French theater were followed, at least in theory. The Louis XIV.
writers were not purely creative, like Shakspere or his contemporaries
in England, but critical and self-conscious. The Academy had been formed
in 1636 for the preservation of the purity of the French language, and
discussion abounded on the principles and methods of literary art.
Corneille not only wrote tragedies, but essays on tragedy, and one in
particular on the _Three Unities_. Dryden followed his example in his
_Essay of Dramatic Poesie_ (1667), in which he treated of the unities,
and argued for the use of rime in tragedy in preference to blank verse.
His own practice varied. Most of his tragedies were written in rime, but
in the best of them, _All for Love_, founded on Shakspere's _Antony and
Cleopatra_, he returned to blank verse. One of the principles of the
classical school was to keep comedy and tragedy distinct. The tragic
dramatists of the Restoration, Dryden, Howard, Settle, Crowne, Lee, and
others, composed what they called "heroic plays," such as the _Indian
Emperor_, the _Conquest of Granada_, the _Duke of Lerma_, the _Empress
of Morocco_, the _Destruction of Jerusalem_, _Nero_, and the _Rival
Queens_. The titles of these pieces indicate their character. Their
heroes were great historic personages. Subject and treatment were alike
remote from nature and real life. The diction was stilted and
artificial, and pompous declamation took the place of action and genuine
passion. The tragedies of Racine seem chill to an Englishman brought up
on Shakspere, but to see how great an artist Racine was, in his own
somewhat narrow way, one has but to compare his _Phedre_, or
_Iphigenie_, with Dryden's ranting tragedy of _Tyrannic Love_. These
bombastic heroic plays were made the subject of a capital burlesque, the
_Rehearsal_, by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, acted in 1671 at
the King's Theater. The indebtedness of the English stage to the French
did not stop with a general adoption of its dramatic methods, but
extended to direct imitation and translation. Dryden's comedy, _An
Evening's Love_, was adapted from Thomas Corneille's _Le Feint
Astrologue_, and his _Sir Martin Mar-all_, from Molière's _L'Etourdi_.
Shadwell borrowed his _Miser_ from Molière, and Otway made versions of
Racine's _Bèrènice_ and Molière's _Fourberies de Scapin_. Wycherley's
_Country Wife_ and _Plain Dealer_ although not translations, were based,
in a sense, upon Molière's _Ecole des Femmes_ and _Le Misanthrope_. The
only one of the tragic dramatists of the Restoration who prolonged the
traditions of the Elizabethan stage was Otway, whose _Venice Preserved_,
written in blank verse, still keeps the boards. There are fine passages
in Dryden's heroic plays, passages weighty in thought and nobly sonorous
in language. There is one great scene (between Antony and Ventidius) in
his _All for Love_. And one, at least, of his comedies, the _Spanish_
_Friar_, is skillfully constructed. But his nature was not pliable
enough for the drama, and he acknowledged that, in writing for the
stage, he "forced his genius."

In sharp contrast with these heroic plays was the comic drama of the
Restoration, the plays of Wycherley, Killigrew, Etherege, Farquhar, Van
Brugh, Congreve, and others; plays like the _Country Wife_, the
_Parson's Wedding, She Would if She Could_, the _Beaux' Stratagem,_ the
_Relapse_, and the _Way of the World_. These were in prose, and
represented the gay world and the surface of fashionable life. Amorous
intrigue was their constantly recurring theme. Some of them were written
expressly in ridicule of the Puritans. Such was the _Committee_ of
Dryden's brother-in-law, Sir Robert Howard, the hero of which is a
distressed gentleman, and the villain a London cit, and president of the
committee appointed by Parliament to sit upon the sequestration of the
estates of royalists. Such were also the _Roundheads_ and the _Banished
Cavaliers_ of Mrs. Aphra Behn, who was a female spy in the service of
Charles II., at Antwerp, and one of the coarsest of the Restoration
comedians. The profession of piety had become so disagreeable that a
shameless cynicism was now considered the mark of a gentleman. The ideal
hero of Wycherley or Etherege was the witty young profligate, who had
seen life, and learned to disbelieve in virtue. His highest qualities
were a contempt for cant, physical courage, a sort of spendthrift
generosity, and a good-natured readiness to back up a friend in a
quarrel, or an amour. Virtue was _bourgeois_----reserved for London
trades-people. A man must be either a rake or a hypocrite. The gentlemen
were rakes, the city people were hypocrites. Their wives, however, were
all in love with the gentlemen, and it was the proper thing to seduce
them, and to borrow their husbands' money. For the first and last time,
perhaps, in the history of the English drama, the sympathy of the
audience was deliberately sought for the seducer and the rogue, and the
laugh turned against the dishonored husband and the honest man.
(Contrast this with Shakspere's _Merry Wives of Windsor_.) The women
were represented as worse than the men--scheming, ignorant, and corrupt.
The dialogue in the best of these plays was easy, lively, and witty the
situations in some of them audacious almost beyond belief. Under a thin
varnish of good breeding, the sentiments and manners were really brutal.
The loosest gallants of Beaumont and Fletcher's theater retain a
fineness of feeling and that _politesse de cæur_ which marks the
gentleman. They are poetic creatures, and own a capacity for romantic
passion. But the Manlys and Horners of the Restoration comedy have a
prosaic, cold-blooded profligacy that disgusts.

Charles Lamb, in his ingenious essay on "The Artificial Comedy of the
Last Century," apologized for the Restoration stage, on the ground that
it represented a world of whim and unreality in which the ordinary laws
of morality had no application. But Macaulay answered truly, that at no
time has the stage been closer in its imitation of real life. The
theater of Wycherley and Etherege was but the counterpart of that social
condition which we read of in Pepys's _Diary_, and in the _Memoirs_ of
the Chevalier de Grammont. This prose comedy of manners was not, indeed,
"artificial" at all, in the sense in which the contemporary tragedy--the
"heroic play"--was artificial. It was, on the contrary, far more
natural, and, intellectually, of much higher value. In 1698 Jeremy
Collier, a non-juring Jacobite clergyman, published his _Short View of
the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage_, which did much
toward reforming the practice of the dramatists. The formal
characteristics, without the immorality, of the Restoration comedy
re-appeared briefly in Goldsmith's _She Stoops to Conquer_, 1772, and
Sheridan's _Rivals_, _School for Scandal_, and _Critic_, 1775-9; our
last strictly "classical" comedies. None of this school of English
comedians approached their model, Molière. He excelled his imitators not
only in his French urbanity--the polished wit and delicate grace of his
style--but in the dexterous unfolding of his plot, and in the wisdom and
truth of his criticism of life, and his insight into character. It is a
symptom of the false taste of the age that Shakspere's plays were
rewritten for the Restoration stage. Davenant made new versions of
_Macbeth_ and _Julius Cæsar_, substituting rime for blank verse. In
conjunction with Dryden, he altered the _Tempest_, complicating the
intrigue by the introduction of a male counterpart to Miranda--a youth
who had never seen a woman. Shadwell "improved" _Timon of Athens_, and
Nahum Tate furnished a new fifth act to _King Lear_, which turned the
play into a comedy! In the prologue to his doctored version of _Troilus
and Cressida_, Dryden made the ghost of Shakspere speak of himself as

  Untaught, unpracticed in a barbarous age.

Thomas Rymer, whom Pope pronounced a good critic, was very severe upon
Shakspere in his _Remarks on the Tragedies of the Last Age_; and in his
_Short View of Tragedy_, 1693, he said, "In the neighing of a horse or
in the growling of a mastiff, there is more humanity than, many times,
in the tragical flights of Shakspere." "To Deptford by water," writes
Pepys, in his diary for August 20, 1666, "reading _Othello, Moor of
Venice_; which I ever heretofore esteemed a mighty good play; but,
having so lately read the _Adventures of Five Hours_, it seems a mean

In undramatic poetry the new school, both in England and in France, took
its point of departure in a reform against the extravagances of the
Marinists, or conceited poets, specially represented in England by Donne
and Cowley. The new poets, both in their theory and practice, insisted
upon correctness, clearness, polish, moderation, and good sense.
Boileau's _L'Art Poétique_, 1673, inspired by Horace's _Ars Poetica_,
was a treatise in verse upon the rules of correct composition, and it
gave the law in criticism for over a century, not only in France, but in
Germany and England. It gave English poetry a didactic turn and started
the fashion of writing critical essays in riming couplets. The Earl of
Mulgrave published two "poems" of this kind, an _Essay on Satire_, and
an _Essay on Poetry_. The Earl of Roscommon--who, said Addison, "makes
even rules a noble poetry"--made a metrical version of Horace's _Ars
Poetica_, and wrote an original _Essay on Translated Verse_. Of the same
kind were Addison's epistle to Sacheverel, entitled _An Account of the
Greatest English Poets_, and Pope's _Essay on Criticism_, 1711, which
was nothing more than versified maxims of rhetoric, put with Pope's
usual point and brilliancy. The classicism of the 18th century, it has
been said, was a classicism in red heels and a periwig. It was Latin
rather than Greek; it turned to the least imaginative side of Latin
literature and found its models, not in Vergil, Catullus, and Lucretius,
but in the satires, epistles, and didactic pieces of Juvenal, Horace,
and Persius.

The chosen medium of the new poetry was the heroic couplet. This had, of
course, been used before by English poets as far back as Chaucer. The
greater part of the _Canterbury Tales_ was written in heroic couplets.
But now a new strength and precision were given to the familiar measure
by imprisoning the sense within the limit of the couplet, and by
treating each line as also a unit in itself. Edmund Waller had written
verse of this kind as early as the reign of Charles I. He, said Dryden,
"first showed us to conclude the sense most commonly in distichs, which,
in the verse of those before him, runs on for so many lines together
that the reader is out of breath to overtake it." Sir John Denham, also,
in his _Cooper's Hill_, 1643, had written such verse as this:

  O, could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
  My great example as it is my theme!
  Though deep yet clear, though gentle yet not dull,
  Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.

Here we have the regular flow, and the nice balance between the first
and second member of each couplet, and the first and second part of each
line, which characterized the verse of Dryden and Pope.

  Waller was smooth, but Dryden taught to join
  The varying verse, the full resounding line,
  The long resounding march and energy divine.

Thus wrote Pope, using for the nonce the triplet and alexandrine by
which Dryden frequently varied the couplet. Pope himself added a greater
neatness and polish to Dryden's verse and brought the system to such
monotonous perfection that he "made poetry a mere mechanic art."

The lyrical poetry of this generation was almost entirely worthless. The
dissolute wits of Charles the Second's court, Sedley, Rochester,
Sackville, and the "mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease," threw off a
few amatory trifles; but the age was not spontaneous or sincere enough
for genuine song. Cowley introduced the Pindaric ode, a highly
artificial form of the lyric, in which the language was tortured into a
kind of spurious grandeur, and the meter teased into a sound and fury,
signifying nothing. Cowley's Pindarics were filled with something which
passed for fire, but has now utterly gone out. Nevertheless, the fashion
spread, and "he who could do nothing else," said Dr. Johnson, "could
write like Pindar." The best of these odes was Dryden's famous
_Alexander's Feast_, written for a celebration of St. Cecilia's day by a
musical club. To this same fashion, also, we owe Gray's two fine odes,
the _Progress of Poesy_ and the _Bard_. written a half-century later.

Dryden was not so much a great poet as a solid thinker, with a splendid
mastery of expression, who used his energetic verse as a vehicle for
political argument and satire. His first noteworthy poem, _Annus
Mirabilis_, 1667, was a narrative of the public events of the year 1666;
namely, the Dutch war and the great fire of London. The subject of
_Absalom and Ahitophel_--the first part of which appeared in 1681--was
the alleged plot of the Whig leader, the Earl of Shaftesbury, to defeat
the succession of the Duke of York, afterward James II., by securing the
throne to Monmouth, a natural son of Charles II. The parallel afforded
by the story of Absalom's revolt against David was wrought out by Dryden
with admirable ingenuity and keeping. He was at his best in satirical
character-sketches, such as the brilliant portraits in this poem of
Shaftesbury, as the false counselor Ahitophel, and of the Duke of
Buckingham as Zimri. The latter was Dryden's reply to the _Rehearsal..
Absalom and Ahitophel_ was followed by the _Medal_, a continuation of
the same subject, and _Mac Flecknoe_, a personal onslaught on the "true
blue Protestant poet" Thomas Shadwell, a political and literary foe of
Dryden. Flecknoe, an obscure Irish poetaster, being about to retire from
the throne of duncedom, resolved to settle the succession upon his son,
Shadwell, whose claims to the inheritance are vigorously asserted.

  The rest to some faint meaning make pretense,
  But Shadwell never deviates into sense....
  The midwife laid her hand on his thick skull
  With this prophetic blessing--_Be thou dull_.

Dryden is our first great satirist. The formal satire had been written
in the reign of Elizabeth by Donne, and by Joseph Hall, Bishop of
Exeter, and subsequently by Marston, the dramatist, by Wither, Marvell,
and others; but all of these failed through an over violence of
language, and a purpose too pronouncedly moral. They had no lightness of
touch, no irony and mischief. They bore down too hard, imitated Juvenal,
and lashed English society in terms befitting the corruption of imperial
Rome. They denounced, instructed, preached, did every thing but
satirize. The satirist must raise a laugh. Donne and Hall abused men in
classes; priests were worldly, lawyers greedy, courtiers obsequious,
etc. But the easy scorn of Dryden and the delightful malice of Pope gave
a pungent personal interest to their sarcasm, infinitely more effective
than these commonplaces of satire. Dryden was as happy in controversy as
in satire, and is unexcelled in the power to reason in verse. His
_Religo Laici_, 1682, was a poem in defense of the English Church. But
when James II came to the throne Dryden turned Catholic and wrote the
_Hind and Panther_, 1687, to vindicate his new belief. Dryden had the
misfortune to be dependent upon royal patronage and upon a corrupt
stage. He sold his pen to the court, and in his comedies he was heavily
and deliberately lewd, a sin which he afterward acknowledged and
regretted. Milton's "soul was like a star and dwelt apart," but Dryden
wrote for the trampling multitude. He had a coarseness of moral fiber,
but was not malignant in his satire, being of a large, careless, and
forgetting nature. He had that masculine, enduring cast of mind which
gathers heat and clearness from motion, and grows better with age. His
_Fables_--modernizations from Chaucer and translations from Boccaccio,
written the year before he died--are among his best works.

Dryden is also our first critic of any importance. His critical essays
were mostly written as prefaces or dedications to his poems and plays.
But his _Essay of Dramatic Poesie_, which Dr. Johnson called our "first
regular and valuable treatise on the art of writing," was in the shape
of a Platonic dialogue. When not misled by the French classicism of his
day, Dryden was an admirable critic, full of penetration and sound
sense. He was the earliest writer, too, of modern literary prose. If the
imitation of French models was an injury to poetry it was a benefit to
prose. The best modern prose is French, and it was the essayists of the
gallicised Restoration age--Cowley, Sir William Temple, and above all,
Dryden--who gave modern English prose that simplicity, directness, and
colloquial air which marks it off from the more artificial diction of
Milton, Taylor and Browne.

A few books whose shaping influences lay in the past belong by their
date to this period. John Bunyan, a poor tinker, whose reading was
almost wholly in the Bible and Fox's _Book of Martyrs_, imprisoned for
twelve years in Bedford jail for preaching at conventicles, wrote and,
in 1678, published his _Pilgrim's Progress_, the greatest of religious
allegories. Bunyan's spiritual experiences were so real to him that they
took visible concrete shape in his imagination as men, women, cities,
landscapes. It is the simplest, the most transparent of allegories.
Unlike the _Faerie Queene_, the story of _Pilgrim's Progress_ has no
reason for existing apart from its inner meaning, and yet its reality is
so vivid that children read of Vanity Fair and the Slough of Despond and
Doubting Castle and the Valley of the Shadow of Death with the same
belief with which they read of Crusoe's cave or Aladdin's palace.

It is a long step from the Bedford tinker to the cultivated poet of
_Paradise Lost_. They represent the poles of the Puritan party. Yet it
may admit of a doubt whether the Puritan epic is, in essentials, as
vital and original a work as the Puritan allegory. They both came out
quietly and made little noise at first. But the _Pilgrim's Progress_ got
at once into circulation, and hardly a single copy of the first edition
remains. Milton, too--who received ten pounds for the copyright of
_Paradise Lost_--seemingly found that "fit audience though few" for
which he prayed, as his poem reached its second impression in five years
(1672). Dryden visited him in his retirement and asked leave to turn it
into rime and put it on the stage as an opera. "Ay," said Milton, good
humoredly, "you may tag my verses." And accordingly they appeared, duly
tagged, in Dryden's operatic masque, the _State of Innocence_. In this
startling conjunction we have the two ages in a nutshell: the
Commonwealth was an epic, the Restoration an opera.

The literary period covered by the life of Pope, 1688-1744, is marked
off by no distinct line from the generation before it. Taste continued
to be governed by the precepts of Boileau and the French classical
school. Poetry remained chiefly didactic and satirical, and satire in
Pope's hands was more personal even than in Dryden's, and addressed
itself less to public issues. The literature of the "Augustan age" of
Queen Anne (1702-1714) was still more a literature of the town and of
fashionable society than that of the Restoration had been. It was also
closely involved with party struggles of Whig and Tory, and the ablest
pens on either side were taken into alliance by the political leaders.
Swift was in high favor with the Tory ministers, Oxford and Bolingbroke,
and his pamphlets, the _Public Spirit of the Whigs_ and the _Conduct of
the Allies_, were rewarded with the deanery of St. Patrick's, Dublin.
Addison became secretary of state under a Whig government. Prior was in
the diplomatic service. Daniel De Foe, the author of _Robinson Crusoe_,
1719, was a prolific political writer, conducted his _Review_ in the
interest of the Whigs, and was imprisoned and pilloried for his ironical
pamphlet, _The Shortest Way with the Dissenters_. Steele, who was a
violent writer on the Whig side, held various public offices, such as
Commissioner of Stamps, and Commissioner for Forfeited Estates, and sat
in Parliament. After the Revolution of 1688 the manners and morals of
English society were somewhat on the mend. The court of William and
Mary, and of their successor, Queen Anne, set no such example of open
profligacy as that of Charles II. But there was much hard drinking,
gambling, dueling, and intrigue in London, and vice was fashionable till
Addison partly preached and partly laughed it down in the _Spectator_.
The women were mostly frivolous and uneducated, and not unfrequently
fast. They are spoken of with systematic disrespect by nearly every
writer of the time, except Steele. "Every woman," wrote Pope, "is at
heart a rake." The reading public had now become large enough to make
letters a profession. Dr. Johnson said that Pope was the first writer in
whose case the book-seller took the place of the patron. His translation
of Homer, published by subscription, brought him between eight and nine
thousand pounds and made him independent. But the activity of the press
produced a swarm of poorly-paid hack-writers, penny-a-liners, who lived
from hand to mouth and did small literary jobs to order. Many of these
inhabited Grub Street, and their lampoons against Pope and others of
their more successful rivals called out Pope's _Dunciad_, or epic of the
dunces, by way of retaliation. The politics of the time were sordid, and
consisted mainly of an ignoble scramble for office. The Whigs were
fighting to maintain the Act of Succession in favor of the House of
Hanover, and the Tories were secretly intriguing with the exiled
Stuarts. Many of the leaders, such as the great Whig champion, John
Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, were without political principle or even
personal honesty. The Church, too, was in a condition of spiritual
deadness. Bishoprics and livings were sold, and given to political
favorites. Clergymen, like Swift and Lawrence Sterne, were worldly in
their lives and immoral in their writings, and were practically
unbelievers. The growing religious skepticism appeared in the Deist
controversy. Numbers of men in high position were Deists; the Earl of
Shaftesbury, for example, and Pope's brilliant friend, Henry St. John,
Lord Bolingbroke, the head of the Tory ministry, whose political
writings had much influence upon his young French acquaintance,
Voltaire. Pope was a Roman Catholic, though there was little to show it
in his writings, and the underlying thought of his famous _Essay on Man_
was furnished him by Bolingbroke. The letters of the cold-hearted
Chesterfield to his son were accepted as a manual of conduct, and La
Rochefoucauld's cynical maxims were quoted as authority on life and
human nature. Said Swift:

  As Rochefoucauld his maxims drew
  From nature, I believe them true.
  They argue no corrupted mind
  In him; the fault is in mankind.

The succession which Dryden had willed to Congreve was taken up by
Alexander Pope. He was a man quite unlike Dryden--sickly, deformed,
morbidly precocious, and spiteful; nevertheless he joined on to and
continued Dryden. He was more careful in his literary workmanship than
his great forerunner, and in his _Moral Essays_ and _Satires_ he brought
the Horatian epistle in verse, the formal satire and that species of
didactic poem of which Boileau had given the first example, to an
exquisite perfection of finish and verbal art. Dryden had translated
Vergil, and so Pope translated Homer. The throne of the dunces, which
Dryden had conferred upon Shadwell, Pope, in his _Dunciad_, passed on to
two of his own literary foes, Theobald and Colley Cibber. There is a
great waste of strength in this elaborate squib, and most of the petty
writers, whose names it has preserved, as has been said, like flies in
amber, are now quite unknown. But, although we have to read it with
notes, to get the point of its allusions, it is easy to see what
execution it must have done at the time, and it is impossible to
withhold admiration from the wit, the wickedness, the triumphant
mischief of the thing. In the _Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot_, the satirical
sketch of Addison--who had offended Pope by praising a rival translation
of Homer--is as brilliant as any thing of the kind in Dryden. Pope's
very malignity made his sting sharper than Dryden's. He secreted venom,
and worked out his revenges deliberately, bringing all the resources of
his art to bear upon the question of how to give the most pain most

Pope's masterpiece is, perhaps, the _Rape of the Lock_, a mock heroic
poem, a "dwarf _Iliad_" recounting, in five cantos, a society quarrel,
which arose from Lord Petre's cutting a lock of hair from the head of
Mrs. Arabella Fermor. Boileau, in his _Lutrin_, had treated with the
same epic dignity a dispute over the placing of the reading-desk in a
parish church. Pope was the Homer of the drawing-room, the boudoir, the
tea-urn, the ombre-party, the sedan-chair, the parrot cage, and the
lap-dogs. This poem, in its sparkle and airy grace, is the topmost
blossom of a highly artificial society, the quintessence of whatever
poetry was possible in those

  Tea-cup times of hood and hoop,
  And when the patch was worn,

with whose decorative features, at least, the recent Queen Anne revival
has made this generation familiar. It may be said of it, as Thackery
said of Gay's pastorals: "It is to poetry what charming little Dresden
china figures are to sculpture, graceful, minikin, fantastic, with a
certain beauty always accompanying them." The _Rape of the Lock_,
perhaps, stops short of beauty, but it attains elegance and prettiness
in a supreme degree. In imitation of the gods and goddesses in the
_Iliad_, who intermeddle for or against the human characters, Pope
introduced the Sylphs of the Rosicrucian philosophy. We may measure the
distance between imagination and fancy, if we will compare these little
filagree creatures with Shakspere's elves, whose occupation it was

  To tread the ooze of the salt deep,
  Or run upon the sharp wind of the north,...
  Or on the beached margent of the sea
  To dance their ringlets to the whispering wind.

Very different are the offices of Pope's fays:

  Our humble province is to tend the fair;
  Not a less pleasing, though less glorious, care;
  To save the powder from too rude a gale,
  Nor let the imprisoned essences exhale....
  Nay oft in dreams invention we bestow
  To change a flounce or add a furbelow.

Pope was not a great poet; it has been doubted whether he was a poet at
all. He does not touch the heart, or stimulate the imagination, as the
true poet always does. In the poetry of nature, and the poetry of
passion, he was altogether impotent. His _Windsor Forest_ and his
_Pastorals_ are artificial and false, not written with "the eye upon the
object." His epistle of _Eloisa to Abelard_ is declamatory and academic,
and leaves the reader cold. The only one of his poems which is at all
possessed with feeling is his pathetic _Elegy to the Memory of an
Unfortunate Lady_. But he was a great literary artist. Within the
cramped and starched regularity of the heroic couplet, which the fashion
of the time and his own habit of mind imposed upon him, he secured the
largest variety of modulation and emphasis of which that verse was
capable. He used antithesis, periphrasis, and climax with great skill.
His example dominated English poetry for nearly a century, and even now,
when a poet like Dr. Holmes, for example, would write satire or humorous
verse of a dignified kind, he turns instinctively to the measure and
manner of Pope. He was not a consecutive thinker, like Dryden, and cared
less about the truth of his thought than about the pointedness of its
expression. His language was closer-grained than Dryden's. His great art
was the art of putting things. He is more quoted than any other English
poet but Shakspere. He struck the average intelligence, the common sense
of English readers, and furnished it with neat, portable formulas, so
that it no longer needed to "vent its observation in mangled terms," but
could pour itself out compactly, artistically in little ready-made
molds. But this high-wrought brilliancy, this unceasing point, soon
fatigue. His poems read like a series of epigrams; and every line has a
hit or an effect.

From the reign of Queen Anne date the beginnings of the periodical
essay. Newspapers had been published since the time of the civil war; at
first irregularly, and then regularly. But no literature of permanent
value appeared in periodical form until Richard Steele started the
_Tatler_, in 1709. In this he was soon joined by his friend, Joseph
Addison; and in its successor, the _Spectator_, the first number of
which was issued March 1, 1711, Addison's contributions outnumbered
Steele's. The _Tatler_ was published on three, the _Spectator_ on six,
days of the week. The _Tatler_ gave political news, but each number of
the _Spectator_ consisted of a single essay. The object of these
periodicals was to reflect the passing humors of the time, and to
satirize the follies and minor immoralities of the town. "I shall
endeavor," wrote Addison, in the tenth paper of the _Spectator_, "to
enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality....It was
said of Socrates that he brought Philosophy down from Heaven to inhabit
among men; and I shall be ambitious to have it said of me that I have
brought Philosophy out of closets and libraries, schools and colleges,
to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables and in coffee-houses."
Addison's satire was never personal. He was a moderate man, and did what
he could to restrain Steele's intemperate party zeal. His character was
dignified and pure, and his strongest emotion seems to have been his
religious feeling. One of his contemporaries called him "a parson in a
tie wig," and he wrote several excellent hymns. His mission was that of
censor of the public taste. Sometimes he lectured and sometimes he
preached, and in his Saturday papers he brought his wide reading and
nice scholarship into service for the instruction of his readers. Such
was the series of essays in which he gave an elaborate review of
_Paradise Lost_. Such also was his famous paper, the _Vision of Mirza_,
an oriental allegory of human life. The adoption of this slightly
pedagogic tone was justified by the prevalent ignorance and frivolity of
the age. But the lighter portions of the _Spectator_ are those which
have worn the best. Their style is at once correct and easy, and it is
as a humorist, a sly observer of manners, and, above all, a delightful
talker, that Addison is best known to posterity. In the personal
sketches of the members of the Spectator Club, of Will Honeycomb,
Captain Sentry, Sir Andrew Freeport, and, above all, Sir Roger de
Coverley, the quaint and honest country gentleman, may be found the
nucleus of the modern prose fiction of character. Addison's humor is
always a trifle grave. There is no whimsy, no frolic in it, as in Sterne
or Lamb. "He thinks justly," said Dr. Johnson, "but he thinks faintly."
The _Spectator_ had a host of followers, from the somewhat heavy
_Rambler_ and _Idler_ of Johnson, down to the _Salmagundi_ papers of our
own Irving, who was, perhaps, Addison's latest and best literary
descendant. In his own age Addison made some figure as a poet and
dramatist. His _Campaign_, celebrating the victory of Blenheim, had one
much admired couplet, in which Marlborough was likened to the angel of
tempest, who,

  Pleased the Almighty's orders to perform,
  Rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm.

His stately, classical tragedy, _Cato_, which was acted at Drury Lane
Theater in 1712, with immense applause, was pronounced by Dr. Johnson
"unquestionably the noblest production of Addison's genius." Is is,
notwithstanding, cold and tedious, as a whole, though it has some fine
declamatory passages--in particular the soliloquy of Cato in the fifth

  It must be so: Plato, thou reasonest well, etc.

[Illustration: Dryden, Addison, Pope, Swift]

The greatest of the Queen Anne wits, and one of the most savage and
powerful satirists that ever lived, was Jonathan Swift. As secretary in
the family of Sir William Temple, and domestic chaplain to the Earl of
Berkeley, he had known in youth the bitterness of poverty and
dependence. Afterward he wrote himself into influence with the Tory
ministry, and was promised a bishopric, but was put off with the deanery
of St. Patrick's, and retired to Ireland to "die like a poisoned rat in
a hole." His life was made tragical by the forecast of the madness which
finally overtook him, "The stage dark-ended," said Scott, "ere the
curtain fell." Insanity deepened into idiocy and a hideous silence, and
for three years before his death he spoke hardly ever a word. He had
directed that his tombstone should bear the inscription, _Ubi saeva
indignatio cor ulterius lacerare nequit_. "So great a man he seems to
me," wrote Thackeray, "that thinking of him is like thinking of an
empire falling." Swift's first noteworthy publication was his _Tale of a
Tub_, 1704, a satire on religious differences. But his great work was
_Gulliver's Travels_, 1726, the book in which his hate and scorn of
mankind, and the long rage of mortified pride and thwarted ambition
found their fullest expression. Children read the voyages to Lilliput
and Brobdingnag, to the flying island of Laputa and the country of the
Houyhnhnms, as they read _Robinson Crusoe_, as stories of wonderful
adventure. Swift had all of De Foe's realism, his power of giving
veri-similitude to his narrative by the invention of a vast number of
small, exact, consistent details. But underneath its fairy tales
_Gulliver's Travels_ is a satire, far more radical than any of Dryden's
or Pope's, because directed, not against particular parties or persons,
but against human nature. In his account of Lilliput and Brobdingnag,
Swift tries to show that human greatness, goodness, beauty disappear if
the scale be altered a little. If men were six inches high instead of
six feet, their wars, governments, science, religion--all their
institutions, in fine, and all the courage, wisdom, and virtue by which
these have been built up, would appear laughable. On the other hand, if
they were sixty feet high instead of six, they would become disgusting.
The complexion of the finest ladies would show blotches, hairs,
excrescences, and an overpowering effluvium would breathe from the pores
of the skin. Finally, in his loathsome caricature of mankind, as Yahoos,
he contrasts them, to their shame, with the beasts, and sets instinct
above reason.

The method of Swift's satire was grave irony. Among his minor writings
in this kind are his _Argument against Abolishing Christianity_, his
_Modest Proposal_ for utilizing the surplus population of Ireland by
eating the babies of the poor, and his _Predictions of Isaac
Bickerstaff_. In the last he predicted the death of one Partridge, an
almanac maker, at a certain day and hour. When the time set was past, he
published a minute account of Partridge's last moments; and when the
subject of this excellent fooling printed an indignant denial of his own
death, Swift answered very temperately, proving that he was dead and
remonstrating with him on the violence of his language. "To call a man a
fool and villain, an impudent fellow, only for differing from him in a
point merely speculative, is, in my humble opinion, a very improper
style for a person of his education." Swift wrote verses as well as
prose, but their motive was the reverse of poetical. His gross and
cynical humor vulgarized whatever it touched. He leaves us no illusions,
and not only strips his subject, but flays it and shows the raw muscles
beneath the skin. He delighted to dwell upon the lowest bodily functions
of human nature. "He saw blood-shot," said Thackeray.

1. History of Eighteenth Century Literature (1660-1780).
Edmund Gosse. London: Macmillan & Co., 1889.

2. Macaulay's Essay, The Comic Dramatists of the Restoration.

3. The Poetical Works of John Dry den. Macmillan &
Co., 1873. (Globe Edition.)

4. Thackeray's English Humorists of the last Century.

5. Sir Roger de Coverley. New York: Harpers, 1878.

6. Swift's Tale of a Tub, Gulliver's Travels, Directions to
Servants, Polite Conversation, The Great Question Debated,
Verses on the Death of Dean Swift.

7. The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope. London:
Macmillan & Co., 1869. (Globe Edition.)




Pope's example continued potent for fifty years after his death.
Especially was this so in satiric and didactic poetry. Not only Dr.
Johnson's adaptations from Juvenal, _London_, 1738, and the _Vanity of
Human Wishes_, 1749, but Gifford's _Baviad_, 1791, and _Maeviad_, 1795,
and Byron's _English Bards and Scotch Reviewers_, 1809, were in the
verse and the manner of Pope. In Johnson's _Lives of the Poets_, 1781,
Dryden and Pope are treated as the two greatest English poets. But long
before this a revolution in literary taste had begun, a movement which
is variously described as the Return to Nature or the Rise of the New
Romantic School.

For nearly a hundred years poetry had dealt with manners and the life of
towns--the gay, prosaic life of Congreve or of Pope. The sole concession
to the life of nature was the old pastoral, which, in the hands of
cockneys like Pope and Ambrose Philips, who merely repeated stock
descriptions at second or third hand, became even more artificial than a
_Beggars Opera_ or a _Rape of the Lock_. These at least were true to
their environment, and were natural just because they were artificial.
But the _Seasons_ of James Thomson, published in installments from
1726-1730, had opened a new field. Their theme was the English
landscape, as varied by the changes of the year, and they were written
by a true lover and observer of nature. Mark Akenside's _Pleasures of
Imagination_, 1744, published the year of Pope's death, was written,
like the _Seasons_, in blank verse; and although its language had the
formal, didactic cast of the Queen Anne poets, it pointed unmistakably
in the new direction. Thomson had painted the soft beauties of a highly
cultivated land--lawns, gardens, forest-preserves, orchards, and
sheep-walks. But now a fresh note was struck in the literature, not of
England alone, but of Germany and France--romanticism, the chief element
in which was a love of the wild. Poets turned from the tameness of
modern existence to savage nature and the heroic simplicity of life
among primitive tribes. In France, Rousseau introduced the idea of the
natural man, following his instincts in disregard of social conventions.
In Germany Bodmer published, in 1753, the first edition of the old
German epic, the _Nibelungen Lied_. Works of a similar tendency in
England were the odes of William Collins and Thomas Gray, published
between 1747 and 1757; especially Collins's _Ode on the Superstitions of
the Highlands_, and Gray's _Bard_, a Pindaric in which the last survivor
of the Welsh bards invokes vengeance on Edward I., the destroyer of his
guild. Gray and Mason, his friend and editor, made translations from the
ancient Welsh and Norse poetry. Thomas Percy's _Reliques of Ancient
English Poetry_, 1765, aroused the taste for old ballads. Richard Kurd's
_Letters on Chivalry and Romance_, Thomas Warton's _History of English
Poetry_. 1774-1778, Tyrwhitt's critical edition of Chaucer, and Horace
Walpole's Gothic romance, the _Castle of Otranto_, 1765, stimulated this
awakened interest in the picturesque aspects of feudal life, and
contributed to the fondness for supernatural and mediæval subjects.
James Beattie's _Minstrel_, 1771, described the educating influence of
Scottish mountain scenery upon the genius of a young poet. But the most
remarkable instances of this passion for wild nature and the romantic
past were the _Poems of Ossian_ and Thomas Chatterton's literary

In 1762 James Macpherson published the first installment of what
professed to be a translation of the poems of Ossian, a Gaelic bard,
whom tradition placed in the 3d century. Macpherson said that he made
his version--including two complete epics, _Fingal_ and _Temora_--from
Gaelic MSS., which he had collected in the Scottish Highlands. A fierce
controversy at once sprang up over the genuineness of these remains.
Macpherson was challenged to produce his originals, and when, many years
after, he published the Gaelic text, it was asserted that this was
nothing but a translation of his own English into modern Gaelic. Of the
MSS. which he professed to have found not a scrap remained: the Gaelic
text was printed from transcriptions in Macpherson's handwriting or in
that of his secretaries.

But whether these poems were the work of Ossian or of Macpherson, they
made a deep impression at the time. Napoleon admired them greatly, and
Goethe inserted passages from the "Songs of Selma" in his _Sorrows of
Werther_. Macpherson composed--or translated--them in an abrupt,
rhapsodical prose, resembling the English version of Job or of the
prophecies of Isaiah. They filled the minds of their readers with images
of vague sublimity and desolation; the mountain torrent, the mist on the
hills, the ghosts of heroes half seen by the setting moon, the thistle
in the ruined courts of chieftains, the grass whistling on the windy
heath, the gray rock by the blue stream of Lutha, and the cliffs of
sea-surrounded Gormal.

"A tale of the times of old!"

"Why, thou wanderer unseen! Thou bender of the thistle of Lora; why,
thou breeze of the valley, hast thou left mine ear? I hear no distant
roar of streams! No sound of the harp from the rock! Come, thou huntress
of Lutha, Malvina, call back his soul to the bard. I look forward to
Lochlin of lakes, to the dark billowy bay of U-thorno, where Fingal
decends from Ocean, from the roar of winds. Few are the heroes of Morven
in a land unknown."

Thomas Chatterton, who died by his own hand in 1770, at the age of
seventeen, is one of the most wonderful examples of precocity in the
history of literature. His father had been sexton of the ancient Church
of St. Mary Redcliff, in Bristol, and the boy's sensitive imagination
took the stamp of his surroundings. He taught himself to read from a
black-letter Bible. He drew charcoal sketches of churches, castles,
knightly tombs, and heraldic blazonry. When only eleven years old, he
began the fabrication of documents in prose and verse, which he ascribed
to a fictitious Thomas Rowley, a secular priest at Bristol in the 15th
century. Chatterton pretended to have found these among the contents of
an old chest in the muniment room of St. Mary Redcliff's. The Rowley
poems included two tragedies, _Aella_ and _Goddwyn_, two cantos of a
long poem on the _Battle of Hastings_, and a number of ballads and minor
pieces. Chatterton had no precise knowledge of early English, or even of
Chaucer. His method of working was as follows. He made himself a
manuscript glossary of the words marked as archaic in Bailey's and
Kersey's English dictionaries, composed his poems first in modern
language, and then turned them into ancient spelling, and substituted
here and there the old words in his glossary for their modern
equivalents. Naturally he made many mistakes, and though Horace Walpole,
to whom he sent some of his pieces, was unable to detect the forgery,
his friends, Gray and Mason, to whom he submitted them, at once
pronounced them spurious. Nevertheless there was a controversy over
Rowley hardly less obstinate than that over Ossian, a controversy made
possible only by the then almost universal ignorance of the forms,
scansion, and vocabulary of early English poetry. Chatterton's poems are
of little value in themselves, but they are the record of an industry
and imitative quickness marvelous in a mere child, and they show how,
with the instinct of genius, he threw himself into the main literary
current of his time. Discarding the couplet of Pope, the poets now went
back for models to the Elizabethan writers. Thomas Warton published in
1753 his _Observations on the Faerie Queene_. Beattie's _Minstrel_,
Thomson's _Castle of Indolence_, and William Shenstone's
_Schoolmistress_ were all written in the Spenserian stanza. Shenstone
gave a partly humorous effect to his poem by imitating Spenser's
archaisms, and Thomson reproduced in many passages the copious harmony
and luxuriant imagery of the _Faerie Queene_. John Dyer's _Fleece_ was a
poem in blank verse on English wool-growing, after the fashion of
Vergil's _Georgics_. The subject was unfortunate, for, as Dr. Johnson
said, it is impossible to make poetry out of serges and druggets. Dyer's
_Grongar Hill_, which mingles reflection with natural description in the
manner of Gray's _Elegy written in a Country Churchyard_, was composed
in the octosyllabic verse of Milton's _L'Allegro_ and _Il Penseroso_.
Milton's minor poems, which had hitherto been neglected, exercised a
great influence on Collins and Gray. Collins's _Ode to Simplicity_ was
written in the stanza of Milton's _Nativity_, and his exquisite unrimed
_Ode to Evening_ was a study in versification, after Milton's
translation of Horace's _Ode to Pyrrha_, in the original meters.
Shakspere began to be studied more reverently: numerous critical
editions of his plays were issued, and Garrick restored his pure text to
the stage. Collins was an enthusiastic student of Shakspere, and one of
his sweetest poems, the _Dirge in Cymbeline_, was inspired by the
tragedy of _Cymbeline_. The verse of Gray, Collins, and the Warton
brothers abounds in verbal reminiscences of Shakspere; but their genius
was not allied to his, being exclusively lyrical and not at all
dramatic. The Muse of this romantic school was Fancy rather than
Passion. A thoughtful melancholy, a gentle, scholarly pensiveness, the
spirit of Milton's _Il Penseroso_, pervades their poetry. Gray was a
fastidious scholar, who produced very little, but that little of the
finest quality. His famous _Elegy_, expressing a meditative mood in
language of the choicest perfection, is the representative poem of the
second half of the 18th century, as the _Rape of the Lock_ is of the
first. The romanticists were quietists, and their scenery is
characteristic. They loved solitude and evening, the twilight vale, the
mossy hermitage, ruins, glens, and caves. Their style was elegant and
academic, retaining a little of the stilted poetic diction of their
classical forerunners. Personification and periphrasis were their
favorite mannerisms: Collins's Odes were largely addressed to
abstractions, such as Fear, Pity, Liberty, Mercy and Simplicity. A poet
in their dialect was always a "bard;" a countryman was "the untutored
swain," and a woman was a "nymph" or "the fair," just as in Dryden and
Pope. Thomson is perpetually mindful of Vergil, and afraid to speak
simply. He uses too many Latin epithets, like _amusive_ and
_precipitant_, and calls a fish-line

  The floating line snatched from the hoary steed.

They left much for Cowper and Wordsworth to do in the way of infusing
the new blood of a strong, racy English into our exhausted poetic
diction. Their poetry is impersonal, bookish, literary. It lacks
emotional force, except now and then in Gray's immortal _Elegy_, in his
_Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College_, in Collins's lines, _On the
Death of Thomson_, and his little ode beginning, "How sleep the brave."

The new school did not lack critical expounders of its principles and
practice. Joseph Warton published, in 1756, the first volume of his
_Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope_, an elaborate review of
Pope's writings _seriatim_, doing him certainly full justice, but
ranking him below Shakspere, Spenser, and Milton. "Wit and satire,"
wrote Warton, "are transitory and perishable, but nature and passion are
eternal....He stuck to describing modern manners; but those manners,
because they are familiar, artificial, and polished, are, in their very
nature, unfit for any lofty effort of the Muse. Whatever poetical
enthusiasm he actually possessed he withheld and stifled. Surely it is
no narrow and niggardly encomium to say, he is the great Poet of Reason,
the first of Ethical authors in verse." Warton illustrated his critical
positions by quoting freely not only from Spenser and Milton, but from
recent poets, like Thomson, Gray, Collins, and Dyer. He testified that
the _Seasons_ had "been very instrumental in diffusing a general taste
for the beauties of nature and landscape." It was symptomatic of the
change in literary taste that the natural or English school of landscape
gardening now began to displace the French and Dutch fashion of clipped
hedges, and regular parterres, and that Gothic architecture came into
repute. Horace Walpole was a virtuoso in Gothic art, and in his castle
at Strawberry Hill he made a collection of ancient armor, illuminated
manuscripts, and bric-a-brac of all kinds. Gray had been Walpole's
traveling companion in France and Italy, and the two had quarreled and
separated, but were afterward reconciled. From Walpole's private
printing-press at Strawberry Hill Gray's two "sister odes," the _Bard_,
and the _Progress of Poesy_, were first issued in 1757. Both Gray and
Walpole were good correspondents, and their printed letters are among
the most delightful literature of the kind.

The central figure among the English men of letters of that generation
was Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), whose memory has been preserved less by
his own writings than by James Boswell's famous _Life of Johnson_,
published in 1791. Boswell was a Scotch laird and advocate, who first
met Johnson in London, when the latter was fifty-four years old. Boswell
was not a very wise or witty person, but he reverenced the worth and
intellect which shone through his subject's uncouth exterior. He
followed him about, note-book in hand, bore all his snubbings patiently,
and made the best biography ever written. It is related that the doctor
once said that if he thought Boswell meant to write his life, he should
prevent it by taking Boswell's. And yet Johnson's own writings and this
biography of him have changed places in relative importance so
completely that Carlyle predicted that the former would soon be reduced
to notes on the latter; and Macaulay said that the man who was known to
his contemporaries as a great writer was known to posterity as an
agreeable companion.

Johnson was one of those rugged, eccentric, self-developed characters so
common among the English. He was the son of a Lichfield book-seller, and
after a course at Oxford, which was cut short by poverty, and an
unsuccessful career as a school-master, he had come up to London, in
1737, where he supported himself for many years as a book-seller's hack.
Gradually his great learning and abilities, his ready social wit and
powers as a talker, caused his company to be sought at the tables of
those whom he called "the great." He was a clubbable man, and he drew
about him at the tavern a group of the most distinguished intellects of
the time: Edmund Burke, the orator and statesman; Oliver Goldsmith, Sir
Joshua Reynolds, the portrait painter, and David Garrick, the great
actor, who had been a pupil in Johnson's school, near Lichfield. Johnson
was the typical John Bull of the last century. His oddities, virtues,
and prejudices were thoroughly English. He hated Frenchmen, Scotchmen,
and Americans, and had a cockneyish attachment to London. He was a high
Tory, and an orthodox churchman; he loved a lord in the abstract, and
yet he asserted a sturdy independence against any lord in particular. He
was deeply religious, but had an abiding fear of death. He was burly in
person, and slovenly in dress, his shirt-frill always covered with
snuff. He was a great diner out, an inordinate tea-drinker, and a
voracious and untidy feeder. An inherited scrofula, which often took the
form of hypochondria and threatened to affect his brain, deprived him of
control over the muscles of his face. Boswell describes how his
features worked, how he snorted, grunted, whistled, and rolled about in
his chair when getting ready to speak. He records his minutest traits,
such as his habit of pocketing the orange peels at the club, and his
superstitious way of touching all the posts between his house and the
Mitre Tavern, going back to do it, if he skipped one by chance. Though
bearish in his manners and arrogant in dispute, especially when talking
"for victory," Johnson had a large and tender heart. He loved his ugly,
old wife--twenty-one years his senior--and he had his house full of
unfortunates--a blind woman, an invalid surgeon, a destitute widow, a
negro servant--whom he supported for many years, and bore with all their
ill-humors patiently.

Among Johnson's numerous writings the ones best entitled to remembrance
are, perhaps, his _Dictionary of the English Language_, 1755; his moral
tale, _Rasselas_, 1759; the introduction to his edition of Shakspere,
1765, and his _Lives of the Poets_, 1781. Johnson wrote a sonorous,
cadenced prose, full of big Latin words and balanced clauses. Here is a
sentence, for example, from his _Visit to the Hebrides_: "We were now
treading that illustrious island which was once the luminary of the
Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived
the benefits of knowledge and the blessings of religion. To abstract the
mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavored,
and would be foolish, if it were possible." The difference between his
colloquial style and his book style is well illustrated in the instance
cited by Macaulay. Speaking of Villiers's _Rehearsal_, Johnson said, "It
has not wit enough to keep it sweet;" then paused and added--translating
English into Johnsonese--"it has not vitality sufficient to preserve it
from putrefaction." There is more of this in Johnson's _Rambler_ and
_Idler_ papers than in his latest work, the _Lives of the Poets_. In
this he showed himself a sound and judicious critic, though with
decided limitations. His understanding was solid, but he was a thorough
classicist, and his taste in poetry was formed on Pope. He was unjust to
Milton and to his own contemporaries, Gray, Collins, Shenstone, and
Dyer. He had no sense of the higher and subtler graces of romantic
poetry, and he had a comical indifference to the "beauties of nature."
When Boswell once ventured to remark that poor Scotland had, at least,
some "noble wild prospects," the doctor replied that the noblest
prospect a Scotchman ever saw was the road that led to London.

The English novel of real life had its origin at this time. Books like
De Foe's _Robinson Crusoe_, _Captain Singleton_, _Journal of the
Plague_, etc., were tales of incident and adventure rather than novels.
The novel deals primarily with character and with the interaction of
characters upon one another, as developed by a regular plot. The first
English novelist, in the modern sense of the word, was Samuel
Richardson, a printer, who began authorship in his fiftieth year with
his _Pamela_, 1740, the story of a young servant girl who resisted the
seductions of her master, and finally, as the reward of her virtue,
became his wife. _Clarissa Harlowe_, 1748, was the tragical history of a
high-spirited young lady who, being driven from her home by her family
because she refused to marry the suitor selected for her, fell into the
toils of Lovelace, an accomplished rake. After struggling heroically
against every form of artifice and violence, she was at last drugged and
ruined. She died of a broken heart, and Lovelace, borne down by remorse,
was killed in a duel by a cousin of Clarissa. _Sir Charles Grandison_,
1753, was Richardson's portrait of an ideal fine gentleman, whose
stately doings fill eight volumes, but who seems to the modern reader a
bore and a prig. All these novels were written in the form of letters
passing between the characters, a method which fitted Richardson's
subjective cast of mind. He knew little of life, but he identified
himself intensely with his principal character and produced a strong
effect by minute, accumulated touches. _Clarissa Harlowe_ is his
masterpiece, though even in that the situation is painfully prolonged,
the heroine's virtue is self-conscious and rhetorical, and there is
something almost ludicrously unnatural in the copiousness with which she
pours herself out in gushing epistles to her female correspondent at the
very moment when she is beset with dangers, persecuted, agonized, and
driven nearly mad. In Richardson's novels appears, for the first time,
that sentimentalism which now began to infect European literature.
_Pamela_ was translated into French and German, and fell in with the
current of popular feeling which found fullest expression in Rousseau's
_Nouvelle Heloise_, 1759, and Goethe's _Leiden des Jungen Werther_,
which set all the world a-weeping in 1774.

Coleridge said that to pass from Richardson's books to those of Henry
Fielding was like going into the fresh air from a close room heated by
stoves. Richardson, it has been affirmed, knew _man_, but Fielding knew
_men_. The latter's first novel, _Joseph Andrews_, 1742, was begun as a
travesty of _Pamela_. The hero, a brother of Pamela, was a young footman
in the employ of Lady Booby, from whom his virtue suffered a like
assault to that made upon Pamela's by her master. This reversal of the
natural situation was in itself full of laughable possibilities, had the
book gone on simply as a burlesque. But the exuberance of Fielding's
genius led him beyond his original design. His hero, leaving Lady
Booby's service, goes traveling with good Parson Adams, and is soon
engaged in a series of comical and rather boisterous adventures.

Fielding had seen life, and his characters were painted from the life
with a bold, free hand. He was a gentleman by birth, and had made
acquaintance with society and the town in 1727, when he was a handsome,
stalwart young fellow, with high animal spirits and a great appetite for
pleasure. He soon ran himself into debt and began writing for the
stage; married, and spent his wife's fortune, living for a while in
much splendor as a country gentleman, and afterward in a reduced
condition as a rural justice with a salary of five hundred pounds of
"the dirtiest money on earth." Fielding's masterpiece was _Tom Jones_,
1749, and it remains one of the best of English novels. Its hero is very
much after Fielding's own heart, wild, spendthrift, warm-hearted,
forgiving, and greatly in need of forgiveness. The same type of
character, with the lines deepened, re-appears in Captain Booth, in
_Amelia_, 1751, the heroine of which is a portrait of Fielding's wife.
With Tom Jones is contrasted Blifil, the embodiment of meanness,
hypocrisy, and cowardice. Sophia Western, the heroine, is one of
Fielding's most admirable creations. For the regulated morality of
Richardson, with its somewhat old-grannified air, Fielding substituted
instinct. His virtuous characters are virtuous by impulse only, and his
ideal of character is manliness. In _Jonathan Wild_ the hero is a
highwayman. This novel is ironical, a sort of prose mock-heroic, and is
one of the strongest, though certainly the least pleasing, of Fielding's

Tobias Smollett was an inferior Fielding with a difference. He was a
Scotch ship-surgeon, and had spent some time in the West Indies. He
introduced into fiction the now familiar figure of the British tar, in
the persons of Tom Bowling and Commodore Trunnion, as Fielding had
introduced, in Squire Western, the equally national type of the
hard-swearing, deep-drinking, fox-hunting Tory squire. Both Fielding and
Smollett were of the hearty British "beef-and-beer" school; their novels
are downright, energetic, coarse, and high-blooded; low life, physical
life, runs riot through their pages--tavern brawls, the breaking of
pates, and the off-hand courtship of country wenches. Smollett's books,
such as _Roderick Random_, 1748; _Peregrine Pickle_, 1751, and
_Ferdinand Count Fathom_, 1752, were more purely stories of broadly
comic adventure than Fielding's. The latter's view of life was by no
means idyllic; but with Smollett this English realism ran into vulgarity
and a hard Scotch literalness, and character was pushed to caricature.
"The generous wine of Fielding," says Taine, "in Smollett's hands
becomes brandy of the dram-shop." A partial exception to this is to be
found in his last and best novel, _Humphrey Clinker_, 1770. The
influence of Cervantes and of the French novelist, Le Sage, who finished
his _Adventures of Gil Bias_ in 1735, are very perceptible in Smollett.

A genius of much finer mold was Lawrence Sterne, the author of _Tristram
Shandy_, 1759-1767, and the _Sentimental Journey_, 1768. _Tristram
Shandy_ is hardly a novel: the story merely serves to hold together a
number of characters, such as Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim, conceived
with rare subtlety and originality. Sterne's chosen province was the
whimsical, and his great model was Rabelais. His books are full of
digressions, breaks, surprises, innuendoes, double meanings,
mystifications, and all manner of odd turns. Coleridge and Carlyle unite
in pronouncing him a great humorist. Thackeray says that he was only a
great jester. Humor is the laughter of the heart, and Sterne's pathos is
closely interwoven with his humor. He was the foremost of English
sentimentalists, and he had that taint of insincerity which
distinguishes sentimentalism from genuine sentiment, like Goldsmith's,
for example. Sterne, in life, was selfish, heartless, and untrue. A
clergyman, his worldliness and vanity and the indecency of his writings
were a scandal to the Church, though his sermons were both witty and
affecting. He enjoyed the titillation of his own emotions, and he had
practiced so long at detecting the latent pathos that lies in the
expression of dumb things and of poor, patient animals, that he could
summon the tear of sensibility at the thought of a discarded postchaise,
a dead donkey, a starling in a cage, or of Uncle Toby putting a house
fly out of the window, and saying, "There is room enough in the world
for thee and me." It is a high proof of his cleverness that he
generally succeeds in raising the desired feeling in his readers even
from such trivial occasions. He was a minute philosopher, his philosophy
was kindly, and he taught the delicate art of making much out of little.
Less coarse than Fielding, he is far more corrupt. Fielding goes bluntly
to the point; Sterne lingers among the temptations and suspends the
expectation to tease and excite it. Forbidden fruit had a relish for
him, and his pages seduce. He is full of good sayings both tender and
witty. It was Sterne, for example, who wrote, "God tempers the wind to
the shorn lamb."

A very different writer was Oliver Goldsmith, whose _Vicar of
Wakefield_, 1766, was the earliest, and is still one of the best, novels
of domestic and rural life. The book, like its author, was thoroughly
Irish, full of bulls and inconsistencies. Very improbable things
happened in it with a cheerful defiance of logic. But its characters are
true to nature, drawn with an idyllic sweetness and purity, and with
touches of a most loving humor. Its hero, Dr. Primrose, was painted
after Goldsmith's father, a poor clergyman of the English Church in
Ireland, and the original, likewise, of the country parson in
Goldsmith's _Deserted Village_, 1770, who was "passing rich on forty
pounds a year." This poem, though written in the fashionable couplet of
Pope, and even containing a few verses contributed by Dr. Johnson--so
that it was not at all in line with the work of the romanticists--did,
perhaps, as much as any thing of Gray or of Collins to recall English
poetry to the simplicity and freshness of country life.

[Illustration: Johnson, Goldsmith, Cowper, Burns.]

Except for the comedies of Sheridan and Goldsmith, and, perhaps, a few
other plays, the stage had now utterly declined. The novel, which is
dramatic in essence, though not in form, began to take its place, and to
represent life, though less intensely, yet more minutely than the
theater could do. In the novelists of the 18th century, the life of the
people, as distinguished from "society" or the upper classes, began to
invade literature. Richardson was distinctly a _bourgeois_ writer, and
his contemporaries--Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, and Goldsmith--ranged
over a wide variety of ranks and conditions. This is one thing which
distinguishes the literature of the second half of the 18th century from
that of the first, as well as in some degree from that of all previous
centuries. Among the authors of this generation whose writings belonged
to other departments of thought than pure literature may be mentioned,
in passing, the great historian, Edward Gibbon, whose _Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire_ was published from 1776-1788, and Edmund Burke,
whose political speeches and pamphlets possess a true literary quality.

The romantic poets had addressed the imagination rather than the heart.
It was reserved for two men--a contrast to one another in almost every
respect--to bring once more into British song a strong individual
feeling, and with it a new warmth and directness of speech. These were
William Cowper (1731-1800) and Robert Burns (1759-1796). Cowper spoke
out of his own life-experience, his agony, his love, his worship and
despair; and straightway the varnish that had glittered over all our
poetry since the time of Dryden melted away. Cowper had scribbled verses
when he was a young law student at the Middle Temple in London, and he
had contributed to the _Olney Hymns_, published in 1779 by his friend
and pastor, the Rev. John Newton; but he only began to write poetry in
earnest when he was nearly fifty years old. In 1782, the date of his
first volume, he said, in a letter to a friend, that he had read but one
English poet during the past twenty years. Perhaps, therefore, of all
English poets of equal culture, Cowper owed the least impulse to books
and the most to the need of uttering his inmost thoughts and feelings.
Cowper had a most unhappy life. As a child he was shy, sensitive, and
sickly, and suffered much from bullying and fagging at a school whither
he was sent after his mother's death. This happened when he was six
years old; and in his affecting lines written _On Receipt of My
Mother's Picture_, he speaks of himself as a

  Wretch even then, life's journey just begun.

In 1763 he became insane and was sent to an asylum, where he spent a
year. Judicious treatment restored him to sanity, but he came out a
broken man and remained for the rest of his life an invalid, unfitted
for any active occupation. His disease took the form of religious
melancholy. He had two recurrences of madness, and both times made
attempts upon his life. At Huntingdon, and afterward at Olney, in
Buckinghamshire, he found a home with the Unwin family, whose kindness
did all which the most soothing and delicate care could do to heal his
wounded spirit. His two poems _To Mary Unwin_, together with the lines
on his mother's picture, were almost the first examples of deep and
tender sentiment in the lyrical poetry of the last century. Cowper found
relief from the black thoughts that beset him only in an ordered round
of quiet household occupations. He corresponded indefatigably, took long
walks through the neighborhood, read, sang, and conversed with Mrs.
Unwin and his friend, Lady Austin, and amused himself with carpentry,
gardening, and raising pets, especially hares, of which gentle animals
he grew very fond. All these simple tastes, in which he found for a time
a refuge and a sheltered happiness, are reflected in his best poem, _The
Task_, 1785. Cowper is the poet of the family affections, of domestic
life, and rural retirement; the laureate of the fireside, the tea-table,
the evening lamp, the garden, the green-house, and the rabbit-coop. He
draws with elegance and precision a chair, a clock, a harpsichord, a
barometer, a piece of needle-work. But Cowper was an outdoor as well as
an indoor man. The Olney landscape was tame, a fat, agricultural region,
where the sluggish Ouse wound between plowed fields and the horizon was
bounded by low hills. Nevertheless Cowper's natural descriptions are at
once more distinct and more imaginative than Thomson's. _The Task_
reflects, also, the new philanthropic spirit, the enthusiasm of
humanity, the feeling of the brotherhood of men to which Rousseau had
given expression in France, and which issued in the French Revolution.
In England this was the time of Wilberforce, the antislavery agitator;
of Whitefield, the eloquent revival preacher; of John and Charles
Wesley, and of the Evangelical and Methodist movements which gave new
life to the English Church. John Newton, the curate of Olney and the
keeper of Cowper's conscience, was one of the leaders of the
Evangelicals; and Cowper's first volume of _Table Talk_ and other poems,
1782, written under Newton's inspiration, was a series of sermons in
verse, somewhat intolerant of all worldly enjoyments, such as hunting,
dancing, and theaters. "God made the country and man made the town," he
wrote. He was a moralizing poet, and his morality was sometimes that of
the invalid and the recluse. Byron called him a "coddled poet." And,
indeed, there is a suspicion of gruel and dressing-gowns about him. He
lived much among women, and his sufferings had refined him to a feminine
delicacy. But there is no sickliness in his poetry, and he retained a
charming playful humor--displayed in his excellent comic ballad _John
Gilpin_; and Mrs. Browning has sung of him,

  How, when one by one sweet sounds and wandering lights departed,
  He bore no less a loving face, because so broken-hearted.

At the close of the year 1786 a young Scotchman, named Samuel Rose,
called upon Cowper at Olney, and left with him a small volume, which had
appeared at Edinburgh during the past summer, entitled _Poems chiefly in
the Scottish Dialect by Robert Burns_. Cowper read the book through
twice, and, though somewhat bothered by the dialect, pronounced it a
"very extraordinary production." This momentary flash, as of an electric
spark, marks the contact not only of the two chief British poets of
their generation, but of two literatures. Scotch poets, like Thomson and
Beattie, had written in southern English, and, as Carlyle said, _in
vacuo_, that is, with nothing specially national in their work. Burns's
sweet though rugged Doric first secured the vernacular poetry of his
country a hearing beyond the border. He had, to be sure, a whole
literature of popular songs and ballads behind him, and his immediate
models were Allan Ramsay and Robert Ferguson; but these remained
provincial, while Burns became universal.

He was born in Ayrshire, on the banks of "bonny Doon," in a clay biggin
not far from "Alloway's auld haunted kirk," the scene of the witch dance
in _Tam O'Shanter_. His father was a hard-headed, God-fearing tenant
farmer, whose life and that of his sons was a harsh struggle with
poverty. The crops failed; the landlord pressed for his rent; for weeks
at a time the family tasted no meat; yet this life of toil was lightened
by love and homely pleasures. In the _Cotter's Saturday Night_ Burns has
drawn a beautiful picture of his parents' household, the rest that came
at the week's end, and the family worship about the "wee bit ingle,
blinkin' bonnily." Robert was handsome, wild, and witty. He was
universally susceptible, and his first songs, like his last, were of
"the lasses." His head had been stuffed, in boyhood, with "tales and
songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks,
spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights," etc., told him by one
Jenny Wilson, an old woman who lived in the family. His ear was full of
ancient Scottish tunes, and as soon as he fell in love he began to make
poetry as naturally as a bird sings. He composed his verses while
following the plow or working in the stack-yard; or, at evening,
balancing on two legs of his chair and watching the light of a peat fire
play over the reeky walls of the cottage. Burns's love songs are in many
keys, ranging from strains of the most pure and exalted passion, like
_Ae Fond Kiss_ and _To Mary in Heaven_, to such loose ditties as _When
Januar Winds_, and _Green Grow the Rashes O_.

Burns liked a glass almost as well as a lass, and at Mauchline, where
he carried on a farm with his brother Gilbert, after their father's
death, he began to seek a questionable relief from the pressure of daily
toil and unkind fates, in the convivialities of the tavern. There, among
the wits of the Mauchline Club, farmers' sons, shepherds from the
uplands, and the smugglers who swarmed over the west coast, he would
discuss politics and farming, recite his verses, and join in the singing
and ranting, while

  Bousin o'er the nappy
  And gettin' fou and unco happy.

To these experiences we owe not only those excellent drinking songs,
_John Barleycorn_ and _Willie Brewed a Peck o' Maut_, but the headlong
fun of _Tam O'Shanter_, the visions, grotesquely terrible, of _Death and
Dr. Hornbook_, and the dramatic humor of the _Jolly Beggars_. Cowper had
celebrated "the cup which cheers but not inebriates." Burns sang the
praises of _Scotch Drink_. Cowper was a stranger to Burns's high animal
spirits, and his robust enjoyment of life. He had affections, but no
passions. At Mauchline, Burns, whose irregularities did not escape the
censure of the kirk, became involved, through his friendship with Gavin
Hamilton, in the controversy between the Old Light and New Light clergy.
His _Holy Fair_, _Holy Tulzie_, _Twa Herds_, _Holy Willie's Prayer_, and
_Address to the Unco Gude_, are satires against bigotry and hypocrisy.
But in spite of the rollicking profanity of his language, and the
violence of his rebound against the austere religion of Scotland, Burns
was at bottom deeply impressible by religious ideas, as may be seen from
his _Prayer under the Pressure of Violent Anguish_, and _Prayer in
Prospect of Death_.

His farm turned out a failure, and he was on the eve of sailing for
Jamaica, when the favor with which his volume of poems was received
stayed his departure, and turned his steps to Edinburgh. There the
peasant poet was lionized for a winter season by the learned and polite
society of the Scotch capital, with results in the end not altogether
favorable to Burns's best interests. For when society finally turned the
cold shoulder on him he had to go back to farming again, carrying with
him a bitter sense of injustice and neglect. He leased a farm at
Ellisland, in 1788, and some friends procured his appointment as
exciseman for his district. But poverty, disappointment, irregular
habits, and broken health clouded his last years, and brought him to an
untimely death at the age of thirty-seven. He continued, however, to
pour forth songs of unequaled sweetness and force. "The man sank," said
Coleridge, "but the poet was bright to the last."

Burns is the best of British song-writers. His songs are singable; they
are not merely lyrical poems. They were meant to be sung, and they are
sung. They were mostly set to old Scottish airs, and sometimes they were
built up from ancient fragments of anonymous popular poetry, a chorus,
or stanza, or even a single line. Such are, for example, _Auld Lang
Syne_, _My Heart's in the Highlands_, and _Landlady, Count the Lawin_.
Burns had a great, warm heart. His sins were sins of passion, and sprang
from the same generous soil that nourished his impulsive virtues. His
elementary qualities as a poet were sincerity, a healthy openness to all
impressions of the beautiful, and a sympathy which embraced men,
animals, and the dumb objects of nature. His tenderness toward flowers
and the brute creation may be read in his lines _To a Mountain Daisy_,
_To a Mouse_, and _The Auld Farmer's New Year's Morning Salutation to
his Auld Mare Maggie_. Next after love and good fellowship, patriotism
is the most frequent motive of his song. Of his national anthem, _Scots
wha hae wi' Wallace bled_, Carlyle said: "So long as there is warm blood
in the heart of Scotchman, or man, it will move in fierce thrills under
this war ode."

Burns's politics were a singular mixture of sentimental Toryism with
practical democracy. A romantic glamour was thrown over the fortunes of
the exiled Stuarts, and to have been "out" in '45 with the Young
Pretender was a popular thing in parts of Scotland. To this purely
poetic loyalty may be attributed such Jacobite ballads of Burns as _Over
the Water to Charlie_. But his sober convictions were on the side of
liberty and human brotherhood, and are expressed in _The Twa Dogs_, the
_First Epistle to Davie_, and _A Man's a Man for a' that_. His sympathy
with the Revolution led him to send four pieces of ordnance, taken from
a captured smuggler, as a present to the French Convention, a piece of
bravado which got him into difficulties with his superiors in the
excise. The poetry which Burns wrote, not in dialect, but in the
classical English, is in the stilted manner of his century, and his
prose correspondence betrays his lack of culture by its constant lapse
into rhetorical affectation and fine writing.

       *       *       *       *       *

1. James Thomson. The Castle of Indolence.
2. The Poems of Thomas Gray.
3. William Collins. Odes.
4. The Six Chief Lives from Johnson's Lives of the Poets.
Edited by Matthew Arnold. Macmillan, 1878.
5. Boswell's Life of Johnson [abridged]. Henry Holt &
Co., 1878.
6. Samuel Richardson. Clarissa Harlowe.
7. Henry Fielding. Tom Jones.
8. Tobias Smollett. Humphrey Clinker.
9. Lawrence Sterne. Tristram Shandy.
10. Oliver Goldsmith. Vicar of Wakefield and Deserted
11. William Cowper. The Task and John Gilpin. (Globe
Edition.) London: Macmillan & Co., 1879.
12. The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns. (Globe
Edition.) London: Macmillan & Co., 1884.




The burst of creative activity at the opening of the 19th century has
but one parallel in English literary history, namely, the somewhat
similar flowering out of the national genius in the time of Elizabeth
and the first two Stuart kings. The later age gave birth to no supreme
poets, like Shakspere and Milton. It produced no _Hamlet_ and no
_Paradise Lost_; but it offers a greater number of important writers, a
higher average of excellence, and a wider range and variety of literary
work than any preceding era. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Scott, Byron,
Shelley, and Keats are all great names; while Southey, Landor, Moore,
Lamb, and De Quincey would be noteworthy figures at any period, and
deserve a fuller mention than can be here accorded them. But in so
crowded a generation, selection becomes increasingly needful, and in the
present chapter, accordingly, the emphasis will be laid upon the
first-named group as not only the most important, but the most
representative of the various tendencies of their time.

[Illustration: Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats.]

The conditions of literary work in this century have been almost unduly
stimulating. The rapid advance in population, wealth, education, and the
means of communication has vastly increased the number of readers. Every
one who has any thing to say can say it in print, and is sure of some
sort of a hearing. A special feature of the time is the multiplication
of periodicals. The great London dailies, like the _Times_ and the
_Morning Post_, which were started during the last quarter of the 18th
century, were something quite new in journalism. The first of the modern
reviews, the _Edinburgh_, was established in 1802, as the organ of the
Whig party in Scotland. This was followed by the London _Quarterly_, in
1808, and by _Blackwood's Magazine_, in 1817, both in the Tory interest.
The first editor of the _Edinburgh_ was Francis Jeffrey, who assembled
about him a distinguished corps of contributors, including the versatile
Henry Brougham, afterward a great parliamentary orator and lord
chancellor of England, and the Rev. Sydney Smith, whose witty sayings
are still current. The first editor of the _Quarterly_ was William
Gifford, a satirist, who wrote the _Baviad_ and _Mæviad_ ridicule of
literary affectations. He was succeeded in 1824 by John Gibson Lockhart,
the son-in-law of Walter Scott, and the author of an excellent _Life of
Scott_. _Blackwood's_ was edited by John Wilson, Professor of Moral
Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, who, under the pen-name of
"Christopher North," contributed to his magazine a series of brilliant
imaginary dialogues between famous characters of the day, entitled
_Noctes Ambrosianæ_, because they were supposed to take place at
Ambrose's tavern in Edinburgh. These papers were full of a profuse,
headlong eloquence, of humor, literary criticism, and personalities
interspersed with songs expressive of a roystering and convivial Toryism
and an uproarious contempt for Whigs and cockneys. These reviews and
magazines, and others which sprang up beside them, became the _nuclei_
about which the wit and scholarship of both parties gathered. Political
controversy under the Regency and the reign of George IV. was thus
carried on more regularly by permanent organs, and no longer so largely
by privateering, in the shape of pamphlets, like Swift's _Public Spirit
of the Allies_, Johnson's _Taxation No Tyranny_, and Burke's
_Reflections on the Revolution in France_. Nor did politics by any means
usurp the columns of the reviews. Literature, art, science, the whole
circle of human effort and achievement passed under review.
_Blackwood's_, _Fraser's_, and the other monthlies published stories,
poetry, criticism, and correspondence--every thing, in short, which
enters into the make-up of our magazines to-day, except illustrations.

Two main influences, of foreign origin, have left their trace in the
English writers of the first thirty years of the 19th century, the one
communicated by contact with the new German literature of the latter
half of the 18th century, and in particular with the writings of Goethe,
Schiller, and Kant; the other springing from the events of the French
Revolution. The influence of German upon English literature in the 19th
century was more intellectual and less formal than that of the Italian
in the 16th and of the French in the 18th. In other words, the German
writers furnished the English with ideas and ways of feeling rather than
with models of style. Goethe and Schiller did not become subjects for
literary imitation as Molière, Racine, and Boileau had become in Pope's
time. It was reserved for a later generation and for Thomas Carlyle to
domesticate the diction of German prose. But the nature and extent of
this influence can, perhaps, best be noted when we come to take up the
authors of the time one by one.

The excitement caused by the French Revolution was something more
obvious and immediate. When the Bastile fell, in 1789, the enthusiasm
among the friends of liberty and human progress in England was hardly
less intense than in France. It was the dawn of a new day; the shackles
were stricken from the slave; all men were free and all men were
brothers, and radical young England sent up a shout that echoed the roar
of the Paris mob. Wordsworth's lines on the _Fall of the Bastile_,
Coleridge's _Fall of Robespierre_ and _Ode to France_, and Southey's
revolutionary drama, _Wat Tyler_, gave expression to the hopes and
aspirations of the English democracy. In after life, Wordsworth, looking
back regretfully to those years of promise, wrote his poem on the
_French Revolution as it Appeared to Enthusiasts at its Commencement_.

  Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive;
  But to be young was very heaven. O times
  In which the meager, stale, forbidding ways
  Of custom, law, and statute took at once
  The attraction of a country in romance.

Those were the days in which Wordsworth, then an under-graduate at
Cambridge, spent a college vacation in tramping through France, landing
at Calais on the eve of the very day (July 14, 1790) on which Louis XVI.
signalized the anniversary of the fall of the Bastile by taking the oath
of fidelity to the new constitution. In the following year Wordsworth
revisited France, where he spent thirteen months, forming an intimacy
with the republican general, Beaupuis, at Orleans, and reaching Paris
not long after the September massacres of 1792. Those were the days,
too, in which young Southey and young Coleridge, having married sisters
at Bristol, were planning a "Pantisocracy," or ideal community, on the
banks of the Susquehannah, and denouncing the British government for
going to war with the French Republic. This group of poets, who had met
one another first in the south of England, came afterward to be called
the Lake Poets, from their residence in the mountainous lake country of
Westmoreland and Cumberland, with which their names, and that of
Wordsworth, especially, are forever associated. The so-called "Lakers"
did not, properly speaking, constitute a school of poetry. They differed
greatly from one another in mind and art. But they were connected by
social ties and by religious and political sympathies. The excesses of
the French Revolution, and the usurpation of Napoleon disappointed them,
as it did many other English liberals, and drove them into the ranks of
the reactionaries. Advancing years brought conservatism, and they became
in time loyal Tories and orthodox churchmen.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850), the chief of the three, and, perhaps,
on the whole, the greatest English poet since Milton, published his
_Lyrical Ballads_ in 1798. The volume contained a few pieces by his
friend Coleridge--among them the _Ancient Mariner_--and its appearance
may fairly be said to mark an epoch in the history of English poetry.
Wordsworth regarded himself as a reformer of poetry; and in the preface
to the second edition of the _Lyrical Ballads_, he defended the theory
on which they were composed. His innovations were twofold: in
subject-matter and in diction. "The principal object which I proposed to
myself in these poems," he said, "was to choose incidents and situations
from common life. Low and rustic life was generally chosen, because, in
that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil
in which they can attain their maturity...and are incorporated with
the beautiful and permanent forms of nature." Wordsworth discarded, in
theory, the poetic diction of his predecessors, and professed to use "a
selection of the real language of men in a state of vivid sensation." He
adopted, he said, the language of men in rustic life, "because such men
hourly communicate with the best objects from which the best part of
language is originally derived."

In the matter of poetic diction Wordsworth did not, in his practice,
adhere to the doctrine of this preface. Many of his most admired poems,
such as the _Lines written near Tintern Abbey_, the great _Ode on the
Intimations of Immortality_, the _Sonnets_, and many parts of his
longest poems, _The Excursion_ and _The Prelude_, deal with philosophic
thought and highly intellectualized emotions. In all of these and in
many others the language is rich, stately, involved, and as remote from
the "real language" of Westmoreland shepherds as is the epic blank verse
of Milton. On the other hand, in those of his poems which were
consciously written in illustration of his theory, the affectation of
simplicity, coupled with a defective sense of humor, sometimes led him
to the selection of vulgar and trivial themes, and the use of language
which is bald, childish, or even ludicrous. His simplicity is too often
the simplicity of Mother Goose rather than of Chaucer. Instances of this
occur in such poems as _Peter Bell_, the _Idiot Boy_, _Goody Blake and
Harry Gill_, _Simon Lee_, and the _Wagoner_. But there are multitudes of
Wordsworth's ballads and lyrics which are simple without being silly,
and which, in their homeliness and clear profundity, in their production
of the strongest effects by the fewest strokes, are among the choicest
modern examples of _pure_, as distinguished from decorated, art. Such
are (out of many) _Ruth_, _Lucy_, _She was a Phantom of Delight_, _To a
Highland Girl_, _The Reverie of Poor Susan_, _To the Cuckoo_, _The
Solitary Reaper_, _We Are Seven_, _The Pet Lamb_, _The Fountain_, _The
Two April Mornings_, _Resolution and Independence_, _The Thorn_, and
_Yarrow Unvisited_.

Wordsworth was something of a Quaker in poetry, and loved the sober
drabs and grays of life. Quietism was his literary religion, and the
sensational was to him not merely vulgar, but almost wicked. "The human
mind," he wrote, "is capable of being excited without the application of
gross and violent stimulants." He disliked the far-fetched themes and
high-colored style of Scott and Byron. He once told Landor that all of
Scott's poetry together was not worth sixpence. From action and passion
he turned away to sing the inward life of the soul and the outward life
of nature. He said:

  To me the meanest flower that blows can give
  Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

And again:

  Long have I loved what I behold.
  The night that charms, the day that cheers;
  The common growth of mother earth
  Suffices me--her tears, her mirth,
  Her humblest mirth and tears.

Wordsworth's life was outwardly uneventful. The companionship of the
mountains and of his own thoughts, the sympathy of his household, the
lives of the dalesmen and cottagers about him furnished him with all the
stimulus that he required.

  Love had he found in huts where poor men lie;
    His only teachers had been woods and rills,
  The silence that is in the starry sky,
    The sleep that is among the lonely hills.

He read little, but reflected much, and made poetry daily, composing, by
preference, out of doors, and dictating his verses to some member of his
family. His favorite amanuensis was his sister Dorothy, a woman of fine
gifts, to whom Wordsworth was indebted for some of his happiest
inspirations. Her charming _Memorials of a Tour in the Scottish
Highlands_ records the origin of many of her brother's best poems.
Throughout life Wordsworth was remarkably self-centered. The ridicule of
the reviewers, against which he gradually made his way to public
recognition, never disturbed his serene belief in himself, or in the
divine message which he felt himself commissioned to deliver. He was a
slow and serious person, a preacher as well as a poet, with a certain
rigidity, not to say narrowness, of character. That plastic temperament
which we associate with poetic genius Wordsworth either did not possess,
or it hardened early. Whole sides of life were beyond the range of his
sympathies. He touched life at fewer points than Byron and Scott, but
touched it more profoundly. It is to him that we owe the phrase "plain
living and high thinking," as also a most noble illustration of it in
his own practice. His was the wisest and deepest spirit among the
English poets of his generation, though hardly the most poetic. He wrote
too much, and, attempting to make every petty incident or reflection the
occasion of a poem, he finally reached the point of composing verses
_On Seeing a Harp in the shape of a Needle Case_, and on other themes
more worthy of Mrs. Sigourney. In parts of his long blank-verse poems,
_The Excursion_, 1814, and _The Prelude_--which was printed after his
death in 1850, though finished as early as 1806--the poetry wears very
thin and its place is taken by prosaic, tedious didacticism. These two
poems were designed as portions of a still more extended work, _The
Recluse_, which was never completed. _The Excursion_ consists mainly of
philosophical discussions on nature and human life between a
school-master, a solitary, and an itinerant peddler. _The Prelude_
describes the development of Wordsworth's own genius. In parts of _The
Excursion_ the diction is fairly Shaksperian:

                 The good die first,
  And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust
  Burn to the socket;

a passage not only beautiful in itself but dramatically true, in the
mouth of the bereaved mother who utters it, to that human instinct which
generalizes a private sorrow into a universal law. Much of _The Prelude_
can hardly be called poetry at all, yet some of Wordsworth's loftiest
poetry is buried among its dreary wastes, and now and then, in the midst
of commonplaces, comes a flash of Miltonic splendor--like

  Golden cities ten months' journey deep
  Among Tartarian wilds.

Wordsworth is, above all things, the poet of nature. In this province he
was not without forerunners. To say nothing of Burns and Cowper, there
was George Crabbe, who had published his _Village_ in 1783--fifteen
years before the _Lyrical Ballads_--and whose last poem, _Tales of the
Hall_, came out in 1819, five years after _The Excursion_. Byron called
Crabbe "Nature's sternest painter, and her best." He was a minutely
accurate delineator of the harsher aspects of rural life. He photographs
a Gypsy camp; a common, with its geese and donkey; a salt marsh, a
shabby village street, or tumble-down manse. But neither Crabbe nor
Cowper has the imaginative lift of Wordsworth,

  The light that never was, on sea or land,
  The consecration, and the poet's dream.

In a note on a couplet in one of his earliest poems, descriptive of an
oak-tree standing dark against the sunset, Wordsworth says: "I recollect
distinctly the very spot where this struck me. The moment was important
in my poetical history, for I date from it my consciousness of the
infinite variety of natural appearances which had been unnoticed by the
poets of any age or country, and I made a resolution to supply, in some
degree, the deficiency." In later life he is said to have been impatient
of any thing spoken or written by another about mountains, conceiving
himself to have a monopoly of "the power of hills." But Wordsworth did
not stop with natural description. Matthew Arnold has said that the
office of modern poetry is the "moral interpretation of Nature." Such,
at any rate, was Wordsworth's office. To him Nature was alive and
divine. He felt, under the veil of phenomena,

  A presence that disturbs me with the joy
  Of elevated thought: a sense sublime
  Of something far more deeply interfused.

He approached, if he did not actually reach, the view of pantheism which
identifies God with Nature; and the mysticism of the Idealists, who
identify Nature with the soul of man. This tendency was not inspired in
Wordsworth by German philosophy. He was no metaphysician. In his rambles
with Coleridge about Nether Stowey and Alfoxden, when both were young,
they had, indeed, discussed Spinoza. And in the autumn of 1798, after
the publication of the _Lyrical Ballads_, the two friends went together
to Germany, where Wordsworth spent half a year. But the literature and
philosophy of Germany made little direct impression upon Wordsworth. He
disliked Goethe, and he quoted with approval the saying of the poet
Klopstock, whom he met at Hamburg, that he placed the romanticist Bürger
above both Goethe and Schiller.

It was through Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), who was
pre-eminently the _thinker_ among the literary men of his generation,
that the new German thought found its way into England. During the
fourteen months which he spent in Germany--chiefly at Ratzburg and
Göttingen--he had familiarized himself with the transcendental
philosophy of Immanuel Kant and of his continuators, Fichte and
Schelling, as well as with the general literature of Germany. On his
return to England, he published, in 1800, a free translation of
Schiller's _Wallenstein_, and through his writings, and more especially
through his conversations, he became the conductor by which German
philosophic ideas reached the English literary class.

Coleridge described himself as being from boyhood a bookworm and a
day-dreamer. He remained through life an omnivorous, though
unsystematic, reader. He was helpless in practical affairs, and his
native indolence and procrastination were increased by his indulgence in
the opium habit. On his return to England, in 1800, he went to reside at
Keswick, in the Lake Country, with his brother-in-law, Southey, whose
industry supported both families. During his last nineteen years
Coleridge found an asylum under the roof of Mr. James Gilman, of
Highgate, near London, whither many of the best young men in England
were accustomed to resort to listen to Coleridge's wonderful talk. Talk,
indeed, was the medium through which he mainly influenced his
generation. It cost him an effort to put his thoughts on paper. His
_Table Talk_--crowded with pregnant paragraphs--was taken down from his
lips by his nephew, Henry Coleridge. His criticisms of Shakspere are
nothing but notes, made here and there, from a course of lectures
delivered before the Royal Institute, and never fully written out.
Though only hints and suggestions, they are, perhaps, the most
penetrative and helpful Shaksperian criticisms in English. He was always
forming projects and abandoning them. He projected a great work on
Christian philosophy, which was to have been his _magnum opus_, but he
never wrote it. He projected an epic poem on the fall of Jerusalem. "I
schemed it at twenty-five," he said, "but, alas! _venturum expectat_."
What bade fair to be his best poem, _Christabel_, is a fragment. Another
strangely beautiful poem, _Kubla Khan_--which came to him, he said, in
sleep--is even more fragmentary. And the most important of his prose
remains, his _Biographia Literaria_, 1817, a history of his own
opinions, breaks off abruptly.

It was in his suggestiveness that Coleridge's great service to posterity
resided. He was what J.S. Mill called a "seminal mind," and his thought
had that power of stimulating thought in others which is the mark and
the privilege of original genius. Many a man has owed to some sentence
of Coleridge's, if not the awakening in himself of a new intellectual
life, at least the starting of fruitful trains of reflection which have
modified his whole view of certain great subjects. On every thing that
he left is set the stamp of high mental authority. He was not, perhaps,
primarily, he certainly was not exclusively, a poet. In theology, in
philosophy, in political thought and literary criticism he set currents
flowing which are flowing yet. The terminology of criticism, for
example, is in his debt for many of those convenient distinctions--such
as that between genius and talent, between wit and humor, between fancy
and imagination--which are familiar enough now, but which he first
introduced or enforced. His definitions and apothegms we meet
every-where. Such are, for example, the sayings: "Every man is born an
Aristotelian or a Platonist." "Prose is words in their best order;
poetry, the best words in the best order." And among the bits of subtle
interpretation that abound in his writings may be mentioned his
estimate of Wordsworth, in the _Biographia Literaria_, and his sketch of
Hamlet's character--one with which he was personally in strong
sympathy--in the _Lectures on Shakspere_.

The Broad Church party, in the English Church, among whose most eminent
exponents have been W. Frederic Robertson, Arnold of Rugby, F.D.
Maurice, Charles Kingsley, and the late Dean Stanley, traces its
intellectual origin to Coleridge's _Aids to Reflection_, to his writings
and conversations in general, and particularly to his ideal of a
national clerisy, as set forth in his essay on _Church and State_. In
politics, as in religion, Coleridge's conservatism represents the
reaction against the destructive spirit of the 18th century and the
French Revolution. To this root-and-branch democracy he opposed the view
that every old belief, or institution, such as the throne or the Church,
had served some need, and had a rational idea at the bottom of it, to
which it might be again recalled, and made once more a benefit to
society, instead of a curse and an anachronism.

As a poet, Coleridge has a sure, though slender, hold upon immortal
fame. No English poet has "sung so wildly well" as the singer of
_Christabel_ and the _Ancient Mariner_. The former of these is, in form,
a romance in a variety of meters, and in substance, a tale of
supernatural possession, by which a lovely and innocent maiden is
brought under the control of a witch. Though unfinished and obscure in
intention, it haunts the imagination with a mystic power. Byron had seen
_Christabel_ in manuscript, and urged Coleridge to publish it. He hated
all the "Lakers," but when, on parting from Lady Byron, he wrote his

  Fare thee well, and if forever,
  Still forever fare thee well,

he prefixed to it the noble lines from Coleridge's poem, beginning

  Alas! they had been friends in youth.

In that weird ballad, the _Ancient Mariner_, the supernatural is
handled with even greater subtlety than in _Christabel_. The reader is
led to feel that amid the loneliness of the tropic-sea the line between
the earthly and the unearthly vanishes, and the poet leaves him to
discover for himself whether the spectral shapes that the mariner saw
were merely the visions of the calenture, or a glimpse of the world of
spirits. Coleridge is one of our most perfect metrists. The poet
Swinburne--than whom there can be no higher authority on this point
(though he is rather given to exaggeration)--pronounces _Kubla Khan_,
"for absolute melody and splendor, the first poem in the language."

Robert Southey, the third member of this group, was a diligent worker,
and one of the most voluminous of English writers. As a poet, he was
lacking in inspiration, and his big oriental epics, _Thalaba_, 1801, and
the _Curse of Kehama_, 1810, are little better than wax-work. Of his
numerous works in prose, the _Life of Nelson_ is, perhaps, the best, and
is an excellent biography.

Several other authors were more or less closely associated with the Lake
Poets by residence or social affiliation. John Wilson, the editor of
_Blackwood's_, lived for some time, when a young man, at Elleray, on the
banks of Windermere. He was an athletic man of outdoor habits, an
enthusiastic sportsman, and a lover of natural scenery. His admiration
of Wordsworth was thought to have led him to imitation of the latter, in
his _Isle of Palms_, 1812, and his other poetry.

One of Wilson's companions, in his mountain walks, was Thomas De
Quincey, who had been led by his reverence for Wordsworth and Coleridge
to take up his residence, in 1808, at Grasmere, where he occupied for
many years the cottage from which Wordsworth had removed to Allan Bank.
De Quincey was a shy, bookish man, of erratic, nocturnal habits, who
impresses one, personally, as a child of genius, with a child's
helplessness and a child's sharp observation. He was, above all things,
a magazinist. All his writings, with one exception, appeared first in
the shape of contributions to periodicals; and his essays, literary
criticisms, and miscellaneous papers are exceedingly rich and varied.
The most famous of them was his _Confessions of an English Opium Eater_,
published as a serial in the _London Magazine_, in 1821. He had begun to
take opium, as a cure for the toothache, when a student at Oxford, where
he resided from 1803 to 1808. By 1816 he had risen to eight thousand
drops of laudanum a day. For several years after this he experienced the
acutest misery, and his will suffered an entire paralysis. In 1821 he
succeeded in reducing his dose to a comparatively small allowance, and
in shaking off his torpor so as to become capable of literary work. The
most impressive effect of the opium habit was seen in his dreams, in the
unnatural expansion of space and time, and the infinite repetition of
the same objects. His sleep was filled with dim, vast images;
measureless cavalcades deploying to the sound of orchestral music; an
endless succession of vaulted halls, with staircases climbing to heaven,
up which toiled eternally the same solitary figure. "Then came sudden
alarms, hurrying to and fro; trepidations of innumerable fugitives;
darkness and light; tempest and human faces." Many of De Quincey's
papers were autobiographical, but there is always something baffling in
these reminiscences. In the interminable wanderings of his pen--for
which, perhaps, opium was responsible--he appears to lose all trace of
facts or of any continuous story. Every actual experience of his life
seems to have been taken up into a realm of dream, and there distorted
till the reader sees not the real figures, but the enormous, grotesque
shadows of them, executing wild dances on a screen. An instance of this
process is described by himself in his _Vision of Sudden Death_. But his
unworldliness and faculty of vision-seeing were not inconsistent with
the keenness of judgment and the justness and delicacy of perception
displayed in his _Biographical Sketches_ of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and
other contemporaries: in his critical papers on _Pope_, _Milton_,
_Lessing_, _Homer and the Homeridæ_: his essay on _Style_; and his
_Brief Appraisal of the Greek Literature_. His curious scholarship is
seen in his articles on the _Toilet of a Hebrew Lady_, and the
_Casuistry of Roman Meals_; his ironical and somewhat elaborate humor in
his essay on _Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts_. Of his
narrative pieces the most remarkable is his _Revolt of the Tartars_,
describing the flight of a Kalmuck tribe of six hundred thousand souls
from Russia to the Chinese frontier: a great hegira or anabasis, which
extended for four thousand miles over desert steppes infested with foes,
occupied six months' time, and left nearly half of the tribe dead upon
the way. The subject was suited to De Quincey's imagination. It was like
one of his own opium visions, and he handled it with a dignity and force
which make the history not altogether unworthy of comparison with
Thucydides's great chapter on the Sicilian Expedition.

An intimate friend of Southey was Walter Savage Landor, a man of kingly
nature, of a leonine presence, with a most stormy and unreasonable
temper, and yet with the courtliest graces of manner, and with--said
Emerson--"a wonderful brain, despotic, violent, and inexhaustible." He
inherited wealth, and lived a great part of his life at Florence, where
he died in 1864, in his ninetieth year. Dickens, who knew him at Bath,
in the latter part of his life, made a kindly caricature of him as
Lawrence Boythorn, in _Bleak House_, whose "combination of superficial
ferocity and inherent tenderness," testifies Henry Crabb Robinson, in
his _Diary_, was true to the life. Landor is the most purely classical
of English writers. Not merely his themes, but his whole way of thinking
was pagan and antique. He composed indifferently in English or Latin,
preferring the latter, if any thing, in obedience to his instinct for
compression and exclusiveness. Thus, portions of his narrative poem,
_Gebir_, 1798, were written originally in Latin and he added a Latin
version, _Gebirius_, to the English edition. In like manner his
_Hellenics_, 1847, were mainly translations from his Latin _Idyllia
Heroica_, written years before. The Hellenic clearness and repose which
were absent from his life, Landor sought in his art. His poems, in their
restraint, their objectivity, their aloofness from modern feeling, have
something chill and artificial. The verse of poets like Byron and
Wordsworth is alive; the blood runs in it. But Landor's polished,
clean-cut _intaglios_ have been well described as "written in marble."
He was a master of fine and solid prose. His _Pericles and Aspasia_
consists of a series of letters passing between the great Athenian
demagogue; the hetaira, Aspasia; her friend, Cleone of Miletus;
Anaxagorus, the philosopher, and Pericles's nephew, Alcibiades. In this
masterpiece, the intellectual life of Athens, at its period of highest
refinement, is brought before the reader with singular vividness, and he
is made to breathe an atmosphere of high-bred grace, delicate wit, and
thoughtful sentiment, expressed in English "of Attic choice." The
_Imaginary Conversations_, 1824-1846, were Platonic dialogues between a
great variety of historical characters; between, for example, Dante and
Beatrice, Washington and Franklin, Queen Elizabeth and Cecil, Xenophon
and Cyrus the Younger, Bonaparte and the president of the Senate.
Landor's writings have never been popular; they address an aristocracy
of scholars; and Byron--whom Landor disliked and considered
vulgar--sneered at him as a writer who "cultivated much private renown
in the shape of Latin verses." He said of himself that he "never
contended with a contemporary, but walked alone on the far Eastern
uplands, meditating and remembering."

A school-mate of Coleridge at Christ's Hospital, and his friend and
correspondent through life, was Charles Lamb, one of the most charming
of English essayists. He was a bachelor, who lived alone with his sister
Mary, a lovable and intellectual woman, but subject to recurring
attacks of madness. Lamb was "a notched and cropped scrivener, a votary
of the desk;" a clerk, that is, in the employ of the East India Company.
He was of antiquarian tastes, an ardent playgoer, a lover of whist and
of the London streets; and these tastes are reflected in his _Essays of
Elia_, contributed to the _London Magazine_ and reprinted in book form
in 1823. From his mousing among the Elizabethan dramatists and such old
humorists as Burton and Fuller, his own style imbibed a peculiar
quaintness and pungency. His _Specimens of English Dramatic Poets_,
1808, is admirable for its critical insight. In 1802 he paid a visit to
Coleridge at Keswick, in the Lake Country; but he felt or affected a
whimsical horror of the mountains, and said, "Fleet Street and the
Strand are better to live in." Among the best of his essays are _Dream
Children_, _Poor Relations_, _The Artificial Comedy of the Last
Century_, _Old China_, _Roast Pig_, _A Defense of Chimneysweeps_, _A
Complaint of the Decay of Beggars in the Metropolis_, and _The Old
Benchers of the Inner Temple_.

The romantic movement, preluded by Gray, Collins, Chatterton,
Macpherson, and others, culminated in Walter Scott (1721-1832). His
passion for the mediæval was excited by reading Percy's _Reliques_ when
he was a boy; and in one of his school themes he maintained that Ariosto
was a greater poet than Homer. He began early to collect manuscript
ballads, suits of armor, pieces of old plate, border-horns, and similar
relics. He learned Italian in order to read the romancers--Ariosto,
Tasso, Pulci, and Boiardo--preferring them to Dante. He studied Gothic
architecture, heraldry, and the art of fortification, and made drawings
of famous ruins and battle-fields. In particular he read eagerly every
thing that he could lay hands on relating to the history, legends, and
antiquities of the Scottish border--the vale of Tweed, Teviotdale,
Ettrick Forest, and the Yarrow, of all which land he became the
laureate, as Burns had been of Ayrshire and the "West Country." Scott,
like Wordsworth, was an outdoor poet. He spent much time in the saddle,
and was fond of horses, dogs, hunting, and salmon-fishing. He had a keen
eye for the beauties of natural scenery, though "more especially," he
admits, "when combined with ancient ruins or remains of our forefathers'
piety or splendor." He had the historic imagination, and, in creating
the historical novel, he was the first to throw a poetic glamour over
European annals. In 1803 Wordsworth visited Scott at Lasswade, near
Edinburgh; and Scott afterward returned the visit at Grasmere.
Wordsworth noted that his guest was "full of anecdote, and averse from
disquisition." The Englishman was a moralist and much given to
"disquisition," while the Scotchman was, above all things, a
_raconteur_, and, perhaps, on the whole, the foremost of British
story-tellers. Scott's Toryism, too, was of a different stripe from
Wordsworth's, being rather the result of sentiment and imagination than
of philosophy and reflection. His mind struck deep root in the past; his
local attachments and family pride were intense. Abbotsford was his
darling, and the expenses of this domain and of the baronial hospitality
which he there extended to all comers were among the causes of his
bankruptcy. The enormous toil which he exacted of himself, to pay off
the debt of £117,000, contracted by the failure of his publishers, cost
him his life. It is said that he was more gratified when the Prince
Regent created him a baronet, in 1820, than by the public recognition
that he acquired as the author of the Waverley Novels.

Scott was attracted by the romantic side of German literature. His first
published poem was a translation made in 1796 from Bürger's wild ballad,
_Leonora_. He followed this up with versions of the same poet's _Wilde
Jäger_, of Goethe's violent drama of feudal life, _Götz Von
Berlichingen_, and with other translations from the German, of a similar
class. On his horseback trips through the border, where he studied the
primitive manners of the Liddesdale people, and took down old ballads
from the recitation of ancient dames and cottagers, he amassed the
materials for his _Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border_, 1802. But the
first of his original poems was the _Lay of the Last Minstrel_,
published in 1805, and followed, in quick sucession by _Marmion_, the
_Lady of the Lake_, _Rokeby_, the _Lord of the Isles_, and a volume of
ballads and lyrical pieces, all issued during the years 1806-1814. The
popularity won by this series of metrical romances was immediate and
wide-spread. Nothing so fresh or so brilliant had appeared in English
poetry for nearly two centuries. The reader was hurried along through
scenes of rapid action, whose effect was heightened by wild landscapes
and picturesque manners. The pleasure was a passive one. There was no
deep thinking to perplex, no subtler beauties to pause upon; the
feelings were stirred pleasantly, but not deeply; the effect was on the
surface. The spell employed was novelty--or, at most, wonder--and the
chief emotion aroused was breathless interest in the progress of the
story. Carlyle said that Scott's genius was _in extenso_, rather than
_in intenso_, and that its great praise was its healthiness. This is
true of his verse, but not altogether so of his prose, which exhibits
deeper qualities. Some of Scott's most perfect poems, too, are his
shorter ballads, like _Jock o' Hazeldean_, and _Proud Maisie is in the
Wood_, which have a greater intensity and compression than his metrical

From 1814 to 1831 Scott wrote and published the _Waverley_ novels, some
thirty in number; if we consider the amount of work done, the speed with
which it was done, and the general average of excellence maintained,
perhaps the most marvelous literary feat on record. The series was
issued anonymously, and takes its name from the first number: _Waverley,
or 'Tis Sixty Years Since_. This was founded upon the rising of the
clans, in 1745, in support of the Young Pretender, Charles Edward
Stuart, and it revealed to the English public that almost foreign
country which lay just across their threshold, the Scottish Highlands.
The _Waverley_ novels remain, as a whole, unequaled as historical
fiction, although here and there a single novel, like George Eliot's
_Romola_, or Thackeray's _Henry Esmond_, or Kingsley's _Hypatia_, may
have attained a place beside the best of them. They were a novelty when
they appeared. English prose fiction had somewhat declined since the
time of Fielding and Goldsmith. There were truthful, though rather tame,
delineations of provincial life, like Jane Austen's _Sense and
Sensibility_, 1811, and _Pride and Prejudice_, 1813; or Maria
Edgeworth's _Popular Tales_, 1804. On the other hand, there were Gothic
romances, like the _Monk_ of Matthew Gregory Lewis, to whose _Tales of
Wonder_ some of Scott's translations from the German had been
contributed; or like Anne Radcliffe's _Mysteries of Udolpho_. The great
original of this school of fiction was Horace Walpole's _Castle of
Otranto_, 1765; an absurd tale of secret trap-doors, subterranean
vaults, apparitions of monstrous mailed figures and colossal helmets,
pictures that descend from their frames, and hollow voices that proclaim
the ruin of ancient families.

Scott used the machinery of romance, but he was not merely a romancer,
or an historical novelist even, and it is not, as Carlyle implies, the
buff-belts and jerkins which principally interest us in his heroes.
_Ivanhoe_ and _Kenilworth_ and the _Talisman_ are, indeed, romances pure
and simple, and very good romances at that. But, in novels such as _Rob
Roy_, the _Antiquary_, the _Heart of Midlothian_, and the _Bride of
Lammermoor_, Scott drew from contemporary life, and from his intimate
knowledge of Scotch character. The story is there, with its entanglement
of plot and its exciting adventures, but there are also, as truly as in
Shakspere, though not in the same degree, the observation of life, the
knowledge of men, the power of dramatic creation. No writer awakens in
his readers a warmer personal affection than Walter Scott, the brave,
honest, kindly gentleman; the noblest figure among the literary men of
his generation.

Another Scotch poet was Thomas Campbell, whose _Pleasures of Hope_,
1799, was written in Pope's couplet, and in the stilted diction of the
18th century. _Gertrude of Wyoming_, 1809, a long narrative poem in
Spenserian stanza, is untrue to the scenery and life of Pennsylvania,
where its scene is laid. But Campbell turned his rhetorical manner and
his clanking, martial verse to fine advantage in such pieces as
_Hohenlinden_, _Ye Mariners of England_, and the _Battle of the Baltic_.
These have the true lyric fire, and rank among the best English

When Scott was asked why he had left off writing poetry, he answered,
"Byron _bet_ me." George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) was a young man of
twenty-four when, on his return from a two years' sauntering through
Portugal, Spain, Albania, Greece, and the Levant, he published, in the
first two cantos of _Childe Harold_, 1812, a sort of poetic itinerary of
his experiences and impressions. The poem took, rather to its author's
surprise, who said that he woke one morning and found himself famous.
_Childe Harold_ opened a new field to poetry: the romance of travel, the
picturesque aspects of foreign scenery, manners, and costumes. It is
instructive of the difference between the two ages, in poetic
sensibility to such things, to compare Byron's glowing imagery with
Addison's tame _Letter from Italy_, written a century before. _Childe
Harold_ was followed by a series of metrical tales, the _Giaour_, the
_Bride of Abydos_, the _Corsair_, _Lara_, the _Siege of Corinth_,
_Parisina_, and the _Prisoner of Chillon_, all written in the years
1813-1816. These poems at once took the place of Scott's in popular
interest, dazzling a public that had begun to weary of chivalry romances
with pictures of Eastern life, with incidents as exciting as Scott's,
descriptions as highly colored, and a much greater intensity of passion.
So far as they depended for this interest upon the novelty of their
accessories, the effect was a temporary one. Seraglios, divans, bulbuls,
Gulistans, Zuleikas, and other oriental properties deluged English
poetry for a time, and then subsided; even as the tide of moss-troopers,
sorcerers, hermits, and feudal castles had already had its rise and

But there was a deeper reason for the impression made by Byron's poetry
upon his contemporaries. He laid his finger right on the sore spot in
modern life. He had the disease with which the time was sick, the
world-weariness, the desperation which proceeded from "passion incapable
of being converted into action." We find this tone in much of the
literature which followed the failure of the French Revolution and the
Napoleonic wars. From the irritations of that period, the disappointment
of high hopes for the future of the race, the growing religious
disbelief, and the revolt of democracy and free thought against
conservative reaction, sprang what Southey called the "Satanic school,"
which spoke its loudest word in Byron. Titanic is the better word, for
the rebellion was not against God, but Jupiter; that is, against the
State, Church, and society of Byron's day; against George III., the Tory
cabinet of Lord Castlereagh, the Duke of Wellington, the bench of
bishops, London gossip, the British constitution, and British cant. In
these poems of Byron, and in his dramatic experiments, _Manfred_ and
_Cain_, there is a single figure--the figure of Byron under various
masks--and one pervading mood, a restless and sardonic gloom, a
weariness of life, a love of solitude, and a melancholy exaltation in
the presence of the wilderness and the sea. Byron's hero is always
represented as a man originally noble, whom some great wrong, by others,
or some mysterious crime of his own, has blasted and embittered, and who
carries about the world a seared heart and a somber brow. Harold--who
may stand as a type of all his heroes--has run "through sin's
labyrinth," and feeling the "fullness of satiety," is drawn abroad to
roam, "the wandering exile of his own dark mind." The loss of a
capacity for pure, unjaded emotion is the constant burden of Byron's

  No more, no more, O never more on me
  The freshness of the heart shall fall like dew:

and again,

  O could I feel as I have felt--or be what I have been,
  Or weep as I could once have wept, o'er many a vanished scene;
  As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish tho' they be,
  So, midst the withered waste of life, those tears would flow to me.

This mood was sincere in Byron; but by cultivating it, and posing too
long in one attitude, he became self-conscious and theatrical, and much
of his serious poetry has a false ring. His example infected the minor
poetry of the time, and it was quite natural that Thackeray--who
represented a generation that had a very different ideal of the
heroic--should be provoked into describing Byron as "a big sulky dandy."

Byron was well fitted by birth and temperament to be the spokesman of
this fierce discontent. He inherited from his mother a haughty and
violent temper, and profligate tendencies from his father. He was
through life a spoiled child, whose main characteristic was willfulness.
He liked to shock people by exaggerating his wickedness, or by
perversely maintaining the wrong side of a dispute. But he had traits of
bravery and generosity. Women loved him, and he made strong friends.
There was a careless charm about him which fascinated natures as unlike
each other as Shelley and Scott. By the death of the fifth Lord Byron
without issue, Byron came into a title and estates at the age of ten.
Though a liberal in politics he had aristocratic feelings, and was vain
of his rank as he was of his beauty. He was educated at Harrow and at
Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was idle and dissipated, but did a
great deal of miscellaneous reading. He took some of his Cambridge
set--Hobhouse, Matthews, and others--to Newstead Abbey, his ancestral
seat, where they filled the ancient cloisters with eccentric orgies.
Byron was strikingly handsome. His face had a spiritual paleness and a
classic regularity, and his dark hair curled closely to his head. A
deformity in one of his feet was a mortification to him, and impaired
his activity in many ways, although he prided himself upon his powers as
a swimmer.

In 1815, when at the height of his literary and social _éclat_ in
London, he married. In February of the following year he was separated
from Lady Byron, and left England forever, pursued by the execrations of
outraged respectability. In this chorus of abuse there was mingled a
share of cant; but Byron got, on the whole, what he deserved. From
Switzerland, where he spent a summer by Lake Leman, with the Shelleys;
from Venice, Ravenna, Pisa, and Rome, scandalous reports of his
intrigues and his wild debaucheries were wafted back to England, and
with these came poem after poem, full of burning genius, pride, scorn,
and anguish, and all hurling defiance at English public opinion. The
third and fourth cantos of _Childe Harold_, 1816-1818, were a great
advance upon the first two, and contain the best of Byron's serious
poetry. He has written his name all over the continent of Europe, and on
a hundred memorable spots has made the scenery his own. On the field of
Waterloo, on "the castled crag of Drachenfels," "by the blue rushing of
the arrowy Rhone," in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs, in the Coliseum at
Rome, and among the "Isles of Greece," the tourist is compelled to see
with Byron's eyes and under the associations of his pilgrimage. In his
later poems, such as _Beppo_, 1818, and _Don Juan_, 1819-1823, he passed
into his second manner, a mocking cynicism gaining ground upon the
somewhat stagey gloom of his early poetry--Mephistophiles gradually
elbowing out Satan. _Don Juan_, though morally the worst, is
intellectually the most vital and representative of Byron's poems. It
takes up into itself most fully the life of the time; exhibits most
thoroughly the characteristic alternations of Byron's moods and the
prodigal resources of wit, passion, and understanding, which--rather
than imagination--were his prominent qualities as a poet. The hero, a
graceless, amorous stripling, goes wandering from Spain to the Greek
islands and Constantinople, thence to St. Petersburg, and finally to
England. Every-where his seductions are successful, and Byron uses him
as a means of exposing the weakness of the human heart and the
rottenness of society in all countries. In 1823, breaking away from his
life of selfish indulgence in Italy, Byron threw himself into the cause
of Grecian liberty, which he had sung so gloriously in the _Isles of
Greece_. He died at Missolonghi, in the following year, of a fever
contracted by exposure and overwork.

Byron was a great poet but not a great literary artist. He wrote
negligently and with the ease of assured strength; his mind gathering
heat as it moved, and pouring itself forth in reckless profusion. His
work is diffuse and imperfect; much of it is melodrama or speech-making,
rather than true poetry. But, on the other hand, much, very much of it
is unexcelled as the direct, strong, sincere utterance of personal
feeling. Such is the quality of his best lyrics, like _When We Two
Parted_, the _Elegy on Thyrza_, _Stanzas to Augusta_, _She Walks in
Beauty_, and of innumerable passages, lyrical and descriptive, in his
longer poems. He had not the wisdom of Wordsworth, nor the rich and
subtle imagination of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats when they were at
their best. But he had greater body and motive force than any of them.
He is the strongest personality among English poets since Milton, though
his strength was wasted by want of restraint and self-culture. In Milton
the passion was there, but it was held in check by the will and the
artistic conscience, made subordinate to good ends, ripened by long
reflection, and finally uttered in forms of perfect and harmonious
beauty. Byron's love of Nature was quite different in kind from
Wordsworth's. Of all English poets he has sung most lyrically of that
national theme, the sea; as witness, among many other passages, the
famous apostrophe to the ocean which closes _Childe Harold_, and the
opening of the third canto in the same poem,

  Once more upon the waters, etc.

He had a passion for night and storm, because they made him forget

                            Most glorious night!
  Thou wert not sent for slumber! Let me be
  A sharer in thy fierce and far delight,
  A portion of the tempest and of thee!

Byron's literary executor and biographer was the Irish poet, Thomas
Moore, a born song-writer, whose _Irish Melodies_, set to old native
airs, are, like Burns's, genuine, spontaneous singing, and run naturally
to music. Songs such as the _Meeting of the Waters_, _The Harp of Tara_,
_Those Evening Bells_, the _Light of Other Days_, _Araby's Daughter_,
and the _Last Rose of Summer_ were, and still are, popular favorites.
Moore's Oriental romance, _Lalla Rookh_, 1817, is overladen with
ornament and with a sugary sentiment that clogs the palate. He had the
quick Irish wit, sensibility rather than passion, and fancy rather than

Byron's friend, Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), was also in fiery
revolt against all conventions and institutions, though his revolt
proceeded not, as in Byron's case, from the turbulence of passions which
brooked no restraint, but rather from an intellectual impatience of any
kind of control. He was not, like Byron, a sensual man, but temperate
and chaste. He was, indeed, in his life and in his poetry, as nearly a
disembodied spirit as a human creature can be. The German poet, Heine,
said that liberty was the religion of this century, and of this religion
Shelley was a worshiper. His rebellion against authority began early. He
refused to fag at Eton, and was expelled from Oxford for publishing a
tract on the _Necessity of Atheism_. At nineteen, he ran away with
Harriet Westbrook, and was married to her in Scotland. Three years
later he deserted her for Mary Godwin, with whom he eloped to
Switzerland. Two years after this his first wife drowned herself in the
Serpentine, and Shelley was then formally wedded to Mary Godwin. All
this is rather startling, in the bare statement of it, yet it is not
inconsistent with the many testimonies that exist to Shelley's singular
purity and beauty of character, testimonies borne out by the evidence of
his own writings. Impulse with him took the place of conscience. Moral
law, accompanied by the sanction of power, and imposed by outside
authority, he rejected as a form of tyranny. His nature lacked
robustness and ballast. Byron, who was at the bottom intensely
practical, said that Shelley's philosophy was too spiritual and
romantic. Hazlitt, himself a Radical, wrote of Shelley: "He has a fire
in his eye, a fever in his blood, a maggot in his brain, a hectic
flutter in his speech, which mark out the philosophic fanatic. He is
sanguine-complexioned and shrill-voiced." It was, perhaps, with some
recollection of this last-mentioned trait of Shelley the man, that
Carlyle wrote of Shelley the poet, that "the sound of him was shrieky,"
and that he had "filled the earth with an inarticulate wailing."

His career as a poet began, characteristically enough, with the
publication, while at Oxford, of a volume of political rimes, entitled
_Margaret Nicholson's Remains_, Margaret Nicholson being the crazy woman
who tried to stab George III. His boyish poem, _Queen Mab_, was
published in 1813; _Alastor_ in 1816, and the _Revolt of Islam_--his
longest--in 1818, all before he was twenty-one. These were filled with
splendid, though unsubstantial, imagery, but they were abstract in
subject, and had the faults of incoherence and formlessness which make
Shelley's longer poems wearisome and confusing. They sought to embody
his social creed of perfectionism, as well as a certain vague
pantheistic system of belief in a spirit of love in nature and man,
whose presence is a constant source of obscurity in Shelley's verse. In
1818 he went to Italy, where the last four years of his life were
passed, and where, under the influences of Italian art and poetry, his
writing became deeper and stronger. He was fond of yachting, and spent
much of his time upon the Mediterranean. In the summer of 1822 his boat
was swamped in a squall, off the Gulf of Spezzia, and Shelley's drowned
body was washed ashore, and burned in the presence of Byron and Leigh
Hunt. The ashes were entombed in the Protestant cemetery at Rome, with
the epitaph, _Cor cordium_.

Shelley's best and maturest work, nearly all of which was done in Italy,
includes his tragedy, _The Cenci_, 1819, and his lyrical drama,
_Prometheus Unbound_, 1821. The first of these has a unity and a
definiteness of contour unusual with Shelley, and is, with the exception
of some of Robert Browning's, the best English tragedy since Otway.
Prometheus represented to Shelley's mind the human spirit fighting
against divine oppression, and in his portrayal of this figure he kept
in mind not only the _Prometheus_ of Aeschylus, but the Satan of
_Paradise Lost_. Indeed, in this poem, Shelley came nearer to the
sublime than any English poet since Milton. Yet it is in lyrical, rather
than in dramatic, quality that _Prometheus Unbound_ is great. If Shelley
be not, as his latest editor, Mr. Forman, claims him to be, the foremost
of English lyrical poets, he is at least the most lyrical of them. He
had, in a supreme degree, the "lyric cry." His vibrant nature trembled
to every breath of emotion, and his nerves craved ever newer shocks; to
pant, to quiver, to thrill, to grow faint in the spasm of intense
sensation. The feminine cast observable in Shelley's portrait is borne
out by this tremulous sensibility in his verse. It is curious how often
he uses the metaphor of wings: of the winged spirit, soaring, like his
skylark, till lost in music, rapture, light, and then falling back to
earth. Three successive moods--longing, ecstasy, and the revulsion of
despair--are expressed in many of his lyrics; as in the _Hymn to the
Spirit of Nature_ in _Prometheus_, in the ode _To a Skylark_, and in the
_Lines to an Indian Air_--Edgar Poe's favorite. His passionate desire to
lose himself in Nature, to become one with that spirit of love and
beauty in the universe which was to him in place of God, is expressed in
the _Ode to the West Wind_, his most perfect poem:

  Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is;
    What if my leaves are falling like its own!
  The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
    Will take from both a deep autumnal tone
  Sweet, though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
    My spirit! be thou me, impetuous one!

In the lyrical pieces already mentioned, together with _Adonais_, the
lines _Written in the Euganean Hills_, _Epipsychidion_, _Stanzas Written
in Dejection near Naples_, _A Dream of the Unknown_, and many others,
Shelley's lyrical genius reaches a rarer loveliness and a more faultless
art than Byron's ever attained, though it lacks the directness and
momentum of Byron.

In Shelley's longer poems, intoxicated with the music of his own
singing, he abandons himself wholly to the guidance of his imagination,
and the verse seems to go on of itself, like the enchanted boat in
_Alastor_, with no one at the helm. Vision succeeds vision in glorious
but bewildering profusion; ideal landscapes and cities of cloud
"pinnacled dim in the intense inane." These poems are like the
water-falls in the Yosemite, which, tumbling from a height of several
thousand feet, are shattered into foam by the air, and waved about over
the valley. Very beautiful is this descending spray, and the rainbow
dwells in its bosom; but there is no longer any stream, nothing but an
iridescent mist. The word _ethereal_ best expresses the quality of
Shelley's genius. His poetry is full of atmospheric effects; of the
tricks which light plays with the fluid elements of water and air; of
stars, clouds, rain, dew, mist, frost, wind, the foam of seas, the
phases of the moon, the green shadows of waves, the shapes of flames,
the "golden lightning of the setting sun." Nature, in Shelley, wants
homeliness and relief. While poets like Wordsworth and Burns let in an
ideal light upon the rough fields of earth, Shelley escapes into a
"moonlight-colored" realm of shadows and dreams, among whose
abstractions the heart turns cold. One bit of Wordsworth's mountain turf
is worth them all.

By the death of John Keats (1796-1821), whose elegy Shelley sang in
_Adonais_, English poetry suffered an irreparable loss. His _Endymion_,
1818, though disfigured by mawkishness and by some affectations of
manner, was rich in promise. Its faults were those of youth, the faults
of exuberance and of a sensibility, which time corrects. _Hyperion_,
1820, promised to be his masterpiece, but he left it unfinished--"a
Titanic torso"--because, as he said, "there were too many Miltonic
inversions in it." The subject was the displacement by Phoebus Apollo of
the ancient sun-god, Hyperion, the last of the Titans who retained his
dominion. It was a theme of great capabilities, and the poem was begun
by Keats with a strength of conception which leads to the belief that
here was once more a really epic genius, had fate suffered it to mature.
The fragment, as it stands--"that inlet to severe magnificence"--proves
how rapidly Keats's diction was clarifying. He had learned to string up
his loose chords. There is nothing maudlin in _Hyperion_; all there is
in whole tones and in the grand manner, "as sublime as Aeschylus," said
Byron, with the grave, antique simplicity, and something of modern
sweetness interfused.

Keats's father was a groom in a London livery-stable. The poet was
apprenticed at fifteen to a surgeon. At school he had studied Latin but
not Greek. He, who of all the English poets had the most purely Hellenic
spirit, made acquaintance with Greek literature and art only through the
medium of classical dictionaries, translations, and popular
mythologies; and later through the marbles and casts in the British
Museum. His friend, the artist Haydon, lent him a copy of Chapman's
Homer, and the impression that it made upon him he recorded in his
sonnet, _On First Looking into Chapman's Homer_. Other poems of the same
inspiration are his three sonnets, _To Homer_, _On Seeing the Elgin
Marbles_, _On a Picture of Leander_, _Lamia_, and the beautiful _Ode on
a Grecian Urn_. But Keats's art was retrospective and eclectic, the
blossom of a double root; and "golden-tongued Romance with serene lute"
had her part in him, as well as the classics. In his seventeenth year he
had read the _Faerie Queene_, and from Spenser he went on to a study of
Chaucer, Shakspere and Milton. Then he took up Italian and read Ariosto.
The influence of these studies is seen in his poem, _Isabella, or the
Pot of Basil_, taken from a story of Boccaccio; in his wild ballad, _La
Belle Dame sans Merci_; and in his love tale, the _Eve of St. Agnes_,
with its wealth of mediæval adornment. In the _Ode to Autumn_, and _Ode
to a Nightingale_, the Hellenic choiceness is found touched with the
warmer hues of romance.

There is something deeply tragic in the short story of Keats's life. The
seeds of consumption were in him; he felt the stirrings of a potent
genius, but he knew that he could not wait for it to unfold, but must

  Before high-piled books in charactry
  Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain.

His disease was aggravated, possibly, by the stupid brutality with which
the reviewers had treated _Endymion_; and certainly by the hopeless love
which devoured him. "The very thing which I want to live most for," he
wrote, "will be a great occasion of my death. If I had any chance of
recovery, this passion would kill me." In the autumn of 1820, his
disease gaining apace, he went on a sailing vessel to Italy,
accompanied by a single friend, a young artist named Severn. The change
was of no avail, and he died at Rome a few weeks after, in his
twenty-sixth year.

Keats was, above all things, the _artist_, with that love of the
beautiful and that instinct for its reproduction which are the artist's
divinest gifts. He cared little about the politics and philosophy of his
day, and he did not make his poetry the vehicle of ideas. It was
sensuous poetry, the poetry of youth and gladness. But if he had lived,
and if, with wider knowledge of men and deeper experience of life, he
had attained to Wordsworth's spiritual insight and to Byron's power of
passion and understanding, he would have become a greater poet than
either. For he had a style--a "natural magic"--which only needed the
chastening touch of a finer culture to make it superior to any thing in
modern English poetry, and to force us back to Milton or Shakspere for a
comparison. His tombstone, not far from Shelley's, bears the inscription
of his own choosing: "Here lies one whose name was writ in water." But
it would be within the limits of truth to say that it is written in
large characters on most of our contemporary poetry. "Wordsworth," says
Lowell, "has influenced most the ideas of succeeding poets; Keats their
forms." And he has influenced these out of all proportion to the amount
which he left, or to his intellectual range, by virtue of the exquisite
quality of his _technique_.

       *       *       *       *       *

1. Mrs. Oliphant's Literary History of England, 18th-19th
Centuries. London: Macmillan & Co., 1883.

2. Wordsworth's Poems. Chosen and edited by Matthew
Arnold. London, 1879.

3. Poetry of Byron. Chosen and arranged by Matthew
Arnold. London, 1881.

4. Shelley. Julian and Maddalo, Prometheus Unbound,
The Cenci, Lyrical Pieces.

5. Landor. Pericles and Aspasia.

6. Coleridge. Table-Talk, Notes on Shakspere, The Ancient
Mariner, Christabel, Love, Ode to France, Ode to the Departing
Year, Kubla Khan, Hymn before Sunrise in the Vale of Chamouni,
Youth and Age, Frost at Midnight.

7. De Quincey. Confessions of an English Opium Eater,
Flight of a Tartar Tribe, Biographical Sketches.

8. Scott. Waverley, Heart of Midlothian, Bride of Lammermoor,
Rob Roy, Antiquary, Marmion, Lady of the Lake.

9. Keats. Hyperion, Eve of St. Agnes, Lyrical Pieces.
Boston: J.R. Osgood, 1871.

[Illustration: Southey, Scott, Coleridge, Macaulay.]




The literature of the past fifty years is too close to our eyes to
enable the critic to pronounce a final judgment, or the literary
historian to get a true perspective. Many of the principal writers of
the time are still living, and many others have been dead but a few
years. This concluding chapter, therefore, will be devoted to the
consideration of the few who stand forth, incontestably, as the leaders
of literary thought, and who seem likely, under all future changes of
fashion and taste, to remain representatives of their generation. As
regards _form_, the most striking fact in the history of the period
under review is the immense preponderance in its imaginative literature
of prose fiction, of the novel of real life. The novel has become to the
solitary reader of to-day what the stage play was to the audiences of
Elizabeth's reign, or the periodical essay, like the _Tatler_ and
_Spectator_, to the clubs and breakfast-tables of Queen Anne's. And if
its criticism of life is less concentrated and brilliant than the drama
gives, it is far more searching and minute. No period has ever left in
its literary records so complete a picture of its whole society as the
period which is just closing. At any other time than the present, the
names of authors like Charlotte Bronté, Charles Kingsley, and Charles
Reade--names which are here merely mentioned in passing--besides many
others which want of space forbids us even to mention--would be of
capital importance. As it is, we must limit our review to the three
acknowledged masters of modern English fiction, Charles Dickens
(1812-1870), William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), and "George
Eliot" (Mary Ann Evans, 1819-1880).

It is sometimes helpful to reduce a great writer to his lowest term, in
order to see what the prevailing bent of his genius is. This lowest term
may often be found in his early work, before experience of the world has
overlaid his original impulse with foreign accretions. Dickens was much
more than a humorist, Thackeray than a satirist, and George Eliot than a
moralist; but they had their starting-points respectively in humor, in
burlesque, and in strong ethical and religious feeling. Dickens began
with a broadly comic series of papers, contributed to the _Old Magazine_
and the _Evening Chronicle_, and reprinted in book form, in 1836, as
_Sketches by Boz_. The success of these suggested to a firm of
publishers the preparation of a number of similar sketches of the
misadventures of cockney sportsmen, to accompany plates by the comic
draughtsman, Mr. R. Seymour. This suggestion resulted in the _Pickwick
Papers_, published in monthly installments in 1836-1837. The series
grew, under Dickens's hand, into a continuous though rather loosely
strung narrative of the doings of a set of characters, conceived with
such exuberant and novel humor that it took the public by storm and
raised its author at once to fame. _Pickwick_ is by no means Dickens's
best, but it is his most characteristic and most popular book. At the
time that he wrote these early sketches he was a reporter for the
_Morning Chronicle_. His naturally acute powers of observation had been
trained in this pursuit to the utmost efficiency, and there always
continued to be about his descriptive writing a reportorial and
newspaper air. He had the eye for effect, the sharp fidelity to detail,
the instinct for rapidly seizing upon and exaggerating the salient
point, which are developed by the requirements of modern journalism.
Dickens knew London as no one else has ever known it, and, in
particular, he knew its hideous and grotesque recesses, with the strange
developments of human nature that abide there; slums like
Tom-all-Alone's, in _Bleak House_; the river-side haunts of Rogue
Riderhood, in _Our Mutual Friend_; as well as the old inns, like the
"White Hart," and the "dusky purlieus of the law." As a man, his
favorite occupation was walking the streets, where, as a child, he had
picked up the most valuable part of his education. His tramps about
London--often after nightfall--sometimes extended to fifteen miles in a
day. He knew, too, the shifts of poverty. His father--some traits of
whom are preserved in Mr. Micawber--was imprisoned for debt in the
Marshalsea prison, where his wife took lodging with him, while Charles,
then a boy of ten, was employed at six shillings a week to cover
blacking-pots in Warner's blacking warehouse. The hardships and
loneliness of this part of his life are told under a thin disguise in
Dickens's masterpiece, _David Copperfield_, the most autobiographical of
his novels. From these young experiences he gained that insight into the
lives of the lower classes and that sympathy with children and with the
poor which shine out in his pathetic sketches of Little Nell, in _The
Old Curiosity Shop_; of Paul Dombey; of poor Jo, in _Bleak House_; of
"the Marchioness," and a hundred other figures.

In _Oliver Twist_, contributed, during 1837-1838, to _Bentley's
Miscellany_, a monthly magazine of which Dickens was editor, he produced
his first regular novel. In this story of the criminal classes the
author showed a tragic power which he had not hitherto exhibited.
Thenceforward his career was a series of dazzling successes. It is
impossible here to particularize his numerous novels, sketches, short
tales, and "Christmas Stories"--the latter a fashion which he
inaugurated, and which has produced a whole literature in itself. In
_Nicholas Nickleby_, 1839; _Master Humphrey's Clock_, 1840; _Martin
Chuzzlewit_, 1844; _Dombey and Son_, 1848; _David Copperfield_, 1850,
and _Bleak House_, 1853, there is no falling off in strength. The last
named was, in some respects, and especially in the skillful
construction of the plot, his best novel. In some of his latest books,
as _Great Expectations_, 1861, and _Our Mutual Friend_, 1865, there are
signs of a decline. This showed itself in an unnatural exaggeration of
characters and motives, and a painful straining after humorous effects;
faults, indeed, from which Dickens was never wholly free. There was a
histrionic side to him, which came out in his fondness for private
theatricals, in which he exhibited remarkable talent, and in the
dramatic action which he introduced into the delightful public readings
from his works that he gave before vast audiences all over the United
Kingdom, and in his two visits to America. It is not surprising, either,
to learn that upon the stage his preference was for melodrama and farce.
His own serious writing was always dangerously close to the
melodramatic, and his humor to the farcical. There is much false art,
bad taste, and even vulgarity in Dickens. He was never quite a
gentleman, and never succeeded well in drawing gentlemen or ladies. In
the region of low comedy he is easily the most original, the most
inexhaustible, the most wonderful, of modern humorists. Creations such
as Mrs. Nickleby, Mr. Micawber, Sam Weller, Sairy Gamp, take rank with
Falstaff and Dogberry; while many others, like Dick Swiveller, Stiggins,
Chadband, Mrs. Jellyby, and Julia Mills, are almost equally good. In the
innumerable swarm of minor characters with which he has enriched our
comic literature there is no indistinctness. Indeed, the objection that
has been made to him is that his characters are too distinct--that he
puts labels on them; that they are often mere personifications of a
single trick of speech or manner, which becomes tedious and unnatural by
repetition. Thus, Grandfather Smallweed is always settling down into his
cushion, and having to be shaken up; Mr. Jellyby is always sitting with
his head against the wall; Peggotty is always bursting her buttons off,
etc. As Dickens's humorous characters tend perpetually to run into
caricatures and grotesques, so his sentiment, from the same excess,
slops over too frequently into "gush," and into a too deliberate and
protracted attack upon the pity. A favorite humorous device in his style
is a stately and roundabout way of telling a trivial incident, as where,
for example, Mr. Roker "muttered certain unpleasant invocations
concerning his own eyes, limbs, and circulating fluids;" or where the
drunken man who is singing comic songs in the Fleet received from Mr.
Smangle "a gentle intimation, through the medium of the water-jug, that
his audience were not musically disposed." This manner was original with
Dickens, though he may have taken a hint of it from the mock heroic
language of _Jonathan Wild_; but as practiced by a thousand imitators,
ever since, it has gradually become a burden.

It would not be the whole truth to say that the difference between the
humor of Thackeray and Dickens is the same as between that of Shakspere
and Ben Jonson. Yet it is true that the "humors" of Ben Jonson have an
analogy with the extremer instances of Dickens's character sketches in
this respect, namely, that they are both studies of the eccentric, the
abnormal, the whimsical, rather than of the typical and universal;
studies of manners, rather than of whole characters. And it is easily
conceivable that, at no distant day, the oddities of Captain Cuttle,
Deportment Turveydrop, Mark Tapley, and Newman Noggs will seem as
far-fetched and impossible as those of Captain Otter, Fastidious Brisk
and Sir Amorous La-Foole.

When Dickens was looking about for some one to take Seymour's place as
illustrator of _Pickwick_, Thackeray applied for the job, but without
success. He was then a young man of twenty-five, and still hesitating
between art and literature. He had begun to draw caricatures with his
pencil when a school-boy at the Charter House, and to scribble them with
his pen when a student at Cambridge, editing _The Snob_, a weekly
under-graduate paper, and parodying the prize poem _Timbuctoo_ of his
contemporary at the university, Alfred Tennyson. Then he went abroad to
study art, passing a season at Weimar, where he met Goethe and filled
the albums of the young Saxon ladies with caricatures; afterward living
a bohemian existence in the Latin quarter at Paris, studying art in a
desultory way, and seeing men and cities; accumulating portfolios full
of sketches, but laying up stores of material to be used afterward to
greater advantage when he should settle upon his true medium of
expression. By 1837, having lost his fortune of five hundred pounds a
year in speculation and gambling, he began to contribute to _Fraser's_,
and thereafter to the _New Monthly_, Cruikshank's _Comic Almanac_,
_Punch_, and other periodicals, clever burlesques, art criticisms by
"Michael Angelo Titmarsh," _Yellowplush Papers_, and all manner of
skits, satirical character sketches, and humorous tales, like the _Great
Hoggarty Diamond_ and the _Luck of Barry Lyndon_. Some of these were
collected in the _Paris Sketch-Book_, 1840, and the _Irish Sketch-Book_,
1843; but Thackeray was slow in winning recognition, and it was not
until the publication of his first great novel, _Vanity Fair_, in
monthly parts, during 1846-1848, that he achieved any thing like the
general reputation that Dickens had reached at a bound. _Vanity Fair_
described itself, on its title-page, as "a novel without a hero." It was
also a novel without a plot--in the sense in which _Bleak House_ or
_Nicholas Nickleby_ had a plot--and in that respect it set the fashion
for the latest school of realistic fiction, being a transcript of life,
without necessary beginning or end. Indeed, one of the pleasantest
things to a reader of Thackeray is the way which his characters have of
re-appearing, as old acquaintances, in his different books; just as, in
real life, people drop out of mind and then turn up again in other years
and places. _Vanity Fair_ is Thackeray's masterpiece, but it is not the
best introduction to his writings. There are no illusions in it, and,
to a young reader fresh from Scott's romances or Dickens's sympathetic
extravagances, it will seem hard and repellent. But men who, like
Thackeray, have seen life and tasted its bitterness and felt its
hollowness know how to prize it. Thackeray does not merely expose the
cant, the emptiness, the self-seeking, the false pretenses, flunkeyism,
and snobbery--the "mean admiration of mean things"--in the great world
of London society; his keen, unsparing vision detects the base alloy in
the purest natures. There are no "heroes" in his books, no perfect
characters. Even his good women, such as Helen and Laura Pendennis, are
capable of cruel injustice toward less fortunate sisters, like little
Fanny; and Amelia Sedley is led, by blind feminine instinct, to snub and
tyrannize over poor Dobbin. The shabby miseries of life, the numbing and
belittling influences of failure and poverty on the most generous
natures, are the tragic themes which Thackeray handles by preference. He
has been called a cynic, but the boyish playfulness of his humor and his
kindly spirit are incompatible with cynicism. Charlotte Bronté said that
Fielding was the vulture and Thackeray the eagle. The comparison would
have been truer if made between Swift and Thackeray. Swift was a cynic;
his pen was driven by hate, but Thackeray's by love, and it was not in
bitterness but in sadness that the latter laid bare the wickedness of
the world. He was himself a thorough man of the world, and he had that
dislike for a display of feeling which characterizes the modern
Englishman. But behind his satiric mask he concealed the manliest
tenderness, and a reverence for every thing in human nature that is good
and true. Thackeray's other great novels are _Pendennis_, 1849; _Henry
Esmond_, 1852, and _The Newcomes_, 1855--the last of which contains his
most lovable character, the pathetic and immortal figure of Colonel
Newcome, a creation worthy to stand, in its dignity and its sublime
weakness, by the side of Don Quixote. It was alleged against Thackeray
that he made all his good characters, like Major Dobbin and Amelia
Sedley and Colonel Newcome, intellectually feeble, and his brilliant
characters, like Becky Sharp and Lord Steyne and Blanche Amory, morally
bad. This is not entirely true, but the other complaint--that his women
are inferior to his men--is true in a general way. Somewhat inferior to
his other novels were _The Virginians_, 1858, and _The Adventures of
Philip_, 1862. All of these were stories of contemporary life, except
_Henry Esmond_ and its sequel, _The Virginians_, which, though not
precisely historical fictions, introduced historical figures, such as
Washington and the Earl of Peterborough. Their period of action was the
18th century, and the dialogue was a cunning imitation of the language
of that time. Thackeray was strongly attracted by the 18th century. His
literary teachers were Addison, Swift, Steele, Gay, Johnson, Richardson,
Goldsmith, Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne, and his special master and
model was Fielding. He projected a history of the century, and his
studies in this kind took shape in his two charming series of lectures
on _The English Humorists_ and _The Four Georges_. These he delivered in
England and in America, to which country he, like Dickens, made two
several visits.

[Illustration: Carlyle, Ruskin, Thackeray, Dickens.]

Thackeray's genius was, perhaps, less astonishing than Dickens's; less
fertile, spontaneous, and inventive; but his art is sounder, and his
delineation of character more truthful. After one has formed a taste for
his books, Dickens's sentiment will seem overdone, and much of his humor
will have the air of buffoonery. Thackeray had the advantage in another
particular: he described the life of the upper classes, and Dickens of
the lower. It may be true that the latter offers richer material to the
novelist, in the play of elementary passions and in strong native
developments of character. It is true, also, that Thackeray approached
"society" rather to satirize it than to set forth its agreeableness.
Yet, after all, it is "the great world" which he describes, that world
upon which the broadening and refining processes of a high civilization
have done their utmost, and which, consequently, must possess an
intellectual interest superior to any thing in the life of London
thieves, traveling showmen, and coachees. Thackeray is the equal of
Swift as a satirist, of Dickens as a humorist, and of Scott as a
novelist. The one element lacking in him--and which Scott had in a high
degree--is the poetic imagination. "I have no brains above my eyes" he
said; "I describe what I see." Hence there is wanting in his creations
that final charm which Shakspere's have. For what the eyes see is not

The great woman who wrote under the pen-name of George Eliot was a
humorist, too. She had a rich, deep humor of her own, and a wit that
crystallized into sayings which are not epigrams only because their
wisdom strikes more than their smartness. But humor was not, as with
Thackeray and Dickens, her point of view. A country girl, the daughter
of a land agent and surveyor at Nuneaton, in Warwickshire, her early
letters and journals exhibit a Calvinistic gravity and moral severity.
Later, when her truth to her convictions led her to renounce the
Christian belief, she carried into positivism the same religious
earnestness, and wrote the one English hymn of the religion of humanity:

  O, let me join the choir invisible, etc.

Her first published work was a translation of Strauss's _Leben Jesu_,
1846. In 1851 she went to London and became one of the editors of the
Radical organ, the _Westminster Review_. Here she formed a connection--a
marriage in all but the name--with George Henry Lewes, who was, like
herself, a freethinker, and who published, among other things, a
_Biographical History of Philosophy_. Lewes had also written fiction,
and it was at his suggestion that his wife undertook story writing. Her
_Scenes of Clerical Life_ were contributed to _Blackwood's Magazine_ for
1857, and published in book form in the following year. _Adam Bede_
followed in 1859, the _Mill on the Floss_ in 1860, _Silas Marner_ in
1861, _Romola_ in 1863, _Felix Holt_ in 1866, and _Middlemarch_ in 1872.
All of these, except _Romola_, are tales of provincial and largely of
domestic life in the midland counties. _Romola_ is an historical novel,
the scene of which is Florence in the 15th century; the Florence of
Macchiavelli and of Savonarola.

George Eliot's method was very different from that of Thackeray or
Dickens. She did not crowd her canvas with the swarming life of cities.
Her figures are comparatively few, and they are selected from the
middle-class families of rural parishes or small towns, amid that
atmosphere of "fine old leisure;" whose disappearance she lamented. Her
drama is a still-life drama, intensely and profoundly inward. Character
is the stuff that she works in, and she deals with it more subtly than
Thackeray. With him the tragedy is produced by the pressure of society
and its false standards upon the individual; with her, by the malign
influence of individuals upon one another. She watches "the stealthy
convergence of human fates," the intersection at various angles of the
planes of character, the power that the lower nature has to thwart,
stupefy, or corrupt the higher, which has become entangled with it in
the mesh of destiny. At the bottom of every one of her stories there is
a problem of the conscience or the intellect. In this respect she
resembles Hawthorne, though she is not, like him, a romancer, but a

There is a melancholy philosophy in her books, most of which are tales
of failure or frustration. The _Mill on the Floss_ contains a large
element of autobiography, and its heroine, Maggie Tulliver, is, perhaps,
her idealized self. Her aspirations after a fuller and nobler existence
are condemned to struggle against the resistance of a narrow, provincial
environment, and the pressure of untoward fates. She is tempted to seek
an escape even through a desperate throwing off of moral obligations,
and is driven back to her duty only to die by a sudden stroke of
destiny. "Life is a bad business," wrote George Eliot, in a letter to a
friend, "and we must make the most of it." _Adam Bede_ is, in
construction, the most perfect of her novels, and _Silas Marner_ of her
shorter stories. Her analytic habit gained more and more upon her as she
wrote. _Middlemarch_, in some respects her greatest book, lacks the
unity of her earlier novels, and the story tends to become subordinate
to the working out of character studies and social problems. The
philosophic speculations which she shared with her husband were
seemingly unfavorable to her artistic growth, a circumstance which
becomes apparent in her last novel, _Daniel Deronda_, 1877. Finally in
the _Impressions of Theophrastus Such_, 1879, she abandoned narrative
altogether, and recurred to that type of "character" books which we have
met as a flourishing department of literature in the 17th century,
represented by such works as Earle's _Microcosmographie_ and Fuller's
_Holy and Profane State_. The moral of George Eliot's writings is not
obtruded. She never made the artistic mistake of writing a novel of
purpose, or what the Germans call a _tendenz-roman_; as Dickens did, for
example, when he attacked imprisonment for debt, in _Pickwick_; the poor
laws, in _Oliver Twist_; the Court of Chancery, in _Bleak House_; and
the Circumlocution office, in _Little Dorrit_.

Next to the novel, the essay has been the most overflowing literary form
used by the writers of this generation--a form characteristic, it may
be, of an age which "lectures, not creates." It is not the essay of
Bacon, nor yet of Addison, nor of Lamb, but attempts a complete
treatment. Indeed, many longish books, like Carlyle's _Heroes and Hero
Worship_ and Ruskin's _Modern Painters_, are, in spirit, rather literary
essays than formal treatises. The most popular essayist and historian of
his time was Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), an active and
versatile man, who won splendid success in many fields of labor. He was
prominent in public life as one of the leading orators and writers of
the Whig party. He sat many times in the House of Commons, as member for
Calne, for Leeds, and for Edinburgh, and took a distinguished part in
the debates on the Reform bill of 1832. He held office in several Whig
governments, and during his four years' service in British India, as
member of the Supreme Council of Calcutta, he did valuable work in
promoting education in that province, and in codifying the Indian penal
law. After his return to England, and especially after the publication
of his _History of England from The Accession of James II.,_ honors and
appointments of all kinds were showered upon him. In 1857 he was raised
to the peerage as Baron Macaulay of Rothley.

Macaulay's equipment, as a writer on historical and biographical
subjects, was, in some points, unique. His reading was prodigious, and
his memory so tenacious that it was said, with but little exaggeration,
that he never forgot any thing that he had read. He could repeat the
whole of _Paradise Lost_ by heart, and thought it probable that he could
rewrite _Sir Charles Grandison_ from memory. In his books, in his
speeches in the House of Commons, and in private conversation--for he
was an eager and fluent talker, running on often for hours at a
stretch--he was never at a loss to fortify and illustrate his positions
by citation after citation of dates, names, facts of all kinds, and
passages quoted _verbatim_ from his multifarious reading. The first of
Macaulay's writings to attract general notice was his article on
_Milton_, printed in the August number of the _Edinburgh Review_ for
1825. The editor, Lord Jeffrey, in acknowledging the receipt of the
manuscript, wrote to his new contributor, "The more I think, the less I
can conceive where you picked up that style." That celebrated
style--about which so much has since been written--was an index to the
mental character of its owner. Macaulay was of a confident, sanguine,
impetuous nature. He had great common sense, and he saw what he saw
quickly and clearly, but he did not see very far below the surface. He
wrote with the conviction of an advocate, and the easy omniscience of a
man whose learning is really nothing more than "general information"
raised to a very high power, rather than with the subtle penetration of
an original or truly philosophic intellect, like Coleridge's or De
Quincey's. He always had at hand explanations of events or of characters
which were admirably easy and simple--too simple, indeed, for the
complicated phenomena which they professed to explain. His style was
clear, animated, showy, and even its faults were of an exciting kind. It
was his habit to give piquancy to his writing by putting things
concretely. Thus, instead of saying, in general terms--as Hume or Gibbon
might have done--that the Normans and Saxons began to mingle about 1200,
he says: "The great-grandsons of those who had fought under William and
the great grandsons of those who had fought under Harold began to draw
near to each other." Macaulay was a great scene painter, who neglected
delicate truths of detail for exaggerated distemper effects. He used the
rhetorical machinery of climax and hyperbole for all that it was worth,
and he "made points"--as in his essay on _Bacon_--by creating
antithesis. In his _History of England_ he inaugurated the picturesque
method of historical writing. The book was as fascinating as any novel.
Macaulay, like Scott, had the historic imagination, though his method of
turning history into romance was very different from Scott's. Among his
essays the best are those which, like the ones on _Lord Clive, Warren
Hastings_, and _Frederick the Great_, deal with historical subjects; or
those which deal with literary subjects under their public historic
relations, such as the essays on _Addison, Bunyan_, and _The Comic
Dramatists of the Restoration_. "I have never written a page of
criticism on poetry, or the fine arts," wrote Macaulay, "which I would
not burn if I had the power." Nevertheless his own _Lays of Ancient
Rome_, 1842, are good, stirring verse of the emphatic and declamatory
kind, though their quality may be rather rhetorical than poetic.

Our critical time has not forborne to criticize itself, and perhaps the
writer who impressed himself most strongly upon his generation was the
one who railed most desperately against the "spirit of the age." Thomas
Carlyle (1795-1881) was occupied between 1822 and 1830 chiefly in
imparting to the British public a knowledge of German literature. He
published, among other things, a _Life of Schiller_, a translation of
Goethe's _Wilhelm Meister_, and two volumes of translations from the
German romancers--Tieck, Hoffmann, Richter, and Fouqué--and contributed
to the _Edinburgh_ and _Foreign Review_ articles on Goethe, Werner,
Novalis, Richter, German playwrights, the _Nibelungen Lied_, etc. His
own diction became more and more tinctured with Germanisms. There was
something Gothic in his taste, which was attracted by the lawless, the
grotesque, and the whimsical in the writings of Jean Paul Richter. His
favorite among English humorists was Sterne, who has a share of these
same qualities. He spoke disparagingly of "the sensuous literature of
the Greeks," and preferred the Norse to the Hellenic mythology. Even in
his admirable critical essays on Burns, on Richter, on Scott, Diderot,
and Voltaire, which are free from his later mannerism--written in
English, and not in Carlylese--his sense of spirit is always more lively
than his sense of form. He finally became so impatient of art as to
maintain--half-seriously--the paradox that Shakspere would have done
better to write in prose. In three of these early essays--on the _Signs
of the Times_, 1829; on _History_, 1830, and on _Characteristics_,
1831--are to be found the germs of all his later writings. The first of
these was an arraignment of the mechanical spirit of the age. In every
province of thought he discovered too great a reliance upon systems,
institutions, machinery, instead of upon men. Thus, in religion, we have
Bible societies, "machines for converting the heathen." "In defect of
Raphaels and Angelos and Mozarts, we have royal academies of painting,
sculpture, music." In like manner, he complains, government is a
machine. "Its duties and faults are not those of a father, but of an
active parish-constable." Against the "police theory," as distinguished
from the "paternal" theory, of government, Carlyle protested with ever
shriller iteration. In _Chartism_, 1839, _Past and Present_, 1843, and
_Latter-day Pamphlets,_ 1850, he denounced this _laissez faire_ idea.
The business of government, he repeated, is to govern; but this view
makes it its business to refrain from governing. He fought most fiercely
against the conclusions of political economy, "the dismal science"
which, he said, affirmed that men were guided exclusively by their
stomachs. He protested, too, against the Utilitarians, followers of
Bentham and Mill, with their "greatest happiness principle," which
reduced virtue to a profit-and-loss account. Carlyle took issue with
modern liberalism; he ridiculed the self-gratulation of the time, all
the talk about progress of the species, unexampled prosperity, etc. But
he was reactionary without being conservative. He had studied the French
Revolution, and he saw the fateful, irresistible approach of democracy.
He had no faith in government "by counting noses," and he hated talking
Parliaments; but neither did he put trust in an aristocracy that spent
its time in "preserving the game." What he wanted was a great individual
ruler; a real king or hero; and this doctrine he set forth afterward
most fully in _Hero Worship_, 1841, and illustrated in his lives of
representative heroes, such as his _Cromwell's Letters and Speeches_,
1845, and his great _History of Frederick the Great,_ 1858-1865.
Cromwell and Frederick were well enough; but as Carlyle grew older his
admiration for mere force grew, and his latest hero was none other than
that infamous Dr. Francia, the South American dictator, whose career of
bloody and crafty crime horrified the civilized world.

The essay on _History_ was a protest against the scientific view of
history which attempts to explain away and account for the wonderful.
"Wonder," he wrote in _Sartor Resartus_, "is the basis of all worship."
He defined history as "the essence of innumerable biographies." "Mr.
Carlyle," said the Italian patriot, Mazzini, "comprehends only the
individual. The nationality of Italy is, in his eyes, the glory of
having produced Dante and Christopher Columbus." This trait comes out in
his greatest book, _The French Revolution_, 1837, which is a mighty
tragedy enacted by a few leading characters--Mirabeau, Danton, Napoleon.
He loved to emphasize the superiority of history over fiction as
dramatic material. The third of the three essays mentioned was a
Jeremiad on the morbid self-consciousness of the age, which shows
itself, in religion and philosophy, as skepticism and introspective
metaphysics; and in literature, as sentimentalism, and "view-hunting."

But Carlyle's epoch-making book was _Sartor Resartus_ (The Tailor
Retailored), published in _Fraser's Magazine_ for 1833-1834, and first
reprinted in book form in America. This was a satire upon shams,
conventions, the disguises which overlie the most spiritual realities of
the soul. It purported to be the life and "clothes-philosophy" of a
certain Diogenes Teufelsdröckh, Professor _der Allerlei
Wissenschaft_--of things in general--in the University of Weissnichtwo.
"Society," said Carlyle, "is founded upon cloth," following the
suggestions of Lear's speech to the naked bedlam beggar: "Thou art the
thing itself: unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare,
forked animal as thou art;" and borrowing also, perhaps, an ironical
hint from a paragraph in Swift's _Tale of a Tub_: "A sect was
established who held the universe to be a large suit of clothes....If
certain ermines or furs be placed in a certain position, we style them a
judge; and so an apt conjunction of lawn and black satin we entitle a
bishop." In _Sartor Resartus_ Carlyle let himself go. It was willful,
uncouth, amorphous, titanic. There was something monstrous in the
combination--the hot heart of the Scot married to the transcendental
dream of Germany. It was not English, said the reviewers; it was not
sense; it was disfigured by obscurity and "mysticism." Nevertheless even
the thin-witted and the dry-witted had to acknowledge the powerful
beauty of many chapters and passages, rich with humor, eloquence,
poetry, deep-hearted tenderness, or passionate scorn.

[Illustration: Geo. Eliot, Froude, Browning, Tennyson.]

Carlyle was a voracious reader, and the plunder of whole literatures is
strewn over his pages. He flung about the resources of the language with
a giant's strength, and made new words at every turn. The concreteness
and the swarming fertility of his mind are evidenced by his enormous
vocabulary, computed greatly to exceed Shakspere's, or any other single
writer's in the English tongue. His style lacks the crowning grace of
simplicity and repose. It astonishes, but it also fatigues.

Carlyle's influence has consisted more in his attitude than in any
special truth which he has preached. It has been the influence of a
moralist, of a practical rather than a speculative philosopher. "The end
of man," he wrote, "is an action, not a thought." He has not been able
to persuade the time that it is going wrong, but his criticisms have
been wholesomely corrective of its self-conceit. In a democratic age he
has insisted upon the undemocratic virtues of obedience, silence, and
reverence. _Ehrfurcht_, reverence--the text of his address to the
students of Edinburgh University in 1866--is the last word of his

In 1830 Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), a young graduate of Cambridge,
published a thin duodecimo of 154 pages entitled _Poems, Chiefly
Lyrical_. The pieces in this little volume, such as the _Sleeping
Beauty, Ode to Memory_, and _Recollections of the Arabian Nights_, were
full of color, fragrance, melody; but they had a dream-like character,
and were without definite theme, resembling an artist's studies, or
exercises in music--a few touches of the brush, a few sweet chords, but
no _aria_. A number of them--_Claribel, Lilian, Adeline, Isabel,
Mariana, Madeline_--were sketches of women; not character portraits,
like Browning's _Men and Women_, but impressions of temperament, of
delicately differentiated types of feminine beauty. In _Mariana_,
expanded from a hint of the forsaken maid in Shakspere's _Measure for
Measure_, "Mariana at the moated grange," the poet showed an art then
peculiar, but since grown familiar, of heightening the central feeling
by landscape accessories. The level waste, the stagnant sluices, the
neglected garden, the wind in the single poplar, re-enforce, by their
monotonous sympathy, the loneliness, the hopeless waiting and weariness
of life in the one human figure of the poem. In _Mariana_, the _Ode to
Memory_, and the _Dying Swan_, it was the fens of Cambridge and of his
native Lincolnshire that furnished Tennyson's scenery.

  Stretched wide and wild, the waste enormous marsh,
  Where from the frequent bridge,
  Like emblems of infinity,
  The trenched waters run from sky to sky.

A second collection, published in 1833, exhibited a greater scope and
variety, but was still in his earlier manner. The studies of feminine
types were continued in _Margaret, Fatima, Eleanore, Mariana in the
South_, and _A Dream of Fair Women_, suggested by Chaucer's _Legend of
Good Women_. In the _Lady of Shalott_ the poet first touched the
Arthurian legends. The subject is the same as that of _Elaine_, in the
_Idylls of the King_, but the treatment is shadowy, and even
allegorical. In _OEnone_ and the _Lotus Eaters_ he handled Homeric
subjects, but in a romantic fashion which contrasts markedly with the
style of his later pieces, _Ulysses_ and _Tithonus._ These last have the
true classic severity, and are among the noblest specimens of weighty
and sonorous blank verse in modern poetry. In general, Tennyson's art is
unclassical. It is rich, ornate, composite; not statuesque so much as
picturesque. He is a great painter, and the critics complain that in
passages calling for movement and action--a battle, a tournament, or the
like--his figures stand still as in a tableau; and they contrast such
passages unfavorably with scenes of the same kind in Scott, and with
Browning's spirited ballad, _How we brought the Good News from Ghent to
Aix_. In the _Palace of Art_ these elaborate pictorial effects were
combined with allegory; in the _Lotus Eaters_, with that expressive
treatment of landscape noted in _Mariana_; the lotus land, "in which it
seemed always afternoon," reflecting and promoting the enchanted
indolence of the heroes. Two of the pieces in this 1833 volume, the _May
Queen_ and the _Miller's Daughter_, were Tennyson's first poems of the
affections, and as ballads of simple rustic life they anticipated his
more perfect idyls in blank verse, such as _Dora_, the _Brook, Edwin
Morris_, and the _Gardener's Daughter._ The songs in the _Miller's
Daughter_ had a more spontaneous lyrical movement than any thing he had
yet published, and foretokened the lovely songs which interlude the
divisions of the _Princess_, the famous _Bugle Song_, the no-less famous
_Cradle Song_, and the rest. In 1833 Tennyson's friend, Arthur Hallam,
died, and the effect of this great sorrow upon the poet was to deepen
and strengthen the character of his genius. It turned his mind in upon
itself, and set it brooding over questions which his poetry had so far
left untouched; the meaning of life and death, the uses of adversity,
the future of the race, the immortality of the soul, and the dealings of
God with mankind.

  Thou madest Death: and, lo, thy foot
  Is on the skull which thou hast made.

His elegy on Hallam, _In Memoriam_, was not published till 1850. He
kept it by him all those years, adding section after section, gathering
up into it whatever reflections crystallized about its central theme. It
is his most intellectual and most individual work; a great song of
sorrow and consolation. In 1842 he published a third collection of
poems, among which were _Locksley Hall_, displaying a new strength, of
passion; _Ulysses_, suggested by a passage in Dante: pieces of a
speculative cast, like the _Two Voices_ and the _Vision of Sin_; the
song _Break, Break, Break_, which preluded _In Memoriam_; and, lastly,
some additional gropings toward the subject of the Arthurian romance,
such as _Sir Galahad, Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere_, and _Morte d'
Arthur._ The last was in blank verse, and, as afterward incorporated in
the _Passing of Arthur_, forms one of the best passages in the _Idylls
of the King_. The _Princess, a Medley_, published in 1849, represents
the eclectic character of Tennyson's art; a mediæval tale with an
admixture of modern sentiment, and with the very modern problem of
woman's sphere for its theme. The first four _Idylls of the King_, 1859,
with those since added, constitute, when taken together, an epic poem on
the old story of King Arthur. Tennyson went to Malory's _Morte Darthur_
for his material, but the outline of the first idyl, _Enid_, was taken
from Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the Welsh _Mabinogion_. In
the idyl of _Guinevere_ Tennyson's genius reached its high-water mark.
The interview between Arthur and his fallen queen is marked by a moral
sublimity and a tragic intensity which move the soul as nobly as any
scene in modern literature. Here, at least, the art is pure and not
"decorated;" the effect is produced by the simplest means, and all is
just, natural, and grand. _Maud_--a love novel in verse--published in
1855, and considerably enlarged in 1856, had great sweetness and beauty,
particularly in its lyrical portions, but it was uneven in execution,
imperfect in design, and marred by lapses into mawkishness and excess
in language. Since 1860 Tennyson has added little of permanent value to
his work. His dramatic experiments, like _Queen Mary_, are not, on the
whole, successful, though it would be unjust to deny dramatic power to
the poet who has written, upon one hand, _Guinevere_ and the _Passing of
Arthur_, and upon the other the homely dialectic monologue of the
_Northern Farmer_.

When we tire of Tennyson's smooth perfection, of an art that is over
exquisite, and a beauty that is well-nigh too beautiful, and crave a
rougher touch, and a meaning that will not yield itself too readily, we
turn to the thorny pages of his great contemporary, Robert Browning
(1812-1889). Dr. Holmes says that Tennyson is white meat and Browning is
dark meat. A masculine taste, it is inferred, is shown in a preference
for the gamier flavor. Browning makes us think; his poems are puzzles,
and furnish business for "Browning Societies." There are no Tennyson
societies, because Tennyson is his own interpreter. Intellect in a poet
may display itself quite as properly in the construction of his poem as
in its content; we value a building for its architecture, and not
entirely for the amount of timber in it. Browning's thought never wears
so thin as Tennyson's sometimes does in his latest verse, where the
trick of his style goes on of itself with nothing behind it. Tennyson,
at his worst, is weak. Browning, when not at his best, is hoarse.
Hoarseness, in itself, is no sign of strength. In Browning, however, the
failure is in art, not in thought.

He chooses his subjects from abnormal character types, such as are
presented, for example, in _Caliban upon Setebos_, the _Grammarian's
Funeral, My Last Duchess_ and _Mr. Sludge, the Medium_. These are all
psychological studies, in which the poet gets into the inner
consciousness of a monster, a pedant, a criminal, and a quack, and gives
their point of view. They are dramatic soliloquies; but the poet's
self-identification with each of his creations, in turn, remains
incomplete. His curious, analytic observation, his way of looking at
the soul from outside, gives a doubleness to the monologues in his
_Dramatic Lyrics_, 1845, _Men and Women_, 1855, _Dramatis Personæ_,
1864, and other collections of the kind. The words are the words of
Caliban or Mr. Sludge; but the voice is the voice of Robert Browning.
His first complete poem, _Paracelsus_, 1835, aimed to give the true
inwardness of the career of the famous 16th century doctor, whose name
became a synonym with charlatan. His second, _Sordello_, 1840, traced
the struggles of an Italian poet who lived before Dante, and could not
reconcile his life with his art. _Paracelsus_ was hard, but _Sordello_
was incomprehensible. Browning has denied that he was ever perversely
crabbed or obscure. Every great artist must be allowed to say things in
his own way, and obscurity has its artistic uses, as the Gothic builders
knew. But there are two kinds of obscurity in literature. One is
inseparable from the subtlety and difficulty of the thought or the
compression and pregnant indirectness of the phrase. Instances of this
occur in the clear deeps of Dante, Shakspere, and Goethe. The other
comes from a vice of style, a willfully enigmatic and unnatural way of
expressing thought. Both kinds of obscurity exist in Browning. He was a
deep and subtle thinker, but he was also a very eccentric writer;
abrupt, harsh, disjointed. It has been well said that the reader of
Browning learns a new dialect. But one need not grudge the labor that is
rewarded with an intellectual pleasure so peculiar and so stimulating.
The odd, grotesque impression made by his poetry arises, in part, from
his desire to use the artistic values of ugliness, as well as of
obscurity; to avoid the shallow prettiness that comes from blinking the
disagreeable truth: not to leave the saltness out of the sea. Whenever
he emerges into clearness, as he does in hundreds of places, he is a
poet of great qualities. There are a fire and a swing in his _Cavalier
Tunes_, and in pieces like the _Glove_ and the _Lost_ _Leader_; and
humor in such ballads as the _Pied Piper of Hamelin_ and the _Soliloquy
of the Spanish Cloister_, which appeal to the most conservative reader.
He seldom deals directly in the pathetic, but now and then, as in
_Evelyn Hope_, the _Last Ride Together_, or the _Incident of the French
Camp_, a tenderness comes over the strong verse

                        as sheathes
  A film the mother eagle's eye
    When her bruised eaglet breathes.

Perhaps the most astonishing example of Browning's mental vigor is the
huge composition, entitled _The Ring and the Book,_ 1868; a narrative
poem in twenty-one thousand lines in which the same story is repeated
eleven times in eleven different ways. It is the story of a criminal
trial which occurred at Rome about 1700, the trial of one Count Guido
for the murder of his young wife. First the poet tells the tale himself;
then he tells what one half the world said and what the other; then he
gives the deposition of the dying girl, the testimony of witnesses, the
speech made by the count in his own defense, the arguments of counsel,
etc., and, finally, the judgment of the pope. So wonderful are
Browning's resources in casuistry, and so cunningly does he ravel the
intricate motives at play in this tragedy and lay bare the secrets of
the heart, that the interest increases at each repetition of the tale.
He studied the Middle Age carefully, not for its picturesque externals,
its feudalisms, chivalries, and the like; but because he found it a rich
quarry of spiritual monstrosities, strange outcroppings of fanaticism,
superstition, and moral and mental distortion of all shapes. It
furnished him especially with a great variety of ecclesiastical types,
such as are painted in _Fra Lippo Lippi, The Heretic's Tragedy,_ and
_The Bishop Orders his Tomb in St. Praxed's Church._

Browning's dramatic instinct always attracted him to the stage. His
tragedy, _Strafford_ (1837), was written for Macready, and put on at
Covent Garden Theater, but without pronounced success. He wrote many
fine dramatic poems, like _Pippa Passes, Colombe's Birthday_, and _In a
Balcony_; and at least two good acting plays, _Luria_ and _A Blot in the
Scutcheon._ The last named has recently been given to the American
public, with Lawrence Barrett's careful and intelligent presentation of
the leading role. The motive of the tragedy is somewhat strained and
fantastic, but it is, notwithstanding, very effective on the stage. It
gives one an unwonted thrill to listen to a play, by a contemporary
English writer, which is really literature. One gets a faint idea of
what it must have been to assist at the first night of _Hamlet_.

1. English Literature in the Reign of Victoria. Henry
Morley. (Tauchnitz Series.)

2. Victorian Poets. E.C. Stedman. Boston: Houghton,
Mifflin & Co., 1886.

3. Dickens. Pickwick Papers, Nicholas Nickleby, David
Copperfield, Bleak House, Tale of Two Cities.

4. Thackeray. Vanity Fair, Pendennis, Henry Esmond,
The Newcomes.

5. George Eliot. Scenes of Clerical Life, Mill on the
Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Adam Bede, Middlemarch.

6. Macaulay. Essays, Lays of Ancient Rome.

7. Carlyle. Sartor Resartus, French Revolution, Essays
on History, Signs of the Times, Characteristics, Burns, Scott,
Voltaire, and Goethe.

8 The Works of Alfred Tennyson. London: Stranham
& Co., 1872. 6 vols.

9. Selections from the Poetical Works of Robert Browning.
London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1880. 2 vols.




[From the general prologue to the Canterbury Tales.]

  There was also a nonne, a prioresse,
  That of hire smiling was ful simple and coy;
  Hire gretest othe n'as but by Seint Eloy;
  And she was clepëd[23] madame Eglentine.
  Ful wel she sange the servicë devine,
  Entunëd in hire nose ful swetëly;
  And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly[24]
  After the scole of Stratford-attë-Bowe,[25]
  For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
  At mete was she wel ytaught withalle;
  She lette no morsel from hire lippë falle,
  Ne wette hire fingres in hire saucë depe.
  Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe,
  Thatte no drope ne fell upon hire brest.
  In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest.[26]
  Hire over lippë wipëd she so clene
  That in hire cuppe was no ferthing[27] sene
  Of gresë, whan she dronken hadde hire draught.
  Ful semëly after hire mete she raught.[28]
  And sikerly[29] she was of grete disport
  And ful plesánt and amiable of port,
  And peinëd hire to contrefeten chere
  Of court,[30] and ben estatelich of manére
  And to ben holden digne[31] of reverence.
  But for to speken of hire conscience,
  She was so charitable and so pitoús,
  She woldë wepe if that she saw a mous
  Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde.
  Of smalë houndës hadde she, that she fedde
  With rested flesh and milk and wastel brede.[32]
  But sore wept she if on of hem were dede,
  Or if men smote it with a yerdë[33] smert:[34]
  And all was conscience and tendre herte.

[Footnote 23: Called.]
[Footnote 24: Neatly.]
[Footnote 25: Stratford on the Bow (river): a small village where such
French as was spoken would be provincial.]
[Footnote 26: Delight.]
[Footnote 27: Farthing, bit.]
[Footnote 28: Reached.]
[Footnote 29: Surely.]
[Footnote 30: Took pains to imitate court manners.]
[Footnote 31: Worthy.]
[Footnote 32: Fine bread.]
[Footnote 33: Stick.]
[Footnote 34: Smartly.]


[From the Knightes Tale.]

  Naught may the woful spirit in myn herte
  Declare o[35] point of all my sorwes smerte
  To you, my lady, that I lovë most.
  But I bequethe the service of my gost
  To you aboven every crëatúre,
  Sin[36] that my lif ne may no lenger dure.
  Alas the wo! alas the peinës stronge
  That I for you have suffered, and so longe!
  Alas the deth! alas min Emelie!
  Alas departing of our compagnie!
  Alas min hertës quene! alas my wif!
  Min hertës ladie, euder of my lif!
  What is this world? what axen[37] men to have?
  Now with his love, now in his coldë grave
  Alone withouten any compagnie.
  Farewel my swete, farewel min Emelie,
  And softë take me in your armës twey,[38]
  For love of God, and herkeneth[39] what I sey.

[Footnote 35: One.]
[Footnote 36: Since.]
[Footnote 37: Ask.]
[Footnote 38: Two.]
[Footnote 39: Hearken.]


[From the Knightes Tale.]

  Thus passeth yere by yere, and day by day,
  Till it felle onës in a morwe[40] of May
  That Emelie, that fayrer was to sene[41]
  Than is the lilie upon his stalkë grene,
  And fresher than the May with flourës newe,
  (For with the rose colour strof hire hewe;
  I n'ot[42] which was the finer of hem two)
  Er it was day, as she was wont to do,
  She was arisen and all redy dight,[43]
  For May wol have no slogardie a-night.
  The seson priketh every gentil herte,
  And maketh him out of his slepe to sterte,
  And sayth, "Arise, and do thin observánce."
  This maketh Emelie han remembránce
  To dou honoúr to May, and for to rise.
  Yclothëd was she fresh for to devise.[44]
  Hire yelwe here was broided in a tresse
  Behind hire back, a yerdë long I gesse.
  And in the gardin at the sonne uprist[45]
  She walketh up and doun wher as hire list.[46]
  She gathereth floures, partie white and red,
  To make a sotel[47] gerlond for hire bed,
  And as an angel hevenlich she song.

[Footnote 40: Morning.]
[Footnote 41: See.]
[Footnote 42: Know not.]
[Footnote 43: Dressed.]
[Footnote 44: Describe.]
[Footnote 45: Sunrise.]
[Footnote 46: Wherever it pleases her.]
[Footnote 47: Subtle, cunningly enwoven.]


[From the Millere's Tale.]

  Fayre was this yongë wif, and therwithal
  As any wesel hire body gent and smal[48]
  A seint[49] she werëd, barrëd al of silk,
  A barm-cloth[50] eke as white as morne milk[51]
  Upon hire lendës[52] ful of many a gore,
  White was hire smok, and brouded[53] al before
  And eke behind on hire colére[54] aboute
  Of cole-black silk within and eke withoute.
  The tapës of hire whitë volupere[55]
  Were of the samë suit of hire colére;
  Hire fillet brode of silk and set ful hye;
  And sikerly[56] she had a likerous[57] eye,
  Ful smal ypulled[58] were hire browës two,
  And they were bent and black as any slo,
  She was wel morë blisful on to see
  Than is the newë perjenetë[59] tree,
  And softer than the wolle is of a wether.
  And by hire girdle heng a purse of lether,
  Tasseled with silk and perlëd with latoun,[60]
  In all this world to seken up and doun
  Ther n'is no man so wise that coude thenche[61]
  So gay a popelot[62] or swiche[63] a wenche.
  Ful brighter was the shining of hire hewe
  Than in the tour, the noble yforged newe.
  But of hire song, it was as loud and yerne[64]
  As any swalow sitting on a berne.
  Thereto she coudë skip and make a game
  As any kid or calf folowing his dame.
  Hire mouth was swete as braket[65] or the meth,[66]
  Or horde of apples laid in hay or heth.
  Winsing[67] she was, as is a jolly colt,
  Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
  A broche she bare upon hire low colére.
  As brode as is the bosse of a bokelére.[68]
  Hire shoon were lacëd on hire leggës hie;
  She was a primerole,[69] a piggesnie,[70]
  For any lord, to liggen[71] in his bedde,
  Or yet for any good yemán[72] to wedde.

[Footnote 48: Trim and slim.]
[Footnote 49: Girdle.]
[Footnote 50: Apron.]
[Footnote 51: Morning's milk.]
[Footnote 52: Loins.]
[Footnote 53: Embroidered.]
[Footnote 54: Collar.]
[Footnote 55: Cap.]
[Footnote 56: Surely.]
[Footnote 57: Wanton.]
[Footnote 58: Trimmed fine.]
[Footnote 59: Young pear.]
[Footnote 60: Ornamented with pearl-shaped beads of a metal resembling
[Footnote 61: Think.]
[Footnote 62: Puppet.]
[Footnote 63: Such.]
[Footnote 64: Brisk.]
[Footnote 65: A sweet drink of ale, honey, and spice.]
[Footnote 66: Mead.]
[Footnote 67: Skittish.]
[Footnote 68: Buckler.]
[Footnote 69: Primrose.]
[Footnote 70: Pansy.]
[Footnote 71: Lie.]
[Footnote 72: Yeoman.]

       *       *       *       *       *



  O waly,[73] waly up the bank,
    And waly, waly down the brae,[74]
  And waly, waly yon burn[75] side,
    Where I and my love wont to gae.

  I lean'd my back unto an aik,[76]
    I thought it was a trusty tree;
  But first it bow'd and syne[77] it brak,
    Sae my true love did lightly me.

  O waly, waly but love be bonny,
    A little time while it is new;
  But when 'tis auld it waxeth cauld,
    And fades away like the morning dew.

  O wherefore should I busk[78] my head?
    Or wherefore should I kame[79] my hair?
  For my true love has me forsook,
    And says he'll never love me mair.

  Now Arthur-Seat shall be my bed,
    The sheets shall ne'er be fyl'd by me;
  Saint Anton's well[80] shall be my drink,
    Sinn my true love has forsaken me.

  Martinmas' wind, when wilt thou blaw
    And shake the green leaves off the tree?
  O gentle death, when wilt thou come?
    For of my life I'm aweary.

  'Tis not the frost that freezes fell,
    Nor blawing snow's inclemency;
  'Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry,
    But my love's heart grown cauld to me.

  When we came in by Glasgow town
    We were a comely sight to see;
  My love was clad in the black velvet,
    And I myself in cramasie.[81]

  But had I wist, before I kissed,
    That love had been sae ill to win,
  I'd lock'd my heart in a case of gold,
    And pin'd it with a silver pin.

  Oh, oh, if my young babe were born,
    And set upon the nurse's knee,
  And I myself were dead and gane,
    And the green grass growing over me!

[Footnote 73: An exclamation of sorrow, woe! alas!]
[Footnote 74: Hillside.]
[Footnote 75: Brook.]
[Footnote 76: Oak.]
[Footnote 77: Then.]
[Footnote 78: Adorn.]
[Footnote 79: Comb.]
[Footnote 80: At the foot of Arthur's-Seat, a cliff near Edinburgh.]
[Footnote 81: Crimson.]


  As I was walking all alane
  I heard twa corbies making a mane;
  The tane unto the t'other say,
  "Where sail we gang and dine to-day?"

  "In behint yon auld fail[83] dyke,
  I wot there lies a new-slain knight;
  And naebody kens that he lies there
  But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair.

  "His hound is to the hunting gane,
  His hawk to fetch the wild fowl hame,
  His lady's ta'en another mate,
  So we may mak our dinner sweet.

  "Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,[84]
  And I'll pick out his bonny blue een;
  Wi' ae[85] lock o' his gowden hair,
  We'll theck[86] our nest when it grows bare.

  "Mony a one for him makes mane,
  But nane sail ken where he is gane;
  O'er his white banes, when they are bare,
  The wind sail blow for evermair."


  Hie upon Highlands and low upon Tay,
  Bonnie George Campbell rade out on a day.
  Saddled and bridled and gallant rade he;
  Hame cam' his horse, but never cam' he.

  Out came his auld mother, greeting[87] fu' sair;
  And out cam' his bonnie bride, riving her hair.
  Saddled and bridled and booted rade he;
  Toom[88] hame cam' the saddle, but never cam' he.

  "My meadow lies green and my corn is unshorn;
  My barn is to bigg[89] and my babie's unborn."
  Saddled and bridled and booted rade he;
  Toom cam' the saddle, but never cam' he.

[Footnote 82: The two ravens.]
[Footnote 83: Turf.]
[Footnote 84: Neck-bone.]
[Footnote 85: One.]
[Footnote 86: Thach.]
[Footnote 87: Weeping.]
[Footnote 88: Empty.]
[Footnote 89: Build.]



  Full little knowest thou that hast not tride,
  What hell it is in suing long to bide;
  To lose good days that might be better spent;
  To wast long nights in pensive discontent:
  To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow;
  To feed on hope, to pine with feare and sorrow;
  To have thy prince's grace, yet want her peere's[90]:
  To have thy asking, yet waite manie yeers,
  To fret thy soule with crosses and with cares;
  To eate thy heart through comfortlesse dispaires:
  To fawne, to crowche, to waite, to ride, to ronne,
  To spend, to give, to want, to be undone!


[From the _Faerie Queene_. Book II. Canto XII.]

  Eftsoones they heard a most melodious sound,
  Of all that mote[2] delight a daintie eare,
  Such as attonce[91] might not on living ground,
  Save in this paradise, be heard elsewhere:
  Right hard it was for wight which did it heare,
  To read what manner of music that mote[92] bee;
  For all that pleasing is to living eare
  Was there consorted in one harmonee;
  Birdes, voices, instruments, windes, waters, all agree.

  The joyous birdes, shrouded in chearefull shade,
  Their notes unto the voyce attempred sweet;
  Th' angelicall soft trembling voyces made
  To th' instruments divine respondence meet;
  The silver sounding instruments did meet
  With the base[93] murmure of the waters fall;
  The waters fall with difference discreet,
  Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call;
  The gentle warbling wind low answered to all....

  The whiles some one did chaunt this lovely lay;
  Ah! see, whoso fayre thing doest faine[94] to see,
  In springing flowre the image of thy day!
  Ah! see the virgin rose, how sweetly shee
  Doth first peepe foorth with bashfull modestee,
  That fairer seemes the lesse ye see her may!
  Lo! see, soone after how more bold and free
  Her barëd bosome she doth broad display;
  Lo! see, soone after how she fades and falls away.

  So passeth, in the passing of a day,
  Of mortall life the leafe, the bud, the flowre;
  Ne more doth florish after first decay,
  That earst[95] was sought to deck both bed and bowre
  Of many a lady, and many a paramowre!
  Gather therefore the rose whilst yet is prime,[96]
  For soone comes age that will her pride deflowre:
  Gather the rose of love whilst yet is time,
  Whilst loving thou mayst lovëd be with equall crime.

[Footnote 90: A reference to Lord Burleigh's hostility to the poet]
[Footnote 91: Might.]
[Footnote 92: At once.]
[Footnote 93: Bass.]


[From the _Faerie Queene_. Book I. Canto I.]

  He, making speedy way through spersëd ayre,
  And through the world of waters wide and deepe,
  To Morpheus' house doth hastily repaire:
  Amid the bowels of the earth full steepe
  And low, where dawning day doth never peepe,
  His dwelling is; there Tethys his wet bed
  Doth ever wash, and Cynthia still doth steepe
  In silver deaw his ever-drouping hed,
  Whiles sad Night over him her mantle black doth spred....

  And more to lulle him in his slumber soft,
  A trickling streame from high rock tumbling downe,
  And ever-drizling raine upon the loft,
  Mixt with a murmuring winde, much like the sowne
  Of swarming bees, did cast him in a swowne.
  No other noyse, nor people's troublous cryes,
  As still are wont t'annoy the wallëd towne,
  Might there be heard; but careless quiet lyes
  Wrapt in eternall silence farre from enimyes.

[Footnote 94: Rejoice.]
[Footnote 95: First, formerly.]
[Footnote 96: Spring.]



  Then hate me when thou wilt: if ever, now:
    Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
  Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
    And do not drop in for an after loss.
  Ah! do not when my heart hath scaped this sorrow,
    Come in the rearward of a conquered woe;
  Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
    To linger out a purposed overthrow.
  If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
    When other petty griefs have done their spite;
  But in the onset come: So shall I taste
    At first the very worst of fortune's might;
  And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
    Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so.


[From _As You Like It_.]

  Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
  Thou art not so unkind
      As man's ingratitude;
  Thy tooth is not so keen,
  Because thou art not seen
      Although thy breath be rude.
  Heigh ho! Sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
  Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly,
  Then heigh ho! the holly!
  This life is most jolly.

  Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
  Thou dost not bite so nigh
      As benefits forgot;
  Though thou the waters warp,
  Thy sting is not so sharp
      As friend remembered not.
  Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! etc.


[From _Henry IV_.--Part II.]

  How many thousand of my poorest subjects
  Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
  Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
  That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
  And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
  Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
  Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
  And hushed with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
  Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
  Under the canopy of costly state,
  And lull'd with sounds of sweetest melody?
  O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile,
  In loathsome beds; and leav'st the kingly couch,
  A watch-case, or a common 'larum bell?
  Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
  Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
  In cradle of the rude imperious surge;
  And in the visitation of the winds,
  Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
  Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
  With deaf'ning clamors in the slippery clouds,
  That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?
  Can'st thou, O partial sleep! give thy repose
  To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
  And, in the calmest and most stillest night,
  With all appliances and means to boot,
  Deny it to a king? Then, happy low-lie-down!
  Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.


[From _Henry IV_.--Part I.]

_Falstaff_. Bardolph, am I not fallen away vilely since this last
action? do I not bate? do I not dwindle?

Why, my skin hangs about me like an old lady's loose gown; I am wither'd
like an old apple-John.

Well, I'll repent, and that suddenly, while I am in some liking; I shall
be out of heart shortly, and then I shall have no strength to repent.
An I have not forgotten what the inside of a church is made of, I am a
peppercorn, a brewer's horse: the inside of a church! Company,
villainous company hath been the spoil of me:

_Bardolph_. Sir John, you are so fretful, you cannot live long.

_Fal_. Why, there it is. Come, sing me a bawdy song; make me merry. I
was as virtuously given, as a gentleman need to be; virtuous enough:
swore little; diced, not above seven times a week; paid money that I
borrowed, three or four times; lived well, and in good compass: and now
I live out of all order, out of all compass.

_Bard_. Why you are so fat, Sir John, that you must needs be out of all
compass; out of all reasonable compass, Sir John.

_Fal_. Do thou amend thy face, and I'll amend my life: Thou art our
admiral, thou bearest the lantern in the poop--but 'tis in the nose of
thee; thou art the knight of the burning lamp.

_Bard_. Why, Sir John, my face does you no harm.

_Fal_ No, I'll be sworn; I make as good use of it as many a man doth of
a death's head or a _memento mori_: I never see thy face but I think
upon hell-fire, and Dives that lived in purple; for there he is in his
robes, burning, burning. If thou wert anyway given to virtue, I would
swear by thy face; my oath should be: By this fire: but thou art
altogether given over; and wert indeed, but for the light of thy face,
the son of utter darkness. When thou runn'st up Gad's Hill in the night
to catch my horse, if I did not think thou hadst been an _ignis fatuus_,
or a ball of wildfire, there's no purchase in money. O, thou art a
perpetual triumph, an everlasting bonfire-light! Thou hast saved me a
thousand marks in links and torches, walking with thee in the night
betwixt tavern and tavern; but the sack that thou hast drunk me, would
have bought me lights as good cheap, at the dearest chandler's in
Europe. I have maintained that Salamander of yours with fire, any time
this two and thirty years; Heaven reward me for it!


[From _As You Like It_.]

  _Jacques_. All the world's a stage,
  And all the men and women merely players:
  They have their exits and their entrances;
  And one man in his time plays many parts,
  His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
  Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
  Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel,
  And shining morning face, creeping like snail
  Unwillingly to school: and then, the lover,
  Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
  Made to his mistress' eyebrow: Then a soldier,
  Full of strange oaths and bearded like a pard,
  Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
  Seeking the bubble reputation
  Even in the cannon's mouth: And then the justice,
  In fair round belly, with good capon lined,
  With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
  Full of wise saws and modern instances;
  And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
  Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
  With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
  His youthful hose, well-saved, a world too wide
  For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
  Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
  And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
  That ends this strange eventful history,
  Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
  Sans[97] teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.


  To be, or not to be, that is the question:
  Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
  The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune;
  Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
  And, by opposing, end them? To die--to sleep--
  No more; and, by a sleep, to say we end
  The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
  That flesh is heir to--'tis a consummation
  Devoutly to be wished: to die, to sleep;
  To sleep! perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub;
  For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
  When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
  Must give us pause: there's the respect,
  That makes calamity of so long life:
  For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
  The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
  The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
  The insolence of office and the spurns
  That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
  When he himself might his quietus take
  With a bare bodkin?[98] Who would fardels[99] bear,
  To grunt and sweat under a weary life;
  But that the dread of something after death,
  The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
  No traveller returns, puzzles the will;
  And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
  Than fly to others that we know not of?
  Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
  And thus the native hue of resolution
  Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
  And enterprises of great pith and moment,
  With this regard, their currents turn away
  And lose the name of action.

[Footnote 97: Without.]


  To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
  Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
  To the last syllable of recorded time;
  And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
  The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
  Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
  That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
  And then is heard no more: it is a tale
  Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
  Signifying nothing.

  Our revels now are ended: these our actors,
  As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
  Are melted into air, into thin air:
  And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
  The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
  The solemn temples, the great globe itself--
  Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
  And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
  Leave not a rack[100] behind. We are such stuff
  As dreams are made on, and our little life
  Is rounded[101] with a sleep.

  Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
  To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
  This sensible warm motion to become
  A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
  To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
  In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
  To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
  And blown with restless violence round about
  The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
  Of those that lawless and uncertain thoughts
  Imagine howling! 'tis too horrible!

  O who can hold a fire in his hand,
  By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
  Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite
  By bare imagination of a feast?
  Or wallow naked in December snow,
  By thinking on fantastic summer's heat?
  O no! the apprehension of the good
  Gives but the greater feeling to the worse.

  She never told her love,
  But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
  Feed on her damask cheek; she pined in thought,
  And with a green and yellow melancholy,
  She sat, like patience on a monument,
  Smiling at grief.

  Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
  Could ever hear by tale or history,
  The course of true love never did run smooth:
  But either it was different in blood;
  Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
  War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it;
  Making it momentary as a sound,
  Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
  Brief as the lightning in the collied[102] night,
  That, in a spleen,[103] unfolds both heaven and earth,
  And ere a man hath power to say, Behold!
  The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
  So quick bright things come to confusion.

[Footnote 98: Small sword.]
[Footnote 99: Burdens.]
[Footnote 100: Cloud.]
[Footnote 101: Encompassed.]
[Footnote 102: Black.]
[Footnote 103: Caprice, whim.]



[From the Essays.]

Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural
fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. Certainly,
the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin, and passage to another
world, is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto
nature, is weak. Yet in religious meditations there is sometimes mixture
of vanity and of superstition. You shall read in some of the friars'
books of mortification, that a man should think with himself what the
pain is, if he have but his finger's end pressed or tortured; and
thereby imagine what the pains of death are, when the whole body is
corrupted and dissolved; when many times death passeth with less pain
than the torture of a limb; for the most vital parts are not the
quickest of sense. And by him that spake only as a philosopher and
natural man, it was well said, _Pompa mortis magis terret quam mors
ipsa._[104] Groans and convulsions, and a discolored face, and friends
weeping, and blacks and obsequies, and the like, show death terrible. It
is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man so
weak but it mates and masters the fear of death, and therefore death is
no such terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him
that can win the combat of him. Revenge triumphs over death; love
slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear
preoccupateth[105] it. It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a
little infant perhaps the one is as painful as the other. He that dies
in an earnest pursuit is like one that is wounded in hot blood: who, for
the time, scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed and bent
upon somewhat that is good doth avert the dolours of death; but, above
all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is _Nunc dimittis_[106] when a
man hath obtained worthy ends and expectations. Death hath this also,
that it openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth envy:
_Extinctus amabitur idem_.[107]

[Footnote 104: The shows of death terrify more than death itself.]
[Footnote 105: Anticipates.]
[Footnote 106: Now thou dismissest us.]
[Footnote 107: The same man will be loved when dead.]


Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief
use for delight is in privateness and retiring: for ornament, is in
discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of
business; for expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars,
one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshaling of
affairs come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time
in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation;
to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humor of a scholar: they
perfect nature, and are perfected by experience: for natural abilities
are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies
themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be
bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire
them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that
is a wisdom without them and above them, won by observation. Read not to
contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find
talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be
tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested;
that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but
not curiously;[108] and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence
and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made
of them by others; but that would be only in the less important
arguments,[109] and the meaner sorts of books; else distilled books are,
like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man,
conference a ready man, and writing an exact man; and therefore, if a
man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little,
he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have
much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not. Histories make men wise;
poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral,
grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend: _Abeunt studia in
mores_;[110] nay, there is no stand or impediment in the wit, but may be
wrought out by fit studies: like as diseases of the body may have
appropriate exercises--bowling is good for the stone and reins, shooting
for the lungs and breast, gentle walking for the stomach, riding for the
head and the like; so, if a man's wit be wandering, let him study the
mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so
little, he must begin again; if his wit be not apt to distinguish or
find differences, let him study the school-men, for they are _Cymini
sectores_;[111] if he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call up
one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers'
cases: so every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.

[Footnote 108: Attentively.]
[Footnote 109: Subjects.]
[Footnote 110: Studies pass into the character.]
[Footnote 111: Hair-splitters.]


It was a high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics), that
"the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the
good things that belong to adversity are to be admired"--_Bona rerum
secundarum optabilia, adversarum mirabilia_. Certainly, if miracles be
the command over Nature, they appear most in adversity. It is yet a
higher speech of his than the other (much too high for a heathen), "It
is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man and the security
of a god "--_Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem dei_.
This would have done better in poesy, where transcendencies are more
allowed; and the poets indeed have been busy with it; for it is in
effect the thing which is figured in that strange fiction of the ancient
poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery;[112] nay, and to have
some approach to the state of a Christian; "that Hercules, when he went
to unbind _Prometheus_ (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the
length of the great ocean in an earthen pot or pitcher," lively
describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the
flesh through the waves of the world. But, to speak in a _mean_[113] the
virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is
fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is
the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New,
which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of
God's favor. Yet, even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's
harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil
of the Holy Ghost hath labored more in describing the afflictions of Job
than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and
distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in
needle-works and embroideries it is more pleasing to have a lively work
upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work
upon a lightsome ground: judge, therefore, of the pleasure of the heart
by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odors,
most fragrant when they are incensed[114] or crushed: for prosperity
doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.

[Footnote 112: An allegorical meaning.]
[Footnote 113: Moderately, that is, without poetic figures.]
[Footnote 114: Burnt.]



  Drink to me only with thine eyes,
    And I will pledge with mine;
  Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
    And I'll not look for wine.
  The thirst that from the soul doth rise
    Doth ask a drink divine;
  But might I of Jove's nectar sup
    I would not change for thine.
  I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
    Not so much honoring thee,
  As giving it a hope, that there
    It could not withered be.
  But thou thereon did'st only breathe
    And sent'st it back to me:
  Since when it grows and smells, I swear,
    Not of itself, but thee.


    It is not growing like a tree
    In bulk, doth make men better be;
  Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
  To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
      A lily of a day
      Is fairer far in May,
  Although it fall and die that night;
  It was the plant and flower of light.
  In small proportions we just beauty see;
  And in short measures life may perfect be.


  Underneath this sable hearse
  Lies the subject of all verse,
  Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
  Death, ere thou hast slain another,
  Learn'd and fair and good as she,
  Time shall throw a dart at thee.


[From _The Poetaster_.]

  O this would make a learned and liberal soul
  To rive his stainéd quill up to the back,
  And damn his long-watched labours to the fire--
  Things that were born when none, but the still night
  And his dumb candle, saw his pinching throes;
  Were not his own free merit a more crown,
  Unto his travails than their reeling claps.[115]
  This 'tis that strikes me silent, seals my lips,
  And apts me rather to sleep out my time,
  Than I would waste it in contemnéd strifes
  With these vile Ibidés,[116] these unclean birds
  That make their mouths their clysters, and still purge
  From their hot entrails. But I leave the monsters
  To their own fate. And, since the Comic Muse
  Hath proved so ominous to me, I will try
  If tragedy have a more kind aspect:
  Her favors in my next I will pursue,
  Where, if I prove the pleasure but of one,
  So he judicious be, he shall be alone
  A theater unto me. Once I'll 'say[117]
  To strike the ear of time in those fresh strains,
    As shall, beside the cunning of their ground,
  Give cause to some of wonder, some despite,
    And more despair to imitate their sound.
  I, that spend half my nights and all my days
    Here in a cell, to get a dark pale face,
  To come forth worth the ivy or the bays,
    And in this age can hope no other grace--
  Leave me! There's something come into my thought
  That must and shall be sung high and aloof,
  Safe from the wolf's black jaw and the dull ass's hoof.[118]

[Footnote 115: Applauses.]
[Footnote 116: Plural of ibis.]
[Footnote 117: That is, I will try once for all.]
[Footnote 118: That is, envy and stupidity.]



[From _The Maid's Tragedy_.]

  Lay a garland on my hearse
    Of the dismal yew;
  Maidens willow branches bear;
    Say I died true:
  My love was false, but I was firm
    From my hour of birth:
  Upon my buried body lie
    Lightly, gentle earth.


 [From _Rollo, Duke of Normandy_.]

  Take, oh take those lips away,
    That so sweetly were forsworn,
  And those eyes, the break of day,
    Lights that do mislead the morn;
  But my kisses bring again,
  Seals of love, though sealed in vain.

  Hide, oh hide those hills of snow,
    Which thy frozen bosom bears,
  On whose tops the pinks that grow
    Are of those that April wears;
  But first set my poor heart free,
  Bound in those icy chains by thee.


[From _The Nice Valor_.]

  Hence, all your vain delights,
  As short as are the nights
      Wherein you spend your folly!
  There's naught in this life sweet,
  If man were wise to see't,
      But only melancholy:
      O sweetest melancholy!

  Welcome, folded arms and fixed eyes,
  A sigh that piercing mortifies,
  A look that's fastened on the ground,
  A tongue chained up without a sound!
  Fountain-heads and pathless groves,
  Places which pale passion loves,
  Moonlight walks when all the fowls
  Are warmly housed, save bats and owls,
  A midnight bell, a parting groan,
  These are the sounds we feed upon;
  Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley:
  Nothing's so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy.

[Footnote 119: The first stanza of this song was probably Shakspere's.]
[Footnote 120: This should be compared with Milton's _Il Penserosa_.]


[From _The False One._]

  O thou conqueror,
  Thou glory of the world once, now the pity:
  Thou awe of nations, wherefore didst thou fall thus?
  What poor fate followed thee and plucked thee on
  To trust thy sacred life to an Egyptian?
  The life and light of Rome to a blind stranger
  That honorable war ne'er taught a nobleness,
  Nor worthy circumstance showed what a man was?
  That never heard thy name sung but in banquets
  And loose lascivious pleasures? To a boy
  That had no faith to comprehend thy greatness,
  No study of thy life to know thy goodness?...
  Egyptians, dare you think your high pyrámidës,
  Built to out-dure the sun, as you suppose,
  Where your unworthy kings lie raked in ashes,
  Are monuments fit for him? No, brood of Nilus,
  Nothing can cover his high fame but heaven;
  No pyramid set off his memories,
  But the eternal substance of his greatness,
  To which I leave him.



[From _Lycidas._]

  Alas! what boots it with incessant care
  To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade,
  And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
  Were it not better done, as others use,
  To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
  Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair?
  Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
  (That last infirmity of noble mind)
  To scorn delights and live laborious days;
  But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
  And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
  Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears,[121]
  And slits the thin-spun life. "But not the praise,"
  Phoebus replied, and touched my trembling ears:
  "Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
  Nor in the glistering foil
  Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies,
  But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes
  And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
  As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
  Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed."


[From _Il Penseroso._]

  Sweet bird that shun'st the noise of folly,
  Most musical, most melancholy!
  Thee, chauntress, oft the woods among
  I woo, to hear thy even-song;
  And, missing thee, I walk unseen
  On the dry smooth-shaven green,
  To behold the wandering moon,
  Riding near her highest noon,
  Like one that had been led astray
  Through the heaven's wide pathless way,
  And oft, as if her head she bowed,
  Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
  Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
  I hear the far-off curfew sound,
  Over some wide-watered shore,
  Swinging slow with sullen roar;
  Or, if the air will not permit,
  Some still removèd place will fit,
  Where glowing embers through the room
  Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,
  Far from all resort of mirth,
  Save the cricket on the hearth,
  Or the bellman's drowsy charm[122]
  To bless the doors from nightly harm....
    But let my due feet never fail
  To walk the studious cloister's pale,
  And love the high embowèd roof.
  With antique pillars massy-proof,
  And storied windows richly dight,
  Casting a dim religious light.
  There let the pealing organ blow,
  To the full-voiced quire below,
  In service high and anthem clear,
  As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
  Dissolve me into ecstasies,
  And bring all Heaven before mine eyes.
    And may at last my weary age
  Find out the peaceful hermitage,
  The hairy gown and mossy cell,
  Where I may sit and rightly spell
  Of every star that heaven doth shew,
  And every herb that sips the dew,
  Till old experience do attain
  To something like prophetic strain.
    These pleasures, Melancholy, give;
  And I with thee will choose to live.

[Footnote 121: Atropos, the fate who cuts the thread of life.]
[Footnote 122: The watchman's call.]


[From _Comus_.]

Scene: A wild wood; night.

_Lady_: My brothers, when they saw me wearied out
  With this long way, resolving here to lodge
  Under the spreading favor of these pines,
  Stepped, as they said, to the next thicket-side
  To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit
  As the kind hospitable woods provide.
  They left me then when the grey-hooded Even,
  Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed,
  Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus' wain.
  But where they are, and why they came not back,
  Is now the labor of my thoughts. 'Tis likeliest
  They had engaged their wandering steps too far;
  And envious darkness, ere they could return,
  Had stolen them from me. Else, O thievish Night,
  Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end,
  In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars
  That Nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps
  With everlasting oil, to give due light
  To the misled and lonely traveller?
  This is the place, as well as I may guess,
  Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth
  Was rife, and perfect in my listening ear;
  Yet nought but single darkness do I find.
  What might this be? A thousand fantasies
  Begin to throng into my memory,
  Of calling shapes and beckoning shadows dire,
  And airy tongues that syllable men's names
  On sands and shores and desert wildernesses.
  These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
  The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
  By a strong siding champion, Conscience.
  O, welcome, pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
  Thou hovering angel girt with golden wings,
  And thou unblemished form of Chastity!
  I see ye visibly, and now believe
  That He, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
  Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
  Would send a glistening guardian, if need were,
  To keep my life and honor unassailed....
  Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
  Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
  I did not err: there does a sable cloud
  Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
  And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.


[From _Paradise Lost_.]

                         Thee I revisit safe,
  And feel thy sovereign vital lamp; but thou
  Revisitest not these eyes, that roll in vain
  To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
  So thick a drop serene[123] hath quenched their orbs,
  Or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more
  Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
  Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
  Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
  Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
  That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,
  Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
  Those other two equalled with me in fate,
  I equalled with them in renown,
  Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,[124]
  And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old:
  Then feed on thoughts that voluntary move
  Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
  Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
  Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
  Seasons return, but not to me returns
  Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
  Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
  Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
  But cloud instead, and ever-during dark,
  Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
  Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
  Presented with a universal blank
  Of nature's works, to me expunged and rased,
  And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
  So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
  Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
  Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
  Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
  Of things invisible to mortal sight.

[Footnote 123: The _gutta serena_, or cataract.]
[Footnote 124: Homer.]


[From _Paradise Lost_.]

  He scarce had ceased when the superior Fiend
  Was moving toward the shore: his ponderous shield,
  Etherial temper, massy, large and round,
  Behind him cast; the broad circumference
  Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
  Through optic glass the Tuscan artist[125] views
  At evening from the top of Fesole,[126]
  Or in Valdamo, to descry new lands,
  Rivers or mountains on her spotty globe.
  His spear (to equal which the tallest pine
  Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
  Of some great ammiral, were but a wand)
  He walked with, to support uneasy steps
  Over the burning marle, not like those steps
  On heaven's azure; and the torrid clime
  Smote on him sore beside, vaulted with fire.
  Nathless he so endured, till on the beach
  Of that inflamèd sea he stood, and called
  His legions, angel-forms, who lay entranced
  Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks
  In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades
  High over-arched embower, or scattered sedge
  Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed
  Hath vexed the Red Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
  Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,
  While with perfidious hatred they pursued
  The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
  From the safe shore their floating carcasses
  And broken chariot-wheels: so thick bestrewn,
  Abject and lost lay these, covering the flood,
  Under amazement of their hideous change.

[Footnote 125: Galileo.]
[Footnote 126: A hill near Florence.]


  Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
    Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
    Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
    When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,
  Forget not: in thy book record their groans
    Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
    Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that rolled
    Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
  The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
    To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
    O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
  The triple Tyrant,[128] that from these may grow
    A hundred-fold, who, having learnt thy way,
     Early may fly the Babylonian woe.[129]

[Footnote 127: This sonnet refers to the persecution instituted in 1655
by the Duke of Savoy against the Vaudois Protestants.]
[Footnote 128: The Pope, who wore the triple crown or tiara.]
[Footnote 129: The Papacy, with which the Protestant reformers identified
Babylon the Great, the "Scarlet Woman" of Revelation.]



[From _Urn Burial_]

There is no antidote against the opium of time, which temporally
considereth all things. Our fathers find their graves in our short
memories, and sadly tell us how we may be buried in our survivors.
Grave-stones tell truth scarce forty years. Generations pass while some
trees stand, and old families last not three oaks....The iniquity[130]
of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of
men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. Who can but pity the
founder of the pyramids? Herostratus lives, that burnt the temple of
Diana, he is almost lost that built it. Time hath spared the epitaph of
Adrian's horse, confounded that of himself. In vain we compute our
felicities by the advantage of our good names, since bad have equal
durations and Thersites[131] is like to live as long as Agamemnon. Who
knows whether the best of men be known, or whether there be not more
remarkable persons forgot than any that stand remembered in the known
account of time? Without the favor of the everlasting register, the
first man had been as unknown as the last, and Methusaleh's long life
had been his only chronicle.

Oblivion is not to be hired.[132] The greater part must be content to be
as though they had not been, to be found in the register of God, not in
the record of man. Twenty-seven names make up the first story, and the
reported names ever since contain not one living century. The number of
the dead long exceedeth all that shall live. The night of time far
surpasseth the day, and who knows when was the equinox? Every hour adds
unto that current arithmetic which scarce stands one moment. And since
death must be the Lucina[133] of life, and even pagans could doubt
whether thus to live were to die; since our longest sun sets at right
descensions and makes but winter arches, and, therefore, it cannot be
long before we lie down in darkness and have our light in ashes. Since
the brother[134] of death daily haunts us with dying mementoes, and time
that grows old in itself bids us hope no long duration; diuturnity is a
dream and folly of expectation....

There is nothing strictly immortal but immortality. Whatever hath no
beginning may be confident of no end. All others have a dependent being
and within the reach of destruction, which is the peculiar of that
necessary essence that cannot destroy itself, and the highest strain of
omnipotency, to be so powerfully constituted as not to suffer even from
the power of itself. But the sufficiency of Christian immortality
frustrates all earthly glory, and the quality of either state after
death makes a folly of posthumous memory. God, who can only[135] destroy
our souls, and hath assured our resurrection, either of our bodies or
names hath directly promised no duration. Wherein there is so much of
chance that the boldest expectants have found unhappy frustrations, and
to hold long subsistence seems but a scape[136] in oblivion. But man is
a noble animal, splendid in ashes and pompous in the grave, solemnizing
nativities and deaths with equal lustre, nor omitting ceremonies of
bravery[137] in the infamy of his nature.

[Footnote 130: Injustice.]
[Footnote 131: See Shakspere's _Troilus and Cressida_.]
[Footnote 132: That is, bribed, bought off.]
[Footnote 133: The goddess of childbirth. We must die to be born again.]
[Footnote 134: Sleep.]
[Footnote 135: That is, the only one who can.]
[Footnote 136: Freak.]
[Footnote 137: Ostentation.]

       *       *       *       *       *



[From _Absalom and Achitophel_.]

  In the first rank of these did Zimri stand,
  A man so various that he seemed to be
  Not one, but all mankind's epitome:
  Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
  Was every thing by turns, and nothing long;
  But in the course of one revolving moon
  Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon;
  Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
  Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking,
  Blest madman, who could every hour employ
  With something new to wish or to enjoy!
  Railing and praising were his usual themes,
  And both, to show his judgment, in extremes:
  So over-violent or over-civil
  That every man with him was God or Devil.
  In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;
  Nothing went unrewarded but desert.
  Beggared by fools whom still he found[139] too late,
  He had his jest, and they had his estate.
  He laughed himself from court; then sought relief
  By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief:
  For spite of him, the weight of business fell
  To Absalom and wise Achitophel.[140]
  Thus, wicked but in will, of means bereft,
  He left not faction, but of that was left.

[Footnote 138: This is a satirical
sketch of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.]
[Footnote 139: Found out, detected.]
[Footnote 140: The Duke of Monmouth and the Earl of Shaftesbury.]


[From _Aurengzebe_.]

  When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat;
  Yet, fooled with hope, men favor the deceit,
  Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay;
  To-morrow's falser than the former day.
  Lies worse, and while it says we shall be blest
  With some new joys, cuts off what we possessed.
  Strange cozenage! none would live past years again,
  Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain,
  And from the dregs of life think to receive
  What the first sprightly running could not give.
  I'm tired of waiting for this chymic[141] gold
  Which fools us young and beggars us when old.

[Footnote 141: The gold which the
alchemists tried to make from base metals.]

       *       *       *       *       *



[From _Gulliver's Travels_.]

He is taller by almost the breadth of my nail than any of his court;
which alone is enough to strike an awe into the beholders. His features
are strong and masculine, with an Austrian lip and arched nose, his
complexion olive, his countenance erect, his body and limbs well
proportioned, all his motions graceful, and his deportment majestic. He
was then past his prime, being twenty-eight years and three quarters
old, of which he had reigned about seven in great felicity, and
generally victorious. For the better convenience of beholding him, I lay
on my side, so that my face was parallel to his, and he stood but three
yards off; however, I have had him since many times in my hand, and
therefore cannot be deceived in the description. His dress was very
plain and simple, and the fashion of it between the Asiatic and the
European; but he had on his head a light helmet of gold, adorned with
jewels and a plume on the crest. He held his sword drawn in his hand to
defend himself, if I should happen to break loose; it was almost three
inches long: the hilt and scabbard were gold enriched with diamonds. His
voice was shrill, but very clear and articulate, and I could distinctly
hear it, when I stood up.


[From _Gulliver's Travels_.]

One day in much good company, I was asked by a person of quality whether
I had seen any of their _Struldbrugs_, or immortals? I said I had not,
and desired he would explain to me what he meant by such an appellation,
applied to a mortal creature. He told me that sometimes, though very
rarely, a child happened to be born in a family with a red circular spot
in the forehead, directly over the left eyebrow, which was an infallible
mark that it should never die....He said these births were so rare that
he did not believe there could be above eleven hundred _Struldbrugs_ of
both sexes in the whole kingdom; of which he computed about fifty in the
metropolis, and among the rest, a young girl born about three years ago;
that these productions were not peculiar to any family, but a mere
effect of chance; and the children of the _Struldbrugs_ themselves were
equally mortal with the rest of the people....After this preface, he
gave me a particular account of the _Struldbrugs_ among them. He said
they commonly acted like mortals till about thirty years old; after
which, by degrees, they grew melancholy and dejected, increasing in both
till they came to fourscore. This he learned from their own confession;
for otherwise, there not being above two or three of that species born
in an age, they were too few to form a general observation by. When they
came to fourscore years, which is reckoned the extremity of living in
this country, they had not only all the follies and infirmities of other
old men, but many more, which arose from the dreadful prospect of never
dying. They were not only opinionative, peevish, covetous, morose, vain,
talkative, but incapable of friendship and dead to all natural
affection, which never descended below their grandchildren. Envy and
impotent desires are their prevailing passions. But those objects
against which their envy seems principally directed are the vices of the
younger sort and the deaths of the old. By reflecting on the former,
they find themselves cut off from all possibility of pleasure; and
whenever they see a funeral they lament and repine that others are gone
to a harbor of rest, to which they themselves never can hope to arrive.
They have no remembrance of any thing but what they learned and
observed in their youth and middle age, and even that is very imperfect,
And for the truth or particulars of any fact, it is safer to depend on
common tradition than upon their best recollections. The least miserable
among them appear to be those who turn to dotage and entirely lose their
memories; these meet with more pity and assistance, because they want
many bad qualities which abound in others....At ninety, they lose their
teeth and hair; they have at that age no distinction of taste, but eat
and drink whatever they can get, without relish or appetite. The
diseases they were subject to still continue, without increasing or
diminishing. In talking, they forget the common appellation of things,
and the names of persons, even of those who are their nearest friends
and relatives. For the same reason they never can amuse themselves with
reading, because their memory will not serve to carry them from the
beginning of a sentence to the end; and by this defect they are deprived
of the only entertainment whereof they might otherwise be capable....
They are despised and hated by all sorts of people; when one of them is
born, it is reckoned ominous, and their birth is recorded very
particularly....They were the most mortifying sight I ever beheld; and
the women were homelier than the men Beside the usual deformities in
extreme old age, they acquired an additional ghastliness, in proportion
to their number of years, which is not to be described; and among half a
dozen I soon distinguished which was the eldest, although there was not
above a century or two between them.

       *       *       *       *       *



[From the _Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot_.]

  Peace to all such! but were there one whose fires
  True genius kindles and fair fame inspires;
  Blest with each talent and each art to please,
  And born to write, converse, and live with ease:
  Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
  Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne;
  View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
  And hate, for arts that caused himself to rise;
  Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
  And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
  Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
  Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike;
  Alike reserved to blame or to commend,
  A timorous foe and a suspicious friend;
  Dreading even fools, by flatterers besieged;
  And so obliging that he ne'er obliged;
  Like _Cato_,[142] give his little Senate laws,
  And sit attentive to his own applause;
  While wits and templars[143] every sentence raise,
  And wonder with a foolish face of praise--
  Who but must laugh if such a man there be?
  Who would not weep if Atticus were he?


[From the _Epistle of the Characters of Women_.]

  See how the world its veterans rewards!
  A youth of frolic, an old age of cards;
  Fair to no purpose, artful to no end,
  Young without lovers, old without a friend;
  A fop their passion, but their prize a sot;
  Alive, ridiculous, and dead, forgot.
  Ah! Friend,[144] to dazzle let the vain design;
  To raise the thought and touch the heart be thine!
  That charm shall grow, while what fatigues the Ring[145]
  Flaunts and goes down, an unregarded thing.
  So when the sun's broad beam has tired the sight,
  All mild ascends the moon's more sober light,
  Serene in virgin majesty she shines,
  And unobserved, the glaring orb declines.
  Oh! blest with temper, whose unclouded ray
  Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day;
  She who can love a sister's charms, or hear
  Sighs for a daughter with unwounded ear;
  She who ne'er answers till a husband cools,
  Or, if she rules him, never shows she rules;
  Charms by accepting, by submitting sways,
  Yet has her humour most when she obeys;
  Let fops or fortune fly which way they will,
  Disdains all loss of tickets or Codille;[146]
  Spleen, vapours, or small-pox, above them all,
  And mistress of herself though china fall....
  Be this a woman's fame; with this unblest,
  Toasts live a scorn, and queens may die a jest.
  This Phoebus promised (I forget the year)
  When those blue eyes first opened on the sphere;
  Ascendant Phoebus watched that hour with care,
  Averted half your parents' simple prayer;
  And gave you beauty, but denied the pelf
  That buys your sex a tyrant o'er itself.
  The generous God who wit and gold refines,
  And ripens spirits as he ripens mines,
  Kept dross for duchesses, the world shall know it,
  To you gave sense, good-humour, and a poet.

[Footnote 142: A reference to Addison's tragedy of _Cato_.]
[Footnote 143: Young lawyers resident in the
temple. See Spenser's _Prothalamion_.]
[Footnote 144: Martha Blount, a dear friend of the poet's.]
[Footnote 145: The fashionable promenade in Hyde Park.]
[Footnote 146: The "pool" in the game of ombre.]

       *       *       *       *       *



[From the _Spectator_.]

There is nothing that of late years has afforded matter of greater
amusement to the town than Signor Nicolini's combat with a lion in the
Haymarket, which has been very often exhibited to the general
satisfaction of most of the nobility and gentry in the kingdom of Great
Britain....But before I communicate my discoveries I must acquaint the
reader that upon my walking behind the scenes last winter, as I was
thinking on something else, I accidentally jostled against a monstrous
animal that extremely startled me, and, upon my nearer survey of it,
appeared to be a lion rampant. The lion, seeing me very much surprised,
told me in a gentle voice that I might come by him if I pleased; "for,"
says he, "I do not intend to hurt any body." I thanked him very kindly
and passed by him, and in a little time after saw him leap upon the
stage and act his part with very great applause. It has been observed by
several that the lion has changed his manner of acting twice or thrice
since his first appearance, which will not seem strange when I acquaint
the reader that the lion has been changed upon the audience three
several times.

The first lion was a candle-snuffer, who, being a fellow of a testy,
choleric temper, overdid his part, and would not suffer himself to be
killed so easily as he ought to have done; besides, it was observed of
him that he grew more surly every time he came out of the lion; and
having dropt some words in ordinary conversation, as if he had not
fought his best, and that he suffered himself to be thrown upon his back
in the scuffle, and that he would wrestle with Mr. Nicolini for what he
pleased, out of his lion's skin, it was thought proper to discard him;
and it is verily believed to this day that had he been brought upon the
stage another time he would certainly have done mischief. Besides, it
was objected against the first lion that he reared himself so high upon
his hinder paws, and walked in so erect a position, that he looked more
like an old man than a lion.

The second lion was a tailor by trade, who belonged to the playhouse,
and had the character of a mild and peaceful man in his profession. If
the former was too furious, this was too sheepish, for his part;
inasmuch that, after a short, modest walk upon the stage, he would fall
at the first touch of 'Hydaspes'[147] without grappling with him and
giving him an opportunity of showing his variety of Italian trips; it is
said, indeed, that he once gave him a rip in his flesh-colored doublet;
but this was only to make work for himself in his private character of a
tailor. I must not omit that it was this second lion who treated me with
so much humanity behind the scenes.

The acting lion at present is, as I am informed, a country gentleman who
does it for his diversion, but desires his name may be concealed. He
says very handsomely, in his own excuse, that he does not act for gain,
that he indulges an innocent pleasure in it, and that it is better to
pass away an evening in this manner than in gaming and drinking; but at
the same time says, with a very agreeable raillery upon himself, that if
his name should be known the ill-natured world might call him _the ass
in the lion's skin_. This gentleman's temper is made out of such a happy
mixture of the mild and the choleric that he outdoes both his
predecessors, and has drawn together greater audiences than have been
known in the memory of man.

I must not conclude my narrative without taking notice of a groundless
report that has been raised to a gentleman's disadvantage, of whom I
must declare myself an admirer; namely, that Signor Nicolini and the
lion have been seen sitting peaceably by one another and smoking a pipe
together behind the scenes, by which their common enemies would
insinuate that it is but a sham combat which they represent upon the
stage; but upon inquiry I find that if any such correspondence has
passed between them it was not till the combat was over, when the lion
was to be looked upon as dead, according to the received rules of the
drama. Besides, this is what is practiced every day in Westminster Hall,
where nothing is more usual than to see a couple of lawyers, who have
been tearing each other to pieces in the court, embracing one another as
soon as they are out of it.

[Footnote 147: In the opera of _Hydaspes_, presented at the Haymarket
in 1710, the hero, whose part was taken by Signor Nicolini, kills a lion in
the amphitheater.]



We talked of the education of children, and I asked him what he thought
was best to teach them first. _Johnson_: Sir, it is no matter what you
teach them first, any more than what leg you shall put into your
breeches first. Sir, while you are considering which of two things you
should teach your child first, another boy has learnt them both.

Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is
not done well, but you are surprised to see it done at all.

A gentleman who had been very unhappy in marriage married immediately
after his wife died. Johnson said it was a triumph of hope over

He would not allow Scotland to derive any credit from Lord Mansfield,
for he was educated in England. "Much," said he, "may be made of a
Scotchman if he be _caught_ young." _Johnson_: An old tutor of a college
said to one of his pupils, "Read over your compositions, and wherever
you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine strike it
out." A gentleman who introduced his brother to Dr. Johnson was earnest
to recommend him to the doctor's notice, which he did by saying: "When
we have sat together some time you'll find my brother grow very

"Sir," said Johnson, "I can wait."

"Greek, sir," said he, "is like lace; every man gets as much of it as he

Lord Lucan tells a very good story, that when the sale of Thrale's
brewery was going forward, Johnson appeared bustling about with an
inkhorn and pen in his button-hole, like an exciseman, and on being
asked what he really considered to be the value of the property which
was to be disposed of, answered, "We are not here to sell a parcel of
boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams
of avarice."

_Johnson_: My dear friend, clear your _mind_ of cant. You may _talk_ as
other people do; you may say to a man, "Sir, I am your most humble
servant." You are _not_ his most humble servant. You may say, "These are
bad times; it is a melancholy thing to be reserved to such times." You
don't mind the times. You tell a man, "I am sorry you had such bad
weather the last day of your journey and were so much wet." You don't
care sixpence whether he is wet or dry. You may _talk_ in this manner;
it is a mode of talking in society, but don't _think_ foolishly.

A lively saying of Dr. Johnson to Miss Hannah More, who had expressed a
wonder that the poet who had written _Paradise Lost_ should write such
poor sonnets: "Milton, madam, was a genius that could cut a colossus
from a rock, but could not carve heads upon cherry-stones."

A gentleman having said that a _congé d'elire_ has not, perhaps, the
force of a command, but may be considered only as a strong
recommendation. "Sir," replied Johnson, "it is such a recommendation as
if I should throw you out of a two pair of stairs window, and recommend
you to fall soft."

Happening one day to mention Mr. Flaxman, the doctor replied, "Let me
hear no more of him, sir; that is the fellow who made the index to my
_Ramblers_, and set down the name of Milton thus: 'Milton, _Mr_, John.'"

Goldsmith said that he thought he could write a good fable, mentioned
the simplicity which that kind of composition requires, and observed
that, in most fables, the animals introduced seldom talk in character.
"For instance," said he, "the fable of the little fishes, who saw birds
fly over their heads, and, envying them, petitioned Jupiter to be
changed into birds. The skill," continued he, "consists in making them
talk like little fishes." While he indulged himself in this fanciful
reverie, he observed Johnson shaking his sides and laughing. Upon which
he smartly proceeded, "Why, Dr. Johnson, this is not so easy as you seem
to think; for if you were to make little fishes talk, they would talk
like WHALES."

He expressed a particular enthusiasm with respect to visiting the wall
of China. I caught it for the moment, and said I really believed I
should go and see the wall of China, had I not children of whom it was
my duty to take care. "Sir," said he, "by doing so, you would do what
would be of importance in raising your children to eminence. There would
be a luster reflected upon them from your spirit and curiosity. They
would be at all times regarded as the children of a man who had gone to
view the wall of China--I am serious, sir."



[From _The Deserted Village_.]

    Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,
  And still where many a garden flower grows wild;
  There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
  The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
  A man he was to all the country dear,
  And passing rich with forty pounds a year;
  Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
  Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change, his place.
  Unskillful he to fawn or seek for power
  By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour:
  Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
  More bent to raise the wretched than to rise.
  His house was known to all the vagrant train--
  He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain;
  The long-remembered beggar was his guest,
  Whose beard, descending, swept his aged breast.
  The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
  Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed;
  The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
  Sat by his fire and talked the night away;
  Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done,
  Shouldered his crutch and showed how fields were won.
  Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow,
  And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
  Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
  His pity gave e'er charity began.
    Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
  And e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side....
    At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
  His looks adorned the venerable place;
  Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
  And fools who came to scoff remained to pray.
  The service past, around the pious man,
  With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran;
  E'en children followed with endearing wile
  And plucked his gown to share the good man's smile.
  His ready smile a parent's warmth expressed,
  Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed;
  To them his heart, his love, his griefs, were given,
  But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.
  As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form,
  Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
  Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
  Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
    Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
  With blossomed furze unprofitable gay,
  There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule,
  The village master taught his little school.
  A man severe he was, and stern to view;
  I knew him well, and every truant knew.
  Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
  The day's disasters in his morning face;
  Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee
  At all his jokes (for many a joke had he);
  Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
  Conveyed the dismal, tidings when he frowned
  Yet he was kind, or if severe in aught,
  The love he bore for learning was his fault.
  The village all declared how much he knew--
  'Twas certain he could write and cipher too;
  Lands he could measure, times and tides presage,
  And e'en the story ran that he could gauge.
  In arguing, too, the parson owned his skill,
  For, e'en though vanquished, he could argue still,
  While words of learned length and thundering sound
  Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around;
  And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew
  That one small head could carry all he knew.

       *       *       *       *       *



[From _Reflections on the Revolution in France_.]

It is sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France,[148]
then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this
orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw
her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere
she just began to move in; glittering like the morning star, full of
life and splendor and joy. O, what a revolution! and what a heart must I
have to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall. Little
did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of
enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged
to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom;
little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen
upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor and of
cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from the
scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the
age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators
has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never,
never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that
proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the
heart which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an
exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of
nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone! It
is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which
felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage, whilst it mitigated
ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice
itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness....On the scheme
of this barbarous philosophy, which is the offspring of cold hearts and
muddy understandings, and which is as void of solid wisdom as it is
destitute of all taste and elegance, laws are to be supported only by
their own terms, and by the concern which each individual may find in
them from his own private speculations, or can spare to them from his
own private interests. In the groves of their academy, at the end of
every vista, you see nothing but the gallows. Nothing is left which
engages the affections on the part of the commonwealth. On the
principles of this mechanic philosophy, our institutions can never be
embodied, if I may use the expresssion, in persons; so as to create in
us love, veneration, admiration, or attachment. But that sort of reason
which banishes the affections is incapable of filling their place. These
public affections, combined with manners, are required sometimes as
supplements, sometimes as corrections, always as aids, to law. The
precept given by a wise man, as well as a great critic, for the
construction of poems, is equally true as to states. _Non satis est
pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto_. There ought to be a system of
manners in every nation which a well-formed mind would be disposed to
relish. To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.

[Footnote 148: Marie Antoinette.]

       *       *       *       *       *



  Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
    That crown the watery glade,
  Where grateful Science still adores
    Her Henry's[149] holy shade;
  And ye, that from the stately brow
    Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below
  Of grove, of lawn, of mead, survey,
  Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
  Wanders the hoary Thames along
    His silver-winding way:

  Ah happy hills, ah pleasing shade,
    Ah fields beloved in vain,
  Where once my careless childhood strayed,
    A stranger yet to pain!
  I feel the gales that from ye blow,
  A momentary bliss bestow,
    As waving fresh their gladsome wing
  My weary soul they seem to soothe,
  And, redolent of joy and youth,
    To breathe a second spring.

  Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen
    Full many a sprightly race,
  Disporting on thy margent green,
    The paths of pleasure trace,
  Who, foremost now delight to cleave
  With pliant arm thy glassy wave?
    The captive linnet which enthral?
  What idle progeny succeed
  To chase the rolling circle's speed,
    Or urge the flying ball?

  While some, on earnest business bent,
    Their morning labors ply
  'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint
    To sweeten liberty:
  Some bold adventurers disdain
  The limits of their little reign,
    And unknown regions dare discry:
  Still as they run they look behind,
  They hear a voice in every wind,
    And snatch a fearful joy.

  Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,
    Less pleasing when possest;
  The tear forgot as soon as shed,
    The sunshine of the breast:
  Theirs buxom health of rosy hue,
  Wild wit, invention ever new,
    And lively cheer of vigour born;
  The thoughtless day, the easy night,
  The spirits pure, the slumbers light,
    That fly th' approach of morn.

  Alas! regardless of their doom
    The little victims play.
  No sense have they of ill to come,
    Nor care beyond to-day:
  Yet see how all around them wait
  The ministers of human fate,
    And black Misfortune's baleful train!
  Ah, show them where in ambush stand,
  To seize their prey the murth'rous band!
    Ah, tell them they are men!

  These shall the fury Passions tear,
    The vultures of the mind,
  Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,
    And Shame that skulks behind;
  Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
  Or Jealousy with rankling tooth,
    That only gnaws the secret heart,
  And Envy wan, and faded Care,
  Grim-visaged, comfortless Despair,
    And Sorrow's piercing dart.

  Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
    Then whirl the wretch from high,
  To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,
    And grinning Infamy,
  The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
  And hard Unkindness' altered eye,
    That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
  And keen Remorse with blood defiled,
  And moody Madness laughing wild
    Amid severest woe.

  Lo in the vale of years beneath
    A grisly troop are seen,
  The painful family of Death,
    More hideous than their queen:
  This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
  That every laboring sinew strains,
    Those in the deeper vitals rage:
  Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
  That numbs the soul with icy hand,
    And slow consuming Age.

  To each his sufferings: all are men,
    Condemned alike to groan,
  The tender for another's pain,
    The unfeeling for his own.
  Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
  Since sorrow never comes too late,
    And happiness too swiftly flies,
  Thought would destroy their paradise.
  No more; where ignorance is bliss,
    'Tis folly to be wise.

[Footnote 149: Henry VI., founder of Eton College.]

       *       *       *       *       *



  O, that those lips had language! Life has passed
  With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
  Those lips are thine--thy own sweet smile I see,
  The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
  Voice only fails, else how distinct they say,
  "Grieve not, my child; chase all thy fears away!"
    My mother! When I learnt that thou wast dead,
  Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed?
  Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
  Wretch even then, life's journey just begun?
  I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day;
  I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away;
  And, turning from my nursery window, drew
  A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu!
  Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern,
  Oft gave me promise of thy quick return.
  What ardently I wished I long believed,
  And, disappointed still, was still deceived;
  By expectation every day beguiled,
  Dupe of _to-morrow_ even from a child.
  Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went,
  Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent,
  I learnt at last submission to my lot;
  But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.


[From _The Task_.]

 Now stir the fire and close the shutters fast,
 Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
 And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
 Throws up a steaming column, and the cups
 That cheer but not inebriate wait on each,
 So let us welcome peaceful evening in....
 O winter! ruler of the inverted year,
 Thy scattered hair with sleet-like ashes filled,
 Thy breath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheek
 Fringed with a beard made white with other snows
 Than those of age, thy forehead wrapped in clouds,
 A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
 A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
 But urged by storms along its slippery way;
 I love thee, all unlovely as thou seemest,
 And dreaded as thou art. Thou holdest the sun
 A prisoner in the yet undawning east,
 Shortening his journey between morn and noon,
 And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
 Down to the rosy west; but kindly still
 Compensating his loss with added hours
 Of social converse and instructive ease,
 And gathering, at short notice, in one group
 The family dispersed, and fixing thought,
 Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares.
 I crown thee king of intimate delights,
 Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness,
 And all the comforts that the lowly roof
 Of undisturbed retirement, and the hours
 Of long uninterrupted evening know.

       *       *       *       *       *


[From _The Task_.]

  O for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
  Some boundless contiguity of shade,
  Where rumor of oppression and deceit,
  Of unsuccessful or successful war
  Might never reach me more! My ear is pained,
  My soul is sick with every day's report
  Of wrong or outrage with which earth is filled.
  There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,
  It does not feel for man; the natural bond
  Of brotherhood is severed as the flax
  That falls asunder at the touch of fire.

       *       *       *       *       *



  When chapman billies[150] leave the street,
  And drouthy[151] neebors neebors meet,
  As market-days are wearing late
  An' folk begin to tak the gate;[152]
  While we sit bousing at the nappy,[153]
  An' getting fou[154] and unco[155] happy,
  We think na on the lang Scots miles,
  The mosses,[156] waters, slaps,[157] and styles,
  That lie between us and our hame,
  Whare sits our sulky, sullen dame,
  Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
  Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
    This truth fand honest Tam O'Shanter,
  As he frae Ayr ae[158] night did canter,
  (Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses,
  For honest men and bonnie lasses.)
    O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise
  As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice!
  She tauld thee weel thou wast a skellum,[159]
  A blethering,[160] blustering, drunken blellum;[161]
  That frae November till October,
  Ae market-day thou wasna sober;
  That ilka melder,[162] wi' the miller,
  Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
  That every naig was ca'd[163] a shoe on,
  The smith and thee gat roaring fou on;
  That at the Lord's house, even on Sunday,
  Thou drank wi' Kirten Jean till Monday.
  She prophesy'd that, late or soon,
  Thou would be found deep drowned in Doon,
  Or catch'd wi' warlocks in the mirk,
  By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.
    Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,[164]
  To think how monie counsels sweet,
  How monie lengthened, sage advices
  The husband frae the wife despises! . .
    Nae man can tether time or tide;
  The hour approaches Tam maun[165] ride;
  That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane,
  That dreary hour he mounts his beast in;
  And sic[166] a night he taks the road in,
  As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
    The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
  The rattling showers rose on the blast;
  The speedy gleams the darkness swallowed;
  Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellowed:
  That night, a child might understand,
  The Deil had business on his hand.

(Mounted on his gray mare Maggie, Tarn pursues his homeward way in
safety till, reaching Kirk-Alloway, he sees the windows in a blaze, and,
looking in, beholds a dance of witches, with Old Nick playing the
fiddle. Most of the witches are any thing but inviting, but there is one
winsome wench, called Nannie, who dances in a "cutty-sark," or short

    But here my muse her wing maun cower;
  Sic flights are far beyond her power;
  To sing how Nannie lap and flang[167]
  (A souple jade she was, and strang),
  And how Tam stood like are bewitched,
  And thought his very e'en enriched.
  Even Satan glowered and fidged fu' fain,[168]
  And hotch'd[169] and blew wi' might and main;
  Till first ae caper, syne[170] anither,
  Tam tint[171] his reason a' thegither,
  And roars out, "Weel done, Cutty-sark!"
  And in an instant all was dark:
  And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
  When out the hellish legion sallied.
    As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke,[172]
  When plundering herds assail their byke;[173]
  As open pussie's mortal foes,
  When, pop! she starts before their nose;
  As eager runs the market-crowd
  When "Catch the thief!" resounds aloud.
  So Maggie runs, the witches follow
  Wi' monie an eldritch skreech and hollow,
    Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou'll get thy fairin'![174]
  In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin'!
  In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin':
  Kate soon will be a woefu' woman.
  Now do thy speedy utmost Meg,
  And win the key-stane of the brig;[175]
  There at them thou thy tail may toss,
  A running stream they dare na cross,
  But ere the key-stane she could make,
  The fient[176] a tale she had to shake,
  For Nannie, far before the rest,
  Hard upon noble Maggie pressed,
  And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle;[177]
  But little wist she Maggie's mettle--
  Ae spring brought aff her master hale,[178]
  But left behind her ain gray tail;
  The carlin[179] claught[180] her by the rump,
  And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.

[Footnote 150: Peddler fellows.]
[Footnote 151: Thirsty.]
[Footnote 152: Road home.]
[Footnote 153: Ale.]
[Footnote 154: Full.]
[Footnote 155: Uncommonly.]
[Footnote 156: Swamps.]
[Footnote 157: Gaps in a hedge.]
[Footnote 158: One.]
[Footnote 159: Good-for-nothing.]
[Footnote 160: Babbling.]
[Footnote 161: Gossip.]
[Footnote 162: Every time corn was sent to the mill.]
[Footnote 163: Driven.]
[Footnote 164: Makes me weep.]
[Footnote 165: Must.]
[Footnote 166: Such.]
[Footnote 167: Leaped and flung.]
[Footnote 168: Stared and fidgeted with eagerness.]
[Footnote 169: Hitched about.]
[Footnote 170: Then.]
[Footnote 171: Lost.]
[Footnote 172: Fuss.]
[Footnote 173: Hive.]
[Footnote 174: Deserts.]
[Footnote 175: Bridge.]
[Footnote 176: Devil.]
[Footnote 177: Aim.]
[Footnote 178: Whole.]
[Footnote 179: Hag.]
[Footnote 180: Caught.]


  John Anderson, my jo,[181] John,
    When we were first acquent,
  Your locks were like the raven,
    Your bonnie brow was brent;[182]
  But now your brow is beld, John,
    Your locks are like the snow;
  But blessings on your frosty pow,
    John Anderson, my jo.

  John Anderson, my jo, John,
    We clamb the hill thegither;
  And monie a canty[183] day, John,
    We've had wi' are anither:
  Now we maun totter down, John,
    But hand in hand we'll go,
  And sleep thegither at the foot,
    John Anderson, my jo.

[Footnote 181: Sweetheart.]
[Footnote 182: Smooth]
[Footnote 183: Merry.]

       *       *       *       *       *



  The world is too much with us; late and soon,
  Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
  Little we see in Nature that is ours;
  We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
  This sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
  The winds that will be howling at all hours,
  And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers--
    For this, for every thing, we are out of tune;
  It moves us not. Great God! I'd rather be
  A Pagan, suckled in a creed outworn,
  So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
  Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
  Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
  Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.


[From Ode on the Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early

  Our birth is but a sleep, and a forgetting:
  The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting,
      And cometh from afar;
    Not in entire forgetfulness,
    And not in utter nakedness,
  But trailing clouds of glory do we come
      From God, who is our home.

  Heaven lies about us in our infancy:
  Shades of the prison-house begin to close
      Upon the growing boy;
  But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
      He sees it in his joy.
  The youth, who daily farther from the east
    Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
      And by the vision splendid
      Is on his way attended;
  At length the man perceives it die away,
  And fade into the light of common day....

      O joy! that in our embers
        Is something that doth live,
      That nature yet remembers
        What was so fugitive!
  The thought of our past years in me doth breed
  Perpetual benedictions: not, indeed,
  For that which is most worthy to be blest;
  Delight and liberty, the simple creed
  Of childhood, whether busy or at rest,
  With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast--
    Not for these I raise
    The song of thanks and praise;
    But for those obstinate questionings
    Of sense and outward things,
    Fallings from us, vanishings;
    Blank misgivings of a creature
  Moving about in worlds not realized,
  High instincts, before which our mortal nature
  Did tremble, like a guilty thing surprised:
    But for those first affections,
    Those shadowy recollections,
    Which, be they what they may,
  Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
  Are yet a master light of all our seeing;
    Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
  Our noisy years seem moments in the being
  Of the eternal silence: truths that wake
      To perish never;
  Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavor,
      Nor man nor boy,
  Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
  Can utterly abolish or destroy.
    Hence, in a season of calm weather,
      Though inland far we be,
  Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
      Which brought us hither;
    Can in a moment travel thither,
  And see the children sport upon the shore,
  And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.


  She dwelt among the untrodden ways
    Beside the springs of Dove,
  A maid whom there were none to praise,
    And very few to love.

  A violet by a mossy stone
    Half hidden from the eye:
  Fair as a star, when only one
    Is shining in the sky.

  She lived unknown, and few could know
    When Lucy ceased to be;
  But she is in her grave, and, oh,
    The difference to me!


  Behold her, single in the field,
    Yon solitary Highland lass!
  Reaping and singing by herself;
    Stop here, or gently pass!
  Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
  And sings a melancholy strain;
  O listen! for the vale profound
  Is overflowing with the sound.

  No nightingale did ever chant
    More welcome notes to weary bands
  Of travelers in some shady haunt,
    Among Arabian sands.

  A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
  In spring-time from the cuckoo-bird,
  Breaking the silence of the seas
  Among the farthest Hebrides.

  Will no one tell me what she sings?
    Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
  For old, unhappy, far-off things,
    And battles long ago:
  Or is it some more humble lay,
  Familiar matter of to-day?
  Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
  That has been, and may be again?

  Whate'er the theme, the maiden sang
    As if her song could have no ending,
  I saw her singing at her work,
    And o'er the sickle bending;
  I listened, motionless and still,
  And, as I mounted up the hill,
  The music in my heart I bore,
  Long after it was heard no more.


[From the _Prelude_.]

  So through the darkness and the cold we flew,
  And not a voice was idle; with the din
  Smitten, the precipices rang aloud;
  The leafless trees and every icy crag
  Tinkled like iron; while far distant hills
  Into the tumult sent an alien sound
  Of melancholy not unnoticed, while the stars
  Eastward were sparking clear, and in the west
  The orange sky of evening died away.
  Not seldom from the uproar I retired
  Into a silent bay, or sportively
  Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng,
  To cut across the reflex of a star
  That fled, and, flying still before me, gleamed
  Upon the glassy plain; and oftentimes,
  When we had given our bodies to the wind,
  And all the shadowy banks on either side
  Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still
  The rapid line of motion, then at once
  Have I, reclining back upon my heels,
  Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs
  Wheeled by me--even as if the earth had rolled
  With visible motion her diurnal round!
  Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,
  Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched
  Till all was tranquil as a dreamless sleep.

       *       *       *       *       *



[From _The Ancient Mariner_.]

  Sometimes, a-dropping from the sky,
    I heard the skylark sing;
  Sometimes all little birds that are,
    How they seemed to fill the sea and air
  With their sweet jargoning!

  And now 'twas like all instruments,
    And now like a lonely flute;
  And now it is an angel's song
    That makes the heavens be mute.

  It ceased; yet still the sails made on
    A pleasant noise till noon,
  A noise like of a hidden brook
    In the leafy month of June,
  That to the sleeping woods all night
    Singeth a quiet tune.


[From the same.]

  O wedding guest, this soul hath been
    Alone on a wide, wide sea:
  So lonely 'twas that God himself
    Scarce seemèd there to be.

  O sweeter than the marriage feast,
    'Tis sweeter far to me,
    To walk together to the kirk
    With a goodly company.

  To walk together to the kirk,
    And all together pray,
  While each to his great Father bends,
  Old men and babes and loving friends,
    And youths and maidens gay.

  Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
    To thee, thou wedding guest;
  He prayeth well who loveth well
    Both man and bird and beast.

  He prayeth best who loveth best
    All things both great and small;
  For the dear God who loveth us,
    He made and loveth all.


[From _Christabel_.]

  Alas! they had been friends in youth
  But whispering tongues can poison truth,
  And constancy lives in realms above,
    And life is thorny and youth is vain,
  And to be wroth with one we love
    Doth work like madness in the brain.
  And thus it fared, as I divine,
  With Roland and Sir Leoline.
  Each spake words of high disdain
  And insult to his heart's best brother;
  But never either found another
    To free the hollow heart from paining.
    They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
  Like cliffs that had been rent asunder:
    A dreary sea now flows between,
  But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder
  Can wholly do away, I ween,
  The marks of that which once has been.



[From _The Lay of the Last Minstrel_.]

  Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
  Who never to himself hath said.
    This is my own, my native land?
  Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
  As home his footsteps he hath turned,
    From wandering on a foreign strand?
  If such there breathe, go mark him well;
  For him no minstrel raptures swell;
  High though his titles, proud his name,
  Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
  Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
  The wretch concentred all in self,
  Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
  And, doubly dying, shall go down
  To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
  Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.

  O Caledonia! stern and wild,
  Meet nurse for a poetic child!
  Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
  Land of the mountain and the flood,
  Land of my sires! what mortal hand
  Can e'er untie the filial band
  That knits me to thy rugged strand?
  Still, as I view each well-known scene,
  Think what is now, and what hath been,
  Seems as, to me, of all bereft
  Sole friends thy woods and streams are left:
  And thus I love them better still
  Even in extremity of ill.
  By Yarrow's stream still let me stray,
  Though none should guide my feeble way
  Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
  Although it chill my withered cheek;
  Still lay my head by Teviot's stone,
  Though there, forgotten and alone,
  The bard may draw his parting groan.


[From _Marmion_.]

  Day set on Norham's castled steep
  And Tweed's fair river, broad and deep,
    And Cheviot's mountains lone:
  The battled towers, the donjon keep,
  The loop-hole grates where captives
  The flanking walls that round it sweep,
    In yellow luster shone.
  The warriors on the turrets high,
  Moving athwart the evening sky
    Seemed forms of giant height:
  Their armor; as it caught the rays,
  Flashed back again the western blaze,
    In lines of dazzling light.

  St. George's banner, broad and gay,
  Now faded, as the fading ray
    Less bright, and less was flung;
  The evening gale had scarce the power
  To wave it on the donjon tower,
    So heavily it hung.
  The scouts had parted on their search,
    The castle gates were barred;
  Above the gloomy portal arch,
  Timing his footsteps to a march,
    The warden kept his guard;
  Low humming, as he passed along,
  Some ancient border-gathering song.


  Proud Maisie is in the wood
    Walking so early;
  Sweet Robin sits on the bush
    Singing so rarely.

  "Tell me, thou bonny bird,
    When shall I marry me?"
  --"When six braw[184] gentlemen
    Kirkward shall carry ye."

  "Who makes the bridal bed,
    Birdie, say truly?"
  "The gray-headed sexton
    That delves the grave duly.

  "The glow-worm o'er grave and stone
    Shall light thee steady;
  The owl from the steeple sing
    Welcome, proud lady."

[Footnote 184: Brave, fine.]


  Pibroch of Donuil Dhu, Pibroch of Donuil,
  Wake thy wild voice anew, summon Clan-Conuil.
  Come away, come away, hark to the summons!
  Come in your war array, gentles and commons.

  Come from deep glen and from mountain so rocky,
  The war-pipe and pennon are at Inverlochy.
  Come every hill-plaid and true heart that wears one,
  Come every steel blade and strong hand that bears one.

  Leave untended the herd, the flock without shelter;
  Leave the corpse uninterred, the bride at the altar;
  Leave the deer, leave the steer, leave nets and barges:
  Come with your fighting gear, broadswords and targes.

  Come as the winds come when forests are rended;
  Come as the waves come when navies are stranded;
  Faster come, faster come; faster and faster,
  Chief, vassal, page and groom, tenant and master.

  Fast they come, fast they come; see how they gather!
  Wide waves the eagle plume blended with heather.
  Cast your plaids, draw your blades, forward each man set!
  Pibroch of Donuil Dhu, knell for the onset!

       *       *       *       *       *



  I arise from dreams of thee
    In the first sweet sleep of night,
  When the winds are breathing low
    And the stars are shining bright.

  I arise from dreams of thee,
    And a spirit in my feet
  Has led me--who knows how?--
    To thy chamber-window, sweet.

  The wandering airs they faint
    On the dark, the silent stream;
  The champak odours fail
    Like sweet thoughts in a dream;
  The nightingale's complaint,
    It dies upon her heart,
  As I must die on thine,
    O beloved as thou art!

  O lift me from the grass!
    I die, I faint, I fail!
  Let thy love in kisses rain
    On my lips and eyelids pale.
  My cheek is cold and white, alas!
    My heartbeats loud and fast:
  O! press it close to thine again,
    Where it will break at last.


[From _Lines Written in the Euganean Hills_.]

  Sun-girt city, thou hast been
  Ocean's child, and then his queen;
  Now is come a darker day
  And thou soon must be his prey,
  If the power that raised thee here
  Hallow so thy watery bier.
  A less drear ruin then than now,
  With thy conquest-branded brow
  Stooping to the slave of slaves
  From thy throne among the waves,
  Wilt thou be, when the sea-mew
  Flies, as once before it flew,
  O'er thine isles depopulate,
  And all is in its ancient state;
  Save where many a palace gate
  With green sea-flowers overgrown,
  Like a rock of ocean's own
  Topples o'er the abandoned sea
  As the tides change sullenly.
  The fisher on his watery way
  Wandering at the close of day,
  Will spread his sail and seize his oar
  Till he pass the gloomy shore,
  Lest thy dead should, from their sleep
  Bursting o'er the starlight deep,
  Lead a rapid masque of death
  O'er the waters of his path.


  O world! O life! O time!
  On whose last steps I climb,
    Trembling at that where I had stood before,
  When will return the glory of your prime?
    No more--O, never more!

  Out of the day and night
  A joy has taken flight;
    Fresh spring and summer and winter hoar
  Move my faint heart with grief, but with delight
    No more--O, never more!


[From _Prometheus Unbound_.]

  On a poet's lips I slept
  Dreaming like a love-adept
  In the sound his breathing kept.
  Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses,
  But feeds on the aerial kisses
  Of shapes that haunt thought's wildernesses.
  He will watch from dawn to gloom
  The lake-reflected sun illume
  The yellow bees in the ivy bloom,
  Nor heed nor see what things they be;
  But from these create he can
  Forms more real than living man,
    Nurslings of immortality.



  And thou art dead, as young and fair
    As aught of mortal birth:
  And form so soft and charms so rare,
    Too soon returned to earth:
  Though earth received them in her bed,
  And o'er the spot the crowd may tread
    In carelessness or mirth,
  There is an eye which could not brook
  A moment on that grave to look.

  I will not ask where thou liest low
    Nor gaze upon the spot;
  There flowers or weeds at will may grow,
    So I behold them not:
  It is enough for me to prove
  That what I loved and long must love
    Like common earth can rot;
  To me there needs no stone to tell
  'Tis nothing that I loved so well.

  Yet did I love thee to the last
    As fervently as thou,
  Who didst not change through all the past
    And canst not alter now.
  The love where death has set his seal
  Nor age can chill, nor rival steal,
    Nor falsehood disavow:
  And, what were worse, thou canst not see
  Or wrong, or change, or fault in me.

  The better days of life were ours;
    The worst can be but mine:
  The sun that cheers, the storm that lowers,
    Shall never more be thine.
  The silence of that dreamless sleep
  I envy now too much to weep,
    Nor need I to repine
  That all those charms have passed away,
  I might have watched through long decay.

  The flower in ripened bloom unmatched
    Must fall the earliest prey;
  Though by no hand untimely snatched,
    The leaves must drop away:
  And yet it were a greater grief
  To watch it withering leaf by leaf,
    Than see it plucked to-day;
  Since earthly eye but ill can bear
  To trace the change to foul from fair.

  I know not if I could have borne
    To see thy beauties fade;
  The night that followed such a morn
    Had worn a deeper shade:
  Thy day without a cloud hath past,
  And thou wert lovely to the last,
    Extinguished, not decayed;
  As stars that shoot along the sky
  Shine brightest as they fall from high.

  As once I wept, if I could weep,
    My tears might well be shed,
  To think I was not near to keep
    One vigil o'er thy bed;
  To gaze, how fondly! on thy face,
  To fold thee in a faint embrace,
    Uphold thy drooping head;
  And show that love, however vain,
  Nor thou nor I can feel again.

  Yet how much less it were to gain,
    Though thou hast left me free,
  The loveliest things that still remain,
    Than thus remember thee!
  The all of thine that cannot die
  Through dark and dread Eternity,
    Returns again to me,
  And more thy buried love endears
  Than aught, except its living years.


[From _Childe Harold_.]

  There was a sound of revelry by night,
  And Belgium's capital had gathered there
  Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
  The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men:
  A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
  Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
  Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
  And all went merry as a marriage-bell;
  But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!

  Did ye not hear it? No; 'twas but the wind,
  Or the car rattling o'er the stony street.
  On with the dance! let joy be unconfined!
  No sleep till morn when youth and pleasure meet
  To chase the glowing hours with flying feet--
  But hark! that heavy sound breaks in once more,
  As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
  And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
  Arm! arm! it is--it is--the cannon's opening roar!...

  Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
  And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
  And cheeks all pale which but an hour ago
  Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness;
  And there were sudden partings, such as press
  The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
  Which ne'er might be repeated: who could guess
  If evermore should meet those mutual eyes,
  Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise?

  And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
  The mustering squadron, and the clattering car
  Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
  And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
  And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;

  And near, the beat of the alarming drum
  Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
  While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
  Or whispering, with white lips, "The foe! They come! they come!"

  And wild and high the "Cameron's gathering" rose,
  The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
  Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes:
  How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
  Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
  Their mountain pipe, so fill the mountaineers
  With the fierce native daring which instils
  The stirring memory of a thousand years;
  And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears.

  And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
  Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass,
  Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
  Over the unreturning brave--alas!
  Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
  Which now beneath them, but above shall grow,
  In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
  Of living valor rolling on the foe,
  And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.



  Thou still unravished bride of quietness!
    Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
  Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
    A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme;
  What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
    Of deities or mortals, or of both,
      In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
    What men or gods are these? What maidens loath?
  What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
      What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

  Heard melodies are sweet; but those unheard
    Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
  Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
    Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
  Fair youth beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
    Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
      Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
  Though winning near the goal--yet do not grieve:
      She cannot fade though thou hast not thy bliss,
    Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

  Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
    Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
  And happy melodist, unwearied
    Forever piping songs forever new;
  More happy love! more happy, happy love!
    Forever warm and still to be enjoyed,
      Forever panting and forever young;
  All breathing human passion far above,
    That leaves a heart high sorrowful and cloyed,
      A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

  Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
    To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
  Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
    And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
  What little town by river or sea-shore,
    Or mountain built with peaceful citadel,
      Is emptied of its folk this pious morn?
  Ah! little town, thy streets forever more
    Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
      Why thou art desolate can e'er return.

  O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
    Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
  With forest branches and the trodden weed;
    Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
  As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
    When old age shall this generation waste,
      Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
    Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
  "Beauty is truth, truth beauty"--that is all
      Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.


[From _The Eve of St. Agnes_.]

  Out went the taper as she hurried in;
  Its little smoke in pallid moonshine died;
  She closed the door, she panted, all akin
  To spirits of the air and visions wide;
  No uttered syllable, or, woe betide!
  But to her heart her heart was voluble,
  Paining with eloquence her balmy side;
  As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
  Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled in her dell.

  A casement high and triple-arched there was,
  All garlanded with carven imageries
  Of fruits and flowers and bunches of knot-grass,
  And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
  Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes
  As are the tiger-moth's deep-damasked wings;
  And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
  And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
  A shielded scutcheon blushed with blood of queens and kings.

  Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
  And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast
  As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon;
  Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together pressed,
  And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
  And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
  She seemed a splendid angel, newly dressed,
  Save wings, for heaven: Porphyro grew faint:
  She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.



[From _Pickwick Papers_.]

After supper another jug of punch was put on the table, together with a
paper of cigars and a couple of bottles of spirits. Then there was an
awful pause; and this awful pause was occasioned by a very common
occurrence in this sort of places, but a very embarrassing one,

The fact is that the girl was washing the glasses. The establishment
boasted four; we do not record this circumstance as at all derogatory to
Mrs. Raddle, for there was never a lodging-house yet that was not short
of glasses. The landlady's glasses were little thin blown-glass
tumblers, and those which had been borrowed from the public-house were
great, dropsical, bloated articles, each supported on a huge gouty leg.
This would have been in itself sufficient to have possessed the company
with the real state of affairs; but the young woman of all work had
prevented the possibility of any misconception arising in the mind of
any gentleman upon the subject, by forcibly dragging every man's glass
away long before he had finished his beer, and audibly stating, despite
the winks and interruptions of Mr. Bob Sawyer, that it was to be
conveyed down-stairs and washed forthwith....

The sight of the tumblers restored Bob Sawyer to a degree of equanimity
which he had not possessed since his interview with his landlady. His
face brightened up, and he began to feel quite convivial.

"Now, Betsy," said Mr. Bob Sawyer, with great suavity, and dispersing,
at the same time, the tumultuous little mob of glasses that the girl had
collected in the center of the table; "Now, Betsy, the warm water; be
brisk, there's a good girl."

"You can't have no warm water," replied Betsy.

"No warm water!" exclaimed Mr. Bob Sawyer.

"No," said the girl, with a shake of the head which expressed a more
decided negative than the most copious language could have conveyed.
"Missis Raddle said you wasn't to have none."

The surprise depicted on the countenances of his guests imparted new
courage to the host.

"Bring up the warm water instantly--instantly!" said Mr. Bob Sawyer,
with desperate sternness.

"No; I can't," replied the girl. "Missis Raddle raked out the kitchen
fire afore she went to bed, and locked up the kettle."

"O, never mind, never mind. Pray don't disturb yourself about such a
trifle," said Mr. Pickwick, observing the conflict of Bob Sawyer's
passions, as depicted on his countenance, "cold water will do very

"O, admirably," said Mr. Benjamin Allen.

"My landlady is subject to slight attacks of mental derangement,"
remarked Bob Sawyer, with a ghastly smile; "I fear I must give her

"No, don't," said Ben Allen.

"I fear I must," said Bob, with heroic firmness. "I'll pay her what I
owe her and give her warning to-morrow morning."

Poor fellow! How devoutly he wished he could!...It was at the end of
the chorus to the first verse that Mr. Pickwick held up his hand in a
listening attitude, and said, as soon as silence was restored, "Hush! I
beg your pardon. I thought I heard somebody calling from up-stairs."

A profound silence immediately ensued, and Mr. Bob Sawyer was observed
to turn pale.

"I think I hear it now," said Mr. Pickwick. "Have the goodness to open
the door."

The door was no sooner opened than all doubt on the subject was removed.

"Mr. Sawyer--Mr. Sawyer," screamed a voice from the two-pair landing.

"It's my landlady," said Bob Sawyer, looking round him with great
dismay. "Yes, Mrs. Raddle."

"What do you mean by this, Mr. Sawyer?" replied the voice, with great
shrillness and rapidity of utterance. "'Aint it enough to be swindled
out of one's rent, and money lent out of pocket besides, and abused and
insulted by your friends that dares to call themselves men, without
having the house turned out of window, and noise enough made to bring
the fire-engines here at two o'clock in the morning? Turn them wretches

"You ought to be ashamed of yourselves," said the voice of Mr. Raddle,
which appeared to proceed from beneath some distant bed-clothes.

"Ashamed of themselves!" said Mrs. Raddle. "Why don't you go down and
knock 'em every one down-stairs? You would, if you was a man."

"I should if I was a dozen men, my dear," replied Mr. Raddle,
pacifically; "but they've rather the advantage of me in numbers, my

"Ugh, you coward!" replied Mrs. Raddle, with supreme contempt. "Do you
mean to turn them wretches out, or not, Mr. Sawyer?"

"They're going, Mrs. Raddle, they're going," said the miserable Bob.
"I'm afraid you'd better go," said Mr. Bob Sawyer to his friends. "I
_thought_ you were making too much noise."

"It's a very unfortunate thing," said the prim man. "Just as we were
getting so comfortable, too." The fact was that the prim man was just
beginning to have a dawning recollection of the story he had forgotten.

"It's hardly to be borne," said the prim man, looking round; "hardly to
be borne, is it?"

"Not to be endured," replied Jack Hopkins; "let's have the other verse,
Bob; come, here goes."

"No, no, Jack, don't," interposed Bob Sawyer; "it's a capital song, but
I am afraid we had better not have the other verse. They are very
violent people, the people of the house."

"Shall I step up-stairs and pitch into the landlord?" inquired Hopkins,
"or keep on ringing the bell, or go and groan on the staircase? You may
command me, Bob."

"I am very much indebted to you for your friendship and good-nature,
Hopkins," said the wretched Mr. Bob Sawyer, "but I am of opinion that
the best plan to avoid any farther dispute is for us to break up at

"Now, Mr. Sawyer," screamed the shrill voice of Mrs. Raddle, "are them
brutes going?"

"They're only looking for their hats, Mrs. Raddle," said Bob; "they are
going directly."

"Going!" said Mrs. Raddle, thrusting her night-cap over the bannisters,
just as Mr. Pickwick, followed by Mr. Tupman, emerged from the
sitting-room. "Going! What did they ever come for."

"My dear ma'am," remonstrated Mr. Pickwick, looking up.

"Get along with you, you old wretch!" replied Mrs. Raddle, hastily
withdrawing her night-cap. "Old enough to be his grandfather, you
villain! You're worse than any of 'em."

Mr. Pickwick found it in vain to protest his innocence, so hurried
down-stairs into the street, whither he was closely followed by Mr.
Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass.



[From _Vanity Fair_.]

The particulars of Becky's costume were in the newspapers--feathers,
lappets, superb diamonds, and all the rest. Lady Crackenbury read the
paragraph in bitterness of spirit, and discoursed to her followers about
the airs which that woman was giving herself. Mrs. Bute Crawley and her
young ladies in the country had a copy of the _Morning Post_ from town,
and gave a vent to their honest indignation. "If you had been
sandy-haired, green-eyed, and a French rope-dancer's daughter," Mrs.
Bute said to her eldest girl (who, on the contrary, was a very swarthy,
short, and snub-nosed young lady), "you might have had superb diamonds,
forsooth, and have been presented at court by your cousin, the Lady
Jane. But you're only a gentlewoman, my poor dear child. You have only
some of the best blood in England in your veins, and good principles and
piety for your portion. I myself, the wife of a baronet's younger
brother, too, never thought of such a thing as going to court--nor would
other people if good Queen Charlotte had been alive." In this way the
worthy rectoress consoled herself; and her daughters sighed, and sat
over the _Peerage_ all night....

When the ladies of Gaunt House were at breakfast that morning Lord
Steyne (who took his chocolate in private, and seldom disturbed the
females of his household, or saw them except upon public days, or when
they crossed each other in the hall, or when from his pit-box at the
opera he surveyed them in their box in the grand tier)--his lordship, we
say, appeared among the ladies and the children, who were assembled over
the tea and toast, and a battle royal ensued apropos of Rebecca.

"My Lady Steyne," he said, "I want to see the list for your dinner on
Friday; and I want you, if you please, to write a card for Colonel and
Mrs. Crawley."

"Blanche writes them," Lady Steyne said, in a flutter. "Lady Gaunt
writes them."

"I will not write to that person," Lady Gaunt said, a tall and stately
lady, who looked up for an instant and then down again after she had
spoken. It was not good to meet Lord Steyne's eyes for those who had
offended him.

"Send the children out of the room. Go!" said he, pulling at the
bell-rope. The urchins, always frightened before him, retired; their
mother would have followed too. "Not you." he said. "You stop."

"My Lady Steyne," he said, "once more, will you have the goodness to go
to the desk and write that card for your dinner on Friday?"

"My Lord, I will not be present at it," Lady Gaunt said; "I will go

"I wish you would, and stay there. You will find the bailiffs at
Bare-acres very pleasant company; and I shall be freed from lending
money to your relations, and from your own damned tragedy airs. Who are
you, to give orders here? You have no money. You've got no brains. You
were here to have children, and you have not had any. Gaunt's tired of
you; and George's wife is the only person in the family who doesn't wish
you were dead. Gaunt would marry again if you were."

"I wish I were," her ladyship answered, with tears and rage in her eyes.

"You, forsooth, must give yourself airs of virtue; while my wife, who is
an immaculate saint, as every body knows, and never did wrong in her
life, has no objection to meet my young friend, Mrs. Crawley. My Lady
Steyne knows that appearances are sometimes against the best of women;
that lies are often told about the most innocent of them. Pray, madam,
shall I tell you some little anecdotes about my Lady Bareacres, your

"You may strike me if you like, sir, or hit any cruel blow," Lady Gaunt
said. To see his wife and daughter suffering always put his lordship
into a good humor.

"My sweet Blanche," he said, "I am a gentleman, and never lay my hand
upon a woman, save in the way of kindnesss. I only wish to correct
little faults in your character. You women are too proud, and sadly lack
humility, as Father Mole, I'm sure, would tell my Lady Steyne if he were
here. You musn't give yourselves airs: you must be meek and humble, my
blessings. For all Lady Steyne knows, this calumniated, simple,
good-humored Mrs. Crawley is quite innocent--even more innocent than
herself. Her husband's character is not good, but it is as good as
Bareacres's, who has played a little and not payed a great deal, who
cheated you out of the only legacy you ever had, and left you a pauper
on my hands. And Mrs. Crawley is not very well born; but she is not
worse than Fanny's illustrious ancestor, the first de la Jones."

"The money which I brought into the family, sir," Lady George cried

"You purchased a contingent reversion with it," the marquis said,
darkly. "If Gaunt dies, your husband may come to his honors; your little
boys may inherit them, and who knows what besides? In the meanwhile,
ladies, be as proud and virtuous as you like abroad, but don't give _me_
any airs. As for Mrs. Crawley's character, I sha'n't demean myself or
that most spotless and perfectly irreproachable lady, by even hinting
that it even requires a defense. You will be pleased to receive her with
the utmost cordiality, as you will receive all persons whom I present in
this house. This house?" He broke out with a laugh. "Who is the master
of it, and what is it? This temple of virtue belongs to me. And if I
invite all Newgate or all Bedlam here, by----they shall be welcome."

After this vigorous allocution, to one of which sort Lord Steyne treated
his "Hareem" whenever symptoms of insubordination appeared in his
household, the crestfallen women had nothing for it but to obey. Lady
Gaunt wrote the invitation which his lordship required, and she and her
mother-in-law drove in person, and with bitter and humiliated hearts, to
leave the cards on Mrs. Rawdon, the reception of which caused that
innocent woman so much pleasure.



It was a wood of beeches and limes, with here and there a light,
silver-stemmed birch--just the sort of wood most haunted by the nymphs;
you see their white sun-lit limbs gleaming athwart the boughs or peeping
from behind the smooth-sweeping outline of a tall lime; you hear their
soft liquid laughter--but if you look with a too curious sacrilegious
eye they vanish behind the silvery beeches, they make you believe that
their voice was only a running brooklet, perhaps they metamorphose
themselves into a tawny squirrel that scampers away and mocks you from
the topmost bough. Not a grove with measured grass or rolled gravel for
you to tread upon, but with narrow, hollow-shaped earthy paths, edged
with faint dashes of delicate moss--paths which look as if they were
made by the free will of the trees and underwood, moving reverently
aside to look at the tall queen of the white-footed nymphs.

There are various orders of beauty, causing men to make fools of
themselves in various styles, from the desperate to the sheepish; but
there is one order of beauty which seems made to turn the heads not only
of men, but of all intelligent mammals, even of women. It is a beauty
like that of kittens, or very small downy ducks making gentle rippling
noises with their soft bills, or babies just beginning to toddle and to
engage in conscious mischief--a beauty with which you can never be
angry, but that you feel ready to crush for inability to comprehend the
state of mind into which it throws you....It is of little use for me to
tell you that Hetty's cheek was like a rose-petal, that dimples played
about her pouting lips, that her large dark eyes hid a soft roguishness
under their long lashes, and that her curly hair, though all pushed back
under her round cap while she was at work, stole back in dark delicate
rings on her forehead, and about her white shell-like ears; it is of
little use for me to say how lovely was the contour of her
pink-and-white neckerchief, tucked into her low plum-colored stuff
bodice, or how the linen butter-making apron, with its bib, seemed a
thing to be imitated in silk by duchesses, since it fell in such
charming lines, or how her brown stockings and thick-soled buckled shoes
lost all that clumsiness which they must certainly have had when empty
of her foot and ankle--of little use unless you have seen a woman who
affected you as Hetty affected her beholders, for otherwise, though you
might conjure up the image of a lovely woman, she would not in the least
resemble that distracting kitten-like maiden. I might mention all the
divine charms of a bright spring day, but if you had never in your life
utterly forgotten yourself in straining your eyes after the mounting
lark, or in wandering through the still lanes when the fresh-opened
blossoms fill them with a sacred, silent beauty like that of fretted
aisles, where would be the use of my descriptive catalogue? I could
never make you know what I meant by a bright spring day. Hetty's was a
spring-tide beauty; it was the beauty of young frisking things,
round-limbed, gambolling, circumventing you by a false air of
innocence--the innocence of a young star-browed calf, for example, that,
being inclined for a promenade out of bounds, leads you a severe
steeple-chase over hedge and ditch, and only comes to a stand in the
middle of a bog.

Family likeness has often a deep sadness in it. Nature, that great
tragic dramatist, knits us together by bone and muscle, and divides us
by the subtler web of our brains; blends yearning and repulsion, and
ties us by our heart-strings to the beings that jar us at every
movement. We hear a voice with the very cadence of our own uttering the
thoughts we despise; we see eyes--ah! so like our mother's--averted from
us in cold alienation; and our last darling child startles us with the
air and gestures of the sister we parted from in bitterness long years
ago. The father to whom we owe our best heritage--the mechanical
instinct, the keen sensibility to harmony, the unconscious skill of the
modeling hand--galls us, and puts us to shame by his daily errors. The
long-lost mother, whose face we begin to see in the glass as our own
wrinkles come, once fretted our young souls with her anxious humors and
irrational persistence.

It was to Adam the time that a man can least forget in after life--the
time when he believes that the first woman he has ever loved betrays by
a slight something--a word, a tone, a glance, the quivering of a lip or
an eyelid--that she is at least beginning to love him in return....So
unless our early gladness vanishes utterly from our memory, we can never
recall the joy with which we laid our heads on our mother's bosom or
rode on our father's back in childhood; doubtless that joy is wrought up
into our nature, or as the sunlight of long-past mornings is wrought up
into the soft mellowness of the apricot; but it is gone forever from our
imagination as we can only _believe_ in the joy of childhood. But the
first glad moment in our first love is a vision which returns to us to
the last, and brings with it a thrill of feeling intense and special as
the recurrent sensation of a sweet odor breathed in a far-off hour of
happiness. It is a memory that gives a more exquisite touch to
tenderness, that feeds the madness of jealousy, and adds the last
keenness to the agony of despair.



[From _Sartor Resartus_.]

"_Ach, mein Lieber!_" said he once, at midnight, when we had returned
from the Coffee-house in rather earnest talk, "it is a true sublimity to
dwell here. These fringes of lamp-light, struggling up through smoke and
thousand-fold exhalation, some fathoms into the ancient reign of night,
what thinks Boötes of them, as he leads his Hunting-Dogs over the Zenith
in their leash of sidereal fire? That stifled hum of Midnight, when
Traffic has lain down to rest; and the chariot-wheels of Vanity, still
rolling here and there through distant streets, are bearing her to Halls
roofed-in and lighted to the due pitch for her; and only Vice and
Misery, to prowl or to moan like night-birds, are abroad: that hum, I
say, like the stertorous, unquiet slumber of sick Life, is heard in
Heaven! O, under that hideous coverlet of vapours and putrefactions and
unimaginable gases, what a Fermenting-vat lies simmering and hid! The
joyful and the sorrowful are there; men are dying there, men are being
born: men are praying,--on the other side of a brick partition men are
cursing; and around them all is the vast, void Night. The proud Grandee
still lingers in his perfumed saloons, or reposes within damask
curtains; Wretchedness cowers into truckle-beds, or shivers
hunger-stricken into its lair of straw: in obscure cellars,
_Rouge-et-Noir_ languidly emits its voice-of-destiny to haggard, hungry
Villains; while Councillors of State sit plotting, and playing their
high chess-game, whereof the pawns are Men. The Lover whispers his
mistress that the coach is ready; and she, full of hope and fear, glides
down to fly with him over the borders: the Thief, still more silently,
sets-to his picklocks and crowbars, or lurks in wait till the watchmen
first snore in their boxes. Gay mansions, with supper-rooms and
dancing-rooms, are full of light and music and high-swelling hearts;
but, in the Condemned Cells, the pulse of life beats tremulous and
faint, and blood-shot eyes look out through the darkness, which is
around and within, for the light of a stern last morning. Six men
are to be hanged on the morrow: comes no hammering from the
_Rabenstein_?--their gallows must even now be o' building. Upward of
five hundred thousand two-legged animals without feathers lie round us
in horizontal positions; their heads all in night-caps and full of the
foolishest dreams. Riot cries aloud, and staggers and swaggers in his
rank dens of shame; and the Mother, with streaming hair, kneels over her
pallid dying infant, whose cracked lips only her tears now moisten.--All
these heaped and huddled together, with nothing but a little carpentry
and masonry between them;--crammed in, like salted fish in their
barrel;--or weltering, shall I say, like an Egyptian pitcher of tamed
Vipers, each struggling to get its _head above_ the other: _such_ work
goes on under that smoke-counterpane!--But I, _mein Werther,_ sit above
it all; I am alone with the Stars."


[From the Same.]

Again, could any thing be more miraculous than an actual authentic
Ghost? The English Johnson longed, all his life to see one; but could
not, though he went to Cock Lane, and thence to the church-vaults, and
tapped on coffins. Foolish Doctor! Did he never, with the mind's eye as
well as with the body's, look around him into that full tide of human
Life he so loved; did he never so much as look into himself? The good
Doctor was a Ghost, as actual and authentic as heart could wish;
well-nigh a million of Ghosts were travelling the streets by his side.
Once more I say, sweep away the illusion of Time; compress the
threescore years into three minutes: what else was he, what else are we?
Are we not Spirits, that are shaped into a body, into an Appearance; and
that fade away again into air, and Invisibility? This is no metaphor,
it is a simple scientific _fact_: we start out of Nothingness, take
figure, and are Apparitions; round us, as round the veriest spectre, is
Eternity; and to Eternity minutes are as years and æons. Come there not
tones of Love and Faith, as from celestial harp-strings, like the Song
of beatified souls? And again, do not we squeak and gibber (in our
discordant, screech-owlish debatings and recriminatings); and glide
bodeful and feeble and fearful; or uproar (_poltern_), and revel in our
mad Dance of the Dead,--till the scent of the morning-air summons us to
our still Home; and dreamy Night becomes awake and Day? Where now is
Alexander of Macedon: does the steel Host, that yelled in fierce
battle-shouts, at Issus and Arbela, remain behind him; or have they all
vanished utterly, even as perturbed Goblins must? Napoleon too, and his
Moscow Retreats and Austerlitz Campaigns! Was it all other than the
veriest Spectre-hunt; which has now, with its howling tumult that made
Night hideous, flitted away?--Ghosts! There are nigh a thousand million
walking the Earth openly at noontide; some half-hundred have vanished
from it, some half-hundred have arisen in it, ere thy watch ticks

Thus, like some wild-flaming, wild-thundering train of Heaven's
Artillery, does this mysterious Mankind thunder and flame, in
long-drawn, quick-succeeding grandeur, through the unknown Deep. Thus,
like a God-created, fire-breathing Spirit-host, we emerge from the
Inane; haste stormfully across the astonished Earth; then plunge again
into the Inane. Earth's mountains are levelled, and her seas filled up,
in our passage: can the Earth, which is but dead and a vision, resist
Spirits which have reality and are alive? On the hardest adamant some
foot-print of us is stamped in; the last Rear of the host will read
traces of the earliest Van. But whence?--O Heaven, whither? Sense knows
not; Faith knows not; only that it is through Mystery to Mystery, from
God and to God.

            "We _are such stuff_
  As Dreams are made of, and our little Life
  Is rounded with a sleep!"



[From _The Princess_.]

  Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
  Tears from the depth of some divine despair
  Rise in the heart and gather to the eyes,
  In looking on the happy autumn fields,
  And thinking of the days that are no more....

  Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
  The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
  To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
  The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
  So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

  Dear as remembered kisses after death,
  And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
  On lips that are for others; deep as love,
  Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
  O death in life, the days that are no more.


[From _Morte D'Arthur_.]

  And slowly answered Arthur from the barge:
  "The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
  And God fulfills himself in many ways,
  Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
  Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
  I have lived my life, and that which I have done
  May He within himself make pure! but thou,
  If thou shouldst never see my face again,
  Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
  Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
  Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
  For what are men better than sheep or goats
  That nourish a blind life within the brain,
  If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
  Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
  For so the whole round earth is every way
  Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
  But now farewell: I am going a long way
  With these thou seest--if indeed I go--
  (For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)
  To the island-valley of Avilion;
  Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
  Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
  Deep-meadow'd, happy, fair with orchard-lawns,
  And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea,
  Where I will heal me of my grievous wound."
  So said he, and the barge with oar and sail
  Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan
  That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,
  Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood
  With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere
  Revolving many memories, till the hull
  Looked one black dot against the verge of dawn,
  And on the mere the wailing died away.


[From _The Princess_.]

      The splendour falls on castle walls
        And snowy summits old in story:
      The long light shakes across the lakes
        And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
  Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying.
  Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

      O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
        And thinner, clearer, farther going!
      O sweet and far from cliff and scar
        The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
  Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
  Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

      O love, they die in yon rich sky,
        They faint on hill or field or river:
      Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
        And grow for ever and for ever.
  Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
  And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.


  Break, break, break
    On thy cold gray stones, O sea!
  And I would that my tongue could utter
    The thoughts that arise in me.

  O well for the fisherman's boy,
    That he shouts with his sister at play!
  O well for the sailor lad,
    That he sings in his boat on the bay!

  And the stately ships go on
    To their haven under the hill;
  But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
    And the sound of a voice that is still!

  Break, break, break
    At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
  But the tender grace of a day that is dead
    Will never come back to me.


[From _Maud_.]

  Peace sitting under her olive, and slurring the days gone by,
    When the poor are hovelled and hustled together, each sex, like swine,
  When only the ledger lives, and when only not all men lie;
    Peace in her vineyard--yes!--but a company forges the wine.

  And the vitriol madness flushes up in the ruffian's head,
    Till the filthy by-lane rings to the yell of the trampled wife,
  While chalk and alum and plaster are sold to the poor for bread,
    And the spirit of murder works in the very means of life.

  And Sleep must lie down armed, for the villainous centre-bits
    Grind on the wakeful ear in the hush of the moonless nights,
  While another is cheating the sick of a few last gasps, as he sits
    To pestle a poisoned poison behind his crimson lights.

  When a Mammonite mother kills her babe for a burial fee,
    And Timour-Mammon grins on a pile of children's bones,
  Is it peace or war? better, war! loud war by land and by sea,
    War with a thousand battles, and shaking a hundred thrones.


  I envy not in any moods
    The captive void of noble rage,
    The linnet born within the cage,
  That never knew the summer woods:

  I envy not the beast that takes
    His license in the fields of time,
    Unfettered by the sense of crime,
  To whom a conscience never wakes;

  Nor, what may count itself as blest,
    The heart that never plighted troth,
    But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
  Nor any want-begotten rest.

  I hold it true, whatever befall;
    I feel it when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost
  Than never to have loved at all.


  Come into the garden, Maud,
    For the black bat, night, has flown;
  Come into the garden, Maud,
    I am here at the gate alone;
  And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
    And the musk of the roses blown.

  For a breeze of morning moves,
    And the planet of Love is on high,
  Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
    On a bed of daffodil sky,
  To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
    To faint in his light, and to die.

  All night have the roses heard
    The flute, violin, bassoon;
  All night has the casement jessamine stirred
    To the dancers dancing in tune;
  Till a silence fell with the waking bird,
    And a hush with the setting moon.

  I said to the lily, "There is but one
    With whom she has heart to be gay.
  When will the dancers leave her alone?
    She is weary of dance and play."
  Now half to the setting moon are gone,
    And half to the rising day;
  Low on the sand and loud on the stone
    The last wheel echoes away.

  I said to the rose, "The brief night goes
    In babble and revel and wine.
  O young lord-lover, what sighs are those
    For one that will never be thine?
  But mine, but mine," so I swore to the rose,
    "For ever and ever mine."



  You know, we French stormed Ratisbon:
    A mile or so away
  On a little mound, Napoleon
    Stood on our storming-day;
  With neck out-thrust, you fancy how,
    Legs wide, arms locked behind,
  As if to balance the prone brow
    Oppressive with its mind.

  Just as perhaps he mused, "My plans
    That soar, to earth may fall,
  Let once my army-leader Lannes
    Waver at yonder wall"--
  Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew
    A rider, bound on bound
  Full-galloping; nor bridle drew
    Until he reached the mound.

  Then off there flung in smiling joy,
    And held himself erect
  By just his horse's mane, a boy:
    You hardly could suspect--
  (So tight he kept his lips compressed,
    Scarce any blood came through)
  You looked twice ere you saw his breast
    Was all but shot in two.

  "Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace
    We've got you Ratisbon!
  The Marshal's in the market-place,
    And you'll be there anon
  To see your flag-bird flap his vans
    Where I, to heart's desire,
  Perched him!" The chiefs eye flashed; his plans
    Soared up again like fire.

  The chief's eye flashed; but presently
    Softened itself, as sheathes
  A film the mother-eagle's eye
    When her bruised eaglet breathes;
  "You're wounded!" "Nay," the soldier's pride
    Touched to the quick, he said:
  "I'm killed, sire!" And his chief beside,
    Smiling the boy fell dead.


  Just for a handful of silver he left us,
    Just for a ribbon to stick in his coat--
  Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
    Lost all the others, she lets us devote;
  They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
    So much was theirs who so little allowed:
  How all our copper had gone for his service!
    Rags--were they purple, his heart had been proud!
  We that had loved him so, followed him, honored him,
    Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,
  Learned his great language, caught his clear accents,
    Made him our pattern to live and to die!
  Shakspere was of us, Milton was for us,
    Burns, Shelley were with us--they watch from their graves!
  He alone breaks from the van and the freemen,
    He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!

  We shall march prospering--not through his presence;
    Songs may inspirit us--not from his lyre;
  Deeds will be done, while he boasts his quiescence,
    Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire:
  Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
    One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,
  One more devil's triumph and sorrow for angels,
    One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!
  Life's night begins: let him never come back to us!

    There would be doubt, hesitation, and pain,
  Forced praise on our part--the glimmer of twilight,
    Never glad confident morning again!
  Best fight on well, for we taught him--strike gallantly,
    Menace our heart ere we master his own;
  Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us,
    Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne!


  The gray sea and the long black land,
  And the yellow half-moon large and low;
  And the startled little waves that leap
  In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
  As I gain the cove with pushing prow
  And quench its speed in the slushy sand.

  Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
  Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
  A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
  And blue spurt of a lighted match,
  And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
  Than the two hearts beating each to each!


[From _Rabbi Ben Ezra_.]

  Not on the vulgar mass
  Called "work" must sentence pass,
    Things done, that took the eye and had the price;
  O'er which, from level stand,
  The low world laid its hand,
    Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice:

  But all, the world's coarse thumb
  And finger failed to plumb,
    So passed in making up the main account;
  All instincts immature,
  All purposes unsure,
    That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount:

  Thoughts hardly to be packed
  Into a narrow act,
    Fancies that broke through language and escaped;
  All I could never be,
  All men ignored in me,
    This I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped.


  O, to be in England
  Now that April's there,
  And whoever wakes in England
  Sees, some morning, unaware,
  That the lowest boughs and the brush-wood sheaf
  Round the elm-tree hole are in tiny leaf,
  While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
  In England--now!

  And after April, when May follows,
  And the white throat builds, and all the swallows!
  Hark where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
  Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
  Blossoms and dew-drops--at the bent spray's edge--
  That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
  Lest you should think he never could recapture
  The first fine careless rapture!
  And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
  All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
  The buttercups, the little children's dower,
  Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "From Chaucer to Tennyson" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.